Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Memories from a Galaxy Far Far Away...From a Time That Doesn't Seem So Long Ago

Wow, has it really been since November 22nd of last year since I posted on my blog? I just checked my Google analytics account and people still seem to be finding my blog - 58 hits since November; most of the hits were for my blog posts relating to Stephen Hawking and Human Intelligence tasks.

Time to get back on track - here's something I was working on before my hiatus for the holidays and tax season:

The year was 1998. I had a job at BYU Takeout where I eventually worked my way up to the position of supervisor. I lived at Stadium Terrace apartments. My roommates were Buddy (aka Tony), Dalan, Jonathan, Justin, and Rich. I fit sand volleyball in between studying and work whenever I had the chance.

The month was August and on the 23rd I taught Sunday school. As I taught, a lovely young lady in a yellow dress sat in the front row with a distracting ear to ear smile. Whenever I looked in her direction, she had that smile on her face distracting me from my lesson plan. I found out later that she and her friend Zanne were trying to see how many times that they could get me to stop and say "ah, um" and look at my paper.

One week later, that same girl stole my ward questionnaire for the upcoming Fall semester and filled it out for me. On the relationship status line she wrote that I was not only engaged, but that I was engaged to her and that we were getting married someday.

My Family Home Evening group didn't show up on Monday so I tagged along with my "fiancee's" FHE group. While walking back from FHE we went past the apartment pool and I started to coax my "fiancee" towards the pool, but before I could throw my "fiancee" in, Zanne intervened and convinced me to stop.

Later that week, my sister, Goatee, borrowed my car just before I realized my apartment cupboards had no food. Somehow I ended up talking to my "fiancee" by the volleyball courts, mentioned my dilemma, and how it was really too bad I didn't have my car. My "fiancee" agreed and then remembered her that she had a car - no, not "oh, wait a minute I have a car", but "oh, hang on, duh, I have a car" (my "fiancee's" grandfather had dropped it off not more than a week earlier for her). Soon we were on our way to a poor starving college students Mecca - Taco Bell (I am currently being informed that she ordered a lemonade and I bought a chalupa and that we talked about how my "fiancee" had worked at the Taco Bell we were visiting at one point and that I would have frequented it during the time period she worked there - I'm pretty sure right at that moment I heard a choir of angels sing "ah-ah-ahhh".)

So our friendship started and soon after I asked her out. Our first date was September 4th; we doubled with my roommates, went to Applebees for dinner, and then went to see the Pink Floyd lightshow in 3D at Hansen Planitarium in SLC. Starring up at a ceiling and watching lights to Pink Floyd made my date nauseous, but she somehow held it together.

Afterwards, as we headed back to Provo, we realized the SLC freeway was closed for construction and ended up having a little more time to talk with each other then originally planned. Eventually, we drove through what seemed to be all of SLC and then back to Provo; I walked my date to her door and continued to speak with her on her doorstep.

For whatever reason, I said something suave like "Hey, I like your socks; do you want to make out?" And I'm sure because she was worn down by being nauseous, trapped in a car with me for hours, and that it was 1am, that she actually kissed me!

(to be continued)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our Pup Comes with Family History

Our Pup, whom we'll call "Mellow" for blogging purposes, came with genealogy done for him. That's right, he has Pedigree records showing four generations for his Father and six generations for his Mother.

Mellow's Grandfather on his Mother's side has 52 champions in his blood-line and is also a champion. Meanwhile Mellow's Grandmother on his Mother's side has 11 champions in her blood-line.

Looking at Mellow's family tree on his Father's side, you will find 4 champions in his Grandfather's line and 2 champions in his Grandmother's line.

Now for the interesting part. Dogs' lineages get real peculiar when you look through the trees. For instance, the same Sire (Ken's Pocket Rocket - who is a Kentucky champion, by the way) happens to be Mellow's great, great, great Grandfather twice in his Grandmother's line from his Father's side. Further, Ken's Pocket Rocket is also Mellow's great grandfather in his Grandfather's line from his Father's side.

Confused? Well, I've kept it simple so far, I haven't added in the connections from Mellow's Mother's line. You see, Ken's Pocket Rocket also shows up as Mellow's great, great, great Grandfather on his Mother's Father's side as well as his great, great, great Grandfather on his Mother's Mother's side. Add a couple more greats and you'll find Ken's Pocket Rocket as Mellow's Grandfather again - once on his Mother's Father's side and twice on his Mother's Mother's side.

Now that's something only someone born in Arkansas or Indiana can appreciate.

There are, of course, other situations like this that crop up in Mellow's tree, but I won't bore you with those details.

I will, however, point out some of the more interesting names in Mellows ancestry. For instance, there's Ken's Giggles Galore (I'm thinking Ken was a fan of James Bond); Simba Mufasa May (sounds like someone was watching a little too much Lion King); Cathey's Lil Spankey Man (no comment); San-Lee's Wild Cherry (poor dog probably grew up to be a stripper); and Shari's Blame it on Mexico (parents, don't ever do this to your kids, no one wants to know where they were conceived; imagine the number of shrinks this puppy had to visit!).

So what are the names of Mellow's parents? Wooden Nickel and Sinder Ella. As my children love Princesses, it's only fitting Mellow's Mom is one too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"It's Time for Weed", "My Wife the Srtripper" and Other Amusing Search Keywords

What do the internet keyword searches "it's time for weed" and "my wife the srtripper" (yes stripper is spelled incorrectly) have in common? If you Google either search term, my blog will show up in the search results (when I checked my blog was ranked #1 for "it's time for weed" and #9 for "my wife the srtripper").

I don't recommend Googling either term, but I found it highly amusing that people who typed in these search terms ended up on my blog.

How did this happen? Well if you follow the link for "it's time for weed" you will go to my blog post titled "It's time to weed" and if you follow the link for "my wife the srtripper" you will be directed to my blog post titled "My wife's stripper friend called me at work" (that's my June 9, 2009 blog post for anyone curious).

To date, people have used exactly 19 different keyword phrases to find my blog; some amusing, some ordinary, and others down right scary (I may have to be more selective in the phrases I place on my blog, though I'm sure this post won't help.)

I use Google Analytics to track this information. So without further adieu, here are the 19 keyword phrases and the ranking my blog has on Google for each as of 11/9/09:

1. human intelligence tasks (#8)
2. 13 wasted years conservative rule? (#1)
3. government socialism liberal conservative capitalism (#1)
4. how much do you get paid for human intelligence tasks (#1)
5. ideas of how to get my wifes friend to sleep with us (#9)
6. it's time for weed (#1)
7. liberal conservative progressive libertarian (#1)
8. misconceptions about peta (I couldn't find a link to my blog in the first 10 pages of results)
9. my wife is a striper (I couldn't find a link to my blog in the first 10 pages of results)
10. my wife the stripper (#48)
11. paid human intelligence tasks (#3)
12. progressive ideology wikipedia (#11)
13. stephen hawking predictions (#4)
14. stephen hawkings sleep (#2)
15. stripper friend (#20)
16. third political parties effective (#9)
17. was lyndon johnson a conservative, liberal, or socialist? (#3)
18. what impact can third parties have on major parties (I couldn't find a link to my blog in the first 10 pages of results)
19. wifestripper (#8)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Potty Mouth

Earlier this evening, Scoonie and I were watching the fifth season of Quantum Leap (disc two) for our date night when we heard Jr's voice requesting my presence. Although it was date night and the kids were supposed to be sleeping, I got up to see what Jr wanted.

Upon arrival, I found that Jr had done something that annoyed Fred. In retaliation, Fred had blurted "I hate you!" to Jr.

In our household, the phrase "I hate you" is not tolerated and Fred knows that; normally, soap and a mouth washing follows closely after uttering those words, but today I looked up at Fred (as she was on the top bunk) and said, "You don't hate your sister, you may dislike some of the things she does, but you don't hate her."

"Yes I do, I hate her."

"You don't hate her, you just dislike some of the things she does." (I'm a firm believer that repetition is the Mother of all learning.)

"But Dad she..." Fred continued on with her story and then uttered a four letter "D" word I've never heard come from her sweet little mouth (which is probably why I don't remember what her complaints about Jr were.)

"What did you say?" I queried with my stern voice, "What DID you say? You are not allowed to say that! That is not a word you should be saying!"

Fred froze and stammered, "What did I say?"

I spelled the word out for her. Fred tried to ameliorate the situation by saying she had not said that; I assured her she had and reiterated that she should not use such words.

At this point, Fred pulled her silk sheet over her head, assumed the fetal position, sobbed and then blurted, "But Mommy says it all the time...I didn't know it was a bad word!"

This was news to me. Yes, Mommy had her male stripper friend call me at work once, but I've never thought of her as a person with a sailor's mouth.

"What?" Yes, I had a real hard time keeping a straight face.

"Mommy says it all the time." Fred reiterated, "You hate me." More sobs.

"I don't hate you. I'm correcting you because I love you; if I didn't love you, I'd let you do whatever you wanted."

