Monday, June 30, 2008


I watched the movie Wall-E last night and the theater was absolutely packed. It was packed for a reason. An interesting thought came to me: I was struck at how you couldn't help but like the main hero of the movie. Why was this? Undoubtedly, this theme is studied a lot at Hollywood and I already understand certain elements. Obviously if the character is cute, funny, or an underdog he's almost universally more likable. You find yourself literally rooting for him and wanting him to succeed. In this regard, movies accurately represent reality.
The interviewer hires the candidate who he likes the most, not who is the most qualified. As a salesperson, the more you're liked, the more money you earn. People don't usually buy things from salespeople because it is the logical thing to do. They mostly buy because the salespeople get on their good side and they start to like them. The ensuing benefits then start to sound good. It's no wonder that the good sales associates are always likable individuals.
At the core of missionary work is a very important principle: Build relationships of trust. I could rephrase this to "Become liked." It's absolutely crucial for those you teach to like you.
This principle determines how we function in interpersonal relationships. People are more likely to put up with your crap, give you the benefit of the doubt, listen to your advice, offer help, do kind things for you, consider you legitimate, and want to hang out with you if you score high on their likability scale.
Politics tells the same story. Initially, political platforms matter far less than likability. When you like a candidate, it opens up the door for you to learn more about their views. You then have a much higher likelihood of agreeing with their views after you like them. And if you really like them, you'll do crazy things like volunteer or vote for them. On the flip side, people are often turned off to candidates for one reason or another. Once disliked, very little can be done in terms of convincing and reasoning. (We humans are not logical creatures, folks. In fact, sometimes we're just plain silly.)
So how do we become likable? I think there are universal likable traits out there (like being a humble, funny 28th century robot), but for the most part I think it depends on which crowd we want to be liked by.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How much am I worth?

I don't know the answer to that question. But apparently my blog is worth this much:

My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?

. I accept cash and Paypal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


There's one problem with Mozilla trying to set the Guiness book of world's record for the most downloads in 24 hours. Not enough bandwidth to allow people to access the site.

Introducing a new website

Check out

Monday, June 16, 2008

My little experiment

You hear stories all the time about the guy who chases the girl, and finally because of his resilience he finally gets her and they live happily ever after. It happens in movies, on TV shows, in our extended families, and these stories are also told by our church leaders sometimes. Well, a few years ago I was convinced that the chase philosophy was flawed. Girls, I reasoned, need to put forth every bit of effort as boys. The boy shouldn't be forced to give up his power by displaying more interest. Besides, girls don't want a guy who is going to pamper them and be nice to them. They want someone who isn't going to put up with their crap, someone who is going to be real with them. Years went by, and then a situation crossed my path where I had the choice to chase or abandon. I remember reading a friend's blog that had a profound effect on me:

Make her a flower in late December
When the sun is not shining on her.
Write her a love song and play it all day long
To remind her of all that she is worth,
Never never leave her.
Take her on long drives for ice-cream by sea sides
And give her your coat when she is cold.
Tell her you miss her when you're close enough to kiss her
And that you'd walk a thousand miles to tell her so.
But, never never leave her.
Take photographs of her on Brooklyn street in October
When her nervous smile is slightly curved.
Some days when she is slightly down tell her its okay to frown
It makes you just fall more in love with her.
But, never never leave her.

I know, it's a little cheesy. But it really did get my thinking! I thought, 'You know Trent, maybe there's something to be said about chasing a girl.' I hadn't done it in a long time. Instead I had been cool, macho, and hip. So being scientifically minded, I decided to put this new philosophy to the test. Now here is my conclusion: the chase is not for me. Some guys can pull it off, but I guess it's just not my style. Or maybe you've got to chase like you're not chasing. Anyway, I'm through thinking, talking, discussing, philosophizing about this topic because I'm sick of it. And if anyone wants to leave a comment, please do, but I will probably not reply. Unless it's really funny.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

An interesting thought on happiness

Remember that time when Adam partook of the fruit? This catapulted him from a constant, static state into a state where he could experience the bitter and the sweet. I hypothesize that there is a happiness gradient and that the happier you are, the more potential to be sad and vice versa.

My own life validates this principle. There have been times when I didn't really get that excited about anything. Nothing made me extremely happy, and hence I also never got that sad. I was just kind of living the Garden of Eden life. Other periods of life have included much more polar feelings. On my mission, for instance, I had moments when I haven't been happier. I also had moments when I was the most sad. Also, there is something about dancing that makes me happy. When I used to dance regularly, I would experience peaks of happiness, but during this same time I would marvel at how crappy I would sometimes feel for no apparent reason.

Drugs also confirm my hypothesis. Some drugs make people feel extraordinarily good. The user feels temporarily happier, but the 'high' is inevitably followed by unhappiness. Other drugs are used to make individuals feel less bipolar. By numbing the mind, the drug removes much of the capacity of feeling really happy or sad.

The rich and the famous are another interesting example. While this group may not be the most unhappy, it sometimes seems that way given that the media publicizes all their problems. One reason why they are unhappy, even though they have so much, may stem from the polarity reason. The more the potential for happiness, the more the potential for unhappiness.

