Friday, December 30, 2005

...But I Play One On TV!

Oh, this is too good to leave alone. From Newsweek:

Dec. 26, 2005 - Jan 2, 2006 issue - Jake Gyllenhaal is Hollywood's sexiest man—despite what the editors at People say. The actor took a break from his heartthrob duties to speak with Ramin Setoodeh.

In "Jarhead," you played a Marine. Is it time for us to get out of Iraq?
Honestly, I'm feeling more like maybe we should.

Am I the only one who sees a nonsequitur here?

Let's just continue this interview along these lines, shall we?

Agenda-Advancing Journalist: In "Brokeback Mountain" you play a gay sheep-rancher. Do you feel that sheep ranching is exploitative and causes undue harm to sheep?

Jake Gyllenhaal: Oh, absolutely. No one asks the sheep for permission to rip off all their hair every Spring.

AAJ: In "The Day After Tomorrow" you play a scientist's estranged son. Should more sons consider being estranged from their fathers?

JG: I believe so, since global warming is caused by our fathers, and it's, like, going to be our mess to clean up. So yeah. I think estrangement is a good place to start.

AAJ: In "Bubble Boy" you play a boy born without an immune system. Do you think President Bush should be immune from all the trouble he's caused in the world?

JG: Absolutely not. Though it's obviously the reason why he lives in a bubble.

AAJ: In "October Sky" you play a kid who gains an interest in rocketry after the Russian launch of Sputnik. Do you think Bush's announced plan to take us to Mars is ill-conceived.

JG: No, I happen to agree with him on this one. It will require rockets.

AAJ: Okay, one final question. You played Billy Crystal's son in "City Slickers." Do you think Billy Crystal was a bad choice to host the Oscars?

JG: Okay, I've got to put my foot down here. Just because I played a guy's son for maybe ten minutes of the whole darn movie doesn't make me an expert on him, okay? I mean really! I was a kid then, anyway. But I'm older now, and much more qualified to render judgement on world issues based on playing a vaguely associated role in a movie written by some liberal-arts major cloistered in a California studio apartment who's entire world view is formed by CNN soundbites and last week's episode of "Law & Order."

AAJ: Okay. Thank you for your time.

JG: Hey, right back at you!

Car Buying Tips

Can't decide between a Ford Mondeo and a Citroen 2CV? Here's a helpful video to help you decide.

For those of you with slow connections, this is a clip from a European television show. They helpfully demonstrate how much thrust a 747 produces at full power (58,000 lbs. per engine, to be precise) by driving two cars perpendicularly across the runway about 50 yards behind the engines.

Let me just say I'd rather not be in either one of them. They both get pitched down the runway rather forcefully. In fact, the host says that they can't have the 747 stay at full power for more than about 20 seconds, or it will start to rip up the runway.

Just a little something for your Gee Whiz File. Nice use of the "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack, too, incidentally.

Predictions for 2006

Hey, it's fun, even if I'm no good at it. And I'm no worse than anyone else doing it.

1) The 2006 elections will provide no significant gains for either party.

2) Britney Spears will not get divorced.

3) Kevin Federline's album will enjoy mixed sales. He'll still make several million. He lands a contract for TV or a movie in the process. Will still be called "Mr. Britney Spears" by the media.

4) Tom and Kate will not tie the knot.

5) Iraq's new government will perform reasonably well, their army will step up, and U.S. Troop levels will be below 75,000 by the end of the year.

6) Saddam Hussein will be convicted and executed--over U.N. protest.

7) The U.N. will try again to gain control of the Internet.

8) Joseph Lieberman will go Independent.

9) Iran will develop a nuclear weapon. Israel or the U.S. will take military action to keep them from using it.

10)North Korea's government will collapse. China will send in troops to stabilize the country.

11) I will be working for a completely different company.

12) I will finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

13) Walter will become interested in something entirely different from tractors/trains/cars.

14) Emma will take to kindergarten like a duck to water.

15) Terhi or I will start a side business.

16) There will be a major earthquake (6.0+) within in the U.S.

