Sick on New Year's Eve

Friday, December 31, 2004
I had a nice long post that kind of reflected on the past year but I decided not to post it. Just too personal I guess.

I'm excited about the New Year but upset that I'm sick and I'm at work. I'm not sure what I have, I think its a stomach flu; I feel miserable. Normally I wouldn't come into work but I think its kind of fishy to call in sick the day before a holiday so like a good soldier I dragged my ass into work.

I'm a moron.

Men, Women, and Going out

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
I had a conversation with someone at work today about the differences between men and women and their desire to go out. The conversation basically revolved around the fact that I would generally rather stay in while the girl I'm seeing would rather go out. More specifically, I don't really care if we go out for New Year's Eve whereas the girl really wants to go out and be among other people.

Now I'm not saying ALL men don't like to go out or ALL women do but it seems to be generally true for a lot of couples I know. Here is my theory.

Guys go out with a purpose. Let me let you all in on a little secret. Guys go out to meet girls. We don't go out to have a good time, we go out to meet girls. Yes, some guys do. I'm one of them as I'm one of the few guys I know who actually likes to dance. But 90% of guys go out with the intention of picking up girls.

Now girls on the other hand will go out to just have a good time. Yes, picking up a guy would be great but girls will still go out even if it is just to party and have a good time.

There lies the difference. In a couple, the guy doesn't want to go out because he has no motivation. He has a girlfriend, he doesn't need to go out and try and pick up women. Women on the other hand still have the motivation to go out and have fun. Thus , men want to stay home and women want to go out. It's like shopping. Guys go shopping with a purpose, to buy something. Women go shopping for all sorts of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with actually buying something. Think about it.

America: The Self-Centered Country

Monday, December 27, 2004
Most of you have already probably heard that there was a very powerful earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. The resulting tidal waves that were created have devastated the area killing over 23,000 people. I can only hope that the aid being sent is able to help those who need it.

What bothers me about the whole thing as I listened to news reports yesterday and today is that there is a need to report the total number of Americans known to be killed. Yesterday three Americans were confirmed dead. Today it is six. I guess it is somewhat newsworthy but I believe it is really insignificant in the larger scope of things. Do Americans feel a closer connection to the situation knowing that some of their fellow countrymen have died? Does this fact illicit greater sympathy even though Americans make up only 0.02% of the casualties? To me a person is a person and it is a tradgedy when someone is killed whether they were born in America or not.

Smart Kitty

Thursday, December 23, 2004
I love my cat. He keeps me in line.

So the other day I looked around and couldn't find my cat. I went into the hallway and heard the sound of peeing coming from the bathroom. It could only be one of two things. Either Sandy, my roommate, didn't close the door, or my cat was using the toilet.

Now for those of you who don't know, I have toilet trained my cat. However, he had some urinary problems a while back and so I switched him back to using a litter box. I don't know if the two were related but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

Well I have never really seen him using the toilet when he has had the option of the litter box. However, I have been remiss in cleaning his box as often as I should so I think he was telling me he would prefer the toilet to the smelly litter box. Bad owner!

Spending Other People's Money

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Sports fans love to spend other people's money. Whenever the team they root for is doing bad the answer is always that the organization needs to go out and spend whatever it takes to get some other player that will be the savior, salary be damned.

Such is the case with the Dodgers these days. To catch you up, the Dodgers won the NL west division last year. This offseason they decided not to resign Adrian Beltre who signed with the mariners for 5 years and $64 million. Coupled with the Paul Lo Duca trade last year and the botched three-team mega-deal this winter and a lot of people are speculating that the Dodgers are trying to cut payroll and save some money.

Fans are screaming bloody murder. They want Frank McCourt, the Dodgers owner, to spend whatever it takes to win, kind of like George Steinbrenner of the Yankess does.

Sports fans are funny. They speculate and speculate during the offseason and don't let anything play itself out. Am I estatic that the Dodgers didn't sign Beltre, of course not. But I also understand what they did. Beltre had one good year. He had seven bad years before that and you want to reward the guy with a $65 million dollar contract? Don't people remember Darren Dreifort? Reports are that the Dodgers offered about $55 million or so and the fans are upset that the Dodgers didn't go the extra $2 million a year to keep Beltre. I mean its only $2 million per year right? How many of you have $2 million a year to just throw away on something you don't think is worth it?

Frank McCourt bought the team. Its his team. He can run it anyway he wants. You as a fan have a simple recourse. Don't support the Dodgers. Don't go to the games. Don't buy merchandise. Heck you can even still root for them and watch them on TV but so long as you voice your displeasure with your dollar sooner or later McCourt will get the idea that he will lose money if he doesn't put a winning team on the field.

Are you a stalker.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I can't believe someone did a study to find out what behavior patterns exist in mall-parking-lot seekers. According to the survey there are 4 types.

1. Search and Destroy - roam the aisles, cruising endlessly for the perfect spot
2. lay and wait - position themselves at the end of an aisle and wait for a space to open up
3. stalkers - the most predatory, slowly follow shoppers leaving the store back to their parking spot.
4 see it and take it - just take the first available spot no matter how far they walk

Without a doubt I'm a "see it and take it" guy. Unless the person is already in the car and is about to back out in the next 20 seconds I will not wait for a spot. It is just a waste of time and too stressful to continually wait for the "perfect" spot. For me, the perfect spot is the one that is open.

The Shopping Season

Monday, December 20, 2004
Is it me or is this shopping season kind of slow? I normally hate to go shopping after Thanksgiving but have gone a few times with no real big crowds. A lot of so-called experts predicted a robust shopping season but the few reports I have read have said it has been a disappointment. I would easily believe that because thus far I haven't hit any large crowds.

I went to the malls the day after Thanksgiving. I normally avoid it like the plague but this year I had my reasons. I was expecting to fight for parking but it really wasn't all that bad. I also went to the malls this past weekend, the last weekend before Christmas, and it was busy but not overly crowded. I only had to wait a few minutes in line, my least favorite thing in the world, to buy a gift.

Oh well. Sucks for retailers, good for people like me.

Best Actors

Thursday, December 16, 2004
Who are the five best actors today? I'm not talking about the best looking or those who have been in the best movies. I'm talking about people who can just flat-out act. Here is my list in no particular order.

1. Edward Norton
2. Sean Penn
3. Denzel Washington
4. Kevin Spacey
5. Johnny Depp

Not quite making my list: Tom Hanks, Tim Robbins, Anthony Hopkins

I'm sure I probably missed a few but that is just off the top of my head. If you want to add someone then tell me who you disagree with me on.

The Rising Cost of Healthcare

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Yesterday it was announced that my company would implement a co-pay for all health plans. So now, depending on the plan, employees will get between $20 and $200 deducted directly from their paycheck. Up until now the company covered all premiums for all health care plans.

I'm not really all that upset about the whole thing. In fact, I kind of expected it. The move is to try and control the company's contribution toward the upward spiraling cost of healthcare in two different ways.

A) Keep the companies contribution to healthcare flat even though cost have risen
B) Keep the companies contribution to all employees equal whichever plan they select.

B. Is being implemented by charging a higher co-pay for the POS plan than the HMO. POS plans cost the employer more so in effect all the other employees on the HMO plan subsidize the cost of the more expensive employees. Considering I'm on the cheapest plan, I am single, and I am young I am the one doing the most subsidizing so this is a good deal for me overall.

However, what I think this really points out is that healthcare is becoming much too expensive and I think this is a shame.

I used to believe in universal health care but I no longer do. There are many reasons why healthcare is so expensive but I believe that the major culprit in the rising cost of healthcare is the fact that most patients see the treatment as free. You go to the doctor, you might pay a small co-pay, and you get treated. Further, that doctor is obligated to treat you with the utmost care no matter the cost (there are some restrictions but in reality very few procedures get denied if the doctor recommends it) and the effect it will have on other patients. There is little incentive for the patient to refuse healthcare as he is paying very little of the actual cost of providing that healthcare, thus cost spiral out of control.

Like anything else healthcare is based on supply and demand. Their are limited resources which to treat everyone. However we live in a society where most people have access to some form of healthcare and those who don't have the right to at least emergency care (which ends up costing taxpayers more money anyway as preventive care is usually less expensive).

In the end, everyone suffers from more expensive and a greatly degraded healthcare system. In a free market system you simply can't legislate something like this. In the end, the people who are most hurt by trying are the people who the system are trying to help. It is the same reason I don't think that excessively taxing the rich actually helps or why I don't think raising the minimum wage is a good idea.

