Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary

to us! 21 years ago today we had the best wedding reception yet -- Ric's family still talks about it and uses it to compare others to!

Ric -- I love ya!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bye, Bye Arizona (Sort of)

This may be the last post for a while. We'll be leaving around 5:30am to catch a shuttle to the airport, then off to Michigan. We'll probably try to post something while we are there, but unless I have time to sort out the connectivity problem, we will be on limited dial-up. In any case, we'll be way too busy to be messing around on the internet much.

And it looks like we are getting out of Arizona just in time. Not that Michigan is in any better shape, but at least (at this point) it's just a temporary stopping off point.

As I mentioned previously, we won't likely have time for socializing, so if you want to talk to us, come on down to Burt and bring gloves and work clothes.

At Least He's Still Alive

The brave boys in blue taser a deaf, retarded guy holed up in a public john taking a dump. Because "he had an umbrella." You can't make this stuff up. I wasn't aware there was a legal precedent defining an hour on the pot as "disorderly conduct" or an umbrella as a lethal weapon. One doesn't expect a clerk at Dollar General to be a legal scholar, but you would think someone allowed to carry a firearm, pepper spray and a taser would have at least a passing familiarity with the law. And a bit of common sense (I know, I know; radical concept).

On the other side, the mommy-dearest of said retard may want to be careful; where was she when all this ruckus involving her perpetual 10-year-old son was going on? If it's negligent to allow a child to wander around unsupervised, then is it not also negligent to allow an adult with the mental capacity of a ten-year-old (and judging by the article, mommy-dearest is being generous in her assessment of her son's abilities) to wander around unsupervised?

But never fear: "The officers really worked within the limits of our level-of-force policy...." Good to know the level-of-force policy says it's OK to taser retards with the shits if they have an umbrella.

God help us.

"We're from the government..."

Question: Why does anyone think that a government agency won't screw up something as complex as health care, when they screw up something relatively simple, like delivering the mail? And please spare me the sad tales of congressional interference, obstructionist unions or political shenanigans, as you will just be making my point.

Success and Failure

A timely video for us:

Wedding coming up

Courtney (Ric's youngest niece) is getting married August 8th in Traverse City, MI. I can't wait!!!!

We will head up to TC the Friday before her wedding, hopefully go to the rehearsal dinner that night and then have a great afternoon/evening for her and Joe's wedding and reception. It sounds like it will be a great reception. Sunday I hope they will have a get together to open presents and cards. Ric can't wait to see the expressions when they open the special "groom card" he made especially for Joe. It took me about 4 tries to come up with a hand-made card I liked for them. Ric knew exactly what he wanted to do for the "groom card."

Still Up

It is almost 1am and I am still up. I couldn't sleep, so instead of tossing and turning and disturbing Ric I got up. So far I've done all the dishes and gathered up all the garbage into one bag and put it by the door. I would vacuum, but not this time of the night! So instead, here I am blogging.

Earlier today I was checking out somebody's blog in Canada that had a lot of cards posted. I got some great ideas to work on more; of course after I buy some more "tools" from Stampin' Up. (another plug for me --- I am a Stampin' Up demonstrator and can sell to anyone in the USA -- contact me!)

Thursday we fly out to Michigan. I am getting so nervous that neither of us will land a good job soon. Tonight while I was doing dishes a thought jumped in my mind. It is all in God's hands. I have to let it go completely and trust Him. I'm sure all the work we want to accomplish at my Mom's will be much appreciated -- maybe that is what we are suppose to be doing for the next few months.
Another great thing about being back in Michigan (besides being with my Mom) is being nearer to my friends and family. I'm sure I will spend more in gas money than I should to run up to see Kim.

I don't know ... I'm scared. Pray for me and give me a big hug when you see me ... I need it ... and don't worry when the tears come also.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What We're Up To

We have something that could be called a plan at this point. We have heard nothing from any job leads in nearly two weeks, and the savings is getting lower than we would like it to be. So on Thursday, we will be flying back to Michigan for two reasons: the primary one is my niece's wedding the first Saturday of August. The secondary reason is to clear out a livable space in Debbie's mom's basement while we continue looking for work. We'll be spending most of the two weeks filling up a 30-yard dumpster we are having delivered to her mom's front yard on Friday, then painting/sealing the basement floors, walls and ceiling. We may also need to replace all the drywall, depending on how much damage we do taking down the paneling that wasn't supposed to be installed below-grade. We'll be very busy, and will likely not be doing any socializing other than two or three days for the wedding.

This isn't a permanent move back to snow country; we'll be back in the truck heading south as soon as we have a job to head to. But it seems likely with how things are going that we will be there until late in 2009 or even early 2010.

Anyone that wants to get tired and dirty is welcome to stop by.

History Repeating

Once again, the Democratic machine is cutting the legs off from under one of their own sitting presidents. It seems we won't only be rerunning the economic conditions of the last-1970's/early-1980's, we're rerunning the politics as well, getting ringside seats as congressional democrats once-again destroy a democratic president. Jimmy Carter once referred to the congressional committee chairs as "ravening wolves." Doesn't appear that much has changed in three decades.

When Does Weather Become Climate?

