9.28.2006

3 Things for today:

1. New Masthead sub header... as I know there are some of you who miss this, here are some of the ones I have used in the past - good for a little chuckle, anyway:

Now Completely Half-Fledged
Drek, In Its Purest Pharmaceutical Form
Multi-Tasking My Way Through All 7 Deadly Sins
Now 100% Bacon-Free
Shut Up Or I'll Punch You So Hard Your Whole Family Will Die
My Favorite Color Is "Clear"



2. Go here, do this:

3. Why do you think HP spied on its Board members and reporters? The CEO reports that they felt the "ends justified the means." This is the problem with today's pulicly traded companies, and their greedy leadership. MANY public companies are willing to sacrifice long term gains in favor of a favorable quarterly report, securing the short-term share price. Leadership in these companies is without ethics or morals. Many top-tier leaders have VERY high compensation based upon quarterly or yearly share price strike numbers, and are willing to sell their souls to the devil in order to obtain that very fat platinum parachute, 7 figure bonus number. Many in this upper echelon are there for three to five years, then retire with MILLIONS of dollars, without caring for the longer-term health of the company they just cannibalized. As I often say, "follow the money". I'm just sayin'.

9.27.2006

As Seen On My Blog....


This was one of my targeted ads a few minutes ago... Don't know about you, but I'm a little scared to click on the link.

You?

It's probably an ad for fabric (burkha) softener or something like that. Or not.

Note to Plaxico Burress

Hey Plaxico,

If you're going to hurry off the field and put your hat on sideways like a playa, for all the cameras, you shouldn't SUCK on the field at the same time.

One catch - fumbled. When it hits you in the numbers, you should probably CATCH IT. I'm just sayin'.

Yeah, you a playa. Have a seat right here on the bench. Eli needs more from you, man. Like, on the field, I mean. Leave the visor in your tricked-out Yukon, until you can play along. (oh, and Eli, try looking for my man, Shockey - he's open all the time... look for him - he'll take it to the zone for you.)

And in other football news - Terrell Owens - NFL freakshow and spoiler for every team he's ever played for, has reportedly tried to commit suicide yesterday.

The dude has been a walking circus act since he entered the (his) league six years ago. Some highlights:

Dec. 15, 2002: Celebrates a TD catch in a loss to Green Bay by taking pompoms from a cheerleader and dancing behind the end zone.
Oct. 14, 2002: Celebrates a TD catch on Monday Night Football by pulling a marker from his sock and autographing the ball.
Aug. 13, 2004: In interview with Playboy magazine, when asked if he thinks Garcia is gay, responds: "Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat."
Nov. 7, 2004: Cameras follow as he yells at Donovan McNabb on the sideline during a loss to the Steelers.
Oct. 31, 2004: Now with the Eagles, mocks Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis during an end zone celebration.
Nov. 3, 2005: In an ESPN.com interview, says the team would be better off with Brett Favre starting at QB than with injured McNabb and blasts the team for not marking his 100th career TD catch.
July 5, 2006: "T.O.", the second setting-the-record-straight autobiography Owens has written in 22 months, is released five days ahead of schedule. The biggest revelation: His relationship with Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb soured for good when Owens was told "Shut the (expletive) up" in a huddle. McNabb later calls the autobiography a "children's book."

9.26.2006

My Right To Vote

Couple of interesting conversations over the last little while regarding the issue of requiring proof of citizenship in order to cast a vote in a State or Federal election.

When I immigrated to the US about 16 years ago, there were many requirements. Besides the avalanche of documentation that was required (and boy, you better fill it out right the first time, or it's square one all over again), there were also a raft of medical tests that had to be performed. For a family of five, this translated to a few thousand dollars. The "socialized" medical environment where I was didn't pay for tests on people who were planning on leaving. These seems odd, and even over the top to us at the time. But it was what had to be done in order to gain entrance into the country.

So long story short, we got it all done, and were admitted to the country at the end of January, 1991. Only a few days later, the borders of the country were temporarily closed because of the Gulf War Fuster-Cluck I. We considered ourselves lucky to be here.

When we got settled in a rented place, we found out that if things like utility companies and banks have no idea who you are, or you have no recorded history whatsoever, you would have to put large deposits down for everything you want, like phone service. It was as if we had just appeared on the face of the earth from some other planet. We used the pay phone across the street at the Holiday station for a long time.

But we were lucky to be here. We had spent a lot of money to get here, and we were happy to be here. After about four years, we were able to buy a house. We had established ourselves within the framework of the machinations of the country's customs and procedures.

I'm still a "Permanent Resident Alien" complete with the requisite card. I'm required to have this card on my person at all times. It sits behind my driver's license in my wallet.

Why do I tell this story? Because of this: there is a movement that is opposing the idea that people should have to prove "eligibility to vote" in order to be able to do so. The thought here is that people should be able to show some sort of a picture ID, along with proof of citizenship to be able to vote.

They say that in order to do this, a person should have to provide proof of citizenship at an agency before the vote, to obtain a card that shows a picture and proof, from an agency contracted to provide such. They want to make the card free to get. But detractors are saying that although this ID card would be free, it would not be free to qualify to get it - you have to have a birth certificate, marriage licenses (if your name has changed), Social security card, etc. These things are hard and expensive to acquire if you don't have them, to the tune of maybe a couple hundred dollars. Detractors are calling the movement a "poll-tax" which is unconstitutional (it's not a poll tax, and most reasonable people realize this - it's just a good inflammatory way to get press time.)

The number of people who don't register to vote is roughly the same as the number of illiterate people in the country. That's not to say that they are the same people, but some are drawing that inference. Detractors say that requirement to show proof of citizenship is a hardship and a burden on these people. Generally, they are right. Should the US then not require adequate proof of citizenship then? Hardly. Instead, government programs should be overhauled and brought into the 20th century. There needs to be a clearing house of information that is readily available, accurate, and timely, so legal people can prove who they are within a reasonable time, and with minimal or no cost to them.

Simply dropping the measure is not the answer, better government record oversight is the answer. We need to demand more of our nation's governmental programs. The fiasco that was financial aid for victims of hurricane Katrina should have brought this into stark focus for us all. There were MANY cases of people getting money (and a lot of it) who were nowhere NEAR New Orleans at the time, and many more cases where the money was used for things like football season tickets, tropical vacations, etc.

Face it, by and large, most of the country's services to its citizens are a shadow of what they should be. In a country where employee productivity is the highest in the world, our government is clogged with deadwood, pork spending, ineptitude, and no oversight whatsoever.

This needs to change.

(and in case you're wondering - my oldest kid has applied for and received his citizenship, and my papers are filled out and sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for me to send them in. I don't imagine it'll get done in time for me to vote this fall, but I expect to be able to vote in the next presidential election.)

9.25.2006

Weekend football

Not sure which is funner: watching football with a bunch of almost drunk people, or watching the almost drunk people watching football.

Since the Mountain West Conference is STUPIDLY putting their games on the new MTN network, which is STUPIDLY only available on (ACKK!) Comcast, it seems the only place we "others" can watch football is at a local purveyor of adult beverages, which is frankly fine with me. (and I'm sure the purveyors of said beverage aren't complaining either - maybe there's something to this conspiracy...)

