Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Role of the Government in the Current Economic Crisis

I've got to stop looking at this stuff. It's bad for my blood pressure.

2008: Year of the Nanny State

I, for one, welcome our new giant blue inflatable ape overlords.

But this is just depressing:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some People Shouldn't Be Allowed To Reproduce

Honestly, what the f@ck is wrong with these people?

Here's the really creepy part:
"They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did," he said.
Yeah dude, sure thing. You're still an idiot.

Another gem of wisdom from this neuron-challenged dipstick:
Heath Campbell, who is 35, said in an interview Tuesday that people should look forward, not back, and accept change.
Really, what's a little genocide and mass murder? It's no big deal. I just don't see what all the fuss is about. I mean is attempting to wipe out entire ethnic populations, starting the most destructive conflict in the history of mankind, and directly and indirectly causing the deaths of tens of millions of people really something to get worked up over? Naaahhhh...

To paraphrase the Elwood Brothers, "I hate New Jersey Nazis."

"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana, poet.


Association of Colonoscopy and Death From Colorectal Cancer: A New Study

Oh great, you mean I DIDN'T need to have that gigantic tube rammed up my butt? Now you tell me!

Wait, I'm only 35... oh right, that was me ramming the giant tube up someone else's butt.

Either way, can we get a definitive answer on this issue please? Giant tube or no giant tube? These are key questions for men that require non-crappy answers.

Fed Funds Rate Set to Zero

Zero is the new 4%.

It's hard to tell if this is a good thing, or a sign of the coming Apocalypse. Or maybe a bit of both.

One thing's for sure: Money will never be cheaper to borrow than it is now. Ever. Of course, it would be nice if banks actually HAD any money to loan... but hey, you can't have it all, right?

Margarine Is Now Legal In Missouri (Finally!)

Good to know the hard-working government of Missouri is taking rapid action to fix this travesty of law. Way to go guys, you've jumped right on that issue without delay.

How to Protect Your Dog from Snakebites

New article! Enjoy:

Curiosity gets the cat, but it gets the dog too. Every year, all-too-curious dogs are bitten by venomous snakes. My miniature dachshund decided to investigate a rattlesnake several years ago on Mother's Day in a small mountain town an hour from the closest veterinarian. After an extremely costly antivenin injection and an overnight stay in an animal hospital, she was back to her normal mischievous self, but the experience is not one I wish to repeat. With a few simple steps, you can protect your dog from snakebites.
Read the entire article HERE.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Modest Economic Proposal

In the original Jonathan Swift version of "A Modest Proposal", Swift puts forth the idea of eating children. Not something the average person is likely to get on board with.

But here's a "Modest Proposal" that isn't such a radical notion. Merit pay for politicians. I've been saying (to anyone who'll listen - it's often a short list) for years that government should be run more like a business.

Interesting ideas here. Some of them could even have a positive impact - which means they have no chance of becoming reality.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How to Make Your Own Headboard


Elizabeth and I recently had the idea to make our own headboard. We were watching a show on HGTV and got an idea for a design. A trip to Home Depot and about 30 minutes worth of work later, we had a professional looking headboard for a fraction of the cost of buying one already made.

More pictures and an article on how to make this yourself are upcoming.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Become a Cardiologist

Okay, so I have little desire to become a cardiologist at this point in my career. At one time it was on my list of things to be. Too many impossible-to-read EKGs later, I was done with that idea. (I'm old school with the ECG/EKG issue. Must be my Germanic roots. Kardiogram! Kardiogram!)

Anyhow, here's a recent rant/article on becoming a cardiologist. Help bump it up with some Google-juice and give it a link in you like it. Thanks.
The path to becoming a cardiologist is a long road. It takes many years of training and plenty of focus to become a cardiologist. Cardiologists are highly specialized doctors who focus on the medical treatment of the heart. Although it is difficult and takes a long time to become a cardiologist, it can ultimately be a very rewarding career. This article will outline some of the basic steps you will need to take in becoming a cardiologist.
Read the entire article HERE.

The same article is published on Associated Content HERE.

The Next Hot Location For Buying Real Estate

Okay, so the real estate bubble has burst and prices are falling all over the place. That makes it a good time to buy up some property on the cheap. If you know where to look.

I'm not sure, but something tells me THIS may be a good investment. It's a bit out of the way, and the school system isn't that great - but there aren't a lot of noisy neighbors, and you have some amazing views.

Monday, December 8, 2008

F-18 Crashes in to San Diego Neighborhood

THIS just happened a short while ago. Tragic. It's about 10 miles from where I am now. According to Google Maps, that street is in a straight line west of the MCAS Miramar runway.

The pilot got out okay... let's just hope everyone on the ground made it.

See a map HERE.

UPDATE: Bad News. There were at least two fatalities.

The Chocolate is Dead! Long Live the Chocolate!

A couple of weeks ago, I somehow managed to drop my LG Chocolate in the toilet - and in the process, provide conclusive evidence that it is not waterproof.

I liked the Chocolate. It was small and simple to use. I never really used it as a music phone though, so many of the features were never well explored. My one big criticism of it was the annoying habit of hitting one of the touch sensitive buttons on the front with your cheek as you talked. Otherwise, it was a solid phone.

It's replacement is the new Motorola Adventure V750. After calling Verizon (with my girlfriend's phone) and giving them my sob story about a urine soaked Chocolate, they offered to upgrade me for free. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that - I had to upgrade my grandma's phone on the family share plan, and then switch the phone lines. If I had gotten the Moto for my line directly, it would have been $50. Not bad considering my old phone was only a year old.

I like the new Motorola so far. It's a touch bigger than the old Chocolate. It's a flip phone, and looks like a buff Razr. In fact, it's a "ruggedized" phone - meaning it's technically waterproof (although I don't plan on testing this). The screen is HUGE and very bright. It doesn't do music as well as the Chocolate, although it does have a player, there is no SD card slot. Since I don't use my phone for music, this shouldn't be an issue.

Anyhow, I'll likely do a more detailed review of the new phone in a month or two, once I've had a chance to use it a bit more.

Proposition 8 Backlash

I'm a straight, white man in my mid-30's and I'm a supporter of gay marriage. Or rather, it's always been my stance that the government shouldn't have anything to do with marriage. I don't care who you marry, and nor should the bureaucrats and politicians in an office at a shiny white capitol building.

Having said that, the response by a certain element of the gay community to the passing of Prop 8, has been - shall we say - disappointing. Look, I get that you're angry. I get that it's discrimination. I supported and voted for your cause. But fighting a war against religion IS NOT GOING TO HELP YOU!

The gay community needs to continue this struggle, but they need to do it in a way that makes main-stream Americans sympathetic to their cause. Like it or not, most Americans have some religious convictions of some type. Attacking religion is a loosing strategy. You're providing political ammunition to the pro-Prop 8 people who claim your ideas are dangerous to society. It's a foolish claim, but why HELP their arguments by behaving badly?

