Brandon's Articles, Page 2 of 32

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06 Jul 11

The Advantage of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is a big thing where I work. Every year employees attend workshops designed to instill an appreciation for it (along with its buddy, inclusiveness). I’ve always thought of myself as being fully onboard with the whole D&I thing, but I saw a poster today on my way in today that made me wonder.

As you can see in the image to the right, the poster attempts to convince the viewer of the value of diversity by comparing a typical, multi-faceted pocketknife with one that only only has corkscrews. Now, I know the idea is to show that having various tools at your disposal is generally more useful than only having one, but the analogy breaks down quickly if you think about it.

28 Apr 11

Hotel Motivations: Environment, Economics, or e-Facade?

If you’ve stayed in a hotel in the past year or two, you’ve likely noticed some new signage in your room – a placard next to the bed or posted in the bathroom asking you to join the hotel in their efforts to save water by washing your sheets or towels only as needed, instead of everyday.

My first reaction to these was twofold: First, this is a great idea! It presents me with an opportunity to give up something about which I care little (not having my towels and sheets washed everyday) for something about which I care deeply (minimizing waste). Second, I was sure the hotel cared less about the environment than they did about saving money.

25 Apr 11

Music Purchase Log: 2011 Q1

Music I bought in the first quarter of 2011. (And you thought I’d given this up…)

  • Anberlin – New Surrender – I’ve been one step away from getting one of Anberlin’s records for a while. I’m glad I finally pulled the trigger.
  • Bayside – Killing Time – Another consistently catchy emo album. (Er… Am I not supposed to say “emo” anymore?)
  • Bear Hands – Burning Bush Supper Club – Crime Pays is insanely catchy, and I like track 9. I could do without the rest.
  • Blackout Pact, The – Hello Sailor – Oldschool emo ala Hot Water Music … with a little Promise Ring sprinkled in.
  • Decemberists, The – The King is Dead – I could have gone for another (or ten) Hazards of Love, but it this is still a solid album. Be warned: It’s on the country side of things.
25 Feb 11

Silly Entitlement Wishes for Idaho

I support causes on on a fairly regular basis. Their political ideals (in general) aren’t the same as mine, but sometimes they stand up for the right thing in the right way and I’m more than happy to e-sign a petition.

Occasionally, however, a cause rolls into my inbox that I wish I could vote against – and I received just this kind of email last month concerning Senate Bill 1353 in Idaho. According to the email, “[t]he law was intended to allow pharmacists the option to deny women access to emergency contraception, even if the woman in question was raped. … This isn’t a law that protects pharmacists – it’s a law that endangers women. … The women of Idaho deserve better than this.”

25 Jan 11

Music Purchase Log: December 2010

Music I purchased in December 2010:

  • Badly Drawn Boy – It’s What I’m Thinking: Photographing Snowflakes
  • Nada Surf – If I Had a Hi-Fi -
  • Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown – Not as good as their previous (by far), but not as bad as the reviews.
  • We Are Scientists – Barbara

< November 20102011 Q1 >

16 Dec 10

In on (Part of) Wikipedia's Ground Floor

Back in ‘06, I was a fired-up wiki-newb. I had all the passion but none of the know-how … and that has led to a number of good and bad things over the years. My interest in the most popular wiki faded over time, though, and only recently did I return to my old stomping ground. It was interesting to see what had become of some of the articles I started. Perhaps the craziest part is knowing I don’t (and didn’t) have any real expertise on these subjects; I just did the grunt work necessary to fill in something Wikipedia lacked.

16 Dec 10

Music Purchase Log: November 2010

Believe it or not, I went an entire month (October 2010) without buying a single album.

It didn’t last.

Albums I bought in November 2010:

  • Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis
  • Menomena – Mines
  • My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
  • No Knife – Riot for Romance!
  • Senses Fail – The Fire
16 Dec 10

One Way to Get IT's Attention

IT at my company is … well, probably like it is at most other companies: an outdated and lagging affair dead-set on sacrificing opex for capex. And according to my boss and anyone in a position of influence to whom I talked, it’s always been like that, will probably continue to be like that, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. They’ve all done their share of complaining over the years and have seen it go nowhere – particularly in an international company with over 100,000 employees.