The global cooling deniers (hey; if anyone in the least bit skeptical of anthropogenic global warming can be lumped in with Holocaust and moon landing deniers, then, well, two can play that game) are constantly yapping about how "weather isn't climate" whenever someone points out the decade-long drop in global average temperature. I'd really like to know just how much weather it takes before it becomes climate?

And isn't it odd that one hot day in Chicago or New York is reported endlessly and breathlessly as a "taste of things to come." but 3,000 record lows is a complete media non-event?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nature's AC

Shot this video out the door of our apartment a few days ago. During the ten-minute downpour, the temperature dropped from 89 to 65. Of course it bounced right back up to near-80 when it stopped, but it sure felt good while it lasted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Truth of Islam

Economic Insanity

Yet another article about how we are doing exactly what the Japanese did 20 years ago (even as everyone insists that we are not), so we too can have 0% interest rates, 0% real growth, and in two decades we will still be waiting for stock and real estate prices to recover. Woohoo!!

With apologies to The Vapors:

Bottom line:
For those who said "we won't make the mistakes Japan did" let me point out that we have indeed made all of the same mistakes and now we're getting the same results.

Why is it that Einstein's exhortation continues to echo in my head?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.

It will be interesting (in the Chinese curse sense) to see how this experiment in group insanity plays out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Log in their Own Eye

A very wise man asked 2,000 years ago, "Why do you fuss about the speck of dust in your brother's eye while ignoring the log sticking out of your own?" Maybe we should carve that above the doors leading into the House and Senate chambers.

For about the bajillionth time: Washington DC has no moral authority to tell the rest of the country how to attend to its affairs until the District is considered by the world to be a model city.

Cops vs. Blacks

I was going to write up something about the Harvard professor who was arrested for breaking into his own home (other side of the story here), but Jerry Pournelle beat me to it. Dr. Pournelle pretty much covers it far better than I would have, but here are some brief points that stood out to me:

The President of the United States publicly admits he doesn't know what he is talking about, yet still feels compelled to insert himself on the side of his race. Somehow, this isn't racist, even though everyone knows that is exactly what this is.

For whatever reason, the professor's neighbor did not know him and was not aware that he would be returning from his trip at that time. I'm not sure if that is a commentary on race relations or a commentary on America in general. I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone looked out for each other and knew each others comings and goings, but that seems to have been in a different country than the one we live in now.

After 20 hours of travel, part of which involves dealing with people with badges whose only function is to make travelers' lives miserable, anyone would be grumpy and "uncooperative" (meaning he didn't scrape and bow before the authority of The Badge) when a cop demands to see his ID while standing in his own home.

Blacks, especially in academia, see racism everywhere (except among other blacks, of course) even when everyone is being perfectly reasonable. If a cop drives by my home and sees someone attacking the door with a tire iron, I hope to God he demands to see some evidence that the attackee has a legitimate reason for being there regardless of his race.

Since when did cops become so pathetically thin-skinned that verbal insults result in handcuffs and mug shots? If the guy took a swing at the cop, that's one thing, but arresting someone because they insult you? For God's sake, grow some skin.

The cop's involvement in attempts to resuscitate a black basketball player over a decade ago is irrelevant to the present discussion. As are the opinions of his mother or people he grew up with or the racial composition of the neighborhood he grew up in. I grew up in Flint, Michigan which is hardly some lily-white suburb and I can tell you that I grew up with true racists, both black and white, some of whom spent time behind bars for their racist acts.

And enough on that topic.

What if Man Walked on the Moon Today

How would the news media cover humanity's first trip to the moon if it were to happen today:

Seems about right: completely ignore the actual event and instead use it as a vehicle to direct attention to MEEEE. LOOK AT MEEEE.

Does anyone actually watch the news anymore? My news comes filtered through the web sites you see over on the right side of the blog, which I find to be far superior, more varied in their viewpoints, and certainly more intelligent than anything on cable.

Now What?

After nearly a month, I finally waded through the 600 page PHP programming book I've been working on. But now I'm looking around and just realized that I don't have anything to read, and we were just at the library today. Crap. Ah well. I have a bunch of software to install and configure, then go back through the last three books I've read and physically do all the exercises and projects in them. I haven't typed in a mass of code in a good three years, so this ought to be fun. In a totally geek-fun sort of way. I just love messing with programming languages.

One thing that is really fun is sorting out a language's "family tree" based on all the little odd quirks that made sense when they were first implemented, but are now carried forward "just because." Reading these books, I was amused by some of the tortured explanations the authors came up with. Even better were the non-explanations; "It's that way because programming languages have always done it that way." Sorry, no they haven't. It's that way because of choices made by the developers of the language that is the parent (or grandparent, great-grandparent, etc.) of the one under discussion. Other language families follow completely different conventions.

Well. enough geek stuff. Off to bed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Quick Post

Just a quick post, then I'm going to do some reading. Really. For sure this time.

One thing that has kept me from the physical book I'm trying to work through has been an e-book I've been reading on and off for the last couple days titled Sustainable Energy - without the hot air. It isn't completely without hot air, of course. Rather than chose a logical reason for moving us off fossil fuel, like the fact that no matter how much of it there is, it will become scarce at some point, or that oil is far too valuable as a feedstock for industry (plastics, for example) to set the stuff on fire. These reasons get a passing mention, but the horrors of anthropogenic global warming get a couple chapters. Inevitable, I suppose. In any case, this is, as far as possible, a facts-based look at just what it means to run the world on renewable energy. The .pdf download is free, so go grab this thing and take a look. I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say that PV and wind don't come off looking quite as green as some would lead us to believe.

