Things I Love: Rhythmic Coincidences

This might seem odd, but I love it when you are driving down the street listening to music and something outside moves along at the exact same beat. For example, a jogger on the sidewalk is taking steps at the exact same beat as your music. Or, like today, I was listening to “On The Road Again” while I was driving down 95 here in Las Vegas. If you’ve taken that road just East of the Sphagetti Bowl, you know that there is quite a bit of bounce on that road. My truck was bouncing up and down at the exact same beat as the song. I think that is cool.

There was a car commercial a while back that had everything lining up with the music as they drove. I loved it. I call these Rythmic Coincidences. Here’s hoping you get to have some soon.

World Trade Center Movie

Candace and I went to see World Trade Center last night. I had some reservations at first, but I saw that Oliver Stone was directing and he usually does a good job. The movie was exceptional.

They decided to do the movie from the officers point of view. That was a really good idea because it made the movie seem so much more real.

My biggest fear was that it would play too much on the dramatic side of Hollywood. It wasn’t like that at all. There were a few chances for the show to get over-dramatic, but it never happened. They never had a Tommy Lee Jones-esque speech with dramatic phrases and catchy words. It all seemed very real. They really did an incredible job.

The whole movie was sort of a mind game for me. I wond if it will be that way for you. It is so routine to watch movies at the cinema and it’s natural to tell yourself that it’s just a Hollywood movie. The deaths and explosions and drama is fake. But, it’s a contast battle to remind you that this was all real. They even decided to use some of the news footage of the people looking on and that was emotional. It reminded my how awe struck the world was.

I left New York about 24 hours before the terrorist attacks. The morning before we left my buddies and I took a tour bus that drove right between the twin towers. I remember the tour guide saying, “A few months ago the police had to deal with a guy that was climing up the towers. He was quite a way up there and had no ropes so they were afraid that he was going to jump when he got high enough. It’s a constant struggle to keep things like that from happening.”

If only he knew what was going to happen the next day. Watching it in the film 5 years later, it just doesn’t seem real.

How To Be A Good Social Photographer

When I was in college, I always tried to get a lot of fun photos of all the activities and parties. In my attempts to have good photo documentation of my college years, I learned a few things to help others who like to be the social photographer in their group of friends or at their family gatherings

  1. Always have your camera. Not only does this insure that you get the good photos, but it always lets your friends and family get used to the idea of you having your camera. If the camera is always present, it will be less of a surprise when you do pull it out and people will be able to relax.
  2. Find a way to distribute the pictures. If you can establish a pattern of distributing the pictures, people will be eager for your photography because they know they will be getting a copy of their own. I use Flickr.com. I’m sure to upload the full size of the image and make it available to download. This is important because people can grab the full file and be able to print a clear picture.
  3. You should take the pictures because you enjoy it. Trying to make a buck off your friends or family is not a good idea. Have the pictures online and free for anyone to grab. If you want to make money eventually, just perfect your skills with these social settings and as people see your expertise, you may be asked to do wedding photography, engagement photos, or family portraits. That is where you can earn some money for your hard work.
  4. Learn how to use the different feature of your camera. It is important to know how to take photos at different levels of light and in different situations. Learn about ISO levels, white balance, and shutter speeds. If you ruin a nice social setting with a big bright flash, you may not get to have the natural feeling in the room.
  5. Buy a large memory card and an extra battery. Sometimes parties and trips can go late and last long. You want to be able to continue snapping photos without any worry of running out of room or battery. These items aren’t that expensive and they allow you to try all kinds of things.
  6. Do not post embarrassing or ugly photos of people. This one may be the most important of all. As a social photographer, you can build a really good track record by making people look great in your photos. One bad photo to embarrass some one can ruin it. It will make people more hesitant to pose for you in the future. Go thru your pictures and be sure that you won’t embarrass anyone by posting them online. (Note: If the person was making an ugly face for the camera on purpose, that is ok.)
  7. Get to know as many people in the setting as you can. Do this without the camera in front of your face. A good relationship with everyone in the room can go a long way.
  8. Take plenty photos of everyone, not just your favorite niece or your closest friends. You can build good friendships with people as you photograph them and make them look good. You never know who is important to whom in a social gathering. Let everyone enjoy the memories by seeing themselves and their friends.

