Friday, February 29, 2008

How To Waste A Day

1. Get on the Internet.

2. Download and install Google Earth.

3. Run Google Earth program.

4. Watch 6 hours of your life disappear.

I have a curiosity (some say it's an obsession) with places I can't go. I love seeing what's around the corner, behind the door, and on the other side of the hill. My love of covert military operations further intensifies this curiosity.

After reading about the B-2 Stealth Bomber crash the other day, I thought it would be interesting to look up Guam and Anderson Air Force Base to see if I could see any of the 4 B-2s stationed there, sitting on the tarmac (my favorite word in the world).

While I didn't find any B-2s out in the open, I did see a bunch of other jets and cool G.I. Joe style buildings.

So then I looked up Edwards, and Whiteman, and Vandenburg. Then I started looking up U.S. bases in Iraq. I perused the different camps at Guantanamo. I saw Area 51 and the Nevada Nuclear Testing Grounds.

I am in voyeur heaven. I have a bird's eye view of all the places I can't access, all at my fingertips.

Today I'm feeling less militant, so I'm going to tour some UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Guy's Good

The other day I pulled into a Mobil in Valencia to fill up the tank so I could make my trek back to Egypt.

As I began to fill the tank (and empty the bank account), a Honda Element zoomed in on the opposite side of the pump. I barely noticed as I was deep in thought, brought on undoubtedly by the gas fumes.

My visions of evil oil executives disappeared in a puff of smoke when a guy's head peaked around at the pump.

Guy: Is the gas any cheaper over on this side?

Me, coming out of my daze: Huh?

Guy: I was just wondering if gas was any cheaper over on your's an arm and a leg over here.

Me: Nope, it's the same on my side.
At this point, I couldn't tell if the guy was hitting on me or just being super friendly. It was a little awkward, much like urinal talk, but it was a good line so I went along.
Guy: Do you have a long commute home?

Me: Yep, all the way out to the Antelope Valley.

Guy: Wow, and you work here in the industrial center?
I preceded to tell him what I did for a living then there was a long, pressing silence. I figured it would be rude of me not to show interest in what he I bit.
Me: How about you?

Guy: Have you heard of Yeah, I set up successful online franchises so folks like you can make extra money, or even work full time from home.
In the time it took me to fill up my tank, we had gone from complete strangers to being one "Wow, that sounds interesting" away from being hooked into his work-from-home spiel.

I was the helpless Millennium Falcon locked in the Death Star's tracking beam of this guy's pyramid scheme sales pitch.

Thankfully, the clack of the gas nozzle shutting off broke the sales pitch trance I was in and I politely wished him a good day and said it was time to hit the road.

Reflecting back, his pitch was beautiful in so many ways. First, I was compromised because I was caught off guard. Second, I fit his mold perfectly - long distance commuter filling up for the ride home wondering how much this tank was going to cost (in dollars and in hours worked that day). Finally, like a good magician, he led me down the path he wanted me to take. Bringing up high gas prices and the commute, but making me question him about his work instead of forcing it on me.

I bet he didn't even fill up, he probably drives from station to station preying on commuters like me. If I was that close to biting (and I usually have a pretty good sales pitch radar), his hit rate must be pretty good.

Anyone else have any good sales pitch stories to share?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Photoblogging Monday!

After two fun & wet days at Disneyland, it is back to work. I will post my review of Club 33 tomorrow if I remember.

This shot was taken at sunset on Wild Burro Cove (long after resident burro left). The problem with sunset shots is that they all look the same after a while, so it is hard to pick one over the other.

Thanks to Fortune, who already posted a photo with our house boat during sunset, it was easy to eliminate any of those.

Sunset Behind The Temple

Friday, February 22, 2008

And Then There Were Two

I received my rejection notice today in the form of an email from Harvard. You'd think for the $70 application fee they charge, they'd at least give me the courtesy of sending me a letter with their official letterhead to frame next to my others.

