Friday, August 31, 2007

8-31-07: The Craig Controversy

You have to love it when the media find somebody like Senator Larry Craig doing something stupid. In case you missed it, Craig was arrested in June at the airport in Minneapolis for disorderly conduct in a men’s restroom. On August 1st, he pled guilty. His reasoning was that it would hopefully make the problem go away, and so he wouldn’t have to tell his family and friends. A week or so ago he said he was wrong to plead guilty to the misdemeanor, and accused some newspapers in Idaho of vicious slander in assuming he was a homosexual. In a press conference he strongly stated “I am not, and have never been, gay.”

Apparently what happened is he was in a stall next to a plain clothes police officer, who was in the bathroom as part of a sting operation, and made foot and hand gestures that were commonly used to solicit sex. Craig was then arrested for the lewd behavior.

Let’s stop right there for now and analyze that encounter. In a taped interview with police, Craig said he was misunderstood and did not do anything wrong. He accused the police officer, Sergeant Dave Karsnia (who I’m sure was just dying to get that assignment), of lying. There’s some legal gray area involved there. “Lewd behavior” is a misdemeanor, but what if Craig was just a sick bastard with a strange sense of humor? I’m not saying he is at all innocent, though. He probably knew exactly what he was doing. But what exactly is illegal there? It’s just suspicion, and it’s just a misdemeanor. It doesn’t help that Karsnia said: “Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes.” I understand every one is entitled to their opinion, but you’d think the arresting officer would be a bit smarter about letting his politics out so soon. But, that’s his right.

What’s sad is the double standard involved in this. People use the “children could have seen it happen!” excuse for why Craig should (and probably will) step down. No one is coming to Craig’s defense. I’m not saying they should, but look at the distinct possibility of a double standard. Here are two names that have previously been targets of controversy: Mark Foley and David Vitter. Both are Republicans in Congress. Both did bad things. Foley is a pervert, but he was defended by all the powerful members of the GOP, up to the Speaker of the House! Vitter admitted to being a client of a female prostitute, but he kept his committee assignment! Craig has already been removed from his committee assignments, and almost EVERYONE wants an investigation begun against him by the Ethics Committee. I love how Congress has an Ethics Committee. That’s just plain funny. It is true that Craig is the only one of the three who has been convicted, but think of it this way: he was trying to keep it secret. I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, and I think he’s lost a lot of credibility by going against his decision, but the guy made a mistake and admitted it. He did something dumb in a situation that allowed for no margin of error. Bad decision, worse luck.

My only complaint is that Craig is being left out in the cold by a falsely altruistic system. It pains me to say I’m a Republican right now. If we keep this up, within a couple years we could be as useless as the Democrats.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

8-30-07: The Blame Game

Here's something I'd like to see: a news broadcast about a top story in which the reasoning is simply "the guy was just crazy." A report was released this week about the horrific shootings back in April at Virginia Tech by Seung-Hui Cho (or is it Cho Seung-Hui...?). The report assessed the amount and type of action taken by the university before the shootings. Well, apparently they hadn't done enough. It was a big surprise to me, at least.

But what goes by the wayside is that the kid was just crazy. It was terrible what happened. But, I would bet serious money that if the kid hadn't shot himself, there'd be less blame placed on the school. Apparently Cho had a history of problems that should have been known. But how often do you think a kid like that slips through the cracks? How often do you sit there as a university official and say "Well, this kid's so crazy, he'll probably shoot up the school" ? Society likes to place blame on multiple parties, and I have to hand it to the Governor of Virginia, who said it was disappointing, but he did not think university officials should be dismissed. No, I haven't done nearly as much research as the compilers of the report have done. That's a given. But people love to look at other sources and assume they're also at fault. They pretend everything operates in this perfect state of things, all the time. Where in the world is that true?

The fact of the matter is: the kid was mentally disturbed. So mentally disturbed that he committed and act NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED. Shutting down the entire campus immediately after the shootings in the dorm would have helped, but don't you think Cho could have gone after the locked-in dorm students in a rage of frustration? You simply can't apply normal rules, and there's no reasonable assumption in the making when some one says "It was obvious he was going on a shooting spree." That's Columbine talking, and that's hindsight. There are many important things to learn from the incident, but passing it all off as a fault on the school is a bit unfair. The kid pulled the trigger, not the president of the school.