The upside is that most places that either sell or brew local beers also make a good beer-battered fish and chips entree... which I dig.

It was slightly humorous to watch people show up at game-time, being disappointed that they couldn't get in, or, if they did, there was only room to stand by the bar. Come on, people, plan ahead. We're NOT talking about the BYU game here.

I'm just sayin'.

My REAL life:

The 10 Year Bond and You: Why You Care

The Bond Report: Monday September 25, 2006

Again, brought to you by your favorite mortgage guy:

9.22.2006

More at Mortgage Times

Mortgage Rates at a 6 Month LOW

Fed May Have to Lower Rates to Avoid Downturn

I wish I HAD To Buy a Home Here...

Sincerely,
Your Favorite Mortgage Guy

The UN's Two-fer.

A day or two ago, Reach Upward commented on the dismaying fact that the UN invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the UN general session and have a go at the microphone.

Well, the UN actually scored a two-fer when you think about it.

This was round two:

Hugo Chavez. Holding a book by Noam Chomsky. While he speaks at the United Nations. And calls George Bush the devil.

Man, I'm glad I'm not a conservative. Because I wouldn't even know where to begin with this picture. It's like Christmas, Hanukkah and Skull and Crossbones initiation night all in one picture. It's the gift that won't ever stop giving. Frankly, I'm afraid to wander over to conservative political Web sites at the moment. I can't even imagine what they're saying about this picture. I'm not sure I want to know.

NPR reported last night that sales of the book at Amazon, which Chavez suggested that ALL Americans should read, because it talks about the "Devil That Lives Among US, within our very borders", is reporting significantly higher sales in the last 24-36 hours.

9.21.2006

New items over at Mortgage Times

Leveraging Credit and Buying Power

Getting Multiple Loans

Mortgage Rates at 6 Month Low

Go check it out - brought to you by your favorite mortgage guy.

Notes from Ashdown appearance on Radio West, September 20th, 2006

As promised, these are the "Live" blog notes from Pete Ashdown on KUER's Radio West, Sept 20, 2006. Get it on podcast if you desire. An hour well-spent.

Without further a-do:

Pete Ashdown:

His ancestry comes not only from those who settled Utah, both those from Plymouth Rock as well. These were all people who were unhappy with their current situation.

His Mother came to Utah alone from Denmark after the war to make a better life for herself. (Which makes him okay in my book.)

Comes from a blue collar democratic family. Education and morals-based upbringing. Told to choose their own path, make their own decisions.

His mother has since passed away. Father is the biggest Cheer-leader.

There was an expectation that the kids would make something of themselves.

Family was taught the value of hard work. Family worked together in entrepreneurial pursuits.

Pete is committed to finding the cutting edge whether in technology, or music, or whatever it is. Space program was fascination to him. Saw a bright future for the country and the world.

Eternal optimist - great opportunities abound for all people.

Considered going to out-of-state school, but decided to go to U of U. Travelled out of Utah, but wanted to stay in Utah and raise his family and run his business.

His business and business model says the most about him - not an MBA background, but a bootstraps, entrepreneur background... wanted to do something that he himself would want to subscribe to as a customer. Took experience from two employers, Evans & Southerland and IHC. knew what he wanted to change about his corporate culture from those corporate experiences.

Most important is a good work environment for workers. Wants employees to grow and flourish.

Giving back to community, non-profits get free web space from X-Mission.

Has left X-Mission full time to campaign.

Business has to make money, and be compassionate as well. Companies need a philosophy of giving back and being compassionate to their community. Best advertising is word of mouth for his business. People come to him because of his policies with non-profits. Businesses don't need an exit strategy, they need an existence strategy. Serve the community. Has turned down numerous offers to sell the business because they didn't benefit the community.

First computer was an Apple IIe. Discovered modem communications with that.

Was reluctant as a Democrat at first. Party politics by and large, is about going with the flow. He didn't like that.

Hugh B Brown, LDS Apostle, stated that he was a democrat because democrats are kinder to the poor. This is what his mother told him when he asked her why they were democrats growing up.

Hard to win as a democrat, but it's even harder to win as an independent.

Democrats put the individual at the top of the pyramid, Republicans put business at the top of the pyramid, expecting business to take care of the individual.

Believes it would be a good model if businesses actually did this, but they DON'T.

Wants to be a leader, not a follower - has no ties to Washington, accepts no money on a national basis.

His opponent goes against all of the above.

Q: How do you thing this race can be anything but a waste of family and business assets in this state. A: No personal and business assets at risk in this campaign. Money is root of all evil in American Politics. Needs to be changed. Google, eBay, MySpace all rise to a level of new attention without much advertising at all. Politics needs to be that was as well. Personal networking is more effective advertising. Word of mouth is powerful. We need to shift the paradigm. We have representation of ex-attorneys, big businessmen. We need OTHER types of people there. Shouldn't need millions of dollars to be a politician.

Q: What do you call a senator who's been in Washington for 18 years? A: HOME. People who were around in 1976 know what he campaigned on, and people do bring it up. But we want to talk about new ideas, new issues, not old rhetoric. Democracy comes through communication with people. transparency is critical to the freedoms we enjoy.

Q: Guns and gun control? A: Views have changed a bit based on the information gathered from the WIKI platform on his campaign website. at the beginning, gun control was reasonable to him, but now it punishing the innocent - criminals will get a gun anyway. Gun control is not useful. Bearing arms should be allowed, and constitution should be followed here.

Lobbying on the hill, people were surprised he declared as a Democrat when they thought he sounded more like a Libertarian. There is a shift in the west, such as that with Brian Schweitzer (MT), if it's none of your business, it's none of your business, and government should stay out of the issues like that. Moral issues as well. Unless there's a minor involved or someone who didn't give consent, government should stay out of it.

"Liberty is not how I describe my own freedoms, it's how I define the freedoms of those with whom I disagree."

Q: How will you overcome and appeal to the people who vote with blind faith in Orrin Hatch? I have concern for my children's future - the debt they are being shackled with. The republican party no longer follows the fiscal restraint it once did. no longer upholds the ideals that it once did - first and foremost the Ideal of small government, and of fiscal responsibility. In 1976 Hatch said he would resign if he couldn't balance the budget and make government smaller. Campaign promises are cheap. He hasn't resigned. Senator Hatch has not shown discretion with keeping his mouth shut with regard to Asama Bin Laden. Shortly after 9-11 Hatch told the AP that we were monitoring his satellite phone. Shortly after that, the satellite phone went dead, and we still don't have Bin Laden. That's not good judgment. Employees like that get fired.

Talked about WIKI campaign. Guns position has changed a bit. Other areas? Iraq - debate not moving forward. No other solutions being put forward. We should ask the Iraqi people if we should stay or not, if they want democracy, We should put that to the test - if they want us to stay great, or leave, fine. This moves the debate ahead.

Went to Washington last week, talked about Iraq, talked about transparency, but there hasn't been any politicians willing to open up. No leaders are willing to become transparent. Lack of democratic leadership. He can help that.

Stop buying Iranian oil. We finance Hezbollah when we buy Iran's oil, but we keep doing it anyway.

We need to have the courage to stand up and say we aren't going to do this anymore.