I had a bit of a scare today when several of the web sites I regularly visit were unreachable. My first thought was, "Here we go again." Then I realized that it was, once again, only sites hosted on Typepad that were having trouble. For being a paid service, it certainly seems to be down a great deal. Blogger is far from perfect, but at least it works.

We remain in the holding pattern we have been in for a while now. It will likely continue for another week or so. If nothing has broken loose by then, we will be heading back to Michigan for my niece's wedding and making arrangements for our alternative accommodations where we will try to hold out until the current economic storm blows over.

Off to read a book. For sure this time. Honest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Just Like That...

... our internet problems seem to be over. Everything seems to be working once again, page loads are back to the speed one would expect with a 3Mbps connection, and I'm pulling out of my withdrawal shakes.

We braved the matinee crowds once again today to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The theater was closer to full today than when I poked my head in yesterday, but still not bad. We didn't get there early enough for the "cool" seats, but we were in the row right behind them, so it still wasn't bad. Lots of younger kids in the theater, but only one had to be carried out by Daddy when things got scary and there wasn't the normal "ambient noise level" that one would expect at a a matinee showing of a PG film. The only real annoyance was the adult in the row behind us that had to have gotten up and left then came back in a half-dozen times during the movie and managed to kick the back of our seats on every trip.

The movie itself was pretty much what it has been hyped up to be. The secondary story was all about pairing off and "snogging" as the Brits say, which pretty much followed the book and is basically the primary concern of all sixteen-year-old's, even those fighting to save the world from evil. The special effects were spectacular and were the dominant feature of the movie, really. Like the book, this is a bridge piece setting up the big final battle (which annoyingly-but-understandably will be cut in two), complete with cliffhanger ending. If you're into Harry Potter, this is a must see and it is worth seeing on the big screen.

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Between sleeping away half the day and fighting connectivity issues, I didn't get a chance to say anything, so here it is late for the party and all.

I was four at the time of the landing and don't remember much other than I was allowed to stay up way past bedtime to see some blurry, burned-out pictures on the TV which seemed to be showing a whole lot of nothing going on. Hey; I was four. It's not like I appreciated the whole "eyes of history" thing at the time. The first missions I clearly remember were the later rover missions (Apollo 15, 16 and 17), but by then everyone else had written the whole thing off. I guess for me, given the sorry state of the US space program, all the anniversary celebrating is bittersweet; I can't get myself worked up about it the way some people are. Yes, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the foot pad onto the lunar surface, that marked a defining moment in our history; the first human step somewhere other than earth. But then we turned into a nation of cowards who can barely get a few people to low earth orbit twice a year (and in a matter of months, we won't even be able to do that). Sorry if I'm being the killjoy of the party, but I just can't be happy about the fact that 40 years after men walked on the moon, we are incapable of doing it again, and too cowardly to try in any case.

OK; I'm done.

What's Happening?

The internet appears to be broken. Blogger seems to work OK at the moment, and Yahoo seems to be working, but not much else. Twitter, Facebook, anti-virus updates; all non-functional at the moment. I may actually have to read a book or something. Oh the horror.

Not much in the way of news; job leads continue to trickle in, but nothing much in the way of actual job offers. As in none. Given that there is, on average, something like 100 people for every job opening, I guess that isn't surprising. Living in someone's basement looks more likely by the day. Ah well. Unless something breaks in the next week or so, we will be back in Michigan for a couple weeks starting around the end of July to do some work at Debbie's mom's place and for my niece's wedding. After that, who knows.

Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Data Security

A very scary story about how Twitter was hacked. This was a major breach that gave someone outside the company access to financial projections, meeting minutes, personal financial data of employees, even the Twitter domain itself. I've been in IT in one form or another for over 2 decades, and I don't know that I have an answer. Some things are obvious: passwords should not be any form of personal information (your name, your dog's name, the pet name for your spouse, etc.) no matter how obscure. They should be reasonably long, contain characters, numbers and special characters. But from there is gets more difficult. Technically, every site you log into should have a different password. But given the proliferation of sites that people log into, it would be nearly impossible for the average person to remember that many passwords without writing them down, which solves one problem by creating another. That is especially true if you change all those passwords every month. The bottom line, mentioned in the article, is that there is no defense against a really determined person, whether we are talking about locking down online access your bank account or physically securing your home. The best you can hope for is to put enough obstacles in the way that trouble-makers will move on to an easier target. (Dirty little secret of home alarm systems: they don't secure your house as much as they give burglars incentive to rob your neighbor instead of you.)

All I can say is, "Let's be careful out there."

(Bonus points if you can relate this topic to my oft-repeated phrase, "Get fast; get small.")

Cosmic Crash

It looks like Jupiter may have gotten smacked by something. There is a large black spot that may have been caused by something falling into its gas cloud ala Shoemaker-Levy back in 1994. The cool part is that it is largely hobbyists that find these things as the big guns are all booked up looking at really tiny patches of sky, not staring at Jupiter waiting to see something interesting happen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Arcosanti Revisited

A very interesting article popped up in my Google Alerts this morning about the good, the bad and the ugly of Paolo Solari's arcology concept in general and Arcosanti in particular. This won't be a particularly well-organized response to that article; more of my usual disjointed thought, made worse by the effect of the current heat on my brain.