Think about it, who is the person least affected by this raise in cost by my company? Me. Like I said, I'm on the least expensive plan and I require little health care anyway. Within the company I am probably in the top 20% of salaries so losing $20 a month is really no big deal to me. However it is a big deal to the guys barely earning enough to get by. This $20 (much more if they have a family or are on the more expensive plan) is going to come out of something and so they will have to scale back on other necessary goods. The problem is actually even worse than this. As all healtcare becomes more expensive people like myself will probably always still be able to afford it eventually pricing out the people at the bottom.

The Laws of Attraction

Friday, December 10, 2004
There is the idea that liking someone for their looks is "shallow" while liking someone for their brain is not. Why is that?

I was having a conversation with someone today about what I find to be attractive. I thought we were talking strictly about physical attributes so I listed a few things that I tend to be attracted to but are by no means set in stone. I was told I was a "typical guy" because I listed only physical characteristics.

Now, those who know me know that this is not all I look for, far from it. But I'm also not ashamed to admit that a very important criteria for me is that I'm attracted to someone physically. If someone has the best personality in the world but I'm just not physically attracted to her it will just never work out. I've learned this about myself and I've grown to accept it.

This may seem strange coming from someone, like me, whose strongest attribute is probably that I'm intelligent. I should think that everyone should judge people solely on their intellect as I would probably do quite well for myself. But I believe you should like people for whatever reason you want and that no reason is better than another. Isn't it all just arbitrary? When in history did someone decide that liking someone because they happen to be beautiful rather than really intelligent is a bad thing?

It is OK to like someone because they are smart, a great painter, an awesome musician, kind to children, etc. but it is wrong because they are beautiful? Shouldn't we admire excellence in whatever form it takes? Here are typical reasons.

Some people are just born beautiful. You can't help the way you look.

I completely disagree. You can definitely make yourself "better looking" than simply what god gave you. There is of course plastic surgery but I'm talking about working out, eating right, and taking care of yourself. Besides, some people are just born smarter or more talented than others so say "they are just born with it" isn't really a fair statement.

Beauty is fleeting.

So are a lot of things. If I get Alzheimer's and my intellect is gone does that mean it is OK to stop loving me? Success is fleeting. You might have a great job now but maybe you have a stroke and can no longer work. If you are a great guitarist maybe you mangle your hand and can no longer play.

Its just superficial

The question is why? By whose standards? What makes it more superficial than anything else?

I will agree liking a person for ONLY their looks might be bad but so is liking someone ONLY because they are smart. Like I said, you have to look at the complete package.

The Flip Side of Outlawing Wal-Mart

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Back when Sergio use to work here we would have arguments all the time about Wal-Mart. One argument I remember was whether or not the government had the right to say a Wal-Mart could not open a store in the community. I, being the good libretarian that I am, believe government should have little to no say when it comes to what is done with Private Property. The other argument is that a community as a righ to decide what it does and does not want and make laws accordingly.

The problem is that if you declare it is OK for government to determine what can be done with private property the opposite of outlawing Wal-Mart must also be true. There was an article in the WSJ yesterday of how many local governments are using the power of Emminent Domain to force small business owners out to allow big-box companies like Costco and Wal-Mart to take over. They do this because these large retailers bring in more tax revenues which is vital for these cash-strapped communities.

So where is the line? How do you solve this problem? For me its simple. You do not allow government to determine winners and losers in a business enviroment. If the community doesn't like Wal-Mart than don't shop there. With no customers Wal-Mart has to eventually close its doors. Want a Wal-Mart, OK, but don't take someone's private property just so you can do it. If nobody comes to the stores on that piece of land soon enough the doors will have to be closed. Free Markets!

The Dating Rules

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Whenever you start dating someone there are certain rules you need to follow. They go unspoken but people definitely follow them.

The thing is, nobody really likes the rules but you have to play by them. Otherwise you might mess something up. People say, "Well I don't like to play all those games" but the thing is whether they know it or not most people prefer people who do follow the rules, they just don't like to be told that that is what they or the other person is donig. Example?

- You do not call the next day
- You do not go on a date two nights in a row
- You do not go out more than once or twice a week
- You do not immediately call back
- You ask a woman out once and only once
- Keep the first date casual, brief, and in a public place
- You do not talk about past relationship on the first or second date
- Avoid tricky topics like Politics and religion on the first date
- The guy pays for the first date
- Keep your phone conversations brief
- Always appear to be busy and to have another life

I can go on and on but you get the picture. I'm not saying I haven't broken some of these rules or that I believe all of them but in general I try to follow most of them. Now I know a lot of you will say that all these rules are silly and that you don't need them to be followed. I call B.S. Sure nobody likes to admit it but we all need the rules to be followed. Do you really want a guy/girl calling you all the time and appearing needy? Of course not. Do you really want to hear about someone's ex on the first date knowing that this person is clearly not over the ex? Of course not.

Yes in a perfect world people would be open and honest with each other and the rules would not need to be followed. However, the problem is that you really need to get to know someone before you are willing to be open and honest there and to get to that point you need to go out on a few dates. The only way to do that is to follow the rules. Its a horrible catch-22.

Some people, it is rare, do not need the rules to be followed. However you are always safer follwing the rules because those who do not need the rules to be followed most likely won't mind if you do follow them. Whereas those who do need the rules followed will run away like crazy if you happen to break them.

How Lazy Am I

Monday, December 06, 2004
In keeping with the run of short and completely useless blog topics ....

We, like most offices, have those little packets of sugar so people can have some sugar in their coffee.

The other day I got a cup of coffee I thought to myself, "I'm gong to bring my own sugar in to work."

Why do you ask? Is the sugar from my house better? No, I'm just lazy. I use a lot of sugar in my coffee, usually 5 packets, and I'm tired of opening all the little packets of sugar and pouring them into my cup. This was even further enforced this weekend when we went out to breakfast Sunday morning and I had several cups of coffee. As I poured the sugar into my cups of coffee I thought to myself, "Thank god I don't have to open all those little packets."

Keeping it Real

Friday, December 03, 2004
On my way to the gym one night I saw a homeless man with a sign.

"Lets keep it real. I just want to have a beer. Thank you"

I have to say that while I don't just give money to people on the street I was almost tempted to give this man a dollar. At least he was being honest with what he was going to do with my charity.

Being a Player

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Saw a guy wearing a shirt that had written on it something like, "True Player". If you have to advertise the fact that you are a "player" doesn't that instantly make you not a player?

Baseball's Hypocrisy

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Yesterday Baseball announced the candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among those on the ballot for the first time is Darryl Strawberry. Not on the ballot once again is Baseball's all-time hit king Pete Rose.

I am not here to argue whether or not Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. I find it a little ridiculous that the all time leader in hits isn't in the Hall but Baseball's cardinal rule is that you do not bet on Baseball. He did and he has to live with the consequences. I'm fine with that.

But let me get this straight. It is OK to take drugs, cocaine no less, and get suspended from the game 3 times for it but it is not OK to bet on the game? Darry Strawberry admits to having a drug problem. It is pretty obvious that he was probably high in a lot of games. Yet Baseball will look the other way when it comes to drugs. The argument why gambling is so bad is that it hurts the fabric of the game. Sure I buy that but guys juiced up on steroids don't hurt the fabric or integrity of the game? If baseball cared so much about the "fabric of the game" wouldn't it have a better drug policy than the current lame ass policy?

Think about it. Your kid comes back from college and he is going to tell you one of two things.

1. Dad, I have a cocaine problem. I get high 3 times a day.
2. Dad, I have a gambling problem. I lost $1000 at the track last week.

If its #1 I'm worrying and probably out of my mind. If its #2 I'm worried but I can work with it. What is baseball trying to say?

My point is that if you are going to say gambling keeps you out of the hall then taking drugs, being a racist, and beating your wife should keep you out too.

Dell's Super Customer Service

Monday, November 29, 2004
Since I blog about when I don't get good customer service I will blog about when I do get good customer service.

About a week ago I noticed that my Dell Axim X30 was broken. The screen was just white and nothing I did would restore it. I know I didn't break it myself because I almost never use the device and it was just sitting on my desk for the longest time. I dreaded calling customer service because these things are a pain in the butt.

I waited and waited through all the computer menus (truly a Dilbert moment) until I was finally connected to a live operator and explained the problem. Yes the screen is broken, No I didn't do it, yes I tried rebooting it.

But surprisingly he didn't ask too many questions and said that Dell would send me a replacement and that I just had to send my broken one back in the same box. What? You mean you aren't going to make me send mine back, take a look at it, tell me what I just told you was wrong with it and then wait another month to send me a replacement? I was just floored. What was even more shocking that the replacement came THE NEXT DAY. I mean I called the place at like 3:00 p.m. that afternoon and the replacement comes by 11:00 the next morning. I put the broken one in the box and sent it on its way. No hassle whatsoever. That's how customer service should be done.

