Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update

Lets see... two weeks ago I was home working on a new recorded class for AirMagnet Survey. I surveyed the Provo City Library (The cool old building) multiple times as a 'sample' for the online class.There are HUNDREDS of wireless access points in the apartments and condos around the four block area where the library is located. Here are some pictures of the wireless survey.
This is the coverage of just the Provo Library's own Wireless LAN...

Then last week I was in Crystal City (Washington DC) teaching another AirMagnet class. (nothing special going on there - sorry to report)

BYU Lacrosse did start their home season last week. Jill and I went and enjoyed ourselves. There was even another 'Brent' playing LSM with 'our' Brent's old number 47... sad to see a 47 on the field and know Brent wasn't there... boo hoo... and they lost to their perenial rival Simon Frasier. Bummer.
And then today after working all morning on more of the Survey CBT I again had a chance to again watch them play. This week it was Claremont College. 16-3 at the half, and so a kind of 'high-schoolish' second half with all the second and third string playing. The game ended at 20-9.

Chelsea Hightower of So You Think You Can Dance was there watching the game, as was Zac Hefron. So BYU Lacrosse is coming up in the spectator sport eh?


I was sitting there thinking of Brent... and though he can't have a Lacrosse stick to practice with... perhaps he can just hold onto the end of large broom or something to give his arm muscles a workout. (I was watching the Long Poles of Claremont do some amazing one-handed checks and thought of this brilliant idea)

New Author to Read!

I like it when I can find a new author to start reading. I have a tendency to read everything a favorite author has penned... then the relationship seems to end. As per my habit, every now and then I have to 'try out' a new author, usually accidentally. Sometimes these work out, and sometimes not.

This week I decided to read a book not on my Kindle... but using an e-book reader for my iPhone. Yes, I know the screen is much smaller, but it does have back lighting, and I always have my iPhone with me. So I thought I'd give it a try.
The iPhone application is 'Stanza' - an e-book reader with Mac as well as Windows versions as well as the iPhone.

I purchased a highly recommended book, and then started reading. I really got into the book, and had to fight the urge many times to just move the files over to my Kindle... but I perceviered and finished an entire book on my iPhone.


I guess if I didn't have a Kindle (and now a Kindle2) I would have thought Stanza and the iPhone were not bad. The screen was small, the line length too short, and it really needs two hands to turn the pages (swiping the screen)


But it was pretty cool that the book slowly faded as a phone call came in.


The new author is David Liss and the historical fiction (so I can have fun and learn something at the same time) was The Whiskey Rebels. He does take a bit too much 'license' with timing and places, but overall not a bad way to learn a bit about history I'd forgotten. Overall, a good read!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Look what happens when Liberals want everyone to have everything...

Just look what happens when *everyone* deserves a home mortgage... Just what the liberals wanted. I sometimes think they WANTED this to happen so they could go about making the US into their little playground to try out their socialist ideals.

No matter how poor of a financial conservative George Bush was... Obama has already out-spent Bush in just over a month in office.
Eight years of deficit spending by Bush has been exceeded in a single budget proposed by Obama.

It was so hard to watch the President of the United States flat out lie to the gullible American public in last night's address. (like the spending package didn't have 'earmarks', the new appropriation bill with Billions of more earmarks - and Obama blatantly stated they didn't)

Happy now America?

Funny Comic about Entertainment Industry...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grandkids for the weekend

This weekend, Karrissa and Joe drove up from Dental School in Las Vegas to spend the weekend with us. (and to meet Rory the new puppy)

We really like having them visit!


The girls had a good time playing with the new puppy - McKinley was a bit afraid, but soon got over it and liked 'Wo We'.


Grandma Jill of course had to get them Valentines gifts!
McKinley Enjoying her Valentines 'Puse'

Grand-Daughters McKinley and Kylie in their matching Valentine's shirts

Giving Rory a Bath

McKinley in the 'Dog House'

McKinley wearing her 'Alysha' Glasses


Valentine's at Sundance

For Valentine's Day this year, Jill scheduled the family to have a 'dinner' at her favorite location, the Sundance Grill Room. The only times available were 3:00pm and 9:30pm. She opted for a late lunch rather than a very late dinner. There was a lot of snow coming down, but we headed up there anyway. The only problem was they were still on the 'lunch menu' - but we all still had some great food. The snow outside the windows was kind of high... but then again, this place is a ski resort.

