Unhappy with Cingular

Monday, June 27, 2005
So I've been on Cingular the last few months and have to say I'm not overly happy with them.

The first thing that annoyed me was the fact that they force you to input your passcode when you try to retrieve your messages from your own phone. I've had Sprint and T-Mobile before, and neither service forces you to enter your password.

But that is only when I found out that if you make a call at 8:59 pm., 1 minute before your night time minutes start, and it last for 120 minutes, you get charged 120 anytime minutes. Now maybe the other companies work this way too, but because I had the least amount of anytime minutes I have ever had, and because they started at 9:00 rather than 8:00 (as they did with my other services) I noticed it more.

But the kicker. What the hell is up with the taxes and fees? I'm on the $39.99 plan but it ends up being $50. Taxes and fees were nowhere near that with my other services. I was on the $39.99 plan with T-Mobile and my bill ended up about $45. WTF?

Batman - Sold Out?

Friday, June 24, 2005
I tried going to the movies on Wednesday to go see Batman Begins. I had dinner and then went to the theater to catch a 9:00 p.m. show. The damn thing was sold out. WTF? It was a friggin Wednesday night at 9:00 ... 9:00!

And it wasn't like it was some rinky-dink theater with no seating. It was a huge 18 screen goliath of a complex. Don't people have anything better to do than to go to the movies on a Wednesday night .... Oh wait, that was what I was trying to do.

10000 Hits

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Hey, I reached 10,000 hits. Hooray! As near as I can tell it was someone who came from Kathryn's blog in the early evening yesterday and is in the Alaska Time Zone. They also use Firefox so I know I like them already :)

Seizing Private Property

I had another post ready but then the Supreme Court came out with a decision that allows local governments to sieze private property to be used for another private venture. All I can think is Wow.

I usually am against eminent domain, even for a clear public project like a road or a school. I tend to think that it takes extraordinary circumstances for our government to sieze the land of one of its private citizens. Government is meant to protect its people and sacrificing one's rights for the benefit of others is usually not my idea of protecting citizens.

How come in cases like this the "public good" includes everybody else but the citizens directly involved? If someone tried to come to my house to sieze it for the public good I would wonder why anybody else was anymore public than me. Yes, I understand the reasoning behind why governments want to sieze the land, to bring in tax revenue that many cities are sorely lacking. But really, how fair is this? Eveybody should be concerned when government does things like this, your house might be next and who will stand for you then?

Gratuitous Violence

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
I watched King Arthur the other night and have to say I wasn't impressed. Not only was the story pretty bad but I thought the violence in the movie was a little much and totally unnecessary.

I'm definitely not one who rants against the moral degredation of Hollywood. I think violence in movies is fine so long as it is done with a purpose. But this move just didn't need it. Not only wasn't it needed but it was just done badly. When they chopped people's heads off it just didn't look all that realistic.

Oh, and I decided that I'm not a fan of Clive Owen. After seeing him in Closer, and now this, he just seems like one of those really sketchy guys who tries to pick up underage girls at the bars. First he did it with my girl Natalie, and then he went after Keira. Then again, in closer his character was supposed to be sketchy so maybe he is a really good actor.

Does Robert Horry Belong In the Hall of Fame?

Monday, June 20, 2005
Robert Horry is Clutch. He was clutch when he played for the Houston Rockets, He was clutch when he played with the Lakers (The 3-pointer against Sacramento still puts shivers down my spine whenever I see it), and last night he wrote a new chapter in his legacy.

Last night, Robert Horry took the San Antonio Spurs and put him on his back. He made play after play every time it looked like Detroit was going to pull away. If he wins a ring this year, it will give him a total of 6 with 3 different teams. In each of those championship runs, Robert Horry hit huge shots when it mattered most.

So the question arises, does Robert Horry belong in the Hall of Fame. On the surface most would say no. His overall game isn't that spectacular and the Hall should be reserved for the best of the best. But isn't Robert Horry the best clutch shooter of this generation? MJ was the best, but he is now gone and over the last 5 or 6 years, with the championship on the line, there probably isn't anyone else you want taking the shot other than Robert Horry.

But does being the best at one aspect of the game make you a Hall of Famer? Maybe not. But what if you are the best Defensive Player? The best shooter? There are plenty of people in the hall that were somewhat one-dimensional (especially on the defensive end). Robert Horry is the best when it means the most and that is as important in the game of basketball as being a great rebounder. I'm not so sure if I think he belongs in the Hall, I lean toward no. Otherwise, you might have categories like "Best at making the basket when fouled" or "Best Half Court Shooter". But clutch shooting is a vital part of the game, and the case for Horry is a compelling argument.

