Friday, June 29, 2007


I saw Sicko.

After sitting in the theatre for an hour and a half with my attention focused on the American healthcare system and seeing comparisons with healthcare systems of the other industrial nations, I would say that clearly something needs to be done in this country.

When every industrial nation in the world besides the United States has universal health coverage, there's something tragically wrong.

On a personal level, I sold health insurance briefly. Or, I should say, I turned in 12 applications, and only had one person get approved, and the 1 peron person dropped the coverage 6 months later because the insurance company raised his rates. In other words, selling health insurance is a big fucking joke.

I also had a 20 year old guy get rejected because he was perscribed acne cream. I'm not kidding. The guy was in perfect health, but he was considered too much of a risk because he was perscribed acne cream.

And, I know from personal experiences with family members that dealing with the health care system even if you have insurance the system is a freaking nightmare.

Sicko should start a dialog in this country that doesn't go away until there are some results. It would be shame if it didn't.

Being happier

A while back, I decided I was going to write a book about religion. I even had the title picked out, which I've written about in this blog.

Part of my writing process, believe it or not, entails researching the subject matter I intend to write about--I know, call me crazy, but that's just how I roll.

So, I went to Barnes and Noble and Borders and bought and read 4 books:

The Compassionate Life
How to Practice
How To Expand Love
How To See Yourself As You Really Are

All these books were written by the Dalai Lama, and are based on 1000s of years of traditions and teachings. Each book is quite unique and remarkable.

I would say these books resemble something like "cutting edge psychology" because these books are so simple and profound they effect you on a very deep personal level. The viewpoint of a Buddhist is incredibly pure and beautiful, and it's not difficult figure out.

These books have helped me realize I've been an asshole pretty much my entire life--not necessarily an absolute asshole because I don't think there is such thing as an absolute, nor am I saying I'm an insufferable asshole either--there are varying degrees of assholeness, but I am saying, this is something I've struggled with for a very very long time. It's impossible to cultivate a better attitude, if you don't have the tools to do so. So, these books have helped me recognize the difference between a good and a bad attitude, which is no small feat.

I can now see how a person's worst enemy is their own anger--Basically, it's possible to cultivate a hatred for something that's so consuming it causes you to lose something very precious and dear to you because you were too busy hating--personally, I've done it, and it's one of the worst feelings in the world.

This is why these 4 books are so impressive--They lay out an incredibly simple philosophy for the purpose of helping an individual generate more love and compassion in their life. What can be more important than that?

So, my question to myself is--Why do I need to write a book about religion at all?

iphone mania

The iphone is cool, there's no doubt. I'm definitely going to get one soon.

It's much cooler than any previous phone.

I've heard a bunch of people say they're going to wait for the 2nd generation. That's understandable.

The camera's only 2 megapixels. 2nd generation's likely to be 5.

AT&T's web service is slower than Sprint's and Verizon's. But, with a bunch of bitching about slow downloads, AT&T's web service is likely to make dramatic improvements quickly.

As far as buying Apple's 1st generation iphone is concerned, I was one of the 1st people to buy an imac. I still have it, or I should say my mom has it, and it still works great. It's still faster than the brand new PC I use at work. It's still easier to operate. I'm saying I'm still happy with it. So, I wouldn't be concerned about buying a 1st generation product from Apple.

It's definitely going to be worth the 500 or 600 bucks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Cell Phone Minutes Conspiracy

Wouldn't you like to get a text from your cell phone provider when you are going over your minutes? Of course, you would.

Wouldn't you like to get a text from you bank in the event you overdraw your checking account? Of course, you would.

The technology is their for them to do that, but it's not being implemented.

I was on the phone with AT&T discussing my most recent phone bill. Come to find out, I went over my minutes last month by about 300 minutes. At $.45 cents a minute, my phone bill was about $140 more than usual.

It's not necessarily the end of the world by any means, but while I was talking with the customer service dude, I came up with an idea of having the amount of minutes I've used sent to my phone via a text in 100 minute increments. This way, I would be able to monitor my minutes used more effectively without playing a guessing game.

The dude said, "Yeah, I hear that idea about once a week."

So, I said, "Well, why don't they implement that system?" As soon as I asked I realized the answer to my question. AT&T is going KA-CHING right now.

The guy said you can send a text to *min and get your "used minutes" that way, but I quickly realized that would require the time and energy it takes to type *min, which for those who know me, know I'm pretty lazy, and if I believe there's a better way of doing something, I'm more inclined to just bitch about it until the world gets tired of hearing me bitch and decides to conform to my will.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Is Sicko the documentary that redeems Michael Moore?

I say that because I have family in Flint, Michigan, and the people around there aren't very happy with him. He made parts Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 9/11 in Flint, and he made the point of showing Flint in a negative light each time.

