Two Gripes With Insurance Companies

Recently, I’ve increased my dislike for insurance companies. The idea of insurance is good, but the current way it is implemented is so wrong. Two examples.

1) My wife and I purchased car insurance for both of our cars. We provided all info for setup and thought that everything was done. Two months later we are told that they misplaced the file for the auto-pay, so although we have been covered, they didn’t automatically deduct our payment from our banking account. What bothers me about this is they need to use the banking to charge for those first two months and pay for the next month as well. That’s just not right to me. We didn’t have any claims or use for the insurance for the previous two months so the company was not providing any service. But, even though it was their own error, we still have to pay for the past months.

2) My wife had a rock hit her windshield and cause it to crack. We called the insurance company to ask if it would be covered. They said they would be able to cover it, but the premiums would go up. It made me wonder, “What were the last four months of payments being used for if it wasn’t to cover something like this? To be fair, can I have my premiums go down every month that I have a non-claim?”

No, that would make too much sense for the customer.

When I think of insurance companies, I think of the following image. I am the walking man and the old lady is the insurance company. You can be the observing guy.


Turning Technology Around For Your Benefit

A while back, I read an articleabout an interesting product called the “Mosquito.” Invented by Howard Stapleton, this machine was made to “repel” teenagers. The machine emits a pulsating 17 kHz high pitched sound that only those under the age of 20 can hear. It is quite annoying. Mr Stapleton would sell these boxes to store owners who were having trouble with loitering teenagers in front of their store shop. These sounds would be so annoying that many of the teenagers would leave after a few minutes, while adult customers wouldn’t be bothered at all as they shopped in the store.

Well, in a truly genius move, some of the teens took this technology and used it for their own good. They created a ringtone that had a similar sound. Now, when their phones ring in class, they can hear it but their teachers can not. (Yes, this is better than putting it on “vibrate” because one can certainly hear that in a quite classroom.) You can hear the NPR Podcast on this topic here. (itunes link)

This group of kids get the genius award of the day.

Five Characteristics I Admire

  • Reliability – I love to know that I can rely on someone. This is the thing I respect most about my dad. When he says something will be done, it is always done. Without exception. This characteristic requires a perfect record and that is why it is so rare.
  • Enthusiasm – We have become a society of constant sensation. It’s numbing people. People are becoming excited and enthusiastic much less often. I believe that when you show excitement, people are much more likely to treat you well. They enjoy your enthusiasm. My wife is superb at this getting giddy and I love it.
  • Punctuality – I have an especially hard time when people are late to planned meetings. I believe that tardiness is another way of saying, “I don’t respect you or your time. Whatever I was doing was more important than what you and I will be doing.” I understand that sometimes things happen, but very often those “things” are avoidable. Follow the fifteen minute rule and it will change your life. Whenever you are leaving to a meeting, a show, to chatch a plane, etc, determine the time you should leave and then leave 15 minutes earlier. Your day will be less stressful. Your drive will be more enjoyable. I promise you will never regret getting there a few minutes early. This is applicable to big business meetings and to little family gatherings. This world caters more and more to people that are late. I believe it should be the opposite. Meetings should always start on time no matter the missing attendants. Planes should always leave on time. You get the point. Didn’t mean to go all Adolf.
  • Ability to Analyze – I think that a good mind should always be thinking about the “why’s and how’s”. I enjoy thinking about things and I enjoy having conversations with other people that think. Learn one thing new everyday and tell someone about it. You’ll always be an interesting person.
  • Kindness To Others – Many people are nice, but putting the needs of others above your own could possibly be the hardest characteristic to perfect. However, I know a few people that do it very well and they seem to be among the happiest people I know. Strange how that happens.

New Updates By Email

I changed the way that updates are sent from this blog. If you’d like to receive email updates, you’ll have to sign up once more here. (Or click the link in the sidebar.) It’s a simple form and you can unsubscribe just as simply.

1906 Earthquake Photos

Recently, BYU made public an incredible photo collection from Edith Irvine. She was a early 1900’s photographer with an incredible collection.

The photos that touched me the most were the photos of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. With many of the destroyed areas blocked off from photography, somehow Edith was able to get in and get these incredible shots. Images this real are rare. “When the earth shook in San Francisco at 5:15 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 April 1906, followed by devastating fires, Edith Irvine was there. Her photographic distinction undoubtedly rests on her startling ability to capture the moods of this time and place as the family story indicated she “commandeered an abandoned baby buggy” for her photographic equipment and took photographs all day and for as many as three days after. Apparently twenty-two year old Irvine was either staying in San Francisco with a relative or was planning to leave by boat for an around the world voyage at the time of the earthquake and consequently had her photographic equipment with her.”

As I look at the photos, I feel a pain for those sitting on the sidewalks and roads of this beautiful city. The buildings are both grand and rubble at the same time. It’s hard to think of all the beautiful culture and architecture that was lost. With this month being the 100 year anniversary of the tragedy, the photos are especially moving.

I had a bit of trouble seeing all the images in the slow and confusing interface of the original site so, with the help of a friend, I grabbed high resolution copies and made a photoset on Flickr. All credit for this project should certainly go to BYU and the others involved.

Below are a couple of my favorite images. You can see the full collection here. The images are all high resolution, so be sure to look at the larger sizes. The detail is amazing.