17) There will be a foiled terrorist attack at the Torino Olympics.

18) At least one major media organization will go out of business.

Punxatawny Philibuster

Last year I made several predictions for 2005. I guess it's time to revisit those predictions and see how I fared:

Legislation will be introduced to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N (but will

Not to my knowledge. The primary controversy was over the ambassador we sent there.

Elections will be held in Iraq on schedule, but the results will be
contested by the U.N.

Half right. Two successful elections have been held and certified by the U.N.

The Great Social Security Compromise will be passed this year.
Social Se-what?! That issue got drowned out.

I will turn 35 without spontaneously combusting.
Correct. There was no combustion, spontaneous or otherwise--not even birthday candles.

We will sell our house and move someplace bigger.
Correct. And we're loving it!

We will have another boy.
Correct. And we're loving it--er, him!

Someone will start making a "Buck Rogers in the 21st Century" movie.
Not to my knowledge.

We will have a terrorist attack on US soil this year.
Thank goodness no.

Bin Laden or Al Zarqawi will be caught this year.
Unfortunately no, though they've both made considerable strides toward removing themselves from relevance.

Iraq will be significantly more peaceful by the end of the year, but it
will get worse first.

Depends on who you ask.

Brittany Spears will get divorced.
Nope. And good for her! Congrats on the new baby, too. And hang tough, Kev. You're the media's favorite punching bag, but you seem well poised to laugh all the way to the bank.

Martha Stewart's new show will beat Oprah's ratings its first week.
Not to my knowledge. And her reality show didn't fare very well, either.

Michael Jackson's trial will finally start.
Correct. It also ended. And best yet, he moved to--of all places--the Middle East, known the world over for its tolerance and hospitality. He immediately gets off on the wrong foot by going into the women's bathroom.

The Yankees won't make the World Series.
Correct. The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals did.

Chechnya will be granted independence.
Wrong. No progress there.

The Oil For Food Scandal will quietly go away, but not for lack of

I should have defined quietly. The U.N. is certainly keeping quiet about it. Conservatives blogs, however, bring it up every change they get.

Not a single actor or actress who threatened to leave the country if Bush
won will actually do so (not much of a guess, really, since no one did last
time, either).

Correct. But we did get Jacko to go for other reasons. That's progress.

Emma will be chosen for the "By Invitation Only" class in gymnastics.
Nope, but she did get advanced to the next regular class ahead of schedule. I'm also not sure if the "by invitation" class ever materialized.

So that's about 7.5 out of 18. I'm getting worse! Oh well. Several of those I'm more than happy to be wrong about. The scary thing is, it seems like I just made those predictions a few days ago!

Well, so long and good night to 2005. All in all, it was a pretty darn good year for us. I'm predicting even better things for next year.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Theories of Relativity

I'm stepping on thin,un-PC ice here, but I'd just like to suggest to those who think America is going to Helena in a handbasket, that perhaps we need a reality check. For example, for those who think that Judge Alito is Satan incarnate for having supported notifying the spouse of a women seeking an abortion, I think that pales in comparison to this:

Pakistani Describes Killing of Daughters

And for those who think that Bush is ruining the country, read about Michael Totten's trip to Libya.

I'm not saying we don't have problems in America. I'm just saying tone down the rhetoric, will you? There are problems, and then there are truly big problems. Don't expect me to listen to your superlatives until you show me you're willing to address the truly big problems in the world.

Or are all your calls for tolerance, diversity, and equality just for show? Before you answer, read about this development from our own country. Do you see a problem, or do you see progress?

I see a problem. Unless you can show me that the true ratio between men and women of college age is equivalent, I'd say something is wrong somewhere in our society. And as a father of boys and a girl, it's important to me that they all have a chance at a good education.

But that's probably just me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hayward, CA: City of Bad Feng Shui!

According to this article, Hayward, California has bad Feng Shui. It's a good thing my sister only rents.

Not to worry, the City Council is taking action. God Bless America!

UPDATE: Oh! I just read it more closely. I had NO IDEA there were feng shui consulting firms! I tell you, the Ghostbusters were ahead of their time.