I Have No Life

Friday, June 17, 2005
I just woke up today at 6:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. This is about 2 hours earlier than when I normally wake up. I couldn't go back to sleep so what did I do? I came into work. How sad is that? I thought of trying to get some stuff done at home but figured it was a better use of my time to just come into work.

I'm pathetic. Thank god I'm dating someone or else I might have had to shoot myself. Oh well. Hopefully I can get some work done and maybe even leave early. Yeah right. Everytime I come in early so I can leave early, something always comes up last minute to make me stay late.

Phil Jackson Part II

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
In case you haven't heard, and if you live in LA I find it hard to believe, Phil Jackson will be returning as head coach to the Los Angeles Lakers. Let the Soap Opera begin.

I have mixed feelings about Phil coming back. He said some pretty awful stuff about Kobe and the Lakers in his book, The Last Season. Basically he called Kobe uncoachable, called out Jerry Buss for his lifestyle, and chronicled a stormy relationship with GM Mitch Kupchak. Now he returns to lead the team he blasted in his book.

On the one hand you can't argue with 9 rings, the most for any one coach. Phil wants to win and he knows how to do it. The Lakers needed to do something, and boy did they do something.

On the other hand it's hard to go home again. Given all the things he said in his book I find it hard to believe the team will trust him, Kobe especially. However, after the press conference Phil showed that maybe he has learned from his mistakes. Several reporters asked him about Kobe Bryant and the conversation they had on the phone prior to the announcement. Phil steadfastly refused to get into the details out of respect for Kobe and his relationship. That's a good sign.

I'll take the optimistic approach and say that I believe with Phil, the Lakers can make the playoffs and maybe even win a series. No matter who the coach is they need players and so it matters a lot what the Lakers are able to do this off season in terms of acquiring players. It is my hope that Kobe and Phil will be able ot mend their relationship, act professional, and bring back the trophy where it belongs, in LA.

The Michael Jackson Verdict

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I was going to avoid this topic but what the heck.

So Michael Jackson was acquited on all charges. I haven't followed the case much, I just don't care, so I don't have a strong opinion if I think he actually did it. My gut tells me that in this instance he didn't. There is no doubt that he behaved inappropriately but did he molest the boy? I tend to think no. The boy didn't seem all that believeable to me and the mother certainly didn't either. I have to agree with the Jury in this case, there is reasonable doubt.

Reasonable doubt is a huge standard to overcome and as OJ, Robert Blake and others have shown us, if you have enough money to hire a good defense team than reasonable doubt is almost an impossible hurdle to overcome. That is why I didn't really think a jury would convict Kobe Bryant.

What really bothers me is that nothing happens when a person is found not guilty or when charges are dropped. The goverment simply says, "Ooops. Sorry, our bad". People spends thousands, and in these cases millions, of dollars to defend themselves. Then, when there name is cleared, but their reputation is destroyed, they have spent all this money and lost their good name but have no recourse to recoup any of it. Seems unfair but not sure what else can be done.

The Housing Bubble

Monday, June 13, 2005
I was recently at an event where everyone was talking about real estate. It reminded me of Joseph Kennedy, father of John, and how he decided to pull out of the market before the crash of 1929.

The story goes that Joseph Kennedy pulled out of the stock market right before the big crash of 1929 (thus saving the family fortune) when he was given advice by a shoe shine boy about some hot stocks, US Steel and RCA. Joseph Kennedy correctly reasoned that if the every-day joe was in the stock market and felt confident to give advice that a bubble must exist and that was no place that he wanted to be. The stock market crashed two days later.

Everyone at this event was convinced the housing market could do no wrong. They were talking left and right about how how they really couldn't afford it but with some creative financing they could make it work. Of course I pointed out to them the inherent risk in such financing but everyone was convinced that the at worse housing prices would remain flat and not drop and that interest rates would stay low.

Many know that even though I could afford a house I have thus far stayed out of the market for fear of a price correction that I strongly believe is coming soon. I believe that the stock market bubble we experienced in 2000 was replaced by the housing bubble as people poured their capital into their homes. The strong economy, bolstered by home refinancing, can not be sustained when the savings rate in the U.S. hovers around 0.1%. There is no free lunch. Sooner or later all debts must be repaid and the United States continues to rely on foreign financing to sustain its consumer lifestlyle.

Yeah I know, all the experts have been predicting doom and gloom for several years and nothing has happened except housing prices continue to rise. Remember, it was 4 years after Greenspan declared a bubble in the stock market before it burst, it didn't mean there wasn't a bubble when he first declared it. People lost trillions of dollars and many a retirement was put on hold. For sure, Housing is a different beast, not nearly as liquid as a stock. Then again, that causes its own problems. I wish all my friends who are new home-owners luck, I just don't have the stomach for a ride like this.

