Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crystal Skulls

The Mitchell-Hedges skull

I'm not sure I believe in the myths surrounding the crystal skulls--truthfully I'm quite positive I don't--but that doesn't mean they're not cool.

Initially when I paid off my debt I was going to reward myself with the purchase of a handgun, most likely the Bersa Thunder .380 (the James Bond gun look-a-like) or a High Standard 1911 .45. Due to unforeseen financial obligations, I found I no longer had room in my budget for a $300+ handgun. So I decided to treat myself to something else: a Crystal Head Vodka decanter.

Is it superfluous? Yes. Unnecessary? Of course. Cool? Bloody right it is.

My glass skull!

Sitting in my room I now have a glass skull. I plan on actually buying a bottle of vodka and filling it up with it, simply because having it empty seems like a shame and every other liquid will go bad and grow bacteria over time. High end spirits don't. Along this note, I've decided that in my new apartment I'm going to decorate it with whiskey decanters, old bottles filled with rum, unopened wine, and my crystal head vodka skull. I've got an idea of where everything will go, and I'm excited to see how it turns out.

I move in two weeks, it'll happen after then.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I have a lot of movies

My collection

I just counted my movie collection, it consists of the following:
  • 416 movies (78 televisions seasons, each counted as 1)
  • 19 are rated G, 99 are PG, 189 are PG-13, and 109 are R (adjusting unrated films and television shows into what ratings I believe they deserve)
  • There are 61 films and television seasons I own that I have never seen
  • Averaging a DVD as 3 hours long--that's a very conservative average as seasons of tv shows like X-Files (9 seasons) and Buffy (7 seasons) are 18 hours per season--I have over 1,248 hours, or just under two months, of 24-hour entertainment
  • Averaging 200 g per DVD in a case, I own an estimated 83.2 kg, or 183.4 lbs, worth of DVDs
  • Averaging 2 DVDs per movie and 4 per television season, there are 1144 individual discs
  • Averaging each movie and television season at $15, my collection is monetarily worth $6,240
  • And it is completely organized in alphabetical order (I still have the desire to organize it by director's last name or by release date; might do that when I move and get really bored one day)
So, there you go.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Material

The Material

Rock Band has introduced me a lot of new music I wouldn't have otherwise listened to. Some is very mainstream, like All American Rejects. (I seriously had never heard the song Dirty Little Secret before I played it on Rock Band.) Others are less mainstream and more classic, like David Bowie and Boston. Then there are bands I never would have ever heard of, like The Material.

The Material is still a rather unknown group. They have one EP--six tracks--called Tomorrow. It's remarkably good if you like pop/alternative rock. And they're completely independent: no labels or record companies behind them. They do everything themselves.

If you get the chance, I do recommend them. They're very personable--they post on Twitter, one person talked about how they chatted with her on AIM and helped her through a breakup (how many bands have done that for fans?), and they're just trying to make it as a band. I really hope they do and hope you check their stuff out on iTunes. Their album should be released shortly--I just won a signed copy last night. :)

For the time being, here's a live performance of their biggest song (the one that was on Rock Band), Moving to Seattle:



And here's them playing their song on Rock Band for the first time:



Really, they just seem like cool people. And I'm all for supporting cool people.

As I said, they aren't that well known and they don't have a record label promoting them, so do independent artists a favor and check them out. If you like them, tell your friends. I'm pretty sure they'd tell their friends if they liked you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Protein

THE bodybuilding expert

There's a lot of misconceptions about protein. Most people think the more you eat the better you are and the more muscle you'll gain. Interestingly, that's not really the case.

The World Health Organization recommends eating 0.45g to 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day to maintain muscle mass. For endurance training, 1 to 1.2g is what the WHO recommends.

Strength training athletes need a bit more. How much more is often debated--I've seen bodybuilding sites and the big tough guys at the gym talk about how they need 150+ g of protein daily. Basically, the mentality is "I always need more protein." Everyone uses the "this is what (famous bodybuilder/fitness trainer) said he does so I'll do it, too"--it's all anecdotal. The medical facts are a bit harder to find since they're not incredibly well documented.

Looking online for some nutritional facts to help someone with their diet, I found this medical study from 2006 about protein intake:
Comparison of protein intakes on strength, body composition and hormonal changes were examined in 23 experienced collegiate strength/power athletes participating in a 12-week resistance training program. Subjects were stratified into three groups depending upon their daily consumption of protein; below recommended levels (BL; 1.0 – 1.4 g protein per kg of body weight; n = 8), recommended levels (RL; 1.6 – 1.8 g protein per kg of body weight; n = 7) and above recommended levels (AL; > 2.0 g protein per kg of body weight; n = 8)
...
The results of this study do not provide support for protein intakes greater than recommended levels in collegiate strength/power athletes for body composition improvements, or alterations in resting hormonal concentrations.
(Looking at the charts listed, those eating more than 2g of protein per kg of body weight had gains of 3 lbs more than those who didn't--11 lbs increase vs. 8 lbs increase, so while there were differences, they were not significant.)
...
For strength trained individuals to maintain a positive nitrogen balance it appears that daily protein consumption should be between 1.6 to 1.8 g protein per kg of body weight per day.
...
Recommendations of a greater protein requirement for resistance-trained athletes have been based on studies that have primarily examined recreationally-trained individuals and not competitive athletes. This may suggest that the protein requirements for experienced resistance trained competitive athletes may be even higher than what is presently accepted. Since protein supplementation is considered to be one of the more common nutritional supplements used by collegiate athletes, it is likely that many competitive athletes have daily protein intakes that exceed the recommended daily allowances. Whether daily protein intakes greater than what is presently accepted (> 1.8 g protein per kg of body weight) is efficacious for strength/power athletes is not well understood. Unfortunately many competitive athletes using nutritional supplementation often go by the 'more is better' philosophy, causing many athletes to make uneducated decisions regarding their supplementation habits.
So, there you have it.

1.6-1.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of weight is all you really need when training.

That is, that's all you need to maintain that weight. Men's Health has often reported that you should eat for the weight you want to be at, so if you weight 60kg and want to weigh 75kg, eat for 75kg. If you weight 100kg and want to weigh 80kg, eat for 80kg.

But then, that's just common sense.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Short Fiction Friday: Dream Logic

A story in dream logic

Last night I dreamt of a world
where logic had it's own logic
and lines were bent and broken.
It was a real world
and while logic was different
and lines were bent
it was just as real as
where I am now.