I continued to calm Fred down, then gave both Fred and Jr their second set of good night kisses, checked on George to make sure she had her blankets on, and then reported back to Scoonie and asked, "Did you know that you're the bad language influence for our kid?"

We both had a good laugh; but Scoonie is going to make sure she sits down with Fred and see if she can't figure out why Fred thinks this in the morning.

*Scoonie* Now if she had said @-$-$ I'd have to own up to the mouth washing but I DON'T say the other - I SWEAR! Oh wait, that's what started this whole problem ...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Testimonies of Little Children

Several years ago when I home taught with my father, one of our home teaching families asked us how it could be that little children could realistically bear a testimony about the gospel since they really didn't know too much about life and relied on their parents or siblings to assist them with their testimony. I don't recall what my father said, but the question has lingered in my mind since then and I seemed to think about it every time a child would bear his/her testimony at church.

A thought came to me this past Sunday and I shared it in my own testimony; I don't think I gave the subject much justice though. So I'm putting my thoughts down in writing and hopefully the written word will do justice to the insight I received.

When someone is baptized and then confirmed, they receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. Prior to this time, they can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time.

When a child goes up to bear his/her testimony, he/she has a belief and faith that what he/she believes is true and correct.

The same goes for adults. When an adult goes to bear his/her testimony, he/she has a belief or faith that what he/she believes is true and correct.

An adult relies on the Holy Ghost to assist him/her with the words to bear testimony concerning his/her beliefs and has faith that this belief is true and correct. A child, on the other hand, might rely on a parent or a sibling to assist him/her with the words of his/her testimony. The underlying principle is the same - the child or adult both has a belief and both have faith that what they believe is true.

A child's testimony may not have been tried and tested as much as an adult's testimony, and the child might be more capable of believing or having faith than an adult since he/she may not be distracted by worldly influences, but the underlying principle is the same.

The child relies on a parent or a sibling to provide the words of his/her testimony, while an adult will rely on his/her elder brother, the Holy Ghost, to assist him/her with what to say. Again, there are similarities between a child and an adult, each is relying on either a parent or a sibling to assist him/her with his/her testimony. The only difference is that the person providing the assistance for a child is visible when it is that child's parent or sibling, but the influence of the Holy Ghost is only visible to those watching with spiritual eyes.

That's the inspiration I received on Sunday. It came to me when I saw a sister helping her sibling with a testimony, and I thought to myself, isn't that what the Holy Ghost does?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Fraud Squad

My wife took our Compaq computer to the Geek Squad at the Best Buy in Las Vegas located on the corner of Lake Mead and Rainbow on Monday the 26th of October 2009. She told them that either the video card/video card driver had stopped working and was not communicating with the monitor, and that the hard drive was full and needed to be defragged. She mentioned that I, her husband, had thought it would be a good idea to put the files contained on our computer's hard drive onto an external hard drive in order to free up space for our computer. The employee who spoke with her was rude and condescending toward her. In the end, they had her pay $386 up front for the following services at the following prices:

1) Data Protec (Advanced Data Management) for $80 (this appears to be a charge for saving our data files)

2) My Passport Esstential for $70 (this is a 250GB flash drive)

3) OS Service Diagnostic & Repair $200 (this appears to be a total wipe of our hard drive of all programs except some basic programs like Windows Media Player)

4) Computer Cleaning $30 (the employee who spoke to my wife had opened up the computer case and noticed a bunch of dust and suggested a cleaning)

5) Sales Tax $6

My wife was told that our computer would be ready by the 29th of October.

The Geek Squad called my house today, October 31st, and said that our computer was ready to be picked up. I drove down to Best Buy and spoke with another representative. He pulled out our computer and set it up to show me how my computer was working after the Geek Squad had supposedly finished servicing my computer.

The screen flickered like it had done prior to taking it to the Geek Squad. The employee said it was probably a result of my machine not talking to monitor correctly due age and settings. I instructed the employee to run a program. He chose Windows Media Player and my computer promptly crashed showing a blue screen that let him know the graphics card and/or graphics driver were not working properly.

The employee then opened the computer case and all the dust that was in there previously was still in there and it took him all of 5 seconds to point out that the upgraded graphics card we had in the machine was fried. I was beside myself at this point as it looked like the only thing that had been accomplished by the Geek Squad was a total wipe of every good program on our computer and a back-up of our data files on the 250GB flash drive. The orginal problem that drove us to bring our computer in was still unresolved and the cleaning we were being charged $30 for hadn't been performed.

The employee then went on to say that all that was needed to be done to fix the problem was to remove the upgraded graphics card and run the computer with the standard graphics card that was still in the machine. So he pulled out the card and then took 5 to 10 minutes to clean out the dust in my computer. After that, I noted that my computer could use an upgrade of its RAM. The employee helped me find 1GB of RAM that I could buy and put into my computer. Considering what I had just been through, I thought that I might be able to get a pretty good discount on the RAM so I asked the employee if he could give me one. The employee said he would have to ask his manager. The manager came and said all he could give me was a $10 discount - frustrated, I took the discount and paid $65 for the 1GB of RAM.

I then looked at my computer with the cover all ready off and asked if the employee could stick the RAM in the RAM slot for me so I could go on my way. The employee looked at me straight in the eye and said that he would have to charge me another $40 to stick the RAM in the RAM slot of my computer. Agast I said that I would do it and started to take the RAM out of the package; I was promptly told that I couldn't do that at the counter - I asked if I could sit down with my computer and work on it and he said that would be all right. Two minutes later, I had my RAM in my computer and put the cover back on the computer case myself and then started thinking $40 to do a two minute job is$1,200 an hour - man I should get a job installing RAM!

So after $451 and missed deadlines and horrible customer service, I am writing this post on the Best Buy Geek Squad message board and I am going to copy this post and put it on my blog and let all my Facebook friends know how the Geek Squad is actually the Fraud Squad and that my wife and I are taking our business elsewhere in the future.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

AKA The Waterboy

At my house there are many positions on team Gubler. There's Mom, Dad, Daughter and Sister; but nothing compares to being named as "Waterboy". I've been serving in the position since 1999 though I have never officially received title or designation.

Valinda, whom we'll call coach, first started grooming me for the position after we found out Fred was on the way. Coach would be lying on our bed and I would come into our room, lie down and then start to get comfortable. As soon as I felt settled in, Coach would request in a sweet voice "Could you please get me a drink of water baby?" I would open my eyes look at the ceiling, grunt and then roll out of bed and bring her back a cup of water. Coach would then look at me and the cup and say, "That's kind-of a small cup." I'd grunt and turn around and bring her back a larger cup of water.

Coach would then explain to me that this routine was just training for when the baby came as the baby would require a lot of attention and would be waking up in the middle of the night.

So Fred arrived and, sure enough, required a lot of attention and midnight feedings. My job would be to run to the kitchen, make bottles for Fred in my half-sleep state, and take the bottles to Coach. Next came Jr. and then George. Same routine, though by George Coach was letting me slack off and would keep bottles close to our bed. It seemed like those first four months for each kid I didn't get much sleep; though I'm sure Coach slept less then me during those days. For all those who think Coach was mean to the Waterboy, I was glad to help out.

Currently, my duty is to provide water at bedtime. For instance, George will ask, "Dad will you get me some water in a sippy cup?" As I'm kissing her on the cheek and tucking her in.

"Yes," I say and hurry to the kitchen and fill up the first sippy cup I can find all the pieces to. I rush the sippy cup back to George whereupon she examines it and looks up at me and says, "Not this sippy cup Dad...I want the blue one!"

Coach trained me well.

Can Third Parties Be Effective?

I got into a discussion with my Uncle Tim concerning politics this last weekend and he indicated that third parties only have the effect of changing the outcomes of elections (think Ross Perot helping Clinton win by stealing away Republican votes and Ralph Nader helping George W. win by stealing Democrat votes.) That discussion left me wondering if third parties ever have been effective as presidential candidates.

Doing a little research on the internet, I found that the United States has had around four major political parties during its history.

The first major political party was the "Federalist Party" led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams and was around from 1789 to 1820. This party favored an active Federal government, a Treasury that played a role in the nations economic life, and a Pro-British foreign policy.

The second major political party was the "Republicans" or "Democratic-Republican Party" led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and started in 1792. The party later morphed into the "Democrat Party" led by Andrew Jackson in 1828. For several years in the early 1820's this party was the only political party as it was so effective the "Federalist Party" dissolved. The party initially favored a limited Federal government, little government interference in economic affairs, a Po-French policy, and championed states rights. However, with FDR's election in 1932, the party sponsored far-reaching social-reform legislation. This legislation won the support of labor unions and blacks (due to unemployment relief); these groups continue to be large supporters of the "Democrat Party" today.

The third major political party started in 1829 and was named the "National Republican Party". The party later became known as the "Whig Party". This party believed that the Federal Government should actively promote economic development. This party dissolved in 1856.

So looking at these "Major" parties, it looks like only two major parties have existed at any one point in time. What about the success of third parties? And what about the fourth major political party I mentioned earlier on?

