Patenting the comb-over


This is a *great* patent. You may no longer sport a comb-over without paying a licensing fee to Frank J. Smith and Donald J. Smith of Orlando, Florida. See the full patent by clicking on the image on the left. The rush is on to patent the mullet, the spike, the caeser and the florence henderson.

Method of concealing partial baldness

"Patent number: 4022227
Filing date: Dec 23, 1975
Issue date: May 10, 1977
Abstract: method of styling hair to cover partial baldness using only the hair on a person's head. The hair styling requires dividing a person's hair into three sections and carefully folding one section over another."

Thanks Charles!

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Doesn't patent exclusivity only last 17 years? Sadly, this may be why the comb-over is coming back.

Posted by: haasebert at March 10, 2007 6:07 PM

Amazing Grace


This movie, Amazing Grace, looks awesome. It's the true story of the events surrounding the abolition of slavery in England. It draws on the life stories of John Newton the slave trader who penned the song, "Amazing Grace", and William Wilberforce the abolitionist politician who pushed to outlaw the slave trade in England. For all the mistakes Christians have made in history, this is a story about which we should be very very proud.

What's really cool is that it doesn't end with the story. The movie is promoting a movement called "The Amazing Change" campaign which aims to eradicate slavery in the modern world. One of the many things Christians should be all over.

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Making Fiends


"Making fiends, making fiends, Vendetta's always making fiends, making fiends, while Charlotte's making friends"

This is a very clever flash movie series. It has an emo gloss, but has an uplifting underlying theme. It's a little bit like the Simpson's in that regard, but otherwise has no aesthetic relation. Apparently it's been picked up for a series on Nickelodeon. The same sort of start that the Lonely Island guys got on SNL. First become hugely talented, then do stuff on the Internet that rocks, then get hired by the big shots.

It's just one of those things on the Internet that makes me happy. Click on the image on the left to see the show.

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Some great ideas from Planned Parenthood about Birth Control!

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Photo courtesy of thtstudios

From: Planned Parenthood

"More recently, vegetable seedpods, plugs of grass, and crushed roots were used in various parts of Africa. Wads of seaweed, moss, and bamboo were used in Japan, China, and the South Sea Islands."

Congratulations Nate!

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New Car Angst

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Photo courtesy of Curtis Perry

Our minivan is dying. We need at least one car in order to survive here in Orange County. So now I must buy a new car. It makes me sick to think that I'm about to drop $25,000 - $35,000 on a new minivan just so that I can survive around here. Given that I could buy an entire South African orphanage that would sustain 12-25 orphans indefinitely for $75,000. It literally makes my stomach get tied up in knots.

On the one hand how can I possibly justify spending this amount of money, but on the other hand what choice do I have? I spent about $4,000 last year in maintenance on the current car. Depreciation on a new Honda minivan runs about $2750 a year and total value of the car falls off linearly over time. So there isn't any point in even buying a cheaper used minivan. In the long run it will be cheaper for me to buy this hypothetical new car.

How can this be okay? This is horribly wrong. I am trapped in a situation I hate and I can get out of it. It makes me crazy and I have no choice. I have to participate in this mind-numbing march of consumption or I can't get my kids to the doctor, I can't get to church, I can't get to a grocery store that sells gel-free diapers.

There is a great bumper sticker that says, "If you aren't outraged you aren't paying attention". I'm feeling that today.

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2 things:
- I'd be shocked if the value of the new car DOESN'T depreciate exponentially.

- Every 1 American automaker-employee, is supporting 3 retirees. Yeah unions! So why does that make foreign autos so flippin' expensive? I know a relative of mine who purchased a new minivan in Mississippi, and then drove it home to Norther VA. It turned out to be a lot cheaper. Try here:

Posted by: Nate at January 25, 2007 4:14 AM

The value doesn't depreciate exponentially. That's why it's actually better to buy one new. Here is the amount of value that a Honda Odyssey LX loses every year. (This assumes that all Hondas in the last 7 years are equivalent because the numbers all come from Kelly Blue Book a few days ago):

  • 2007 : starting price: $25452
  • 2006: -$2539 (average over two years)
  • 2005: -$2539 (average over two years)
  • 2004: -$2435
  • 2003: -$2125
  • 2002: -$2230
  • 2001: -$1550
  • 2000: -$1865
  • 2000: ending price: $10170
Posted by: DJP3 at January 25, 2007 9:23 AM

I'm thinking more resell value. The instant it leaves the lot, it becomes worth $22913. I would still argue that the best buy is a 1-2 year old.

