Sunday, September 20, 2009


I just got back from listening to Neal Jeffrey, a former QB (that's quarterback) for Baylor University and the San Diego Chargers, who gave what he called a pep talk for life at church. It was pretty much what you expect, a good testimony about his life in service to Christ, impressive (and self-deprecating) stories about playing football, and a little bit of stuttering. That's kind of his thing; he is a speaker who stutters (very well, he points out) while talking about faith.

It got me thinking, though, about how weird it is that when you sit around clapping for something cool somebody said, how do you know when to stop? Like, for instance, if you are at a Starland Vocal Band concert and after they finish Afternoon Delight, sure, you're clapping, but for how long? Eight claps? Twelve? Usually, you judge based on everyone else, right? Well, somebody's got to be the pioneer. He's like the guy who starts the wave, except in reverse. The guy who gets tired of smacking his hands together first.

I also have questions about when exactly a performance traverses from just sitting and clapping to standing up and clapping. What is that element in your speech that takes you over the edge? I'm guessing it has something to do with quality of booger jokes told. The same applies to jazz concerts.

Anyway, if any of you have been to performances and remember thinking, "This is the thing that will make me stand up when I start clapping. This guitar solo/tennis serve/ventriloquist trick/sawing magician's assistant in half/etc puts him over the edge." Or, "He was so close, but because he made fun of Democrats/Republicans/black people/children/asthmatics/applesauce/whatever, I'm only going to clap from my seat. And indignantly for only four claps, at that," I want to hear about it. I want to know where that edge is.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Would you please enter your phone number?

I made a pretty happy discovery yesterday: it looks like I can save some money on automobile insurance this year by switching to a different provider (oddly enough, not Geico). I had been using a certain online provider that has a cartoon trying to convince me to save the world by going paperless or something, and they don't have actual stores so it's all online or over the phone, which reminded me of something I hate. (I know, surprised, right?)

Have you ever called into an automated system and they ask you to enter a phone number or social security number or something? I have. The computer knows who you are, they can tell you your upcoming balance, your service plan, your whatever. But as soon as your fight your way through the labyrinthine thicket that is that computerized navigation system, the person makes you give them all that information all over again. There is nothing you can tell me that will convince me that this is not asinine.

There are a few conclusions I can draw from this: 1) Their technology is not sophisticated enough to tell the person who is calling, even though the Homework Hotline at my college could do that, 2) they don't trust their computer system to deliver the proper information, 3) they enjoy being inconvenient. All of which are good options.

So, the moral of the story is that the computerized navigations are stupid, and they don't have to be. Come on, non-threatening electronic voice. Step up your game.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hey Sports Fans

I wanted to advertise some sports writing I and some of my friends are doing. Check it out at and keep reading the observations at