From what I can discern, the only really successful third party is also the fourth major political party. This party was able to draw enough members from the "Democrat Party" and the "National Republican Party" to be successful. In fact it was so successful and drew so many members of the "National Republican Party" that the "National Republican Party" dissolved. This party is known today as the "Republican Party", it started in 1854, and was also known as the "Union" party. The presidential candidate in 1860 for this party also won the election that year. His name...Abraham Lincoln. His platform included: (1) a promise to prevent admission of new slaves to the union, (2) a promise to diminish slaveholders' influence in the Federal Government, (3) championing manufacturing interests, railroad builders, speculators, and financiers, and (4) championing nationalism. In the 1980's Ronald Reagan sponsored a "New Federalism" - one that featured a smaller Federal Government which represented a shift in Republican thinking.

My conclusion is that third parties can have success, but that success must come by drawing members from other existing major parties over politically charged issues. Are the issues in our day enough to cause a change in parties? Possibly; it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Here is a link to some information on the history of political parties.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Divided States of America

A Russian academic has posited the United States of America will fall apart during 2010. Who is this Russian academic? His name is Igor Panarin and he is the dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats and a former KGB analyst. He also prepared strategy forecasts for former President Boris Yeltsin.

What's even more unusual is that Panarin has been making this prediction since September 1998. He based his prediction on (1) moral and psychological factors and the stress of the American Population, (2) financial and economic problems, and (3) an increase of anti-Americanism in the world.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "[Panarin] predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in."

Panarin thinks of President Obama as the United States version of Gorbachev and that the United States will collapse like Gorbachev's USSR due to President Obama's inexperience. As a result, the United States will break-up into 6 pieces: (1) The California Republic (under Chinese influence); (2) The Texas Republic (under Mexican influence); (3) An Atlantic America (which may join the European Union); (4) The Central North American Republic (under Canadian influence); (5) Hawaii will be a protectorate of Japan or China; and (6) Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

Back in 1998 everyone scoffed at the idea; however, now Panarin is getting quite a bit of press, which makes me concerned on several levels.

Panarin has described United States foreign debt as a "pyramid scheme" and predicts that China and Russia will take over the United States' role of global financial regulator.

If this is the road we are on, then we need to turn things around. A good start would be to particpate in the 9-12 project. This project is designed to bring people together on September 12th to remember the way we felt the day after September 11, 2001. According to the 9-12 project web-site, "We were not obsessed with Red states, Blue states, or political parties. We were united as Americans standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created."

Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal article, and here is a link to the 9-12 project site. Also, below is a YouTube video with Panarin.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oh The Irony...

"I want to change my working environment...what do you mean I don't have a right to work here? I've worked here for 5 years!" Yes, amazingly enough this is the situation 30 workers and Republic Services of Nevada find themselves in.

I was watching the news the other night and the piece about the 30 workers who wanted to unionize their workplace at Republic Services of Nevada (our local sanitation company) who got laid-off cracked me up. Apparently, those 30 workers were undocumented workers. Republic Services, not one to miss a trick, promptly fired the workers for not being able to prove that they legally could work in the United States.

My favorite quote from Bob Coyle (VP of Public Affairs), "We do not hire undocumented workers."

So the 30 undocumented workers, some of whom had been with Republic Services for 5 years, just hired themselves? Come on Bob, I'm not buying it.

To me, another funny part about this is that it is being plastered all over the news and Teamsters Local 631 is trying to represent these illegals. Um, INS are you listening? There's 30 illegals over here at Republic Services trying to get their jobs back, you mind doing your job?

If there's any justice, Republic Services will get slapped with a fine for hiring illegals, get some sort of INS audit for their remaining workers, and the INS will step in and send the illegals packing.

My guess though is that the illegals stay in Nevada and file for unemployment benefits. Man the system is screwed up.

Here's a link to the article.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creative Card Play

Last week Jr. came to me and convinced me that I really needed to play cards with her. So I worked in a few games of UNO in between playing in George's pretend band and eating my dinner (George got to be lead guitarist, but I played a mean couch cushion drum).

What really made the UNO game interesting was the way it was played. Before I get into how the game was played, I think I ought to point out that at my house Monopoly and many a grown up game is played with very unique rules. For instance, when you land on a property on the Monopoly game board and it is not owned and choose to buy the property, you get to immediately choose to place a green house or a red hotel on the property, thereby marking your territory. Houses and hotels do not affect the going rental rate by the way. This is a habit picked up from Disney Princess Monopoly; however, in Disney Princess Monopoly everyone gets castles in their own color, which helps to distinguish who owns what. One day someone is going to show them the real Monopoly rules...heaven help that person!

Back to Jr.'s UNO game. Apparently when you play UNO with Dad the rules dictate that you get to place all the "Wilds" and "Draw Four Wilds" in your own hand and then deal Dad a normal hand. Thus after I would play a card from my hand Jr. would wallup me with a "Draw Four Wild" and then choose a color that she knew I didn't have. Then she would let me continue drawing until I found the color I needed.

This worked pretty good for Jr. until she got down to one card left and I said "UNO" before she remembered to or I played my own "Draw Two" card as this caused her to pick up cards that weren't "Wilds". However, Fred soon came to Jr.'s rescue and whenever Jr. was forced to pick a card from the pile, Fred would make sure to look through the deck for Jr. and find a nice skip or reverse in the color Jr. needed.

The upside to all of this is that my misery of holding half the deck in my hand would generally go by pretty quickly as games didn't last that long!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cubs Win, er, Lose in Dramatic Fashion...Again

Every year for the last 3 or 4 years a couple of guys from my work and I drive to a baseball game at one of the "close" major league ballparks near Las Vegas and catch a game. I say close, but the trips are generally 5 plus hours one direction and after the game we climb back into our van(s) and head back home (mainly because we are masticates).

Our core group consists of a Dodger's fan, a Yankee's fan, and two Cub's fans. We've hit Dodger's Stadium, Bank One Park, and this year we hit Petco Park. This year's match-up featured the Padre's vs the Cubs and, as one of our group's Cub's fans, I was looking forward to it - though I almost didn't get there.

Yes, that same demon that makes the Cubs perpetually lose, chose to pick on the two Cub fans for this trip. The demon chose to take out my wife's van's water pump 5 minutes before I was supposed to head out to the trip rendezvous point, while the other Cub fan's wife went through a miscarriage. As I wouldn't wish the latter scenario on anyone, especially not a fellow Cub fan, my heart went out to them, and still does.

Despite the demonic tampering, I managed to square away the water pump situation and then was able to continue on with the rest of the group and my daughter, Fred, to the game.

The game itself was quite uneventful for the first 7 innings. Then, in the eighth, the Cubs managed to break through (after leaving something like 10 men on base) and scored a run. Going into the 9th, the Cubs were still on top, one to nothing. Our closer came in, Kevin Gregg, and started to work on the Padre's line-up. After walking one Padre and getting two others out, Kevin started to work on his fourth Padre batter. Kevin worked the count full to three balls and two strikes.

So there we were, sitting in Petco Park, the Cubs one pitch away from winning the game. Lucy from Peanuts couldn't have thought of a better scenario to mess with our heads. Surely we'd get a strikeout or a pop-up...and then Kevin Gregg pitched...you guessed it, a grapefruit. The batter jumped on that pitch and hit a double between the left and center fielders - Lucy was pulling the football away from Charlie Brown yet again. The runner on first base had a great jump as he was in motion due to there being a full count and two outs - that jump enabled him to score from first to home on that double.

The Padre's then sent in a pinch hitter and the Cubs chose to walk him as no one was on first base and that made it so the Cubs could get a force out at first, second, or third.

At that point, I sat back and thought, "We can still get them in extra innings." Just like Charlie Brown, an eternal optimist.

Up comes the next Padre batter; Kevin throws him a strike and a ball. So the count is one ball and one strike, there are two outs (Lucy is dangling that football a little again) and then Kevin Gregg pitches up another grapefruit, the batter swings and sends the pitch over the deepest part of the ballpark (400 plus feet) - homerun, and the Cubs have once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Oh well, at least I've got 5 plus hours to listen to Yankee fan and Dodger fan ridicule the Cubbies...

Quote of the night:

Fred, "Where's the Green Giant?"
Me, "What do you mean?" I'm wondering if someone told her about the Jolly one.
Fred, "You know, the Green Giant...isn't it supposed to be here?"
Me, "Oh, you mean the 'Green Monster'."
Fred, "Yeah, where is it?"
Me, "Boston."
Fred, "Oh, I want to go to Boston Dad." Grandpa would be proud!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last night as I was putting the kids to bed, George told me she needed to mark off her chart. Knowing nothing about the chart she was talking about, I asked her to show it to me. George then took me into the hallway and pointed out a printout of a calendar that covered the last few months.