Posted by: Nate at January 25, 2007 10:38 AM

But by buying a new car you get a year that is covered by warranty and you know exactly what you are buying. Less risk than buying a used car with uncertain wear and repair history. The loss that you see driving it off the lot is spread over that entire first year though, presuming you keep it a year.

Posted by: DJP3 at January 25, 2007 11:31 AM

I'm still unconvinced. We've put less than $1000 in both our cars combined over the last 2 years. And the Jetta in particular is crap. Even my 12 year old Bonneville (RIP) was less expensive than your depreciation.

Posted by: Nate at January 29, 2007 4:15 AM

The car situation here is just a mess. I can't find a mechanic who can convince me they know how to fix a car even though there are a million mechanics around. The service station that replaced my transmission botched it. The place I took the current car to to check the "Check Engine" light had never seen that code before and were looking it up in a book. Then they started guessing on how you would go about fixing it. They hardly inspired confidence. Then I've got the family-reliability-thing going on. I'm sick of wondering what is dripping out of the bottom of my car and having S. tell me about the new noises she heard today. If I keep bleeding money at the current rate in ten years the used car market is going to cost me between $25,000 and $60,000. Why deal with that rather than a new car for the same price?

Posted by: DJP3 at January 29, 2007 2:44 PM

Chinese Family Board Game


The Chinese seem to have evolved past Chinese checkers. In a really random YouTube video, click on the image on the left to see it, you can see the fun that Chinese families are having today! This game apparently must be played next to a dangerous precipice or the incentive to win is gone.

There is "some" back story on this blog, but it isn't really enough to explain what the heck is going on with "Smack the Lion"

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Bad shots fired


These two shots of espresso, which I pulled this morning, are unacceptable. They will be immediately relieved of their duties and a replacement will be sought through our normal channels. That is all. You may return to your normal web-based activities.

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Noelle Hermes


The OC Register put together a nice slide show with audio about some good friends of ours, the Hermes, whose daughter has a really lame skin disease.

Click on the image on the left to see it.

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Cheap Gas in Iran

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Photo courtesy of ~VISTA

Gas is $0.35/gallon in Iran.

The source for that comes from this article. Curiously the article also suggests that the recent crash in crude oil prices is an economic attack on Iran from Saudi Arabia. Iran depends heavily on the profit from oil exports to subsidize it's economy (including it's gas). With a drop in oil prices, the pressure on the government is ramped up. Presumably this is because the government is being so belligerent regarding nuclear technology and generally making Saudi Arabia nervous.

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Fishing for bugs in loyalty card programs - 2

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Photo courtesy of carlosluis

I did a quad this morning. I bought my four things in four separate purchases. I feel the coupons rolling in.

Reference this blog entry.

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This appears to be symptoms of middle aged boring.

Posted by: Nate at January 16, 2007 11:48 AM

Sure, until i find the way to get free micro-brew by buying five packages of pampers in a two day period.

Posted by: DJP3 at January 16, 2007 12:57 PM

TD Ameritrade Flashlight


I've been a customer of TD Waterhouse then TD Ameritrade for several years. In that time I grew increasingly unhappy with their services. There were tons of nickel-and-dime-you-to-death fees and assorted issues getting things to work right. Not everything was bad. They had good support for online trading. Oh, except for that day when I couldn't log in. That was the moment when I realized that I needed to change brokerages. Not being able to trade on a moment's notice is really bad in today's world. I even heard a news report that said that the electronic exchanges now view 10 seconds as too much delay in one's ability to act on information.

So, I am switching all my services to USAA, which I've blogged about before. They do a good job at almost everything they do.

