Archive for November, 2008

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twilight.

November 24, 2008

Spent all day Saturday reading Twilight, the first book of the hottest new young adult series today. Although I’m not much into vampires or love stories, the hype around the books and the movie was too much to ignore. It pretty much seems like it is the “next Harry Potter”. Besides, it’s clearly written for teenage girls and took me only a day to finish.

Impressions:

  • Bella, the main character, is extremely annoying. At least to me, she was very negative and overall very unlikable.
  • Edward, the vampire love interest, was a bit too perfect. I understand he’s a vampire and his looks/actions have to be more than enough to overcome that downside. But I keep thinking there is no way any guy in real-life will live up to him and do the teenage girls reading this book know that?
  • Plot-wise, once it got past the set-up (Bella moving, adjusting, meeting Edward, dating Edward), then it got exciting. Unfortunately, it was exciting for only a few chapters. It’s going to make for a fun movie climax though.
  • Writing – well, you can’t expect too much for a young adult novel about vampires.
  • Side-note because the movie posters are everywhere now, I don’t think Robert Pattinson makes a very good Edward. All the pictures I keep seeing make him look more vampiric and disheveled rather than statuesque and “perfect”.

I will try to read the rest of the series, but it could go downhill very quickly.

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wal-mart.

November 21, 2008

I picked up The Wal-Mart Effect (by Charles Fishman) at Barnes and Noble because it was on sale for $7. Besides, I like reading about how businesses transform the environment they begin in. With Wal-Mart, it’s on a whole new level. It’s so big it affects everyone, from its own suppliers to companies who choose not to partner with them, to consumers who make price assumptions based on Wal-Mart’s prices. Because of Wal-Mart’s reputation, I expected the author to have a strong bias against the company. Surprisingly, it started out almost more in favor of the corporation, noting its push to eliminate unnecessary packaging and making massive amounts of data available to its suppliers for analysis.

I feel like I did learn some interesting facts; mostly that there’s really very little known about the company because Wal-Mart is very guarded about interviews. Also, Wal-Mart does not provide sales data to help information aggregation companies determine annual sales and its low prices help keep our inflation rate low (although that’s very unclear to normal people).

And just by luck, Wal-Mart happened to be in the news today. Their CEO is stepping down in January and they have chosen their international chief to be the successor.

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soft rock.

November 11, 2008

On the way from the airport to the hotel, the radio was playing Delilah. Most of the time, soft rock doesn’t hold my attention for a full song. But tonight, she played Faith Hill’s “A Baby Changes Everything”. Clearly, from it’s title, you know it’s going to be amazing. For the first half of the song, I thought it was just a song about a girl getting pregnant with slight sex-ed overtones. Turns out, it’s a Christmas song, telling a strange version of Jesus’s birth. Who comes up with this kind of stuff?!

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la crosse

November 9, 2008

Highlights from my trip to La Crosse, WI:

  • 70 year old couple driving a minivan with the license plate that says “GANST’R”.
  • Billboard for BP on the highway advertising beer (when really driving on the highway is the only thing to do)
  • People’s Food Co-op – nice deli for an easy pick-up dinner
  • Hot complimentary breakfast and impressive toiletry designs at the Holiday Inn Express in Onalaska, WI.
  • Good gas mileage (35+) in the Mazda 6 rental car (and gas being down to $2.19 when I came back to Madison)
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trip.

November 1, 2008

Last week I took trips to Burlington, VT and Virginia Beach, VA. Burlington had its first snow while I was there (only a few flurries), while Madison had its first snow while I was in a hotel on the oceanfront. Since both trips were for work, the main highlights were dinner. In Vermont, I had sushi at the Asiana House and Rodizo at the Brazilian steakhouse Souza’s. Both were huge amounts of delicious food. However, I can’t eat enough meat that the Brazilian steakhouse is worth a second go. In Virginia, I had to get seafood because it was everywhere. The scallops at Catch 31 were fantastic, and the service was very friendly.

And given all my time spent on airplanes, I finished The Art of Deception, by Kevin Mitnick. This book is the kind that makes people paranoid with little advice on how to eleviate the worry. It makes “social engineering” seem easy, like any person could come up with these cons and pull it off. The advice the book gives on how to prevent attacks seems a bit cliche. Overall, I would not recommend reading.