Now, I'm going to make an admission, noting the location of the calendar, I quickly deduced that I had walked past that calendar every day, morning and night, for the last few months, but was still clueless about what the heck the thing represented. At that point, I'm debating in my head whether it is something that Valinda set-up with George to help George keep track of brushing her teeth before bedtime (since that was the last thing I saw George do) or whether it represented some other sort of goal. I'm not willing to ask one of the kids because I know I'm going to get a "Duh, Dad" response from the two oldest and, as for the youngest, I might as well be asking her how to assemble a bicycle - i.e. 34 year olds sometimes have a hard time communicating with 4 year olds.

George then goes on to explain that she needs the 11th marked off. Okay, I saw George brush her teeth, should be okay to mark off the date; it's obviously important to George and she knows its supposed to be marked, so I mark off the 11th with an "X" using a pen I found close by.

George then tells me that she needs to mark off some other days. I look at the calendar and it appears every day has been marked up until the 11th with an "X" except for the 8th, 9th, and 10th. I look at George and ask her which of the days need to be marked.

George quickly jogs down the hall and shouts up to Fred who is in her bed on the top bunk wanting to know which day needs to be marked. Fred tells her the 1st needs to be marked. George rushes back to me and says the 1st...I tell her that the 1st has been marked...George goes down the hallway again and tells Fred that the first has been marked and wants to know what other day needs to be marked...Fred says the 2nd...George rushes back and says the 2nd...I inform her that the 2nd has been marked...Again, George runs down the hall to ask Fred...Fred now says the 3rd and George runs back.

Okay, I'm a little slow, but by this time, I'm starting to see a pattern, and I tell George everything has been marked up through the 7th and that the 11th is also marked...George spins around and rushes back to Fred armed with this new information. This time Fred tells George that she needs to mark the 8th, 9th, and 10th. George comes back, tells me the dates and then I pause for a slight second to think about the ramifications of marking off the calendar for something that George may not have done...images of the wrath of my lovely spouse flash through my head...then I look at George and decide to roll the dice (heck, I live in Vegas, why not) and mark off the 8th through the 10th.

George smiles real wide, pumps her fist and does a short hop reminiscient of one of those old Toyota commercials and then goes to bed. Uh-oh, I may be in trouble, that looked awfully suspicious.

A little while later Valinda comes home from her costuming at the play "Once On This Island". I make sure she's comfortably on our bed reading a book, eating some ice cream and nonchalantly ask about what I witnessed earlier.

Good news I get to sleep in my own bed tonight! Turns out that at the end of the last school year George realized that the next time school started up again she would get to go. Valinda had a difficult time explaining how long three months was, so she came up with an idea of setting up a calendar and marking off the days of summer. In essence, it is a count-down calendar to the start of the school year. Apparently, George is still very excited about school; hopefully, she will still have that eagerness after she has gone for a while!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Glenn Beck and the Black Helicopters

I listened to another installment of the Glenn Beck show at the request of one of the people I work with. This installment covered the moves by the government during the recent financial crises and asks whether the moves are:

A) Unrelated to each other,
B) A case of friends helping friends,
C) A case of companies using the government framework to make business and profits bigger, or
D) A case of banks ruling the world (thus the black helicopters)

So here is some background and the moves that were made according to Glenn Beck:

1) Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (who was appointed by Bush) use to be CEO of Goldman Sachs
2) The decision was made to let Lehman Brothers (the biggest competitor of Goldman Sachs) and Bear Stearns (a competitor of Goldman Sachs) fail
3) The decision was made to bailout AIG with $85 billion of taxpayer money
4) One of the first things AIG did with its newly received bailout funds was to make payment in full of the amount it owed Goldman Sachs from derivative deals ($12.9 billion)
5) The government hires a Neal Kashkari (VP Goldman Sachs San Francisco office) to oversee the TARP money
6) Goldman Sachs and GE are fast tracked into being bank holding companies (they are now regulated by the Federal Reserve and not the Securities and Exchange Commission)
7) Stephen Friedman, a member of the Goldman Sachs board of Directors, also oversees the Federal Reserve
8) Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (who was appointed by Obama) waives conflict of interest provisions for Stephen Friedman thereby allowing him to continue working with Goldman Sachs and to increase his holdings in Goldman Sachs by 52,000 shares (at the time Beck was doing his show, this had netted Stephen at least $3 million)
9) Goldman Sachs then purchased 10% of the Chicago Climate Exchange for $23 billion and $1 billion of carbon assets (basically another form of derivative)
10) Goldman Sachs then turns around and becomes the biggest supporter of mandatory limits on carbon emissions and lobbies for cap and trade (which would then increase the value of their newly aquired holdings)
11) Goldman Sachs reports a record second quarter earnings in 2009 of $3.44 billion (helped by less competition and collecting on its investments with AIG)

Based on this information, you can make an argument that the moves are at least answer (C). I'm not to black helicopter level just yet, but I would like to see the power of the Federal Reserve be checked more than it currently is.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's Time to Weed...

My wife told me it was time to weed...something about a tumbleweed growing in our backyard - I don't understand - don't we want to make our yard inviting to prairie creatures? Besides, this weed isn't that big is it? (That thing cutting off the upper left corner of the picture is part of my arm)

I finally made it down to Wal-Mart to get string for my weed eater so I could clean up around the front yard too. Here's the before picture of around our tree:

And here's the after picture:

So now that I've made our front and back yards uninhabitable for prairie creatures, it's time for me to go get my ears lowered - something about me looking like one of the original Beatles...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dr. Phil at My House Part II

I came home today from work and found out that Fred wants to quit karate. For those who are not aware, we signed both Fred and Jr. up for one year's worth of karate in May (cost over $900; classes are twice a week). I didn't have time to debate with Fred as I get home in just enough time to load up the troops and go to karate. On the way to karate, Fred gave her reasoning for wanting to quit. The reasons are as follows - (1) school is starting up soon and it will be too stressful with school, art and church to keep doing karate; (2) it hurts; and (3) she feels sick (i.e. headaches, runny nose - you know allergies!)

I didn't really know where to go with it and being a little upset and disappointed played the "let me paint you a picture" card and explained that Mom and I had shelled out over $900 for their karate lessons and that she would be throwing away half of that money if she stopped going to karate. Yeah, I know, probably not the right way to go about things especially with a nine year old - but I'm an accountant, that really hurts. Fred answers back with we don't have to get her anything for Christmas or anything else like MacDonald's until all the money was recovered - (WOO-HOO! I bet that would go over well with her for the next two years - uh, your sisters get a kids meal but you don't because of that promise you made, remember? I can hear the fits now - no thank you!)

So we get to karate and I have Fred sit and watch Jr. with me and George. After class we drive home and I'm thinking about the whole thing and come up with a plan. First, I'm going to my room and cooling off - yes, I removed myself from the situation. Second, I'm going to talk with Fred by herself (wouldn't Dr. Phil be so proud).

How did it go? I invited Fred in and we talked. I didn't realize how much I don't know how my daughter's mind works. Listen to this - I begin tackling the issues by telling Fred that stress is a part of life. Fred's response "Yes, but I don't want to have so much stress I get brain damage and die." If you are like me, you are like "WHAT? Brain damage?" If Fred was trying shock and awe, I think she accomplished her mission. How does a nine year old come up with that? I'm trying to connect the dots. Clueless still? Yeah, me too, until Fred explains that her GATE teacher told her that too much stress damages the brain (for those who don't know what GATE stands for, GATE = Gifted and Talented Education; you can tell Fred is gifted purely by the fact she is nine and we are nearing the end of summer and she is quoting her GATE teacher.) But there's more, her GATE teacher even showed a movie to the class on the subject of stress and the brain and how the brain is surrounded by water and floats in it - I couldn't make this stuff up. Okay, so we now know why stress is such a big concern. I try to explain that people can withstand a lot of stress and that she is going to have more stress in her life as she gets older; moms and dads have much more stress than what she has; there's a lot of stress going on "America's Got Talent" (Fred has a dream of being on that show); pioneers endured an enormous amount of stress; etc. I don't know if I got my point across.

What about the part where it hurts? Apparently she was kicking in one of the classes and she heard a pop and thought her knee went in and out of her socket and she wasn't trying to recover but her teacher got after her by saying "not to be lazy" and to keep kicking. I tried to explain to her that the teacher didn't know the leg hurt and that we just needed to let him know and he would be more mindful in the future. Fred's response was but when so and so was there the teacher asked her if she was all right. Aargh! I just had to assure her that we need to inform the teacher and he will do better.

Then I told her that there's nothing I could do about the allergies. She would just have to work through those. I told her I have allergies and I have to deal with them as best I can too.

I left the conversation with that she would need to make the decision on her own about karate, but I would be disappointed if she chose to stop as it was my feeling that if you make a decision to do something like karate, you need to see it through.

I'll have to wait and see where this goes - can't wait until the other two get older and also can't wait until Fred's a teenager!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How States can Fight the Power of the Federal Reserve and Federal Government

I attended a CPA meeting a few weeks back and the speaker was George Burns (no not that "George Burns"). This George Burns is the head of the Nevada Financial Institution Divisions and among other things he mentioned how the Federal government was making a power play against state chartered banks. Before I discuss this power play, first let me explain the duality of our banking system.

