“I appreciate that you think I’m deep and all, but really, I’m just trying to steal from you.”

— Sam Summarizes Socialism

Citi really, really wants me


I thought it was amusing back in January when CitiBank sent me three credit-card offers in one day, all basically identical to the card I already had with them. Today, a knock on my door announced the arrival of an unsolicited Instant Rate Modification offer from CitiMortgage, complete with pen and return next-day air envelope.

They want to lower my interest rate from 4.25% to 4.0%, effective immediately, for the low price of $250. Since it would save me $43 a month, on the surface it looks like a good deal. But the offer is good for one week only, which makes me look at the fine print. As expected, it resets the fixed period on my 3/1 ARM, locking me into this rate until 2007.

I think it’s time to shop around and see what sort of refinancing deals other banks will offer me.

Poker women


Darn it, kids today just have it too easy. Do you know how hard we had to work in college to get women to play poker? Okay, we were actually trying to get them to play strip poker, but still.

Some of the reactions suggest that it may be a short-lived fad, but judging from the spring-break crowds in Vegas this year, it’s a big one.

"It is crazy on campus," said Rachel Dorfman, a University of Georgia sophomore who often plays poker for hours with her Sigma Delta Tau sisters. "It is absolutely the thing to do right now."

I can’t complain, though. I feel sorry for the Vegas old-timers who had to suffer through the days when there might be only one woman in the entire room. The only downside to this trend is that women tend to be very good at reading men, giving them a distinct advantage at the table. I don’t even like to think about the advantage that pretty women have…

Of course, no story that mixed college and gambling would be complete without the twin specters of targeting students and addiction. I love this quote:

The 18- to 24-year-old age group has some of the highest rates of gambling addictions, said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Good luck finding actual statistics on the NCPG web site, though, and you’ll find even less about the differences (both psychological and financial) between different types of gambling. Not surprising, since they’re hardly the bias-free concerned-citizen watchdog group that the story presents them as. A quick Google reveals that NCPG recently got nailed for antitrust violations for trying to monopolize the lucrative problem-gambling treatment market.

The Clone Wars


Why does every girl in this film look like a cheap knockoff of some other recently-popular teen actress? Or do they all look like that these days?

Corporate fat cats


Why does this sound like a really bad idea? Sprint apparently deliberately designed their new corporate headquarters to force people to do a lot of walking and stair-climbing. For their own good, of course.

Sprint built the car parks a 10-minute walk from the office buildings. So much for getting to meetings on time when you’re running late. And, oh, by the way, this is in Kansas, not Southern California, so they have actual seasons:

"It's not bad, unless it's 110 degrees outside or below freezing and raining and cold."

The campus I work on wasn’t deliberately designed to encourage exercise, as far as I know, but the five two-story buildings are spaced out sufficiently that you will do some walking if you need to go anywhere. And it’s built right next to the Stevens Creek trail, which a lot of people use for exercise and one-on-one meetings with their managers.

Hmm, come to think of it, the internal signage in the buildings is so bad that it’s almost impossible to find conference rooms or offices you’ve never been to before, so maybe they did design it to encourage extra walking. Hey, Sprint, I’ve got another idea for you!

Oh, by the way, less than two weeks after we moved into this campus, there were dozens of those little folding scooters around, and electric golf carts in use by the Facilities group. I suspect similar things happen at Sprint, but it didn’t fit the spin of the story, so it’s not mentioned.

Update: interesting comment from someone at Fark:

What this article neglected to mention is that the major ring road for the campus is BETWEEN the parking garages and the offices, so just as the largest number of people are walking to/from the offices, the largest number of people are also trying to navigate their cars to the garages. Apparently Sprint was too cheap to pay for the skywalks over the ring road.

Fire good


Officially, my Weber natural gas grill (Silver B) is defective. They even came out and replaced the guts of it once, to try to bring it back into spec.

The problem? It’s too darn hot. Fantastic for steaks, miserable for anything that requires “low and slow”. The built-in thermometer gave out on medium, and with all three burners on high, I didn’t own anything capable of recording the temperature of the cooking surface. I just knew that it regularly burned the seasoning right off of the cast iron grates.

So, I picked up one of those spiffy non-contact thermometers, which even comes with a small laser sight to tell you what you’re measuring (toy alert! toy alert!). A friend came over yesterday for lunch, and just before we slapped the t-bones onto the grill, we took a few readings with it: 780° Fahrenheit.

Every time I think about having Weber come back out and fix it, I grill a steak, and change my mind. Who needs “low and slow,” anyway?

Stupidest. Smart Gun. Ever.


This is such a bad idea that I doubt that even New Jersey is stupid enough to consider it a “safe handgun”. I’m quite certain that cops would rather go unarmed than be saddled with such a piece of garbage. Not that I expect it to actually come to market, of course; like most vaporware, the press release exists to sell stock, not product.

iPod mini a victim of its own success


Apparently the worldwide rollout of the iPod mini has been delayed, basically because Hitachi can’t make 4GB MicroDrives fast enough to keep up with demand.

As the pleased owner of one (silver, by the way, and I’d have gone for a nice dark gray if they’d made one), I’m not surprised. People who viewed it as a barely-cheaper iPod with much lower capacity were missing the point; it’s not cannibalizing sales of full-sized iPods, it’s capturing the demographic that wasn’t willing to buy an iPod at all, for various reasons.

And gadget freaks like me, of course. The mini is my third iPod, and I still have the second one, which now lives full-time in the car and makes long drives more pleasant. And I spend a lot of time driving, mostly by choice. When the next round of full-sized iPods comes out, there’s a good chance I’ll buy one of those, too, mostly because Apple supposedly has adopted the mini’s excellent controls to replace the unreliable non-buttons on the 3G iPods.

Note that the success of the mini also means that as soon as the demand is met, Hitachi will be able to flood the market with 4GB MicroDrives, and that’s pretty cool, too.

Move over, Stallman!


I think we’ve just found the perfect singer to cover The Free Software Song in the manner it deserves.

I can’t really say “thank you” to Chuq Von Rospach for linking to this, but I’ll try to get even someday.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”