Friday, May 29, 2009

Hawaii, Etc.

The brain has been out on a vacation of its own since we came back from Maui, which is why there hasn't been much posted here. I've been trying for two days to come up with two paragraphs of text to summarize my teaching experience and style and have basically nothing to show for the effort. So maybe doing a real blog post will shake something loose.

Part of the problem is the strange weather we've been having here in Prescott, AZ. Usually, things are getting hot, sunny and dry this time of year, but instead there has been thunderstorms rolling around pretty much all week. That's kept us inside when I really want to go out and walk around. Things are supposed to clear out this afternoon, so maybe we'll spend a few hours tomorrow out walking and getting some sun and fresh air. In the meantime, we've both been kind of lethargic.

But enough of that; Hawaii was in the title and so I should probably talk about our trip a little bit. We stayed on the island of Maui the entire time. At first, we thought that we would run out of things to do with a full week in such a small place, but that turned out to not be a problem. In fact, there was one whole section of the island we didn't even get to. Part of the problem is that the topography of the island makes getting places difficult. On a map, the straight-line distance from Point A to Point B may only be 20 miles, but the road distance may be three or four times that as the road zig-zags back and forth, either because it goes up the side of a near-vertical cliff or is following the contour of the coastline. Add in that the speed limit in many places is 15 or 20 MPH (and that's often optimistic), and you have what looks like it should be a couple hour drive turning into an all-day road trip. The other problem is that we have a very different take on what is or isn't interesting. Something that is supposed to only take a couple hours will keep us occupied for an entire day, and something that people tell us to plan a whole day for will only hold our interest for about five minutes. Now that we know what's what, we could probably go back for another week and do things right.

Speaking of roads and driving in Hawaii, the locals seem to do their best to make getting around as interesting as possible. First, signage sucks. Most streets don't even have road signs and the ones that do are often overgrown with vegetation of some sort. And there is no such thing as a good map of Maui. We had three or four different maps and none of them were what I would call "good" as in having correct names, sufficient detail, etc. And I'm not sure why, but the speed limit on any given road changes about every 20 feet for no apparent reason: 35MPH, 45MPH and 55MPH signs are posted completely at random along one stretch of 4-lane divided highway that was probably the only flat, level piece of road on Maui. Not that any of it matters, as everyone just ignores them and drives 80MPH.

Which brings me to the local drivers. Everyone expects fudgies to be bad drivers; sudden inexplicable stops, turns and lane changes just go with the territory when you have large numbers of drivers who don't know where they are going trying to follow instructions being shouted at them from the passenger seat by someone who is directionally challenged. But the locals really take the cake: Hawaiians seem to have an intense interest in everything except where they are going. They are either half out of the side window waving and conversing with someone behind them, looking around in the back seat, looking around on the floor; in short, their eyes are everywhere except on the road in front of them. So it came as no surprise to us when the local paper had a front-page article declaring Hawaiian drivers the third-worst in the nation. Our only surprise was that there were places where people were even worse drivers than Hawaii. Combine this with the narrow, twisting roads with few or no guardrails running along the edge of 1,000-foot cliffs, and that the local cars are only capable of two speeds (0MPH and 80MPH), its a miracle there are any Hawaiians left. No wonder they have to keep importing people from the mainland.

Anyway, we have lots of pictures; I've made the first pass through them and will probably make another pass through some time this afternoon. It will probably take the better part of a day to upload them (about 650 images in total) given that our upload speed is less than 1 Mbps. I'll post something here when they are all uploaded.

And another thunderstorm just rolled through. Blue sky and sun, loud clap of thunder, completely black sky, rain, hail, then blue sky and sun; all in about three minutes. This has to be one of the strangest places on the planet.

Whenever this guy gets tired of being an Olympic gymnast, he can be the next James Bond:

Holy Crap.

HCHSBTSPODTUTBGTUTHADHOI: cold is a much bigger problem than a couple degrees of warming, which is why we have no plans of moving out of the most southern states. I remember the 1970's.

If you combine household debt with the federal debt, the number is $668,621 per American household ($546,668 per household in federal debt plus $121,953 per household in personal debt). At a mere 3% interest, it would take $2,818.93 a month for 30 years to pay that off, assuming we also triple federal taxes in order to eliminate the yearly deficits. "Houston, we have a problem."

Government bond holders are flexing their muscle. Let's see Obama throw these guys under the bus like he tried to do to the bond holders for GM and Chrysler.

Well, enough happy thoughts for one day. I need to stare at the computer some more and try to crank out those couple paragraphs. Don't want the entire day to be a write-off.

Not Much to Report

We just hung around the apartment applying for jobs and otherwise fiddling for most of the day. We headed out around 4pm for a movie (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) and some DQ. That's pretty much it. Exciting life, I know. Try not to get too jealous.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Same-o Same-o

Run away to paradise for a week, and nobody fixed anything while we were gone.