Our banking system is comprised of nationally chartered banks and state chartered banks. Nationally chartered banks naturally are supervised by the Federal Government through the "Office of the Comptroller of the Currency" and the Federal Reserve (if the banks are members); state chartered banks are overseen by the state they are chartered in, however, they can also be overseen by the FDIC if they utilize FDIC insurance for their customers and the Federal Reserve (if they become a member). So now that you are familiar with the system, let's talk about the Federal Government power play on state chartered banks.

According to Mr. Burns, none of the bailout money that was handed out went to banks with state charters; it was all given to Nationally chartered banks. Also, that bailout money isn't getting to state chartered banks; thus state chartered banks have less of a safety net right now. The saving grace for many state chartered banks has been that they dealt mostly with retail and commercial loans and so they had higher equity loans than those banks lending to homeowners. At any rate, as the margins of state chartered banks are now being squeezed, and people are fleeing to banks with bailout funds, the state chartered banks are becoming vulnerable. Thus the power play.

After listening to Mr. Burns speak, I wondered why controlling state chartered banks is important to Uncle Sam and the Fed. In my pondering, I came across an article about how California can solve its liquidity problem by following what the state of North Dakota has done. The following is an excerpt from the article:

"North Dakota has beaten the Wall Street credit freeze by generating its own credit. By law, ever since 1919 the State's revenues have been deposited in its own bank, the Bank of North Dakota (BND). Using the 'fractional reserve' lending scheme open to all banks, these deposits are then available to be used as the 'reserves' for creating many times their face value in loans. Other banks in the State do not see the BND as a threat, because it partners with them and backstops them, serving as a sort of central bank for North Dakota. BND's loans are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) but are guaranteed by the State.

"If California followed suit, it would not need to meet the FDIC's capital requirements but could designate state-owned property (parks, buildings and so forth) as its capital base. Applying the 'multiplier effect' by which capital is lent and relent many times over, this base could then generate hundreds of billions of dollars in 'credit.' The State could deposit its revenues in the State bank and pay its payroll through it, generating an even larger deposit base for making new loans. Enough credit could be generated to allow the State not only to meet its short-term budget needs but to buy back its outstanding bonds (or debt). Bond interest and redemption costs on California's General Fund for the current year are estimated at nearly $5 billion -- about 20% of the budget shortfall. All of that money could be saved in interest, since the State would be paying interest to itself.

"The State could do more than just chase the wolf from its door. It could generate enough credit to engage in the sort of economic 'stimulus' being undertaken by the federal government. It could create jobs for the 11.5% of the State's population that are currently unemployed, augmenting the tax base and supplying the incomes necessary to prop up the languishing housing market. Loans for income-producing projects (transportation, energy, housing) could be repaid with the profits generated by the funded projects. And if some of the newly-issued loans were not paid back, they could simply be refinanced. The federal government has been rolling over its loans ever since 1835, the last time the federal debt was actually paid off (under Andrew Jackson)." (Here's a link to the full article and another similar article.)

That article helped me understand how unique state chartered banks could be and how states who created their own bank would be able to take back economic decision making from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Government. States can be in charge of their own destiny by utilizing fractional reserve lending. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a state could kick the habit of dependence on Federal money that comes with strings attached by merely making its own bank? The less dependence a state has on Federal money, the more freedom it has to make decisions that benefit the people who call it home, and the less power Uncle Sam and the Federal Reserve has to manipulate us.

I also ran across some legislation that is making its way through several states. The legislation is a part of a state sovereignty movement. Basically states are trying to remind the Federal Government that it exists for certain purposes spelled out in the constitution and that all other government authority is held by the individual states (here is a link to one article on the movement.) My opinion is that the Federal Government has grown much too big and is involved in matters that should be left to state and local governments. This legislation is a good start, but states should also do what they can to be self-reliant (such as setting up their own North Dakota style bank) and not look for Uncle Sam to give them a handout - trust me those handouts always come with strings.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My First Online Book

I'm working on an online book - it's called Kajarna, The First Book of Rouen. I borrowed the name Kajarna from a game created by my cousins. The term Kajarna borrows the first few letters from some of my cousins' names (Karen, Jared, and Natalie). I always thought the name Kajarna would make for a great fantasy land.

The name Rouen is borrowed from an NFL punter whose last name I thought was cool. The name is pronouced "ruin"; I have since found out that Rouen is also a city in France - that should delight my youngest brother as he loves Frenchies (read the sarcasm).

At any rate, I've created a link to the online book so that anyone who wants to read the book and make comments can (you can find the link on the lefthand side of this blog). I've decided to take the online route so that I can take advantage of online collaboration. The collaboration right now will be in the form of comments by readers - i.e. if a reader has a suggestion for the book they can post it in the comments and then I will decide to accept the suggestion. I may later allow individuals to make their own chapters or edits if I find that I am incorporating their ideas on a regular basis.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Xtreme Golf

When you think of golf you might think of Tiger Woods, green fairways, old men in golfer pants, or young men breaking golfing irons. But I bet you don't picture playing a golfing match over 4 days and across 842 miles. Leave it to the Aussies to make a golf course that would impress Happy Gilmore.

The course name is Nullarbor Links and it starts at Ceduna in the state of South Australia (1,300 miles west of Sydney) and finishes at the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia - you'll probably want to rent the golf cart for this one Dad!

Green fees are a reasonable $40 for a full 18 holes, but with a course this big, I wonder how they monitor if you are a paying customer or not. The Australian government footed 1/3rd of the $640,000 bill to create the course - hmmm, maybe Harry Reid's train from Las Vegas to, uh, where does it go again? has some promise!

The true purpose of the course? To increase tourism.

According to Bob Bongiorno, the man with the idea:

"I had lived on the Nullarbor for 10 years, and I always felt that people just connected east and west along our highway, and traversed the distance quickly.

"They endured rather than enjoyed the trek. They missed what I called a lot of the 'self-find' stuff along the way. The whole idea was to try to create something to slow people down, and make it part of the holiday."

So next time you are in Australia and feel like hitting a few poor golf balls, make sure to check out the links at Nullarbor!

In the meantime, anyone feel like helping me create a golf course from Las Vegas to Boise (a mere 770 miles going on I-15 and I-84)?

Here's an article I found about the new golf course and here's a link to the course's web-site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TMNT - 25 years!

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turned 25 this year and they decided to visit my kids karate dojo on the 9th! I know, I'm behind on my posts, sorry. Here are some pics:

We were allowed to go inside the bus; turns out the TMNT bus is a mini-museum (how narcissistic is that?) Anyway, the kids loved the TMNT bus, the bouncy castle, posing with Michelangelo, eating pizza, and the balloon artists! There was even a mini karate class so the karate school was able to get a good plug in too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

None Dare Call it Conspiracy

A partner at my work told me about how Ezra Taft Benson in the April 1972 conference recommended that everyone read this book. I have placed a YouTube video link at the bottom of this page showing the clip from the April 1972 conference. Here is a link to a copy of the book free online. I started reading the book yesterday and could not put it down; I read the whole thing cover to cover. The book is recommended by Ezra Taft Benson (not only as a General Authority, but as former Secretary of Agriculture), Dan Smoot (former assistant to J. Edgar Hoover), Norman Dodd (Chief Investigator Reece Committee to Investigate Foundations), Dr. Medford Evans (Former Chief of Security for the Atom Bomb Project), Dr. Barney Finkel (President, The Jewish Right), and Dean Clarence E. Manion (Former Dean Notre Dame law school). These people don't strike me as radical conspiracy theorists. The book is well written and has numerous sources to back up its position. If what is written in this book is even partly true, then our political energies shouldn't be necessarily spent blaming either the Democrats or the Republicans for the current mess we are in, but rather we should be blaming the Federal Reserve.

The book sets-out to prove that the Federal Reserve is being used to bring us into capitivity so that a small group of people can amass large amounts of wealth. This group of people use the following lies as weapons (1) Communism is inevitable and (2) Communism is a movement of the downtrodden masses rising up against exploiting bosses. The book asks "How effectively can you oppose anything if you feel your opposition is futile?" Further, it points out that Communism is a confidence game - it is not a movement of the downtrodden masses rising up against exploiting bosses, but a movement by the ultra-rich to consolidate and control the wealth. Another weapon is Federal subsidies - "every field the government attempts to take over it first subsidizes." Yet another weapon is government deficit spending - if their is a debt then the creditor gets to have a say in what happens in government (who is the creditor - the Federal Reserve; who controls the Federal Reserve - a small clique of people wanting to amass wealth)

In addition, we are given two choices (1) on the far left is Communism and (2) on the far right is facism and to stay out of the two extremes is the middle or (3) Fabian Socialism. However, these choices are a prisoners dilemma as it (a) is not inclusive of all forms of government (i.e. you can't place a person who believes in a Constitutional Republic and free enterprise system in this spectrum) and (b) is saying socialism is inevitable. The true choices are (1) Total and complete government (whatever the form - Communist, Socialist, Totalitarian, Facist, etc) and (2) Anarchy or no government. The middle ground here is not a type of government but the amount of it.

