Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Photo evidence of my encounter with Vai

I put the remaining pictures of my day with Vai up. It's an annual ritual to go see him if he's touring once a year. These pics are all from Sept. 30th at Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Should I be worried?

From the September 17, 2007 issue of Fortune magazine.

There are no Fastest-Growing Companies in this state.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Letter of Apology

Dear VA plate JPX-2457,

When you passed me a few days ago, heading straight in the right-turn only lane, I thought to myself, "there goes another inconsiderate driver". I remember wondering if you failed to understand what the big white right pointing arrow and the huge lettered "ONLY" markings in the road were for. I can see how one could miss the signs approaching the intersection about the right lane with all of that traffic sitting idle in the straight lane. It must have been distracting as at your speed you would have been trying to avoid hitting the stopped cars in the road.

For thinking these thoughts I want to apologize, I now realize I jumped to a hasty first impression. After witnessing you pass the 15 or so cars all patiently waiting their turn in the straight lane again this morning, and barreling down the right turn only lane, I realized you must have a special license that grants you these privileges. It was so foolish of me to lump you into the same category as other people who have no regard for safety on our roads.

Obviously your important and critical position at work makes it imperative that you arrive promptly, with no time lost waiting in traffic with the "common" folk. I'd like to know how you qualify for the type of license that allows you to disregard the "regular" rules of the road? I'm hoping I might qualify too. I could use the extra few minutes in the office to write my creative blog posts, get an extra cup of coffee, or talk to office mates about some fantasy football.

I'd also like to know what other privileges this special license affords you. I already witnessed the speeding and tailgating that you demonstrated further after rolling through the stop sign. Those are good perks for those cases were you get trapped behind those pesky law abiding citizens. I did notice you used your blinker just before your abrupt lane changes, is this a requirement, or were you going for some style points? I'd think signaling your intentions to others should be well below your stature with this special license.

I'd specifically like to know if this licenses allow you to turn right-on-red even when the intersection is posted against that ability. Or better yet, can you make the right-on-red turn from the center lane? On my way to work I could use that clause to cut out a whole light cycle I think.

I'm prepared to waive my personal safety and the safety of others if that is required on this special license application. I can't wait to hear back from you on how to proceed. In the meantime, I'll be watching for you to see what other perks you have, as I'm sure there must be some other options available to you.

Thank you, and again, sorry for thinking those harsh thoughts the other day.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The end of summer is upon us

Originally uploaded by yzrm1
This dude totally has the right idea.

Well I'm way behind in my master plan to kick of the BoD. Not for a lack of participation, but just because it's hard to get myself enough inertia to stick with it. I'm still moving forward with the topic (I'm being elusive on purpose here, as there just may be people who read my posts that shouldn't know the topic just yet.)

Don't abandon all hope, ye readers, I'll get back to this brilliant idea shortly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 and BoD update

If you take a peek over on the right side of my blog you'll see an update playlist from I was using an RSS feed to populate this until this morning when I switched it to this supplied widget. If you haven't played with yet, I'd advise you to do so. If you like music half as much as I do, you'll enjoy the ease of which you can hear tons of stuff you didn't know existed and discover some great things to listen to.

On a separate note, I've received 3 positive responses back to my BoD invitations. Now that I have my motley crew assembled I need to give them some direction. I'll be back when I've completed that.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Baseball conversation with a 7 year old

This evening as I put my oldest daughter to bed we talked a bit about baseball and softball. I asked her what a home run was. You might expect her reply to be a simple definition of a common baseball term. Instead I was reminded that her experiences and understanding of the world is something I get to help shape. I find I can take as much delight in explaining the details of a sporting event or watching her participate as I did when I was a kid participating in them myself.

Below is her definition of a home run:

It's when you hit the ball so hard that you can run around all of the bases. I think you get 1 point for each base you touch. If you make it to home plate you get to bat again. But I'm not sure, I don't know that much about baseball.

I have a feeling we'll be having more of these talks...

Monday, July 30, 2007

I need a Personal Board of Directors

I think there is some benefit in building a close-knit, small group of advisers to help make informed, logical, and non-emotional decisions. I've been thinking about this idea for a while now, and I'm going to send off an email to a few friends to see if they would be interested in conducting an experiment of this sort.

The questions to answer are:

  • If I ran my life like you run a business, could the structured approach produce better results than I could make on my own?
  • Expanding on the 2 heads are better than 1, could I gain valuable insight from trusted friends who have a different, unique perspective than I?
  • What subjects would be off-limits? (I would prefer these guys remain my friends after this experiment)
  • How much personal information do I want to share, anyway?

Here are my ideas on building this team so far:
  1. The Boards (BoD) goal will be to review status reports and provide guidance on the subject at hand.
  2. Reports to the BoD need to be detailed but brief. This should be a low volume of material to maximize the time they spend, and hopefully improve the likelihood of receiving data back.
  3. You have to compensate the BoD for their efforts. (Ex. Guys weekend in Myrtle Beach or something)
I need to work up the format of the status report, and provide some synopsis of what I hope to get out of each topic. I've got a perfect test case in mind for the experiment, let's see if I can find 3 takers to kick of my BoD.