First, to pick a minor nit:
I’ve often wanted to live in Arcosanti myself, only you can’t. After 40 years of slow construction, primarily by students, this supposed prototype of the city of the future still has no more than a couple permanent residences. It’s a nice place to visit, but they won’t let you live there…

There is housing for more than just "a couple permanent residences," but still not enough (a few dozen or so) to consider the current built environment to be anything you could call a city or even a village without doing violence to the English language. And you can live there, but only if you give up your "outside" job, attend a workshop, and submit your housing needs to the local dictator... er.... site manager.

Which brings us to another point in the article:
This is why a common response to the arcology concept is that its impossible without a totalitarian regime to implement it.

This is exactly correct. Whether we are talking about Paolo's Arcosanti or Niven/Pournelle's Todos Santos, the concept cannot work without a more-heavy-handed administration (whether governmental or corporate) than the average person from a modern democracy is likely to submit to. Of course I would have never believed the country I was raised in would tolerate the last several administrations, so I guess anything is possible.
...the question of implementation is someone else’s problem. If people ‘get it’, they’ll figure it out. It never seems to occur to many such visionaries that the inability to figure this implementation out on their own is largely why people never ‘get it’. If the originators of these visions can’t, how could anyone else?

Paolo hates being called a visionary for this very reason. Arcosanti was supposed to get his ideas out of the books and into reality. Unfortunately, it is a poor implementation of his arcology concepts in nearly every detail, leaving the question of just how this is supposed to work unanswered.
Soleri and his students persist on designing arcologies -an oxymoron because you can’t actually design cities.

Well, you can, but unless you can compel people by force to do business there (for example, Washington DC), you are building a ghost town.
Consider the Linear City. This is actually the single-most important and practical arcology form in the concept.

Which is why the Linear City concept is attractive to me: it is something that could actually be built in the real world in a step-wise fashion. Sure, it isn't as pretty when drawn on paper, but it is realistic. Think of it in terms of automobiles; when I worked at Volkswagen, I would get free passes to the Detroit Auto Show. The place was jammed with prototype vehicles that would never see a dealership showroom for such practical considerations as a normal person couldn't fit in it, it couldn't be mass-produced, it couldn't pass crash-testing, etc. The cars in the showroom would eventually incorporate some less-radical hint of certain aspects seen in the concept cars, but they could never be described as anything other than pedestrian and utilitarian in comparison. It is the same when the Linear City is compared with Paolo's other concepts; it isn't nearly as awe-inspiring, but for that very reason, is far more likely to see actual construction. One of the students at Arcosanti while we were there, redesigned the site to use Linear City in place of the current Arcosanti 5000 model. As far as I know, it was quickly buried in the archives somewhere.
A similarly curious omission in Soleri’s presentation of the arcology concept concerns perceptions of scale and the seeming aversion of Soleri and his students to illustrating arcologies from a truly human point of view. His arcology renderings are exquisite but they are also like looking at pictures of classic 1970s space colonies -seemingly sprung fully formed from the void with interiors only seen in bird’s-eye-view as vast arching landscapes. You simply have no perception of the scale and no impression what it’s like to actually be in them.

This is an example of where Arcosanti falls horribly sort. What has been built is disjointed and small with cramped living quarters, some of which are too small to be legal. There is no sense in the current construction what standing in front of, say, the vaults would be like with Arcosanti complete.

Well, I could go on for pages, but just go read the article. It's pretty self-explanatory without my commentary.

Major Fail

I'm so glad we got our passports before the feds starting chipping them:
*Given their mournful fait accompli on the ground, they probably lack any rational alternative, except to INSIST that everybody go buy some tinfoil hat for their passport, in which case the Global War on Terror situation looks even more aggressively crazy than it was before...."

*Also, according to the original genius plan, you were supposed to be using these safe-and-secure arphid beacons to merrily zip through airports, en-masse, subway-style, like with Oyster cards. Seen any of that jolly high-tech activity anywhere lately? Me neither. Instead we’ve created a huge, botched superpower effort that is paranoid, semi-secret, global in scale, leaky in security and at best semi-functional. “Gothic High-Tech.”

The RFID passport mess is everything that is wrong with the federal government all rolled into one neat little package.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

57 and Counting

The feds seized more banks on Friday, bring the total for 2009 to 57. Total seizures in 2008 was 25 and only 3 in 2007. Worse, the number of banks on the watch list increased from 252 to 305. Remember when it was horrifying that the number of banks on the watch list topped 100? Ah, the good ol' days.

"Look!! Green shoots!! Oh, wait. Just more gremlins emerging from the ground. Never mind. Now, move along!! Nothing to see here."


In a move that could become the very definition of irony, Amazon has automatically removed certain books from everyone's Kindle and credited the users' accounts for the price of the book. It seems the publisher had a change of heart about releasing a certain author's works in digital format.

Oh; the books in question? 1984 and Animal Farm. How, um, Orwellian.

