Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not Enough WUB In The World

So my wife's car is dead. Here's an obituary.
1995 Nissan Altima, you died last week in an accident that was as tragic as it was unavoidable. My wife liked you, even though I thought you were a weak car. That was further cemented by the repairs that were done after your engine had some problems. You had a wimpy little engine that did pretty well in the middle gears but had some problems in the first couple of gears. Nevertheless my wife did like you, and part of that could be because of your license plate and the easy association between WUB and love that it did provide. You deserved better, perhaps getting sold for pennies on the dollar to some immigrant family who couldn't afford a good car or getting sold on trade in. Instead you will become a kidney car and Greg Ostertag, somewhere, is smiling because of it. May your tires pay for a couple of drugs that help somebody who has to have dialysis.

You can see that the SUV really hammered the corner of the car. As the towing guy said "that's not going to be driveable again." He could be wrong of course...if we wanted to pay that kind of money. Since we don't, he's right.
Another look at the damage from another angle. Let me just say that car+SUV doesn't turn out well for the car.

My wife, sad that her car has met an untimely demise.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When Mormon Marketers Attack

I know that I've been annoyed by this before, but here's another group of stuff that bugs me. Everybody does it, but I think that your typical "I'm going after Mormons, and they'll buy anything tangentially related to their religion" products are pretty much the worst things out there.
Example 1: The Blatant Rip-offYou are reading that right...The Moroni Code. If I were Dan Brown, I'd be filing something in court right now. Replace Da Vinci with Moroni and a good book with unreadable schlock and you have yourself a surefire "bestseller" in the sense that they'll plop it on the cover of the next edition even though it's only the bestselling book at the Salt Lake City Deseret Book and not with anybody who matters. I've heard that Dan Brown's next book (if it is ever released) The Solomon Key will talk about the symbolism in the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. I'll wait for that rather than translating code that somebody put on a piece of paper that happens to be a family heirloom that an FBI agent is using for one purpose or another.

Example 2: The "We Can't Even Get a Slumming Actor" F-List film
Ah these gems of Mormon Cinema. I liked The Singles Ward all right and all, but I curse it for unleashing a torrent of garbage my way. Here's a movie that is certainly for LDS consumption, what with the use of a common LDS phraseology, but the guy who looks like he's constipated in the center is supposed to be a returned missionary (RM). This isn't an RM in the sense that he once went on a mission, this is straight from the mission field. Judging by the age of the characters, the age of missionaries has been raised from 19-26 to somewhere around 29-36, possibly even older. I would also like to mention how unattractive all 3 of the main characters are, aside from the main character bearing down, you've got the weathered "I hate men" lady with the scarf who looks like she'd like to kill someone and the spinster on the other side of him with the disapproving look. Of course, if someone was bearing down in front of me, I'd have that same look.

Example 3: The Disapproving Crap On The WallHere's what guilty people and/or haughty people put on their walls. "Oh, you like Christmas presents, do you? You're no better than the pharisees!" Apparently love and presents can't coexist at Christmas time. I could be mistaken, but love was indeed present as I unwrapped my presents from everyone. They did give them to me, didn't they? That cost money, right? Who gives money to those they don't love (excepting perhaps tax writeoffs and charitable causes, but that's beside the point)? Thanks for trying to bludgeon me with your too stringent application of gospel principles that aren't even really principles in the first place. I appreciate it.

Example 4: The Nonsensical SayingI don't get this saying. Perhaps because I think that those ellipses hide something that might help it make sense. Also because there must not be many people in love as only insomniacs can't sleep. I guess they're the ones who are in love.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Big Throwdown/(Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Fridays II

