Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Self Questioning - 1

And now for the first in what will be a series of questions I ask of myself. I've got a queue of questions, and once I'm done with the DVD I'll start rolling these out for discussion. For now, I'll resurrect my annual Baseball Postseason Predictions with this question:

Q: How will the Major League Baseball postseason play out?
A: Allow me to make the following predictions.

1. The individual series will proceed as follows:
National League: Phillies over Rockies in 4, Cubs over Diamondbacks in 5. Then the Cubs will beat the Phillies in 7 games to advance to the World Series
American League: Red Sox over Angels in 4, Indians over Yankees in 5. The Red Sox will beat the Indians in 5 games to advance to the World Series.

2. The Red Sox will win the World Series. It will take 7 games, and it will be ugly, but in the end the Sox will come out on top. Sorry, Cubs fans.

3. A-Rod will choke in the post-season. When the calendar flips to October, A-Rod flips off. It's happened throughout his career, and I don't see any evidence that it's going to change this year. Yes, he had a fantastic year. But now it's the post-season. That was then, this is now.

So that's my picture of the post-season. Now let's all sit back and enjoy what will undoubtedly be a great post-season!

Monday, October 1, 2007

26 - Answer(s)

Q: Bill Jeffers - How long before the Miami Dolphins sign Michael Vick?
A: At the time that this question was asked I would have said “a week.” But a lot of stuff has gone down between then and now. For a quick summary I find this page pretty good; it's the fantasy news summary, and it does a good job of collecting the stories related to the Saga of Vick. I have to say, this is a pretty epic self-destruct on his part. If I ever start to go off the rails, I hope that my failures aren't nearly this interesting.

So to answer your actual question, Bill, I think that he might one day get signed by the Miami Dolphins. But that won't be this year, next year, or probably the year afterwards either. My guess is that VIck won't be back in the NFL this decade. Ask again in 2010, assuming I'm still doing this then.

Q: Karyn Graves - Say I have some old (10+ years) homemade mix tapes (yes, cassette). I believe they were all made using properly purchased musical recordings. (A side question: if not - like if they were off the radio, would that be illegal?) If I am legal up to this point (keeping the tapes in my own possession), I assume it is illegal to sell those homemade tapes with all the new legislation? Is it also illegal to give them away for free?

A: To find the answers to this question I went right to the RIAA website. It's a good source of music copyright stuff from the consumer side of things. Regardless of your opinions about the RIAA, they are the law on these matters, so they warrent listening to. I am making the assumption for the duration of this question that you're talking about music that's copyrighted in some way. There are no restrictions on non-copyrighted music, such as the stuff my band has put out, or that I've recorded on my own.

Now, you are allowed by the RIAA to make a tape duplication of a CD, or to mix and match tracks from CDs onto tape for personal use only. So you’re legally in the clear with the mix tapes that you have. However, if you were to sell those tapes you would be breaking the law. As I read it, you would also be breaking the law if you were to give the tapes away. I think that the only way that would be legal is if you gave the person the CDs that you used to make the tape in the first place along with the tape itself. Which defeats the purpose of making the mix tape in the first place. As to recording music off of the radio, I think that's also illegal, even for non-commercial purposes.

Your question got me thinking about what I feel is the lost art of the mix tape. I too engaged in the activity of making mix tapes, sitting in my room for several hours carefully selecting songs and recording them on my JVC stereo. I made them for friends and now-ex-girlfriends, and I really enjoyed it. It allowed me to express myself musically, and it also got me interested in audio engineering and the art of mixing.

Unfortunately I think that the art of the mix tape is one that is sadly lost forever. With the advent of digital music, the mix tape has been relegated to the dustbin of history. That makes me sad, now that I think about it. I enjoyed the process of making a mix tape. You only had 60 or 90 minutes to work with, and that was it. It made song selection very important, and pacing was always an interesting challenge. Nowadays you can just make a playlist that goes on virtually forever. Sure, you can simulate the experience of a mix tape, but it's just not the same.

Do I feel old now? You bet I do!

Q: Adam Barnello - BluRay or HDDVD?
A: Next week. I don't have the energy for this question right now, so I'll take a rain check. Sorry, Barn. Check back soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

25 - Answer(s)

And now, a special All Babies edition! I feel pretty ridiculous answering these, given my current status as an unmarried childless male, but I'll give it a shot.

Q: Eric Democko - On what date, and at what time will our baby be born? (due date=2/11/08)
A: As far as I understand, children of first-time mothers are often born late. I was born about a week late, and pretty much every mother I can think of had a similar experience. With that information in mind, I think tacking a few days on to your date would be wise, so my guess is going to be 2/16/08.

While we're on this topic, I think it might be time for a Jolinko Baby Pool. Maybe when you two get closer to your delivery date you could set that up. It could certainly be a fun way to pass the time.