Inside the dream the stories
followed the lines
and every action was logical
in dream logic.
In this dream where the lines
were broken and the stories
followed the lines and the
dreams were logical but
only as logical as the logic
was logical in dreams
I met a man.

Meeting a man in a dream
(who stuttered his speech)
and who's logic was logical
(in a logical way)
disrupted the lines the story
was following.
Disrupting broken and bent
lines that a story is on
creates a broken and bent
story in a world with logic
that A is not B
and B is A--the only
absolve in such a world
is that the story must be
on a line that is no longer
broken and bent and thus
the story that was logical
(in a dream logical way)
is now logical in a logical
way.

In this dream where a man
changed the logic by being logical
and could take lines that were
broken and bent and straighten them
so the story that was once
straight, and by straight
I mean broken and bent,
is now broken and bent,
and by broken and bent
I mean straight,
(for dream stories should never
be straight)
there is only one course of action
to take:
one must awake.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

IQ2

IQ2 Debates

Earlier this week I decided to start listening to some NPR podcasts at work. I needed something other than my usual music to listen to and thought I'd give some radio shows a chance. I quite enjoyed the one podcast of This American Life that was available, the few This I Believe shows, and the last few weeks worth of Science Friday. I'd heard of each of these and kind of knew that they were quality, having been told so by numerous friends whose opinions I respect.

The biggest surprise for me was Intelligence Squared, which I'd never heard of. It's a debate show, where they bring in experts on different subjects and have them compete in Oxford style debate in an attempt to win the crowd to agree with their viewpoint. The subjects covered ranges from "Should performance enhancing drugs be accepting in professional sports" to "Is the art market less ethical than the stock market" to "Is universal health care the government's responsibility." While I've listened to each debate usually with my own preference beforehand, I've been quite surprised as the quality of the arguments made for both sides. Truthfully, the health care debate has made me greatly reconsider my position, though I haven't changed it entirely.

If you're looking for something to listen to, I cannot recommend these debates enough. They're mentally stimulating and fascinating. (The debate on "Is George Bush the worst president of the last 50 years" with Karl Rove is quite good.) Only the older debates are available for download in .mp3 format--and those are the edited (for time) versions of the debates that broadcast on NPR. If you have the means, that is to say, you don't need it in .mp3 format and can listen to it on your browser at your computer, the unedited debates are usually about twice as long--50 minutes edited, 1 hour 40 minutes unedited--and are significantly better.

As I said, if you have the time and want something to listen to, I highly recommend them. You just might learn something.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Business Model

He looks happy, doesn't he?

I'm not a businessman. I never have been. The idea of charging someone for something that I do seems odd to me. I don't see why I should charge $25 to fix someone's computer when it only takes me 10 minutes and all I do is reboot it and run a virus scan. It doesn't make sense to me.

That being said, I had an idea for a business the other day. Not a tech support business, but a bread bakery. I am fully aware that starting a bakery isn't exactly a unique business idea as they've been around since probably several thousand years B.C. and haven't gone away since.

An old roommate of mine, Jared, worked at a bread bakery. I felt bad for him that he had to go to work at 1:30 and 2 AM to make the bread so it'd be ready by 5 and 6 AM. It never made much sense to me--who wakes up at 6AM and thinks "I want to go buy some bread..."? This is what separates my business model from the rest: instead of baking bread at 3 and 4 and 5 in the morning, we'd bake it in the afternoon so when people get off work, there's freshly baked, warm bread just coming out of the oven for them. Instead of making my employees come into work at 2AM to make bread for people who don't understand how wonderful sleep is, my employees would come in at 9 or 10 and leisurely work to get bread ready for the 5 o'clock and dinner rush--people who have worked hard throughout the day at their jobs and want a hot baguette that's just come out of the oven to go with their dinner.

So, that's my business idea.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Energy

The joy of being in shape.

Yesterday at around 6:30 PM, I was ready for bed. I was ready to change into my pajamas, lay down in my bed and call it a night. But I didn't. I've been going to the gym regularly for the past 4-5 weeks (I've lost track) and I want to keep that going, so I went.

While I don't think I exactly stressed myself, to the limit, I did get in a good workout (I think). It was a rather new experience for me: after I was done with my workout and I was unable to lift my arms, I wanted to go running. It wasn't just a "it'd be nice to go running" feeling, but rather an "I want to go running through this city as fast as I can--I want to jump off walls and leap fences and sprint through parks." It felt good. Really good. I had energy--I wanted to do something with it.

Sadly I can't recount details for you of flying through the city and amazing feats of physical prowess because I didn't do anything with it. I sprinted to my car across the parking lot coming out of the gym, and when I went to get the mail (got my David Sedaris books in the mail!) I sprinted to the mailbox and back. I suppose I could have worked myself to the bone and gone running, but I actually enjoyed the feeling of just having the energy. It's made me excited to take up martial arts again--I know, I've been saying I'll do that for over 9 months now--which I do plan to do next month since I can now afford it, being debt free. (My initial thought was to just sign up for it as a class, but it appears that BYU doesn't offer Aikido as a class and only a generic 'martial arts' class.)

Parkour.

I've also been thinking it'd be fun to take up parkour--that's what I really wanted to do last night. Ever since I was a kid I've loved bouncing off things and climbing and running and flying through the air. The reason I like to stay in shape is greatly because I get such a thrill from being able to do those things, and that's what parkour is all about. It's the lovechild of gymnastics and running, usually in an urban setting. There's a group in Salt Lake City, but I'm not sure what Provo has. I'll have to look around.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Worst Fast Food Restaurant Layout Ever

My brother was the one who noticed this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Short Fiction Friday: Wasted

The sun was still low in the sky. The morning was crisp.

He arrived early to the townhouse at Number 3, Hasker St. in London. Earlier than anyone who was expecting him expected. Earlier than anyone who was supposed to keep track of these things expected. He carried no possessions on him, no luggage and no sacks. Just himself, dressed in khakis and brown loafers with a red and yellow argyle sweater on his tall, overweight frame.

A frail looking old man stood on the steps in front of the door. His back was hunched over and his skin sat comfortably on his bony frame. A green cardigan over a white shirt kept him warm enough in the sunny weather. His nose was too big for his face and so were his glasses.
His hair was thin. He had an inviting, friendly look, like a grandfather who's always about to meet his grandkids. When he smiled he scrunched his nose which pushed his glasses up too far, making him readjust them every time. As the newcomer approached, the old man squinted to get a better look at him.