My goal is to have a "HALL OF REJECTION" (said with deep voice and ultra echo effects), with framed and matted rejection letters from all of the top schools in the country. I think a lase
r printed email will look kind of tacky. Maybe Harvard is really a tacky school?

That leaves USC and Stanford.

In other news, I owe the IRS $1500 this year, down from almost $4000 last year. What makes paying taxes even more ridiculous is that I'll write them a check on April 15th, then they'll send me an economy stimulus check for $1200 sometime in May (hopefully). Would it be that difficu
lt to just reduce the amount I owe by what I'll be refunded, so I only have to come up with $300? Naw...that would make too much sense.

I have the pleasure of spending all weekend at Disneyland, including a lifelong dream of eating at Club 33 Saturday night. I really hope it rains!

Here's a picture I snagged backstage at Disney...makes me wonder what happened on July 12th, 2006.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nothing much to say

I'm brain dead this week from 48 hours of lake cruising then the glory that is tax preparation.

I have little motivation to write or read anything, and nothing interests me. But that's OK.

Since you took the time to stop by my humble blog, I'll leave you with some interesting words of wisdom snagged from Seth Grodin's blog:

It's too easy to criticize hope. And in the end, cynicism is a lousy strategy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photoblogging Tuesday!

Thanks to a dumb traffic signal at the 58/395 junctions, I was unable to beat this week's deadline for Photoblogging.

Today's photo isn't necessarily the pride of my portfolio (if I was to have a portfolio), but it has a story behind it.

It comes from this weekend's house-boating excursions on Lake Mead. We were looking on the map for a nice place to beach for the night when we came across Wild Burro Cove.

Who was there waiting for us when we came around the bend?

Resident Burro

Friday, February 15, 2008

Off For The Weekend

Barely recovering from back to back nights of entertainment (Wicked and Barry Manilow) and I'm off on a house-boating trip on Lake Mead for the weekend. I'll be back Monday for some long overdue photoblogging!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Farewell New Haven

As I have mentioned before, applying to Yale was like buying a lotto ticket - knowing you're not going to win, but there's always that chance your $1 could turn into millions, or in this case, the right admissions officer saw the right thing in my essay and looked past my mediocre GPA from a State school. Since there's only a day or two from when you buy the ticket to the big drawing, you must have a plan in know...just in case.

I've had 3 months to plan and dream. I'd have to arrange a cross-country move, lovely wife would try to find work in Connecticut, and I'd have to update my exclusively t-shirt and jeans wardrobe.

Last night I found out that my lucky numbers weren't drawn.

The evil business #10 envelope (the type rejection letters are sent in), was cruelly tucked in the junk mail between the Arby's coupons and the El Torito ads touting Chef Pepe's newest creations, so I missed it completely in the first pass through the mail.

My emotions are quite mixed. Of course I'm sad that this long shot didn't play out, but not in the way that thousands of other rejects are ,who undoubtedly have much more invested in the process than I do.

I'm proud of the fact that I applied, that was a big step for me. I'm also somewhat relieved that I don't have to move to New Haven (although I'd still be happy to move to Cambridge or Palo Alto!).

Around the time I was submitting applications, I stumbled upon a Google TechTalk video on game theory. It stated that an applicant should rank the schools from most to least desirable. The highest school on that list that accepts the applicant would be the ideal match, making the assumptions that the admissions officers know how to choose a good fit for their school, and that the student can aptly assess the schools. This has worked successfully in the medical field matching doctors with residencies.

Instead of betting the farm on one particular school, I am playing the field. My heart is set on the highest school on my list that I get accepted to, not just the first school on my list. I'm tickled pink that I had offers from high up my list before I even applied to the lower end of my list.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Humbled Already

A necessity for law school is Black's Law Dictionary (Unabridged). It is a thick black-leather bound book that is not exorbitant, but runs close to $100.

I've been looking into getting one, if only to get into the habit of looking up words I don't know.

The other day I found myself at Barnes & Noble so I decided to check out their law section. It was easy to find, I just looked for expensive looking, dull books.

After thumbing through the U.S. Constitution and some do-it-yourself divorce books (note: I'm still happily married to my lovely wife), I came across the infamous Black's hiding on the bottom shelf.

