Friday, August 28, 2009

Just a link

I highly recommend reading this post from the Journal of Joe the Peacock. I'd write something myself, but I think he says everything I'd want to say. No sense in repeating it here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Couple, A Few, And Several

Unable to find a related picture

It seems fairly standard that if you say "I have a couple of (noun)s" then that means you have two of them. If someone is talking about a romantic couple, they mean two people. I'm guilty of not always using this term accurately. Sometimes if I'm referring to 3 things I'll say a couple. It's incorrect but I do it out of habit.

In the past two weeks I've had no less than three conversations with friends about this subject, almost always arising from someone (only once was it me) using the term to refer to more than two objects and thus causing confusion.


Googling it, I didn't find much on the subject. It seems rather accepted that a couple refers to two objects and only two objects, no more and no less. But the what is a "few"? What about "several"? "Many"? Here's my thoughts on this:
  • A Couple -- Two things. No more, no less. A couple always refer to two.
  • A Few -- Three to Six things. I once considered a few to be three to eight, but have since reconsidered and now classify it as three to six.
  • Several -- Seven to Eleven things. The reclassification of a few was to make it a bit more even between it and several.
  • Dozen -- 12, obviously.
  • Many -- 13-17
  • A Lot -- Any amount between 18 and 35
  • Dozens --36-60
  • A Ton -- More than 60, less than 100
  • 'Bout a Hundred -- 100, give or take 3 at a rough estimate
  • A Crapload -- More than 100, less than 200
  • Hundreds -- 200+
If you have any suggestions or wish to express your thoughts on the matter, I urge you to leave a comment and I will consider adding and amending this list.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RENT

This is art.

This morning I listened to RENT for the first time since high school.

Wow.

A few months ago I started listening to OK Computer by Radiohead and was reminded how it's a masterpiece of music. Today I'm reminded how RENT is a masterpiece of musical theatre. Maybe it's a bit more understanding of life, but the music, characters, and story are far better than I remember.

I know for awhile I wasn't a big fan of RENT simply because it was what everyone loved. The "dislike anything popular" mentality that I carried pushed me away from it. Now that I can listen to it objectively, I'm in awe.

Do yourself a favor today and listen to an album or CD you haven't heard for a few years--see if your old favorites hold up. Some will, some won't, but either way it'll be a fun experience.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

He said, She said

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the morning calling Bank and School trying to figure out why I don't have my student loans yet. It's not a dire situation--I have money saved up and I'm still surviving--but since tuition is due I'd like to pay it.

I call School first. Since it's the beginning of the semester the financial office is busy and so I'm put on hold. A choppy, automated voice tells me the average wait time is 7 minutes 34 seconds. Watching the clock, five minutes later it says the average wait time is 5 minutes 6 seconds. Five more minutes pass and the average wait time is now 5 minutes 36 seconds. Apparently they hired the guy who wrote the Windows file transfer time estimate for their wait time dialog. Eventually I get through and a girl picks up the phone, I explain my situation, get put on hold, and finally she says that they haven't gotten the ok from Bank to distribute the funds. About a month ago my loan totals were given to me and I accepted the amounts, but apparently Bank hadn't ok'd it yet.

Calling Bank they said School hasn't given them the amount yet and since School is on a "Do Not Contact" list, they can't even call them to ask for the required information to complete my loan. I recall two months ago something similar with a sheet of paper that Bank gave me and said I needed to give i to School, but School claimed they had nothing to do with it and gave it back to me, even though after I called Bank and they assured me School should have it.

So I call School again. Once again I go through the wait: 8 minutes 12 seconds, 4 minutes 48 seconds, 6 minutes 9 seconds. I get the same girl I spoke with the first time and explain I spoke with Bank and they're pointing the finger at School. She put me on hold for a few seconds. When she comes back she explains that they had thought the information had been sent to Bank but it had not--she apologized and explained they'd immediately send it over and I should have my loans by Friday.

The entire process took about an hour and a half. I figure at this point I'm already late for research so I go get a haircut. As fate would have it, the girl who cut my hair was the sister-in-law of a co-worker of mine at Barnes & Noble. Coming home I hop on my bike and head to School only to find my tires desperately need air. A bike pump is now on my list of things to purchase next time I'm out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Overqualified

I want this book

If you've never read A Softer World, go read it now. (Ok, maybe not all of it since there's 474 comics in the archives, but reading some of them will give you an idea of what style of humor. It's a style I quite enjoy.) Then read this review for the book OVERQUALIFIED, written by the writer of the comic, Joey Comeau. It's perhaps the best book review ever written. (For my more conservative readers, it doesn't contain strong language but does reference some sexual situations. Just a warning.)