Probably the best place to start is here: "If you're not petrified, you're not paying attention." Commercial real estate is the next shoe that will drop unless the Obamessiah continues his attempt to re-write, by holy writ, a century of financial law so he can destroy the pension funds that hold GM and Chrysler bonds (and whatever other companies he decides to elect himself CEO of), in which case the colapse of private and public pensions will beat out commercial real estate:

Meanwhile, banks continue to fold even though we've been told the banking crisis has been solved. And of course, that puts the FDIC about one major bank failure from a big government bailout.

And speaking of bailouts and pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is starting to drown in red ink from having to take over the pensions of all the failing companies out there. They are currently $33 billion-plus underwater without GM or Chrysler's pensions. I'm pretty sure if Fiat agrees to buy Chrysler, they won't be taking on the pension obligations, and any restructuring of GM that doesn't include the elimination of its pension obligations will simply be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. (GM has two retirees drawing a pension for every current employee; the average GM unionized 30-and-out pensioner will draw a pension for many more years than they worked). Which puts the PBGC in line for a big government bailout soon.

And just in case there is anyone that still thinks the current disaster was anyone's fault other than our own, read the story of someone who should have known better.

One reason I love the internet is that I have access to British papers. This is from a review of the Honda Insight in the Sunday Times:
...It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

...The Honda’s petrol engine is a much-shaved, built-for-economy, low-friction 1.3 that, at full chat, makes a noise worse than someone else’s crying baby on an airliner. It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.

So you’re sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and you’re doing only 23mph because that’s about the top speed, and you’re thinking things can’t get any worse, and then they do because you run over a small piece of grit.

Because the Honda has two motors, one that runs on petrol and one that runs on batteries, it is more expensive to make than a car that has one. But since the whole point of this car is that it could be sold for less than Toyota’s Smugmobile, the engineers have plainly peeled the suspension components to the bone. The result is a ride that beggars belief.

Take the time to go read the whole thing; it will make your day. Then ask yourself the last time you saw anything like that in any of the lap-dogs-of-the-auto-makers American automobile press.

And for the obligatory HCHSBTSPODTUTBGTUTHADHOI part of the post: Renewable Energy - Our Downfall? is a well-written summary of where all the renewable technologies are and where they are likely to be in the near term. The short version: the only renewable with any hope of providing baseline power is nuclear. That's not to say that there aren't places where wind or tide or solar electric or solar hot water or cow poop can't provide a supplement to that base power; they can certainly do that. Some of those are also good choices for remote areas where the grid is too far away. So, yea; continue to develop those technologies, by all means. But for baseline grid power, we have two choices: coal and nuclear. Aside from the global-warming non-issue, coal has serious issues inherent in its use, which leaves nuclear. But the tree-humpers have ruled both of those out by regulating nuclear off the table and now taxing coal to the breaking point with Gore's Cap And Trade And Make Me Richer Than God scam. Hope everyone enjoys crapping in a hole in the ground and spending every waking minute trying not to starve to death. Everyone that is, except Al Gore and Friends.

Ah, it's great to be back.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good feeling

Everything is now washed, dried, and put away from our trip. I believe this is the fastest that has ever happened. It feels nice to have it all done and finished.

All unpacked

As Ric said -- we are home from Maui. I took a 4 hr nap after going through my emails and just got done unpacking all the suitcases and sorting the dirty clothes.

No good news in my email. I did have one response from another bank posting here in Prescott. Hopefully I "won't be too late" when I call them on Tuesday (the email was from Monday 5/18) -- I also got a phone call while in Hawaii and I left them a message the next day with no response back. This is for a bank that is being built by the new SAMS club in Prescott/Prescott Valley. I know there is not a structure yet, and not sure if they even broke ground yet. We will see what they have to say.

Tomorrow morning we have to go to the post office to pick up all our mail -- since with this apartment the "box" is tiny -- they will not deliver held mail at all -- no way they could fit more than 2-3 days worth in these small mail boxes. Maybe I'll have a letter from Wells Fargo, or maybe a call tomorrow since they knew when I would be out of the state.

Other than that -- we may play the wait and see for a couple days about local job opportunities and then go on a road trip to check out some other places in the USA. Anybody know of companies hiring right now????


We're back from Maui, so I guess it's back to sucky reality. Because of flying the red-eye in an easterly direction, we've essentially lost a night's sleep. We are fighting valiantly to stay awake until some reasonable time this evening, but we may not make it. We are not even thinking about unpacking at this point; everything is sitting in the living room. Maybe tomorrow....

Hundreds of e-mail's and every other form of electronic communication to wade through, then I need to get started sorting through photos and getting those posted.

Maui was great; huge variety in a very small space. Eight days wasn't nearly enough so I suspect a return visit may be in our future.

Gotta get back to slogging through everything.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Place is Going to the Dogs!

