Monday, January 31, 2005

Word of the Year

While I suppose it is a bit premature to decide the Word of 2005, I think we can safely assume nothing better will arise over the next eleven months.


Pronunciation: 'swEt-"mEt
Function: noun
: a food rich in sugar: as a : a candied or crystallized fruit b : CANDY, CONFECTION

While the dictionary definition does not allow for this usage, I hereby designate it also an exclamation, as in

"Sweetmeats! That dog is missing two legs!"


"For the love of sweetmeats! Where have you been?"

This year's runner-up (which ties in nicely with winner): "confection." (BTW, "confection" is much funnier in the context of late-night Wal-Mart escapades that involve a discussion of toenail health with a Wal-Mart clerk.)


Sunday, January 30, 2005

"Dumb Things I Have Done" #4,739,201

Dumb Thing: I just washed a load of white clothes with a bag of Bigelow's Mango Green Tea.

Explanation: Every day, I take a couple of tea bags with me to the capitol. For ease of transportation (and to protect my tea bags from being crushed in my pant pockets), I always carry the bags of tea in my white shirt's breast pocket. I had one left over Thursday, and in my hurry after work to change clothes before class started, I guess I left one of the tea bags in the pocket. Silly me.

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This should make me the most popular kid in school...

I recently procured a Windows Media file of Napoleon Dynamite doing the Letterman Top 10 for a night about one and half months ago. If you are interested in the file, send me an e-mail to (my first name is Jacob and my last name is Gerber--there's no period or anything between the two names). It is about 2.4 megabytes, and it is a .wmv file, so make sure your computer and your e-mail account will be cool with that before going through the downloading process.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

While My Fingers Press Onto The Strings (Yet Another Clumsy Chord)

As some of you perhaps noticed, I haven't posted much in the last couple weeks. Instead of posting in my free time, I've been rekindling my love affair with guitar. (If this sounds strange to you, feel free to quit reading at this point. This post will probably extremely boring for anyone uninterested in electric guitars.)

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Worship and Arts Ministry conference at Berean. It was very good, and (among other things) convicted me that I'm not spending nearly as much time working at my "craft" as I should be. Primarily, this means I need to practice more, but I've also begun exploring the technical, gear side of electric guitar, in an attempt to push toward excellence.

This has given an excuse (perhaps a weak one) to make some gear changes I've been wanting to make for a long time. I replaced the stock pickups on my 50s Classic Stratocaster with Lace Sensor Hot Golds. While I loved the neck and body on my strat, the pickups definately left something to be desired. So, with the help of Bruce at Aamp's Guitar Store and Corey (our sound tech at Berean), I now have all new electronics. The sound difference is quite noticeable. Whereas the stock pickups muddied up as soon as I added any amount of gain, the Hot Golds sing with smooth, harmonic tone. They also respond to the tone controls (unlike my stock pups) and have opened a much wider range of usable tones.

I've also been learning to do my own setups on my guitar. This mainly involves adjusting the truss rod and saddles. The truss rod adjustments were scary at first (I had nightmares of waking up to a snapped neck (the guitar's neck, not mine)), but I've gotten to the point where I feel comfortable doing it.

Today, I entered the world of electronic mods. After watching Corey install the new pickups, I decided I'd give it a go and mod my Boss SD-1 overdrive pedal to approximate a Tube Screamer 808. (You can see the cool schematic/illustration here.) After buying the needed soldering iron, solder, and components, I sat staring the pedal, fearing that I was about to screw up a perfectly good pedal by frying the circuit board with the soldering iron or something. It actually went quite smoothly (excepting a minor problem with the board grounding on the metal backplate, a situation fixed with duct tape (what else?)) and the pedal now sounds much smoother than it used to.

In case anyone else is interested, a little more bit about my rig:

1996 Fender Japanese 50's Classic Stratocaster

Pedalboard (From right to left)
CryBaby Wah
Boss SD-1 Overdrive (modded to TS-808 specs)
MXR Phase 90 Phaser
Danelectro TunaMelt Tremolo
Boss DD-5 Digital Delay with tap tempo (the pedal just to the right of it)
(The pedal in the top right is a footswitch for the amp, and the big thing in the top left is the power supply.)