And why the focus on Mormons? Why not Mosques and inner city black churches? The religious black community contributed FAR more votes in favor of Prop 8 than the Mormons.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kobi Cam

Elizabeth and I have occasionally wondered what Kobi (her dachshund) does when we aren't home. Does she just sleep? Does she stare at the door, waiting anxiously for our return? Does she make long distance phone calls to Taiwan on Skype?

For a while we thought about rigging a webcam in the condo so we can track her movements when she's alone. Now, some genius has come up with an even better idea. Mount the camera to the dog's collar. It's a first person dog point-of-view.

It would be pretty cool to see a day in the life of Kobi from six inches off the ground.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How is Hepatitis A Spread?

OK, so blogging has been a little light this last week. Sort of a blogcation if you will. Not much time today either, so I'll post a link to an article I've recently written for Helium. This one is on Hepatitis A and how it is spread. Enjoy.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection which targets the liver. When the virus infects a person, it causes damage to the liver. Hepatitis A infections can cause significant illness, but generally only in the short term. Typical hepatitis A infections last between one and two months. Unlike many of the other hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A is spread via contaminated water and food.

Read the whole thing HERE.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some People Just Don't Get It

I ran across THIS article on Black Friday shopping today. As I was reading the typical sob stories, something about it jumped out at me. Here it is:

"I have never slept here before to save a few bucks, but with the economy so bad I thought that even a few dollars helps," said Analita Garcia of Falls Church, Va., who arrived at a local Best Buy store at 7 a.m. Thursday with 10 family members.

She bought a Dynax LCD 32-inch TV for $400, slashed from $500, along with an iPod and several DVDs.

"This year a lot of people I know won't be getting Christmas presents. I have to pay the rent and bills, and I have two little ones at home to think of," Garcia added

iPods? several DVDs? A 32-inch LCD TV? What the heck does your shopping list have on it during UP years?

Hey Analita, here's a newsflash... are you ready? Here it comes...



YOU DON'T NEED ANY OF THAT CRAP!!!



If you have rent to pay and kids to take care of, don't buy frivolous junk. No one ever died from a lack of DVDs. You can save a heck of a lot of money if you stay home and play with your kids. Whatever TV you have right now is fine. Heck, even if you don't have a TV, you aren't really missing anything.

How about saving some of your money and just living with what you've already got? Nawwww... that's no fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas Shopping for Kobi

Lately Elizabeth and I have been buying all sorts of new clothes for her dachshund. Yeah, it's silly, but she's soooo cute in little jackets and sweaters.

Of course, when shopping for Christmas presents, nothing beats a $380,000 custom built hi-tech dog house.

I'm going to run out to Home Depot this afternoon and get started buying the materials. With any luck, I'll have it done by Christmas... of 2025.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Airport Recombobulation Area


No really...

Anyone who's been to an airport knows that security people are not known for their charming sense of humor. But the Milwaukee Airport made a funny with their new "Recombobulation Area" after the TSA security checkpoint.

So after the TSA gets finished discombobulation you, you can spend a few moments recombobulating yourself.

The really important aspect of the story has been left out. If you can be recombobulated and discombobulated, can you be just plain combobulated? How about overcombobulated? Or unconbobulated? These are important questions that need answers.

Amazon Kindle 2.0 vs. Sony Reader PRS-700BC

CNET has some interesting information on the (hopefully) upcoming update to the popular Amazon Kindle.

I'd like to see the price come down for the hardware. If they moved to a cell phone pricing model - sell the hardware at cost and make money on the content - they could get a LOT more people interested. $350 is a lot to put down on a device like this.

This is especially true when the $400 Sony Reader PRS-700BC looks WAY cooler.

Pets.com Sock Puppet Bailout

Heh.

Genetically Modified Food = The Next Holocaust

HERE IS a bit of idiocy for your reading pleasure this morning.

The woman featured in this article is a chef from Australia. She's banded together with Greenpeace (her first mistake) to rail against the evils of GM food. Along the way, she compares people who design GM food to Hitler - the man who caused the genocide of millions. Sure thing lady... that seems reasoned.

This anti-GM craziness has now officially gone over-the-top. There's even a term for this type of logical fallicy. Reducto ad Hitlerum.

On a related note, my girlfriend works for a biotech company that is involved in agriculture. They have a new technology which uses the genetic machinery of the cells to modify the DNA. No external DNA is used.

The problem is that women like our friend Margaret Fulton likely have NO understanding of the significant differences between this and traditional GM. Cibus is going to face a lot of the same anti-GM hysteria and discrimination that traditional GM companies face. Even if it's explained to them in small, easy to understand words, there are many people who will still say, "But but but... you're messing with the genes! You can't play GOD!!!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

File This Study Under "No Kidding, Really?"

Does THIS seem familiar E?

I love the advice the researcher gives as a solution:

"He adds that people who know they have a strong negative reaction to uncertainty should attempt to avoid it whenever possible."


Well, that's helpful, thanks.

It's right up there with the classic;

"Doctor, my arm hurts when I raise it above my head like this."

"Don't raise your arm above your head like that," says the doctor.

The Fine Art of Talking Without Actually Saying Anything

Obama is the undisputed master at making completely meaningless statements and promises. And that's saying a lot, considering all politicians do this to a significant degree.

HERE is an article on Obama's economic "plan". It's heavy on promises, and completely devoid of details.

The best example of what I'm talking about can be seen in this quote:

“They (the investments - ed.) represent an early down payment on the type of reform my Administration will bring to Washington - a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.”


I love the phrase, "a government that spends wisely".

Hey Barack... do you believe in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and the Lock Ness Monster as well? Because there's more evidence of those things than there is a "government that spends wisely". When in the history of mankind, has there EVER been a government that spends wisely? Ever? Anywhere?

"Focuses on what works" is another great phrase. There are soooooo many examples of government spending that doesn't work, I could fill Google's Blogger servers with examples if I had enough time and energy.

"Public interest ahead of special interest" is just meaningless twaddle.

Obama won the election by being all things to all people. He never took a definitive stand or position on anything meaningful. People could then project their hopes and desires in to the gaps of his empty rhetoric. He is a brilliant speaker, charming, charismatic, and totally without substance.

In short, he's a brilliant politician.

Having said all that, I hope he succeeds. I don't want to see the country go to hell on anyone's watch. Being able to say, "I told you so" to Obamamaniacs in four years is NOT worth it if it means the economy crumbles and we fall in to a depression.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Which Book Should I Read Next?

One of the great dilemmas in life is choosing the next book you want to read. It's up there with "who should I marry?" and "what will I do for a career?".

A wrong decision can lead to innumerable hours wading through such snooze-worthy tomes as "Ulysses", by James Joyce. Or anything by a 19th Century Russian novelist. snooooore.