All I can say is Snaps to Dell (sorry watched Legally Blonde 2 this weekend. I don't recommend it)

Happy Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

You know what my favorite thing about Thanksgiving is? People are so nice when you have nothing to do. Last year Jenny invited me to her families get together and I had a great time. This year lots of people have asked me if I would like to go with them to Thanksgiving.

This year I decided to decline all the offers and just stay at home, watch some movies, and hang out with the cat but all the invites were very appreciated.

Everyone have a nice long weekend and see you all when we get back. I may or may not blog during the break but otherwise see you on Monday.

Working Long Hours

Monday, November 22, 2004
EA, the video game maker, is facing a lawsuit from workers complaining about the long working hours.

I couldn't believe it when I read it. These are people who are in an industry most programmers are dying to get into. I'm betting a lot of programmers would be willing to work 100 hour weeks for minimum pay to get into this very competitive industry. Further, its not like EA underpays their employees. I'm betting many of these people earn six figures or at least have the potential to earn six figures in a few years.

My favorite part of the article is "The comments depict an industry that expects employees to put in many work weeks of 60 hours or more, with little attention to helping employees balance work and family needs." I HATE THIS EXCUSE. I know people with families need to spend more time with their families but does that mean us single guys need to pick up the slack or should be expected to work longer hours? I don't expect any more or any less from my employees if they are single or have families. Everyone has personal stuff they would rather be doing than work but it is your choice to have a family or not. I choose not to have a family and focus on my career. Am I to be punished for that or should you be given more favorable treatment?

I don't really have a problem with people complaining to their employer if they believe the work conditions are too harsh. It is important that employees are happy and that their concerns are addressed. But filing a lawsuit? That's a little much. If you complain to your employer and he says, "you know what we expect people to work 80 hours and that is that" than you need to find another job. Most of the employees who work for me work between 40 and 50 hours. The work isn't as glamorus or as fun as making video games but its a lifestyle choice that my employees have made.

Taxing the Rich: Part 2

Friday, November 19, 2004
This is a follow up to my original post that asked the question whether it really is a good idea to tax the rich more heavily. There are many people who have the idea that the rich will just grin and bear it and won’t alter their behavior if we as a society decide to tax them more. They, after all, have the ability to pay and will just continue to work hard no matter how much the rest of society decides to tax them. I had several interesting conversations this past weekend that would say otherwise.

While visiting some friends this weekend I had conversations with several people looking for jobs after they graduate from Harvard Business School. Most HBS grads can be fairly certain of receiving job offers in the six-figure range and of course this salary has the potential to grow very rapidly in the succeeding years. These graduates, and others from various MBA programs, are the drivers of the economy. Many will start business that will create billions of dollars and provide jobs for thousands of workers. At the very least, their salaries will provide much needed spending and tax revenues wherever they decide to live.

On more than one occasion a student told me they were looking at job opportunities on the West Coast. Mainly California and Seattle. Many of those students said that they were leaning toward Seattle for the simple reason that taxes were lower and that their prospective job offers from the companies in California did not reflect the added cost of living. After you factor in California’s Income Tax, High Sales Tax, and High Property tax you have to earn a lot more than you would in a state like Washington that has no Income Tax.

So those who argue that raising taxes will have no noticeable impact on the rich need to think hard about what they believe is right. My stance on this issue isn't because I'm greedy for myself. If these students and others like them decide to move to a different state they take their income, and all their tax dollars with them. In the end, you are just hurting the poor you are desperately trying to help.

Outrunning a Squirrel

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Quick note to Jenny. The top speed of a squirrel is 12.0 mph. I'm sure I can run faster than that.

The Trip Part 2

I actually have a lot of other thigns to blog about but I'll give a quick update about my trip and then save the other post for some other time.

So the rest of the trip went fine. Strange enough on my trip from Philly to L.A. I got the "S" again on my ticket and had to go through the extensive screening process again. I wonder what algorithm the airlines use to mark people for a security screening. There is no way it is random because the chances of me getting it on 3 consecutive flights has to be pretty small.

I really enjoyed seeing Jenny again. I got to meet a lot of her friends and I liked them all. I'm glad I can leave my humanitarian efforts on Jenny in good hands :) It is always strange to go back on to campus. The students look younger and younger and the buildings keep changing. Isn't the world supposed to stop when I'm not around?

I don't really have that much to say about the rest of the trip. It was kind of low key and nothing terribly exciting except I started kicking Jenny's butt, as soon as her beginner's luck wore off, at Hand and Foot and I saw The Incredibles which I think may be the best animated flick ever produced.

The Trip Part 1

Monday, November 15, 2004
I've travelled a lot in my life. My experience at LAX this past Saturday might have been the worse. No one thing was bad but taken all together the experience was awful.

So I get to the airport but I have a stupid paper ticket. Why Orbitz insisted I have a paper ticket is beyond me. I have no baggage to check, I never do, but still had to wait in some awful line to get my boarding pass. Arrrgh. Of course, once again I get flagged for a security check. Normally I don't care and in an old blog I talked about this airport insecurity but like a good passenger I made no complaints. Of course there was an odd number of people flagged for inspection and not nearly enough people to do the inspection so the extra-security line was much longer than all the others.

I get inspected and of course nothing but now, becasue I had a paper ticket and the security check, I'm running a little late. I'm always the type to arrive in plenty of time but now I know its going to be close. I get to the gate and they have already boarded the plane, this by the way blows my seating priority, I was 1 and would have boarded first.

Anyway, by the time I get on the plane there are no overhead compartments so I have to check my bag. I'm a good sport about it and just check the bag. Oh well. 20 minutes into the flight I get my beverage, a cup of water. Like a clumbsy oaf I spill it all over myself and thus had to sit on the plane for 5 hours with a damp shirt.

Again, none of these are a big deal and truth be told at no time was I really upset. Just an unfortunate set of circumstances which makes me remember how much I HATE travelling on airlines.

And of course I get off the plane and there is snow on the ground. Friggin snow! It was 70 when I left L.A. Why do people live over here again?

Really Busy

Friday, November 12, 2004
So things have been hectic around here which is why I did not post yesterday and I'm not really posting today. I have a couple of saved drafts that I could post but don't feel like even finishing those up right now.

Going to head back east this weekend. Its cold there and I was realizing that I really don't have all that much warm stuff anymore. I don't want to bring my heavy jacket but it looks like I might have to and I don't really like the sweaters I have so I might have to go do some shopping before i leave tomorrow.

If I don't blog for a while know that it is not because I'm lazy but because I don't have access to a computer. My next blog will probably have to be from Jenny's computer if she is nice enough to let me use it :)

Problems with Netflix AND Blockbuster

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
For all those reading this trying to figure out if you should join Netflix or Blockbuster I'm here to tell you JOIN NETFLIX. I am so mad at Blockbuster. I'm not 100% satisfied with Netflix either, and I hope the DVD price wars will foster some good competition, but at least they didn't piss me off.

So in the end of my comparison between Netflix and Blockbuster I decided to go to Netflix. It wasn't that tough of a choice given the better service and wider selection.

But Blockbuster went and did it. I returned all my movies back to Blockbuster about 3 days after I cancelled my membership. I got emails confirming that they got back 2 of the 3 movies and figured that they didn't send the third as it would close out my account. I was wrong. I get an email from them about 2 weeks later stating they are going to charge me for Underworld, the third movie. They were going to charge $21 to my credit card for a movie I know I returned. Why would I keep this movie? It wasn't even all that great.

I called Customer Service and waited, I'm not exaggerating, 25 minutes for someone to pick up the phone. As soon as they answered I explained to them that I returned the movie and that I can't be held responsible for the USPS losing it. They refunded the money without too much of a problem but I was still fuming over the fact that they charged me in the first place and that I had to wait so long to get it resolved.

Netflix has not been without its problems. They did send me a DVD that was broken at the end of the disk. I had to return it and get a replacement which is kind of silly because I wasted a return to catch the last, and obviously most important, 20 minutes of the movie. Also, the turnaround time has gotten a little slower. Before I would return the DVD and get a replacement in 3 days. 1 day there, process, 1 day back, on the next day DVD arrives at my door. Now it is more like 1 day there, process, 2 days back, on the next day DVD arrives.

None of this is probably their fault as the DVD may have gotten damaged during shipping and they don't control the USPS. However it is there business model and one which I think will definitely rub customers the wrong way going forward.