The Challenge Of Not Stopping When You Are Done

This morning on Seth Godin’s Blog (which I love), he wrote about accepted tradition of just finishing the tasks and assignments given to us and then being done. That is a respectable thing because at least you completed your tasks, but “it is at this point that we draw the line between workers and entrepreneurs, between people who work in marketing and marketers.”

He goes on to say that the challenge is then to ask yourself what is next and what to do now.

I like this concept. This is what I try to do. I’d like to be better at it, but I hope I don’t get burned out and stop trying.

This reminds me of a story I heard about President Abraham Lincoln. I’ll have to paraphrase the story and quote as I don’t have it verbatim.

As President Lincoln was nearing the end of his term as Illinois Governer, he was having a hard time of depression. His best friend had just moved far away and he wasn’t sure where to go with his life next. Family and friends worried so much about his depression that they removed all razors and knifes from around him in fear that he would commit suicide. In a letter, he responded to these fears from his family regarding suicide.

He countered, “I would just assume die, but I have done nothing yet to be remembered by.”

I’d say he did pretty good in his life after that point. As you know, he became President of THe United States and led us thru a Civil War. And now, there are more books written about Abraham Lincoln than there are about any other President. (Including George Washington.)

I’m glad Abraham Lincoln asked, “What’s next? What now?”

Insanity Ride Not So Insane

Last week, my family and I took the long elevator ride up to the top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, NV. Since we were showing my future brother-in-law Vegas for the first time, it seemed a natural place to go. The view up there is amazing and I really enjoy it.

While we were up there, we went on a couple of the rides. The Big Shot is still my favorite ride in Las Vegas. You are strapped in at the top of the 11,000 ft high tower and they shoot you up at tremendous speed. It is great.

While we were there, we also decided to go on the ride called “Insanity.” The idea seems scary enough. You get strapped into a chair that is hanging from a giant arm. The arm then swivels out so that you are hanging over the side of the tower and then you are spinned around until the spinning force brings you out and you are looking down at the ground.

The problem with the ride is that you get spinning so much that the fear of being high is lost. You may as well be on a merry-go-round. I’m not much for spinning as it is, but we all agreed that it was neither fun nor scary. (Although, when you first swing out, it does give a bit of a thrill.)

One more thing, my step-dad was on the tower taking photos with my camera. You can see the photos in my “Insanity Flickr Group“, but there is one in particular that I wanted to point out.

As the ride was spinning, Stan was just snapping photos hoping to get some of us as we went around. When I got the images on the computer, there was one photo that made me laugh. You see, there were two tough talking macho guys in the line behind us. They were nice, but still tough guys. Is it just me, or are they holding hands in this photo? (link to large photo)
Stratosphere Insanity

An Example Of Advertising Done Well

I’m not sure why, but recently I have been noticing when advertising is done well and when it is done poorly. I think that my mind is moving more towards marketing and presentation. Following is an example of very original advertising. And it is done with a product that would be hard to market. I watched it three times and laughed each time.

Your Best Stuff

Seth Godin writes a blog that I enjoy very much because it makes me think. I like to think.

In a recent post titled “Your Best Stuff” he talks about the irony of those “free music cd’s.” Often times, big bands are able to put just one song on the cd and they are faced with a dilemma. What song do you put on?

He goes one to write, “If it’s your best song, and it’s free, then no one will pay to get it from iTunes. And if it’s the best song on the album, maybe no one will buy the album since they already have the song. It’s easy to argue that you should hold back the best song, make people pay for that.”

The problem is that this may be someone’s first time hearing the band. If it’s not a good song, they skip right thru it and never become a paying customer anyway.

This applies to so many things. For instance, I just changed all the RSS feeds that I am in charge of to be the full text instead of just a teaser. Let your readers visit your site because your content is valuable and conversation inducing, not because you tease them there.

There is too much good information out there and if you don’t provide your best stuff up front, then readers (and customers) will find it elsewhere.

I Use Freeware

Over on, we have started a contest for all of our readers. To enter, you have to name your five favorite pieces of freeware on the Mac. I thought I would add one of my own (although I’m not eligible for the contest.)

It was actually quite hard to narrow this down. The freeware (free software) applications available on the Mac are incredible. As I’ve been writing on I have found a ton of them. Following are my top five.

  • MacJournal– I take my journal writing very seriously. I enjoy the reflection time that it gives me and I think it is important to write down good memories so that they are not forgotten. MacJournal gives a nice way to keep a journal up.
  • Adsense Client– On FreeMacWare, we run ads from Google on each post. Everytime someone clicks on those ads, we get some money from Google. It’s usually good for a few hundred bucks a month. Adsense Client is a dashboard widget that automatically logs into your Adsense account and let’s you know what you are earning. This is useful to me because I can see what kind of posts our readers like the most.
  • Tickr– I don’t use this freeware often, but it is incredibly cool. You choose a tag or user on Flickr and the photos scroll across the side of your screen.
  • NetNewsWire Lite– I would be lost without RSS feeds. The reason I can keep up on technology and news in general is because of RSS feeds. NetNewsWire Lite is an RSS client so I can read these feeds.
  • Azureus– The bittorrent technology is surely the future of how the internet will work. Azureus is your chance to play along.

Well, that’s it. Those are my five favorite freeware apps. If you want to enter the contest, you can read the rules at If you’re the winner, you can get a $200 gift certificate to the iTunes Music Store. If you don’t have a blog yet, you can get one at