While you're doing that, I'm going to try and work out my financial aid for the semester.

Friday, August 21, 2009

iTunes U

Free classes on your iPod

Yesterday I discovered iTunes U.

I know it's been around for awhile, but it's not something I ever really looked into. Each day I walk about 20 minutes to the Clyde building on BYU's campus, and with iTunes U I now have MIT lectures on electrical engineering to listen to--one of which is on the very subject I'm doing my research in. It's quite handy.

There are also other lecture topics I've found from Oxford and Yale on theology, ethics, and psychology. Just fun things to listen to.


And it's all free.


Take a look at it--it's in the iTunes Store.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Of Coin Tosses and Shuffles

Great if your ipod fits in it

I've been using the purple iPod Nano to go running. I ordered it after my previous one was stolen and it's been very effective, but since the 4th generation Nanos are a slightly different shape than the 2nd generation, my armband doesn't work as well; the buttons don't line up and the screen is covered. Two weeks ago I decided I wanted to get a 2nd generation iPod Shuffle to go running with. You know, those little things that look like stamps but play music and would probably illicit a cockeyed look from your postal carrier if you attached it to a letter.

I look around at Best Buy, Simply Mac (the authorized Mac store in the area), and online. All the prices seemed the same across the board, but Apple.com offers the red color exclusively (part of the (RED) campaign) and orders come with free engraving--something Best Buy is sorely lacking. I figure if the cost is the same, I'll wait the few days for delivery and get an engraved (RED) iPod.

The question then is, what do I engrave my new iPod with?

I want something fun and friendly, maybe "Smile!" or "Enjoy life." Perhaps something motivational, like "Go running" or "Go to the gym. Now." That's when I remember the universal greeting from Transformers, "Bah weep granah weep ninny bong." It's a universal way of saying 'hello' and being friendly. That's exactly what I want for my iPod!

At the purchase order, I notice there's a box for discount codes. Recently I've become a fan of discount coupons online--a quick Google search will usually bring them up and can lead to savings from free shipping or 5% off to as much as 15-20% off if the stars align in your favor. So I do a quick search for iPod discounts. I don't find any coupons, but I do find a link to the refurbished iPods which run 20-33% cheaper. The downside is that engraving isn't an option, nor is the (RED) color. On the plus side, they do have the 2GB model, which is currently unavailable new.

Having picked out my new iPod--2nd generation, 2GB version. The question is what color. With the options presented--blue, green, silver, pink--I'm torn between green and silver. Silver matches more things, green has a bit more flare to it. (I'd consider blue, but the color is just a bit too bright.) Unable to decide, I ask my brother for a coin: if it's heads, I get the silver, if it's tails, I get the green.

Let the Fates decide

Right as I'm about to flip the coin, my brother chimes in.

"If it's on it's side, you get the pink one." He suggests.

"Alright." I shrug. And I flip the coin.

It lands on the carpet. Bounces once. Twice. Then rolls and comes to rest comfortably on the carpet. Against my shoe. On it's side.

My brother erupts in laughter.

Something that has always been important to me is being a man of my word--if I say I'll do something, I'll do it. I agreed that if the coin landed on it's side I'd buy the pink iPod Shuffle. The coin landed on it's side. (Plus arguing with the Fates like that just didn't seem like a good idea; they could cut my thread at any time. They're cold and callous towards humankind; I wouldn't be able to persuade them.)

My new iPod

And now I own a pink iPod Shuffle. It's named the Pink Dwarf Bleeding Heart (it's a type of flower).

(I found out after it was delivered that 2nd generation iPod Shuffles have issues with Windows 7 currently. That is, Windows 7 will recognize the iPod and say everything is ok, but songs won't load on to them. After RMAing the first one sent to me Apple sent me a replacement, and since it has the same issue I started thinking it wasn't the iPod's fault. Searching online I've found a solution, here. It's not as long as it looks and it works. If you know anyone with Windows 7 and an iPod Shuffle and they're having this problem, pass the solution on.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hakuna Matata

What a wonderful phrase...

When was the last time you said "Hakuna Matata" and just let things slide?

I think the world would be a much better place if we all just let things go every now and then and enjoyed life instead of worrying about it.

Hakuna Matata.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Socks

Life is good

One of the small joys in this world that is far too often overlooked is that of new socks.

If you're like me, socks aren't really something you think too much about. I have about 15-20 pair that I wear regularly. Other than perhaps making sure they don't clash terribly with what I'm wearing, I don't really focus too much on them. They're only there to make my shoes more comfortable. I might buy new socks once every 2-3 years at most.

