Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New site feature: see what I'm reading

For anyone who's interested, I've added a nifty little app in the sidebar that let's you follow what I've been reading in my RSS feeds. It doesn't show all of my feeds - only the latest five I've decided to share.

Check it out and if you have any sites you think I should be following, please leave word in the comments.

Much love,


Monday, January 28, 2008

Get out of your AT&T Wireless contract free!

Looks like it's a drop-your-carrier-free-for-all now that AT&T is also raising the cost of their text, picture and video messaging to a whopping 30 cents each. I remember the good ol' days when incoming texts were free and outgoing only cost a nickel. *sigh*

Nostalgia aside, this bump in prices constitutes a materially adverse change to your contract which means that extra dime they're charging you for that text means you don't have to pay the $175 early termination fee if you want to bail and head to the next, less-evil carrier.

A couple things to note:

1. You can't have a text messaging package/bundle. If you have one, cancel it.
2. When you call to cancel your account, cite the text messaging hike as the reason.
3. Like my experience with Verizon, I'm sure they're going to try to make you feel cheap and stupid for canceling over a lousy dime per message. Remain firm. They have to let you out. And if it's not a big deal, why are they bother with the rate hike?
4. This may be a good way to negotiate a better deal on your plan. See what they can give you as far as retentions go.
5. There are a few more significant steps/details you should check out over at Consumerist.

Good luck. And if anyone decides to jump ship, please shoot me an e-mail/leave a comment and let me know how it went.

(I also covered this as a tip on my other site, LivSimpl.)

Death Star/AT&T logo courtesy of Gizmodo.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away

President Hinckley passed away tonight at about 7:00 pm. Details are slow in coming out, but I can only assume it's from old age - he was 97 years old.

My initial reaction is that, well, it's hard to believe. He's been the president of the church most of my life and it just doesn't seem real at all. One thing I am happy about though, is that now he's with his wife who died a few years ago and who he missed terribly. I can't imagine how lonely I'd be without my wife and we've only been married about three years. To be married for decades and then to be left alone - it must have been horribly difficult. Fortunately, families are eternal and I know he is with her again.

If you're unfamiliar with President Hinckley and his teachings, here is an excerpt from one of his talks, My Testimony, from the April 2000 General Conference. It's my favorite talk of his:

But of all the things for which I feel grateful this morning, one stands out preeminently. That is a living testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." He, the Son of the Father, came to earth. He condescended to leave His royal courts on high--where He stood as Prince, the Firstborn of the Father--to take upon Himself mortality, to be born in a manger, the humblest of all places, in a vassal state ruled by the centurions of Rome.

How could He have condescended further?

I have become His Apostle, appointed to do His will and teach His word. I have become His witness to the world. I repeat that witness of faith to you and to all who hear my voice this Sabbath morning.

Jesus is my friend.

He is my exemplar.

He is my teacher.

He is my healer.

He is my leader.

He is my Savior and my Redeemer. Through giving His life in pain and unspeakable suffering, He has reached down to lift me and each of us and all the sons and daughters of God from the abyss of eternal darkness following death. He has provided something better--a sphere of light and understanding, growth and beauty where we may go forward on the road that leads to eternal life. My gratitude knows no bounds. My thanks to my Lord has no conclusion.

He is my God and my King. From everlasting to everlasting, He will reign and rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To His dominion there will be no end. To His glory there will be no night.

None other can take His place. None other ever will. Unblemished and without fault of any kind, He is the Lamb of God, to whom I bow and through whom I approach my Father in Heaven.

You can read the rest of the talk here

It's my testimony that he was a prophet of God. He was a wonderful man who gave his life in service. And while I mourn his death, I know that the Lord will call a new prophet just as in Biblical times.

The work of God "will go forth boldly, nobly and independent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ethanol may be back in the running as an alternative energy source

I'll quote some highlights from the article, then the link if you're interested in learning a bit more. But first, some background.

Ethanol (or E85 which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) was once looked upon as a possible replacement for oil - we can make it here in the U.S. reducing our dependence on foreign oil, it's renewable (most likely from corn) and it's burns cleaner than gasoline. Sounds swell.

However, it has a couple of negatives as well. It's been driving up the price of corn (which makes other things more expensive as well), it takes just about as much energy to make ethanol as using gasoline in a car so there aren't any real environmental benefits after all and there's the whole ethical thing of using corn to drive our cars while people in our country and around the world are starving.

Fortunately, a company called Coskata has come up with a way to create ethanol that's seven times more efficient than gasoline, only costs $1 gallon to make and you can use any kind of biomass material - a lot of the stuff you put down the garbage disposal or throw away in the trash. Remember Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future II? Kinda like that. But non-nuclear.