I am really glad that I took a lot of photos in college. I have a ton of good photos of all the fun things that we did. I still get emails from people asking me to send them a photo from these times. This acts as a great way to keep in touch with old friends. When they want photos, they’ll come find you and this gives you a chance to catch up.

Computers and Bible Language

Yesterday I was helping a customer with a computer problem that he was having. I asked him what he was experiencing that made him think there was a problem. He reported, ” It’s hard to tell. When I start internet, I don’t see the CNN. I think something is wrong with the hard drive or with the internet. Can you download to my computer to fix it?”

I smiled at that description, but was very careful not to laugh. There were so many misused terms there. After working with people and computers long enough, you get used to folks just throwing out tech terms where they think they fit. Eventually, I figured out what was really wrong and we fixed the problem.

Fast forward to last night. I was reading thru Revelations in the New Testament. This has always been one of my favorite books in the Bible because it encourages you to think and it is all so applicable to us today. In chapter 9, John talks of “the wars and plagues poured out during the seventh seal and before the Lord comes.” He sees them in vision. I was intrigued at the way that described the airplanes and the tanks that he saw in battle. Parts of the description seemed almost mythical.

But, like my customer earlier that day, John was describing what he saw and he only had his own words to use. It doesn’t make it any less true and certainly doesn’t make it less important. The prophets in the Bible and The Book Of Mormon saw so much of our day and described it the best that they could. It’s our job now to place ourselves in their shoes and understand what they may have been seeing. The more you read the scriptures, the more you are familiar with their terms and their world. This will help you better understand what they saw and how you can prepare yourself for it.

Stukism: You Never Regret Paying More For Quality

One of the recurring lessons one will learn thru life is that you never regret paying a bit more for quality. I’m not talking about paying more for a brand name. Often, brand names and quality have nothing to do with each other. I’m just talking about quality in general.

Quality lasts longer, usually give a better experience and encourages you to take better care of the product. It may be hard to spend the extra money up front, but in the long run, you’ll always be glad you did.

(With this post, we start a new category called “Stukism”. In it, you will find little phrases of things I learn and live by. I’m not promising good advice, just putting my label on it so you know where to come if you don’t like it.)

Yesterday I Got In Trouble At Target

A few days ago, I was telling Candace that I’m surprised that kids are learning fewer and fewer manners. At least that is what I have been observing. There are fewer thank you’s, please’s, and excuse me’s. I think I’ve just been observing this lately because I’ve gone to a few stores to check out the video games for my new DS Lite. There are always kids in those aisles, and they are quite rude to the workers and each other. (Maybe they see how their parents treat the employees.)

Well, yesterday I was at Target and I was going to buy a golf game. Before I could get the attention of the employee, a young fella went up to to him and said, “Get me that game.” He was pointing to one behind the locked glass. There was no “excuse me”, “please” or “will you”. It was just a demand.

Well, just for kicks, I said to the kid, “Did you mean to say, ‘Will you please get me that game?’ ”

The kid turned around surprised. Even more surprised was his mom standing there.

“Did you just say that to my kid?” she asked.

To which I replied, “Did you mean to say, ‘Excuse me, did you you just say that to my kid?’ ”

I was probably a bit out of line. I wouldn’t have wanted some stranger to correct my kid. Ironically, I taught etiquette by breaking etiquette.

Oh well. I just gave a wink to the employee and strolled off.

Ten Reasons For You To Buy A DS Lite

About a week ago, I heard about a DS Lite. For ease of explanation, it’s basically the newest “Gameboy” type machine that Nintendo has put out. I haven’t purchased a machine like this since the original Gameboy 15 years ago so I wasn’t exactly “in the know” on what has happened since then. After checking them out for a week, I had the strongest (and strangest) desire to pick one up for myself. I finally got one, and what do I think?