Q: Nicole Maloney - while we're on the topic of babies... Lucas will be 1 year old on 8/29, should I have another one now, or wait? :-) hehehehe
A: First, congratulations to you and Glenn for getting through your first year as parents, and also happy birthday to Lucas. I hope that he remains a happy and healthy baby, at least until it's time for him to become a toddler :).

The wording of your question tells me that you've already decided to have more children, which is something I wholeheartedly support. Children should have siblings; I have a younger sister, and she made growing up a lot more interesting. We've had our share of good times and bad, but on the whole I wouldn't trade her in for anything. I'm sure that everyone here who has siblings will tell similar stories. So I think that your desire for more children is a good thing, and I say go for it!

As to timing, there are many theories out there, and I won't pretend to be an expert on any of them. Some people think that you should space them out by three or four (or more) years, while others think that you should have them in quick succession. I also know of several couples that had one or two children early, then waited another ten years before having more. I'm not sure I like that; doing it that way almost creates two separate families due to the large differences in age between the children. With that said, the decision is obviously one best left to you and Glenn. Now that you've been through pregnancy you know what to expect, and thus you're better prepared for the experience. On the other hand, this time you'll have a one year-old to deal with at the same time, which I'm sure will complicate things greatly.

So what's my answer? I guess I think you should have another child sooner rather than later, but again, it's your call. Best of luck, you two!

Monday, August 6, 2007

24 - Answer(s): Part 2

Q: Karyn Graves - Do other countries have as big of an issue with gay marriage as we do over here? Do they have laws about it?
A: I’m going to start my answer to this question with a bit of a lecture on etymology. I intend to dedicate an entire chapter in my book to the subject of words, their definitions, and their commonly understood meanings. I find the topic to be both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because the evolution of the meanings of words says a lot about our culture. Frustrating because that same evolution can make civilized discussion of important issues impossible.

Let’s start with some definitions, because unless we agree on language we can’t have a conversation. The first thing to understand with this issue is that there is no such thing as “gay marriage”. The word “gay” is commonly understood to mean a person who is homosexual. The definition of “homosexual” is a person who achieves sexual satisfaction with a person of the same gender. The definition of “marriage” is the union of one man with one woman. Note that this definition also covers a person having multiple spouses; each pairing is technically still the union of one man and one woman. I’m not going to get into a discussion of why that is the definition, nor will I waste time trying to rationalize. I simply state that the definition of the word “marriage” is “the union of one man with one woman.”

Because of these definitions the term “homosexual marriage” is rendered meaningless. How can you have a “marriage” (the union of a man and a woman) between two people of the same sex? It’s impossible.

Strawman Alert: “Oh, so you’re opposed to two happily committed gay people living together, huh? HOMOPHOBE!” Folks, read what I wrote. Did I say that homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to live together? No. What business of mine is it who lives with whom? Furthermore, did I give any indication of my feelings towards homosexuals? No. What does it matter what I think about homosexuality? I'm just a man with a keyboard. It’s precisely this irrationality and ad-hominum thinking that makes discussing this issue hard. So let’s all just keep cool and rational about this.

I’ll turn the question back around: Why do homosexuals want the word “marriage” to be redefined? I don’t have an answer to that question, and won’t presume to speak for the homosexual community. If I were forced to guess I would say that the re-definition is being sought after to make homosexuality more “normal”. In the end, I believe that words have meanings. If we want to create a new institution to recognize the union of two people of the same sex, then that new institution should be given its own word.

With all of that out of the way I can finally get to your question. In order to fully answer it I must first outline how other nations deal with homosexual marriage. The information that follows was taken from There’s a lot more there, but this quick summary will serve my needs well.

Holland expanded their definition of marriage to include same-sex couples in April of 2001. Belgium did the same in January of 2003. Canada instituted homosexual marriage starting in the province of Ontario in June of 2003, and in July of 2005 it had become federal law. Spain passed a law allowing same-sex couples to marriage in June of 2005.

These are the only countries (along with South Africa) in which homosexual marriage is enshrined in law. There are other nations which allow civil unions, including England, France, and parts of Australia. For a complete picture of the world-wide state of homosexual marriage, see the Wikipedia article here. Among other information, I particularly liked the world map they provide.

On the other side of the tolerance coin, nations that follow sharia law (the law of the Islamic faith) have no tolerance for homosexuals. Nations that follow this include Saudi Arabia and Iran. Homosexuality is illegal, and punishable by death (typically by stoning). In a sense, that is how they deal with homosexual marriage.

