Friday, December 19, 2008

Kenny Rogers: Diamond in the Rough


There are a ton of you Kenny Rogers fans out there. And everyone has his #1 hits, but honestly, one of his best love songs albums flies completely under the radar. Love Is Strange has what I consider to be 3 of his greatest love songs. And why doesn't anyone know these? Because they were never released as singles. Whoever makes the decisions of what songs to release just picked the wrong ones, because of the 3 released, two of them are the weakest songs on the album.


If you are in the mood for some good songs, pick up the album, or just buy the MP3s for the best ones. In my opinion you need at least to buy

"Soldier Of Love", "Listen To The Rain", "If I Were A Painting", "So Little Love In The World", and "In Our Old Age".

Enjoy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goodbye BMG

I've been a fan of BMG for years. I've been a member now 3 different times in my life, and probably 1/4 of the music that I've purchased in my life has come from them.

I used to love getting their magazine in the mail and circling all of the music that I wanted. In today's world. I don't even get the magazine anymore, I just go to the website.

However, in today's world, BMG sucks. I can no longer say I love it. I don't, I hate it. I have decided to end my relationship with BMG. Their website sucks. You can't even see what songs are on a CD, much less get a sample of them. Their selection is small and only seems to be getting smaller, and most annoyingly, they mark many of their titles as premium titles. This means that they are not elligable for any of the sales that are offered. Thus all sales only apply to CDs that I'm not interested in. Thanks but no thanks BMG. I can get better prices and better shipping on actual CDs from Amazon than from you, even without sales.

I now prefer digital music, and I prefer DRM free to iTunes. When looking for music my first choice it to check Amazon for MP3s then, I compare the price to iTunes, for a laugh, I will also check BMG, but I've never found any of the new music that I'm interested in for a better deal at BMG. If it weren't for the oringal new member offer to get 10 free CDs I probably would not have joined, and I won't again, even with that kind of offer. It's insane to pay $4 for shipping on each CD. BMG has got to be making more money on shipping than it is on CD sales. And I will not support that business model.

I'm sorry BMG, but you have lost me as a customer, and unless something changes, you won't win me back.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hypocritical OPEC?

OPEC cut oil prices by 2.2 million barrels per day. Stating that they are trying to get the price back to $75 a barrel which they think is a fair price. The past 2 years as they've been making more than double that they didn't do anything to lower the price to the "fair" $75 a barrel price.

OPEC is not about being fair, it's about making money for the middle eastern nations. The recent spike in gas prices followed by the US economy collapsing, has actually been good for the US. It caused the middle east more pain than any war we could start. Instead it made normal Americans who normally wouldn't think twice, cut their driving and switch to more efficient vehicles. It was reported that Americans drove 100 billion less miles in the previous 12 months than they did in the 12 months prior to that. That number is staggering to me.

I know from personal experience that I get passed a lot less now while I drive the speed limit than I used to. The rising gas prices caused a lot of people to slow down. Even with driving the same number of miles they were saving gas.

I would like to see this trend continue. It's beneficial for the environment and national security.

Some things that I would like to see more of to continue this trend include:
  • Telecommuting - working from home can cut a lot of mileage.
  • Teleconferences - Instead of traveling to a meeting call in.
  • Car Pooling - Find someone you live near that works on the same schedule with you. Even if you can save a few days a week it's worth it.
  • Web Training - I've noticed more training is being offered as a web class that you don't have to travel to a remote site for training. Some of these are live all day sessions with a teacher that you can interact with, some are learn at your own pace things. Investigate these options before paying the extra travel and lodging costs associated with a training facility.
  • Use the smallest vehicle that you need. Some families need a van or SUV, some construction people need a pick-up truck. Many people only need a car.
  • Walk/bicycle to local stores. Shop as close to home as you can.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A prescription for a gun

There's a new handgun that is built for the elderly to use. However, it has been classified as a medical device allowing a doctor to prescribe it and health insurance to cover part of the expenses.

It's this kind of insane thinking that helped screw up the health system as much as it is. There is no time at which a gun is needed for medical reasons. A doctor should not ever be able to prescribe a pistol for someone.

Friday, December 05, 2008

How will this recession end?

As I listened to the radio on the way to work again this morning I was thankful that I still had a job. There were over 500,000 lost in October alone and that many more in September plus August.

Then I started thinking about the government bailout of all of these companies. The banks, and my guess is soon to be car companies. How will it all get paid for? We are being told that these are loans that will be paid back, however who is going to pay them back?

Take the car companies for example. They need money to keep paying their employees, but the first thing that they will be forced to do with government money is downsize and streamline, which they should do. But that also adds more people to that unemployment line. The more people who are standing in that unemployment line, the less that there are to buy new cars, which leads to a snowball effect of the car companies needing to declare bankruptcy anyway, even with the government money. At which point they lay off more people and make their own business worse.

The banks are the same. They are not giving out loans because they are worried about people paying it back. They are right to worry. People are losing their jobs. When that happens they can't pay their mortgage and the bank takes another loss, causing it to cut more jobs, which makes more people unable to get loans for houses or cars.

At this point, the entire market is realizing that they need to cut employees and streamline their business in order to stay competitive, so all at once everyone is laying off people. Families that aren't working stop going out to eat and restaurants have to cut staff or close. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

When this is all said and done, there will be a lot of people unemployed. There will be a lot of empty building space from business contracting. And there will be a lot of people pushing their cars to have a longer life expectancy than they have in the past. Somewhere people need to cut spending in order to get their debt in order before they can start spending money on new things again. Until the huge amounts of debt in this country are brought under control by individuals there will be a smaller market of people who have money to spend more freely.

The worst thing that could happen in my opinion is the government stepping in to entice people to take more debt with lower interest mortgages and longer term car loans. These will only cause people to carry more debt, and cause the exact same kind of thing a few years from now when they are unable to pay what they weren't qualified for in the first place.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

SCJP Certified.

After months of studying, I have finally taken the SCJP certification and passed. My learning in the immediate future will be more for fun than for a certification.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jaden is learning programming

Jaden is learning programming. That or he was just tired. Last night he climbed up on my lap while I was reading the chapter summaries and asked me to read it to him. He stayed for two chapters.


It's a strange feeling reading programming to my three year old. He seemed very content to be there listening and even kept looking at me like he understood.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Merry ThanksChristmasYear

The holidays seem to get crazy between now and the middle of January. My family has 5 birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

We have to shop for Christmas, decide what we want, where we will be, when/how to get there, and what's for dinner, there is a lot of stuff to do in the next 7 weeks.

So in case I miss anyone between now and then with anything. Merry ThanksChristmasYear

Saturday, November 22, 2008

She's just fine

Last week we had our first parent-teacher conference for our daughter. This is the same daughter that my lovely wife stressed so hard over last spring. She was worried that Ady would not be ready for kindergarten. After all Ady would not turn 5 until the first week of school.

The teacher said. Ady is just fine. She is doing well academically. She knows her letters and numbers, she does what she's asked to and does it well. Her only problem is that she sometimes doesn't pay enough attention to directions. Something that I think is pretty common for 5 year olds. I'm very proud of her. She has done well in school this year and really enjoys it. Moreover, she is already starting to read. She can sound out words and can read 22 of the 40+ sight words that they plan to work on at school this year.

I'm very proud of my 5 year old smart little Kindergardener.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Which candidate I support...

Which candidate I support is not as important as the fact that I'll be out there supporting a candidate and voting.

I support the American way, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I don't believe happiness needs to be handed to everyone, nor that everyone deserves a chance to be rich, only that no undeserved obstacles be placed in the path of people. I believe that all men are created equal and it is how you live your life from then on that determines where you stand in this world. I believe that capitalism is a good thing and socialism is the absolute worst evil ever created by greedy people trying to take what they did not earn.

I am a very vocal person and will stand up and state my beliefs about philosophy, god, religions. I will answer any controversial topic with a personal one on one conversation about what I believe and why I have come to that belief.

I don't believe that anyone should believe something simply because that's what they were told. Each person should consider what they hear and weigh those facts with the rest of the knowledge that they have to determine if it is plausible even. Nothing should be believed blindly...Nothing.

I don't mind that there are thousands of people coming out and stating who they are voting for. The sad and disappointing fact is that a majority of the reason I see people supporting a candidate is that the candidate is running for the party they have always supported, or because of the person's race. I have sadly seen too many people claim to be voting in this election based on race for both sides.

