Saturday, December 05, 2009

My New Home

I have been interested in downtown Fresno for a while now, and I have been very interested in the possibility of moving to one of the many new lofts that have been and are currently being built in the downtown core. My roommate and I finally decided to take the leap last week and we applied for and were approved to move into a 2-bedroom flat at the Iron Bird Lofts.

Just this past Tuesday the first residents started moving into the lofts, check out this ABC 30 news story about the lofts.

There is a lot happening right now with the revitalization efforts of downtown Fresno. I truly believe that the direction the process is going is very positive, and I can't wait for my new home downtown to flourish with people, culture, activities, and art.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Earth Rings

Have you ever wondered what the sky would look like if the Earth had rings like certain other planets?

Watch this video and wonder no longer.

I find this very interesting for two reasons.
  1. Science fiction shows/movies often show other worlds with rings or multiple moons, but I've never really thought about it applied to our own planet.
  2. It's like a rainbow in the sky that never goes away!
(Via Presurfer)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Worst Finder Ever

One of my favorite blogs that I read is the Scott Adams Blog. Scott Adams as you may know is the creator of Dilbert and the Dilbert cartoons.

The Scott Adams Blog is full of wonderful thought exercises and brilliant ideas that may or may not be feasible, but the man has a creative brain that comes up with many thought provoking posts.

This recent post is more of a story than some of his other posts, but it is written very well and has a lot of humor.

Check it out, and I would strongly suggest subscribing to his blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cell Phone Design

Check out these creative design prototypes of cell phones.

What would you like to see in the perfect cell phone?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Google Wave

I was lucky enough to get a Google Wave invite from my Dad a few weeks ago. If you haven't used Google Wave yet or even heard of it it's basically a new approach to communication and collaboration. You can read a little more about it here.

So far, I've mostly used it for short conversations with people that could more easily have taken place via email or facebook, but its a new toy so I want to play with it. I have used it a couple of times as a collaboration tool (very minimally so) and again, the type of collaboration may have just as easily been done on email. I think it will become more useful when utilized for larger, web-based collaborative efforts with multiple people. I think right now it is a little difficult to fully utilize it because not a lot of people are using it. Of course, I should also mention that its not even in beta yet, as it is still in "preview" mode. (I'm wondering if that is kind of like alpha...)

I did catch a glimpse of their maintenance page though today, which you can see here. It is a pretty cool maintenance landing page, with the text saying "Surf's out, dude. Google Wave is down for maintenance. Time to chillax."

If you have used Google Wave already, what is your opinion? What have you used it for?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Working Toward a Goal

While recently pondering my career and experience in retail I came up with this theory about working toward a goal in retail. One of the things that makes retail exciting and frustrating at times is the constant swimming upstream when trying to accomplish your goals. While I have found most other experiences in life to be a combination of heading in the right direction toward a goal and the occasional setback, retail seems to have much more fluctuation between getting closer to reaching your goal and getting further away.

I put together these charts to illustrate this point.

My experiences show that retail has many more factors that are working against you and something you accomplish can be completely undone just as easily and quickly. For example, if your goal is to increase the cleanliness and organization of your retail establishment you put together a plan to make this happen and carry it out. But, once you have a few customers in your store that decide your merchandise is better situated on the floor, the work you accomplished is all but canceled out. What compounds this problem is it's a daily occurrence. I said many times while working in retail that it would be a great job/industry/etc. if it wasn't for all those darn customers.

This theory of course does not apply to all retail situations. There are things that can be accomplished without major setbacks but they aren't necessarily the most noticeable. For example, human resource/staffing, customer service, and sales goals are situations that have a much more consistent line of progress.

In contrast, when you are working on a project in most other facets of life and business, when you complete a part or section of whatever you working on you have something to show for it that can't easily be taken away from you. Whether it is doing background research, working on a copy of a report, or making a presentation, most of the things you accomplish are done and won't need to be done over again except in isolated circumstances.

I think the biggest reason for this is that while in other areas of business and life the things you work towards and accomplish have obvious benefits to those involved (the client, the customer, etc.). In these situations you and the client or customer are usually both trying to accomplish the same thing and it is often not mutually beneficial to make someone redo the work they've just completed for you. In retail, customers might notice some of the things you do for them, but if they walk out of the store with the shirt/toy/tool they want it really doesn't matter to them what else is going on and if they made a mess of the work you have done.

In the same token, this uphill battle shouldn't be a reason not to try and reach your goals and become great. These goals (like the example above of keeping your store clean and organized) may have an important part to play in your brand and marketing efforts.

What do you think? How would you combat these issues both in retail or other areas where you find this same problem?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Images Become Patterns

I came across this new tool called repper tonight. You basically upload a photo that you have, choose a section of that photo, and the app turns it into a eye-catching and unique design by repeating the image. The images make great backgrounds for desktops or websites. Plus, its free to use and the designs are created with Creative Commons license for non-commercial use!

Visit the site and try your hand at creating a design!

Viper Duck

I decided to post this because my favorite car is and has been for many years the Dodge Viper.

See what happens when you turn the Viper logo upside down?

You get Daffy Duck!

(Via Presurfer)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

CAHSR Business Plan

I am a little late in posting this, but if you want to learn the basics about the California High Speed Rail project, take a look at this video.

