Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I want to write about a few things, but this is today's rant. I broke my long-ailing, crappy-but-expensive Motorola cellphone today. What's worse is that I now realize the conspiracy of these cell phone manufacturers to sell phones in different countries and to different companies at different prices, and to not let you see how much the phone is actually worth. Cingular and companies like it make quite a bit by selling these phones really expensive.
Cell phones in the U.S. are EXPENSIVE. Sure, they're cheap if you sign a 1-year plan with Cingular; you can get the cheap Nokia for $30. If you just want to buy that Nokia outright from Cingular it's $110 dollars. You can't find these phones at Wal-Mart, you have to go through Cingular or Sprint or whoever. Nevermind that if you bought that Nokia in another country from a retail store (like Wal-Mart), you'd pay less than $110 without signing up for any plan.
In December, I signed up for Cingular and paid a special $50 for a brand new Motorola with a camera and Bluetooth capability. It was also 4-band, meaning I could use it overseas. That same phone is now being given out standard with Cingular plans. Motorola has apparently struck a deal with Cingular to get their phones into peoples' hands ahead of Nokia and others. I guess Cingular has helped them get business.
Here's a little 411 for you: Motorola is struggling as a cellphone company. They lag way behind Nokia as far as sales and the # of telephones they have out there worldwide. Keep in mind that people in Europe and Australia have been addicted to cellphones much longer and more widespread than in the U.S.
So, as I feared, my Motorola phone wasn't so great. The earpiece on it seldom worked, and it was hard to charge the battery. Sometimes it would just crash, and you wouldn't be able to turn it on at all. I've known other people who have had this problem with the same model phone.
Well, today while trying to get the earpiece to work and talk on the phone, it snapped. The top piece became seperated from the bottom piece, and the phone has now ceased to work altogether. So, I went to the store. Since, I didn't have insurance on the phone, I was out of luck. I can't afford to not have a phone so I said "What's the cheapest phone you have?" eying the $30 Nokia. He said "That's $110 dollars."
The phone does very little. No camera, no Bluetooth, no 4-band. But, it's a Nokia so I know it'll be better than any Motorola phone.
What's worse is, looking on Nokia's website won't show you how much these phones cost. It's different in each country. You just have to go to the store, or find a website that sells them in other countries, and find out.
In December of 2002 I bought a Nokia 6310 (unavailable here in the U.S.) for $200 in Azerbaijan. A black and white display, but it had infrared and Bluetooth capablility for my computer. That was 3 years ago. The cheapest bluetooth compatible phone at the Cingular store today is $200, and a decent one is $300. This is insane!
Why can't I get the phone I want from the company I want at the price it's worth? Because it's all about collusion, my friends.
So, now I'm out $110 that I didn't have, plus $3.00 a month for insurance which I've never bought for my cellphone before.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
God created a perfect helper just for me. We had a wonderful time in Arkansas, (which I never thought I'd say about that state).
Yes, I got a speeding ticket in some podunk county (22 over the speed limit), and he wrote me up even though all of the window painting on my car said “Just Married.” You mainly have to get around Arkansas on the back roads. They don’t have nice parkways like KY has, and interstates don’t go where you need them to.
But, we stayed near Eureka Springs, which is the Gatlinburg of AK, in the Ozarks Mountains. On a beautiful mountainside overlooking Beaver Lake (no wisecracks, my wife reads this now). I can say this is the most beautiful mountain/lake scenery I’ve seen in America.
Early morning on Beaver Lake
We had an awesome cabin with some awesome sunsets and an awesome jacuzzi. We saw a wildlife refuge and toured Onyx Cave. We avoided old-people hangouts like the “Pine Mountain Jamboree” and “Pine Mountain Hoe Down.”
My dearly beloved on the deck at sunset
"Aren't we cute??" On the dock before a morning swim.
People pull 35 pound striped bass out of this lake, but all I managed to get from the bank was a 6-inch bluegill. Not bad considering I was fishing without a license anyway (I got away with this illegality, however).
Anyways, since none of you made it to the wedding, I’ll let you know that we dominated that action. The ceremony was on Lake Barkley and the Honorable Tim Turner did a good job getting us hitched.
So, what now for the Dominator? Well, I’m reading a whole different type of books now. The type that they sell in the Family Christian bookstore, but you never actually pick up and read them, you pretend they don’t exist. (Maybe I never actually realized they even had such books at places like Lifeway…They’re in the Family Life section.) Then, the ultimate humility is when you go to the counter and request that the salesperson search for one in particular, in front of other customers who knowingly smile or just avoid looking at you altogether. It makes matters worse if the salesperson is a 16-year old single chick who gets that arrogant smirk on her face “Here’s another one…”
Here’s one in particular that I’m talking about. Good Biblically-based stuff. You guys who aren’t married have plenty of things to learn and look forward to, and I encourage you to read this stuff after you get engaged.
