things i wrote (date unknown)

(This contains my old undated blog posts, mostly early 2000's)


Hands off my acronym

The Big-4 consulting practice is famous for its use of acronyms.  This was so pervasive that one department was prohibited from using an acronym because it was "claimed" (not used) by another department.  As an example, I once received an email with the subject line "PC&D Tips for PFF".  The Big-4 try to solve this problem by providing employees with dictionaries of acronyms.

Unfortunately some of my coworkers weren't cognizant of their use of acronyms even at client meetings and presentations.  The clients had no idea what our internal acronyms meant.  

Overprogrammed kids

I had a lot of discussions with partners and H.R. about "overprogrammed" students who interview with us. These are students who, as children, had parents who shuttled them from one activity to another, and had no independent playtime when they were sent out into the back yard for the afternoon to play in the sand box. Those kids grow up and turn into adults who can't think independently or perform on tasks that require long periods of independent work. My firm adapted by coming up with some programs for new hires that, to some degree, mimic this programming, by giving them smaller, discrete tasks to work on, and shuttling them from one department to another during their first few years at the company. This had mixed results.

I once heard a discussion on NPR about college kids doing job interviews, and how companies were having to adapt to the parents (yes, that's right, the parents) coming along to the interviews, and making follow-up phone calls on behalf of their children. I was shocked at two things: First, that this even happens. And second, that companies were "adapting" (i.e., accommodating) to this. 

I am quite certain that at my firm, if a parent tried to get involved in the interview process, the candidate would have been rejected. After all, staff can't bring their parents along to client meetings, or sit next to them in the office to help them with their work. What type of company would adapt to and accommodate a parent as part of the interview process?

Sometimes its better to take the stairs

Junior Achievement day for my company meant that a bus pulled up outside my building (blocking my ability to turn into our parking garage) and dropped off about a hundred high school students from a local high school. Once I made it into the lobby, I realized what a disaster getting up to the 15th floor was going to be.  Long wait.

Then the teacher made this announcement in the lobby: "Students, listen up, do NOT jump up and down in the elevator. There is a special earthquake sensor that will stop and lock the elevator in place if it senses that type of motion. We do NOT want to repeat the Commerica Bank incident."

I headed up the stairs.


IRS is meeting here in the same hotel/conference facility as our KPMG training. Seems like if we all just got in one big room and hashed things out, we could save everyone a lot of time.

A huge pile of candy bars got deposited on the snack table outside my training room. Hundreds of them. Burp.

KPMG training is so much different from PWC training. PWC sent out detailed instructions about the trip and had a limo for me at the airport. KPMG didn't even tell me how to get from DFW to the hotel. I had to hunt down a shuttle bus. I saw more churches and car dealerships between DFW and downtown Dallas than anywhere before. But the hotel is pretty nice, my roommate doesn't seem like the type who snores horribly (I had a bad snorer for a roommate a few years ago in New Jersey), and the hotel has a nice pool and gym facility.

Lunch today with Andy, my former coworker from PwC. Lunch at Pasta?. We all thought he was joking on his resume when he put "stand-up comic." He wasn't, and provided us all with so many rolling-on-the-floor laughs that it made working there almost enjoyable. Almost.

Lunch today at Pasta? with Austin and his dad James. Austin suspects I like hanging out with the Chungs for the entertainment value. He's on to me after three years!

My eighth grade economics teacher, Mr. Lundgren, taught us the word Tanstaafl. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Mr. Lundgren was a great teacher, but he probably didn't do many corporate recruiting lunches. It was one of the best perks of working at PwC. During recruiting season, I often went on one or two lunches and/or dinners a week. My officemate Jackie and I had our list of favorite restaurants (all of them five-star), and we knew exactly what we were going to order at those restaurants. We had a lot of fun doing that, and we worked well as a team, helping to sell our company to the recruits. Of course, not much selling was required - PwC sold itself in Silicon Valley. Now that I'm here at KPMG, we don't do quite as much recruiting, because it's a smaller office, but every few months I get to do a recruiting lunch. After yesterday's binging on leftover Halloween candy, I have to skip the dessert though. After I "graduated" from eighth grade, I saw Mr. Lundgren once or twice on the Los Gatos Creekside Trail. When I was in high school, I heard he died from cancer. Mr. Lundgren was a tough teacher, but I learned a lot from him. He was the closest thing to a college professor I had up until Mr. Granger's chemistry and biology class in high school, but that's another story.

It's interesting the way different companies manage their people. When I was in school, I thought working for a big company would be nice, because of all of the training and programs that large companies put in place for their employees. But my friends at smaller companies seem happier than what I've seen at the big companies I've worked for.

At PwC, Halloween was a big event. Half the office dressed up, and the company converted an empty floor of the San Jose office into a haunted house. There was cake served, and it was a big event. At my current company, from what I've heard, hardly anyone dresses up. I think it's indicative of the differences between the two companies when it comes to their people. Some things are better, some are worse. Most are just different.

My office area is very loud - lots of people making noise, some of it unnecessary. I wear earplugs most of the time, but my left ear is hurting, so no earplugs today. Our head partner noticed yesterday. Maybe he'll move us to a quieter area, or relocate the people who make so much noise.

The interior window of a manager's office near my area was broken over the weekend. The whole thing shattered. No one knows how. It looked very odd, and everyone was trying to guess how it happened.


Work today was devoted to finishing a large scale project that should have been finished last week. I donned my headset this morning, turned on the MSN Music Dance station, and went to work with my Access and Excel formulas. By 6pm, I had done some pretty nifty things with numbers. That excites me, because I have absolutely no mathematical skills whatsoever, and no formal training in Access or Excel. When I create a formula it takes 15 minutes for my computer to run the computation.
Excel

Now I know what the company is doing. At this morning's staff meeting, they said that headcount is significantly below where we were a year ago. At the same time, productivity per employee is significantly up, and that is one of the key measures of statistics around the company. Keep headcount down, amount of overall work remains the same, and per employee productivity has to go up. So does employee burnout.


Work has been crazy lately. We used to have five people in our dept, and now we only have four. So all of our work has increased by 25% to make up for the lost guy. We started interviewing for a replacement, but that seems to have stalled. Now I fear the management thinks they can do without a fifth body, save the money, and just make us all work harder. That's just not a good solution at all. Morale is low among the troops. I used to think management just was oblivious to that, and the effects, but now I think they consciously perpetuate the situation.



Morale in my little group at work continues to hit new lows. The partners are oblivious, and the managers don't care. I find it humorous, because I've been through this before, and I feel I'm somewhat immune to it this time around. I'm trying to be a spectator as much as possible. I just wonder when it will hit bottom, and what will happen when it does.



Some bigwig came in at work today and talked to us for an hour. Everyone was whispering "reorganization", but it doesn't sound like my department is being affected. They said no layoffs, at least not wide spread, just "performance based" layoffs (aren't most of them anyhow?). My stats are high enough that I'm in the safe area. The guy who was speaking was totally sappy and greasy though... I didn't care for him at all. I'm just not getting the same vibes of genuine caring and interest in the employees that I felt at my old company. Actually, some of the things he said indicated to me that they really do just view us as COGS that can be shifted around willy nilly, and replaced as desired. It's okay ... this is not my career. This is my job. My career will come later. I'm in training.




Monday, May 03, 2004

Light at the end of the tunnel

I've been wondering for a long time where my career would lead. I have a five year plan, but no clear way to get from the step I'm on now to the step I want to be. Today I saw what I think may be the ladder to get from here to there. I'm not overly optimistic... trying to be realistic, but at the same time relieved to have found what I think will be the way up (and out). I have never been particularly adept at networking, but now I see that is a strong part of the way from point A to point B. I will start a more aggressive networking strategy immediately.


After nearly four years working for huge companies in the finance industry, I've decided to leave. I submitted my resignation last week, and my last day is next Friday. I will be working for a start-up consulting firm, doing "a little bit of everything." My salary and benefits stay essentially the same. What I'm really hoping for is to find a better work environment, and from what I've seen so far, I will. I'm tired of the bureaucracy of huge companies. And the blah attitudes of the drones who work there. I've started working for the new company already on the side, and I'm enjoying the projects. I've also gotten my new computer already, and started setting up my new desk. I'm a little bit nervous, but mostly just excited.
posted by Travis on 6/10/2004

The work projects have been very interesting. The clients aren't as big as when I was with the Big-4, but because I'm responsible for the entire project, from budgeting to final delivery, it's much more interesting than any work I did at the Big-4. I have no regrets about leaving, although I realize the importance of the experience and training I got at the Big-4. I wouldn't be able to do this job without that background.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Gmail Trademark in Dispute

The folks at Google must be asleep. They forgot to trademark "GMail". This on top of being a little lax with the IPO rules ...... what's the incentive in buying their stock? They seem a bit incompetent to me. At least their search engine works well.