The wording of your question also points to an underlying tension in American society. There is indeed a “problem” with homosexual marriage, but it’s a distinctly American problem. Let me explain, starting with a statement that some may disagree with: America is not a bigoted, racist country. Does this means that the country is free of bigots and racists? Of course not. But the society of America as a whole is a very tolerant one. Part of the problem with this discussion is that unrelated issues are being blurred together. Americans as a whole are tolerant of homosexuality. That is a private sexual issue. That tolerance of homosexuality, however, does not extend into the public realm of marriage.

How the issue is being handled is also very un-American. The decision whether or not to redefine marriage is not being handled by the American people, but rather by a group that I will call “the elite”. By and large, Americans do not like to be told what to do by anyone, especially people whom they see as not representative of their views. By attempting to force homosexual marriage on the populace through the courts, the activists have sewn the seeds of their undoing. Already there is a substantial backlash to this, and it will grow over time.

So how will this issue be ultimately resolved? I have no idea. That’s a subject for another question.

Monday, May 14, 2007

24 - Answer(s)

Q: Bill Jeffers - No pussy footing around this time-Who wins the Stanley Cup? And you're not allowed to wait until it's over to answer OR give a wise-ass answer about the team who scores more goals in the deciding game. I want to put your prognostacability to the test.
A: I deliberately waited to answer this question, but I didn't mean to wait for this long. Before Thursday I would have said the Sabres are going to win the Stanley Cup without a doubt. After going 0-2 at home this weekend, I'm not as sure as I was. However, I'm going to stick with that prediction. The Sabres are going to win the Stanley Cup. They will beat the Detroit Red Wings in 6 games. That is the official prediction. Any money lost by betting based on my predictions, however, is your own fault.

Q: Nicole Maloney - Why do slugs melt when you dump salt on them?
A: Slugs produce a large quantity of moisture in the form of slime. This allows them to climb, and to move in general. When salt is poured onto a slug, it has the effect of sucking the moisture from their bodies. Therefore, the slug will die from dehydration very rapidly, which creates the appearance of "melting".

Q: Karyn Graves - Do other countries have as big of an issue with gay marriage as we do over here? Do they have laws about it?
A: This is a great question. One that allows me to talk at length about all manner of subjects. Sadly, I'm not ready to post yet. But when I am, you'll get your answer. Short version: the majority of other countries have a bigger issue with gay marriage than we do, in that the majority of other countries are openly hostile to homosexuals in general. But I'll get more into this later.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

23 - Answers

Q: Jennifer Walden - In a mascot brawl - Who would win, the UMASS Minuteman, or the UMaine Bear?
A: I think that there are two ways of looking at this question: What the mascots represent, and the actual mascots themselves. First, let's look at what the mascots represent, and how they would match up in a fight.

The U-Maine bear is an American Black Bear. It is a formidable opponent in a fight, with sharp claws and teeth, and weighing in between 400 and 500 pounds. Personally, I wouldn't want to fight on. On the other hand you have the Minuteman, which is either a colonial militiaman armed with a musket, or a thermonuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile. Now, in the case of the missile, I think the missile would win (though it's debatable that the missile could in fact win without surviving). In the case of the militiaman, if he's well trained in the use of his musket he could probably hunt the black bear and kill it. In hand-to-hand combat, however, the black bear would almost certainly win.

The second way to look at this question is the actual mascots themselves. If I remember correctly, the Minuteman had a rather comically over-sized head but was otherwise fairly normally proportioned. He was armed with a (presumably fake) musket. The Black Bear also had a removable head, but on the whole it was much more normally proportioned. The suit looked quite furry, which was probably both warm and also well-protecting. Based on these things, I think that the Black Bear would certainly win the fight. All that he would have to do is knock the Minuteman down (probably easy given the comically over-sized head), and the fight would be over.

On a side note, this would be a hilarious event to watch. I think that it should be part of the intermission entertainment at college hockey games. Who do you have to call to set this kind of thing up?

Q: Bill Jeffers - How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
A: I've been waiting for someone to ask me this question. It's an age-old question, and one that can be tackled in a variety of ways. What I decided to do was to get myself a Tootsie Pop, measure it, and then start licking away. Here are the results of that experiment:

The Tootsie Pop in question was 1 1/8" in diameter on the skinny edge, and 1 1/4" in diameter at the bulge. It was a grape flavored one, though I'm pretty sure that doesn't factor into this equation. I started out by just licking it and counting every 10, but that was quite tedious, so I started counting in 20's. By 180 I could clearly see (and taste) the tootsie center, but it looked like a little vein rather than the full center. I decided that this wasn't enough, so I kept going. By lick 1000 the diameters had shrunk to 3/4" and 1" respectively. Unfortunately I had to give up the experiment at lick 1200 (hard as this might be to believe, but I had better things to do), but based on that rate I would have reached the "center" by approximately the 2400th lick. So that's going to be my answer. If someone resubmits this question I'll tackle it again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

22 - Answers

Q: Bill Jeffers - Why are Pittsford residents such whiney pussies? I wrote a letter to the editor to try to straighten them out, but I don't think it will work. (Backstory: Nazareth wants to expand and the neighborhood thinks the world is ending).
A: I'll admit that I'm totally unfamiliar with this story, and can thus only answer it based on the letter that Bill submitted to the Democrat and Chronicle. It sounds to me like Nazareth College wants to expand, and the natives are restless, as it were. I'm not sure whether the land that is in question is publicly owned or privately owned. If it's public land, or land that the college will be rightfully purchasing, then I would think that the college has every right to do what they want with the land. If people are being forced out of their homes, then that's another story. I'm pretty sure that it's the former, though.