Can we never have a Friday again? Honestly, Fridays are terrible. Work wasn't bad today and Forro and I were in the middle of The Big Throwdown with A-Rod. It was going pretty well, and I would hope Forro will run a report on it because I never got to my part of The Throwdown because, for the second Friday in a row, there was a family emergency. My wife has been having kidney problems and we went to the hospital because of her pain last Friday and it's been difficult the past week because she's been hurting so much that she hasn't slept and she's been on pain meds. So she had a good night last night and it looked like things were moving on to something better. She was coming to see me in my office and it's only about 2 miles away from my office. She got in an accident. It wasn't just a fender bender...her car was wrapped around a traffic light. I got a call in the middle of the Throwdown with my wife saying "Come quickly, I've been in a serious accident." I went over there thinking the whole time "I hope that my wife, daughter, and unborn son are safe." I drove there, rather unsafely (which is perhaps a bit odd, but nonetheless) skirting through traffic in my G35 like i was on the Nürburgring. I got off northbound I-15 and turned towards the southbound onramp, where the accident was. It wasn't a pretty sight. There were 2 ambulances, a fire engine, about 5 cop cars, and a giant line of traffic that I had to wait through as I was contemplating what horrible fate may await me. As I got closer, I saw my wife's car wrapped around the aforementioned traffic signal, drivers' side on the pole. I was finally able to sneak through the intersection and park in a nearby parking lot. I ran across the street (traffic was pretty much at a standstill as 3 of 4 lanes were blocked, nevertheless it still wasn't my brightest moment) and saw that Alyssa was okay and being held by a random nice good samaritan lady. That was a relief, even though she was totally traumatized by what had happened. Rachelle was in a neck brace and on one of those backboards as they were pulling her out of the car from the passenger side. She ultimately was given the ticket and blamed herself from the get-go, although it's all fine. The car was a complete loss...it'll be an Abrams tank before too long. The police were actually quite nice and in an odd coincidence the officer who was the lead on the accident was a kid who was probably 10 years older than me who lived next door for a long time. That was unexpected. I went to the hospital, calling all the while, and after 4 hours split between the ER and Labor/Delivery, we went home, with some bruises and bad memories to show for it. It could definitely have been worse, so I'm glad it wasn't. At the same time we couldn't help feeling like this was a sign. What of? Well, there are really only 3 options
1) We haven't been doing what the Lord would have us do
2) This is just a random trial...our life's been great (even though I can still whinge with the best of them) and so here you go to learn.
3) 1 and 2.
I wish I knew what it was because it'd help out, but we're definitely going to work on being better because the last thing we need is for our house to burn down or one of us to get involved in a tragic blimp accident before we listen up. Anyway, all's as good as it can be right now, which is what matters the most.
Oh, and BTW expect some pictures of the car soonish. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon from the the great Detroit in the Sky, or to be more accurately, by the old Geneva Steel.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Big Throwdown

Today I think will be the day that Forro and I get to sit down with A-Rod and unload with both barrels on him. It's been scheduled for several weeks but as the result of a variety of things, most notably my wife being sick (which has also been responsible for the more sporadic blogging), it hasn't happened. Today we're hoping like the dickens that it actually will. I will absolutely let everyone know the results of this as soon as it happens

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Next Gun

Yes, I do have a bit of gun envy, just like every other male on the planet. Take a look at the object of my gun lust, courtesy of YouTube and Team Discovery Channel. I think my favorite quote is when the random guy with bad hair says "when you're hit by a large caliber like this, you're down." I would have thought getting hit with a .50 caliber round would be like a pinprick, it wouldn't knock you on your duff (among other things).

Lead to Believe

This is a little far-fetched to me. The New York Times has a whole article on the theory that violent crime decreased as a result of unleaded gasoline. Do I think that it has something to do with that? I really don't know. I'm glad it's gone, as there are certainly a lot of health hazards associated with lead, but that it was the cause of a crime wave? That doesn't sound right. On the other hand, the Roe effect (i.e. those who were more likely to be criminals started getting legally aborted in 1973) seems to be more the cause of that decrease. By pure coincidence lead began its phase-out in the same year that Roe v. Wade started phasing out unwanted children.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where The Eagles Dare

One of the things that I used to do a lot more before I was married is listening to concerts on DVD. I am not much for watching the concert in general. It’s just not as exciting without 20,000+ screaming other people around you, although I do make an exception for U2 concerts because I find them fabulous spectacles. Nevertheless, the concert DVD that I keep going back to (and did tonight since my wife’s in bed trying to recuperate) is The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over. I’m not quite sure why I like it as much as I do because while I do like The Eagles, there are several bands I like more. I think it’s a combination of a great setlist, a nice subtle crowd, and the definitive versions of some of their classics, including “Desperado,” “Hotel California,” and a couple of Don Henley hits – “Heart of the Matter” and “New York Minute.” It’s probably not in the best interests of me knowing what’s going on because I crank up the volume and really let it go with all 5.1 channels of DTS surround sound. Nevertheless, it’s what I’d consider one of my reference disks not because of the picture, but because the sound mixing is absolutely incredible. You sound like you’re actually in the crowd, and I love this disk for that. Here’s a little taste courtesy of YouTube. Give the whole disk a spin – it’s well worth it!

Meeting Diary 10/18

10:10 AM – I arrived late as I was busy doing other things and frankly didn’t care to be the only one here early. Unfortunately I was preceded both by Forro and by Jorge Posada. As a sidenote, if Alex Rodriguez leaves the Yankees, I’m going to have to change my baseball team names because A-Rod is the key to the whole thing, he’s the one with the nickname in the first place that matches our nickname for the main annoying person in this meeting. Of course, Alex Rodriguez’ nickname is more a term of endearment as opposed to annoyance and/or contempt.

10:14 AM – A-Rod arrives and slaps me in the face. It’s a metaphorical slap, but he just put down his management meeting sheet that has me as office manager. I really shouldn’t let this title thing bug me, but an office manager is a glorified secretary. They wouldn’t be part of your senior management team. I don't think it would bug me if he didn't update that lame sheet every week but keep me as office manager.

