Sunday, March 29, 2009

36 and Single

That probably sounds sad, doesn’t it.  36 years old, and never been married.  (I’m only 4 years away from 40, dang it!)  I have known a lot of people over the years that struggle with not being married past the time when most of their friends have tied the knot.  I guess I’m just not one of those people, because being single is something that has never been hard for me.

When I have heard people saying things like “I want to get married so bad” when they aren’t even dating anyone, I just haven’t ever been able to relate.  I haven’t ever felt that way.  When I’ve had relationships that were going well and marriage might have been a possibility, sure, yeah, marriage was something that I wanted.  But I’ve never had a strong craving for it when I’m outside of a relationship. 

And to be 36 and single?  Shouldn’t that really bother me?  Maybe it should, I don’t know.  But when it boils right down to it, I don’t really feel like much is missing in my life.  It is very fulfilling.  I love my work, I love my hobbies, I love my surroundings.  I have a great family, and great friends.  I have opportunities to learn and grow all of the time.  I get to do the things that I enjoy.  And I don’t feel a lack of love or companionship.  There isn’t a lot about my life that would change if I could just snap my fingers and have everything made perfect. 

Not that I wouldn’t like to find a woman that I could love, and would love me in return, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.  Heck, I haven’t even met someone I could ask out for several years now.  But that is pretty much outside of my control, so it doesn’t keep me up at night.  I know that marriage is a wonderful thing when you find the right person.  But two people it does take, so I don’t worry about the half that is outside of my control.  And I make the best of every day that I have available to me.  And that makes me happy.

So even though I’m not married, I have a good life.  No, scratch that, I have a great life.  Sure, it could be better with someone to share it, but it sure isn't half bad now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New American Tea Party

If you’re as sick of the US Government handing out billions upon billions of dollars to companies when they shouldn’t as I am, join in on the New American Tea Party. 

Information from the facebook group:

We're a coalition of organizations and individuals from around the country that oppose the recent trend of fiscal irresponsibility in government at the local, state, and federal levels.

This isn't a conservative or liberal thing. This is about government forking over billions of dollars to businesses that should have failed. This is about taking money from responsible people and handing it over to CEOs who squandered their own.

Official Web Site:

List of gatherings:

Facebook group:

This isn’t meant as a partisan stab at anyone.  I didn’t like when the government handed out oodles of money under Bush, and I like the continuing trend even less under Obama.  I thought with the first bailout that it was a dangerous precedent to set, and it has indeed turned out that way.  The madness needs to stop. 

If a business is already bleeding money, why is it going to stop by giving them more?  These people have pretty much already proven they can’t be financially responsible, so why are we pouring more money into their organizations?  It’s irresponsible all around.  And, we, the American taxpayers, are going to be paying big for it for the rest of our (and our children’s) lives.  Isn’t it already way past time to say something about it?

600 Movies

My movie collection is fast approaching the 600 title mark… only 11 away now.  When I hit 500 a few months ago I thought carefully about what #500 would be (although I can’t for the life of me remember what it ended up being), and I’m now approaching another significant milestone. 

What do you think I should get for #600?  I’d like it to be something significant that somehow has been overlooked in my prior DVD purchases.  I know I’ve missed a bunch of amazing titles, and I’m curious what you think should be added.  Reply with your nomination.

My current collection listing is now (and always) available here.

P.S. Now that I think about it 600 sure seems like an awful lot.  If we were to attempt to watch all of them for movie night, it would only take 11 years, 6 months, 3 weeks to finish.  And that’s assuming we would finish each television season and several bundled trilogy collections in a single day, and that I not buy any more discs in those 11 years, 6 months, and 3 weeks.  Even one per day would take nearly 20 months.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I miss doing audio :(

Most people following my blog probably already know that in addition to writing software, I also enjoy photography, video, and audio.  Unfortunately in the last couple of years the number of opportunities I have had to provide audio for different events has declined.  And I miss it.

About 4 years ago I bought my dream audio mixer.  Not that I had bad equipment prior to that, but I was starting to do events that began to push the limitations of the equipment I had at the time.  So I broke the bank (many people buy decent cars for a lot less) and bought something that would provide for any possible need I might ever have, the Mackie TT24.  And it’s glorious.


As luck would have it, about the same time I bought it was the same time that my connections to different organizations that needed audio support started to decline.  I was excused from my singles ward, which had provided many opportunities (both for the ward directly, and for people I met in and through that ward).  And many of the people I had worked with in the past had left the area.  Fortunately I was asked to be the sound guy for a vocal group that performed about every other Sunday night.  That kept me busy for about a year, and I enjoyed it very much.  But when the director of the group moved on to other things, my connection to the group was severed.