THIS is an interesting idea for a site. They ask you what style or mood you are looking for in a book, and then present you with a list of titles that may fit that mood.

Are you looking for something that is "disturbing", "violent" and has "sex"... or something more along the lines of "happy", "optimistic" and "short".

Here are the top three results for each of those searches, respectively. (that's a tribute to my Korean friends)

"Disturbing, Violent and Sex"

"American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis

"Notice" by Heather Lewis

"Seven Tales of Sex and Death" by Patricia Duncker


I have a copy of "American Psycho" on my bookshelf. It is easily the most disturbing book I've ever tried to read. Yikes!


"Happy, Optimistic and Short"

"The Funny Side: 101 Humorous Poems" by Wendy Cope

"Rock Crystal" by Adalbert Stifter

"Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes" by Billy Collins


Um... ok... that didn't work as well. Yo Billy... what the heck kind of title is that for a book? Fantasize much?

UCSF Medical School Digital Curriculum

THIS is a really interesting site put up by UCSF. It's a series of resources targeted toward medical students. Many of the links only work if you are local to UCSF, but a lot of them are usable by the general public. There is a heavy slant toward first and second year basic science material. Nevertheless, it's an interesting site. I wish more medical schools would go this route - I suspect it will become more and more common in the coming years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

It's all fun and games until the tail gets sucked in to the Roomba...

And then it's hilarious.

\

Running Low on Primary Care Doctors

THIS is an interesting article on primary care medicine. According to the laws of supply and demand, at some point salaries should go up if there aren't enough of us. Right? Maybe? Please? One can only hope.

I'm a big proponent of electronic medical records, but to think that will solve the issue of increased documentation demands is just idiotic. Yes, I just called Obama's idea idiotic.

How Obama Got Elected

I've been trying not to let this blog get too political over the last few weeks. However, THIS is too good to pass up. It's a poll (with YouTube video) on Obama supporters. It demonstrates how little many of his supporters knew about the candidates. It's really about media bias and how reporting can effect the image of a candidate.

I'm sure there are plenty of nit-picky things that could be found in the interview and poll... certainly it's not unbiased. The video is in the style of Jay Leno's "Jay Walking", where he goes out an interviews the "man-on-the-street", asks really easy questions, and laughs at them when they get the questions wrong. There's no way to know if the interviewer selected the worst of the worst.

The poll is more scientific and more representative of the issue. It's interesting to see how fascinatingly uninformed some voters are on key issues.

There's further analysis of the poll questions and methods HERE.

And note to the girl at the end of the video, JOHN STEWART AND THE COLBERT REPORT ARE NOT NEWS!! THEY ARE SATIRICAL COMEDY YOU IDIOT!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Cloudy Urine

One year ago this week I wrote the infamous CLOUDY URINE article while sitting in the Border's coffee shop in Carmel Mountain. It took me about 30 minutes, give or take a few. My life hasn't been the same since.

I'm happy to report that it's popularity has exceeded my wildest expectations. Of course, those expectations weren't particularly wild, so take that with a grain of urea.

To date, the article has been quite the money maker. The posting on Helium has earned $90.34 as of tonight.

I also published the article to Associated Content, where it has 102,681 page views since November 21, 2007. That's worth about $160 in performance bonuses.

So I've earned around $250 in a year on that one article. Now... if I can just find a way to make every article I write that popular...

It's still a bit mind-boggling to think how many people in a given day sit down at their computer and type "cloudy urine" in to the Google search engine. It's bizarre and a bit creepy, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Why Continue To Make Your Mortgage Payments?

When even the San Francisco Gate, a very left leaning paper, is starting to question these ideas, you know it's not going to end well for anyone.

Elizabeth and I were talking about this topic on the drive to LA today. Other than the potential hit to her credit rating, is there a good reason why she shouldn't stop making her mortgage payments? OK, aside from the moral issue, which is quite significant for most people, Elizabeth included.

I think these programs are a bad idea for many reasons, and I would prefer they don't exist at all. But, if they are going to have them, there should be one additional qualification for these idiotic bailouts.

It's simple: you should have to provide a detailed audit of your expenses and income for the previous 18 months. If you have spent over a certain amount on luxuries such as plasma screen TVs, Las Vegas vacations, new cars, and or fancy new wardrobes, YOU DON'T QUALIFY. Period. No appeals.

UPDATE:

Elizabeth read this post and added a comment. I figured I'd paste it to the front of the entry, to make it easier to find.

Darn, I don't qualify after all :-( Shame on me for making too high of a down payment - to qualify for help from the government, you must owe at least 90 percent of the home's value.

So let me get this right - If I had saved my $25,000 down payment and instead used it to buy my boyfriend an enormous high definition TV (maybe even two), tailored suits, a $4,000 road bike, and first class flights to his residency interviews - then I would have qualified for help? ...but because I naively believed that one must pay for their own things, I "wasted" $25,000 on a down payment and am now stuck with my mortgage. Lucky I spent hours budgeting for things. Oh - never mind, in this day and age, who cares about budgets! Budgeting is passe. To be financially savvy, the answer is spend, spend, spend ...and then plead to be bailed out. ...and then because you're bailed out, spend, spend, spend again, because you were bailed out last time - why wouldn't the government help you again?

Yes...I'm bitter.

Actually, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but with the value of condos falling (due to problems caused by these "solutions"), you likely DO owe at least 90% of the value.

Scientific Integrity? Who Needs It...

It's almost like they are trying to fit the data to their conclusion...

This type of thing only gives ammunition to the skeptics. It makes the global warming movement look highly politicized and not based on objective data.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Newsflash - Rainbows Are Not Natural

This is an absolutely hilarious video.

I'm not sure if it's real or a hoax, but it's funny either way.

Clearly we must take action NOW to stop these horrible, horrible rainbow effects. It's for the children. Personally, I suspect the government is adding DHMO to the water supply. That stuff is really toxic.


Getty Images Moodstream

THIS is a really interesting website that's presented by Getty Images. You input a series of parameters and it plays a slideshow and soundtrack based on those "moods". Getty Images is a service that provides images and footage of any number of different things. Much of it is available only for purchase, but there are a ton of royalty free images as well.

Play with Moodstream for a while... it's fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Media Coverage and the Perception of Disease

THIS is a great article on a topic I've suspected is true for some time.

The media loves latching on to the latest health trend/threat. Be it Bird Flu, Mad Cow, or a salmonella outbreak, when the media gets a hold of it, they make it as bad and dramatic as possible. Dramatic and scary sells. Boring and low-risk doesn't sell. No surprise there.

For example, Hepatitis B is more common than HIV. Most people probably wouldn't guess that, as Hepatitis is almost completely absent from the mainstream consciousness.

The Bird Flu "threat" is a great example of media bias and perception. A couple of years ago, during the height of the Bird Flu scare, I bet half the country thought we were at risk of being invaded by Hitchcockian Hordes of sneezing parakeets.  Alas, no such event ever manifested itself.