The Calm After The Storm

This is usually "dead week" where I work. The company used to have a use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy, so a lot of people got used to taking a lot of time off in December. As a result, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is pretty dead. When I arrived this morning there were maybe three other people in the entire area. We're slowly getting a few more trickling in, but this is by no means a hopping workplace today.

Not that I mind. I am completely unmotivated. I had a great weekend, and I'd really rather be home right now, even if it means watching "Cinderella" and "Thomas the Tank Engine" videos ad nauseum, or playing the 100th game of "Hungry Hungry Hippos." I've really enjoyed hanging out with the family.

The kids have been pretty darn good, all things considered. They had no trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve, or at least had the good sense to stay quiet. As usual, they slept in on Christmas morning. We nearly had to wake Emma up. As it was, our church was at 9:00, and only for an hour, so we had already planned to open presents after church. Ultimately we didn't get started until close to noon--and they kids were fine with that!

They also were very good about taking turns opening things and not diving in with a big feeding frenzy. Terhi and I both agree that it's more enjoyable if you can see the person's reaction when they open their presents, so we would go around in a circle opening packages. The kids got quite a lot of stuff, and were a little overwhelmed, I think. But ultimately they really loved all their new stuff.

Monday I got in a little Warhammer time with my nephew, though we only got through 3.5 turns, and at that point it was still a draw (with me in the lead). He's still new to the game, and I think a couple more turns would have seen him handily defeated, but he made some very good choices in his army selection and application that kept it from being more one-sided. I had around 25% of my forces destroyed or effectively neutralized by a single choice he made.

Last night (and in the background while I was playing Warhammer) I got to see part of "Return of the King" again. I don't care what some of my critical friends say, I still think it is very, very well done. The parts where Jackson's vision actually enhances and builds on Tolkien's far outweigh the exclusions, errors, or outright changes.

I've mentioned it before elsewhere, but I particularly appreciate how Jackson manages to make a movie that is largely about war without glorifying or denigrating. The movies, at least in my opinion, are neither pro- nor anti-war. It simply shows that war is a very messy, scary, nasty business, and the consequences impact real people, for good and for ill. War is bad, but it's still preferable to living in fear or losing your freedom. Good men would rather die fighting evil than live allied with it.

The movie, I've noticed, says an aweful lot about hope, too. Without hope, even blind, foolish hope, even good men will give up. At the end the heroes throw themselves into one last hopeless assault hoping to give their friends a little more time to destroy the ring--not knowing for sure if their friends are even still alive. Indeed, when they arrive where they are to attack, a messenger shows them evidence that their friends are indeed dead and that there is no more hope.

And yet when it appears that everyone else, Gandalf included, has surrendered to hopelessness, one character stands up and refuses to give up hope. His stubborn refusal to give up hope is ultimately vindicated (at the very last second, of course). The message is quite clear: As long as there is hope there is the chance to make a difference. You only fail if you refuse to try.

In any case, it's a darn good set of movies. Regardless of what you may think of Jackson's adaptation, it captures the spirit of the books. It is a groundbreaking movie in what they are able to bring to life on the screen. It is also a bold gesture to produce such a black-and-white morality play in the current Hollywood climate. I have yet to see "The Chronicles of Narnia," but do you think they would have dared produce that movie had LotR not been as successful as it was? The general populace has no problem with movies with unambiguous, un-nuanced morality. It's just Hollywood that can't handle it.

Anyway, onward into the week. We're nearly into 2006. Simply amazing.

Friday, December 23, 2005

One Load Off

The company I work for is no longer for sale. It's hard to know how much weight a matter is until it's lifted. As much as I was trying not to think about it, you just can't help it. It impacts every aspect of your life. You can't go buy something at the store without thinking "Gee, do I really need this? What if I'm out of work in six months?" As hard as you try, you can't avoid the negativity that's been going on around here.

The funny thing is that there are people here who within minutes have already found something new to be negative about. I suppose there are people who, if they have nothing to worry about, will worry about not having anything to worry about. Even if there are other things to worry about, why not stop and enjoy the absence of this one?