Firefox 1.0 Released

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Since according to Jenny I must be selling it, I am telling you all that Firefox 1.0 was released today. Get it while its hot. If you are still using Internet Exploiter I suggest you switch. Here is why.

Need more reasons? Try here, here, and here.

Happy Browsing!

Best Buy and the Devils

Monday, November 08, 2004
I have started reading the Wall Street Journal on a daily basis. The CFO of my company, who has recently left, used to get it delivered to him every day. Since he is gone the receptionist has been nice enough to give me the paper instead. Its funny, when I was young I thought I would never read the WSJ. I thought only old stuffy men read that paper. I guess I have become old and stuffy.

I found an interesting article today on the front page about Best Buy. It seems as if Best Buy wants to get rid of the "devil" customers. These are the customers who only come to the store to buy loss leaders like discounted DVDs or those who return merchandise to the store only to buy it back when it gets sold as an open item.

I have my doubts about this strategy but it looks like it is working at some of the pilot stores. There is no doubt that as a business it is better to focus on your higher profit customers than those who cost you to lose money but my doubts come from the ability to correctly identify and thus cater to the right customers.

I'm the perfect example. I am a high-income male who is a tech geek. I'm probably Best Buy's perfect target demographic except for one thing, I love a good deal and don't just waste my money. I often go to Best Buy just because it has great deals on things like DVDs. Since I'm used to shopping there I will often go to buy other items too. Now if Best Buy does away with some of its great deals I will be less likely to shop there for other things. I find myself going to Best Buy sometimes just to see if they have any good deals and end up buying something else.

Will the strategy work, I don't know. But it will be interesting to find out if Best Buy continues with the strategy and to see where it is in 5-10 years.

(Not the)Funniest Movie Ever

Friday, November 05, 2004
This weekend I rented Bruce Almighty. I'm not normally a Jim Carey fan but I watched it because Jenny's dad claimed that it was the funniest movie ever and actually got in a fight with her when she didn't agree. (Keep that in mind Jenny Smith Trivia buffs)

I have to say, I agree with Jenny. It was funny but come on, the funniest movie ever? There were moments when I laughed out loud, I thought the post-it prayers were pretty funny, but at other times I thought it was all kind of ridiculous.

My Vison: Four Months Later

Thursday, November 04, 2004
OK, this should probably be the final istallment about how my Lasik Procedure went barring any sudden blindless that might strike me.

Yesterday I went back to Dr. Assil's office for my check up after I had my touch-up. I have to say that I'm happy with my sight. Sometimes my eyes feel a little dry but that is to be expected. Every once in a while my sight gets a little wonky but it usually corrects itself in a few minutes. Overall my sight is very good. Probably better than when I had contacts. The doctor measured it at 20/15 and I could see that line pretty clearly.

My life has definitely changed now. My eyes aren't irritated nearly as much and I never have to worry about falling asleep with my contacts or remembering to bring a case wherever I go just in case I end up spending the night. Overall, well worth the money. I highly suggest it to anyone thinking about it.

Dr. Assil did a fine job. I think he is starting to become very very popular though which can be somewhat annoying. I hear his ads on the radio all the time and I get a hit or two a day on this little blog for people looking for info. Yesterday, I had to wait about 45 minutes just to see the doctor and for them to tell me I can see well. Yeah, big surprise. I know that Doctors are busy and it is hard to get an appointment but maybe I'm just old school in thinking that if you get an appointment you should be seen at that time plus or minus 10 minutes or so.

Update: For full story you should also see these post

All Lasik Post

Election 2004: The Aftermath

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
This will be my last political post for a long time as I'm sure most of us probably have had as much politics as anybody can handle.

Well Bush won. I was pretty upset about the whole thing last night but I've moved on. It is what it is and getting upset about the whole thing isn't going to undo it. In many respects it is better for me as I will probably have lower taxes and I leave a pretty normal life so I'm not too afraid of them knocking down my door because the suspect I'm a terrorist, at least I'm not scared yet.

So what happened? I'm not bitter and I'm not going to say that a majority of Americans are idiots. Bush won by a significant margin not to mention the Republicans strengthened their hold on both houses of Congress. Here is what I think happened to the Democrats.

Wrong Man

The Democrats might want to think about how they choose their candidate. Kerry was an absolutely awful choice to run for the Presidency. The man is notoriously liberal and most of America is in the center. Further, the man just isn't all that likeable. He definitely isn't Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Yes, I voted for Kerry but for me it was the lesser of two evils. But most people are not as socially liberal as I am so I can see how many Americans would be turned off by the whole thing.

Wrong Message

America isn't buying what the Democrats are selling. I do not think it is a fluke that the Republicans won the Presidency and both houses. America is concerned with the Economy, Terrorism, and the morality of America. Things they clearly think that the Republicans are better equipped to handle.

Democrats are much more popular with the poor and youth of America, people who notoriously do not come out to vote. Further, in times of economic hardship it is a hard sell to say that people should pay more taxes and expand government to boost the economy. People care about their own situation and want their lives to be better. The American people have spoken, and they have said that they feel safer with George Bush in the White House than John Kerry. Perhaps people, and I'm not making a judgment here, really are fed up with the amount of taxes that we all pay and are willing to give up some of their civil liberties in order to get some relief. I don't know.

Wrong Time

The timing is just off. Iraq and terrorism are still big issues and people clearly feel Bush is better equipped to handle the problem. Further, the economy is bad but shows some signs of recovery. This may make people scared to jump ship at this point and go in a new direction.

So there you have it. I'm an optimist and hope that things get better over the next 4 years. Like I said, for me personally they probably will. I just hope the rest of the country is there with me in 4 years.

Why I am Not a Republican

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Yesterday I wrote about why I am not a Democrat. Today I will write about why I am not a Republican.

It's a shame because if the Republicans were to just stick with the principles of what the Republican party was founded I might be a Republican. Republicans believe in small government and they believe laissez-faire capitalism. But somewhere along the way the Party of Lincoln lost its way.

There is one main reason I'm not voting Republican this year, George W. Bush. The man is a complete moron, but really this is a problem much deeper than one man. Somehow the Republican party has been corrupted by the Religious Right. How this marriage made in hell was formed I do not know.

Somehow the Party became about imposing moral and religious beliefs onto the rest of the nation. It became the party of Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gays, and Anti-Free speech. It is now Pro-Christian, Pro-Gun, and Pro-Dumb-Ass-Leaders.

So long as the Religious Right have a voice in the party I will not vote for a Republican candidate. Not only do I not share these beliefs but even if I did I would not impose them on other people. My government should be about opening up choices for me, not limiting them because of some religious belief I do not share.

There are of course other problems I have with Republicans. Top on the list is the Patriot Act. How idiotic is it to remove our freedoms so we can protect our freedom? Let's infiltrate peaceful Muslim Groups just to make sure they aren't planning a terror attack. Let's collect personal information about every American just to make sure they aren't committing crimes, after all if you have nothing to hide what does it matter? This is wrong. You can not treat people this way. Let me repeat. YOU CAN NOT TREAT PEOPLE THIS WAY. I actually heard people say after 9/11 they felt scared when they saw a Muslim person on the plane. How stupid are these people? Why don't we just lock up all the Muslims and why we are at it all the Black and Asian people? That way we can be sure that all the White people can feel safe.

Even a lot of the economic policy is crazy. While by no means Anti-Big-Business, I definitely do not believe government should be deciding winners and losers either by handing certain corporations and farms subsidies. Certainly Republican ties to things Enron and Halliburton are a little bit concerning to say the least.

I hate to say it but I'll vote Republican when they put someone on the ticket that won't impose his or her religious beliefs on to the rest of society. Its sad. I will take my social concerns over my economic concerns even if I think in many ways they are linked. While I know many people think the Republican party is anti-poor I actually believe in the long run free markets benefit the poor. But that is a different topic for another day.

Why I am Not a Democrat

Sunday, October 31, 2004
In honor of the election tomorrow this will be a two part blog. Today it is going to be why I am not a Democrat. Tomorrow it will be why I am not a Republican.

I actually am a registered Democrat. When I turned 18 I had different beliefs and ideals and I registered as a Democrat. In every election since 1996 I have voted for the Democratic ticket as I will this year. All that being said, I will, next election, un-register myself as a Democrat as I no longer agree with all of its philosophies. That does not mean I won't vote Democratic, I just wish to be independent as I disagree with BOTH of the dominant American parties.