[03:42] i just decided to cry because my boss' watch has to be insured at a higher value than my car

I started my first IRS audit today. Well, audit defense. It's quite interesting, and I'm looking forward to working on it as the audit progresses. It's the type of thing I wouldn't have gotten to do until I was a manager at the Big-4 firms (something I've been saying a lot since I started my job six months ago). Turns out a lot of that stuff the managers made seem so difficult wasn't really that difficult. Some people just like to make it seem that way because it makes them look better. :) I don't miss that. Skiing this weekend, opening weekend for Heavenly. The report from the cabin is that the snow is pretty good, so I'm looking forward to using my new skis.

I call the downstairs bathroom at work the Curry Bathroom because it always smells like curry. The first floor is where the software engineers and computer people sit, and a lot of them are of Indian descent. Ok, I know, that's racist of me to make that comment, but I want to mention it in the book I eventually write, and I need to remember about the Curry Bathroom. And the free peanut butter.

I've been out at client sites for three days this week. Normally I start to get antsy when I haven't been at my desk in a few days, but I don't mind any more. I learned to stuff my briefcase with everything I need to be away from the office for a few days: Pens, white-out, a stapler, chap stick, my cell phone charger, and my PDA, which I learned how to sync via infrared just for when I'm out traveling. 

Back to classes today. Our instructors delayed the start until 9, so I was able to sleep in a bit, and go to the hotel gym before class. Lunch was horrid - they tried to do Chiense food, and it's just nasty. Leftover scrambled eggs in the "fried" rice, and a chicken and beef dish that shouldn't have been served. The fortune cookie was good though.

Human Resources

It's interesting the way different companies manage their people. When I was in school, I thought working for a big company would be nice, because of all of the training and programs that large companies put in place for their employees. But my friends at smaller companies seem happier than what I've seen at the big companies I've worked for.

At PwC, Halloween was a big event. Half the office dressed up, and the company converted an empty floor of the San Jose office into a haunted house. There was cake served, and it was a big event. At KPMG, hardly anyone dressed up for Halloween. I think it's indicative of the differences between the two companies when it comes to their people. Some things are better, some are worse. Most are just different.

My office area is very loud.  I wear earplugs most of the time, but my left ear is hurting, so no earplugs today. Our head partner noticed yesterday. Maybe he'll move us to a quieter area, or relocate the people who make so much noise.

The interior window of a manager's office near my area was broken over the weekend. The whole thing shattered. No one knows how. It looked very odd, and everyone was trying to guess how it happened.


TGIF
Friday is here at last. The week went by fast, in part because I was busy at work, and because I was looking forward to the weekend.

Martha is guilty. I really didn't believe it when I heard it. I thought they'd let her off, especially since the verdict was returned so quickly. I'm not sure I think she should spend time in prison - I just don't view her offense as being that serious of a crime against society that it deserves prison. I'm sure her lawyers are talking with prosecutors about a plea involving just a fine.

Today's lunch was interesting - I saw the other side of what I do for my work. Part of what I do involves setting up overseas companies in the U.S., whether as a branch or subsidiary, or more complex international structure. I advise them about negotiating contracts, setting up a physical presence in the states, and how to do business here. 

# posted @ 1:37 PM


# posted @ 4:48 PM
Organization
There has been whispering at work of a reorganization on either a national or regional level. I'm pretty far down the food chain, so I doubt it would impact me, but if there are changes at a higher level, it will make work interesting.

I witnessed the landing of Air Force 1 today. It came so close, I felt like I could reach out and touch it. In the past I have seen the C-130 transports before that carry his motorcade, but they were either already on the ground today, or he has a motorcade available for use here in California, so they didn't have to fly in the motorcade.

# posted @ 1:59 PM



# posted @ 4:54 PM
Water on Mars
I knew when they sent up the rovers that they'd find water on Mars. I just had a feeling from everything I read that there was water there at some point. Today NASA confirmed it - Mars was drenched. That means the potential for life. It also means the potential for Earth's water to disappear. Of course, not in my lifetime, so I'm not stocking up on water at Safeway quite yet.

# posted @ 11:56 AM
Buy them now, while you can.
I blew off an 8am meeting this morning. There's no excuse for 8am meetings, unless time zones are involved. I'm silently protesting 8am meetings.

One of the things I've always enjoyed about my work is the couple of times a year when a project I've worked on makes the newspaper. Unfortunately, it's usually because something has gone wrong. Not with my project, but with the underlying situation. Yesterday we were told to watch today's newspapers, and not to talk to the media. Sure enough, there it was. My specific project was even mentioned, with details. Sadly, I don't think the outcome will have a happy ending for the parties involved, and that's sad.

# posted @ 8:12 AM
Super Tuesday
Today is Super Tuesday, which means it's time to vote in California. I voted a few weeks ago by absentee ballot. For several years I was a registered libertarian, but because of the way our primary system works, I couldn't vote for either of the two main parties in primaries. So I switched to Independent, which lets me pick from any of the candidates, regardless of party, for the primaries. I gave my vote to Dean, who I have supported from day one. I know he won't be getting the nomination, but I wanted to indicate my support for his ideals and beliefs, and particularly his support of civil unions. I have resigned myself to the fact that Kerry will win the nomination, even though I'm not convinced Kerry has the charisma to win the election against Bush. But I'll take anything over Bush.

I stuck with my fiscal conservativism roots and voted "no" on the two state bond measures. I know we need them to pass to remedy the deficit situation in California, but I am opposed to solving today's problems by passing the buck to tomorrow. We need to take a hard stance on overspending today, and stop spending future money to pay for things we want to buy today. If we don't have the money today to spend on the things we want to buy, then we simply can't buy them. Otherwise, it's a downward spiral. My solution: Grit our collective state teeth and cut spending. Make policy changes so we don't have to spend so much on prisons (release the non-violent offenders; decriminalize most drugs); raise fines for various infractions and unlawful behavior; and encourage business to stay in California by completely rewriting the worker's compensation system. And that's just in the first month. I voted for Arnold because he promised to radically change the way state government was run. I'm still hoping he'll deliver.

Tonight I will be volunteering at the local elections department. I'm not sure exactly what they will have me do - I'm envisioning a lot of manual labor moving sealed boxes here and there. I haven't done this before, so it will be interesting.

I received a packet of information from BMW yesterday about their cars. I had a dream last night that I was driving one. I still need to decide: Stick/automatic? And lease/purchase? I'm not in a great hurry to decide.

# posted @ 7:12 AM



# posted @ 2:57 PM
Martha
So it looks like Martha is getting off "scott free". I haven't read the details, but it sounds like she won at the summary judgment stage. I know some people are upset at this - a rich woman taking advantage of inside connections to make money, and then trying to cover it up. This just doesn't bother me much. In the world of white collar crime, there are much much worse things going on that we should focus on.


The AP somehow managed to file a report on the outcome of tonight's debate several hours before it happened. Some reporter jumped the gun. This link is to a mirror site, as ABC and AP pulled the story quickly after it was discovered



The next big thing in television/internet convergence: NetFlix and TiVo are joining forces. You watch - a year from now, you'll be downloading movies off NetFlix onto your TiVo. No more reliance on the mail system.

The Dilbert House

I'm guessing Charles Schultz didn't approve this.





PC Magazine reviews the HP iPAQ h6315, the first Bluetooth / WiFi / Cell Phone on the market. Very nifty. For now, though, I'm happy with my Motorola v505.

I'm tired of hearing the whining.



You wanna know something? If you choose to assault and batter a police officer, you can expect that police officer to unleash bloody hell on you. And if you choose to assault and batter a police officer, and he unleashes that bloody hell on you, don't go crying that he used too much force to stop you. You should'a thought about that before you assaulted the police officer.



Witnesses to this week's shooting by the SJPD at the Starbucks on Winchester Blvd., including the perpetrator's friend, said that the perpetrator "failed to follow the officer's instructions", "threw a chair at the officer", "punched the officer", "kicked the officer", "chased the officer through the parking lot", and failed to stop doing the aforementioned activities even when tasered TWICE by the officer.



And now all his friends are crying that the police officer used too much force when the officer shot the perpetrator twice in the legs and finally once in the chest to stop this brazen assault.