What I believe most of all though, is that each of us, all American citizens, have a great priviledge living in this country. We have freedoms of speech and religion. We have rights to bear arms, and to drink (which was once taken from us). But we also have responsibilities. We owe it to the world to lead in all ways that make a great capitalism democracy great. We owe it to ourselves to not spend more than we make, individually or as a nation. We owe it to those companies that do offer us money when we don't have it to pay them back when we have taken advantage of their benefits beyond our means. Not repaying our debts is part of what causes those companies to need to move their operations overseas in order to cut costs. Our national debt may soon cause some of the same problems at a much larger scale.

As Americans we have great prosperity. We have computers, and TVs and fast food, and cars, and so many ways to entertain ourselves that it's bizarre to think about.

We owe our country a debt. We need to pay our taxes. And we need to vote. I have a feeling that this election will be the one with the most participation in American history. That's great, but it's only a start. All elections should be that way.

Every year you should take the time to know what's going on in your local community and support it, or vote againt it, but you should vote every year. It takes a small investment of your time to have your say in this country that provides so many great things for you. You owe it that.

Washington Redskins predict Obama Wins

With the bizarre presidential prediction of the Washington Redskins final home game before an election, they have lost indicating that Barak Obama will indeed win the race for the white house. Considering that he's been leading by as much as he has been for the past few weeks it won't be a shock when he wins, what will be a shock is that 18 out of the last 19 elections have been predicted correctly by the Redskins play.

This finally begs the question. Are the Redskins throwing games when the polls show the other party is leading?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Book Review: Benjamin Franklin

I've read a few biographies of the founders of our nation, as I continue to read these I find myself somewhat disenfranchised by the truth of what these people were and did from the romanticised versions of them that I had in my mind. These men were not the demi-gods that even Thomas Jefferson claimed that they were, yet the same small group of men had the biggest impact on the history of the nation.

Now I'm more pragmatic than I was in my younger days, it's the actual details of things that they did and the struggles that they faced that I admire over the romantic views that I held of them as a younger man.

Benjamin Franklin is a pragmatist, like myself, an extremely inventive and scientific person, and probably the biggest single influence on the structure of the government with which we live in today. He is the only individual to have signed and worked on The Declaration of Independence. The Treaty with France which won us the Revolutionary War, the Peace treaty with Britain to end the war, and the Constitution of the United States. I believe that the reason that our country has done so well since it's founding is that these documents and all that they stand for were shaped by this man who was born poor in Boston and ran away from home at the age of 17 to Philadelphia. This man who started and ran his own printing shop, and started with nothing, yet he dined with Kings.

Benjamin Franklin is not the person I want to be like as a family man, or even with his friendships in general, since they were shallow and short in most cases. However, he was very passionate about helping people in general and in giving the common man power in government. It's that passion that has made America strong and keeps it strong.

I definitely recommend this book. I hope you read and enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Expectations

What do you expect of yourself, of your co-workers, of your boss?

I have come up with a list that has worked well for me for the past several years.

Things I expect of myself and my co-workers:
  1. Work hard to get the job completed in a timely manner.
  2. Self improvement. Continue learning and educating myself on things I am using and those that I will need to use.
  3. Offer ideas to improve anything I can think of for either in the team or outside the team.
  4. Learn from past mistakes
  5. Communicate status, issues, and successes in a timely manner.

Things I expect of my boss:
  1. Honest feedback and open communication.
  2. Career development and guidance.
  3. Balanced assignments. I should always have work to do, but not be overloaded.
  4. Support me. Stick up for me.
  5. Offer opportunities for me to grow.
  6. Be prepared.
You cannot control the things that you expect of your boss. You can communicate those thoughts and let her know what you expect.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review: Sun Certified Programmer for Java 5


Sun Certified Programmers for Java 5 is a good book that covers all of the topics that are on the test. I both took the class from Sun and I read the book. The book covers everything the class covers but for a lot less. I definitely suggest buying the book as your study guide for certification if you plan on taking the class.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review: Artemis Fowl The Opal Deception

The Opal Deception is the worst book in the Artemis Fowl series thus far. The story seemed much less developed, and there were basically only 4 scenes, just told multiple times from different participants perspectives. That made the book feel boring and slow. The same information was presented time and again. Plus Artemis Fowl, boy genius is becoming more human and less boy genius. Part of what is exciting about Artemis is that he is almost above humans in his ability to think and act without emotion. Now he's becoming an emotional wreck.

I hope that his fictional puberty doesn't ruin him as a character. I already own the next Artemis Fowl book, which I will read, but if it's a continuation of the humanizing of Artemis Fowl, it will also be the last that I read.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Voice Mail or not to voice mail

I've gotten my phone service through my cable company now for over 2 years. I no longer have an answering machine, because the services offered on my cable phone were all included. Now voice mail will be offered for an additional charge. Since I'm an existing customer I get it at a reduced price (about half) of what new customers will get it at, but even still, should I have to pay $2 a month?

The letter states "This change reflects our increasing cost of delivering voice mail and the infrequency of its use among our customers."

The issue I have with this is that the phone is a cable phone, so it's a VOIP phone, which competes with Vonage. Vonage already charges only $24.99 a month and I pay $40 a month. Plus Vonage has voice mail included. So why should I pay an extra $2 for voice mail.

You know, now that I've enumerated the differences, why do I pay the extra $15 to use my cable phone. I think I'm going to look into Vonage.

Does anyone have an experience with Vonage?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: Simplify Your Life

The full title is "Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter". This was an interesting book. It's short, and has 100 specific things that you can do to change your life and make it more simple, just like the title says. Some of the tips may be things you haven't thought of, such as one for women "Pick a simple classic style that looks good on you, then stick with it. Forever."

Mainly the topic of simplify your life can be summed up with do less and have less. That will reduce complexity in your life. Get rid of your phone, car, cable, magazines, and clothes. Don't go out to eat much, or to movies, or to parties. Now your life is simple, you can sit at home and read or talk or play games.

The individual tips are worth thinking about, although if I were to implement everything, my life would be so boring that I would need the escapism of books to get through the day. But I can look at my wardrobe and TV and other habits to see if they are maybe overly complicated and are taking time that they shouldn't be.

I recommend this book. However, if you can get it from the library, that's probably more than enough, because you won't need to refer back to it, or want to sit and read it over and over.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thoughts on Energy Independence

Energy Independence is a topic that continues to come up in the current Presidential debate, but the details are not being brought out, even the proposals that I've seen online from the candidates seems to be missing something.

The energy that powers our nation comes mostly from domestic sources. Coal is the leading source, and Nuclear power generates up to about 20% of the power of the country, with the remaining power coming from Wind, Solar, and Natural Gas. Very little energy that is in the grid comes from oil, domestic or foreign.

The candidates keep talking about energy independence, and Obama is clearly choosing to state that we need to "eliminate our dependence on Middle Eastern oil". He's not even indicating that we need to reduce our usage of oil, just that we need to not get it from the middle east. I consider this a problem for our national security. I think for our nation to be more secure, we should be energy self sufficient. We should only use energy from sources that are local, and we should make those as clean as possible.

Petroleum is imported for use in products that we buy, such as vinyl and plastics, and for cars in the form of motor oil, diesel, and gasoline. The only way to reduce our dependence on oil is to make products that don't require petroleum. We need to replace those products that need petroleum with those that don't. We need to make cars that need less oil, or none at all. We could become a self sufficient country and have our vehicles still require gasoline, however, they would need to be efficient enough to allow us to only need what we can find in the U.S.

That's not likely though. We have a lot of people in the country, and a lot of cars. We need to make more of them that require no fuel. However, if all cars were suddenly electric vehicles, then we would need to be able to produce vast amounts of electricity to charge them.

There are alternatives available to reducing fuel consumption. Things that require lifestyle changes, and business process changes. I believe the government could encourage these behaviors with tax credits.

Work from home. We live in a very service oriented country. Many of the employees are people who sit at desks and talk on the phone, or type on a computer. If more of these people were working from home, then we would reduce the amount of travel needed for people. Reducing the number of people on the road to work at the same time also reduces the traffic congestion, which would mean less traffic jams, and more efficient use of the fuel for the vehicles that are on the road.

Live close enough to work to be able to walk or ride a bike. Tax incentives could be given to families that live within 5 miles of where they work. Sure some of them may still drive to work, but being that close they could walk or ride a bike.

