Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mega Millions

Nope ---- I am one of the many that decided to take that chance at one of the largest lotto jackpots -- and did not win the jackpot. :-( Nobody won, so it continues to build! Since Florida is not one of the states in the Mega Millions Lotto, I had to call my Mom in Michigan to go buy me five tickets. LOL

Sorry, Mom; can't share that mega winnings with you since my numbers did not win more than $10! Maybe next drawing?!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Busy Week

The last week has been crazy with me working something like 9 out of the last 10 days, plus being on the phone or biking up to the doctor's office whenever I'm not working. Today is the first day I've had to catch my breath and get caught up with all my house-husband stuff.

The doctor issue is two-part. The first is just the usual scrambling that goes with changing doctors. I have no idea why switching doctors is more difficult, time-consuming and expensive than moving from one side of the country to the other, but it's certainly a pain. Then to keep things interesting, my A1C came back so bad (14+) that my doctor nearly sent EMS to the apartment, convinced that I had lapsed into a coma when I didn't call the office back right away. When I told him that the reason I hadn't called until the next day was because I was busy biking the 7-mile distance to my job, he just shook his head. I get that a lot. My other blood work also showed all the markers of final-stage leukemia, which also had him a bit worried, but those all disappeared on retesting, so either it was something transient related to whatever has been killing my lungs since the first of the year, or a lab screw-up. In any case, I seem to have appeased the gods of the medical industrial complex for a few months at least. Maybe now I'll finally have time to bake a couple loaves of bread.

Proportional representation has some downsides compared to the winner-take-all approach we use here in the United States, but one of its major advantages is the opportunity for fringe parties to develop:
Four members of the German Pirate Party have been elected to the Saarland state parliament, the second state in the country in which the party, associated with copyright issues, has gotten a foothold.

Disappointingly, no eye-patches or parrots; just geeks looking to reform copyright law, unlike the  Polish Beer-Lover's Party (or PPPP, no doubt in reference to the fact that you only rent beer), which is exactly what the name would lead one to expect. The Polish Beer-Lover's Party is, alas, no more, the victim of a split between the large- and small-beer factions.

Best Buy is closing another 50 stores and refocusing on being a cell phone reseller. Thus history repeats as Best Buy follows the business model of Radio Shack, which transformed itself about 15 years ago from a store that was actually interesting to enter, into a chain of cell phone kiosks. Way to innovate, Best Buy, and good luck with that.

Bigger picture is the continued implosion of big-box retail as they try to race Amazon to the bottom on price while slashing knowledgeable staff and customer service, the very areas they could give Amazon a serious spanking. But when you view your customers not as fellow human beings, but amorphous blobs of protoplasm labeled "consumers" contributing to the corporate bottom line, it wouldn't occur to you to act any differently.

Speaking of which, it looks like on April 1, Blogger will be forcing everyone to switch to the crappy new "minimalist" design that is supposed to look better on a smartphone or tablet. Having never used either of those, I can't say if the new design meets that goal or not, but on a computer with a real screen, it's like a trip in the way-back machine to how web sites looked in 1994. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

All the yapping about the shooting of Trayvon Martin continues. The county has had to close down its office in Sanford twice in as many weeks due to "rallies" by "supporters" of the Martin family. Meanwhile, in spite of attempts by the local news stations to slant the story in favor of Martin, details continue to leak out that show him as anything but the innocent little Boy Scout victimized by the big bad white dude (who was in fact Hispanic). Meanwhile, the Black Panthers have announced a $10K reward for the location of Zimmerman (the shooter) who has gone into hiding for obvious reasons. Here's the thing: Hispanics as a rule hate blacks with a white-hot hatred, and the feeling is certainly mutual. We had a number of incidents in the ghetto tax prep office between black customers and Hispanic staff as well as between black and Hispanic customers. And I'm sure it didn't go unnoticed by either side that my white cracker self and the Hispanic women were inside the air-conditioned office doing taxes while all the black employees were outside on the side of the road wearing a humiliating costume and waving a sign. Bottom line is that a number of people are attempting to light a fuse in the mistaken notion that the resulting explosion will somehow benefit them. The last thing we need is another long, hot summer.