I believe in choice. I believe that I know what is best for me better than my government. I know what my own beliefs are, I know what I believe to be moral, and I know what I want to do with the money I earn. Most of the people who read this blog know that I'm very opinionated. But I am opinionated only for myself. I recognize the fact that other people have different beliefs than I do and I do not wish to impose by force my beliefs on other people.

But the Democratic party (as well as the Republicans but that is for tomorrow) seems to think it knows better than I and the American public what to do with our lives. Democrats believe in big government. They believe it is proper for government to provide things like welfare, universal health care, etc.

I am not saying that I don't believe in these things. I am not saying that I don't think charity to others is a good thing. I am saying that it is not fair for me to force my beliefs onto somebody else. When the government takes your money from you that is exactly what they are doing. They are making a choice for you about what you should do with your money. They are telling you that you MUST pay for things like Art, Stem Cell Research, charity, corporate and farm subsidies, the war in Iraq, etc. even if these things conflict with your personal moral code.

I am not saying that the Republicans don't do the same thing. But the basic philosophy that is underpinning the Democratic party is that it is proper for the government to regulate the economy so long as it is for the public good. But who is the public? The majority? If that is the case who protects the minority interest? I do not believe in big government. I do not believe that it is OK to tax people to pay for the interest of others even if I agree with those beliefs. I believe in the Free Economy.

That means every man has the right to earn, through his own effort, a productive and happy life. That implies no man has a claim on another man. However, when you believe it is proper for the government to tax someone to pay for the health care, food, housing, etc. of another that is exactly what you are doing. You are stating a man must live for another. If you think that is your duty to provide the sustenance of another than I think that is wonderful. I think you have the absolute right to give all of your earnings to support churches, halfway houses, free clinics, etc. But these activities should be PRIVATE not public. That is your moral choice, and the government should not legislate morality.

And that brings us to the Republican party ....

Why Taxing the Rich More may be a BAD Idea

Thursday, October 28, 2004
There is a proposition on the California Ballot, Proposition 63, that will increase the tax of people who make over $1million dollars by 1%. This would raise approximately $750 Million a year by taxing only about 25,000 to 30,000 people No big deal right? Sounds like a great deal "Because they have the capacity to pay it." It looks like it is going to pass. I'm here to tell you what a really bad idea this may be.

Imagine you are a very hard worker at your company and you are the best at what you do. While most people work 32-40 hours a week you voluntarily work 80 hours a week. You make a little more money than most, not twice as much but you like your job and you don't mind much. You know that your hard work will help everybody in the long run by making the company more successful.

Now the company decides to implement a new policy. It tells you that all the best workers are required to work more hours. Not a lot more just a little. It shouldn't be a big deal "Because you have the capacity to do it" Those who don't have the capacity, the people working 32-40 hours, actually will get to work less. They tell you that you are now REQUIRED to work 84 hours, just 5% more than you are currently working. Because you are good at what you do and so much more productive than everyone else everyone else gets to work 2 hours less.

Great plan right. I mean only the people who have the ability are affected. Everyone else, those without ability, get to live a slightly easier and better life. Why should you care? You can handle the extra small burden.

What would you do? I know I would leave the company and find new work. Where does that leave everybody? The company just lost one of its best workers who not only worked harder but also was more productive. That means everybody has to work HARDER now, 40-48 hours, than they did before or the company will do worse. Even a bigger problem is that most likely it doesn't matter how much harder everyone works, there are certain things that only you can do. No matter how hard I work, no way can I do the creative work of the Graphic Designer just like no way can the Graphic Designer come up with an elegant software architecture.

But it's only a little! The problem is that there is a domino effect. It takes one hard worker leaving the company. Let's say that is someone else. Well then production for the whole company goes down. What happens? Well, why don't we just make the most productive work a little harder? It’s only a little. What is another 5% right? So now you are working 88 hours. See the problem?

People sometimes say I lack compassion because I don't believe in helping the poor at all cost. I say that these people don't have a view of the larger problem. What happens to those without ability when the company goes under? How will they find more work? It's probably not a big deal for the hard workers to find new jobs but what about those that are not as hard working? Who was really hurt because you decided to ask for more from those most able? Have the people who said this ever had to lay someone off? It isn't fun. So who lacks compassion?

Think about it.

A Better Blogger

OK. I am promising to be a good blogger from now on. I have finished some other things that required a great deal of my time and now should be able to be a more regular blogger. Inspired by Jenny I will attempt to blog every day.

I was going to blog something about Politics today, but I've done that the last few times and I will save my post for Monday and Tuesday as it will be more appropriate there too. So having a lack of anything else to talk about I'll review a DVD I got from Netflix, Love Actually. I am going to give away the ending so read at your own peril.

I actually liked this movie. I didn't at first because it is basically is about 8 different VERY loosely related love stories. At the beginning things keep jumping back and forth and there really is just too much to track. Some of the stories get jumbled and its hard to keep all the characters and stories straight.

What I liked most about it was that not everyone gets a happy ending. Some of my favorite movies are movies with miserable endings (all time most miserable ending Last American Virgin). Hollywood endings are boring because you always know what is going to happen.

But in Love Actually three of the stories don't really end with the traditonal happy ending. Two of them are mediocre. A cheating husband, (Alan Rickman) gets caught but this story is really unresolved at the end. A guy who is in love with his best friend's new bride, Keira Knightly, tells her he loves her but appropriately nothing comes of it.

The only "bad" ending involved Laura Linney's character who is in love with a coworker. Unfortunately she has tremendous guilt about her sick brother who constantly calls her. In a romantic encounter with the coworker, she is interrupted by a call from her brother and blows off the guy to run to help her brother. In the end she is left alone on Christmas. She ends up calling her brother.

Not terribly interesting today I know but I'll try and do better in the days to come.

Eminem's Vote Video

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Keeping in line with my last post, Eminem has a video out telling people to get out and vote and criticizing the administration for its policies. Check out Eminem's new video.

Even if you don't like Eminem, maybe you will like the Anti-Bush message.

No Longer My Mother

I had lunch with my (ex)Mom today. She asked me if I had turned in my absentee ballot yet and I told her no but that I was pretty much ready to. I asked her if she had voted yet and for who. She said yes she had, and for Bush.

I no longer have a mother. I asked her how the hell she could vote for that Moron. She gave me the standard answer of "he is a flip-flopper" and a bunch of other stuff she couldn't substantiate. I decided to drop the subject rather than get into an argument with my mother.

I understand what is going on. My mother just always votes Republican. She, like me, hates big government and believes we are taxed too heavily. This is odd considering my mother is in one of the lower tax brackets but all the more reason to respect her since she doesn't think the government should be taking care of her or anyone else.

Material Things and Happiness

Thursday, October 21, 2004
I don't like it when people say "Material things don't make me happy" because really these people are full of it.

How can I be so materialistic? People who know me know I am not, I live way below my means and don't really buy flashy or expensive things .... besides jeans :) I just think people need to qualify their answer slightly. I mean if material things don't make you happy then why work at all? Unless you have a job you love why not just do whatever you want however impractical? Your house is a material object. Your clothes are material objects. You have a job to pay for these things. So if your job makes you miserable why do it if not for these material things?

I think the better statement might be "Past a certain point, material things don't make me happy". I wonder if the people who make the first claim have ever been really poor. I mean really poor. I mean living without a roof over their head. I mean wondering when the next time you might eat. I mean wondering how you are going to pay the doctor to look at your sick child.

I live a comfortable life. Will buying a huge house and that new Mercedes make me exponentially happier? To some degree sure but it wouldn't make everything great if everything else in my life was crap. Having great friends and people who love you are by far more important, but please don't discount the importance of having money. Too many people do, but that's because they have it.

God and Sports

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Yesterday, after the Redsox defeated the Yankees to force a game 7, Curt Shilling thanked God for making it possible.

Now I'm not here to say prayer does or doesn't work. Jenny has shown in the last few weeks that her praying is completely responsible for lots of good things happening for me :)

What I don't understand is do people really think God, if there is one, cares about the outcome of a sporting event? After every event someone thanks God for letting them win. I guess if there is a God then he is omnipotent and it technically would not be a big deal if he decided the outcome of every little thing. Now, I am sure there are people on both teams praying for the outcome of the game to go their way. How does God decide who wins? Is it who prays harder? Which team has more people of the correct faith? Maybe whoever sacrifices the best tasting chicken?

By the way, if the RedSox really are able to pull out the series after trailing 3-0 then it must have been an act of God that saved them.

Netflix vs. Blockbuster

Monday, October 18, 2004
This is my comparison of Netflix and Blockbuster. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone. Below is the long version of the story but for those who don't want to read the whole thing let me paraphrase.