At one point I was asked if I could provide sound for a large benefit concert with several very well known performers in Provo.  But ultimately the job went to someone else, ironically because they decided that my “quote was too low” which to them meant I wouldn’t do a good job.  (I was really just trying to give them the best deal possible.  D’oh.)

Sure, I’ve done audio for other events on a much smaller scale.  Karaoke parties, deejaying, aside from a few church functions here and there.  But none have had a need for audio on a large scale.  Which means that my mega-amazing mixer, speakers, microphones, etc. don’t get used very much.

One of the things in my life that provides sanity is being able to jump around between different hobbies.  Up until recently, doing sound for different events was a big part of that.  So I miss having the opportunity these days. 

So if you are a part of a group that has need for audio on a serious scale… professional quality job with high-end equipment, and you’re in my area, I’d love the opportunity.  And in many cases I’ll do it pro bono if it’s for a charitable group or a cause I believe in, just because I enjoy it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Got up too early!

I hate days when I wake up within a couple hours of the time I wanted to get up.  Because I never get back to sleep, and it makes me grumpy and unproductive all day long.

I should have slept until 10:00 today, but something woke me up at 7:15, and I haven’t been able to get back to sleep.  If it had been an hour earlier, no problem getting back to sleep.  Grrr.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take a Look Inside

I worked on a programming project about a decade ago that fundamentally changed the way I look at myself.  Sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? How can a programming project affect someone in that way?  Well, the project involved human psychological evaluation.  As part of the project I learned a lot about how people perceive themselves as compared to how they perceive others.  Since I’ve had a decade to meditate on and observe the principle, I think at this point I can safely say that I believe that the fundamental principle is sound.

It goes something like this… Because we live in just our own world and can’t truly walk a mile in others’ shoes, our perception of the world is skewed based on our own experiences, thoughts, feelings, etc.  And because of that skew, we tend to project our innermost characteristics on others, as if society in general thinks, behaves, and believes the same way we do at a fundamental level.

The net result of this is that our core beliefs about human nature tend to be a direct reflection of our own characteristics at their deepest level, independent of the way we actually perceive ourselves.  Thus, if we believe that people are fundamentally honest then we ourselves are probably honest.  If we believe that people are generally dishonest, chances are that we may have honesty issues we are dealing with.  If we believe that people in general are kind, we probably in actuality are kind to others.  If we believe that people are generally greedy, we likely suffer from greed ourselves.

I think we all tend to believe individually that we are generally honest, generous, kind… possessing many of the virtues that we would like to have, regardless of how we perceive others.  But because we can’t be objective about our own attitudes (we live in our own worlds and have no other experience to compare against) we really can’t be sure of how we are doing in any of those areas.  Thieves may believe that what they are doing is okay because they have concocted up some rationalization for their actions, so they don’t feel that they themselves are dishonest.  But most likely they believe that other people are fundamentally dishonest as well (and this probably even plays into their justification for their own actions).

So it boils down to taking a look at how we look upon society to learn more about ourselves.  Do we believe that people are fundamentally honest?  Do we believe that people are generally charitable?  Generous?  Trustworthy?  Do we believe that people are fundamentally good, trying to do what they believe to be right?  Or do we feel otherwise? If we tend to believe that society needs to improve upon a particular virtue, maybe we ought to work on that ourselves first.

The difficult part of doing this analysis is separating individual people from our attitudes of society in general.  We all know people who don’t measure up to what we would like them to be, and we have to exclude these people when trying to figure out how we feel about human nature generally.  If we were to compare our attitudes about one individual specifically the process doesn’t work.  We can always pick out someone we know that doesn’t possess any particular virtue; the trick is to exclude them from our attitude of people on a fundamental level.

In the 10 years since I learned this principle I think I can safely say that I have learned a lot more about myself, and I hope it has made me a better person.  At least my attitudes toward human nature has changed anyway.  So maybe I’ve made some changes too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Home again… and other mental meanderings

I actually got back from my Vegas trip last night, but I’m glad to be back home.  Not just because home is comfortable, or because the trip wasn’t fun, but because I finally have a chance to slow down a little bit and not have quite so many heavy demands on my time.  And it means that I can get back to 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and can actually go to bed before 5am.  The last 6 weeks of 4-6 hours of sleep was getting brutal.  Zzzzz.