Prescott people love their dogs and take them everywhere, including into stores and restaurants. There are at least four events downtown that center on dogs and/or pets. Today was one of them, so we walked downtown and hung around the courthouse petting dogs and taking pictures. I realized that it had been a long time since I cleaned off the camera, so there are photos from today along with a bunch of others all up on Flickr. The first four in the set are old photos that have been up there for a while, but the rest are all new (and taken with the snazzy new camera).

That's pretty much it until Memorial Day, unless we can find a way that won't bankrupt us to get on the internet in Hawaii. Now I have to go and "load balance" the suitcases and see if I can get them both under 50 pounds.

One more day!

Tomorrow we will be heading to Maui! Aloha

Friday, May 15, 2009

Semi-Successful Foraging

We headed out with our list of stops and stuff to get today so we can spend tomorrow packing up for the Big Trip. The only thing we got chumped on was a camera bag. You would not believe how hard it is to find a camera bag that can hold something bigger than a deck of cards and costs less than $100. This trip, we will modify my old backpack into a camera bag by adding some padding in the form of hand towels. I finally found one on-line where I bought the camera that will only be $50 with tax and shipping which I will order when we get home. Finding a camera strap also proved to be a challenge; Best Buy had exactly one that had all the same problems as the one that came with the camera. Walmart had exactly one, which only had one of the three problems that the existing strap had. I was also able to score a UV filter to protect the front element; it fit and the lens cap still works. Woohoo! So we're all set on the camera front for now. The suitcases are in the middle of the floor and we are starting the ritual Stacking of the Crap; getting out all the odds and ends other than clothes that we think we will need and half of which will end up left home because it doesn't fit in the suitcase.

Now we all know that politicians are moral defectives. But the Obamessiah isn't even trying to hid that fact now. He creates a single-year deficit that far exceeds all eight Bush deficits combined along with deficits far larger than any of Bush's out as far as the eye can see. Nearly all that money is political payback and social engineering. And just so everyone knows what this guy is really about under all the polish and fancy words: While handing trillions to his friends in the financial sector, he cut a dinky little program that was paying for a small number of DC black kids to escape the worst schools in the nation and go to the same private school his daughters attend. Like every other Democrat, he wanna keep dem nigga's dumb an' po' so's dey keep votin' Democrat. Pathetic.

Protectionism plays well in the press, but the reality on the ground is somewhat different:
"You need to tell me how inhibiting business between two companies located one mile apart is going to save American jobs," said Bob Miller, Duferco Farrell's executive vice president. "I've got 600 United Steel Workers out there who are going to lose their jobs because of this. And you tell me this is good for America?"

No, it isn't good for America. At least not for the peons that do the work and pay the taxes. I guarantee it's good for the politicians who will receive massive campaign contributions from the USW (and UAW) union management. And we all know that at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

A model off-grid home in Troy, Michigan didn't last through it's first winter. Notice the instinctive leap to defend solar technology "Someone turned off the breaker...." Uhuh. Having lived off-grid for several years, I can tell you exactly what happened. Winters in Michigan tend to be cloudy. As in no direct sun for weeks, even months at a time, which is needed for solar panels to produce anything more than a bare trickle of electricity. This winter, the temperatures dipped back down to the mean, like temperatures have been doing for millions of years. Then:
"The system was designed to kick a heater on to keep water from freezing," Biegler said. "The heater drew all reserve power out of the battery causing the system to back down and the pipes froze."

I was knocked out of bed in the middle of the night many times by the alarm on the UPS that ran our heating system for exactly this reason, which is why we had a backup generator. You would think that for $900,000 for an 800 sq. ft. house (OMG!), someone would have thought to include an autostart backup generator. Apparently not.

One great commencement speech. I know there are a lot of numbers in there, but here is the key one: 1/6 of one percent of electricity is currently generated by solar and wind. Doubling that means that 1/3 of one percent of electricity will be generated by solar and wind assuming that US electrical usage will not increase while all this stuff is being built and brought on line. Isn't part of the Obamessiah's plan to vastly increase the number of plug-in hybrids? Won't those use, um, ya know, electricity?

Well, it's dinner time.

A Somewhat Productive Unproductive Day

I don't feel like I did anything today, but I actually put in six solid hours of "work" online. It didn't yield much (about $1/hour), but I'm not that good at what I'm supposed to be doing. The question is, can I get good enough to make it worth my time? After today, that is still an open question, although I did make a small bit of progress. Right now I'm just sort of feeling my way around. When we get back from Hawaii, I'll do a solid week of concerted effort and see if I actually get anywhere or if I'm still just spinning my wheels. Then off to the next idea. There is always another idea.

In related news, I recently got word that we should try to locate our cardboard box next to a Denny's dumpster. They have the best leavin's.

