Tuesday, July 31, 2007

King of the Court

Everyone gets a partner. One team is appointed "kings" and stands on one side at the net. Everyone else gets in a line with their partner at the opposite baseline. The teams come up one at a time and get basic feeds. If anyone hits a clean winner at any time, the points are over and that team automatically goes to the net (or stays at the net if it was the net team.) Otherwise you play best out of 3 points and the baseline team has to win 2 points to take the place of the net team. When a team takes the place of the net team, they have 3 seconds to run over to the other side of the net before the baseline team gets a lob. The lob must bounce.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Word of Wisdom

This last Sunday the topic for Gospel Essentials was the Word of Wisdom. Having been raised in the church this wasn't anything new to me. We went over the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants and listed on the board the things good for the body (grains, meat sparingly, fruits and vegetables, adequate sleep, etc.) and those not for the body (tea, coffee, illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc.).

Understanding all this doesn't make it easy to tell someone you don't use that certain substance. Here at work everybody drinks coffee all day, and I don't touch it. They oviously ask me why and I say, "I'm not a coffee drinker." I hate saying it's against my morals, or religion, or whatever, because it makes it seem like I'm saying, "I'm better than you." I don't know all the "medical reasons" for not using these substances, but something came up in class yesterday that shed a whole new light on the topic.

Our teacher brought up the fact that 100% of people aren't negatively affected by using these substances. Some people can drink or smoke and not receive any harm to their health. But this is not the norm. It was suggested that the reason this commandment was given was to help those who can be harmed by these bad substances. If we all, as a group of saints, adhere to these rules we will be more of a strength to those of us who would fall into addiction if we weren't prohibited from taking these substances. So it's not really a restriction, but an opportunity for us to provide a safe and healthy environment for those around us.

Another important side note deals with the possibility of having a certain medical condition for which one of these bad substances is medically prescribed (wine, marijuana, etc.). We need to pray about it and consult with our local leaders (Bishop, Stake President) to find out if this condition is a test of our faith or if it is ok to comply with the subscription.

What do y'all think about this new insight?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weekly Security Tip: Virtual Credit Card Numbers

I thought I'd try a weekly security tip to force me to do research on computer security (something I want to understand on a deeper level). I've learned so much from the few classes I've taken in school that I want everybody around me to know so that they too can be more aware of safer ways to use a computer.

Digg.com is an excellent place to find the hottest news on any given topic. I find their security section to be quite helpful and entertaining (they've had articles telling people the special order in which to press the buttons on a coke machine to get free sodas, for the purpose of showing a lack of security on the part of Coca-Cola).

Anyways, one of the more recent articles that showed up was on virtual credit card numbers (VCCNs) and how nobody uses them. VCCN's allow you to purchase items online using a virtual/disposable credit card number on the spot that will either only be active for that one order or will only be active for transactions with that particular merchant for a particular time period. In other words, you don't have to use your actual credit card number for any online purchases, which greatly decreases the chance of identity theft (i.e., the theft of personal information for criminal use) happening.

Not every credit card company offers this but a few of those that do include:
  • CitiBank
  • MBNA
  • Discover
Onemansblog.com offered the following reasons to use this service:
  • Lets say you want to buy a magazine subscription online (or any type of potentially recurring subscription). If you use your real card number they may try to auto-renew you down the road. Can’t do that with a disposable number!

  • You want to order from a catalog or some other source that you have to mail in an order form with your credit card info included. Use a VAN in case someone intercepts the mail.

  • Each virtual account number is set to expire at the end of the following month and can only be used at a single merchant. This means if someone steals it, the number can’t be used anywhere else.

  • Fighting fraudulent charges is a pain in the [rear]! It takes time and energy and there is always at least a chance that you could lose in the end. Why not prevent it altogether?

The only drawback is that this service shouldn't be used for items you will be picking up in person (e.g., pizza, movie tickets, other items that are ordered and picked up at a local store, etc.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The World Is Flat

I'm in the middle of reading this book that explains how the world is flat. It's basically a history of the last 7-8 years of the world and how we have grown increasingly closer together due to the increased flattening effect of modern technology. It really isn't a technical book or a business book. The author (Thomas L. Friedman) does a good job of introducing technological and business topics in a very easy-to-understand way. It's great if you want to get caught up on what's going on in the world. But you better read it fast, because even the updated and expanded edition was published over a year ago and it will be outdated before long, but as of right now it pretty well covers all of the major advances.