Each time he lamented the pitiful condition of his beloved city, but when his films have generated well over $100 million dollars, he hasn't given anything back to Flint, which is hypocritical.

In Sicko, he mentions Flint again.

Supposedly, he's trying to not be partisan. He tries to expose the corrupt nature of the HMOs, and the damage this corruption causes the American people. A documentary film of this nature is long overdue.

I hope this film does well. I hope he makes a ton of money, and he decides to give back to Flint in a way that's meaningful. In my opinion, he owes Flint. He could start "Michael Moore's Documentary Film Institute of Flint". That would be frosty.

Ashtanga Yoga

Over the last few years, I've become interested in yoga.

The word yoga has many interesting variations.

In Ashtanga Yoga, there are 6 series of poses starting with the primary series, which is series one. I wouldn't say series 1 is the easiest series because none of them are easy, if you do it the way it's supposed to be done. Each series is a group of poses that flow from one to next with an emphasis on breathing.

I tried the 1st series, but I could only make it through about half way before I had to stop. It was tough, but at the same time, it relieved more stress than anything I've ever done. In a way, I felt exhilarated.

It takes years to master a series to the point where your ready to move to the next one. Gwyneth Paltrow practices Ashtanga, and she was doing series 2 for 2 years, and she still had several poses to go--this was in '03.

There is only one guy on the planet that is currently capable practicing series 6. His name is Sarath. You can watch him do some of the poses of series 6 if you go on YouTube. It's pretty amazing watching this guy. He seems like a really sweet guy--someone you'd like to have as a friend.

Some of the poses in Ashtanga Yoga are so extraordinary. Sarath does these amazing contortionistic (if that's even a word) poses seemingly without effort, and then moves to another one that's equally amazing.

This guy, Sarath, who's doing series 6, was taught by the current guruji, whose name is Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois. Sarath is his grandson. Here's a link to the guruji's bio.

Guru means teacher. Ji is a term of respect. So the word guruji is like saying "teacher sir". They are both from Mysore, India--pronounced my-sore.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Some nice "up and downs" this Sunday

This past Sunday, I walked the front 9 of the Pres again. I shot a 43.

4 pars, a couple of bogies, and a couple of double bogies.

I had several birdie puts, which I missed--settled for par.

The first cool part of the round was on the 4th hole. I hit my tee shot behind some trees. I was far enough back to where I could easily hit a pitching wedge over the trees, but I miss hit the shot, and it bounced off a tree and ended up 10 yards to my left. I was still far enough back to where I could still hit another pitching wedge over the trees, so I did. I was 100 yards out, and my shot sailed onto the green, rolled 12 feet and stopped 12 inches from the cup. I tapped it in and made par.

The second cool part of the round was 6th hole, a par 3. I miss hit my tee shot, and it was short and right of the green behind a sand trap. I was still about 40 feet from the hole. I chipped it about 4 feet from the cup and sank the put to make a 3.

Nice up and downs.

So, 43 isn't great a score--double it, and you get 86. In my book, that doesn't suck. In fact, it's quite good for a hacker like me.

I'm learning one of the key skills of a good golfer is re-composing oneself after the wheels fall off. Bad shots are not the end of the world, there just part of golf.

BTW, I was playing with my dad and my friend Jeff, who both shot 46s.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The 107th U.S. Open

I probably watched more of this U.S. Open than I watched of the previous 106 U.S. Opens combined.

The winning score was over par.

An Argentinean came from out of nowhere to win the whole thing. It was a fun tournament to watch.

It was hard the whole time out there. Everyone had to scrape and claw their way around the course. There was no such thing as a routine shot. There were no easy drives-no easy greens to hit in regulation--no easy puts--nothing.

The pros were making bogies, double bogies, and triple bogies. That's golf. It's not golf when the tournament winner shoots 20 under par--that's a video game.

Even though Tiger came in 2nd, I think he still proved he's the best player in the world because up until his 2nd to last shot, he still had a chance to at least force a playoff, which would have been frosty.

Basically, I think Nicklaus has about 20 major 2nd place finishes compared to Tiger's 2. In other's words, Tiger is a great player, but that doesn't mean he's gets to win every major every time.

Expect Tiger's pace to slow down. He'll probably still break Nicklaus's major record, but not by much.

Friday, June 15, 2007

4 things to be mindful of while playing Golf

1. Accept the ramifications of your mistakes.

2. You are responsible for all of your mistakes.

3. You are responsible for educating and training yourself so that you don't make mistakes.

4. All golfers are a work in progress.

Apple will continue to gain market share

I see Microsoft as the Woolworth's of the software world.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Golf is a game of personal milestones.

This past year, I've had 5 pars in a row--a first.

I had 2 birdies on the back 9 at Tennison. I would have had 3, but I hit a tee shot OB. I was extremely happy about that round. Making a birdie always feels like magic. In that instance, I would have birdied 3 out 4 holes in a row, which would have blown my mind.