This is certainly something to keep in mind the next time you see an article on a health scare in the mainstream media.

Dude, Where's My Bailout? - Part II

I think my head is going to explode. SERIOUSLY.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

At some point, there is going to be another Boston Tea Party. Torches and pitchforks for everyone. It's absolutely stunning how badly managed government is right now. At every level, it's one idiot after another.

I have an idea for a solution. Listen carefully you scum-sucking government leaches... here it is...

Don't spend more than you take in.


I know, I know... it's too simple, and therefore has no chance of ever happening.

Moonset in La Jolla



Kobi woke up this morning to the sound of the chirping seagulls. It was 6am, and there was nothing I could do to get her back to sleep. She was bouncing around on the bed, staring at the windows, looking for the birds.

So I got up and took her outside.

Much to my surprise, I saw the most beautiful full moon as it was setting over the ocean. I ran back in and got my little camera. The shots were really hard to take, I couldn't get it to focus on the moon at all. The details on the moon are not in the picture as they were in real life. Still, it was quite dramatic. The camera does a decent job of capturing the moment.

Credit to Kobi for me getting this shot. If she was her usual lazy self, I would have missed it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Am I a Crazy or Sane Medical Student?


THIS is one of the more burning self-reflective questions I've had to ask myself over the last few years.

If you're going to break down your choice of specialties to a simple flowchart, this one should do as well as any.

In reality, such a flowchart would be a bit more tangled and have multiple variables at each decision. Things like "Willing to be sued on a monthly basis/Hates lawyers" or "Hates the sight of blood/Loves to get messy" would be included. However, the simplicity of this chart is what makes it work so well.

One question, what if you hate kids AND are afraid of the dark?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

iPosture = Dumb Idea of the Year


THIS has (zzzzt ouch!) got to be the dumbest (zzzt ouch!) idea I've ever seen. (zzzt ouch!) I mean really, who the heck attaches an electroshock device (zzzt OUCH!) to their body that will zap them when they slouch (zzzt OUCH!!)?

Bizarre.

Although I suppose the fun and/or pain involved really depends entirely on where you place the electrode. (zzzt ooooohhhh my...)

8GB Sansa Clip > iPod Shuffle

I've long been a critic of Apple's seemingly ubiquitous iPods. They are flashy, trendy, and uber-hip, but they are also over-priced, under-featured, and never the best deal on the market.

Don't believe me? See THIS as an example. Sansa is making an 8GB flash player that kicks the iPod Shuffle's butt. The Sansa has an FM tuner, a screen (!!!), more memory, doesn't stick you with iTunes, and only costs a bit more. It's a no-brainer decision, unless you're a Kool-Aid drinking Apple fan-boi.

I've had a Sansa e280 for a couple years now and I love it. The e280 is meant to go up against the iPod nano (older models), and it beats those in every category. It has more features, a better price, and freedom from the proprietary Apple Universe. My detailed review of the e280 is HERE.

Here's another article I wrote on Reasons Not To Buy An iPod.

Dating Bacteria

Scientists have now begun to identify some of the early bacterial interaction which ultimately led to the development of plants and other multi-cellular organisms.

It's essentially bacterial mating of a sort.

I can see the conversation between the two bacteria:

"Hey baby, nice pseudopods."

"Thanks (blush). I've been going to the gym a lot. I love your Golgi Apparatus. It's soooo sexy."

"So wadda say we head over to the bright side of the pond and mingle in the ooze for a while."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't tell you. I'm seeing someone else. His name is Frank, and he's got these massive mitochondria. They give him so much stamina and energy."

"Oh man, that sucks. Well, hit me up sometime if that you get tired of hangin' with the jocks."


And so it goes...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Swimming With Crocodiles - Australians Are Officially Insane

There's something really wrong with you if there is only 4 cm of acrylic between a 20 foot long croc and your body.



Really wrong.



The article is about a new death wish tourist attraction in Australia. It's like one of those shark cages that divers put in the ocean to play with Great White Sharks. Of course, shark cages are made of STEEL, not thin acrylic.

You have to wonder about what's going on the heads of someone who would do this... is there not enough excitement in your life? Too many boring nights in front of the TV watching reruns of CSI:Miami? Bad day at the office?


Sunday, November 9, 2008

30 Books Everyone Should Read

THIS is a good list of "must read" books. There are a lot of safe picks here, such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "1984". There are also some good picks that often go overlooked on lists such as this. "The Lords of the Rings Trilogy" being an example.

It's almost impossible to narrow down a list of "must read" books to only 30 entries. There are literally hundreds that I would have to start with. My list might have a few more Sci-Fi picks. "The Foundation", "Dune", and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" are all great literature, despite being too often labeled as nerd books.

I'd also take "Walden" off that list. It's d u l l. Really, really dull. And the themes are not terribly compelling. And although "The Origin of Species" is a masterwork that has had more impact on mankind that anything else on that list, it's non-fiction, written in an 18th Century dialect, and is very hard to get through. I'm a big science nerd and used to spend time on the internet "debating" evolution, and I couldn't get through it all. Be warned.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fantastic Coffee Art


I'm a big fan of quality coffee. THIS site has some excellent images of art made from the foam on the top of a cup of coffee.

I wish they had some instructions on how they actually DID these things, but they are certainly very cool regardless. I imagine all you have to do is get some milk/foam and start spreading it around.

Some of the pictures are almost too beautiful to drink.

Almost.

I Once Got Beat in a Marathon by a Running Banana


This Flickr page reminded me of a funny story.

I ran my first marathon in 1998. It was the LA Marathon, and it was hell. Actually, the first 18 miles were fine. After that, got ugly rather quickly.

True story:

I was cruising along on the route at about mile 16 or so. Everything was feeling fine. No major pains. I was keeping the pace I'd trained for... or at least within a reasonable margin.

Then it happened. The ultimate marathon demoralizer.

I was somewhere along Hollywood Blvd. Suddenly I was passed by a guy (girl?) wearing a giant foam banana suit. Actually, I wasn't just passed - I was totally blown away. The banana was running (do bananas really run, or was I just hallucinating?) at least 2-3 minutes per mile faster than me. For you non-runners, that's FAST.

He/She/It turned a corner and I never saw it again. I can only dream that it was later hunted down by the two dudes in gorilla suits (who I beat), peeled open slowly, and eaten alive.

(photo to the right is NOT my nemesis, it's taken from the flickr site)

I'm Paris Hilton's New BFF


OMG!! I'm sooooooooo x-cited. She's like so cool and hot and I'm so happy I get the chance to learn all about her and be part of her life.

Check out THIS site to see how she came to pick me!!

TTYL!!!1!!1

Thursday, November 6, 2008

According to Italian PM, Obama Is Not Really Black

He's just "Handsome and even tanned".