10:22 AM – Robinson Cano is here and Posada is up talking about stuff. A-Rod had some serious problems putting his hands around the concept of a wage index. I tried a number of different ways to explain what a wage index does and how it impacts us, but to no avail.

10:34 AM – Cano mentions the name of an employee of A-Rod’s as doing a great job. A-Rod says, “who?”

10:52 AM – I’ve been surfing the web and not updating my timelines, partly because I’ve not been paying much attention. However, a nice little note from the world of A-Rod is he asks me “how are things going with private pay insurances, are we billing them?” I say “what?” in large part because we’ve been billing them forever. I ask him to clarify what he’s asking, because he should know that. When I ask what he means he says, and keep in mind this is a direct quote, “that’s a good question.”

10:53 AM – Derek Jeter joins the game.

11:12 AM – I’m finishing up getting my costume for Halloween. God bless the internet.

11:13 AM – A-Rod’s putting together a binder. What will be in that binder for the leadership team? Who knows. The one thing I do know is that it will never be touched again.

11:18 AM – Another conversation with A-Rod:
Me: “you shouldn’t order any, it should be Giambi because he’s the one in charge of our clinical group,” A-Rod “Yeah. “
Me: “and he won’t be here until Tuesday.”
A-Rod “Well, I’ll not order any from a marketing standpoint”

11:22 AM – In the middle of a discussion where Derek Jeter doesn’t listen to anyone saying that electronic patient charts are actually better than paper, I get a call from my wife to pick her up from the doctor because she can’t drive home. This is followed by a trip to the hospital. Fortunately she’s back and doing okay. Fortunately also I wasn’t subjected to another 2 hours of the runaround on that subject.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm Impressed

ESPN has a story today about Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd. I'd never heard of him until he outpitched the Chen Ming Wang/Mike Mussina combination and then proceeded to do the same to Tim Wakefield yesterday. I have to say that I'm downright impressed with his beliefs. Sometimes it seems like sports stars "use" God in the "look at me, I'm pious!" sense. They get their reward, the attention, but then there are a group who actually try to practice what they preach. Byrd's one of them and he's written a manuscript about his beliefs and his struggles. Head over and give it a look. It's definitely worth 5 minutes or so.

Getting Biblical

Last night I got thinking about Adam and Eve. This is a classic Biblical account that almost everybody has been told for millennia now. The real questions is how "real" is it? One of the LDS Articles of Faith states that "We...believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly." That being said and with the caveat that I do indeed believe a lot of the Bible to have been translated correctly and I especially believe that the antediluvian account as told in the Book of Moses to be translated correctly, how much of it is an actual, literal honest-to-goodness history and how much is allegorical and/or a parable.
There are some aspects that I think are definitely accurate - i.e. there was a man named Adam and a woman named Eve (or whatever their names were in their language). The question is were they the progenitors of the entire human race or perhaps just a subset of them. Perhaps Adam was the first prophet and the house of Israel descended through him? Perhaps he was the paterfamilias of some of the major groups in the Middle East but not of groups here on the American continent. We know, and the Hebrew backs it up, that the Earth wasn't created in 7 24 hour days, but rather 7 periods of time. Likewise, I think it's highly unlikely that Adam lived for nearly a millennium. It's more likely that that was exaggerated for some point or another. Since the Biblical account of the creation and ancient Earth history was from Moses' time period perhaps there was a more definitive account of what exactly happened and the Israelites knew more about the time of Adam and this was meant as a type for their lives or somesuch. I'll probably revisit this more because it's such a vast topic, but does anyone else have any thoughts? Post a comment!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


No, I'm not talking about Prince's album of the same name. There's an actual field of science that is interested in what music does. It's not just about a catchy beat or good lyrics, it is something that Dr. Sacks (best known as the guy Robin Williams' character was based on in the movie Awakenings) feels is a part of us. Take a look at this dry, but rather interesting interview he recently had with a blogger over at the Wall Street Journal.