Q: how do you feel about living wages and minimum wage. A: started X-Mission by hiring people at 7 per hour WITH full benefits. He was making less than that at the time. It was hard to get by. Entry level now is 11 with bennies. Many companies can't do this, but there are many more who CAN but refuse to take responsibility for their employees, and are fine with them being wards of the state in terms of health care, etc. Costco vs Walmart... Costco pays full benefits, walmart is always under fire. Minimum wages should be raised. Businesses should be held accountable.

Q: How do you respond to people who criticize you for using your unique internet business to promote your campaign? A: he has declared everything as an "in kind" donation to his campaign. He has also offered free web space to any other candidates as well. Communication and free speech is the essential ingredient in levelling the playing field in politics.

Q: Immigration? A: Need to reform legal system. It is inadequate for the demand that is upon us right now. Secure borders - no long fence... department of defence monitoring is better. National Guard. Send illegals home who come across illegally. Do it legally. Green river couple deported example of how broken it is.. once it is fixed, HOLD EMPLOYERS ACCOUNTABLE. No guest worker program.

Q: dems more fact-based, repubs more faith-based... how to reconcile? A: he can't compete with God... if somebody believes Repubs ordained of God, there is no way to change that. it's a generalization, but everyone should have a seat at the table. All Americans. Expand democracy.

Q: School vouchers A: If government is going to give money to schools it needs to be non-discriminatory. When you get extremists starting a school, money should stay away from that. The better answer is full funding for PUBLIC schools first.

Q: Incremental gas taxes to discourage conspicuous consumption? A: Hatch says it is a good idea. Sides with Hatch on this one. high gas prices hurt all aspects of the economy. We have great opportunity to exploit alternative fuels... Utah should take a lead here, but they just look for more oil.

Q: how has being a candidate changed you? A: He was an introvert. It's a journey for him to become an extrovert. Everybody should try to be a candidate. It will make you a better person.

9.20.2006

So, Wouldn't You Know It....

A few posts back I talked about MEME's and being "tagged".

Now I have been victimized. I've been tagged.

So, fine - I'll play along:

1) Was there any incident in your life which you feel, influenced you in particular?

There are only a few memories we take with us into adulthood from Childhood. One of these involved me being frustrated with my younger brother, and pushing the teeter-totter (that's what we called it in "those days") down so the other end caught him in the chin, causing stitches. I remember noting that I need to learn to control my anger.

2) What are you afraid of? Please name at least ONE example!

I'm afraid of being irrelevant to my children. I'm afraid of being forgotten. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of accepting mediocrity in lieu of failure. I'm afraid of bees.

3) Is there any nature-event, you particularly like (i.e. thunderstorm, rain, snow etc.)?

I have always liked thunderstorms. I've been known to get up in the middle of the night to watch to show.

4) What kind of sport (if any) are you fond of or even actively pursue?

The sport I actively pursue these days is golf. In the last year I have played competitive lacrosse and basketball. But that has been relatively short-lived. I watch NFL football, and am a University of Utah football fan as well.

5) Do you easily get nervous or upset? "Blow up"?

I rarely blow up. The other day one of my kids mentioned that I was an unusually calm and good driver. I explained that it has more to do with the company than anything else... I am usually composed enough to choose my words wisely. I rarely blow a gasket, although it has happened before. Much less in the last five years.

6) Do you dread getting older? Feel the biological clock ticking?

My biological clock has been repo'd. I look forward to getting older.

7) Are you more a city-person or prefer the country-side?

City, city, and city. Although I desire a second home in Montana. Badly.

8) Do you allow any kind of fashion to rule over your taste?

Not any type of fashion particularly, although I have (brutally) expensive tastes, and like to dress well.

9) Are you more on the introverted or extroverted side?

For years I was tagged as an introvert. I work hard to be extroverted. But its worth it, as my circle of friends and acquaintances grows, I have satisfaction from that. I wish I went to more cocktail parties.

10) If you'd have to characterize yourself with one sentence - what would you say?

I'm overly loyal to the people close to me, to a fault sometimes; I don't like change, even when it's good.

So there you are - a little about me.... there is another one I have been tagged with, which I will get to soon.

Space Shuttle to return home, irregardless

It's been determined that the Space Shuttle will be returning home this week after all. For those not following along in their hymnal, there was some concern over unidentified junk floating around in space close to the shuttle.

As it turns out, one of the chunks of stuff was THE BUCKET OF NUTS AND BOLTS DROPPED EARLIER IN THE MISSION WHEN THEY WERE OUT CHANGING A FLAT.

The other was actually a large turd left behind by a cosmonaut's dog when he was let out of the space station to do his business.

All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go















I don't know about you, but I break out the 1987 Reebok hi tops with the GREAT BIG foamy tongue, the hoody with the big oil stain on the belly and holes in the elbows. My outfit is topped off with black denim jeans with holes in the knees, and ripped pockets. A smelly old ball cap keeps my mullet under control.

9.19.2006

On The Air: Pete Ashdown

Pete was on Radio West today for an hour with Doug Fabrizio. It'll be available via podcast tomorrow morning from KUER.org.

I'll also give it some synopsis, and post remarks here on that.

Just thought y'all would like to know!

67 Bucks' worth of an education

I've Griped here several times about the state of the educational system here in Utah. (and yes, I am too lazy to go back and link up the posts.) Bob over here recently wrote about the state of education in this state, and it spurred me to do something I've been meaning to do for a long time.

I've stated that it's ridiculous that there are multiple school districts in the Salt Lake Valley. This is a completely foreign concept to me. And the idea that someone would dare to suggest that the solution to the pupil/teacher ratio problem is to create ANOTHER school district chafes my strawberries. Obviously those who subscribe to this idea think that school districts run themselves, without any non-educational costs whatsoever.

So, in a kind-hearted effort to educate some of these self-righteous bigots who think their little princes and princesses would be better served by their own little school district, where they could be protected and served properly, here is a comparison.

Where I come from, there is one public school board for EVERY SCHOOL IN THE CITY. And it's not like it is here, where there are 15 little cities all butted up against each other. One huge municipality - one school district. One for public schools, and one for the Catholic schools, actually. 20 high schools, over 250 schools in all. The corresponding municipality would be Salt Lake County here.

In this county, there are 4 major school districts. Well, three major and one minor:

Granite
Jordan
Salt Lake
Murray

Of the four, Murray District is the only one that doesn't have a financial report available on line. Red Flag. But that's not the point.

I looked at non-student administration costs. Costs that are NOT school-based. As in, I didn't look at individual school administration, only District Administration, and non-student based services. Here are the numbers:

Granite School District:
District Administration: 2.8 Million
Business Services: 7.4 Million
Non-Instructional Services: 11.5 Million
Total Administrative budget: 21.7 Million

Jordan School District:
District Administration: 3.4 Million
Business Services: 3.34 Million
Accounting/purchasing/data personnel: 5.63 Million
Total Administrative budget: 12.37 Million

Salt Lake School District:
District Administration: 1.75 Million
Business Services: 3.578 Million
Non-instructional services: 5.548 Million
Total Administrative budget: 10.876 Million

Murray City School District:
No Published Numbers
Assumed: 5 Million


Total Salt Lake County schools administration: 49.946 Million
Basically 50 MILLION dollars spent on Human ADMINISTRATIVE items. There are no building or capital items in these numbers at all. These are basically HUMAN and support line-items, like IT, etc.. (no teacher salaries here)

Using the published numbers from the school district I referred to above, one notes the following:

In the financial reports, ALL personnel expenditures are lumped into one sum: 491 Million. This is teacher salaries, school administration, and district administration, benefits, all lumped into one sum. All Human Resources.