Again, I'm pleading total ignorance on this, and thus don't feel right rendering judgment on the residents of the town of Pittsford. Personally, I tend to think that the following rule applies: your freedom to swing your arm ends at my nose. In this case, it means that the college should be allowed to expand, but only if the impact to their neighbors is "minimal". What's minimal? That's a good question. I certainly wouldn't want a parking lot to suddenly spring up in my backyard. Should the residents of Pittsford complain? It's their right to complain, and to vote on these things. I tend to think that allowing the college to expand would be a good thing, but ultimately it's not my decision. I'm not a taxpayer in the town of Pittsford.

Q: Karyn Graves - Can you buy an attachment for an ATV or riding lawn mower so that you could use it like a zamboni on a backyard pond?
A: As a matter of fact, you can! And directly from the Zamboni website too. It's called the Zamboni Model 100, and it looks to be something that you mount to the back of a normal lawn tractor. Very cool! To be honest, I was quite surprised to learn this, and once again reminds me of why I started this project in the first place. Thanks, Karyn!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

21 - Answers

Q: Bill Jeffers - Where can I get a cheap bubble hockey table?
A: There are many locations on the internets that offer bubble hockey tables. Your definition of the word "cheap" dictates which of them to choose. Below is a quick and dirty list:

In addition, I'd suggest looking at places like and ebay.

Q: Karyn Graves - Does the technology exist for the production of vehicles (that can hold more than 1 person) and can get at least 70mpg (electric/diesel/whatever)? How long will it be before they are mass produced and people actually buy them?
A: Let me be the first to say that I am by no means qualified to answer this question. Actually, I'm not really qualified to answer most of the questions I get, but I'll give this one some thought.

I suspect that the answer to your first question is yes. Automotive companies put millions of dollars into research every year. I expect that there are some fancy engines under development that can push fuel economies to new and uncharted heights. But if that's the case, then why haven't these technologies made their way onto our driveways? I suspect that the answer is that the cost of these technologies outweighs the benefits. Sure, you can have a car that gets 100mpg, but if it costs $200,000, who wants it?

As to the question of when these technologies (assuming they exist) will become available, I think the answer is "as soon as they're ready". I'm not someone who thinks that there is some grand conspiracy between oil companies and car manufacturers. It just doesn't make sense to me. If a car company had the technology to make a car that could get 100mpg and cost roughly the same as an existing car, they would release it, and it would sell like hotcakes.

Sorry this answer is fairly incomplete. I'll give it some more thought, and if I come up with anything else I'll post an addendum.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

20 - Answers (Part 2)

What follows are very long answers to the final two questions from the last installment of "Ask Mitssob".

Q: Bill Jeffers - Do you seriously think George Bush II was good for this country???
A: Before I actually answer your question, I’d like to discuss the wording of the question itself. Simply reading your question aloud leads me to think that you already know the answer, and that nothing I say is going to convince you one way or another. But I know you, Bill, and I know that you’re a reasonable man (and no, I don’t mean to patronize you). I’ll do my best to convince you that my answer is correct.

Your choice to call President Bush “George Bush II” gives me the chance to discuss something that has been bothering me since the 2000 Presidential campaign. The current President of the United States is named George Walker Bush. He is not “George Bush II”, nor is he “George Bush Jr.” I realize that it seems like a minor thing, but I think it’s important.

In order to properly answer this question I will look at the President’s performance in regards to three large areas that all Presidents must deal with: economics, judges, and national security. I’ll discuss what he has done, and lay it against what I think of his actions. In this way I should be able to come to an answer to your question. Let me preface this by saying that my analysis is by no means complete. There are other areas that Presidents must deal with, and if you’d like me to comment on these, then feel free to ask. I could obviously spend more time on this, but I think I’ve come to a good answer.

First up is economics. While the ultimate responsibility for setting tax rates and budgets belongs to the Congress, the President submits economic proposals for consideration. The economic health of the United States is generally considered to be a good barometer of the performance of a President, and thus I think it’s a good measure of how good a President has been for this country.