Nobel Jumped the Shark

I'm not going to knock Al Gore. He's a legitimate smart, boring guy along the lines of a liberal Ben Stein and he's also a Level 10 Vice President. He's done, or rather, worked to do a lot of good in the world, but how has he gotten a Nobel Peace Prize? According to Alfred Nobel, the winner of the Peace prize should be someone who has "done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
I suppose that he might have gotten in under the "prevent global warming and you'll prevent a Waterworld-style conflict" provision, because that's the only way I can see it being even remotely connected. The annoying thing is that the Nobel committee overlooked so many other good candidates for the Peace prize. They could have given another to Aung San Suu Kyi or to the Buddhist monks who are peacefully trying to right their country in Burma. They could have given one to Rafik Hariri for giving his life to try and turn Lebanon into a perpetual battleground into a functioning country. What about even giving it to Gordon B Hinkley and/or the LDS Church for supplying millions of pounds of food, clothing, and water to people involved in humanitarian crises around the globe over the past decade? There's also my personal favorite, Bono, for trying to fix Africa by eliminating the poverty that breeds war. What about for those who are trying to stop the bloodshed in Darfur or trying to eliminate the poppy economy in Afghanistan?
There are so many good candidates that it is disappointing the Nobel committee decided to make a political statement by awarding Al Gore the prize essentially for making An Inconvenient Truth. Sure, he's done more and he's definitely pro-environment, but what does that really have to do with peace? I changed all the lightbulbs in my house to CFLs (in part because Rocky Mountain Power and Costco combined to get them to me for the low, low price of 8 bulbs for 3 bucks), reducing my carbon footprint, and I try to keep the heat down in the winter and the A/C a little high in the summer. Why wasn't I considered? The UN passed the Kyoto Protocol (which has to do more for global warming than Gore has) and they didn't get it.
Ultimately, while Al Gore is working to do good (even though I don't necessarily agree with him), just doing good isn't enough. It's got to be doing good that helps to reduce war and apparently that's where Alfred Nobel and I agree and where the committee disagrees with both of us.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Upgrade Your Marriage

The story I came across this morning on Fox News is a bit off the wall. At the same time, I can see something like this and it being put forth as a panacea for all that ails you. So that I'm not viewed as a total Big-Brotheresque prude, let me first say that what you want to do is your own business. I don't care who or what you have sex with. In that sense, I would see these robot sexbots as a natural extension of the sex toys industry and it's latest invention, the Serbian knob on a stick.
At the same time, David Levy's idea that human-robot marriages will be legal and performed in 2050 is a bit out there. I suppose that it's possible, but I think before people can go about marrying inanimate objects, there are all kinds of animate objects to marry. I would think that in order for human/robot marriages to happen, polygamy, reverse polygamy (polyandry), human-animal marriage, and probably some other stuff would have to happen first. The big question for me here is why? What's the point of it? I suppose you might want to get your robot's tune-ups on your health plan, but other than that it just seems silly. I wouldn't be surprised for people to say they fall in love with their robots because as Levy says, you can program that sucker to be the perfect companion. You want to sit around and have it wait on you? It'll do that. You want it to sit around while you wait on it? It'll do that too. There's really nothing that a robot can't do...except love you back. Isn't that really part of the equation? I don't care how good looking a robot is or how perfect it is. Part of marriage and part of love is that you have two flawed people, each with different thoughts and feelings putting those aside and working together on a relationship. If it was just one-sided, what kind of relationship would it be? Sure, that robot could look like a circa 1999 Britney Spears or George Clooney and it would look like that, unchanging, forever. You'd always have arm candy for your parties or whatever, but the problem with having a Clooneybot and going to a party is that you're going to be made fun of for the rest of your life. Beyond that, no matter how good looking it is and how "loving" it is, it wouldn't love you. You'd be just as empty as before, except perhaps moreso because your Britneybot set you back $100,000. You'd have wild crazy relations and you'd be at least as sad and depressed as before.
Again, I don't care if people choose to have sex with these things. I just don't see the point of marriage because there's no relationship there. It's like marrying my Dimension XPS 410, only in woman form. It can update my blog, check my email, and surf the web, but it cares just as much about me as the pen on my desk.
(Feel free to insert your own "What if this runs on Windows/Blue Screen of Death joke here.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blame the Boss

No, I'm not talking about the Cheeth's The Boss. I'm talking about the big daddy of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner. He's going to fire (or rather not re-hire) Joe Torre because of his boneheaded meddling with the Yankees. I was reading over at Bill Simmons' site last night (where the gloating was palpable) and he had a link to his 2001 World Series game 7 column. I remember this game. It was the first time that you really saw the Yankees fail for a while. They were up 2-1 with Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball and the greatest postseason pitcher ever coming up. It was money in the bank and then the unhittable got hit. The Yankees lost an emotional series to the Diamondbacks and instead of sticking with the core, building from within, and moving forward, Steinbrenner started meddling. Over the course of the next 5 years he tossed scads of money at superstars - Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Carl Pavano, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Kei Igawa, and so on. What did this do? It wasted a lot of money, that's for sure. Of course, the Yankees have always had a couple of bought stars on the team all the way back to Babe Ruth. The difference is that they weren't "George Steinbrenner's Fantasy All-Stars." They'd get a superstar or two and use them to compliment the rest of their team. As a result, the core of the team died. Sure, they have had a core - Rivera, Posada, Williams - that has remained constant, but it killed the team dynamic they had and emptied out their farm system to get all their hired guns. Now, for the first time in several years, they turned back to their old strategy. Brian Cashman managed to completely refresh their pitching by bringing up Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain with Jeff Karstens, Tyler Clippard, and others waiting in the wings. They didn't win. Of course, that's to be expected to some degree. They've been rebuilding ever since The Boss messed things up in 2002. They've been fortunate that they made the playoffs this year. I would expect that they will do far better next year, especially if they can get rid of The Boss' meddling. Torre's going to end up being the fall guy for doing a better managing job than he has in his career (despite his penchant for riding relievers until their arms fall off) because Steinbrenner is too proud to blame himself. Fortunately Cashman isn't under the gun because if he was I think you'd see the Yankees return to their ineptitude of the 80s. Sure, there are some good options to replace him - Joe Girardi and (possibly) Donny Baseball, but I don't think he's going to know what he had until he's gone. It's like when he kept hiring and firing Billy Martin. Martin's teams didn't perform how he wanted them to, so he fired him and then the next guy was worse, so Martin came back. Torre's not going to be yanked around so easily, but what I'd do is secure him, bring back A-Rod (who is one of the mercs that is worth his weight in gold), Posada, Rivera, and Pettite and allow the team to get a little more seasoned - Cano, Cabrera, Andy Phillips, and Reggie Williams All-Star Shelley Duncan along with the pitchers are all young - and they'll be back and stronger than ever.
Of course, that's if the Boss actually cared about what I say, which he doesn't.

