Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blanket Physics?

I woke up this morning scratching my head...
What in the world happened last night?
How was this possible?

So... I currently have a bed.
I have a mattress, with one of those 'fitted sheets' with a tiny bit of extra quilting. Then the usual "fitted sheet" that comes in every sheet set.
I have 2 pillows.
Then on the outer parts of the bed, I have a sheet, an afghan that my mom made for me a long time ago, and then a quilted comforter (not a big poofy one).
This morning I woke up to find...
My 'normal' fitted sheet had come unhooked from the top corner of my bed, and had slipped about a quarter of the distance in.
My top sheet, was completely shifted in the opposite direction, so that the corner of the sheet was approx where my neck was.
My middle layer of the afghan was also shifted to the left, and had also shifted down to about where my waist was.
My upper layer of the comforter was at the right height but shifted to the right so the corner was also about where my neck was.

What the heck?! Did I get in a fight last night while sleeping? Did those monsters that live under my bed do this just to confuse me?!
How is the physics of moving a middle afghan layer possible? Shouldn't the coverings all shift in the same way?!

I suspect I'll never know the answers to these questions... until the day I reach those pearly gates... that will probably be in my top ten questions to the Creator of the universe... to explain to me the physics of blankets.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jack Kerouac - On the Road

It's about mid December now and I'm in the final days of the year trying to finish one more book. I decided to keep track of all my media consumed in 2009. Which includes: movies in the theater, dvd's, books, and even a couple comic books (oddly I didn't think to include music on that list, which I'm now regretting).
But just a week or so before December, I finished my 13th book, and was afraid that a month to finish a book was cutting it close for me. So I looked at what I had on my kindle and decided to choose a shorter book. I chose Jack Kerouac's "On the Road". While I'm glad it was a short book, and I'm now about it finish it (with abt 2 weeks to spare), I regret that this has been a tedious book! I've plowed through it though, because I knew if I switched books now, I'd never finish another one.
So a review here for those interested...
Having visited family who live in California, I was aware of Kerouac, and have heard his name mentioned in other circles because I've read a few other "travel/road" books. And of course myself skating into the hippy culture from time to time, I'm familiar with the "beat culture", which I think Kerouac is more known for capturing, rather than it being a "travel" book.
So, first the good news and praise.... there are moments in Kerouac's book where he wrote some really great lines. Moments where I was just sort of blown away and thinking, 'THAT was great!". But sadly, these moments were few and far between.
I suspect, that perhaps Kerouac was whacked out himself on some of the drugs he describes in his book (wikipedia says he was an alcoholic). The book skates on the edge of describing the late 1940's and early 1950's drug culture in the beginning, only to end up in the later parts focusing more on the drug induced escapades of Dean and Sal. The best way I have thought to describe his writing style is - scattered. I have to wonder if Kerouac had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Having not read any other Kerouac's books perhaps that was his intentional style because it portrayed the characters that way, but man it was tough to follow at times.
I also have mention this part as it kinda creeped me out a bit... The characters in the book are in their early to late 20's. On more than one occasion, they talk about getting some girls (or gurls as he often spelled it, not sure why). But... Kerouac (or the characters) talk about the young girls... 14-16, and in the later part of the book they visit a whore house with young girls. I don't know if this was normal for that time period, or again, if Kerouac intentionally put this in to make the characters seem more lowly in societies standing (ie: druggies, bums, and sex crazed?). Regardless, I didn't like this aspect of the book.
If this book is a model for the "Beat generation" I'm glad I never got into it.
I'll close with a comment that I read on the Amazon page where people posted various comments and ratings... it seems you either love or hate this book. Lots of people either gave it a one-star or a five-star rating. While hate is a bit harsh for me, I certainly am glad I finished it and can put it behind me.
More about Jack Kerouac here on wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

dusty

Just blowing off all the dust that has accumulated on my blog here.
I forget... how does this work again?

Let see... a topic... I'll just start with something small.
Spam in google mail - It always amuses me when I go to clean out the spam in my gmail account, that the small "google ads" that appear above the main window is always recipes that involve spam. Ok, I admit, I'm easily amused.

another small topic...
A few months ago, I rescued an amazing looking Jade plant that someone had put by the dumpster in my apartment complex. Obviously, they wanted someone to rescue the plant because they put it next to the dumpster and not IN the dumpster. So I brought it home, and placed it on my patio where it has done well. I just tonight, decided it was time to bring it inside for the winter. There is talk of Frost now, and I don't think it would survive.
I hesitate though, because I don't get a lot of daylight in my window, so I HOPE it will survive the 6 months (or so) of winter ahead. Fingers crossed. If anyone has tips on raising a Jade plant please leave me a comment. The only thing I know is they like sun, and they don't need much water.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh the Irony...