One thing I did like about the school's response is that they cited their privacy policy regarding Cho's background as a reason why they didn't pursue him more actively beforehand. It may sound bad, but I think they have a valid point. It's just ironic how news broadcasters who blast President Bush and his "illegal wiretapping" policy, yet let people yell and scream about how the school was wrong to hide Cho's mental history. Fair and balanced are just words, not a reality. It's OK to have an opinion, but please by honest, CNN.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

8-28-07: Culture of Complaint

My girlfriend sent me a great e-mail she got from her mother. It was an opinion piece written by Jay Leno about the "culture of complaint" in America. It raises some good points:

"The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy With the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president.

In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?

Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough.

Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings.

Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your
family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell
phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful,spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S., yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are.

The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating?

Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession?

Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks?

The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad?

Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go.

They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general''discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?

Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner?

The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells , and when criticized, try to defend their actions "justifying" them in one way or another.

Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage.

Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative."

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks,"Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

- Jay Leno

Monday, August 27, 2007

8-27-07: Stupid in America

There's a very interesting 20/20 documentary called "Stupid in America." It's about the poor state of public education in the United States. Although it makes some significant assumptions, it's overall a good piece of journalism. 20/20 is better than most programs, and they have some integrity.

The documentary is about 41 minutes total (fit into a 60 minute program), and it goes through a series of topics surrounding the debate of "Why are American kids stupid?" It raises some good points, and looks at causes and possible solutions. The glaring weakness in their argument is, though, that they put a lot of weight into the role of standardized tests. Yes, Americans test poorly on international tests overall, but there are other factors that come into play, such as college acceptance rate or employment statistics (although statistics do lie). But, it's a 60 minute program, so it's tough to bring in all the factors without watering down the issue. American schools are not doing well overall. That is a solid statement.

One of my favorite parts of the video was the money issue. I can't believe some one in public education, or one of its supporters, can honestly say "more money will solve all of our problems." Yet, charter schools that spend thousands less per child are doing better on standardized tests. Though, there are exceptions to that. But, the core fact is that money alone is not going to solve the problem. It's how the money is spent.

In my opinion, the biggest enemy of the public school system are the teacher's unions, which are thoroughly and deservedly bashed in the 20/20 piece. This is a widely held belief, so I am far from alone. One of the charter schools featured in the video pays their teachers more, and they in turn teach better. Again, there could be other factors involved, but look at it this way: if you were paid 10% more to do your job, would you feel happier and maybe do your job a little better? It's human nature to want to earn your money, and teachers are often beacons of ethics, so I'd hope they would want to earn their money.

What do teachers' salaries have to do with teacher's unions? Simple: pay scales. If you teach for 20 years, you will make more money than some one who has taught for 15 years. That's it. You could be a below average teacher, who has lost all the nerve to teach well, and is tenured. You would make more than the teacher who has won award after award after award. WHERE is the INCENTIVE? People throw in the "they ought to teach well as a matter of principle." Bullshit. This is America, the largest capitalist economy in history. We operate on incentives. Why wouldn't the teachers who mold the minds of our future be any different? My father is a teacher, and hates the union he's in. Hates it. He has worked with terrible teachers, but… they're tenured.

Tenure is another thing. My college has it, as most do. One of my professors put tenure in perspective: "I've been working really, really hard for a few years so I can get tenured. Then, I could just stop teaching, and they couldn't fire me. Unless I shoot one of you, or something like that." He happens to teach economics, by the way. Great guy. If every teacher taught as well as the teachers at the very brink of tenure, we'd be the smartest goddamn country in the world.