For Granite SD, that number is: 247.9 + 21.7 Million
For Jordan SD, that number is: 260.24 + 12.37 Million
For SL SD, that number is: 117.56 + 10.876 Million
For Murray, that number is assumed at: 50 + 5 Million

Which totals 725.64 Million

The totals compare to each other, because number of schools is similar, and number of students is similar, between both districts (for the sake of argument, I am referring to all SL schools as one district here.)

Which is all great, except for when one notes that the Mystery District to which I refer, but not by name, actually RETIRES capital debt, transfers money into capital savings programs, and has a positive cash flow.

Swell, but look at this one:

Mystery District Class size averages for 2005/2006 school year:
K-3: 18.9
Grades 4-6: 21.3
Grades 7-9: 23.7
Grades 10-12: 25.4

So, the school districts in Salt Lake County use 234 Million more dollars than this other school district - roughly the same number of students, same number of schools. And the class sizes of the other district are almost HALF of what they are here.

The bottom line is this: It takes BIG DOLLARS to run a school district, like it or not. There isn't a reason that these costs should be copied over again because some bureaucrat thinks that kids should be educated in some different way, or that they are served somehow better. having multiple school districts serves no one. Costs are duplicated unnecessarily and efficiencies of scale go unrealized.

What could that 234 Million dollars be used for? How much MORE money could be saved with a unified school district? Certainly some cost would increase. Many others would certainly decrease. I don't have all the answers, but a realistic look at the numbers seems to show that there are great wastes of resources occurring within a four-district county.

With the legislature meeting today to affect a tax plan that would put $67 back into the average family's pocket, we certainly are showing how important education, and educators, are to our state. Ironic, isn't it?

Powerful pirate-talkers


Other people talking like pirates up at the capitol building today.

September 19th: International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Avast, maties.

There. I did it. I talked like a pirate. You should too. It's the day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

This crazy chick probably takes it a bit too far. That link comes with an R-Rated warning label, ye blokes. She's a pirate 24/7 365. A little freaky, really.

Which brings up the idea of that old urban legend: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. This is a take on the scientific idea that within an expanded set of six acquaintances, we all know everyone. Which sounds quaint and lovely. We can be linked to Kevin Bacon. Or in my case, Jennifer Love-Hewitt. Which works for me. Nice.

However, we are also (allegedly) all connected to something else. Most likely someone with whom we wouldn't like to be within six degrees of longitude, like a mafia boss, or someone in AlQaida.

So why did I think of this in conjunction with Pirate Day? It's because of this: I have about 49 different blogs that push RSS feeds out to my email box. That means I get every post in my email box once a day. (It's the easiest way to NOT spend an entire day surfing and reading, surfing and reading....) There are professional things there, things by friends, relatives, hobby things, Political things... lots of stuff. On almost every one of those home pages, mine included (although mine's a little skimpy), there are links to other blogs.

Therefore, I wonder, does the six degrees of separation also pertain to blogs? Within six blogs, are we all related in some way. Maybe not with actual links on the page, but just having read them... have we surfed to six degrees of bloggage?

Oh, and here's a message for the person I know, who knows Jennifer: "Have her call me... "

:)

9.18.2006

A Too-Weak Vacation

We went to a party over the weekend. It was slow at first, but got going once everyone's skids were greased with a little "Adult Beverage." And to be fair, we DID leave before the Karaoke...

Conversation eventually turned around to how much vacation time we "get" vs how much time we "take." Among the party goers were four attorneys (three of whom are pregnant and due within a month of each other - there must be something in the courthouse water, methinks).

We all compared notes on what different employers offer. ThatOneWife mentioned that the company she works for gives her 15 days a year, between sick time and vacation days, which can be used at her discretion. Others mentioned that this arrangement was quite generous, compared to their employers. Most seemed to get 10 days - the equivalent of two weeks. At five year's employment Mrs. ThatOneGuy gets five weeks. We're pretty lucky on that front. She did explain that she is "on call" from time to time, and when there are problems, she is one of the first to call, depending on the situation. That aside, she's got a pretty good arrangement, and they are pretty liberal with regard to time off - if nothing else (yes, she works on Utah county).

Then yesterday I was reading the latest issue of Men's Journal, and they have a bit about vacation time around the world. It's a bit written by Joel Stein, a columnist for the LA Times. In the article he states that Australians work less than Ben Affleck. (I laughed at that, and thought, geez, I wish I could work as little as him, but I would hope I make better work when I do it!)

The French take an average of 39 days off per year. In Sweden, 25 days off are the norm, via legislation. The Chinese, who don't have freedom of speech or a second child, get three weeks. In all, there are 96 countries that legislate vacation time for the country.

Here, we accept our pitiful two weeks thankfully, then many of us don't take them. Apparently we are so damn lazy, we can't even plan our time off. In Germany, where they build cars and them drive them too fast, they take 7.8 weeks off.

The average American gets 14 days off, but only takes 10, because it's apparently too important that we finish that powerpoint presentation. It would appear that we are in a competition to have less of a life than the next guy. We have this phrase, "time is money," but it's the time itself that is the currency, because its supply is so limited to us.

Studies show that workers who take more time off perform their duties better than the ones who are the "last ones out" each day. Vacations also reduce the likelihood of heart attacks in men by a whopping 32 percent.

Big business would have us believe that having staff away on vacations cause all sorts of chaos and inefficiencies. This isn't supported scientifically however. If this were the case, you would think a place like Australia would be stuck in the dark ages. But Sydney is like where George Jetson lives - everything sparkles, and is equipped with toilets from the future. And they're always on holiday. Think about it - whenever you go on vacation, there is a group of Australians drinking, and arguing about a sport you've never heard of - and they've already been there for a month.

You know your boss knocks off whenever he pleases. So does Congress. I say for four weeks a year, just don't show up.

YouTube and music in the news....


(Illegally)


If you follow this sort of thing....

Universal has been threatening to sue YouTube on copyright infringement grounds, calling to mind the days of the Napster suits by the RIAA. They were in talks to get the problem settled without a court battle.

YouTube has stated its intention to host every music video ever produced.

Then, this morning, newswire is reporting that Warner has inked a deal with YouTube to host its music for free download. Huh??!.... yeah, that's right. Warner expects to make its money from the popup ads that will accompany every download. Yeah, right. I'm sure Universal has a call in to Warner this morning, asking WTF???

I would think the RIAA has a call in to YouTube as well, and iTunes would have a call in to some of these other music publishers as well. Talk about taking the legs out of every other publisher's complaint.... There are some music catalogs that STILL aren't available on iTunes, because either the artist or the publisher doesn't think they make enough money selling songs on iTunes for a buck. The question is, does Warner think they are going to make MORE than a buck on these songs downloaded from Youtube?? With the amount of click fraud out there, how can anyone think this is more than just a passive revenue opportunity at best?

