Friday, December 18, 2009

What ‘almost home’ looks like and weird ads


Yay!!! My college kid is almost home! She’s actually coming in early (is that even allowed?) so I hope the Mrs. has made it down there in time to pick her up. We’re very excited to have her home for Christmas.

Now, what is up with those weird ads on the flight status?
What makes them think that I want to go to Iceland? Or need a lawyer? And the DUI?
I’m guessing the click-through rate on these ads is essentially ZERO.

Until now. I clicked on each one several times. Just for the heck of it – in the spirit of giving.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Xbox-mas


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from our digitally rendered family, to yours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I’m on the “5k-a-day” plan

As some of you know, I do some weird stuff to pass the time when I’m traveling on business. Who can forget my “Vegetarian-for-a-week” activity in Manhattan? (Actually, being a vegetarian in Manhattan is not much of a hardship because there are great places to eat ANY kind of food.) Or my attempt to smuggle two bottles of Israeli Diet Coke back to the US through security? (Yes, their Diet Coke really is THAT good.)

Thankfully, I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to, but I am on a trip to Montreal right now visiting a partner.

I’m staying in the beautiful Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel. As usual, I don’t sleep well when on the road, so I’m taking generous advantage of their 24 hour fitness center.

Yesterday was my first day in town and I was on the treadmill. I meant to run two miles. However, since my mad metric conversion skillz are a little rusty, I decided just to run 5k instead. I’ve never done a 5k race and while my trail run (closed for the winter) is about 5k, I don’t run it solid as some of the hills are steep. So this seemed a fun challenge.

Then I decided to run another one today. I just finished, having shaved several minutes off my time to get done at 33 min 10 sec (that time is in metric, so you may need to convert it).

I don’t have to go to the office tomorrow until 9:30, so I’m going to run another one in the morning before I get dressed and check out.

Three 5k runs in three days. That’s pretty cool.

By the way, Israel may have the chosen Diet Coke, and Taiwan’s Snickers bar may be beyond compare, but Canada has introduced me to the sensual pleasures of the Kit Kat 70% Cocoa Dark.
Canada, it’s not just Smarties and ketchup flavored potato chips anymore!

Friday, November 20, 2009

School Paper: Assessing Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

The following is a short paper I wrote recently for a humanities class. The topic was about defining happiness and the theme of “the American Dream”. Had to wait until it was graded so the plagiarism checkers wouldn’t think I was stealing from myself. :-)

Assessing “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Figure 1 - From the Declaration of Independence (Wikipedia)

The Declaration of Independence, the cornerstone founding document of the United States of America, contains the oft-quoted phrase:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Jefferson 1776, ¶2)

More than two centuries have passed since those eloquent words were penned, but modern immigrant Americans continue to embody the spirit and power behind these words. As an American by birth, I love my country and having spent many years living abroad, I recognize the advantages, and, in some ways, the superiority, of it compared to other systems. Yet I don’t know what it means to have chosen this country. The immigrants who continue to come to the US by the millions have chosen this country to be their own. Sometimes that means they are only here to work and take advantage of the economic climate and upward mobility. Even in troubled economic times, there are no limitations on the ability of a person to work their way from one “class” to another within our system. This stands in stark contrast to some other cultures. For example, the formal caste system of India holds down millions from reaching their potential without regard to how capable they may be. Truly, this genuine opportunity, reflected by the numbers of people who continue to “vote with their feet,” is one of the enduring achievements of the American experiment.

Examining the visible artifacts of the pursuit of happiness of the modern immigrant population, one finds that, in a 1996 analysis by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (Peters 1996) immigrants were the sole inventor or a collaborator on more than 26% of the patents issued between 1988 and 1994. This is all the more impressive when one considers that first generation immigrants represent less than 9% of the US population in this period. Among the inventions identified in this study are:

· A simple process for diagnosis of kidney disease invented by an Italian immigrant.

· In-home vital sign monitoring equipment invented by a Polish immigrant.

· An electrical generator cooling system invented by an Indian immigrant.

· Aeronautical controls for the space shuttle invented by a Norwegian immigrant.

These more recent contributions in science and engineering join the long list of contributions by immigrants through the history of the United States and crossing the spectrum of fields of endeavor. To name just a few, Albert Einstein - physics, John Muir – environmental awareness, Joseph Pulitzer - publishing, Charles Simonyi - software and Madeline Albright - politics (Immigration Update).

The enduring contributions of American immigrants, both recent and historic, are clearly manifest and yet too numerous to count.

There is, rightfully, much debate about legal versus illegal immigration. It is not the purpose of this paper to enter into that debate on one side or the other. Regardless of the legal status of a particular immigrant, it stands to reason quite clearly that every immigrant coming to the United States is making the de facto assertion that this country best meets at least their immediate needs in enabling their own pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That may mean they are seeking economic opportunity that social, economic, or political structures in their homeland would deny them. This can be the case even in ostensibly “free” countries – as was the case for Ian Crawford. Mr. Crawford was a native of Scotland by was “dissatisfied with the opportunities” there (Peters 1996). In other cases, their priority may be to escape oppression, such was the case for Mitchell Budniak (Peters 1996), a native Pole whose parents were escaping forced servitude in Nazi Germany during World War II. Today, you see the same familiar echoes among new immigrants arriving from China, Central America, and tumultuous African nations. They risk all for a chance to come to America, work unbelievably hard and sometimes in virtual slavery to human smugglers. And still they come just for the chance to someday control their own destiny and provide a better life for their children and their children’s children. Indeed, the American dream lives on and with it the ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is perhaps worthy of note that the Declaration calls out life and liberty as rights, but not happiness. It is as if the founders are telling us that while a free republic can guarantee life and liberty, the best it can do for happiness is to guarantee our freedom to pursue it; to chase that which we each define as endowing our own lives with joy.


Immigration Update (n.d.). Famous American immigrants. Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Jefferson, T. (1776 June). Declaration of Independence. Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Peters, P. (1996 March 6). Invented in the USA: Immigrants, Patents, and Jobs. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Wikipedia (2009 September 24). Thumbnail excerpt from The Declaration of Independence. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Levi Johnston…your 15 minutes are up!