If I ran the Department of Education, I'd do the following three things. They might not solve the problem, but they'd hopefully open people's eyes:

1. Ignore the teacher's unions, or speak out against them. They'd go after me, as they've gone after politicians before, such as Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina. But I'd do it differently. Instead of citing all their faults and leave myself open to criticism, I'd ask ABC or CBS or any news organization begging for a hot piece of news to do a report on teacher's unions. I'd leave it open, maybe even have a little incentive for them. I'd make sure I was perfectly clear. I wouldn't take a dime from the unions beforehand, either. I'd have a short reign, but I'd go out in a ball of fiery glory, which is all any one can really ask for, anyway. Martyrs are remembered, so they'd do all my work for me.

2. Cut federal funding to schools that encourage tenure. Flat out cut funding. I'd spend the remainder on struggling nationwide social programs that encourage kids to help the retarded or the needy. I'd play to their hearts: "So you want me to give you back that money so you can spend it on a near retiree whose students say won't even see them after class… Can you live with that? If you can, by all means, take the money, but all the professional ethics you pretend to teach will be in vain. I want to see the press release before I sign on the dotted line, by the way."

3. Cut federal funding to schools that under perform. Or, give the states an option. Freedom of choice is a powerful tool to use. I'd say "Either you let the parents pick the schools their children go to, and cut the schools that can't hack it, or you lose all funding, regressively, over the course of 7 years." No gray areas.

Transparency is important, so I'd be completely open as to why I'd do it. I'm sick and tired of the "throw more money at it" approach. It's not the responsibility of the federal government to run the schools nationwide. It's also not the responsibility of the same government to encourage failing programs by spending taxpayers' money on laggards. Wise spending is important, and the encouragement of our social values are priceless.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

8-26-07: Good TV

Whatever happened to good TV? I just saw a video of Mr. Rogers from a Senate hearing in 1969. It was during the Vietnam War, and Nixon wasn't a fan of the proposal for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. So, visionaries like Rogers were speaking on the behalf of public broadcasters in front of a tough committee, to get $20 million in funding. In six minutes, Rogers gave arguably one of the best speeches I have ever seen or heard. He spoke about the importance of proper education of children as far as how the control their emotions. He also spoke about the crap on TV that kids were watching. I thought it was a remarkable moment in television history, and think Rogers deserves a throne to sit on in Heaven for all the good he did.

This got me thinking. What happened to good television? I was on the treadmill this afternoon and saw "Flavor of Love" (the Reunion) on VH1. Summary: big boobs and women fighting. And it's called entertainment. What a world. I think this feeds back into the "humans can only comprehend so much." If you try to create something that is really good, it's probably already been done. If you want to sell something, the standards are much, much lower. Big boobs sell. It's sad, but hormonally sound. I miss good TV.

If I were to run a television station independently, I would focus on two things. The first would be to be honest with the audience in the programming. If it's mindless, don't pretend it's something different. Sometimes people just need the distraction, but that's not good TV. I'm not saying my programming would be mindless. That's where the second focus comes in: substance. All the best shows on TV nowadays work on multiple levels. I'd want my programming to appeal to people because of its pure value. No bullshit bells and whistles. I have no idea what sort of shows I'd put on the station. I just know it wouldn't be "Flavor of Love." If I were to pick any rapper to have a show it would be Chuck D.

Friday, August 24, 2007

8-24-07: Moving on Up

I should really get around to finishing the books I start. I definitely will finish the new Harry Potter, but another book I really want to finish is The World is Flat. I read the first chapter or so, and it was dense, but good. Well, not that dense. But it raises some good points.

One of the points the author, Thomas L. Friedman, makes is that outsourcing is actually good for the American public because it forces people to look for better jobs. I like that. It forces. You can’t argue with true force. You can say something suggests change, but that’s weak and usually never pans out. Forced change is a sure bet. Anyway, the point is that outsourcing, or illegal immigration, is leading to more and more American jobs going to other people, and the undereducated are suffering. The answer: get a better education, get a better job. It’s why America will be fine.

I think there is a very relevant parallel to this phenomenon and the mindset of a young professional like myself. I want to go to law school. I’m currently studying for the LSAT, which is weeks away. I want to use my engineering education and go another step, or at least get a good education on my company’s dollar. My buddy Dan wants to do the same. He’s actually looking at going for two post-graduate degrees at once: a Master’s in Engineering and a JD. We’ll see how that goes, but you have to admit, there’s some ambition involved.