So how has the US fared economically during the Bush administration? During the campaign of 2000 the economy was heading into a recession. I specifically remember then-candidate Bush bringing that fact up several times, only to be laughed at and dismissed as trying to talk down the Clinton administration. When President Bush took office in January of 2001, the economy had entered a recession, exactly as he had predicted. The stock market “bubble” had burst, and projected budget surpluses had become actual budget deficits. In short, things were on the decline. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the economy took another major shock. Unemployment climbed, the stock market continued down.

As is usually the case with matters of economics, the current President gets blame (or credit, as the case may be) for the economy that their predecessor leaves behind. In this case, President Bush was immediately tagged with the recession. In the months following 9/11, the President implemented a strategy to reverse the recession. That strategy worked. Therefore, credit for the economic recovery that followed the recession belongs to President Bush. Let me repeat that: President Bush is in large measure responsible for the healthy and strong economy that exists today. He lowered tax rates for all Americans, which put more money into the economy as a whole. He cut capital gains taxes which encouraged investment. The investment led to jobs, which led to lower unemployment, which led to more people making more money. It also led to a surge in the stock markets in America, which created more wealth both for corporations and individuals. In fact, the only area I wish that the President had done a better job with was putting pressure on Congress to lower spending by the federal government.

If you don’t believe me, or think that I’m painting a rosy picture, then ask yourself this: economically, how are you doing? Do you have a job? Does it pay well? Do you own a house? If so, what interest rate are you paying? How are your friends doing? Do they have jobs? Do they own houses? If the economy were doing poorly, would you be able to answer those questions the same way? I didn’t think so. Speaking for myself, economically I’m doing fine. Quite well, in fact. Therefore, I think that President Bush has been very good for this country economically.

Next, let me talk for a brief moment about the judicial branch. One of the ways that a President can leave his mark on the country is in the area of judicial nominations, both to federal courts and to the Supreme Court. I personally think that President Bush has been good for the country in this area. He has nominated highly qualified judges to the federal bench, and his two nominees to the Supreme Court were both excellent men. What I like about his nominees is that they believe that the role of a judge is as an interpreter of laws, not the creator of laws. I share this belief, which is why I think the President has been good for the country in this area.

Finally, let me cover the very broad area of national security. This is the primary purpose of the President of the United States. According to the Constitution, the President is the Commander in Chief of all armed forces of the United States. What he says, goes.

On September 11th, 2001, the United States of America was the victim of a terrorist attack. Does President Bush deserve some blame for not preventing this attack? Absolutely. Excuses can be made, of course. He had only been in office for nine months at the time of the attacks. Given the nature of governmental bureaucracy, any policy changes he might have desired did not have time to be implemented. However, there were indications that an attack was coming, and those indications were not handled properly. The President, as I said before, is the Commander in Chief. The buck stops with him.

In response to the attacks of 9/11, President Bush openly declared war on terrorism. He launched a military campaign to oust some of the organizational structure behind the attacks from the nation of Afghanistan. Was this specific action good for our country? Honestly, I don’t think so. Do I think that 9/11 merited a response? Absolutely. But what that response should have been I am not sure. Do I fault the President for his actions in this area? No, not really. He was under pressure to do something, and overthrowing the Taliban was certainly not the worst thing he could have done. Doing nothing would have been the worst thing. The President understood that, and so he plotted a course of action and followed it. The fact that he did something was good for the country, though again, I would probably have chosen a different course.

Then in April of 2002 the buildup to the eventual War in Iraq began. To set the stage, I’m going to make a number of assertions. If you doubt these, then look them up yourself. I don’t have the time or the patience for an argument.

- Iraq was in violation of 14 separate UN Resolutions in April of 2003.
- The war that had been declared against Iraq in 1991 had never legally ended. Sadaam Hussein was in violation of the cease-fire that had been established with the United States by firing at American military planes flying patrols in the no-fly zone over central Iraq.
- There were stockpiles of “weapons of mass destruction” (consisting primarily of chemical weapons) in Iraq. Those weapons were moved from Iraq to Syria during the year long buildup to the war between April of 2002 and April of 2003.
- There were functional ties between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda (the group behind 9/11). By “functional ties” I do not mean “Iraq was responsible for 9/11”. And by the way, I find it insulting that I even had to type that previous sentence.
- Iraq provided material support to terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East.

In April of 2003 the invasion of Iraq began, concluding a few weeks later with the capture of the capital of Baghdad. In the three and a half years that followed, the United States has been fighting to give the Iraqi people a chance to govern themselves. This has resulted in the deaths of over 3000 American servicemen, and the deaths of tens of thousands of terrorists.