I saw a headline on where Levi Johnson, Bristol Palin’s baby-daddy, said in his Playgirl interview that Sarah Palin is “full of it.”

leviLevi Johnston: Proof you can
pile crap more than 6 feet high! 

Sorry, but is it such a slow news day that the continued ranting of a two-bit loser from the frozen north are used to defame or at least detract from a grown-up? Let’s lay aside for a moment that Sarah Palin has been elected to numerous state and local political offices and is basically the only reason anyone at all voted for John McCain in 2008. And let’s lay aside the fact that high-school drop-out Mr. Johnston’s sole claim to fame is that he managed to slip one past the goalie when he wasn’t actually playing hockey.

So a proven A*%@&~ whose strongpoint is clearly thinking only of himself and for whom disrespecting women seems to be a hobby, resorts to his only possible career path – posing nude – which should probably be viewed as yet more abuse of women, with a criminal defense attorney acting as his agent. Well, that’s his second career, of course. His first was knocking up the governor’s daughter and then splitting – not sure if you need a special tag for that in Alaska or if just anyone can do it from a helicopter.

My daughter just mentioned that she saw that Levi was on the same talk show as Jon Gosselen where they were asked which did they think was the better father.
My mom says, “People judge you by the company you keep.”  
She’s pretty smart. Jon Gosselen should stay away from Levi so people won’t think ill of him…Jon that is.

This just in…Jon says Barak Obama is “full of it!” There. Hey MSN, when do I get my headline?

…13…14…15 <DING>
Time’s Up, Levi. Back to the tundra for you!

P.S. Weight loss update: I’m at 185. That’s a loss of 65 pounds since May 28th.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Return to Zen


In my previous post, I talked about the untimely death of my Creative Zen Micro and my plans to replace it. I’d forgotten at the time about EBay!

I’m pleased to report that only one lost auction later, I was the proud owner of a Creative Zen in the exact same color scheme as my old one.


It included everything from the original package plus a new extra battery. So now I have four 12 hour batteries. I can Zen my butt off now for 48 hours straight! And for a fraction of the price of a new player.
It even included the earphones, which I promptly threw in the trash.
As an added bonus, the player was loaded with a very eclectic music collection. Like some kind of digital audio voyeurs, my wife and I actually took the player on our date last Friday and listened to all the weird music in the car and tried to figure out what it told us about the guy who sold it to me.

When I went to plug it into Windows 7, I was bummed that it wouldn’t work. After some searching, I realized that I needed to update the firmware to the version released in 2005 that didn’t need special drivers anymore.
You can only do this process on Windows XP, but the amazing (!!!!) XP Compatibility Mode in Windows 7 came to my rescue and that all worked perfectly.
Apparently I did this before with my old one, but you’ll have to forgive my forgetting, since I did it FOUR YEARS AGO!!!

My new old Zen is now happily dispensing karma in my car and I’m again able to secretly listen to music from Evita and Les Mis – which doesn’t necessarily make me gay – but, I admit, it doesn’t help.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My moment of Zen…or not

You may recall that back in January, I posted on my very durable music player, a Creative Zen Micro. Sadly, after years of devoted service, it is no more.


After my recent trips to Portland, I’d lost track of it for a couple days and finally found it in one of the gazillion pockets on my laptop bag. Unfortunately, when I turned it on, I was greeted with a mysterious failure screen that looked something like I was booting Linux on my Zen. It suggested I reformat the hard drive, which I did. I let it run for my whole commute home, about 40 minutes. Once I got it into the quiet of the house, I could hear the tell-tale death rattle tick-tick of the hard drive.
Poor little guy…it didn’t have a chance.

So, after exhaustive moments of grief, I did what every red-blooded man would do with something broken…I took it apart. I discovered that the defunct hard drive is just a little Hitachi Compact Flash drive. Of course, it is dead, so fat lotta good that does me. And replacing it would not have been worthwhile anyway. Just for the heck of it, I did stick it in my PC and listened to its hopeless ticking sounds for a few moments.
Although, I do want to point out that even in this dismantled state, if I put the battery in and turn it on, it does start to boot – which is pretty impressive. He just keeps giving.

So now what? Keeping in mind my genuine distaste for a media player that won’t work with Windows Media Player, iPods and Zunes are off the table.
I want something that has at least 8GB of space. 16 gig would be nice, but I’ve gotten along with 6GB all this time and am a notorious cheapskate, so 8GB looks like the place for me.
I couldn’t care less about video on my music player.
I don’t want a converged device. I don’t want an MP3 player on my camera or a phone on my MP3 player. I just want something with great battery life that I can leave in my car.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of me and the digital music player market has outright collapsed compared to a few years ago. zenmozaic

Having been so happy with my Zen Micro, I naturally went out to see what Creative had these days. Leaving aside the big glass screened video playing devices, it looks like the uniquely butt ugly Zen Mozaic would be their contender. I just don’t think I can do this to myself.
According to the review I read, the screen sucks but it has a 30 hour battery life. Sadly, no more removable batteries.

So what else is out there?

My wife has a 6GB Sandisk Sansa (below left) that is pretty nice. Unfortunately, they don’t make this one any more. The new Sandisk offering is the Sansa  Fuze (below right). It’s OK, but I don’t like the little square look they’ve got going.


A possibility, but it just doesn’t turn me on.

So that leaves us with the Sony Walkman E-series. Yes, I know, Sony screwed up on their first attempt at digital music players with their own goofy format, etc. But they’ve repented and these new units work great with Windows Media Player and PlaysForSure music.


This little guy has a 30 hour battery life and weighs under two ounces. And it is pretty cheap.
I think this is the one that will go on my Christmas list.

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's official...

I awoke this morning to the bizarre news that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for......."hope". Yes, that's right. So while you can't return an item for "spite", you can now receive awards for "hope".

That's right, not for anything he's done, but for the hope of what he could do. And keep in mind that the nominations closed in February, right after he was inaugurated.

In other, and arguably related news, Chicago is expecting record breaking snowfall this weekend.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, hell seems to have frozen over.