Ladies and gentlemen: No. You've got it wrong. If you walk up to a police officer and throw a chair at him, punch him, kick him, chase him through a parking lot, and fail to stop doing this when he tells you to stop, and even when he tasers you, you're going to get your ass kicked by the police. Stop your whining. If you don't like getting your ass kicked by the police, stop throwing chairs at police officers. I'm tired of hearing your whining.



By the way, in case you were wondering, if by some weird chain of events I happen to be at a Starbucks, and I happen to have a gun, and someone came up to me and threw a chair at me, punched me, kicked me, and chased me through a parking lot even when I retreated, you're damn right I'd use that gun. You've been warned. Stop whining.

We're bending over backwards to accommodate illegal immigrants who want to illegally drive automobiles, and I don't understand why. They've broken the law several times (once on entering the country, once by driving without a license, and once by driving without insurance) ... if we catch them, deport them, just as the current law requires. Oakland has put a stop to (very effective) DUI checkpoints because too many illegal immigrants were getting caught driving without licenses and insurance. Their cars were towed and impounded for 30 days (as required), and this was causing the illegal immigrants "too much trouble". So no more DUI checkpoints. This is nonsense. Do really think for even a minute that if I went to any other country in the world - any! Pick one, in Asia, Europe, South America, anywhere, and entered the country illegally, drove without a driver's license and insurance, and managed to get caught in a DUI checkpoint, that I could somehow convince that country to (1) not put me in jail, and (2) stop having DUI checkpoints so I wouldn't get caught? Nonsense! I'd be sitting in jail and marked for deportation so fast I couldn't even call my embassy. Only in the Bay Area would we curtail our use of DUI checkpoints (which everyone agrees are very effective at catching drunk drivers) to accommodate people breaking the law.

And 50% of the country wants to reelect Bush? Not only can't Bush spell, but neither can his Homeland Security Department. So ... let's see ... we're trying to keep terrorists off planes by checking boarding documents three times within a 10 foot area at the airport metal detectors, but at the same time we're deporting the wrong people because of spelling mistakes. If we get attacked again, it's because our national leadership is too stupid to figure out a way to prevent it.

The Yin Blog: NBC's "The Apprentice": a slight mea culpa, and bye-bye to the outsider

Today's Chron reports that they have a named suspect in the Giant's killing ... the guy who got stabbed because he bumped the mirror on some guy's car. Sounds like they're pretty confident the named suspect is the murderer. When they catch him (it's only a matter of time now), and if he's convicted, I have no qualms about using the death penalty on this scum. You don't belong in our society if you stab someone to death in the heart because they accidentally bumped your car.

I finally upgraded. No more TDMA, hello GSM. I ditched my Motorola v60i flip phone that used AT&T's antiquated TDMA service, and got a brand spanking new v505 flip phone on GSM. The phone has a camera, does mMode (internet), and has a lot of other features my v60 didn't have. All that for only $150. The service plan I got is pretty spiffy too, from my old company's corporate discount plan. In addition to voice calls, I got unlimited data (internet), although I'm starting to realize that surfing the web via a phone is not the best way to go about it.

I don't understand why Stacy was fired on last night's Apprentice. And I don't understand why the challenges are getting more and more similar. But so be it, it's still an interesting show. I especially liked the royal music as Trump entered the lobby of his building at the beginning of the show. The Emporer has arrived. Motley Fool has a good discussion of last night's show.

Yay! Chip and Kim win the Amazing Race! My hopes were split evenly between Chip and Kim and the Bowling Mom's. I knew the Bowling Mom's wouldn't make it through the highly physical ending challenges. But I was glad Chip and Kim made it, and beat the other two (very annoying) teams. Yay, Chip and Kim!

I really enjoy doing LITL at the new downtown library. It's not old and dreary like the old library. Two interesting cases last night. The first was a woman who I've seen before, who got into a car accident, without insurance, and wants to know how she can force the other person's insurance company to pay for her damages. I've told her "small claims court" for several months now. She seems to think there's some other solution. She also wants to sue because she senses that the aurora around the accident was bad. I told her she probably doesn't have much of a case for "bad aurora." I don't remember anything about that in law school. The other fellow had so many questions, and he had never known or talked to a lawyer before. He kept asking me if I was a "certified lawyer." Yes, that's me. Certified aurora specialist. It was nice to be able to help him. The other cases were more routine.

Eddie Adams died today. He was the photographer who took this picture:







So which person in the picture is the bad guy? The one doing the shooting, or the victim? Turns out the General who is doing the shooting was the good guy. The victim had been caught killing many other people. The General immigrated to the U.S. in 1975, and opened up a Vietnamese restaurant near Washington. He died a few years ago, at age 67.

Here's a bar exam question. You're driving along, and a cop pulls you over for speeding. He's going to let you off with a warning, but asks if he can search your car. You know that you have 17 grams of pot in the car. How do you respond to the cop? A smart person would say "no." Dumb people say yes. And then go to jail. Poor Macaulay.

It's true for my commute. The traffic has gotten worse in the last few weeks. I think it's because of school though.



"'We've got all the United We Stand bumper stickers, but everyone is flipping each other off on the highways,' said one man who drives in on 580 from Modesto."

Last night I watched an NBC Maria Shriver interview withSiegfried & Roy. Roy's first TV interview since he was nearly killed by a tiger. The interview was done very well. It really is amazing that Roy is still alive. He has a hard path in front of him. He's lucky to have the financial means to get the best care possible.

Today Martha asked the judge to allow her to begin serving her prison sentence. She wants to get it out of the way and move on. I don't blame her. Let's see, 5 months in prison... that means her new book will be out 6 months from now. I wonder what she'll call it?



From the NYT: Ms. Stewart and senior members of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she said that she recognized that she had a "very tough five months" ahead of her and was sorry that she would miss the winter holidays. But she said she wanted to be back home in time to plant the "spring garden".

Most people think April 15 is the "big" tax deadline. But in the world of tax, tomorrow is the big one. September 15. The extended due date for corporate tax returns.

This sounds like a huge potential disaster. And entire city, that could be essentially destroyed by a hurricane.

I made it into the paper today:



MR. ROADSHOW



Q. After a year of light-rail construction at the Hamilton Avenue overpass, both lanes of the on-ramp to Highway 17 are open. The left lane had been closed off with cones at the top of the ramp. Then last week the pylons were removed and cars could bypass the queue in the far-right lane and enter the on-ramp using the second lane. This does not seems fair to drivers who have waited in the queue from Salmar Avenue, but I see nothing in the striping that suggests it is improper to skip the queue. Is this permanent?



Travis Wise

Campbell



A. No. A VTA contractor erroneously removed the pylons that prevented the queue-jumping as well as the potential backup onto Hamilton. The pylons will be replaced. They were installed after bicyclists and pedestrians found it difficult to cross two lanes of traffic at this spot.




I should really go see a taping of theOprah show sometime. Who knows what she might give me?

If I was in town, I'd want to go see it too. I'm a believer.

"I woke up when the phone rang. It must have been sometime between 6 and 6:30 am. I picked it up... it was my mom. 'Turn on the television, quick.' Clearly, something bad happened. Kenny and I turned on the television. There were the WTC buildings, one on fire. A minute later, an object went into the other building, and now both were on fire. No one on TV knew what was happening. As we prepared for work, I watched on the television as the two buildings disappeared into a thick plume of smoke and dust. No one knew what happened initially, but then the realization struck the broadcasters (and us) that something had happened structurally to the buildings. Maybe they had partially collapsed. I remember thinking that tens of thousands of people could be dead, and what difficulty it would be to repair that much structural damage so far up in the air. But there was nothing I could do, so I went to work.



"At work, everyone was huddled around a few computers reading cnn.com or watching the initial streaming video of the airplanes. Then, sometime around 10:30, the fire alarm went off. My building was directly in the flight path to San Jose airport, so we took it seriously. Maybe someone saw a plane headed for our building, and pulled the alarm? We raced down 17 flights of stairs, even though we realized it was unlikely an airplane would target the PricewaterhouseCoopers San Jose office. Out on the street, most of us decided to go home. Austin drove me. I sat at home for a few hours and watched television.



"My car was stuck downtown, so around 1pm, I took a bus to the light rail station, and took light rail downtown. On the light rail, the woman next to me had a home-made necklace made out of a postcard of the twin towers on a string around her neck. There was complete silence on the train. I retrieved my car and computer, and came back home, and camped out in front of the TV to watch the news. Some people avoided it. I couldn't.