I’ve only been with the company 3.5 years, but that has allowed me to experience a migration from Windows 2000 to Windows Vista. Although the switch itself went smoother than I expected, I started experiencing serious periods of lag and frequent restarts fairly soon thereafter. You know … the same old stuff. This time, though, instead of complaining at the water cooler and pulling my hair out, I decided to react differently: I gathered data – specifically, how much time I spent each day waiting on my computer:

12 Nov 10

Out with Earmarks (or: Money's Not Candy)

It appears the newly-elected Senators are rocking the boat already – and not with Democrats. Conservatives are having a hard time agreeing on if they should ban earmarks. (They’re actually calling it an earmark “moratorium.” Let’s see how many times we can work that word in this year. It’s like 2010’s theme…)

This video on Fox features a panel with a number of opinions: On one hand, earmarks are seen as secret ways to slide “pet projects” through legislation. On the other, they’re a means of making sure someone actually representing an area has a say in how money (that would go to that area anyway) is spent.

20 Oct 10

Music Purchase Log: September 2010

It’s late, but here are the albums I purchased in September 2010:

  • 36 Crazyfists – Collisions and Castaways – More decent post-hardcore.
  • Arcade Fire, The – The Suburbs – I’m forever indebted to late night talk shows for helping me find these guys years ago. They keep getting better. (The Arcade Fire, I mean; not late night.)
  • Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon – I wish they weren’t headed in the Sarah McLachlan direction. It’s the indie-ness that drew me in, and they seem to be losing it.
  • Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart – It’s so refreshing to have bands like this stick to their (parents’) roots.
  • Books, The – The Way Out – Still doing their electronic indie thing, this is music to play while doing something else, imo. Still good, though.
18 Oct 10

On Being Independant and Alone

My employer has a big fundraising drive to support United Way each year – and even goes so far as to match employee donations. Typically there is a coordinator assigned for each group, and he/she works to ensure everyone goes online and makes an election to donate or not. (Traditionally, the biggest reason people don’t donate is because they “weren’t asked” or “didn’t know.”)

I have a different charity of choice, so I typically opt out of making a donation. I’ve always thought of the United Way as being the kind of organization I would support, though. For some reason, I picture the work they do as being worthwhile and not wasteful.

27 Sep 10

Music Purchase Log: August 2010

Albums I purchased in August 2010:

  • Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way
  • Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
  • Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy
  • Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin
  • Tombs – Winter Hours

< July 2010September 2010 >

03 Aug 10

Music Purchase Log: July 2010

Albums I purchased in July 2010:

  • Against Me! – White Crosses – They’re still inching further from their stripped down, I-use-a-upside-down-bucket-as-a-drum roots, but it’s good music nonetheless.
  • Alesana – The Emptiness
  • At All Costs – Circle of Demons
  • Avenged Sevenfold – Waking the Fallen – I was curious what their older stuff was like. Turns out it’s not as original (i.e., more typical hardcore/metal) … but still decent.
  • Ben Folds Five – Ben Folds Five – How did I go this long without picking up the album that started it all?
  • Bishop Allen – The Broken String
  • Chevelle – Sci-Fi Crimes – I skipped their last one due to less-than-stellar reviews. This album seems to have them back in the action – although I still have trouble not wishing they were Tool.
15 Jul 10

The Nature of Time and Biblical Creation Arguments

I’ve always been an applied physics kind of guy. My degree is in engineering and my career is in industry. Recently, though, I’ve been reading The Elegant Universe to expand my nerd-horizons.

One concept that struck me was the effect of speed and gravity on time. Basically: The greater the speed and the stronger the gravity, the slower the passage of time. So, if you’re standing “still” and I run by you, time is moving slower for me. (Yes, I know the speeds need to be much faster to make any real difference, but it’s still true.) Similarly, if you stay on Earth and I go hang out on Mercury, my time would again be moving slower (due to the warping of space-time caused by the Sun).

09 Jul 10

Music Purchase Log: June 2010

Music I purchased in June 2010:

  • Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer
  • Deftones – Diamond Eyes – Most Deftones albums take a while to sink in for me. This one is no different. I fully expect it to be as good as the last one, though.
  • Ed Harcourt – The Beautiful Lie – This is counter-recommendation courtesy of my aunt-in-law, Teeni, after I introduced her to Andrew Bird. It sounds promising thus far.
  • Gaslight Anthem, The – The ’59 Sound – Highly acclaimed, but I’m not feeling it yet.
  • Hawthorne Heights – Skeletons
  • Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
  • Priestess – Prior to the Fire
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