The ten things he argues has flattened the world are:

  1. 11/9/89 (The fall of the Berlin Wall)

  2. 8/9/95 (The advent of the WWW and when Netscape went public)

  3. Work flow software (email, Pay Pal, AJAX, etc.)

  4. Uploading (Open Source software, Blogging, Wikipedia)

  5. Outsourcing (Y2K)

  6. Offshoring (China joining the WTO)

  7. Supply-Chaining (Wal-mart's magic)

  8. Insourcing (UPS-much more than just wearing funny brown shorts and delivering boxes)

  9. In-forming (Google, Yahoo!, MSN Web Search)

  10. The Steroids (Instant messaging, filesharing, video conferencing, wireless technologies, cell phones, PDA's, VoIP, etc.)

That's only the first half of the book, I'll be sure to write an update to this when I finish the book. But if you only read the first half, you'll be amazed at how flat the world really is becoming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why is Citizen Kane so Highly Acclaimed?

Sherrie and I watched Citizen Kane the other night, wondering what all the hype was behind it. It took a little bit for us to get into. Overall it was a good story of how power and wealth can in no way guarantee success, prosperity, and happiness.

Charles Foster Kane is repeatedly reminded throughout the movie that he doesn't know how to love people, you can't purchase love and you can't expect people to love you if you don't know how to love them. Orson Welles did a great job as Kane, but no better than Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant or any other actor that's been in a movie of equal or greater quality in my mind.

However, the great acclaim probably comes because it debuted in 1941 and supposedly did some amazing things with sounds and other filming affects. I still don't think that this should qualify a film to be the greatest Hollywood has ever produced.

Evan Almighty Is Mighty Funny

First of all, for all those Annalee fans out there photos of her are appearing in places other than my family pictures link! You'll find them on my parent's photo link located on the www.losanderson.com web page ("Don and Janet").

Steve Carell can be funny and clean at the same time. This movie was excellent. It had a very strong and powerful message about the importance of prayer, how much God loves his children on Earth and will give them the power and knowledge to act in the manner in which He commands us, and how important it is to do acts of random kindness in order to change the world. The film is rated PG and follows the same type of humor that exists in most comedies of the same rating (which sadly is sometimes followed by poorer acting--with exception to Steve Carell).

I don't remember hearing any swearing, there was no sexual innuendo, the only thing they could have done without were the numerous dog-biting-crotch episodes. I highly recommend this flick to any one who is looking for some good clean humor and an inspirational message.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Idolatry: Commandment #1

It is an interesting thought as to why the first of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." I've always been taught in Sunday School that this commandment was given because God is jealous and doesn't want us worshiping anybody/thing else. This kind of made sense, other than the fact that jealousy is usually a negative trait. In other classes this subject was made more clear when I realized that it's not just because God is jealous, but that he knows that he is the only entity that can ensure us eternal happiness. Anything we think is more important than God (particularly with regards to the activities we do on Sunday, those that distract us from the purpose of the Sabbath) will become our idol, our god.

President Spencer W. Kimball related a story about a group of men capturing monkey's in the jungle. They made small crates with a hole in it just big enough for the monkey to put his hand in. They then put a small nut in the crate that the monkey's liked. When the monkey's came out of the tree and discovered the crates with nuts in them, they reached in the box, grabbed the nut but could not pull their hand out because their fist was to big. Even with the hunters approaching them they did not release their prize. In the same way Satan is like the hunter, and if we go after the wrong prizes (clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, degrees and letters and titles, power and prestige, the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, etc.) we will get that which we so desire at the cost of that which is of most value.

I would like to share a very interesting fact. If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth's thin crust. The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even "worlds without number." How insignificant our earthly riches are when the Lord has promised those who have received the oath and covenant of his Holy Priesthood "all that my Father hath." (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38)

Joseph Smith's translation of Matthew 6:38 summarizes well this topic, "Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."