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.