None Dare Call it Conspiracy mentions that Karl Marx laid out 10 planks of Communism. It mentions several of the planks in the book so I decided to find out what all the planks are; here they are for your review:

1) Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purpose
2) A heavy progressive or graduated income tax
3) Abolition of all rights of inheritance
4) Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels
5) Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly
6) Centralization of the means of communications and transporation in the hands of the State
7) Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan
8) Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture
9) Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of population over the country
10) Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production

So what planks are mentioned in None Dare Call it Conspiracy? Plank 5 and straight from the book, "Lenin...said that the establishment of a central bank was ninety percent of communizing a country." Another plank mentioned is plank 2 - a graduated income tax; the graduated income tax supports fiat currency and keeps those not part of the insider clique from amassing wealth.

According to the book, in 1968, George Wallace "maintained that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties" - in other words, we have two political parties but only a single ideology (one world Socialism). Sound familiar with our choices in the last election?

In order to bring about their ideals, the small clique wants the (1) elimination of the right to private property, (2) the dissolution of the family unit, and (3) the destruction of religion.

Some interesting quotes from the book:

Quoting Walter Trohan - "Conservatives should be realistic enough to recognize that this country is going deeper into socialism and will see expansion of federal power, whether Republican or Democrats are in power. The only comfort they may have is that the pace will be slower under Richard M. Nixon than it might have been under Hubert H. Humphry..."

Quoting Wright Patman - "In the United States today we have in effect two governments...We have the duly constituted Government...Then we have an independent, uncontrolled an uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System, operating the money powers which are reserved to Congress by the Constitution." (Key point: Did you know the Federal Reserve has never been audited?)

Quoting the Washington Star - "Former President Lyndon B. Johnson acknowledges that Richard Nixon, as a Republican President, has been able to accomplish some things that a Democratic President could not have..." (does this seem familiar?)

Quoting Thomas Jefferson - "I sincerely believe, with you [John Adams], that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies..."

Who are the great conspirators?

The international bankers including the Rockefellers and the Rothchilds.

What is the establishment of the great conspirators in the United States?

The Council on Foreign Relations (this organization has staffed almost every key position of every administration since those of FDR; that is why Presidents can change but policies remain the same.)

What foundations and "Think Tanks" are interlocked with the Council on Foreign Relations?

Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, Rand Corporation, Hudson Institute, Fund for the Republic, and Brookings Institute. (I guess I need to stop letting the kids watch PBS!)

What organization has the most success in bringing to light the conspiracy?

The John Birch Society (JBS.org)

What did the founders of the United States originally set-up?

A Constitutional Republic with very limited government Our government was to be one of severely limited powers; it was to provide for national defense and to establish a court system.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

I hope all had a great fourth of July! We started early by going to a parade this morning out in Boulder City. They had a unique ending to the parade with a water entry section - the entries in that section would squirt water into the crowd and the crowd had squirt guns shooting back! There was one point where Fred, Jr, and George were chasing a lady handing out popsicles! The kids loved the parade and scored big on candy and parade paraphernalia!

We then went to one of their friends houses and they swam for what seemed like 10 hours. George talked me into diving in and toting her around from end to end of the pool! Mid-way through the swim-fest we had a break for barbeque and later we had fireworks. Let's just say that our friends brought a bunch of stuff from our neighbors in Moapa - they all loved the fireworks - except for the loud ones!

Happy fourth!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Stephen Hawking - predictions of the future

Surfing through Digg.com today I found an article about Stephen Hawking and his current view of evolution. The basic point of the article is that we have started a new phase of evolution. According to Hawking, in the past, evolution was proceeded by natural selection and random mutation - in other words slow changes to our DNA or our internal record. However, Hawking points out that the external record (information) has grown exponentially. This external record has grown from where someone in the 18th century had read everything that had ever been written to today where it would take someone 15,000 years to read all of the books in our national library.

So what does Hawking make of all of this? Hawking thinks we are in a new phase of evolution; one where we will eventually be able to change and improve our DNA in otherwords "self designed evolution."

So that's the basic premise, but that's not why I'm including this article in my blog. Here is the article if you want to read it. I personally think that maybe Stephen's been watching the Matrix, Terminator, Star Trek the Next Generation, or playing some video games lately because this is one of the themes that you'll find in those media.

The reason why I'm including this article is because of the comments at the bottom of the blog; here are two of the posts that I found rather amusing:

Post 1-

What he's talking about in layman's terms (speaking to the dumbed down U.S. population here) is downloading your brain into a computer. That will be the next evolution of mankind. A lot of people are afraid of this becoming a reality. I welcome it.

Whether you believe in the concensus physical and biological sciences or your roots are of a more spiritual nature, you should agree that we human beings are fundamentally "information". The genetic data which was our foundation and the epigenetic (non-DNA affecting) environmental data which has formed us into the person we are can be modeled by a computer system. Yes it's the Matrix for real, and it's coming within most of our lifetimes. Prepare to live within our collective imagination.

Post 2-

Hello, I'm a Mac..
And I'M a PC..


This definitely will make me laugh every time I see those Mac/PC commercials from now on!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oops, I think I'm in the wrong house...

On the way to work this morning I heard a story about a burglar in England who got more than he bargained for. Yep, Greg McCalium, a 23 year old burglar, burgled the house of 71 year old Frank Corti. Frank was laying in bed with his wife Margaret when he was woken by noises; Frank got up to check out the situation. Greg lunged at Frank with a knife after Frank stumbled upon him in the hall way. Frank simply ducked and then decked the burglar with two massive right hooks. Frank then made a citizen's arrest and watched Greg as he waited for the cops to show up. Here's what Greg looked like after he was taken in:

Gregory McCalium

Here's a picture of Frank:

Still got it ... grandad Frank Corti

For all those who think Frank got lucky, think again. Frank is an ex-boxer. In fact, he boxed as a featherweight in the Royal Engineers, and also at the age of 16 won the National Association of Boys Clubs Championship.

Greg's lawyer said that Greg looked like he was the victim of a "car accident". Maybe Greg will think twice before resorting to burglary again!

Heres a link to the whole story as reported by "The Sun" (a UK newspaper).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Pride Cycle In Our Day...

I came across an article written by David Galland through my free newsletter subscription from John Mauldin. John is a bit of an economist and investment advisor and I was referred to his site by a stock broker I am acquainted with. John has good tidbits now and again so I thought I'd share some information from this week's newsletter. The article is about David's 1997 interview with Neil Howe, a historian/Washington DC-based economist and demographer, concerning Howe's book "The Fourth Turning".

Howe has a theory that every 20 or 30 years our society goes through a turning. A turning comes with each new generation and there are four cyclical turnings that we go through as a society every 80 to 90 years. That's what made me think of the pride cycle that I was taught about in seminary; the pride cycle basically says that society goes through these periods where people are humble and then become prosperous so they then become pridefull and then get humbled through trials, and then it starts over again.

Here's what Howe's "turning" theory states:

1) Turning one - "High" - this period follows a crisis and there is a heightened sense of community and collective sense of optimism as society has just made it through a difficult and challenging time. The most recent "High" was roughly 1940 to 1960.

2) Turning two - "Awakening" - during this period there are signs of progress and prosperity everywhere. Major portions of society begins to chaff under conformity and gravitates to more individualistic pursuits. People begin to demand that their personal interests come first. There is a huge anti-establishment movement during these time periods. The most recent "Awakening" was roughly 1960 to 1980.

3) Turning three - "Unraveling" - individualism dominates this period; institutions are increasingly weak and discredited. It is a time of celebrity circuses and a tremendous amount of personal freedom and creativity. There is little sense of public purpose. The most recent "Unraveling" was roughly 1980 to 2000. (Examples include 1760's, 1850's and 1920's - can anyone say flapper?)

4) Turning four - "Crisis" - during this period seemingly insurmountable problems are addressed, society's basic institutions are torn down and rebuilt. The changes during this period involve a great deal of pain and a reduced standard of living for a large number of people, but by the time the "Crisis" subsides, society will have pretty much remade itself in ways that no one can predict at this point. According to Howe, we are in the beginning stages of this period. The last "Crisis" period was roughly 1920 to 1940. (Examples of "Crisis" times include the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783, the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, and the Great Depression and World War II from 1929 to 1945; I noted that there seems to be some overlapped in some of the turnings - I'm not sure that this is reconcilable other than I don't think the 20 to 30 and 80 to 90 year time frames are necessarily set-in stone; I think it is more of a pattern).

According to Howe, individuals born between 1982 and 2004 belong to a Millennial generation that will become a "Hero" generation, just like the GI Generation that coped so well with the turmoil of the Great Depression and World War II. According to Howe, we as a society have seen dramatic improvements in youth behaviors since the Millennials have come along such as huge declines in violent crime, teenage pregnancy, and the most damaging forms of drug abuse, as well as higher rates of community service and volunteering.