And no one likes to receive socks as gifts.

Last Christmas I realized I had been wearing the same socks since about high school when my Mom bought me some. I figured it was time to update, so I asked for a bunch of socks. My Mom is well aware of the "no one likes to receive socks as gifts" rule and so she double and triple checked that it wasn't a fake request or an accidental addition to my Amazon.com wishlist. I assured her it wasn't and that I legitimately wanted socks.

And I got socks.

I didn't get as many as I would have liked, but I still got a lot. (I asked for about 24 pair, enough to overhaul my entire collection. I got 12 pair, enough to replace the beaten up and sad socks in my drawer.) I've picked up a few more pairs for myself in the past few months, too. Since my old socks are still in circulation I tend to wear them more often than the new ones, and since I only have about 16 pairs of underwear I end up doing laundry before getting to a majority of my new socks.

Obama knows where it's at

Every now and then I'll pull out a rarely worn new pair and wear them, and every time I do that, I'm reminded that good socks are one of the small, simple, and great pleasures of this life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Support

I ♥ pandas (and nature)

Men's Health had an article in it last month about charity work. The author spent a month--I think it was a month; I don't really recall and don't feel like looking through the article to double check right now--and volunteered at different charities. He helped out at homeless shelters, walking animals at the pound, and playing BINGO with the elderly, among other things. It was a good article about altruism.

One thing he pointed out in the end was that after doing it, he's more likely to give money to charities since he saw what even little donations can do to help. After reading that, I remembered an e-mail I got last week and wanted to mention it here.

There's a new service called HotelsCombined.com that works along the lines of Travelocity and Orbitz (except without the flights) that's doing a promotional deal right now to get their name out: if you join their group on Facebook (here) they'll donate $5 in your name, if you tweet about them (just mention HotelsCombined.com and what charity you support) they'll donate $10, and if you mention them in a blog, they'll donate $20.

It might seem minuscule and unimportant, but the fact is a simple mention of them on Twitter or a few clicks on Facebook or a mention on your blog can add up. I can't vouch for the quality of the site or the rates of the hotels through them, but if they're willing to donate $20 to the
World Wide Fund for Nature just because I'm writing this blog, then yeah, I'll write it and bring this to the attention of others.

It's a small gesture and it's a small donation, but small donations can make a big difference.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sabbatical

I'm taking a sabbatical from my blog. Probably not for much more than a week, maybe two, similar to the hiatus I took a couple months ago.

Since I've been home from work I haven't found myself with 8+ hours a day in front of a computer with nothing to do. When I don't have anything to do on the computer now, I find something else to do, be it studying, reading, playing guitar, going to the gym, or just making lunch. I still get ideas for blog posts, but I've found they usually come in the afternoon.

With that, as before, during this break I'll probably write a few posts and take it easy. But I just wanted to let you all know, updates won't be coming this week. To the people who enjoy my updates, thank you for your readership and I hope this week won't put you off too much.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nothing

I've come down with a cold. I blame going to the gym and the lack of hand sanitizer at Gold's Gym.

Maybe Monday I'll write more.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What I support

I support life.

I support sustainability. I support nuclear energy, wind energy, hybrid cars, painting roads and rooftops white, recycling paper and pop cans, donating old clothes to homeless shelters and I support government grants and financing to aid research in new sources of energy and technology. I support the Circle of Life as taught to me by The Lion King and I support driving my car to work each day because it'd be a pain to walk 28 miles. I support free education and sharing sources and looking at new ideas with an open mind. I support questioning the purpose of existence, whether we exist, what it means to exist, how we can know we exist and what to do while we exist. I support living with nature since we're mammals and a part of the world just like Simba and Pumba and Flipper. I support biology, chemistry, psychology, psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology, nephrology, dentistry, orthopedic surgery, and I think we need to bring back phrenology because the busts were awesome. I support philosophy and mathematics and physics. I support growing your own food organically and I support buying from local farmers markets. I support cooking with olive oil because it's good for you and makes everything taste better. I support reading and creating art just for the hell of it and creating offensive art just for the hell of it. I support local charities and national charities and worldwide charities. I support celebrities going to other countries and helping to build wells and schools and just making the lives of the people who live there a little brighter if only for a day. I support holding the doors for women with children, old women with walkers, old men with canes, and cute girls with lowcut tops. I support free range poultry, pork, and beef. I support wild caught salmon. I support only taking what you need and giving back as much as you can. I support leaving places you've been cleaner than when you arrived. And that includes this planet.