In a bizarre attempt to make me a happy customer once again, TD Ameritrade just sent me a combination flashlight and multi-way screwdriver kit. This is very confusing to me. Maybe it's a metaphor and I'm supposed to fix the login problems with their website, because that's what would make me a happy customer again.

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Shaun of the Dead

What better way to await the arrival of one's offspring than by watching a zombie comedy? We saw "Shaun of the Dead" last weekend. I really thought it was great. Most of the pregnant people in the room were grossed out. Basic premise: British slacker and friends fight off zombie hordes.

Although most of the time the Focus on the Family's public face bothers me, they have a really good movie review site called, "Plugged In Online", which in the review of the movie makes the following comments:

"In the end, though, Shuan isn’t really about zombies. It doesn’t reveal how the zombie infestation started, and it doesn’t offer any sci-fi fixes to the problem. Instead, the story is always about Shaun’s struggle to be more than a zombie himself. Writer/star Simon Pegg told, 'In our film, if they're anything, [the zombies] stand in for apathy, and urban living, and becoming ... an anonymous automaton in a collective, where you don't have any identity.”"

Mars Hill also has a good film and theology deconstruction of the movie, here.


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Fishing for bugs in loyalty card programs

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Photo courtesy of carlosluis

Albertson's has all kinds of ridiculous incentive programs which make it impossible to figure out how much something really costs. Loyalty cards, an additional in-store loyalty kiosk called "avenu", coupons in the aisles, coupons at the check-out. Uggh.. I hate it.

This morning I wondered if I could find a programming bug in the loyalty program by splitting my grocery cart purchase into 50 or so individual purchases of 1 item. I wonder if there is some code which counts "transactions" rather than "items purchased" that could be exploited.

If I get a chance to try it, and I see some wacky thing happen to my personalized incentive coupons that get mailed, emailed, printed and otherwise thrust at me I'll report it here.

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Pat Roberston Update


Aaahhh... Pat Robertson. I have a soft spot in my blog heart for ridiculing everything P.R. does. (See here).

In this, his latest stunt on CNN, Pat warns us of a terrorist attack in late 2007 that will kill lots of people. Yawn, it's a scary possibility, but hardly that big of a revelation and honestly, that's like saying there is going to be a tornado which hits a trailer park this year.

More importantly are the following interesting tidbits from the article:

"In 2005, Robertson predicted that Bush would have victory after victory in his second term. He said Social Security reform proposals would be approved and Bush would nominate conservative judges to federal courts.

Lawmakers confirmed Bush's 2005 nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. But the president's Social Security initiative was stalled.

'I have a relatively good track record,' he said. 'Sometimes I miss.' "

Let's juxtapose that against the Bible:

"21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Duet. 18:21-22)

So if he's ever wrong you can safely blow him off. Therefore, you can blow off everything P.R. says.

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Duet 13:1-3)

If he's right about there being a terrorist attack in 2007 and he tells you to follow some other Gospel, then you can safely blow him off.

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 1 Timothy 4:3

So let's throw some politics into the fray: Our political media establishment needs someone to create drama as opposed to truth. P.R. is a terrific gear for the machine. The entire political establishment, especially the Republicans, benefits by creating fear of terrorists. Fear of terrorism strengthens supports for more surveillance, more war, more manipulation, more profit, and more control. So they gather P.R. around themselves to hear what they want to hear, so that he says what they want said. Instead of hearing what Jesus has to say over and over and over again, "Do not be afraid" here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Among other places.

End rant

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The Republicans do not try to "gather PR around themselves". As you have noticed, he has garnered far more negative attention of which they want no part, than positive in the past 5 or so years. They used to for sure, but no longer. When he actually makes sense, and for whatever reason it's relevant, both parties are after him. But that's rare. In practice, the D's use him far more than the R's because he such a nut- they try and paint him across all non-D's. The R's will rally around Jerry Falwell from time-to-time, but that's thin ice. Of course the D's have courted him as well. Dr. Dobson has replaced PR in the republican camp, but he's not as obtuse, ignorant or loud as PR.

Posted by: Nate at January 11, 2007 10:39 AM