From what I gather, this ambition is becoming more and more common. 100 years ago, going to college was a privilege. Nowadays, it’s an expectation. In most countries there is no such thing as a community college. Yes, there are many countries with government-sponsored schools that allow many youths to gain excellent educations. But just look at how universal this trend is becoming. More and more people around the world are going to college. My sister started classes at UNCW this week. The South is becoming the new hotbed of great bargain colleges. Imagine telling some one in Macon, Georgia in 1933 that, within 70 years, the South would become THE place to go to college.

But I digress. My point is: more and more children are raised by ambitious parents, which leads to new and improved expectations. If you had an MBA in 1990, you’d need an MBA AND a Master’s in Engineering to have the same “career purchasing power” in 2007. I’m going for a JD to gain an edge, and I’ll shoot for an MBA later on. Maybe even a Master’s in Engineering. If you asked some one in 1957, just 50 years ago, what a person with three post-graduate degrees could do in society, there answer might likely be “Anything they wanted.” In 50 years, I bet my grandkids, by then likely in middle school, will be sitting down with me planning their PhD path. God, I hope so. If they just got their Bachelor’s, I wouldn’t know what to do with them!

I want to go finish that book now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

8-23-07: Cold Humor

It’s been pretty chilly out this week; I think yesterday was the coldest August 22nd in over 100 years. A bit dreary, which I hate to say, but has affected my mood. I’m a fan of a warm summer, because New England can really suck in the winter. Normally at this time of year I’m on Cape Cod, so being at work AND having to deal with a cooler late August isn’t my idea of fun.

But, either way, it opens up the chance for some humor. Here’s a little joke I came up with:

"A news report came out yesterday regarding Al Gore's house, where there was allegedly some frost on the ground due to the recent cold snap. In a statement to the press, Gore acknowledged that it was all just an illusion, and that he wants to wait for all the temperature readings to come in from around the country before making any real judgments regarding the climate."

It needs some polishing. If you don’t get it, just remember the 2000 election and the aftermath, and you’ll get it. If not, it’s a plain old bad joke and simply try to forget that you read it. I tend to come up with “stretch” jokes that are sometimes brilliant, but oftentimes miss completely. I’m all or nothing in my jokes. I also try not to come up with jokes that you can tell your friends. This is usually because most of the jokes are situational humor, but other times it’s because I like to frame the joke in a certain way that makes it difficult for others to tell it right. It’s not on purpose, it’s just how I come up with my stupid jokes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

8-21-07: The Big 22

Today I turn the magical age of 22. Why magical? Because, while it is a nice age to be, it has no real significance. Unlike the birthdays for 10, 13, 16, 17, 18, and 21, the birthday for 22 is just the average birthday. Sure, it's nice to be a little older, but I rather liked saying I was 21. It was a good year, though, so I wouldn't want to tarnish is by lying about my age. I guess I'll just be 22 and like it.

Unlike all previous birthdays, I am at work today. No, I'm not disappointed, but thank you for your concern. It's not as nice as most years that I spent in Hyannisport, but it beats my least favorite birthday, which was spent at the Dynamic Skating hockey camp. Not only did I have to spend my birthday at a hockey camp, but that day was the most difficult day that week as far as physical strain. The camp was difficult, and that day was just brutal. Sitting at my desk is way easier, AND I can use the internet.

I'm doing Thai take-out with a couple buddies tonight. Should be fun. I rented The Protector, which is a great movie. I highly recommend it. It's about a guy in Thailand whose elephants get stolen and taken to Australia. It's an action movie, with great fight scenes and NO CGI OR WIRES. Great movie. I saw it in Thailand.

Monday, August 20, 2007

8-20-07: Hurling

Have you ever heard of “hurling”? If you haven’t, then you are missing out. I was watching it on the Setanta network last night ‘til about 12:30AM, and it’s quite a sight for newcomers. Basically, it’s an old Gaelic (Irish) sport that’s a cross-breed of field hockey, lacrosse, handball, and rugby. It is played on a field similar to a soccer field, but with goal posts at each end like in football. The difference between football goalposts and hurling goals is that the lower part consists of a net, like in soccer or field hockey. The players use clubs to hit the ball (and other players “by accident”). To score, you can either hit the ball between the upper posts for 1 point, or hit it into the net for 3 points. There is a goaltender, but he DOESN’T WEAR ANY PADS.