This leads me to pose a question: What would you prefer? Would you rather have a more consistent, less fluctuating level of happiness or the more turbulent lifestyle that goes through extreme highs and lows. For me, the answer to this probably depends on my mood. Sometimes I'm up for some roller coaster riding, other times I prefer to avoid the trouble and hassle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Random tidbit of information #2: How long digital storage media lasts

Everything that is stored on the internet is ultimately stored somewhere, on some computer's hard drive. It is true that large storage companies, like Google, have multiple backups of such data and they mirror this to multiple sites to make sure the data is safe. However, allow me to propose a hypothetical situation. What if the internet suddenly ceased to exist? All of your emails, photos, and documents online would vanish and you wouldn't be able to show off all of your good memories to your posterity. Hence the need for backing up data. Now let me clarify that I am not a doomsday proponent. The internet will most likely not vanish so abruptly. But allow me to break down some information on backing up your own data.

The reason for this seemingly random tidbit of information is that I recently heard that CDs will only last 5-10 years. This didn't sit well with me so I set out to research it online. The element of truth to this assertion is that unwritten-to CD-Rs and CD-RWs are only writable for 5-10 years. Once written to, CDs can last a long time under optimal conditions. Depending on the manufacturer and the storage conditions, CD-Rs can last 50 to 200 years while CD-RWs have an expected lifetime of 20-100 years. Obviously if you are routinely scratching the CD, exposing it to extreme conditions, or peeling away the plastic label on top, it won't last that long. Some solid recommendations that I found while researching digital media preservation:
1) Keep two backup copies and store them in separate locations. This decreases the chance that your data will get corrupted.
2) Buy from a good manufacturer. The brand of CD that you buy should have life-span information available. Make sure they've got a long-lasting, quality product.
3) Make note of changing formats. Remember when Formats change. You do not want your prom pictures that you show your grandkids to be in a deprecated format in 50 years. With every monumental format change, you might want to re-backup your data.

May the internet live long and prosper.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Something smells really good right now

When our plane touched down at the Denver airport early Sunday morning, I felt sleepy. As I stepped outside the airport, however, I was greeted by a very familiar and pleasant aroma-the Russian Olive tree aka Elaeagnus angustifolia. This smell, which continues to make my nose happy, has helped me fall in love with Denver. (The more I travel, the more places I love.) Here is a picture of the tree of interest in case you don't recognize it by the name.

The little yellow flowers emanate a most heavenly smell in late spring and early summer.

Maybe this tree isn't very popular on the east coast, but I definitely remember its smell from my Utah days. As I've ranted and raved about this fragrance (yes, to me it is more like a fragrance than a smell), I got blank stares and awkward silences. This lack of positive reinforcement has forced me to conclude that some people can't distinguish the Russian Olive scent. Even though I don't know why this is the case, I'd still like to propose a mechanism, but I've got nothing.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Randomness is often overlooked

I listened to the coolest NPR program the other day. A physicist talked about how humans try to apply rules to everything in their lives. While rules sometimes are useful, very often they can't be used to explain the whole situation. The concept relates to every facet of life. Here are a couple facets that I frequently think about.

Sports At the end of the game, the victorious team is considered the better team. All sorts of analysis are used to back this up. But a lot of times, this is ridiculous. Case 1: The Spurs beating the Suns in the playoffs this year. Because this happened, the Spurs were considered this really good and experienced team that knows how to win championships. But in all reality, the scenario could have been completely different. What if Tim Duncan missed his truly fluky 3-pointer to force overtime in Game 1? My point is that in the game of basketball, little tiny things that are basically lucky happen all the time. Case 2: The Rose Bowl between Texas and USC was a really close game. Vince Young eventually triumphed over Matt Leinart. I can just picture the NFL teams discussing prospects among themselves on draft day. "Vick won the game, he is a better quarterback." Because of this, Young was drafted #3 and Leinart #10. Just like the basketball example, it's possible that other small factors could have played a role in Young's success other than his skills alone.

Religion I have already talked about this here, but we tend to explain things in the church a lot. Elder Jones got a baptism because he is a good missionary. Person A is happy because she reads her scriptures every day. In some cases these rules can hold water, but life is so complex that we must also consider randomness into the equation.

Business It is very difficult to explain things in the business world, yet people try to do it all the time. At the 2008 Macworld conference & Expo, Steve Jobs unveiled the newest and coolest Mac products. Because some people were disappointed in the products, the stock price fell a lot. In the space of a month, it went from $200 to $120 a share. At its lowest moment, people were saying that Apple wasn't keeping up with their innovative ideas and blah blah blah. Was the stock justified in dropping so much so quickly? Let me remind the reader that the stock has since rebounded back to around where it was. In my mind, the cause probably involved an element of randomness.

Politics True or false: John McCain was the best Republican candidate. I would say false, but there was something very important that started happening when his campaign was literally in the dumps - the surge in Iraq started working. The policy, which was so unpopular with the American public because they had seen so little military success among the insurgents, started working. The policy to continue the course gave McCain the much-needed legitimacy to win New Hampshire and he milked that momentum until Super Tuesday. All the analysts explained that McCain won because of his experience and bla blah blah, but honestly I think he just got lucky. He was in the right place at the right time, and that to me is randomness creeping in.

Now what does this all mean? Some people would use randomness to explain that God does not exist. They would claim that religion is used as a crutch to explain things like the meaning of life, why we're here, etc. I would argue the opposite. When something happens that can't be explained, it's possible that it can be explained by Someone. Just because we don't have the big picture, doesn't mean that it isn't out there. When making explanations, keep in mind an important Arabic phrase Masha'Allah( ما شاء الله) which means God has willed it. Because in many cases, that is the only reason that it happened.

Listen to the complete radio program
here on Windows Media Player or here using Real Player