Have satellite offices. Some of those same companies that could allow people to work from home, because they don't need to be on location to do their job, may have some restriction that would prevent them from doing that. However, they could instead offer satellite offices for employees. This could allow people to live closer to their work and be able to walk/ride a bike without having to deal with the traffic to get to a central downtown location. A small town office 50 miles from the city could be an ideal place for some of the employees to commute to. And with the price of houses in large congested areas, many of those employees may live much closer to that satellite location than the main office anyway. It again puts vehicles on the road moving in a different direction and reduces the amount of congestion.

Mass transit. More and better buses and trains could reduce the dependence on cars. Buses are generally used by cities for in town traffic. However, they could be extremely useful as commute buses from nearby towns. I would very much prefer to ride a bus 30 miles to work over driving to work. I could spend the time productively reading instead of concentrating on driving. This is only useful if the buses can run fairly full, and be on a decent schedule. However, I would think local communities and businesses could work together to make this a cheaper alternative.

Delivery services. Instead of everyone going to the store to buy their groceries, the groceries could be delivered. One van can easily hold the groceries for a dozen houses, cutting the amount of fuel used to 1/12th that of normal. That's 11 less cars on the road using fuel and producing harmful emissions.

Use Clean energy. Electricity although mostly from domestic sources, is still harmful to the environment. Coal power plants produce a lot of emissions. More importantly though, in order to use coal, it must be mined, and shipped to the location that it will be used, which each use additional energy. Nuclear energy is cleaner, somewhat. It doesn't produce carbon dioxide to harm the ozone layer that is the current concern, however, it does produce nuclear waste that we don't have a good disposal mechanism for. Nuclear plants also have a much larger risk than any other kind of power plant of being harmful to their immediate environment. There may be complaints that Wind Energy kills migrating birds and makes noise, but it does not cause 3 legged frogs, cancer, and death to humans. There will never be a hi-jacked airplane with the intention of crashing into a wind tower to cause destruction. Nuclear plants have that concern. Oil also has a similar concern. Hurricane Ike just blew through the Gulf of Mexico wiping out offshore Oil Platforms. There is no oil leaking into the water. That's not a clean thing, it kills fish and plants and eventually birds that live on those fish. It ruins food supplies for people. Clean energy does not do this.

We need to have less risk of harming the food we eat, and ourselves by using more solar, wind, geothermal, hydro-electric, and tidal energy. An additional benefit of all of the clean energy sources is that the ones that are most effective locally can be generated locally, but none of them require us to ship a product to another location in order to turn it into energy. All of these energy sources allow us to need less vehicles on the road to maintain them.

Use Negawatts. Borrowing the term from Amory Lovins, we need to use negawatt ideas. Clean energy is more costly and may not easily generate as much electricity. Even advances in the methods used to produce the clean energy will only help in small increments. Instead it is much cheaper to use products that require less energy. We need to retrofit our houses with more/better insulation. We need to replace our appliances with more efficient ones, and we need to continue to invest in technology advances that will continue to create even more efficient appliances.

It is this Negawatt philosophy that is behind the Compact Fluorescent light commercial that says, "if every household would replace one standard light with a fluorescent light, it would be the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the roads". That's only true in the amount of Carbon Dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere. And it's also only true because the method that we generate electricity is mainly Coal. Replacing light bulbs while helpful in the short term with reducing CO2, it does not remove cars from the road, nor reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need a comprehensive approach to all aspects of energy in this country.

Health Benefits. The incidents of Asthma in this country are rising. Some suggest that it's pollution and particles in the air that are causing this. I don't know how many other health problems are affected by pollution, but I'm sure there are some. Changing our energy to clean energy, and eliminating our usage of gasoline for cars could effectively eliminate some of our breathing problems as a nation. This will also reduce the amount of medical bills that people have, and reduce the number of people that are going to the doctor. All of this eases the strain on our health care system and should save us money both individually and collectively.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Watch out for deer.

My Aunt lives out in the country and always says "Watch out for deer" as we leave. Jaden has been brought up with this and has embraced it.

He says it when I leave for work.
He says it when anyone leaves.
He yells it from his car seat at grandma and grandpa as we pull away from their house to go home.
He says it when Ady goes to school
He says it when I tuck him in at night and tell him I have to go downstairs.

Watch out for deer. It's just a part of goodbye. "Goodbye. I love you. Watch out for deer." Coming or going it doesn't matter.

I love you Jaden. Watch out for deer.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ford to limit speed with Chip in Key


The article states the reason for it has to do with
"Research we've done has shown that speeding is a major factor in teen crashes, especially novice teen drivers," said Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research. "So I think a system that tries to correct the speeding behavior has the potential to improve safety."
More than 5,000 U.S. teens die each year in car crashes. The rate of crashes, fatal and nonfatal, per mile driven for 16-year-old drivers is almost 10 times the rate for drivers ages 30 to 59, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


What I want to know is how many of those happen to be on cars going over 80. If the majority are in town speeding situations, such as going 50 in a 20 MPH zone, then this key will not prevent any of that.

I like that the car will not go over 80, but why stop with teens? Why should adults older people be allowed to have cars that go over 80? What's the compelling reason for cars that can go 150 MPH?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Instant Messaging my son.

Maybe it's just because I'm a geek, but I think it's completely awesome that my 6 year old son now has his own GMail account and instant messages me when he gets home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Errors in looking ahead.

I love to look ahead and plan for the future. It helps me set goals for where I think I'll be and what I want to be doing in the future. I also like to make predictions about sports. I dabble in predicting the outcomes of baseball and football games and seasons.

This year in baseball I had made some major mistakes when predicting the season. Here are some of the big ones.
  • The Yankees will come back and win the division.
  • The Rays will fall apart, they can't keep this pace up.
  • The Blue Jays will regret getting rid of Frank Thomas
  • Ken Griffey Junior will help the White Sox, he hits better with runners in scoring position.
  • The Cubs will win the division with the Cardinals in 2nd.
  • The White Sox will be lucky if they finish 3rd this year.
When I was thinking about this I realized that it's the reflection and study of the failures that we have when we set our goals that help us to set better goals and realize where we went wrong. Reflecting and learning from our mistakes is as important as having and trying to reach goals in the first place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Open house and Book Fair

Last week was Ady's first open house, and her first book fair.

There was one hour to talk to her teachers, see her class rooms, and decide if we wanted any books. This was probably the most nerve-racking thing I have done in a while. I was not sure if an hour would be enough time to get Erin through the book fair, much less include the open house activities.

We started with open house and went to her room. Despite the lack of conversation about what she's been doing, there was plenty of evidence around the school of different art activities she had done, and those were not art class projects. Ady was very excited showing us around and pointing out everything she had done and where other people sit.

By the time we made it to the book fair I was even more nervous. We only had 20 minutes left, and the line for buying things was waiting to get into the book fair at all. I was a bit thankful that we were a little group. Erin stood in line and I looked at some books with the kids, then we caught up with Erin in line with some books in hand and continued to peruse the rest of the books that were there. Jaden picked out "Firebears: The Rescue Team".


Ady picked out a Hannah Montana Activity book. I myself, could not pass up the chance to buy my very first Calvin and Hobbes book. With a lifetime of loving Calvin and Hobbes, I have finally joined the masses of people who now own the books and can have the entertainment whenever it is desired. I picked out "Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons". The title made it impossible to pass up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take Responsibility for yourself.

Watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" there was another instance of Robert that frustrated me.

Robert: "C'mon, are you going to tell me luck hasn't played a part in your life?"
Ray: Why do you think I'm more lucky than you?
Robert: Look at me. I'm eating Balogna and Orange Juice.

But the situation is that Ray just gave Robert a thousand dollars and with it Robert planned to go to Vegas and blow it all.

Luck plays a part in all of our lives, and we all have good and bad luck, however, it's what we do with the chances that we are given that makes the difference. Ray was giving Robert a chance to help himself with a thousand dollars. Robert does not take the responsibility, he's squandering another chance that's thrown at him.

Pay attention to the things that happen to you, be aware of the chances that you have, and take advantage of them. Don't splurge until your finances are in order, otherwise, you're just digging yourself into a hole.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Book Review: Lou Gehrig A Quiet Hero

Lou Gehrig: A Quiet Hero by Frank Graham, is an old book. I got it free when a library didn't want it any more. I've wanted to know more about Lou Gehrig for a long time. I was excited to read more and find out about his life outside of baseball. This is not the book for that.

In fact, this is not the book for anything. The information in this book can all be gotten from the movie "Pride of the Yankees". It will take less time and be more informative. At least you can enjoy the movie.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Twitter suggestion

When I am searching for people who are listed as covering a topic, I am looking for active users. Please change the sort to make the search results appear in order of frequency of posts and recent posts. When the first item returned last updated 1 year ago, I'm not really interested in paging through looking for someone that's actually using the system.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How to handle a bomb threat.