Not much else to report. I haven't even taken the time to take my usual lap around the internet today, and I should really get to bed now. So I think I will.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Texas job :-(

It was sounding promising for a travel agent job in Austin Texas --- until I took their assessment tests. I did not pass one and that is the one that is weighted more than the other one. The person that would have hired me called last night and told me they would not let her go any further since I did not pass that one. She is going to tell the HR person I would like a call from her. I would love to see what I "failed" on and if I can take it before the 6 month rule. Oh well for now :-(

A "Normal" Post

Now that I've gotten all the Trek fan-boy geek stuff out of my system, I'll have a somewhat normal post. I got my final grade already in my last class. I passed. The instructor is supposed to send in the final grade tomorrow, then I guess I wait to hear from someone what comes next. I half-expect them to discover some missing class that was overlooked and I'm not really done. I'm sure that isn't going to happen. OK, about half-sure that isn't going to happen.

Anyway, we left the cave very early in the morning today; around 11 am (when we're both unemployed, that is early). We hit the library to stock up on reading material for our upcoming trip, went to the mall to look for the only remaining camera shop (it went out of business sometime in the last few months), to check if our cells will have non-roaming coverage in Hawaii (they do; maybe; Alltel is in the process of being eaten by Verizon, so nothing is sure), for Debbie to pick up some card-making stuff at Michaels (success!!), and to eat lunch at a new Mexican restaurant (great food, but I'm still belching up chicken chimichanga 10 hours later). Then a stop at the bank for some cash to have on our up-coming trip and on the theater for the Best TREK EVAAAAAAAAAAR! But we've already been over that. Then clothes shopping for me (Grrrr; both because I've gotten so fat that it was necessary, and just in general because I've hated clothes shopping since birth), grocery store for some vital supplies (Diet Coke, pepperoni, candy bars), then home back safe in the cave.

Ah the life of a country gent.

People forget that it isn't just UAW jobs lost in the mess created by the wizzards running GM and Chrysler (including those in and outside the government). This is a long way from being over.

Retail sales dropped again in April. That should be about as surprising as the sun rising in the east (except in months that begin with the letter "R"), or that politicians are liars. But the headline is hysterical: "raises worries about the recovery." Recovery? What recovery? Other than an arificial Wall Street bounce created by the trillions of dollars imagined into existence by Washington DC, just what is recovering? Consumers are tapped out. The gravy train is over. Get it through your thick head; this is not a hicup that will go away in a few months.

Well, enough of all that. I'm going to do some reading, then tomorrow I'm going to make a concerted effort to see if I can make some money at a certain internet enterprise. More on that later.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Just got back from seeing the new Star Trek. If you even mildly enjoy any of the Trek movies or series, you have to go see this movie. And I don't care how awesome your home theater is, don't wait for the DVD. See it in a theater. And that's from someone who's movie collection is about 75% movies I've never seen in a theater. This one needs the big screen and the skull-warping sound levels to really be enjoyed. Don't be a cheapskate; spend the $20.

And I can't tell you how sweet it is to have the inside of the original Enterprise actually look like something from the future instead of something built in some fan-boy's basement out of refrigerator boxes and stuff from the discount parts bin at Radio Shack (back when Radio Shack had a parts bin instead of just being a cellphone reseller). Some of those sets on the original series were painful even back when the series first aired.

And speaking of fan-boys, don't listen to the complainers. Of course the writers broke continuity. There wasn't a lot of continuity to begin with from movie-to-movie, series-to-series, or even season-to-season in the same series. Youtube is loaded with video montages that prove the point.

Repeat after me: It's a movie.

And yes, there are science problems as well. Show me one science fiction movie or book that doesn't play fast and loose with the physics if it makes the story better.

Repeat after me: It's a movie.

What was really cool was how well the actors that played the young versions of the main characters in the old series incorporated gestures and facial expressions that would become/were trademarks of the later/earlier characters, without over-doing it. Same with the dialog; hints and bits and pieces of the later/earlier cliches, but not campy. And speaking of campy, Galaxy Quest was re-released to coincide with the opening of the new Star Trek. Woohoo!

They even had a red-shirt get killed on an away team. Awesome! It ain't Trek unless a red-shirt dies.

Go. See. This.

Vacation is Over

At least vacation is over until we go on vacation next Sunday. But I had my day of sitting around, so tomorrow, we'll be heading out of the cave for whatever we need when we go to Hawaii next week. For example, I just tried on all my shorts, and, as a result of sitting on the couch for four months, only two pair fit, so that will be some money we didn't plan on spending. We also still need to find a different strap and a UV filter for the camera. So far as I can tell, there is exactly one camera store in a 30 mile radius of our apartment. If we strike out there, we'll just do without until we have time to make an all-day road trip. Gotta love the Territories.

Looks like we may have at least some clue about our future in later this week. I don't want to jinx anything by blabbing details, but today was a good day in many ways. More later.

Home prices dropped by another record amount. Sales are up, but only at prices that are going to devastate the banks as they try to unload foreclosure properties. Many banks have been holding these on the balance sheet, but they can't hold them forever. Maybe we'll see a floor during the summer? And while this may be good news for those buying a house, it is a disaster for state and local budgets that run on property taxes.

