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?