I live in LA. Pasadena to be exact. I wanted to do a comparison between Blockbuster and Netflix's DVD by mail service. In the end Netflix was MUCH better than Blockbuster. Not only were the movies I placed in my queue more readily available (several Blockbuster titles had short or long waits) but the delivery time was much better. Blockbuster would tell me they mailed the DVD but often it would take 3 or 4 days for the DVD to show up. In one case it took 8 days. That sucks because not only do you not have the movie but you can't get another one back. So if you want my opinion go with Netflix. Below are the details.

Day 1 - Saturday. I signed up for Blockbuster's net service today. I went with them initially because they are cheaper by $2 a month and they give you two in-store rentals a month. That is a pretty good deal I think. I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that many New Releases, the titles I'm most interested in, had a short wait for them. This makes me think I will need to look at Netflix.

Day 3. My movies were mailed today from Blockbuster. One of the movies is going to take a little longer than the other two, strange.

Day 4. I got two of the movies in the mail today. I watched both today and sent one back early enough to get the late delivery at the post office. Blockbuster should get it by tomorrow.

Day 5. I decided to sign up with Netflix today so I can really compare the two. The early reviews are favorable to Netflix. All the movies I put on my queue are available now as opposed to many short waits for Blockbuster.

However, Netflix told me the movies would ship today, I signed up at 9:00 a.m., but then changed the message to that they would ship tomorrow, Thursday. First rule of marketing, don't tell a customer one date and then change it to a later date. I would have been fine if they just told me it wouldn't go until Thursday, I would totally understand. But they set my expectations for shipment today so I was excited to get them by Thursday and consequently disappointed that I would not get my movies.

Blockbuster lost some points too though. Its 4:15 in the afternoon and the site is "Down for scheduled maintenance" Who the hell schedules maintenance for 4:00 in the afternoon. As someone who is a supposed expert in availability I have to say this GREATLY disappoints me.

Day 6

Blockbuster is doing really badly. Right now I have NO DVDs from them in my possession. They shipped one DVD three days ago but still not here. They supposedly shipped another yesterday but still not here. I still haven't gotten a Netflix DVD yet but if their delivery is at all better Netflix is going to win hands down.

Day 7

I got all 3 of my Netflix DVDs today. Will have something to watch this weekend. Still missing a Blockbuster DVD which I ordered last 7 Days ago. Blockbuster is screwed unless Netflix really drops the ball somehow

Day 8

Mailed back one of the Netflix DVDs today. We will see how good their return service is. I Just got the DVD I ordered 8 Days ago. 8 days! That is pretty bad. Not only do I have to wait for the movie but it prevents me being able to get another movie.

Day 10

Today is Columbus Day. I forgot about that. No mail. Oh well. Somehow Netflix still got the movie I sent on Saturday. That's a pretty good sign. They sent me another movie already.

Day 11

Got two more Blockbuster movies and one more Netflix movie. One of the Blockbuster movies i already got from Netflix, i screwed up my queue. That's OK. It should give me one more time for Blockbuster to send me a movie.

Day 12

Have 2 Blockbuster movies and 2 Netflix movies on the way. Lets see what happens.

Day 13

Didn't get anything from either. Strange.

Day 14

It's over. I got one of the Blockbuster movies and 2 of the Netflix.

Day 15.

Canceled Blockbuster. Still waiting for that other DVD.


Friday, October 15, 2004
We are getting lunched delivered and they are charging a 12% gratuity for delivery. So now tipping is mandatory?

I hate this. Before people get on my case let me say this. I always tip and I tip generously. It is not at all unusual for me to leave 20 or 25% for a tip if the service is good and I always leave 10% even if its bad. I have also worked as a busboy and a server so I know what it is like.

But tipping should NEVER be mandatory. I do not want to hear arguments about how the waiters or waitresses are losing money because their wages are less because tips are factored in. It does not matter. You go to a restaurant to be served. The cost of this service is factored in into the cost of your meal. Tipping is meant to be a way of saying, "Thanks for giving me excellent service ABOVE AND BEYOND what is required." For me this is normally the case if the person just says hello, smiles, and comes by once to make sure I'm OK. If I have to flag the person down more than once then something is probably wrong.

If I ever own my own restaurant this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to pay the highest wages around for my servers. I will only hire the best people I can find. If I find that my servers are below par then I will get rid of them and get better servers. The best servers will want to work for me because I pay the best wages. They will work hard because they will know that if I don't get their best I can find someone else who will give it their all. I believe people go to restaurants probably more so for the service than the food (I'm biased since I don't like food I know) so I will make it my top priority to have the best service.

Then, I will post a sign and place a note on the menu that states

"Tips are not requested nor expected. It is our pleasure to serve you to the utmost of our ability."

Sorry Slow Week

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
I normally will just stay silent if I have nothing to say but I will say that I'm sorry for not posting anything of substance this week. Life is hectic. It should sort itself out shortly and I promise to post more when it does.

Photos are Back

Monday, October 11, 2004
OK, OK. I get the hint. I have been very busy over the last few months, some of you know why but I don't want to get into that here. I have not had time to take photos or even post but I will do my best to post more often. I would say for now, I will post once a week, probably on Mondays. If the mood strikes me I will attempt to do it more often. I guess I should be thankful that enough people have thought enough of my little photoblog to bug me to do some more.

Visit my photoblog if you have a chance.

Who is a Minority?

Saturday, October 09, 2004
When reading over a magazine that detailing admission statistics for some colleges I looked at the column for minority enrollment. Next to it was "****". What did "****" stand for? At the bottom it explained that this meant Asian-Americans were not included in the statistic. Why not?

This always confuses me. I used to be a supporter of affirmative action. I believe that there are definitely some people who are at a disadvantage to others. I believe diversity in a college community is a good thing as different ideas, viewpoints, and cutlures create to the overall learning experience. But I just don't get why Asian-Americans are singled out as the minority that doesn't count.

Asian-Americans make up a about 4% of the population compared to 77% white and 13% black. They earn high-school diplomas 87% of the time and college degrees 47% if time. The percentage earning college degrees is by far the highest of any population group.

But why is it that Asian-Americans receive no preference and are even excluded in population statistics for minorities? Are not Asian-Americans more of a minority than African-Americans? There is the argument that African-Americans have always been disadvantaged because of the social structure of America. But my family came to American with no money and unable to speak the language. You can't really start out much worse than that. In a generation my family was able to send all of its children to college and all have obtained some measure of success.

So what is it? I'm not so sure. I would love to hear other people's opinion.

Hard Earned Money

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I hate the term hard earned money. Is that implying that some money is not "hard earned"?

If money is not "hard earned" and is in fact "easily earned" than wouldn't that mean everybody would be able to do it and become rich?

So what qualifies money as being hard earned? Do I have to sweat to earn it or is exercising my mind enough? Is there an income restriction so when I earn too much everything after that is just "easy"?

A License to Present

Thursday, September 30, 2004
It should be required that anyone who wants to speak in public has to have a license. They would take a test that would measure their ability to speak and if the person fell below a certain threshold they would not be allowed to do a presentation.

I am sitting in one of the most boring presentations I have ever been in. The material is dry but what is worse the guy giving the presentation is just awful. What makes it worse is that this is the second day and only about 1 hour was at all pertinent to me.

I don't think it takes much to be a good presenter. All you need is to know your material beforehand and speak with confidence. Most people who give presentations read straight from their slides. THIS IS AN AWFUL WAY TO GIVE A PRESENTATION. Never ever ever read to people in a presentation. It is boring and it insults everyone's intelligence.

Whenever I give a presentation I make sure I know the material backwards and forwards. I only use my slides to remind me of the topic I'm going to cover. I never use slides as a placeholder for my brain. If I don't know enough to give the presentation without having to constantly refer to my slides I don't know enough to be giving the presentation in the first place.

Why I Hate the Government #94

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Eminent domain my ass.

Now I will tell you how I really feel. I hate the concept of emininent domain which is basically the government's way of telling you that the your rights mean squat when compared to everyone else's. Seriously, how can you be serving the public by removing the rights of one of its citizens?

Most of you know that I believe government should have a very limited role in our lives. One of the few things I think government should do is protect private property. In other words, nobody has the right to steal anything from you, and that includes the government. This notion that the "public's" interest in a new hotel and health spa is more important than the rights of the individual home owner is just ridiculous. This is NOT a case when the NEED of the many outweight the RIGHTS of a few.

I can't even think of a circumstance where I think it is OK for the government to sieze your property. If anyone can and wants to try and convince me feel free, I'll listen. If the government can't come up with what the property owner thinks is fair value for the land then government, like everyone else, needs to find an alternative plan.

