Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unrelated Things

Some interesting things I've learned or heard today...

(1) Because of donations, we are able to employ people who work to acquire grants and gifts-in-kind.  That in turn allows us to provide $1.50 in aid for every $1 donated to our NP by private individuals.  How cool is that?

(2) When your Toshiba laptop needs repairs, you can take it to any UPS store.  Because they're the official shipper for Toshiba, right?  Wrong.  Because UPS is the official REPAIRER for Toshiba laptops.

(3) UPS was apparently founded in Seattle.

(4) Some restaurants now, when you call to make a reservation, you're talking to someone in India.  Now I knew that some drive-up order speakers at McDonalds are actually connected to a call-center in North Carolina, but that's amazing that even restaurants can outsource their reservation systems.

(5) The exchange between two DJs that I heard when I turned on my car radio this morning.
#1 "...Oregon."
#2 "Oregon?  You mean Oregon State."
#3 "Yeah, whatever, that place where you can't pump your own gas.  And everyone smokes pot."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Plastic Owls

I think our dog is on the crows' payroll. She just stares at them but never tries to chase them off, unless they're actually in the yard. But if they're in the trees, they are apparently OK. Not with us, we'd like them to go away and not make our backyard their haunt. They are mean to squirrels and other birds.

So we got a plastic owl to go in the garden to chase things away. So far, he's still on the deck, though, because Rachel think he's her outdoor friend.

Reports from home today was that the dog was barking up a storm and when Lori went out to see what was up, there was the dog flat on her belly on the deck barking at the plastic owl.

Good to know we'll be well warned in case we're about to be attacked by plastic owls.


Coffee coffee coffee. Coffee, coffee coffee coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

This many

Donald Rumsfeld briefed the President this morning. He told Bush that 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq.

To everyone's amazement, all of the color ran from Bush's face. Then he collapsed onto his desk, head in hands, visibly shaken, almost whimpering.

Finally, he composed himself and asked Rumsfeld, "Just exactly how many is a brazillion?"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Just click here. I'm sorry. I really am. (No, it's not gross or offensive. Just funny/sad/clever.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Random Thoughts

Ok, this day is just dragging. I'm working hard, but the work involves clicking, typing and lots of waiting (Oracle. Blech.) so it just feels like forever.

So some stuff that's been floating through my head...

You will never see me wearing birkinstocks or a tie with a short-sleeved shirt. Too Dilbert/Drew Carey.

Washington Mutual will bug you with unsolicited offers for credit cards and then are so cheap that when you call them to get off the list you have to talk to a call center in India. Add insult to injury, they didn't even hire a good call center, the phone line is awful and the operators have accents so think they're hard to understand.

Disney Mobile is almost cool enough to make me switch from Verizon Wireless. Of course, they are powered by Sprint, so I would have to ask someone to drop a piano on me since I made it my life-long mission to share with others why Sprint is Evil.

On my lunch break I was walking around the building and I saw a duck in the pond today with six baby ducks behind it. I love how they can almost rise up out of the water on their tails just before they start paddling to catch up... totally like characters who run in place for a second or two in the cartoons. Also a small bunny hopped across my path. And the trees were green and the sun was out with just whispy clouds. It had rained earlier so steam was rising off the concrete. In L.A. it would have just been concrete, cars, horns and sirens and oppressive heat or torrential rain. And I would have just stayed in my office playing video games.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

...and it's still raining

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pesky Kids

NEWS.COM -- A British company had invented this device called The Mosquito. It plays a high-pitched sound that adults can't hear but drives kids up the wall. Someone geniusly copied that sound into a ringtone which kids can hear but adults can't. More...

Going back to school

MSNBC.COM -- When North Carolina realized that jobs were moving overseas, they realized they needed to change their schools to better prepare students for the new realities they would face in the workplace. So they began by researching what other districts across the country were doing. When they could find no suitable program to pattern their own changes after, they worked hard and came up with a plan of their own. Some pretty neat ideas in this article. More...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Look At This

NEWS.COM -- A photo gallery of cool new technolgy in screens, from color screens that take almost no energy (for now, phones with always-on screens, eventually laptops with much longer battery life) to screens that give you a 3-D image without glasses, to a screen that shows different things depending on where you stand in relation to the screen. More...

Friday, June 09, 2006

I'm... Batman!

DAILYMAIL.CO.UK -- A German company has developed a prototype lightweight fixed-wing suit that would allow the wearer to jump from a plane at high altitudes and glide for over 120 miles at over 220 miles an hour -- longer/faster with optional microjets. Because of the small size, a "pilot" would be a hard target to hit and not appear on radars. While the wings would be difficult to hide once the pilot landed, there are great special ops implications for tricky insertions. Not to mention really cool seeming ideas for personal use, until people started crashing into each other and falling unconcious onto freeways. More...

@#$% !@#$!@%

MSNBC.COM -- The House passed (379-35) legislation that increases indecency fines against broadcasters from $32,500 to $325,000. They suggest that if it costs $2.6 million for a 30-second Superbowl ad (or for that matter, I read yesterday that ABC can expect $625-700k per 30-second ad during Grey's Anatomy when it moves to Thursdays, even if it loses some audience) then the old fines didn't make any sense.