"The next day, I learned that five people from my company died in the airplanes, including one man who was a partner at PwC who I knew, along with his domestic partner and their child. That was my closest connection to a 9/11 casualty.



"It's hard to imagine how we got from that morning [three] years ago to the current situation we are in in Iraq. The president says they are linked. And I agree that Saddam is a bad guy who needed to be taken out. But the expense, loss of American lives, and lack of exit plan make me question how much our leadership has thought this through."

One Simple Question for the President.

Milpitas absolutely reeks today. After nearly a week of scorching hot temperatures, I think the evaporation ponds and the landfill are emitting a full force of stench. Working here isn't too bad because the A/C keeps the smell from coming indoors. But how do people live in this town? Just driving to Carl's Jr. for lunch was nauseating.

Report: Martha Stewart Waits Out Cell Crunch: "Martha Stewart will surrender to start serving her five-month sentence for obstructing justice as soon as there is a vacant cell at the Danbury federal prison, the New York Post reported today.



The Post said Stewart's daughter Alexis, 38, will oversee her media company while her mother is in prison."

Home sick today. Still managed to get a fair amount of work done. Finished setting up my new fish tank - all that remains is to get the fish, but I have to wait a little while for the water to settle down. This tank is fresh water, but I've decided my next fish tank will be a marine tank (salt water). Bryan has one, and it's really really nice.

What did Bush mean? "Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." Why can't he just read off the TelePrompTer and get it right?

I'm so glad I don't get expanded cable. Otherwise, I might be tempted to watch what I watched intermittently today ... the cable news networks wall-to-wall coverage of the hurricane in Florida. I did learn quite a bit about hurricanes, but more than I need to know living in California.

I finished listening Angels & Demons today. That was the first book Dan Brown wrote (before Da Vinci Code). Plot was roughly similar to Da Vinci, but it had its own twists. Not quite as polished as Da Vinci. Finishing that book freed up several hundred megabytes on my iPod.

A flashlight battery exploded during baggage screening. Who knows why it exploded. Who knows why the passenger was carrying a flashlight. But there is no prohibition against carrying flashlights onto an airplane. No one was injured - just some "numb fingers" and ringing ears. TSAshut down the entire airport for three hours. Three hours! The entire airport! My goodness. I wonder if they asked the passenger for her boarding pass three times while she was in the screening area?

Flying to Ohio, I was asked for my boarding pass three times by three different people within the 10 feet of the baggage scanning machine. The same thing happened to someone else I know on a recent flight. He filed a complaint with the airport, and Homeland Security called to explain that they are testing new procedures. That is just sillyness. The 9/11 hijackers had boarding passes. Asking the hijackers for their boarding passes three times by three different people within a ten foot space would not have stopped them from bringing down the planes. Someone in the Homeland Security department is running amok with dumb ideas.

Dan Gillmor reports that Zell Miller's Republican Convention ravings were a little too much even for the Bush team. They disinvited the angry Georgia senator and his wife from the first family's box of seats during Bush's acceptance speech.

"The criminal case against Kobe Bryant case collapsed Wednesday as prosecutors said they had no choice but to drop the sexual assault charge because the NBA star's accuser no longer wanted to participate."



That's a shame. They drag him through the mud for months, only to drop the charges. What a waste.

I flew into Columbus airport today, and as we were landing, I saw Air Force One parked on the tarmac out the left window. It was ringed by a lot of vehicles... quite impressive. I haven't seen Angel for about 6 months, when I saw it from where I used to work while it was landing at Moffet Field.




I listened to Kerry's speech last night on the radio, and watched it on the computer today. Up until last night, I didn't really know who John Kerry was. I didn't think he had much personality. I was impressed with Edwards' speech earlier in the week, but I was holding out on making a decision on Kerry. I thought his speech last night was great. He showed his character and personality, and got my vote. Here's the part of his speech that I thought was particularly powerful:



As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system – so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.



I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.



As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.



And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.



...



I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security.

Bill got a visit from Homeland Security recently. Just making sure he's okay.

My favorite client while I was at KPMG was Ocular Sciences. Ocular was the largest project I worked on while I was at KPMG. They're based in Concord, and make contact lenses. I'll never forget the tours I took of their factory in South San Francisco - it was amazing to see how contact lenses are made and processed. Today the WSJ reports that Ocular got acquired by Cooper, their largest competitor.

Oh no! Say it isn't true. My favorite show might be ending soon!

Normally I give the police the benefit of the doubt, but this time I think they screwed it up. State drug agent is chasing what he thinks is a bad guy in downtown San Jose. Turns out the guy he's chasing isn't the bad guy he's looking for. The guy he's chasing is unarmed. State agent shoots him in the back. Oooh, bad mistake. State agent gets indicted by grand jury.

Bush keeps crashing his bike. This was the second time this year. I'd really rather that he just sit on a sofa and tend to the business of our country than risk his life out there on the trails. Then again, from what I read in the 9/11 Commission Report, it was really Dick Cheney calling the shots, so maybe it doesn't matter?

Tara Berendes is living a health insurance nightmare right now, mainly because she doesn't have any. But at least she is alive, and now awake after being hit by a car. Just goes to show the importance of having adequate health insurance.

Did you listen to Teresa's speech tonight? No? Maybe that's because the three networks didn't carry it. It was a very good speech, and showed that despite her oft-criticized silence, she is a very smart, well-spoken woman who is very suited to be First Lady.



A few more select quotes:



The President was seated in a classroom when, at 9:05,Andrew Card whispered to him: “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.” The President told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis. The press was standing behind the children; he saw their phones and pagers start to ring. The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening. … The Secret Service told us they were anxious to move the President to a safer location, but did not think it imperative for him to run out the door.



This news prompted the Secret Service to order the immediate evacuation of the Vice President just before 9:36. Agents propelled him out of his chair and told him he had to get to the bunker.



NORAD officials have maintained that they would have intercepted and shot down United 93.We are not so sure.We are sure that the nation owes a debt to the passengers of United 93.Their actions saved the lives of countless others, and may have saved either the Capitol or the White House from destruction.

How un-American. The democrats forced Al Jazeera to remove ther banner from within the convention center. Why not let it hang?

Will Martha serve her time early, before her appeals run out? It'll be interesting to see what she does.

It's finally here! the 6315 has been released!

Ooops. Heinz Kerry Tells Reporter to 'Shove It': "Teresa Heinz Kerry Calls for More Civil Tone in Politics, Then Tells Reporter to 'Shove It'".

Things aren't looking good for the missing Utah woman. Or her husband.

I moderate a web-based discussion forum for the bar exam, which is next week. A posting from today takes the cake:



Does the erasable pen come with its own eraser or do you have to buy an eraser separately?



Oh dear.

I ran this morning with Frontrunners in Los Altos. Geoff and I did our five mile run with the group - it was a good run, because the sky was overcast, and the temperature was cool. Towards the end of the run though I felt my LCL (lateral colateral ligament) start to get painful, and throughout most of the day it was bothering me, much like it was last year. I'm keeping my brace nearby, but I haven't put it on yet. I don't think I'm going to run Wharf to Wharf tomorrow - it will only aggravate the LCL, but I will at least walk it. We fog bombed one of the bedrooms to get rid of insects. I've never used one of those fog bomber cans before, so we'll see how well it did. Austin and Cecilia came down for Cantonese food tonight. Austin's doing better, still on crutches, after the bone cancer surgury. He's doing much better though.

I've been reading the 9/11 Commission report. So far none of the informtion is particularly new, it's just very detailed. The information about how the chain of command reacted, how NORAD, FAA, and the military failed to coordinate, etc. is really interesting in terms of learning how the government functions (or failed to function).



There are several very powerful quotes so far:



This is a transcript of a phone call made from Peter Hanson on one of the WTC planes to his father seconds before the plane went into the second tower:



It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—Don’t worry, Dad— If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God,my God. [end of transmission]



And this recount in the report of the passenger revolt on Flight 93:



"At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:"Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye." The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door. Some family members who listened to the recording report that they can hear the voice of a loved one among the din. We cannot identify whose voices can be heard. But the assault was sustained. ... The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting "Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. "With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville,Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington,D.C. Jarrah’s objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House. He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United 93."


Judge Danser agrees to step down from the bench. Among various other offenses, he acknowledged that he used his position to try to get legally issued parking tickets dismissed for his son. He may have been a nice guy (and was, from most accounts), but this was a bad apple in the legal community.

I've had pretty good luck with Just Tires, and recommended them to many people, specifically the Campbell location. I had an incident with the company this week though that made me question their customer service.