Tech 21 Trademark 60

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More fame

Today, Governor Heinemann gave his state of the state address. I sat up by the new Lieutenant Governor (Rick Sheehy, my now-former mayor) as he presided over the legislature. Splashing tomorrow's Omaha World-Herald is this picture. In the picture, I am the page (we wear white shirts and ties with black vests) directly behind Governor Heinemann. I'll have to talk to my press agent to make sure they get my face next time.

I would also note, for those of you who attend Zion Presbyterian, that you would probably recognize the page closest to Gov. Heinemann in this picture (in case you can't recognize him, his name is John).

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I pose to you a conundrum; a riddle, if you will:
Question: What UNL student activity has Nathaniel the RUF Intern done that virtually no actual UNL students have done?
Answer: I will post the answer soon; I'm interested if anyone knows the answer. Ben--once again, you are not allowed to play.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005


Although I haven't written much on this blog, my mind has been churning out lots of possible posts. I have toyed around a little with a few, but none of them seemed to amount to much on their own (except a book review, but I don't have time for that right now). So, here's a smattering of my thoughts over the past week.
In my Top 5 Page Post, I somehow left out the main reason I decided to write the post. This had me laughing all morning. Since "Top 6" doesn't sound very cool, we'll just sort of insert a new number, with the reasons still totaling five:

Threeve: Being on a first name basis with senators. In fact, just the other day, a senator came around the corner in a hallway and said, "Well, hello again Josh!" In fact, he quickly learned that my name was Josh when I worked two years ago as a page, and he is still able to call me Josh, whether or not my name tag is in full, complete view!

I had a moral dilemma the other day: I was sitting in a Tuesday-Thursday class (meaning that classes last 1 hour, 15 minutes, and either end on 15 minutes after the hour, or 45 minutes after the hour--this one was supposed to end at 12:45), and the professor said (at 12:15), "Well, it looks like our time for today is up." I knew what time it was, and I knew what time we were supposed to get out. Should I have gently informed the kindly professor that he had mixed up his time schedule, or should I have bolted quickly out the door of that uber-boring class as quickly as possible, before he realized his mistake? Let me know if I need to repent of something: I chose the latter.
Grrrrr. If any of you have a spam filter for your e-mail that you don't ever check to see if legitimate messages got trapped, you might want to start. I received a rather terse (yet somewhat diplomatically controlled) voice mail the other night from a lady whom I had promised to help with a project, but who thought I had systematically ignored her e-mails when she gave me things to do to help. I rummaged through about a month's worth of spam (around 1500 messages), and I found about ten legitimate e-mails that my spam filter had caught. I had been dumping my bulk mail folder without ever checking it for as long as Yahoo! has had a spam filter, but now I will no longer be able to do that.

I suppose that's a good thing, though. Otherwise I might miss all the advertisements on how I can refinance my home or a bunch of other things I really, truly need.

Finally: goodbye, Johnny Carson! He did so much for this state (especially his hometown of Norfolk) and for the University I attend. I never really watched his late night television show, but from what I hear, no one ever equalled what he did.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Top 5 Reasons I Love Being a Legislative Page

5) Working in the most beautiful building in Nebraska every single day. Today, I visited the State Law Library--so cool. (By the way, if anyone is interested in a tour of the capitol, I could show you a bunch of great places. Just let me know.)

4) Learning valuable life skills. So far, I've learned to run the mail room (including the fax machine and copy machine!), and people said my coffee tasted really good today. Furthermore, a senator asked me today to edit an official letter he was sending. After I edited it, the senator told me, "It's nice to know you can make something out of yourself whether you are something or not." He was just joking...I think.

3) Getting to see actual bomb dogs sniffing around senators' desks. 'Nuff said.

2) Having an ID Card that doubles as a magnetic key card that can get me almost anywhere in the capitol.

1) A paycheck.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Sexiest Man Alive!

No, ladies, it's not me (contrary to popular opinion, I'm sure). In fact, this sexy man reached the peak of his hotness in 1983, when he took these pictures for Teen Beat Magazine:

Now you see that reading Slashdot has its benefits. I think my favorite part about all of this is where he seems to be flipping floppies at us--how incredibly geeky! Also, be sure to notice that the computer behind Mr. Gates in the first picture is one of those really old-school Macs. He's probably stealing the code for the graphic user interface as these pictures are taken.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Leave it to Apple

"Apple engineers designed this small wonder from the ground up to deliver the most Mac for the least dinero. Inside its petite 2-inch tall, 6.5-inch square anodized aluminum enclosure, Mac mini houses a 1.25 or 1.42GHz G4 processor, 40 or 80GB hard drive, a slot-loading CD-R/DVD-ROM optical drive, 256MB DDR SDRAM and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip with 32MB dedicated DDR SDRAM — all whisper-quiet."