While I'm all for wholesome violence on TV without all that indecent flesh kept puritanically covered up (I'm being sarcastic folks), I've always thought this was somewhat a weird thing... put whatever you want on cable or satellite TV just don't put it on broadcast TV. For 70% of the country that just means that a few channels with low numbers are "safer" for your kids than if you were to go above channel 100.

But the thing that concerns me the most is individually fining CBS affiliiates for airing a show provided to them by CBS. It seems like CBS should be liable exclusively for the fines, that they failed to notice the line and set up all the affiliates for the fines. (Ironic that one of the biggest cases was against a show that raises awareness for kidnapping and missing people, paints the FBI in a really great light and features legitimate non-self-serving public service ads for real missing people.) While you might be able to completely absolve entirely the affiliates, should they all have to employ their own legal department and standards and practices team? Isn't that something they should get as part of the money they pay to be affiliates?

On the other hand, none of these broadcast networks live in a vacuum. All of them are part of a larger media conglomerate that owns cable channels. If something (as a whole, like an entire series) is too questionable for broadcast, push it up to cable. Do you really need to put Saving Private Ryan on broadcast TV? What purpose does that serve? A really intense movie interrupted by ads for toe fungus cures and low-cost car insurance. Put it on cable or let people rent it from Blockbuster.

I'm sure that this is a shortsighted and poorly thought out rambling and I'm sure Kevin will enlighten me.

Just because you can.... (almost)

NEWS.COM -- News.com pauses to highlight the top 10 worst tech. introductions/inventions so far in 2006. More...

Can You Understand Me Now?

CSMONITOR.COM -- In some ways, this really isn't new news, e-mail is a poor form of communication. It's much more ego-centric than any other form, with the sender believing they are more effective communicators than they are and receivers believing they are more effective at understanding the point than they are.

The article is interesting, but the graph at the bottom is the most telling... while the percentage of time that communicator believes they are effectively communicating is the same for phone (78%) or e-mail (78%) and the the percentage of time that the receiver believes they are correctly interpreting is also pretty close (91%p; 89%e), the percentage of time they actually correctly interprets the message? Vasly different... 73% for phone but only 56% for e-mail.

In people's minds they equate e-mail to being very similar to a face-to-face conversation... more informal, more rapid, more give and take. But it often fails in that regard.

It seems like the solution might be include face-to-face conversations or phone calls into the mix to make sure that you're staying in touch with the other person's personality, so that you can better inject it into the "conversations" you participate over e-mail.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

At my last job, my boss had this on the wall. While some will think this stupid, or not even get it, I found it very ironic/funny and at the same time, sadly true. (click the image to enlarge)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Phone Call

JEREMY and KEN, two college students, are in JEREMY's parents' kitchen looking for something to eat. Ken's standing in the pantry looking for something edible when the phone on the wall outside the pantry rings. He quickly grabs the phone and hits TALK.

"HELLO?" Ken says gruffly. Before anyone has a chance to respond, he repeats himself, sounding angry and abrupt. "IS THERE ANYONE THERE?" Jeremy hears the anxious tone of someone who's confused by the rude greeting.

"Are you a family member?" Ken queries, his tone softening.

He listens and then responds, "uh huh. ok, ok. boyfriend." He holds the phone away from his head and yells "BOYFRIEND!" Jeremy looks at him, puzzled. He's about to speak when Ken waves his hand at him making a shushing motion.

"Could you describe her?" Ken says into the phone. More "uh huh"s.

After hearing the response he says "Hold on." and then covers the mouthpiece with his hand and says "I'll be there in a second." Jeremy says "What?" and Ken punches him.

"Sorry sbout that," he says into the phone again. "Can you hold on for a second?" he asks holding the phone to his chest and tapping his finger on the counter, glaring at Jeremy.

"What's going on?" Jeremy asks and Ken says "I'll be there in a second. Hold on!"

Ken puts the phone to his ear again and says "And what kind of car does she drive?"

He listens intently and then shouts to no one again, "Yeah, Red Camry."

He says "Sir, there's been an incident. This is Dectective Jeremies with the Federal Way Police. Can you please meet me in the Waiting Area at St. Francis Hospital on 9th. Avenue? Drive safely, but please come quickly. I'm sorry, but I've got to go now." He holds the phone out at arms' length and with the other hand, reaches out with one finger and presses the TALK button.

"Hungry?" he asks, addressing Jeremy. "C'mon, let's go get some pizza."

"Dude, what the hell...?" protests Jeremy.

"Wrong number." shrugs Ken.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How Long Will America Lead the World?

MSNBC.COM -- Foreign investment, immigrants and other things like this... the very thing people are afraid of... these are the things that will keep America on top. Rome never thought it wouldn't be the leader of the world, same with Britain. This is why Zakaria is a genius. More...