Well, the bread ain't gonna bake itself. Later.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Our baby elephant was playing shy last time we made a run down to Animal Kingdom, so here's some video of a different one gettin' a bath:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In an Uproar

Sanford is in an uproar over a white guy shooting an unarmed black kid. The details are still murky at best, but that hasn't stopped everyone from Al Sharpton to the Federal Justice Department (who still has utterly failed to even slow down the criminal activity in our major banks) from jumping all over this. Never mind all the other murders, rapes, robberies, car-jackings or even the 108 registered sex offenders in Sanford. A white guy shot a black kid. In an election year!!! So we have protests and calls for resignations and fights in the city council, all before the police even have time to collect evidence and interview witnesses. Nice.

I am once again wondering if the morons in the media or any of the self-appointed "community leaders" have clue one about the damage they cause outside their little gated enclaves? None of which has effected us personally other than the constant yapping on the boob tube. We may have a Sanford mailing address, but we don't live, work, or frankly even drive through Sanford proper now that I no longer work for the ghetto tax prep store.

In spite of the second course of antibiotics and the steroid kicker, I'm still battling whatever is trying to kill me by slow suffocation. Things have improved mostly due to the steroids loosening things up, but I still have a lot of fluid in my lungs and now I have a sinus infection that I picked up while on antibiotics. Sweet. I have an appointment next week to follow up on this and labs, etc. We'll see what the new doc has to say.

Not much else going on. Debbie's work seems to be going in fits and starts with the phones ringing off the hook some days and other days so dead everyone is counting the holes in the ceiling tiles. As usual, the next batch of new-hires will be hitting the floor just as busy season ends; too late to help out when things were crazy and the company was losing customers because everyone was so backed up, but just in time to drive everyone's number into the dirt so management can stop paying bonuses.

The carpet project I was supposed to be working on this weekend was canceled, so now I'm spending my time on "special projects" trying to kill time. Normally, there is no lack of work, but it has been incredibly slow the last week or so. So I dust and scrape old gum and rearrange shelves and "shelf read" (check every single book on the shelves to make sure they are in the correct order) and other fun little bits. No one knows what is going on with the carpet project; the company discovered some problems when doing our branch (the first) and now is trying to renegotiate with the county for more money to do the other library branches the right way. What that means for the quality of the work they did at our branch is fuzzy, but they won't back the work at the other branches unless they get the additional money to do it right. While the county seems to be doing OK budget-wise, I doubt they have several tens of thousands sitting around not allocated to anything as a "just in case" fund.

Well, I have to go start getting ready for a long day of reading Dewey decimal numbers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


The energy is definitely lacking. There has been something attacking my lungs since January. I've had one course of antibiotics already and am now on my second with a massive steroid kicker. It doesn't seem to be getting any better. Maybe I should just go dig my dying hole.

The good news is that I am rid of the ghetto clinic and have a real doctor now, complete with an M.D. after his name and everything! It's like I'm living in the First World or something! I've also started research into getting some of my meds cheaper and discovered another strike against the ghetto clinic/pharmacy. First, they lied about/were ignorant about which of my meds are eligible for discount or free. Second they lied about/were ignorant about how the meds could be delivered to me, insisting I had to pick them up at the ghetto pharmacy, when in fact they could have been delivered directly from the manufacturer to my house. And third, they were marking up meds they were getting for free with a handling charge. Done and done.

Good Tom the Dancing Bug:

Who would have thought we would ever be in such a place. The only "good news" is that Peak Oil will bring an end to much of this nonsense over the next few generations. Not that what replaces it will necessarily be any better, but at least the opportunity will be there.

With my crazy work schedule, we haven't had any time to do much of anything. We did manage a quick trip down to Animal Kingdom on Thursday. It wasn't as much fun as usual what with me stopping to gasp for air every 20 steps or so, but it was still a break from sitting in the ghetto apartment. We were hoping to see Jabali, the baby elephant born last August, but I think Mom is keeping him hid away from the tourists. I caught a quick glimpse of the two of them behind the boulders first thing in the morning, and nothing when we went back later in the day.