I'll report back with my progress.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On the path of Lincoln

I love to read, and like many people I've developed a list of my favorite authors who I like and the subjects that interest me. But I also like to pepper my reading list with some randomly found material. I figure, like art and music, there are tons of stuff out there I would like if I knew it existed. I've two ways to do this:

  1. I randomly pull books from the shelves in the library, no rhyme or reason. I break the adage of judging books by their cover, because thats the only criteria I have for this method. Occasionally I find something I really like and then I add to my list of authors/subjects that make my more planned reading list. Other times I can't wait to return the book.

  2. I look for books used in movies and TV shows, whether in references or quotes or actually shown on the screen. I particularly like the books lying on the coffee table or on the night stand that have nothing to do with the show/flick. I figure there must be a good reason the director put that particular book there where I can just read the title on the binding. I'll look them up and see if I think it would be a good read.
Method 2 just recently lead me to Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. In an episode of Big Love Bill Henrickson has a copy of this on his seat in his truck. It's only shown for a few seconds, but it was long enough for me to take an interest. I've become quickly engrossed in the book. This is my first venture into Goodwin's work, and I can bet I'll be seeking out some of her other work.

This weekend I plan to travel to Pennsylvania to, among other things, take some pictures of the Strasburg Rail Road, where in 1861 Lincoln made a stop. It will be a fitting coincidence to the book I plan to carry along with me on the trip.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

History is written by the winners

American author Beau Riffenburgh wrote in The Myth of the Explorer: The Press, Sensationalism and Geographical Discovery of the injustice of attributing the finding of the Northwest Passage to Sir John Franklin rather than correctly to Dr. John Rae:

"Historians and geographers have agreed that what is perceived to exist or happen is equally as important as what actually exists or happens." He goes on to suggest that this is the case "because they could be designed for the consumption of select audiences - geographical societies, financial supporters, scientists, or the general public - bearing in mind little other than the benefit to the press and the explorers."

While Riffenburgh was writing of Arctic explorers, this same could easily be applied to the reasons and rationale provided at the time for invading Iraq. What is the truth but the rationalization of the actions you are about to undertake. If you are convinced you are correct in your conclusions, you'll find and cite the evidence that appears to strengthen your case. Only in hindsight do we have the data to determine if the "truth" was a convenient fabrication, and we'll judge the legacy of those who pitched us the truth appropriately.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I've decided to enter the world of microfinancing by signing up with Kiva. I really like the concept of providing seed money to someone who posses the desire and drive to better their lives, but lacks the financial ability to start their own business.

Picture a mother of three working endless hours sewing beads on a dress for a global conglomerate in a third world country. She makes so little income that she struggles to feed her family. Then ask yourself, "If she had her own material and equipment, could she raise her standard of living and provide a better opportunity for her children?" She may not have any way to get a loan as she has little collateral to offer or a bank's refusal to loan to women, or she is illiterate and cannot complete the required paperwork. We know she posses the skill to do the job, doesn't she then deserve a chance to succeed?

Enter the world of micro-financing. I can loan an underprivileged individual that has a true desire to improve their lives some money to purchase that sewing machine, tools for auto repair, a refrigerator to store their produce. They get the seed capital, the responsibility of re-payment, and a vote of confidence that they can improve their situation. Studies have shown that small loans, with set terms have an extremely high repayment. (In Kiva's case 100% repayment, but the Micro-finance industry as a whole has a repayment rate of 97%)

Kiva handles the paypal collection of money for me, I can fund in increments of $25 my Kiva account. Then I can browse or search the Kiva listing of individuals that are seeking the loans. Once distributed to the recipient, Kiva provides updates on the status of the business the individual is using the loan for. I get re-payed once the loan term has completed.

I don't make any interest on the transaction, and its not considered a donation so there is no tax break, as slight as that may be anyway. I just feel good that I'm trying to do something.

You check out my lender page if these types of things interest you.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CEO pay

I don't have a lot for you today, so I'll provide some food for thought.

Based on an April 2006 Wall Street Journal survey, for 2005 CEO pay was 411 times what the average worker made. If minimum wage had grown at the same pace, it would be worth over $22/hour.

In 1990, CEO pay was 107 times the average worker pay. I think you could argue that performance of companies since 1990 hasn't improved, so why the insane rate of growth for CEO's?

Think about it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Csangos? What's that?

Glad you asked, I've been meaning to explain this for some time.

In May 2006 I read an article in National Geographic magazine about a small community of people who could be identified with both Romanian (cultural) and Hungarian (language and religion) traits. This group of people is considered a minority population and called the Moldavian Csángós. Mostly neglected by the Catholic Church, suffering from assimilation into Romanian culture, and pretty darn poor.

Considering just over 796 people elected to call themselves Csángós in a 2002 census, I figured I had a pretty good shot at "borrowing" this as an online identity. Estimates put the total number of Csángós somewhere near 60,000. I'm betting many of those don't have an Internet connection.

It served four purposes for me:

  1. It was unique enough that I was given a high probability of capturing this name in many on-line communities.
  2. It provided an endless opportunity to explain where I came up with this funny looking identity.
  3. It provided an educational topic, seriously, have you head of the Csángós before you read this?
  4. Oh, and I think its kind a cool sounding. (Try to say it like this: "Chain - Go")

Monday, February 5, 2007


On the left side you'll see the most recent songs I've been listening too. This is updated in pretty close to real time, well at least when I'm listening to music. I'd like to add a similar feed for movies and books I've watched/read. So I've added that to my to-do list.