Color Me Unimpressed

I'm supposed to be going to a conference in St. Thomas here in a month and I'll tell you what, the hotel it's at, the Wyndham Sugar Bay, is doing everything they can to not get my money. I think their reservations department is run by a monkey on a typewriter because so far I still don't have a reservation. I have done the following: 2 calls with messages left because nobody was there to take my call. 1 call where they told me to send an email to make the reservation because apparently they can't take it over the phone. That's bizarre to me, but what can you expect when you've just got that monkey and typewriter? I haven't heard back from them, made all the more troubling by the fact that I have my credit card number in there. For all I know they're busy racking up a sizeable bill at Bluefly.com right now. I just called and had a momentary hiccup in my phone service because AT&T and the Hyatt Regency Denver don't like each other too much. I'll try again on my way to the airport and hopefully they'll take it that time. The only reason I'm not going elsewhere is because of the conference rate I'm getting and it's a far sight below the price at a place like the Ritz-Carlton there, although I would go elsewhere in a heartbeat because this is the worst hotel service I've ever seen. The sad thing for Wyndham is that this is coloring every other travel decision I will make. Instead of taking my money there, I'd prefer going to a Hampton Inn which, while not luxurious, is a nice product at a good price and a money back guarantee. If the Wyndham had that, I'd have some free rooms for this stay coming up already

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Playing To Your Strengths

After that incredibly annoying diatribe from the head of my organization (national lobbying organization, not the head of our company), we got an awesome speech from Marcus Buckingham. In case you don’t know who he is, he’s the co-author of two of the most influential business books of the past decade, First Break All the Rules and Now Discover Your Strengths. He’s got a new book out called Go Put Your Strengths to Work. I love listening to the major consultants – Jack Welch, Marcus Buckingham, Rudy Giuliani, Jim Collins, and even Stephen Covey. Why? For starters, they’re engaging. They do this for a living and it shows. They know how to use humor and everything in their bag of tricks for maximum play. Second, they have extraordinarily useful stuff. Buckingham talked about quite a few different ideas starting with working on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Manage around your weaknesses and spend no more than 25% of your day doing things unrelated to your strengths. Essentially it’s almost an economic view on an individual level – if you’re the best at putting a widget in a car door and you love to do it, focus on that, don’t try to put a piston in a chamber. Put your widgets in and enjoy your life. There was so much more, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point you to his website and say take a look at all of that.

Thoughts on My Insanely Liberal Organization

I’m a conservative in a field that is dominated by liberals. I don’t just mean 60%, I mean that something like 90% of the people in this field are liberal. It leads to a lot of speeches by our national lobbying organization's leader and a lot of guest speakers who rail on anything that has to do with a Republican cause. Since I certainly can’t stand up and debate him here in front of a couple thousand other people, I figure that I’d rebut some of his arguments here in my blog.

  1. We’re not paying for this war because we’re not sacrificing. There’s a bit of yes and no to this. On one hand, we aren’t. The soldiers are and some Americans are, but just because we’re not paying higher taxes or using ration coupons doesn’t mean that we’re not doing our part. I suppose that the Democrats who pull out this old canard feel like we should torpedo our economy for the sake of the war. Nothing says sacrifice like a recession/depression!

  2. “We’re fighting the last great civil rights battle.” He always is saying this. He mentions that old people don’t have the right to assembly or freedom of speech or whatnot because they’re stuck in their homes. For some reason I don’t buy that. My primary example is AARP. AARP is the single most powerful lobby in Washington and if you touch Social Security or Medicare, you have to go through them to do it. I don’t see a lot of civil rights issues here.