If you answer the phone and it's a bomb threat.

Step 1. Ask the following questions.
1. Where is the bomb located?
2. Why did you plant the bomb?
3. When is the bomb set to go off?
4. What type of bomb is it?

Step 2.
Evacuate.

Step 3.
Call 911.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Halfway is no way.

Greg posted on the dying work ethic in the US, but it also touches on where that problem starts. The work ethic is dying in the US because kids aren't being held to a higher standard at a younger age. It's not just about making them feel good. It's about holding them accountable to do things right and try hard all the time.

A random thought

Given the chance to tuck tail and run, he chose to stand his ground.
And though he had to pick himself up...
The pride he felt was far greater than if he had retreated.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sickgate.

Stop adding Gate to the end of every possible investigation.

This all started with Watergate. However, Watergate is the name of the hotel. Troopergate? C'mon. Did this trooper have a problem with a gate? Did he run into a gate? No.

This should be called the Palin-trooper incident or something else. I'm sick of the gates being used time and again.

The gates drive me crazy. Here's a list of other incorrectly named gates-scandals.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The problem with NCLB

The problem with the No Child Left Behind program, is that it leaves children behind. The program is designed to help all students meet an arbitrary minimum standard. However, if a school has some kids that for whatever reason are not meeting that standard, then the school is placed on a kind of probation, then it's taken over.

During the probation phase a school has 2 years itself. What happens in those 2 years, the only focus of the teachers is getting all of the kids to the minimum level to pass. The grades given to a school are based solely on the minimum level of passing. The kids that are already at minimum level become ignored and are left behind. The testing doesn't show it, but the way that NCLB is set up it prevents gifted children from reaching their potential. If a 1st grader can read at a 3rd grade level, there is no need for the teacher to push him to read at a 5th grade level, instead he will be ignored and bored.

The start of this year seems to have done this to Jonas. The teacher is clearly spending much more time with the children that are behind where they need to be. Jonas doesn't need constant supervision to be pushed, but expecting only beginning 1st grade work from him without explaining to him that he has higher standards that he needs to reach, only leaves him to be bored and aim no higher than the expectations being set.

If you have a child in this situation yourself, make sure you take the time at home to clearly set higher expectations, reward them for meeting your expectations that are above the schools, and be disappointed when they are not met. Gifted children need to be challenged or they will stop growing.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Failed McCain slogans

Before choosing "some candidates use their career for Change" The McCain campaign had several failed slogans that they tried.

  • He's the only candidate that's been in Washington for 26 years and hasn't been able to prevent us from becoming more and more dependent on foreign oil
  • He was in a war
  • The choice is between someone who hasn't done anything and is just starting out, and someone who's had nearly 30 years of chances to do something and hasn't
  • he is a war hero
  • he got his ass kicked every day
  • nothing like getting your ass kicked to make you ready to lead a country that's been getting it's ass kicked in the world
  • getting my ass kicked everyday prepared me for taking care of the ass kicking America has been gettin'
  • I've spent this long in Washington, I may as well die there
  • I'd rather lose an election than lose a war, of course if I lose the election the war is out of my hands, Guess it's a lose-lose situation.
  • I like to pick out hot women. Have you seen my wife, and now my running mate?
  • Older than both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
  • Old enough to be Sarah Palin's father

Please take this completely tongue in cheek.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Windows Media Player

I wish that Windows Media Player would minimize to an icon in the icon tray that I could right click on and select next, back, pause, stop and eject, or restore. I could then double click the icon to bring the player itself up.


Oh wait, that's what iTunes does. Then why is it that Microsoft still can't keep the darn media player out of my way. I don't want it in my taskbar, not as a window icon or a mini player. The mini player is bigger than the window icon. My life is not the windows media player, it's something that I use for background music while I'm doing something else, I want it as far out of my way as possible.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where have I been?

I was at a friends blog and saw a map from TravelBlog. I thought it was neat and decided to make one myself. I have only listed states that I've actually stopped to stay or do some kind of visiting. I skipped several states that I've driven through but not done anything.

Visited States

Visited US States Map from TravelBlog

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dear Daughter

A letter to my daughter.

On your 5th birthday I stopped to think about the time we've had. Only 5 little years, and yet you've grown so much, I've grown so much.

You're 5th birthday has been overshadowed by so many other things going on in our life. Your cousin is pregnant and expecting a baby, aunt Janelle is also pregnant and Joel will soon have a little brother or sister. You are about to start Kindergarten and mommy has been worried almost to the point of sickness. I think she worries more about what she will do with her time than how you will do in school.

You may not realize it yet, but your life is about to dramatically change. It won' be just 3 days a week for a few hours, like preschool was. Now you will begin forming the friendships that will carry you through high school.

The next year is the start of a long road of new things to come your way. This summer you learned how to swim, but that's not over, you will continue to improve as you keep taking lessons. Your dance from last year will become gymnastics this year. You will learn to read and will be reading me stories in no time. You will learn to add and subtract. You will learn about animals and earth and so many different things, it will be an amazing time.

Our dreams for you are big, and we want the best things for you. We want you to experience so many different things and we will do everything we can to help that happen. I love you Ady Cakes

Monday, August 18, 2008

Birthday Celebration

Yesterday we ventured out to Chuck-E-Cheese for Ady's 5th birthday celebration. There was no party, just lunch and playing. A friend also came and had lunch. With one of our kids living full time somewhere else, we make sure that birthday celebrations are always on a weekend when everyone is here, we don't want any of our kids to miss giving each other the love that they have for each other at birthday time.

Our lunch started at 12:30, and was a relatively peaceful and easy 3 hours. It's strange to say that 3 hours later, we were finally worn out from being there, but I wasn't frustrated at all. My kids almost never frustrate me when we're at Chuck-E-Cheese, it's the other little brats that cut in front of my kids, or push them, or run through them, or, even take their tickets or tokens that I get mad at. Those kids I just want to pick up and walk to the front door and make them stand their until their parents come looking for them. Yesterday though, there was nothing like that. The other kids were all polite. I was completely shocked, there wasn't a single instance of any other kid being rude. It almost made me sad to go, because I wanted to take advantage of the niceness as long as possible. And I had a salad bar, so another hour and I could start eating more salad for dinner.

As we were getting ready to leave Erin asked our friends if they wanted to come over to the house too. Our kids and theirs have a blast playing together. I was shocked, and excited that they said yes. We don't get to visit with them as much as I'd like to. Another 5 hours later they took their tired kids and headed for home. At bed time we always ask the kids what their favorite part of the day is. A tradition my wife started, that I love. Ending each day by reflecting on the good parts of the day, it's a good habit that I hope they keep for the rest of their lives. Each kids favorite part was playing with their friends, which Jonas stated was "pretty much the whole day, that was my favorite part". I'm glad to see we can make the day good for all of you, hopefully this will be a birthday celebration to remember.

In the spirit of birthday celebration, Ady woke up this morning and said, "Since it's my birthday celebration, can I have toast and butter without crust?" I don't know why she wants it without crust she almost always eats the crust, but that's something special that she asks for from time to time. Erin's answer was quickly, "no, today's not your birthday, on your birthday you can have toast and butter without crust". No harm in trying to milk a birthday celebration for all it's worth.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic amazement

Sure everyone in the world is thinking about and watching the Olympics, but I can't help myself, it's amazing.

The swimming records that are being blown away are unheard of and are crazy. I think Phelps beat his own world record by more almost 2 full seconds. Can you imagine if all of a sudden the 100M sprint were broken by a full second and was suddenly below 9 seconds?

Currently I'm watching the men's gymnasts shocking everyone by being a true Silver medal contender, and they were in first after 3 rotations. Would the Hamm twins have been enough to put this team over the top? Probably not. The Chinese scores are so high, but I think they would have made it even more interesting. Probably the most amazing thing I've seen with the gymnasts was the Chinese men on the floor. The show of upper body strength in the way they would lift themselves was insane.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Book Review: It's Not About the Bike


I've been waiting a few years to read this one. Lance Armstrong, the great cyclist who survived testicular cancer to thrive in the cycling world again. It was a book that had to be good. A can do, hero story in real life. Sadly, it is real life and not a hero story. It's great he survived and brings hope to so many people who have to face the same things he faced, I wish the book would have stayed there.

