Monday, April 13, 2009

How To Properly Celebrate Business Milestones

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my dad. It contained parking information for something called the "OAKLEY $1 BILLION PARKING INFORMATION." Being intrigued by a billion of anything, (Money does not drive all my interests. I would also be intrigued by a billion houses built by Habitat for Humanity or a billion stalks of asparagus. Their respective resale values would probably intrigue me most.) I immediately replied asking about this "$1 BILLION PARKING." The conversation went something like this:

Dad: "Tank runs through a trailer. There will be video."

Dust: "Can anyone go to this?"

Dad: "Anyone who is my friend"

Apparently, the brass at Oakley decided that the best way to celebrate reaching a billion dollars in sales was to drive a tank through a trailer, the kind people live in. If you struggle to see any logical connection then you should probably not sell sunglasses. There is no logic to the sunglass business. No person would logically connect a pair of sunglasses with a $400 price tag unless they are running a high fever. Purchasing sunglasses is an emotional decision based entirely on what you think other people will think of you. I think... (Of course I can say this because I have never purchased a pair of sunglasses. Either that or I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. That is a fine distinction in my world.)

My initial reaction was to dismiss it as a tomfoolery and concentrate on the substantial amount of work left for the day. However, I thought my boss would be amused so I went to tell him. The conversation went something like this:

Dust: "Hey, Dirk..."

Dirk: "Hmmm..."

Dust: "Our office is pretty boring..."

Dirk: "What makes you say that..." (Perplexed expression on his face wondering why on earth someone would say such a thing to the man who signs his paycheck.)

Dust: "Well, at Oakley they are going to drive a tank through a trailer."

Dirk: "If that is the standard, then I suppose this is a pretty boring office."

Dust: "If I can procure a tank, a trailer, and an excuse, can we also crash a tank through a trailer in the parking lot?"

Dirk: "You bet."

I returned to work. But, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I have never seen a tank drive through a trailer. I might not have another chance to see such a spectacle. My sister called and asked if I was going. I said I didn't know.

Maybe it was my love for machines that can drive through or over almost anything. Maybe it was my disdain for the American lower classes and their affordable dwellings. Probably a little bit of both. I decided to go.

The actual event was underwhemling. The tank was small. The crushing of the trailer was not particularly spectacular. But at least now I can say I have seen it. Here are a few pictures:

Sunday, March 1, 2009


My old ward, San Clemente 5th, had their Academy Awards night last Saturday. My sister Julie submitted two entries. The first was a stop animation film which won best visual effects. This was shot using only a webcam. For your enjoyment:

The second entry was in collaboration with Trey Glauser. Fast Sunday won best picture, Julie won best director, and Julie and Trey both won best film editing. Share and enjoy. (I suggest you watch it in full-screen mode.)

Fast Sunday from Trey on Vimeo.

As you can see, my sister is quite talented. My family is full of artistic people. I think Julie stole whatever artistic talent I once had.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Am Obligated to Post This

A sad day because a great American died. I post this not just because of the word in the headline, but because William F. Buckley was one of the greatest American thinkers of all time. I only hope he is remembered with the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Milton Friedman and the other great thinkers of American political culture.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Tuesdays are historically bad days. The Stock Market crashed on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. The Twin Towers fell on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. And, although I may be premature in saying this... on Tuesday, February 5, 2008, the Republican Party left me.

After the first vote in the West Virginia caucus, Romney was just short of the majority he needed to take the delegates. Realizing what was happening, all McCain's supporters departed en mass and settled in Huckabee's camp. This sort of thing does not happen without some sort of deal. I don't know what kind of deal it is, but it stinks like...well a West Virginia hog farm.

Now, the Republican front-runner by a wide margin is John McCain. As Peggy Noonan, Reagan's speech writer and biographer, puts it: McCain is the Moe Greene of the Republican Party. Ms. Noonan had a pretty good analysis of the situation even before today:

But Mr. Huckabee seems very happy running, and perhaps happy thinking of his future as the Mitt slayer in the party of John.

Mr. McCain seems to me to have two immediate problems, both of which he might address. One is that he doesn't seem to much like conservatives, and never has. They can't help admire him, but they've disagreed with him on so many issues, and when they bring this up his demeanor tends to morph into the second problem: He radiates, he telegraphs, a certain indignation at being questioned by people who've never had to vote in Congress and make a deal. He's like Moe Greene in "The Godfather," when Michael Corleone tells him he's going to buy him out. "Do you know who I am? I'm Moe Greene. I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders." I've been on the firing line, punk. I am the voice of surviving conservatism.