Some players wear helmets, but those are the forwards. They are the guys who get really nasty, because it’s FULL CONTACT, like rugby. Guys are running into each other, trying to get to the ball, which is roughly the size of a baseball. From what I gathered, you can only pick the ball up with the stick, and you can carry it on the stick for as long as you want (I think). You can also catch the ball with your hand, and even toss it for short passes. Most of the time, guys just catch it and then whack it with the club. It’s pretty intense, and really fast-paced. I was watching a game between Limerick and Waterford. I’m pretty sure the game is only played in Ireland. I’d love to see a game live, but I don’t think I’d have any idea what was going on. I’ve seen it on TV before when I was a kid, and I’ve even seen it in a commercial. The fans went nuts. If you ever get the chance to see a game, please do. It’s one of those sports that is just crazy to see for the first time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

8-19-07: Rules and the Internet

Like many children, I was raised by parents who believed in setting firm rules. I think it's the right way to raise a child, since the world is really nothing but a big set of rules. But with the new generation being raised with the internet, it seems as if the rules have changed, if not disappeared.

I saw a video on Digg today from The Colbert Report, in which Colbert interviews a man named Andrew Keen, who wrote a book about how the internet is destroying our culture. I don't exactly agree with him, but the interview got me thinking: what rules really matter? If some one is raised with the thinking that being selfish is bad, but steals content from the internet without paying for it, are they breaking that simple rule? Keen's point is more specific, and elitist, that amateur artists are corrupting the art scene and ruining it for "more talented" artists who could afford tuition at top art schools. I think he's an asshole, but if he were less of an asshole, he could have gone down a different alley. Had he simply stated that "Free content ruins the art industry," he'd have a point, but he'd look like a greedy bastard instead of an asshole. At least greed has followers.

It is really difficult to be altruistic nowadays, especially regarding the internet and its effect on human interaction. People yell and scream about how it has ruined person-to-person relationships, but I don't think it has. It has simply changed the rules. Person-to-person relationships used to be primarily physical; I would shake your hand. Then it was over the telephone, where our voices were used. Now it's digital, and you can video chat with some one in India or Japan, for nothing. As the popular book states, the world is flat. Almost any one can meet many people, not just the people lucky enough to live in a urban setting or who have jobs that require frequent contact with new people.

If anything, and this might be a stretch but it's still my belief, the internet has enhanced physical personal relationships. It's based on two principles. The first is the simple "it's more special because I could do it another way" idea; you COULD just chat with some one online, but you choose to meet them face to face. The second principle is similar to the first, but it's a bit more reinforced. Since most people, myself included, are naturally shy and don't reveal much in face to face conversation, the internet allows people to converse more openly. If I tell some one in a text conversation something personal, it's not me telling another person. It's more like me telling myself something that I already know, but wanted to type it and see it on the screen. That is a stretch, but it makes sense to me.

The other funny fact about Andrew Keen: you can buy his book on It doesn't disprove his point, but he certainly does have something to gain from his dreaded digital nemesis.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Long day, but not too bad. My dad and I left for LaGuardia at around 5:40AM; got there at about 6:45AM (with a stop for coffee that wasn't on the way). I hate driving into New York. I had the option for Westchester Airport to drop him off, but decided against it because it was an earlier flight. My mistake. One that I won't make again, if I have the option. It could be 3:30AM, I'd rather drive to Westchester. Something about the city just irks me. On the way back I got a very welcome phone call from Joanna. Within 20 minutes, I went from the edge of the Bronx (terrible driving) to through Stamford. Fantastic timing. No traffic.

Schilling is getting shelled by the Angels as I'm writing this. Too bad for him. I really can't say he's the ace any more. With Beckett's success this year, it's easy to put him down as the #1, and Schilling has been hurt for a good portion of the season so far. People get confused sometimes with him because you want him to be good for the post-season, but then again, you want him to get at least 15 wins. At his age, that's a lot to ask, but he knows his role on the team. Schilling may talk a lot, but he has every right to, and should if he wants. He's earned it, and I agree with most of what he has to say, so, if anything, I just want to see people agree with him.