So has this been good for the country? That’s hard to say. I think that the end result of the war (a stable and democratic Iraq) will be good for the country. However, the public face of that war is most certainly not good for this country. The terrorists know this, which is why they continue to stage attacks in Iraq. I use the word "stage" very carefully. They know that by showing American citizens death, American citizens will eventually become tired of it and demand an end to it. It is happening now, and it is definitely not good for the country. So my final verdict on national security is that the President has not been good for the country. I believe that his heart is in the right place, but his actions have not played out in the ways that I would have liked.

I can think of one additional way that President Bush has been “bad” for the country, though I cannot blame him for it. The level of discourse in America has been reduced substantially since President Bush’s election in 2000. In fact, the election itself became the catalyst for this. There are people to this day who fervently believe that the election was stolen, that President Bush is not the properly elected President of the United States of America. To those people I can only say that I’m sorry you believe that, and I wish you all the best, but I can’t talk to you. I just can’t. You believe something that simply isn’t true, and because it is a belief I can’t convince you otherwise.

And this is my point. Much of the hatred of the President is something that cannot be reasoned with, cannot be rationalized, and cannot be truly countered. People just hate the man. Not just his policies, not just the actions he has taken as President. They hate the man himself. I find this sad. Really. Again, is this the President’s fault? No, I don’t think so. But it hasn’t been good for the country, and I’d be foolish to ignore it.

So what’s the final answer? According to my own scorecard, I think that there is no doubt that President Bush has been good for this country. No doubt at all. People who think otherwise are welcome to their opinions, of course. But that’s my answer. Thanks for the question, Bill. I enjoyed this exercise quite a bit.

Q: Jennifer Walden - Which is more difficult? Admitting you have a problem, or doing something about it?
A: Speaking only for myself, I have always found it easier to admit that I have a problem than to do something about it. To be more specific, I find it easier to admit that there IS a problem. My outward hyperactivity notwithstanding, at my core I am a very shy person. I tend to be fairly passive when it comes to most situations. Therefore, I find it pretty easy to recognize problems, but much harder to break the status quo and do something about them. I'm the kind of person who likes to leave well enough alone, and one for whom if a problem isn't beating me upside the head, I tend to just let it slide.

One area where this question is relevant is the field of addiction. The only addiction I have at present is to caffeine. I have been hooked since the summer of 2001. I am a typical addict, in that I know that I can quit (and tell myself that I can quit any time), but don't for a variety of reasons. I'm atypical in that I know that I have a problem, but choose not to do anything about it. I do this because as addictions go, caffeine is a mild one. Physiologically, I know that if I were to quit my body would protest, but I'd eventually get through it with little difficulty.

Speaking more philosophically, knowledge of one’s self is something that many people have a problem with. It’s hard to look into the mirror, ask yourself if something is wrong, and get an honest answer. I have encountered this in my own life, as I'm sure everyone has. Sometimes it is only through the eyes of other people can we truly see ourselves. This is the purpose of things like interventions. Friends and loved ones gather around an addict and force them to confront their problem. In cases such as these, I would argue that doing something is easier than admitting the problem.

So in the end it comes down to the person. What kind of person are you? Ask yourself this question. I think you'll be surprised by the way that your mind wraps itself around it.

Friday, February 2, 2007

20 - Answers (Part 1)

Two of the questions this week require so much contemplation and thought that I'm going to answer them in a separate post (which I've been working on for a couple of days). Just to hold you all over (and because one of the questions is time sensitive), here are the answers to the rest.

Q: Brett Gobe - Earl Grey or Green Tea?
A: I'd have to go with Earl Grey. I'm not really a fan of Green Tea. I like my tea to have a bit of a kick, and green tea just doesn't do it for me.

Q: Lisa Jeffers - will the groundhog see his shadow?
A: Yes. This will result in six more weeks of winter, which could be extended to as many as eight more weeks of winter if he's REALLY spooked by his shadow. Along those lines, I wonder why there isn't a scale to this system? What if he's only slightly scared? Shouldn't that result in only two more weeks of winter? Just a thought.

Q: Adam Barnello - Rent or Buy? AKA, should I buy a house?
A: In my opinion, rent, then buy. Renting is a great way to get a feel for the city in which you live, and also gives you the opportunity to save up some money for a down payment. Once you have enough, I highly recommend buying. Interest rates are still low by historical standards, and you can lock yourself into a good rate. Home ownership is a good investment, so I'd say go for it when you're ready.

Q: Karyn Graves - Serena was pregnant?
A: Yes, as a matter of fact, she was. Now she is no longer pregnant. She is a mother. For those of you who aren't aware, Serena Blackmer gave birth to a baby girl on Monday. The baby's name is "Alexandra Mae Blackmer", and weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Blackmer's and wish them all the best with their new daughter. For pictures and more details check out

Q: Bill Jeffers - And when do we get to hear more about this growing up thing? Everyone seems to be doing it lately so I thought I might try it. But if you want to demo it for me that would be great.
A: Let me use the occasion of your question to just ramble a bit, Bill. In the course of typing I think you'll see what I mean by "growing up". If not, then I'll try again later! Oh, and while I'm honored that you'd consider using me as a "demo", I wouldn't recommend it.