One of the best things about this video is the time line of completion of different aspects of the project, including when the first trains will start transporting passengers throughout the state. Since most people don't know a lot about the project and aren't following it closely, I hear a lot of misinformation circulating about when the project will be finished, etc. This is a good video for clearing up a lot of that.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Car Free Cities

I am often saddened by our reliance on cars (and trucks, vans, SUVs, etc.) in our society today. I strongly dislike having to drive most places if I want to do anything, and I cringe every time I drive/walk/bike by businesses and especially strip malls that are mostly parking lot (and at most times during a 24 hour period, empty parking lots). (Photo from Flickr by jgrimm / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I enjoyed reading this blog post from WorldChanging about car-free cities. Check it out.

I thoroughly enjoy traveling to a place that is much less reliant on vehicles than my city of Fresno, such as San Francisco, the East Coast of the US, Europe, etc. I love the ability to get anywhere and everywhere without having to rely on a car. In fact, it's a lot less stress to not have to worry about a car, parking, maintenance, gas, and cleaning among others. But, the big question is. Is this really possible in our society, especially highly developed western cities that were built around cars? Not too mention the stress and possible waste of time driving (as opposed to taking public transportation, where you can focus on activities other than driving). It will likely be a fairly involved change, but it does not have to be difficult, it just requires a paradigm shift. Here are my ideas for making a less car dependent society.
  • More mass transit - You've read about my love of high speed rail on this blog, and this concept fits in very well with that. Clean, fast, and modern transportation, such as high speed rail can easily connect distances of 400 miles or less. High speed rail can also easily replace a lot of air travel, such as in Spain where the newest route of high speed rail between Madrid and Barcelona has already replaced half of air travel on the busiest air route in the world (in only a years time). One of the great features of High Speed Rail is the placement of stations in the center of cities, as opposed to large airports that are often on the outskirts of cities or farther, and require extra transportation to get there. In Europe the fastest way to get from downtown London to downtown Paris is high speed rail (and Britain is an island!).
  • More public transit - Once you get into a city using mass transit like high speed rail you should have the ability or option to walk to your destination, but often time or distance might be a factor. Without a good public transit system you give people few other options to driving. Misconceptions are also a problem with public transit in places where cars are king. Here in Fresno, CA the buses have a bad reputation, which is unwarranted and unfortunate because it is usually the people that don't use the bus that feel this way. I would love to commute to work without having to worry about rush hour traffic, other crazy drivers, and finding a good parking spot. The way to make this more attractive to people who like the freedom of cars is to have more buses (or other public transit) and more routes.
  • More urban infill - Suburbanization which has been a trend for a long time is starting to show its major detractions. People getting more and more spread out leads to more vehicular use, longer commute times, longer commute distances, loss of agriculture/farm land, and strong relationship between cost of commute and gas prices, among others. The higher density of people living in an area, the closer amenities will be to serve these people. That means you won't be forced to drive two miles to the closest grocery store. Urban infill also helps make public transit more effective by concentrating the areas that are covered by routes. This can be accomplished two major ways. First, unoccupied buildings can be repurposed to include higher density housing. For example, in Fresno there are many high-rise buildings that are sitting empty that would make great housing buildings, in fact "In the past, the city council [of Fresno] requested that the vacant downtown buildings be inventoried and the results were the size of the two lost World Trade Center Towers" (Via Fresno Fusion). Second, places (especially business/strip malls) that have in the past included a lot of wasted parking space can repurpose that land to include higher density living, etc. Another big factor in urban infill is focusing on building up rather than out.
There are a lot more factors to reduce our dependence on cars and oil in our cities, but I believe these are important first steps. I think Fresno is taking its first few baby steps to accomplish some of these things with its most recent efforts for downtown revitalization. This along with California's plans for high speed rail throughout the state (with a station in downtown Fresno) will also assist greatly with this.

What do you think is important for our cities?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Timely Communication

I received an email from Microsoft this morning from their Windows Phone department. Today is November 3rd, three days after Halloween and two days after the end of daylight savings time.

Of the six section headers in the email, there are two that I would consider untimely.
  1. "Is your phone ready for Daylight Saving Time?"
  2. "Spoooooky (and free!) ringtones - Turn your phone into a Halloween factory..."
I would have loved these topics 1-2 weeks ago, but they just seem a little bit useless now. Is it at all worthwhile to send out this communication after the fact, or does it do more harm than good? What do you think?

Monday, November 02, 2009

No Shave November

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone (both men and women) that as we are now in the month of November, it is time to put away your razors and grow some facial hair or leg hair. It is now No Shave November!

As you may know I have been participating in this tradition for almost 10 years, as well as trying to recruit new participants everywhere I go by spreading the good news.

Follow along as I explore growing hair and facial hair on my No Shave November blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Edmonton Trip - Day 6, 7 & 8

Day 6 - Monday I hung finally caught up on reading blogs, after being away from that for a few days, as well as met up with friends David and Kylie. I did end up going to Da De O a New Orleans style 50s Diner/Bar on Whyte Ave in Edmonton. It was a pretty cool place and I got to try their spicy specialty beer locally brewed by Alley Kat The Charlie Flint's lager brewed with Chili powder.

Day 7 - On Tuesday I met up with Mackenzie at Remedy Cafe in Old Strathcona. In the evening my Dad and I went over to Uncle Myron and Aunt Betty's place for a delicious dinner, great conversation, and watched the Edmonton Oilers lose.

