get ready to rumble

I have come into a pair of tickets to a Utah Jazz game, on February 19th vs. the Golden State Warriors.

Sporting events are not something that suits us, so we’d like to know if anyone would like to buy them, or knows someone who would. This would let us have a nice dinner date instead. I’m thinking $100 for the pair, which is significantly lower than the $120 cost printed on each ticket. They are in section 10, row 15, seats 5 and 6.

– Update: I have placed the tickets for sale on Stub Hub

hold the newsreader’s nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers

I have noticed that every person who achieves any kind of fame in the entertainment industry is distinctive in some way.

Think about any successful actor, and you’ll realize that there is something, and often more than one something, about them that is unique to them. It seems that the more successful they are, the more likely it will be that their voice is one of those things. You can recognize them in an animated production after they’ve said three words.

This also carries over into the music industry, but with an additional caveat. The artists that last for years on end and album after album are always the ones that write, sing, and play their own material. Artists that specialize in singing what others write for them will be gone after one or two albums.

You may be able to find a few exceptions, but I think these are good general rules.

an observation

Have you ever noticed that organizations that thrive on membership no longer reward you for being a loyal long-term customer? It’s all about new signups. First month free. New phone with new account. Half price video rentals for the first month. Once you’re a customer and they have your demographic information for their database, they don’t care about you beyond the full price fees you add to their revenue.

I’m just old enough to remember a time before every establishment wanted to track everythin their customers did and thought, a time when you got better deals as time went on, not worse. I miss those days.

broke my ears

Hotel fire alarms are very loud. It’s half past midnight central time, and I just spent about ten minutes standing outside with three fire trucks and a whole lot of other guests. We have been let back in the building, but I am waiting for the elevator madness to end before I go back up to my room. My cow-orker informed me via text message that he slept through it, but saw the trucks drive off.

spam in real life

As I tap this out on my cell phone (the one named after a fruit), I am in a car on my way into Chicago for dinner and drinks. Don’t worry, I am not the one driving.

I just heard a commercial on the radio for a male enhancement cream. I didn’t know spammers could afford real advertising. I can’t imagine this being on the air in SLC, though it might be for all I know. If you look back through my blog history for the magic smoke post, you’ll know why I’m not sure.

engrish

At work we received two messages from a customer of ours in Spain early this morning. I have removed the actual phone numbers from the two paragraphs quoted below. There was more to the first message, but it was just a list of alternate phone numbers.

Si a lo largo del día de hoy tuvieran dificultades para ponerse en contacto con el centro de control de CIC VSAT, por favor diríjanse a las extensiones de los operadores en lugar de la cabecera del grupo de salto (91 xxx xx xx).

Se dan por desaparecidos definitivamente los inconvenientes en nuestro numero principal (91 xxx xx xx). Disculpen las molestias que se hayan podido ocasionar.

I don’t speak, write, or read Spanish, so I pulled up Google’s language tools to figure out what these said. I found the results amusing enough to share.

If throughout today they had difficulties to put itself in contact with the control center of CIC VSAT, please they go to the extensions of the operators instead of the head of the stick (91 xx xx xx).

They occur definitively by missing the disadvantages in ours I number main (91 xxx xx xx). Excuse the annoyances that have been able to cause.

There’s enough information there to figure out what they were trying to say, but the actual translation results had me laughing for a few minutes. I also tried Babelfish, which existed long before Google had a translation service, but the results were similar, except that it left one word untranslated.

I would like to put on the record here that I am amused by the translation results only. I have every confidence that the people at our Spanish customer’s operation center are competent and intelligent. The original messages are probably perfectly valid examples of modern continental Spanish. If any of my 2.5 readers wants to provide a complete translation, feel free.

better late than never

Last month (July 12-15) we had what might be our final campout for the summer. It was a group campsite, which we shared with several friends and their families. This included my friend Nat and his wife Erin, our friends Joe and Kathleen, Kathy’s brother David, plus my ex-wife and her new husband. As usual with these things, the kids far outnumbered the adults.

As related in Nat’s post linked above, we were graced with the presence of several hundred sheep at about 3 in the morning the first night. It was a Thursday night, so I think we may have been the only ones in the campground. Of our group, only one or two of the kids managed to sleep through it. I’ll let you in on a secret … if the sheep are real, counting them will not help you sleep. It’s amazing how loud they are, and how many different noises the different animals in a herd can make.

When we arrived at camp hours before the invasion we had taken note of the large “No livestock in campground” sign next to a cattleguard. In the morning, we talked to a forest ranger who drove through camp. He acknowledged that it was illegal, and even seemed to know exactly who was at fault, but didn’t seem too keen on trying to do anything about it. He was more worried about the dung than someone breaking the law and disrupting a federal campground and watershed.

Other than the sheep, the campground was great. Right next to the lake, with a huge grassy meadow for the kids to play. We caught and ate nearly a dozen trout. The lake is tiny and well-stocked, so catching them is really just a matter of tossing a hook in the water.

We did have another campout planned for later in the year, to my mother’s house in Montana. Before we left town, we had decided that we would move that trip to right after this campout. We were going to come back home for a night and then get on the road. By the time we broke camp on Sunday, we had decided we weren’t going to go.

On the drive home, we were talking about it and decided that if we were going to make it up to my mom’s house this year at all, we would have to do it now. If we were to go home, we’d never find the energy to get back out. We skipped going home and started the trip that day, stayed the night in Idaho Falls, and arrived in Montana the next day.

We hung around my mom’s house for a few days, relaxing and doing next to nothing. We looked at old pictures, watched TV, and Kathy slept as much as she could. It rained almost every night, and we learned that we have a new leak in the trailer roof, around the vent fan.

We decided to leave a little bit early, on the 19th, which is also Kathy’s birthday, visit Virginia City, and stay a couple of nights in an RV Park there. We rolled into the RV park, got the trailer set up, and ventured into town to see the sights. My mom planned to join us that night or the next day.

That day was probably Kathy’s worst birthday ever. Ben was being a horrid little child, screaming and crying at every shop because he wanted everything he saw and we wouldn’t buy it for him. Kathy did see a wonderful antique ships wheel in one of the shops, but she thought the price was too high so we didn’t buy it.

By the time we had walked through the town and found a place to rest for a bit, Ben was having a complete meltdown, natural after a week of camping. The worst part came afterwards, when we got back to the RV park.

We had been given the site in the park that was as far away from everything as possible. It wasn’t because it was full, we surmised later that it was because we have kids. They had more than their share of picky rules – 5 mph speed limit, no leaving your air conditioner running if you’re not around, quiet time starts 9 pm, and several others.

After a late lunch of sandwiches, we got Ben down for a much-needed nap. While Kathy went on a grocery trip with one of the kids to Ennis, the nearest town with services, I napped with Ben in the air-conditioned trailer. Shortly after I woke up, by which time Kathy had been gone a good 3 hours, she returned.

I discovered when I had woken up that I didn’t have Ben’s glucose meter. Kathy had accidentally taken it with her when she left. When she came back, she was in a bit of a rush, worried that Ben was having a problem and I was without a way to check him to know what he needed. We verified that he was OK, then decided to go find a nice place to have dinner.

It seems that this park takes their 5 mph speed limit very seriously, but the only place you ever find out about it is on the information sheet they give you on check-in. The speed limit IS NOT POSTED anywhere in the camp, and Kathy actually didn’t know about it because she hadn’t read the paper. Not that you can go more than about 15 mph at the fastest anyway, because the gravel road is bumpy and in bad repair.

The owner’s wife flagged us down on the way out to yell at her about how fast she was going when she came in just a few minutes prior. When we made it near the office building, the owner came out and also happened to be on the passenger side, so Kathy got griped at again.

Keep in mind that at this moment Kathy was tired and cranky from a week of camping with little sleep, Ben’s meltdown, plus three hours of driving and shopping, followed by worrying about her son’s life at the other end of a drive that because of steep uphill grades is going to take about half an hour, in a place with no cell coverage. On her birthday. This is enough to bring the tears forth.

So, it’s 8pm and we’re driving back into town to find some dinner, only the entire town is closed except for the bars. We drive a little further to Nevada City, it’s closed too. Down the road a ways is Alder, which has a small restaurant. It’s a place that is so proud of their steaks they want $20-$30 for each of them.