  3. “If Congress was run by women, we wouldn’t have all these problems.” That’s rich. I’ll go completely the other way and say that there’d be fights all the time. Russia paints her nukes the same color as ours? Why this means war! Those olive camos are so ugly…let’s see if we can’t spruce them up with some color and lace. But seriously, the problems would be just the same. The reason why women aren’t represented as strongly as men is because they don’t care as much. Women tend to have motherly feelings at one point or another and it takes a chunk out of a career to have kids. You could be moving along in your company and then decide you want kids and the opportunity cost of leaving your job or not moving further up is worth it. Good for you! It’s an amazing sacrifice and one that my wife freely made. It’s incredibly impressive, but at the same time I don’t want to hear a bunch of whining about how women aren’t as powerful because they are, just in a different way because of different choices and that’s why society is still running.

A Note to the Off-Blue Thunderbird

You may think that you are entitled to get on to the freeway at any given point. You may also feel that even though there is a long line of cars that have been semi-patiently waiting to get moving down the road that you are the exception to the rule and that you deserve to squeeze your way in front of that Dodge Nitro who is still riding the tail of the guy in front of him to stop you from cutting in line. Even though you no longer have a lane, said Nitro won’t let you in on principle. I don’t know if your history of lines is based on experiences in Italy or what, but the man in the Nitro just doesn’t give a crap. You want to get in line, get behind him. Now when you jump out of line at the next possible moment to then screw more people in that same line because you’re far too important to sit in traffic with everyone else, even though you could quite possibly be a gang banger and the Nitro is a rental car and you could still get sideswiped if you run in to each other again because it’s bollocks that you’re pulling that.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sorro Selects His Candidate

This quiz didn't exactly state my positions, but it's somewhat useful in winnowing the choices. It looks like John McCain is my horse, unfortunately he's in the toilet. Fred Thompson is #2, so that's somewhat legit.

John McCain
Score: 36
Stem-Cell Research
Health Care
Social Security
Line-Item Veto
Death Penalty

-- Take the Quiz! --

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Not Dead

So I’m here at my conference in Denver (motto: we're twice the size of Salt Lake, other than that, it's the same thing!) and I have quite a few thoughts. One is that for the first time, our organization has decided to get “hip” and use introductory music for the speakers. The problem is that it’s just strange. The music choices thus far have included The Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started,” Coldplay’s “Clocks,” Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle for Honor or Humanity” (better known as the theme from Kill Bill), and Smashmouth’s “Hey Now, You’re an All-Star.” The intended audience is a group of people who are probably on average 20 years older than I am and the speakers include people like US Senators and people who go around the speaking circuit. It just seems out of place. Perhaps if they used something from the 70s or 80s – for example, when they introduced the guy who heads our PAC and asks for cash, I would have introduced him with Pink Floyd’s “Money” – or at least something that is tangentially related to what they do
Yesterday the city of Denver decided to shut down a seemingly random stretch of roads for the Race for the Cure. This included major thoroughfares and other side streets, leading me along a hedge maze of one way streets up and down and across LoDo. As a result I was stuck behind someone who was going 5-10 MPH because they didn’t have a clue and there wasn’t much option for me.
That brings me to my next thought: Denver’s got the slowest drivers in the nation. This is not a statistical sample, but it’s based on anecdotal evidence from my driving. I tell you what, I’ve gone along I-70 several times and nobody goes the speed limit. In Utah that means that if you are doing 65 you’re getting run down. In Denver it means that you’re passing everybody.
Note to Detroit: good design does not mean “make it quirky.” I’m renting a Dodge Nitro and it’s got quirks beyond belief. Give me my G35. It’s a straightforward car with clean lines and a very powerful and smooth engine.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Blind Leading the Blind

I'm in Denver for a conference for a few days and at my hotel (the Doubletree if you care) I have seen something that I've never seen before. Blind people. I don't just mean a few. I've seen a couple of them before. I mean hundreds of blind people. It is the craziest thing ever. The floors are filled with the tap-tap-tapping of those seeing sticks and the sounds of seeing eye dogs. I don't know if it's just coincidence or if they are indeed going to a conference for some group (perhaps the American Association for the Blind?) or what, but it's crazy.
In other "I'm traveling" related news (as opposed to seeing blind people related news), the TSA decided that I was a threat to national security because I had .25 oz of hair gel in a 5 oz container. I think I could combine that into semtex or something and blow that baby to the moon. I've traveled with that particular container before but I usually travel in the morning and the screeners have better things to do than search every little plastic bag to see if the containers are too big. Unfortunately because my flight left at nearly 8 pm, there was me and a bunch of people who had never traveled before in line (a bunch being around 5, but they clogged up the security area with the worth of at least 20 people), so he had all the time in the world to be anal. Also, when I got on the jet I had the fun experience of twisting myself into a standing "5" to go to the bathroom because they build those RJs for people under 6 feet tall. I may have developed a permanent kink in my neck as a result.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Super Meeting Running Diary 10/5/07

9:51 AM - Welcome to another meeting Running Diary. This is our super meeting, which means we should have the whole team together. To recap:
Derek Jeter – Owner
Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano – Executives
Sorro, Forro, Jorge Posada, and Jason Giambi – Forro and I plus the other 2 Director level people
Hideki Matsui & Melky Cabrera – The office director level people
Bobby Abreu – Fired.

