Friday, June 27, 2003

Late-Talkers

When you say "bye" on the phone, to me that usually means the conversion is over. But this is apparently not true to all people. To some, bye means I'm done with this topic, so let's move onto another.

This doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough to be noteworthy. I'm talking on the phone with someone, we're done talking about stuff, we both say bye or see ya, and then as I'm reaching to hang the phone up I hear their voice coming through the speaker - but it's too late. The motion has already happened and the phone is one microsecond from hitting the hook.

When I first started going out with Rachel, she was definitely a late-talker. I remember for the first two or three weeks that we were going out I hung up on her mid-sentence almost every time we talked because we'd say bye, she'd pause, and then start talking again after the hang up motion already commenced. She's not really a late-talker anymore, but I'm glad she didn't take it personally back in the day.

One way around this is to use a portable phone or cellular phone that has the off button right on the receiver. I put my thumb on it so I can hang up immediately when we're done talking. That way, the bye is following by the hang-up and there is no awkward 2 second hang-up time.

Another form of the late-talker is in the car. I feel that it is the duty of the man to open the car door for his woman. It's common courtesy. But a part of that courtesy should also for the woman to not start a sentence as the man is in mid-motion of shutting the door. That's almost worse than hanging up on someone because you're actually, physically slamming the door in their face - effectively saying, "I don't care what you were just saying."

But, as men, we're stuck because if the door is already shutting there isn't much we can do. When it comes to hanging up and shutting the car door, timing is everything.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

You can't escape the cones

Everywhere I go there are construction cones in the road. On the freeway, on the business roads on the way to work, on the road right by my house in the residential section - you can't escape the cones.

One theory is that they don't have any cone storage, there is no such thing. Once they are done with them in one spot they move them to another spot or just throw them around in random places. But it's not like there is some cone warehouse that the construction companies have.

I find it really annoying, though, when a whole lane is blocked off and there is no reason for the cones to be there. Take a look at the picture I attached as an example. This was taken about a block or two from Banta. They totally blocked off the lane and made everyone carefully drive on the shoulder to continue down the road ... but there was no sign of construction or painting! They just threw cones right in the middle of the road.


Rachel, Jason, and I came up with a theory that the cones help pay for future construction. Allow me to explain: Once some contruction is done, they take the available cones and mark off a lane at the next place they are going to work. Once they put them up, suddenly the speed limit drops and the speeding ticket fines double. They leave the cones there for about 6 months before they even touch the road until they have enough money to fix it. Then, when they're done, they move them to the next spot where they might work to see if they can get enough money to fix it.


There have been many times where I just want to pull over, get out of the car, and chuck the cones off the road. I wonder what the penalty is if you get caught doing that. Do they have a name for that? Assault and battery of cone? Cone purjury? Cone ad seriatim? Cone compensation act? Cone emancipation?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

You can't beat a good muffin loaf

There are a few things in this life that I really enjoy. One of them is a nice steak. I love going to Macey's and picking up a pack of steaks and grilling those up with steak seasoning and my Emeril Live sauce that Frankie and Kate got for me a while back. mmmmm ... steak.

I also love a good muffin loaf. It's not a very common thing, but it's one of the vending items that Banta happens to offer. Muffin loaves and I go way back.

One time when I was high school my friend, Jason Titze, and I thought it would be funny to break into our friend's house when her and her mom weren't home. We climbed through a back window and started looking through her room. We found her journal and found a few entries that happened to talk about Jason and me. I can't remember what happened in the end - I think we ended up taking her journal and holding it for ransom - but the funny part is that we left no sign of our presence except for a single muffin loaf that we carefully placed right in the middle of her desk.

She had heard us talking about how good muffin loaves are a few weeks before that so she immediately linked the muffin loaf to us.

Those were the good days. I miss breaking into people's houses and leaving muffin loaves on their desks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Men can go weeks without toilet paper

I have noticed that your typical man can go about 2-3 weeks with no toilet paper. At first it may seem like somewhat of a nuisance, but then you get used to it.

