Brendoman: I know that today is the big day when you get your iPod, but before you start loading music onto it, you may want to check this out: iPod vs. the Cassette. If you decide to stick with the cassette and you need someplace to get rid or your iPod, I'll be glad to help out.
This morning we talked about mapping and scoping out our city once we get to China. We went in groups and toured around Palm Springs on a practice run. It was really cool. I'll most likely have pictures later. Heidi, a gal from New Zealand who is going to Tibet, brought her digital camera and got some cool shots. The coolest thing we did was we went into this cigar store and talked to a bunch of guys who were hanging out there. The owner of the store was from Israel. Most of the Rat Pack went to his Synagogue. He had a lot of cool stories to tell. The other guys had moved to Palm Springs from all over. There was a guy who grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and actually knew where Moberly was. The other cool thing is that Seth, my roommate, worked at Starbucks and has a discout card so he got us all really cheap coffee. It's really easy to get to know the other people here because we all have the same passion and have similar goals and things. It's been great meeting and hanging out with people. Tomorrow is our big banquet and commissioning service. My friends Mike and Shelby are coming and Dave is going to be there too. I'm really looking forward to that.
I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room yesterday and the toybox that Emma was playing in had an abacus. I was thinking about how that used to be the only type of calculator that existed. I picked it up, looked at it, and realized with a wave of sadness that I had no idea how to use it. What geek wouldn't be interested in the workings of this proto-computer? So I came home and found this abacus howto guide (requires Java). If we learn the abacus now, then we'll have a head start when the robots take over, and turn humans into savages.
I now have health insurance for the first time in a long while! Too bad I didn't have it a few months ago. Like I said earlier, if there is anything you can do to help, click on the PayPal link at the top of the blog.
Not much else is going on. I am too busy right now to keep up with my feeds so I'll leave the blogging type posts to the rest of the crew. It will probably be that way until I get to Harbin. I got a good deal on some disposable cameras, so I'll definitely be taking pictures in Beijing. Once I get to Harbin I'm going to get a digital camera and hopefully a camera equipped cell phone.
One thing that is awesome right now on TV: Sportscenter has brought back a bunch of their old anchors for the next week or so. Charlie Steiner was on last night. Craig Kilbourne is going to be on tonight I think. I don't know the schedule though. Maybe they have it here somewhere. It reminds of when I was in high school and I used to watch SC every morning. Good times.
Everything is going great here so far. The hotel is nice, the pool is warm, and the people are very cool. Two of my teammates from Harbin are here too. Not much else to say. They're keeping us very busy with training stuff from breakfast until dinner. I did get to watch some of Ghostbusters 2 last night on Comedy Central. While it's not nearly as good as the first one, I still think it's great in it's own way. Bill Murray is always hilarious. I'm pumped about getting an iPod on Thursday.
On another note, some things with my finances got switched around and I'm still having to pay some medical bills. I'm not quite sure where that money is going to come from. If you have any spare cash and would be willing to donate to my PayPal account (the link at the top of the blog), I would really appreciate it. I will even put a link to your site at the top of the blog for a week if you donate more than $10.
Okay, enough of that. It's time to head back to training. Hope you are all having a good week.
I made it okay to Palm Springs. The internet in our hotel room here is really fast. My roommate is a guy named Seth and he is from Oregon, so he must be awesome. Here is what I wrote at KCI:
I'm at KCI right now waiting for my flight to leave. Everything is going well so far. My giant bags are being loaded onto the plane right now. There's WiFi here at the airport but I didn't feel like paying $9.95 for something I'm only going to use for 40 minutes. Something I'm looking forward to in the new version of Movable Type is that you can schedule posts to the future.
I got up at 5:00 AM today. Danny was kind enough to be up and waiting with a tasty latte to wake me up. We already had our tearful goodbye time on Wednesday at camp so leaving was a lot easier. It was hard saying goodbye to Emma though. I can't imagine how big she's going to be the next time I see her. Danny and Sara threw a surprise going away party for me yesterday evening. It was great to see everyone from church one last time. After the party we watched Heavenly Creatures, which was both weird and great. You can definitely see some shots in that movie that are precursors to some of the techniques used in the LOTR films. Danny and I also did a conference call with Gringo on Skype. It sounded great. I could hear Gringo loud an clear. The quality was actually better than on a regular phone. If other people sign up for Skype, we could have regular brendoman.com conference calls. That would be cool. I think you can have up to four people on a call. Our flight is boarding now so I'm out. Hopefully I'll find a net connection in Palm Springs so I can post this.
Anyway, just wanted to check in and say I made it okay. Skype rules. I'm talking to Gringo right now.
Brendan left my house at 5:30 this morning. Brad, a guy from our church, is dropping him off at the airport for his 8:00 flight to Ontario, California. I just wanted to let you know that he got out of here ok. Hopefully he'll have some web access in his hotel and we'll hear how he's doing.
The National Sales Tax. I really hope anyone pushes for this and gets it done. I was very surprised when I heard rumors that the republicans might push for this. Oh, and for the people that say this hurts the poor and helps only the rich? Well, Boortz has got your explanation right here.
What is the FAIR Tax? It is a national sales tax to replace the current income tax system. It would eliminate the IRS and generally ease the tax burden across the board. How? Click on the links and find out for yourself.
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If this makes me a "right-winger, then I am proud to be one. That is to say, I believe in the right to life. Even if it is inconvienent or painful to the person bringing the life into the world. Abortion is only murder because it kills a person. Now when I say "If this makes me a "right-winger", then I am proud to be one" I mean that if people choose to non-critically lump me into a category because I respect human life? Then that is fine with me.
Danny, Sara, and I just got back from camp. What did I miss? Tomorrow will be a day of relaxing and doing laundry. Now I have to go through the 1600 e-mails I received while I was gone.
Here are a few readable news items:
With brendoman's upcoming trip to China, I've been wondering more about the state of internet access there. I ran across a study from members of Harvard Law school entited "Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China" that's rather interesting. The researchers performed some of their studies by making international dialup connections to Chinese service providers, and later tested via open proxies located within Chinese netblocks. So many links from the page I have yet to follow, it's quite a read.