10:06 AM – The current people here are me, Forro, and Cano. A-Rod came in and told us that Melky and Matsui are excused for one reason or another (Melky’s sick and Matsui’s busy working elsewhere). Giambi is busy talking with an employee.

10:16 AM – Ah our typical situation. A-Rod and Jorge just came in. A-Rod delivered his usual crap for crap meeting sheet that still (going on 3 years now) has me as Office Manager instead of my actual, much higher position. What does that say to me? That even though I have mentioned it to him numerous times he either hasn’t listened, cared, or bothered. Either way, he’s coming up “I don’t care about you.”

10:21 AM – Cano has some good things to say. Really, I think my generalized meeting beef is A-Rod, because when he’s not involved, things are great. Cano’s telling us to do better with positive reinforcement, which is absolutely what we need to do.

10:26 AM – Derek Jeter made it to the show

10:43 AM – Cano’s presentation is over, Forro’s is up. The projector’s not working right, I don’t know if it’s his compy or if it’s the projector.

10: 47 AM – Fixed it, and we’re going over a company survey. A-Rod tells us that he didn’t fill out the survey because he didn’t know about it – this despite the fact that we announced it 10 times while we were doing it. The lesson? He doesn’t listen.

10:56 AM – Ah the A-Rod pipe-in. I don’t recall this conversation that he was talking about, but nevertheless, the idea is that he’s a mental. He’s certainly using the Jump to Conclusions game because he’s off on a tangent that, while it has some salient points, has nothing to do with what we’re supposed to be discussing.

11:03 AM – Giambi’s here from his meeting with his employee.

11:17 AM – We’ve had a discussion that is the same one we have all the time about Derek Jeter traveling from Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park. Jeter doesn’t feel like he can, others feel like he should. We’ve been talking about it for the past 10 minutes. It’s a deadlock and the bottom line is that he might go to Fenway a couple times a year, but mainly he’ll be playing in the Bronx.

11:24 AM – After procuring some computers from Dell via Ebates (now that’s a sweet deal and another post), we moved on to our corrective action policy.

11:35 AM – Just finished my typical “I’ve had too much water, gotta make a quick run” break.

11:44 AM – Sorry, nothing entertaining going on. I will say that we are now 15 minutes from the deadline and I haven’t started my financial portion yet. So much for that!

12:22 PM – My financial presentation has come and gone. We’re talking about payment from our new payment system now and A-Rod is piping in at something he has no idea about, worrying about everything all the time. He’s mental.

12:41 PM – We’re done!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Too Cool For School

For a lot of people inside the beltway the action has moved from Capitol Hill and the White House to little old Utah. Why is that the case? Because we're home to the first statewide school voucher program in the United States. Of course it is opposed by the UEA, NEA, PTA, and every other education related acronym because it will reduce the power of those unions. They've opposed smart solutions like pay for performance for teachers and they'll oppose this because it increases competition in education and decreases the power of the union by opening new schools that don't have teachers under NEA purview.
The crazy thing about the voucher opposition here in Utah is that there is almost no way that vouchers will hurt public education. The voucher amount ranges from 500-3000 dollars, so let's say each one will be $2000 on average. With $7500 going towards the education of each student here, the other $5500 goes to the public schools. They're getting paid to not teach someone. What does that mean? That means higher salaries and lower class sizes. It does mean that there might be a loss of UEA power though, and heaven knows that that's more important than actually getting paid more to most of these teachers (well, not to them but certainly to their handlers who tell them how they should think). Here at our company we're paid an average of $3000 to care for a patient. Now if we were to get the same 73% of that money to not care for them, do you think we wouldn't do it in a heartbeat? I'd not take care of as many people as I could get my hands on because it would mean better salaries for our employees, better care for our other patients, and less work for us here in the office from the nonexistent patients.
I think that one of the reasons behind this opposition was talked about last weekend in the Wall Street Journal. They mentioned the increasing pressure parents are facing from their children to go green - by this they mean anything from changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescents to buying a Prius to just shooting yourself because you are a burden on the environment and the lead from the bullet, while it will destroy the planet, is less deadly than you are. Honestly, I never want to have my kids evangelize me with their granola-eating, tree-hugging propaganda. The way I intend to combat this, other than having them read Michael Crichton's State of Fear, is by letting them know that that would be fine if they want to pay the consequences (i.e. pay for it or suffer for it) because I won't be. Beyond pushing the green agenda, there's also the normalizing of the non-traditional family. I don't want people to feel abnormal or ashamed if they don't come from a nuclear family or if they are sexually - shall we say - adventurous. At the same time I don't want those taught as normal. Focus on the basics, keep your maturation program at 1-2 hours in 5th-6th grade, and get my kids reading, riting, and rithmeticing.
One video that I came across on the internet is definitely pro-voucher, but also pro-very good information. Take a gander (this is just part 1, you can select part 2 after watching the first half):