Too much of the book was dedicated to the closeness he has to his mom, which is fine, but it's also harsh about the distance he has from his father and step father. The book makes Lance Armstrong very human, and in too many cases shows his resentment for others. It's good that this book really shows completely who Lance Armstrong is, in that I now have no more misrepresentations of him, at the same time, I no longer look up to him as a role model. Now he's just a good cyclist. If my kids ever get into cycling I would look at Lance Armstrongs stats and say, "That's a star, that's what you shoot for", but I'll also do my best to teach them not to be like Lance, not to be brash and mean, not to distance yourself from your family and friends. This book shattered all hopes I had. It's not about the bike, it's about so much more, and yet, the last quarter of the book focuses solely on the Tour de France, and the bike. Really this book is about the bike, how it ruled his life before cancer and helped him get through cancer to get back on the bike. Since cancer his life has continued to be ruled by the bike, to the point that even after this book he got divorced from his wife and continued to win the Tour de France. Read it if you want to know more about Lance, but not if you are looking for something awe-inspiring.

Wal-Mart waste

I stopped by Wal Mart at lunch and picked up something small so I said "I'll take that without a bag." The lady grabbed the item, stuck it in the bag then looked at me. Again I said, "I'll take that without a bag if that's ok", that's me being environmentally friendly and not wasting a bag. Then cashier lady says ok, grabs my stuff out and hands it to me, then immediately pulls the bag off the rack and throws it in the garbage.

I'm not sure what Wal Marts official stance is, but the behavior seems to be that at least one plastic bag must be thrown away per customer. I was so frustrated.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Complete Book of Running

I've been reading runner's world for years now, and for the first time, they sent me a book to review. It's one of those deals where I get 21 days to decide if I want the book, if not I can send it back, if I do I can buy it for only $32.


I was blessed to receive. It's ok as a book but it's not great. It only took me 2 days to skim through and find all the sections that weren't already provided online or in the magazine.

I will not be buying the book for 2 reasons. First, they're selling it for twice as much as I could buy it from Amazon for. Second, it's not good. The book is slanted strongly towards women, but I would suggest The Complete Book of Running for Women, if you are a woman looking for this information.


If you are a beginner, I suggest checking out Runner's World Training. And the Couch to 5K program at Cool Running.

If you are looking for how to run farther better or your first marathon, I suggest
Marathon: You Can Do It! It's a great book that helped me get through my first marathon. I also own and have read the Lore of Running tome that Timothy Noakes wrote, but it's way too technical for most runners, including me. There's a lot of physics and biological information about how the body works in relation to running, but it's not a good book for motivation or for improving things really.

Other running books that I suggest.

Friday, July 25, 2008

100 Things

Challenged by Erin's 100 Things list to produce a similarly stellar list, I decided to list 100 things about me.

  1. I'm a bicentennial baby.
  2. My favorite movie of all time is 1776 (yes I like musicals)
  3. America's favorite past-time Baseball, is my favorite sport.
  4. Football is a close second.
  5. I had my first asthma attack when I was about 8, I still remember the fear and the home remedy things that we tried to get me breathing again.
  6. I had my last asthma attack when I was 20, the 12 years in between were hell, I love to run.
  7. I love to run.
  8. I've run a marathon, 26.2 miles, it's the greatest physical feat that I have performed.
  9. I hate losing.
  10. I started coaching Little League when I was 13.
  11. I've never had a losing season coaching.
  12. I've had two undefeated seasons, it was coaching junior high girls softball, and both seasons were amazing.
  13. My oldest boy is named Jonas, the name came to me when I was 12 and I always knew that it would be the name of my son.
  14. I have a little plastic white tiger that I bought at the Mall of America that I named Jonas to always remind me that I would name my son Jonas one day.
  15. I had my first kiss at 4 in Kindergarten, with Michelle.
  16. I had my first girlfriend when I was 17, with Alison.
  17. The 12 years between were hell.
  18. I've won the Superbowl in Super Tecmo Bowl (Nintendo) as every team in the game.
  19. I could beat The Legend of Zelda in 2 hours.
  20. Tom Elroy and I once played the same game on Nintendo non-stop for 36 hours, sleeping in shifts in order to beat the game. Save on the Nintendo had stopped working correctly so we could not stop.
  21. My best friend, Scott, lives in Arizona and I don't get to see him anymore.
  22. I started programming when I was 9 on a Commodore 64. The manual had the commands for BASIC and I taught myself.
  23. I have been self taught at practically every language I have ever learned, with Turbo Pascal being the only exception.
  24. I almost got kicked out of school in high school for screwing up the grading program. I was doing something I wasn't supposed to be and the teachers grades for the year were lost 1 week before the end of the year.
  25. I had a college room mate that lit me on fire.
  26. I like to go above and beyond, doing more than the minimum.
  27. I am very orderly and once I figure out how something works best for me, I do it almost the same way every time.
  28. When loading the dishwasher knives go in sharp side down, all other utensils go in eating side up. It gets them the cleanest.
  29. I stepped on a broken bottle when I was young and cut the artery in the bottom of my foot. I still have a scar from the stitches.
  30. I don't go out barefoot anymore.
  31. I cut my ankle down to the bone playing on a slip-n-slide.
  32. I cut my finger in a Roast Beef slicer when I was 17.
  33. Erin doesn't think I'm as funny as she is.
  34. I babysat 2 kids full time in the summer when I was 12.
  35. I started working at Hardees when I was 16. I worked there until my junior year in college.
  36. This one time at band camp...I was in band camp for 5 years, and although I heard crazy stories about it, I was never a part of them.
  37. I played soccer for 5 years, but chose band when I got to high school.
  38. My high school band won state all 4 years I was there.
  39. This list is not 100 ways I love my wife, that list has to remain out of the public domain.
  40. I hate to have my nose touched.
  41. I love programming and if I were rich enough to not need to work, I'd still program.
  42. My heart is truly filled by my wife and kids.
  43. Erin gave me an unexpected wedding wearing White Sox jerseys, I wouldn't have asked for it, but it is more memorable to me than a more traditional wedding would have been.
  44. My ex-wife and I are still friends good friends.
  45. The coolest vacation I have ever been on was staying at a Holiday Inn in Decatur when I was young. It had an indoor putting range and a pool.
  46. I have seen Billy Joel in concert, I loved it.
  47. I have also seen Carrot Top in concert. I laughed so hard my sides hurt for days.
  48. I'm not spontaneous. Even the things that appear spontaneous to others, I have been thinking about and planning.
  49. I want to be stronger, but I lose motivation to lift weights quickly.
  50. The coolest medal I earned was for helping a friend coach his Little League team in a post-season tournament, we won. I wasn't really part of the staff, but they appreciated me so much they gave me a medal.
  51. The 2nd coolest was for first place in a math test taken in high school. It was multiple choice and I didn't know the topic, so i just guessed on everything. I scored an 85%, the next highest was 40% and he was the smartest person I knew.
  52. I hate pretty much all games with dice, when it comes to dice I have no luck.
  53. My kids amaze me nearly every day.
  54. Jonas is crazy smart, almost to the point that I worry that his social skills will suffer.
  55. Ady is amazing and will be in charge of whatever she does.
  56. Jaden has an ability to solve puzzles that I've never seen in a 2 year old.
  57. I love how my kids ask me questions about everything, the curiosity is amazing.
  58. I am a life long learner and try to learn new things on purpose daily.
  59. If I could take a pill to not sleep, I would.
  60. I miss that Jonas lives far enough away from me that I won't get to coach the sports he plays growing up, and I'll probably miss most of his games.
  61. When I was growing up my parents came to practically every event of everything I was ever in, even in college they would drive 2 hours to watch a 30 minute concert.
  62. In college I took a rifle/pistol class where I earned a Marksman metal for rifle.
  63. I also took a bowling class.
  64. I was so far ahead in classes needed to graduate that my last semester I only needed 6 hours, so I had to take additional courses to remain a full time student and live on campus.
  65. I worked through the work program at EIU at the TV station. I wrote a few programs to help ease data entry.
  66. I have never left the country, not even to Mexico or Canada.
  67. The sweetest sound in the world is my wife's voice, unless she's mad at me.
  68. I follow politics and think that everyone should participate by speaking their mind and voting.
  69. I believe in smaller government and less programs.
  70. Atlas Shrugged is the greatest philosophical book of all times, and it's written as fiction.
  71. My career as a poet never took off, I was not published in any of the 50+ contests I entered between 5th grade and graduating college.
  72. I own leaves of grass but have not been able to get into reading it, despite trying several times.
  73. I hate not finishing a book that I start, even if it's bad.
  74. I once had an argument with a gay man about whether people were born that way or chose to be that way. I didn't know he was gay, to me it was just a philosophical discussion. Looking back it's pretty funny.
  75. I grew up with religion, but I never had faith until Lloye.
  76. If I could afford to, I would only have office chairs in my house for seats, no couches, no kitchen chairs, just office chairs.
  77. Every computer deserves 2 monitors.
  78. Ady can amaze me with her love, then turn around and scare the hell out of me with her anger.
  79. My kids are the greatest source of joy in my life.
  80. My wife is the greatest source of passion.
  81. My kitchen is the greatest source of dishes. Erin hates to hand wash dishes.
  82. I have seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
  83. I've been to Washington DC twice and still haven't made it to the top of the Washington Monument.
  84. I've lived within 3 hours of Wrigley field my entire life and never been to a game there, what can I say, I'm a White Sox fan.
  85. I love to walk through nature and nothing is as soothing as running water.
  86. I've been accused of having the mind of a 15 year old. Whatever that means.
  87. One day I plan on getting another tattoo, yes another.
  88. I'm a tech geek who doesn't own anything from Apple.
  89. My hair is thinning and in a few years I will be bald on top.
  90. I play musical instruments, Trombone and Piano, I am learning guitar very slowly.
  91. I have all of my wisdom teeth, I have since I was in high school
  92. I want to be more handy and help out with things like Habitat for Humanity.
  93. I like being involved in coaching my kids in sports and look forward to the many years of activity to come.
  94. We squeeze our family of 5 into a Chevy Cavalier.
  95. One day I will get a bigger car, when we can afford it.
  96. I own as many pairs of shoes as my wife, she's an anomaly and doesn't own very many.
  97. I cook a really good omelet.
  98. I prefer to have no icons on my computer.
  99. My favorite food is hamburgers on the fire pit at Aunt Shel's.
  100. I prefer to be environmentally friendly and would love to work at home and use natural products for as many things as possible. I recycle as much as I can.
Strangely 100 things was not hard to come up with. I probably could have made a list of 200 things, but that would just make me look conceited.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lazy Man's Ironman: Half way recap.

