Doing One Thing Great

Yesterday my grandpa asked me if I could set him up to do some online banking transfers. After working with it for a while, I was not able to do it. However, it was not due to anything on our side. The bank had made some mistakes in the last month that made it impossible. I reported to my grandpa that it was unsuccessful because the bank had made some mistakes on his account. He was not happy to hear that. He asked me to stay in the room as he called the bank in case I had to give any details about what happened. I was glad he did.

My grandpa has been practicing law in Las Vegas for over 35 years. He is respected in the city for his skill and his ethics. He spent a while on the phone with the bank and I just enjoyed listening to how he handled the conversation. His conversation was smooth. He increased volume at the right time, made the proper points, demanded the perfect answers, and gave the proper respect. It was very much a work of verbal art. He eventually got everything straightened out and they very much pampered him and his account.

I bring this up because I was so impressed at how “great” he was at conversation. And I was surprised at how mesmerized I was at listening.

When someone is great at something, no matter what it is, it is a treat to watch. It can really be anything. But when someone is great at it, you don’t have to be told. Even if it is an art, practice, or skill that you have never seen, you can tell that they are great at it. I’ve seen great wood carvers, bee keepers, chefs and carpet layers. I’m not familiar with these fields, but I could tell that they were great at them.

I feel like I can do alot of things well. But I don’t think that I do anything great. (I know that mom, wife and sisters will disagree with me here. Thanks. But it’s ok. I’ve come to terms with it.)

From what I can see, doing something “great” requires:
1) a good amount of time and practice
2) some sort of love for it
3) some sort of sacrifice
4) some natural talent in the area

I think that I’ll try to find something that I can work on until I do it great. Perhaps you can share what you do great to inspire me. I could use the ideas.

Dashboard Submissions Complete

Thank you to all that helped by sending in screenshots. There was really good support. We ended up with 1160 individual screenshots. Wow. I thought that I had a pretty good idea of the widgets available to Tiger users, but there were alot that I had never seen.

The most screenshots came from Mike Libby. He sent in 212 very unique shots. So unique in fact that I wrote to him and asked how he did it. His one line response was “English 210 was very very boring last week.”


Mike will be receiving the iTMS gift certificate for his time.

The “Random Submitter” certificate will be going to Brian Waldman.

Thanks again for your submissions. I will begin the work on the mosaic poster and desktop and post when it is available. If you have a suggestion that may serve as a good image to build the mosaic on, feel free to send it in ( link to it in the comments.

Dashboard Contest (updated)

I have been requesting help from the online Mac community, and most have been coming here for further clarification. I thought that I would write a quick post for those coming here on account of the competition:

For those who are using Macs running Tiger, I am looking to collect as many different dashboard variations screenshots as possible. In order to do this, I am offering a prize.

To take a screenshot, activate dashboard then push Cmd+Shift+3. The screen shot will be saved to your desktop. Attach that screenshot to a email and send to “” with “Dashboard” in the subject line.

1) Any Screen Resolution is ok.
2) Send in as many as you’d like, but be sure that each one is different. (change out widgets, move them around, or have a different desktop behind the dashboard.)
3) Please be aware of any personal info you may have on your dashboard, such as a WAN ip address.
4) Multiple submissions will be grouped by email address so be sure to send from the same address each time. More then one screenshot per email is ok.
5) The contest will end Monday Aug, 15, 2005.

A $30 iTunes Music Store gift certificate will be given to the person that sends in the most screenshots of different Dashboard variations.

Also, another $30 iTunes Music Store gift certificate will be given to a random submitter. (Each person will have the same chance, no matter the amount of screenshots they sent in.)

Good luck to all those that have already submitted, and those who will be joining them.

Update: I have had some questions as to why I want these. I should have said it in the first place. I intend to make Mosaic type posters, using all the screen shots as tiles. I always thought that it would be neat to have a poster like that hanging in my office…but was never fully eager to do all the screen shots myself, as it would take a long long time. I am hoping for a good variety of background colors behind the dashboard as well to fill colors nicely.

I do intend to make the image file available to the public in case they want to print off their own poster.