Starting at $499.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Happiness is...

Happiness is...

  • Burning all of last semester's notes--beginning with art history--this past weekend to help start/maintain the fire in our cabin at the prayer retreat (thus, happiness is a
  • Having a clean room to start the semester along with a new welcome mat for my shoes (I get tense about tracking into my room the salt/gravel crap UNL puts over all its sidewalks whenever it snows).
  • Gobs and gobs of Mint Medley and Earl Gray Tea (my only New Year's Resolution this year: more tea, less coffee).
  • Watching The Godfather for the first time (Happiness is not, however, having to stop last night with about a half hour left to go--by the way, Diane Keaton looks nothing in this movie like she does now).
  • Seeing my first (of many this semester, I hope) sunsets from my window last night. Unbelievably beautiful.
  • Spending no more than a mere five minutes in line waiting for my books this semester.
  • Helping Andrew with his French homework--I finally have a language partner! I'm putting him through an intense training regimen so that we can be code talkers together. (Tiens, Andrew--S'il te plaît, grâte le fromage de ma rate!).

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Favorite Songs of the Last Few Months

Here's some of what my hard drives have been spinning recently:

The Flaming Lips - Are You a Hypnotist? [Yoshimi Battles Pink Robots]
Waterdeep - Both of Us'll Feel the Blast [Sink or Swim]
Waterdeep - On Our Way to Crazy [Whole 'Nother Deal]
Wilco - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart [Yankee Hotel Foxtrot]
Derek Webb - Reputation [I See Things Upside Down]
Sigur Ros - Flugufrelsarinn [Agaetis Byrjun]
Sigur Ros - Njósnavélin (Track 4) [()]
Sigur Ros - Popplagið (Track 8) [()]


Catchphrase Humor

This weekend, Andrew and I went to a prayer retreat with our church. After all the planned activities had died down last night, we, along with several other people, played a game of Catchphrase. Most of it was quite tedious because many people weren't really paying attention, but there were some clues and answers worth blogging about.
The clue: If you are a Buddhist, you believe in this...
The guess: Confucius?
The solution: dogma
The clue: This is a tree, but not just any tree; a really long tree.
The guess: Weeping willow?
The clarification: Just the first word.
The response: Weeping?
The solution: "No, 'willow.'"
The clue: Guys wear these around their necks... (spoken by a girl)
The guess: Chains? (spoken by a guy)
The solution: I don't have any idea; I was laughing too hard at the guy who had such a good perception of the nature of male-female relationships.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

All Hail the Nebraska Legislature!

Some interesting facts about the Nebraska Legislature and the Nebraska State Capitol:
  • Yesterday, Senator Chambers (District 11) presided over the legislature for the first time in his lengthy career (he was first elected in 1971). There is an interesting article on the subject here. What is more interesting about this article is that I am the unidentified male page in the background of the picture (the one farthest away from Sen. Chambers).
  • The capitol flies a special Nebraska state flag only when the Legislature is in session. I, along with a fellow page, climbed out a window on the third floor of the capitol, scaled two ladders on the roof, navigated the sheet of ice laminating the roof, and braved the wind whipping through us to raise that flag. For our heroism in the line of duty, there was a small writing of us in an article printed in the Lincoln Journal-Star (it's the very last section of the article). I was not available for comment at the time the journalist was interviewing Kitty and A.J., so I had no fun quotes; I was probably off doing something else to save the world.
  • Take out a dollar bill (yes, I'm serious). If you look on the back, you will see the design with an eagle who, with his sharp talons, is grasping both an olive branch and a set of arrows. The olive branch represents peace and the arrows represent war. If you notice, the eagle is facing the olive branch, because the United states prefers peace, but we will go to war if necessary (the reason the eagle has arrows at all). In the chambers of the Nebraska Legislature, at the very front on the ceiling, there are a row of these eagles painted across a beam on the ceiling. In all of the paintings, the eagle is facing the arrows. I don't particularly know what this means, except that it may explain why each governor gives away so many admiralships in the Nebraska Navy. Perhaps one day, each of those admirals will be called to active duty and we will go to war.
  • The Nebraska capitol furnishes the best-smelling hand soap ever made in each of its bathrooms. Seriously, the capitol is worth a visit if only to wash your hands.
  • The Nebraska capitol has both its heat and air conditioning pumped underground through pipes from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Given this fact and the size of many of the rooms in the capitol, its heating bills must be incredibly large. That is why I, the heroic page, am contributing my body heat at this time of the year by being present for 10 hour work-days.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Get Rich Quixtar