On July 21 I took my car to the Just Tires location on Main Street in Milpitas. "Paul C." greeted me, and I explained that I had a tire that would not maintain pressure, and gave him my Just Tires Road Hazard Protection Plan paperwork. He issued me a service quote for $0.00 to check the tire. Two hours later, Paul called me and said my car was ready for pickup.



Upon arrival, Paul told me he had to replace my tire, and I would have to pay $30 for the tire replacement: $11 for a new warranty, $9 for balancing, $3 for disposal, and $7 for a new valve stem. I asked why I was being charged for balancing and a valve stem when I had a Road Hazard Protection plan. Paul C. said the Plan does not cover a new valve stem or balancing. I told him I disagreed, but paid because I needed to get my car.



Later that day I checked the Just Tires website, and found this statement: "There will be no charge for the tire, and no additional charges for installation, new valve stems or rebalancing the new tire."



I called the district office in Sacramento, and Daniel informed me that my reading of the website was correct, and that I should not have been charged for the valve stem or rebalancing. Daniel called Paul C. to explain this to Paul C. Daniel informed me that he was unable to convince Paul C. that the valve stem and rebalancing are covered by the Plan.



A few days later, no response, so I called Daniel again, and he put me in touch with Ray Navarras, who is a manager of some sort. He told me that the Milpitas Just Tires will refund my money. I went over to get my refund, and the Milpitas store manager said that while he would give me a refund, he did not feel I was entitled to it. This despite showing him the website! Unbelievable. After I got my refund, I called up Ray Navarras again, and explained that as someone who has referred a number of customers to Just Tires based on excellent service from the Campbell store, I was pretty upset at this treatment, and would have trouble referring more customers unless I got some assurance that the problem at the Milpitas location was going to get fixed. He apologized profusely, and promised that all of the district managers are aware of my issue, and they were going to deal with this "out of control" Milpitas store.



Well, I got my refund, I'm happy.



On a similar note, I'm almost ready to declare victory in my battle against eHealthInsurance.com. Hopefully next week that will be resolved.

Today was a pretty productive day. I spent seven hours or so finishing up the bulk of the work on a transfer pricing report, and it felt good to get that nearly completed. I spent a little bit of time converting my website over to this new Blogger format, and getting that up and running. And speaking of running, I made it to the gym and did legs and a new running routine: 5 min 15% incline 3mph, 5 min 5.5% incline / 5mph, 10 min no incline 7.5 mph, 5 min 5% incline 5 mph, and 5 min 15% incline 3mph. That was one of the harder runs I've done on a treadmill. Sunday is the Wharf to Wharf 10k, so I'm looking forward to that. I got about 6 phone calls from people this afternoon wanting to talk about various things and meet for dinner. I turned my phone off and hid, and worked in the back yard. I still need to clean up the formatting on the sub-pages for this website. I'll have to think about how to best do that this weekend.

Excitement! It's my bi-annual redesign. I've gone back to Blogger this time, using their template for my main webpage/blog, and also for the Restaurant Reviews page. Bloglines was nice, but Blogger was just a bit more useful. I do have an XML feed available: http://www.twise.com/weblog.xml.

Link to full report in PDF format here.


This guy comes home to his house in broad daylight, to find an armed intruder burglarizing the place. A struggle ensues, the guy manages to get the burgler's gun, and shoots the burgler as he escapes. The guy is now in jail in San Francisco for assault. If you were on the jury, would you vote to convict, or acquit? Legally, the right to self defense was not available to him - he used excessive force, particularly since the burgler was running away from the crime scene.



Personally, if I was on the jury, I would vote to acquit. Even if he met the elements for assault with a deadly weapon, I would use jury nullification and let him go.



Link to story here.


A flag-burning amendment? Did the republicans learn nothing from last week's attempt to ban gay marriage? Someone must really want to pass a constitutional amendment during their term ... no matter what the subject.



URL: Senate Panel OKs Flag-Burning Amendment (AP)


Ha! I knew it! I knew it had to be coming!



URL: Stewart to Write Book About Stock Trial (AP)


It took a bit of effort, culminating in a cable modem reboot, but I got my network fully switched over from "b" to "g" ... so my laptop is running at "g" speeds (usually 40-50 MB/sec), and everything else is still at "b" speeds until I get the equipment switched over. But most importantly, the "G" router is now serving both clients, and the "b" router has been decommissioned.


Gail Chetcuti passed away from a brain tumor. She was diagnosed only two months ago. So sad. I see the sign memorializing her husband every time I drive on 101 to SF.

URL: Martha Stewart Gets 5 Months in Prison (Reuters)



Who wants to bet that she'll write a book about the experience afterwords? I thought her statement this morning after the sentencing was very good, apart from the sales pitch.


AT&T announces roll-out of new data service, with $25 flat rate plan... yay! I can't wait.



URL: AT&T Wireless Will Launch 3G in Four Cities Next Week


We may not agree with the war, but I'm glad the public is treating the soldiers well. I think we learned that lesson from Vietnam.



URL: Passengers Give Troops First-Class Seats (AP)


Dan Gillmore has a very good article on America's Health Care Mess


One step forward in the right direction. URL: IM giants drop some barriers to peace. Of course, I use Trillian to do exactly the same thing already.


This is kind of hilarious, but it's true. I'm now an ordained minister. I'm licensed to perform marriages, funerals, last rites, etc. in California. Isn't that funny?


The Republican party has done a nice job of self destructing itself in Congress. They proposed this constitutional amendment, but now they can't even get their own party to vote for it. Guys, give it up already.



URL: Gay Marriage Ban Divides Senate GOP (AP)


I helped out on this deal: SAP snaps up catalog publisher


My favorite webcam.


URL: Legendary Gym Founder Joe Gold Dies in Los Angeles (Reuters)


I've been to two.


This is why I'm afraid of roller coasters. Even the log ride.


Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, has a new weblog.


Work continues to go well. I now know how to operate the phone system, and I hooked up a second monitor to my laptop so I'm now running a dual-monitor display, which has made me much more productive. The construction on the new offices is just days away from being complete. We have definitely reached capacity in terms of compliance and outsourcing work, and I'm near capacity on consulting projects, so we are actively interviewing to hire more people on. I'm working 12 hour days right now, and some time on weekends, but I really feel like I'm contributing to something, and not just a COGS.



The work projects have been very interesting. The clients aren't as big as when I was with the Big-4, but because I'm responsible for the entire project, from budgeting to final delivery, it's much more interesting than any work I did at the Big-4. I have no regrets about leaving, although I realize the importance of the experience and training I got at the Big-4. I wouldn't be able to do this job without that background.



Last Friday I was at a client meeting in Livermore, and we were very nervous about getting the project and keeping the client happy. At the end of the meeting, the client turned to me and said, "I have no concerns about this project, because Travis is doing the work, and I can tell just by talking with him that he's excellent at what he does." I never would have gotten that type of comment in front of a Big-4 partner.



Oh, and I got my health insurance taken care of, so I'm now fully prepared to get sick.


Dick Riordan ... What were you thinking? Were you thinking?


The new Bloglines was having some trouble displaying properly in my Opera web browser, so I wrote them, and within an hour, the problem was fixed. Amazing. I'm an Opera convert - the web browser is fast, not bulky, and lets me use multiple tabs, unlike IE. And once I set up my Hosts file, I don't get banner ads any more.


Lots of people at my company are on the Atkins diet. I just opened up the fridge and there's four containers of cottage cheese. We need to start putting our names on the cottage cheese containers.


This show looks interesting, as long as they don't do it in a cruel way. UPN Ready to Launch 'Amish in the City' (Reuters) It reminds me of a sitcom from about ten years ago, with an Amish family that moved to some big city - I think NYC.


Not exactly a surprise given KPMG's current legal entanglements wiht the tax shelters, but it was announced today that KPMG's Chief Financial Officer Resigns (AP). I'm a bit miffed that AP didn't do a story on me when I resigned from KPMG, but my title didn't have the word "chief" in it so I guess I understand.


Finally. It took them long enough. I still wonder if he, Martha, and all the others caught up in the stock/accounting/corporate scandals will ever serve time in jail.



URL: Ex-Enron Chief Lay Indicted - CNBC (Reuters)



Time to archive some more of my bookmarks:


February 28, 1999
After six years of faithful service, I retired my 1988 Toyota MR-2 (red) and replaced it with a 1999 Honda Civic EX Coupe (black).  I choose the Civic after five months of research, investigation and test-drives, based on my opinion, shared by many, that the Civic is the most reliable yet sporty car for the money.
October 1, 1995
Throughout the history of the United States, we have exerted our economic and military power in our own country and around the world, in order to promote our
own ideals and cultures. This expansionistic style began with the Indians (“Native Americans”), continued with the Christian missionaries, and is currently taking
place with our policies towards other countries.