Speaking of disasters, GM (whose stock closed at $1.15) looks to be joining Chrysler in bankruptcy. Michigan is going to have to reinstate homesteading to fill up all the empty real estate.

Well, it's late and tomorrow will be busy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


In a classic case of brinkmanship, I submitted the final version of the team assignment with 57 minutes to spare. Nothing like dragging things out right to the very end. And even then, it was completely screwed up. But it will earn me enough points to get a passing grade and that's all I'm shooting for. I should have official grades in a week and will probably log in once a day just to make sure the instructor isn't trying to contact me about some problem or another.

Not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I guarantee it will be whatever I want to do and not what someone else is telling me I have to do. I can read what I want to read however fast I feel like reading it, write whatever I want to write, or not write at all, go wherever I feel like on the web.

It will be awesome.

Good Monday

I had my first interview this morning -- with Wells Fargo for a bank teller position. I think the interview went well. They have two positions to fill and said they hope to make at least one decision by Friday or the middle of next week. I had to tell them I would be in Maui next week, but will have my cell phone with me and can call back in a day or so.

This afternoon I got a call from the Texas AAA! I forgot that I knew somebody that transferred down to AAA Texas (one of my trainers). After she found out I already applied online last week, she called somebody and got the ball rolling. The person that called me is the district manager. We talked for a little bit (she had to make it short due to a conference she had to get to) and she said before we can go any farther there is an assessment test I have to do. She will have HR send it to me and after I'm done, I call or email her to say I'm finished with it.

So....a great Monday! Two calls regarding potential jobs in the same day. Keep your fingers crossed and keep praying. I will also need some help with our pros/cons list if I get both offers.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Well, almost. I'm waiting on the "team" to finish the last thing, but my part was done two days ago. Either way, at 9pm local (midnight back east where the college is located), it's all over, one way or another. Meanwhile, to keep my mind off the clock and wondering what sort of grade I'll end up with in the class if no team project gets turned in, I've been trying to catch up on all the stuff that I've been ignoring for a while.

This is what happens when the government runs health care. But we won't have those sorts of problems; we're Americans! Just look at how we run our banks! What? Oh. Maybe you shouldn't look. And whatever you do, don't look at how we run our government.

In lighter news, Wired featured seven hot gaming machines. At the top end, these run 10x what I just paid for our new PC, which sounds outrageous until you compare any one of the seven to what $15,000,000,000 would buy you in 1984. We have entered an age of retched excess in CPU cycles, memory, storage, etc. Using that to watch movies and play Crysis seems almost criminal. Aren't there really hard problems that I could rent out spare cycles to solve? My quad-core never rev's above 10% for what I do most of the time, and at least eight hours a day, it isn't doing anything other than running a screen saver.

Physicists are still toying with the theory underpinning a form of warp drive. It would work more like Battlestar Galactica than Star Trek, and who knows if it's even theoretically possible for anything larger than a quark, or would require infinite energy or unobtainium. Still cool.

And if you've ever wondered what polar bears do on their summer vacation:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The End is Near

I have 36 hours left of college, less if I can get my butt moving and get the last paper done. Never thought this day would come.

Well, I guess I should get at it. There is a good chance that I will get done today.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there. I hope everyone has a special Mom in their life like I do.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"The Greatest Boondoggle in History"

The automobile industry gets flattened while Wall Street gets fattened:

This is where all those campaign contributions pay off.

First Interview Scheduled

I just got my first call for an interview. It will be on Monday with Wells Fargo Bank here in Prescott for a full time teller position. Nothing yet from any of the other AAA's. I will keep you all updated.

Liar, Liar

How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving:
The proposed cuts, if adopted by Congress, would not actually reduce government spending. Obama's budget would increase overall spending; any savings from the program terminations and reductions would be shifted to the president's priorities.

But the more likely outcome, budget analysts said, is that few to none of the programs targeted by Obama will be terminated. Presidents from both parties have routinely rolled out long lists of spending cuts -- and lawmakers from both parties routinely ignore them.

Emphasis added. The budget will increase. Again. Just like every budget since I've been alive. And yet they lie and lie and lie and the news media plays along and we all act like we can't look at two numbers and see that number B is bigger than number A. We deserve whatever happens to us.

Speaking of lying, how do you make dismal economic news sound like good news?

New jobless claims plunge

But the total number of people receiving jobless benefits climbed to 6.35 million, a 14th straight record.

So the acceleration in the rate that jobs are being lost is beginning to level off. Green shoots! Everyone run out and buy GM stock! Let's see; if a company loses $9.78 per share and the shares are trading at $1.60 per share, those shares worth, um.... carry the 7.... divide by pi.... Oh, to hell with it! It doesn't matter because the Obamessiah is going to run GM! We're saved!

Someone should explain to the emperor that there is a difference between confidence and arrogance.


Got anxious with the mega post and had to post the following correction on the story about the 15-year-old being arrested:
Great. First one of these I've done in months and I have to do a correction. The kid is a dick who was phoning in multiple bomb threats all over the country in exchange for money from students who wanted a day off. The combination of a pathological liar for a mother (who was aware of what he was doing), a dick for a son, the usual bang-up job local news reporters are known for, and my rush to publish and you have this mess. When I do these routinely, I normally don't get around to posting a story for a day or two which would have saved me in this case. That will teach me to pay attention to a local news site.

At least I wasn't alone, but having the tinfoil-hat brigade as company doesn't really give me much comfort. I've obviously had my nose in school books way too much.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


"The auction is big news because now it's showing that maybe the Chinese don't want our bonds."

To repeat a question I've been asking for a decade: If the federal government cannot find lenders willing to continue financing us, what then? Will the federal government do what individuals and state and local governments have been forced to do for the last 18 months and make real cuts in spending? (By "real" I mean an actual reduction in the number of dollars going out the door, not a reduction in a previously-planned increase.) Or will a "mystery buyer" show up at the 11th hour and save the day? How would anyone know? Has this already happened? Is it time to dust off the tinfoil hat yet?

Severance check received

I finally got my severance check from AAA. I was pleasantly surprised that they did not try to take out any other deductions. I had found out from the company that handles our med flex account, that according to IRS rules companies can NOT take out what is overcharged when you leave. That use it or lose it rule works both ways! We had a bunch of dental work done in Jan and I had "overspent" about $575 so far. The other nice thing they did not withhold out of my last check or severance check was "agent errors". (OMG - yes, I made an error! LOL) Of course, the error was something that affected 4 cruise cabins, so the mistake was multiplied by 4. That was another $320 that I was expecting them to take out of my last pay. So, overall I am happy with how my last paycheck and severance check came out. My only duh! moment was when I saw taxes taken out of my severance check. Don't ask me why I was expecting the whole amount, not less taxes! If I would have thought about it, I could have tried to have them change my withholding from single zero to married 9 (or whatever the highest I could do without back up paperwork). Oh well, it is enough after taxes to cover rent for 2 months.

Sleepless in Prescott

Once again --- awake and out of bed around 3am. Happening way too many times lately --- hmm, wonder why?! Probably now is that nervous mode I will be in until I hear back from some (or all) of the AAA's I just applied to. Will they contact me before we head to Maui in 10 days or not? If they all offer a job in the same week -- which state do we want to move to? Florida and Texas are still are first choices. I was able to talk to somebody that has been to Austin (maybe even lived there) and what she described sounds great. If I haven't heard back from anyone by the time we get back from Maui, maybe we will take a road trip to Austin and check it out in person.

I guess I will go read for awhile -- if still up in an hour, maybe I'll work on cards again. I did get two sets of cards done for Mother's Day gifts. I want to work on a smaller set for another person. (I won't mention who in case I don't get them done and out this week, so she won't be disappointed if I don't do it!)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Back!

The long rambling post, that is. I know some of my readers have missed having a post to skim, so I figured I would kick out a really long one just for you.

Today ended up being a not-half-bad day in terms of getting school stuff done. I got to bed at a decent time last night and was up early this morning for once. The writing thing seems to work best before noon, so the last couple days of not rolling out of bed until almost noon haven't done much for my productivity. But today, I got a solid eight hours of work in and was able to tick a couple items off the to-do list. Woohoo! Five days left.

Big surprise from the bank stress test: most of the major banks are going to need 10's of billions more to make their balance sheets at least look like they belong to a going concern. This is about as astonishing as the sun rising in the east, but I did find one real gem in the article:
Before today’s news, “there was some portion of the market that was buying into the doomsday stuff, that the banks are insolvent and need massive capital,” said David Trone, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller in New York. “There couldn’t be a wilder swing in sentiment between my client conversations in early March versus my client conversations today.”

All I can say is either David Trone is a moron, his clients are morons or both. Ten out of nineteen banks failed. Ten out of nineteen banks will require 10's of billions of taxpayer dollars in one form or another to be solvent. How is thinking these banks were insolvent "doomsday stuff"? Masters of the Universe indeed.

A fifteen-year-old is being held without access to normal due process under the Patriot Act for supposedly making a threatening phone call from his house while he wasn't home. Good thing we didn't sunset the Patriot Act. Otherwise this dastardly domestic terrorist would have access to the evidence against him, a lawyer, a trial, all the that unnecessary stuff that lets the terrorists win.
[Great. First one of these I've done in months and I have to do a correction. The kid is a dick who was phoning in multiple bomb threats all over the country in exchange for money from students who wanted a day off. The combination of a pathological liar for a mother (who was aware of what he was doing), a dick for a son, the usual bang-up job local news reporters are known for, and my rush to publish and you have this mess. When I do these routinely, I normally don't get around to posting a story for a day or two which would have saved me in this case. That will teach me to pay attention to a local news site.]

I know that evangelicals will be all over Obama not making a big public show of the National Day of Prayer, but frankly I'm a little tired of this game of "let's pretend" we play with our politicians. If a guy isn't religious before he takes office, why do evangelicals try to force him to fake it? I seem to recall some pretty harsh words from Jesus regarding fakers. And of course, no article about religion would be complete without one of the Liars for Jesus crowd making an appearance:
Referencing a remark the president made at a recent press conference in Turkey that Americans "do not consider ourselves a Christian nation," [Shirley Dobson] added: "That was projecting his own beliefs, but not reflecting what the majority of Americans feel. It's almost like Obama is trying to remake America into his own image. This is not a rejection of Shirley Dobson; it's a rejection of the concept that America is a spiritual nation and its foundation is Judeo-Christian."

First of all, "this" isn't about you, Shirley. I know you're going to miss sittng in the front row for the TV cameras like you did at Bush's annual prayer breakfast, but you'll just have to deal. Secondly, I'm never sure whether to laugh or cry whenever Christians employ the Nazi tactic of The Big Lie.

Is Michael Savage so completely and utterly stupid as to think that the US Constitution holds in Britian? The British government deciding to ban an American ass-hat from their country is in no way a "serious threat to free speech."

Our public schools suck. This is one big reason why. Millions of dollars paid to teachers who don't teach because they can't be trusted in a classroom full of children. Perfect. Some parent please explain again why you entrust your children to these people?

Yet-another Kindle product, this one intended to replace textbooks and newspapers. It has flaws, but this is at least a hint of the future. As far as students not being able to buy and sell their textbooks, the publishers have made that nearly impossible anyway. Even back in the 1980's, I could almost never buy a used textbook or sell my new textbook back to the bookstore because new editions were shipping every school year. The biggest obstacle is the $500 price tag. It's going to take an iteration or two of Moore's Law before I would even consider it. The E-Ink folks need to get cracking on a color version as well; I can't imagine a modern physics textbook in black and white. But it will happen, if not from Amazon, then someone else will on a different device. The days of flat dead trees are numbered.

Even though the author is wrong on the level of impact human activity has, he is certainly correct in general: Humans are a part of nature. I've been confused for years by the typical greenie-weenie concept that there is Nature and then there is Man; an idea straight out of old-school fundamentalist Christianity. If humans evolved, then of course we impact the environment just as the environment impacts us. Get over it.

OK; enough rambling. I need to get snuggled into the couch for a movie, then early to bed so I can be up at the crack of dawn writing furiously.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Let 'er rip!

Well, I just had Ric help finalize up my latest and greatest resume update and sent it out to one local company (Wells Fargo -- bank teller position) and several AAA's for travel agent positions. The AAA's so far are Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.

Wish me luck!!!!

A Disappointing Day

I didn't get moving until almost noon today and got next to nothing done. I guess there's always tomorrow, at least for the next seven days. I hope I can shake this; I haven't felt well for quite a while and sleeping late today didn't so anything to fix it; I just ended up tired and unproductive all day.

So off to bed at a decent time and see if I can get some work done tomorrow.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Only 8 Days Left

In eight days, I'm done with college. I completely wrapped two classes today and got a good start on some of the stuff needed for the last week of class three. I'm kind of stuck at this point until I get the full lesson plan for the last week of class on Tuesday morning. I did manage to squeeze some information out of the instructor about one assignment. And a full 48 hours before the week technically starts at that. That will give me plenty to keep me busy tomorrow.

Because I got stuck, I was able to spend about eight hours loading up my Hulu queue with cool stuff, then watching some of that cool stuff. A little prelude to what I will be doing for several days starting May 12. It will be glorious. And I will finally have time to do some work here and on Facebook and Twitter, etc. And hopefully enough time to learn how to use our new camera before we go to Hawaii. That would be nice. I also still have to find a photography shop somewhere around here so I can get a neck strap that's the right length and a UV filter to protect the front element on the lense.

Well, I'm going to watch some more Hulu, then drift off to bed at some point.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Winding Down Part II

...or III or VI or however you want to look at it. Assuming you want to look at it at all. Anyway, I'm basically down to one class other than checking on the message boards every day to keep up my end of the conversations there. Not that there is much in the way of conversation in the last week of class as everyone scrambles to finish stuff. Later tonight, I'll do the last read-through of my final paper for class two and turn that in. I'd like to get a jump on the final week for my last class, but the instructor "hides" the weekly assignments until Tuesday morning because, gods forbid, someone might actually work ahead. He's the only instructor I've had that does this. Normally, it's not a big deal; the student guide has all the assignments for the class. But there are frequent changes, so I don't like spending time on written assignments that turn out to either get dropped or modified. I may just browse around doing research for the final projects. Those are typically pretty set given that I'm supposed to have been working on them since the beginning of the class. Yea, right.

Debbie did a couple of those mystery shop things yesterday. All I can say is most of the stores really don't want mystery shoppers. One was OK; get a pizza delivered for free plus $5. I can deal with that and it should be relatively easy now that we've done it once. The second involved going into the store and making a purchase, which also wouldn't have been a big deal except that the reimbursement is limited to five dollars and you have to buy either Kilz primer (we live in an apartment, so we don't do a lot of painting), a carbon monoxide detector (everything in our apartment, including the heat, is electric), a fire extinguisher (provided by our land lord), or a bag of potting soil (which isn't very useful in an apartment that gets no direct sun). All of which cost more than the $5 reimbursement. Needless to say, she won't be doing this one again.

We looked at another one at a local grocery store chain, but the form you had to fill out was six pages long and you had to walk around inside the store taking about a dozen pictures and stand in line in different departments and ask some stupid question. For $5. Uhuh. First off, how much of a "mystery" can it possibly be when you have surveillance footage of someone taking pictures inside the store who is also walking around to specific places asking canned questions? Another place pays $10, but you have to scrounge up a wheel chair and pretend to be handicapped, which is morally repugnant as well as being legally questionable.

Of course, the larger question is why any business even bothers with this. We did this before when we lived in Flint. For two years, we ate at the same chain, did our report, got free food and a few bucks. In that entire two years, not one single thing was ever addressed. Not even the simplest things, like "Napkin wedged in corner," or "Floor not vacuumed." So other than giving away free food, what, exactly, is the point? And I can almost guarantee that it will be the same deal with our free pizza delivery deal out here in the Territories. Based on what the franchise is looking for, these guys aren't even trying. We'll make a bad report once a month, nothing will change, there won't be any consequences to the franchisee, and everyone will just be wasting their time.

Gotta Go!! Waffles are ready!!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Still Pluggin' Away

Made a bit more progress today on the final paper for class two. I had hoped to have it more or less finished today, but I still have to write the conclusion. Then the fun starts; going back through the whole thing doing a bunch of tweaking to make sure I actually say what I think I'm trying to say, checking references, all that detail stuff. But one way or another, it will be submitted tomorrow and that puts a lid on class number two. That just leaves class number three. I just looked at what I need to do and I'm starting to panic just a little. Not much. Yet. But I have a lot to get done in a mere week.

Ten more days to a college degree. I never thought I would see this day.

No real news on the job front. In my case, that's because I'm not actually looking. Sort of busy with other things at the moment. Debbie checked on a lead today, but it didn't sound too promising. She's keeping it open, but is pursuing some other stuff for now. In the meantime, we're just hangin' loose.

Need some serious sack time tonight. Later.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Resume done!

Yeah --- after attending my "career transition workshop"; emailing the teacher; bugging Ric for "words" -- I believe I have a finished copy of my new resume. Very different from what I've had before. The "new and upcoming" way to do your resume includes "accomplishments" under each job...not just a listing of important job duties. Also, they are now suggesting to use only the years when putting in your work dates. A few other changes too. As Ric mentioned, every so often "THEY" change what a resume is suppose to look like. Oh well .... I"ll go with the flow now.

Not too many jobs here around Prescott. Home Depot seems like they have openings, but at this point, I don't think I want a career with Home Depot. Today I want to check out a place that is looking for a resident assistant in a long term care home. I used to volunteer for Hospice in Michigan and enjoyed it. So....maybe something along that lines again? If I can find a full time job without the training needed up front....we will see. Wish me luck.

Otherwise, I have been checking out other AAA organizations and some cruise line companies for travel jobs. As Ric mentioned, I've seen travel agent positions listed in a few non-snow states. (Sorry Matt...none in Hawaii listed!) I haven't applied yet since I was waiting to get my updated resume done. Carnival cruise line had a couple on-board positions that I might be able to handle, but...not sure I could handle living in crew quarters for 6 months at a time. I am not ruling it out at this point, though.

I agree with Ric that packing up is one of the last things we really want to do. Our apartment is in a great location and we love to be able to walk to historical downtown Prescott in about 10-15 minutes. We have a lot of decisions to make in the coming month(s). Keep praying for us!

End Game

I got about 2/3 through my final paper for class number two today. Tomorrow, I plan to finish it up, giving me the weekend to jump on the badly-neglected class three. It's getting close to the end; I'd like to finish strong, but I'll settle for just finishing.

Meanwhile, Debbie is using her free time to scope out possible locations where we may be able to find work. So far, she's had hits in Florida, Oregon, Texas and Oklahoma. Our preference for places to relocate to is pretty much that order. Nothing definite, but we'll see what happens. I don't have the mental space to really process any of it at this point. The idea of packing everything up when we just got it unpacked and starting over somewhere else doesn't get me real excited, but then neither does lying in a gutter starving to death. But none of it gets more than passing interest for the next 11 days. Then we can get serious with the whole stay-or-go question and if it's go, then where. We'll likely have to invest in some traveling to scope out jobs, housing, etc.

Well, I want to try to get some good sleep tonight so I'm knocking off early.