I've noted that there are a few ways around the no TP issue. First, you have to strategically plan your "sessions." I prefer the wait-til-you-go-to-work method. That seems to work pretty well because they always have one of those HUGE rolls that are like a foot in diameter at work. Those things are awesome. Why can't we have those installed in our homes? Only businesses have the right to use big rolls? Other people wait until they go to the store. If you're going out to eat anyway, hold it until you get to their bathroom.

A second way around the TP issue is to find a proper substitute. Any missionary will tell you that the Church News came in handy on more than one occasion.

A third way is the shower-after maneuver. I think that the name is self explanatory and I'd rather not explain it because it's rather gross.

I'm sure there are tons of other methods, but I can only think of those three at the moment. At my place at Belmont, we have opened an eRentPayer office and Van and Jason have been coming to work there for about a week now. We had run out of TP before they arrived, so having more bodies in the house only amplified the problem.

One day, Van couldn't stand it anymore and left work to go get some TP, paper towels, and napkins at the grocery store. Right when he got home we all made good use of the paper products immediately. I asked him why he went out and bought that stuff and he said "Well, I had to take a crap!" Funny, I never thought about it that way.

The ironic thing is that Rachel had also reached her limit that same day (even though it wasn't even her house, but she does spend a lot of time there) and had gone to to Wal-Mart to pick up the same thing. So now the eRentPayer office has a huge pile of TP. Hilarious!

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Old people pull in too far

I have noticed that the older people get, the closer thay park to the curb - or rather, they pull in until their tires hit and the front end of the car covers half of the sidewalk. I'm not sure exactly why at this point, but you can tell how old someone is by the way they park.

Old men especially. They just keep pulling in until the car hits the curb and the tire is smashed up against it and deformed. Then, anyone coming down the sidewalk has to walk around their car because it is sticking over so far!

Look at the picture I've attached for example. The red Acura (notice the new wheels, yesss!) is my car. It is the parking job of a 25 year old. People in their 20s leave a few inches before the curb so that they won't be in the way of other people, and perhaps even more, so people won't touch their car.

The BMW next to my car belongs to an older guy. Notice how he is pulled in so far that the tire is bent around the curb, and that his car covers a good chunk of the walkway. The van next to him, as well, belongs to an older lady with two kids. She always pulls in until she feels the bump. Luckily, her car doesn't have a huge front end in front of the tires.

As I get older I will try to keep this in mind. I'm not sure if this is just something that happens with age or if it's just the way their generation learned to park. I guess I'll have to wait about 20-30 years to really know for sure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Best spot in town

I was looking for some pictures of cars today on Google and I came across a picture of a car that had one bumper on a boat and the other bumper on the dock! How did that happen!?

For the last few minutes I've been trying to think of scenarios of how the car could end up like that, but I honestly can't come up with a good explanation. I thought the photo was interesting enough to post a blog about it. I'm absolutely baffled.

Rachel is taking her last final today. She came over yesterday after I got home from work and studied all through the night until I dropped her off at school this morning. Poor girl must be so tired. She's been really stressed with school, it'll be nice to have a summer break - starting tonight!

I was going to go to Wisconsin with Rachel next Monday for a business trip for Banta, but they called the trip off - or at least postponed it until later this fall, which pretty much means it's not going to happen. It would have been nice to go there, but I guess this is a good thing because now we'll have more money to go visit Bob at his new place in downtown Manhatten later this summer.

It's like hold music, but without the hold

I've spent a lot of time recently on the phone. eRentPayer is bringing up three rather large customers for the June-July billing cycle so there has been a lot to talk about with Jason, who currently lives in Los Angeles.

The other day I felt like we needed to spice up the conversation a little, so I turned up the music a bit on my headphones. It turns out that if you have the headphones around your neck then they are just loud enough for you and your phone participant to hear, but you don't disrupt the rest of the office.

It's like hold music, but without the hold!

With Rachel taking her test today, I'm reminded of my days at BYU. Tests were always an interesting thing. I was always able to retain the information pretty well, but only for a certain time limit right before the test.