Most, if not all, sensible people are in favor of justice, morality and human rights. But different countries have different views of these objectives. The United States
has a certain definition of these values, and we have historically tried to impose our values on other countries. We use our economic and military strength to back
this up.

An example of this is when Michael Faye broke a law in Singapore and was about to be punished by that country in accordance with their laws, and we pushed for
him to be pardoned because he was an American. Another example is our embargo of Cuba because we disagree with their style of government.

Not all countries share the same philosophies as America. We have no right to impose our views and definitions of human rights on other countries, just as we
would not want other countries to do the same to us. What we call violations of human rights are norms for other countries, and when we impose restrictions on
those countries because of the differences in views, we end up hurting ourselves.

We would not like Japan stopping trade with us unless we conformed to their values, so why do we think we can bully other countries into following our
definitions? We may not always be the superpower we presently are, and increasingly we are depending on other countries for trade. If some of those countries begin boycotting America because of our own human rights definitions, such as the death penalty, legalization of abortion, and even our own democracy, we will be in for quite a shock. Yet this is exactly what we do to other countries.

We boycott many Chinese products and services, and impose high tariffs on trade with that country because of their use of slave labor. What if Japan boycotted
America because we allow ownership of guns? I doubt we would be willing to give in and change our Second Amendment because of Japan’s demands. We
would suffer economic consequences because we value our sovereignty and our Constitution. Yet this is the exact position we place other countries in, just because
of our strength.

For these reasons, I support not imposing our justice system, morals, and views of human rights on other countries, because I do not want other countries doing the
same to us.
April 1, 1995
Throughout most of human history, suicide has been looked upon as a negative action. The legal treatment of suicide can be traced through most of human history,
and it has roots in cultural, religious and pragmatic beliefs about human life, and the relationship between the individual and the state. I will argue that as humans, we
have a fundamental right to control our own lives, and that control includes deciding whether to live or die. That decision can include one's family, and include
trained medical professionals to assist when asked. The decision to end ones life should not be illegal, nor should requesting, receiving or giving assistance to end
another persons life, understanding that the decision was undeniably and unmistakably made by the person wanting to die. I will show this by examining the current status of the laws regarding suicide and doctor assisted suicide, and the constitutional treatment of the same.

Our society, based upon the assumption that suicide is not a rational choice, has made every effort to prevent and discourage the choice to end one's life. As we
debate about the legality of assisted suicide and euthanasia, we are challenging those long held assumptions by suggesting that in some cases, society should shift
from prevention to toleration or assistance.

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States (When Death Is Sought, p. 9). Because of the large number of people who decide to end their own
lives, many studies have been done as to who these people are, and what drives them to make that choice. I feel that that is irrelevant to my argument. While every
effort should be made to help a person who wants to commit suicide to find a solution to the problem that would result in life, rather than death, the final decision is
theirs. That decision is a private one, and the state has no business nor any interest in that decision.

The Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, 1972, decided that abortion was a private choice, and one which the state could not interfere in unless there was a
compelling reason. In simpler terms, if a woman wants to abort her fetus, that is her private right, and in most cases, the state does not have a compelling interest to
prevent that. I believe that if a person wants to abort their life, then that is a private right as well.

The argument for the legality of assisted suicide is often centered around seriously ill patients. Cancer patients have twice the risk of suicide than the whole
population. Almost all patients who receive a cancer diagnosis carry a belief that says, "I won't die in pain from cancer - I'll kill myself first." Many have hidden
supplies of drugs for this purpose, but for most patients, the time never comes because life becomes more precious as natural death, approaches (When Death Is Sought, p. 11).

People with AIDS are, according to some studies, as much as 36% more likely to commit suicide than the population as a whole (Living With AIDS, p. 39). Other
studies show that AIDS patients who commit suicide tend to act within nine months of receiving the AIDS positive diagnosis (Living With AIDS, p. 42).

The state of New York Task Force on Life and the Law, formed by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1985, reported in a May 26, 1994 press release that:

"The Task Force concludes that legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, or mercy killing, would be profoundly dangerous for many patients. This is
particularly true in light of the widespread failure...to address pain and depression adequately -- treatable conditions that cause suffering and most often
lead patients to think about suicide."

This argument - that we should treat the causes of the desire to end one's life rather than assisting in any way with the actual ending of the life, is a popular one. It is
true about abortion also, though. There are many ways to treat the cause of the unwanted pregnancy, which we strongly promote through sex education and widely
available contraception, but we also recognize the right of the woman to make a decision about her own life. I believe this should be equally true about the fate of
one's own life.

Most state law defines four types of practices that can end a person's life: The withdrawal and withholding of life-sustaining treatment; suicide; assistance to commit
suicide; and active euthanasia (When Death Is Sought, p. 14). The laws governing each of these practices reflects a judgment regarding the balance between an
individual's right to privacy and the interest of the state. Most states accept that a patient has a right to accept or reject medical treatment, including life sustaining
and life prolonging treatments, through a legal document called a living will (When Death Is Sought, p. 34).

Thirty-two states have made assisting a suicide a statutory offense. In the remaining eighteen states, those who assist may be subject to prosecution for murder or
manslaughter. In the wake of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's acts of suicide assistance, several states have specifically outlawed assisted suicide. Few cases of assisted
suicide are actually prosecuted, because of the public sympathy and difficulty of securing an indictment and conviction. (When Death Is Sought, p. 5).

Common law has historically protected an individual's right to decide about medical treatment. In Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, the United
States Supreme Court decided that the right to refuse treatment is a protected "liberty interest" under the due process clause. The ACLU has argued, specifically in
the Kevorkian case, that laws banning assisted suicide and suicide in general violates the rights of the terminally ill patients who wish to die. (ACLU Documentation
on Kevorkian, p. 2).

The key to legalizing suicide and assisted suicide is to classify decisions about ones own life a fundamental right, meaning that those laws regarding suicide would be
subject to strict scrutiny. Supporters argue that the individual's right to  self-determination encompasses all decisions concerning the timing and manner of death. The right to assisted suicide is implicit in the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment, because both practices seek to give individuals "control over when they die, where they die and their physical and mental state at the time of their death."

The current law, however, makes a distinction between passive and active killing, saying that passive killing (refusal of treatment) is more moral than active killing
(assisting in suicide). I disagree. Hunger strikes are passive suicide, because they withhold life sustaining nutrients. Shooting oneself is active suicide. It is not the job
of the government to decide for me which is more moral.

Our government does not have the responsibility of protecting the people from themselves. It is a fundamental right of ours, not defined by the Constitution but by
our existence, to decide what is best for our bodies. This includes what to put in our bodies, how to live, and whether to live at all. This fundamental freedom should
also include where, how and why to die, and if we choose to die with the comforting aid of a medical professional or our family, why should that be illegal? The state does not have a compelling interest in keeping us alive. We will all die eventually, by various means, and it is impossible for the government to prevent people from taking their own lives. Instead, they should encourage treatment where possible, and medical assistance for those people, such as terminally ill patients, who choose to end their life while they have some sense of dignity and control over the circumstances.