A little chill ran up my spine as I decided to learn my first Latin lawyer word. I let the book fall open, a little past half-way through. I was in "P". I let my eyes wander naturally to the first word it picked up -

Pilot: (n) someone who flies a plane
I bowed my head, slowly closed the book and returned it to its spot on the bottom shelf.

Lesson learned.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Favorite Bloggers

One of my favorite blogs is by marketing guru Seth Grodin. I'm always fascinated with the workings of corporate America. His bits of wisdom that he shares for free on his blog are not only marketing gold, they also carry over into to real life.

For example, a recent post talks about getting 'soggy':

"New organizations and new projects are so crisp.

Things happen with alacrity. Decisions get made. Stuff gets done.

Then, over time, things get soggy. They slow down. Decisions aren't so black and white any more."

He then describes reasons for this - new, successful projects draw attention and review. Such scrutiny tends to slow progress.

Another issue is the fact that the longer a project is around, the more often decisions are made that may overturn past decisions. The may me admitting that those decisions may not have been as good as previously though. Not something someone is going to be in a rush to do.

Now this stuff obviously pertains to new product roll-outs, revamping a web site, or tightening a production schedule. But when I start thinking about things I do, like deciding to exercise (woohoo, I finally spelled exercise correctly my first attempt!), or moving junk on Ebay, it starts as a great idea. I'm highly motivated for a week or a month, then it slowly fades back to the status quo, which for me, is eating cookie dough and playing Wii.

Unfortunately, Seth doesn't give a fix for this (you probably have to buy the book), but he does say that just being aware of this phenomenon helps.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waiting, waiting

I heard back from UCLA, and I was neither denied nor accepted. I've been wait listed.

If I hadn't already been accepted to two other places, I'd be really anxious right now. It is nice to know that a place I figured I had zero chance of getting into thought I was good enough for a maybe.

They said they can notify wait-listers up to the first day of classes of their acceptance. I won't be holding my breath waiting to be accepted.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Does Your Vote Count?

Many would think that the greater the margin of victory, the less impact each vote has and vice-versa. But it seems that the opposite may be true - the closer an election is, the less weight your vote has.

For example, in the Democratic primary it is expected to be a tight race. If Obama and Clinton are neck and neck after today, it is likely that the final decision will be based on the voting of the 800 Superdelegates (about 20% of total delegates), who are free* to decide for who they want as their Presidential nominee. Thus, your vote counted only in that it put the decision in someone else's hands.

In 2000, the same was true in the Presidential election. Had that been won by a landslide, your vote would have counted. Since it was too close, votes of the Supreme Court Justices were the only ones that mattered.

Maybe I'm a little pessimistic (I usually get that way after eating too many cookies), but while people are raving about how great our system is, producing a leading woman and a African-American candidate, I'm wondering why it has taken 230 years to do so.

*free - meaning whoever the DNC political machine wants as a candidate

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl Reflections

In lieu of Photoblogging Monday, I am posting a few of my thoughts on yesterday's game.

  • I thought about going on record on Friday with my pick - the Giants winning by 3, but forgot.
  • So now everyone is thinking, "Yeah, sure!"
  • Bill Belichick is a sore loser.
  • I'm surprised there's not more discussion on the Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th and 13 while in field goal range.
  • Lack of faith in your kicker will ultimately come back to haunt will letting Adam Vinatieri go.
  • Ryan Seacrest should never be allowed to host anything related to football again...ever.
  • Did anyone catch the New York vs. Boston skit FOX ran during the pregame marathon? It was the worst thing I've ever witnessed on TV. I never expected to see a Westside Story throwdown between football fans.
  • I miss the Bud Bowl and Crystal Pepsi.
  • SuperBowl ads don't live up to the hype anymore.
  • This was an amazing catch:
    (Larry W. Smith / EPA)
  • Apparently, the Patriots were trying to patent "19-0", but it was already taken by the Denver Broncos.
  • The New York Giants tried to patent "18-1".