So I guess he really did stop global warming after all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Brother...continued

Here it is the night before my brother's funeral.
Preparations are relatively in-hand. In as much as they ever could be.
My oldest brother and I had the difficult privilege of dressing Bill for his funeral today. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this is considered to be a final act of service and honor for the deceased. While it is not a doctrinal point, it is certainly the normal practice and tradition for family members or close associates in the church to perform this duty rather than leaving it to the professionals.
We were accompanied in this by Bill's wonderful bishop and two close friends from his local ward.
I'd never done this before and was very nervous about being go through with it. I'm not a wilting violet and I've been around, but this was, after all, my dear brother.
I was most impressed with the sense of calm and the feeling that it truly was a charitable act that pervaded the experience. I consider this truly a blessing.
Anyway, I'm not going to go into details, but I am glad to have been able to do this part of the preparation. We've been so focused on serving Bill's family, which is certainly appropriate, that it was nice to do one last thing for him amidst all else going on.
He was a super guy and I already miss him greatly.

Finally, if I could just give a plug for preparation. Please consider doing the following, none of them cost anything:
  • Round up your important papers. If you are a veteran, PLEASE dig out your original DD214. This is the key for your family to access veteran's benefits. Some of these, such as burial at a national cemetary, wouldn't be able to wait the 4-6 weeks it would take for your family to order a copy from the archives.
  • Write down information about your bank, brokerage, and other accounts. Include passwords for web sites. Keep this in a safe place, of course, but do it.
  • Think about your desires for your funeral services. Do you have particular hymns or music you like? Who would you like to give your eulogy? Any preferences for location, flower types, charities, etc.? Talk to your loved ones and then write this down. It is too hard to remember clearly when the time comes.
  • If you have benefits from your work, like life insurance, how will your family access that? What is the point of contact? What's the process? Find out and write this stuff down too. As it turns out, this is pretty hard for your family to figure out.
  • Create a checklist to see your loved ones through the final steps after you are gone.
  • If you are able, set aside some amount of money to provide for needs until the life insurance finalizes. Something like $5000-$10,000 that your survivors can access quickly and easily.

I mentioned to my wife that, while I'm certainly a proud veteran, I wouldn't feel worthy of including military honors in my funeral. I think many veterans would probably agree.
Well, the diva of the castle doesn't and says she will do what she thinks is right - and that includes the honor guard and flag. So not much I can do in the face of that kind of determination. :-)

But I do try to write down as much of this other stuff as I can, and I've learned that there is more to do. Yes, the ultimate in pre-planning is to have your funeral paid for in advance and your casket purchased, etc., but there is much that can be done for free.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One of my brothers passed away


Very unexpectedly got word tonight that one of my older brothers passed away tonight. He collapsed from a massive heart attack at home and never regained consciousness despite the efforts of the paramedics.

He was a good man and leaves behind a wife and four children. Since they live in the Portland, OR area, we’ve always spent more time with them than my other brother, who lives in California. Whenever we’ve lived in Washington, we’ve always gone down to their house the day after Christmas to celebrate Christmas and his wife’s birthday.

I count myself lucky enough to have just spoken to him on the phone tonight for about 45 minutes. We were planning to have them up for Thanksgiving and he was just going to send an email to his boss to make sure he got it off. (He was a maintenance guy for luggage scanners at the Portland airport.)

He was always interested in talking about the Gospel and was a Sunday School teacher in his ward. He has touched the lives of many and will be sorely missed. Just tonight we were talking about some gospel matters related to the Fall and Redemption. Even now he probably has learned (or remembered) the answers to many of the questions we were talking about.

Some things you might not know about Bill:

  • He could cook amazingly good Japanese food. Usually while spouting wise or clever Japanese idioms – in Japanese.
  • He was in a Beach Boys cover band when he was in high school and used to play a killer saxophone.
  • He made a pet out of a very mean feral house cat – named “Cat” of course.
  • When I was little, like 12-ish, he took me to the movies a lot. Seems like every time a war movie comes on TV, I say, “Hey, Bill took me to see this when I was little.” A Bridge Too Far, The Eagle Has Landed, and more. He also took me to that awful first Star Trek movie.
  • He liked to play Risk.
  • He had our dad’s gift of being agreeable with just about everyone – even people he knew were complete idiots. :-)
  • He was known to sometimes <ahem> “go commando” in his younger years.
  • Right before he left on his mission he bought a red Trans-Am.
  • He used to be a welder, a sod carrier, a builder of mobile homes, an auto mechanic, a soldier, a silicon fab worker, and an electronics technician. Some of those jobs he liked, some he hated, but he always knew how to provide for himself and his family.
  • He was the keeper of the family history – both the genealogy and the stories.
  • Every time the family was together he’d find a way to work in the story of how my mom was driving him around on a paper route when he was a kid and (allegedly) laughed when a dog chased him. (Note that my mom does NOT deny this.<g>)
  • When he was going to be married, he drove me from Utah, where we lived, to California where his wife-to-be lived so I could stay at my other brother’s house until our parents came for the wedding. When we stopped at a gas station in Sacramento after driving all night, he got out his toothbrushing stuff. I wanted to get mine and he said, “Hey, you aren’t going to be kissing anybody, just wait in the car.”

Thanks, Bill. You were are always a good brother. See ya later.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ladys and Gentlemen...The Beatles!

I've just come from picking up my copy of The Beatles for the Xbox 360 at GameStop.
It is only the crushing press of scheduled afternoon meetings that is preventing me from even now claiming Swine Flu and making a bee-line home to my fake plastic instruments to take it for a spin.
One cool thing is that it includes a Beatles shirt for your avatar. I can think of at least one person at my house who will be very excited about that.
And another cool thing that I noticed from the package is that you can have up to six players, which makes sense - drums and two guitar/bass plus up to three microphones.
As a bonus for pre-ordering - which I did yesterday afternoon, it comes with a code for three free download songs that apparently you get to choose from a selection. There's only one public downloadable song right now ("All You Need Is Love"), so not sure how that will work. I left it all in the car so I could actually get some work done this afternoon.
I also have a class tonight, so I won't actually get my mitts on this until about 7pm.
We picked up our new and improved drum controller (with cymbals) on Monday and it is pretty cool. Can't wait to take it for a spin on the Ed Sullivan show or in the Cavern Club with the Fab Four.
BTW, MSNBC had a fun little piece on the "funnest Beatles songs to play". I also saw some mention about some of the things Harmonix did in the development of the game to make it more approachable for n00bs who just want to play some Beatles music - like having all the songs unlocked out of the box and having Easy Mode always be "No Fail". Pretty smart.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

In honor of Labor Day and the end of Summer, I wanted to recap some of my non-vacation activities.