In other words, you must study ONSITE right before you go in at the testing center. You just cram the information into your head at one of the study rooms in the testing center and then run upstairs into the testing room and take it quick! That way you only have to remember that shload of information for about 30-45 minutes.

If you study at home, and then drive to the testing center, park down at the bottom of the hill and walk up, then by the time you get there you've completely forgotten everything.

This process is known as a brain-binge. You just cram as much stuff as you can into your brain and then you throw it up onto the test - never remembering anything long term.

Moral of the story - study at home to learn the basics, then go about 30-60 minutes early and study onsite. This goes to prove the uselessness of college for many professions - especially business and technical fields.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

The Spork is definitely underrated

The Spork is definitely underrated. I'm surprised that it's not more common place in the home nowadays. KFC seems to love them. Taco Bell uses them, too. I'm willing to bet that they save millions of dollars per year from buying sporks rather than separate utensils.

Why isn't everyone else using these? I mean you grab one thing and it's all you need. It's a spoon, it's a fork. It's a fork, it's a spoon. You can eat your cereal and eggs without having to switch utensils! YESSS!!!!

Sounds pretty good to me. I'll have to order a fine spork online and try it out.

Who the crap are these people?

I was looking at the statistics for our server yesterday with Jason. We noticed that jamesrowell.com already has 56 unique visitors this month (mid-month) and that it had 98 unique visitors last month.

Who are all of these people reading my blog!? I am aware of about 10 people who read it somewhat regularly, but 100 people a month???

I even have people from Brazil, U.K., and Canada reading this thing. I'm glad that people like to read my blog - I've worked hard on making it a good experience for everyone.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Buses are amazing

The other day I was driving home down University Ave. Traffic was backed up for about a mile because some idiot rammed right into the car in front of him in such a manner that it closed down all of the northbound traffic.

I looked over and saw a city bus stuck in the traffic just like all of the other cars. I began to wonder - how are buses always on time? Don't they get caught in traffic, too? Even if traffic is somewhat normal, how on earth do they keep that rigorous schedule? In 1997 I used to take the bus to the University of Iowa. That bus was NEVER late.

This is a question I've had for some time now. I was talking to Rachel about it and neither of us knew how they keep their schedules. A few days later, she came back to me with a first-hand story that helped us learn how they work.

Coming home from BYU, sometimes Rach likes to take the bus from the Wilkinson Center to the Gold's Gym right by her house. Apparently, she got on the wrong one and it took her to a totally different part of town. After a while the bus pulled into some parking station and turned off. Oops! She had to sit there in the bus for about 10 minutes until the driver came back and went on his way.

So that's how they do it! They have a 10 minute break after each route. If they finish the route on time, then they have 10 minutes. If they finish 5 minutes late, then they only have a 5 minute break. Geez, them bus folk sure is smart.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Globe Monitors and Backwards TP

One of my pet peeves is backwards toilet paper. It's amazing to me how little people care about this. I mean, you're sitting on the toilet, and you look over to get some paper and you go to roll it the normal way ... then didn't ya know, the thing is on backwards! Aaarrrgggh, who put the toilet paper on backwards?

I will usually take it off for the lazy person who can't take the 5 seconds to put it on the right way in the first place to help them out.

But I think it's very important for all of us to do our best to make this a backwards-TP-free world. We can rise above this if we work together.

Another pet peeve of mine is what I call "globe monitors." They are the computer monitors that are so round and curvy that it seems like you have to lean back and forth to see each side of the screen! Nowadays, you can get a flat CRT monitor for only a few bucks more than a globe monitor. It's definitely worth it.

One last pet peeve is the 3-for-1 ads at the grocery store. When you see a bin at the grocery store full of a product and there is a huge sign saything 3 for $1.00, that doesn't mean that you need to buy 3 items to get the deal. So many people are tricked into this. Pretty much, all it means is that the item costs $0.33. So don't feel pressured to buy "3," just get as many as you need!

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Do you want to pay a little, a lot, or a ton?