Well, now that we've got that straight...

How To Get Your Ass Kicked On An Airplane

Try doing THIS.  Good luck, you're going to need it. (Having a good lawyer might be useful as well)

Here's A Democrat I Can Support


Bacon Defeats Fries in a landslide victory. Fries never had a chance. But really, are there any real differences in their platforms?

  • Both are fried in oil
  • Both are high in cholesterol
  • Both go great with a good hamburger
  • Sure, bacon is better with maple syrup, and I prefer my fries with ketchup. But really, is that such a big difference?
In reality, I would likely have gone Third Party and voted for Onion Rings, but I can accept this outcome. Let's just hope Bacon makes good policy decisions and doesn't give us a heart attack in two years.


Nothing Sets Up Failure More Than Unrealistic Expectations

The youth and black voters who see Obama as some sort of "savior" for their problems and the ills of the world may be in for something of a surprise.

But perhaps Obama’s greatest challenge will not be overseas or the
economy at home: it will be meeting the stratospheric expectations of
his base supporters — especially African Americans.

I suppose I got caught up in the emotion of the night due almost
exclusively to the genuine and copious tears of black Americans. The
ones I spoke to and interviewed were nearly speechless with joy. With a
start, I realized something that had escaped me all these long months
of writing and thinking about this race. For many African-Americans,
this election was a spiritual event, something that transcended the
corporeal and brought to mind ancestral yearnings and desires for
freedom.


Sort of frightening if you really think about it. Obama is just a man, no more, no less. He's now the President, but really, does the President have much of anything to do with your day-to-day life? Really? Setting him up as some sort of Messiah is a sure recipe for disappointment.


The Onion - Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job

The Onion has a great "article" this morning on the Obama win. It's a satire site, but as with all good humor, it rings true to some extent.
African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable
job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the
United States of America.


See, you should have listened to Katie. Heh.

More from the Onion. It's a news report on obsessive Obama supporters realizing how empty and pathetic their lives are now that the election is over. Again, it's funny because there's likely some truth to it.


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

National Geographic - Best Wild Animal Photos of 2008

These are some amazing animal photos. My two favorite are here, but follow THIS link to see the rest. Warning, the monkey picture is a bit disturbing.


I Would Not Like To Be President Because...


Sometimes it takes a kid to explain the complex things in a simple way. Despite my somewhat snarky announcement that I was running for President, in reality you couldn't pay me enough to do that crappy job. This social studies essay by a "Katie" (if that's her real name) sums up the downsides to being the most powerful political figure in the world.

In bullet point form, here are her reasons:

  • Too much responsibility.
  • People will hate you. Yes, even if you make all the "right" decisions, half of the country (at least) is going to think you're an idiot. You can't win.
  • Don't want to move. Yeah, I'm with you on this Katie. The White House is big and impersonal. I'd rather live in Colorado.
  • You could be assassinated. Yup, there's as good a reason as any.
  • I want to have friends. Don't we all Katie... don't we all.
  • Don't want to go through the election process. Personally, I'd rather poke a hot metal branding iron in to my ear, than run in a Presidential Election.
As your teacher noted Katie, this essay is SUPER!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Trojan Football Player Makes Impossible Catch

OK, it's not a USC Trojan Football player (it's a high school team), but it's a heck of a play regardless.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Snuggies - The Latest Cult Fashion

We almost bought a pair of these Snuggies, but decided not to join the Jedi Academy.

Favorite quote in the comments, "Do they have bulk pricing for cults?"

I'm not sure if this is the best idea ever, or the worst... but it's certainly worth laughing at.

Scientists Find Molecular Machinery Involved In Memory

A few weeks back, Elizabeth and I had a discussion on memory and how it works from a molecular point of view. Yeah, we're nerds like that. Anyhow, we did a little research at the time trying to answer the question, but THIS looks like an interesting addition.

It looks like they are really starting to hone in on the mechanisms by which memory is implanted in to the brain. This is fascinating, not only from a "geeky intellectual curiosity" point of view, but also from a "doctor who may have to treat memory problems" angle.

Anti-Staph Wipes For Your Cell Phone

Sometimes I really think the current anti-bacterial crazy is getting a bit out of hand. OH MY GOD, they found staphylococcus aureus on phones! We're all going to DIE!

If people only had any idea how many bacteria are all around them all the time... honestly, there's no such thing as sterile out in the world. Even operating rooms have bacteria in them. Lots of bacteria.

Now, that's not to say that you should try and keep things clean. But some exposure to bacteria keeps your immune system primed and ready for a real attack. Without that constant low-level exposure, you'd be overwhelmed by a real infection.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dogs and Chocolate

THIS is a timely article on the dangers of feeding chocolate to dogs.

It's interesting that the author states, "While everyone knows chocolate is a no-no for dogs..."

This may be obvious to a vet who takes care of dogs for a living, but I have a feeling it's not quite the common knowledge he believes it to be. Although I've never owned a dog, I'm a big "animal guy" and have been around dogs most of my life. I had no idea this was a bad idea until Elizabeth told me not to feed Kobi chocolate snacks.


Recessions and Health Care

One of the nice "perks" about being a doctor is that the profession is relatively "recession-proof". People get sick and go to the doctor no matter what is happening to the GDP. That's not to say the entire industry can't feel the heat of an economic downturn though.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Best Political Rant EVER

Best quote, "You liberals wouldn't know fascism or oppression if it sat down next to you to smoke a bowl."

I'm laughing so hard, I can't breathe.




(via instapundit)


As a follow up, THIS is an excellent essay on the dangers of Big Government.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ice Cream = Happy

Well duh!

Dude, Where's My Bailout?

Because if I make a series of bad decisions, I deserve to be "bailed out" as well.

OK, This Is The Last Election Blogpost, Honest

Mark Steyn is always a hoot.

This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama's burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn't really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration.

And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.


(via instapundit)


Addition: THIS is a good summary of my thoughts for this election. I'm one of those 10-15%, and it sucks.

Thomas Sowell described the choice the other day as "a choice between disaster and catastrophe" which doesn't seem that far off for someone who believes in limited government and individual liberty.
heh, no kidding.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Starbucks To Offer Free Wi-Fi to iPhone Owners

Ok, how about letting those of us who don't want or need an iPhone use your wi-fi connections as well? Maybe you'd convince me to hang out in your stores and buy more of your overpriced, overroasted coffee.

Bear in mind, I can aleady go to Coffee Bean or Peet's and get free wi-fi... with better coffee as a bonus.


Presidential Polling Methodologies For Dummies

Seeing as the Presidential Election is only days away, I'd like to take this opportunity to provide a primer on how polling is conducted.

ENJOY.


And always remember, "Margin of Error = Who the hell knows?"