Recently, my brother's friend called him up and asked to meet with him about a business opportunity. I told him to run if the meeting involved the words "IBO" and "Quixtar." Sure enough it did. Why my aversion to Quixtar? I've looked into the company before and I believe it's a scam.

Here's the problems I have with Quixtar.


Being a Quixtar IBO ("independent business owner") means selling primarily Quixtar's line of products. From the look of it, they appear to be overpriced name brand knock-offs. Take for example their toothpaste, Glister. A 6.75 oz tube costs $4.70. A comparable Colgate product will run you about $3.00. Is Glister ADA approved? I doubt it. To be fair, it's true that the Quixtar website carries name brand products, but I've yet to see any great deals.

My real problem with Quixtar is a that it is a pyramid scheme. Now it doesn't exactly meet the FTC criteria for pyramids, businesses that "generally ignore the marketing and selling of products and services, and concentrate on the commissions you could earn just for recruiting new distributors," because they do have products that they sell to outside, non-members. However, spend any amount of time around an IBO and you'll realize where the real money-making comes from: recruiting. Quixtar (having been started by the founders of Amway) is a multi-level marketing company. In other words, as a recruiting IBO, you get commission on what those you recruit sell, and on your recruit's recruits, and so on. The way to succeed is to get people under you who then recruit people under them. That way you get commission on everything the IBO's beneath you spend. And spend they will. I don't have the research on this to back it up, but I suspect that the large percentage of Quixtar's revenue comes from money spent by recruits rather than outside customers, making it more and more like a pyramid scheme where revenue is generated within the company.

But there's another aspect in which Quixtar is even more pyramid-ish. It appears that for the top-earning distributors make their millions not from product sales, but from motivational materials sold within the company. IBO's are told they need these CDs, seminars, and books to succeed, and the limited experience I've had with IBO's seems to suggest they're buying in to it. Company insiders revealed this fact in a Dateline investigation.

Just for fun, here's my favorite part of the recruitment literature that my brother received. The caption reads, "Today, even a high paying job can leave you with little time, and no security. True lifestyle comes from having both time and money, with the security of knowing that you control your own destiny." I was previously unaware that "true lifestyle" existed. The graph shows what "true lifestyle" looks like. success A bar graph to measure time, $, and security, complete with lines to show the numeric value of each of these bars. Except that there are no numeric values listed on the Y axis. It seems a pretty desperate attempt to make it look "scientific" or legitimate.

Now I'm not saying that you can't make money in Quixtar. You can. (Although according to the fine print of the recruitment literature, the average active IBO makes only $115 dollars. And that average is limited only to the 66% of IBO's who are trying to succeed, hence "active.") I'm just saying that Quixtar isn't a legitimate business in my opinion.


Sunday, January 02, 2005


Creating the Lincoln College Cardinals, then coaching, recruiting, and disciplining those Cardinals for two seasons: 21 hours.

Doing a poor job disciplining, having your team for that reason put on probation for two years (which would have included the loss of 10 scholarships per year), but immediately ditching the Cardinals to accept a three-year contract with Oklahoma: 1/2 of a second (I had the choice to coach the booming Sooners or the marginal Cardinals short ten scholarships--I'm not stupid!).

Coaching my first year of Oklahoma football: 9 hours.

Going undefeated, winning the Big 12 and the National Championship, claiming the Coach of the Year Award, and having a player win the Heisman Trophy: Timeless.

There are some coaches in life who want real, flesh-and-blood human teams. For everyone else, there's EA Sports' NCAA Football 2005.

(Boomer Sooner, baby.)

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