Is it the chicken?

I took a quick trip down to Southern California this week. I was supposed to take a class at a consulting firm down there, but they dropped the ball so it didn’t work out. (Probably more on that in a future post.)

I left Las Vegas at about 2 and headed to Oceanside, CA. My grandpa has a condo there that he is very generous with and he offered it to me while I took my class. The traffic was a little worse then I expected so I didn’t get to Oceanside til after dark. As I came into town, I stopped by a Riteaid to get some cereal and milk for the morning. However, when I went in I noticed a group of mischevious fellows looming around my truck. (A truck full of computers and gadgets.) So i quickly ran in, grabbed a box of Honey Nut Chex and a quart of milk, then got back out to my truck.

I arrived to the condo and got all of my stuff brought up. I had some work I wanted to do so luckily there was a neighbor with a wireless network. After a little tinkering, I was surfing the web (which was an ironic thought for me since I was so close to actual surf as well.)

I found myself getting hungry, but wanted something more then cereal. I took a peek into the freezer and there was a box of taquitos in there. They were not in an enclosed bag, but they did have a nice drafty box “protecting” them from freezer burn. I didn’t know how old they were, although after biting into one I had a much better idea of it. But I ate six anyway. the story probably would have ended there, but then I came across a picture on the web that made me wonder if those taquitos weren’t up to par. I could have sworn these little walnut looking things were moving.

Ouch

After looking at that for a few seconds I wondered if I was ok. Luckily, besides that picture there were no other signs of bad food so I considered it a good meal and left it at that.

a quick review of the new ipod shuffle (updated)

I made it out to San Francisco for this year’s Macworld. As I was sitting in the keynote I was just so impressed with all that Steve introduced. When he went into his trademark “one more thing” speech, i was anticipating what it would be. He then went onto to talk about the ipod family, it’s succes, and it’s newest member, the ipod shuffle. I immediately caught the point of the ipod shuffle. It would be like a radio station but with no commercials and playing only a mix of the songs you like (because they all came from your library). When Steve mentioned that the San Francisco Apple Store (two blocks away) would have a few in stock, I quietly excused myself and rushed over to the store. I wanted to be sure to get one of these right away. I was the third one in line at the Apple store. I bought two of them, one for me and one for good measure. I like to think that I was the third person in the world to BUY one.

ipodshuffle

The ipod shuffle comes in a tidy little box. It is about the size of two cd cases stacked on top of each other. Inside, you have the regular software and documentation. There are just three pockets in the plastic. One for the necklace that will hook onto the bottom of the ipod, one pocket for the standard Apple earphones, and the last pocket is of course for the ipod shuffle. I didn’t take all kinds of pictures as I opened it. I didn’t exactly treat this like birthing a child (plus pictures are all over the web already) I wanted to write a quick note as to what it’s like using it.

If you want to know the size, put four quarters in a line on a table. It is about that length and about that weight. If you’ve ever had those 5-packs of gum, it is about that size and weight.

I like the regular ipods as much as anybody, but all the ipods that I have bought I eventually sold because they didn’t quite fit me. The ipod shuffle however is right on the mark. I plugged it into my powerbook and named it. Then it immediately starting filling with random songs. Songs I haven’t seen for a while (I have 23,000 songs on my computer) I was just so excited to plug it in and let it direct my listening. I popped it onto the necklace clipping and headed back to Macworld.

For anyone who says this isn’t enough because there is no screen and you can’t get thousands of songs on it, they are missing the point. You can’t compare this to the other ipods. It’s not even supposed to be the same thing. Compare this to other flash drives on the web and you’ll see how nice it is. The price is incredibly low. The music is plenty (i’ve been walking the exhibit hall for four hours and haven’t heard the same song twice.)