Speaking of work, they did manage to get the carpet installed in our branch, although everything was done to screw it up and the job wasn't finished until late Monday. We opened anyway and just had the unfinished parts roped off. Now that it's done, we can hopefully put the library completely back together for the first time since I started volunteering there 18 months ago. And because it was so much fun to do it once, I'm being loaned out to another branch next week so I can do it all again. Wheeee!! At least after that, my schedule goes back to something that approximates normality, although the "Ric never EVER gets a Sunday off even if he requests it" rule still seems to be in effect. We'll see what the next schedule looks like.

And I'm probably getting ahead of things saying this, but we may be moving. Yea, yea; big sooprise: Ric and Debbie are thinking about relocating. We don't have anything at this point other than a vague possibility. And it won't be a long move this time, just a quick relocate to the "good" side of Florida.

And that's all I have for today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bad Day at Goldman Sachs

The current management at Goldman Sachs is probably too busy swimming in the gold coins in their vaults, Uncle-Scrooge-McDuck-style, to notice, but a dark cloud has eclipsed the sun at 200 West Street:

The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

You can read the rest of Greg Smith's exit piece at the New York Times. The response from Goldman Sachs is the usual, "We disagree! We're fabulous people!" The stock market has pushed the stock down a tad so far this morning, but I'm sure that will be corrected fairly quickly. After all, GS is extremely efficient at Hoovering money out of their clients wallets, and I'm certain no op-ed from some disgruntled, former employee will change that.

I'm off to see if a doctor in private practice is any better at 3rd grade math than the "doctor" at the ghetto clinic. While I'm there, I'm going to see if he has some idea why I can't walk the four steps from our living room to the kitchen without getting out of breath.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Stupid! It Burns!!!

First we have the idiot meth-head who burns down a 3,500-year-old tree while using it as her personal drug den, takes pictures of the fire, then posts them on the internet for the entire world to see.

Now we have an idiot pot-head who steals a judge's nameplate while on parole for petty theft, takes pictures of himself posing with his haul, then posts them on the internet for the entire world to see.

Both live in Florida, of course.

I remember with great fondness when connecting to the internet required at least a room temperature IQ.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Davey Jones, RIP

Once again, deliberately avoiding the news caused me to miss the announcement of the death of someone I marginally care about. Davey Jones, one of the four members of the made-for-TV band, The Monkeys, died last week on Leap Day. I was a big fan of the TV show, but in my defense, I was about five.

Anyway, I don't have much else. I never saw them live and never owned any of their albums until I ended up with a reunion double-CD from sometime in the mid-1990's. They were just a TV show I watched after I got home from kindergarten.

If a train leaves Chicago going west at 50mph...

So I was peddling home yesterday into a 20mph wind, barely managing to hold a 9mph average, when it occurred to me that I was really going close to 30mph air speed. If the freaks of physical conditioning in the Olympics get wind-speed adjustments while jumping and running around, why shouldn't a fat, bald 47-year-old guy huffing and wheezing his way home from work?

So yea; I averaged 29.7mph over my 7-mile ride home.

Neil Tyson is one of the most articulate space geeks in human history:

It's not a time-lapse, but you will still want to watch it full-screen and hi-def.

Today is going to be a sort of catching-up-with-stuff-I'm-going-to-get-behind-on-over-the-next-few-days kind of day. If that makes sense. Tomorrow, the library is closing at noon so we can spend the next eight hours trying to relocate several tens of thousands of books while somehow keeping them in the correct order. We all have Friday off so the carpet people can do their thing, then we all come back on noon Saturday so we can move all the books back and be ready to open Sunday at the normal time. So far I've been unimpressed with the planning phase of this little project, but maybe our Fearless Leader will manage to pull it together. Or this could be a major disaster. In either case, my part is simple; "I lift books up and put them down." Life is so much easier when someone else is in charge. In any case, I'm trying to get everything done today (cookies, bread, meals for the next few days, laundry, etc.) that I won't have time for over the next few days.

