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Trivia Night

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I'm down in Eugene right now, visiting my girlfriend. It's Tuesday night, so we went to Max's bar for trivia night (hosted by "E.Geek", who apparently isn't that big on the internet.) While the Oregon Commentator's opinion (page 13) wasn't exactly a glowing recommendation, I was impressed with the place. It was clean, there was free popcorn, and when I ordered a whiskey & coke (as usual) they gave me a glass of coke and a separate shot of whiskey so that I might combine them myself and be assured I'm getting my fair share of booze. Nice.

So I'm going to spoil it by saying that my team took 2nd place overall and 1st place in the second (of two) rounds. I'd like to claim that I led my team to that victory, but someone would likely show up and refute that. Nonetheless, I was instrumental at times. I also came up with our team name. Some affiliated teams were using themes from past presidential elections, so, for instance, there was an "I Like Ike" team. Well, we were the team "No Jack Kennedy". Yes, it's an awesome name.

Anyway, at this trivia night I proved that my knowledge of American history is shaky (did you know that Woodrow Wilson was governor of New Jersey before being president? I didn't!) and that my grasp of sports trivia is nonexistent (no, I can't name the top 5 teams in the BCS.) I am, however, useful at nameing classic rock tunes, M*A*S*H trivia, and other such useless knowledge.

I miss trivia night. I used to go out to O'Somebody's bar (not the real name, but I can't remember) in west Eugene way Back When I Was An Undergrad™. I wish I could find something like it locally; it's a ton of fun.

AAPL (or "What to do with $25 billion?")

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
As a bit of an Apple fan, I knew they were set to release their quarterly results in a conference call today. While the news was (as usual) exceptionally good, what I found interesting was the fact that Apple has about $25 billion dollars in cash laying around*.

So what does this mean?

Well, first off, it seems that Apple has a pretty sizable "rainy day" fund set aside. That's good. Secondly, however, it means that they could have a lot of fun.

Today, they could:
  • Purchase GM, Ford, and Chrysler LLC and still have about $12 billion left over.

  • Pay for a couple months of the war in Iraq.

  • Buy 1/28th of the latest federal bailout.

  • Buy each of the 15.9 million college students in the U.S. a new MacBook (and have money left over, assuming they get the education discount on the purchase.)

  • Finally, in a cruel twist of fate, they could simply purchase Dell and, if nothing else, shut it down.+
Of course, this is all well and good, but Bill Gates could still come up with more cash if he needed to...

*A look at the financial statements indicates that this is really cash, cash equivalents, accounts receivable, and short term investments. In other words, extremely current assets.
+ Let it be known that I noticed that they had more cash laying around than Dell's market capitalization. Once I was looking at Dell's page, however, I saw the link at Mac Daily News which outlined my thinking better than I could do it myself.

Dearly Departed

Monday, October 20, 2008
My girlfriend and I went to LiveWire at the Aladdin Theater on Saturday night which was, as usual, incredibly interesting and funny. Guests Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Berkeley Breathed were both fascinating to listen to, but what really stuck with me was the music.

During the first recording, the music was performed by two artists who had each recorded a song on the Dearly Departed album. As a fundraiser for maintenance on the Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland, a bunch of artists picked a person in the cemetery and told their story. There's the story of Sam Simpson, Oregon's first poet laureate, there's the story of Dr. Hawthorne, cofounder of Oregon's first mental hospital and a man who paid for the graves of many of his patients. And there's the story of Charity Lamb, who decided to end her abusive marriage with an axe (and who ended up as a patient of Dr. Hawthorne.)

The music on this album is universally excellent. The tunes are mournful yet interesting, the songs sad yet romantic. The memorialized dead have fascinating stories. There's the drunk who froze to death outside when he got locked out of his home, or the two friends who travelled to Oregon and ended up dying of pneumonia. What you don't hear a lot of are songs about the boring folks. There's no "here lies John, who died an uninteresting death after an even less interesting life." That would be a short song, I suppose.

In any event, the CD was fantastic. Yes, we purchased a copy (even though it's not technically for sale yet) but for my reader(s) out there, I highly recommend getting a copy. It's morbidly fascinating and you're supporting a good cause.

Jay Leno on Helmets

Friday, October 17, 2008
As a motorcycle safety instructor I'm on a mailing list where we occasionally share these delightful little Public Safety Announcements. Today's video is of Jay Leno and a man from Arai Helmets

The major topic of conversation is how a helmet should fit. I'll be honest; my first motorcycle helmet was a size too large. It was comfortable in the store, but eventually "broke in" and got all wobbly on my head when I'd ride. My next (and current) helmet was much better; it was very tight at first, but now has loosened up to the point that it doesn't move around - but doesn't constrict the blood-flow to my head.