Another worry that I had was if the cap would stay on or not. I’ve had a flash memory chip for a while and lost the cap almost immediately after buying it. But these caps on the ipod shuffle are not just regular slide on ones. There are little balls on the inside of the cap. When you put the cap on, it locks into place pretty good. Of course you can pull it off (that is what it is designed to do) but at the same time it stands on the good. On another note, if you ever get it caught on something, it’s nice to have two points of contact. The necklace is connected to it on one end, and the earphones are on the other end, so one may pop off but the other will keep it hanging.

If anyone has any questions about actually using it, please feel free to contact me. blog(at)brianstucki.com.

update: One more thing that I wanted to mention. When you plug in the shuffle it gives you an option to Autofill (as mentioned above). You can also decide where you want your music to come from. You can choose to take from different playlists, or songs that are highly rated, etc. However, my opinion is, don’t cheat yourself by limiting the autofill. The randomness is what is so fun about the shuffle. Sure you will get some songs on there that you don’t really like or aren’t in the mood for at the moment. (i.e., I was taking a run the other day and I was listening ot my ipod shuffle. There was a Ma$e song that came on that really got me moving, but then a Willie Nelson song followed it. I like Willie Nelson, but it’s hard to jog to “Red Headed Stranger”) But the shuffle holds enough songs that if one or two aren’t really right for the mood, there are still PLENTY left to navigate thru. Limiting the “Autofill” to just music that you always listens to cripples the experience. But that’s just my humble opinion.

Thanks for Reading.

what’s so great about San Francisco curves anyway?

Most everyone that I take to San Francisco wants to see Lombard Street “The Most Crooked Street in the world.” I do admit that it is a pretty neat thing to see, but all the real action is on Market Street. Market Street is the hub of the city. Most of the shopping is there, or near by. This street is where the cable cars end up and turn around. The gay pride parade marches right up this street and you can find a protestor, or two, or 20 at anytime there. When I visit San Francisco I often just find a nice place to sit on Market and watch the world go by. The street runs right down the middle of the city and is very easy to find on any picture.

market

Market Street down the middle of San Francisco.

Well, when I was in San Francsico this last week, I stopped by a little cafe right on Market, just south of Montgomery. I went in and ordered my usual, a Egg Salad sandwich with pickles and mustard all on a Sour Dough Roll. Yummy. I took one of the seats outside the cafe and just ate my food and took in the scene.

When I was sitting there on Market Street, there were hundred of tourists walking up and down. Trolley cars, busses, street trains and taxis covered the streets. Cars were darting back and forth across market street (as just about every street in San Francsico passes across Market.) They looked like little mice when they run across your kitchen floor from one hole to another. poking their noses out from between building, disappearing as fast as they appeared. Giant buildings on both sides with so much style in each one makes Market Street like a giant hallway full of life.

As I was sitting their enjoying my sandwich, the giant hall started echoing with loud sirens. There were cop cars racing down market. They were going way faster then I imagined. I would guess about 40mph (down a street that was VERY crowded and very confusing) I was just waiting for an unexpecting car of tourists to poke their car out, and BOOM! But that was until I noticed something that was just so cool to me.

As the police cars were rushing down Market St, all of the busses (and there are always quite a few of them) would make their way towards intersections. they would stop right in front of the perpindicular intersections, leaving enough room for the cop to turn their if they needed to, but but being present enough that cars couldn’t pass thru them and across Market. This happened three times in front of my eyes. The busses just naturally took their spots in some kind of unspoken rule of harmony. i just thought it was the neatest thing.

I quickly finished my sandwich and jumped on the first bus I could find. Ignoring the “For Safety reasons, please do not talk to the driver” signs and asked if he knew anything about the rule. Just my luck, he didn’t speak English. So I hopped off and jumped on another one (thank goodness for transfer slips). I talked to this man, Jerry, for a while. He told me that all bus drivers try to do it. I told him, “That is sure admirable. What a neat rule of existing together.” but he corrected me saying, “No, actually it is selfish. If there is a wreck right in the middle of Market street then we all get held up. Our bus schedules get off on timing, and we go home late. You got to watch out for yourself brother!”

well, that kind of took the chvalry out of it for me, but oh well. Let the rest of the world go watch cars go back and forth down a very crooked street. As for me and my time, we’ll spend it on the Market.