By offering a (supposedly) viable revenue stream for a music publisher on YouTube, they are really shooting themselves in the foot. Here's why:

Every and any copyright owner is going to be jumping up and down telling Youtube to remove every bit of content with any copyrighted material. (They aren't paying ME for the content - I want it OFF!!) The double worse news for Youtube is that it won't be easy. How are you going to tell Barry that he has to take down the video of Aunt Sally getting her groove on to Long Tall Sally, and Uncle Willie doing the Hand Jive at his Bat Mitzvah ? That those are both copyrighted songs that Cousin Elmo, the DJ, played, and we encouraged you to break the law when we made it so easy to post them and send links to your entire family ?

How are they even going to find every instance of copyrighted music behind some personal videos ? They will have to. And it won't be easy.

Take away all the copyrighted material and you take away most of YouTube's traffic. YouTube turns into a hosting company with a limited video portal. Like any number of competitors out there that decided to follow copyright law. When was the last time you were at Napster?

YouTube, we hardly knew you.

Interesting little one-world economy we live in here.

9.15.2006

The only boss I've ever had.....

for whom I still have a modicum of respect.







I didn't like him much then, but I was young and dumb. Now I have grown to have a fondness for him that I didn't have then. He was a task-master when I was a marketing staff member for him, about 11 years ago now. But he taught me a lot about what was inside of me. He once called me a Persona non grata, which offended me greatly then, but it woke me up to what it means to work hard and have a passion and accountability for what you do. He didn't know I could hear him when he said that, and I've never forgotten that day, but in a good way.

After that time, he graciously took me with him on a trip to play golf and have dinner with a buddy of his in California, which I remember vividly and fondly to this day. The meal was awesome, and I was struck that the home at which we ate had its own underground wine cellar stocked with HUNDREDS of bottles, much of which was very expensive. He had (has) a passion for his work that I now know and value. Thanks Lynn Martin!!

The picture behind him with the red stripe was originally an ad - one I designed. Yay for me.

He is good people.

Read about him here.

Friday oddnesses...

OK, so it's late on Friday, but it's still Friday. Whiner. For reference, see my new blog title sub-header above. And I'm just too lazy today for pictures too. Take a moment and get over it.

We here at the office have been thinking of moving to a nicer locale. If we do, we'll likely end up paying about double for rent. But there's a reason for that.

To whit:

The building in which we currently reside is "street-facing", which means we are right on the street. MANY years ago, there was an apartment complex built behind us. Technically, it is facing the cross-street to our location, but because of zoning laws requiring there to be two points of egress, a right of way was given to the apartments, through our parking lot.

The traffic through there is a constant source of astonishment and amazement. Apparently, this is where the people live who are one step above "derelict" status around here, and the automobiles that drive through here are a feat of amazing engineering and a testament to what fencing wire and a pair of pliers can do. It's fun to watch what comes through, taking bets on what parts will fall off on the way over the speed bump.

Many of them walk to the grocery store, and steal grocery carts for the trip home. I once spoke to a woman who weighs about 250 pounds, wears no discernible undergarments, has about 6 teeth total, who once told me she dated someone who looked like me who was a medical student up at the U. I wasn't sure if I should be offended, or full of pity - for her or the doctor.... I smiled back at her. She has called me "sir" every time I've seen her since.

There's another guy who used to walk in and out of the apartment complex three or four times a day with his brother (we didn't know it was a brother at that time). They both walked like zombies, heavy ham-hands swinging freely at the ends of meaty, flabby arms. One has a belly that hangs about four inches out of the bottom of his shirt, like a sheet hanging out of a poorly made bed. Didn't matter the time of day, they both looked like someone had just walked up to their beds in the middle of the night with one of those marine air-horn things, and ripped one off right in their faces.

They once told my partner that they were working as police informants, off and on, and we did see them hanging out with a dude in a sheriff's car from time to time. Then about three or four months ago, we saw just the one guy out walking around. This was odd, as they always were out together. We asked him where his buddy was, and the guy looked at us and said, "He was my brother. He died." Overdose apparently. Sad.

Then, we have the building neighbors. Directly above us, there is another mortgage company - one that serves the Hispanic marketplace. If you need to "acquire" a social security number, I know who to call. There is a constant stream of people through there who couldn't find their way through a job application with a dictionary. We also have rolled up dirty diapers in our lot from time to time. I'm just sayin'. Two plus two, it's a duck.

There is an engineering firm whose president drives in and out of the parking lot in a nice Acura. He gives me the "finger guns" every time we pass each other. If we happen to both be outside at the same time, say, walking over to the C-Store for a diet coke or something, I can count on him asking me one of three stupid questions, mostly surrounding the thought that maybe it's late enough in the day to be buying beer instead of diet coke. Doesn't matter what time of day it is either. Jovial little fellow. Too jovial.

The accounting office above us has two CPA guys. One of them walks around with a red plastic cup in his hand all the time. You know what THAT means. The other guy is about five foot three, has little hair, wears shiny shirts and pants, cowboy boots, and drives a Porsche with a vanity plate that says "SOO BAD". He's about 55 years old. He walks around like he's carrying a bent nickel between his ass-cheeks and is afraid to lose it. He has a GIANT Ford truck, a Harley, and a Mercedes. He's the dude who does taxes for several on the Utah Jazz staff.

Then there's the Vet Center. And I'm not talking about animals. This is a counselling center for military vets. There are about 5 or 6 people who work there - mostly social workers and such. They all have Harleys, including the woman, who otherwise drives a newish Cadillac DeVille with a power-steering pump problem. Hers is a trike - painted pink with butterflies and rainbows. I shit you not. really. They ride them to work every other Thursday or Friday, then go out and terrorize South Salt Lake at lunch time.

The Vet Center is a constant source of odd and interesting people as well. There is one old dude with an oxygen tank at his side, who drives up in an old Dodge Caravan (and I do mean old), with stickers all over it promising better gas mileage, improved power, etc, if you'll just change your car over from what you are putting in it now, to what HE puts in it. You can hear him coming from about a block and a half away, and when he pulls up, it seems he's burning old farm animal carcasses under the hood. Seriously. The world is full of weird people. And given half an opportunity, they'll talk your leg off.

I'm not sure I want to move - we've become quite fond of our little band of misfits. I ask you, how can we leave our friends??

9.13.2006

Get Your GEEK On!!!

Every week I get stuff in my email, purportedly having ORDERED it... stuff like email newsletters, etc. Blah, blah blah....

Several of them are financial ones.

This is an excerpt from one I got about a week and a half ago:

2.Investing based upon a single popular product.
Following the latest "hit" product or service is risky. It's little more than a crapshoot to buy Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) because of the iPod or Motorola (NYSE: MOT) because of the RAZR. These companies could both do well going forward, but it will be because of more than one simple product. It's better to look for other qualities behind these hit products to see if the current success can be replicated.


Particularly cogent given that Apple (AGAIN) has shown why it's the most nimble, forward-thinking, know-it-all computer maker in the world. There seems to be a constant and crazed schedule of seemlingly endless iPod product rollouts; new video screens, a little more storage capacity.

yawn.

But then, what to my wondering awe??!

They once again place themselves as the new benchmark and standard for the entire family mobile entertainment system, in one easy announcement. Folks, Apple stock is HARDLY a crapshoot.

Watch the announcement, then bow down.

