Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Not Christmas Without...

Porky Pig doing Elvis! With all the traveling over the weekend, I completely forgot.

And new this year (to me, at least): Jim Carrey slaughtering White Christmas!

Merry Belated Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Pics

A selection of our Christmases (plural because we had more than one celebration, not because I built a time machine so I could relive December 25, 2011) in pictures. We did more this year than we normally do, which isn't saying much as we almost never do anything. Beyond monkey bread and the NCIS Christmas Marathon, that is. We started with early Christmas at my parents' snowbird nest:

And because she's a mom, we had a formal table setting with real plates and everything! It took me a minute to remember how to sit at a table and eat after years of eating on the couch in front of the TV. And yes, the knobbly knees are mine.

Here's Mum slaving away in her travel trailer kitchen. I'd really like to help, but I'm not sure where I would stand.

Christmas at our place was the usual simple affair. Our only Christmas decoration was Herman sporting a rather festive bow.

Because we both had a few days off around Christmas day, we decided that we would drive over to Mobile for Christmas with my niece and her family. We got into Mobile on Friday evening after a 10-hour drive to find that we had scored a sweet suite:

We were completely whacked out, so we made our excuses to my niece and went to bed around 7pm. Ten hours in a car made a very plush bed with a big stack of fluffy pillows irresistible. We are seriously getting old.

Christmas Eve day was spent with my niece, her husband, and the cutest kids in Alabama. I may be slightly biased.

So that was pretty much our month of December other than working and sitting around our ghetto apartment.

Speaking of photos, I'm putting Flickr on probation along with Facebook. I no longer use Flickr for anything other than off-site photo backup. There is certainly value in that, and at $20/year it's cheap. But Flickr is getting nearly as creepy as Facebook, getting all bossy about how I can use my own frackin' photos. According to my Flickr stats, only two people ever look at them anyway; for $20/year, I can zip of all the year's photos onto a couple USB drives and mail them to my two viewers and not have to deal with Flickr's crazy EULA. Like Facebook, I haven't made any decision, but I won't be posting the full set of December pictures just yet. We'll see.

Well, I need to go empty the big green gobs infecting my sinuses. Thank the gods for my sinus pump. The last time I used it, something the size of a hamster popped out.

And yes. You needed to know that.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

...And We're Back

We just arrived back at our apartment after a quick jog up to Mobile, AL to visit with some of my family for Christmas. We're also back in the sense that our internet and telephone crapped out Thursday evening around 7pm, but is now working. I called the help desk, but they were pretty far into the Christmas eggnog when I called Thursday around 11pm. They couldn't fix it remotely (hardly surprising given their obvious inebriation), so I set up an appointment for Monday 8-10am. When we got home tonight, there was a Sorry We Missed You card hanging on the door and the phone and internet seem to be working fine. The card says they came out Christmas day at 9:30am. I guess when you're half in the bag, "Monday" sounds a lot like "Sunday" especially when several of your office mates are merry-making in your cubicle.

My Christmas gift was a raging sinus infection. Thanks Santa; right back at 'cha. So I'm off to self-medicate and probably pass out on the couch.

Oh yea; Happy Whatever Makes You Tingly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bah Humbug

I'm waiting for Debbie to get home from work so we can get ready for our Christmas weekend. She is making a quick stop for gas at Sam's Club. Unfortunately, the line starts about three miles down the road. I think I hate Christmas a little more each year. We need to start saving up money for a vacation on a desert island during the last two weeks of December.

Having said that, now I want Christmas 2012 to get here NOW!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

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

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

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

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

Because it's Christmas:

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

I always suspected Sparkle Tits was a threat to humanity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Well a cold front finally hit us in Florida. It got down to 47 last night and right now it is only 49. Today's high is suppose to reach 65. The past few days it has been in the high 70's/low 80's.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Another SWAT Shooting

A Pima County, Arizona SWAT team gunned down an ex-Marine in his home with his wife and 4-year-old son in the house. Some random thoughts in no particular order.

Once again, in a repeat of the Branch Davidian mess at Waco, Texas, military-style tactics that were unnecessary and inappropriate were used instead of police tactics. Instead of a simple arrest outside the home, lets pull out all this cool storm trooper gear we got here in the back room and go make a big media splash. Operation Showtime Part II.

Five supposedly highly-trained officers fired over 70 rounds in a matter of seconds with less than a third of them hitting their intended target located a few feet away. Spray and Pray. With a four-year-old in the house. Ye flippin' gods. Maybe next time they should put their storm trooper helmets on backwards; it may improve their accuracy.

The family lawyer called SWAT "an overly excited group of poorly trained law enforcement agents." I hate to agree with a lawyer, but I have to go with him on this one. The cop retort of "We're not a bunch of country bumpkins... with big bellies and cowboy hats" may or may not be true, but doesn't address the point: You provably are a bunch of "overly excited", "poorly trained" bumpkins in storm trooper gear. As evidence, see above.

All it takes to be a drug kingpin is to be related to someone who knows someone who at some point had been in still-another person's house where marijuana was delivered. And ride in the truck of someone who owns a large roll of plastic wrap. Which is sold at U-Haul. For packing furniture. I have two sizes of the stuff in my closet left over from our last move. I'm also most likely related to someone who knows someone who at some point had been in still-another person's house where marijuana was delivered. I guess SWAT will be smashing in my door at any time now.

The fact that the suspect is a Marine is irrelevant. Plenty of Marines and ex-Marines engage in illegal activity. Being a Marine doesn't remove you from the human race. Especially when you're an ex-Marine trying to raise a family in one of the most economically depressed areas of the country.

The fact that the suspect had a crappy job is irrelevant. In fact, having a crappy job with long hours is just the sort of motivation needed to ask a drug-dealing relative's twice-removed friend if they need a hand with the family business.

The fact that "everyone" says the suspect is a great guy is irrelevant. That's what everyone says about the nice guy next door who coaches Little League. Right up to the moment the cops find the videos he made of himself banging the center-fielder.

I'm not sure what "problems with his vision" would allow the suspect to serve in the Marine Corp, but would disqualify him from any kind of job in the Border Patrol. Unless the vision problem was caused by over-ingestion of his brother's twice-removed friend's product. Maybe he should have signed up for Pima County SWAT; they seem to prefer people with vision problems.


Here's what will happen now: there will be an "investigation" in which SWAT will be found to have acted bravely while defending the innocent citizens of Tucson, and will be given medals and promotions. The investigation into this alleged drug cartel, which may very well exist, will be forgotten. The media will get distracted by Snooki's tits or the next fake Kardashian sister's wedding or bashing whoever the current Republican not-Romney front-runner is, and forget all about our dead ex-Marine and his family. No one will question why we need military units patrolling our streets and gunning down anyone with the misfortune of being related someone with a twice-removed friend in the drug trade.

And I need to go make the donuts....