Things are a little crazy in my life right now. Work has gone from "really fun" to "not as much fun" in the space of about a month. My group was the victim of a reorganization, and as a result I'm working on things that I never really wanted to work on. Now, I'm still employed, and I still get to work with some really talented people, but unfortunately a lot of the joy (for lack of a better word) has gone out of my job. This is something that has never really applied to me before; I'm one of those fortunate enough to really like what I do for a living. But ever since the reorganization I'm not as happy as I usually am. Am I complaining too much? Yeah, I think so. Do other people have it worse than me? Absolutely. But I have to be honest with myself. This change has me feeling more cynical and disaffected than I normally am, and frankly I don't like it. I know that I need to change my attitude, but actually changing it has proven difficult. Part of my "growing up" is dealing with all aspects of this situation. It's been interesting to say the least.

In addition there is tension in my band lately as well. It basically boils down to everyone in the band being happy with playing shows in and around Rochester / Syracuse / Buffalo except for our trumpet player. He has grand aspirations for this band which I do not share. I (and everyone else in the band) am perfectly happy working for a living and playing music as a hobby, while he wants to make a living playing music. This has led to some tense inter-band discussions of late, and I don't see that situation changing. The whole situation has me feeling on edge and nervous, and as with my work changes has taken a lot of the joy out of drumming. In another month I'll begin working on my third album (tentatively titled "I Hope You Didn't Pay Money For This"), and maybe that will turn my attitude around. Who knows?

Finally, recent events in my life and the lives of others have thrown certain things into focus for me. I'm starting to realize that if I wait for my life to settle down then I'll never get anything done, and that I need to decide what it is I want and just go for it. If I worry too much about the consequences, if I continue to second-guess myself, I'm never going to live up to my potential as a human. This may require change. Then again, it might not. I don't know yet. When I figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

19 - Answers

Q: Bill Jeffers - Are you running for political office anytime soon?
A: I hadn't planned on it. For one thing, I really don't want to dedicate the time and money to the effort of running for public office. For another thing, I haven't lived in any one place in my adult life long enough to feel like I could adequately represent the population of that place. I've been in Rochester for almost 5 years, but I still don't consider myself a "New Yorker".

In addition, I'd make a pretty lousy candidate for public office because I'm a big proponent of personal responsibility. Because of this, my candidacy would consist of my telling people to do things for themselves. That's not the way to win elections. The way to win elections is to tell people that:
1. Your life sucks (and it will get worse if the other guy wins).
2. It's not your fault (it's the other guy's fault).
3. I'll solve your problems by punishing people whom you think are more powerful than you (the other guy).

Quick Tim History: The last time I ran for anything was when I ran for Pep Band President in 2000/2001, and anyone who was around during my administration knows that it wasn't a stellar success. I didn't exactly run the band into the ground, but I certainly wasn't as good of a President as I could have been. There are many reasons for this (and I won't bore you with the details of my personal life), but suffice it to say that the experience taught me some things about holding public office. I would certainly take these lessons with me, but the fact that I held the office makes me take pause when considering taking another.

I guess the real answer to your question is "No", but that's only because you put the qualifier "anytime soon" into the body of the question. Will I ever run for public office? I don't know. Ask me after I die if I did.

Q: Nicole Maloney - New Years resolutions... you have any? Why do people choose a resolution for the "New Year"? What percentage of resolutions are followed through with?
A: I actually did make some New Year's Resolutions this year, though I haven't really thought of them that way. I see these "resolutions" more as lifestyle changes than true resolutions. Still, I guess you could consider them to be New Years' Resolutions, so here they are:
1. Lose Weight: Ah, the most universal of all New Year's Resolutions; I won't win any originality awards, but I've put on some weight over the past few years (between 20 and 30 pounds), and it's time to get rid of it. I bought an exercise bike over the summer, and I've been using it about 2-3 times per week since New Years. I'm also eating less (though still not as little as I should be). Will I be sharing details of my weight loss adventures? Not unless you all are really interested, and I doubt that you are, so I won't waste your time or mine.
2. Finish What I Start: I have a LOT of projects left over from 2006 (and 2005, 2004, etc). These include things like my first NaNoWriMo novel, my third album, organizing my digital life, and setting up my personal finances better. I will be working on these through 2007.
3. Grow Up: This one is a little more personal. I'll get more into this in the coming weeks.

To answer your other questions, I think that people choose resolutions for the "New Year" because the New Year represents new beginnings. It's a chance to leave behind habits of the past and pick up new habits for the future. A chance to start over, as it were. It's an entirely arbitrary thing when you stop and think about it, since the New Year could conceivably fall on any day, but it's still psychologically significant.

