Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's all about the Roosevelts AKA Good things come to those who wait and don't pick up worthless pennies

Puffy had it all wrong.

The other day I was talking to Adam about pennies. That day I had seen three pennies down near apt 24 on the ground, and then another penny somewhere else. It didn't take me long to realize that picking up the pennies wasn't worth my time. So I walked by them, several times that day and subsequent days. I was holding out for the real stuff.

And then it started to happen. Yesterday at Cindy's I found a quarter on her window sill... the outside part. I still don't know how you "drop" a quarter on to a narrow surface about chest level. I don't know if it would be more likely to drop it, or place it there. Neither situation makes sense. But that was just the trickle before the deluge of fortune I encountered today.

So today I was walking home and as I walked by Fernwood I noticed a dime on the ground. Oh wait there was another, and another, and another... Actually there were a total of 10 dimes in about a 1.5 ft radius. It was like... aztecs gold or something... minus the curse that is. Which would then make it like normal gold... in very small quantities equaling 10 cents each. Anyway, I picked all ten of my new dimes up and walked home. Two thoughts crossed my mind.

One - Dimes are sweet. I think nuclear weapons are measured in equivalent tons of TNT per volume or weight or something. That is how I think we should measure coins. Not firepower per weight, but buyerpower. Think of it. The dime is smaller than the penny, but kicks its trash in worth. It's worth ten of those copper/zinc suckers. And how about the nickel? Oh yeah, about half the weight, a slimmer figure, and it is still worth twice the nickel. What about the quarter? Now I am a fan of quarters. But I think dimes still win out in a value/weight comparison. I won't even attempt to analyze the half dollar or Sacagawea, those aren't even real coins. Basically the dime kicks trash.

Two - How does someone drop 10 dimes onto the sidewalk unknowingly? I picked up a girl for a date a couple days ago and we were walking about 50 feet behind a guy. We heard a clanging sound of a dropping coin and looked down to see what we had dropped, only to realize it was he that had dropped something. So how do you lose 10 dimes and not notice it.... 10 dimes, folks! Unless they were deaf, and then I would feel bad about stealing from them. But then again, who has 10 dimes on them anyway. If you would, it seems like you would have them in your hand or something, and even if you were deaf, you would still be able to realize that you dropped the 10 dimes you were holding. It just seems unlikely that someone would be holding 10 dimes in your pocket, that also coincidentally had a hole in it. Agh, for the life of me I can't recreate any plausible situation in which one would unknowingly drop 10 dimes. So either it was intentional, which would lead to a whole other discussion of why anyone would want to drop 10 dimes (Aztec gold?!?!?), orrrrr..... it never happened, and the dimes don't even exist.

In fact, in light of how much easier it was to dismiss my own existence rather than grapple with the impossibilities of the human mind, I think I will take that route again. Apparently the dimes do not exist, since I fail to find any possible reason why someone would have dropped them.

Mr. Archiblog and I have also decided to add "Gunsmoke" to our lexicon of expletives. You may not think that it is very... explete (expleting?), but it must be since it was one of the many words edited out of 8Ball and MJG's hit song "Relax and Take Notes."

Well, that's about it for this gunsmokin' post.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today I become a legend of rock... maybe

You heard it correctly. Today I may become a legend of rock. Tonight I will be participating in BYU's guitar hero tournament.

I've been training moderately hard. Let's see, I had band practice about every other day at the start of this semester until Thomas moved out. Then the band and I (uhm... or just I... I mean, I am the band) took a bit of a hiatus. Last night though we got back together for a bit of a reunion tour and played some hits like "Same Old Song and Dance" and "Holiday in Cambodia."

You see, I've been practicing on expert so that the seeding round on medium will be cake. Then the tournament rounds on hard shouldn't be too bad either. The real wildcard is that they left themselves open to playing either GH2 or GH3. I only know GH3. When I played GH2 I was playing on medium. So, that will be the real variable in this contest for me.