(btw, the article is satire)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thoughts On Gay Marriage


Because Proposition 8 is front and center for this election cycle, I've been reading a fair amount of commentary on the issue of gay marriage. Being something of a libertarian, I've never been able to figure out what gives government the right to decide who gets married and who doesn't. In essence, I don't care if you are gay, straight, crooked, or something in between. If you want to marry someone (or something) else, go for it.

What's also interesting to me are the arguments against gay marriage. THIS article points out one of the more bizarre arguments to oppose gay marriage. I just don't see how two guys living in Hillcrest, who choose to marry, has any effect whatsoever on the strength or weakness of my own relationship. Can someone explain is to me? Honestly, I just don't get it.

Also of note is rather convoluted argument seen in the first comment on that page.

First the commenter says this:

I object because I do not feel that the government has a place in
defining, limiting, prohibiting, promoting or regulating marriage at
all, one way or another. It is a spiritual, personal matter, between a
man and a woman, and their God, if they have one.

Of course, this is the exact same argument I use to say it's OK for gays to marry. This woman is using this point to argue against gay marriage. So that's a little odd.

Then she says this:

Civil unions, for those financial and legal matters, is a separate
matter. That is the purview of the state, and should be a separate
concern from marriage. As far as that goes, I don't care who makes up
this civil union, all that should be required is a commitment to share
the financial responsibilities of a household.

Civil Unions vs. Marriage. It's a distinction without a difference.

Those Who Forget History...

What If We Won A War And Nobody Cared?

Why aren't things like THIS getting more attention in the main-stream media?

My guess is that it doesn't fit the narrative that we lost, things are horrible, it's a Civil War, Bush is Hitler, etc. etc.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Potential Assassin Shoots For Both Teams

There's nothing more fun than mocking the manhood of some idiot neo-nazi scumbag. Nothing.

The best line, "He'll be popular where he's going." haha.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kobi Needs An iBONE


Elizabeth is getting a new phone, so it only seems fair that her dachshund should get one as well.

There's no two year contract. It's easy to use. Kobi would be the coolest dog in the condo complex. She's already the most fashionable.

My Candidacy For President of the United States

After much thought and consideration, I am happy to announce that I am officially running for President of the United States for this election. Elizabeth and I were going through the California voting guide the other night, and we were able to pick votes for every race except President of the United States. As a compromise, we decided that I should make a run for the White House.

Simply put, the alternatives were disappointing. Obama is just terrifying. I've never been a fan of McCain, starting his asinine promotion of one of the most blatant attacks on First Amendment Rights in the history of the country. Elizabeth doesn't like Palin, although I'm somewhat neutral on her. Biden is a moron who I wouldn't trust to run a donut shop, let alone the entire country.

We then looked at 3rd party Candidates. The Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, is a former Republican who I've never had much of an opinion of. He's uninspiring at best. Ron Paul is a popular "small l" libertarian who has a massive, if not a little cultish, grassroots following. I'm inclined to like him but for two reasons. First, he's a foreign policy isolationist. In today's world, that's just not realistic. Second, he's not on the California ballot, which means you'd have to write him in. If you're going to write in a candidate, why not just vote for me instead?

The Green party candidate, Cynthia McKinney, is certifiably insane, racist, and completely unhinged. All of the other candidates were similarly blah.

So, about me... I'm 35 and was born in Kalamazoo Michigan, so I'm eligible. Here is my platform.

  • I promise you NOTHING. If you want something, go earn it.
  • I plan on spending most of my time in office traveling the country, trying to find the best sushi and pork ribs.
  • I promise to put working families first by doing things that make that happen.
  • There will be a pack of at least a dozen dachshunds on the White House lawn, supplementing the Secret Service protection.
  • I promise to cut tax rates for anyone who actually PAYS taxes, and to institute a minimal income tax for ALL Americans, even the poor. It's important to be invested in the government which can control you.
  • I will create jobs by making riveting speeches about the importance of connecting with the middle-class. America is ready for jobs.
  • Government spending for all non-military departments will be cut 15% across the board. There has to be at least that much waste in every part of the government. Tough economic times require sacrifice from everyone, including politicians.
  • I will use my power and influence to get 50 yard line seats to all home USC Football games.
  • I will retroactively veto the "Bailout", even if it's not legally binding.
  • I will work hard to do lots of things that I can't think of now, but are sure to be important to the future of America. Americans want these things, they're for the children.
Vote for ERICH for President. It's easy, it's futile, it's FUN!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Elizabeth's First Band


Elizabeth just did the first Band Name/Album trick and got this. Pretty good. Nice imagery... the title certainly fits the picture in theme.

Stuck On A Name For Your New Band?


I found a great way to come up with a name for your new band! It's simple, quick, and relies on wikipedia. What more could you ask for?

Instructions HERE.

I tried it myself, and got the picture you see on the right. Not bad. I'll be sure to credit all the little people when I get my first Grammy.

Now, I just need some songs...

And Biden Is Meant To Be A Foreign Policy "Expert"

If so, I wonder what passes for a Foreign Policy Amateur? THIS is horrifying. This guy is either the most naive man in politics, or the dumbest. Or both.

At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.

The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.

How To Become a Pediatrician

Over the last year or so, I've written an extensive series of articles on a range of medical topics. Most of them have been published on either Helium, or Associated Content. It's been fun, and has brought in a small pile of pennies as well.

I don't have a ton of time to blog today, but I figured I'd copy one of my more popular articles here. This is an article on the path to becoming a pediatrician. The original on Helium can be found HERE.

_________________________________________________________

HOW TO BECOME A PEDIATRICIAN

A career as a doctor is a long and sometimes grueling path. But it can also be quite challenging and a heck of a lot of fun if you take the right approach. As a recent medical school graduate, I'm still close enough to the process of becoming a doctor to appreciate the effort and focus it takes to be given the responsibility of caring for people as a doctor. Although I'm not a pediatrician, the path to become one is almost identical to what I choose to do as a doctor.

Becoming a doctor is not a short or quick journey. You can expect to spend years of your life studying, working, and struggling to get that "MD" added to the end of your name. There will be days and weeks that not fun and exciting. There will be nights when you question your ability. There will be many days when you question your sanity. But in the end, if it's truly what you want to do, it's all worth it.

The path starts in High School, and even sooner in some cases. You absolutely must learn good study habits. This doesn't mean that you have to study all the time, rather it means that you must learn to be disciplined and efficient with the time you do have to learn. Becoming a doctor is a marathon, not a sprint. A proper balance of learning from books and learning about life is essential. Take time off when you need to, but when it's time to memorize the Kreb's Cycle or the major genetic lysosomal storage disorders, well, hop on it!

Good grades are essential. You aren't going to become a pediatrician, you absolutely must get good grades. No one is going to trust the care of their children to you if you are failing classes. Period. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to get an "A" in every course you take throughout your academic career, but on average, you should be working hard and scoring solid grades.