Worked. Including re-orging twice. Sigh.

Moved into a cubical. New office is nice, but this is my first experience in a cube. As cubes go, it is OK, but definitely a step down from an office.

Took 4 college classes. Mostly just lame ones that are requirements for my degree.

Lost over 45 pounds since Memorial Day. Currently at 203 and headed to 180 by the end of November.
My approach? Exercising more and not eating anything. Simple as that. I eat about 1200 calories per day and run/walk about 2.2 miles M-F and a 3.5 mile trail run on Saturday.
This is great, except none of my clothes fit and I’m too cheap to buy more.

Other than spending some time with the kids while they’ve been home, overall it was a pretty sucky and uneventful Summer.
Here’s to (probably an equally sucky) Fall and Winter and I’ll see if I can redeem myself next Summer.

But, hey Shadow Complex is awesome and The Beatles comes out this week, so I guess that’s something.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


There’s a very sad and important message in this somewhere.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

What I learned in the dart booth at the church picnic

And no, it isn’t about religion. It was about economics and the role of the market in moderating demand. In other words, it was about health care.

feelluckyIn our church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), we have an administrative unit called a “stake”. It is a group of congregations, kind of like a diocese in scale. Anyhoo, we have an annual picnic and usually something like 3,000 people come and there’s food and a band and stuff. This year, each congregation (called a “ward” for those playing along at home) also had to put together a little carnival type booth – face painting, old time photos, bean bag toss, etc. I was in charge of our effort (or more precisely, I was our effort, by choice, not complaining) and I put together a dart balloon popping thing. And all these booths and activities were free.

A guy in our ward (a single congregation) who is fanin the toy business had donated some pretty cool prizes. They were samples he’d had sitting around for some time I’m guessing. There were squeezy balls that looked like panda heads. (Ummm…and no, I don’t know why you’d want to squeeze a panda head.) And there were these very cool battery powered fans that lit up in the middle. His one rule about donating these prizes was “don’t bring these back to me”. Both the fact they’d been kicking around awhile and that he didn’t want them back will come into play later.

OK, so the rules of this game were simple.
1) Age 11 and under, throw from the closer line.
2) Over 11, throw from the further back line.
3) Three darts to a turn.
4) Pop a balloon, win a prize.
5) If you miss, you still get a piece of candy.

See? Simple.

I’ve played this kind of game at carnivals and amusement parks. There’s rarely a big line. The odds (for me) of winning a prize are better than most carnival games. And the itinerant serial killer carney working the booth seems to have plenty of time to blow up more balloons and put them up to replace the ones that are popped by suckers valued guests.

So here’s how it worked out for me in the nearly four hours I manned the booth…

A line quickly formed that ultimately extended about the equivalent of a block. That line stayed the entire time and, I’ll add, consisted of many of the same people. The only other booth with a line was face painting. Not even the food line was anything like this in length or duration. This was the Space Mountain of the Bellevue South Stake Picnic 2009. If you can separate Mormons from free food, and it isn’t a multi-level marketing pitch, you’re really on to something!
The lesson some of the organizers tried to take from this was, “Wow! people really like that dart game.”
NO! It wasn’t that they liked the dart game. They wanted the cool prize!
And so it began…

Issue #1
“We need to leave, do you mind if my child gets in front of the line?”
We had several of these in the time the booth was open, and people would just acquiesce and let the person go to the front. I mean, it was a church picnic after all.
But, seriously, what kind of person does this? What a wonderful life it must be to feel like your situation is soooo unique as to go ahead of 100 people waiting in the sun to try to play a free game to win a fan – that they only really think they need because they are standing in the sun trying to win one.

Issue #2
“This fan you gave me is broken! I need another one!”
Some people were nicer about this than others, but some were kind of angry about this. I mean, it was a free game, and I was happy to replace the fans, but holy crap.
As it turned out, the fans had about a 30-50% failure rate out of the box. In most cases because the batteries were dead or leaking.

Issue #3
“Our booth ran out of prizes, can we have some of yours?”
I gave them a case of 100 fans.
Then they ran into the failure rate and came back and said, “Hey, a lot of those fans don’t work. Can you give us another box?”
To which I said, basically, “WHAT? Howzbout you get your own prizes for your own #%$^@# booth?!?!” (well, not quite, but that’s what I said on the inside)
Then they started sending people with broken fans to my booth to get them replaced.

Issue #4
People showing up at the booth with three, four, or even five fans dangling from their belt.
On the one hand, I didn’t care because the mandate was to give people something to do and to get rid of these prizes, but it was an interesting experiment that, because it was free, people suddenly developed an insatiable appetite for these fans.
A side observation was seeing kids having “fan fights” where they would stick their spinning fans into each other and the fan that broke was the loser. Then the kid would get back in line and win another or just come and claim that it was broken and get another one.

Issue #5
“Hey the fan you gave my daughter got caught in her hair! YOU should be more careful about the prizes you give out to kids!”
“Dear brother in Christ, YOU should have smarter kids who, oh I don’t know, maybe don’t stick freakin’ motorized spinning things next to their head!”

The Lessons
The Role of Markets
supplydemand Markets moderate demand. When demand goes higher than can be sustained at a certain market price, the price increases to the point where demand slackens to a more sustainable level.
If each time someone played the dart game, they had to pay a dime, or donate a food item to the homeless, or use one of a rare set of tickets that were provided, or some other currency of the moment, they would weigh their “wants” much more carefully.
THIS is the thing I didn’t anticipate. I had to interrupt the flow of the line to put up more balloons, or find darts in the grass, or whatever. There was never a slack moment in demand.
At the end of the day, I still had a bunch of these fans and I just started giving them away to the people waiting in line and some people would reach in the box and take three or four of them and then ask if I had more.
Demand for the least worthwhile of goods becomes insatiable when the price is zero.