Sleepless in Prescott

Neither of us can sleep. There is something here that we are both allergic to which means that neither of us can breath laying down. I don't know if it's something in the apartment or something that grows here. We didn't have this problem at Arcosanti. Whatever the reason, we've both been up since around 4:30am. Grrrrr.

Debbie asked a good question when I wandered out of the bedroom: why are we still here? There may be a big push to get ourselves out of the apartment by the end of the month. That would be fine with me at this point.

Friday, July 17, 2009

In Local News

First off, this is being typed with my new Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard. The tracking information said it would be here tomorrow, but it showed up today. This is one of the reasons I don't bother paying for second-day from Amazon. The free shipping gets my stuff to me by the second day about half the time, and always by the third. There must be an Amazon warehouse somewhere near Phoenix. Anyway, it is so good to have a keyboard that actually registers all my keystrokes no matter how fast I get going. The keys are full-sized and have a nice feel. All the function keys are in their "normal" places. I even like the mush pad. Normally I hate the things, but this one works more like a trackball and doesn't seem to suffer from the hyper-sensitivity of other mush pads. All of them I've used have turned even the slightest touch (or in the case of our Dell laptop, being within 1/2" of the mush pad) into a mouse click.

We ventured out today for some stuff Debbie needed for the card party she is going to tomorrow. When we drove by my last job, the place was locked up tight with a big For Sale sign in the window. I guess running a restaurant proved to require a little more than the "common sense" the owners claimed was all they needed to make a go of the place when they fired the manager and run off, fired or laid off every experienced person working there. Ah well.

The official Prescott thermometer shows 99 degrees (37C) for the high today. At least the humidity is below 20% today. This is supposed to continue through the weekend. We'll probably try to stay in the cave as much as possible or limit our venturing out to early morning or late evening. Besides, I have to mess with the new toy and I can't do that if I'm out and about.

Well, that's about all I have to say for now.

Making Music Labels (Even More) Irrelevant

Anyone can now release their music for Rock Band. Anyone can now put music directly in the face of people provably geeked about music. The modern equivalent of a garage band getting a gig at the local bar.

The All New Pee-Mobile

A new catalytic device liberates hydrogen from urine, meaning you can now fill the tank on your car in a way that is illegal in most states unless the garage door is closed.

So many jokes to make, so little time....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our New Overlords

Giant squid have invaded San Diego and are mugging divers for their video equipment.

And here all this time I was worried about the Chinese.

If Anyone is Looking for Me...

...I'll be attending physics lectures by Richard Feynman, arguably the most perfect combination of theoretical physicist and lecturer the world has ever seen. His basic premise was that if his theories were ever so complicated he couldn't explain them to Freshman, he was doing something wrong.

If these videos can get 10% of the hits that the Keyboard Cat gets, we may yet have a chance.


In a hardly-surprising development, all climate models have a serious flaw in the base assumptions. Probably explains why not a single one of them can take 1900 as the starting condition and "predict" the current climate. Probably also explains why every single one of them has completely failed to predict the current cooling trend.

Uncle Al? Like to comment? No? How about you, Hansen? No? Go figure.


Speaking of things I don't get: Why is everyone so determined to sell really expensive boxes that deliver internet video in a way that is less convenient than just accessing it with your PC? I can't understand what is being sold here. My PC "monitor" is a 42" TV on which I can watch DVD's, YouTube, Hulu, or anything else directly from the web at full screen and up-converted by the video card to 1080p. Why would I spend money for a device with less functionality and add to the box clutter under my TV?

Again, please use short words. I appear to be getting stupid.

More Panic from WHO

I know I'm not all that smart, but I just can't figure out this whole flu pandemic thing. How is it that the seasonal flu, which infects 10's of millions and kills up to a half-million people every year is just the normal seasonal flu, but a flu strain that has infected a couple hundred thousand and killed fewer than 500 is cause for a full-blown panic?

Anyone trying to explain this to me, please use small words.

Just a "What's Up"

And the answer is, "Not much." I did get most of the things done yesterday that I wanted to get done. The big task was catching up on all the financial stuff after being gone for over a month. That took many, many hours of data entry, account reconciliations, funds balancing, etc. Usually, I do a little bit every day, but with me in one state and our data files in another state, it just piled up. Ugh.

The other task accomplished was to finally get all our photos off the camera and on Flickr:
A random prickly pear cactus in bloom.
Debbie's niece's graduation open house.
Our time in northern Michigan.
The job search road trip.

I don't have descriptions on anything yet, but I will work on those this afternoon. Or evening. Or tomorrow. Or...

I still need to burn a DVD for Debbie's mom with the latest versions of Firefox and IE along with our last batch of pictures. With a dial-up connection, it is virtually impossible for her to get to these things. on her own. When we were staying there, I tried to just get some Windows security patches and it was nearly impossible. I didn't dare try to download an entire software package, so we'll do it snail mail. Whatever works.

As part of catching up on things, I finally got over to Yahoo Finance's Tech Ticker. I don't seem to have missed anything. All the same people having all the same arguments while all the market indexes wobble around in a narrow range waiting for consumers to load up on 56" TV's and designer clothing. Meanwhile, consumers are refusing to play the part of a patsy like they have the last twenty years and are instead paying off debt and saving 7% of their take-home pay (18 months ago, the savings rate was -4%). Silly people. How dare they act as if the money they earn actually belongs to them. Everyone knows the world works best if everyone transfers their entire wealth plus their children's future wealth to .05% of the world population!