With all this going on, we decide we’ve had enough, we’re going to cut our losses and just go home. We get back to camp about 9pm, and an hour later the trailer is hooked up and ready. As I passed the office building and got through the last big rut in the gravel, I stomped on the gas so we were going a good 20 mph for a short distance before we had to stop at the main road.

“It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.” — Ferris Beuller

We got home a little while after dawn. Later we learned that we are far from alone in our bad experience at that campground. We are now convinced that this place never gets any repeat business, there are always new suckers who want to visit an old west ghost town.

no ship that’s not crewed by the damned and captained by a man so evil that hell itself spat him back out could possibly have black sails, therefore couldn’t possibly be any other ship than the black pearl

A thought occurred to me today. What if you wanted to ship something to someone that doesn’t want you to know where they live? Let’s say they are paranoid enough that they don’t even want you to know what state they are in.

Escrow services have existed for a very long time for financial transactions, so that a buyer can guarantee they receive high-value merchandise in good order before the seller is paid. Security of financial transactions is such an important thing that the success of eBay brought a not-quite-escrow service called Paypal into existence.

I poked around a bit trying to see if someone had already thought of an escrow service for package shipments, and could not find anything. This seems like a potentially valuable service in today’s world of vanishing privacy, so I’m surprised I didn’t find someone advertising it widely.

exciting development

I’m going to link to the slashdot post here instead of the actual article, because news articles have a bad habit of disappearing.

clicky here

The last paragraph:

The researchers say if it all goes well, that it’s possible that antigen-specific DNA vaccines could one day be developed for treatment of related diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s probably too late for this research to benefit Benjamin directly, because once type 1 diabetes kills off the cells in the pancreas there’s no going back. If stem-cell research results in a way of growing new beta cells in a type 1 diabetic, this research could keep his body from destroying them like it did the first time.

bonum commune communitatis

The title above comes from Hot Fuzz. Having (and forgetting most of) an extensive education in the Latin language makes me pay attention whenever someone starts spouting it.

While doing a little poking around trying to make sure I had it all spelled right, I came across something written by a man named Mortimer J. Adler, an article that includes the Latin phrase used in the movie. I only read part of it, but the final clause of the final sentence below is profound and speaks to me. Perhaps it will speak to you.

“It is necessary to add one critical qualification that must be placed upon the obligations of justice. No one — neither the individual nor society — can be expected to do what, at the time, is impossible; failure to do the impossible is not morally culpable.”

for the greater good

On Wednesday of last week, Kathy and I attended a neighborhood watch meeting. We learned recently that our neighborhood has the second highest crime rate in all of South Jordan. That’s interesting to me, because I’ve only seen the police in the neighborhood about four or five times in the four years we’ve lived here. I guess the overall crime rate in the city must be fairly low.

We actually have two neighborhood watch groups in the neighborhood. The eastern part of the neighborhood has been organized for longer, and has been doing nightly driving patrols on the weekends. People from our area will, at least initially, be doing patrols on Tuesday through Thursday nights starting next week. These patrols have strict instructions to not get involved with any incidents they see, instead they are to log it and report it to police dispatch. Last night Kathy and I happened to be awake and outside about 1:30 AM and actually saw the patrol go by.

At the meeting, Kathy volunteered to be the one who contacts people to remind them they have patrol duty, and I am willing to set up a mailing list and possibly a website to aid in coordination and management efforts. Before I put a lot of effort into that, I do need to find out what the other group already has in terms of tools for managing the organization.

The two women who are heading our section of the neighborhood are very nice people and have the best intentions, but they are not the best organizers. Kathy pointed out to me afterwards that the agenda they printed was pretty vague, a prime reason that the meeting got derailed several times and went more than twice as long as planned. I think it was only the second or third meeting they’d had, so I expect they’ll get better.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the organizers, the one in charge of the night-time driving patrol, is not a Member. Normally, the only truly effective way to get to know your neighbors on a large scale in a place like this is through church. Between my agnosticism, Kathy’s apostasy, a desire to be left alone where religion is concerned, and an overall laziness, we only know a few of our neighbors. Neighborhood watch may be our ticket into being a real part of the community. We’ve become pretty good friends with the neighbor across the street, who had his car broken into a few weeks ago. This is how we heard about the neighborhood watch meeting.

I have an underlying giggle through all of this because in the days before the meeting, I had just seen Hot Fuzz.