This doesn't always go over so well. Mr. Giuliani seems to know Mr. McCain is Moe Greene. Mr. Huckabee probably thought "The Godfather" was kinda violent. Mr. Romney may be thinking to himself, But Michael Corleone won in the end, and had better suits.
Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2008

Let's hope Michael...I mean Mitt...wins again. Otherwise, I will reregister as Libertarian.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


There is no competition. This is the best commercial ever produced by the hand of man. And since God no longer produces commercials, the best ever! I love the concept.

I love the company. I love the car.

Incidentally, the Audi R8 featured in the commercial is named after one of the most successful race cars of all time. It was such a great car that I had to travel to Monterey to see the last race of its last full season of competition in the ALMS. Here are some photos of the race car. And yes...I am fully aware that no one else cares.

Driven by the great Tom Christensen

Driven by the always exciting JJ Lehto

Driven by Johnny Herbert

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Vocational Training

A vocation in the classical sense is more than simply a career or a job. It was an occupation that a person adopted, not for money, but because they seemed to be called to it by a higher being. The term was often applied to those who entered the priesthood. It now seems to be used as an euphemism for blue collar jobs that only require manual skill but little formal education.

Irrespective of the modern usage, vocations still exist. The difficult part is finding one. The rather wormy Chairman of Apple, Steve Jobs, said that you should find a job that you love. This is very clearly crap. There are some people who have such a horrid disposition that they cannot be happy no matter what they spend their time doing. There are others who have the constitution of a park avenue debutante and will go to pieces over the slightest frustration. On the other hand, there are also those who are irrepressibly happy with even the most mundane occupations.

Then there are the rest of us. The people who have varying interests and tolerances. We have to find a vocation that is not just what we "love", we also need to find something we are reasonably competent at. Lets face it, we all love to do things that starkly demonstrate our incompetence. For instance: Dancing and I do not get along. It always causes me a tremendous amount of embarrassment. (Some of you may have recently witnessed this and I sincerely apologize for any mental or emotional scarring it caused.)

So we need to find a vocation that we both love and possess an aptitude for. Rarely do we love what we are skilled at. And even more rarely are we adept at what we love. At this point, a person can go in one of two directions: compromise or sacrifice. You can compromise and do something that you don't love so much, but can achieve competence easily. Or, you can stubbornly hold onto your dream and work until you achieve competence at what you love. Make no mistake; this may require sacrifice of all else you hold dear.

So how do we go about finding our own way? I have no idea. While I have a personal disdain for Mr. Jobs, he does make a good point in the aforelinked speech: you don't really know the path to your calling in life until you've already taken it. What a terribly useless paradox to not know where you are going until you are already there?

Now for the moral of the story, this week someone asked me if I like what I do. Even after committing a great deal of time (3 years) and money (don't ask) toward qualifying for the job, I was surprised to say "I like what I do." Being a lawyer seems to combine my personality, my pass-times, and even my personality defects into a vocation where I not only possess reasonable skill, but that I also enjoy. I never really imagined myself liking what I do to earn a living. Although I still have my reservations, and don't really know what I will do for the remainder of my productive life, I enjoy my job.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I generally consider myself a hygienic person. Some consider me overly hygienic. That doesn't make sense to me. How can you be too clean? Anyway, while I have impeccable bathing habits, I have long had one weakness in this area: Flossing!

I hate flossing. Despite my loud mouth, I have a dilly of a time maneuvering around in there to get the floss where I need it. It is also one of those activities that doesn't seem like it will last. Mark my words: If we are still using floss to clean between our teeth in 20 years, we have failed to evolve as a species and are doomed to destruction. There must be a better way.

But since I am not the person to invent a better way, I have to do my best to follow the dentists orders. After years of trying, and failing, to simply force myself to floss, I have finally found a way to do it. My method: Consolidation!

About 3 months ago, I started brushing my teeth in the shower. I don't know why, I just did it. But I noticed something about a week ago: When I brush in the shower, I brush longer. This got me thinking. Could there be other positive externalities when I do things in the shower? So I put the package of floss next to the shower and started using it. And, although it is a it harder to do it without a mirror, it has been a week straight of consistent use.

Could consolidating other activities with showering be a way to do things I normally neglect? I just may be onto something. Now I just need to find a way to use the shower to conquer my terrible habit of skipping breakfast.

P.S. I'm back. In the coming days look for posts about Baja, fear, loathing, failure, intelligence (or lack thereof), and if you are lucky, a diatribe on my disdain for NASCAR.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How dare you!?

Someone, you know who you are, recently suggested I should read the famous How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I must admit, I was mildly insulted. After my initial fury subsided, I understood that the person was just trying to help, albeit in a patronizing fashion. So now I must return the favor. I acquired my immense charm through various means. None of the means involved reading a book or attending a Tony Robbins seminar. I largely learned it by observing the behavior of others and not doing what I consider rude, insulting or generally intolerable. Except, of course in this small zone of my personality. Also, in my 27 years on this earth, I have been treated by quite a few people. Some have treated me well; others have treated me poorly. Now, here is the trick: don't treat people how you don't want to be treated. Or conversely, treat others how you'd like to be treated. I know that this is a revolutionary idea but bear with me.