For All The Mac Users

Some of you may know that I will be going to the Macworld Keynote in San Francisco this weekend. I have a few friends that will not be able to go (nor follow it online) so I thought that I would make it available another way. My friend Richard and I have been working on a page that is specifically written to be viewed from a phone or PDA. It is written in the wml language. I will be in the keynote updating it from my phone and it will post immediately to the page. For anyone on the road, or not in front of a computer you will be able to access the page if you point your browser to www.brianstucki.com/macnews . Be sure to reload the page as I will update it as fast as my fingers can type.

This is just a program that I will run during the Keynote for those not able to watch. However, I am considering making this a permanent site (if there is enough interest). If you would be interested in the service being continued with general mac news. announcement, and rumors then please drop me an e-mail at mac(at)brianstucki.com. I am picturing this as something that mac fans can look up while on trains, planes and automobiles to pass the time and keep up to the moment on Apple news.

Hope this helps someone.

Ya ha deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle dum

If you are wondering about the title to this entry, that is the best take I can get on quoting “If I Were a Rich Man” from fiddler on the roof. That song has been in my head all day. It is one of those songs that you aren’t real proud to sing in public. As soon as you realize you are singing it, you immediately try to hush yourself. Not because it is a musical, I think that is classy. But it is such a goofy song, and even when you sing it right…it just sounds wrong. Why is it in my head? let me explain

I had the television on yesterday while I was working on a project. The show was showcasing 7 manmade wonders in the United States. It started off with highlighting the Bellagio here in Las Vegas. It is a very beautiful building. But another “wonder” on the show was The Golden Gate Bridge. I have long been intrigued with that structure and was glued to the television. (Yes, my work project suffered for a bit.) But the segment on the bridge included a spotlight on a company called The Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co.

About ten years ago, the people in charge of maintaining the bridge decided that it was time for the bridge rails to be uprooted and new ones put in their place. That had been there for 57 years and were looking worn and less safe. They were going to take the rails to scrap them, perhaps selling them to Korea since that country was short on raw material. But a man named Richard Bulan wanted to buy some of the railing and make some furniture out of it. As he did, many people were interested in having some of it for their own, so Richard bought ALL of it and assembles it into furniture.

bridge

Golden Gate Bridge’s Railing

Cocktailtable

Table for the Living Room made from the railing.

Headboard

This is the headboard made from the railing.

It’s funny because anyone who has been to San francisco will tell you that there is a special draw to the bridge. Watching it is mesmerizing. Everyone feels like they have a special tie to it. I remember looking out the window at night from one of my missionary apartments. I could see the giant towers standing there and welcoming everyone to the bay. I remember being inspired by that view more then once.

Well, I found the website for this company and was sadly met with very high prices for the furniture. I remember saying to myself, “If I were a rich man I would buy that furniture.” That phrase triggered that darn song and it has been in my mind ever since.

Napolean Goes Big Time (update)

A friend of mine today sent me a video of Napolean Dynamite doing the “Top 10 List” on David Letterman’s late night show. You can watch the video here

Update: There have been thousands and thousand of people who have downloaded this video and it was becoming too popular for my server so I had to move it. You can still use the above link, but you will be not be downloading it from my site.

Proof For The Whole World To See

I was watching the Orange Bowl last night. I have been an Oklahoma fan for about 12 years now so we won’t be talking about the game. However, let’s just reference the half time show real quick.

The show started with Kelly Clarkson and a long legged country fella. Neither singer is a favorite of mine, but it was alright. But then the PA announcer relayed, “And now, superstar Ashlee Simpson” For the next couple minutes I was just surprised that she has ever sold a song in her life. Poor singing, poor dancing, no where as good looking as her older sister. If this was a superstar then I think we need to realign our assessment of talent. I was glad to hear that the crowd agreed with me as Ashlee Simpson finished her song to a chorus of boos.

