Learning to Drive a Stick

Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Jenny was nice enough to take me to Forest Lawn to practice on a stick shift. I want to learn stick because I think its a practical thing to know how and everyone thinks I do anyway. For whatever reason whenever I say I don't know how to drive a stick someone always comments, "Really? I thought YOU would know how to drive a stick." I don't know why people assume that.

Thanks to the great teaching I was finally able to smoothly get the car into first gear. I can even get the car moving when I'm stopped on a hill. I still roll back a little but I was getting better toward the end and I wasn't stalling very much.

The lowlight of the experience is when I decided I was going to tackle my first major hill. I had been practicing on lots of little hills but decided I was going to go after one of the steeper ones. I went down the hill and turned it around to begin going up. I was stil on a relatively flat part of the hill on my first attempt but the car stalled. The first stall I had in the previous 5 or so minutes. Undaunted I tried again .... and again, and again. For whatever reason I couldn't get it moving. Jenny commented, "Don't be intimitaded". I knew it must be in my head because I had done this before. Well after about 7 stalls or so and me about to give up Jenny asked, "Are you in third?" Sure enough we put the car in first and I had no problem. Boy did I feel stupid.

In the end I had a huge headache, my driving wasn't too smooth at the beginning. However I definitely feel like I got the hang of it. I just need a little more practice.

The $180 Haircut

Tuesday, August 26, 2003
On my way into work this morning I was listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio. One of the host, Mike, is well known for being a feminine man. That is, he moisturizes regularly, gets pedicures and manicures, and otherwise cares way too much about his appearance (Not that I don't).

However he went a step to far this morning. The other host, Mike, noticed that Mike had gotten a haircut. Mike often espouses the virtues of Hair Stylist over barbers. I personally agree with him which is whiy I go to 18/8. However today he related a story about how he went to a new stylist on the recommendation of a friend. At the end of the haircut he went to the front and got a bill for $180. No that is not a typo, $180.

Now I'm all for paying more than the $10 you will at a barber, I pay $25, but $180, are you serious? Even Mike was a little flabbergasted, he normally pays $60. This DID NOT include a manicure, pedicure, massage, highlights or anything like that. It didn't even include a tip. Just a haircut. How can any guy in his right mind pay that much for a haircut. Even if I had millions of dollars I wouldn't pay that much JUST for a haircut. Maybe if I got the full treatment but there is no way that there is a $155 difference between what I get and what I could get at a much fancier place. Since a guy has to get his haircut once a month how the heck can anyone afford $180?

Were #1

Friday, August 22, 2003
I was going to do the Friday Five today but it was really stupid this week and right before I found some great news. Once again Princeton is ranked #1 in the US News and World Report. It is the fourth year in a row, the first being in 2000, my last year there. This year we were tied with Harvard(sucks!).

It's funny. Even though I make a big deal of this in my blog in truth I really don't care. The people who take this ranking the most seriously are the incoming students and parents which is a real shame. These rankings have very little to do with how good a school really is. I guarantee that you can get the same level of education at any of the top 20 schools. I would go to certain school for certain things. I would never go to Princeton if I was going to be an actor (However we can claim Brooke Shields, David Duchovany, and Dean Cain) but I would go to USC. If I wanted to study Engineering I would go to MIT but maybe not Yale. . If I wanted an exciting Social Life or to meet lots of girls I would avoid Cal Tech altogether.

Something for Nothing

Monday, August 18, 2003
How unfair is this? The New York Jets are going to start charging their fans $50 to be on the waiting list for tickets. Not to actually get tickets, TO BE ON THE WAITING LIST.

How idiotic is this? Could you imagine being charged money while you wait in line to pay for groceries or a movie ticket. "Umm, excuse me. I know you haven't made up your mind yet on which movie to see but since you have the privilege of waiting in this very long line to buy your tickets we need to charge you a small fee." Yeah, that would go over well. The excuse, they want to "keep the fans in the family." What a load of S#!T. I don't know what type of family they have but I certainly don't charge my family money for nothing.

First 9/11, than the blackouts, now this. Is there ANY question now why I left this godforsaken city?

Are Teachers Underpaid?

Thursday, August 14, 2003
A recent study suggest that teachers are paid better than the average american, even better than accountants and many engineers. The study is based on the fact that teachers make an average of $44,000 (I don't know how accurate that is but it is coming from a teacher's union) but work only 9 months in the year. Doing the Math you would see that that would be the equivilant of almost $60,000 a year which is a pretty good salary.

Now teachers will argue that they put in a lot of hours outside of their normal school hours. They have to grade papers and they often participate in after school programs. However, I am going to take a controversial stand (what's new) and agree with the study (I hope my teacher friends like Christina and Michelle forgive me). How can I say this?

Well first let me take the first point, working extra hours. Some teachers argue they work 3000 hours a year. Spread over 40 weeks that means 12 hours a day 6 days a week resting only on Sundays. My point is yeah? When I was a consultant I worked WAY more than that. 72 hour weeks were good weeks. Working 100 hour weeks were not unheard of. My Investment Banking friends AVERAGED 100 hour weeks sometimes "sleeping" (if you can call 2 hours sleep) at the office several days in a row. Even now, I probably work on average 60 hours a week. Its just part of the job. Additionally, teachers receive compensation outside of their actual pay. I know in California there is a box on tax forms that give teachers a tax break on mortgages and other consumer type loans. This could add thousands to a teachers income.

But none of this is my point. My point is that I believe people get paid what they are worth. We live in a free society. People are free to move jobs if they want to. Now do I think I should be paid more? Like every other American of course I do but if it is really the case I should go get a different job (and I probably will if I continue to get underpaid). If I'm worth more I could easily prove it to my company by getting an offer somewhere else. Teachers have the same freedom.

The real problem is Economics. It's simple suppy and demand. There is a strong demand for teachers but an even larger supply of capable teachers. The key word is capable. The reason I say that is because one of the underlying problems is that we have very low standards for teachers. We tend to think that anybody with a a pulse is capable of teaching. We as a society don't really care if they are capable of teaching as long as they stand in front of the students and watch them a few hours a day. The DEMAND is for anybody who is basically willing to babysit the students. Since a lot of people are qualified for this there is the large supply.

Now this creates a problem for teachers who actually teach. Since we as a society don't put a premium on actual teaching skills great teachers are dragged down by their less capable brethren. We as a society therefore refuse to pay more taxes to increase teacher salary because we don't feel that it is a difficult job and that anyone off the street can do it. Do I agree with this? NO. But it is the sad state of affairs. So given our expectations and criteria for teachers I do not beileve teachers are underpaid. I believe the actual problem is that our expectations and criteria for teachers is much too low.

Apparently Everyone in Heaven is Blonde

Monday, August 04, 2003
I'm sitting at home trying to do some work and I have the TV on for background noise. There is a show on the WB called 7th Heaven. I have heard of it before but never watched it. Well first off let me say I'm glad I have never watched it before.

The point of this blog is to ask, how come every girl on the show is blonde? This despite that blondes only make up about 20% of the population. This despite the fact that Blondes are an endangered species. I guess Blondes are considered more attractive but this is a little ridiculous.