Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Looking like Christmas in Florida mostly means plastic wreaths on palm trees and overnight lows in the 50's. At this moment, I'm sitting in the living room in shorts and a t-shirt thinking I should close the windows because my toes are getting a bit cold.

Our Christmas plans are still up in the air; we should have a plan after we do Christmas with my parents over the weekend. Then we can decide whether we sit here and have Christmas in front of the TV or drive up to Alabama for Christmas with some of my family.

As usual for us, not a lot going on other than work and (for me, at least) studying tax code. I scheduled my last test, but due to limited seating and a bum-rush by everyone trying to get their Enrolled Agent testing completed before tax season, the first available day was January 13th. Not ideal, but I'll still get the thing done and move on to the next step. The hardest part will be to keep up on what I need to know for the test. I'm ready now, so I'm stuck forcing myself to review the same material over and over for the next month to keep it in my head. It would suck dead bunnies if I have to make multiple attempts at the easiest of the three tests.

We made a quick road trip over to Tampa on Sunday to do an NCL ship inspection. This is my second encounter with NCL and I'm still not impressed. Part of the deal was free lunch which, like our NCL cruise we did in September, was nothing to write home about. The ship itself is nice enough, although there were bits of it that looked... well... shabby is probably the right word. Maybe they need fewer staff dancing around squirting people with hand sanitizer, and a few more polishing the brass. There are some impressive suites if you have the spare cash, and we loved the Villa, with three full suites, a living area big enough for two seating areas and a baby grand piano, a full kitchen for the butler who brings up your meals, and a private outdoor area with a hot tub, eating area, Japanese koi pond (sans koi; maybe you're supposed to bring your own?), and seating areas in and out of the sun. You could basically pretend you were on a private yacht and never leave your Villa. But even as nice as it was, surely with a price tag to match, there were things like woodwork that needed a good sanding and refinishing that threw the whole thing off for me.

Because it's Christmas:

For nearly four decades, Star Trek and Star Wars fans have been at each other's throats. George Takei is calling for Star Peace so we can all focus on the real threat:

I always suspected Sparkle Tits was a threat to humanity.

More (barely) controlled falling off a cliff, otherwise known as skiing:

Given my hatred of cold and snow, you will never see me on a pair of skis, but it's nice that there are insane people willing to kill themselves for my entertainment.

One for all the doomers that think the world is ending because of the recent spate of earthquakes:

Even the Tohoku, Japan earthquake, as horrifying as it and the resulting tsunami was, is small beans when compared to the 1960's earthquakes in Chile and Alaska. Which can happen again, by the way. Something to consider given the massive increase in population in both areas.

And finally, something that people should be thinking about instead of worrying about the Mayan-Calendar-is-ending non-event (there is nothing in Mayan mythology that gives the last day of it's calendar any more significance than December 31 on the Gregorian calendar holds for us):

The mismatch between the economy we’ve got and the economy we can afford has many implications, but one of the largest is precisely the issue I raised earlier in this post: across the industrial world, there are very few bankable projects to be found, even at a time when there are millions of people who need work, and who would happily buy products if they had the chance to earn the money to do so. Our economy is burdened with an unproductive superstructure it can no longer support. The globalization fad of the 1990s, which arbitraged the difference in wage costs between Third World sweatshops and industrial-world factories, was in effect an attempt to evade the resulting difficulties by throwing the industrial nations’ working classes under the bus, and it only worked for a decade or so; as so often happens in the declining years of a civilization, a short term fix was treated as a long term solution, and a brief remission of symptoms allowed the underlying crisis to worsen steadily.

While I greatly appreciate the bags of shiny rocks I was given as a COBOL programmer, I thought at the time that I could have done more for the accounting departments I wrote code for with a box of Blackfoot #2 pencils and a stack of 13-column paper than I ever did with 10's of thousands of lines of COBOL code, not to mention the millions of dollars in hardware and infrastructure, including (pre-internet) the launching of a communications satellite. Our motto at one job was, "[Name of proprietary software package redacted]: Turning user input into error messages at the speed of light!"

And that's probably enough for now. I need to wrap some Christmas gifts.


GreatMatt said...

Okay, that George Takei video was brilliant! I've always loved both franchises, so I'm totally with him there. Sadly, George had a greater range of emotion in that one line than that Twilight chick has ever had, movie or real life.

Ric said...

The Twilight movies will be remembered as the greatest MST3K fodder in the history of movie-making. Unfortunately, it's very profitable fodder thanks to tween girls spending other people's money.

Yesterday, I found a book jacket for Eclipse stuffed in the stacks. That usually means someone stole the book. I made a comment to the librarian that if people were going to steal a book, they could at least steal something worth reading. Got more than a few dirty looks from nearby patrons.