We’ve had good submissions so far. Keep them coming!

Update 2- The contest is now complete. See here for details

Stringed Instrument Gems

I just didn’t like the idea of a ear wax post being my most recent post, so I thought that I would add a couple more musical gems that I have been listening to lately. I like these songs because they are modern acoustic guitar music, but have both been peppered with violins and cellos. When that is done properly, it adds alot of class.

“Morning Watch” by Dolorean. This album has been out for a while, but I just found this song recently. You can listen to it here. Or buy the whole album from itunes here.

The second one is “Somebody More LIke You” by Nickel Creek. This is from their album that comes out in a couple weeks. You can listen to the song here. Or you can pre-order the album from Amazon here. This song gets bonus points because the beginning sounds like the soundtrack from the original Zelda game.

If you don’t like this music, you can go beat up an annoying frog here or see what it would be like to jump into a big bottle of Sprite here.

How to clean your ears out using candles!?!

In the past, I have been accused of living the life of an old man. it could be my 9 o’clock bedtime. Or maybe my like for artists like Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, and especially James Taylor. Or possibly it is because the mini fridge in my office has yogurt, string cheese and Tums as its contents right now.

Fine. I’ll admit I do old man stuff. But one thing I won’t accept is losing my hearing like an old man.

This last weekend, Candace and I decided to try the ancient art of ear candling. This is new to me as of last week, but it dates back to as far as 2500 BC.

Understandably, I was a little skeptical on a) if it really existed and b) if it really worked. But we searched and were able to find some ear candles.

The basic process requires the 12 inch hollow candle, a plate/pie tin that won’t catch on fire, and a little bowl of water.

– The person receiving the candling sits upright on the floor and puts the funnel tip of the candle softly into the ear.
– Holding the candle at a 25 degree angle, the helper person lights the tip of the candle.
– As the candle burns down, the helper person holds the plate under the tip of the candle to catch the ash.
– When the tip of the candle has 1 inch of ash, the helper cuts it off to let the candle continue burning.
– When the candle reaches about 4 inches left, remove it from the ear and place the tip in the bowl of water.


That’s it. It sounds ridiculous, but it really works. Cut the candle open and take a look for yourself. Ugh!

So now, even if other facets of my life are old, my hearing is still top notch!! You ought to try them. You can buy them at

Note: You will DEFINITELY want a helper person with this. The flame get pretty big and it’s good to have someone help you.

Note 2: Some companies say that the ear contents come out immediately, other companies say the candle loosens the stuff up to come out better in the natural process. I don’t know how it happens, but I am hearing good and my head feels very cleared up all together.

Note 3: This is the grossest post I have ever written.

Ogling Googling

I’ve written before at how much I prefer Google Maps over other services like Mapquest. And now it seems that Google maps are the talk of the town. (Because of my mention,no doubt.) But there are some other really neat things that Google can do.

SMS Google is a really neat way to find things when you are not around a computer. The steps are simple.
-compose a text message with what you want. For example “Costco Las Vegas”
-Send the text message to “46645” (which spells GOOGL)
-Then a few moments later you will get the info texted back to you. You can get all kinds of info:
• For addresses: hospital San Jose CA
• For reverse phone lookup : 2122269817
• For driving directions : pasadena CA to santa monica CA
• For Movie Times : batman begins 94043
• For Weather : weather dallas tx
• For Stock quotes : tgt
• For Answers to questions : population of Japan
• For Definitions : define prosimian
• For prices of products : price mp3 player
• FOr Zip codes locations: 94043
• For Area code locations : 650

If you want to test it out visit this site and type in the text, and it will show you what you would get in return.

Another neat feature is the ability to search a movie database. You can find a movie by character, quote, genre, theme, etc. To do this, visit google and type “movie: ” and the info you know already. For example:
movie: humperdinck
movie: Johnny Depp

This is a great way to look for new movies, or to remember old ones.