Well, the no-bakes should be cool enough to peel off the foil, so gotta go.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Politics and Tree Haters

There are two famous trees a couple miles from our apartment, called The Senator and Lady Liberty. I mentioned a while back that we had gone to visit them and took a couple pictures. They are supposed to be a couple of the tallest and oldest trees in Florida, although both were snapped off in a hurricane in 1925. The largest, The Senator, is estimated to be 3,500 years old.

The Senator
I think I also mentioned that a few days after that photo was taken, The Senator had burned to a stump for some unknown reason that most definitely was not deliberate. Every news article had the obligatory quote from some government official that while the cause was still not known, what was known was that the fire was natural, possibly lightning (even though there hadn't been any in some time) or maybe even the wind rubbing a couple branches together.

But with this being Florida and all, you know the real story is going to involve not just stupid people, but stupid people and drugs:

In January, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service initially suspected an arsonist, and also believed that lightning could have caused the fire.

However, through Crimeline tips, they learned Barnes and a friend were inside the tree taking methamphetamine.

Agents said Barnes took pictures of the fire and downloaded the images to her cellphone and computer. Officials said she showed people the images, and said "I can't believe I burned down a tree older then Jesus."

I can't believe even a meth-head would light a fire inside a tree, then post pictures on the internet.

Speaking of tree-haters, I did an amended return using the Intuit software I'm considering using for The Tax Geek thing. When it came time to print the paper copies for the IRS, the client and myself, I knew the software would print a full copy of everything. I only wanted copies of what changed, which amounted to about a dozen pages of paper in total. So I went into the appropriate screen, spending several minutes deselecting all the unnecessary worksheets and forms, did a print preview to make sure of what I was printing, hit the Print button and watched as a three-inch stack of paper came spewing out my printer. Nice.

Why do you hate the planet, Intuit? Why?

I've been trying to stay away from politics, mainly because the entire "conversation" completely misses the point on every subject. I find the entire process not just sickening, but a waste of time I could use to do something more productive, like watching South Park reruns. A perfect example is the current kerfuffle kicked up by one Sandra Fluke, a law student at Jesuit-run Georgetown, who has recently discovered her inalienable right to birth control paid for by someone else. The "conversation" is largely about Ms. Fluke's inability to keep her knickers on vs. her right to be the Georgetown Slut. Jerry Pournelle attempts to steer the conversation back to what is important:

Sandra Fluke’s solution is to demand that taxpayers pay for her contraceptive pills and devices. She can’t afford to have sex because of the risk of pregnancy, and it is up to us to provide her with the wherewithal for contraception. She hasn’t spoken about protection from STD’s but I think it safe to assume she believes we ought to pay for her insurance for treatment of those when they fail. Of course there are contraception means that are also somewhat effective against STD’s, and they are considerably cheaper than the ones Sandra Fluke demands; but apparently the choice of what we pay for is not up to us. Sandra Fluke has a right to indulge in sex when and however she wants, and to the means of contraception that she wants, and it is up to the taxpayers to pay for it.

The real question here is simple: how do you acquire the obligation to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control devices and pills? But in the great flap over her virtue that question seems to have been lost.

This is, of course, the key question regarding a great many things taxpayers pay for. Not can we afford it (an important consideration) or is it constitutional to force people to act against their religious beliefs (another important consideration), but where did I acquire the obligation to be forced to pay for the easily-known consequences of the actions of others? That is the question in nearly any political debating point you care to name, yet is completely absent from public discourse.

Which is why I've gone from being politically active, to the point of once running for public office, to near-complete disengagement. It's difficult to come up with the correct answers, when one is not even allowed to ask the correct questions.

In any case, I'm off to get ready for a short day at work. This weekend, I'm working extended hours to move all the books and other debris out of the way of the carpet people, then move it all back once the new carpet is on the floor. If this goes as well as the painting project did, the library will end up being closed for three weeks instead of three days. Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Light of Stars

As always, play this full screen at high def and crank the volume.

There's No Tomorrow