As much as I have been pumping myself up and trash-talking others, deep down inside I know some 5 1/2 foot Asian kid will win. Not to be racist at all, but it is generally accepted that Asians are very driven, and that is one of the key ingredients to a GH3 rock star. We Caucasians are good at... well what are we good at? Imperialism I suppose. Yeah, that's about right. I think that is what we will go down in history for.

So yeah, if you want to be my groupie you can come to the Wilk terrace at 7PM tonight to watch me rock out. Veronika will also be playing.

Uhm, some other random thoughts. People think I am addicted to Facebook because I respond to their messages right away. Not only do they think I am addicted, it makes for some long Facebook conversations, because if you respond right away, they are likely to still be on. The thing is, I get my notifications on my phone so... it is kinda like texting to me. Another result of this is that wall posts and messages come pretty much the same way, meaning the line between them has blurred. I am sure I have said things that would be better suited in a message.

But then again, I have been thinking a fair amount about transparency lately. I think it is a good idea. The hugest mistakes and gaffes are usually mistakes that lacked the benefit of transparency. For instance, Bush firing those attorneys wasn't really out of the ordinary, Presidents switch those out all the time. The big mistake was when they tried to cover it up and act like it wasn't for political reasons. Then people perjured and the situation just kept getting stickier.

My brother also just came home early from his mission and I had been thinking a lot about what I would say to people if I was in that situation. I decided that the easiest route would just to be straight up and honest with them and say "I came home early for medical reasons. I was struggling with depression and had some complications with the medication I was on so I came home to get that straightened out."

I've also liked Obama's advocacy of transparency. In his platform he talks about having periodic webcasts to inform the public of what is going on in D.C. I think that is a good idea.

So in short, honesty is the best policy, it has always been the best policy, and it will continue to be so. Even in situations where it may seem more effective to alter the truth, the cost of making an exception and losing the consistency you have established in telling the truth, will never justify the benefit. Perhaps it is just me, but transparency has not only been the smartest way to live, but also the easiest. When the whole situation is considered (holding feelings in, developing grudges, the cost of gossip, the misunderstanding commonly developed by withholding truth) I always have found it easier to be straight up with someone about my thoughts and feelings. I sometimes have a hard time understanding others who struggle with that, just because it is second-nature to me. Maybe some of you faithful readers can enlighten me:-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random shirt

Hey guys. Today on shirt.woot.com they are selling a random shirt. You tell them your size, and pay them $6.66 for a shirt, and they will ship a random one from the past offerings to you for free. You should live a little and try it out:-) This is how I got my brain-freeze shirt last time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Harnessing life lessons

This morning I ate a grapefruit that Patrick's family sent to him in the mail. They have a tree and they sent a whole box. After mangling the fruit in absence of a real grapefruit spoon, I squeezed the juice into my regular spoon. I was amazed at how much juice I got, squeeze after squeeze. It almost seemed like a bad magic trick.

Even though the juice was kinda sour (yellow, not pink grapefruit), I liked it. Life is like a grapefruit. Everyday we encounter situations and usually fail to squeeze the lessons out of them that we should. Don't the scriptures say we should act and not be acted upon? Too many times we just respond, rather than take a proactive attitude and harness the true power from our situations.

Here is what I mean. When I was on my mission I taught a member I'll call Todd. He told us he quit smoking, we set a date with him, and I got transferred. Later I found out that he had kept smoking even through his baptism, at least that is what I was told. I was on fire, and shamefully slipped into a bold and brash response. I wrote him a rebuking letter telling him he needed to clean up his act and called him to repentance.

Shortly after, I got a call from an elder I will call Elder D. He tore into me. He called me names, told me I was way out of line, yelled at me, and that was the conversation. My natural instinct was to lay into him back. By fortuitous chance, I was able to suppress that urge. I sat there and took it.

Now I didn't think much of Elder D as a missionary, and to be honest I still don't. He was out of line to call me like that and say the things he did. I knew he was being hypocritical. But none of that matters, not a single bit. Somehow at that moment in my life I knew enough to isolate myself from Elder D. The issue of his call and the issue of my shameful letter to Jon were two separate issues. He was out of line, but that was his problem. I decided to let him deal with his own problems, and I dealt with mine. I knew I was way out of line and that I needed to learn a lesson from this. I did. Whether Elder D ever progressed past his hot head, I don't know, and don't really need to know. All I needed to take from that situation was that I was wrong and I needed to change.

Being chastised sucks, and it is our nature to put up a wall and buck back. Don't. I don't know if I could think of a better learning opportunity than when you screw up and you are getting railed for it. First of all, just the act of resisting your natural instinct to revile the chastiser (no matter how out of line or tactless they are) is one of the best exercises in self-mastery. Very few people know how to avoid offense. Those that do show great self restraint. Second, there is a reason your getting ripped. You screwed up and you can learn from this. The exercise of separating the issues at hand and only choosing to focus on the things that you can learn from is almost without parallel in my opinion.

Now, I don't think chastisements are the only situations in life that you can grow tremendously from. I've come to look at many situations in life as exercises in self-control. The other day I broke a $28 piece of glass in my lab class. I laughed it off, and I think I was the stronger for it. The ability to look at life's challenges and analyze them to see what you can learn from them not only keeps life light, but keeps you learning.

I also feel I have learned a lot from situations where I felt like I was being tested to see if I would walk the walk after talking the talk. It is easy for me to say I am for socioeconomic equality. The real test is when I walk by a beggar on the street. I force myself to pull out my wallet and give them some money, not only to help them, but to keep myself honest to my values. Each time I feel like I am truer to myself and that I further understand the idea of being committed to a cause. This month I donated to both Wikipedia and to Barack Obama's campaign. I felt that both actions furthered my commitments to two worthy causes.

Basically, it is easy to talk. But I have learned to really enjoy situations that test how committed I am to walking as well. When you view these situations as challenges and recognize the personal development that comes from sacrificing, you realize that it really isn't a sacrifice at all. It really is a matter of growing roots, I think. Anyway can lay claim to set of beliefs, but putting down roots in them requires giving a bit.

Anyway, I hope this all made sense. Stop letting life act on you, and start finding situations where you can harness the power of life's situations to further develop both your character and self mastery.

Success... even in the traditional sense...

I ordered all my books off Amazon this semester. I got some great deals. There was one though that never came. I waited until yesterday I emailed the seller and said "I have never received your book. Please rectify the situation or I will be forced to leave negative feedback." The next day he refunded my money with a note saying that he was sure he sent my book but is refunding my money anyway in hopes I would hold off of negative feedback till he figured out what happened. Then the next day I got a note from him saying "I have refunded your money. It looks like I did mess up on your order. I have ordered the book in a better condition from another source and am having it sent expedited. I hope this will allow you to avoid giving me negative feedback." Something to that effect anyway. :-) So, yeah. I got my cake and I'm eating it.

I have another story. This is sort of a success story, but it is actually a setback. I went to Cafe Rio yesterday with my gift card from Christmas. After waiting in line for a while I got my salad. I drove home and realized that they didn't include my house dressing. I also didn't have any salad dressing at home. Surprisingly (to me at least) I got really frustrated and mad. It really ticked me off that I had to drive back to Cafe Rio just so I could enjoy my salad. So on the way I called Cafe Rio. Staying on hold for 8 mins didn't help, however, it did give me the chance to decide that even though I wanted to be rude on the phone, it wasn't worth it for either party. So I just told them my situation and Whitney, the manager working at the time, put me on a list to get my next meal free. They also gave me two things of dressing.

Cool right? No. Despite getting the free meal, I was actually really disappointed in myself that I let such a little thing control so much of my mood and emotions. It was ridiculous. However, there is a bright side to this. I realized that I had really been stressed about Jonnie coming home from his mission and about another situation in my life. The dressing was just the catalyst. The fact though that I was so disappointed in myself for getting frustrated is a good sign though. After letting my emotions go like that for those few minutes, it made me realize that I used to be like this a lot more. Little things used to set me off. Just the fact that it seems very out of place that I got that frustrated is a sign that I have made huge progress the last 3 months. What do you think? Am I different? I hope so.

Anyway, I need to redouble my efforts on curbing my unhealthy emotions lately. Today actually, I had some really good thoughts run through my head and I decided that I want to start putting my tips and tricks on my blog. They may not work for everyone but I like the idea of sharing the insights one gains to others. There is actually a site called lifehacker.com that is similar to what I would like to see, but it is more tech based. I will post a couple tips in subsequent posts.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Exclexia continued...

Okay... two more things. Actually... Just one more thing. I actually do have two more things but for the first thing, I don't think it would be appropriate to blog about. Just ask me what I learned about serious oathes in Evolutionary Bio on Jan 17, 2008. I will never forget that day.

In other news, I got stopped by a gang of 6-year-olds. I was walking down the JFSB hall and I saw about seven of them all spread out across the hall. There was an adult with them. I was just gonna weave through them and pass on my way to my class, but the leader of the pack juked me out. Ahhhh, I finally saw that he wanted to confront me.

Leader of 6-year-old gang: Excuse me

Me: Yes?

(It was at this time that I noticed that they all had clipboards with a single sheet of paper on them that said "Survey" and then had two headings "Summer" and "Winter" with check boxes beneath both columns.)

Leader of 6-year-old gang: Do you like summer or winter better?

Me: Summer!

Adult (Perhaps a faculty gang adviser?): What do you say?

Leader of 6-year-old gang: Thank you.

The survey was actually quite easy. I am actually so opinionated on the topic that I considered making a joke and saying "Summer. Put me down for four of them." Then I realized that 6-year-olds wouldn't laugh at my joke. On top of that, I would probably screw up any lesson that were learning about polls. Of course, even if I had screwed up their notion of polls, they could probably always get a job conducting polls for the Dems up in New Hampshire.

Eclexia

Eclexia - A state in which one's mind meanders from topic to topic. Ex. Gabe's post must have been written while in a state of exclexia.

Some random thoughts from today:

I went to the LRC today to get headphones so I could listen to music while I studied (read blogged) before my next class. While I was walking to the back of the room, I saw a sign that I thought read "Your life starts here" and then had an arrow that pointed down to the trashcan below the sign. In actuality the full sign read "If waiting for a computer your line starts here" and was really pointing to the ground. But I chuckled to myself at my misunderstanding. And then I got to pondering how poetic that misreading was, and whether that was something to be bad about. What if my life did start there... in that trashcan. Yeah, it's a trashcan, but at least I would always have a place to look back at and see how far I've gotten from that point. And so what if I hadn't lived up until Jan 17 2008, at least at that moment I would know that life had started and I could no longer worry about whether I was really living.

The other day I was in the Benson building. Actually the Nichols building which is the lab wing of the Benson, and I saw an interesting poster that got me thinking again about beauty and our perception of it. As I was waiting for the elevator, I read the following poster:















As I read the part that said "Let's work together to preserve this beautiful building," I looked around and was glad that we all have our own perception of beauty.















Another poster today made me laugh. It was a poster in the Widstoe about joining the Wildlife Society and used a big owl for the center graphic. Then in pencil written above the owl it said "Hagrid's owl." Following that remark was about 2 or 3 other pencil and pen written marks actually discussing what kind of owl it was and pointing out that it is actually similar to Ron Weasley's owl. You see... I think that small acts of harmless defacement such as what I witnessed today are in actuality public goods. I am grateful that the original commenter had enough of a sense of self-sacrifice to make a joke he knew he would never get credit for. Those are our heroes at BYU.

















Johnathan Whiting and I met in the library today. He asked if I was following him and I told him I would follow him to the gates of Hell. That just got me thinking of McCain's quote from a debate that Jon Stewart subsequently made fun of on his show. When asked about Osama bin Laden, McCain went on a strong tirade against terrorism and concluded with, "...and I will personally follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell!" I thought it was funny.

This morning I remembered feeling yesterday that I had gotten one of my great questions in life answered. Today I can't remember the answer, or even the question. I guess those are the things you want to write down.

My brother is coming home from his mission today for depression. He was on a medicine that he was doing quite well with, and then there were some side-effect complications. They switched him to another medicine and that had worse side-effects that resulted in him having to go to the hospital. So I got a call last night at 10:40 that I didn't answer because I was on a date, and then another one this morning at 7:40 that I did answer. It was the mission president's wife asking for my mom's number. So my mom called me later this morning and said Jonathan could be home as soon as today. I'm actually not sure what to think of this all.

I also decided today that perhaps one of the most relieving feelings in the world is pushing your chips all in and flipping the cards. Figuratively of course.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Weird

It is 10:51, and I just realized that I didn't eat anything all day... anything. I find it odd and almost disconcerting that my body didn't make me aware of this earlier.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Trust

This will actually be a real post. None of this Lorem Ipsum crap one of my friends has been using to boost his blogging stats:-)

So, Badger set me up on a blind date last night. At first I was kinda apprehensive (she is a freshman), but it turned out really well. I had fun, even though we had to go to the ward party. I mean, not that the ward party was bad, it was great, but not necessarily a top first date/blind date activity. We had to go cause I was helping announce the pick-up line winners. Which contest, by the way, I think was subject to censorship. I mean, how can "I see my unborn children in your eyes" not make the top 23??? Unfathomable. Oh, but back to the date. I have decided that Badger has earned my trust. In fact, looking back on it, I don't know if there is anyone I would trust more when it comes to setting me up on dates than Badger. In fact, if I had to delegate my dating to anyone, it would be Badger. This is due to the fact that our dating preferences... well let me illustrate them in a venn-diagram (I wonder if venn-diagrams were invented by some guy named like... Arthur Venn. It'd be a pretty weak concept to have named after you):









Man. That diagram took like 15 minutes to make.. I know it doesn't look that hard, but that is The Gimp we are talking about, and as great as open source is... It isn't always the best documented or most intuitive:-) Anyway, yeah. It was fun.

I got my Armor-all coupon yesterday from Hal. He even signed the letter they sent. And by signed I mean he printed the letter with a digital representation of his signature pasted in at the bottom of the letter. It was nice of him anyway.

Speaking of consumerism, I got a sweet printer the other day. My original Epson only lasted for about a year (which is a shame because I had bought about 12 ink cartridges for 20 bucks, but when your ink head clogs, cheap ink is worthless). So if anyone needs Epson ink (I had it for a CX4800 model or something) I have some. I took apart the printer like 5 times and cleaned the ink head with alcohol, but it was a battle I never should have started. I lost. I cut my losses, chucked it into the dumpster and went without a printer for a while. Thomas said I could use his, but that doesn't really work when he is out of ink, as thoughtful as that act was. I wanted a laser printer though. I was done with this inkjet stuff.

So I was looking online and found a Brother printer for like $100 at Staples. Interestingly enough the next model up was $80 after a $20 instant savings coupon. Called Staples, but they don't carry that in the stores anymore, although they could order it in a day or two at that price. So here is my dilemma. This is like a $140-$150 printer for a great deal, except when I want to buy something, I usually want it right then. On thinking about it, Staples was probably trying to liquidate their supply of this printer, hence not carrying it in stores and having it so discounted. Anyway, I thought I would continue my luck with price matching (I had gotten 1gb laptop memory from Circuit City for $25 cause I screwed up and accidentally when there instead of Best Buy where it was on sale for $30. At Circuit City it was $80 and I got them to pricematch plus their normal 10% of the difference to get it for a steal). Anyway, I called around and finally talked to Nilo at Officemax, right across from Staples.