I've gotten to where I feel like I can regularly shoot below 90. My next goal is shooting below 85.

I've been trying to play at least once a week this year. When I've gone out, I try to develop consistency, have fun, and build on accomplishments--make as many pars and birdies as I can.

I've been playing golf since I was 3 years old--have the photographs to prove it. (plastic golf clubs in my back yard) When I was 10, my dad and I played in a father-son golf tournament on the President's Course at Brookhaven Country Club. We actually played in that tournament a few times--might of even won our flight a few times--that's my story and I'm sticken to it.

Every once in a while, I still walk the front 9 of the President's course--brings back good memories.

For the time that I've been playing golf, I've never hit a hole-in-one, and I've only had about 3 or 4 eagles--personally, I think an eagle is just as cool as a hole-in-one. (eagle is 2 under par, 2 under par on a par 3 is a hole in one)

2 Irish guys walked out of a bar...

It could happen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Keep your head on a swivel"

The skipper of my ship used to say "Keep your head on a swivel" every night over the ship's 1MC. (intercom)

When we were at sea, every night at 10 o'clock sharp, the bosun mates would ring the bells, blow the whistle and say, "lights out," then, the skipper would give a talk to the crew regarding the things that went on during the day and about the things that were going on the next day. Whenever he would sign off, he would say, "Keep your head on a swivel."

I always thought it was cool thing to say.

If you've ever watched the movie Apollo 13, you can see our old captain at the end of that movie. He's the tall skinny guy with 4 stripes. I can't remember his name though.

P.S. I was a bosun mate. The nickname for a bosun mate is "boats."

Note to Self: Always wear your seatbelt

In the last week, I've seen 3 seatbelt traps.

Somehow, miraculously, I've never got a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt, and I intend to keep it that way.

Knock on wood.

Monday, June 11, 2007

If it's your 1st night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

In case you forgot.

Noah forgot to put 2 Unicorns on the Arc

It's a conspiracy theory that's not discussed very often.

If you happen to be a woman, who's looking for a good excuse to be pissed off at men, there you go.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Note to self: periodically check in on Get Short! blog

There's a blog where the blogger reports their trading activity. There's also some links to tracking penny stocks.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Note to self: Ice Tea

I forget to order it at restaurants. Ice Tea is one of my favorite drinks--no sugar added--just a squeeze of lemon.

All things cinnamon...

Those who know me know that I love cinnamon. Whether its cinnamon toast, cinnamon toothpaste, or cinnamon gum, if it smells or tastes like cinnamon I love it.

I can actually trace back to my roots when I first started loving cinnamon. My grandmother used to make cinnamon toast for me on Sunday mornings. She would also make poached eggs, which come to think of it, I haven't had a good poached egg since.

I guess, I don't really have too many fond memories of my childhood, but this one of my grandmother making cinnamon toast is kind of nice.

I remember sitting at the table, and I remember she'd ask if I'd like another piece, and I would always say yes, and she never complained. She would keep making pieces until I couldn't eat anymore.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Esoteric Question: Are men the only ones capable of achieving enlightenment?

I was watching "Beyond Rangoon" a long time ago--it's a film with Patricia Arquette. The statement was made in the film that men are the only ones capable of reaching enlightenment, which I've always remembered because I thought it was a really odd thing to say, and I wondered what was meant by it.

Then, last night, I was watching a movie called "Water." It was produced in India with English subtitles. The film was bizarre.

"Water" was set in India circa the 1930's when Gandhi was still alive. The story revolves around a 7 year old girl, who was a widow--yes, widow.

As a widow, this young girl was expected to live her entire life--destitute without ever getting re-married.

Actually, according to Hindu tradition, widows have 3 choices:

1. They can throw themselves on the burial fire and burn to death.
2. They can live their entire life in poverty and never re-marry
3. They can re-marry the younger brother of the deceased husband.

I told my mom about these rules and she goes, "What a bunch of chauvinists!" I concurred.

Apparently, these "traditions" have been going on for over a 1000 years. In 2001, India conducted a census, and it was reported that there were 34 million widows in India, which I find interesting.

So, getting back to the original "esoteric question," one of the women in the story was lamenting that she wished she could be born as a man in the next life. Perhaps, "only men can reach enlightenment" is the distracting fallacy, which has nothing to do with women's ability. Perhaps, her sorrow is the result of following chauvinistic traditions, which devalue a woman's worth. I think this was the basic underlying message of the film.

When I was in the Navy I wrote several letters to President Clinton

I'll expound on this later.

At some point, I'm going to have to travel Clinton's Presidential Library in Arkansas because I didn't keep copies of the letters I sent, which I'll need to tell the story.

I will say I wrote some interesting letters, which received some interesting responses.