Should Green Play?

Thursday, September 23, 2004
There is a debate going on whether Shawn Green of the L.A. Dodgers should play this weekend or not. For background I will give you this. Shawn Green is Jewish. This Friday and Saturday is Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jewish People. It is the day when Jewish People are not to eat, drink, or work at all as atonement for their promises broken to God. The Dodgers are in the middle of a pennant race with the San Francisco Giants who, coincidently enough are the opponent for that weekend. So what is Shawn Green to do?

Most might think I would say he should play. I'm not religious, I'm a team player, and I am a Dodger's fan. It is hard for someone like me to understand the importance that people put in their faith and would be likely to say, "The Dodgers are in the middle of a pennant race. They haven't won a playoff game in 16 years. Its time to get back to the post season". Most people would be wrong.

How can anyone blame Shawn Green. This is what is important to him. It may not be important to me but that is not for me to decide. People think that Shawn Green owes something to the Dodgers and their fans but let me tell you this. No man owes anybody more than he owes himself. There is only one person who you can be sure to please all the time if you so choose and that is yourself. I do not expect Shawn Green to play for me by sacrificing his heritage and beliefs. He is paying for his choice. As I understand it he will not be paid for that day. If the Dodgers had a problem they shouldn't have signed him. It was well known that Shawn Green was very religious when he signed. It was actually a reason he signed with the Dodgers, L.A. has a very strong Jewish community.

So lay off the guy. His beliefs are his to have. It is after all just a game.

V6 Power

Yesterday I drove a Mustang. Boy was it a piece of crap. First of all, way too small and second of all the power on the car was just horrible. I would step on the gas assuming that I would accelerate and it would just take forever for it to kick in. Why the heck do people buy this car?

Makes me really glad I opted for the V6 in my Accord. I'm probably just spoiled but I have to say that the V6 makes for one hell of a better ride. The negatives of a bigger engine are of course that you get worse gas mileage. In these times, with the price of gas so high, that can be significant. For me it isn't a big factor so the positives outweigh any negatives. The positives being

1. Much better acceleration, crucial when trying to pass someone on the road or merge into traffic.
2. A much smoother ride. The car doesn't work as hard at lower speeds. This is very noticeable if you are use to a more powerful engine.
3. Climbing hills, you can actually accelerate.
4. Its just more fun.

This is the reason why America faces a gas crisis. People like me with more engine than the reallly need are clogging up the highways. I say raise gas prices way up and show people like me what we can do with our bigger more powerful engines.

Snobs of all kind

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
On the radio just right now I heard a commentator say, "I hate today's music. It all sounds the same"

This just makes me think of all those snobs who don't think anything is good anymore or that anything of a certain genre is all crap. I mean do I love Heavy Metal? No. Do I think it is all crap? No. I mean can millions of people really be wrong?

While I do believe that I'm right and others are wrong becauseI trust my own taste, that does not mean I don't have an open mind to hear alternatives. I mean, once in my life I was actually proven wrong about something. I know you are shocked that I'm not ALWAYS right but it did actually happen ... once.

I can't think what type of snob I am. I sure I am a snob about something I just don't know what. If anybody knows what type of snob I am please let me know. What type of snob are you?

A Perfectionist

Sunday, September 19, 2004
No doubt about it. I'm a perfectionist.

I don't want to get into details about exactly what happened but I had something very important to take care of this weekend. If I had known the final result of what I did before I did it I would have told everybody that I would be very satisfied with it. But as it turns out I am somewhat dissatisfied because how I got to the final result did not go as well as I would have liked. Confused yet? Let me give an analogy.

Lets say you want to take the SAT. You decide you would be happy with a score of 1500. You take the test and you get a total score of 1520. However you got that score by getting a 800 in the verbal and 720 in the math. You really would have preferred to have had it a little more balance, say 760 and 760. So instead of being ecstatic with the 1520 you are upset by how that score was made up. You are really good at math and feel that if you would have just done what you should have on that part your score would have been outstanding. You are also applying to MIT and are worried they won't think you are "math" enough or something like that. You know that it isn't a big deal but you still aren't happy with the whole thing in totality even though you are happy with the final result.

So that is basically what happened to me. Am I crazy, absolutely.

The Good Weather Charm

Thursday, September 16, 2004
I must be good luck when it comes to good weather.

This last week was supposedly insanely hot here in Southern California. I was all the while in NYC enjoying some of the finest weather the city has seen all year. While it did rain once, and quite hard , when I was there I was peacefully asleep in my hotel the entire time and missed the brunt of it. In fact, one weather system that was supposed to hit at the end of the week never materialized.

Now I'm back in California and the weather is pretty good. Good enough to make me think that all my friends here were lying.

It reminds my of when I went to Princeton. The year before I attended was the worst snow storm in recent memory. So bad they actually moved back reading period which they never ever do. They did so because a lot of students couldn't get back to New Jersey in time. Of course I get to Princeton and it barely snows my Freshman year. In fact it didn't snow at all my Sophomore year which is why we didn't run the Nude Olympics that year. All the while in California they were experience severe El-Nino type weather.

Wonder what will happen if I move again?

Forgetting Things

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
I must be getting old. Everywhere I went during the past week I forgot something.

In Seattle at my friend Nancy's place I left my belt.

In Princeton when I went to visit Jenny I forgot my sunglasses in her car.

In New York when I stayed with my friend Ivy I forgot my basketball shorts.

I guess senility really does come with old age. Who knew it started at 26?

Why I Hate the Government #911

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Sometimes the government just does really stupid stuf with OUR tax dollars and nobody seems to really care. Case in point: Security at Airports.

On my way home this weekend the ticket agent looked at my ticket and circled it with a big read marker where it had a "S" under a title called "security". The next agent tells me that I will have to go through the extensive screening process where all my bags are "thoroughly" searched and a metal-detecting wand is scanned over me from head to toe. Being the good sport I am I submit to the screening with a smile and a good attitude all the time thinking that this is such a waste of time.

There is no way this does anything to prevent terrorism. All it does is inconveinence travellers and cost us all a lot of money. Think about it. I'm a terrorist and I want to hijack a plane. I buy my ticket and when it comes out I see that there is a big "S" on the ticket. What do I do? I turn around and go home. Or better yet I buy two tickets and if the first one has a "S" on it I go get the other one. Since the screening is done randomly the chances of me getting two tickets is small. Even if the second one also has a "S" on it I still can turn around and go home. Could you imagine if your boss at work announced that she knew someone was stealing money and that every employee's desk would be checked for the missing money. Now she isn't going to do it right then and there or check everyone but instead going to send an e-mail to those people she is going to check and then come by their desk a few hours later and see if she finds anything. Can anyone say Dilbert?

Back to the story. Now the ordinary citizen is going to either ignore the "S" or simply not care. So the ONLY people who the screeners are going to screen are innocent people. Yet this makes the lines at the airport much longer and inconveinences not only the person being screened but everyone else. Moreover, it is a complete invasion of privacy. It is one thing to get your bag x-rayed and then checked if they see something suspicious, quite another for them to go through my bags and see everything I have in there. I mean I have nothing to hide but that doesn't mean I want people going through my underwear? What if I had some embarassing items in my bag like a naughty gift for my girlfriend or something like that? And the kicker of it all, we pay for the privilege since it is our tax dollars funding the whole stupid thing.

The only thing I can think of is it makes travellers feel safer. Wake up people!

Out of Town = Wanting to See My Cat

Friday, September 10, 2004

(Title changed, see Susan's comment)

I normally don't want to talk about anything too personal on this blog but I ran into this photo on my laptop today. I haven't seen my cat in over a week and I miss him a lot. Silly I know.

Looking at the picture doesn't it make you wonder why cats love strong smells? Bandit just loves the smell of a freshly worn shoe or sock. In fact just the other day after I had come home from Basketball and put my sweaty jersey on the floor Bandit walked over to it and started rolling around in it like it was cat nip or something. Strange.

A Little Privacy

Thursday, September 09, 2004
There are many reasons why I don't date more than I do. One of the reasons manifested itself yesterday.

Most people who know me well know I'm a pretty open guy about certain things. I don't have a lot of shame or guilt so I'm willing to talk about almost any aspect of my life quite openly. However there are parts of my life I like to keep private.

Yesterday I had a friend of mine ask me about a relationship I had a while back. She had no real reason to know about the relationship and to be honest it doesn't matter if she knows or not. The thing that bothers me is that the only way she could possibly know is if another friend of mine told her about it. This other friend had no reason to ever bring it up and the only thing it could have been is idle gossip.