Day 8 - Early Wednesday morning my Dad and I left Edmonton and headed back down to Washington. We had weird weather on and off, sometimes driving in snow, sometimes driving in perfectly dry and nice weather, and sometimes driving in rain. We stopped at the Real Canadian Superstore once more before leaving the country, this time in Airdrie. We stopped in Radium Hot Springs for a quick half hour swim in the hot springs and saw some beautiful scenery throughout the mountain areas. After crossing the US/Canada border we stopped in Spokane Valley for a dinner at Boston's Gourmet Pizza (a US spin-off to the popular Canadian restaurant). We took a detour on the way to Yakima by heading through the Tri-Cities area.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Edmonton Trip - Day 4&5

Day 4 of my trip was the first full day in Edmonton. Along with catching up with the Jones' my Dad and I went to visit my Grandma in the hospital. It was good seeing her, of course not in these circumstances, but good nonetheless. After the hospital visit we headed back to the Jones' where I caught up on some Canadian TV classics (such as The Littlest Hobo and Hockey Night in Canada). My Dad and I went to dinner with Uncle Myron and Aunt Betty and had a nice evening with them. We ended the evening like the old days with a dip in the hot tub.

Day 5 was Sunday which included church service at First Church, (Canadian) Thanksgiving turkey meal at the church afterwards, and a quick shopping trip to the Great Canadian Superstore where I picked up a bunch of Canadian only food products including Just Right cereal, Dill Pickle/Salt & Vinegar chips, and some Crispy Crunch bars. The rest of teh afternoon was spent playing with Marcus and Hailey, and Curtis & Nicole (#2) picked me up in the evening to head to Jeff Gould's birthday party where we had some delicious DQ Ice Cream cake and played Wii.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Edmonton Trip - Day 2 & 3

Day 2 and 3 of my trip was mainly traveling. After spending the morning seeing a bit more of San Francisco I took BART to the Oakland Airport where I caught my Southwest flight to Seattle. Thanks to Andrew Ellenberger for being a great host.

When in Seattle I caught the airport shuttle over to Yakima where my Mom picked me up and drove me to their home. We did some catching up and tries to get to bed at a decent time as we had an early morning.

Day 3 started with my Dad and I dropping my Mom off at the airport shuttle. We started out on thwarted road at about 5am for Edmonton. We drove through Spokane, Cranbrook, Crowsnest Pass, Calgary, Red Deer, and finally Edmonton. Great driving conditions throughout except a full hour of traffic tie-up on the Interstate east of Ellensberg, WA due to a crash. We stopped in Calgary for dinner at Montana's and eventually arrived in Edmonton at our destination of the Jones' at about 11:30pm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Edmonton Trip - Day 1

Day 1 of my trip to Edmonton was quite packed. I left my apartment at 6am when I was picked up by Mike who dropped me off at the train station in downtown Fresno. I got on my train which I rode all the way to Richmond, CA in the north bay area. In Richmond I transferred over to BART which I rode a couple stops south to Berkeley. Here I walked around both the city and the University quite a bit while carrying my full backpack (which was a great workout with all the hills!).

I sat down for lunch at Dara Thai / Lao Cuisine where I ate a delicious meal. After some more exploring the campus and simple relaxing on a grassy area I headed back to the BART station. I caught the train down into San Francisco where I would be meeting Andrew Ellenberger. I walked through the financial district to the Trans-American Pyramid where he works. After meeting up we walked through some areas of northern San Francisco including Little Italy, the Wharf, Pier 39, and the Embarcadero. One of my highlights was finding a mini-donuts place on Pier 39. They were delicious.

We caught the street car and bus down to Andrew's place where we dropped off our bags. We headed down to Haight Ashbury (which is close to his place) where we found an Irish Pub. I had a reuben sandwich and a Molson Canadian. We made one more stop at a pub before heading back to Andrew's place to sleep.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dyson Fan

This summer I had the pleasure to use a Dyson Airblade Hand Dryer at the MoMA in New York City. I had wanted to try one from the moment I had heard about them, but never was at a place that had them. It was everything I hoped for and more. If you don't know about the Dyson Airblade, watch this video:

Dyson recently announced their new room fan, which in Dyson fashion is quite expensive. The best part of Dyson (in my opinion) is that they do tackle problems from different angles and utilize creativity to solve those problems rather than just taking the road well traveled. Dyson is a great example of marketing in design.

Read more about the cool background and features of the new Dyson room fan at Fast Company and UberReview.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


My current phone as well as my last cell phone were both made by HTC. I thoroughly enjoy the phones they come out with, and in my mind they are really the only phones that compete with the iPhone. And one thing that blows Apple out of the water is the selection that HTC offers, whereas Apple's idea of selection is black and white.

I would like to introduce you to the new HTC HD2. I wrote previously about the HTC Touch HD, and was really impressed. The new HD2 is just as exciting.

One thing you may notice right away is the large screen. The screen is an expansive 4.3" diagonal (compared to the iPhone's 3.5") while still retaining about the same size as the iPhone. The screen is also capacitive (as opposed to resistive touch) and offers WVGA resolution (more than twice the resolution of the iPhone). The HD2 is a little thinner than the iPhone but it is slightly wider and taller. Other great additions for this phone include 448 MB of RAM, 1GHz processor, built in tethering, 5MP camera with dual LED flash, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, G/Proximity/Ambient light sensors, digital compass, as well as very inclusive integration of social networking including facebook, twitter, youtube and flickr.

Also check out the video about HTC Sense, which replaces TouchFLO 3D. It looks pretty great.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Influence your marketing before someone else does

A good post from Church of the Customer Blog (part 1 here) about David Letterman's recent apology(ies).

I think it brings up a great marketing point. It is important to control/influence/affect your marketing and brand before other people do and you lose all control.