[Check out this site:
http://www.experiencetheplanets.com/ It's a work in progress, but shows promise of being quite cool.]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's easy when you have nothing else to do

Currently I've got a month off. No work. No school. Just free time to study (which I've been doing) and relaxing (which I've also been doing).

One goal I've set for myself during this month is to get back to the gym and get my meals planned out better. For the past month I didn't really care what I ate and hadn't been to the gym in about five months. I wanted to remedy this so that it's a habit while in school. When I was finishing my senior year I was going to the gym regularly and it helped clear my head and focus me--I always did better on tests after going to the gym (studies actually do support this) so I want to do that again. I started this week.

I've found it's about as easy as I remember it being when I was in college. At the time I would make Jared go with me--he was a great guy to work out with and just be around in general. It gave me someone to be accountable to and kept me pushing myself harder as Jared's taller and bigger than me, but I wanted to try and match him. My goal was to catch up to him, his goal was to always stay ahead of me. It worked out quite well.

When I started working full time in an office I found that at the end of the day, after six hours of sleep, sitting at a desk for nine hours, and an hour in the car, coming home to an overheated apartment with a broken AC unit, I had absolutely no desire to go get sweaty at the gym. This severely hurt my gym attendance.

It's amazing how much easier it is to go to the gym when you haven't been at work all day. Going to the gym is something I'm starting to like again (my back disagrees after deadlifting today). I'm excited to get back in shape; I miss feeling energetic and able to run. I think this month will be good for me.

[My AC unit was replaced today; my apartment is livable again!]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Epic Monopoly

Classic Edition: nothing else

As Mark pointed out in his comment of my previous post, on Sunday last weekend I did in fact play an epic game of Monopoly and I completely failed to mention it. At 9AM I'm not the most lucid and my memory tends to be rather short-term.

Monopoly has become something we play on Sundays. We in this case is my Brother, a few of our friends, ane of course, me. We don't play friendly rules nor fair rules--we play to win. This means if you land on someone's place and they don't notice before the dice are rolled by the next player you get away free. This also means if you land on someone's place and you can't pay you're forced to mortgage everything and on top of every dollar to your name till you can pay your debt. If you mortgage everything and still can't pay, you're out of the game and the person you owe gets everything.

As my Brother put it, "In Monopoly, all morality and honesty is forfeit. We play to win." And it's a blast. (I should point out we don't tolerate lying in the amount you pay when taxed or paying someone, only that you can sneak by properties if no one catches you.)

The game that was played last Sunday was, as previously stated, epic. It was our 2nd game of the day and we only had three players. Within 43 minutes Mark was out of the game and it was down to me and Jeff; I had 3/4ths of the board and hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place; Jeff had a few places but no Monopolies so he couldn't build anything. The game was mine.

Feeling cocky I tossed Jeff Virgina Ave and States Ave to complete a Monopoly for him--the magentas right after the jail. I figured I had the game in the bag so I'd give him a sporting chance. He took the opportunity to build three houses on each, which I then landed on and he upgraded to hotels. Next round he managed to pass Boardwalk and Park Place and I, again, hit St. Charles Place (the 3rd magenta). This pattern continued: he would pass through Boardwalk and Park Place hitting either the Luxury Tax square or jumping them entirely, I would hit his hotels every time around. In a few turns, I was down to only Boardwalk and Park Place, still with hotels, but nothing else beyond $27 cash.

Then Jeff landed on Park Place.

He was so rich at this point that he shrugged and paid me the $1500 in three $500 bills. I took them happily and then the next round gave him back $750 for landing on his hotels. I was still alive though.

A few more rounds passed and Jeff hit Park Place again. I un-mortgaged some places, built hotels on the cheap purples, and went around again. For the next 2 hours Jeff and I went around passing money back and forth, each going from owning all the cash in the game to almost nothing.

Eventually after 2 hours and 47 minutes, the game ended after Jeff hit Park Place three turns in a row.

Rags to Riches

Throughout the game we each went from completely-sure-we'd-win to what's-the-point-in-even-rolling-the-dice about three times.

I gave him the two magentas to give him a sporting chance, and it prolonged the game for another 2 hours making it one of the most eventful Monopoly games I've ever seen.

And we're going to play again on Sunday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day One

WARNING: Boring blog post ahead!

It's my first day off work and at home. I woke up at 8 AM almost on the dot; apparently after a year of having to be at work then my body just thinks it should be awake then. While I wouldn't say I was happy to oblige, I was ok with it as I want to go to the gym this morning.

I'm going to try and keep up the daily updates here, but we'll see.

[I warned you.]