Google Spreadsheets

Well, it looks like I was a little off. Last month I suggested that maybe Google would purchase JotSpot because I was impressed with their Tracker online spreadsheet. Turns out that Salesforce.com partnered with them in some way. Not sure what the partnership is because I don't use Salesforce.com.

But, Google has apparently been already building their own spreadsheet application, set to go live today. Link above to sign-up to get into the test.

One of the cool features is it looks like they've integrated their chat into it, just like in GMail. I assume that's one of the things holding up their announcement of their word processing program, that they're working to integrate chat into their recent purchase of Writely.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Let's Try This Again...

(Note: I haven't been obsessing about this for a week, I just started it, saved it as a draft and then wasn't able to get back to it until now...)

Ok, so I can't dwell on the latest screwup (re: The Barbara Kanouse encounter), but let's see if I can't figure out how to avoid it in the future. Maybe if I work on a list, I can keep it in mind for the next time someone shows up into my life who I haven't seen in 14 years, in a random way that probably won't give me a second opportunity to say all the stuff I should have said the first time around.

Thank you!
You look great, too.
It's so nice to see you.
How did you end up in the area?
How long have you lived in the area?
What did you do after high school?
What did you study in college?
Did you do any travelling?
What do you do now? Is it in the same field as you studied, and if not, isn't that funny how what was important then isn't as important now?

When did you guys meet?
How did you guys meet?
What's his name?
What does he do?
What's your last name now?

What are your kids' names?
Did you always want to have kids, or if not, when did you warm to the idea?
What kinds of activities do they like?
Do you have any pets?
Are you involved in a local church?
Do you do any charity work?
Can you recommend any good restaurants in the area?
Can you recommend stuff in the area to do with kids?

Do you keep in touch with anyone else from the old school days?
Does your family still live in Bremerton?
When was the last time you went back to the 'hood?

etc., etc., etc.

I really need to improve at this interpersonal stuff and stop being such a bonehead. Heather Soberg added me as a friend recently on MySpace so we've been talking a little bit. But it's not face-to-face which is where I stumble the most.

Book Report

I dunno if I'm going to keep writing reviews on the books I've read, it's been something that just ends up sitting there on the to do list not getting done. So here's a quick summary of some recent reads, instead.

"The Five People You Meet in Heaven" is an interesting little book. It has an interesting device to move you through it and you don't want to put it down. In some ways, it was about the right length. In other ways, it was too short. My dad is skeptical and curious because of the title. He may have borrowed it last time he was here, but not sure, haven't seen it in awhile. It's a good one to borrow.

"Freakonomics" is a rather interesting book. Mainly if you want bizarre facts to be able to share (like the real reason most drug dealers live with their parents or grandparents). But it felt way too short. They picked some interesting topics and really got down to the economics behind them, but with such detail into each topic, this rather thin book leaves you wanting to read more.

"Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings" - do not bother. It was tough to slog through and I'm still confused. It seems to be advice to black people written by a guy who thinks he's an elderly feisty politically incorrect black woman, a "madea" - the no-nonsense keeper of the peace who the author laments the disappearance of. There was some occasional chuckles, but what was the book supposed to be? Humor? Or a serious self-help book for people who don't know they need help? I'm not black and every so often the book would remind non-blacks that they won't get it. Is that a way of trying to calm people down who are getting annoyed that they bought the book because it was a best-seller only to then wonder why they're reading it? If you really want to read it, come find me. You can have my copy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vote for Megan, final part

In November 2005, I asked people to vote for Megan - who was in a contest hosted by MSNBC.com for people trying to win $10,000 for an office makeover. Then in December, I was happy to announce that she had won!.

Her husband has now posted a photoset on Flickr of how she spruced up her office (a classroom) with the money she won.

Thanks to all who voted and supported my friend!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Neat Site

This is an interesting site. It's entirely in Russian, so hard to completely understand, but as near as I can tell, artists can use it to draw a drawing. But you don't just see the final product, you see the actual process of drawing, which leads to interesting things, like this one, where a skeleton is drawn, then flesh is added and then clothes.

Maybe Kevin can translate, but if you go to the bottom and select "??????????? ??" which I think means "sort by" you can select the "???????" column (slightly different lettering in the pulldown) which probably means # of views, to see the ones that are probably the best, based on the # of times they've been viewed.

Friday, June 02, 2006

This sucks.

Well, it sucks for one family.

On April 26, Laura VanRyn and classmate Whitney Cerak were travelling together in a van when they were involved in a horrendous crash. One girl died and the other was horribly injured in the crash. Whitney was buried and the family has been in mourning. Laura was so badly injured that her features were unrecognizable. Her family kept a vigil over for more more than a month as she slowly improved, recording all the improvements in a blog (link above) they had set up for her.

The family maintaining the blog turned the blog over to the other family this week when it was discovered that the girls had been misidentified and it was in fact Laura that had died and been buried by Whitney's family while Whitney was the one in the hospital slowly recovering, watched over by Laura's family.

For both families, what an amazing testimony to their trust in God to have suffered through this and still been strong in the testimony each has posted on the blog.