I noticed that one of the booths, started putting a dot on kids hands when they did their activity and not allowing repeats. I think it was the cotton candy booth. One kid was sad because they had dropped whatever it was and then couldn’t get more of it. Not that kids need more cotton candy or popcorn or what-have-you, but the only way to limit demand is a strict ration and that can be unrelenting and harsh in the face of genuine need. (or perceived need)
I didn’t do this, although I though of it, because, again, I wanted to get rid of the fans. 
In a market driven economy, the market forces do the rationing by allowing people to choose what is most important to them.
In a centrally planned economy, these choices tend to disappear either by direct government action or through the reactions of market forces to indirect government intervention into that market.

It was genuinely surprising how a control group of unusually nice people at a church picnic could quickly feel entitled to these prizes. “Hey, my dart bounced off that balloon! Is this rigged?” (Yes, sir, I’ve rigged this free game of skill and chance so I can get money, power, jollies?)
Not too mention those people in the neighboring booth who seemed determined to have equal access to the prizes I’d arranged for MY booth.
And when the event was over and the organizers told me I needed to shut down, I still had people coming up wanting prizes while I was cleaning up and being clearly disappointed that they were gone – while they had two or three fans in their hands right before me.

So to end my sermon, brothers and sisters, I’ve spent an afternoon in ObamaCare, and it looks a lot like a dart game booth at a church picnic.
Only we won’t be clamoring for our fifth lame light up fan. We’ll be begging for our first necessary appendectomy while our doctor consults the bureaucracy to see if we should just maybe take the pain pills instead.
Be afraid! Be very afraid!

And, by the way, keep up the fight, we’re winning. Thanks to folks like David Hedrick. Semper Fi Cpl Hendrick. (As we all know, there are no “former” Marines, no matter what Sean Hannity says <g>)

And, all kidding aside, I can’t end this without a big shout out to the H’s, the C’s, and the T’s for all the help blowing up balloons. To P for the prizes. And to my family for their patience while we got through this lame assignment. :-)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Freezing My Own Green Beans (and other firsts)

No, that’s not a naughty euphemism.

We have a little garden going this year. Basically just:

  • Green beans
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkins

I’m not the world’s greatest gardener but I’m determined to have something to show for this year’s effort.

Our tomatoes are coming on strong, but haven’t ripened yet.
We’ve already harvested two crops of spinach and are ready to plant another row.
Our carrots are progressing – slowly.
Our pumpkins look promising. I suspect they’ll be supplying Jack-O-Lanterns for us and some of our friends as well.
Our zucchini has, of course, done well. I think I read somewhere that after a nuclear war, all that will be left is cockroaches and zucchini. It is about all I can do to harvest them when they are young and tasty before the become useless engorged beasts.

beansblanch And our green beans have been great. We’ve eaten some and had some in the fridge, but we can’t keep up, so I found a page on the magic interwebs about freezing them. Some boiling water. Some ice water. Some freezer bags. Bada bing! I did it.

I’m now officially pioneer stock. Next I’ll probably be tanning hides and making soap.

Another first…selling a car on Craig’s List
I may be the last person on earth to have sold a car on Craig’s List. What’s more, it was a broken (repairable but not by me) Nissan Sentra.

Two firsts in one day. Pretty nifty stuff.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three men and a Biden

The AP story on Obama having Sgt Crowley and Professor Gates over for a beer and peer mediation session contained this portion that just struck me as pretty funny. (I’m including a screenshot of the story in case they change it later.)


That put me in mind of this great Hollywood production…


(Barack has just learned that NO ONE messes with Joe!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Soldier Demands Apology for Obama-Care

Continuing on the healthcare motif…you’ve got to love this video of a soldier schooling Clair McCaskill on the meaning of her duty to the Constitution – courtesy of RealClearPolitics.

Of course, Ms. McCaskill wasn’t actually at this town hall to my knowledge, but a brilliant statement nonetheless.

Monday, July 27, 2009

…and among these are life, liberty, and insurance…

Sorry I haven’t posted for quite a while. Work and summer time fun have been taking an unfair share of my time.

declaration I was thinking about insurance. In an effort to identify common ground, I think any rational person would have to admit that it is unfair that an insurance company can charge exorbitant rates based on pre-existing conditions, charge different rates based on lifestyle choices, age, where you live, and even gender – if you can believe that still goes on in the 21st century.
Then, heaven forbid you need to make a claim. Then you’ll have to deal with sky-high deductibles and confront an insurance agency that wants to steer you to their preferred network of providers.
And the more you need them, the more likely they are to jack up their rates or drop you entirely.

Maybe insurance really is a basic right. Maybe there should be a publicly funded option.

You’ve heard all this before, I know. But in my case, I’m talking about car insurance.
That’s right. Remember what it was like to buy insurance as a young, unmarried male? And if you have had an accident in the past you may need to sell a couple vital organs when the bill comes due.

Seen from the point of view of the insurance company though, they’ve got years of data that backs up the fact that a young man  driving a Nissan 350zx or a Mustang is more likely to get in anMUSTANG_HIGH accident than a 40 year old married woman driving a Honda Odyssey. And they have equal stacks of data that tell them that it costs more to fix a door ding on a Bentley than a smashed up Celica.

And if you don’t like their service, you can move from Progressive to Geico (as we did some years ago). If you want a local agent that covers all your insurance needs, feel free to pick State Farm.

I hope to most people, the idea of national car insurance seems ridiculous. But, really, is it any more ridiculous than national health insurance?
Some would say that medical care is a basic human right. After all, the Declaration of Independence says “life” is an inalienable right. But it says the same about “the pursuit of happiness”. Despite decades of light-rail dreaming from social engineers and city planners, a car is the gateway drug to the pursuit of happiness in America.