While Letterman did something that many people might see as bad or a sign of poor judgment, the truth is we all make mistakes both personally and as companies. It is, in my opinion, better to confront it and have your side heard first.

This does two things:
  1. You guide the conversation, taking it places that can benefit you and your brand.
  2. Allows you to come across as more authentic, because you can admit when you are wrong.
This is also why social media is so important. Not everyone has a great outlet like David Letterman to apologize to the world. If you have a social media presence that is meaningful it is a lot easier to be authentic with your community.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Career Move

After much consideration and prayer I recently decided that working at Target in the position of Executive Team Leader was not where I need to be. I made the decision about 3 weeks ago to put in my notice with Target and look for another career path. It was not an easy decision, as I have spent almost two and a half years working at Target, and most of that time working at the same store. The team I have worked with for the past couple of years has been great. I learned a lot about both myself and business/management/marketing in this position, but I really felt it was time to move on.

One of the worst parts of leaving is saying goodbye to people that I've spent a lot of time with since starting with Target. Of course, it won't be a complete goodbye to everyone, but in this capacity it will. My send-off was very touching, and included 4 goodbye cards, 3 Marie Calendar pies, a whole bunch of goodbye hugs & well-wishes, and 1 smart car with some messages written on the windows. It's really great to know that you've made a difference for people and I won't ever forget my 314 team.

Here are some pictures of my car after some team members had their way with it.

What can I say, it's true!

Some things will be missed, like eating pizza for lunch with certain people.

I'll be missed.

Of course I will come back to visit.

I am therefore currently looking for another career opportunity more in line with my passions and talents. My degree is in marketing and would absolutely love to find something in that field. I've set up this website landing page for prospective employers to take a look at some of my creativity, my resume(s), and my cover letter.

If you know of anyone hiring that is looking for some good talent, send them to my page

Monday, September 28, 2009

Marketing Yourself

The whole dating game/scene or whatever you want to call it is one big exercise in marketing.

Watch this 1990s dating video (via Boing Boing)

It's very interesting to see how people try and market themselves to attract a partner. The key is standing out, but at the same token you don't want to scare people off.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Marketing that Worked

I recently found myself buying something specifically because of some marketing.

I must have seen this Super Bowl commercial 20 times previously, but last time I saw it something clicked.

Soda/Pop and cola commercials have rarely influenced me mostly because I have never really felt that I could even distinguish between Pepsi and Coca Cola. Recently though (and it may be due to a more sensitive palette from wine/beer tastings) I have found some taste differences between regular and diet colas. I realized that diet colas often have a different taste that is not quite as appealing as their sugary counterparts. This mixed in with seeing the above commercial convinced me to buy a 12 pack of Pepsi Max yesterday. (And I don't even drink soda/pop that often).

So, why did this marketing effort work? The key is having a message that fits in personally and/or fills a void with someone. For me it was a connection that I can have a diet cola (and the caloric savings that entails) along with the taste and enjoyment that a regular cola gives. As well, the commercial tells me that I can still be manly and buy this soda, which is important for men my age.

The key is to let your marketing efforts make a connection with someone. I can watch a commercial for Bumpits but that does not mean I'm going to go out and purchase a set (or two for the price of one). It doesn't make a connection with me, it might for a different audience but not for everyone.

The last part of this concept is that you need to choose your audience. If you try to market to everyone you will end up marketing to no one. If that Pepsi Max commercial had more of a feminine angle it would not have had the same message, and it would be much less effective. Because different audiences are different it is difficult if not impossible to make a connection with everyone using the same marketing message.


As you may have seen in one of my recent Tweets that I really like coconut. I thought it best to explain what I meant in that tweet.

You might know that I like experimenting with food. I've been known to create some very interesting "shakes" with some fairly random things thrown in there. Within the last week, I've added coconut as an additional topping to my toast. The first test was toast with peanut butter and (creamed) honey, sprinkled coconut on top. I really liked that, as it increased the delicious factor quite a bit. I ran out of creamed honey after trying this combination twice, so last night I tried it on my peanut butter and raspberry jam toast, it was also very very good.

Therefore, I can't think of anything that I've put coconut on where it hasn't been made better. I have tried it on/with things other than toast as well.

I've also found that coconut is quite the polarizing food. When you ask most people it will either be love or hate, very rarely somewhere in between.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How are your results?

Have you recently searched your name on a search engine? I know it kind of seems fairly egocentric and narcissistic but it is important.

Especially since I am currently job hunting, I decided to search my name recently on the big three search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Here are my results as of this post:

Google - 8, 6, 4
Bing - 10, 6, 1
Yahoo - 10, 6, 2

Numbers are specific results about me on each of the first three pages of the results (each out of 10).

As you can see, Bing and Yahoo are much better on the first page. All three are tied on the second page for numbers of results, and the third page varied.

For marketing purposes it is important to show up at the top of the results, which means the first page and the top of that page. Check out this article (via Seth Godin) about eye tracking studies. So this is a good thing for me, in all three of the top search engines.

However, I kind of feel bad for other anyone else named Luke Moritz, cause I'm getting all the play time. So does this mean that these search engines are actually doing their job? They are showing results for Luke Moritz, and for me they are very relevant, but are they the best they can be?

I guess I'm just hoping that nobody else that shares my name comes along and makes more of a web impact.

What does searching your name give you?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photos from East Coast Trip

Boston at night

Check out my flickr stream for my latest pictures from my East Coast trip last month. I put up only a few, and hopefully it will give you an idea of the trip.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Update

A while back I shared that I had started a new book. If you know me at all you will also know that I often take a long time to finish books when I start reading them.