I think it's very funny how many companies base their pricing on who is buying from them. It is amazing to me that they can get away with this. Dell, At&t, and Qwest are a few good examples of this. Before they will ever tell you a price, you first have to state whether you are purchasing for home, small business, or large business.

When you select one of these three, they are essentially asking you how much you want to pay. For example, "Are you buying for a home, small business, or large business?" can be translated to "Do you want to pay a little, a lot, or a ton?"

As an insider's tip from a business owner, always select "home." Not only will you get a lower price to begin with, but special promotions and sales are always going on, and you may suddenly get 10 percent off or free shipping on something you would buy anyway. A large business would never get any deals like that.

I should talk to the IT department at Banta about switching over to the home category. I can see it now - one day Dell calls Banta up asking how our 12,000 home computers are working out for us, haha.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

New Baby!

The new baby arrived over the weekend. My sister, Louise, and her husband, Fred, moved to Italy while she was 7-8 months pregnant. It was a bit scary for Louise because that meant they had to rush around and find a hospital with a doctor that spoke good English, since she doesn't speak Italian. Seems like everything turned out great in the end, though.

Fred, after having been up for 48 hours, gave us some quick information before getting a few hours of sleep: "Lauren Elizabeth Rio arrived in Bologna [Italy] last night at 1:02am after a long but fairly uneventful (depends on who you ask) delivery. She weighs 3355g (7.4 lbs) and measures 49cm (19.3 inches)."

Sounds like a good, healthy baby to me. My mom and dad are going to Italy next week to help the new mother out - and I'm sure they'll do some site-seeing while they are there, haha. Best of wishes to the new parents!

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Roof Restaurant

Doug Shaw, one of my co-workers, died about an hour ago. The office is really quiet today. Usually people are joking and laughing really loud. But today everyone is just walking around doing their work and saying very little. It's a strange feeling being here.

Doug was a nice, old guy. It was his time to go, so this is not a horrible tragedy. But he was someone who said hi to me almost every day and always had something kind to say. We'll miss having him around the office.

Now for something completely different - yesterday was Rachel's birthday. Her and I dressed up all nice and went to The Roof Restaurant on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Building. It was outstanding! The food was so perfect. The window sits right over the Salt Lake Temple and the sun sets right behind it. It was breathtaking to look out the window and see the sun disappearing behind the temple spires. All in all, it made for the perfect night and Rachel was so happy.

Afterwards, we went downstairs to watch Testaments on the 70mm screen they have down there. We both left the theatre crying! We hadn't seen it for years, so it was a very good experience. On the way back to the car we went and walked around temple square for a bit and talked. I am amazed at the architecture of their fountains. How did they make something that big be SO FLAT? Any slight variation would throw the whole thing off. It was neat to stand at the edge of the water and see the reflection of the temple.

A Decent Proposal

I was talking with Mousley today about getting married. He and I are both very excited about the idea. Well, we better be. We're both going to be 25 really soon. I think it's about time.

His woman is on a mission right now and will be back next spring. When he was younger he made a pact with his friends so that they would regulate if he hadn't gotten married by the time he was 26.

wolfman nevers: i told all my friends years ago that if I was 26 and not married, I commanded them to come run me over with their cars
wolfman nevers: lol...so i have to do it before july 27 or i'll have like 20 people trying to run me over
wolfman nevers: i'll have 3 months to live after jenette gets home if I don't marry her

I have July 27, 2004 down in my calendar. Seems like it might be kind of fun to run Mousley over.

Speaking of marriage, Rachel's brother has August 22 down for my wedding to Rachel. As of August 23, I will be 25 years old and, according to Brigham Young, a menace to society since I would be 25 and unmarried. Hhhmmmmm ... the 22nd is a Friday, that might work out. :-) We'll see.

UPDATE: We actually did get married on Aug 23, 2003. Her brother (James Bartlett) was very close!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Just another day at work

I just got off the phone with Jeff, the president of an ACH Processing company in California. He just approved me to move $250,000 per month through eRentPayer in the first month of operation. If you ask me, that's pretty risky for a company to do with a start-up like eRentPayer. It's very smart of him to approve us, though - it was a smart risk to take. As the president of eRentPayer I'm obviously going to have a biased opinion, but the more money we move, the more money he makes.