OK. Now on to the quotes:

• It's not five years away, it's not 10 years away. It's affordable, and it's now.

• Coskata's ethanol produces 84 percent less greenhouse gas than fossil fuel even after accounting for the energy needed to produce and transport the feedstock. It also generates 7.7 times more energy than is required to produce it. Corn ethanol typically generates 1.3 times more energy than is used producing it.

• If you're in Orange County, you can use municipal waste. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can use wood waste. Florida has sugar. The Midwest has corn. Each region has been blessed with the ability to grow its own biomass.

Sounds good, eh? Read the rest of the details here. Then buy some Coskata stock.

Corn image courtesy of here. Mr. Fusion image from here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cloverfield: eh.

Just got back from seeing Cloverfield. The premise of the movie was interesting: something attacks New York and we see it from some individual's point of view as compared to jumping around from the military to the Oval Office to whoever. I liked the storytelling aspect of the way it was presented as well as the fact that they didn't use any well-known actors so it seemed a little more believable that it was a real, first-person account.

However...I dunno. I just wasn't on edge all that much. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it had been built up too much. I can't put my finger on what didn't impress me, but overall it was mediocre.

I wouldn't recommend anyone go see it who wasn't planning to in the first place, but if you are planning on seeing it, see it on the big screen.

Oh yeah. And you've all seen this in the trailer, so what the heck is the deal with the Statue of Liberty's head? Isn't it supposed to be a lot bigger? As in, can't people go up and stand in it? In the movie it looked too small.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

There's this new thing all the kids are doing nowadays - it's called Twitter

While I've been on the Twitter bandwagon for a while now (1,300+ updates) I haven't really promoted it as part of this site, other than to have a feed in the sidebar which, I would imagine, goes quite unnoticed most of the time. I think I'm going to try to use it more extensively, so if you're interested, I'd love to have you follow me on Twitter. Here's the URL:

If you're not sure what Twitter is, here's the explanation from their site:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

With Twitter, you can stay hyper–connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing. Or, you can stop following them any time. You can even set quiet times on Twitter so you’re not interrupted. Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload.

Good luck Twittering!

Meet the real "Delilah"

I really like the song "Hey There Delilah" by Plain White Ts - great writing. Who knew it was inspired by an actual girl named Delilah? Apparently the lead singer met Delilah (Columbia graduate and Olympic hopeful - she has a lot going for her) and was smitten. Despite her having boyfriend, he promised to write the best song of his career - the one that was going to make him famous - and dedicate it to her. Sure enough, it's been nominated for Song of the Year and a Grammy.

Here's the source of his inspiration.

Oh. And she agreed to be his date to the Grammys. Glad to see she's got a little class.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Pillowig - the perfect Valentine's gift for narcoleptics everywhere

Ah, The Other Drummer, you schizophrenic site you! One day it's a post about a hard-hitting, controversial headline on CNN regarding race, gender and the presidential race and the next it's...this.

Joo Youn Paek is currently enrolled in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program and came up with this beaut' as part of a guerrilla art project.

Interactive? Telecommunications? Art? Sure thing Joo!

From her site: [The] hand-made wearable pillow that comforts people during the tired moments in daily life.

Yeah. Or you could go to bed earlier. And what about people who sleep on their stomachs?

Monday, January 21, 2008

CNN: Black women are too stupid to look beyond race and gender

I am neither black, nor a woman and yet I find this headline (from CNN's homepage) offensive. Does CNN think the only difference between these two candidates is their race and gender? Apparently they think black women lack the intelligence to reason beyond "Hmm...he's black and I'm black. But she's a woman and I'm a woman. I really have no idea who to vote for!"

It's insulting to say the least.

When did this become a race about labeling people instead of a race about who is best qualified to lead this country? I find it hard to believe the candidates are known for being "the woman, the black one, the Mormon" etc. Should one of these "firsts" be elected to the office of President, their gender, race or religion should be a note after the fact, not a reason for the outcome. I would have assumed CNN was smart enough to realize that. It looks like I was wrong.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Maternal instincts

As I watched my wife do a full improvisational song and dance routine spanning genres from stage and the silver screen to the delight of my eight month-old son, I realized I could never be creative enough to be a mother.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Readers, you are the wind beneath my wings

After cutting me down, you, my faithful readers, are right there to lift me back up. First, you overwhelmingly tell me I look like a/the Yellow Wiggle. Then you immediately swoop in and buoy my spirits with comments such as these:

"Hey, a Wiggle isn't too could be worse."