And finally, via, here are some statistics on how long people stick with their New Year's resolutions:
- past the first week: 75%
- past 2 weeks: 71%
- after one month: 64%
- after 6 months: 46%

So if you can keep up your resolutions for more than 6 months, then you're doing better than half of humanity. And that's pretty good.

Friday, January 12, 2007

18 - Answers

Q: Karyn Graves - Where did you go?
A: I'll hit this one first, since it gives me the chance to explain my absence. After my last post I went back to NH to visit my parents for Christmas. Then I came back here in time to spend New Years at the Stoffel's (which was a great time, by the way). Since then I've just been trying to keep up with life in general. I have been editing and finishing my novel from this year's NaNoWriMo, playing several shows with my band, and watching Season 5 of 24 as fast as I can in preparation for the new season. In short, I've been busy. Is that an excuse? No, not really. If I'd really wanted to get this done sooner I certainly could have done it. I've been lax, and I'm sorry. I hope my answers to this rather eclectic bunch of questions are worth the wait.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Easy question: Wii or PS3?
A: This is not as easy a question as I thought. Both of these two next generation systems have their advantages and appeals in my mind. The Wii is (relatively) cheap, has the ability to play GameCube games directly as well as a huge library of Nintendo and Sega games through emulation (via an online service), and has a very cool game control interface. The PS3 can play the entire library of PS1 and PS2 games, is fully HD capable, and has the ability to play BluRay movies. Both have extensive online abilities, and both have great games that I would go out and buy immediately if I bought the system (Zelda for the Wii and Resistance for the PS3).

If money were no object (and if I could only get one) I would definitely go with the PS3. I've got a larger library of PS1 and PS2 games, and there are a lot of game families that will be out for the PS3 that I enjoy (Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, etc). However, money is definitely a variable in this equation. The Wii retails for $250, while the PS3 can cost as much as $700. With that in mind, I'd have to say that the Wii is my first choice.

Will I buy either of them right away? No. When my PS2 bites the dust, I'll replace it with a PS3. I probably won't wait for my GameCube to die before buying a Wii to replace it, though I'll most likely wait until the price drops $50 or so. We'll see.

Q: Lisa Jeffers - is Santa real?
A: This is one of the most complicated questions that's ever been posed to me. I'm going to tackle it in three different ways: literal, historical, and esoteric. These interpretations depend on what one means by "Santa". Keep reading and hopefully it'll become clear.

Literal: If by "Santa" you mean the fat, jolly man who lives at the North Pole and runs a massive toy manufacturing and distribution enterprise, then no. He is not real. Sorry. Now, the various men (and some women) who dress up in red suits and play "Santa Claus" are real. In that sense, Santa is real because those people are real. Do they run around on Christmas night delivering toys to the good girls and boys? No, probably not. But they are playing the role of Santa, and thus keeping the idea of Santa alive, and I think that counts for something.

Historical: The figure we know today as "Santa Claus" is based on a real man named Saint Nicholas. Many cultures picked up on this figure and created their own interpretations and legends around him. I won't get too much into detail on this one; click here for a really good Wikipedia article on the origins of Santa. It's pretty complete, and I won't try and top it.

Esoteric: The way I look at it, Santa Claus can be viewed as the spirit of giving in the holiday season (that holiday being Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, or whatever floats your boat). In that more romantic sense, Santa is real as long as people keep giving gifts to one another. Sappy? Yes, and I acknowledge that. But I get pretty sentimental this time of year, so indulge me. As I've grown older, the real meaning of Christmas has changed for me. It's no longer just about toys and presents. It's about family and giving. I take a lot of joy in giving presents to my friends and loved ones.

Final answer: Yes. Santa is real.

Q: Karyn Graves - How likely is it that there was just one mouse in the house (that we already caught), and so we can put the traps away now? (or should we do some other work to prevent any further occurences?)
A: It's been three weeks since you asked me this question. If you haven't seen any mice since then, I think it's likely that the mouse you caught was acting alone. It's always possible that it wasn't, however. I would keep traps out for another couple of weeks just to be sure. As far as preventing further occurences, you should keep all doors and windows firmly shut to prevent more mice from getting inside. You should also remove incentives for them to be in your house in the first place. Don't leave food lying around, clean up crumbs, etc.

Q: Brett Gobe - Tupac or Big E Smalls?
A: It should be perfectly obvious that I'm neither. Seriously? I'm not a hip-hop or rap fan at all. If forced to choose, I'd say Tupac because his songs were at least slightly tolerable. Big E Smalls was someone I could never take seriously. I heard that he was somewhat of a philanthropist, and if that's the case then that's a good thing, but he still wrote and recorded bad music.