Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Down, Two to Go

Turned in the last assignments for one class. I have until Monday 9pm local time to write an 8-10 page paper, and that will finish off the second of three. That puts me in a jam for the third class, which has two major assignments that I've supposed to have been working on for the entire five weeks, but in reality, I haven't even started thinking about. But I won't have anything else that week, so I'm hoping all will be well. Hoping. Desperately. Hoping.

Anyway, a hint in the news today about why people are dying from the latest flu in Mexico, but not in the US: the Mexican health care system sucks. But none of that matters because according to the latest from the WHO, there have only been seven deaths from the current strain of H1N1. I guess the other 145 people who died with flu-like symptoms were just coincidence. Or maybe someone down at WHO needs to read their memos more often given that the same WHO has raised the threat level to 5. I think someone has been skipping company meetings....

Still, this whole thing has been entertaining from the perspective of living in a world of multiple, 24-7 news channels whose business models seem to be outdoing each other in the fear-mongering department. So far, this flu is only killing people in Mexico, except one sick kid that was brought across the border and died in the US. Everywhere else it has surfaced, the symptoms are mild, rarely requiring hospitalization, and have yet to result in a single death. That's not to say that getting a handle on this thing shouldn't be a priority. But for Zeus' sake, take off the stupid dust mask already. They don't stop viruses and it just marks you as a credible feeb. A surgical mask (designated N95 or N100) will run you about $10 a piece, not $10 for a box of a hundred, and only works if you put the damn thing on correctly. And while I am not a doctor, I'm not sure about the efficacy of bringing a supposedly virus-laden surgical mask into your home and setting it on the dining room table. Chill already. Wash your hands after you take a crap, before handling food, after handling raw meat, blah blah blah. If you can't remember the last time you washed your hands, then wash them. Properly. Stay away from sick people. Punch people in the face if they cough or sneeze without covering their mouth. All that stuff your parents taught you. In a week, MSNBC and CNN and FoxNews and all the rest will find some new panic to peddle and you'll stop hearing about H1N1.

On a completely non-flu related subject, the new X-Men movie must kick some serious boo-tay because the critics hate it. There is never a better indication that I'll like a movie than the critics saying how much is sucks.

Well, off to bed. Big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10... 9... 8...

I while back, I saw an article about some guy that built a 1:10 model of the Saturn V. Well, today they launched it. Impressive.

The second half of the video has the launch in slow-mo.

Not a Great Day

I didn't get nearly as much work done today as I wanted. I could be in some trouble here. I'm changing up the schedule tomorrow and seeing if that will shake something loose, but the bottom line is that I need to have several thousands of words in final form in seven days, and I don't know if I can do that. We'll see how the next couple days go.

Debbie was in Phoenix today for some sort of seminar thing that AAA paid for all the people they laid off to go to. One of those resume-writing, job-hunting things. As happens every couple years, the recommended format for a resume has changed. I'm sure the people who write books and put on paid seminars teaching people how to correctly format their resumes have nothing to do with the constant changes in the recommended format of resumes.

My father, he makes prophylactics,
He pierces each one with a pin.
My mother, she procures abortions,
My God, how the money rolls in!

I'm sure those good people would never take advantage of those who have been laid-off, now would they?

I'm sure it's just because I'm in a foul mood. Or maybe because I've been through this sort of thing before and recall everybody and their brother opening a job retraining center that took truckloads of tax money and promised to turn 50-year-old shop rats into computer programmers in just six weeks. I also seem to recall the retraining centers vanishing with the truckloads of money and Flint still had busloads of 50-year-old shop rats that couldn't find the letter "A" on a keyboard. In any case, this particular gig isn't costing us anything other than the gas for Debbie to drive down there, and the seminar is being paid for by AAA rather than the taxpayers, so there isn't really any harm in it. It's a two-day thing so she will be down there tomorrow as well.

I also recall a lot of pep rallies in Flint around 1982. Nothing new under the sun.

OK; I'm going to stop and go to bed before I really piss someone off.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winding Down

Things are winding down; only 16 days to go in total and only 9 days to go for two out of the three classes. I spent several hours trying to write a paper yesterday, but the words just wouldn't come out. I went ahead and used the time to complete all the work for next week in one class, so other than a short paper and the end-of-class survey, I'm technically done with that class. Today, I have to focus on that paper and get it in the can. I should be able to do that this morning, then spend the afternoon and evening kicking out next week's work for the other two classes. That will leave just a short paper that shouldn't take a great deal of time and a 8-10 pager that I already have half-written. Getting there bit by bit. My brain feels like its been steamed, sliced, stir fried, then served over rice. I have to keep checking the computer to know what day it is.

I haven't had much time to keep up on things, so other than checking on the Mexico City flu bug, I don't know what else is going on outside our little cave. Although we did sneak out yesterday and had breakfast with a couple we know from Arcosanti. It was fun catching up on all the bizarre things going on there and confirming our decision to leave. There will be an opening in the foundry soon with the possibility of some management reshuffling, but I can't see us living there again. It was OK at the time and place we were at in 2007, but not now.

Speaking of work, Debbie is still looking around. She has found openings for a AAA travel agent in Florida, Oregon and Colorado. The Florida one is outside Jacksonville and wouldn't be that far of a drive to my sister and my parent's winter place, but I'm not sure we can deal with Florida in the summer. But a job's a job. We looked at housing costs and they're not too far off from what we have here. Colorado has snow, so that option ranks just above living in a cardboard box behind Denny's and eating out of the dumpster. And if we are going to live in humidity, we can always go down where my sister is at. The job situation looks better there than most anywhere else.

In other words, we have no idea what we are doing.

Well, I'm using up words here that should be going into my paper.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another Short Post

Still not making as much headway on school stuff as I'd like, but I'm making some progress and it looks like I should be OK. But things are starting to tighten up schedule-wise, so it may be quiet here for a couple weeks. Tomorrow morning, we're getting out of the house to meet up with some Arcosanti people who are going to be in the area. It will be nice to catch up on all the latest gossip and find out how people are doing, who's still there, etc. When we get back from that, I'm glued to the couch until one paper is complete, then Sunday I start on the second. Then Monday, the whole thing starts all over again. The good news is that Monday marks the beginning of the end for two of the three classes so I may actually have the time to complete all the class three projects that I haven't even looked at yet.

The big news is, of course, a late-blooming strain of flu that has been killing people in Mexico, but so far, the cases in the US have been relatively mild. The most worrying aspect is the age of those killed by it so far; 25-45. These are people who should be able to shrug off even a serious illness. It's not time to duct tape the cracks around the doors and windows and live on canned goods yet, but it is a good time to be smart.

The first piece of GM hits the scrap heap. I don't care what sort of rose-scented farts the politicians in DC keep trying to blow at us; this is going to be a long, hard year.

And to end on a lighter note, the latest gadget is a brain-to-Twitter interface. It's being billed as a tool for the disabled, but you know that will end up being a small part of it. If you want to see where this is going, head to your library and check out Oath of Fealty.

Well, off to bed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just a Quick Bit...

...Then off to bed.

The beginning of the end for Chrysler. While everyone is worried about what impact the stress test will have on the stock market, this doesn't seem to bother people nearly as much. The Chinese have already passed us in car manufacturing volume. I guess we can import those along with everything else and pay for them by washing each others laundry.

"It's become an unfortunate part of the bar culture in Iowa City." Indeed.

Another domino falls. Pakistan has always been two nations; the one we recognize as legitimate and the one that controls most of the country. Our list of allies grows thin.

OK; that's it. I have to get to bed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

School, Twitter, Facebook

The title sums up my day now. Writin' Tweetin' and FB-in'. Although not as much of the former as I had hoped. I got stuck on an assignment that shouldn't have taken me more than an hour or so, but I still haven't finished it. I'll get it done tonight one way or another, even if I just do like the rest of the people in the class and post some random string of words that doesn't form English sentences. But it will get checked off the list tonight before I head for bed.

I haven't taken the time to even cruise my usual places on the internet, so I'm not sure what's going on in the world, but I'm sure it hasn't disappeared in the last 72 hours. I'm in count-down mode in school; 18 days and counting. But there is a lot of work I need to get done, so I'm trying really hard to not slack off too badly. But it's tough to stay focuses, especially with those FB demons whispering in my ear; "Just take a peek; check your wall; just in case. Don't want all your new friends to think you're some kind of jerk, do you? Do you?" They should call the thing Facecrack.

[Updated to add: Here I thought I was being clever; FaceCrack is so old it's in the Urban Dictionary. (sigh) I feel so un-cool.]

Oops! Gotta go! I think someone just posted something on my wall....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick Update

Still kicking out homework; almost done with the current week's stuff for one class; hope to knock off at least one more class today. But it's getting late, so I may not make that goal. But I'll definitely be done by tomorrow. I have two final papers due in about 12 days with a third one due a week after that, so I have to get some serious numbers of words cranked out.

Not much else going on. Summer finally got here. In Arizona, there is no transition; we went from 50 (10C) to 80 (26C) in a day. Two days ago I had on sweats, wool socks and polar fleece; today, shorts and a t-shirt. Spring was late this year, but it's definitely here now.

Still trying to not get sucked into the Twitter/Facebook black hole while I'm still finishing college. If it seems like I'm ignoring you on one of those two sites, don't take it personal; it's either due to my ignorance of properly using those sites or a priority issue. In three weeks, things will be different. The first thing I'm going to do is tie this place, Twitter and Facebook together. I know it can be done, but I just don't have the time to dig through it right now.

Up again

good morning all --- yes, I was awake again this morning around 3am and decided to get out of bed around 330a. I'm not sure if it just part of the stress from being laid off and trying to find a new job or what.

No luck yet on the job front. One of my friends suggested while we are in Hawaii (May 17-24) to check out the job situation there. She mentioned we had always says we would love to move to St Kitts (a Caribbean island) and said --- hey, Hawaii is an island and a tourist destination and closer than St Kitts and .... I kinda chuckled and read it to Ric ---- he said he was kinda already thinking about that. Hmmm?!!! I"m sure if we did move there, we would have LOTS more company come "visit". LOL

I'm looking into a couple of "home-based travel agency companies". I haven't gotten the details from them both, but this may be the way to go until I can find something else more permanent. (If the home-based thing doesn't pan out money wise) I will keep you all updated.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Duty to Die

Coming to a hospital near you:
“If you are demented you are wasting people’s lives, your family’s lives and you are wasting the resources of the NHS."
--- Medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock

The NHS is Britain's National Health Service, that terribly efficient nationalized health care system that the Obamessiah and his disciples want for all of us.

Medical "ethics expert" indeed.

Sleepless in Prescott

Good Morning All .... it is about 330a in Arizona. I thought I was tired and went to bed early, but tossed and turned for awhile, slept for a little bit, and got out of bed at midnite. I sat up with Ric while he went through more Facebook people to "friend" and we headed to bed around 2am. Ric was having problems breathing ... so he moved to the living room to sleep in the reclining loveseat. I tossed and turned again and went out to get my book to read. Finally decided to come do a quick blog and email.

If anyone is interested in buying some hand-made cards from me, let me know. Ric suggested to make some up and go talk with a few of the local Prescott businesses. I told him I would make them, and he could be my manager and try to "sell" them in some stores. Not too sure how well that will work. I need to start on some as a gift for a couple special ladies.

No luck yet on a job. I emailed a couple "home based travel companies" -- I hope to hear from them this week and see what that is all about. I would love to still do the travel agent thing at least part time.

Monday, April 20, 2009


The dilemma ---- I recently got laid off from work and we have a non-refundable trip already paid for and planned for mid to late May to Hawaii where I will get lei'd! I want to seriously start looking for a job, but I'm not sure how many will want to start me when I need a full week off in a month. I"m not even thinking about the two long weekends we are flying back to Michigan that I need to ask off for also.

I've checked out the listings for the post office openings in Arizona....nothing promising. Next on the list is govt/federal jobs around Prescott. I will work on that tonight and tomorrow. Tonight when I(we) run out for milk and such, I will pick up a local newspaper and check out the want ads there also.

I Am Sheep

Everyone knows the power of peer pressure over a weak mind. After about the bajillionth invite to Twitter (well, OK; one), and the fact that everyone is abandoning their blogs for Facebook, I did what I swore I would never do.

So yeah. I'm on Twitter, although I don't expect to do much in the way of twittering or tweeting or whatever the heck it's called. And I'm setting up a Facebook account only to be able to see other people on Facebook, which unlike MySpace, you can't do without being a little joiner. Squeeee!!

So here I am, blogging about how I'm twittering or tweeting or whatever, and... uh... facing? booking? facebooking? doin' the FB thang? I'm not even sure what it is other than yet another way for people to annoy each other.

Well, I might get a jump start on next week's reading. Or not. I'm behind several episodes of South Park. That sounds like more fun than reading Romanticism in Music.


Today, things were a little less hectic, school-wise. I was able to polish off three papers today and started outlining a fourth. I have to take a break from writing to do the weekly reading, make a couple more passes through this week's discussion boards and get started on next week's. I would love to get all the reading done tomorrow, but I know that is not likely. But it sure would be nice.

I missed this month's Prescott blogger meeting, but I really needed to focus. I probably could have made the time for it, but I didn't want to take a chance on getting jammed up this close to the end. Only three weeks to go!!!

We spent a lot of time today asking each other what we want to be when we grow up. No answers forthcoming.

Well, that's about it. Hope everyone had a restful weekend!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Long Day

I spent a good portion of today working on one of the three-page papers due this week. Tomorrow is supposed to be the monthly meeting for all the Prescott area bloggers, but I will probably blow that off this month in favor of getting the paper completed that I had hoped to finish off last weekend. That shouldn't take long; all the information is there, I just have to make it all pretty. I'd like to get a solid start on another paper that is due May 3rd, but I'm not getting my hopes up. It will certainly be nice when I'm not forced to write all the time; I may get back to where I actually enjoy blogging again.

I did take an hour or so off school work so we could walk downtown. The fire department was on the courthouse square doing their annual thing trying to get people to not do stupid things while in the woods and to take some responsibility for their homes. We hauled the new camera down with us. I didn't do much experimenting in the way of messing with any of the settings. I just set it to auto and paid more attention to figuring out how to best hold to camera so I can easily work the controls without accidentally changing settings. And how to work the zoom. My last "real" zoom lens had a single, large collar that you rotated to focus, and pulled in and out to zoom. The new camera has two separate twist rings. The focus ring is extremely close to the body and very narrow, but most of the time, I'll be using the autofocus. The zoom ring is big with lots of rubberized nubbins and works very smoothly, but I keep trying to pull the thing in and out. Even when I remember to twist the dang thing, I invariably twist it the wrong way. I'm definitely going to have to spend some time with this puppy. And the neck strap that came with it will absolutely have to be replaced. The one that came with the camera is waaaay too short. I have to find a local shop for small stuff like this, and filters and such. I know a lot of the Prescott bloggers are photographers, so I'm sure they will have suggestions for where to look.

I didn't take a lot of pictures and I don't know if any of what I did take will be worth keeping. I think we got some decent dog photos and pictures of a couple old-school fire engines, but until I have a couple hours to get them off the camera and check them out on a bigger screen, I won't know for sure.

Anyway, not much else to report. We're still just in a holding pattern.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brain Break

Taking a bit of a brain break from writing papers to cruise around the internet. Good stuff everywhere. Like unemployment is up in nearly every state. Well, our personal unemployment rate increased from 50% to 100% this week, so no big surprise there. And of course it's Friday, so two more banks were seized by the FDIC. That brings the total number of failed banks so far in 2009 even with all of 2008.

And from the HCHSBTSPODTUTBGTUTHADHOI department, we have wee bits of snow in Nevada, and... um... slightly more in Colorado. Good thing the EPA is attempting to finish off the economy to save us from all this snow and cold.

And from the When Will The Suits Ever Catch Wise department, the "owners" of Pirate Bay were found guilty today. These idiots will never figure it out; no one needs file sharing networks to share files. There is e-mail, IM, VPN's, and for the truly paranoid, darknets and sneakernets. My entire music collection (4,600 tracks so far) fits on a USB key I can pick up for the price of dinner out for two people. In 18 months, it will be half that. And 18 months after that, they will be given away free at computer shows. Or for the same price (but slightly less convienence) I can buy an external drive that can hold around 36,000 tracks. The size of an MP3 (or MPEG-2) is not increasing, so it isn't hard to see where this is going. Unless you are a lawyer working for the RIAA or MPAA. (shrug) The law of the internet is adapt or die. I see dead people.

And as everyone knows by now, we have a household income of $0 right now. We'll do OK for a while, but once I'm done with school and we do our trips that are already bought and paid for, we have to decide where we are going to land. We'll probably try to stay here just because I can't deal with packing and moving everything again. We are still getting things situated from the last move. Our first task is to decide if we keep Debbie's medical insurance or not. The cost will be substantial to keep it, but we need to figure out if the cost of not keeping it will be even more substantial. After that, we need to decide what we can do to make some cash. It may just be a collection of odd jobs for a while. I have a couple ideas once I'm not doing school work 8-10 hours a day, and Debbie is chasing down a few leads as well. But if nothing shakes loose by mid-summer, we will probably start looking around for someplace else to live that has jobs and is relatively cheap, warm and dry.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in the comments over the last couple days. We're doing OK and have several options open to us, so no one needs to send us a box of canned goods or anything. At least not yet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More laid off

I found out this afternoon that two other people in my office got laid off also. Plus one of the senior travel agents got "demoted". Very surprising news. I got an email from a friend at work and she told me that they were told if anyone asks for us, they are being told only that we no longer work there. They can not mention we were laid off. Whatever.

At least I"m not the only one from the Prescott office that got laid off. Misery loves company!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I just got laid off from AAA Arizona - the Prescott office. Due to the economy ....blah, blah, blah .... my travel agent position is getting eliminated. They are so kind as to pay me through this Friday. I had to leave a bunch of "personal things" there -- notes I brought from Michigan and things I've collected to help with my job. That was one thing that bothered me the most. All my "knowledge" I had written down, I could not take with me because it was on AAA property. At least I learned a hard lesson, any other job I have, I will make copies of my personal notes, etc and keep originals at home and no personal things at work that I can not prove that they are personal.

Only 4 1/2 weeks!

I'm counting down the days until we head to Hawaii! I can't wait to get away from work and go exploring and relaxing in Maui. I will try to send some of you a postcard. Hopefully in a week or two after we get back, Ric will have all our pictures uploaded and you can check them out. I really hope our camera does all we want it to do.

Happy Tax Day

Good Morning All! Happy Tax Day to you all .... how many do not have their taxes done and in the mail yet?! Our federal has been done, deposited and already spent. (on a new computer and a new camera) Our state got mailed in earlier this month --- we ended up owing about $17. I think it was because of Ric's part time hours at several places, they just didn't take out enough on his low weeks, to make up for a bunch of low weeks. Oh well ... better than owing more than that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dust in the Wind

Apologies to Kansas:

The wind is back; it sounds like someone is dismantling our apartment building. It's supposed to keep this up for a day or two more, then it's finally supposed to start looking like spring.

Spirit and Opportunity are still both working, but their age is showing. Articles now sound like conversations with my grandfather; a list of physical complaints. But they are still working!

And I got word today that The Bird is dead (from an investment site, of all things).

Still slogging through some reading. I really need to get it done, but I just can't keep my mind on what I'm reading. I haven't been feeling to good; hope I'm not getting sick because that will really put me behind.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Not quite back to where I'd like to be, but a little less behind. During a short break to give my brain a chance to recharge and to eat some food, I did my usual quick circuit around the internet. Wil Wheaton has a video of him doing one of his readings. Take a few minutes and enjoy Nerds on Parade:

[Switched fixed-size embed for link so I can use my sidebar.]

Hope everyone had a nice Easter. Other than the big ham for dinner, we didn't do much to mark the holiday other than sit on the couch, which I do 7x24 anyway. Well, back at it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Well, I'm officially behind schedule with my school stuff. Which explains why I'm blogging instead of doing school work. I didn't get nearly as much done in the last 48 hours as I wanted. I'm not in deep doodoo, but I'm definitely up to my knees. I had hoped to have tomorrow free, but it just wasn't happening. A miracle may occur and get me back on track, but it will definitely take a miracle.

In other news that will warm the hearts (if not the toes) of all our Michigan readers:


That right. This very morning, April 11, it was snowing in Arizona. We really need to get this global warming thing under control. This is ridiculous.

That photo was taken with this:


Which was a big part of our $1,000 day. It is a Fujifilm Finepix S100fs. In spite of its appearance, it is still considered a point-and-shoot in the super-zoom category. It's got all the standard stuff you would expect from a low-end DSLR including enough modes and buttons to keep me busy with the owners manual for a couple days. What it doesn't have is interchangeable lenses or a true viewfinder and prism that is the defining element of a DSLR. I've done a few test shots, but only to make sure the thing works. Now you know why I was pushing so hard to have the weekend free. It's all I can do to keep my eyes on the computer screen with that puppy sitting two steps from me just teasing me all day. But it will keep for a few weeks, I guess. Anyway, this is part of getting somewhat more serious about photography again. The intention is for this to become a backup to a true DSLR at some point down the road, but that point is a loooong way down the road unless we hit the Powerball.

I took the time to make a quick circuit of my regular internet haunts, and, to mis-quote the Kinks, the news was so bad I nearly fell off the couch:

Record monthly budget deficit in March, with more of the same as far as the eye can see. We all knew this was coming, but to see the number is truly astonishing.

Two more banks fail, bringing the 2009 total to 23. There were "only" 25 failures in all of 2008. The FDIC fund that covers the deposits of failed banks fell from $52.4 billion at the end of 2007 to $18.9 billion at the end of 2008. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see where this is going.

The government continues to demand that auto industry bondholders take huge losses, which they should. My question is, when will the same be asked of the financial industry bondholders? Ohhhhh, riiiiiight. Obama's advisers are all ex-Wall Street types. Not one of them is from the auto industry. So the answer is, "Never."

"I'd like to fly but I can't even swim." Indeed.

To lighten the mood somewhat, here is what results from having enough disposable income for 100,000 LEGO pieces, a very large spare room, and no life. Just to give you a sense of its size, if it is truly 1:40 scale, it is over 20 feet long and 3 feet wide.

And just for an excuse to use my now-world-famous HCHSBTSPODTUTBGTUTHADHOI, here is part of what the doubling of your electric bill will be paying for when cap-and-trade becomes the law of the land. That and putting a few hundred million in Al Gore's pocket every year. But he's not being biased when he flies all over the world warning of the imminent doom of the planet while he leaves the lights on in his 7,000 square foot "house." Or hypocritical. Just a selfless public servant.

And we finally got to the bottom of why our domain mysteriously stopped working after several years of not having any problems. It's seems Yahoo screwed something up in the DNS. At least they were relatively quick about it, although if this was a business, I wouldn't be quite so forgiving. But at least as of five minutes ago, will bring you here and the masking should keep our domain in the address bar. Should.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Slog, Slog, Slog

Didn't get as much done as I hoped today, but I'm still in pretty good shape going into Friday. I should still have at least half of tomorrow and the weekend for end-of-class projects. Other than that, not much going on here other than a phone call from UPS saying I should be getting a box tomorrow that I've been anxiously waiting for (which is also the reason I'm trying to get everything finished up before this weekend).

Well, I'm going to veg on the couch and watch a movie. Everyone have fun!

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Mickey's big hand says it's closing in on bed time. Not much from the intertubes today; just a lot of the same bad news. I decided to not bother.

I finished up the reading for all three classes just before Debbie came home from work. It wasn't the 1,000 pages I thought at first (misread a comma as a hyphen) so it was only about 750 pages. Not that it matters much; I still have little wisps of smoke coming out of my ears. Tomorrow it's on to writing discussion posts, then a couple papers (nothing big this week; two 3-pagers and a 1-pager). If all goes extremely well, I should hit my target of having all the weekly work done by Thursday, leaving Friday to work on end-of-class papers.

There is something screwed up with Yahoo again; doesn't bring you here. It takes you to a page advertising Yahoo services. I may at some point just bite the bullet and switch everything over to GoDaddy. They seem to at least know what side of the keyboard you're supposed to type on. We'll see how fast (or if) Yahoo responds. In the meantime, anyone that tries to get here using won't see this explanation of why you are somewhere else instead of here. Got that?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Eye Break

Needed to focus on something a little further away for a bit. The eyes ain't what they used to be.

iTunes is going to tiered pricing ($1.29, $.99, $.69), which is a good idea in principle. After all, why should a new release cost the same as something 20 or 30 years old? The problem is, of course, the price points. Cut all three in half, and then you are starting to get into a more reasonable range. Add an all-you-can-grab subscription service at a Netflix-like price point, and ta-da!!!! More money than God. The company that negotiates that deal will be the Netflix of music.

Another reminder that the housing problem is still with us, and anyone living in Detroit may want to duck. Michigan hasn't recovered from the closures back in the 1980's and this looks to be far worse.

I know I've been on a anti-public-school kick lately, but really, someone please explain why a parent would put a kid in the care of an institution that operates like this?

And now it looks like AT&T and Verizon are calling in favors for cooperating in illegal wiretapes for the Feds. The FBI is now shutting down the competition:
According to the owner of one co-location facility, Crydon Technology, which was raided on March 12, FBI agents seized about 220 servers belonging to him and his customers, as well as routers, switches, cabinets for storing servers and even power strips. Authorities also raided his home, where they seized eight iPods, some belonging to his three children, five XBoxes, a PlayStation3 system and a Wii gaming console, among other equipment. Agents also seized about $200,000 from the owner's business accounts, $1,000 from his teenage daughter's account and more than $10,000 in a personal bank account belonging to the elderly mother of his former comptroller.

Like nearly 100% of siezed property, none of this will be returned to its owners regardless of the outcome of the "investigation" or "trial." Sounds more like the FBI doing a little early Christmas shopping for the fam than any sort of legitimate action. And I'm all kinds of curious as to what sort of "evidence" the FBI will retrieve from a power strip. And I love this bit:
Faulkner and others say that the FBI agent who led the raid, Special Agent Allen Lynd from the Dallas field office, warned them not to discuss the raid with each other or with the press.

Welcome to the new America. Hope everyone likes it. Oh, and the icing on this entire debacle?
Faulkner says the unnamed informant is a former employee who was fired after failing to show up to work over an extended period.

Ah yes; the usual reliable source of (mis) information.

Well, back to self-induced eye strain.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Quick Post

Just some quick blah-age, then I need to wash dishes and make dinner:

My third class kicked in today, so don't be surprised if I disappear for long periods of time. I have about 1,000 pages of reading to get through in the next 48 hours.

Remember my post a while back criticizing how sexting cases are being handled? Well, here is another case of complete insanity. The prosecutors remarks are revealing:
[Loudoun County prosecutor James] Plowman insists he never intended to seek prison time for Oei. He would have been satisfied with a fine, probation and Oei's resignation. The case would never have gone this far, he says, if Oei had resigned when asked.

This is about naked power. It has nothing to do with (not really) naked teenagers.

Phoenix, AZ police raid a guy's house and take all his computer equipment because he blogs about police abuse. He wasn't charged or convicted of any crime. He is merely being "investigated." Sounds more like intimidation to me. Again, naked power. For the last 30 years, wearing a uniform exempts you from the rules the rest of society is forced to live by. That's not saying that all or even a majority of cops take advantage of that fact, but they enable the ones who do by closing ranks around the ever-increasing numbers of bad apples.

Changing the subject to people with real problems In Italy, there are 30,000 to 40,000 homeless, 1,500 injured, 150 dead, and counting. Holy Week will never have the same meaning for a lot of people.

Oops! Just looked at the clock and gotta go get dinner made before Debbie gets home and beats me up.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Few of Debbie's Cards

Here are a couple of Debbie's cards that she was talking about:




You can find some more here. This isn't all of them; just the latest batch from last week. We haven't been uploading the pictures of them because the camera we have just isn't meant for doing this sort of thing. They were more for Debbie to use as a reference of what she had tried, what "worked," etc.

[Updated first photo with smaller version so it fits in the blog format.]

Fraud at the Highest Levels

I know the fact that the moral defectives who run the country are acting like moral defectives is about as newsworthy as the sun rising in east (except in months beginning with the letter "R").

But just in case anyone out there still has some shred of faith in our government, go watch this Bill Moyers interview of William K. Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. The cynics are having a field day.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Expensive Day

We spent us some serious money today; few hundred here, few hundred there, pretty soon you're talking about real money. The day started with me placing a $600 order on Amazon for a little gift for ourselves out of this year's tax refund. I'll be talking more about it when it shows up.

Then we went in for an oil change. That cost us $400. At least they made the oil change complimentary. All basic maintenance; there wasn't anything broken, and we are trying to keep it that way. This in the only money other than gas and oil changes we've put into it since we had all the same sort of stuff done before we left Michigan in October 2006, so it's hard to complain too much. But it was an "Ouch!" The best part was being stuck at the garage for 3 hours while all this stuff was done. They offered to drive us home, until we explained that they would also have to come pick us up when it was done because we only have one vehicle. Fortunately, we had stopped at the library before we went to get an oil change.

Just to top things off, we stopped at Costco and dropped another c-note.

So in the space of eight hours, we dropped over a grand.

Well, I need to make some more notes for my paper. Tomorrow, I'd be surprised if we left the apartment. After today, we can't afford to....

The World is Upside Down

Iowa is more liberal than California. The reasoning behind the ruling is very important, although currently limited (by design) to Iowa. From here on out, things get interesting.

Another shooting spree kills 13
. This makes five in a little more than a month, with a total of 44 dead. We all know that the veneer of civilization is thin, and there is a lot of anger right now. But there are pieces that are not fitting in this story. I'm usually a big fan of Occam's Razor, but the simplistic story seems too pat in this case.

And yes, it's long, but if you want to understand how we got here and why we won't be leaving wherever "here" is any time soon, go read this. Here is the introduction:
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

Whatever else you have to do can wait 15 minutes. Do yourself a favor and read it.

The wind almost literally turned our world upside down today. While I was trying to concentrate on school stuff, I could hear debris slamming into the apartment building all day. It even tried to snow, except it wasn't flakes; more like little miniature slush balls smacking into the car. I assume we got nicked by the big snow storm charging through the center of the country. It was all over in about 15 minutes, and it was too warm for it to stick to anything. When we got home, we saw the reason for the nasty weather; someone was moving into one of the empty apartments. Bad weather follows around moving vans the same way tornadoes are attracted to trailer parks. We have yet to do a pack and move that didn't involve some combination of rain, snow, sleet, hail, tornadoes, mudslides, plagues, and famine.

Off to bed; I'm going to try to actually sleep tonight.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Couple Things

I found a couple sites today that I thought were interesting. The first is a couple 20-somethings having a little fun at the expense of the UFO true believers. I was surprised at how quickly everyone dismissed the cop's initial report that with binoculars, he could see that they were flares hanging from helium weather balloons (which is exactly what they were). And it's nice to know that the History Channel has run out of history and now features a weekly UFO show. Another reason to not spend the money on cable TV.

The second site requires a bit of explanation. Jenny McCarthy has become the front-man (front-woman? front-person?) for the anti-vaccination movement. Way back when, there was some concern over tenuous links between the preservative thimerosal, used in childhood immunization shots, and autism. That link was later proven false, but no matter; the manufacturers had mostly stopped using the preservative in 1999 (also note that the primary target of the anti-vax crowd is the MMR vaccine, which has never had thimerosal). Problem solved, right? Get real; this is America, where problems can never be solved because too many people make a living bitching about the problems. Se we now have a permanent anti-vax movement running around making provably false assertions. But as we learned from Goebbels, if you keep repeating a lie, it will become a fact in the minds of the general public. So the movement grows, gains momentum and believers, and eventually starts to have results. Probably not the ones envisioned by the anti-vaxers, but results none the less. Hence, the Jenny McCarthy Body Count; a web site that is updated weekly from CDC records and reflects the number of preventable deaths and illnesses caused by not vaccinating children. Actions have consequences, sometimes horrifying ones.

OK; I'm gonig to rant a little, so you may want to plug your ears.

We don't have cable, but we watch a few shows on Hulu. Until their latest "upgrades," Hulu was pretty basic: a list of TV shows you can watch on your computer, with a few options that made it easy to watch specific shows that we like to watch without having to sort through a bunch of other crap we could care less about. As you have probably already guessed, the upgrade changed all that. Like everything else in the world, Hulu now has social networking features where you can "friend" people and see what shows they watch or are subscribed to and visa versa, or get recommendations on shows you might like, blah, blah, blah. First, at 44 years old, I find I just don't care. I don't care what books you read. I don't care what TV shows you watch. I don't care what restaurants you eat at. I. Just. Don't. Care. Nothing personal, but at this point, our tastes are pretty well fixed and are not likely to change. No problem; Hulu spent a bunch of time and money that could have gone towards adding actual content to the site, but it's their business to screw up any way they like. I'll just ignore the other crap the same way I ignore MySpace and Facebook and Twitter and Redit and Digg and and and. Except in the process of adding all the crap, the features I did use have either disappeared completely or are broken. Nice. One example. We used to occasionally browse through all the TV series on Hulu. They had an alphabetical listing that linked to a page that listed what episodes were available in the correct order. Simple, right? It's gone. Now really, how hard was it to have that page?

While I'm ranting, when I find the four-eyed moron that decided that 6-point gray text on a white background is good graphics design, I'm going to beat him in the head until his brains fall out. Are web-based companies now hiring the mentally handicapped? I'm seeing this all over the place.

Enough ranting for one post. Other than it looks like I finished this post up just in time for Cable One to take a dump. It's been running like someone pour glue into everything for the last few days. Maybe this means something is getting fixed. OK, looks like it is working at the moment so lets see if this works....

Nope. Must have missed my chance.

Ha! Success.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pink Snow

I took this over a week ago, but I forgot it was on the camera:


I wonder why I have problems with my allergies? Just one of those things, I guess....

We're Saved!

Stock are up all over the world! The Masters of the Universe are having a meeting! The mark-to-market rule has been softened! Wooho! Lets all run out and buy us some McMansions and Hummers!

What? Oh. Maybe not.

Today has been final-paper-research day; lots of really boring reading and not much to show for it. But I think I know where I'm going with one paper and should have it in first-draft form over the weekend. The other paper probably won't get past the rough outline phase before I have to stop and crank out the weekly cruft for all three classes. If I can continue to keep my Friday's clear of anything other than final papers, I should be in very good shape. But that's a mighty big "if."

Not much else to report. I finally got the second of the three parts of the class materials for my one class. If Amazon doesn't ship the third part by next Monday, I'm just canceling the order. If I've been able to complete the work without it for half the class, I'd rather not waste the $50. Other than that, I'm taking it kind of slow today.

Woohoo! Day

All my school work that is due April 6th is done except a quiz the instructor won't open until Friday and replying to posts in my problem discussion group. I'm the only one who has posted so far; if the other three people stay true to form, they will post some semi-literate nonsense at 11:59pm Monday. In any case, I plan to start working on a couple final papers for the rest of this week. I have a third class that kicks in next week, so I need to be as far ahead as I can get.

Tim Geithner: CEO of America. Naked power grab, plain and simple.

It may have been the longest running show in the history of TV (and in fact predates TV), but I can honestly say that I never intentionally watched a single episode of Guiding Light. But it's still sad when an icon goes down.

Looks like tomorrow will be a good day for the stock market. The Asian markets are up 4.5-7.5% on the day, and Europe is up 2.5-3% in just the first hour. Guess the markets really like riots.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


March is gone and another 2 pounds are gone. It is coming off slowly, but at least I am finally going in the correct direction.

This month's resolution is to attend at least 3 card making classes that are offered by another Stampin' Up demonstrator in PV. She only charges $3/class and supplies everything needed (except envelopes) to make 3-5 cards. I went to one last month and it was okay -- I thought there would be more "how to do it" instructions at the beginning. Maybe each "class" is different, I will find out this month.

Last weekend I used my butterfly stamp set and almost all my "sayings" stamps and created a set of 10 cards. They are pretty cute .... maybe once I take pictures of them, I'll have Ric post the link to our blog so you can check them out. I am thinking about making cards to sell soon. Right now I am making them for myself and a couple sets for my Mom to "raffle" off at her Tuesday night group.

No Bad Stuff Happening Here

It's after midnight and my computer hasn't exploded. I guess we're safe. I didn't bother with any extraordinary measures other than forcing a Windows update and an AVG update on both machines this afternoon. We sit behind a firewall that is locked down pretty tight, and neither of us hang around in the sorts of places these things breed in, so I generally don't get my panties in a bunch over the buffer-overflow-exploit-of-the-week. I do wish programmers would stop using decades-old languages and tools, but that seems completely out of the question.

Once again, nothing really caught my eye while making the rounds online, other than I am still unable to get to any website hosted on Typepad. I should try it on the other computer and see if it's machine specific, but I can't imagine how that would just happen.

Made some more good progress today on the school front. One of the text books has to be the slowest read I've ever encountered, and I got bored and read through the set of encyclopedias in my bedroom when I was in middle school, so I know something about slow reads. It took me over five hours to wade through the 150 pages assigned for this week.

Well, I need to check in with the instructors and see if anything has changed in the last 24 hours.