Google Alerts is a good way to keep up with a certain subject or person. You enter the subject and your email, then whenever Google finds a newspaper article that contains that, they will email the link to you. For instance, you can enter James Taylor and be kept up on his tour reviews. Or if you own stock in Apple computer and want to know what the papers are writing about them you can enter “Apple Computer”. If nothing else, get on there and type your name in the google alerts so if you ever make the paper, you’ll know about it. You can find the Alerts page here

There are alot of other neat service you can find here.

Battery Spencer

I’ve made another change to this blog, this one a bit more obvious than the last. I changed the layout and look of the site. I did this for a couple reasons.

I just wanted a more advanced look than it was before. I’m still fine tuning this to work in all browsers, but it’s coming along nicely.

I didn’t put this theme together, it is part of Theme Wuhan. However, I was very happy to find it!!

The image in the header is a depiction of the view from from Battery Spencer, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a cliff that has an incredible picture of the ocean, bridge, city, and bay. They used this post to guard the bridge and bay during war times. It is my favorite spot in the world. In times of hardship and happiness, I have visited this place and felt inspired and calmed. Here is a picture I took from the same spot a couple years ago.

I visited this place again this last weekend. Once again, this special cliff served as the location for a special part of my life.

I brought Candace there this weekend. After arriving in the Bay area, we picked up our car then checked into our hotel. She didn’t know, but her mom and my mom took a flight just an hour after us to this same place. They immediately went up to the cliff and took their positions in the worn down barracks.

Once the moms were in place, I was notified, and we made our way up to the cliff to “take in the view”. With the moms snapping photos, taking video, and trying to control their emotions, I surprised Candace with a ring and asked her to marry me. She accepted, and it was a very neat time for all of us.

Update: The site is now running a different theme. Visit the Theme Wuhan site to see it.

To Give You A Laugh When You Need It

I have added a feature to the blog that I hope will be enjoyable. If you look at the top of the sidebar on the right, you will see “Mitch Hedberg Quote”, followed by a quote. Those quotes are from the acts of my favorite comedian, Mitch Hedberg. (Well, I guess I can’t say favorite because he is tied for first with Bill Cosby.)

Mitch Hedberg was a very original comedian. His style was absolutely unique. He was the master of observing every day things in a funny way. He saw things that you and I miss.

I speak past tense because Mitch Hedberg died on March 30 of this year. I was sad when I heard that.

Sometimes it helps to know what Mitch Hedberg sounds like. You can hear sample of it here.This is when he was on the David Letterman show a few years ago. Quite funny.

I hope you enjoy the quotes. Each time you refresh the page, the quote will change. Do it as many times as you’d like. It pulls from a database I put together of about 250 quotes so it’ll be a while before you see one for the second time. I figured this was a good releif for the readers when my writing is not up to par.

One more thing you should know. Mitch, while incredibly funny, did use some language in his live shows. He doesn’t do immoral or racy topics at all, but there is cussing. So if you get his cd’s, be prepared. I’ve cleaned up the quotes in my database so you shouldn’t see any there. (Please tell me if you do.)

Update: I’ve removed this feature from my blog.

Over the Rivers and thru the Woods

Well, as you can tell, I didn’t do as well as I thought I would with blogging from Europe. It was very much a whirlwind trip. We didn’t slow down long enough to even write. We would wake up in one country, and be four countries away by the time we went to sleep. It was great fun. If I could share just a few highlights.

After a couple nights in London, my siblings (Jamie and Kyle), my mother, and I took off for our trip. We flew from London to Rome. Hopping countries in Europe is like hopping states here. It is strange how far you can go in such a short time.

We landed into Rome and there had our first meeting being in a country that didn’t speak English regularly. I do say that ALOT more people knew English then I anticipated, but it was still an experience.

Our first matter of business was to get into town and then find the Coliseum. When we finally found the right trains and we got off at the Coliseum subway stop, we were anticipating a bit of searching to find it. We were absolutely wrong. Right when you come out of the station doors, it is there in absolute majesty. I have written before about things that do not disappoint when you experience them for the first time. The list is short. But along with hot air balloon rides and the Grand Canyon, the Coliseum does not disappoint. We got there just as the sun was setting and illuminating the Coliseum walls.