Most people value the fact that we can pick a company, coverage, deductibles and payment terms that suit our car insurance needs. Why would we accept less from our medical insurance choices?
Some of you may remember when you could buy a so called “major medical” insurance policy. That is, a policy with a high deductible and affordable rates that was really intended to kick in to cover very significant medical bills. This was a great choice for young people who were generally healthy but wanted a degree of insurance protection. In most states, this type of policy has gone by the wayside as states have placed heavy requirements on insurers.
For example, here are the Mandated Benefits as dictated by Washington State and Federal Law. Note that mammograms are covered, as is chiropractic care and prenatal screening. I’m sure this is a great comfort to any young single man who thinks chiropractors are nuts. And yet, there is no provision (as near as I can tell) for changing benefits or rates based on gender or other such factors.

We don’t need more government intervention in health care.
What we need is more choice and more market forces. And the ability to charge rates corresponding to the projected consumption of services. If choice is good enough for your car, isn’t it good enough for your health?

Liberty…so easy a caveman could do it. (and another of those inalienable rights, by the way)

Some resources for the health care debate:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

6 credits - the easy way

Yes, yes...I'm still working on my Bachelor's.
I'm trying to wind it up quickly though and so I found a couple tests that would count toward some missing upper division credits in social science and electives.

I just took and passed the DSST test "The Civil War and Reconstruction".

Minimum passing was 47. I got 66.
Took about an hour and cost $80 but that is way better than taking a class for a couple months and spending $1500!

The questions are pretty detailed. Not just the major battles and policies, but many questions about relatively minor points.

For prep I used my high school AP History book (The American Nation by the late John book ever) and Ken Burns' PBS series. If you could do just one thing, I think watching the 11 hours of the Burns series would give you what you need to pass the test. There were some questions that were direct quotes.
(Side note, I just discovered that Garraty passed away in December 2007. That's too bad. Stephen Ambrose and then John Garraty - truly a pair of outstanding historians.)

I will say you should be cautious about some of the prep materials out on the web for this test. I looked at some and there were some wrong answers on some of the questions. If this were an area I didn't know as well as I do, I probably wouldn't have known that.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Top 5: Replacements for Waterboarding

In this kinder and gentler era of dealing more politely with people ignorant savages who would like to kill us all, I thought I’d take a moment to suggest a few practical replacements now that waterboarding is passe.

5. An HGTV House Hunters International marathon
4. Four words: Middle-Seat, Full-Flight.
3. Sleeping in a hotel bed without untucking the sheet around your feet.
2. Taking a toddler on a “Father-and-Sons” campout.

…and the number one replacement for waterboarding…

1. Spending a night in a flannel-lined sleeping bag while wearing jeans.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My first finalized patent - #7548895

inventor Well, I guess I’m officially an inventor now. :-)

I’ve got several applications pending, all related to my work at Microsoft, but this is the first patent that has made it all the way through the process.

It’s called Communication Prompted User Assistance and you can take a look at the patent documents. If you want to see the full patent with diagrams, you need to create a free account, but here’s the cover page:


So the idea here is that when you are talking on the phone and you say something like, “Yeah, I need to schedule a follow-up meeting with Bob on Thursday and send out the project plan.”
This mechanism would be “listening in” on your conversation and then when you hang up, your phone would ring again and when you answer, it would be your phone asking, “Would you like to schedule a meeting with Bob?”
When you say, “Yes”, the voice would respond, “You don’t have any time on Thursday, but you are free 1-2pm on Friday. Would you like to schedule a meeting with Bob at 1pm on Friday?”
After that, it asks you if you’d like to add a reminder to send out the project plan. And so on…

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My letter to Dave Reichert

After hearing that my Congressman, Dave Reichert, was one of the eight Republicans voting for Cap & Trade that pushed it over the top, I had to drop him a line.
I urge you to do the same if you live in the Washington 8th district. You can reach him through his House website.
Dear Mr Reichert,
I am writing you a brief note to tell you that I am
appalled that you supported the Cap & Trade bill in the house. As you know, it only passed due to a small set of Republicans who sided with extremists like Nancy Pelosi.

Cap & Trade is a terrible concept which will have very damaging impacts on our economic future. And, of course, you voted on it without having even read the bill - as it was not available to be read before the vote.
Sadly, I don't even think you are aware of what you've actually done here.
I've supported you for many years, but that ends here. You will not get another vote from me and I will work hard to ensure your defeat when you are again up for election. If we're going to have someone representing our district siding with the Democrats to destroy my children's future, then it may as well be a Democrat rather than a Republican. I've never donated to a campaign for a
Democrat before, but I will be doing so now.

Start packing, Dave. It's time for you to come back

You may ask yourself, what's so bad about Cap & Trade? The Heritage Foundation had a great piece on that recently. Take a look.
But what is worse is that the bill was so rushed that the full bill was not even available to be read before the vote - which is starting to sound familiar. And even if it had been, it is doubtful that our representatives would choose to read it.
So they missed, for example, that the bill contains provisions taking California's building codes (because California is a model of growth and success) national - requiring an immediate 30% increase in energy efficiency of new homes and another 50% a few years later. And all this was specifically adopted without looking at how it could be done, how much it would add to the price of a home, or even if it is possible at all.

Ayn Rand's quote leaps to mind here: "It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My three jokes

My kids tell me that I only know three jokes. In think that is a significant exaggeration, but I think it is fair to say that there are three I tend to reference a lot.

In fact, these jokes are so embedded in family lore that we all now just reference the punch lines and that is as good as having told the whole joke.

So without further ado, here there are, in no particular order…

1) A pig that good…
A traveling salesman was visiting a farm one day and he saw a happy little pig doing his best to get around with three regular legs and one carefully fashioned little wooden leg.
The salesman said to the farmer, “That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. What happened to that pig?”
The farmer said, “Yup! That is one fine pig. A few months back, I was in the barn and it caught fire. A beam fell down and trapped my leg. That pig rushed in through the flames and pulled me out.”
“Amazing!” said the salesman. “And so that’s how he lost his leg?”
“Well,” the farmer said, “a pig that good you can’t eat all at once.”


2) …Nearly killed ‘im
A boy went to school on Monday and his teacher asked him about his weekend.
“It was terrible,” the boy said. “My dog was in the street and a car came by and hit him right in the butt!”
“Rectum,” the teacher corrected.
The boy retorted, “Rectum nothin! It darn near killed ‘im.”
Note that this particular punch line made an appearance in a handwritten addition to the Father’s Day card from my 19 year old daughter earlier this month.


