Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Heart Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is one of the few writers who actually changes my paradigms about the world. Usually I find he has taken something I have thought about and then adds a dozen more things plus 100 times the depth. For example I have always thought intelligence (especially as measured by an IQ test) is way over rated and many more things are needed (like strong social skills) to achieve measurable success in life. Too often I see parents sacrifice all other aspects of a child's life in order to have success in a very meaningless factor. Gladewell takes that and expands it out. The other thing I love is he makes complex things simple.

I highly recommend Outliers: The Story of Success and every other book he has written. As a bonus he does have some of the best hair known to man!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Even I had thought she could make it longer**

When she who must be obeyed and I were in Target yesterday, she mentioned that they were now selling fleece sheets and then not so subtley directed our cart over to them. Luckily they had a set in the size and color we needed. She casually mentioned I could wrap them for Christmas and we continued shopping. The rest of the time in the store she would mention the sheets and not 20 minutes later we were at the cash register and she states it would be silly to wait. It was already cold here and we needed to use them now. Guess what alledged Christmas gift we slept in last night?
This is how the world would dress if Lisa had her way.

**That's what she said!

Conflicting Emotions

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson is a great book. A mystery translated from the original Swedish it has murder, mayhem, seduction, and a great overlying plot. Even though it was a dense book it went by fast and I highly recommend it to anyone.

Unfortunately the writer who after turning in his detective trilogy, very shortly had a fatal heart attack at age 50. As I got in to the book I was looking forward to many years reading his work, but it is not to be. I am grateful he did write three books before getting published.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another One Day Read

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori & Rom Brafman (brothers) is a current business book. Loaded with examples to explain their main points, basically we as humans are drawn to irrational behaviour much to our own detriment. For example, people often see the stock they are invested in going down and some other offering going up, so they will sell theirs at a loss to buy the other. In the end they are buying high, selling low; which is a terrible investing plan but happens all the time. So if you think rationally, this is a great book to show you how stupid we humans can be.

The one point they do not make is that sometimes irrational behaviour pays off so tremendously it keeps leading us back - like gambling.
One thing discussed was the principle of value attribution. If we deem something not worthy, then we tend to dismiss it whether it is rational or not. The below experiment was mentioned. The Washington Post asked Joshua Bell, one of the world's top violinist (and his 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius) to dress in jeans and a baseball hat, go down to the subway at rush hour, and play an impromptu concert. Would people recognize the beauty and greatness regardless of the circumstances. 45 minutes later the answer was a resounding NO. Seven people stopped and he made $32 in change (out of over a 1000 who walked by). This is a guy who had just held a sold out concert for the Washington DC elite the night before in the Library of Congress

Anyways, see why draft position is the most important thing to a new NBA player, or why some people will pay $200 for a regular $20 bill, or the definition of fairness is truly a regional thing.

The Sway Book Website

The therapy I will need

So when your 15 year old son spends an hour in the shower you kind of have to wonder what's going on. Today I was working in the room next to the shower and I heard things that have scarred and scared me. He spent the whole time belting showtimes from Spamalot, the Producers, and I think I even heard Man from La Mancha. He did sing one non-showtune, but it was a Billy Joel song.

Playground Poetry

Today on the way back from the leaf dump I heard Cenny singing this ditty:Shame. Shame, Shame

I don't want to go to Mexico anymore. more, more

There is a naked Michael Jackson at the door, door, door

He grabbed me by the hips, and kissed me on the lips

Shame. Shame, Shame

I don't want to go to Mexico anymore. more, more

Classic and scary. I guess that the Family Guy running joke that creepy old people are accepted is so true.

It makes me wish I would die in Farfield Ohio

Does this mean you'll see me naked? by Robert Webster.

Mr Webster runs a funeral parlor in Ohio and has written this delightful little book reflecting on his 30 plus years in the "death" business. It took me a little over an hour to read and was filled with wonderful stories involving the handling of the dead. From the heartbreaking (picking up a recently deceased - cancer - mother over three as her little boys watched) to the hilarious (some of the tattoo's and body sizes), he deals with everything with the upmost respect. He also goes through what exactly happens to you when you die, what the possible costs are, and what to expect when it happens to your family. You can preview just about the whole book on Google books.

A great book.

A Fun Book that is so much more

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

Neil Strauss was not very good with women and undertook a writing assignment to learn more about this underground society of guys who whole goal was to pick-up as many women as possible. Using his usual light and fast writing style he conveys his experiences of learning to be whatever it took to meet women. If his book is to believed (and I ave some doubts about how accurate it is) he became one of the best within a year. Beyond the female conquests, this book is an incredible primer of personal interaction, sales, and closing the deal. It has taken a supposed low chance activity (getting a good looking woman you just met to have sex with you) and broken it down to individual steps and then analyzed all possible solutions to just move to the next level. I t also goes into rejection and patience.

So what did this book keep reminding me of? Missionary work. I kept thinking back to the things that really helped me a s a missionary, and the stuff that holds me back now. The personal psychology put forward in this book is tremendous. Well worth the read for anyone who wants to improve their interactions with women, men , or even children. The principles are the same.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The O'Reilly Factor

More of the same. He makes a lot of good points and it is a quick read. Not much else to say.

The O'Reilly Factor

That's How I Roll

We had Stake Priesthood Meeting last night, so per tradition we all met up at the Bishop's house and then car-pooled over to the Stake Center. I wanted to listen to real music for the hour drive so I quickly volunteered to take the young men because all the other adults have a stick up their butts when it comes to music. I had the Ipod on shuffle and when this song came on, ALL OF THEM knew the words and began singing along - even the metal head.