Anyways, marriage is GREAT. It’s all about having a teammate, except it’s 24/7. Someone you can trust with everything, give your time and life to, and just live out Ephesians 5, knowing that it’s all going to be great no matter what comes.
Granted, I’ve only been married 7 days. But, the adventure starts here and it’s looking great so far.
Here are some other pictures of our adventure.
This tiger is bathing at a widlife center that has 114 big cats. We got close enough to the cage where we almost got sprayed (urinated on) by these beasts.
My beautiful wife exploring Onyx Cave, one of the caverns of the Ozarks.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I'm off to Kentucky where I'll be getting married on Saturday to Joni Christine Strimple. A happy occasion to be had by all, and one of the most expensive days that you will ever have in life. Everyone who is reading this is officially invited. You didn't need some piece of paper in the mail, you can just come on down to the lake.
You can check out our wedding website for all the 411.
Alright gang, keep it real. Roll dominant spinners!
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Population: 705. But, much more this week with all of the protestors.
Crawford is a rural place with lots of farms and ranches. Driving by most of the ranches, one will see pro-Bush and pro-U.S. Troops signs in front yards and on gates.
A store downtown with Liberty Bell and 10 Commandments side-by-side
I first stumbled onto downtown Crawford, where a house is being used as rural HQ for the anti-war folks. There was a luncheon rally that I walked right in on. I got to see and hear Cindy Sheehan, who started this whole thing. She reiterated her mission: To meet with the President and ask him what noble cause her son died for. She seems to be a pretty simple, humble lady. The people you see eating in the picture are supporters. Some of them are Iraq war veterans who oppose the war. Others are Vietnam Vets for Peace. There were a lot of people with interesting bumper stickers, and wore t-shirts supporting various grass-roots causes.
Cindy Sheehan: "Hey, where are those WMD?"
Also there was an Iraqi family who oppose the war, and state clearly that there “was no terrorism in Iraq before the war.” The mother railed for several minutes about how Iraqis were peaceful, and that the 13 years of sanctions since the ’91 Gulf War had killed millions of Iraqi children. She said she didn’t blame the Americans for the problems they’d caused her country, but felt sorry for the soldiers who went there because they thought they were fighting terrorism or finding WMD.
I just wanted to ask her: "Was your life better under Saddam? Did you want to live like that forever? Do you have hope for the future of your country now?"
Iraqi woman: Iraq is worse off now than before the war.
Not pictured here is a group called Bikers for Bush who, for a short time, were parked just up from the rally. When I was seen walking towards them, someone from the anti-war group stopped me and said: “Where are you going?”
I said: “This direction.”
She said: “Well, be very careful. Don’t say anything to them.”
I found them to be typical burly bikers, but at least happy. They said “Hi,” and I gave them a “Howdy.” One of them had a sign that said: “Don’t mess with my Bush, you pussy.”
After surveying the landscape, I followed the shuttles to Camp Casey, the anti-war camp named for Casey Sheehan, who died in the war. There were several booths there supporting various petitions, and some clever signs. The most somber part of the camp is the long rows of crosses with the names every soldier who has died in Iraq, which lines the road leading to the ranch.
"Go back to Yale and Take Common Sense 101!"
These crosses and other memorials to the dead were prevalent. There's a cross with the name of every soldier who has died so far. Some of their relatives are here at Camp Casey.
Across the street is a young Marine Corps vet who supports the war, and says that most of the anti-war protestor’s claims are untrue. He says the cause for freedom and democracy is very noble.
"We've been in Germany and Japan since we liberated them, too."
Next to him is a group of Republican supporters who simply are supporting Bush and are against the ant-war rally. This past week, they’ve had to be seperated from anti-war protestors who exchanged some very heated words before it came to blows.
The overall feeling here? Tension. Each side is suspicious and angry at the other. Sheehan and her supporters all have signs with slogans: “Meet with Cindy!” There’s a somber feeling knowing that a lot of these folks have lost relatives in the war and feel lied to, and want to see it end. There’s a tense feeling among the Republicans who support the President and the war effort for the long-haul.