Movies - now playing everywhere. Including on your TV. Over and over again. To understand the gravity of this announcement, and its import to how you interface with the entertainment industry, there are some things for you to understand:

First, companies like Blockbuster, Netflix, Comcast Digital, and their ilk have been looking for a way to offer downloadable movies with good quality, in the shortest time possible for a VERY long time. The hurdles are many, like getting the movie industry to buy off on the financials, residuals, security, download times, etc. These are familiar hurdles to Apple; they had to leap them once before when iTunes was announced in the heyday of the free peer-to-peer pirating sites, like Napster, etc. The proliferation of these sites has given stomach ulcers to entertainment moguls for a long time. And they feared Apple would leave the back door open and make a mistake that would allow people to whip their iTunes downloads onto a P2P site for free distribution.

Hasn't happened. Apple closed and locked the back door successfully.

However, not every music/record label is thrilled - but that's another post for another day.

Anyway, back to the announcement. Apple has intorduced a new version of iTunes. One that allows users to download movies, like you would rent/Netflix a DVD. Is it perfect? Not yet - I'm sure there will be speed issues with the download. Ever tried to download an episode of The Office from iTunes? It. takes. for. ever. Even with a quick connection. It's just lots of data.

But Apple wants it that way for now - they are bearing the cost of hosting that long connection in order to keep security where it should be, as opposed to farming it out to a multi-host environment like bit-torrent.

The nice thing about the Apple announcement is that they also announced the iTV product, which is a box that transmits high-bandwidth quality to your TV from your PC - wireless. This has been the missing link for a long time. There are many manufacturers out there that have introduced set-top boxes that are basically PCs for the living room. To resounding mediocrity. Poor quality, poor performance, noisy, ugly, spendy. Crap.

The iTV takes a page from the standard manual of Apple's Insanely Great design element, and makes it the first unit that actually presents a viable solution to the problem. The Killer App. How many times has Apple done this? MANY.

There are a couple things that are special about Apple's announcement today as it pertains to Movies and TV shows.

1. The 80gbs hard drive.
The opportunity to download movies to a hard drive and KEEP THEM THERE and replay them AS OFTEN AS THE USER LIKES is critical. It's a great first step towards carrying around your video library as easily as you carry around your music. As hard drives grow, so will the number of titles you can store, and of course the door will open for high def. It's clear that the iPod is not only a playback device, but is now a personal or family digital content host.

2. The 1.5mbs encoding speed for self proclaimed "near DVD quality" is important. First of all it sets a quality floor using H.264 and they didnt lie and call it DVD quality. Others that want to call their offerings DVD quality will at least have to match the Apple quality to compete. It also means that HD quality, when it comes, will really be HD quality at 8mbs or more encoding levels.

3. The first two items are nice , but it's No 3 that is the key to the future of digital content.

The most important element of Apple's announcement is that the iPod interface is now viewable on your HDTV. Cable and Satellite companies are working hard, spending tens of millions of dollars to optimize their Programming Guides to incorporate Video On Demand, DVR ability, Internet Content, Purchase of content and TV Programming Guides. Of course this is a matter of my opinion, but I think that the Apple interface, because it already has tens of millions of consumers trained to buy content on impulse ALREADY has to have the edge. Adding a Programming Guide of TV shows and controlling a tuner (in your TV using OCAP possibly) or a tuner built into a future iTV box would put it square in the crosshairs of the cable and satellite companies as a direct competitor. Just the way Apple likes it.

Its going to be very interesting to see how not only cable and satellite respond, but also how TV manufacturers respond.

Like Apple or hate Apple. It doesn't matter. They're the leader. Again. Still.

Do You Know Banksy??

One of my favorite NPR programs is Marketplace. It's produced in the afternoon, and airs in Salt Lake at 6:30. Often, that's my commute time. It is usually a recap of the day's financial news, some commentary, and some interesting twist on business news. Yesterday's program was interesting to me, because I have a small fascination with art, particularly art crimes. I thought this was timely given the recent recovery of Munch's Scream, stolen from a museum in Norway. The thiefs in the Norway case walked into the museum in broad daylight, put the painting under their arms, along with a couple of others, and just walked out the front door. Easy as that. They were on the lam for about two years before the painting was recovered.

For those too lazy to read the Marketplace story, I will stick it here:

RICO GAGLIANO: On Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, Christophe Loiron stands in front of his vintage clothing store. On the wall near the door is the spray-painted stencil of a rat.
CHRISTOPHE LOIRON: When I first moved into this building, I saw some graffitis on my wall, and to be honest with you, when I first looked at them, I wondered what color paint I was gonna use to repaint the walls.
Then he noticed people stopping by to take pictures.
LOIRON: And asking me if I knew the artist. Some people mentioned his name, Banksy, and it took me a while to figure out how to spell it.
It's B-a-n-k-s-y. And when Christophe Googled the name, he discovered his store had been vandalized by one of the world's most elusive and sought-after artists.

[ Anchorman from UK Channel 4 News Video: Subversive graffiti artist Banksy has now created nine spray paintings on the controversial barrier which separates Israel from Palestine. Channel Four news has exclusive footage. ]

Much of Banksy's work combines edgy political commentary with ironic humor and criminal derring-do. Last week he dressed a mannequin like a Guantanamo Bay prisoner and somehow installed it beside a railroad ride in Disneyland.

On the world's most commercial surface, a blank billboard, he spray painted an anti-commercial slogan, advertising "The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything." To fans, he's a cross between agitprop artist and Batman, fighting the evils of authority and consumerism.

Never mind that Banksy paintings on old-fashioned canvas, are becoming very, very consumable.
GAGLIANO: What is a Banksy canvas going for now?

STEVE LAZARIDES: Depending on when it was painted and the size, anywhere up to over 100,000 pounds now.
That's about $200,000. Steve Lazarides is Banksy's agent. He also runs a gallery in London's SoHo district.
LAZARIDES: There's people who bought canvases 4 or 5 years ago for 500 pounds that can now sell 'em for 45,000-50,000 pounds.
So Business is booming. There's just one problem.
GAGLIANO: There are warrants out for his arrest, right?

STEVE: Yeah, there are several police forces in the UK that are rather unhappy with him, I'd say, yeah.
Why isn't Banksy in jail? Like Batman, he's never revealed his true identity. He won't let his face be photographed, he's never released his real name. Which means Banksy runs his business like no other painter. For instance, you don't interview him, you interview his spokesperson, comedian Simon Munnery, whose job is not to answer your questions.
SIMON MUNNERY: Who is Banksy, yes. I couldn't confirm for sure that I'm not. And even the man I met, is he Banksy? I mean, he was in disguise. I'm not even sure if he knows what he looks like.
Agent Steve Lazarides again. He says the distance between himself and his client gives him a kind of plausible deniability.
GAGLIANO: Do the police ever come to you and try to trace him through you?

LAZARIDES: No, I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm just selling paintings. I pick them up around the back of a supermarket between a couple of old trolleys out the back. That's how I pick up the paintings.

GAGLIANO: Are you kidding?