So instead of worrying I just sit back and complain about the worriers! Big improvement. :-)

You know what? The sun is shining and the air has a faint swampy odor (after several weeks of below-freezing weather we're now up in the 40's). I'm about to have a three-day weekend with Christmas right smack dab in the middle of it. My family is healthy and happy, and pretty darn cute! (Evidence below) We've got money in the bank, presents to go under the tree, and food in the fridge. We've got good friends, and good families. I have a good job that earns more than we spend.

In short, I have a good life. Sure, there will always be more things I might want, and things could always go better than they do, but the fact is, there are many, many more ways that things could be worse. I'd be a fool not to notice, at least once in a while, that I am blessed.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

(Yes, this is a composite "photo illustration." I call it Three Kids, One Hat)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Purpose of Art

From Paul O'Neill of Trans-Siberian Orchestra:
The purpose of art is to create an emotional response in the person that is exposed to that art. And there are three categories of art; bad art, good art and great art.

Bad art will elicit no emotional response in the person that is exposed to it, i.e.; a song you hear in an elevator and it does nothing to you, a picture on a wall that gives you the same emotional response as if the wall had been blank, a movie that chews up time.

Good art will make you feel an emotion that you have felt before; you see a picture of a forest and you remember the last time you went fishing with your dad, you hear a song about love and you remember the last time you were in love.

Great art will make you feel an emotion you have never felt before; seeing the pieta, the world famous sculpture by Michelangelo, can cause someone to feel the pain of losing a child even if they've never had one. And when you're trying for these emotions the easiest one to trigger is anger.

Anyone can do it. Go into the street, throw a rock at someone, you will make them angry. The emotions of love, empathy and laughter are much harder to trigger, but since they operate on a deeper level, they bring a much greater reward.

Enough is Enough

I've decided I've had it with being down. What good will it do me? This morning I woke up to headlines that the deal to sell our company is off. So what does that mean? I don't know, and this could go on indefinitely, so why worry about it? The only thing I can control right now is how much savings we have when whatever happens happens. I think I should work on that.

It also never hurts to be looking around to figure out what I DO want to do with my career, but I don't have to be stressed out about it. What's the point? Wallowing in misery just makes you miserable and dirty.

So come on, all you Ed Foreman Graduates out there:

I feel happy! I feel fine! I feel this way ALL the time!

(Believe it or not, it does help)

And if that doesn't, try this: .THE Best Christmas Lights Display.(Warning: Video. May not be slow-connection friendly.)

If I had lots of time and money, I can see doing something like that. Once. The neighbors would put a stop to it LONG before I'd get tired of it. ;-)

UPDATE: Here's a beautiful Christmas story from, interestingly enough, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I may need to find out more about these guys.

UPDATE II: The light show is put on by the Williams family in Ohio. Evidently they've got the lights programmed for three different songs, and they even broadcast the music on a low-power FM channel for passing cars to tune in. The run the show nightly from 6 - 10 pm. Unfortunately they've received so much exposure this year that the traffic by their house has become excessive, forcing them to shut down for safety reasons.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Gah! I had such great intentions today of getting all sorts of things done. That didn't last long. I hit a few walls and basically gave up for the day. And now I'm restless. I'm dissatisfied with my life right now. I don't want to be doing this job, but I don't know what I do want to do.

Well, what I'd really like to be doing is getting caught up on all the things I need to do at home. Christmas is coming, and my goose is getting cooked. I am so not ready. I have all my shopping done, but that's about it. There's so much to do, and so little time--and even less motivation. I would love about three hours to just lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling, completely guilt free. It's that latter part that's the deal breaker.

It's probably not helping anything that I'm still listening to "The World Is Flat" and contemplating the potential loss of my job overseas. Meanwhile, I also get to contemplate the potential loss of my job once the company I work for is sold. Yes, I'm right back where I was two years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I guess I didn't learn anything from history, because here I go repeating it again.