In High School, you should focus on a broad education. Do NOT just focus on science classes. Doctors of all types need to be well rounded. You are going to treat a wide range of people over your career and it never hurts to be able to relate to all types of people and backgrounds. Learn to write well. That is more important for a doctor than most people realize.

Going in to college, you are going to need to graduate from a 4 year University or College. You will need a BA or BS to get in to Medical School. Aim to get in to the best college you can, but you don't need to go to an Ivy League school to be a doctor. Doctors come from all ranges of Universities.

When you are picking a major in college, focus on what you enjoy and excel at. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A SCIENCE MAJOR! There is no such things as a specific "pre-med" major. Any major can be "pre-med". If you enjoy biology or chemistry, by all means, do that. But if you are like me and enjoy reading and writing, then be an English Major (or History, or Classics, or Music etc.). Contrary to a lot of advice you are going to get, the choice of your major makes very little difference to Medical School admission committees. In fact, some Medical Schools look favorably on students who have a different and unique educational path. Once you start Medical School, you are going to be focusing on science all the time. If you want the chance to broaden your education, your undergrad years are the time to do it.

Of course, you will have to complete a basic set of science classes in college, no matter what major you choose. In general, this means that you will need a minimum of a year of biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. Most Medical Schools also require at least some math. Each Medical School publishes a list of the specific requirements they have for admission. These requirements are compiled in to a book called the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements). This book is available at any University Bookstore or at Amazon.com. Get it your freshman year in college and use it as a reference guide for picking the right classes in college. You don't want to graduate and find out that you are missing several basic requirements to apply to Medical School. This book will guide you. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

You will also need to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) in college. You will likely take this exam sometime near the end of your 3rd year or the start of your 4th. This assumes you are going to apply to start Medical School immediately after graduating from undergrad. Most students DO NOT do this. Most students take a few years to go out and work, live a little and learn a bit about the world outside of University life. But at some point you will take the MCAT.

The MCAT should really be named the MViciousRabidTiger. It will be a humbling experience for most students. For me it was the first time I was not able to score well on something on the basis of just being a generally bright guy. If you don't respect this exam by devoting the proper amount of time to preparing, it will chew you up and spit you out. It is a comprehensive exam covering all the basic science requirements to apply to medical school and it's not an easy test. The MCAT alone is responsible for many "pre-med" students suddenly having a change of heart and picking a new career path. There's no point in getting in to tremendous detail here as you will learn more about it as you prepare to take it.

Once you are in Medical School, you will take the same classes as any other future doctor. In your 4th year of Medical School, you will have some choices of areas you may want to focus on. If you want to be a pediatrician, this would be a good time to take a few electives in pediatrics.

During Medical School, you will face a series of three licensing exams named the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Step 1 of this exam is taken after two years of Medical School. Step 2 comes in two parts and is taken when you are near graduation. If you thought the MCAT was bad, these exams make that test look like a cute cuddly kitten. The USMLE is considered by some (usually those taking it) to be the hardest standardized exam ANYWHERE. Good luck... you're going to need it.

At the end of Medical School, there is a process by which you apply for your first job as a doctor. The process is known as "The Match" and how it works is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe. In The Match, you will apply to Pediatric residency programs. It is your post Medical School residency training where you become a pediatrician - all Medical School graduates are the same. There are no "majors" in Medical School.

Once you are accepted to a Pediatric residency training program and graduate from Medical School, you are almost there! Of course, by this time, you have been studying and in school for over eight years after High School, but hey, all good things come to an end eventually, right?

You can expect your Pediatrics residency to take about three years. At this point you are a working doctor, albeit a young and inexperienced one.Your workload will double from Medical School and you will spend three years working grueling hours. Consider it the sprint at the end of the marathon - only a few more months and your journey to become a pediatrician is over!

After three years in residency, during which you will be flogged by senior doctors, barfed on by sick kiddies, and have streams of baby urine hose you down daily in an aquatic salute to your hard work and dedication, you will finally be let loose on the world and be free to venture forth and cure the children of the world from fevers, earaches and swallowed marbles.

Congratulations!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dell Customer Service Complaint

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth was surfing the internet when her laptop suddenly gave her a blue screen of death. This is not the first time. In fact, it was the third time in less than a year.

So she got on the phone with Dell Customer Support and proceeded to spend the next 4 hours walking through a series of "diagnostics". The problem was not fixed. The next day, we were talking to them again, and it appeared that they were about to have us go through all of the same "fixes" we already tried. Having dealt with numerous computer failures (including my own Dell laptop) over the years, I was reasonably sure that the problem lay with the hard drive. In short, the drive was dead. Or at least the sectors containing the operating system were fried.

Elizabeth had spent a reasonably large amount of money on the extended warranty, so the machine was still covered. I finally convinced Dell to replace the drive. A new drive arrived within 24 hours. All seemed well until we realized we had to sent the old drive back. Although the drive would no longer boot into Windows, most, if not all of the data contained on it was still technically there.

Passwords, word documents, and all manner of personal identity information were still on the drive. I don't have the technical equipment to get this data off the drive, but I know enough about computers to know that this is not an insurmountable problem for a professional.

We tried fighting the return of the old drive, even offering to destroy it before sending it back. Dells response? They threatened to bill us for the old drive if we didn't send it back. And if we didn't pay the bill, they further threatened to report us to a credit agency. Nice.

They offered NOTHING in the form of a guarantee that the data would be safe in their hands. All they said was, "Don't worry. Trust us." Yeah right. In the end, we had no choice but to return the drive. (Although I suppose we could have simply paid the bill. Although that would have been bullshit, at least the data would have been safe.)

So we filed a report with the Better Business Bureau. Here's the correspondence from that exchange. Remember, the moral to the story: Don't EVER put yourself in a situation where you have to send an old drive somewhere. Physically destroy hard disks with personal information on them. By "physically destroy", I mean use a hammer.

___________________________________________________________

The Better Business Bureau - COMPLAINT ACTIVITY REPORT

Business Info: Dell Inc
1 Dell Way MS 8210
Round Rock, TX 78682


Consumer's Original Complaint:

My Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop crashed for the third time in a single year on 10/6/08. After spending almost four hours on the phone with tech support, my husband and I were finally able to convince them that my hard drive was corrupt. When I purchased my laptop, I paid a hefty amount for a 4-year warranty. I was very pleased that Dell honored this warranty by sending me a new hard drive on 10/7/08. My laptop is now working perfectly.

My problem lies in the fact that Dell is demanding that I return my old hard drive. They have indicated that if I do not, they will bill me for it and then report me to a credit agency. Although I understand that this return policy is probably in place to limit fraudulent claims, I have stressed to Dell that I am not comfortable returning my hard drive with all of my personal information on it (e.g., previous tax returns; online account passwords; banking account information; social security number; etc). Dell has assured me that my personal information will be destroyed upon Dell's receipt of the hard drive, but in a world where identity theft is common, I feel that it is unacceptable to require customers to return items containing such such sensitive information. I have done some research and discovered that the only way to be 100% certain all sensitive information is removed from a hard drive is by physically destroying it. Dell said they would not accept my hard drive if I break it before returning it.

