Saturday, September 22, 2012

Presidential Politics

When the Utes are playing one of their worst games in years, its a good time to post on the blog about politics:

I had a friend (Sean Anderson) post a request on facebook for any reasons why Barack Obama deserves another 4-years in office.  We all know about the big differences (abortion, gay marriage, Mormon, African-American, etc.), I took this as an opportunity to explore the differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on concrete issues that impact me and my family.  Following are mainly duplicates of the comments that I posted.

From what I can tell, Obama and Romney are very close on foreign policy. Both support Israel, both support the UN and NATO and both defer to the military as to when the war in Afghanistan should end. One of the big exceptions is with regards to Cuba. Obama wants to open travel and lift parts of the embargo, Romney wants to keep things as-is.

Obama believes in global warming, Romney doesn't. Obama wants to continue to preserve and protect National Parks and Forests, while Romney doesn't. Personally, I think that for us to be good stewards of the earth is critically important (Considering that we drive a Highlander Hybrid and Chevy Volt as well as purchase wind power, this may have already been apparent).

I think that Obamacare has gotten a bad rap from many people who haven't read or don't understand just what the plan entails (I'm not defending it, but just pointing out that much is misunderstood). Most people agree that something needs to change with our health care system, but few people can agree upon what that change should be. I like that the process has been started, now lets start to optimize it. The absolute best explanation on Obamacare (with citations and links to the actual bill was posted on a couple of months ago: Take a moment to read through this. I found it absolutely enlightening and it made most of Obamacare must less scary.

One of the other big things that I struggle with is the tax cuts for the rich that the Republicans are so obsessed with. First off, recall that the last time the budget was balanced was under Bill Clinton (granted the economy was growing like mad), but this was also before the huge tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Yes they have benefited me and my family, but they were an enormous benefit to the rich and super-rich. Obama supports extending the tax cuts for those of us making less than $250,000 while eliminating the tax cuts for those making more than that. Luckily (or not so luckily), I fall squarely in the making less than $250,000 camp so this won't impact me at all. Refer back to Ben's most recent ramble ( where he believes that the tax cuts should be extended to US corporations (and I assume, not to the rich people, although that is 100% speculation). This I agree with as well. Anyways, I'm still in the undecided camp, but these are a few of the reasons why I'm certainly not against Obama. Clearest choice in a generation? Not yet for me. I've got to prioritize my issues before I can make that choice.

Obama supports citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born in the USA, Romney doesn't. Some of these kids have lived in the USA for 15+ years and don't speak the language of the countries that they would be deported to. Also, Obama supports temporary amnesty for illegal immigrants working in the US, Romney doesn't. Additionally, Obama would allow the children of illegal immigrants access to government subsidized healthcare. 

From recent news, I appreciate the Mitt Romney has released his tax returns validating the claims that he has been making over the last few months.  His tax returns are an indication of his honesty, his generosity and his ethics (he paid a higher tax rate than he had to in support of his principles). 

Lastly, Obama supports net neutrality while Romney does not.  Net neutrality is "a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers (ISPs) or governments on consumers' access to networks that participate in the Internet (see Wikipedia - Network Neutrality)." Specifically, Obama supports FCC regulations that force ISPs to provide equal access to all content on the Internet, while Romney would prefer to leave these issues up to the open market.  Unfortunately, this would allow my ISP (Comcast) to slow-down my connection speeds when I am streaming something from Netflix, or prevent me from accessing or [Source:]

So what do you think?  Are there other issues that are more pressing or important than those that I've posted above?  As an undecided voter (mostly) in a state where my vote will not count, why specifically are you supporting one candidate over the other?

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing

As the new iPhone is being released today, I thought this little video was apropos:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Berkeley, CA

I think that one of the reasons that I don't blog very much lately, is that my brain has me convinced that every post needs to have something substantial (i.e. I can't just post a photo or thought).  I need to get out of that mindset, this post should do the trick...