Spurs won big over Derby County 4-0. Myself and Bill Simmons are happy. They showed Steve Nash at the game. He's a big fan. It just so happens that the most talented Canadian soccer player (Captain of the Canadian National Team), plays for Spurs: Paul Stalteri. I'm sure Stalteri is a Suns fan. Canadian sports stars that aren't hockey players tend to stick together, and stick out. Look at Larry Walker; best Canadian baseball player ever. Not a huge crowd to pick from there, except maybe Jason Bay.

You have to love David Ortiz. Sox just scored 6 runs to pull ahead 6-5; Ortiz just hit a grand slam. Huge, long home-run to right field. There haven't been that many big moments like that this season, despite the success. Great moment. I'm going to go watch some baseball and fall asleep. Practice LSAT tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Have you seen that video on Youtube called "Chocolate Rain"? Apparently it's a huge hit. It's by a goofy kid named Tay Zonday, who has this ridiculously low, but good, singing voice. It's a sad song, but has an interest vibe to it.

Slow week at work, but I've tried to keep myself busy. A lot of reading, but nothing too bad. The stock market sure is struggling. My mutual funds are doing terribly, but fortunately for me, it's just a paper loss. I plan on pumping money into those monthly, so with all the ups and downs, it should work out well. That's the beauty of long-term investing: just wait, and things should get better.

The Jose Offerman incident the other night is pretty interesting. Basically, Offerman went after a pitcher for the Bridgeport Bluefish (who I saw play a few days ago) and the catcher, with a bat, and injured both. Offerman had been beaned by the pitcher, and charged the mound. I liked what Mike Wilbon on Pardon the Interruption said: (paraphrased) "If a pitcher can throw a ball at you going 90+ miles per hour, you should have the right to use a bat, which is just another weapon, and go after him." Seems like a fair argument. Baseball is weird like that. Offerman went nuts, there's no doubt, but wouldn't you go crazy, too? If you hit a home run off a guy, then he drills you the next time up, you know it was probably intentional. Another funny fact: Offerman used to play for the Bluefish (along with seven different MLB teams). The world is small.

Well, I took some allergy relief pills a few hours ago. They're starting to kick in now. Should be a good night's sleep.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

8-11-07: New Haven and Fuel Economy

Funny coincidence. Just as I say how I wouldn't mind cold weather, the temperature drops nearly 45 degrees in two days. Not bad, though! I do enjoy 60 degree weather (or below; it was in the mid to low 50's yesterday). It was quite cold, but nice. I had the chance to wear my jacket last night in New Haven. That was nice. I had a little bit of an embarassing moment with a little beer spillage at the bar (Richter's, very old by very nice), but the waitress was funny and gave me another one at no cost. Bartl and I hung out with Jesse for a couple hours. Jesse's a good guy.

Jesse has all these projects he's working on with is car, trying to get 100 miles to the gallon. Pretty crazy stuff. He showed us a video of a guy who ran a dune buggy at 100 miles to the gallon, ON WATER. Apparently the guy was killed or something, back in the 80's. The video was from a news program. His name was Stan Meyer, from Grove City, Ohio. In the video he said he had a bunch of patents taken out for it (back in 1989). I checked Google Patents, and he has a bunch. All sorts of conspiracy theories surrounding his death, and whether or not the oil companies had something to do with suppressing his inventions. Who knows. I think with the recent X Prize competition should help bring back that kind of technology. It's really fascinating stuff. I told Bartl that once we get our JD's we should help Jesse out with this, maybe start a business. It's just wishful thinking, and I'm not sure how far Jesse wants to take it, but it's good experimentation.

First day of the English Premier League! I'm watching Spurs play Sunderland right now (not live; I recorded it; waking up for the 7:45AM start wasn't something I was quite able to do this morning). I even have my replica home jersey on. It's good to cheer for multiple teams in multiple sports, I think. It's a nice break. Joanna thinks I'm obsessed with sports, which is not far from the truth... Actually, she's pretty much on the ball with that one. Wow, I even used a sports analogy to describe her accuracy. It's pretty sad, actually.