Actually, I did learn something. We'll have savings this time around. And hopefully a little more confidence. We've survived it before, I imagine we can again. I just wish they would hurry up and decide what's going to happen so I can actually plan rather than just worry.

Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Patriot Games

I was watching a PBS documentary on re-enactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord tonight while I was working out. A thought occurred to me as I watched the "armed rabble" take on the "British Regulars":

We have two parties in American government today. One party is continually accused of being fascist. The other wants to take firearms away from the population.

Is it just me, or does something about this not compute?

White Christmas?

We're getting more snow today, enough to shovel. We may get more as the week progresses. It's supposed to warm up toward the end of the week, though, so we may lose it all again. That seems to be the case around here. We do get cold spells where it stays below freezing all day, but we seldom get snow during those times. When the weather is right for snow, it's also just flirting with the freezing point most of the time.

We had a nice weekend, though. Saturday morning our church had a Christmas party. They usually have these sorts of things in the evening when our kids are going to bed, so we don't often go. This was a much better time for us, and it was a nice party. In the afternoon we had some friends come over with their kids and have a big gingerbread house assembly party. Nothing major, just the graham cracker with gobs-o-candy variety, wherein more candy gets into the kids than onto the houses, but it was fun. There were some pretty artistic renderings, too. I have to admit to feeling a certain surge of creativity, even though I was primarily helping my son.

It was by far the biggest event we've hosted in our new house to date, and it accommodated it admirably. The kids did pretty well, too. Walter was a little wild, but he was already having a terrible day, after waking up way too early (and too often) that morning. But we survived it all, and had a pretty good Sunday to boot.

I went Christmas shopping with my daughter on Saturday afternoon. We went to a local shopping center to avoid the mail, and even then we spent about as much time getting into and out of the parking lot as we spent in the store shopping--and that's even with Emma taking time to read every book in the kids' aisle. I hate shopping, and I hate crowds. It's so nice that we have one day each year to remind me of that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jim, Jim, Jim...

Well, it looks like Jim, my personal favorite to become Martha Stewart's Apprentice, was sent home--for all of maybe eight hours. It seems he was given one challenge he couldn't handle: a job interview. I was hoping he'd be able to gauge his interviewers and do a good job, but he didn't. Plus all the quirky stuff he'd been doing all along finally caught up with him.

Prior to last night's episode he external activities didn't matter, because he'd always either been on the winning team or produced good enough work to avoid explusion, if not the board room. But this time he was measured not on results but on personality and conduct, and he gave them all they needed to eliminate him.

I have to wonder if this was not Martha's strategy all along. She didn't have to fire two people last week. But having done so, she created an odd number of finalists. Another challenge wouldn't have worked, so she created the interview. All of Jim's quirkiness came up, but none of his successes. It was a witch hunt, and Jim fell right into it. Jim has personality, and, quite frankly, none of Martha's executive staff do. Still, the answers Jim gave to their questions showed that he was seriously miscalculating the situation.

Too bad. The two finalists, Dawna and Bethanny, have all the personality of paper mache, and all the creativity of a doorstop. Not that it matters, as they can each pick three of the former contestants to join their teams for the final challenge. Dawna picked a bunch of doers, which will probably serve her well, as the final task doesn't really demand creativity. Bethanny picked Jim and Ryan, two very good choices, I think, and someone she once had to rip apart to survive a board room--and who is still carrying a grudge.

The episode ended with both finalists really struggling, but then of course it would. They're editing for drama. The sad thing is, at this point I really don't care who wins, except I'd like to see Jim and Ryan succeed. So I guess that means I favor Bethanny.

Not that it matters.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sailing Off The Edge

The latest book in my CD player is The World Is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman. If you're looking for a scary book, this one rivals anything by Stephen King--because this one is true. The basic premise is that through computers and telecommunications there are very few jobs that can't be done as cheaply and potentially better overseas.

It's only a matter of time before you'll be ordering burgers at the McDonalds drive-thru via Bangalore, India. Depending on where you live, you may already be ordering via Colorado. Your taxes are likely being done in India, and the presentation your executive director just gave may have been written for him by someone halfway around the world while he was sleeping. Book a flight on JetBlue and you're probably talking to a Mormon housewife in Utah.