Pizza Expo was fun… we had more people interested in our Point-of-Sale software than we thought we might.  And those that gave us the time to give a demo were pretty impressed by what we’ve done.  I’m not sure how many sales we’ll end up with, but it was certainly worth our time and effort to go and exhibit at the show, enough that we already signed up for next year.  And you can’t argue with the free pizza, bread, cheese, chicken, and drink samples the different food vendors give out liberally.  Yum.

Driving that far by myself always scares me a little bit.  When I’m the only one in a car I get pretty bored, which makes it hard for me to remain alert.  So generally I avoid driving more than about 2 hours by myself if I have a choice.  But thanks to the magic of long podcasts, Wake Up Juice (known to the rest of the world as Coke or Dr. Pepper, which I don’t normally drink otherwise) and a lengthy phone call in each direction, I was able to stay very awake and alert without any hint of drowsiness at all.  Sigh.  Maybe I’m getting over my tendency to get tired behind the wheel?  I guess we’ll find out when I head back to Vegas next month for NAB.  Exciting!

This Vegas trip was generally not good for my technological devices.  My Zune has developed some screen problems (I believe from being crushed by the weight of two laptops), and my USB hard drive really started acting up… it decided to corrupt about half of my music collection, and all of the video files I carry with me.  Not that I don’t have other copies (I do write backup software after all), but it was a little inconvenient.  But I think I can fix the Zune, and the dying hard drive is still under warranty.  Note to self: stop buying Western Digital hard drives; they always fail on you.  D’oh.

One good thing that happened to me technologically was that my GPS saved me a ton of time on the way home.  There was an accident on I-15 as I was leaving Vegas, so my GPS popped up a message telling me so, and it automatically routed me around it.  It had me exit from the freeway just before traffic came to a dead stop, and put me back on just after the lanes opened back up.  Very smart.  It probably saved me 30 minutes.  Woohoo!

I’m getting so ready for the cold weather to be over.  I’m not a fan of the cold… Summer is by far my favorite season, even though for several years running now I have felt like I wasted them by staying inside the whole time.  Hopefully this year I’ll actually leave my dungeon and see the sun.  Natural light!

Lately I have really become a fan of the TV show Chuck on NBC.  The ads that NBC has been using to promote the series since its inception 18 months ago had always scared me away; they play up the sexiness of the Sarah Walker character too much and focused too little on the premise of the show, which is about a kind but geeky guy (Chuck Bartowski) who “accidentally” has his head filled with top secret intelligence by a former roommate.  He then has to be protected and hidden from the bad guys by CIA (Walker) and NSA (Casey) agents, all while attempting to continue his otherwise mundane life.  While it does have a few moments here and there, fortunately the show is much milder in the exploitation department than I would have guessed from the previews.  I enjoy the humor that comes from the Chuck character (Zachary Levi) – his ineptitude makes him hilarious, but his innocence makes you love him.  Sarah “Jennifer Rebecca Katie Lisa O’Connell Franco Burton” Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) is both absolutely gorgeous and is intriguing on many deeper levels (why does someone who cares for someone and secretly craves a normal life so deeply still want to be a spy?).  Both Zach and Yvonne are pretty good actors too; their characters are easy to connect with, and you can tell what they are thinking and feeling at just a glance.  The whole Chuck/Sarah thing (known to fans as Charah) is the most intriguing part of the show and it keeps me invested as long as the relationship is growing.  I actually teared up a little bit in this last episode where Sarah openly admitted to a fellow agent that she had feelings for Chuck, and also a few minutes later when Chuck told Sarah (in a round about way) that he loved her.  Maybe its the geek in me that hopes that someday a beautiful woman will see past my nerdy exterior and see my inner self that makes me connect with these characters, I don’t know, or maybe its just that its a fun show.  But I very much enjoy it and its Charah plot line.  Tender.

Tonight for movie night we watched Signs.  I love that movie.  But then again I love any movie that addresses spirituality in a positive light.  We see way too much anti-religiosity in every form of media these days, so it’s very nice to see it portrayed in an uplifting way.  Yay!

Okay, it’s 2:30am, which is about where I want to be for my new bedtime.  So I’ll stop my textual vomit and head off to bed now.  Thanks for staying with me in this lengthy random post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So I’m in Las Vegas right now, pretending to be a salesperson for our Point of Sale software at Pizza Expo in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  (Mostly I’m making sure that the technology in our booth is working, and answering the more technical questions about our software.)  It has been a little while since I was here except to drive through on my way to somewhere else, so there were a few things I had forgotten (or more likely, mentally blocked) about the Las Vegas experience.