Meanwhile, as we continue to look for work, I find this little picker-upper:
Here are 10 reasons we are in even more trouble than the 9.5% unemployment rate indicates:

- June's [unemployment] total assumed 185,000 people at work who probably were not....
- More companies are asking employees to take unpaid leave....
- No fewer than 1.4 million people wanted or were available for work in the last 12 months but were not counted....
- The number of workers taking part-time jobs due to the slack economy, a kind of stealth underemployment, has doubled in this recession to about nine million, or 5.8% of the work force....
- The average work week for rank-and-file employees in the private sector, roughly 80% of the work force, slipped to 33 hours....
- The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948....
- The goods producing sector is losing the most jobs -- 223,000 in the last report alone....
- The prospects for job creation are equally distressing. The likelihood is that when economic activity picks up, employers will first choose to increase hours for existing workers and bring part-time workers back to full time....

Huh. That's cheery.

After spending the last two days on the computer, I need to spend some serious face time with a book. Of course, it's a book about computer stuff....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sittin' and Waitin'

I'll apologize now for any typo's. I know this is the internet where typo's are considered high art, but I was raised in a different culture that viewed such things as a sign of low intelligence. The problem is my keyboard; some of the keys only work after you hit them a few times, which sucks dead bunnies when you're a touch typist. The solution is in the mail; a Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard to replace the no-name junker I'm using now. It was a lot more money than I should have spent right now on something as silly as a keyboard, but I've yet to have a problem with any Logitech device I ever bought going back to the original "wedge of cheese" mouse that made Logitech famous. I also looked at the diNovo mini "thumb" keyboard, but I'm just not ready to go there. My thumbs do exactly two things: hit the space bar and roll the trackball. They don't have the talent for much else, and the rest of my fingers would get bored and jealous.

The day yesterday was spent cleaning out the Hulu queue. I basically didn't move off the couch for twelve hours straight. Today, I need to get all the photos off the camera, get some other stuff off the internet for Debbie's mom, and decide what to do with all the debris sitting around the apartment. Some of the things we had on Craiglist that didn't sell we'll just keep; some we will try to sell again, some will just get given away to people we know, some may just get dumpstered. As Debbie posted yesterday, we'll probably hang on to the apartment for another month just to give everything time to shake out, but we will definitely be out of here by the end of August. Unless we're not, in which case, we'll still be here. Everything has to be somewhere.

Once again, I'm messing with the site layout, so if something looks more ugly than usual, just wait for a few minutes and hit refresh. I'm having some problems with making changes to the Blogger template; my changes are removed when I hit the "Save" button. Not sure what that's all about. And many of the tips I'm picking up for doing various things just don't seem to work on Firefox/Vista 64. They don't seem to break anything; they just don't have any effect. For example, I was looking through some of text effects on the Dynamic Drive site; the demo text for most of these is either just plain text or nothing. Granted, a lot of these are for IE only (and why anyone would do that is beyond me), but even the ones that are supposed to work in Firefox just don't. I was also trying to modify one of the Blogger widgets to be a scrolling list; I found dozens of places on the web describing several ways to do that, but not only did none of these work on this site, they weren't working on the site the tip was on, meaning it wasn't just my ignorance at work.

Anyway, I've rambled enough and I need to get busy. Being unemployed is hard work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nothing yet

I had no luck in Mobile Alabama with finding a job. I still can't believe the guy from Springdale Travel wanted me to come in when they had laid off people already and were NOT hiring at all. They had a sign in their door window that they were accepting applications from experienced travel agents. I'm not sure why they are advertising like that. I know they are waiting on Mobile to get some big contract (or at least split it with Boeing), but get real ... how long will it take to get things off the ground and businesses start picking back up.

Tampa wasn't too bad. I was able to interview with a travel manager and the district manager at one of the Tampa area AAA offices. The travel manager is in charge of two of the branches in the area. They have a person that is going (or went) out on disability. Technically they have to keep the job open for 12 weeks for this person. Worst case scenario the new person would start on September 14th. They are trying to get approval from higher ups to get the position filled sooner than that.

Arizona AAA is back in the picture with some new postings. I have applied for 3 positions, but not sure what will happen. I still don't understand why they didn't call/notify all the laid off people first to offer a chance at one of the jobs. Two of them means we would move from Prescott down south, the third is here in Prescott but only part time and at a lower position than I had.

I guess it is back to wait and see. Ric called our landlord on Monday to see about staying another month here after giving our notice for being moved out by July 31st. It was no problem. Or as Ric said "must have been a bad day for landlords --- ours said we could stay for 5 years!" The only problem we gave our landlord was when we locked ourselves out of our apartment on a holiday!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Again, it's hard to think of the apartment as home when everything is packed and ready to move. But in any case, we are back at home base after driving 4,695 miles and still in the same position we were in when we left: jobless and without any real prospects other than a hint of a maybe. Well, that's not entirely true. We are also many thousands of dollars poorer than when we left after paying for gas, hotels and restaurants.