So what does this mean for the individual? Good question. I'm still coming to grips with that one (I'm only maybe a tenth of the way into the book).

What about the economic picture? Well, in the short run, expect increased economic turmoil in the United States, Great Britain, and most of the other advanced countries. There are Asian countries with billions of people who can be cheaply trained to take over jobs for a fraction of what someone in the US gets paid. Proximity to the work is becoming increasingly irrelevant--it's what you know that counts.

But from what I know of economics, this will shift over time. Unless the developed nations open up new fields of R&D we will eventually experience an excess in workforce. Supply and Demand dictates that the greater the supply, the lower the cost. Wages will drop, and we will either need to find yet cheaper goods or the demand for goods will drop, too. In the short term this would also be good for developing countries with cheap manufacturing. Large amounts of money will flow to Asia.

But the other side of the equation is the impact of this on Asia. If they're not careful they will have problems of their own to face. For one thing, the wage gap is making it easy for companies to offer high wages and great benefits and still provide their services to America at a heavy discount. They offer great wages because they can, not necessarily thinking of the long term consequences. The standard has been set.

As the demand for cheap labor in skilled jobs increases (outsourced from developed countries) there will be new players enter the market, but they will be forced to compete with the existing companies and will have to pay similar wages. In fact, the more options the workforce has, the more competition there will be in recruiting the top minds, resulting in an increase in wages.

Furthermore, these higher wages will raise the standard of living in these countries. The demand for cheap goods will increase, increasing the cost of the supply. In time the outsourcing companies will need to increase wages to keep pace with the cost of living at the level to which the new generation has become accustomed.

So as a result we see wages in Asia increasing at the same time wages in America and other advanced companies decrease. Given enough time they could potentially meet in the middle. Demand for workers in the Asian countries will slow, and it will be their turn to have to figure out how to cut costs. The cycle will start all over again, this time with South America or Africa or the Middle East becoming the new India and China.

When that point is reached the Asian countries had better have developed their own R&D capabilities or they'll experience greather economic stress than America is facing now. Can you imagine the impact of outsourcing jobs to other countries on a country whose economy is based on providing outsourcing? Picture the equivalent of the entire US manufacturing industry was put out of business within the space of a few years.

The Asian countries, having done it to the developed countries, should be better prepared when their jobs also go overseas. But they will also have less time, I believe, to prepare. They will also likely face the same challenge as the US and Europe will face: how do you develop the high-level creative and strategic workers when the preparatory jobs are no longer available?

For example, can you produce an accountant who is able to run strategic accounting firms if there are no lower ranks through which to rise and draw experience from? Can the US economy really evolve to focus primarily on R&D and Education, to provide the engineers, developers, and creators who think of new technologies for the lesser developed countries to build and support? Whatever edge we have in the sophistication of our research, development, and product release is already diminishing rapidly. How long can we stay ahead in that arena?

I also wonder what will happen to the world economy when borders blur even further. As countries, companies, and workers become increasingly comfortable with Friedman's "Flat World" paradigm and increasingly creative in their operations within it, the global economy will have to become increasingly agile to facilitate the flow of money around the globe.

For example, I believe the natural progression of this paradigm is the rise of virtual companies, wherein all but the executive layers of companies become "free agents," hiring their expertise and productivity out as needed. Companies will "rent" customized functional groups to meet their needs. They may contract with Thom's Product Development Agency to realize and develop the company's product of service idea, and hire Bill's Process Engineering Group to figure out how to produce the product most efficiently.

Next they would hire Kimberly's Marketing Specialists to market the product, contract with Call-Centers-R-Us to take orders and provide product support, and pay Janet's Rapid-Configure Factories to actually make the product. Srinivasa's Accounting Conglomerate would handle all receivables and payables, and at the end of each quarter simply cut a check to each functional group (or even each individual worker). The virtual company's executives get their profits sent to them, and all they really had to do in the first place was conceive the idea and supervise the process.