The first half of the Lazy man's Ironman has been interesting. My plan was to keep myself busy running, biking and swimming as often as possible, and I would be done by the 20th without much of a problem.

Instead I'm now at the half way point with 11.4 miles left to run (Less than half), 20 laps left to swim (less than 1/3) and 75.8 miles left (well over half).

Initially I thought swimming would be the most difficult portion of the adventure. I can only swim at the Y and I hadn't swam laps in a long time. Swimming however, has been the easiest for me.

I thought running would be the easiest for me. I run frequently and ran a lot last year. This month I have gotten back into the habit of running, but I'm still way behind where I was last year. Running has been harder on my feet and back than I anticipated.

Biking. I expected this to be the hardest and it has been. Partly because I lost my recumbent bike in my flooded basement last month. Riding on a real bike outside works my legs slightly different and is probably easier on my legs, but it hurts my butt so much more that I can't ride more than twice a week outside and tolerate sitting the rest of the time. That has limited me to one real bike riding day with the rest of my rides being at the Y on their recumbent bike.

I think I'll still accomplish my goal. It will take me 4 days of running, 2 days of swimming and 9 to 11 days of riding. As long as I do two things in a day I'll be able to complete them all before the month ends.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The hundred pushup challenge: week 4

Day 1. Monday
27, 20, 20, 17, 40 Total 124

Day 2. Wednesday
27, 21, 21, 18, 45 Total 132

Day 3. Friday
30, 22, 22, 20, 31 Total 125

The fourth week was practically a repeat of week three. This didn't stop me from pushing myself harder. I was amazed with myself at being able to increase my max sets by so much, except for Friday. Friday my arms were really tired and I didn't have much energy at 10 PM when I started the pushups after having taken Jaden swimming for nearly 2 hours and then running for 3 miles. I may have been too tired at that point. The rest from last week helped a lot on Monday. I'll need it to help again because the jump between week 4 and week 5 is substantial.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Car that empties your wallet

I saw a commercial yesterday where the selling point was the number of miles between a fill up.

Then again this morning, I heard a radio commercial for the Nissan Altima. It gets over 600 miles between fill ups. This had me interested, so I went and checked. 32 miles per gallon, with a 20 gallon tank. It may be 600 miles between fill ups, but each trip to the gas station will cost more than $80. Yikes.

I want to get 600 miles for $40, get me one of those cars.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My little man

My little man peed standing up tonight. I'm so proud.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The hundred pushup challenge: week 3

Day 1. Monday
25, 17, 17, 27, 18. Total 104.

Day 2. Wednesday
27, 19, 19, 15, 31 Total 111

Day 3. Friday
30, 22, 22, 20, 30 Total 124

The third week was quite a bit tougher than the second. I managed to squeak by the maximum amounts for each day. I had to force myself to think positively through each set in order to make it through. The swimming that I am doing has my arms and back a bit more sore than it had been previously. I hope the extra exercise helps with my overall weight loss.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lazy Man's Iron Man

For some reason I allowed myself to get talked into attempting a lazy man's Iron Man at the Y this month. That means that I have a month to complete 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles riding a bike and 26.2 miles running.

This will be a big challenge, and make sure that I am focusing on exercise during July.

I think the swimming will be the most challenging part of this for me. I haven't swam laps in a few years. And the only time that lap swimming is open at the Y for me, is before work, which means getting up earlier, or trying to convince my boss to let me work from home more in order to swim and still get to work on time easier. I'll have to go about 180 lengths of the pool.

I think the running will be the easiest for me, since I have a natural habit of running for my exercise already. I haven't run 26 miles in a month yet this year, but was doing close to 60 miles in a month last year, so I believe that I can get those miles in.

Biking will be another challenge. My exercise bike at home was part of the loss from the recent flood in my basement. That means riding the bike at the Y, or riding on a normal bike, which is a lot harder on my back and butt.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

When will the internet offer replacements for Cable?

When will the internet offer replacements for Cable TV? On Cable, or Satelite TV, I'm forced to pay a large fee in order to get the channels that I want. I love baseball and want to watch the White Sox, but those games are on the extended cable package. So in order for me to have 1 channel to watch I have to pay $50 a month. I don't care about almost any of the other channels that are available, I just want to be able to watch the White Sox play.

You would think that something would exist to fill this void, and on the surface of things, it appeared that MLB.tv may be what I was looking for. However, when I started looking more cloesly at it, there is a black out policy. Basically any game that would be on the extended Cable channel is not available on MLB.tv because it's my local team. If I were a huge Texas Rangers fan I'd be ok, but since I live "close" to Chicago and it would be on TV I am not allowed to pay in order to watch the games that I want to watch. MLB.tv makes sense. It's only $60 for the entire season, which is all the games for every team, not just the games that I would have had on TV. I'm a big enough fan that I'm willing to pay for that kind of immersion enjoyment, but only if I can get my favorite team.

Thus, no sale. I will not pay the $60, even to see a lot more baseball than what I could see if I paid for extended cable. And I will not pay for extended cable. And since I won't pay $60 for all the games for a season, you can bet I'm not paying to go to a game. Thus, the team that I love to cheer for and watch doesn't make any money off of me. I'm stuck just reading summaries on the internet and catching an occasional game when I'm at someone else's house, when they have the channel.

Baseball is not the only sport missing out here. All the major sports could also get more viewership, hockey and soccer could probably benefit more than baseball and football can. Plus many other sports with avid practicioners that have no way to view them other than to attend events live. They cannot always make it to an event. Imagine college baseball, volleyball, swim meets. Alumni's of school, especially past athletes may love to keep up with their school and pay for watching, all that has to happen is they need to be recorded and posted.

How long will it be, before the internet actually offers us the opportunity to view content that is just not available anywhere else?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: Knock your socks off Service

For a book that's slightly dated (1991) Knock your Socks off Service does very well with providing timeless tips for delivering great service. The book is more of a reminder of what great service should entail than tips on how to get there, but for those that are seeking to better themselves and serve others better it may be enough to think about the different aspects of Service.