Great weather outside, so I'm going to go out and enjoy it.

I'm so proud of you, sweetheart! We all are. It's so cool what you're doing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I’m not a big fan of extremely cold weather, but I have to say, I’d much rather have it be freezing cold outside than hot and humid. Last night was brutal, and the rain this morning didn’t help the ol’ commute (30 minute backup on the Merritt). In the winter (except when it snows), all one has to do is turn up the heat. Much easier to sleep.

Well, Barry Bonds finally did it. 756 home runs. Congratulations, Barry, on your accomplishment. You have to wonder where the media hides its soul, sometimes. They must hide it pretty well, because I’m almost convinced certain reporters don’t have souls. After the monumental chase, after intense scrutiny, Bonds was congratulated, then asked “Do you think your record is tainted?” Bonds, of course, said no. Why ask? Why would any person ask some one that on arguably the happiest day of their life, at least their professional life? It’s not like he’s going to say “You know what, now that it’s all said and done, and you’re asking at this moment, I have to say, I do think it’s tainted. I did cheat. I’m sorry.” The media has no soul, I’m almost sure of it.

I just joined “Friends of Fred Thompson.” He’s being called the next Ronald Reagan, and that’s a good thing. America needs a guy like Thompson. He doesn’t come across to me like a professional politician. He’s a pretty laid back guy, who has decent experience in politics. Surveys have been done that asked people if they would trust him based on the roles he has played on television and in film, and most said they would. At first glance, it seems like a really crazy and strange survey. One would hope Americans would look more at his values, but, if you think about it, wouldn’t you rather have a guy who can communicate? Look at it this way, do you think Bush would have a higher approval rating if he were a better public speaker? Most definitely. Would it be much higher? Maybe, but probably not. The point is: your persona makes you human, and people want a human President, not a robot bent on staying in power or playing to party politics. I have yet to donate a dime to Thompson, since he hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, but I might throw a couple bucks at him once he does. His views are pretty solid, and I like his values, and agree with them. Sure, he’s a good actor, but his experience in Congress and his honest approach to solid American values mean a whole lot more.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Another lazy weekend, but I like it that way. Got my haircut at Supercuts in Fairfield. The lady was really nice, which always helps. You don't see that enough in business: nice people. I think it's technology that's done it, to be honest. It's so easy to avoid personal contact, that people just fall out of practice. Barber shops can't avoid people, otherwise they'd be out of business. It's nice to see people. All business really is, and should always be, is people interacting to improve each other's lives.

I love fiction. I like non-fiction a lot, history especially, but fiction is better. Sure, non-fiction teaches you how the real world works, but fiction makes you think outside the box, which is necessary. I love making up stories of fictional characters, usually after reading or watching a movie, and acting out their lives in my head. It's something I've always done. It's good to maintain a good imagination, I think. It opens up your mind to new ideas. My girlfriend thinks I'm certified nuts, no doubt. I had her act out with me in the car once on the way up to school. She was being nice, but she's mostly honest with me. That's good feedback. That's what I like. When I'm in a mental hospital at age 75 and she's visiting with my grandkids, I hope she tells them that I like to live by my own rules. That will, of course, never happen. They'll never catch me! Ha ha!

This is a bit crazy, but is something I've run by a couple people already, with mixed results. Is it too insane to have this death wish: at the age of 95, I want to go sky-diving, but I don't want to get all caught up in the bullshit of a "safe landing." I'd be 95. If I broke my leg or something, I'd be fucked anyway, so why be safe? I think it'd be the best way to die: going 100 miles an hour into the fucking ground. I have 74 years to think this through, so I'm far from making a decision. The real sick part, which I have since reconsidered, is that I might invite my family to see it. No, I wouldn't lie to them and say "I want you to see me accomplish something great." Hell no, I'd be up front, if I did invite them (which I won't). I'd tell my grandkids "Don't ever let some one tell you how to live or how to die. Fuck 'em. Be nice to people, but live your own life." Then, the next time they'd see me, I'd be six feet under, and gravity will have done all the work. Ha! This is all fictional, by the way. Like I said, I do love fiction.

