Monday, June 30, 2008

Blank webpage tip

  1. It's faster going to a webpage if a browser window is already open.

  2. Most webpages use memory and processor time redrawing and refreshing, even when in the background.

So what can you do? Type "about:blank" in the location bar of Firefox or Safari and hit return. Ta-da! Blank page!

In Firefox, you can blank your screen with two keystrokes. Go to "Organize bookmarks", create a new bookmark with "about:blank" as the location, and set "b" as the keyword. Now to blank your screen, simply type cmd-L to go to the location bar, then "b" and "return". I guess that's three keystrokes, isn't it?

Still, a nice way to leave the browser ready to go without it occupying resources in the meantime.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Food inflation in the last year

Check out this price comparison of food from 2007 to 2008. Yeah, it's wholesale prices for cattle feed, but if it's representative of the market, that's a little scary...

For those who've been buying food and storing it, congratulations on a terrific investment!

Every time I see gas prices or food prices rise I get nervous -- but looking at my budget, we spend about 10% of our net income on food, and 3% on gas for our cars. Mortgages and electricity and water and insurance and taxes all don't move much. So even if gas and food prices double, scary, yes, but probably not time to panic and abandon all reason.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watchdog site "goes after" the Mormon church?

Michael Park, you may be looking for a change of profession when your editors realize how misinformed and misleading your article on Wikileaks and the Mormon church is.

I'll skip the complaint about implying Scientology and the LDS church belong in the same category, and get straight to the point: your headline implies that Wikileaks, a website dedicated to whistleblowing on corrupt organizations, is going after the LDS church. But the content of your article doesn't support that statement at all! You only say that the Church's General Handbook of Instructions was posted to Wikileaks, and the church has requested it be removed for copyright reasons.

Then you go on to say that the manual isn't available to the public "or women".

Let's set the record straight: (1) Wikileaks is not implicating the church in any corruption by posting the General Handbook on their website, and (2) the handbook is not secret. I'm not aware of any "corruption" ever occurring in the general church leadership (though some of the apostasy in the early church might raise eyebrows). As for the handbook, I had a copy when I served in the bishopric of my last ward, and it's just a book of instructions on how to operate a stake and a ward, e.g. how meetings are to be run, the duties of the different roles and callings, what things the bishop is allowed to counsel people on, etc.

They don't hand out copies to people who aren't in leadership positions, and we were asked not to lend it out to anybody, but anybody could look through it if they asked me. My wife and I often referred to it for clarification on one point or another, and any time someone (including women) had questions about the Church's policies or position I was happy to review it with them.

It contains policies (how the church operates), not church doctrine (official teachings, which are contained in the scriptures and teachings of the prophets and apostles). If the church changes a policy, they can revise and redistribute the books. The church hasn't said why it doesn't publish the books, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say that if they did, it might create confusion as to which policy was most up-to-date after a revision and/or cause people to try to follow the book instead of their bishop. Or it could open the door for people to criticize their leaders for not strictly adhering to the handbook where the Spirit may dictate certain adjustments for their specific situation. Just a guess.

All said, it doesn't sound like Wikileaks is the one going after the LDS church here. But once you catch up, I hope you'll come inside and see what it's all about.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Red Herrings

IJ.pngLast week I went to see the 4th (and maybe final) installment of the Indiana Jones movie series.

Let me first start here: I think how much you like a movie is usually estimated by how well it delivers divided by what you were expecting from it when you went in. For example, The Incredibles knocked my socks off because I had heard almost nothing about it, but I loved every minute of it. "Great" divided by "almost nothing" equals "big winner". Transformers, on the other hand, came recommended as "the best movie ever made", but was only "pretty good" in my book, so in that case, "decent" divided by "best ever" only yields a mediocre rating.

Okay, back to IJ. To start, I'm going to skip over the biggest flaw -- the fact that this movie didn't manage to match the gritty "texture" of the originals. A lot could have been overlooked if they'd gotten that right. But they didn't, so I'll move on.

*Any* movie that's been this long in the works should have a fairly clean plot, right? Especially if it has George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's name attached to it. But no, oh no. This story is quite the opposite -- it's chock-full of non-sequiturs and red herrings, scenes that are carefully contrived and purposefully shown, yet seem to have zero connection to anything else in the movie.

Some examples:
  • What do the teenagers racing across the desert in the beginning have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing.

  • Indy manages to talk the Russians into throwing a whole bunch of gunpowder in the air that ends up flying to a central point where Indy could have used it to blow them all up! Cool! But does he? No no -- it just disappears and isn't heard from again.

  • In true McCarthyism style, the suits declare (roughly): "You are a person of interest -- significant interest." Lot of effort to include that scene, do we ever hear about that again?

  • Why did the boy take such deliberate efforts to haul the Harley to Peru? Does he ever even ride it there?

  • How about the rambling guy, why is he rambling? No obvious reason.

  • What happens to the main Russian girl again?
Some of the effects are neat, yes, but with dozens of plot leads that go nowhere, attitude inconsistencies (e.g. you just punched me in the face 2 minutes ago, but now we're friends and helping each other), rotten dialog, and sheer impossibilities (flying through the air in a refrigerator?), not to mention that the ending is a little ridiculous, this ends up being one of the worst assemblies of pretty-cool special effects shots I've ever seen.

I even half-expected the whole thing to be some sort of joke or Indy's dream or something. No such luck.

So save your money and just watch the trailer instead. You'll have a better and more memorable experience.

ps. FYI, some of the scenes appear to be built to remind you of the Disneyland ride (or vice-versa?).

Actually, it was me.

A minor correction to that last post -- actually, it was me that put another of Regan's works on eBay, not her. She's not quite ready for that yet. =)

I struggle still a little with this idea of encouraging her to draw pictures to sell on eBay. Who would want to *buy* a crayon drawing done by a 6-year old, even if they are fairly well done for her age? Only their grandparents (who perhaps not coincidentally are the only buyers so far) -- and shouldn't they get them for free?

My original goals were:
  • Provide a way for her to earn money (instead of us just giving it to her).

  • Give her a little exposure to how businesses are run, i.e. with expenses, profits, etc.*

  • Encourage the development of talents.

Selling her crayon drawings on eBay seemed a good solution that met all my goals -- however it still hasn't quite "settled" with me yet. Maybe it's because I know that the pictures have very little inherent value except for what little is incurred through guilt in the relatives, which just doesn't seem like a very solid business plan.

What do you think? Is this a good way for a 6-year old to earn money? How did (do? will?) your 6-year olds make money? I'd love to hear your thoughts, feel free to add comments below.

* As if I knew much about it myself...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Regan lists another piece

080606-monkeys_rkh.jpegRegan has just put up another of her works of art on eBay, Little Monkeys.

Does anyone read this thing?

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