Like every business book there are lots of quotes that are great for motivation throughout the book. One of my favorites is:
Rules exist to serve, not enslave
-- Software programmer's axiom


The 31 chapters are each short and the book can be read in just a few hours, or spread out over time. This one works better spread out over time so you can think about each chapter after reading it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The hundred pushup challenge: week 2

I jumped right into week 2 of the Hundred pushup challenge. The first 2 days were great, but lots of stress at work led to a lack of sleep, and the 3rd day ended up being fairly poor. I am still making progress, and have increased my running as well as starting on a program of curls. I want my arms to look good in both the front and the back. I ran 2.5 miles on Tuesday and 3 on Saturday to help with my overall fitness.

My days of pushups themselves went like this.

Day 1. Monday
12, 12, 9, 7, 38 Total 78
I wanted to get to 40 for my max set. I couldn't quite make it.

Day 2. Wednesday
16, 13, 11, 11, 39 Total 90
I again wanted to get to 40 for my max set, but was just short. I collapsed onto my face and had to lay on the floor for about 5 minutes before I could get up.

Day 3. Friday
15, 15, 12, 12, 23. Total 77
I was up late on Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday I was exhausted and forced myself through the workout even though I didn't have any energy. It showed when I finished way below what I thought I should have done for my max. I decided to take both Saturday and Sunday off from pushups before moving to week 3.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The hundred pushup challenge: week 1

At the start of last year I set 3 fitness goals for myself. I wanted to run a marathon, do 100 pushups straight, and do 10 pull-ups. My commitment lagged though and I only completed the marathon. For me this may have been the easiest of my three goals. I had been running with a goal of completing a marathon for over a decade, I had definitely put more time towards that goal than towards anything else.

The other two goals not only got lost in the running mania that became much of my life, but they were completely forgotten, until Tuesday last week when I stumbled into a web site. It was a 100 pushup challenge, and has a 6 week training program. Supposedly following this pushup program will build the strength to be able to do 100 pushups straight. Without even having looked ahead at the program, I knew that this was going to be my next challenge.

Out of all the exercises that I do, pushups are the one that I'm probably the most consistent with. I may get away from the weights and stop running for a while, but I still have a habit, no matter how lazy I'm being, of dropping down and doing 20-30 pushups just about anytime I feel like I need to exercise. Sometimes it helps motivate me to do more, sometimes I stop after just one set. However I am strong enough to do 30 pushups without a problem. That was enough to start me in the advanced section.

I'm not really sure of my progress after 1 week. I did made it through all 3 workouts. The first day wasn't hard at all, but the 2nd day I still had a lot of pain from the first workout. However, workout #3 was pain free and I maxed out at 32 pushups, which made my 3rd day total 80 pushups.

The other benefit is that starting this challenge has made me realize that I want to look better when I complete it than when I started it. I've been much more conscious of what I ate this past week, as well as having walked and run more. At the end of this 6 weeks, I should be able to do 100 pushups and look better doing it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Year 1908

The year is 1908.
One hundred years ago.
What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1908 :

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles
Of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.

The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which
Were condemned in the press AND the government as "substandard. "

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used
Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from
Entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas , Nevada, was only 30!!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea
Hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households had at least
One full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. !

Now I posted this from someone else, without typing
it myself, and it can be seen all over the world
INSTANTLY!

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

IT STAGGERS THE MIND!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A fun night of mail

Going through the mail tonight I had a solicitation for SEO services for my wife's website, presumably my information was gotten from having paid for the URL. I'll have to remedy that situation. I definitely do not intend to be spammed either in email or paper form from vendors that I'm not interested in.

Plus, I do SEO work myself. What is this solicitation? For only $65 this company will submit my website to 20 search engines and provide me quarterly reports. Hrm. Well I'm already on Google. I'm not all that interested in being extremely highly rated in specific keywords, but know that I am highly rated in some of the topics that happen to be common on my site.

Plus, since my site is a blogspot blog, I'm obviously a Google user and have access to Google Analytics. I'm pretty sure that this piece of junk mail has absolutely nothing to offer of any value whatsoever.

Then the next piece of mail I open is a warranty extension from Dell. Thanks for buying your computer (for only $499,) please extend the warranty to a 3 year warranty for $299.

Um, no thanks, if your computer is high enough quality to make it that long then I'll probably buy another cheap one, if it's not, then I'll move on to another brand, Don't try to sucker me into practically doubling the cost of my computer to ensure that it runs as long as it should anyway. If you really want to give me an offer, then for $40 extend it to a 3 year warranty. Trully stand behind the quality of your parts, then I'll be impressed that I can have security for only $40 and not the cost of another computer, just up front.

At least I don't have my kids getting credit card offers yet, like this story at Getting Rich Slowly talks about.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jonas


We went for a run the other day and on our run Jonas tripped. He only got a little scratch, and after cleaning it, we went back out and ran some more.













Jonas got a haircut today, here he while talking to his mom about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Please stop raining

Last week was very hard on us. I've been wanting to write about it, but wasn't sure what to say. In short the flash floods that hit the Midwest last week, caused a lot of flooding in my basement. I missed work for a few days having to deal with the aftermath, and although it's clean and I've had the blower in the furnace replaced and the water heater cleaned, the basement still stinks. I plan on getting back down there to clean it again.

Erin and I both laughed a lot about everything as it happened. I think it had a lot to do with the amount of disbelief that we had while watching the water keep rising. I called the sewage plant at 1 AM while water was coming up out of the toilet. The told me that they had been struck by lightning and their pumps were down. There was nothing they could do until they could get them fixed the next morning.

We looked at our insurance policy which very clearly did not cover us for sewage backup. After a few more calls and talking to the fire department twice, we decided that the safest thing to do was to kill the power and leave the house and wait to see how bad it gets.

A quick jaunt through the knee deep water that was coming out of the toilet to shut the power off and at 2 AM we left the house.

When we got back home around 11 AM I had to make another trip through knee deep water to turn the power back on. Marks on the wall showed that it had already dropped about 3 inches.

You can see pictures of the basement on Erin's blog.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A great start to summer

Now that Jonas and Ady have now both had their graduation ceremonies, and it's hot enough to be out playing on shorts and a t-shirt, or our kids favorite, no-sleeve shirt, the summer is well on it's way.

Jonas graduated then immediately came to spend 2 weeks with us. Here that time is almost over, but it's been awesome. He's had fun, I've had fun, everyone has had fun. T-ball Finally started last week on Thursday night for Ady.

Ady and Erin are both taking swim lessons. Jaden finished his, and we decided to give him a break from them, getting both Jaden and Ady into back to back classes was stressful and difficult.

Jonas is signed up for a basketball camp and he's learning more of the ins and outs of basketball. He didn't seem to have a passion for it this winter when playing, but after just 2 days of camp it's grown on him. In these two days he's worked on basics, like dribbling, passing and boxing out, he's so excited that even on tonight's walk he prented he was dribbling while we were walking.

And Jaden. I'm not really sure what I can say about my 2 year old who is fully embracing being 2. It's almost as if he knows that it's called the terrible 2's, which he takes literally as his job description. Be wary of telling him how good he's been, because his response is a wylie little smile that will melt your heart, then he'll walk into the other room and break something or hit one of his siblings, or maybe pull a handfull of hair (literally) out of Ady's head, then he'll just walk quietly away, if he doesn't run to you first complalining about the others that he just beat. Yes, Jaden has embraced the heat of summer as if it were the fires of hell and he were the man in charge...... Ok, it's not quite that bad, but Jaden is as cute as he is stressful, and he's a lot of both.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Turn your lists into mind maps

Text 2 Mind Map has a great application to help you turn your list into mind maps.

Mind maps are something I've read about for years now, but I've never had any success with hand drawing them, because my thoughts come out better in jumbles and lists than they do in pictures, whenever I would try to draw a mind map, I would run out of space and and up writing over other things, or putting my additional items into really odd places.

I've looked at some software for this over the years too, but it's always come back to the fact that it took me too long to arrange the lines and the boxes so I could see everything.

Now Text 2 Mind Map has a beta application out that lets you put your list into their text box, and they will make a mind map that you can download. This is pretty cool. It may even open me up to thinking about my tasks in a different way.

Enter your data and see if you like it. It looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Be aware though, even though it says you can download an image, the image produced for download has issues. I created a list that was larger than the page. The image that downloaded was cut off. When I downloaded in the full page mode, the image was downloaded but the text with the images were not.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

City declaring bankruptcy a bad sign

The city of Vallejo California is declaring bankruptcy. This is a very bad sign. Not only are they blaming this on the economy, they are not owning up to the fact that they are and have been running a negative budget for a long time.

What's worse is that there are many states, Illinois included, that are probably not too far from the same kind of actions.

The government already gets all of it's money by taking it from the people it's supposed to server, now it also screws them over by not putting that money back into the community with the businesses that it deals with. That's like ripping the people off twice.