These things are really, really fun.

Because I like it so much, I’m going to write up 10 reasons that you too should get a DS Lite. Ready?

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1) The DS Lite is great looking, quite portable and has two really bright color screens. The bottom screen is a touch sensitive one so you use a stylus to write on it. That alone opens up all kinds of new options. When closed, the whole thing is just a bit larger than a iPod.

2) Always With You- No more down time while travelling, waiting in lines at the DMV or Doctor’s office, or winding down at night. Because the DS LIte is a a clamshell, you can close it and not worry about scratches. It’s really quite durable and you can bring it with you in purses, briefcases, or suitcases.

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3) The Games You Love- With the release of the DS Lite, Nintendo released a “New Super Mario Brothers” It has all the 2D charm of the first one on the original Nintendo, but in all new worlds and levels. For me, I like this sort of game more than the bloated and overdone new games. Sometimes less is more. Besides the worlds and levels, the game also has about 20 “minigames” that you can play real quick to pass the time. They are just little puzzles, memory games, and things of that nature.

There are other favorites too. Mario Kart, Tetris, etc. (Tetris looks awesome on these bright screens.)

4) The Price – Compared to other gaming portables, the DS Lite is quite inexpensive. You can buy the machine for $129, and the games are usually $20 – $30. This is about he same price for the original Gameboy. I remember saving up for two months to get a gameboy. I had to play the one game for another two months before I could afford another game.

Costco has a nice package for this new DS Lite if you are member there.

5) Inernal WiFi- The DS Lite can connect to the internet if you have wireless internet in your house. This makes games like Tetris and Maro Kart MUCH more fun. Any time you want to race friends, or just anybody on the Nintendo Wi Fi, just log in and you can race or compete with others. You can also upload your high scores to see how good you are compared to others. This is a free service to use.

If you don’t have wireless internet, but you have 2 or more DS Lite’s, they will find each other and you can play against each other wirelessly. Two player Tetris could be one of my favorite games of all time.

6) HomeBrew- Homebrew are applications that others have created that can run on your DS Lite. With these apps, you can use your DS Lite to view movies, pictures, listen to music, read ebooks, keep your address book and to send and receive email, and all kinds of other things. It does take a little hacking to get this done, but it’s definitely there.

7) Brain Age- Brain Age is a great “game” for your DS Lite. The developers created this as a daily exercise for your brain. It includes puzzles and other brain games. The program will tell you the “age of your brain” depending on how well you do. It will keep track of this brain age and graph your improvement. Moms have to love this one.

You can compete with other players in this game to see who can complete the puzzles first, or you can just keep a digital record of how you do so you can see improvements.

8) Many DS Lites, one game. – Many games, including Brain Age, will let more than one DS Lite play off of one cartridge. Remember when you played Tetris against a friend on your gameboy? You’d each have to buy the game and have it in your machine. But, because of the wifi, one person can buy the game and 16 people can play against each other off of that one game. Nice.

9) Yesterday, I caught myself looking up cheats and hints for the New Super Marion Brothers. Me, 26 years old, looking for cheats. That’s what is fun about this game. It is simple and reminds me of when I was little playing these games. With the incredible amount of data that they can put on these little cards, the New Super Mario Brothers has so many hidden treats and tricks.

10) I need friends. – By now, you can probably see that I’d like all of you to buy a DS Lite so that I’ll have friends to play against online. When you buy a game that works with WiFi (Tetris, Mario Kart) you’ll be given a friend code. Now, if I want to race you, I just put in your friend code and we’re playing against each other online. Sixteen people can play at once. There are always a ton of people for me to race online, but I think it would be so much more fun if I knew the person on the other end.

You can buy these DS Lite’s just about anywhere. (Best Buy, Amazon.com, Costco, etc). When you get one, be sure to let me know what your “friend code” is so we can play. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

The next time you are bored in the airport, on a plane, at the dentist, on your lunch break, or just at home, I want you to think of this post and let the seed of desire grow for your own DS Lite.

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.

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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.