Recently I have tried to become a little more intentional in reading more regularly. This means I have done a lot more reading recently, especially in "The Age of Spiritual Machines" by Ray Kurzweil.

The chapter I read this morning was all about Kurzweil's technology predictions for the year 2009 that he wrote in 1998 (the book was published in 1999). I found it very interesting to see what a very intelligent futurist thought about what our time would be like. In a lot of respects he was right, and in a lot of respects he was wrong. The biggest aspect that has not come true like he imagined is speech to text applications. His idea was that keyboards would be rarely used and even found on computers and that speech to text synthesis would be the primary means of "writing" on a computer. I'm still using a keyboard for almost all my communication on the keyboard, how about you?

Some other predictions of note, computers would be prevalent throughout the home and clothing. Most people would carry around lightweight computers without keyboards (iPhones/Touch based smartphones anyone?). Cancer and other diseases would no longer be a leading cause of death due to bioengineering etc.

The next chapter is predictions for 2019. That should also be interesting.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dave Matthews Band Concert - 8/30/2009

Here is my quick review of the Dave Matthews Band concert this past Sunday.

It was my first Dave Matthews Band concert, I heard they put on a pretty good show, which was my main reason for wanting to go. I was not disappointed. The jam sessions were great and the sound was a great level, not too loud to bust out your ear drums.

I will admit that I'm not the biggest Dave Matthews Band fan, where I'm not even familiar with a lot of their songs. I do enjoy their music though, and their concert was no exception.

I do have a question for those that went to the concert here in Fresno (and presumably on this tour). Was the video screen behind the stage comprised of large LED panels or was it a slatted screen for a projected image? I had pondered it throughout the evening, and I'd love to know what other people thought.

LED Panels - Quite bright, and when the images were shown on itself (the camera was pointed in part at the image in the background) the secondary image looked quite pixelated. As well, in some of the connecting points between the panels, the image was off. This would suggest not a projected image, but it could have been created by multiple projectors.

Slatted screen for a projected image - It would have had to be very reflective to be as bright during certain parts of the concert. One thing that makes me think this was a possibility is that there were parts of the image not projected on the main panels that showed up on the curtains behind panels throughout the concert, making the image more continuous than the odd shape the panels had.

Please comment with your thoughts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Farewell, Reading Rainbow


Reading Rainbow is going off the air today after 26 years, making it the third longest running show on PBS (after Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood). Nothing about this on Levar Burton's blog or Twitter acct. as of yet.

Wow, that means that Reading Rainbow has been on the air since before I was born. Many good times watching this show even in recent years.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

So I went to see the movie Inglourious Basterds last night. I had heard some not so glowing reviews about the movie from The New Yorker and The Atlantic via Chris and Tim on our trip. I am always wary of reviews by "experts" though, because while art does have some objectivity to it I believe that a lot of it is subjective. Plus, I do enjoy Quentin Tarantino films, so I did give this movie a chance.

I will start by saying that, like many movies by Tarantino, this flick is not for the faint of heart. It does have quite a bit of violence, which is obvious if you've seen any the trailers or know anything about the movie.

The movie itself is (I'm assuming) just loosely based on World War II and Hitler and his top officials. The story takes bits and pieces from history but is mostly a work of fiction. I enjoyed the way the movie's first half introduced a bunch of different storylines and characters and the way they came together in the second half. The music, especially at the beginning of the movie, reminded me a lot of the soundtrack to the Kill Bill movie(s). Much of the dialogue was in languages other than English, and most of it is subtitled. I think this did add a lot to story itself. I was also quite happy that the storyline/conflict was not exactly what I imagined when I saw the trailers.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, and it was worth the money spent on the ticket.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 11

Today we left New Haven in the morning and drove to Providence, RI. In Providence we caught a commuter rail train into Boston. After checking into our hotel, which is right beside Fenway Park, we started exploring Boston.

We walked around and explored a lot walking along the freedom trail. This is a brick and painted trail throughout Boston that takes you to a number of historical sites. We saw things such as old churches, cemeteries where famous revolutionary figures are burried, and old houses and meeting halls. It also took us through Boston's Little Italy, where we stopped at Mike's Pastry which had a huge selection of delicious Italian pastries.

For dinner, and to round out our day, we went to Boston Beer Works right across the street from Fenway where we sampled the local cuisine and brews.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 10

Today was a much more relaxing day than most days so far in the trip.

Chris, Tim and myself hung out in New Haven. We made another trip to both Ikea and Target to pick up a few more items for Tim. We also headed over to Yale and got a tour of the campus during the daytime.

We also helped Tim build a bunch of the furniture he had bought. After that we met up with one of Tim's classmates in his program at Yale and headed down to the Yale bookstore and a restaurant nearby. We ate at a place called Thali Too, which is a Vegetarian Indian cuisine place. It was quite delicious.

We ended the night at a coffee shop where we figured out plans for the next couple days in Boston.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 9

Today was day 2 in New York City and we had a lot of fun. We started the day of by catching the commuter train into New York City again. Our first order of business was to take the subway uptown from Grand Central Station to Central Park.

After misreading the subway map we ended up taking an express train too far uptown and into Harlem. After taking a train back down to the right station we walked through a small portion of Central Park seeing Strawberry Fields and Tavern on the Green. Our goal was to see a bit of the park but also we needed to head down to Times Square to stand in line at TKTS.

TKTS is a little shop in Times Square that acts as sort of a clearing house for Broadway show tickets. You can buy tickets for shows the day of, at 20% to 50% off the box office price. We waited in line for about an hour and purchased tickets for the Broadway Musical "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.