The cool thing about all of this is that eRentPayer will only talk in millions from now on.

It's nice that I've had some spare time at Banta to do many things for eRentPayer. Banta has affected my life so much. I don't know what I would do without it. I attached a picture of my desk there. Notice a few essential items of my desk.

1- The name tag right above the papers on the bulletin board. That is from outdoorsman.com - my first programming job that I got back in 2000. I can never forget my roots!
2- My laptop to the left. It has been on many a road trip, been used countless hours at home, at work, etc. I don't know how people make it in this business with normal desk PCs.
3- The 21" flat CRT monitor. This was taken from Crystal Canyon for compensation of the $4500 that they screwed me on. I hate those guys and I have their monitor to prove it.
4- The Wendy's cup. mmmmm I have it memorized. "Hi, may I take your order please." -- "Yes, I'd like a junior bacon, 5 piece nugget with BBQ, and a medium frosty."
5- The window. A year and a half ago, I got this office with the window. That was a good day. I like to open the shades in the afternoon and watch the planes land and take off from the private airport across the road. One of these days I got to get my pilots license.
6- The picture of Rachel to the right. Speaking of Rachel, it's her birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL!!!

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Birthday Blues

I've never been a huge fan of birthdays. I mean, the parties are always fun and it's nice to have a special day for your friends or yourself once a year, but the stress is way too high.

I heard one time that the suicide level goes up during the Christmas holiday because of the stress. I think birthdays are just like that for me - but without the killing yourself part.

It's difficult to know what to get people. I never know what they want and I leave it until the very last minute so I always have to end up spending more because I don't have time to put "thought" into my gift.

Rachel and her twin, Ruth, have their birthday next Monday. That's why the subject is on my mind. Maybe I'll stop by the store on the way home from work on Monday and get something for them. :)

The other funny thing about birthdays is that they are embarrassing for me. Like, I'm embarrassed for the person who is getting all of the attention. They have to pretend that they like all of the presents they are opening! That's a tough act. But every once and a while you have one of those friends that just speaks their mind and makes negative comments about all of the presents. I actually like going to those parties more because I know the birthday-ee is comfortable ... so I am, too.

I think that birthday parties are perfect for little kids. But we should stop doing them once we turn 18. From then on, a birthday party should just be everyone taking you out to dinner and covering the tab.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

What are those sparks in the air?::

Two weekends ago I went to Iowa with Rachel to go to my friend's wedding. It was great to go back home. It felt very peaceful to be there. It was satisfying to see my old house where I grew up (lived there for 18 years), my old high school, the old hangout spots, the city park, etc.

So much has changed in Iowa City, especially the downtown area and the University of Iowa campus. I hardly recognize the place anymore.

One of the things that shocked me while there was the fireflies. Rachel and I drove to my old house and sat down across the street in the park for a minute. She thought that her eyes were going bad or something because she kept seeing little sparks all over the place. After a few minutes, the issue came up and I told her that they were lightning bugs making the little lights all over the place. She was amazed! We quickly got up and went around to catch a few and take a closer look.

I never realized that they don't have fireflies in Utah. I grew up with them, we'd catch them all the time when it was dark when I was a kid back in Iowa City - so it seemed like a normal part of life that I took for granted.

I was curious about how fireflies glow like that, so I did some research and apparently a US team of scientists were able to show in 2001 that the simple molecule nitric oxide (NO) acts as the on-off "button."

Whenever the fireflies were exposed to nitric oxide they glowed or flashed almost continuously, and they stopped once the nitric oxide was turned off. The molecule causes oxygen-consuming components on the edge of light-producing cells in the lantern to briefly shut down. This allows oxygen to pass through to the interior of the cells and react with the chemicals luceriferin and luciferase to generate a flash. When the nitric oxide is turned off, the oxygen "gatekeepers" started up again and the light disappears. The whole thing happens in milliseconds.