3) For all the good these did me…
Continuing the scatological focus of joke #2.
A man goes to the doctor and tells him his problems. The doctor prescribes a suppository.
The man takes the medication and leaves the office. He comes back for a follow up visit two weeks later.
The doctor asks, “How is the medicine working?”
“Doc,” the man says, “they taste terrible. And frankly for all the good they did me, I may as well have shoved them up my butt.”

Special bonus jokes
There are a couple more jokes that have near legendary status at our house, so I’ll include them here as runners up. If any of the top three jokes are unable to perform their duties, one of the runners up will take their place.

First Runner Up – “Call who?”
This joke was actually created in our very own house by my lovely and talented wife, who most people would never suspect of such a thing.
nurseWe saw a TV commercial for a medication intended for older men who have difficulty <ahem> functioning. (speaking of which, get a grip old dude, time to get a new hobby) Apparently there is a side effect that can lead to the medicine lasting longer than 4 hours. The commercials tell us that if this happens, you should seek attention from a doctor.
“Forget the doctor! I’m calling a nurse!” <rimshot – thank-you-very-much-I’ll-be-here-all-week-folks>

Second Runner Up - “hey elephant, you wanna peanut?”
A little boy, who’d never seen an elephant before, went to a zoo. He walks up to the front of the elephant and says, “Hey elephant, you wanna peanut?”
No answer.
The boy says a little louder, “HEY elephant…you wanna peanut?”
No answer. So the boy decides he may be talking to the wrong end of the elephant. Slightly embarrassed he goes to the other end of the elephant and says, “Hey elephant, you wanna peanut?” 
To which that end of the elephant replies, “a phewwwwww”.
Now, I will admit, this joke is not all that funny, but when apparently when you start substituting other replies that end of the elephant could make, like “CERTAINLY” or “I suppose”, it becomes a laugh riot.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Digital Media Copying Survey Results

Well, I had a disappointingly small sample size of 24, but thanks to those of you who took a moment to take this survey.

Here are the results. The sample size is too small, and this is a non-scientific survey anyway, but I think it reflects some interesting attitudes that are valid in themselves.

I admit to being a cheapskate and using the free level of Survey Monkey. Consequently, my ability to download the data was basically in the form of screen shots, which I’ve cleaned up just a bit and included below.

The survey was presented as a series of everyday scenarios.









The “other” comments from this question were:


The last question gave people an opportunity to sound off about their views on copyright and consumers and their experiences.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Project Natal meets Jimmy Fallon

For anyone who doubts this actually works as well as it did at E3, check it out on the Jimmy Fallon Show from June 10th.

What a coup to do this as a live demo for that demographic on the heels of E3!

A short survey

xerox I’m writing a paper for a class I’m taking and thought it would be fun to augment it with some up-to-the-minute thoughts from regular people.

I’ve created a short, anonymous survey about how people feel about copying digital media. Please take it. Thanks.

Not-so-extreme home makeover 2009

Every summer, we try to do one large home improvement project. Some years this is a smaller do-it-yourself thing, some years it is a little bigger. And this year’s was a lot bigger – getting the exterior painted.

We’ve lived in our house almost 10 years. Far longer, by the way, than we’ve lived anywhere else. We bought it new, but it was definitely time for a paint job.

The Before picture
house done 
Of course, this is two minivans, and several megapixels, ago when we were just moving in. You can still see the “sold” sign in the window.
We picked the colors and went with a sort of green-grey for the main color and an off white for the trim and kind of a darker off-green door. You can see we opted for the then-fashionable fake shutters on the upper story.

The Process
We live in a development with a homeowner’s association and so we had to go through an approval process to pick the color. This meant talking to the Architecture Review Committee (over email), getting forms, knocking on a bunch of neighbors’ doors to get their signatures and show them our colors. Good times.
Before that, and even more onerous than that, we (and by that I mean, my wife) needed to pick the colors. This consisted of two parts looking at paint chips at the store and one part driving around and looking for colors we liked. At one point, Lynnae even ran up to a house to compare the chips we had to their color to find one just like it. (several times, btw)

Between the rain, wind, and sun, our exterior takes a beating. Getting a house painted is a pretty major ordeal so we wanted good paint. We selected Benjamin Moore Moorlife, with it’s lifetime guarantee. We went with Char Brown for the main body color, Black Satin for the door, and a pure white trim.

We met with probably a half-dozen painters who ranged for estimates. Some seemed very uninterested in doing much of anything. Some told us they would not paint the house until August. Some tried to talk us out of the paint we wanted. Some gave quotes so low you have to wonder what the result would be.

Finally, we narrowed it down to Absolute Quality Painting. Jim Mason was absolutely stellar from the first time we met him for an estimate until the last drop of paint bizcardwas applied. Jim and his assistant painted our house like they were painting their own masterpiece on canvas. The meticulousness and attention to detail reflect a pride in their craft you don’t often see.

At about the same time, a neighbor a couple houses down was having their house painted. A crowd of workers showed up and it was basically done in 2 days, including prep. Jim took a little longer, more like a week. While our neighbor’s house also looks good, you can see the result of that extra bit of care in Jim’s work on our house. The last day and a half, they basically circled every level of the house dozens of times, checking every piece of trim, every nook and cranny and touching up and cleaning up as needed.

One night, we’d left some folding camp chairs our around our fire pit in the back and Jim came to our door very apologetic the next day because he was up on the second story doing some trim touch up and the wind had blown a few drops of paint onto the chairs. Now, one, we take these chairs camping; two, if we cared about them that much, we would have put them away; and three, these drops of paint were microscopic – there’s no way we would notice them if he hadn’t called it out. that is the degree of care and professionalism we are talking about here.

So if you are in the Seattle area and need some painting done, by all means, call Jim Mason at Absolute Quality Painting. It’s an easy choice to complete a the chore of making your house look like new. It might take a few more days than other guys, but for something that is going to last another 10 years, that’s no big deal really.