LAZARIDES: No, that's how they always turn up. I get a phone call and go pick 'em up, back of a supermarket.
Here's the thing: How can I believe him? Couldn't this all be a put-on, designed to maximize buzz and sales? That kind of question might pose the biggest risk to the Banksy business. When your product is anti-marketing, you can't come off like you've made *yourself into a money-making strategy. Banksy's admirers say he hasn't.
JOE LA PLACA: Well, would you want to buy a work of art from someone who refused to meet you?
Joe La Placa is a writer and managing director for Artnet.com in London. He says if anonymity is a marketing gimmick, it's a bad one.
LA PLACA: Because a lot of collectors buy works of art almost as a d├ętente. 'I buy the work of art, therefore I get to meet the artist.' Banksy isn't having any of that. This work isn't about his identity. This work is about something else.
Lazarides insists the work's about getting across a message. That Banksy collectors are shelling out for a rare commodity these days: popular art espousing radical politics.

As with all things artistic, what that's worth is up to you.

9.12.2006

The Mortgage Times - new posts up

The last two parts to "The Truth Behind Points" has now been posted over at The Mortgage Times. A couple of colleagues and others have expressed some dismay though. Because, you see, I just took all the "magic" out of how I get paid. Some don't like that, but I say, over and over, that you, as a borrower of money, should be well informed. And that includes knowing how I get paid.

You don't work for free, and I don't either. But how I get paid shouldn't be a secret to you.

If you want to nickel and dime me to death, I'll politely ask you to FOAD. But if you want a loan done right the first time, when it should be done, with knowledge and respect, you know what to do.

And blog readers get a DISCOUNT on origination. Because I am a nice guy. I give a damn.

The U2 Video from the Superbowl

This is the video to which I referred yesterday. I have become, over the years, a fan and supporter of Bono. While "Where the streets have no name" is by no means one of my favorite U2 songs, if this doesn't illustrate what the man is about these days, I don't know what does.

He has moved from the political screaming of the 80's to the "It is our own historical assignment to figure out how to unite the world, and stop famine, disease, and oppression."

That's a good message. That's why his ONE.org banner shows on the right-hand corner of my blog page.

Once Heard on This Day:

Many years ago, on this day, John F. Kennedy uttered the sentence,







"I don't speak for my church, and my church doesn't speak for me."
The phrase hasn't been heard since.

I salute you, JFK, wherever you are, on this day. You are missed.

I'm just sayin'.

9.11.2006

The inevitable: 9|11 post...

I wasn't going to do it. It was already overbaked last week. MANY blog posts already. What more value could I add? Who cares what I think anyway?

I'm not typically an emotional person. I took the morning today to go for a nice long bike ride with ThatOneWife, followed by a shower and off to the office for a while to tie up some things... on the way, I heard a portion of the Sonic Memorial on NPR around noon today. And I was genuinely moved.

So where was I on that very shitty of mornings? I was finalizing the suitcases for a trip that ThatOneWife and I were scheduled to take that morning. I was standing in the bedroom and she was drying her hair. The TV was on, and I stood in amazement as they were reporting that there was an "apparent accident" involving a plane and the World Trade Center. I told her that I didn't think we would be flying that day, as they were reporting that air travel in the US was quickly being halted in order to find out what was going on. We were scheduled to go to Podunkville, midwest, for work, I can't even remember where exactly. All of a sudden, it didn't matter. The events of the day unfolded in a surreal sequence that we all know by now.

I lied earlier when I said that I'm not an emotional person. I am, actually. If you know me, you know that, but I do keep it hidden away sometimes.

Five years ago on this day, Bob Dylan released an album for the first time in a LONG time. I haven't heard it - not really a big fan of The Mumbler...

I am a fan of music though, and that is what usually brings my emotions out of hiding. Last week I downloaded the NEW Bob Dylan album from iTunes - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED LISTENING, by the way... and I got to listening to the lyrics. You should check into it.

Which then reminded me of the Sting DVD of "All This Time." You should be checking that out as well. NetFlix it. It is the story of a concert that was scheduled to be performed on September 11th for his friends and neighbors at his home in Tuscany. (Yes, it sucks to be him.) The documentary follows the news of the day, and the change in set list because of the news. Even though the DVD contains TWO of my favorite musicians (Sting and Christian McBride), and a third who I really like (Chris Botti), it is good even for its non-musical elements. This was truly the day that the world stood still for a while. The whole world.

Last week White House press secretary Tony Snow mentioned that today's remembrances would be marked for the accomplishments of the last five years, "because those accomplishments could only happen here." If I were British, or German, or Italian, I would be offended by this. I would like to think that even if this tragic event had been perpetrated in another country, the world would have stood still, just like it did that day. The US would have been there to help, no matter where it happened. And it should have been noted by the Administration that there are many world-wide contributors to the effort to rebuild, lives and spaces. Remember Bono at the SuperBowl that year? No, not the slip of the nip.... the American flag inside the jacket Yes, you do. The world loved us unconditionally that day.

Anyway, so there you are. The world stopped moving five years ago, and our eyes were opened to the hatred that brews, even still today. So what do we do today? I mean you and I - what do WE do today? What can we do? I humbly submit to you:


JUST.
REMEMBER.

Then make yourself better. Make it so that you can't be accused of hating. Of NOT remembering. Be better. Consciously.

That's all.

9.08.2006

Big Garbage Day -or- One Man's Garbage Becomes Another Man's Clutter


I'm not sure if it is a city thing where I live or what - or if it's the same where you live, but the first regular garbage day of every month is "Big Garbage Day." I know, it sounds like a party, or some sort of cultural celebration. But in reality, it's the day when you can take ANYTHING to the curb and see if the garbage guys will take it away. When I first moved here, it was some sort of competition, like Letterman's "Will It Float" or something like that. I wondered where the boundaries were to what you could take to the street, and actually have them haul away in the back of a garbage truck.

We'd carry something to the street, and see if it got picked up, or left behind as some sort of violation of the official Big Garbage Day rules. We took an old lawnmower out. They took it. We took parts of big tree branches. They took them. We took construction waste - drywall, lumber bits, etc. They took it. Old loveseat - they took it. This was getting fun, I thought to myself...

Every month I'd take some new bit of junk out, and off to work I'd go, waiting to see if it would be gone when I got home.

Then, I started working from home. Ha! Now I can be entertained from the window every month when they show up to see which household castoff I have left for them to deal with. My mind started working overtime on what I could take out to the curb - dead farm animals? Small children? Old cars? Toxic waste from the meth lab next door? This was going to be fun!

I waited with anticipation for the next Big Garbage Day. I took out several items - an old mattress, computer monitor, and old tire, and some other miscellaneous crap. And waited. I can hear the trucks coming down the street and into the circle, so I was ready to watch the fun.

But what to my horror!!!???

After I had taken my treasures out to the street, I noticed traffic in the neighborhood. Increased traffic. Much traffic.

It seems that there is a constant stream of people in old trucks, pulling trailers, who "beachcomb" for crap before the big garbage trucks gets out! I was pissed off! My game had been hijacked by garbage pickers looking for crap to fuel their WEEKLY garage sales, furnish their meager homes, try to pawn, or sell for scrap. WTF??!!

It happens every time - big garbage day comes around, and the people start driving through the neighborhood. Picking through my trash. My old loveseat is probably sitting in somebody's basement, the old tires on one of the trucks.