The following is some information I came across in my research:

http://www.pchell.com/hardware/destroyingdataonaharddrive.shtml
"If a computer store, consultant, or other qualified computer tech tells you your hard drive is crashed and the data is unrecoverable, ask for them to return the original drive to you. This way you can physically destroy and dispose of the drive to your satisfaction and avoid situations like Mr. Bowen's where your data suddenly appears on someone else's computer screen."

http://brainstormsandraves.com/archives/2008/01/01/harddrives/
"Another data security hole can occur if you are required under warranty to turn in your current "broken" hard drive to get a replacement. Once you read about identity theft from simply trying to follow warranty requirements, perhaps you'll think twice unless you're absolutely certain that you have no sensitive data on that drive or anything else that you wouldn't want to share with the whole world."

Dell's customer service informed me that if I am concerned, I should take the old hard drive to a local computer store and ask them to remove all personal data. As I have mentioned above, there is some question as to whether this is 100% effective and I do not want to take this risk. Furthermore, I do not feel that I should have to pay to have this done after I spent so much on a warranty. The entire reason I purchased the warranty was to avoid additional expenses for this laptop.

Consumer's Desired Resolution:
I would like Dell to understand my fear of identity theft and my unwillingness to return my old hard drive. I would like Dell to waive their return requirement, meaning that they will not charge me for the hard drive, nor will they report me to a credit agency. Alternatively, I am requesting that Dell allow me to physically break my hard drive before returning it. This way, they can be assured that I did not file a fraudulent claim and I can be assured that my sensitive personal information is not compromised.


Dell's Response:

I am writing on behalf of Dell Inc. in response to the inquiry filed with your office by Ms. Elizabeth XXXXXXX. Thank you for making us aware of her concerns.

After reading Ms. XXXXXXX's complaint, the following is what I have determined to be the issue(s).
* Reluctant to return old hard drive due to personal information contained on it

We apologize for any inconvenience that Ms. XXXXXXX has encountered. Several Dell representatives have assisted Ms. XXXXXXX in addressing the issues. Ms. XXXXXXX stated her issues have been resolved concerning returning the hard drive and we have received it back at Dell. In the event Ms. XXXXXXX requires further assistance we request she contact us directly using the information provided below.

If you have any additional questions regarding this issue, you may contact the agent directly via e-mail at Linda_Kelly@Dell.com or by telephone at 1-800-624-9897 ext 72-62156. She will be happy to assist you.

Sincerely,

William E Bartell


Consumer Rebuttal to Dell's Response:


"Ms. XXXXXXX stated her issues have been resolved concerning returning the hard drive and we have received it back at Dell."

I did not state that my issue has been resolved. It patently has NOT been resolved. Due to the repeated threats of Dell representatives to report me to a credit bureau if I didn't return my old hard drive, I felt I had no choice but to return it. In this sense, I suppose the issue is resolved - there is nothing more Dell can do in my case because the hard drive with my personal information has been sent back to them. However, the larger issue - Dell's policy of mandating customers to return hard drives with extremely sensitive data - is NOT resolved. In order to properly resolve my complaint, Dell needs to change their policy and allow customers to physically destroy their old hard drives prior to returning them. The Identity Theft Resource Center (www.idtheftcenter.org) indicates that becoming a victim of identity theft is no longer a matter of "if" ...it's "when." In light of this, Dell needs to change its policy. Threatening me into sending my hard drive back is not a satisfactory resolution.

"Several Dell representatives have assisted Ms. XXXXXXX in addressing the issues."

Although I did indeed speak with (and send emails to) a number of Dell representatives, none of them actually addressed my issue. As has always been my experience when dealing with Dell, the representatives simply recited scripts. At no time did I feel that my concern about identity theft was truly understood. Frankly, I want nothing more to do with Dell - interacting with their representatives is a maddening and extremely time-consuming experience.

"In the event Ms. XXXXXXX requires further assistance we request she contact us directly using the information provided below."

I have elected not to do this because I do not feel that it will resolve anything. As stated above, Dell does not seem to be willing to take my concerns seriously. Admittedly, they have assured me that Dell views privacy as an important matter, but they do not seem to listen to my argument that their entire policy needs to be overhauled in light of growing concerns about identity theft.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When All Else Fails, Blame the Patient???

Despite this blog being run by a doctor, and having a subtly medical title, I've done surprisingly little medical blogging.

HERE'S an interesting article in the NY Times (yeah, it's still around. Surprised me too.) about therapists placing blame on patients for their illnesses. Although there are some very rare cases where this may be the situation, I think it's a dangerous way of thinking for doctors. However, it does highlight that even doctors can get frustrated with long-term care.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rep. Murtha Clarifies His Idiocy

Well, thanks for clearing that up for us John. That makes it all OK then... heh.

You really have to wonder if there isn't some senility going on with this guy. He's always had a history of saying strange things, but this is just bizarre. These are his own constituents he's talking about.

It's guys like this that need to be purged from national politics if Congress ever wants to get it's approval ratings about 9% again.

Hey people of Pennsylvania... do us all a favor and VOTE THIS GUY OUT OF OFFICE!!! It doesn't matter if you are Democrat or Republican, it's not about that. It's about having a guy in office who's been there waaaaay too long and needs to be retired.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Kennedy Democrats Are Dead

I haven't gotten on the "Joe the Plumber" bandwagon that's been going around in the last week, but THIS article is too good to pass up.

There was a day not too long ago when the Democrat Party portrayed itself as the Party of the Middle Class... the union worker.

They can no longer say that and expect to be taken seriously (at least by me). It's disgusting and contemptible to watch the takedown of a man who dared ask a pointed question about increasing tax rates.

Joe the Individual is not important, what's important was Obama's answer to the question. Obama flat out admits to his Marxist leanings. THAT is what the media and Americans should be worrying about.

More HERE. Disgusting.

Uga Wins Mascot Challenge


OK, if it can't be Traveler, I'd just as soon see Uga win this "contest".

He's goofy looking, but adorable.

Those Who Forget History...

THIS is a long, yet worthy read on the history of regulation in regards to the economy.

Many people, especially liberal politicians, have blamed the disaster on the deregulation of the last 30 years. But they do so in order to avoid the blame’s falling where it should—squarely on their own shoulders. For the same politicians now loudly proclaiming that deregulation caused the problem are the ones who fought tooth and nail to prevent increased regulation of Fannie and Freddie—the source of so much political money, their mother’s milk.

In short, not all regulation is a good thing, and not all deregulation is bad. More often than not, government intervention is the cause of the problem, not the solution. Ronald Reagan said this in the 80's, and it remains just as true today.