At any rate, I highly recommend watching this video. If nothing else, there's an awesome crash scene in there!

Thank you, Jay Leno!

Dude... Ballmer, WTF?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So in the midst of Apple's announcement of their awesome new laptops, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spent some time talking to the press. As was pointed out on Ars Technica, Microsoft's big guy spent some time talking to PC Magazine.

Now there's many pages to the interview and, while some of it is quite interesting, everyone once in a while Ballmer says somethings that makes you stop and say, "Wait, did he REALLY just say that?" Fortunately for us it's in print, so we can verify it.

Quote number one from the interview:
You know, anyway—can you find the applications you want on the Mac? Well, you don't really get full Microsoft Office.
Did Ballmer just say, "Macs are inferior because, among other reasons, you can't get a full version of Office?" Does he know Microsoft MAKES Office? And that, if you can't get a full version, it's likely his own fault?

Without casting too many aspersions upon the Mac BU, it's pretty obvious that Microsoft only makes a version of Office for the Mac to avoid anti-trust lawsuits, but doesn't actually make it good because they make more money if they sell Windows + Office for the PC.

Another great line?
We're going to talk about why—look, PCs are better than Macs. That is not something that can be debated. 32 out of every 33 times, somebody buys a PC instead of a Mac. I'm not saying that there are not some things that people like about Macs, apparently there are. But have you ever seen a cheap Mac? No.
I mean, without going into the definition of cheap or checking his numbers, this argument is just plain stupid. Seriously, volume does not in any way denote quality. I'm pretty sure Chevrolet sells more Cobalts than Mercedes-Benz sells C300s. Will anyone debate that the Mercedes is a better car? That it's built better, more pleasant to drive, and will last longer? No, but the Chevrolet is cheaper, so they sell lots. Would you be proud?

Ballmer, dude... just calm down there. You're driving me crazy.


Friday, October 10, 2008
While I'm looking for a job I've been trying to stay away from politics in my blog. It's difficult (maddeningly so), but thus far I've been reasonably successful.

I am endlessly amused today, however, by President Bush's comments to the nation in a televised address. He said:
"Here's what the American people need to know: The U.S. government is acting, and we will continue to act, to resolve this crisis and return stability to our markets."
What has had me giggling is that, for a party full of politicians who claim to idolize Ronald Reagan, they seem to forget all too quickly that the man once said:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'
Perhaps I'm just skeptical because, ever since the $700 billion dollar bailout was announced last Saturday, the Dow Jones has dropped
over 21%
. That's impressive.

Inauspicious Beginning

Thursday, October 09, 2008
So my day today has thus far started with this:

Yet another flat tire.

Yes, folks, what you're looking at is another flat tire. That's two in the space of a year! Unfortunately, I'm in Eugene right now and one of the lugnuts seems to be cross-threaded, which means I can't get it off. I called Les Schwab and they're sending someone out (for a minimum of $45) to help. Had I been able to get the lugnut off this would have been 15 minutes of inconvenience. Now it's about 2 hours of pain.

Peggle Deluxe

Monday, October 06, 2008
I was playing around with Peggle Deluxe, the addictingly fun puzzle game from PopCap Games. I found out they made a version for the Mac, and I'm now happy.

This game is tons of fun. I mean, you're supposed to bounce a ball and hit certain "pins" on the screen. That part's fun enough, I suppose, but it goes from good to great when you finish a level. As the ball goes in for the last hit, it zooms in, and you hit it! FLASHING LIGHTS! BEETHOVEN'S ODE TO JOY! RAINBOWS! FIREWORKS! The celebration never gets old.

The game is frighteningly fun and I highly recommend that anyone interested grab a copy (though Peggle Extreme was available free from Valve at some point, or bundled... I don't remember.) In any case, try it, you won't be disappointed.

And did I mention there are Unicorns?


Saturday, October 04, 2008
I've been playing around with Sweetcron, a self-hosted lifestreaming portal. I've decided to use www.burtonsimmons.com as the entry page.

Lifestreaming is an interesting idea. I "play" online in a variety of places, from blogs (such as this one) to microblogs (such as twitter) to social networking websites (such as facebook). I'm using Sweetcron as an aggregator, collecting all (well, currently most) of my online activities in one easy-to-read place.

So check it out. Keep in mind that it's still a work in progress - both what you see and the engine that powers all of it. Let me know what you think!



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