Monday, July 27, 2009

Too busy to connect

This week my wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, so somewhat on a whim we decided that we would take a weekend and get away.  We travelled towards St. Louis, to the country about an hour west of the city.  For those not from Missouri (and perhaps to some who are from here) it may surprise you to know that the hilly region there is wine country.  Of course a lot of the grapes that would grow in southern France, Australia, or California aren't going to flourish in Missouri, but there are quite a number of varieties of grapes in the world, and numbers that are heartier.

So, we started in Hermann, MO which is the home of wineries like Stone Hill and Adam Puchta Winery.  It is a really quaint little town on the Missouri River...which is funny that I write it that was.  I quick looked up the web-link for the city, and that is exactly how they describe themselves.  Anyway, it was a very pleasant town to wander around in, and very relaxing area.  Sampling fantastic wines and being in natural beauty helps.

So, what does this have to do with the title of this posting?  Well, I find my life with work, family, kids activities, college, church, and a band is all VERY busy.  It was refreshing and interesting to have zero connection to the rest of the world.  I don't have an iPhone or smartphone, my cell phone was roaming...so no texts were coming through, the bed-and-breakfast we stayed at didn't have wireless that worked, etc.  So, I was pretty well disconnected...but I kept busy travelling with Heather from winery to picnic area to gift shop to gorgeous views of fields of grapes overlooking the river.

I was too 'busy' relaxing to even think about the fact that I was disconnected from the modern world.  OK...so that means that I really wasn't busy...I get that.  And I liked very much that I was able to get away.  And that getting away leaves you with time to think about people are important to you...friends and family.  You quickly see how busy the life is that you are returning to.

So, in an attempt to reclaim some of that feeling and share it with people...the busy-life asserts itself again.  People are too busy to take a break and talk...too busy to get some lunch...too busy to talk on the phone, even as they quickly consume lunch at their desk while doing work.  Thus I find myself outside again sitting in the sun and breeze by myself...in the place that seems to always go the pace that I would rather be going.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Augustine on Friendship

A good friend of mine sent me this piece of a biography about Augustine, who lived from November 13, 354 – August 28, 430, born in a Roman city in North Africa called Thagaste, which is now Souk Ahras, Algeria.

"Augustine knew to perfection how to keep such friendship 'on the boil by the heat of shared enthusiasms'. 'All kinds of things rejoiced my soul in their company - to talk and laugh, and to do each other kindnesses; to read pleasant books together; to pass from lightest jesting to talk of the deepest things and back again: to differ without rancour, as a man might differ with himself, and when, most rarely, dissension arose, to find our normal agreement all the sweeter for it; to teach each other and to learn from each other; to be impatient for the return of the absent, and to welcome them with joy on their home-coming; these, and such-like things, proceeding from our hearts as we gave affection and received it back, and shown by face, by voice, by the eyes, and by a thousand other pleasing ways, kindled a flame which fused our very souls together, and, of many, made us one.'"



I would say this embodies many of my thoughts about friendship.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is the United States a free market economy?

With all the bailouts and bankruptcies, recovery plans, and speculation on what is best for our 'free markets' you will hear a lot of people claim that we are about to lose our free-market economy, or that we are adopting socialism, etc.  These comments should beg the question of if the economy here in the United States is indeed a free-market economy or not.  I have been in a number of these conversations, and I would offer this posting as a means to bring a common language for any future discussions on the matter.

Let's get a working description of what REAL capitalism is:
"Today, the economies of nations that are typically referred to as capitalist are in fact mixed economies -- they incorporate certain aspects of capitalism and certain aspects of planed economies. In pure capitalism, things like child labor laws, Social Security, anti-discriminatory hiring practices and minimum wage have no place. Capitalism rejects all government intervention in economic matters."

-- How Stuff Works - "How Capitalism Works"

Most people appreciate some regulation, if not actually a great deal of regulation.  Take into consideration the actions of AIG.  If we really were a free-market economy where capitalism was the only thing to be considered...then we should have zero issue with what occurred.  But the fact is that we do have a problem with it, and we are not a purely capitalist economy.  We are a "managed economy" where we generally follow the philosophy of capitalism we also have aspects of planned (or Marxist) economics mixed in as well.
"In times of financial crisis, the United States has customarily turned to capitalism's antithesis -- socialism -- to artificially correct the markets. The very existence of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alone indicates the U.S. economy isn't a free market. For the first 116 years after it was established in 1817, the New York Stock Exchange operated without government regulation. Following the crash on Oct. 24, 1929, the federal government held hearings that revealed the types of fraud corporations used to mislead and swindle investors. These hearings led to unprecedented government oversight of the stock market. For one, corporations now had to file earnings reports with the newly formed SEC, which had the ability to audit these companies."

-- How Stuff Works - "Is a free market 'free' if it's regulated?"

So, give a listen to the Stuff You Should Know podcast listed here for the answer to this question:

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=43266604&id=278981407

Is a free market "free" if it's regulated?
http://money.howstuffworks.com/free-market-economy.htm

How Capitalism Works
http://money.howstuffworks.com/capitalism1.htm

Who Said It:  Adam Smith or Karl Marx?
http://money.howstuffworks.com/adam-smith-karl-marx-quiz.htm

Run-in with the commodity relationship

Just a quick note to say that I'm easily fooled by people who seem to exhibit actual interest in friendship, but then are actually just interested in convenience for their own company and interests alone.  I'd like to hope the best in people, and I don't think that I should change that general opinion...but man, does it trip me up.

I'm especially tripped up when it seems like those issues are discussed and otherwise addressed, but then the other party does nothing but go out of their way to promote relationship as a commodity.