  • I hate the smell of cigarette smoke.  It fills every casino, hotel room, and even the out-of-doors up and down The Strip. 
  • There is too much flesh showing, no matter where you look.
  • Sex-related businesses are way too prevalent.
  • You never get enough sleep when staying in Vegas.
  • The idea of business conventions is more exciting than actually attending one.
  • Since it’s normally so hot here, casinos like to make their own “outside” by making walkways look like streets, and by painting the ceiling to look like the sky.  We went to a restaurant tonight and they asked us if we wanted to eat inside or outside… and by outside, they really meant next to the indoor hallway, not actually outside.
  • The Strip should be renamed to “Way too much excess of everything.”
  • I’ve heard way too much of the Key of C Major (the music played by slot and other gaming machines is in the key of C to avoid unharmonious musical nightmares).
  • Casinos are designed to intentionally make you get lost and walk in circles.
  • Affordable hotel rooms are disgusting.
  • No matter why you come to Vegas, you always leave with sore feet.  If you come as a tourist, it’s from walking.  If you come to a convention, it’s from standing.

On the up side, it looks like we might come away with some good, interested candidates for customers.  And the weather has been atypically cool, so we don’t bake every time we walk outside.  I actually needed a jacket today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

To Netbook, or Not to Netbook

For those not following the computer scene closely, the “netbook” is the latest trend in computers.  They are small, lightweight, lower powered, and inexpensive mini notebooks.  They typically have screens 9” or smaller diagonally, only weigh a few pounds, and are small enough to tuck away inside a bag without really noticing that they are there.  And price tags generally are less than $500.  Sounds like a good deal!  The public certainly seems to think so, too, because they are the hottest computers out there, occupying 18 of the top 20 slots in Amazon’s best selling notebook computers.

A few months ago I bought one of Dell’s Inspiron Mini 9 netbook computers.  I’m not sure what I thought it would be like, or what I would even do with it, but it was relatively inexpensive and you can never have too many computers, right?

The first thing you notice about them is just how small and light they are.  The pictures don’t do their size justice.  But the limitations become obvious pretty quickly as well.  I like the Mini for the most part, but I’d have to say after owning it for a while that I’m not sure I’d buy it again, and I definitely would not recommend one to anyone as their primary computer, or even their only portable, even if they own a desktop computer they’re happy with.  The manufacturers just have to make too many compromises in the design for these to be general purpose machines.

First off, I’d recommend totally avoid the models with a 7” screen.  That size of screen is just way too small, and the 9” models are now about the same price anyway.  But even the 9” models (like my Dell) suffer from some significant compromises to make them fit such a small frame.  The biggest irritant I’ve found is the keyboard; not only is it smaller than normal, but they generally have to move even frequently used keys to non-standard locations (in this case, the quotation key to the bottom row), or remove them altogether (in this case the F1-F12 keys), substituting complicated combinations of keys instead.  It makes typing anything other than web page addresses a frustrating experience, and no matter how much time I spend with the computer it just isn’t getting any easier.  It usually takes me much longer to type an email than it would if I were to go and find another computer somewhere else to use instead. 

The screens themselves are yet another problem.  The Dell I have is rated as having the best screen of any of the same-sized models available, yet it still has some issues.  There are no true blacks; everything is gray and washed out.  And if you look at the screen at any angle besides straight-on everything on screen gets washed out, and anything that is supposed to be black inverts and turns almost white. 

These computers also tend to be slow.  With slow processors, limited amounts of memory, and slow storage, they take noticeably longer to do basic tasks than we’re used to seeing on any other computer sold today.  Not that you’ll sit around waiting for a long time to get anything done, but nothing feels snappy; there is a significant lag to every mouse click, and even keyboard strokes sometimes.

So are netbooks ever appropriate?  They probably do have their place.  But I believe that in most situations where someone thinks they might need a netbook, a slightly more expensive real notebook would likely be more suitable to their real needs.  Decent notebook computers can be had for around $600-700 now, so they don’t cost that much more than their smaller cousins, yet they will have a significantly longer usable life due to the fact that they are much faster right out of the gate, making them more viable in the long term.  But if someone is considering a netbook, I’d strongly urge them to consider stepping up to one of the larger models, mostly for the more usable keyboard that comes on larger models.  Those with 10” screens seem to have found a happier medium than anything smaller. 

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