Enough of this. I have several hundred hours of TV watching piled up in my Hulu queue.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back in Lordsburg NM

It's hard to imagine that a place so small that it only covers (barely) two freeway exits can have a "good" part of town and a "bad" part of town, but Lordsburg does. On the way out, we got off at the first exit and got the impression of a fairly nice town. This time, we got off at the more-easterly exit and have the impression of a town only two steps from a ghost town. But our hotel room is nice, and being in the "bad" part of town means it's about $20 cheaper. The drive today was uneventful; no crazy people doing 360's in front of us at 90 mph. We didn't go very far; it was either knock off early and get to Prescott tomorrow or drive until very late only to get to an apartment with no food and all the stores closed. We chose the former, which means I was able to catch up on about a months worth of internet reading.

Next stop: Prescott. Not that we have any idea what is happening after that.

Sonora TX

We made it more than halfway through Texas on Saturday -- YEAH!

Near the end of the day we came upon a crazy or drunk or very sleepy driver. He was going from one side of the road to the other -- the rumble strips alerted him he was going off onto the shoulder. He almost hit an embankment, but caught it in time and whipped back the other way. One time he didn't catch himself in time and spun out on the left side of the road. Luckily no embankment or cliff wall -- only dirt/grass. We were keeping far enough back that we stopped in time and could stay to one side watching for his truck in all the dust. We thought he would stop and we could go by ... no such luck. He gunned it and lit out again doing about 90mph. He ended up passing a few other vehicles (dangerously) and one of them kept on his tail for a bit. They must have decided to get close to get the license plate and call it in. We got off at exit 400 (Sonora TX) and so had he and a cop came from the other direction, across the median and after him. Thankfully!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quick Post

Sort of a trash-can post. We used a different route to leave Florida than the one we used to get there and made much better time: I'm typing this from a hotel in Louisiana. We had originally planned to stop in Mobile and say "Bye" to the fam, but it was way too early in the day to stop when we blew threw Alabama. Tampa turned out to be about an actual job from an actual company that was actually planning to hire an actual person. How refreshing. Communication with a company in Texas is following the same insane pattern we've been seeing: move to town, then contact the company; otherwise, we have nothing to talk about. I don't get it. Either you have an opening at your company or you don't. It's that simple. Us packing everything we own and moving has no impact whatsoever on whether or not you are hiring. No wonder the economy is in the toilet with inconsiderate morons running everything.

I've been saying for years that the medical industry has become obsessed with numbers to the point of killing people. The new A1C target for diabetics is going to result in thousands of needless deaths. And yet another study shows that current weight targets are already resulting in unnecessary deaths. But like most problems, this one won't be solved as long as millions of dollars are being made by people milking the public's fears and phobias.

These two stories are related: Sears is starting its Christmas promotions in July. Food riots may be coming: "The man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions - all within four years, while cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012."

Well, we need to hit the road.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Corporate Strategy

Your product sucks, your customers are fleeing in droves, your distribution network has collapsed, and your new CEO is moonlighting as the President of the United States. So what's the brilliant corporate strategy for reinventing yourself?

Change the background color of your corporate logo from blue to green!

Just brilliant.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


A white person makes a factual observation, like blacks are far more likely to commit serious crimes than whites, and they are automatically labeled a racist and forced to grovel for forgiveness. But 50 black teenagers attack a white family in their own front yard yelling "This is a black world!" and the mental defectives in the Akron police department "aren't ready to call it a hate crime." I'm sure police attempts to sweep this incident under the rug will go a long way towards eliminating white-black tensions in Akron and elsewhere.

Liar, Liar

Politicians and their lackeys never lie, right? Especially when the truth makes you look like you're completely incompetent.

What makes people in government assume that the rest of us are as stupid as they are? Oh yeah; the fact the we not just tolerate moral and mental defectives in our government, we consistently vote them into office.

Obamessiah Loses His Shine

Obama's approval rating has gone negative. Too bad people didn't figure out what this clown was about before they made him the most powerful man on the planet. But I'm sure people won't make the mistake of voting for the packaging instead of the substance again. This time for sure.

Anyone interested in some ocean-front property in North Dakota?

June Stats

A little late, but I finally got around to looking at the site stats for June.

The total visitors for the month was 233 (166 repeat visitors and 73 new visitors), virtually identical to last month.

The Firefox vs. MSIE numbers are slightly more in favor of Firefox this month, but only because Chrome (6%) seems to be eating into IE (52.5%) rather than Firefox (36.9%) gaining any share. On the OS front, Win XP (76%) actually gained on Win Vista (15.5%). The rest were virtually unchanged. And I still have my one NT/Firefox 2.0 virus-lover.

That's it; I won't bore everyone with a bunch of numbers.

Hot Breakfast

Mmmmm....we are finally staying at a hotel that has a free breakfast bar with hot food! We both had a belgian waffle (should have split one) and sausage patties. I had a few spoonfuls of strawberry yogurt too and Ric had a small bagel. Yummy for the tummy :-)

Of course, after eating out late last night (yes, we crossed another time line) at Outback, we really didn't NEED breakfast this morning; but, free is free and we have to take advantage of it.