After getting our tickets we headed down on the Subway to the Financial District where we saw ground zero, New York Stock Exchange, and an old Federal building where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the US.

We grabbed lunch and headed uptown on the subway again to do some shopping at H&M since we don't have one in Fresno. We then walked the rest of the way back to Times Square on Broadway where our theater was.

After the musical we headed back out through Times Square and the throngs of people to the subway. We caught a train downtown again to Little Italy where we had planned to eat a late dinner. When we got back up to street level we found it to be pouring rain and lightning and thundering outside. This was shocking because we had left the street no more than 15 - 20 minutes earlier and it was completely different.

We walked a couple blocks in the rain trying to stand under awnings as much as possible to stay a little dry and found a little Italian restaurant that looked good. After dinner we walked through little Italy a bit more as the rain had stopped. We too the subway back up to Grand Central to catch the commuter train back to New Haven.

Monday, August 17, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 8

Today was spent in New York City. We drove to New Haven Union Station, which is about 5 minutes from Tim's place and caught a commuter train into the city. It took about 1 hour 40 minutes to get there and when we got to New York's Grand Central Station it was about 11am so we decided to stop for lunch at a deli.

After that we walked around a bit and saw St. Patricks Cathedral, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and a whole bunch of Midtown Manhattan. We decided to go see the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) where we spent a few hours. I really enjoyed the special exhibit by Ron Arad, which was full of very unique and interesting design examples, including a lot of chairs.

After the MoMA we hopped on the subway and went over to Greenwich Village and had a delicious Thai dinner at a restaurant called Isles. We walked around that area saw Washington Square Park, NYU, and a bit of SoHo and NoHo and got some Gellato for dessert.

We hopped back on the Subway and headed back to Midtown to check out Times Square at night. It was very impressive and a lot bigger than I imagined. Almost too many people. We walked around there and walked back to Grand Central Station to catch our train back to New Haven.

New York City (and specifically Manhattan) is very neat. My biggest perception is the huge numbers of tall buildings. I've been to a lot of big cities before but nothing like this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 7

There wasn't a lot of traveling today, I didn't even leave New Haven, CT today.

After sleeping in until 8am, we lounged around Tim's apartment until we headed over to Ikea to pick up a few more items for Tim's place. I love Ikea and was really looking forward to going. We at breakfast at the restaurant there and did our shopping and then put together all the furniture when we got back.

I took a bit of time to do some laundry across the street before dinner. We headed down to the Booster Square area of town and had dinner at Pepe's Pizzeria. Apparently New Haven is known for their brick oven pizza. It was very delicious and the pizzas were extremely large.

Our friend Janna who is currently attending school at the University of Connecticut joined us for the evening and there was lots of memories and reminiscing going on. After we said our good-byes, Tim, Chris and myself planned out our game plan for the next couple days in New York City.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 6

I shall call today Ivy League day. After waking up this morning we left Washington DC and headed up towards New England.

A little further north of Philadelphia, PA we stopped in Princeton, NJ. We have friend, Eric Sunderland who is attending seminary at Princeton Theological Seminary. He took us on a tour through that campus and also Princeton University campus. Very beautiful campus surroundings and buildings. After eating lunch, catching up and touring around we headed up to our final destination, New Haven, CT.

When we arrived in New Haven we helped Tim unload his stuff, picked up a few more necessities from Target, and installed his new window a/c. After that we took off walking to downtown for dinner and to see a bit of Yale University. We ate at a small local burger joint and saw a few of the University buildings in the dark.

Friday, August 14, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 5

It's hard to believe we've only finished the 5th day of the trip. We've seen so much, experienced a lot, and visited so many states.

Today we woke up after sleeping in until 9 (even though we still only got 7 hours of sleep). We had breakfast and walked two blocks to the DC metro stop by Chris's place. We took the metro to Capitol Hill and stopped into the Congressman's office for whom Chris works. We headed over to the Capitol building where Chris gave us a tour. We got lunch at a pub afterwards where I got the fish and chips.

We had some time to kill so we walked over to the Supreme Court building and the Folger Shakespeare Library. We then headed over to the Library of Congress where we had a tour scheduled. DC is a really neat city, and I think I really like the idea of a whole city dedicated to a nation's capital.

My biggest observation of the city is that Washington DC has been, since independence, a city built to show the American people and the rest of the world that even though we're a relatively young nation, we want to be taken seriously. The best example of this is in some of the art in these beautiful buildings. In the Library of Congress there is a mural on the ceiling that portrays a number of nude men in the style of classical olympics/sports, but instead of discus throwing or wrestling they are playing baseball. It shows this contrast of roots with the old world and a sense of modernity and forward thinking.

After the tours we went to dinner at Buca di Beppo near Dupont Circle followed by dessert at Kramerbooks & afterwords cafe & grill. We headed back to Chris's place via the Metro and called it a day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 4

Today was very eventful. We woke up in Indianapolis and drove through the following states: Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. WV and MD were both first-time visits for me. It was only a 9.5 hour drive today, but the last day always seems to take the longest.

Our initial destination was Annapolis, MD to drop off Harrison and his brother who were our traveling buddies for the trip. Harrison is starting his Masters program at St. John's College there. We helped him unpack the car then we drove downtown to check out the city. We went for dinner at a great little restaurant where I got a delicious crab cake. We walked down the main street afterwards where we got ice cream, I got toasted coconut ice cream in a freshly made waffle cone. I also purchased some fudge. We walked around the city a little more checking out the state capitol building (Annapolis is the capital of Maryland) and walked around St. John's College, as well as the waterfront. Annapolis is a very pretty town and reminded me a lot of Europe.