A good time was had by all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The 'Palace Hotel' downtown San Francisco

I was late booking my hotels for the week in San Francisco. I'd forgotten to get the hotel since Karrissa normally books the hotel along with the classroom venue (we normally hold classes in hotel facilities). This week was at the University of Phoenix classrooms downtown.

So I was late... and was worried that I'd have to pay some exorbitant rate for a 'financial district' hotel. I went to my normal
travel site to book the travel. I have in the past 'roughed it' in some pretty bad hotels to save money. And this week was going to be no exception.

I was late, and so I expected to be penalized. So when the cheapest hotel in the area showed up at only $109, and the next closest was nearly $200 and the others in the area were $200+ per night. I gritted my teeth and clicked on the 'Palace' hotel. It was in San Francisco, and in my mind's eye I was thinking of some low rent 'Chinese Palace' type affair that I'd hate for five nights.

Well, was I so surprised when I came up from the BART station, after from my ride in from the Oakland Airport, to find the 'Palace' hotel was actually a very posh, elegant, classic hotel -- in the Sheraton's "Luxury Collection".
This place was awesome. The Palace Hotel, built in 1875, was reputedly the largest, most luxurious and costly hotel in the world at the time. Opulence everywhere! Gilded furniture, high-ceiling Garden Court, Grand Ballrooms, liveried bell staff everywhere.The Palace Hotel was designed as the American counterpart to the grand hotels of Europe.The majestic building hailed 7,000 windows, 14-foot high ceilings and an unprecedented opulence. The hydraulic elevators – an engineering marvel for the time – were dubbed "rising rooms." In each of the lavish guest rooms, an electronic call button allowed guests to "ring" for anything they desired and air conditioning was a standard feature. Even the door-knobs reek of excess.The Palace Hotel quickly gained prominence among the traveling elite. Famed tenor Enrico Caruso was a guest at the hotel on April 18, 1906 when a devastating earthquake hit. While the hotel survived the quake structurally, it was decimated in the ensuing fire that swept most of downtown. It took three years of rebuilding and would re-open in 1909.Resuming its place among elite society, the new Palace Hotel attracted dignitaries, business moguls and celebrities alike. Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Clinton all spent time here. John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Oscar Wilde were guests.I really 'lucked out' on getting this great hotel for a phenomenal price! I like not only getting a 'deal' but also learning a bit about the historic location where I'm staying.

Another 'tidbit' of information from San Francisco this week. The venue was on 'Front Street' - about a quarter-mile from the current waterfront, but back in 1848, the waterfront WAS on 'Front Street' and later they filled in the bay and pushed the waterfront more than a quarter-mile to the east.

Movies this week

Being in downtown San Francisco this week, I had an easy time walking around each evening after class. On a couple of evenings I walked to the Metreon theaters and watched two movies. The first was one recommended by my daughter Alysha - Taken - staring Liam Neeson.

It was action-packed, fast moving, and made me NEVER let my daughters go anywhere alone! I can't believe the evil that exists in the world, to abuse young women as depicted in the movie. I would not have had the skills necessary to save my own daughters from a like predicament... (in spite of what some people believe) - so I'll just have to NOT let them get in that type of situation eh?
The next was 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - the premise for the show was unique and provocative. Yet it turned into a long, slow, 'chick-flick'. It wasn't bad... but I was more interested in the technology on how they made Brad Pitt look old, than the storyline. The following review reflects pretty well my opinion of the movie.Ashley Scrace from the Sheffield Star noted that:
"It is a good film, but one of contradictions, some of which are far beyond the story of young versus old. It is surprising yet clich├ęd; sad yet hollow; visually impressive yet ordinary." He goes on to add "I just hope this year’s Oscars do not follow a tired formula: biggest budget, plus biggest stars, equals biggest awards."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

University of Phoenix Logo

Ok, ok... I've been not just a bit dense, but way dense.

Just this week, while teaching an AirMagnet class in downtown San Francisco at the University of Phoenix campus did I finally have an epiphany...


The University of Phoenix is NOT named after the city of Phoenix... but instead the mythical Phoenix bird who rises from the ashes to live again Phoenix...


Doh!


I've seen this logo for over 20 years and just this week figured out the real "Phoenix" in University of Phoenix. It took a poster on the wall that read 'I am a Phoenix' with student's head shot to finally whack me in the head on this one. Silly me.
Doh!

