Thursday, October 09, 2008
I've Moved. Finally.

We've been using a custom WordPress install over at www.itscrockettscience.com for a little over a year now, and I finally got around to switching this blog to WordPress as well.

So- if you just can't live without my infrequent updates and incoherent rambling, you can now follow all the inaction over at www.bcrockett.com/blog
posted by Brett Crockett @ 1:30 AM   0 comments
Monday, September 01, 2008
Occupational Hazard


Standups: why I'm glad I switched my major from broadcast journalism early in my college career.

If you want to get the full effect, you've got to see the closing shot of this piece where the camera pans across the scene with John Hollenhorst reporting from the trenches in true textbook fashion. It's funny enough to make me update my blog after a month and a half of inactivity.
posted by Brett Crockett @ 10:11 PM   1 comments
Friday, July 11, 2008
Competitive Advertising

click for full-size image

In light of Apple/AT&T's apparent fumbling of today's 3G iPhone launch, this is great ad placement by Blackberry. Not as good as the Apple ads on CNet for Vista's launch (see here for one of the many), but still quite good.
posted by Brett Crockett @ 8:30 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Hello Shreveport!
Five or six years ago I bought a toll-free number that I use for some business. The number I picked turned out to be very close to another toll-free customer service line, and on an average day I get three or four calls from people who keyed in the wrong number.

The calls usually come from the South and are more of a nuisance than anything, the phone company charges me every time it happens.

At first, I had fun with them—mostly people calling to check the balance on their gift cards (as you'll hear later). I'd ask for the card number, wait a few seconds, and then tell them they had $1,750.00 or whatever on the card.

They'd be like--
"Are you serious!?! I thought maybe there was 20 bucks on there, but $1,750!?! Are you sure?"

"Yes ma'am, that's what I show here."

"REALLY?!? That can't be right, could it?"

"That's the balance on the account. I can't add money to your balance but I can make deductions—would you like me to go ahead and change it for you in the system? Did you say $20?"

"No, no, no! Don't do that—it's ok."
Then, because I'd feel bad if someone went out and spent a couple hundred bucks on a meal they thought they wouldn't have to pay for, I'd ask them to read me the card number one more time, and then tell them it looked like I was mistaken on the first time around.

It was fun for a while. But soon the novelty wore off (or my conscience got the best of me) and I've thought a few times about having the number changed. Thought I'd save a little money and some hassle (the worst are the calls at 6AM on a Saturday).

Every now and then though, I'll get a great voicemail and figure it's worth it to keep the number a bit longer. I got this message the other day when I returned from vacation. There are some seriously awesome lines in it. The lady's trying to call about a TGI Friday's gift card, and it took me about 4 listens to figure out what it was she was saying about Friday...might take you the same.
"Friday...after Friday, next Friday...and uh...TGY It's Friday, I mean."
Anyway, I opened it up in Audacity to edit out the callback number she leaves before posting it...but as I got ready to, realized that what she left wasn't even a complete phone number. Enjoy the Southern charm. Listen here.
posted by Brett Crockett @ 12:00 AM   2 comments
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Taxes and a "Political Brownout"


I got an email from my brother this morning with a link to this article about how Warren Buffet doesn’t feel like he’s paying his fair share of taxes. It’s a valid point considering his secretary pays a greater percentage of her income to the IRS than Mr. Buffet does. I found the article interesting, but it also bugged me a little. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot since doing my taxes this year and (although expecting a chunky return after getting married last year) found out I owed the IRS more money than I’d already shelled out.

Being taxed at 16% (like Warren Buffet) means that you will work around 40 full days out of the year just to pay income taxes. Compare that to the average person’s "Tax Freedom Day" of 4 months, and 40 days actually starts to sound about right.

I’m not a bitter person who expects rich people to pay more taxes. Instead of asking for others to pay more, I just expect the poor to pay less.

Why would I expect anyone to work four months for the government (unless you actually work for the government, and not just to fund the government)? And that’s only talking about income taxes. If you only pay attention to your 1040, you’re missing a huge part of the tax picture.

Don’t forget we get taxed when:
1- We make our money
2- We buy something with our money
3- We keep the property we bought
4- We sell the property we bought
5- And in several other areas we probably don’t understand because of a tax code that is 16,845 pages long

It’s easy for rich people to say "Hey- I'm not getting taxed enough!" and get attention. But if they really want to pay more taxes, I don’t know of anyone out there stopping them. They can tell their accountants to stop finding all those deductions that they pay them big money to find. They can increase the wages they pay their employees. And they can increase the benefits they afford their employees (like company health care), just to name a few. If doing all that still doesn’t ease their conscience (or their need for attention), they can make a voluntary donation to the Treasury to help decrease the national debt—it IS allowed, after all.

If you want to hear some real reason on the subject, check out Thomas L. Friedman’s article in the NYTimes about Hillary and McCains pipe dream of a summer tax break on gas.
"The McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder to me that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country today is the energy to be serious — the energy to do big things in a sustained, focused and intelligent way. We are in the midst of a national political brownout."


And if you want to read about a politician who sees things for what they really are, check out this short Wall Street Journal article on The Tax Me More Act.
"It's a great injustice that citizens wishing to fulfill their dream of paying more taxes cannot simply check a box on their 1040 form to make a donation..."