"Oh dear. This isn't good. I'm sorry, but we've got our shipment for today." he said to the stranger.

"Isn't this where I'm supposed to go?" said the man, his voice was deep, but wavering and uncertain. "There was only one way to go and that brought me here. I followed the light just like everyone talks about."

"Well yes," said the old man. Quickly scanning the list in his hand he added, "but you're not on the list for today. Our bunch has already arrived." He smiled, then corrected his glasses. "And you were supposed to follow the light, just not today's light."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Everyone's name appears on my list at some point or another. Each day I get a new list and each day I get new arrivals. When the names match up to the people who arrive, they're are admitted without issue. When they don't match up--when I get arrivals who aren't on the list or a list and no arrivals--we have problems."

"You're saying I'm not supposed to be here?" said the man, noticeably confused and taken back.

"In a sense. See, there's a plan for everyone. If people follow that plan then they'll arrive when we expect them and we admit them. If people don't follow the plan, they arrive at the wrong time and then we can't accept them. You're name isn't on this list; I can't let you in."

"So what happens now? I just have to wander around until my name appears on the list one day?"

"Uhm, no. If you arrive and your name isn't on the list, that's it. You don't get in."

The man was shocked. He didn't know what to do. It had happened unexpectedly, yes, but after that it was basically like he imagined. Until now. He tried to figure out why he wasn't on the list; what he could have done wrong. The accident was sudden--the suburban had come out of nowhere, he thought--but lots of people die in accidents and they can't turn away everyone who dies like that. Sitting on the curb, he looked up at the old man, tears forming in his eyes, "What do you mean I don't get in?"

"I'm sorry, but you didn't follow the plan that was set for you. It sounds harsh but we do give some leeway, usually about a month. You'd be surprised how many people end up here exactly when they're supposed to, though. Most people figure out their purpose and make us quite proud."

"But I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't a bad guy."

"I never said you were."

"Then what did I do wrong?"

"It's not what you did wrong, it's what you didn't do right."

"What didn't I do?"

The old man sighed. "Wait here," he said, "though it's not like you really have a choice, is it?" He turned, opened the door that he was guarding, and then went inside.

Hours passed. The man felt the day pass by. He reflected on his life. He had been married, but the marriage didn't last long. His wife wanted to go out to eat all the time and go on vacations and he couldn't afford that while managing the small electronics store. He thought about his friends, how he used to go out with them to the bar after work to watch the European Cup. He thought about the caterpillar he found as a child on the tree in the park, how he had put things in front of it to see it crawl over them, and then how he eventually burned it with a magnifying glass.

The door opened. The sun was low again. The old man came out first, followed by a tall, very handsome, man in his mid-twenties. The young man was well built, hair about shoulder length, dark eyes and a hard jawline.

"This is the guy you wanted me to review?" said the young man.

"Yes." said the old man as he smiled and then corrected his glasses.

The young man laughed, "Look, Pete, there is no way this guy is getting in here. I watched him for his entire life, or at least as long as I could before I just got bored and switched over to American Idol. This guy did nothing with his life."

The man stood up abruptly, "Now that's not fair! I did lots with my life!"

"Like what?"

"I got married."

"And quickly divorced because you spent more time at the bar with your buddies watching football than with her."

"I kept profits up for the store."

"You sold people mediocre electronics at an inflated price and then cut salaries of your employees in order to raise the numbers."

"I made my friends happy!"

"You're friends made you happy. They were made happy by their wives, their kids, their jobs. They liked spending time with you but you didn't make them happy. I watched everything you did for your entire life; you did almost nothing interesting. You didn't do anything--good or bad--that could even be considered interesting. Aside from general selfishness ruining your marriage you didn't even have any conflict in your life. You were boring. You don't deserve to be in here, you wasted your life." As the young man said this he turned to go back inside.

"But I can change!" he pleaded.

"You wasted your life. Why wouldn't you waste your afterlife?" and with that the young man went inside and shut the door.

"I'm sorry," said Peter, "if he doesn't support your entry, you don't get in. His job is to watch people when they don't follow their path and see who still deserves to get in. If he says no, then the answer is no."

"So I'm left here for eternity?"

"Well, not here," and he gesturing to a No Loitering sign on the wall, "but somewhere around here. Don't worry, there are a lot of people who don't make it in, I'm sure you'll find someone to spend eternity with. Now, it's getting dark, I should go inside." and he turned and opened the door again.

The sun was setting. Realizing night was fast approaching, the man quickly asked, "Is it safe here?"

The old man looked back with a surprised look on his face. "Safe? Of course not. If it were safe then it wouldn't matter if you were here or inside, would it? Eventually you'll find your place though, if you live through the night."

"Aren't I already dead?"

"You are. That doesn't mean you can't die again. Someone or something will get you eventually. When it happens you'll wake up in another city. Of course, you won't be on their list--how could you? you're one of ours--and you'll probably spend your days arguing with their Gate Keeper trying to let you in. He won't, but you'll still try each and every day. And then after each and every day, someone or something will kill you again. That is, unless you learn where you belong and how to survive in this world. If you ever figure that out, you might even be happy. Farewell and goodnight." With that the old man smiled, corrected his glasses, went inside and closed the door. The locked latched behind him.

It was dark now. He tried desperately to open the door but it wouldn't budge. The handle was solid and the latch secured. Giving up, he started to walk down the road to look for a place to sleep. He walked for miles, passing empty building after empty building. He began to wonder if this was a ghost town, if perhaps the old man who said it wasn't safe here was lying. It might be lonely, but he didn't see anything that seemed dangerous.

As soon as the thought was in his head, he heard an inhuman scream, louder than any he'd ever heard a creature make. It hit notes at the edge of his hearing, giving him a headache and causing him to grab his head. Looking up for the source, he saw a creature crawling down the building wall. It was thin and it was long, with visible bones protruding from it's back and joints. It had a human head with no jaw, long and unwashed hair, no eyes in its sockets and six uncomfortably long limbs that ended with what appeared to be a combination of feet and hands. While he looked up at it he saw another crawl over the roof and start down the building wall. As it screeched again he understood; it wasn't scaring him, it was calling to let others know what it found.

"You just going to stand there and wait for that manohex to come and tear you pieces?" said a woman's voice from behind him.

Turning around to see the source he found himself looking down the barrel of a shotgun.

"If you don't duck I will go through you," said the woman. He fell over, unable to make his legs respond fast enough. He heard the boom of the shotgun overhead and another shriek from the manohex. Looking up he saw it scurry up the wall leaving a black streak behind it. The second one seemed to have retreated, too.


"Welcome to London." said the woman, extending her hand.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Debt

I'm confused, too

I got paid today.

With this paycheck, I am out of credit card debt.

And in four months I'll be going back into it for grad school.

I plan on enjoying being debt free while I can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is Twitter making us emotionally numb?

Are we disconnected?

Yesterday on CNN's Technology page an article was posted about Twitter possibly being connected with emotional numbness and a lack of compassion. The full article can be found here.

The theory they pose is that while we can register physical pain quickly, it takes our brains a certain amount of time to connect with emotional pain and sympathy. With Twitter being such a fast paced news source, the hypothesis is that we can't empathize quickly enough and as such don't feel anything. The speed of Twitter is making us emotionally and morally numb.

I, respectfully, disagree. There have been numerous events recently that could support my disagreement but I'll use one close myself personally: the Binghamton shooting. I read about it first on Twitter, as it was one the highest tweeted topic on Twitter Search--updates on the Binghamton shooting were coming in every second. A friend of mine goes to school there. I didn't just read a tweet on it and move on and based on the sheer volume of tweets coming in, no one did. The information wasn't flashed by and ignored: every tweet that came in with more information, repeated information, clarified information was processed and added to what I knew, compiling further what I knew on the status of events.

I do not doubt scientists are right that it takes longer for us to be empathetic and compassionate, to connection emotionally with a story. What they're missing in their report is that tweets don't just get ignored once their read; we don't just move on and say "what's the next tweet say?" The recent Amazon fiasco testifies that people don't just move on when they read something on Twitter--that information was passed far faster through Twitter's network than any corporate media outlet.

The number of retweets (RT posts) and hashtags (#amazonfail) on every subject and the communication people have with one another through this network proves that people are not just quickly reading tweets and moving on: we process them and decide whether or not we wish to learn more. And when something serious does happen, we do push to learn more and spread the word.

In regards to moral numbness, I cannot imagine how anyone could argue that by talking to more people internationally and being more interconnected we could care less about each other. By talking to one another, by communicating with people in other parts of the world more often, we only learn that we are in fact all the same--very much the same meanings in the films Crash and Babel. Except this isn't a film. This is real life. If I see someone in Japan twittering about a new film they saw, or someone in Poland twitter about watching the same tv show I do, it connects on a personal level. I could never imagine supporting a war with another country because I now know, on a real, personal level, that people there are the same as I am.

We're connected.

People hurt one another when they stop identifying with each other, when they dehumanize one another. Twitter and Facebook connect more people internationally than anything else. They show us that we're all human and that we all need help sometimes. The news media goes through filters and censors before we see it, the government even moreso. Twitter is uncensored, unfiltered, raw human interaction. In that sense, I fail to see how one could argue it does anything except strengthen our morality and humanity towards one another.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Human Kindness

A tweenbot

"Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
-Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams

A few days ago, someone linked me to http://tweenbots.com. If you don't feel like clicking the link--you really should click it, there's a delightful video on the site--here's a synopsis:
From http://tweenbots.com

In New York, we are very occupied with getting from one place to another. I wondered: could a human-like object traverse sidewalks and streets along with us, and in so doing, create a narrative about our relationship to space and our willingness to interact with what we find in it?
...
Given their extreme vulnerability, the vastness of city space, the dangers posed by traffic, suspicion of terrorism, and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination.
...
The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged.
There's something very endearing about that. Especially since the tweenbots themselves are so adorable. But still, it gives rise to something interesting about the human condition. Strangers were willing to take a brief moment and help the little robots out. They were made of cardboard and of cheap parts; they were vulnerable and completely in need of help. And they got it.

Perhaps it was their cuteness, perhaps it was that people had nothing to gain from taking or destroying them, perhaps it was that people assumed they were being watched: I don't know, but I like to think it's because people actually are, at their core, good. They chose to avoid hurting the tweenbot and opted to take a brief moment to help it get to it's destination.

There's something heartwarming about watching a little robot truck alone his merry way,

Happily rolling along

completely ignorant of what's going on around him, simply wanting to get to a destination. Maybe Wall-E opened people up to the idea of happy little robots instead of the machinistic Heralds of the Apocalypse from iRobot or the Terminator series.

Or maybe people just want to be helpful, and when presented with a situation that is wholly non-threatening, they respond with kindness to help one another out.

I think it's the latter. And that makes me smile.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The series continues

This video was found at cuteoverload.com. If you've never been there, it's a good way to kill 10 minutes. Or a day. The next video in our series--Hamster on a Wok:



Back to standard posts tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Short Fiction Friday: All Those People That You Know

I grew up in Louisiana. Not New Orleans but not the bayou, either. People have this idea that if you're from Louisiana that means either New Orleans or some shack with a broken screen door next to a swamp. It's still the Great Plains and there are plains there. Where I grew up, if you didn't know you were in Louisiana you might think you were in Nebraska. There was a river a few miles outside of town. I don't know why the town wasn't built on the river instead of near it.

My dad worked on a computer. I think he did taxes for people. I didn't know my mom.

I went to a private Catholic school. Sister Josephine taught me from first grade through high school. It was a small school, only twelve students in my class. The Bishop said that it was better for us to have one teacher throughout our education than to change every year. Maybe he was right. I did get to know Sister Josephine well. She was tall, taller than any other woman I had met and taller than most men. She was also wide. She fit perfectly in a door frame.

Sister Josephine smoked too much. She was from Argentina. The combination of a cigarette in her mouth and the strong accent made it difficult follow along in class. By Christmas of first grade I figured out that if I sat quietly and looked attentive she wouldn't call on me to answer questions (which I wouldn't understand). My dad would help me out with homework that year, reading the assignments with me. By Halloween of second grade I found out I could just read books on my own and learn from them. From then on my only goal in school was to get through it without being called on. I read books on Abraham Lincoln and how he was elected even though he wasn't on the ballots in the South and on Lewis and Clark and how Sacagawea was 13 when she was taken as a wife by the French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. I did well on my exams so Sister Josephine never knew I couldn't understand her. Once she wanted us to learn about letter writing so she gave us a list of famous celebrities' addresses and told us to write to two of them. I found it odd that Harrison Ford and Martin Short had the same address (P.O Box 24603, Los Angeles, CA), but it meant I only had to send one envelope.

In third grade I met Marius.

Marius Guischard was three years above me. He said his family ancestors were originally trappers on the Mississippi and that Sacagawea was his great-great-great-great-aunt. I think he was lying. He had Brother Paul for a teacher. Brother Paul wasn't tall or short. He wasn't in shape and would start sweating when walking down the hall. He looked like how Friar Tuck is always portrayed in Howard Pyle's Robin Hood. I never saw him enforce anything. If students didn't turn in homework he'd just say that he was sorry they didn't care about learning. Next to Sister Josephine he looked sad and small.

I looked up to Marius. When I was 10 he showed me a copy of Playboy he had stolen from the 7-11. When I was 12 he gave me my first cigarette. I was always discreet about smoking, making sure no one was around. There was a place by the river I had that I liked. I'd smoke a cigarette or two while watching the logs drift by. When I was 14 he got a job at the same 7-11 he used to steal from. Marius always sold me a pack of Camels when I was out, or a new porn magazine when I got bored with the one I had. Once he called and told me he had to unpack stuff in the back room and that I could just come in and take whatever magazines I wanted and a few packs of cigarettes from behind the counter. After he got off his shift he found me at Taco Bell trying to get a date with Kim, the girl behind the register. He was carrying a VHS tape. He said it was the security tape from that day and if I told anyone that he was selling me cigarettes and porn mags he'd give the tape to the authorities saying I stole them and push for my prosecution.

I think someone had told his boss he was selling stuff to minors and his boss threatened to fire him if it happened again. He always was looking out for himself.

Later that year he left school and moved to New Orleans. Brother Paul knew we were friends. He told me he was disappointed in Marius' decision and that he hoped I could be more responsible. After talking to him I sympathized with Marius. I would have left school, too, if I had a teacher so obsessed with being understanding. I bet if I had slashed the tires of his car he'd buy me lunch and say that he's saddened by my choice of actions and then get them replaced.

I was 17 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After it happened my dad told me that he thinks my mom might have been living there. He didn't know. She hadn't returned any mail from him for three years. I didn't know she had ever returned any. He said her last address was a hotel in the French Quarter.
We haven't heard from her since. Dad thinks she might be dead now.

The next year I graduate from high school. After the small ceremony, a tearful Sister Josephine told me how much she would miss me and that she knows I'll succeed. The combination of a tracheal stoma, her thick Spanish accent, and weeping made it hard to tell. She might have been saying that she was pissed at me because she could smell my weed. I was pretty high. Either way she hugged me, giving me a face full of long, coarse, curly black hair. I patted her on the back quickly, like men do when they're too embarrassed to actually hug. I just wanted it to be done.

After the ceremony I decided to take a walk. I drove to the river and found my old smoking spot. There was still a pack of cigarettes in a ziplock bag there. I watched the logs drift buy for a few minutes and decided to light up one of the old cigarettes from the bag. The tobacco had gone bad. It gave me a headache and I puked. On the river I heard someone laughing. I looked up and saw Marius, standing on the river with water washing over his feet and ankles, laughing at me.

"They're old. The tobacco has rotted." I said.

"Whatever. Hey, come here. I want to show you something."

"I can't, you're in the middle of the river. How am I supposed to get there?"

"Shut up with the excuses and get out here."

Looking at the water rushing past, seeing the eddys forming and dissipating in front of me, I can tell the current is pretty strong. I was always told by my Dad not to go swimming in this river, it was murky and though it looked pretty peaceful it was known to have a strong undertow. I wade in the water a little and then swim out to him, expecting to find an island or rock in the middle of the river to stand on. Nothing. I'm struggling to stay afloat at Marius' feet. I have to swim upstream just to stay at his feet while he's laughing at me. The current is so strong that I start running out of breath. I never was a strong swimmer. Between gasping for breaths and spitting out water, I tell Marius I'm done playing and going back to the shore.

"You're a real girl now, you know that?" he says.

"Why? *gasp* Because I *spit* can't walk *spit-gasp* on water?"

He sighs. "Ok, ok. Here."

Marius reaches down and with one arm lifts me out of the water and then sets me back on it. It feels like a waterbed that's started leaking. The water still runs over my feet and ankles, but that's it. I'm standing on the river. Pushing my wet hair out of my eyes I ask Marius what's going on.

"When I went to New Orleans I met a guy named Gregori. He sold me some stuff: meth, cocaine, heroin. It was cool for a few years, but then none of it really did it for me. Gregori told me he though he had something for me that only a few people could handle. He-"

"So it's some drug you're on?" I interrupted. "That doesn't explain me standing here next to you."

"Shut up and let me explain. It's not a drug. He took me to this warehouse outside of town where he had... he had these kids kept in cages, all speaking some other language."

"He was keeping kids in cages?!" I screamed. "What the hell kind of people are you hanging out with?"

"I said shut up. He took one of the kids out and said something to him--I don't know what language it was, maybe Russian--and the kid almost froze in fear. Then he took my hand and put it on the kid's head. This blue fog covered my eyes and I felt this rush like I had been hooked up to a generator. It was unreal. When I came to it was dark--I think it was the same day but I don't know--and I felt like I was overflowing, like I had more in me than I could contain. I looked around the place and it was empty, no sign of the kids in cages, nothing that shows they were even there. All I could find was a log and a note from Gregori that said he had to take off and that he left me some fire wood."

"So what? That's it? This guy keeps kids in cages, takes you to this place, drugs you causing you to pass out and then when you wake up he leaves you with a log? You've got some messed up friends now, dude."

"Well, I caught up with him after that. I ran back to town as fast as I could. With this extra energy I was running faster than some cars were going and I didn't get tired. I found Greg. I just knew where he would be. He told me the effects are only temporary with a source that small, and that I'd need something bigger if I wanted it to last."

"Source that small?"

"Yeah. Hold still for a second."

As he said it, he put his hand on my forehead and my vision became clouded with blue. I wanted to say something but couldn't. I tried to speak but I couldn't. I felt my want to speak being pulled from me. I tried to push his hand off me, push him away from me, but again, I felt the thoughts of movement pulled away. Then my feet had a sharp pain, followed by a numbness. The pain-numb duet sang up my legs, through my calves, my knees, my thighs, up my hips. A massive stomach cramp came, followed by a the feeling that someone had just punched me in the chest and I couldn't breath. Quickly both went away and I felt nothing after. Lastly, I felt the thoughts from my head leaving, the feelings of pain that had traveled up me were leaving, the memories of Sister Josephine and her doorish frame. The memories of seeing that first issue of Playboy. The memories of being from a place that looked like Nebraska but was really Lousiana.