Cool Way to Find an Apartment

Thursday, June 09, 2005
How cool is Google? Using Google tools someone developed a website that combines the power of Google Maps and Craigslist to get you this housing map. Pretty cool if you ask me.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Last night I had multiple nightmares. What was odd was that I would wake up, go back to sleep, and then have a completely unrelated nightmare. I don't often have nightmares, almost never, so something must have been going on to cause me to have this string of nightmares. I'm not particularly stressed or worried about anything and physically I feel pretty healthy so whatever the cause may be I'm certainly not aware of it.

No Wonder People Hate Doctors

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
I don't go to the doctor's much. I need to go into the office to get some blood work done, nothing serious. So I called last week to make an appointment but of course the doctor can't see me until Mid July. Fine. But I want to get this blood work done sooner than later (work that does not require a doctor to interpret) so I asked if I could please come in just to get lab work done. The nurse said she would have to ask the doctor and get back to me.

Of course I hear nothing that day and nothing the next day so at the end of the second day I call the doctor's office to see what's up. She tells me to hold on and that she will get me an answer. She then informs me that they will send a lab slip in the mail. Great.

One week later no slip. So I just called and the person I spoke with informs me that it isn't standard practice to do lab work before seeing the doctor and asked me who I spoke with. Does it matter who I spoke with? Someone told me that jit was being sent. I didn't just make it up. What infuriates me more than anything is that it was obviously never mailed. Why tell me you are going to send me something then never send it. If they would have just told me a week ago then maybe I would have gone somewhere else to get the work done. Unbelieveable.

The First Laker Great

Monday, June 06, 2005
George Mikan died. For those who don't know who he was, he played for the Minneapolis Lakers and was the first big man to really dominate the post in the NBA. He will be sorely missed.

In other news, the Big Let Me Steal the Spotlight, otherwise known as Shaquille O'Neal, offered to pay for George Mikan's funeral. Before I get to that let me say how sad I think it is that George Mikan's family basically has no money. George Mikan is one of the all time NBA greats but played long before the multi-million dollar contracts and endorsement deals. He resorted to selling much of his memorabilia to get more money. Believing what I believe, I of course don't feel anybody is obligated to help him or his family but at the same time I would hope that those who earn the million dollar paychecks now understand how players like George magna made their lifestyle possible.

OK, back to the Big Never Was the Most Dominant Player. I think it is very nice that he has offered to pay for George Mikan's funeral. However, why did he have to make it so public and announce it on National TV? I believe the quality of a man's character is what he does in private but Shaq doesn't seem to ever get that. He makes big spectacles of his charitable acts like announcing this on TV and by donating toys to kids by rolling up in a truck with his face painted on the side and with the camera's rolling. Further, why did he have to have the magna family call the Heat office? Why couldn't he just call them himself, I assure you he can get their number, and offer to pay for it discreetly? Not that he is a role-model but I didn't see Dennis Rodman announce on National TV that he would pay for James Byrd's funeral. Sure it was discovered that he did, but Dennis Rodman himself didn't come out and say it.

I am not really trying to demean Shaq's charitable contributions. I'm glad that he is giving to charity for whatever reason that he is. If he wants to get publicity for doing charitable acts, all the more power to him, just don't make him out to be a completely selfless man.

More from the Evil Empire

Friday, June 03, 2005
On another Blog, a Microsoft employee confirmed that IE 7 will only be released for Windows XP and not for Windows 2000. What type of crap is this? Windows 2000 is supposed to be supported through 2010. Not updating a key component of that release even though it is supported is just ridiculous.

Being a software engineer I know how hard it can be to back port something (coincidentally it's exactly what I've been doing the last few weeks for one of our products) but with something as important as a web browser for an OS that is still in widespread use, you would hope that Microsoft would be somewhat concerned. IE 6 has huge security problems and being tightly wound into windows causes problems for the entire OS.

Oh well. Just be like me and use Firefox.

Post Date: When do you have to call?

Thursday, June 02, 2005
So when do you have to call after a date to say that you aren't interested. For example, if you have only been on one date, is it the right thing to call to tell the person that you aren't really interested or should you just not call and let it fade into oblivion.

I tend to call no matter what just to let the person know so that they are never thinking, "Hmmm, I wonder what ever happened to him?" But I can definitely see the advantage of just letting it go, as there is no messy or awkward conversation. I'm good at awkward conversations and have no problem freely speaking my mind but just curious what others think.

As for me, I think, even though I always call, that for most people the threshold is the 3rd date. If you have been on 3 dates and are no longer interested, it is common courtesy to call the person to tell them you are no longer interested.