Neither side seems eager to sit down with the other. I think each side would rather shout the other side down. That’s what America is these days, you can see it on college campuses everywhere. There are no real debates anymore, no real discussions of issues, just polarization and angry venom. No one listens to anyone with a different viewpoint.
I think Bush should sit down and talk with Mrs. Sheehan. Yes, it might encourage even more people to come and demand similar things which the President can’t accommodate. But, it might just help both sides of the movements to sit down and talk with each other. I believe working to find peace at home is a good way to honor those fighting a war abroad.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
It'll be active in the afternoon and then I jump online and do as much as I can. In the past, it was active all day and I could get up before work and check email, then play Yahoo chess to unwind in the evenings, all while reading blogs of course.
I'd gladly pitch in to help cover their Internet expense, but I'm not going door-to-door in the complex to find out who it is, and I'm not going to tell them, "hey, could you keep your connection running like you used to?" Actually, maybe I will do this one day.
For now, I'll post from Schlotzky's. Until the battery runs out...
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
At Tapp University we believe that relationships are also something you can Dominate at. Here are 3 things you can do in a social setting that will let you know if a girl likes you. They don't require much bravery, and they're GUARANTEED to work, I assure you. These are tried and proven by masters:
1. (And the best way, so try this first). The "inside-joke" wink.
Let's say that 3 or 4 of you are in a conversation, and this particular girl is there. During the conversation, someone will inevitably tell a joke about someone else, or someone will say or do something funny in general. That's when you take your opportunity:
For example, you're standing around after church talking about stuff with your friends (and this girl). Troy comes up and says "Hey, dude, can I get a ride, my car doesn't have any gas." Everyone laughs at silly Troy.
Whatever the joke or laugh is about, during this laugh look at the girl and wink. The wink appears to be an "inside-joke" between the two of you or is something that only she knows about or sees. If she laughs at the wink, like kinda lowers her head and giggles, then she likes you.
If she kinda knits her eyebrows, or even frowns, as if to say "What?" or "What am I missing?" then she doesn't like you.
The conversation moves on, but now you know her secret.
#2. The Personal Compliment
(If #1 works, try #2 just to be certain).
All you have to do is compliment the girl on something that is a little more personal than a compliment you'd give to someone you barely know. You might often tell a girl you know from school "Hey, I like that color blouse." That's an impersonal compliment. This one is just slightly deeper than that.
Look at these examples, and I think you'll get the meaning:
Compliment her makeup. "You know, that eyeliner really brings out your eyes, and it looks good."
Compliment her jeans. "Hey, those jeans are great..."
In that split second, if she smiles (or kinda laughs) and says "Oh, really?" or "Wow, thanks a lot" and kinda glows a little bit, you know for sure that she likes you.
If it's an "Oh, thanks" or something like that, and then she looks away or doesn't change her expression, know 100% that she DOESN'T like you, and you probably just crossed a line with her.
Complimenting these things lets her know (subconsciously, as all of this takes place in a split second) that you not only notice her, but look at her. It's not a bad thing, or lewd in any way. If she likes you, she'll really like that you look at her and notice these things. That's her hope.
A very weak version of this, and one I don't recommend is:
Compliment her style: "I just want you to know that I appreciate a girl who ___________."
It's too hard to read the reaction from her and guage how she feels (unless it's pretty negative, then it's obvious that she doesn't like you). Most guys try saying this one and it's LAME.
#3: Move closer
(To be tried after 1 and 2. By then you know she likes you anyway, but this will set the relationship into motion in the most subtle way).
When standing in a group, stand a little closer to her than you normally would, or close enough that you're self-conscious about it. Stand next to her almost as if you're a family member or a boyfriend. If she doesn't move away, turn towards you to make it less uncomfortable, or get a disgusted look on her face, then she likes you and you've just communicated that you want a relationship with her, and she's communicated the same thing!
At church or in class, come in slightly late, or just on time, when everyone else is sitting down and spots are filling up. If someone is already sitting next to her, and there are still plenty of empty seats in other rows, ask her "Can I sit with you?, or "Do you mind if I sit with you?" This will communicate that you want to be next to her, even though there are plenty of other options for seating.
This works particularly well at church, let's say she's already got a couple of her girlfriends sitting next to her and service is starting shortly. They're going to have to move and rearrange for you to get a spot. If she smiles, and says "Sure!" or looks like she is happy you asked, then you know 100% that you're in, and you now have started a relationship. From now on you are at least more than "just friends." There's chemistry.