Then it stops. And I remember everything.

I remember growing. I remember my mom, tall, strong and sturdy. I remember the pain when she let go and I fell. It was dark after that. I remember fighting hard on that first push, breaking the topsoil. I remember the feel of the first rays of sunlight on me. I remember the first cold winter when I thought I was going to die. I remember the little rabbit that ate my leaves the following year. I remember the kids that played on me years later, the tire swing they tied to my largest branch. I remember the man who came and marked me with a red X. And I remember the saw cutting through my trunk and the fall to the ground.

I had a good life. Occasionally I have flashbacks of a large woman who's hard to understand talking to me. I guess when you're just a log floating in a river you think of crazy things.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Discreet rodents

David Gilmour of Pink Floyd

About six months ago, on what was kind of a whim, I bought a guitar. I enjoyed playing it and learning some songs, some chords, and, let's be honest, it just looks cool.

The songs I've tried learning so far are Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Behind Blue Eyes as done by Limp Bizkit, Float On by Modest Mouse, and certain parts of Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. It's an eclectic mix. I've also got music and played through a few songs by Deathcab for Cutie, Coheed & Cambria, Incubus, The Killers, and Plain White Tee's.

Of those, I've practiced Wish You Were Here far more than any others. It's one of my favorite songs and isn't too complex, so I can play it and it actually sounds like the song (though I still can't play the solo). I think playing guitar has increased my appreciation of music more -- I find myself listening to more things like David Bowie, Pink Floyd (more than just Pulse), The Who, and Led Zeppelin. Another band I'm somewhat surprised to find I like is Modest Mouse.

Years ago when Float On became popular I found some Modest Mouse to listen to and didn't care for it -- it seemed kind of bland and almost obnoxious. Listening to it again recently, while some songs I wasn't fond of, for the most part I quite liked it. Paying closer attention to the vocals and guitar, I noticed that it's not very complex. Isaac Brock (singer/songwriter/founder of Modest Mouse) isn't a great guitarist like Eric Clapton or Jack White. He is good at using effects and finding the right sound for what he wants though. The music isn't complex but it's good. It's not clean sounding but it works. It's not smooth but it's enjoyable.

I think I've been listening to so much Pink Floyd and David Bowie and Led Zeppelin recently that that's what I've been aiming for in my guitar playing--advanced, fast, and complex guitar riffs. I had forgotten that not all music needs to psychadelic or complex. I don't mean I'm going to start listening to The Ramones; three chords for an entire album is pushing it on the simplicity scale. But there's a different world of music out there, one that uses distortion and imperfect notes to make great music. Industrial, grunge, alternative, indie rock, and numerous other genres don't rely on the same techniques Pink Floyd does. And I think I might try exploring them. (I'm already familiar with listening to them; now I'm looking into playing them.)

(I apologize for the name of this post, but I couldn't think of anything.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hereditary stockpiling

Know the terrain.

Neuroscience is a fascinating field for me. I've been reading books about it for the last year and I'm still eager to get my hands on any new book about it that I can find. Reading and learning about how the human mind works, the neurons, it's ability to work around damages and the way it stores memories while simultaneously processing incoming information non-stop is like heroin to me.

This hobby (obsession?) of mine has led me to learning some interesting things about behavior, particularly in how some unexpected behaviors are believed to be hereditary and not learned. Steven Pinker talks about in his book The Blank Slate, which is currently on my list to read after The Female Brain. Instead of going on a rant about various discoveries in this field, I'm going to explain one that I've found in myself.

I stockpile stuff. I'm a pack rat. Oddly though, I'm only a pack rat when it comes to certain things. I don't care about hanging on to most clothing--I can throw out old socks, shirts, pants, underwear, or shoes easily--nor do I care about old computer parts. Old cereal and leftovers I gladly throw away because my parents would always make me finish the box off before opening a new one and I hated the powdery, broken pieces that fall to the bottom. (Similarly, though unrelated to the topic, I usually park in the back of parking lots now because I didn't like driving around for a spot as a kid either.) The things I do stockpile are usually trinkets, meaningless gadgets or objects of what I think to be an interesting nature, and candy.

Little piece of Heaven.

I don't eat candy often, maybe one or two Dove Dark Chocolate Promises a day and at most a small bowl of ice cream per week. I just don't have a sweet tooth these days. But I love stockpiling candy. Something about having it available, having my pick of any candy bar or chocolate I want within arms reach is comforting. I started this years ago--I used to buy three to four candy bars at a store and eat them over the next two months--but only last year did it really become habitual.

When I was working on a film set last year there were candy bars available for free the entire time as is custom on film sets. Since I was basically a runner/errand boy I made several trips to the food truck daily and made friends with Darcy, the cool lady who owned the snack company with her husband. They had every candy bar you could think of as well as every other various snack food, and every time she'd see me running to the truck for a something for the Director of Photography or one of the camera operators, she'd give me a candy bar. I started just putting them in pockets since four to five candy bars a day is quite a few to stomach. When I got home, I emptied my pockets into a shoebox. Thus began the stockpile.

My collection looks like this.

Over the month I was there the shoebox became packed full of candy bars of every kind. Then when I got my furniture I moved the candy from the shoebox to a desk drawer. It only took about half the room in the drawer, so, again, I started picking up candy bars in twos and threes and fours and filling the drawer. Eventually I organized it, neatly stacking the candy on each other so they'd fit better. A 32 pack of granola bars finally filled the drawer. (In the last year the granola bars have mostly been eaten and the space has been filled with Cadbury Creme Eggs and protein bars.)

When I started working IT for this company and moved into my own office, I found I had six big drawers in my desk. I only had four drawers worth of work stuff, so, naturally, the other two drawers slowly became candy drawers. In the 9 months since then, the drawers are now full of neatly-packed candy and snacks (almonds) just like the drawer at home. Now, whether at work or at home, I have no less than 30 candy bars of every variety within arms reach. And yet when I want something sweet, I just get a bowl of plain yogurt from the refrigerator and add some fresh fruit. Or maybe a single Dove Dark Chocolate Promise if I'm feeling in need of chocolate.

Like father, like son.

The reason I mention this is because when I went home over Christmas, while talking to my Dad in his office, I noticed something on his desk: a gallon-size Ziplock bag filled entirely with candy bars, untouched for what looked like years based on the candy bar logos. My Dad once told me that he thinks I'm more like him than either of my siblings, and I think I agree.