Bibliography

American Civil Liberties Union Documentation on Dr. Jack Kevorkian. ACLU, 1995.
Landow, Joseph. Living With AIDS. Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1993.
When Death Is Sought. Author unknown. ND. 
Undated
Customer Service:  Many business establishments operate under the assumption that they are doing me a favor by providing me with goods and services, in exchange for my money.  Their employees and policies avoid the possibility that I may have a choice when it comes to deciding which establishment to patronize.  Because of this,  oftentimes customer service is arrogant and impolite, and the product or service they deliver is substandard and overvalued.  These business owners then wonder why it is that they are unable to attract and retain customers, and why their company is in constant economic despair.  They need to be reminded of a basic rule of capitalism:  They are not doing the consumer a favor by offering their services.  The consumer is doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to serve the customer.
Renting an Apartment: For a year-and-a-half during law school, I worked at a legal aid office advising tenants of, among other things, their housing rights.  Some of my clients were treated unlawfully and extremely unfairly by their landlord, such as when a landlord discriminated against a tenant because of race, or didn't keep the apartment up to minimum habitability requirements.  We advocated on behalf of those clients, and took some of those landlords to court.  However, some if not most of our tenants were treated lawfully, but their eyes, unfairly.  I frequently heard "It's not fair that the landlord can evict me with just 30 days notice after I've lived here for 5 years." or "It's not fair that she can raise my rent that much in one year." or "It's not fair that my landlord can kick me out - I'm on subsidized housing!" or "I don't pay much in rent, but this place is in bad condition - it's not fair." or "The rules my landlord has are ridiculous!"  I could appreciate my clients despair, but I had a hard time sympathizing with them.  They live in the most expensive housing market in the country, and rent rather than own a home.  They therefore sacrifice the legal securities that come with owning a home.  The fact that they can't afford a home here doesn't make my heart bleed:  There are plenty of places that I can't afford a home, so I don't live there.  I live where I can afford a home.  Moral of the story:  If you don't like living under the rule of a landlord, buy a house.  If you can't afford a house where you live, move somewhere less expensive.
Blind Nationalism: Many Americans think that the United States is the best.  That we have the best technology and the freest press.  Wake up!  Hong Kong, Japan, and most of western Europe have more advanced consumer electronics than we do.  Their cell phones and TV's are at least a year ahead of ours.  And we will never have the incredible public transportation system that they do (let's talk about BART, which runs from Daly City to Fremont, completely skipping three major international airports).  As for a free press, our news media treats our government with kid gloves - heaven forbid they would be critical of the government and do an expose on some of the waste and cover-ups that take place.  The foreign press, specifically in Hong Kong and the U.K., is much more adept at uncovering corruption in both their government and ours ... but we will never hear about it, because our media doesn't want to upset our government officials. If you think America is #1, take a trip overseas to the U.K. or Hong Kong, and you'll find that we have an undeservingly big ego.
The Fallacy of the Gateway Theory:  A Lesson in Logic. Just because a lot of X did Y doesn't mean that Y results in X.  This type of logical error, called post hoc ergo propter hoc (after which, therefore because of which), is often employed in the failed War on Drugs.  Part of the propaganda employed in this "War" is that using marijuana leads to using cocaine and other harder drugs (the often heralded "gateway drug" theory).  This has been used to fight the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and to counter the scientifically proven arguments that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. The logical fallacy is that just because a lot of cocaine users once used marijuana, therefore using marijuana results in using cocaine.  I'll use an example to illustrate:  A lot of people who have been in car accidents have eaten french fries in the week preceding their car accident.   Using the same logic as the "gateway drug" propaganda, it therefore follows that eating french fries leads to car accidents.  Of course, this is utter nonsense!  A second example:  A lot of people who use cocaine regularly drank alcohol before using cocaine.  Using the "gateway drug" fallacy, it should therefore follow that regularly drinking alcohol leads to cocaine use.   Of course, this is wrong.  There is no statistically significant correlation between eating french fries and car accidents, drinking alcohol and using cocaine, nor marijuana use and cocaine use.  Until such a correlation is found to exist, the "gateway drug" theory is pure propaganda, and completely illogical.
Bullying:  The initiation of the use of force, whether by a person or a government, against another person or another government, is impermissible.  Individuals have a responsibility and a right to defend against the infringements of their rights, and when asked, to assist others in similar defenses.  The primary purpose of the government should be to ensure that the rights of its citizens are not infringed upon by neither internal nor external threats.  The government should also, when able and willing, assist other sovereigns in similar defenses upon request.  Bullying should not be tolerated, in any form.  On the school playground and in the workplace, bullying is a form of subrogation which assaults the self-esteem and spiritual psyche of the victim.  Schoolyard bullies should be expelled, and adult bullies should be stood up to and silenced.  Her name was Heather Davis. I owe much of my hatred and resentment of small-town Ohio and the people who live there to her. Heather was a classmate of mine in the fifth and sixth grade. For a number of reasons, she was an incredibly insecure person.  She dealt with her emotional problems the same way that her parents dealt with theirs: By being a bully. Every day I went to school knowing that she would be there to yell names at me and physically harass me. I often went home in tears. After almost two years, I told my mom I had enough - I refused to go back to school, and if I was forced to, I would kill myself before facing the wrath of Heather Davis again. The next day, my mom intervened with the school and most of the bullying stopped.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have sued the school district and Heather Davis for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery. I trusted the school to protect me from physical and mental abuse, but they failed to do so, despite knowing that the abuse was present. Bullying is not normal childhood interaction. It is no more normal in children at school than it is for adults in the workplace. It commonly exists in both situations, and schools as well as employers should not tolerate such behavior. Bullying is an abnormal way for people to deal with their emotional problems. It is not acceptable, and must not be tolerated.
Decriminalization of Drugs:  Assuming, for the sake of argument, that illegal drugs are a problem in our country, the present course of action in combating that problem (the "War on Drugs") is a failure, and as history has shown, will continue to be a failure.  Can we not learn from our mistakes and move on?  Apparently not.  Legalization or decriminalization of drugs would not stop the use of drugs.  But why is that our goal?  Illegal drugs are relatively harmless compared to alcohol and tobacco, and hey, if someone wants to fill themselves up with a mind-numbing product, that's not my concern.  Decriminalization would remove the criminal element from the cash flow equation, and allow the government to realize revenue from the taxation of the sale of drugs.  Rather than following the path of curtailing the supply, which by all accounts has failed, spend resources on health programs for drug users and education programs designed to diminish the demand for drugs.  The AMA says that drug addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.  Maybe we should listen to our country's finest doctors and treat this problem, rather than listening to the military (not known for their medical expertise), who wants to "declare war" on every problem our country has.  Prohibition should have taught us something.  Our drug policy is a mess, and seriously in need of a basic reorientation.
Victimless Crimes:  Victimless crimes do have a victim: the person convicted.  Crimes which have no victim, including personal drug use, possession and prostitution, should be decriminalized and persons convicted of those crimes set free.  It is intolerable that we have to bankroll "wars" to fight activities which have been ongoing and unstoppable since the beginning of humanity.  Those efforts, time, money and jail space should be focused on crimes with victims.
Freedoms & Personal Responsibility: You should be able to do whatever you want without interference by society or individuals, so long as you don't infringe upon others' right to do the same, and you are willing to take complete and total personal responsibility for your actions.  I should not be required to financially support someone who has made conscious choices to lead a lifestyle that they are unable to support themselves.  I may choose to help someone in need of charity, but I should not be forced to do so.  Similarly, others should not be required to financially support me as a result of my lifestyle choices, and I am working hard to make sure that my family and I will always be self-sufficient.
Stereotyping Minorities:  A Lesson in Logic.  Just because a lot of [ stereotype ] are [ minority ] does not mean that a lot of [ minorities ] are [ stereotype ].  Examples:  Just because a lot of criminals are black does not mean that a lot of blacks arecriminals. Just because a lot of engineers are Asian does not mean that a lot of Asiansare engineers. Just because a lot of bigots are white does not mean that a lot ofwhites are bigots.  For this reason, racial profiling should be prohibited as a means of law enforcement.
Middle Stoppers:  You are not the only person in the world.   This applies when you are driving, walking down the sidewalk or walkway, exchanging ideas, and meeting new people.  People who drive slowly in the left lane, fail to get the hell out of the way of an emergency vehicle, or walk in the middle of a pathway, get what they deserve if they get run over.  Don't stop in the middle of the grocery store aisle.  Don't stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk.  Don't stop in the middle of a busy walkway.  There's other people behind you who don't want to stop and watch whatever it is you are doing, so move to the side!  If you don't know how to drive, or you learned how through a correspondence course (these don't really exist, but some people drive as though they do), please, find someone who knows how to drive and get them to teach you.