It does remind me of the USAA Logo though.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hot, Flat and Crowded - Book Review

Years ago I read a pretty good book by Thomas Friedman... The Lexus and the Olive Tree. It was a bit eye-opening... and so the follow-on book The World is Flat was the next of Freidman's books I was to read.Earlier this year I read his latest book Hot, Flat and Crowded... I was sorely un-impressed! It was pretentious, over-bearing, and 'greener than Gore' - and I really don't believe in this whole 'Global Warming' thing, especially not the Gore way. It seemed to me that Freidman was heading down the same path, using his great intellect, and experience on the world stage to bring more of this 'Green' Religion to the masses. I only could stomach about 1/2 of the book before I had to put it down. Then I was surfing on the iTunes University page and came across a lecture Freidman gave at MIT years ago. After The World is Flat, but right before Hot, Flat and Crowded was released. In watching this video I learned more about the genesis of the new book, and where the 'Green' portion came from. I gained new insight into the 'Greener than Gore' statement.

Friedman things Al Gore and all politicians are basically stupid, ignorant, and un-caring about the actual environment, but more interested in their own power base and financial gain. The Green Revolution he is presenting needs to be an actual REVOLUTION... not just folks buying new fluorescent lights and driving Prius cars... we need to REALLY SHAKE UP the whole system in order to get off the addiction we have to foreign oil.

He WANTS to have a government that is supporting of these ideas, but is more than willing to have individuals, corporations, and groups lead the way instead.
This is an eye-opening tome. I plan on finishing it on my flight to Oakland this evening.

Please watch the video and see if it doesn't also change your mind like it did mine.

Here's a pretty good review.

Thomas L. Friedman's no. 1 bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see globalization in a new way. Now Friedman brings a fresh outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy—both of which could poison our world if we do not act quickly and collectively. His argument speaks to all of us who are concerned about the state of America in the global future.

Friedman proposes that an ambitious national strategy—which he calls "Geo-Greenism"—is not only what we need to save the planet from overheating; it is what we need to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure.

As in The World Is Flat, he explains a new era—the Energy-Climate era—through an illuminating account of recent events. He shows how 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the flattening of the world by the Internet (which brought 3 billion new consumers onto the world stage) have combined to bring climate and energy issues to Main Street. But they have not gone very far down Main Street; the much-touted "green revolution" has hardly begun. With all that in mind, Friedman sets out the clean-technology breakthroughs we, and the world, will need; he shows that the ET (Energy Technology) revolution will be both transformative and disruptive; and he explains why America must lead this revolution.

Listening to Music

I have hours every week to do nothing but listen to music and read... Ok, it's my "commute" as I travel from my home is Orem, UT to whatever city I happen to be working in.

I usually try to leave the house two hours before my flight time. This leave me 15 minutes to be late, 45 minutes to drive to SLC, time to drop of my cases at the Sky Cap, time to park in long-term parking, time to ride the bus back to the terminal, time to get through security, and time to be at the gate a couple of minutes before they start boarding the first class seats (30 minutes prior to takeoff)...


Then anywhere from a short 90 minute flight, to over 20 hours of flying, depending on where I'm going.


Then waiting for the baggage, schlepping my cases to the rental car shuttle, checking in at the rental agency, loading up the car, driving to my destination, checking in the hotel, unpacking my stuff, calling home, setting up laptop to check e-mail, then going to bed...


This process repeats it self most weeks of the year. Well, at least those weeks when I want to get paid.


Thus, after a long drawn out explanation, I return to the premise of this blog entry...
I have hours every week to do nothing but listen to music and read...

Because of which, I like to have good music, intelligent, entertaining reading available to me to fill those hours with something I enjoy.


To help, I like to use technology. For the reading, the Amazon Kindle has been a wonderful piece of kit to allow me to bring hundreds of books with me, so I can always find something to read that fits my mood at the moment.


For music, my iPhone is filled with all sorts of an eclectic mix of tunes. From Rap, R&B to Vocal Jazz and classical music. On the Sunday flights I have a mix of religious tunes to keep me in the spirit of the day.