Oh- and what about that economic stimulus check set to arrive any day? Not only is it too little, too late—it's a joke. "Here's $600 if you'll pretend with us that everything is OK. Pretend like you actually have $600 to spend. And while you're at it, pretend that it's going to make a drop of difference in the cesspool that is our current political and economic situation."

Like Friedman said- "It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on[...]policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away."

Why don’t I want the government to raise taxes on the rich? Because one day I expect to be "rich"- and when I am, I’d rather give my money to individuals to use—not a government to squander.


By the way- if you need actual good ideas on how to use your stimulus check (assuming you'll be getting one), check here. You'll notice a new flat screen TV didn't make the list.
posted by Brett Crockett @ 7:00 AM   2 comments
Monday, April 21, 2008
Clinging to my Bitterness

Springfield Armory XD-9 4" Service Model, Bi-Tone

The Crossroads of the West gun show was on Saturday right next to the Scrapbook convention. It was pretty amusing to see dudes with dirty white beards and AK-47s holding the door open for middle-aged women as they scooted their wheeled tote bags through the doors of the South Towne Expo Center.

The gun show was a lot more hodgepodge than I expected. There were Native American selling pelts next to guys with throwing knives and Chinese stars (the kind you throw, not the kind that act in movies). And nearly nobody at the show looked like an established business (unless you call a vinyl banner with clip art of a couple guns and a name like "Harry's Guns & Ammo" sprawled across it "an established business").

The best part was everyone's sales pitch. I wanted to take a picture, but they didn't allow cameras in (guns were ok) and I didn't want to tick off the NRA who was set up near the best sign there. The headline: "The Gun Banners are Back!" underneath a picture of Hilary and Obama. Dudes peddling sniper rifles had pictures cut out of newspapers showing Obama next to whats-his-name-the-pastor that they'd taped to their tables. Seemed a little overboard to me. I mean, people are here to buy guns, right? Does telling them you hate democrats make them buy more?

Anyhow, the way I saw it, rather than buy a greasy manhandled pistol from a guy sandwiched between a candle company and the hot dog stand, why not go with the reputable dealer?

So Whittney, Adam, and I went to Cabela's where they matched the price of a shop in Salt Lake and threw in a bunch of extras. Plus we got to see the fish tank and a polar bear while we were at it.

When I told my mom, she said she felt like she was having a heart attack. And then called me today to make sure I was still ok. When I told her I was, "Well that's only because you don't have any bullets for it yet," was her response.

So, here she is—the incarnation of my "bitterness." Whittney asked me what I was going to name it. I hadn't thought about a name, but Albert seems to fit, I don't know- I'm open to suggestions.


With the tactical light attachment (no light, but you can imagine)


Never look down the barrel of a gun.
More photos on myFlickr
posted by Brett Crockett @ 1:04 AM   15 comments
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Vincent "Fou-Roux" Van Gogh


Fou-Roux, Van Gogh's nickname—means "carzy redhed," and that he was (although it seems a harsh label for someone so talented). Whether you believe he cut off his own ear or you think Gauguin actually did it, there's no dispute that he wasn't all right in the head, especially in his later years. But there's no disputing either, that he was (or rather his paintings were) one of the greatest things to ever come out of France.

Everyone's probably familiar with Starry Night, Café Terrace, and the Vase with Twelve Sunflowers. What follows are some of my favorites that don't always get as much attention as those others, but that I think are equally as intriguing. Click any image for the high-res version.


Flowering Plum Tree (after Hiroshige)


Autumn Landscape - makes me want to go camping.


Avenue of Poplars in Autumn - Makes me wonder what a poplar is.


Evening Landscape with Rising Moon - Thought that was the sun coming over the mountain...


Landscape with Couple Walking and a Crescent Moon - Love that moon.


Starry Night Over The Rhone - The other Starry Night


Vincent's Home in Arles (The Yellow House)


The Church at Auvers - I saw this one at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.


Skull With Burning Cigarette - Not sure if this one has more the feeling of "I'll smoke to my grave" or "Smoking will put you in your grave."


Vase with Lilacs, Daisies and Anemones - A great alternative to the popular Vase with Twelve Sunflowers.


Wheat Field Under a Clouded Sky - You need to see it large.


Wheat Field with Crows - Although not his last, one of his final paintings before he died. Also see this one large.


Newspaper account of his cutting off of his ear. Some disagree over who actually cut it off, but it seems everyone agrees that he took it to a brothel down the street and gave it to his girlfriend. The clipping roughly translated in part:
Last Sunday, at eleven-thirty in the evening, the named Vincent Vangogh [sic], painter, originally from Holland, presented himself at "the maison de tolerance no. 1, asked for someone named Rachel, and gave to her...his ear, telling her to 'keep this object carefully'. And then he disappeared...



Newspaper clipping announcing Van Gogh's death. Roughly translated:
Sunday July 27th, Van Gogh, age 37, a Duchman, painting artist, living in Auvers, shot himself with a revolver in the field and only being injured, he returned to his room where he died two days later."
posted by Brett Crockett @ 7:30 PM   4 comments

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