Nilo: Staples this is Nilo.

Me: Hi. I had a question, do you guys pricematch?

Nilo: Yes we do.

Me: Okay, here is the situation. Staples has this great deal on a printer. It is the Brother 2070N for $79.99 after a $20 instant off coupon. Now I know you don't pricematch rebates but would this count?

Nilo: Yeah it would.

Me: Here is the other thing. They also don't have it in stock. I mean, they could order it in a day at that price, but I would rather give you my business if you guys will pricematch their price and have it in stock.

Nilo: Uhm... Yeah, that should work. We have 8 in stock.

Me: And also... I mean, I know you guys usually want a printout of the deal, but the problem is, I can't print. That is why I am buying a printer. Is that going to be okay? Should I ask for you when I come in?

Nilo: Yeah, we usually require a printout of the deal, but that should be fine. Just ask for me if you have any problems.

Anyway, that is the general gist of the conversation. I like talking to random people on the phone. So I went right down and saw that they had the printer listed for $150, even though it was $140 online. Sure enough though, I picked up the printer, brought it to Nilo at the register and he pricematched it for me. Here was our counter banter:

Me: Hi, I had just talked to you about pricematching this.

Nilo: Okay, just a second. (He got some paper from the back to do something with. Then he scanned the printer) Did you get toner with this? You get 15% off the toner with this purchase so you might as well stock up.

Now.. at this point I didn't want to buy anything else. I was already getting $70 off of their printer and I didn't want to dilute my savings by paying for toner at only 15% off. Toner is like $60 too.

Me: No. I think I am okay. My last printer was an epson and I didn't even get to use all the ink I had for that. Didn't last long enough. That is why I am getting this printer. I looked online too and it said that goes for about 1500 pages before I have to refill.

Another associate: Yeah, that is for the regular cartridges. Starter cartridges come about 50% full.

Me: Oh, yeah, 1500 was for the starter. 2500 pages was for the regular cartridge.

Phew, I had evaded that plot.

Nilo: Okay, we have a a 1 year warranty plan for $20 and a 2 year for $30.

Me: No thanks (I am morally opposed to paying 30% more of a product's price for a warranty)

Just when I thought I had gotten out of that, Nilo, like a skilled wrestler, reversed my move.

Nilo: Yeah, but you just told me your epson failed on you. So $20 is a lot less than a new $100 printer.

He had a point. But I still didn't want it

Me: Yeah... I usually just risk it with these things though. I think in the end I come out on top

Nilo: (Disappointed) Ok. Did you get paper?

Me: No I have some at home.

Nilo: Okay. Well the total is...

So, that is it. I don't even know if OfficeMax made a profit off me. I almost felt bad for making them match Staple's price for a product Staple's doesn't even carry on hand. Oh well. The point of this all is... not that I should start writing screenplays, but that we often don't know our rights as a consumer, as a student, or as an employee. I would say most people never reach their full potential in life. We can get more out of life if we just equip ourselves with the correct tools. Now I am not talking about some sort of social darwinism where we take what we can get at the expense of others. I am talking about standing up for our rights, asking for the raise we deserve, asking our teacher to reconsider the A- he or she gave us, talking to your significant other about how they are treating you, getting a fair and competitive price on a printer, etc. Often times it just takes knowing how to interact with people, how to build them up, helping them see the benefits to them, and tactfully negotiating. I don't think I am a master at this in any way, but I do feel like I have learned a lot in this field since the mission, and I feel like it has only served to improve my life.