I hope this helps some of my single guy friends out there. REMEMBER, try #1 and then #2!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
There's a saying that everything is bigger in Texas. I've found this to be mostly true. Even Wendy's is bigger and better down here. For example:
The 99 cent Texas Double Cheeseburger. I can get a double cheeseburger with everything on it for just 99 cents. That's awesome.
The other reason that Texas has looked good is because this past weekend was Texas Tax Free Weekend. No sales tax (around 8% in most parts here). This is so kids can get all of their clothes and school supplies for back-to-school time cheaper. But, clothes and a lot of every day things were also tax-free, so I saved money on some books.
So, two more reasons why Texas is better than other places I've lived.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Here's a hilarious article by Bill Simmons on ESPN's Page 2. He takes 35 quotes from Anchorman and relates them to this past NBA season.
"I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party."
"The ... party. With the ... with the pants. Party with pants?"
"Brick, are you saying that there's a party in your pants and that I'm invited?"
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
This is the point of telling these stories:
The best advice I’ve ever heard on political activism, and pursuing a career in politics, was from Daniel Groves, who ran Ernie Fletcher’s campaigns and later became his chief-of-staff. He told me that he always told folks not to major in Political Science, or to pursue a career in politics for the sake of politics. He had worked in construction before getting involved in campaigns, which taught him a lot about life, responsibility, and real people. He wasn’t just some highly-motivated Young Republican who dreamed of political office. He expressed that he didn’t like the College and Young Republican volunteers on the campaign who had no real-world knowledge or experience, and encouraged me to go out and get a real career before I really started getting active in politics or running for office.
I personally have always respected Ernie Fletcher because he was an engineer, a fighter pilot, a family physician, and a lay pastor before he ever ran for office. He’s very smart, but also well-rounded; not just some Ivy League lawyer.
When I was in high school I had the opportunity to become involved in volunteering on political campaigns. My junior year I did some small things. The Young Republicans of Lafayette were headed by a guy named “Dave,” who was really active in politics. More on him later…
My senior year I did an internship on Dr. Ernie Fletcher’s successful campaign for Congress. This volunteering exposed me to the world of the Young Republicans and College Republicans, which I quickly ran away from.
During the Congressional Primary, Dr. Fletcher ran against some guy named Jay Whitehead, who really believed he could win. I don’t remember much about Whitehead, other than he had hired some high schoolers(!) to manage his campaign. These guys were seniors in high school, and were the definition of arrogance. They were the Young Republicans in Lexington.
I went to a fun fund-raiser for Dr. Fletcher where I got to meet and talk with Dick Armey, then Majority Leader in the House of Reps. We talked about Microsoft. During his speech, he made a joke about Newt Gingrich not being a Christian (Armey himself had gotten saved while in office, and made some radical changes in his lifestyle). It then dawned on me, some of these people may be fighting for Christian values, but may not actually be Christians themselves…
I met one of those Young Republican leaders there, a girl who I’ll call “Angela.” Angela saw my status and potential, and quickly recruited me to head up things at Lafayette, and come with her to other political functions. Angela was a Whitehead supporter, but was wanting to backstab him and his staff for some unknown reason. At a pro-life fundraiser, I was introduced to the leaders of YR. They didn’t care that I, or anyone else, was there because I opposed abortion. They wanted to know how they could gain an advantage or glean information that might help their candidate.
Angela had come to the meeting with a computer printout of some Instant Message conversation she’d had with one of Whitehead’s “staffers” apparently not being too concrete on his pro-life convictions. She went around the room, showing them to some of the prominent Republican donors of Lexington, who quickly shunned her for being so conniving.
Angela seemed to be willing to do whatever it took to get attention or power. She often said things to one person, then the exact opposite to someone else. She had a boyfriend, but seemed willing to spend time with any guy if it would help her gain information. She at one point asked me out: “Let’s get together, you know, as two Christian friends just hanging out…” I said: “Um… I’m not going to call you.”
I talked with her about spiritual things, and she told me all about her church youth group. I knew some people in that youth group, and the youth pastor, and asked them about her. “We haven’t seen her in years,” they told me…
The YR folks I met at these functions were the definition of “snobs.” Rich kids from Henry Clay. Their minds were bent on gaining power, and I was disturbed by this. Even the College Republicans all seemed to nurse some grudge or have hidden agendas. I learned that on weekends, particularly after a big fundraiser or election win, these guys and girls all go out and have a wild weekend of drinking and sex. There’s a lot of pent up frustration on the campaign, particularly between the guy and girl volunteers…
When I was 17, God radically changed my life and I caught fire for Him. I worked hard to organize a Christian club at my school, and that took #1 priority during my senior year. I was into the political stuff because I understood the Christian value of active citizenship, and because I really respect Ernie Fletcher as a very good and smart human being. Anything conflicting with my devotion to what God wanted me to do was dropped. I spent the majority of my time at church and working on Christian club stuff, so politics took a backseat.