In April, I went on a trip to visit a lighting manufacturer's design center in Berkeley, California. We flew into Oakland, checked into the Doubletree Hotel at the Berkeley Marina and then took the VIP bus to dinner.

The bus had a stripper pole that unfortunately went unused, but in a severe lapse of judgment, I touched that thing (obviously while pretending to put on my own show...).  I'm still not sure if my hands are clean yet.

The next day was spent at Peerless Lighting.  I enjoy visiting factories and manufacturers on these trips, they've got to be pretty confident in their products to give hands-on demonstrations and behind-the-scenes tours.

We flew home early the next morning.  It would have been nice to have had a day to spend in San Francisco, but we'll save that for another trip.

San Francisco from the flight home.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Open Letter to the Muss

Hello Muss,

I like you. We've been through a lot together.  There have been good times, there have been bad times, but mostly the times were good.  I like to think that I know how things work around here.  I've been around the block before and I just had a birthday last month.

You see, I've been in the MUSS since the 2004 season.  I skipped the first year of the MUSS, because I was easily able to sit on the 15th row of every game without having to pay the extra $25 for the special t-shirt, that would prove I was there, that I heard of you first. I've been in the MUSS every season since.  I reveled through the undefeated Fiesta Bowl season and the magical (and also undefeated) Sugar Bowl Season.  I watched you win a record number of consecutive bowl games and I was with you when we welcomed the PAC-12 into town.

So, this is my 9th year in the MUSS (Is there some sort of award for this?) and I'm feeling the pressure to set ya'll straight.  Back when we were in the lowly Mountain West Conference, when you were lucky to find our games on TV, the Utes were the up-and-coming original BCS Busters.  It was hard work moving from the mediocrity of the '80s (where they averaged 5.4 wins/year) to the enlightenment of the 90's (where they averaged 7.2 wins/year) to the awesomeness of the 00's (pronounced aughts, where they averaged 8.6 wins/year).  Now, the Utes have arrived.  They are in one of the top three conferences in the country and they have proven that they can play with the big boys.

While the MUSS is undoubtedly one of the best student sections in the country, they have a potentially fatal flaw that must be corrected before the pain and suffering becomes overwhelming. And we die. I've been critical of your habits in rushing the field in the past (see this post from the Oregon State game in 2008, I think that season we (the MUSS) took the blessed opportunity to rush the field 3 times! Granted, we had a good team.  Remember how they smashed Alabama in the mouth in the Sugar Bowl?). You see, after that post I felt bad for being so critical of the MUSS rushing the field so I softened my stance. But that was before we were officially a part of the big boys.

Now we need to set a few ground rules.  Rushing the field is ok (as long as security isn't trying to taze you or the chain-link fence that you are holding onto), but we need to save rushing the field for those special occasions.  I was embarrassed that the MUSS gave TDS (can you believe that my initials are the same as Team Down South?), the respect that is implied when we rush the field.  Yes, they were ranked (how that mistake happened is a topic for another post), and yes the ending was absolutely thrilling (made more so by the asinine mistakes made by the MUSS), but the only thing riding on this game was in-state respect.

I propose new rules, regulations and requirements regarding the rushing of the field (at least one of these must apply):

1. The team you beat must be in the top 5.

2.  The win must clinch a conference championship.

3.  The win must clinch a berth in a BCS bowl or equal.

4.  Any home win over our true rival, the mighty Colorado Buffaloes, is excluded from these requirements. 

Ute fans, let us not forget that we play with the big boys now.  Go Utes!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Portland, Oregon

Edit: I had some problems with the photos showing up correctly, so I've had to re-add them and re-publish.

Warning: Travelogue ahead.

My next trip was in March of this year to Portland, Oregon for the round of 64 and round of 32 games in the NCAA tournament.  I still call them the first and second rounds, but technically they are now the second and third rounds now that there are 68 teams involved.

The games were at the Rose Garden Arena (where the Trailblazers play), which turned out to be quite a comfortable arena.  It's been so long since the tournament that most of you have probably forgotten who even won the national championship (it was the Kentucky Wildcats, by the way).