Friday, August 3, 2007

8-3-07: Bridge Collapse

Every time there is a tragedy, the natural reaction is to assume that, without immediate action, the tragedy will occur again tomorrow, or soon. What happened in Minneapolis was terrible, a true tragedy. Although the death count is not high as of now, it's still truly unfortunate.

But isn't it fascinating how America reacts to these tragedies? I was in the gym yesterday, listening to my new iPod Shuffle that Joanna got me for my birthday (thanks, sweetheart), but was glancing over at the TVs by the treadmills. One had CNN on, with "Lou Dobbs Tonight" going through the tragedy. I read a book by Lou Dobbs a few months ago called War on the Middle Class. It was an interesting collection of facts, and I agreed with most of what he had to say, to a certain extent. But, like most American media, Dobbs seemed to fall into the trap of immediate action. He had a poll in the middle of the coverage asking "Are federal, state, and local officials doing enough to maintain the safety of our roads and bridges?" After a while, he showed the result: 96% said yes. Had you asked a week ago, I doubt it would have reached 70%.

It's too open a question, to start. What do you mean by "enough"? Every one has their own standards. If you mean "the roads and bridges aren't crumbling every day", then I'd say they're doing OK. But most people see the tragedy and assume it's the same across the country. They hear how 7,000 bridges are below par, but that doesn't mean they're going to collapse. It just means they need some repair. The bridge in Minneapolis had passed inspections, but was never declared unsafe to use. It is an eye-opening experience, but people need to recognize it more as an individual tragedy than as a harbinger of things to come. It doesn't mean it's an epidemic.

The other thing, and I had to call if funny, happened after Dobbs' show went to commercial. The first two commercials: the first was (I believe) as Saab commercial that involved a bunch of cars zooming around on highways with a bunch of overpasses. You could see the cars go over several bridges, in a marvelously synchronized manner, at high rates of speed. The second commercial was, I believe, an insurance commercial that involved near tragedies. Nice work, CNN. I'm sure somebody else had to notice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


I had my first trip over to the new building I'll be working at some time in September. Nice, quiet building. Should be nice. The people over there are good guys, but I feel really, really young. Most of the guys have been working for the company longer than I've been alive. It's definitely scarier for them than it is for me, though.

Stocks really kill me sometimes. I have a Roth IRA with Vanguard, and right now all of the money goes into a "Target Retirement Fund." Basically, it's a fund that will dabble in stocks, bonds, and other securities, and will change the mix over time as my retirement draws closer. It's not specifically tailored to me, per say, but it's good 'til the year 2050. Close enough. I can't retire until 2052. Boy, am I young. Well anyways, the stock market has been in a real funk for the past week or two, and the fund went from a nearly 7% yield on September 19th... to 0.98% yield as of today. It's just a paper loss, though. In fact, I should probably invest a few bucks now that I know it can only go back up. Hmm... I'll probably just let it be for now. I'm on a schedule, anyway. It could always go back down, anyway. It's at 90% stocks right now, so it's pretty volatile.

The Sox made a pretty good trade yesterday for Eric Gagne, a relief pitcher who had great success for a couple years in Los Angeles for the Dodgers. He'll make a good 8th inning guy. They had to trade a good young arm for him, but it's still a decent deal. We needed another good reliever. Good work, Theo. The only bigger deal done before the trade deadline was between Atlanta and Texas. Great deal for both teams. Texas got a great catching prospect, and more, and Atlanta got Mark Teixeira, a very good first baseman. Besides that, no other big deals. The Yankees dealt away Scott Proctor, a guy they virtually abused with all the innings he had to pitch. They did the same thing with Paul Quantrill. Just work him to death, then trade them away when their arms go bad. It's just business, but you feel bad for the guy. The strangest thing is that the Yankees picked up another infielder for Proctor. They needed pitching. They got... another infielder. Good work, Cashman. To be honest, though, the market wasn't too good this year.

Ten days 'til Spurs start their 07/08 campaign! Come on, you Spurs!