I used to use the Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones. First the QC1's then later the QC2's. These noise canceling headphones were able to get rid of most of the airplane noise and allow me to listen better to the music.
Then I came across the Dr. Dre 'Beats' headphones by Monster. In spite of their Rap-like name... these are by far the best sound quality I've ever heard. They are pretty expensive (but so are the Bose) - but the auditory experience is something you'll have to experience.The highs are bright and crisp, voice frequencies not muddy, and the bass beats... well, they are called 'Beats' for a reason. I've heard things in my music that I've never heard before. Some of the subtle nuances in the original tracks can finally be appreciated. I can't say enough good about the sound these re-produce.Plus they come with a cable that lets me make and receive phone calls on my iPhone while listening. The iPhone slowly drops the volume of the music, the call takes place (using the built-in microphone in the headphone cable), and when the call is finished, the music slowly fades back up to its initial volume.

These headphones sound best when there is no ambient noise. (like in a quiet room) - but still do a very respectable job even on a loud airplane.


Highly recommended!

New 'Home Theater' in my Home Office

Thanks to spending some of my nearly 3,000,000 American Express points... I know have a bit newer 'Home Theater' in my home office. Plus big 'kudos' to my son Ryan for doing all the setup and configuration while I was on the road. This was a great new system to come home to. Thanks Ryan!

The Sharp Aquos 42" LCD screen 'fits' the room much better than the older 32" model I had before. (It's now downstairs in the kids family room hooked up to the Wii and Xbox, and for watching videos) I went online to learn what the best size for the distances in my home office room, and the 42" was the most recommended for my office size. It just 'feels' better when watching, like your 'eyeball to screen ratio' is right where it should be.
The Bose 321 system is also a great improvement to what was here before. The Bose system is a little box (on top of the Cable TV DVR box) - and a couple of small speakers. The woofer bass module is actually inside the cupboards below the TV area. The system has a way of making 5.1 surround sound, seem to work just off the three speakers. Kewl.The sound is GREAT - it works very well with the Cable DVR, and the LCD screen - as well as being a DVD player to boot.

This setup is quite nice on the weekends when I'm home to 'catch up' on the shows I might have missed that are on the DVR, and a nice place for the kids to 'hang out' during the week.
I truly am blessed to have this type of technology available and in my life.

Courtyard Marriott Vining, GA

Ok, I know I stay at a lot of hotels... but the hotel last week in Vining, GA was pretty good.

The outside and lobby area were fine. Nothing really outstanding. (But they did have a nice little area with some live birds... a little chirping to liven up your day?)

But what impressed me most was the area in the hotel room for working. There was a nice 42" HD LCD instead of the normal TV. In addition, the room was laid out pretty well. Even a leather-topped coffee-table that made a much better ottoman for your legs than normal glass-topped ones. But the best was the desk area with a 'spare' table that pulled out, so you had room for your laptop and stuff, while still having a horizontal space to hold the other stuff - it was like having a big desk!There was also a nice little setup where by you could connect up your laptop to the big LCD screen, speakers, etc.If it just had a fridge/microwave it would have been close to perfection in a hotel room.

Alysha's Preference Dance

Saturday night was the Timpanogos High School 'Preference' dance. Where the girls get to ask the guys to a formal dance. Here in Utah they also do 'day dates' - so they all went together as a group of seven couples 'Laser Tagging' in the afternoon.

Then after getting all 'dressed up' they came over to our house for dinner before heading on to the Dance.

Jill and Ryan did a great job in getting the house all ready, and the food prepared (pasta bar) for the evening.

Here are a couple of pictures from the night - all the girls, all the boys, and a couple of Alysha and her date (Joe Kruger) and her cousin Michael Rife.
It looks like they had a great time. Jill and Ryan had a good time preparing the meal - and we all got the 'clean up' afterward.

A couple more shots of cousin Michael and his date Teryn.

Rory is now part of our home

Saturday afternoon we again went up to Sandy to pick up our new puppy, Rory. She has gotten so much bigger... over two pounds more in the last week. We now have her at home and she is sooo cute.
My granddaughter McKinley can't quite say the "rr's" so she calls her "Whoa Weee".

Ryan and Jill have been spending a lot of time starting with her training, and getting her used to our house and setting some ground rules. (Unlike our last dog "
Emma" - who was way cute (actually so ugly she was cute) - we're going to be training Rory to be a better companion for Jill)

We're trying to follow the guidelines and do some early training to help Rory become just the dog Jill will want after the kids are gone in a year or so.
Right now, she's just a cute little bundle of soft fur that likes to play, sleep, and go to the bathroom.