I quit the Fletcher campaign in the summer, because I needed to get a full-time job. Dr. Fletcher had won the primary, and the real race was going to be a battle. The YR’s joined together and went to work.
I talked to Angela online, and she informed me that she’d been asked to accept a payed position being Volunteer Coordinator on the Fletcher campaign. I was surprised by this, but congratulated her.
A couple months later, I talked to Angela again. She told me that she was no longer working on the campaign. “Why?” I asked.
“Well, apparently someone started a rumor that I was saying I was going to be hired as the Volunteer Coordinator for the campaign. It’s not true, I never told anyone that or even wanted to be hired. They fired me anyway.”
That’s the last I ever talked to her. The girl was either a compulsive liar, or had multiple personalities (I vote for the 2nd one). At the time, she was one of the top YR’s in the 6th Congressional District. More on her later…
In college, you hear a lot more from the Leftist Student Union than you do from the CR’s. I think because there’s a lot of hostility on campuses towards conservatives, they have a chip on their shoulder or just lay low. I suspect that majority of them were either in Political Science classes or in the business college. Most of my professors in the business school were Republican, and supported Republican policy. It was less cool to be a liberal in those classes.
Anyway, we had a big election in 2000 coming up. I was approached by someone from Centre College, a bigwig in CR’s to join up with the small group at UK. I told him I was more interested in winning my campus for Jesus, and talking about the issues. He assured me he and the others were the same way. I had never met any CR’s or YR’s even remotely like that, so I didn’t believe him. I told him my dealings with people like Angela.
“Oh, Angela,” he said. “Yeah, do you know what happened to her?”
“No,” I said.
“Well, Angela showed up at a rally for Jim Bunning. She had been put on a Secret Service threat watchlist. She got escorted out by the Secret Service in front of everyone. It was really funny. She’s officially finished, blacklisted by everyone in the state.”
I declined the invitation to join the CR’s, and never felt guilty about it.
Remember Dave, from the 1st paragraph? Well, he developed a serious drug addiction. While in CR’s, he went off to NY to work on the Rick Lazio campaign against Hillary Clinton. That’s the last I ever heard about him.
I found that I just couldn’t follow leaders with undying devotion just because they were “Republican.” I followed people whose ideals and convictions matched mine. I didn’t like to compete with all of these other YR’s for position or status in the party. Karl Rove’s system does a good job of rewarding volunteers who bring in donations to the Party. He has rank and title for them, and there are opportunities for advancement which encourage people to work hard and get ahead and up the ladder. But, it reminds me a little of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. People who blindly follow leaders or ideals in the hope of personal advancement.
In a lot of ways I’ve followed Daniel Groves’s advice. My time in other countries has really helped me understand how badly our country can look to others, and why people disagree with us on many views. It’s also taught me how many of our policies have actually hurt other nations, and come back to bite us. Since most of these policies were enacted under Republican leadership, I have learned to question authority of that same leadership.
I hope to pursue a career that takes me places, and introduces me to politically influential people. Not for the sake of gaining power myself, but to be able to help shape policy itself and to grow in my understanding of how those policies affect people everywhere.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
What I think: The Bengals will be at least 9-7 this year.
What I know: I don't remember the last time they were above .500.
What I think: The Little Debbie jelly-filled cream pies are a steal for $1.00 a box at the dollar store.
What I know: I still couldn't afford to buy any today.
What I know: Russia has kicked out all of ABC News' journalists for airing an interview with Shamil Basayev.
What I think: They'll let them all back in if ABC ever airs the Olympics.
What I know: Spanish is spoken by the majority of people in Texas.
What I think: Legislation should be passed making English the official language of the USA.
What I think: It's great to leave my clothes on the floor of my room.
What I know: I'm getting married in a few weeks, and all that will change.
What I think: Allergan keeps the labor unions out by hiring temp workers (like myself) and paying them lower wages than what the union workers would demand.
What I know: Allergan is a big multinational company that makes opthamalogical medicines, has offices in many countries, is putting out good profit and an increasing stock price.
What I think: Putting tubes of ointment into cartons is a good use of my college degree.
What I know: Many companies with open job positions won't hire me because I'm "overqualified" to do "entry-level" tasks because of my degree. Thus, having a college education makes it harder for you to find a job.