I don’t write this entry as a chance to bash Ashlee Simpson (although any amount of disapproval would still not be enough to be accurate). I write it because now we see the beauty of the Itunes Music Store. This music store is by far the most successful online music store where you can get songs for 99 cents per song. Many people see it as just another portal for popular artists to sell more songs and make more money. Well, those people are only half right. There are two other major benefits to iTunes and their online music store.

1) Popular artists can get their music out within a few days (rather then months). Last summer, John Mayer was on a summer tour. He decided to record a few of his concerts and put them online titled “As is”. He played a concert in California, then just a day later it was on the iTunes Music Store selling to the whole world. There was no packaging and advertising and shipping and all the other things that take up time for an artist to get their “live” music out. For those of you who have been to a John Mayer concert, you know how neat they are.

2) The second benefit of itunes is even greater. The same way that John Mayer is able to get his songs out to the world, musicians who are just getting their music out can do the same thing. I could write a song, record it, and sell it on itunes all on my own. Granted, no one would buy my song, but if someone is talented enough they would have a portal to the world. This is beneficial because the music buying world no longer has to take what is force fed to them by the major labels. Artists like Aaron Carter and Ashlee Simpson (both of whom are famous only because they have an older sibling that made it) are no longer the only options. Believe it or not, there are alot of good artists out there that get passed over because they may not have the “superstar looks”. (Although, with Ashlee Simpson as proof, I see that the standards are getting lower and lower.)

The itunes Music store gives a chance for us to have music that we like, not just music that the record company thinks we want. Now that is power to the people.

An Easily Avoided Pet Peeve

I would just like to share a pet peeve of mine. So there I was right? Minding my own business when my cell phone started to ring. I couldn’t get the phone because I was with a customer, but I saw that the caller had left a voice message. I finished my conversation with my customer and checked the phone. It was a friend of mine. I called and listened to the voice mail. It was, “Hey Brian, this is ________. I have a question and a favor to ask you. call me back.”

Nothing sounds out of the ordinary with that message right? You get messages like that everyday. THAT IS EXACTLY THE PROBLEM!!!!!! It seems like all messages are just that way, “It’s _____, gotta question, call me” Nine times out of ten, I don’t call those messages back. The few times that I do it’s because I probably would have called that person soon anyway.

I did call this friend back but our conversation started off this way, ” Hey, _______, let us have a short conversation about message etiquette.” (I feel comfortable talking to this friend this way because we have known each other for a long long time.) I explained to them that the better thing to do is to call and leave a message with the question/favor/comment in it.

a few examples:

Not Effective

“Hey Brian, I have a question for you. call me.”

Analysis- In this example we see that the receiver of the message was left wondering. Is this a question that has the need for an immediate call back? Was she kidnapped and locked up with a Masterlock 8148 chain lock and she wants to know if I know any way to break the code? Or is it something more simple that I can answer anytime.

Effective
” Hey Brian, this is _________. I was wondering if those new apple computers came in. could you call me back?”

Analysis- Short and simple, but very effective. This gives me two advantages as the receiver. #1) If I call her back and get her answering machine then I can leave the answer right there for her (Yeah, the computers came in. You can pick them up anytime) and avoid the annoying but oh so common, “Hey, I was just calling you back so call me back when you can. #2) By her leaving the matter of the phone call on the machine it gives me a chance to gather the information and call her back informed and ready to answer.

So that was one drawn out example, but there has got to be more people who are bothered by this. Let’s leave behind the “I have a question for you” and get used to this advantage of leaving real messages for people. In this case, I practice what I preach. If I ever leave a general no purpose message please get on me for it.