Let's say that your friend needs a ride and asks you for the favor. I know what you are thinking, "I've never needed a ride so how could I possibly know how I would want to be treated." I have a solution: Imagine that one day you do need a ride. Imagine yourself asking someone for ride. Finally ask, "Would I want someone to do me a favor, or not?" Now, give other people the answer you would like. I have no idea where I get this stuff. (Matthew 7:12)

Let's face it, life is full of complex problems that cannot be solved by applying general principles taught by a higher authority. Only by reading books directly on point can you become a better person. Here is an example:


With his win in the Grand Prix of Brazil, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has won the Formula 1 Championship. The man once described by Red Bull driver David Coulthard as "dead from the feet up as far as personality" is the World Driving Championship. I am so excited that I cannot sufficiently express it. So let me just tell you how it happened.

Coming into the race, there were three drivers who had a mathematical shot at the title: Lewis Hamilton (Team McLaren Mercedes), Fernando Alonso (also Team McLaren Mercedes), and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari). Hamilton was is the lead and it was basically his championship to lose. He basically had to finish 5th or better and it was his. When you are in a McLaren Mercedes, you have no excuses. It and the Ferrari are far and away better than any other car. Fernando and Kimi were basically in the position that they had to win no matter what if their hopes were to be kept alive.

At the start of the race, Felipe Massa in the other Ferrari made sure that he gave his team mate Raikkonen the advantage. By the first turn it was Ferrari 1-2. This was the way the rest of the race went. Raikkonen got by Massa on the second pit stop to take the victory. Fernando (pictured below on the right) did his best but could not match the Ferraris' pace.

As I said, it was Hamilton's race to lose and lose it he did. Here he is being consoled by McLaren team principal Ron Dennis.
Right from the start Hamilton fought others where he didn't have to and ran off the track a couple of times. Then Hamilton suddenly he started to slow. I felt elation as an apparent clutch problem put him back to 18th. He fiddled with the electronics and eventually got it going again. He drove well and fought back hard but finished in 7th handing Raikkonen the championship.

It has been an amazing Formula 1 season: a down to the wire championship fight between 3 of the worlds' greatest drivers, a spying scandal that ended up in a $100 million fine against McLaren, and the dream season for the new Super Aguri team or as they are informally known, Super Best Friends.

While I was unable to jet down to Brazil for the weekend, I did go to the American Le Mans Series race in Monterey. It was incredibly exciting and the driving team of Allan McNish and Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello won the race. Even through 4 hours of racing the Audi R10 Diesel beat the Porsche RS Spyder driven by Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard by a margin of .41 seconds.

Here is a small video I shot with my digital camera. Here, Dumas is chasing Capello as the sun gets low in the sky.

Monday, October 1, 2007


I make up words. That's just the kind of person I am. If I cannot find a word within my limited vocabulary to convey a thought or feeling, I create one. Now, I completely understand that making up a word doesn't help others to understand. In fact, it's probably more confusing to use a word they have never heard. I do not claim to be easily understood. Anyway, I made up a word the other night and I thought I would share it with you. There are five people who were privy to the creation of a highly fevered mind.

To engage in a verbal contest in which the participants are neither edified nor entertained. This act is commonly the first and last interaction between two or more people. In rare instances, it can be done as a sort of game.

Converstating requires at least two parties, one of which is within the range of what most would call "normal." The other participant is a person utterly devoid of tact or social grace. This terrible condition is sometimes the result of a terrible trauma or, more commonly, being raised by wolves. This person is the sort that almost no one wants to be around. Those who choose to be around them possess a rare skill to look beyond extreme annoyance and see a real human being.

A person interacting with another who is conversating finds the experience confusing, uncomfortable, and tiresome. Some people do this as a game: half fun, half effort to mark your social territory. The entire point of coversating is to force your opponent into silence. This may be accomplished by intimidation, fear, frustration, shock, or pure unadulterated idiocy. You win when your opponent sits slack-jawed without any idea how to respond to the last comment. That silencing comment is referred to as a snam or, in Great Britain, a clagger.

There are many types of conversating. Here is one example:

Here is rare variant. I would call this reverse conversating. The obnoxious one ends up being speechless and annoyed:

Now, conversating is not an argument or a debate. An argument has a purpose to the contention. Two sides engage in an effort to convince one another. Conversating has no such point. You do it just to win, just to silence the over and demonstrate dominance. Conversating is a highly passive-aggressive activity.

I mentioned debates. Here is a particular interesting one. If I were in this situation, I would be making up words left and right: