Saturday, May 31, 2008

Long term planning

My Mom, siblings, and niece probably thought I was a bit crazy this past weekend. I tried to reach them all to ask about future happenings. (I got voice mails every where)

Ric and I have talked about doing an Alaska cruise in June 2010. This time frame was chosen because there will be a cruise3sixty event held there then. If I am still at AAA Arizona, they will pay my registration and stay for the event including airfare. (I will be working on my next level of cruise specialist training) This way my airfare will be paid for (or at least the majority of it) and we just have to pay for Ric's airfare plus the cruise.

So....I got out a notebook (that I hope not to lose) and starting writing years and events that are happening that we will have to travel for. The ones we know of for my nieces/nephews graduation open houses and Ric's youngest niece's wedding.

I thought the wedding was in June 2010. I had the month right, but wrong year. After she called me back, I found out they had changed the date anyways. They are getting married in Traverse City on August 1, 2009. Right now they are planning a whole weekend of fun. They are "renting" Ranch Rudolph -- all the rooms for the weekend. The wedding will be Saturday, the party will start Friday after people start coming in. It sounds like it will be a blast.

That leaves open houses.... Jerrica is in 2009. I doubt her open house will be as late as Aug 1st. So we should be safe with traveling twice in the summer.

2010 ends up being Madison's graduation. My brother said in CT they don't usually do open houses. We might have to talk them into some type of party. (Think road trip to Boston area for Kate and Beth's parties!) He said they usually go to school until near the end of June. So...may be safe with two events in the summer that year. Might be tricky though. Have to see.

2011 is Tevra's graduation open house.

Odd years for the next two --- 2013 for Ashton and 2015 for Devin. Then, if I figured correctly, 2017 for Tyler.

Any other family members with long term planning -- let me know your dates as soon as possible. Any more weddings in the future? (Kate, Nick, Tristan, Casey, Rachel????!!!!!)

Of course, who knows where we will be in the next few years. We may be working on a small private island in the Bahamas or working on a cruise ship. So many possibilities out there. After paying attention on this last cruise --- I noticed they have a "future cruise consultant" on each cruise ship. I'm sure I could handle that job! I would only have to learn that cruise line information! (maybe their "family" of cruise companies also) I might have to look into that. I'm sure Ric could work in the kitchen or maybe do some photography or who knows what else.

All Gone

:-( It is all gone now. I had six containers that Ric drove back with in December. I made a promise with myself that I would only open one a month. Some months it got empty fast, others it lasted almost to the end of the month.

What am I talking about?! Well, of course, pickled bologna! LOL. I'm glad Ric hates the stuff, otherwise it would not have lasted too long. I now know what my Uncle John feels like out in the Boston area. I hope somebody brings some pickled bologna to our family reunion. (hint, hint, hint)

I hate the new restriction about liquids on carryons. I"m not too sure I want to package them all up and try to put them in a small checked bag. Maybe if I get one that I don't care about and can throw away after it gets back to Phoenix. Can you imagine what it might smell like after being tossed around at a couple airports?! YIKES!!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Work News

I'm into the Long March now: Day 2 of the 19 days of consecutive work. Got a surprise day off Sunday. The owner of the restaurant told me not to bother to come in. I wasn't feeling all that great, so that was fine with me. I thought I might get out of working the next two Sunday's as well, but they were actually very busy the last couple hours. Ah well. The money will get us a bit ahead of the game for the first time in six months.

Things are picking up at the bakery, so I should have no trouble getting enough hours. When we first came back from the cruise, it was really slow and had me worried that I was keeping the wrong job. But the last week or so has been back to normal.

Well, it's bedtime.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Phoenix has Landed

A lot of people out here in Arizona have started breathing again. Mars seems to be tough on our toys. Of course, the universe likes to play games. We used to watch cosmic rays in our cloud chambers in physics class. Never heard of them doing damage, though.

Slowly but Surely

In spite of Flickr's crapware Uploadr application, I'm getting our vacation photos posted. I found a design flaw when I got to our Ephesus photos. It seems that some bright boy decided to use 8-bit pointers, which means the software can only handle 255 photos at a time. No error, no message, no indication what the trouble is. It just ignores you when you point it at a directory with more than 255 photos in it. Nice. At least it's a relatively easy flaw to work around. Not all of the others are so benign.

Anyway, Ephesus, Turkey (yep, that Ephesus; read Acts 18 and 19) and Lindos, Greece are in our cruise-tour collection.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fuel Costs

According to Forbes, the price of fuel is starting to hurt small businesses (typically defined as any business with less than 500 employees), which employ over half of the workers in the US.

Another Batch of Photos

The photos from Mykonos, Greece, our first stop on the cruise, are on Flickr. The Uploadr continues to be a pain in the butt, failing every couple of photos. But I'm getting smarter; I waited until all the photos were safely loaded into Flickr, then spent hours typing in descriptions and such.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I can't seem to get anything done lately, as anyone can tell looking at our blog. I'm still trying to wade through our vacation photos and get those posted to Flickr. I have all kinds of projects I know I should be working on, but they just sit ignored in a pile. I haven't finished reading a book this week.

Part of the problem has been computer system issues. My previous issues with AVG Anti-Virus escalated to the point that I had to finally do something, which turned out to mean uninstalling AVG 7 and installing AVG 8. Why the automatic update process could not do that, or why it could not tell me that is couldn't do that is beyond me. Of course, Cable One had network problems right in the middle of the install which trashed both AVG and Firefox. I finally got the mess cleaned up yesterday.

The main problem is, of course, working two part-time jobs. It's hard to get motivated to dive into something that is going to take any amount of time and/or concentration when I know that I will be setting it down to scamper off to work. Once I'm down to one job, I'll be able to get back onto a normal sleep schedule which means I can get up in the morning when I have both the motivation and ability to accomplish things, then working at the bakery until 4pm or so and having the evening to do some reading or whatever.

Ah well, maybe today I can finish up the photo editing, then start the process of uploading the whole mess to Flickr. Need to get at it.

Enemy of Feminism

Remind me again why anyone would want Hillary in any political office?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Double Ouch

Oil breaks $135 and gold is still toying with $1,000/ounce. Silver, soybeans, corn, heating oil are also up.

Just remember; none of this is our fault. No-siree. None of this has anything to do with Uncle Ben and his merry band of feds running the presses until the smoke pours from the windows of the Federal Reserve. And don't even think it has anything to do with the federal government's decision that food was too precious of a commodity to eat, so lets burn it instead.

Nope. It's those damn A Rabs! Yea. That's it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

June 8th is Liberation Day

Actually it's just my last day at the restaurant. My next day off will be Memorial Day, when both the bakery and the restaurant are closed, then I work 19 days in a row. After that, I will be working 6 days a week (Monday through Saturday), but only 4-5 hours a day. I don't have to be in until 11am, so I have mornings to mess around on the computer, then I will be home by 4:30pm at the latest. It will be nice to come home from work and know that I'm home, not that I have to grab something to eat and run back to work another job.

More Inconvenient Truths

Wired has one of the best articles I've seen about how to actually reduce CO2, which, if we listen to Al Gore, is the biggest threat to humanity since the saber-toothed tiger. The counterpoint displays the typical tree-hugger debating tool chest:

Insult those that disagree: "No one with any scientific sense now disagrees about the severity of the climate crisis." Actually, no two climate scientists seem to agree on anything, and none of their computer models can "predict" the current climate from conditions 100 years ago. None of them predicted the coldest winter in decades, nor the near-complete lack of hurricanes last season, and in fact predicted the exact opposite. Of course, it's all so obvious that these, too, are indications of global warming... er... sorry; make that "climate change" caused by CO2.

Straw man arguments: "Chopping down forests causes massive soil erosion and leads to desertification, making repeated tree plantings a dodgy prospect. As monocultures, tree farms are far more vulnerable to pest infestations." That is not what the original article said. It's what is being done now on public lands because that's what our Washington brain-trust requires the loggers to do. As far as "monocultures," most natural stands of trees are just that. Sounds like at least one tree-hugger needs to, ya know, go hug some trees?

Creating facts through assertion: "I don't buy the carbon accounting presented to advance this procrustean plan: Older trees can absorb CO2 for centuries after reaching maturity, while replanted forests can emit more CO2 than they sequester until the new trees are as much as 20 years old." Really? The original article sited actual research done on this question. Your source, Mr. Steffen, is....

Wishful thinking: "Another example of how carbon blindness leads to counterproductive policies: embracing nuclear power as a clean energy source. This argument assumes that other clean alternatives will not improve in efficiency or affordability during the 10 years it would take to implement a nuclear program." I've been hearing this same crap for twenty years, yet efficiency and affordability have barely changed. And as I previously blogged here and here, the greenies seem to have no sense of the scale of the project they are suggesting.

Anyway, the antibodies seem to be kicking in, but the amount of money invested in the "consensus" means that full recovery will be a long and difficult process.


Oil heads for $130 a barrel. The response from that box of sharp pencils we call Congress? Sue OPEC. The mind boggles.

At Least Somebody Listens to Me

Netflix now has a set-top box. It's butt-ugly, but it gives you access to their digital catalog at no extra cost over the $15.99-a-month "Unlimited" plan. The downside is it only includes about 10% of the 100,000 titles in their full catalog, but it is a start. I would be surprised if it took more than a year to 18 months for Netflix to start offering their entire catalog.

Just call me Nostradamus.

16 years ago

It some ways it doesn't seem like it has been THAT long. Sometimes you think about them as if you just hadn't talked/seen them for a few months/years. When thinking about going home for the Wiklanski reunion and who all you we are going to see -- it dawns on you -- some of them will only be there in spirit.

16 years ago today my Dad died. Then 5 days later, my uncle and godfather (Leo) died. I can still remember his (Leo's) comment at my Dad's funeral. "He (Leo) was going to die on a holiday so we would always remember the date" Timing in 1992 -- 5 days later, May 25th was Memorial Day!

I don't "hear" too much from Dad, but Leo comes to mind sometimes when I hear "Tears in Heaven". They will always be missed at the reunions and wedding receptions as the jesters and someone to hold onto tight during the polkas.

I'm sure they are both having a heck of a time with all of them up there -- Dad, Uncle Leo, Uncle Tom, and Uncle Jake. They are probably spinning Grandma Wiklanski and Grandma Boris around and around with polkas. Say Hi to Grandma Vargason and my friend Irene when you bump into them.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Much Happening

I've tried to stay away from the computer for a couple days and get caught up on some reading. I still have a decent to-be-read pile, but the crack-net calls....

Anyway, I will be giving notice at the restaurant tomorrow. I'm giving her three weeks, so I won't be down to one job until June 9th. I'm just not needed there. My hours continue to dwindle. Last week, it was less than 20 hours and should have been even less. Saturday, I was literally redundant as there was someone else working my job. Of course, I always seem to be needed when it comes time for cleanup so everyone else can drop everything and run for home. Whatever. I'm done. Besides, starting next week, the restaurant will be open Wednesday through Sunday. That means that a) I will never see Debbie again, and b) I will be working seven days a week between the bakery and the restaurant.

I'm getting more hours at the bakery, even though I didn't end up with the pastry chef job. I'm learning as many other jobs as I can so I can jump in on the counter or making sandwiches if someone starts going into the weeds or calls out sick. That gets me an extra hour or two every day, plus working six days instead of five. And once I'm done at the restaurant, I can stay later in the afternoon not having to worry about running back to the apartment, changing, grabbing something to eat, then running back to work at the restaurant. It also means I will be home in the evenings, which is a big plus.

That's all I have. I expect to work on pictures starting tomorrow morning. Tonight, I'm going to try to at least finish up all the magazines that piled up while we were off globe-trotting.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I no sooner came across an article about gas in Traverse City being $3.893 than Debbie got a call from her mom saying that gas downstate had jumped up to $3.99. That means gas in TC must be over $4 now? We are still around $3.60; I think the difference between Michigan and Arizona is the state gas tax structure; I doubt wholesale gas prices are significantly lower in Arizona.

Slow Progress

Still making slow progress on the trip photos. Our last day before boarding the cruise ship is now in our trip collection. I'll be taking a breather for a day or two to do some reading, then I'll get back on the Flickr thing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

American Ingenuity

GM is spending millions to duplicate a vehicle built in some guy's garage and featured in Popular Science in 1976. Of course, Jay Leno drives around in an electric car built in 1909 that works as well as the ones built today.

Aggravation 2.0

The definition of Web 1.0 was that it was a test to see how long a grown person would stare at a screen on which nothing was happening. Web 2.0 seems to be a test to see how many times a grown person can be persuaded to perform the same task with the implied promise that this time for sure it will work.

Yesterday, I was nearly to the point of dumping Flickr because the Uploadr application has, like most computer software, been "improved" to the point of uselessness. It works well enough to persuade you to commit a large chunk of time working with it only to fail at some critical point and lose everything. Worse, when I gave up on that and tried to catch up on some e-mail, Yahoo Mail decided that I didn't need to reply to e-mail. I could compose new messages, read, forward, in fact do everything except reply. Hitting the reply button would cause Firefox the trundle for several minutes, then present a blank page with the chipper message, "All done!" Then my anti-virus software decided to join in on the fun and started an endless update loop, wanting a reboot after each attempt. After playing that game for about four iterations, I just walked away and read a book.

Today, Yahoo Mail seems to have repaired itself, the Flickr Uploadr is still a piece of crapware, and my anti-virus wakes up every couple hours to natter at me about rebooting. Sometimes having the sum total of all human knowledge at your fingertips has a steep price.

And Even More Pictures

Another day's worth of pictures. Getting them loaded into Flickr was way more work that it should have been, but they are finally there with at least some vague descriptions of what you are looking at.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interesting Idea for Student Loans

Debbie found this article about several organizations that are trying to match up private individuals with students needing loans for college. I don't think we will be plunking our cash down anytime soon, but it is an intriguing idea. My only question is, if this is such a great way to make money, why isn't someone already doing it?

Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton

I'm starting to think that Hillary isn't just a power-hungry, morally-defective politician, but actually suffering from some sort of mental illness. Paglia certainly has nothing nice to say about her. Personally, I think we are doomed regardless of who wins in November, so I'm sitting this one out while enjoying the spectacle of the coming train wreck.

More Photos

After more messing around than I ever would have expected, the next set of photos is up on Flickr and added to our cruise-tour collection.

Now I have to scamper off to work. I will be working about 14 hours straight today. But changes are afoot; not the way I expected before the trip, but it should still work out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Three

Day three of our trip is on Flickr. We didn't see much of Florence the first day because we fell asleep as soon as we got into our room and didn't wake up until after dark. We just ate in the hotel restaurant ($100!) and went back to bed. Going east messes with us much more than going west.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Electronic Publishing

One view of the future of publishing. This probably isn't that far off, but the first comment echoes my concerns with e-books:
I must take exception to Klein's declaration that paper is a "wasteful, inefficient, and costly method of production". This is valid only if you view reading a book to be a singular, individual event. In contrast, paper still excels when books are treated as communal or archival objects -- in other words, as objects to be shared or preserved instead of read once and then discarded (or ignored).

For example, while helping my parents pack for a move, I uncovered a tattered and worn copy of "The Mad Scientists' Club", which I had enjoyed immensely as a child. As it turned out, my sons also enjoyed that book when I brought it home and shared it with them 35 years after it was printed. I somehow find it difficult to believe that electronic versions of old favorites will be as easy to preserve as the childrens' favorites which will still be just as readable when that box in the garage gets cracked open in a decade or two (or longer). Whether it be a dead battery or a "dead" format, I see it as all too likely that the content saved would be unreadable in too few years, much less shared with children or grandchildren.

Similarly, paper books excel at sharing. Like many readers, I have no compunctions about wanting to introduce friends to good books (and good authors). How would I casually loan my sole electronic copy of a good book to a friend? Would I have to resort to buying a copy for myself and a copy to loan out? Will the e-publishers even allow their customers to loan out that precious content, or will it be treated like other software?

I'm sorry, but paper editions are still very efficient and very effective the moment you start looking at the content beyond the constraints of "my convenience, now".
Points we all need to think about carefully. We won't, but we should.

Are Facts Racist?

That our justice system is systemically racist is an opinion repeated so often that it is taken to be fact. But is it really?

Back to the Grind

I need to scamper off to work in about ten minutes, but I wanted to post a note that I have the first two day's photos up on Flickr. It takes a long time to sort, fix, crop, adjust, and make comments, so it will probably take me a bit to get everything up. Anyway, the collection with day one and day two in Venice are here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pre-Cruise Photos

While working on our cruise-tour photos, I realized I had never uploaded photos taken over the last few months. Now we have a set of photos from Debbie's company picnic, and our week-long pink snow storm in the courtyard of our apartment.

Photos from the trip are uploading as I type this, so the first couple sets should be ready in an hour or so.

Buy the way, the final count on the number of photos we took on the trip: 2,589. That's 5.75 GB.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, my Mother-in-law, all my aunts, nieces, and friends that are Mom's! Hope you all have a great day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Stuff that I came across in my vain attempt to get caught up:

Oil prices are still going up taking pump prices with them. Of course it's hard to get too worked up about the gas prices in the US when in the countries we just visited, prices are running from six to nine dollars a gallon.

For several weeks, the phrase "crazy lady pantyhose" has been running through my head. (Yea, it can be pretty scary up there, even for me.) I knew it was a TV ad from a long time ago, but I didn't have any idea what was being advertised other than I was certain that is wasn't pantyhose. Well folks, what better use of all that bandwidth out on the InterTubes than slightly nuts car dealer commercials from the 1970's?

Hillary is still trying to destroy the Democratic Party. A Clinton acting like a selfish moron; I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

And last but not least, a pedestrian bridge for agoraphobics.

OK. Photos. This time for sure.

Adjusting to Home

We are still digging out from our trip and trying to get back on Arizona time. We just got back from a mega-laundry session, so at least we have something to wear when we go back to work on Monday. The luggage is empty, but is still sitting in the middle of the living room floor because I can't find the energy to put it away. Catching up with all the blogs and such that I make a habit of frequenting has been daunting. Just because I was off-line even people that normally only post an entry once every four weeks or so were blogging like crazy. Needless to say, not a lot of comprehension and a great deal of skimming. I don't like doing that, but what other choice do I have?

Anyway, the trip was great. I have about 2,000 photos to sort through and get up onto Flickr. It will happen, but not today. Tomorrow isn't looking to good either. I will likely break them up into smaller photo sets by day, put each of those into a Flickr set, then put the whole lot into a collection. It's just going to take time and that's all there is to it. I'll drop a note here as each set get put up.

We visited five countries: Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Egypt. We spent most of the time in Italy where we visited Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples. In Greece we hit two islands (Mykonos and Rhodes) and Athens. In Turkey, we made landfall at Kusadasi near Ephesus. In Cyprus we were in Limassol, and in Egypt, we made landfall in Alexandria and were bussed to Cairo to see the pyramids and such. Lots of walking, lots on riding on very cramped buses, not much downtime. We could really use a vacation to rest up from our vacation.

Overall impressions: Italy was fun. Venice was a fun city and comes closest to what a pedestrian city would look like. Terrestrial motor vehicles are banned from most of the island that is Venice proper other than a small parking/offloading area at the end of the causeway leading to the mainland. The waterways provide a transport system of sorts, but there are numerous limitations due to low bridges, the widths of some of the side canals, etc. Most material ends up being moved by hand; produce, computers, garbage, furniture, building materials, whatever, is all moved by people dragging hand trucks, dollies, and rickshaw-style carts. Florence was interesting as it was our introduction to Italian vehicle drivers. (Motto: If you don't want me to do it, don't make a law telling me I can't.) We didn't have much time in Rome and most of that was spent inside the walls of the Vatican City, so we didn't really get a feel for the place. Greece is extremely pleasant, more laid back than Italy, and visually stunning. Turkey is a beautiful country and had one of our favorite stops: the house where Mary, mother of Jesus, is traditionally thought to have lived out her life. It was also cool to walk the streets of Ephesus with Acts 19 running through our heads. Cyprus is a lot like Greece, but with its own twists here and there. The division of the island following Turkey's invasion in the 1970's and the subsequent ethnic cleansing is still a raw wound. Egypt is... well... it's a tragedy. Egypt in the 1970's and early 1980's had promise. Then Islam moved in and had its normal result: run-away birth rates, falling standards of living, surpluses turned into deficits, destruction of the educational system, all contributing to a system where everyone is on the take. Everyone I talked to was agreed: it's a shame the pyramids cannot be moved to a more-deserving place. Worth seeing once, but we plan to never return. As an aside, it would be a shame to see Turkey follow the same path.

More details when I post pictures from each day of the trip. Right now, I need to get cracking on those 2K photos sitting on memory sticks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We're back

We got back safe and sound, but minus one piece of luggage. It decided to hang out in New York until tomorrow.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

To See What We Can See See See

Steaming south towards Egypt. Fortunately we have a day at sea tomorrow to recover from all the shore excursions. Those ancients really loved stairs. Anyway, we are alive and well. We have taken around 1,800 pictures so far with three ports to go! Woo hoo! It will take a couple weeks, but I will get them up on Flickr sooner or later.

Well, this is costing us by the minute so gotta go.

P.S. Can someone call my parents and tell them we haven't been kidnapped by a camel caravan and sold as slaves to an Arab prince?