Tim and I then took the short (half hour) trip to Washington DC where we were meeting Chris. We hung out a bit at his place and then decided to head down to the mall and Capitol Hill to see the monuments. It was already 10pm so there weren't many other people, so we got a lot of the monuments to ourselves, and I got a lot of great night shot pictures. We saw the capitol building where congress meets, the Washington monument, the White House, the Lincoln memorial, and the mall as well as a number of buildings, museums, statues, and monuments along the mall. We walked at least 4 miles to see all of that. Everything was really pretty at night and I can't wait to see them again in the daytime.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 3

Today we woke up in Tulsa, OK. The family we stayed with owns 4 Subway franchises, so he took us to one of his restaurants to make lunch for our trip.

We drove through 4 states today: Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. One of the highlights was driving through St. Louis and seeing the large arch.

After arriving in Indianapolis to end our traveling for the day we stopped at Qdoba for some burritos. We are staying at another La Quinta tonight, and just from seeing the setup in the lobby, its looking like the continental breakfast should be a little better than the last one.

Tim and I are up to 39 different license plates in our game. We did get a plate from Mexico today, and we saw a bunch more semi-trucks from Ontario (although we saw Ontario the first day, and we haven't seen any other Canadian provinces yet).

Tim and I took a swim in the hotel pool before settling in for the night. No fireflies tonight though...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 2

With only about 9 hours on the road today, we had a much more relaxing day compared to 13 hours on the road yesterday.

We started the day with the continental breakfast at La Quinta. It was ok, a little disappointing because a lot of the food (muffins, bagels, waffles) were pre-packaged and not fresh.

We left New Mexico, where I didn't have a lot of cell coverage, and headed into the Texas panhandle. We ate lunch in Amarillo and headed out and got to Oklahoma and stopped for dinner in Oklahoma City. We met up with our traveling buddy's Dad who happened to be in Oklahoma City on business. We ate at a nice "Italian Urban Cafe" called Trattoria Il Centro, where I had a smoked chicken pizza that had wild mushrooms and carmelized onions. We finished off the meal with some Vanilla Gellato.

We made the relatively short drive to Tulsa where we headed to the house of a family friend of our traveling buddies. We jumped into the pool and hot tub where we relaxed, chatted and watched the fireflies light up the backyard.

Monday, August 10, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 1

Well its the end of a long and slightly exhausting day. We left Fresno at about 7:15am and were in a total of 3 states, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Other than driving for 13 hours there wasn't a whole lot that happened today. Tim and I started playing the license plate game, we have 19 different states and provinces. In Flagstaff, AZ we had a bit of trouble with our GPS units while trying to get back to the Interstate. (We ended up at a quarry at one point!)

Tonight we are staying at a La Quinta in Albuquerque, NM. They have a pretty good continental breakfast apparently so we will be partaking in that tomorrow.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

East Coast Trip

Tomorrow I leave on an East Coast trip with my friend Tim. We will be caravaning with another friend (Harrison) and his brother. Tim will be starting his doctoral program at Yale, which is why he is going and I thought it would be fun to tag along.

We are driving through Albuquerqe, NM, Oklahoma City, OK, Indianapolis, IN. We'll be visiting New York, Washington DC, and Boston, as well as New Haven, CT while over there.

I will be twittering, blogging, and using Google Latitude throughout the trip to keep you up to date. Feel free to follow along!

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I was just watching some new Movie Trailers at Hulu and I saw that they are offering demographically based ratings out of 5 stars for their trailers. They have four different categories Under 25: Men and Women, and Over 25: Men and Women. I am 25 years old, and not quite sure where I fit in.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What is 230?

If you've watched TV recently, you may have seen this commercial.

It's one of the simplest commercials, or rather teaser commercials I've seen. It just has a winking power outlet that makes the zero in the number 230, and 8-11 below it. The background of the commercial is green, which emotes an environmentally friendly theme.

This article from Advertising Age has some insights, but mostly just guesses. However, the Internet community is fairly certain that this commercial is being run by GM, which narrows the guesses down quite substantially.

One idea that the entire US electrical grid is going to be converted from 120 volts to 230 is probably the least likely of them all. This kind of change would require an act of congress (I'm quite sure) and the government wouldn't spend money on teaser commercials for a switch like that. Did you see any teaser commercials for the switch to Digital TV broadcast? So a big change like this would be in the news while still in the bill stages in congress.

As far as marketing strategy I think it's a good technique to use on GMs behalf. It's creating mystery, and people are spending time trying to find out what it is. One aspect that is different in this case is that the commercial does not even include a website to go to. With a search on Google of "230 8 11" the top sponsored link is the Official Website, which has only slightly more information than the commercial. The website includes a flickr photostream and a twitter link that will allow you to twitter "I spotted 230. #whatis230". This strategy of not including a website address makes people a little more interested in what it is and forces these people to go out and search for it, rather than just type in an address in their browser.

When people take more initiative and time researching your marketing, then it's going to stay with them that much longer.

The biggest thing you have to watch out for is that people don't get too frustrated and just forget about it completely.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Being Bald

I recently shaved my hair completely off. I've had very short hair before, but I've never shaved it down to the scalp.