Problems People Have:  We all have problems and struggles in our lives.  Mine are different from yours, but that doesn't mean they are any less valid.  Former criminals, drug users and alcoholics should not be congratulated nor rewarded for their reformations, unless people who have never been criminals, drug users or alcoholics are similarly congratulated and rewarded for their abstinence. When I was in the sixth grade, the school I attended would reward "problem" students with a candy bar when they had gone one week without receiving any reprimands.  I asked my teacher why I didn't get a candy bar, when I had gone the entire year without any reprimands.  The response was that the purpose of the candy bar was to reward problem students for not engaging in problem behavior.  But what I learned was that it paid to be bad, because then and only then you would get a reward for being good.  I can't blame my teacher though - she was a victim of narrow-minded thinking.
The First Amendment:  Violence is not caused by the free access to information.  Watching violent movies or knowing how to make a pipe bomb does not cause violence.  Censorship will not decrease violence - quite the contrary, history shows us that prohibition and censorship has only increased crime.  Parents and teachers must do their jobs in order to reduce violence. When I was a kid, I used to watch the Dukes of Hazard TV show.  That show featured more car crashes than any other show I've ever seen!  Now that I'm an adult, I drive a car.  Did watching that show make me want to crash my car?  Never!  Not even as a child watching the TV show did I expect cars to crash like that in real life.  We should not presume a causation element where there is none. Schools which ban the wearing of certain colors or symbols, such as the Star of David (misunderstood by some as a gang symbol) or clothing with the word "hemp" on it have completely missed the boat on curbing gang violence.  Restricting the rights of non-gang members empowers gangs.  The only way to solve the "gang problem" (and I'm not talking about peaceful assembly or drugs here - I'm talking about physical violence perpetrated by groups of people) is to strictly, consistently, and when justified, harshly punish the people who perpetrate the crimes.
Organized Religion:  This section is bound to offend many people, including some of my friends.  But some of my friends have religious beliefs that offend me.  The feeling is mutual, but I hope that we transcend that and focus on what we have in common.  By doing so, I have been fortunate enough to know many very wonderful people, even though they have religious beliefs which I disagree with.  I haven't let that stop me from having valuable friendships with them, and likewise I hope that my beliefs have not stopped them from pursuing friendships with me.  Some of my best friends fall into this category, and I'm thankful for knowing them, even though we do not see eye-to-eye on all issues.  Now on with the offensive part.
In addition to being ignorant and hypocritical, I think organized western religion is a fraud.  Churches use the fear of death to defraud otherwise ignorant commoners of a disproportionate amount of their income.  Of course, it is a brilliant business scheme, but still a fraud.
The Mormon Church was once a big proponent of bigamy.  It was only after the government prohibited bigamists from practicing their "sinful" acts that the Mormons told their members to stop practicing bigamy.  And it was not until the late 1970's that the Mormon Church allowed African-American Mormons to enter the church's temples.  Nowadays, the church is spending tens of millions of dollars to prevent gays from getting equal civil rights as straight people enjoy, claiming that being gay is immoral and unnatural.  And they don't think that bigamy is also?  Why is it that one man marrying five women is just fine and dandy, but two men or women in a committed relationship causes the church so much grief?
I find it ironic that the Mormon Church was spending millions of dollars to prevent gays from getting married, while at the same time they said not a word of protest when FOX aired the TV show "Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire?" - where a live marriage ceremony was performed on nationwide TV, only to be nullified by the "husband and wife" when they realized they entered into the marriage just for publicity.  Whose marriage is the Mormon Church protecting?  These televised sham marriages?
Your interpretation of a religious dogma or ideology, such as the Bible, is purely subjective, and completely meaningless to me.  Please do not presume to tell me that your interpretation is more valid than mine, or that my life should, in any way, be restricted or guided by your interpretation.
If someone has made a conscious choice to believe in God or Jesus, that's fine. But I resent anyone who tries to convince me that I should share in their belief. I also resent those who brainwash their children (or other's children) with a specific religious affiliation. Let the person decide for himself when he is old enough and knowledgeable enough to make that choice.
I'm not a biblical scholar, but I know enough about Christianity to know that Jesus was a rather compassionate fellow.  He didn't shun the sick or the prostitutes; he took them under his wing.  It is hypocritical that so many of his so-called followers fail to follow his example.  The Mormons, Jimmy Falwell, and Fred Phelps, just to name a few, tell us that "God Hates Gays" and that gays are evil.  They used similar propaganda against racial minorities in the 1950's and 1960's.  That hardly seems compassionate and Jesus-like.  Of course, the church's racist interpretations of the Bible were reversed when racism was no longer in vogue, seeming to reinforce my view that religious dogma is not handed down by the Almighty, but rather selectively adopted by the church to further whatever their present agenda is, be it racism, bigotry, or invading other people's privacy.  It therefore seems that the church has little to do with furthering the stoic goals and principles of Jesus, but more to do with advancing a flimsy agenda created to suit the whims of the Christian leaders.
Conservative, fundamental groups tout family values, yet they repeatedly fail to practice what they preach.  Newt Gingrich having an affair is one example.  Another example is Mike Trout, a top official and announcer for Focus on the Family.  He resigned from the conservative Christian group in October of 2000 because he had an extramarital affair.  These people spend so much time, effort, money and hatred attacking those who do not fit within their definition of "normal" or "moral", and yet frequently, they themselves aren't living up to the standards that they are setting for others.
"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."  John 8:7.
Elected Officials:  Elected officials who are exposed as hypocrites should be banished from public office by the voters.
Newt Gingrich screamed for family values and the Defense of Marriage Act, all the while carrying on an affair behind his wife's back with a girl half his age.  He told his wife he was divorcing her while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer.  What kind of family values are those?  And where were the republicans and their family values when Juan Miguel Gonzalez wanted his little boy, Elian, back?  They wanted to hold investigatory hearings ... until they found out the American people supported the reunification of Elian with his dad.  Such wonderful family values.
Senator Bob Barr, who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, has been married three times.  Which one of his marriages is he defending?  Bill Clinton signed the act in the very room in which he received oral sex from his mistress.  What's so great about these marriages that deserve defense?
When the nominee for Secretary of Labor is found to have violated labor laws, and is criticized for that, it is not "politics of personal destruction."  It's called "exposing a hypocrite."
Homosexuality: The U.S. military doesn't want gays to serve in the armed forces.  All other western countries allow gays to serve in the military, but the U.S. has yet to be enlightened in this regard.  Canada and Israel report having none of the problems with having gays serve in the military that the U.S. fears:  There has been no demoralization, and no privacy problems.  It seems that once again, the United States is behind the times in the area of bigotry and discrimination. 
If the military wishes to discriminate against gays by not allowing them to enlist in the armed forces, then I do not see any reason why gays should be subject to the draft.  Gays should also be exempt from registering with the Selective Service System, until they are allowed to voluntarily enter into the military.  After all, if "unit cohesion" is the reason why gays must be excluded from the military during peacetime, how would that change during time of war?  If anything, I would think unit cohesion would be more important during time of war.  So let's be consistent:  No gays in the military means no need for registration with the Selective Service.
Much of the following was taken from an essay by Nathan Sanders.
Homophobia is generally found in two arguments:  The Choice and The Bible.  The Choice is that a gay person has chosen to be gay, and therefore should make the choice not to be gay in order to avoid moral destruction.  Apparently, believers in The Choice think that gay people wake up one day, decide that their life is boring, and choose to make a drastic change to a lifestyle which is the target of hatred.  To believers in The Choice, I ask:  When did you chose to hate broccoli?  When did you chose to be attracted to red-heads, or tanned skin, or blue eyes?  And why on earth would anyone chose to persecuted and hated, to be a target for beatings and murder, and to be ostracized from society?  Whatever causes sexuality --- genes, environmental influence, the food the mother eats during pregnancy --- does not matter.  Gay people are who they are, and they cannot change it, and most would not change it.
As for The Bible, Jesus himself never once said anything about homosexuality, and you'd think that if homosexuality was as big of a sin as Christians make it out to be, the very Savior of Christianity would have said at least one passage. But nope, not a single word.  It must not have been that important to him.  You have to be just a bit worried when the central figure of your religion doesn't mention something about what you believe to be a major sin.  In fact, none of the four Gospels mention homosexuality --- the messages therein are concerned with acceptance, love, and not judging others.
From the Old Testament, you have the Holiness Code from Leviticus, which bans many acts such as wearing clothes made from two clothes, planting fields with two seeds, eating pork, etc. as well as same-sex intercourse. Of course, many Christians ignore these restrictions, and there does not seem to be any reason other than fear or hatred to single out particular sins from the Holiness Code. 
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is typically used as an example of how God punishes homosexuals. But read your Bible carefully, in particular Luke 10:10-13 and Ezekiel 16:49-50. Their sin was not homosexuality--- it was inhospitality and failure to take care of the poor (sins many Christians commit indiscriminately today). 
And what of the remaining passages in the Bible that "condemn" homosexuality (Romans 1:26-2:1, I Corinthians 6:9-11, and Timothy 1:10)? For starters, they were all written by one man, Saint Paul. Seems kind of hard to believe that centuries of hatred and loathing are based on the writings of one man, in a religion based on love, forgiveness, non-judgementality, and acceptance of mortal flaws (remember when Jesus said in defense of an adulteress: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"?).
And Paul wasn't the best person to take advice from: he believed that government authority was not to be questioned; he believed that women should wear veils; and he was anti-Semitic. What makes Paul's views on homosexuality more valid than his views on government, women, or the Jewish people?

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