From the business side, we’d come to agreement on a great price and, knowing contractors, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know the “well THAT wasn’t included in our quote so it will be an extra $$$$$” (you know, like KPMG jobs). But it NEVER happened. Easy to work with. Man of his word. Just got-er-done kind of stuff.

The After picture
OK, I know, I’m keeping you in suspense. Here’s the finished result…
PICT0203 Unfortunately, a picture can’t really capture the true richness and depth of the brown, but you get the idea.

And again, if you need painting done, call Jim. You won’t be sorry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Take the wraps off Natal

For the past while, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with a very cool “secret project” on Xbox 360. Today it was unveiled for the first time publicly at E3 in Los Angeles.

Project Natal is a whole new approach to interacting with your entertainment options. Playing games, watching movies, interacting with your friends online. Don’t settle for a motion controller when you can just have motion.

Take a look at this intro video…

In PC World’s coverage after the announcement today, they had this to say:

Like a nerdy gladiator swaggering onstage to do battle with breathlessly expectant fans and naysayers alike, Microsoft utterly wowed with "Project Natal." I mean really wowed. Yeah, it's kind of a dumb name, but it may turn out to be the most impressive show item any company's crowed about in years.

I’ve been at Microsoft a long time and I honestly don’t recall the press saying something like that about any Microsoft product.

Not to be out-gushed, Time Magazine said:

Today at E3, Microsoft announced a new technology that, like the Wii, uses motion-sensing to control video games. But it may just be better than the Wii. In fact it may just kill the Wii.

Peter Molyneaux, of Microsoft’s Lionhead Studio, the creator of Fable, unveiled an amazing project called Milo. This is so cool.

So there it is. That’s my latest secret project. Way more interesting than the past ones I’ve been involved with. :-)

So what else was there to see in the Xbox 360 E3 presentation? Well, not much. Just…

  • Joyride – looks like a blast!
  • Rockband: The Beatles
  • Forza 3 for this Fall. My youngest daughter is looking forward to both of these racers.
  • A double dose of Halo. ODST for this year and Reach for 2010.
  • Alan Wake. Looked very cool. Dark and eerie. Amazing lighting.
  • Modern Warfare 2. I’ve seen enough. Sign me up!
  • Last.FM service.
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction
  • And, oh yeah, Final Fantasy XIII and Metal Gear Solid on the Xbox. Sony…please…man up. I can hear you crying from here.
  • Video parties so you and your friends in different places can watch movies MST3000 style.

I think Gamasutra said it best:

“What can Sony do now?”

Still don’t have a 360? Stop punishing yourself and go out and get one!!! You’re missing all the good stuff and, frankly, people are starting to talk about you behind your back.

Friday, May 22, 2009

An unexpectedly good movie…

No, it isn’t Terminator Salvation (opened this weekend, can’t wait to see it).



This movie is really enjoyable. I know that sounds crazy. I mean it is a movie about a guy trying to get the world record score on Donkey Kong! It’s a documentary with the real folks and the real events.

I’d heard of this movie when it came out in 2007, but around that same time my wife told me about some older lady that she goes to a weekly class with mentioned that her son was in a movie about Donkey Kong. As soon as she told me that I knew she was talking about this, but I never got around to watching it until last night.
Everyone else in the family was in the living room watching “So you think you can dance” and I was watching this on Netflix streaming in the den.

Here’s what makes it so funny. The hardcore video gamers in this movie have NO idea how ridiculous they are. The old record holder, Billy Mitchell (no not the great general) thinks he is oh so suave with his Members Only jacket and feathered semi-mullet. He is surrounded by an army of adult/nerd/boy/men who he somehow holds some sway over and who do his mind-game bidding like so many zombified fire ants.
family Along comes Steve Wiebe (that’s “wee-bee”). Steve is a normal guy from Redmond.  A once laid off Boeing employee turned science teacher. A never-was grunge musician. A washed up baseball player whose untimely injury cost him the spotlight. And someone whose mother says she thinks “he’s a little autistic”. Steve has had a hard time coming to grips with the idea that he just isn’t going to end up famous and special after all.

And Steve is the only normal person in that competitive gaming universe.

Please. Make a couple hours for King of Kong. It’s not like you had anything planned anyway. Just do it. Where else can you here the child of a guy trying to break a world’s record screaming to have his bum wiped!

Steve Wiebe…you’re all right.
Billy Mitchell (no the other one)…you’re a moron.

Update: I just discovered that Maxim magazine (Dec 2007) named Billy Mitchell “Dweebus Maximus Dorkus of both the 20th and 21st centuries”. His parents must be very proud.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Countdown to E3

E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo - is coming!

So jot down 10:30AM Pacific, June 1st on your calendars for the Microsoft E3 Press Briefing.
You can watch it live on
G4 TV.

Any guesses on big announcements you'd like to see? Crimson Skies 2? Alan Wake? APB?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hey Microsoft…I’ve got a “critical” update for you!

You may not be aware of this, but just a little while ago, my home critnetwork health slipped into a “critical” state. Suddenly all those snide comments and verbal jabs my network has been making made sense!

Dutifully, because I always do what my computer tells me to do, I opened up my Home Server Console or Command Center or Missile Launch Pad or whatever and saw that there were important updates that needed to be installed. So I said, “Oh yeah baby. You know what I need. Hook me up with some of that sweet Windows Update action.” (or words to that effect)

Long update process ensues...
Updates to the .Net managed framework…OK.
Some security fixes…dandy.
Massive two part critical update containing Internet Explorer 8…WHAT THE…

Look, I work at Microsoft. I like it there. I definitely don’t consider it the nexus of evil. (if it were, it would be a lot more fun)
And I don’t even mind IE8. I’ve been using it for some time at work and have no gripes about it.

eniacI LOVE my Home Server. It happily keeps my machines backed up. Shares media all over the place. And is a cute little shiny box with  flashing lights. What’s not to love?

But, guys, seriously. IE8 as a critical update for Home Server? No one ever even starts the browser. This monster of a download has been running for almost 2 hours on my weak sauce 1.5Mbps DSL connection.

All for an app that will NEVER even be run.
(don’t write me hate mail that various components of IE are used for the Console or whatever…I get that, but all that already worked fine)