Since shaving off all my hair I've been told I look like the following people (in no particular order):
  • Howie Mandel
  • Vin Diesel
  • Dr. Evil
  • Mr. Clean
  • Bruce Willis
  • Captain Picard
  • Lex Luthor
  • Remy (from Higher Learning)
That's most of the names I can think of.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Trip to Edmonton

I am flying out this afternoon from Fresno to Edmonton for a few days. My Grandfather passed away quite peacefully yesterday afternoon. My brother Jonathan and I were going to be meeting my parents up in Edmonton this weekend to spend some time with my Grandfather as he was very sick and we knew he didn't have a lot of time left. Unfortunately we missed getting to see him this weekend by about a day. The funeral will be sometime early this week.

My Grandfather will surely be missed, and we all love him very much. He is in a much better place now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alice in Wonderland

In case you haven't seen the trailer for Tim Burton's new film Alice in Wonderland or for that matter heard about it coming out, check it out below. I think it is going to be really great.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It is a very long time coming, but I said I would blog on this and here it is.

Within the last few weeks I watched a feature film/show on Hulu from Fox called Virtuality. Unfortunately the show is no longer available on Hulu, so you'll have to wait until they might post it again.

Virtuality is basically a science fiction set in the future when the Earth is quickly becoming uninhabitable and a crew of scientists are sent into space to explore a nearby star system. The two things that make this show unique is that the lives and experiences of the crew is being video taped and sent back to earth as a reality TV show, and the ship is fitted with a virtuality reality system to occupy the crew's time and keep them sane. Both of these two aspects of the show seem to be adding the conflict, keeping it from being boring.

I liked the show a lot, and I hope Fox (or someone) picks it up. I think it has potential to be really good, and I liked the acting so far.

Perfect Time for Rail

As you know, I am quite passionate about High Speed Rail coming to California. I try and share this enthusiasm with others so they can see all the positives associated with this project. One of the arguments I hear most often from people that don't really understand the project is "we can't afford a project like this while the economy is in this state."

These people need to read this article on the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Text or Call

With the new study done at Fresno State about texting while driving, I was reminded of something I heard while on my recent trip to Edmonton.

A DJ on one of the radio stations I was listening to was talking about getting in touch with the radio station, and she said "And if you're driving, don't take any unnecessary risks by calling, go ahead and text us at XXXXXX". I thought to myself, is it really safer to text the radio station while driving than to call them?

What do you think?

Trip to Canada

A week ago I had the opportunity to fly up to Edmonton, AB for the weekend to visit family and friends and spend some time with my Grandpa. It was a both a happy and sad trip, but I'm really glad I got to go.

A long with spending quality time each day with my Grandpa, I visited with Grandma, Uncle Myron & Aunt Betty, the Jones, Tim G., and Mackenzie. As well, I saw a lot of other people at Church and those that came to visit my Grandpa while I was at the hospital. I drove by all the houses I lived in while in Edmonton, and I drove by all 4 schools I attended in Edmonton.

It was a big step for me, as it was the first time I had ever rented a car. Now that I am 25 I can rent a car like any other adult. The other parts of the trip weren't anything new as far as traveling is concerned though.

Edmonton sure is a growing city as I saw by all the construction (LRT expansion and cranes all over the city) and I realize every time I go how much I miss Edmonton and all the people I know up there.

Friday, July 03, 2009

10 000 miles

In the last month I finally hit the 10 000 mile mark on my Smart Car! It took about 11 months for this feat, and what it means is I was recommended to take my car to the dealership to have the car's first oil change and 10 000 mile service/check-up.

Unfortunately, the closest dealership (and the dealership from where I bought my car) is in San Jose, a mere 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive. It is Smart Center Stevens Creek and it is attached to and a part of the Porsche dealership next door. I was lucky enough to have my brother Andrew come along with me. We made the trek up to San Jose, got to the dealership at 9:00am and let the dealership do there thing. I got the car back shortly before noon, and we were on our way.

The complete work-up cost me about $160.

The dealership did the following on my car:
  • Oil/Filter change
  • Checked the lights
  • Checked and topped up the fluids
  • Checked system components such as wiper blades/hoses/belts/horn/clutch
  • Checked battery
  • Checked tires
  • Checked brakes
  • Checked underbody and exterior trim
  • Washed the exterior of the car
  • Vacuum/clean the interior
I also received a "Know Your Vehicle" pamphlet, which has a lot of good information such as tire tread and brake condition. I'm not sure if this was particularly specific to this dealership or not. The car wash was also nice, and I felt very appreciated by the staff at the Smart Dealership as well as the Porsche Dealership.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wine for the Confused

After work last night I fired up Hulu and watched one of the videos in my queue. I got home at 11:45pm, so I didn't want to watch a full 2-hour movie, and I'm caught up on all my shows, so I found the shortest video in my queue. Wine for the Confused narrated by comedian John Cleese.

I don't consider myself a completely unaware about wine, as I've been wine tasting a number of times throughout California and even in Washington, but I'm by no means at the top of my game. The two things that have been the most helpful in enjoy wine are the wine tasting class I took at Fresno State University, and the numerous wine tasting trips I've taken where you can just chat with the people at the winery/tasting room and sometimes even the wine makers. I do enjoy wine and I am ever increasingly learning about wine and finding out what I enjoy and what goes well with what.

When I saw this show/film on Hulu I thought I might enjoy it because it is about wine and is narrated by a great comedian.

I was not disappointed. If you have about 43 minutes, I strongly recommend watching it. Cleese goes through such topics as wine tasting basics (flavors, smells, etc.), 3 red grapes/wines, 3 white grapes/wines, choosing a wine, price of a wine, and serving wine.