I think that when people around here complain about their relationships being shallow, they are such gross examples of commodity relationships that even a relationship with a slight and only occasional concern for the other person is infinitely different from what they have in general.  And that is pretty sad, because it ends up that those people are now just more confused and more confusing than they were previously...as they would seem to desire something worthwhile...but really it is just that fleeting moment and only while convenient for them.

So, the obvious here is that there is no senses that can determine the future of another persons actions definitively.  We just experience what we can as it comes, and perhaps get glimpses into what people might do based on our experiences with them.  It is one that will likely disappoint more often than not.  But that is life, eh?  I wish that people would shed their tendency to treat relationships like commodities...as it is a disservice to everyone.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dept of Transportation Kept Quiet on Traffic Safety and Cell Phone Use Study

Well, well...  It looks like the Dept. of Transportation kept this under their hats until a recent lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.
Status Summary:

UsingWifeiess €ommunicatim

Devices While Driving

http://documents.nytimes.com/documents-from-the-u-s-department-of-transportation-s-national-highway-traffic-safety-administration#p=1

Here is another link to the document:

https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B8tcRxxLlarMNzQ0OTRmNmItZDNjMC00YWI4LTkyZDUtMzNmNTA5YzJhY2Qx&hl=en

Don't Text While Driving

I just had to dodge a woman on Friday who was drifting on the road, and I could see she was texting with both her hands.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1131940.html

According to a U.K. Transport Research Laboratory study, commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, motorists sending text messages while driving are "significantly more impaired" than ones who drive drunk. The study showed texters’ reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent, and a whopping 91 per cent decrease in steering ability, while similar studies of drunk driving indicate reaction time diminishment of about 12 per cent. By that measure, DWT is three times more dangerous than DUI, and should logically be treated as severely, if not more so, both under the law and in terms of social censure.



Here is another mention about a 2003 study at the University of Utah concerning having a conversation on a cell phone vs. DUI, and it concluded that just talking on a cell phone was generally worse than those with 0.08% blood alcohol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_and_driving_safety#Simulation_studies_vs._alcohol

Hypermiling

This podcast from Stuff You Should Know has a lot of angering information on the joke that is fuel-economy checking from the auto industry.  But there is also a lot of good information on how to hypermile to save yourself from wasting fuel by driving inefficiently.

Stuff You Should Know - How can hypermiling save you gas?

There is a also a lot of great information at:

http://www.cleanmpg.com/

Saturday, July 11, 2009

College

I started graduate school today.  I think that I'm going to like it quite a bit.  I've never been much for the corporate ladder...but I think that this coursework will help me quite a bit in my job too.   I'm looking forward to all this.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Shorter

I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR today and heard this gem linked below. Listen to the audio, which is in this case more entertaining than the text.

A Shorter Route to Communication
by Mark Allen
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106397694

My favorite line in it:

"It is probably because he's very into the one-sentence social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, which he uses constantly because speed and brevity are more important than facts, words, or information."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Faulty Doctrine

Hey all. Give this a listen. This is Timothy Brindle feat shai linne - "Faulty Doctrine". Thanks to Brooksfor pointing out this video. Yeah, it is a rap song warning about the evils of prosperity 'gospels'.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Talkative Baby

K...this was too good to go un-re-posted. Yeah...un-re-posted...got that?

Just watch it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Twitter Cops

Yeah, I'm on the force.

Truly Tasteless Microsoft Ad

This is truly tasteless, and simultaneously suggests that your porn viewing is okay if you use IE8. Can't believe that they would think this is a decent promotion for their products. Watch it before Microsoft's lawyers pull it from YouTube...if you dare...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 4th in 5 minutes

This Independence Day was quite a stack of things.  This morning, after a very late night...i.e. a 5:00 am bedtime, I woke for the day at 9:00 am to say goodbye to some good Hungarian friends who came down for the past week or so from Rochester, MN.  I couldn't sleep again after I woke up, so everyone else in the house went back to bed and I sat down to a breakfast burrito and some coffee.

I played a couple video games, and talked to a good friend on the phone for a  few minutes, but the lack of sleep caught up with me, so I took a 2-2.5 hour nap.  When I woke another friend of Heather's and mine had called asking us to come by for some food and fireworks, which of course fireworks are illegal to set off in the city limits where we live, but since there was no show put on by the city...the city's skies were especially ablaze with lots of explosions and light.

We had a nice time with our friends as we haven't seen them in about 6 months or so, which is entirely too long of a time.  From there we went to another friends home to where our girls were going to spend the night, set off more fireworks illegally in the city limits with their neighbor, and were fed strawberries and spongecake.

We came home to a dog that wouldn't go to the bathroom outside because he is petrified by fireworks, thunderstorms, and even rain in general...of which we had both fireworks and rain, and even the thunderstorm in the distance.

I heard back from another good friend about grilling tomorrow.  His weekend apparently hadn't gone very well concerning some family issues.  So, I'm praying for and thinking about him and his family.

I practiced my set for worship at church tomorrow, and hope that it works out well for everyone that hears it.  I've also just finished an episode of "Mental", which is a show I've gotten attached to on Hulu recently.  I have heartburn from too many fatty foods, so I've taken a Zantac 150...and I'm finally feeling pretty tired.  I should get to bed as I have to wake at 7:00 am to get to read for and drive to church at Milestone.

Interesting day.  It didn't really make me reflect upon what we declared independence from that created this holiday...but more about what I have the freedom to enjoy (or lament), from the hurt that my friend is experiencing to the joy of hanging out with people you care about.

My 5 minutes are up.