And I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drive

I know the feeling

Incubus was my favorite band in high school. I started listening to them shortly after Make Yourself was released. I still think it's one of my favorite albums, though I don't listen to it much these days. (Reading wikipedia I just found out it's also listed on the 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die list.)

One of the most famous songs by Incubus comes from this album and is called "Drive." It has a good rhythm and a positive look on life. Brandon Boyd (lead singer) starts off with a line about how he's been feeling like fear has been controlling his life, leading and steering him around, and then how he feels like he should finally take the wheel and drive instead of letting fear do it. One of the verses ends with, "But lately I'm beginning to find that when I drive my light is found," and the chorus follows with, "Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes yeah."

Again, I know the feeling

I won't go into the lyrics since they're straightforward. What I will say is that I can relate. For the last few months--even the better part of the last year--I feel like I've been driving on a road, and while I know where I am, I don't have a destination. I wasn't lost. To be lost you have to not know where you are and usually have a destination in mind. Recently I knew where I was, but I didn't know where my life was going and as such I just went wherever I felt like going.

In the past couple weeks that's changed. I feel like I've finally taken control of my life and am starting to drive. In about a week I'll be out of debt with all my credit cards paid off, I've got a budget worked out for the next month covering rent, bills, extra expenses, and savings. Thanks to Will I've started to invest some money in companies (only in small, monthly increments since I can't afford more). I'm moving into my own place and in 5 months I start graduate school. For the first time in over a year I feel like I can look forward and say I'm in control of my life.

There is something dangerous about this. In the first episode of the show Frasier he's talking to a woman who's depressed about a breakup she went through, and after hearing her talk about it, he tells her that she's not sad about losing her boyfriend but about losing the life she thought she was going to have. Normally Frasier is just a good show with some witty humor that pokes fun at posh people, but occasionally genius bits of psychology and help slip through. I've always kept that in mind. While right now I feel like things are coming together, I'm trying to keep in mind that if plan A doesn't work, there's always plan B, and if plan B doesn't work there's plan C, and after C there's D and so on. While not everything in my life is dependent on everything else, there are some things that compound (for example, getting a job is currently reliant upon my completion of graduate school) and

Just drive.

if one of those foundational elements falls through, I need to remember that that doesn't mean everything will fall. I'm trying to get in the outlook that, yes, right now things are working, but if they don't work, that's ok, too.

For the first time in too long I feel like I'm finally getting my life together, and I'm happy about that.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick calculation

My friend; my enemy

Several months ago I discovered I have a slight lactose intolerance. It's nothing critical; I don't rush to the bathroom moments after ingesting dairy. But it does cause me some discomfort and upsets my system. So I picked up some lactose pills and they helped, but then just switched over to soy milk or lactose-free milk. And all was good.

On Saturday I went to the store with my brother-in-law, Brady. Brady and I are a lot alike in certain things: we're both athletic, we both enjoy analyzing data, and we both scrutinize details. (He's almost completed his masters degree in accounting as I write this. This lends itself to us discussing a lot of things that are related to numbers and data analysis.) We get in a lot of discussions about various topics--usually connections or suspected causal relationship, but we're both good at always keeping in mind that there are probably details we don't know and that correlation does not equal causation.

Well, much like XKCD (♥) explains, two nerds--that is, two people interested in numerical data and analysis--make for interesting shopping trips. For most of the trip we were fine: we agreed that a big container of strawberries for $1.79 is a good deal, we agreed that frozen vegetables are good to buy, and we agreed that Sriracha hot sauce is awesome. (We did discuss it's location of origin: he was thinking Vietnam, I thought China. According to Wikipedia, we're both wrong: it's Thai.)

www.xkcd.com

Then we got to the milk. I noticed that the price of a gallon of milk was only $1.89 while the price of a half-gallon of lactose-free milk is $3.19. As Brady and I discussed this, I mentioned that I'm not entirely sure it's cheaper to buy lactose-free milk than it is to just buy regular milk and take lactose pills with it. After a quick discussion we figured that the price difference is actually negated by the lactose pills: it still comes out to around $6 a gallon, at which point Brady actually did make the comment, "Well, monetarily it's about the same, but then there's the question of non-monetary value in which one do you like more."

I went with the regular milk and lactose pills.

I am curious though if our calculations were correct. This has led me to running the numbers on a calculator and using as close to exact numbers as I could (in the store we just estimated to get rough figures). This is what I found:

Cost of gallon of milk: $1.89 for 16 servings
Cost per serving of milk: $0.118125
Cost of lactose pills: $10 for 32 servings
Cost per serving of lactose pill: $0.3125
Actual cost per serving of milk: $0.430625

Cost of half-gallon of lactose-free milk: $3.19 for 8 servings
Cost per serving of lactose-free milk: $0.39875

Difference in cost per serving: +$0.031875

So there's a $0.03 difference per serving this way. As Brady pointed out, there is also the value of regular milk tasting better (+) but also the inconvenience of having to make sure I take lactose pills before hand (-). Since it's hard to say exactly how much each of those is worth, I've decided to let them cancel each other out.

Best deal?

What this comes down to is unless the price of milk drops to $1.38 per gallon (not likely), lactose pills drop to $8.98 for 32 (likely), or lactose-free milk increases to $3.45 per half-gallon (very likely), it's actually better monetarily to buy lactose-free varieties of milk. I don't recall the price of soy milk, but I'll have to check that out next time. If it's under $3 per half-gallon it may come out as the obvious victor. (Assuming non-monetary factors negate each other out.)

Yes, this is actually how I shop. Stop looking at me like that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April isn't a month for joking

Twitter is a pretty wonderful thing. It allows for contact with people I never would have otherwise met. And to read things I never would have otherwise read.

For rather illogical reasons, I'm picky about keeping the people I follow on Twitter at 36. No more, no less. (The "following" area on the sidebar only goes up to a 6x6 block of images, after that it puts a link and I think that unappealing. The square is a nice, aesthetic shape and I like it.) A friend of mine closed their account last week so I had an opening, and found someone at random--usually I pick friends or celebrities, but figured that random people follow me and this might be a good way to learn about someone else.

I'm glad I did it. I chose to follow a girl who's Twitter handle was 'katwithsword' which I thought was a cool choice. And she writes a blog which is fun to read.

