Monthly Archives: July 2010

What Do You Want From Life?

Like other area ministers, I write an occasional column for the Hi Desert Star. My article “What Do You Want From Life?” appeared there today.

But if you were listening to the right radio stations in the 1970s, you know that’s not just any question. It’s also the title of a song by the Tubes. They suggest several possible answers (“To kidnap an heiress and threaten her with a knife?” or “An Indian guru to show you the inner light?”) before concluding with the unfortunate news:

Well, you can’t have that,
But, if you’re an American Citizen,
you are entitled to…

…followed by several excellent entitlements, including:

A foolproof plan and an airtight alibi

A Las Vegas wedding, a Mexican divorce

And so forth. See the whole list at the Tubes’ lyrics site.


I had a chance to see an actual in-the-theater movie today, so I went to see Inception. I thought it was pretty good, in a the-dream-is-reality Matrix-y kind of way.

I was kind of shocked to see that movie tickets here cost $12.50. That’s the 4:00 pm showing. If they charge more after 6 pm, I don’t want to know how much it is.

I didn’t buy anything from the concession stand, so the theater didn’t make anything off me there, but they did rent my eyeballs to some commercial-packaging service for the last 20 minutes before showtime. I saw ads for some summer replacement program on TNT and various foods and drugs. Then showtime came, and I got another 10-15 minutes of ads for coming attractions.

I don’t care how bad the economy has gotten, it can’t be a depression. Because in the depression, people could still afford to go to the movies.

I guess part of the reason so much money changed hands was because the movie used a 4K digital projection system. Most of the time, that was fine, but for some shots it looked like it needed to be a 6K or 8K system. The theater was showing a 3D movie in the other room. I don’t know if that’s something you can do with a 4K projector or if they needed separate systems for each. But all that fancy equipment has to get paid for somehow.

Cool Software: PDF Clerk Pro

Until a couple of hours ago, I’d never heard of PDFClerk Pro. But some website or other (dealmac?) alerted me to a bargain price for it on MacUpdate. I downloaded it, tried it out, and sprang for the $25 price after about 20 minutes’ worth of fiddling.

Why? After all, I’m a Mac fanboi. And one of the many benefits of working on a Mac is that it comes with Preview, which allows you to do 95% of what you might want to do with PDFs: reorder pages, combine pages from multiple files, etc. I use Preview’s PDF-editing features 10-20 times a week, if not more. So why do I need PDF Clerk Pro?
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Reflections on Salary

My first job out of college paid an annual salary of S. (The actual amount S represents is unimportant.)

For a brief period of time, that was more money than I could imagine. (We didn’t discuss money in my family, but I have reason to believe that my dad supported us–four kids, mom, and himself–on less than that amount.) Two years later, when I moved to Bell Labs, I also “right-sized” my salary to 140% of S. Then S didn’t seem so impressive.

What’s interesting is that my 1984 salary is 70% of what I make now, 26 years later, according to the web site. (Actually, they provide a bunch of estimates, ranging from 71% to 140%. I picked the lowest one.)

Now, that was in Albuquerque, which is cheaper to live in than Yucca Valley. According to the cost-of-living comparison at Sperling’s BestPlaces, a dollar there buys as much as $1.06 does here.

So my first job out of college paid effectively 75% of my current salary. And I only had one car and three less mouths to feed. But what’s really amazing is that within two years of graduation, I had run up more than 10% of my salary in credit card debt. To be sure, I do have a mortgage today, but (so far!) we’re paying our bills and living within our means.