No news yet on the job front. The office I am trying to reach somebody at does not open until 10a (late day today) and I left a voice mail for the manager to call me since we are in town. Keep those fingers crossed that this spot or the Phoenix one pans out really soon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

On the Move Again

Debbie got a phone call from Tampa last night, so this morning we packed up and headed out from Mobile to Tampa, Florida. We arrived here around 7pm, grabbed some food, and are now enjoying our upgraded, manager special "suite." It's really not a suite, just a double-sized room with separate areas for the bed and sitting area. Still; a long way from shabby. We expect to be here for a couple days, maybe longer, depending on what happens tomorrow. Weather is very unstable right now; it's been gloomy and raining since we rolled into Florida this morning, and it doesn't look like it will be changing anytime soon, so it's a good thing we have an internet connection and cable in our room.

While we were in Mobile, we discovered something rather interesting: we have more and better options for high-speed internet connectivity in little Prescott, Arizona than we did in Mobile, Alabama. We thought we would have wifi where we were staying, but it turns out that it was just some people running open connections that they secured when they figured out other people were swiping their bandwidth. McDonald's advertised wifi, but it seemed to be non-functional when we tried it. The public library didn't have it and the PC's in the library were so locked down that we couldn't even get to this site. We ended up not being able to do anything other than check e-mail once the entire time we were there.

Observation: If you are driving in the most remote place on earth (say, west Texas) and there are only three cars in a fifty-mile radius, one will be you, one will be in front of you driving 10 mph under the speed limit, and the third will will be parked in your blind spot and you won't be able to shake him without performing some sort of Jason-Bourne-style driving maneuver.

Well, it's been a long day of driving, so we're going to bed.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Hammond, Louisiana

We over-slept, so we didn't make it all the way to Mobile, but we are close. One bit of local color; there is a drive-thru daiquiri place in front of our hotel. Better yet, it opens at 11am, so you can get an early start. Only in Louisiana.

Otherwise, the day was relatively uneventful. Our highlight of the day was finally getting across the nearly 900 miles of Texas.

That's about it. We'll be in Mobile tomorrow for sure.

Seguin, Texas

We made some good progress today with a good chance that we will get where we are going some time tomorrow evening. We even scored a free dessert for not freaking out about the giant Texas tree roach that was running around the restaurant. In all, not a bad day.

We haven't taken many photos so far. We've seen a lot of things that we want to stop and take pictures of, but this trip is about getting where we are going. We may take more time on the way back to load up the camera.

Not much else to say. There just isn't anything interesting about sitting in a car for 11 hours.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Lordsburg NM

We finally got going around 230p from Prescott Valley. We decided to try to get all the way through Arizona and into New Mexico before we stopped for the night. We ended up about 30 miles from the border and staying at a Days Inn in Lordsburg NM. (At least I believe that is the name of this town)

Tomorrow we are trying to plan on our long driving day. Hopefully we will be up and out of here at a decent time. Of course, once we crossed the border, we gained an hour. Arizona does not "do" daylight savings time, so once we left Arizona we jumped to daylight savings time.

I did finally hear back from AAA Arizona. I have to reapply for the position posted. It is at the call center in Phoenix. I emailed my resume tonight -- maybe I'll here back from them.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

On the Road Again

We're starting to haul stuff down to the car and hope to be out of here in the next hour or so. We'll have the laptop with us this time, but we don't know what we'll find in terms of connectivity. Expect the usual sporadicness that has been the hallmark of this blog lately.

No word from AAA, so we are operating on the assumption that it's the normal, morally defective, screw-with-people deal we've come to expect out here in the territories.

Monkey in the Wrench

We haven't even unzipped the suitcases and there's a glitch. One of the AAA offices in the Phoenix area has a job posting for a travel agent. Debbie will be calling tomorrow to get the details, then depending on how the conversation goes, we would have to find a place to live that is relatively cheap but not ridiculously far from the office (and has some sort of job potential for yours truly). The conversation tomorrow will determine whether or not the planned road trip will happen.

To (mis-)quote the A-Team: I love it when a plan falls apart.

If You're Not Depressed Enough...

... I just found a report of unemployment by major urban area. No real surprises other than that we are moving from a place of 8.5% unemployment because we can't find jobs to a place with 9.6% unemployment because we think we have better odds. I think we need a statistics refresher.

Format Changes

As a result of some recent reading, I will be playing with the layout again. But I don't have much time to play with it just now, so there are some things you will notice that will actually make the site a bit uglier, but that will lead to better things in the future. The biggest change is that I would like to experiment with a three-column layout instead of the current two-column one. That would let me bring some of the stuff in the right column that languishes far below the bottom of the last post on the page closer to the top. I'm also thinking of keeping a year's worth of reading in the "Recently Read" section (which you probably don't even realize exists because it is about a foot south of the last post). But I need to change the code that's wrapped around it to only display the most recent ten items with some sort of "more" option. The current widget I'm using doesn't support that, meaning I need to find a different widget, or hand-code the logic myself. I don't have time for either right now, so for a while, the list will simply grow longer and will extend even further past the bottom of the actual content than it currently does. I would also like the books in the "Currently Reading" list to be the full ad with the cover art instead of just the text link, but when I just tried it, something in Blogger borked the ad up. Again, I'm sure there is a widget that would make it easier to do what I want, but I don't have time to look. And if I do get it working, it will also result in things being shoved even further into obscurity than they are now.

Enough geek talk. Bottom line, if you come here and things look ugly or unreadable, just wait a bit and it should get less ugly. I hope.