Well, that's it for today. Also... as much as I can trust Badger in setting me up with girls, I obviously can't trust him in in the Honesty and Integrity When it Comes to Online Polls Concerning Which Sense you would Rather Lose area. He voted three times and so the results of this poll are null and void... or you can just subtract 2 from hearing, unless Badger can convince me of any possible reason why his opinion is 3 times as important as mine.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Settling

There is a guitar at Best in Music that is a solid top, acoustic electric, Crafter guitar. It is a really good deal for only $220. But I don't like its sound. After my experience with my last guitar, I don't think I will settle for it. I think I just have to wait around for the right guitar.

Speaking of waiting around, did you know that with Google Reader (or any RSS reader) you can subscribe to specific searches on cragislist? I just subscribed to a search for "guitar" in Provo and it will update me whenever a new guitar is listed. It is actually really cool.

Oh, and apparently more people would like to be the last person on earth than a ghost. I don't understand that. At least as a ghost you could get some of your needs fulfilled by watching the interactions of others. That's the way I looked at it anyway. Thanks for voting:-)

I am excited for this semester. I wasn't this morning when I woke up for class. But I went to my Rhetoric and the Law (it is an honors class that fulfills the advanced writing credit), and it seems like it is going to be a great class. The teacher transferred here from UC Santa Barbara, he is really nice, the class is only 9 people, he is going to have individual conferences with us 3 times this semester, and the class doesn't seem impossible. That was my only class today, but it really got me excited for this semester. I am also excited for my Science and Civilization class (Philosophy class counting as a Civ 2 credit). It should be a good semester:-)

Friday, January 4, 2008

And sometimes you need to walk away...

I did tonight. I struggle with sunk costs, but I think I finally realized that I had probably been trying to too hard to make it work. We weren't seeing eye to eye, and I don't think it we ever would, unless she was able to decide definitely that I was what she wanted.

Dale Carnegie says that we need to put a stop loss order on our worries. In stocks, a stop loss order is when you say, "When this stock loses this much, sell it." That way you minimize losses. We need to do the same things with our worries. We need to say, "This is worth this much worry, and no more."

So I did that today. I told her she had my number and if she did end up making up her mind, she could call and maybe I would still be at a point to revisit it, but I'm moving on. She told me she'd see me around, but I don't know that she will. I don't plan to call, write, or visit. This train's leaving the station. I think it was the right thing to do.

Congratulations Iowa

So, some random catch up. First of all, yay for Iowa. I was slightly disappointed Mitt Romney didn't get the Republican nomination. I don't really like Huckabee. The only thing that appeals to me about him is that he at least acknowledges global warming, but that is a bout it (sad). He doesn't seem to know what he is talking about. After Bhutto was assassinated he commented on the martial law in Pakistan, despite the fact that it had been lifted weeks earlier. This drew a lot of criticism. The other night he didn't realize he would be crossing the picket line to appear on Leno. Apparently he thought writers had been given permission to return to the late night shows. And then I would have to say his stunt with pulling his negative ad attacking Romney, only to display it to the press minutes later saying, "I knew if we didn't show it the press wouldn't believe we had it," was pretty lame.

Romney hasn't impressed me too much either though. He seems a little too schmoozy and willing to bend for everyone. The biggest blow to my opinion of him was when he said in a debate, "Some people say we should do away with Guantanamo. I say we should double it, we should double it." Didn't sit too well with me. That being said though, I think he has proven himself to be quite capable in Massachusetts and the Olympics. And I would hope that being a member of the church would count for something when it comes to morals. So, I was disappointed Huckabee beat him in Iowa.

While I am on the topic of Republicans, I might as well share my thoughts on McCain. Despite McCain's unending support of the war, I am quite impressed with him. I always have been, I guess. He seems sincere and uncompromising. He opposes torture, acknowledges that we need to address global warming, is for campaign finance reform, and has a compassionate stance on the problem with illegal immigrants. If I was republican, I would vote for him.

