The Whole Seal

One of the more ridiculous things in this modern age is the EULA. It is the subject of many a complaint and many a spoof, and some cartoons too.

I, on the other hand, have found a way around the EULA. This post is a photo-documentary of what happened when I got a software upgrade (identifying information has been scrubbed from the photos).

At first, I just thought it was a command to be followed:

picture of a CD with an unbroken EULA seal

Then I noticed that the sticker went around the CD case. It was no longer a command – it was a challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Waiting for Acuff Man

I don’t normally cause people to do double-takes.

But I surprised Jon Acuff in person and it was one of those moments that, if it had been in a movie, would have the needle-scratching-across-the-record sound effect.

Here’s what happened:

Chapter 1: Getting Ready

I found out about a week ago that Jon would be speaking at one of the nearby mega churches, so I sent Jon an email letting him know that I’d try to see him there. I’d have to skip my home church, since I can’t be in two places at once, but Jon rarely makes it out this way so this was my one chance to see him in person.

Lesson #1: If you have to contact Jon Acuff about something that’s time-sensitive, do not use email. He’ll get to it, eventually. If it’s urgent, use Twitter. Or text him.
Read the rest of this entry »

Machu Pikachu

These corporate sponsorships are getting out of hand.

I would have thought that Machu Picchu was safe, being on all the historical preservation lists. But apparently they are running short on money and had to resort to taking advertising. Nintendo, through their Pokemon brand, stepped up and helped fund the landmark archaeological site.

In return, the government of Peru allowed them to place one billboard next to the ruins. Unfortunately, they did not restrict the size of the billboard:

picture of a giant Pikachu at Machu Picchu

Upon a high and lofty mountain You have made your bed. You also went up there to offer sacrifice.

Isaiah 57:7

How Not to Run a Business

If the electric company ran a tool rental center:

Guy: I’d like to rent a nail gun.
E.C.: Sure, what for?
Some projects around the house.
But what projects? I need to know specifically what it will be used for.
Why does that matter?
Our rates are different depending on what you do with it.
Umm…I’m going to be installing highly-efficient thermal windows.
Okay, you qualify for our air conditioning and ventilation rate.
Great! And I just bought a hybrid car, so I’m going to build a thing in the garage for it.
You’ll need to rent a separate nail gun for that.
What? But I’ll use the same nails. I don’t need a separate nail gun.
Corporate policy – the nail gun in the ACV plan can’t be used for an activity that qualifies under another plan.
What’s the other plan?
Our electric vehicle rate.
Oh. What’s the cheapest rate plan you have?
That would be the interruptible off-peak rate.
I’ll get that one.
Sure, but you can use the nail gun only between the hours of 8 PM and 8 AM.
And somebody else might need to use it too, so we may borrow the nail gun from you for a little while.
Could I rent that one then?
Only for heating or cooling – your window work qualifies.
Okay, I’ll take it.
That will be $30 a day.
Would you like to pay $3 a day extra for a nail gun made from renewable resources?

I could keep going, but I’ll end it there, somewhat ungracefully.

Stay tuned next week, when the electric company runs the gas station (“What vehicle do you have and what is your destination?”), followed by what happens when an airline sells cans of paint (“You’ll be painting today? That’s about double the normal price. But if you buy today and don’t paint until next month, it’ll be cheaper.”).

And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”

Acts 5:8

Things Not to Say to a Toddler

The title should explain everything you need to know for this post.

“That ink stamp looks yummy!”

picture of a tongue stained by an ink stamp

“What’s inside your nose?”

picture of a finger in a nose

“Here’s some markers and some paper. I’ll be back later.”

picture of marker scribbles on a hand and a knee

For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward.

Job 5:7

Run/Walk for the Cure

My family participated in a cancer walk last weekend. It was more like an anti-cancer walk, since that’s the goal of the deal – to raise money for curing cancer. My mother-in-law has had cancer longer than my wife and I have been married. That’s a lot of chemo over the last 10 years.

She was interviewed earlier in the week by a TV station. People are normally interested in her story because she shouldn’t be doing as well as she is, at least according to conventional wisdom. But the interviewer didn’t ask about that and kept to a list of questions that you would politely ask any stranger whom you’ve just met.

The morning of the event, the station scheduled a follow-up interview.

Live TV.

The goal was to be there in time for the interview (8:00). We woke everyone up at 6:30 and left the house before 7:00. At 7:30, we were a mile away from the stadium. At 7:55, we were a quarter mile from the stadium. At 8:00, we were still a quarter mile from the stadium.

But we texted my sister, so she watched on TV for us. At 8:10, we had parked and met up with everyone else. So close, and yet so far.

Okay, that’s enough of the details. Now here’s some random tidbits of the day.


Let’s start with the venue. The starting line (and finish line) was in front of the local baseball stadium

picture of Race for the Cure at Comerica Park

Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Stock

Today’s post will be rather boring for many people, so feel free to skip it if you want. I’ll understand.

I don’t gamble in casinos, but I make up for it by playing the stock market. Any day now, I’ll pick the right stock and be able to retire early.

I’m not a day trader – more like a week or month trader. And it’s not much of a gamble, because I’m not risking a lot on it. I play with about 5% of my retirement money. And since a normal retirement would be 30 years away, I have some time for playing.

I created a stock screener at my online brokerage. Normally, I would sift through those results and see if any stocks looked interesting enough to buy. But then I got a different idea:

What if the number of stocks returned by the screener meant something?

and not necessarily the stocks themselves.

I guess I was hoping that my screener was inadvertently a leading indicator. So I graphed the number of stocks from my screener against various indices, in order to see if I could find some correlation between the market and my screener.

For the last year (actually March 2010 to March 2011), I ran that screener near the end of each trading day. I missed a few days, but got most of them. You can certainly see a trend:

graph of stock screener results compared to stock index prices

Unfortunately, all it does is mirror the index price. The number of stocks approved by the screen goes down as the stock market goes up, and vice-versa. While interesting, it doesn’t tell me anything I couldn’t know by looking at the market data without my screener.

Also unfortunately, it doesn’t tell me what the market is going to do.

Maybe I’ll fiddle with the screener and keep up this hobby of mine. There’s not much of a net loss (or gain), so I suppose it’s harmless.

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 5:10