I would probably date more if I didn't think I would be the topic of stupid gossip. I'm probably just as guilty as some other people out there and talk about my friends when I probably shouldn't. I hate the idea that if I started dating a friend of a friend my friend would hear about all the details or give me a hard time if it didn't all work out. That's why I'm almost certain that the next girl I date will probably be a complete stranger to the rest of my friends.

I never quite understood the mentality of guys waiting a long time to introduce their girlfriends to their friends but I am beginning to understand it a little better. Who wants to deal with all the crap that happens when relationships don't work out?

Grass is Greener ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
I've discovered I'm definitely a grass-is-greener type of guy.

So this week I'm back in NYC, the city I left to go back to California. It will mark the longest time I've been here since I moved out. I have to say that I'm pretty glad to be back.

I still have a lot of friends here that I really like being around but that isn't really it since I haven't seen any of them yet (altough I do have plans to see them all). I guess, like I have always said, New York is a great city to visit but a lousy place to live. I really do like most of the things the city has to offer but I hate the cost of living. I hate that to live by youself and get a tiny studio apartment cost you in the neighborhood of $2,000.

But for now I'm really happy to be back. I really like it here but then again I really wanted to be in California when I was here. Maybe I'm just like John Kerry and I'll have to flip-flop back and forth. (Yes I'm voting for him so don't get on me). Maybe Its just that every 4 or 5 years I need to trade coast until I miss the other one too much.

Kobe Bryant: The End Game

Wednesday, September 01, 2004
The charges against Kobe Bryant have been dropped. And while I'm glad that it is over for Kobe I am partially sick to my stomach. I believe Kate Farber falsely accused Kobe. I wasn't so sure before and still had some lingering doubts but all those went out the window as of today.

Millions were spent on this trial on both sides. The government decided to prosecute a case that was clearly flawed from the very onset. If the government can bring a case against someone given the facts that all pointed to a false accusation than we are all in trouble.

She is in it for the money. The D.A. said the reason he dropped out of the case is because the accuser wanted it and that he did not want to subject her to any more pain. OK, why have you waited until 5 days before the trial was supposed to start? This has been going on for a year and all of a sudden, when so close to victory if you believe him, you are going to pull out of the case? Give me a break. She doesn't have the strength to go up to the witness stand and say, "That man raped me" in a criminal case where the man can go to jail but she can do it in a civil case, which is still going on, where she stands to get some money? And she won't have the benefit of any rape shield laws? If you are really raped money will not make you whole again.

The D.A. is an idiot and should be disbarred. He states, "With the victim we truly felt we had a great case and that justice would prevail. Our commitment to this case remains strong." Let me remind people of something. This is The State of Colorado vs. Kobe Bryant. If the D.A. really believe Kobe Bryant raped Kate it is his duty to continue to prosecute whether the woman wants to go forward or not. If she doesn't you call supboena her and make her testify. If Kobe really did rape her he needs to go to Jail for a very long time. There is a reason the state prosecutes this, it is in the public interest to make sure sexual predators are not roaming free.

This case is important to all of us. I can not imagine anything worse than being falsely accused of a crime and being sent to jail. Our system is meant to prevent this very error but it saddens be that I believe if Kobe Bryant is innocent but didn't have all this money he might be on his way to jail right about now.

Kobe Bryant: The Questionnaire

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
They posted the questionnaire given to prospective jury members. I think I tend to be a good person to put on a jury because I'm intelligent and willing to keep an open mind.

For this particular case I don't think I would because I naturally have some biases. I thought I would not be selected based on these questions:

60. Do you follow professional Basektball? If yes, what are your favorite teams?
Yes, The Lakers.

65. What have you read, seen, or heard about this case?
Yes, I follow the story regularly.

71. Have you discussed this case or heard anyone else talk about it?
Yes, all the time on my blog.

72. Based on what you have read, seen, or heard about the case, which of the following reflects your opinion whether Kobe Bryant is guilty or not guilt of the sexual assault charges.
Probably Not Guilty.

The interesting thing is that I thought the last one would be the one most likely to keep anyone off the jury. After all, I would go in thinking Kobe is innocent of the charges which would make me biased. But then someone pointed out to me that my answer to 72 is the only really acceptable answer. I thought the choice of "Not enough information to decide" would be the "best" answer but it actually is not, not at least if you understand the legal system.

Kobe Bryant is innocent until proven guilty. There must be a presumption of innocence. You can not go into the jury with an unbiased mind and say to yourself "I'll go with whoever puts on the best case.". The fact is that the prosecution has to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if they have a better case than the defense, 51% to 49%, you must find in favor of the defendent. There is a bias built in into the legal system and it favors the defense.

I of course thought it was best to have no bias going in, but I guess you learn something new everyday.

Where Have All the Friends Gone?

Monday, August 30, 2004
Today is a strange day. Today Jenny leaves to drive across the country to Princeton where where will begin her seminary education. Also happening today is Sergio moving down to San Diego where he has found a new job. This weekend the twins, Marion and Tina, moved back to Fullerton.

So a host of my friends have picked up and left. Life moves on and I'm happy for all of them that they are starting a new chapter in their lives but it still is kind of sad to seem them all leave. It is strange that it is all happening on the same day.

My Take on 527 Organizations

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Because Susan asked for it I'll give my take on 527 organizations.

Simply put I think that people should be able to do with their money anything they want so long as it hurt or defraud someone else. (You can't hire someone to kill your wife nor should you be able to use your money to start a pyramid scheme even though I do feel little sympathy for people stupid enough to fall for those). As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I'm all about personal freedom and for the most part hate any sort of govermental regulation. If I want to put an ad in the Newpaper that reads "Vote for Nader" or that reads "Your mama's so fat, when she hauls ass, she has to make two trips!" why should the government tell me I shouldn't be able to. Its my money, let me waste it.

Now the opponents of 527 organizations will come out and say that they don't want outside influences affecting the course of an election. They will further contend that they don't want the rich to unduly influence elections.

I say to hell with that. I say I'm sick of government telling me how smart or how stupid I am. I feel that the only way you can really oppose people spending their money to elect others is to believe that your fellow man is stupid. I instead choose to believe that other people can make up their own mind, if they can't then maybe I don't want to be part of this society anyway and I'll move to my own private island.

"But the rich can spend all that money on ads and get who they want elected. They will then get more tax breaks and make the rest of us poorer." Well I think that argument is bunk anyway but even if it were true I still wouldn't care. If people can not see through the ads then we deserve what we get. Any of you who oppose 527 believe in ads put out by the opposition? Do you Kerry supporters believe any of the ads put out by the Swfit Boat Vetrans for Truth? How about the Bush supporters, do you believe anything that puts out? You can use your own mind; do you really believe others can't?

The rich may be able to spend more money than anybody else but in the end they get one vote same as anyone else. Don't blame them if you decide not to use your vote or or too stupid to see through the ads.

And one final point. The U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Where in the Bill of Rights does it state that the limit of this freedom is up to but not exceeding $2,000?


Tuesday, August 24, 2004
I am a Dodgers Fan. I just heard the stupidest thing I have ever heard on sports talk radio. A caller called in and said that Adrian Beltre should be the MVP over Barry Bonds. Here are the stats as of today:

Adrian Beltre
2004 119 456 84 152 39 90 36 69 .333 .380 .643 1.023

Barry Bonds
2004 111 286 100 106 35 79 176 24 .371 .612 .822 1.434

OK, the homeruns are about equal but look at everything else. Look at the batting average. Its insane someone like Bonds who hits for power can bat .371. Its crazy that he has only 24 strikeouts. Is ludicrous that he has 176 walks. 176! An on base percentage of .612? Are you joking? Do you know how sick that is? A slugging percentage of .822?

These numbers are unheard of. I hate the Giants but I give credit where credit is due and Bonds is the MVP no matter how you slice it. Yes Andrian Beltre is on the first place team but without Bonds the Giants would be dead last. They would have lost 90 games by now.

But this isn't the stupid thing the caller said. The caller acknowledged that Barry Bonds is MVP of BOTH leagues but said they should give it to Beltre because Bonds always wins and Bonds is on a completely different level. It isn't fair to everyone else that Bonds is so much better so we should make an exception and give it to someone else. Are you joking? How stupid is that? He is so good that lets give everyone else a chance? This is pro sports not some grade school award for participation.

I have an idea. Michael Phelps won too many medals at the Olympics. Is it fair that one man has won 8 medals when countries like Somalia have none? I say we strip Phelps of his medal and give the little guys like Somalia a medal just to make them feel better.