Yesterday she posted this, and I want to share it with more people:
"Excuse me but can I be you for a while"

Bear with me, please. This isn't an easy post.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. One in six women will be sexually assaulted at some point during her life. You have a mother, two grandmothers, maybe a sister, daughter, wife, friend. Look around at the women you know, and think, one in six.

Or, well. Hi. My name is Kat. I'm a survivor.

(I hate the term "victim," by the way. Because while I was that once, the thing that I do every day is survive. The friends of mine, the women in my classes, they survive.)

One of the things that helped me was knowing I wasn't the only one. I mean, intellectually, I knew. I read the statistics. But knowing was different. I'm a huge Tori Amos fan, and she wrote a song called "Me and a Gun." I hate listening to that song. It makes me tremble, and I feel sick inside when I hear it. But I am so glad that she wrote it, because it also made me feel a little less alone. That song is one of the things that helped me get through some of the worst days.

I got help. I found RAINN. For years after, I was too ashamed to tell anyone that I loved, because I was afraid they would think less of me, that they would think it was my fault. I wouldn't have blamed them: that's what I thought, too. But RAINN helped. They listened. I got counseling. And I survived.

So if you can, this month, support RAINN, or your local crisis center. Give time if you can't give money. Or give space on your blog for a link, or write a post like this one. If you need help, be brave enough to ask for it. And if you are a survivor, and you can speak out, and let someone know that they are not alone, please do that.
I'd like to have written something similar, but I don't feel anything I could write would equate with this. I have some experience in these matters--I've known girls who have been raped and sexually abused, even dated some, but I've never experience it first hand.

We just had April Fools' Day and we all had a good laugh at the jokes friends and companies played on us. But now I'd like something more to come from this month; I hope anyone and everyone who has experienced sexual assault or rape can feel safe about seeking help and counseling. The girls I've known who have gone through it have given me some idea of what happens, but as one girl I know said, "The actual event is terrible, but it doesn't last long and it's over quickly. It's what it does to you afterward that's really damaging." I don't think it's hard to imagine a rape happening, but I can't begin to comprehend the psychological damage and effects it causes to the victim.

Do your part; make sure everyone you know knows that helps is out there.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Skinomi

Trusty, but simple

At the end of last year I upgraded my phone. I went from a 2 year old Sanyo Katana to the new HTC Touch Pro. It was a pretty massive jump. My Katana could take poor quality pictures, send/receive SMS messages, play basic midi files for ringers, and had "internet" capabilities that were on par with my toaster's ability to make lasagna.

The Touch Pro is a great phone, kind of like an iPhone with a keyboard underneath. The front touch screen comes with a little plastic protector you can put it on it to keep it from getting scratched, which is a nice of them. Granted it's not a very high quality protector being little more than a piece of plastic that's sticky on one side. But it works.

Over the past few months of using my phone for just about everything except making calls, the screen protector had developed some faults. Little bits of dust and lint had worked their way under it, creating unsightly bubbles and flaws in it. Not amount of pushing or coercing could get the bubbles to move to the edges and gone, or even move them to a less unsightly position on the screen. So about a week ago I decided to take it off, clean it, and reposition it.

As it turns out, cleaning a cheap screen protector is like pulling apart duct tape that's stuck to itself--once it's on there it's on there. It also didn't help that while cleaning the screen I dropped the protector, sticky side down, onto the very lint/grime covered carpet. Putting it back on my phone was no longer an option. As with most touch screens, the Touch Pro screen isn't the most scratch resistant on it's own. Looking online for screen protectors, most looked to be about the same with each review saying they worked well. So I got on ebay an ordered one of Skinomi's TechSkin protectors for a few dollars less than they were selling it.

TechSkin Protector

It arrived yesterday. Taking it out of the package, I notice that it comes with a 10 step instruction manual for applying it. Apparently "put on phone" doesn't cut it these days. I really can't criticize the instructions much, though, because they did seem to work. First you have to take the battery out of the phone, clean it off with a lint-free cloth, wash your hands thoroughly, soak the protector for a minute before you peel it off the sheet it comes on, wet your fingers, peel it off, dip it in water again, shake off the excess water (keeping your fingers wet), apply it to the phone, straighten/flatten it with the applicator (piece of plastic with a flat edge), then dab it dry and leave it off for 12 hours minimum to dry completely. It's a long process, but you feel kind of like a chemist doing it. Or maybe a photographer. Either way it's almost fun.

The one issue with the process is that the Skinomi protector for the HTC Touch Pro isn't quite the right size. It's a little short, the speaker/light sensor hole is a little too long and a little too low, and the top goes over the rounded corners. I'm guessing it was designed for the Fuze, which was Verizon's version of the Touch Pro (still made by HTC, though). So after applying it initially I had to peel the edges off a bit and trim them with a scissors so that there were no edges that could be easily peeled off or catch. (Initially I tried to take a knife and run it along the edge cutting it, but Skinomi doesn't joke about their screen protectors--the knife on my Leatherman couldn't cut it.)

So my phone has a new protector now. It's not perfect as I said, and doesn't quite cover the entire screen, but it covers all the important areas which is what matters. It would be nice if it fit exactly onto the screen like the one that came with the phone did; it fit so exactly--the edges lined up exactly with the screen--I had forgotten it was on there until I tried to clean some lint off and found out I couldn't.

I think it was a good purchase, though. I like my phone and use it often; I don't want it damaged or scratched up, and if this protector could stand up to a rather sharp knife trying to cut it intentionally,

I'd probably order it

I imagine it'll do pretty well against unintentional nicks.


I hope everyone had a good April 1st. Google's CADIE was quite entertaining (anyone else catch the Star Trek: TNG reference?) as was ThinkGeek's, Blizzard's, and NIN's (a NIN album featuring Jay-Z, Sheryl Crow, and Bono would be quite interesting).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A (very) brief history of taxes

I know a lot of people that rag on Obama for wanting to raise taxes on the top income people in America. They claim that the tax rates are being raised and that won't help the nation recover at all and it'll just make things worse.

History disagrees.

Source: taxfoundation.org

I think that kind of speaks for itself. I just found it humorous that taxes are still over 10% lower under the proposed raise than they were under Reagan, who is often shown as a great champion for lower tax rates.

Look particularly at the tax rates in the New Deal: 63-79%. That is the closest economic situation to what we're at now. And people are declaring that Obama is "punishing the successful" with his plans and tax increases. Yet no one thinks the New Deal was a bad idea or hurt America or punished the successful.

I'd say more, but I really don't think I need to.