We saw some great games, including 3 of the 6 determined by 3 points or less.  The teams that we saw were: New Mexico, Long Beach State, Louisville, Davidson, Wichita State, Virginia Commonwealth, Indiana and New Mexico State.

On the Friday between the games, we headed up the Columbia River Gorge to see the waterfalls.

The first falls that we visited were Wahkeena Falls, where I went log riding.

Next we visited the beautiful Multnomah Falls followed by a short hike to Bridal Veil Falls.

After the waterfalls, we turned the car west and headed out to Astoria, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  We ate lunch in a small seafood joint out over the river before we turned south down the Pacific Coast.

We stopped at the cheese factory in Tillamook, sampled the cheese and had some ice cream before turning back to Portland.

On Saturday we spent the morning walking around downtown Portland, with our first stop at the famous Powell's books (where I purchased A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson).  We spent an hour or so at the Portland farmer's market before heading over to the Rose Garden for the final two games of our NCAA sessions.

Another awesome NCAA trip in the books!  Here's a list of the tournament rounds I've been to:

1997 - Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT - First and Second Rounds
2000 - Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT - First and Second Rounds
2003 - Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT - First and Second Rounds
2004 - Key Arena, Seattle, WA - First and Second Rounds
2005 - McKale Center, Tucson, AZ - First and Second Rounds
2006 - Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT - First and Second Rounds
2007 - Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA - First and Second Rounds
2008 - Honda Center, Anaheim, CA - First and Second Rounds
2009 - We didn't get drawn for tickets (lottery system)
2010 - EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT - Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight
2011 - McKale Center, Tucson, AZ - Second and Third Rounds
2012 - Rose Garden Arena, Portland, Or - Second and Third Rounds

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Houston #1

Warning: Travelogue ahead!
I had $400 to use on United Airlines before the middle of March from a travel delay last year, so in February Alison and I decided to take a trip to Houston to visit her sister Angie and her husband Hyrum.  We left Ada and Kate with family and our little 4 1/2 month old Lyla made the trip with us.
It was a short trip and there wasn't really anything that we were dying to do in Houston, so we took off to San Antonio the morning after we arrived.
 Maybe Texans frown upon riding their cannons?
The first stop in San Antonio was at the Alamo.  I think that PeeWee Herman ruined the Alamo for my generation.  I imagine that the workers are probably sick of answering the question of whether or not the Alamo has a basement a dozen times a day.  Luckily for us, I remembered the ending of the show where it is revealed that unbelievably the Alamo doesn't have a basement, so we were spared the embarrassment of asking.  There was a bar right around the corner called The Basement, though.
We were surprised that the Alamo is right smack dab in the middle of downtown San Antonio.  Completely unexpected.

After the Alamo we headed down to the famed Riverwalk.  Wow, what a place.  We loved the atmosphere and all of the restaurants tucked right in along the river.  It was Alison's turn to pick the dinner restaurant and with a little prodding I convinced her to pick some famous Texas barbeque.  
Much of the trip was spent Volt-spotting because we revealed to Angie and Hyrum that we were planning on purchasing a Volt.  We saw a couple on the trip, this black one was in Austin, where we detoured to spend the night at one of the Marston's friend's houses.

That evening we returned to Houston (after mall-hopping in Austin looking for some over-priced Gap store or something).  Alison and I snuck out and scalped some tickets to watch her favorite band Radiohead live at the Toyota Center.  The seats were ok, but it was a blast to be there.

Sunday led us to Church with the Marstons after Hyrum and I went on a splendid morning walk through the old neighborhoods of the Houston Heights.  I took a ton of pictures of old houses, but I'm not sure what I'll ever do with them. At least I didn't waste any film.

We loved abandoning the cold February/March weather of Utah and we were lucky to have nearly perfect weather on our visit.  Thanks to Ang and Hyrum for offering a safe place to rest our heads.