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sex Ed Through The Ages

Does anyone else remember their Sex Ed class? I don't remember this video (I found it through Slate when I was looking some things up for my next post), but it is absolutely a marvel of old-timey education (it's also 20 min long and is possibly not safe for work due to the anatomical language):
As always, if you aren't comfortable with sex ed, I probably wouldn't watch it. You have been warned!

A few questions/comments. 1) How about that kid asking his gym class about sex? That was awesome. 2) I love the dad's sex talk. I've never seen it quite so awkward. 3) The zookeeper (around 15:12 if you just want to skip straight to it) is quite frankly the coolest guy in the world. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode - "Zookeeper! Zookeeper! Those monkeys are killing each other!"

Here's Planned Parenthood's new version of it:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Nerdish Leanings

One of the big differences that I've noticed between Japan and the United States is the acceptance of the video game culture. In both countries it's a multi-billion dollar industry, bigger than the film industry. I'm a huge video game fan even though I don't play like I used to since I've been married. One of the things I really like about video games is the value proposition (I'm nothing if not an economist). Let's assume that you rent a DVD. That will set you back about $5. Not a big deal, in effect you're paying $2.50 an hour to be entertained. At the same time you buy a game for $50. To get the same value out of it, a game needs to be at least 20 hours long (or be replayable enough to get 20 hours out of it). If it's not, I don't buy it. I try to base it on the single-player campaign (or if it's a party game, the general fun factor) because I don't get together too often with others to play and I'm too much of a cheapskate to pay for something like Xbox Live when I don't play enough to justify a monthly subscription (same idea with an MMORPG). Some games, take for example my personal favorites the Final Fantasy series, are upwards of 50 hours of gametime. That equates to a buck an hour for entertainment on one play through. That right there is value. That's why the "it's so expensive" excuse doesn't fly. At the same time, while watching TV can rot your brain, you're interacting and in this day and age of the Wii you are also getting some exercise. I don't see why it's considered as low brow as it is, even with the stunning assortment of women who defy the laws of physics. There are incredible stories to be told that take a lot of man-hours, some determination, some luck, and maybe a cheat or two. You actually have to work for them as opposed to just sitting there and letting it unfold. In case I didn't get it across, I really like video games. Apparently so do a lot of other men of the married persuasion as BBSpot came up with a decision-making matrix for those who don't know what to do.
One of the integral parts of video games is the music. Sure, there's some insanely repetitive stuff out there (because you have to make it meld together when you're just knocking about in a particular area), but I think that especially the RPG style games do a great job with their music. It's a huge amount of work and when it's released (usually just in Japan), it's often on a 3 CD set. As such, I am not only a film music buff (especially if the composer's name is Hans Zimmer, which again makes me a lowest-common-denominator type of music aficionado to a lot of music snobs out there), but a video game music buff. The stuff from the days of the NES is ghetto, but music today is often performed by a full orchestra or at the very least, a guy with a synthesizer. In olden times (lo a decade ago) most video game music was the realm of Japanese composers, but now you even have people like Harry Gregson-Williams (The Rock, Chronicles of Narnia) composing a score for the last several Metal Gear Solid games. You also have groups of people joined by the internet reimagining some of these songs into their own compositions. It's all fascinating stuff and I just can't get enough. While it might label me a nerd, label me one who has somewhat discriminating tastes. Oh, and check a bit of it out (here's one of my favorites with a video clip attached so you don't have to download it). You might be surprised that you really like it. I've included a clip from a concert of Final Fantasy music that was released in Japan on DVD (yes, they're that into it over there). Enjoy!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attack of the Killer Amoeba

Now this freaks me out. Normally I don't get too caught up in various public scares, but a brain-eating amoeba found in warm water? I happen to live next to what could only be a breeding ground for these things, Utah Lake. It's shallow, it's prone to having sediment stirred up, it's warm, and it's got all kinds of nastiness going on. Okay, it's story time. One of my friends owns a boat. I know, it's a shocker. Anyway, (and this story is about 5 years old) he went out on Utah Lake to go skiing. That's not unusual either, as it's a popular recreation destination due to proximity and not necessarily quality. They were out on the water pulling one of his friends and when he crashed, he ran his leg through the carcass of a dead cow. Ugh. That pretty much sold me on never going back there again. The amoeba thing does too, because the winds churn up so much sediment from the bottom that I would consider Utah Lake more dangerous than Lake Havasu or some of the areas in Florida for getting this up your nose, especially in a water skiing crash.