Furthermore, Thom's Product Development Agency may only have one full-time employee: Thom. When a request comes in he may do nothing more than flip through his database of free-agent product developers, see who is the most experienced in these types of products (from across the world, no less), and call them up to see if they're available. He puts together a customized team to handle the specific contract and coordinates their efforts from the comfort of his living room. Each one gets paid by Srinivasa's group, and when the job is done they all go back on the market. Thom's value add is knowing product development well enough to know who to recruit and how to coordinate their efforts.

And this is just a best guess, as I'm still grounded in the current paradigms. The reality could operate much the same and yet be astoundingly different. For example, there may not even be the need for "Thom" as the middleman. It could be that all product developers belong to a Developers Network that tracks each developer to know when they are available and automatically assigns work to them based on their experience profile. They may never even know who they are working for each day, just that someone wants to know the best way to add feature X to product Y. He does his analysis, uploads his work, and at some later date his pay shows up in his account.

In such a world you could be sitting in a theater (assuming they still exist) next to a total stranger and never even know that your analysis work you got paid $20,000 for just made that person a million dollars. Or that his product idea was a new energy source that will cut your heating bill by 10% when deployed. Our lives could be intricately entwined with others without our ever knowing it.

It could also make it entirely possible for a person to enjoy several careers at once. You could design an intake valve in the morning, work on a screenplay in the afternoon, and taste test a new pastry idea in the evening--and get paid for all three. You could regularly participate in a discussion group and never even know you were being watched by a recruiter (or automated netbot) that will one day approach you to do some paid work based on the level of expertise you displayed in the discussion. You could be interviewing for jobs without ever knowing it.

Perhaps I shouldn't be posting this. I sense a sci-fi book in the making here.

Anyway, "The World Is Flat" is certainly food for thought. If I'm taking all these flights of fancy from just the first few chapters, I can only imagine where the rest of the book will lead.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Your Mother Dresses You Funny

No, as a matter of fact, my kids do. Or they would if I didn't exercise some veto power. This morning Emma and Walter both wanted to pick out my outfit, and they didn't stop to agree first on who was choosing what. As a result, Walter picked both a shirt and pants for me, while Emma chose only a shirt. To avoid a conflict (or rather keep it from spiraling further out of control) I announced that I would wear Emma's shirt and Walter's pants.

Walter immediately looked worried and looked down at his pants. It didn't take much to read his mind: "I don't think you'd fit in my pants, Daddy!" I quickly backpedaled and explained that I would wear the pants he had chosen for me. Problem averted.

Apropos of nothing, do you have any idea how hard it is to pray with a large, purring cat rubbing against your head?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

I'm back from "Happy Camp" and I'm actually happy. I was a skeptic at first, but after having tried some of their recommendations for a couple of days I have decided that much of what they taught us will fit in well with some of the other practices I've been trying to implement in my own life.

The key point is that I can choose whether or not I will have a good day or a bad day. That's nothing new, but this program actually gives you some tools to help you deliver on your decision to have a good day. Do I think it will work all the time? No. At least not at first. But I plan to follow through on their challenge to try it for 30 days.

It's been making a difference so far. I do feel pretty good!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Out Of Office, Out Of Mind...

Posting will probably be light next week. My company has seen fit to send me to "Happy Camp," which is a three-day motivational seminar required for all salaried associates. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'd rather the company just gave me the money they're spending to send me there. It'd probably make me happier.

At least I was able to get a spot in the one session that is during the work week. Normally they expect you to give up your weekend. Forget that!

It's snowing again, which means I should probably make a break for home soon before the roads start getting slick. Y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Really Big Snew

We woke up this morning to about three inches of snow on the ground, with more coming. Not a big deal, except that where we live they're never ready for such things. Since my driveway is much bigger than the previous one I wasn't ready for work on time, so I opted to call in from home for my first meeting. Even leaving an hour and a half later, the roads were not in very good shape.

It was rather pretty, though, I will admit. Too bad it will be mostly gone by evening. At least the kids are having fun with it.