There, I’m off my soapbox.

impressed and humbled

I was struck in a special way this weekend. Christmas was good. I mostly just enjoyed the extra time to get things done. But on Sunday Night, President Gordon B Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints visited Larry King on his show, Larry King Live. I really enjoyed the conversation that they had. It was amazing to see the way that President Hinckley stayed so simple and forthright about the beliefs and doings of the church. Even though he is very knowledgeable and experienced, he still chooses to use the most simple thoughts when he shares the gospel. That is a good reminder for all of us.

One of my favorite tidbits:

KING: It’s hard to be a Mormon, isn’t it?

HINCKLEY: No. It’s wonderful.

KING: Not hard.

HINCKLEY: No, no. It’s just wonderful. It’s demanding. Great expectations. I should say so. But it’s wonderful.

KING: Wonderful to resist the temptations of life?

HINCKLEY: Oh, you don’t go around resisting. You just develop a positive outlook and walk forward with faith.

KING: What do you do …

HINCKLEY: We don’t dwell on the negative. We dwell on the positive.

KING: What do you do with temptation? What do you do with it?

HINCKLEY: Set it aside. Put it behind. Leave it there.

KING: And you’ve been able to do that all your life.

HINCKLEY: I tried to, yes.

KING: Were you ever, as a youngster, did you ever stray?

HINCKLEY: Oh, I was a natural boy growing up, of course I was. Just a freckled-faced kid. Sure.

KING: I’ll bet you were.

HINCKLEY: Sure.

KING: I’ll bet you had a little rascal in you.

HINCKLEY: Sure I did.

KING: OK. It’s good to know …

HINCKLEY: Sure.

KING: … that God blessed you this way.

HINCKLEY: I’ve been blessed so abundantly that I can never get over it. I just feel so richly blessed that I want to extend that to others wherever I can.

KING: Hope you have a long life.

I know I am a week late, but ir’s never bad right?

Strangest thing happened to me this morning. I woke up with gratitude on my mind. My thoughts were turned to people, places, events, things that have affected my life. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to be more open with gratitude. Maybe I am catching the Thanksgiving feeling finally.

I am not exactly sure where all of this comes from. I had a conversation last night with a man that has trouble showing gratitude. I know it is in him, but it is hard for him to vocalize it.

Forgive me as I write a story that has been told many times before. I will make it s short version, just enough to suffice my point.

As I was serving a mission in San Francisco for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I remember meeting so many fun and interesting people. One night in August of 2000, my missionary companion and I boarded a bus to head home for the evening. As we boarded that bus, we took a look at all of the people on there. In the front there was a drunk, scraggly man doing his best to flirt with two women that spoke only Chinese. Behind them were two couples going out for the evening, all men. The role call in the middle was a woman dressed all in red with little red horns stuck on her head, a man who could have been mistaken for Elvis if it had not been for the chain connecting his ear to him lip, by way of his nose. and in the back was a group of “homies” all standing in desperate need of a belt. It was no wonder the bus driver sat with a bat across his lap.

I looked at my companion. he was a new missionary and noticeably scared at the scene in front of him. We are supposed to talk to everyone and introduce them to the Gospel. Looking back at the bus occupants, I noticed something ironic. the bus had quieted down and they were all looking at us, the strange ones with clean cut hair and business suits on.

I turned to my missionary companion again and said, “Let’s take this one different. Let’s make our way down the bus and find something to compliment everyone on. Meet you in the back.” And off we went.

It was fun to make our way down the bus meeting people and making them smile. I made it to the back first and sat their with the “homies”. I sat there chatting and joking with them. It was fun, but our stop arrived and we got off the bus.

I remember thinking that night and making a promise to myself that I would never miss the opportunity to give an honest compliment again. My Bus friends had genuine smiles on their face as I told them what I liked about them. I don’t give fake compliments. I would rather be quiet then untruthful. I have tried to keep that promise to myself since then I have enjoyed the smiles that it produced. I decided that for the next few weeks, i am going to make my way thru my e-mail address book and extend personal compliments to my friends, family, and not-so-much friends. I would encourage you to entertain the thought of doing it too. Everyone likes an honest compliment.