The next day we visited the Sistine Chapel and the rest of the beautiful buildings in Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel was nice. (Good work Michelangelo) But the hallway leading to the chapel was magnificent.

We came out of the Vatican to a crowd of people in the big square. After going thru a couple shops, we saw the Pope riding around on the Pope-mobile . He was waving to the crowd and making his way to the front. It was pretty interesting and great timing.

That evening we took a train up to Venice. Now that was an interesting city. We walked thru the whole island, following the signs to the cathedral. When we got there, we were so interested in the birds that we didn’t spend alot of time looking at the cathedral. The birds were fun. Jamie wouldn’t play with them, But kyle, mom, and I had a few bags of seed each and we threw a bird party. I put seeds on Kyle’s head and birds went in for the meal. We were surrounded by hundreds of birds. It was fun.

We took the busboat back to the train station. The boat stopped every couple blocks and picked people up from floating bus stops. How strange that people actually live there.

We took the train thru the night and woke up in Bern, Switzerland. After finding out that there was a big music festival in town and all hotel rooms were filled, we got back on the train and went to a town out of the story books.

Interlaken, Switzerland has got to be the most beautiful place on earth. Surrounded by the towering Swiss Alps, divided by rivers of water pure as diamonds, and decorated with green plants and flowers everywhere. I wondered if people there feared death because they would have to “downgrade” to heaven. Just being there and walking the streets was a very neat experience.

The next morning, back to Bern. The streets were bustling and we were ready to explore. My family comes from this area and we were very excited to see how common the name was there still. We visited a big cathedral that towers over the city. We went inside and found a plaque and there on the list of the remembered were two Stucki names. Dated 1798. That was exciting. Oh yeah, the chapel was neat too.

Switzerland is such a neat country. Everything is clean, organized, and effective. We visited the beautiful LDS temple and felt proud that our family were among the early pioneers that built faith that matured to a temple.

After Bern, we flew back into London. We had a day there so we watched “The Phantom Of The Opera” in Her Majesty’s Theatre. We took in the sights and sounds of London and then the next day we were ready to have the pleasures of America again.

As you can imagine, we did much more and saw alot. These are the things I enjoyed the most. We ended up with 540 pictures. (Thank goodness for digital cameras!!) I will attach a few pictures here and I plan to make a hard cover book out of the rest of them.

Las Vegas to London

I am in the South Kensington area of London. Jamie has been living here for school and we are in a hotel on the same block. This is a very nice part of London, and probably the favorite area that I’ve seen in both times I’ve been here.

We have seen alot in the last few days. Alot of the fun was getting here. A few thoughts:

-Over the weekend in Vegas there were 100 couples married at the same time on Fremont street in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of Las Vegas. 11 of those couples and their friends were on my plane. It was a very worn out crowd.

-We had a layover in Chicago. This is where I met my mother and brother (as they were starting this trip from a different place.) While I was waiting there, I was near one of the moving sidewalks. There was an old bony man that got on, and he was pushing his old “not bony” wife. With the weight of the wheel chair, he was pushing twice his weight easily. Well, they got to the end and he wasn’t quite able to push the chair up the little ramp to come off. It was very funny as more and more people were pushed to the endpressing into each other. It only lasted a few seconds, but everyone was really getting loud and rowdy. Finally there was enough weight pushing on the back of them to pop the chair up and off. Tempers flared, but I noticed that not one person was intelligent enough to start walking in the other direction. Even if they couldn’t walk faster then the machine at least they would stay in the same place.

-We’ve done most of the tourist stuff here in London. I enjoy the history very much. Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, London Tower with the crowned jewels, etc. I will post some pictures when I am able to.

-The fast food places here don’t serve your drink with ice. NO ICE! I am told that the customers feel that they are getting ripped off when they put ice in the cup because it displaces the soda. I’m not so down with that.

” Would you like anything else with your meal?”

“Yes, a cup of ice, and a pot holder for the mean time.”

Tomorrow we start our whirlwind trip thru the rest of Europe. We are hoping for 6 cities in 6 nights.