I am quite impressed with the democrats in Iowa though. I'd only heard of two polls that ever placed Obama ahead in Iowa, and yet he won by an 8 point margin over Edwards. It seems Hillary embodied the establishment for most democrats, and those that originally supported less well known candidates like Kucinich ended up casting their votes for Obama when those supporting unviable candidates (under 15% support) were allowed to change their support. Anyway, I really like Obama. He seems honest, capable, compassionate, and sharp. If you haven't watched his speech A Call to Renewal from 2006, check it out. Anyway, this win in Iowa will only help Obama and hurt Clinton. Now democrats will see he is a viable choice and won't be afraid to go against the establishment. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the Iowa results.

Now... On to other things. I got my grades the other day and I can't complain. Actually, I could, and I did. You see, I had one class that I was worried about since half of our grade depending on the final. I got an A- posted online a few days ago and was pretty bummed. So I thought I would put Dale Carnegie to the test. I wrote the teacher an email, first praising him for how well run the class was and how much I enjoyed it (I did). Then I said I was disappointed in how I did on the final and was curious how close I had made it to the cutoff between an A and an A-. I further showed what I thought my grade was going to turn out to be, according to the grades on blackboard and the grading procedure in the syllabus (I really think I should have gotten an A, but I don't think the grading procedure in the syllabus was followed) and asked if I was wrong in my calculations. I said I wanted to come in and see my final to know what I got wrong so I could learn from it in the future. I then closed saying "I am sorry for taking your time during this busy break but I always knew you were very approachable with questions and prompt in your replies. Thanks!" The grade was changed that night :-). What can I say? I get lucky sometimes:-)

Now, Cindy and I had an adventure the other day. I decided to pawn my guitar after all. Cindy came over and we first searched online for the best tips on how to pawn things off. We planned our strategy. I decided to ask for 75, hoping the pawn shops would settle at 50. The first pawn shop offered 60. The following two and a music store offered 40 - 50, I think. Then the last shop we went to offered 60, so I took it. It was quite the experience. The man asked for my license, then got my height and weight written down, then had me sign a paper, then had me put my fingerprint on the paper. I felt like I was selling my soul. It was quite worth the experience, however.

My final story happened yesterday. About a week ago I bought a dispenser of 25 cleaning wipes from ArmorAll for a pricey $5. They don't absorb that much, so I used 24 cleaning my car, and left the last one in the tube under my seat. While driving yesterday it rolled out from under my seat. I noticed the top was popped and the last towel was bone dry. I noticed, however, that the package stated the wipes were "Guaranteed to stay moist." "Guaranteed how?" I thought. So I flipped the tube over and dialed the questions and comments number (much like when I called wrigley to explain I didn't like their new flavor Mint Mojito. They sent me a coupon for a free pack). Hal picked up.

Hal: Hello, this is Hal.

Me: Hal or Al?

Hal: Hal

Me: Oh okay. How are you Hal?

Hal: Doing great.

Me: Good to hear. Here's the thing Hal, I bought a roll of your cleaning wipes about a week ago and used 24 to clean my car. The last wipe I left in the tube and stowed it under my seat. It rolled out today and I noticed the last wipe was dry. What should I do in this situation?

Hal: I am really sorry to hear that. Let's see, how long ago did you buy them?

Me: A week ago.

Hal: Hmmm.. Sorry about that. Tell you what, I am going to send you a coupon for a free replacement pack of wipes.

He then got the product information and my address. Incidentally we got disconnected while I gave my address. I called back and fortunately got Hal again... I don't know how many people ArmorAll has in their call center, so I dunno how much was fortune and how much was statistical odds. Lesson learned: I will always call if I am not satisfied with a product. You get free stuff, and it is kinda fun talking to those people. You validate the existence of their jobs.

So... I think that is it. Hope you enjoyed my eclectic ramblings.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Operation

Can someone tell BYU's web design team that having the two 10 pixel tall navigational bars, right on top of each other is poor design, especially when they are activated merely by running your cursor over them? I mean, I feel like I am playing a game of operation just to get into route Y and check my grades.