There needs to be a law that no government can be run on a negative budget. Period. The national debt needs to be paid off. You want Social Security to exist in the future? You better demand that the government live within it's own means.

Speak up, tell your elected officials that you want less government and a future.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Funny words from Jaden

Erin called Jaden pooky bear, he said "No I'm Jaden, not Poopy Ear"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What is your company culture worth?

Lots of companies talk about wanting a culture. Often nobody in those companies ever has a vision of what that culture should be. The company just kind of coasts by never getting where they want to be, because they don't know where that is.
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter
I think that too often this is the case. Zappos however has a very clear vision of what they want their culture to be, and they are willing to pay people to quit in order to keep it that way.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the companies that know what they want and pay to get it and keep it that way are the ones that are the most successful. Google, Zappos, and Southwest are a few examples.

It's not as important what you want the culture to be as having that vision and sharing it, preaching it, evangelizing it, and hiring, firing, and encouraging the employees in every way possible to meet that culture.

Do you know what your company culture is? What is it worth?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Programmers are people too

I read an interesting article yesterday stating that the reason there may be bugs in your program is that programmers are human.

I read the article and agreed with almost all of it, until I finished, then I realized that it doesn't matter. The stress we are under to meet a deadline doesn't matter. The pressure to finish to meet an arbitrary date doesn't matter. Or at least none of it should matter. As a programmer, we owe it to the people who will be using our software, to not allow it to break unnecessarily. We will not be able to prevent all bugs, but we should test the software before we deploy, and we should not deploy with known bugs in the software. Tweaks I can live with, but a bug, as far as I'm concerned, is something that causes the system, program, or computer, to crash.

We are under time constraints and stress for our projects, and we always will be. But being a developer we owe quality to our customers. I will not compromise my integrity and produce a shoddy product to meet a deadline, I will not be bullied into it. At the risk of losing my job, I believe that I owe that quality to both my company and our customer. Putting a bad product out immediately hurts the user, but ultimately hurts the company and it's own image, I will not do that.

I have finished and deployed projects under immense time constraints, and some of my solutions have been somewhat forced upon me, but thankfully, I have never been to a point where I was pressured to deploy a solution with known bugs. It's a good thing too, because I think I'd have to start looking for another job.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is paper more creative?

Is paper more creative than typing?

I love typing my notes up, and quickly capturing thoughts that I have, but when I've got a pencil in my hand I also feel like doodling.

Strangely however, I have more one off creative thoughts when I'm writing with paper, I'll write an down my thought, but the pencil will just keep taking me on a journey of randomness, down a path that I didn't even realize was there.

When I get going with writing I sometimes will think of "The Dark Half", thank you Stephen King for providing me with a character to identify with. A person that becomes somebody else completely when he's writing with a pencil. I'm not the whole psycho thing, but it's the best I've got.

Have you noticed your creativity waning lately? Maybe you just need more time with you, a pencil, and a piece of paper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another reason why not Hillary

Another reason I don't want Hillary, is that she cannot run her campaign within the means of the funds she has. She put the campaign 20 Million dollars into debt.

Not that it matters anymore, Obama has the democratic nomination locked up unless something colosal happens. But if she were somehow to be the one elected, I think her campaign would just be foreshadowing her fiscal responsibility.

No more online GTD

For months I've been trying to use an online to-do list to help me track the things that I need to do. I love it, it's easy to enter, I can enter from either work or home. I've tried several different ones, but for what I need and ease of use ToodleDo.com has worked wonderfully. I love their printing option, which prints to a page that with a few folds and a cut, the page turns into a booklet.

However, I'm done with online GTD apps. It's not that I don't like them. I love them. I love all the things that they bring to sorting the lists and ease of deleting items. I like not having to rewrite things.

Unfortunately, I don't like that I don't get on the computer for a day or two on the weekend. On those days, I feel completely and totally disconnected from everything. I don't know the news, I don't study, I don't check my to-do lists, I don't update anything. That's the time when the to-do list is the most important to me, and I don't get to use it at all.

I've decided to try and go with a paper version of GTD for now. If it turns out that I still don't touch the to-do list for a day or two (Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday), then I'll switch back to online. If I'm not getting to have it for full time availability I may as well make it the one that I find easier to use.

So for me, it's back to paper.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's ok to fail

As I was driving Jonas home Sunday he was drawing pictures in the back seat, and he started pouting. It was something he did a lot of this weekend, but this is about his failure. I asked him what was wrong and he said he didn't like his drawing.

"It's ok to fail. You don't have to get it right the first time, or the next. In order to be really good at something you have to practice a lot and keep getting better. Uncle Teddy is good at drawing, but he wasn't always that way, he went to school and practiced a lot for many years before he got as good as he is.

I'm good on the computer, but I wasn't always this way, I've had to work really hard and study really hard to be as good as I am. And I run, and you know I run a lot, but I didn't run all winter, and I got worse at running. If you don't keep practicing something that you do, then you lose some of your ability to do it. You have to keep practicing in order to stay good.

It's ok to not like your drawing, just don't give up at it. It's ok to be upset"

Monologue over, but seriously, it's a lesson I want my kids to know, and know well. I want them to try to achieve, and I want them to fail. It's OK to fail, it's OK to not win, it's OK. But set your sights high, and when you get knocked down, get back up. It's not about how many times you get knocked down, it's abut how many times you can get back up and keep pushing, that's what winners are made of.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How would you live if...

How would you live if you were wildly successful in what you are doing?

Just over a year ago I was at training where I was asked this question. I came up with a list of things that I would want my life to be like if I were living wildly successful.

I then went through and wrote down goals at different levels in life. In a year I was happy to see that I had accomplished several of my goals and that most of the rest were still relevant to help me get to the point that I am living my life the way I would live it.

What would you do if you were wildly successful?

How much vacation would you take? What would your savings account look like? What does your work/home life balance look like? What does your fitness look like? Would you travel? Where to? How often? Will you own your own business?

These questions are different for everyone. Even the list of questions are different. Some people are extremely devoted to their family and would rather work less and spend more time with family, others are workaholics and would rather be wildly successful at work. But thinking about where you are and where you want to be with everything will help you see what you would like.

Take this state, the one that you would love to achieve and then set up some goals to help you get there. Even if you can't get all the way there, the goals will help get you moving in the right direction. You'll never get to the life you want to live until you take the first step.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leno finds the worst of us.

How many Senators are there? Millions. No wonder nothing gets accomplished.

A man named Henry discovered the Hudson River and named it after himself who was it? Um, I don't know... oh Hudson. What was his first name? Thomas. Two questions later, he asked the same girl. What is the first name of the man who discovered the Hudson river. "All these rivers, I don't know. I guess I have to study who discovered rivers".

In what war was the Battle of Gettysburg fought? The Gettysburg address. (what?!? seriously?) Who gave the Gettysburg address? We did. Who's we, America? Yeah.

What is Moby Dick? A book. (Isn't she proud of herself). What's it about? Moby (just as proud). The other woman (who missed the river question) A Whale. Have you read it? No I saw a cover once.

What's terrible is that these are people who are in college.

What should you tweet?

I started using twitter back at the beginning of April, with a goal of making it 30 days and actually using it.

I've made it the 30 days, and you can see my most recent twitter posts (tweets) in my sidebar. If you want to see all of my posts, click through to find everything that I've had to say.

Lately I've been trying to twitter more, but I'm still struggling with, what should I tweet? What should anyone tweet?

Twitter itself asks "What are you doing?" If I were to answer that every time that I post it would be, "I'm interrupting something else to just shout out that I wanted to sit at the computer and let you know what it is" or "I'm tweeting". but a thousand posts that say, I'm just typing aren't that useful. What would you care about me?

Maybe the questions are all wrong. What do I care about someone that I follow on twitter?

For people that I don't know personally:
I want to know when someone has an AHA moment or a cool thought.
I want to know what people think about current events.
I want to know when something interesting happens to them.

However, for people that I do know:
I want to know what you are doing and why
I want a glimpse into your life so I can have good personal conversations with you
And I want everything from people that I don't know.

As I write this I think that blogs are the same thing. I have the exact same reasons for following blogs, they are talking about topics that I want more good information about, or they are people that I know and are talking about the things going on in their life. Maybe everyone should have 2 twitter accounts the same as people can have multiple blogs. One for each of the types of information, so you can follow the information that is appropriate to your interest in the person.

What do you think I should tweet?

but with people that I kno