"In another 20 years you may not look anything like him anymore. Thank you time."

"If you could somehow score the sweet looking Wiggle-mobile the look a likeness might not be a bad thing."

And my personal favorite: "Don't go and kill yourself over it."

Readers, thank you. I feel much better about everything now. Your (kind?) words have warmed my heart and comforted my soul. Thank you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Poor, broken Moleskine

My poor, dilapidated pocket sized Moleskine notebook really broke recently when the cover parted ways with the spine. So sad. I can't say I didn't see it coming after the repairs I've already made with reattaching the bookmark and duct taping the little expandable pocket in the back.

Fortunately, a work friend of mine had some book-binding glue (fancy Rubber Cement, from what I understand) so I've tried my best to paste my little notebook back together so I can continue to use it (him? her? "it" just sounds so impersonal) until the last few remaining pages are scribbled on with my endless to-do lists and random thoughts.

I know some who've heard me expound on the virtues of these little notebooks will say, "Obviously the notebooks aren't any good because they're falling apart." So I feel it necessary to mention that my first entry in this little companion of mine was September 10, 2003 - over four years ago. Granted, I didn't use it much in the beginning, but I still carried it with me, it faithfully tagging along and dutifully earning the wear and tear it now brandishes so nobly.

Less than 20 pages to go. Will I be forced to replace it prematurely? Or will it endure? I'm confident in my little collector of thoughts and bits of memories. And when the time comes to retire it and inaugurate a new notebook - a stark, perfect and perfectly intimidating Moleskine - it will be with a hint of sadness that I'll empty the back pocket and place it on a shelf.

Sure, I'll say I'll revisit its pages often, but I know it won't be for years, if ever. And there it will remain. A small volume of the forgotten details of life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Steve Jobs 90 minute keynote in 60 seconds

For those of you who want the skinny on what went down yesterday at the Macworld 2008 Stevenote, look no further.

Courtesy of Mahalo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Still no iPhone

Turns out the iPhone I got which, according to the serial number, should have had the old 1.1.1 firmware didn't. It came with 1.1.2 out of the box which, as numerous pages on the interwebs declared, is unlockable.


So I'm out $40. Unless someone out there wants to buy an iPhone and not have to pay sales tax.

Macworld 2008 reaction - UPDATED

Good all-around keynote. Stevie J. had a little sumpin'-sumpin' for everybody: iPhone/iPod and Apple TV updates, new Time Capsule networking and the incredibly thin Macbook Air (seen above).

That's one fine lookin' lappy, but I won't be giving up my current Macbook anytime soon. I'm not sure why Apple thinks they can strip features away from a product and charge twice what it's worth. Then again, many would argue that's what they always do.

I'm disappointed Apple is charging early adopters of the Touch $20 to get the upgraded software that should have been included on the device to begin with. It seems like a slap in the face to their existing customers. Of course, they have a lot of experience with that.

Time Capsule is a cool concept, but it seems to me the same functionality should be available natively in Leopard without requiring and additional piece of $300 (or $500) hardware. You can get a 500 GB external drive and a wireless router for a lot less than $200.

All that being said, I'm going to unlock my iPhone tonight.

Photo courtesy of Gizmodo.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Crap. I look like a Wiggle.

What the heck? Fine. Are you serious?? Whatever. OK. So I look like the Yellow Wiggle. It's cool, it's cool. I just thought I would let everyone know that a very cutting-edge computer did a highly scientific analysis of my physical features and conclusively determined that you're ALL WRONG. That's right. According to said computer, I look more like Carson Daily, James Van Der Beek, Hugh Jackman, Marvin Gaye (who is black, mind you) AND Tom Cruise than the Yellow Wiggle. See here.

So there.

Friday, January 11, 2008

REAL ID has already failed. Just look at California.

For those of you who many not be aware, the Federal Government is currently in the process of creating a type of national ID card. Essentially, it's a more secure driver license "designed to make it harder for terrorists, illegal immigrants and con artists to get government-issued identification." There are three "security layers" states can choose to implement. And some already have.

"In California, for example, officials expect the only major change to adopt the first phase would be to take the photograph at the beginning of the application process instead of the end."

Perfect! Because everybody knows California has done a fantastic job managing illegal immigration! No illegal immigrants or con artists in that state! No siree!


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mormons in the media - part 2

Another great article was brought to my attention by my friend Mike. Here's a quote:

Nobody seems to mind when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says his religion "defines me." Or when Obama says his church guides "my own values and my own beliefs."

People worry that Romney will take his orders from his church leaders. They don't worry that Obama will take orders from his church, whose "10-point vision" includes two references to its "non-negotiable commitment to Africa," with no mention of America. Oh, and the church statement begins by noting on the Trinity United Church of Christ Web site, "We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black."

Check out the rest of the article here.

Mormons in the media

With Mitt Romney bringing my faith to the forefront of a lot of attention in the media, I've been rolling the idea around in my head of addressing it here but have never been sure of how to go about doing it. I found Ken Jenning's blog (yes, of Jeopardy! fame) and I think he says most of what I would, and definitely says it better, so I'll refer you there. Speaking of, here's a good quote of Ken's as he addresses the media:

After you get off a particularly good zinger at those gullible Mormons, try recasting your sentence so it refers to “those gullible Jews” or “…Catholics” or “…Muslims.” think Mormon temple garments should be called “magic underwear” throughout your post, try substituting “magic beanie” for “yarmulke” or “magic Nilla wafer” for “Communion host” in a similar context and considering whether that’s journalism, or whether that’s even funny anymore. If you’re horrified by the result, it’s because bigotry is bigotry, no matter the target.

Good point. I'm not sure why it's OK to make fun of Mormons, or at least our religion (Utah's bizarre culture, on the other hand, is free game in my opinion).

Side-note: we lived in Ken Jenning's parent's ward for a while when we were first married. As you'd expect, they're incredibly intelligent folks. The kind of people that when you have a conversation with them, you can just tell they're brilliant. It should also be noted that they aren't socially awkward, as some uber-smart people can be.

That was kind of related so I thought I'd mention it. Anyhoo, the post I was referring to can be found here.

I'd be happy to take questions from anyone out there who has any questions about Mormons, what we believe or why we believe it. Just shoot me an e-mail: TheOtherDrummer at the gmail.

Salt Lake Temple pic via Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Get out of your Verizon Wireless contract free!

They've raised their text messaging rates from 15 cents per message to 20 cents per message for those who don't have a bundled plan. This constitutes a "material adverse" change to a contract which means, in plain English, they changed the contract which means you're no longer obligated to uphold your end which means you can get out of it without paying the early termination fee of $175 per line.

This really works. I got my sister out of her Verizon contract last time they bumped up the rates. It was something like 75 cents more for one of those extra fees they tack on.

They said that it was so small, what did it matter? I said, "If it's such a small deal, why are you bothering to add it to my bill?" They offered to credit us the 75 cents per month back. I was insistent that it was a material change and we were tired of being nickled-and-dimed and we wanted out. I was nice about it, but firm. It worked.

So if you want to stick it to the man, now is the time to do it. Actually, the time to do it is 60 days within the time they send you notification. Better to do it sooner than later.

More details can be found here.

Cat cuts power to 12,000 Idaho homes

Fluffy the Wonder Cat curled up next to a transformer in an electrical substation and ZZZZT! The result? One well-done kitty and 12,000 homes and businesses without power. Riots ensued, PETA sued and some little girl in Idaho is crying today while her dad is silently rejoicing that someone else took care of the job for him.

Cat image courtesy of our friends across the pond. Full story here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Avon CEO, Andrea Jung, joins Apple's Board

Andrea Jung, CEO of cosmetics giant Avon Products joined Apple's Board of Directors, it was announced Monday. Ms. Jung will head up a new sales division where fanboys will sell iPods door-to-door.

Yeah. We live in the ghetto.

Oh yeah. This is totally my neighborhood. Some dude tries to walk out of the store with some pizzas, is confronted by an employee who he stabs. Genius Pizza Boy then decides to leave his truck in the parking lot and run to his nearby apartment.

A police bloodhound tracked him down. Apparently those dogs can smell pepperoni for miles.

Now, I've had some serious cravings. There was this one time I crossed into another state to find these frozen burritos I used to eat in college. But I've never broken the law to satisfy a craving, and certainly not to the point of injuring someone or something.

Wait. Scratch that.

I did run over a cat once on a late-night run to Baskin Robbins. I yelled at it to move out of the road - or maybe I mumbled something, I can't remember - and it didn't listen and the place was about to close, so, yeah. Thud. But let me tell you, few things taste quite as good as a three scoop sundae of Quarterback Crunch ice cream covered in caramel with whipped cream and a few of those fake cherries on top. Totally worth it.

Baskin Robbins logo from here, original story on KSL here.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I'm told I resemble a "Wiggle"

The yellow one to be exact. But not up close. Only from a distance.

I've actually been told that by a couple of people. Not having any idea what a "Wiggle" was, but guessing it was something I wouldn't like, I decided to do some research to find out if I should be insulted or not. Here's what I found. Squint at it and tell me what you think.

Personally, I don't see it (picture of me here).Then again, this guy is the lead singer which, as we all know, is the where the coolest guy in the band is so maybe we have something in common even if it isn't our looks. Of course, it appears there have been at least two other guys who've played the yellow Wiggle (see here and here).

I really hope the past yellow Wiggles moved onto something bigger and better. It'd really be a blow to the ol' self-esteem to find out your were an incompetent Wiggle and were fired because of it. What do you tell people? I picture one of the former Mr. Yellow Wiggles sitting in a bar, still in costume, drinking his sorrows away. The bartender comes up and asks why he's so down. Put yourself in that situation. What do you say? "Ratings statistics show that kids hate me"? I'd probably turn to the bottle too.

Where does your career go from there? I can't imagine there are that many Wiggle positions open out there. Maybe, like, four.

What about dating? You muster the last shred of confidence you have and approach an attractive woman. She's nice enough so she doesn't blow you off right away. You're chit-chatting and she asks what you do. "Unemployed". Ouch. Strike one. But she's classy and thinks you look cute, kinda like that blogger Dave, so she asks what did you used to do.

"I was a Wiggle."

Oooo...strikes two and three. An awkward silence falls over the conversation. She just kind of looks at you in shock, her mouth moving up and down but no sound coming out. She turns and walks away.


It's no wonder that suicide rates are highest among former Wiggles. No, I did not make that statistic up.*

Still, I don't know exactly what a "Wiggle" does. Based on the limited information I've gathered, it's some bizarre cross of Teletubbies and the guy from Blues Clues, but on acid. And there are four. Frankly, that's all I care to know about them.

What do you think? Do I look like the yellow Wiggle? There's a poll open in the upper right corner of the site. Let me know.

*Yes I did.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Reader question: How does my caucus work?

Faithful reader Heidi writes in and asks:

Dear Dave,

I'm from Iowa and I was wondering how the caucus in my state works. I asked my dad but he got all flustered and told me to ask my mom. I don't think he understood my question. Maybe you can help.



Thanks for writing in Heidi! I'd be happy to give you a quick overview of how caucuses work.

How the democrats get their caucus on
They congregate in school gyms, churches and barns. Each candidate has a corner of the building and the supporters of each candidate stand in their respective corner. If their candidate gets more than 15% of the constituents in their corner, they proceed to the next round.

If you stood in the corner of a loser who doesn't get 15% (see photo above, left) your candidate is out and you get the chance to make your vote count by joining one of the winners.

So, really, you get to vote for two people: the person you secretly wanted in the White House but knew didn't have a chance, and then for the candidate who you knew would win so you can appease your conscious and still have bragging rights after the fact.

Sounds like something democrats would come up with.

Right after you leave the loser corner you can be lobbied again by representatives of the remaining candidates to come join the cool kids. But before they'll let you join, they may require you to undergo various hazing rituals, identify the calls of sixteen tropical birds, answer Jeopardy!-style questions or take the Physical Challenge.

This happens in each precinct. The total tally is kept hush-hush and only the percentage of delegates won by each candidate is released. So it all comes down to how many delegates each precinct has, not the popular vote.

How the Republicans roll
The Republicans put their vote on a ballot. The ballots are counted and the candidate with the most votes wins.

I hope that answered your question Heidi! For more details (and less sarcasm) see the original CNN article here.

Photo courtesty of here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

This year's resolutions

I'm guessing that based on the above photo you assumed my resolutions included getting chiseled abs, rippling biceps and perky pectorals.

Well, you'd be wrong. I had this statue of myself commissioned last year.

Here are some of my resolutions for 2008. The rest weren't fit for publishing.

• Stop offering kids candy from my car.
• Write more posts this year than last (at least 248).
• Continue with my other site, LivSimpl, at a rate of about three posts per week.
• Fill a large Moleskine journal.
• Stop trying to hit cats I see in the road (my wife's idea, not mine).
• Get 100% home teaching (and report it by the third Sunday).
• Really put some effort into getting my modeling career off the ground.
• Work out at least three times per week (maintaining this physique ain't easy).
• Go to bed and get up early.
• Go to the temple at least 12 times.
• Learn how to drive a car on two wheels. Preferably not my own.
• Be consistently reading a book.
• Vote in some kind of election. Maybe the presidential one. I'm still not sure.
• Stop urinating in the hot tub (when other people are in it).

Now you know what my next year will, and won't, consist of. Any other suggestions? How about your resolutions? Leave word in the comments.

P.S. I also resolve to use the word "jaunty" more in casual conversation.