Now I have to find a new game to play with the garbage men. I'm thinking Medical Waste. Livers, kidneys and such. Cancer things. Old man feet.

The fifth season: Politics

It falls right between summer and fall. But not every year. Kind of like the leap year thing. Although I wish it were possible to leap year OVER the season called politik, most of the time. I detest the ads, I detest the slander and anger-mongering that comes with every one of those seasons, every time it comes around.

Anyway, as this season is now upon us, and both parts of the House are now back in session, which is actually a joke - because all that happens between now and November is that the "House" is used as a political microphone and grandstand for the three days a week there are actually a full slate of legislators in attendance.

For instance.

We now have Orrin Reddenbacher taking credit for killing the spent nuclear waste storage facility in Utah. But the problem is that Perma-Hatch hasn't been on the forefront of opposition on this item, but he's perfectly fine with standing up and taking credit for it, maybe prematurely. The support group for the plan has yet to study the ruling and decide on a plan of further action. But it's all about getting in front of a microphone and taking credit on your own behalf. I'm ashamed.

Think about it - what legislators do you think about when you think about the Goshute Indian Reservation? I don't think Hatch is on the list.

More and more I have a very fundamental problem with Hatch. I wonder how many Utahans could come up with a half-way intelligent answer to the question, "what has Hatch done for YOU in the last 25 years - how is YOUR personal life better as a result of sending him to Washington?"

Are you proud of him, is he the picture of what represents you? REALLY? Does his true record warrant a re-up?

Politicians, in general, count on the fact that voters seem to have the intellect of a potato(e), and the memory of a moth. Won't SOMEBODY PLEASE disprove this theory???

I'm just sayin'.

9.07.2006

New Posts at Mortgage Times

A few more interesting items have been posted over at Mortgage Times
Hopefully you'll find them useful:

Real Estate Investor: What Mortgage Term Should I Choose?
Too Many House Flippers Hurts a Market, Every Single Time
Different Types of Real Estate Investors
The Truth Behind Points, Part One

Knock yourself out over there.

New Radio Habits

Typically, and for some time, I have the radio in my car tuned to an NPR station. I get most of my news there, as well as most of the "human interest" input I get from that source.

Since we're at the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I thought I'd make mention of one small thing that has stuck with me for the year.

Before a year ago, I would occasionally hear the show "American Routes" on Saturday afternoons. It was somewhat interesting to me, but not all that much. It's a music show, and is produced in New Orleans. It is centered around the music of the south, particularly the brand of music that emanates from New Orleans. It goes back in history, sometimes more than a century.

Since my awareness of the New Orleans area has been elevated this past year, as it has been for all of us, I have paid a little more attention to the program, even if only subconsciously at times.

However, over the past two or three months, I have really enjoyed the program. They have interviews with human interest value, and great music, better than before it seems. This is the program notes of this week's program:

From Sadie Green and Mr. Brown to Lil' Liza Jane and Jim Dandy, this American Routes deals with the nomenclature of music. We'll chat with the San Antonio native and leader of the barnstorming 1950's band Mando and the Chili Peppers who tells us about taking a turn from Tejano into rock and roll and ending up with a stage name that stuck. And the New Orleans brothers and horn players James and Troy Andrews talk about the origin of their nicknames, 12 and Shorty. Plus, we'll hear from a Tom Sawyer who runs, not rafts, on the Mississippi and a man many of you may know already, John Smith.


While this is probably not everybody's cup of tea, or jello shots, whichever, it has become much more interesting to me, and my musical horizon has expanded just a little bit in a direction that I had not really considered before.

What the hell was Fox thinking? Justice?

We look forward to the new season of television around our house... we'll usually watch the first or second episode of a new series, and we'll end up adding one or two to the set of not very many that we actually will watch. We usually don't watch stuff live after we've decided to add it to the list. Instead, we just add it to the TIVO season pass. That way we can watch an hour's worth of TV in 40 minutes, whenever we want.

With the end of West Wing (about the smartest show on TV in the last five years), and Alias (an addiction similar to chocolate), we were interested in what might fill our TIVO from here.

So we decided to give "Justice" a try. Probably the overwhelming reason for checking this show out for us was the fact that Victor Garber was in Alias, one of our favorites, which ended last year.

By the tenth minute we were looking at each other, saying, "is it just me, or is this TERRIBLE acting from every single member of the cast?"

It wasn't just us - it was truly bad. In the actors' defense though, it was more about horrific writing than bad acting.

Add to that the fact that the actual production value was about the worst I have seen on prime time TV for a very long time. The ADR dialog didn't even come close to matching, the camera work, meant to be edgy handicam work, was way too deep, and the entire audio mix was about 15 dB too low - the commercials BLASTED us because we had to turn it up so loud, and there were obvious phasing troubles that rendered the entire audio track thin, tinny, and low. Too many square waves. Harsh.

This show was marketed as "Justice does for lawyers what House does for medicine." "CSI at 100 MPH."

Umm, no. It seems this show was produced in about 45 minutes, with about $10,000. Spent on catering.

Bad

Step away from the remote.

Move along now. Nothing more to see here. Return to your homes... move along...

9.06.2006

Just call me "Big Typhoon" for short

About 4 months ago, an office associate of mine started calling me "Big Typhoon" as a nickname. I looked at him in puzzlement every time he did this. One day, I couldn't stand it any more, and I asked him what alternate plane he was inhabiting.

He said that he had seen a box from a CPU fan in the office, called "Big Typhoon", and thought it should be my new nickname. To which I replied, "you are an ass-hat." So he went and got the box, cut out the title, and stuck it on my computer.

Upon thinking about it, one could (too easily) use that term to describe the effortless and uncanny way in which I can simultaneously entertain, then offend the olfactory senses of everyone within a 20 foot radius of my person. With a single utterance of "here, pull my finger," I can clear a room. Oddly, not everyone sees the humor. Their loss, on so many levels.

Anyway, you might think, with the background information I have provided, that this might just be a good nickname after all.

See what a nicely well-rounded individual I am?

Although I can't belch the alphabet, I know someone who can - he happens to be my brother. We wreaked (reeked?) havoc around the dinner table as we played the "butter sculpture" game. Our poor mother. The game was to take the new 1 pound brick of butter, take one slice for whatever you were eating, and pass it on to the next person, who would be charged with furthering the creation. (yes, one-pound brick of butter - my parents were farmer-stock, and that's what we ate... another story for another day, entitled, "diabetes and you.") The sculpture was named at the end of the meal. It never looked like a cow. Perhaps a cow-pie.

Dillhole often entertained with an interlude of the complete alphabet, cola-style.

Next item is up across the street....

The next item is up over at Mortgage Times...

The subject for today: Which Mortgage Term to Choose??

9.05.2006

Mr. Hyde, meet Mr. Jeckyl

I have started putting financial-related, and mortgage-related stuff over here. I have done an occasional series of posts regarding the real estate and mortgage industry, and "free advice for the week" type of stuff.

Now it's all in the same place. It's pretty sparse right now, but I've had some good response to the stuff I post, and I thought it might be helpful to have it all living in one place for your future reference.

I'll put notice here each time I have something new over there, so you don't have to link it if you don't want to - you can choose whether you click over and check it out or not - up to you.

See, just one more way I give you value for your blog-bucks.

:)