Here's a closer look at the "Crisis" turning:

A) Government grows powerful, and sweeping legislation is enacted.

B) While public history speeds up, personal life slows down (i.e. families will spend more time together).

C) Innovation tends to stagnate, while a few technologies will be chosen to be adopted on a large scale.

D) New laws and regulations will do less to referee a free market and more to pursue one or another national priority.

E) The authority and obligations of community will strengthen at all levels, from local to national and possibly beyond.

F) In the past, the fourth turning always resulted in the nation redefining who we are in some essential way.

G) Baby Boomers will continue to be respected for their cultural achievements, but will be increasingly ignored in the political debate.

H) There will be a growing push to rebuild the middle class.

As I mentioned the interview with Howe was in 1997 when Howe's book "The Fourth Turning" was published. Below is an excerpt from David's article:

"... an excellent case can be made the US is approaching another time of secular crisis, a Fourth Turning, with an expected due date of 2005 - seven years from now - plus or minus a few years in either direction.

The Stamp Acts catalyzed the American Revolution, the election of Lincoln catalyzed the Civil War, the Crash of '29 catalyzed the Depression/WW II era. What might precipitate the elements now floating in solution? The answer is practically any random event that's sufficiently traumatic. Any of the theses of current disaster/action novels and movies will do nicely. Perhaps the accidental or intentional release of a super plague vector. The crashing of an airliner into the Capitol during a joint session. An all-out assault on the IRS computers by an armed group - or perhaps the computers just melting down due to the Year 2000 Problem. Perhaps a financial disaster that cascades into the Greater Depression. In any of these, or a hundred other scenarios, the federal government would almost certainly act precipitously and with a heavy hand, which would bring on a whole other set of consequences.

There's no way of telling where the Crisis will lead, or how it will end. That's going to depend not only on exactly who's in control, but what they do, who they're up against, and a hundred other variables we can't even anticipate.

One thing that seems certain is that real crisis brings out strong leadership. Because of its age and size, it will come from the Boomer generation, and it will be in the mold of Roosevelt or Lincoln - both very dangerous precedents. The Boomers in elderhood will be dogmatic, harsh, puritanical, and quite willing to burn down the barn in order to destroy whatever rats they see. Admix that attitude to a time resembling the Revolution, the Civil War, or WWII, overlain with today's ethnic strife, urbanization, financial overextension, and powerful, compact new weaponry in the hands of foreign fanatics out to teach the Great Satan a lesson and it's a real witch's brew."

If what Howe said is true, then indeed we are in for more government involvement in everything and that it will be 40 or 50 years from now when we see the second turning come around again and we see a return to the celebration of individual rights.

What is the saying? Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I was wondering why it was getting warmer as I typed

According to research from Harvard University, two searches on Google produce the same amount of carbon dioxide as that of a boiling kettle. Yep, it is believed that each Google search throws off 7 grams of carbon. The research bases this off the theory that the power used by both the user's computer and Google's data center and multiple servers used for each query.

I must admit, this is pretty heady research. I can see the Harvard student who gets his/her doctorate degree from doing this study when asked "So what was the thesis that put you over the top to getting your doctorate" - "Yeah, I computed how much carbon dioxide is generate per Google search." That's definitely something to be proud of; way to put that Harvard education to good use! Yeah, I know, I'm just being jealous because I didn't get into Harvard - I'm sure the researchers on this particular project will be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year when they graduate or working in the rain forest making $100 a month studying tree frogs.

Here's the article for all those that are interested.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Liberal, Conservative, Progressive, Capitalist, Socialist, Libertarian, Marxist, Constitutionalism, and everything else

One of the people at my work gave me three hours of Glenn Beck to listen to (actually less than 3 hours, because there were no commercials.) I believe the 3 hours were from the show Glenn Beck did on June 9, 2009. Glenn's show pitted Progressives vs the Founding Fathers of the country. He indicated that there is a move toward a rejection of the Founding Fathers and a movement towards a Great Society. This Society is to be a soft dictatorship, much like the early days of the Mussolini. Glenn indicated that the Progressive philosophy has infiltrated both the Republican and Democrat parties, and that we are in the last stages of the Progressives' take-over of the United States government that first started in the 1920's. He also stated that those that don't support the Progressives' viewpoint are outnumbered as the the Progressives have controlled the writing of history and have led the United States down a slippery slope of tolerance and changeable values, and that the "rule of law" is being overturned in favor of the "rule of men". Glenn said that "law should be predictable" and that by Obama appointing "Czars" over various industries, the "rule of men" was usurping the "rule of law". Further, Glenn is of the opinion that Progressivism is a cancer that causes cultures that embrace it to become dead.

That sounded quite conspiratorial to me, so I decided to do some Wiki-ing to see if I could make heads or tails of all of this.

According to Wikipedia, the Progressive ideology favors or advocates changes or reforms usually in a statist or egalitarian (i.e. participants of society are equal standing and equal access to the economic resources of power, wealth, and contribution) direction for economic policies (government management) and liberal direction for social policies (personal choice). Progressivism made great strides under Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Progressivists tend to support interventionist economics (income redistribution) and oppose the growing influence of corporations. Progressives support organized labor and trade unions, introduce a living wage, and often support the creation of a universal health care system. They are concerned with environmentalism and are often skeptical of the government, positioning themselves as whistleblowers and advocates of governmental reform. Progressivism aims to achieve gradual social change, and most progressives are opposed to violent revolution. Some Progressives advocate a planned economy (similar to what Socialism advocates), some advocate both public and private ownership of companies, and others lean toward social democracy (reformation of capitalism through state regulation and the creation of programs that work to counteract or remove social injustice and inefficiencies they see as inherent in capitalism).

After reading all of this, I am of the opinion that "Yes", Obama is a Progressive. In listening to him speak, it is very apparent that he wants to remove social injustice and inefficiencies he sees in capitalism. He supports unions and a universal healthcare system. He has requested reform in government and he wants to redistribute wealth.

Is Obama the next Mussolini? I don't see think so; no more than Teddy, FDR, Taft, Wilson, or Johnson were. Is what Obama and the government doing right now the best thing for the United States? I'm not sure. Certainly the thinking is utilitarian as they are trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Many of the decisions that have been made over the course of the last year have been utilitarian as there would have been significant pain for a great number of people had the Federal Reserve and the United States government not interceded in the financial system. Is there a possibility that we could still see significant pain for a great number of people? Yes, unemployment is hovering close to 10% and if the steps that have been taken don't work, this number will be much higher. Would we have been better-off by not doing anything? Did we just delay the inevitable collapse with a bandaid? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Save the Bloggers & The Clock Tower!

In my quest to find the ultimate in web-site monetization solutions, I came across Contenture.com today. If you visit the site, it boldly says, "Welcome to the Micropayment Revolution". Normally, web content providers utilize ads and links that people click on to produce revenue. According to Contenture, "The internet as we know it is unsustainable. Sites and services are closing left and right because ads often don't even cover the cost of the servers that are delivering the content."

What is Contenture's solution? Charge web-surfers $5.99 a month, take 20% off the top to cover its costs (versus the normal 50% Pay Per Click providers take), and then allocate the remaining monthly amount of $4.79 to the network of Contenture web-sites visited by the web-surfer during the month (thereby rewarding the web-sites most frequented by Contenture users). So Contenture users seem to pay out of the goodness of their hearts to keep their regularly frequented content providers in business. Scoonie and I thought about this for a minute and then said, "No"; so do we need to be more giving? Does it make sense to pay for something that is normally free?

Looking closer at the arrangement, I note that Contenture does have some features that may provide incentives for people to become a Contenture user. These features include giving paying members: (1) priority access to new articles, (2) exclusive access to their archives, (3) special commenting abilities, (4) an ad free experience on their network of web-sites, etc. Contenture calls these "premium level" features and/or "microservices".

Well, now that I think of it, the ad free experience may be worth the $5.99 a month to Scoonie if web-sites go to audio ads!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Tribe has Spoken

The result of the poll for whether my blog should have theme music is 6 for and 4 against. However, in reading the comments, most of those that voted for theme music also said that they would pause the theme music, thus I took that as a "it might bother me, but I don't want to tell you how to run your blog." So I'm discontinuing it for now, but might bring back the music at a later date and time if I go through blog music withdrawals.

I did find the next new thing in web-site advertising - pay per play online audio ads. Everyone should stop and say Ooooh! That's right, if the Adsense, Infolinks, Kontera, and Widgetbucks ads don't drive you up a wall, the pay per play audio ads will finish you off. Take a look at these. Audio ads play for 5 seconds automatically when someone visits a web-site and then every 3 minutes thereafter. Ooooh! So not only can I inundate you with ads all over my blog, I can make you listen to them too! And for each audio ad you hear, I get paid a few pennies! No clicking involved!

I've run into a problem though; Scoonie says she will never look at or read my blog again if I add the audio ads; something about her volume on her computer being set to blaring and didn't want to make all the hair on her head stand on end. Oh well, since I don't want to alienate my loyal readership, I guess I will keep looking for the next big thing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Those are big CD's...Right!