I also introduced them to Jimmy Buffet

Some songs are classics for a reason.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Great American Novel

I started reading Dennis Lehane many years ago when he started writing fast paced detective stories set in Boston. This series ran five books and finished up as a movie, Gone Baby Gone, last year. You could always tell Lehane wanted to do more and so he took the basic mystery story, a victim - cop - bad guy, and turned it on its head with the book Mystic River. This also was made into a movie a few years ago. Then he wrote my favorite, Shutter Island, which looks at the life shattering effects of personal crisis.

Now he has released a novel of epic scale, The Given Day. It traces the lives of two men, a newly married black man Luther, and a Irish Boston cop Danny, as their lives intertwine at the end of WW1. The writing is tight, the story is compelling, and as an added bonus you get to learn history at the same time (something I like). This was a great book, but if you want to start with something shorter (than 700 pages), go with Mystic River or Shutter Island.

Friday, November 21, 2008


5 Outlets
5 Fixtures

4 Three Way Switches 1 Circuit I am skilled enough at electrical (in my own mind) that I run the wires and finish the drywall before I hook up the power, basically like someone who knows what they are doing. The risk is if you screwed up somewhere you might have to ruin your drywall to fix it. So I hooked up all the power on Monday and when I turned it on the circuit breaker automatically tripped. I thought I might have messed up the three ways (a 3-way switch is where two switches control one light - most people have them at the top and bottom of their stairs) because I had four of them and they are a bit tricky. I spent a few hours diagramming it out and concluded I got it right. I took today off work to run through everything, check each of my hook-ups, and install a new circuit breaker. First power-up and everything worked like a charm. Whatever the problem, I fixed it with my 4 hour run through the entire circuit. Secretly I am so relieved, because tearing out drywall would have totally SUCKED.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Partisanship and Perspective

Watch this trailer for Mary Poppins

Now that is a completely different take on the movie than most people get. But think to yourself, did it actually show anything that wasn't technically true? I think this piece is brilliant because it reminds us that perspective of any given situation is highly personal. So while we may think it is impossible to see Mary Poppins as a horror movie, a reasonable person with limited information may sincerely draw that conclusion.

So the next time you are tempted to get overly excited about somebody else's opinion and begin professing it is the end of the world; just stop and take a breath. For all you know you are the one with the narrow mind and may be missing life's grand comedy, not your opponent. Who knows, maybe you are both wrong.

Like Twins

As you probably know, Hugh Jackman was just named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Given he is only a few months older than me we are practically twins. If only I had more than the one movie, it could have been me.

The image quality is bad, but check out 3:20 to 3:30 in it. Oh yeah - superstar!

Not Just Any Nerd - Geography Nerds

Gunnar and Zeke are both major geography nerds (even though Gunnar tries to hide that from others). Today at dinner they were going through Canadian provinces AND THEIR CAPITALS) and Zeke shared the following:

Nova Showta
New Broonsick

Then he went on to Latin America and said

Pan-new-maw & Pan-new-maw City

He is teaching himself through reading, hence the creative pronunciations

Snowman Edition

Special Bonus - Humans are not the only animal to make the snowman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Can't End Well

Due to creative differences and splinter group has broken off from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They have gone a decidely different direction.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Remodel Update

I hate mudding because I am not that good at it. Plus life with five kids gets busy. Anyways we painted the room today - 3 gallons of primer and 2 gallons of paint - for 4 coats overall. That was about $100 in paint then I spent a further $250 at Home Depot getting all my finish carpentry supplies - base boards, door & window trim, and further bits and pieces. I plan to get it all primed and painted on Monday and then to have it all installed by Thanksgiving. My skill level at trim work is passable, but nothing to brag about. Once I get the mudding done the work goes fast and furious. Here is the four corners of the room and the trim supplies:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Cousin* Eric

As I scan the internet for funny images and stories I occasionally find things which I think will be perfect for a particular person. More often than not I find things that Eric just needs to see. I now present them, whether they tell you more about me or him, only time can tell.
Dogs - Always Funny
T-Shirt and Superpowers
ZOMBIES - Need I say more?

He He He

Ranger! Ranger!

Pumpkin Carving Extreme
Even I am Confused Sometimes - but Eric would so wear a t-shirt with this on.

He probably already has this one.
and I think he was wearing these just the other day

And be warned, this final product is hilarious, but not for the priggrish among you. But if you do go to the site to see it, you have to try the Interactive Simulator. It is AWESOME!!
*Technically my mother-in-law's sister's son.

The Story of My Life

Seven years ago I had a small skin cancer on my nose that was surgically removed. Consequently I have to go to the dermatologist every year for a complete skin check. This basic procedure is just like it sounds; you strip to your skivvies and the Doctor gets up close and personal scrutinizing every inch of your body. It is a time for you to contemplate every bad piece of food you have eaten, every push-up not done, every shoulder hair not removed. Basically every flabby and gross thing about your body is front and center. Typically I get a guy that looks like this:
Some old dude who you know at your worse you look better than they do. Due to scheduling problems I ended up getting an appointment at the Mayo Clinic instead of my local medical center. I have been so busy at work I had no chance to dehair the back, and I was no where near removing the usual pudge, but I thought who cares; it will be the usual.

So there I was practically naked on the table when in walks this:

Well, obviously this wasn't her, but she was really close and so could have worked that outfit. To make matters worse whe was a real touchie-feelie. One and only time I have a real hot Doctor and I show up like this:

Story of my life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What are you afraid of?

The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner looks at why we as humans are afraid of a lot of things we should not be. Like after 911 more people chose to drive rather than fly, even though driving is a lot more dangerous (deadly). In fact 1500 people statistically died because of this increase in car travel.

Interesting book which will help ease your mind, or at least make you look at the news with a more discerning eye - like the global warming hype.

Random Image Wednesday

Sign of the times edition