Well it's Father's Day and what would Father's Day be without a nice story. So here goes. Yesterday Scoonie took me out on a pre-Father's Day date. We went to Cafe Rio, Radio Shack, Best Buy, 7-11, and Deseret Industries. You might wonder why we did that, but here's more information. Scoonie generously gave me her old I-pod to see if I can get my 1970 stereo at work play I-tunes. Turns out that if you use the Auxilary connections in the back and turn the dial on the radio to Auxilary, you can listen to I-tunes...the only problem, the voice track either doesn't work on some songs or sounds like it is in a tin can. Thus, the stops at Radio Shack and Best Buy - it turns out that, according to the guy at Best Buy, music technology has become more sophisticated over the years and the radio we are plugging the I-pod into is probably not compatible, go figure. The 7-11 stop was to fill up my Miata with gas and to pick up a slurpee for me and a drink for Scoonie (it gets warm when you drive around with the top of your convertible down in Las Vegas in the summer-time.)

So why the stop at Deseret Industries? They've got records and the records are dirt cheap. Twenty five cents a record cheap. So we're going through the stack of records and they have a nice selection of Guy Lombardo and Christmas music, not to mention the polynesian selection, but I ended up with the following:

1) The King James version of Old Testament books of Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Job all narrated by Alexander Scourby (I must say this was quite the find)
2) My Fair Lady
3) Simon & Garfunkel "Sounds of Silence"
4) Show Stoppers in Dance Time (includes medleys from South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel, Show Boat, and the King and I)
5) The Best of Ferrante & Teicher (includes Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet, Mozart Piano Concerto No 21, The Sound of Silence, Midnight Cowboy, Lay Lady Lay, Something, Honey, Sunny, Little Green Apples, El Condor Pasa, MacArthur Park, Close to You, Born Free, For Once in My Life, Going Out of My Head, Can't Stop Loving You, and A Familiar Concerto - I don't recognize half the songs, but the few I recognize are good ones.)
6) Ferrante & Teicher The People's Choice (includes Hello Dolly, Everybody Loves Somebody, The Girl from Ipanema, And I love Her, Call Me Irresponsible, People, Wives and Lovers, Charade, Love Me with all Your Heart, Georgia on My Mind, The Seventh Dawn, and The James Bond Theme - The James Bond Theme just pushed this record over the top on this one)
7) Happy Days are Here Again (includes Happy Days are Here Again, Hello Hello Hello!, Golden Slippers, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Sing a Little Melody, Alabama Jubilee, Four Leaf Clover, You are My Sunshine, There's Something Nice, Ma - She's Makin' Eyes at Me - You Are My Sunshine made this record a no brainer)

I did purchase one more additional record, a record that makes it the find of all Deseret Industry finds and made the whole trip that much more special; here are the pics:

That's right, Bill Cosby's first record! It was recorded live at The Bitter End and includes the following bits:

1) A Nut in Every Car
2) Toss of the Coin
3) Little Tiny Hairs
4) Noah: Right!
5) Noah: And the Neighbor
6) Noah: Me and You, Lord
7) Superman
8) Hoof and Mouth
9) Greasy Kid Stuff
10) The Difference Between Men and Women
11) The Pep Talk
12) Karate

On the back of the record cover Allan Sherman writes, "Bill Cosby's 'Noah'...is a masterpiece, even though nobody has heard it yet...It's going to be a classic, and that means two things: first, a lot of comics will steal it, even though no one will ever do it as well as Bill; and second, if Bill wanted to, he could make a living for the rest of his life just from the excitement and joy this one great bit will create. But Bill, if I am any judge of talent, will keep coming up with fresh, new material and will grow everyday in stature and importance on the American comedy scene." Yeah, good call Allan.

So, to top off this wonderful day, we came home and unloaded all the goodies we got at Deseret Industries for $15 (Scoonie picked up a couple of other things too that's why the total is so much) and one of the little Guests visting us this weekend saw the bag of records, picked up one of the records, looked at it and then remarked, "Those are big CD's". To which Scoonie replied, "Right!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dr. Phil at My House

Some of you are aware that we have two guests until Monday evening. These guests are Fred's and Jr's age. They have been here since Friday and we had our first melt-down this evening. With the schedule they've been running and all the fun they've been having it was only a matter of time. Fred started blowing up at Scoonie so I carried her out of the room and discussed things with her. Turns out the oldest guest had done some things that made Fred feel bad. These things included saying Fred was as fat as one of her cousins and that Fred had bigger feet than her. Guest one had also said that she could hula hoop for 99 minutes when Fred had said something about hula hooping for 17 minutes.

I decided after a lengthy discussion with Fred that it would be best if Fred would tell Guest one how she was feeling. I invited Guest one in and started the conversation off with what Fred had been feeling. I then let Guest one explain that she didn't mean to make Fred feel she was fat and let Guest one explain her side of the story. I continued to moderate. After awhile, Fred opened up some more and Guest one explained some more and at the end they had a hug.

Yeah for Dr. Phil!

Friday, June 19, 2009

El Cid to PETA, really?

Um, El Cid to PETA, change your name to TAPE, and while you're at it, your current acronym stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, why not have your acronym stand for Tame Animals People Eat or something like that?

Why am I blabbering about PETA? Well, while looking at the web-site Digg.com, I came across this article. The article discusses how PETA recently requested the jam band Phish to change its name to the "Sea Kittens". That sounds just as cool as "Phish", right? Actually, I can see attendance at the band's concerts increasing because of the name change - no, really...just imagine the conversation with Joe Teenager and his parents. Parents: "Where are you off to Joe?" Joe: "I'm going to see the Sea Kittens." Parents: "Okay, well while you are at Sea World, could you pick me up a Shamu fridge magnet?" Joe: "Uh, umm, I'll see what I can find. Later." You see, parents will be perfectly willing to let their children see the "Sea Kittens" concerts; whereas "Phish" sounds a lot like "Fish" which I'm sure parents would interpret as their children cursing at them unintelligably. Besides, kittens are cute and cuddly, just ask Jr.

So how does PETA rationalize the name change? In their words,"because few people are aware that fish are actually smart animals with personalities." Oh I know fish have personalities - how do you think Fiesty got his name? But wait, there's more, "For example, they communicate and develop relationships with one another, feel pain when injured (their lips are particularly sensitive, and they use them like we use our fingers), show affection by gently rubbing against other fish, and even grieve when other fish they like die..." Actually, there's some debate at my house as to whether Fiesty grieved when our other fish Golda died...well, it's more like a debate of whether Fiesty murdered Golda, but I don't need to give Scoonie material like this...she'll just run wild with it.

Let's get back to the point. Really PETA? I'm sure you love all the free publicity about this, but REALLY? Leave the Phish alone, afterall, they are an endangered species too! If you don't believe me, look up the term "jam band" and tell me how many you find living in 2009.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blog Flashback

I've been at this blogging stuff for 18 days now and I think it's time to take a walk down memory lane. That's right, this post is like the TV episode where the main characters sit and reflect on situations that they got into in the past and the TV screen wiggles and shakes and then you see a potpourri of flashbacks from episodes past. The episodes tended to be goofy and I'm pretty sure the producers did it to (a) save on production costs, (b) give the actors a day off, and (c) catch the viewers up on episodes that they missed.

So for all of those who missed it, here's what I've blogged about for the last 18 days:

The all consuming epic talk about the worldwide recession found on Craigslist for an xtreme amount of money. Not as much as you would spend on a stripper who sold healthcare on Craigslist, but maybe as much as Barry and Harry would spend debating on the sound of theme music to get re-elected. But if you could get humans to produce water instead of gas, things would get bigger and better!

So there you have it, my last 18 days in a short potpourri flashback.

Next up, blog optimization. Scoonie's been complaining about my ad set-up - something about ads are obnoxious when you want to read a blog and that's the reason why you are on the blog and you have to scroll past them and they get in the way. However, in my mind, that's what needs to happen if you want people to see them and to get results from placing them there. Not that anyone generally acknowledges them anyway, I've seen the stats - I know what you guys are up to on my site - big brother is always watching. Basically, I've been playing around with the ads and the different types. I currently have four different ad services running on my site...they are - in no particular order - Adsense from Google, Infolinks, Kontera, and Widgetbucks. I am interested in your feedback too - let me know which ones you like and notice and which ones you want to take a figurative pack of explosives to. In the mean time, I will continue to blog and explore ways to optimize my site.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bigger or Better on Craigslist

I decided to try playing “Bigger or Better” on Craigslist. This is a game I played growing up for an activity for a mutual activity. For those who haven’t played “Bigger or Better” this is how it goes – you start out with a small object and then try to trade that object for something “Bigger or Better”. At the end of the night, you compared your ending object with the other ending objects of other groups and had a good laugh. So here's my CL ad. I’m going to try this out for a month and see what I end up with.

None dare call it conspiracy


Monster Miata


Flying in a squirrel suit