The other night I was flipping through the channels and landed upon Faux News. Sean Hannity was on (I can only take about 5 minutes of his show at a time).
The latest "scandal du jour" was regarding the group called ACORN.
While I'm in no way defending the out and out wrong actions of a select few of the ACORN employees, I still had to smile at the irony of Hannity's comments...
A little backstory...
A young man and young woman used an undercover disguise of a prostitute and her pimp to catch ACORN employees in the act of allegedly providing tax evasion advice (among other bad advice and possibly illegal advice). This couple used a hiden camera to record the events, and have been releasing the footage a bit at a time to the Fox news network (who is reveling in playing it over and over again).
Back to last night's show...
Sean Hannity made a comment something to the effect of "Journalism is dead in 2009" - now on the one hand I absolutely get his point... it took two younger "kids" (I think they are around 20). to land a MAJOR news story and they put the major networks and reporters to shame in doing so. On a budget of about $3000 they managed to break this story. So Sean's point is right on in that sense. (yes - you read that right - I'm agreeing with Hannity!).
Now here's where the Irony comes into play...
The new footage last night featured an ACORN employee apparently BRAGGING about killing her ex-husband! Shocking right?! I was. Hannity even mentioned something about - "did anyone check this out yet?" - the young woman danced around the issue and didn't really give a good answer. I thought 1) Here we have Hannity a "news reporter" on a "News network" asking the same kid if she had investigated the ACORN woman's claims.
Now... today, I learn (via the intertubes)... apparently the entire "bit" of the woman bragging about killing her ex-husband was a made up story! She claimed in an interview, that she "knew" that these kids were "playing her" so she decided to "play back" and make some wild claims of her own. IT even garnered a visit from the local police to investigate the woman in her claims of shooting her Ex - to which they found no evidence of.
So here we have a "news reporter" airing an amateur video claiming that "journalism" is dead, when if Hannity (or his co-workers) had done an ounce of investigating themselves before releasing the story, they would have found out that the woman's claims were false.
Irony.

Again - for the sake of making a point - I'm not condoning ACORN's bad employee's at all. I think what they did in several of the other video's is completely wrong. The ACORN group obviously needs to clean up their act.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

facebook privacy - new

For those of you who know me, I'm not crazy over the privacy (or lack of) options on facebook. I have created an account, but I am still leery, and have not filled out much information about myself on their website other than my email and name.
Well, last night, I signed on, and discovered something new and slightly disturbing... In the top panel of the screen, facebook often times "recommends" people that you might wish to become friends with. In the past this didn't bother me because basically, it would just take "friends of a friend" and suggest them - for example... I am friends with my sister. She is friends with "mrs. x" - so facebook says to me: Do you know "Mrs. x"? Not really a big deal.
Last night, I was surprised to see who they recommended to me. Yes, I knew the guy. BUT we have NO connections via facebook at all. I started to wonder, how could facebook have made the connection that I know this guy - I'll call him "Mr. y" - I started thinking... do any of my current facebook friends know him? No. Then how? Then I realized... the ONLY way... was because I have emailed Mr. y a few times. SO.... Either facebook is reading my email contact list (which I have not given them permission to do)... or facebook has accessed my friends email contacts and then found that it matched my email that they had on file. Now that's kinda creepy for a second if you think about it. Lets say I add some random emails to my email contacts... like stevejobs@apple.com - obviously Steve may not want the world to know he has a facebook profile. But thanks to facebook now, I might be able to learn his facebook identity.
I don't know... I think facebook has crossed yet another line on this one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

strange neighbor

I'm confused with how to deal with this topic...
On one hand I want to appear neighborly, and on the other hand I want nothing to do with this guy...
Story: For the past 7 month (perhaps a year?) I've had a new neighbor that lives a few doors down from me (not sure exactly which apartment he lives in). He's a strange looking fella... skinny, blond hair, perhaps in his mid 50's, though I suspect he might be younger than he looks, and that his 'life experiences' have aged him prematurely. He kinda looks like an ugly version of Tom Petty (I know, that's not saying much, apologies). He has an odd habit... he walks the parking lot almost constantly with shorts and no shirt on. I'm not sure if he's on disability, but I don't think he works, and he walks with a strange limp - not to mention about 1/4 the speed of an average walking pace. Well, I've passed him in the past, and I always try to keep my distance from him. Just one of those 'gut feelings' that I can't explain that the guy's bad news. Well, about 2-3 weeks ago, I cracked... I walked out to take my garbage to the dumpster, and he was out strolling. I finally acknowledged him just by giving him a "head nod" as if to say "hey, what's up" without actually saying the words. Boom... that's all he needed for an invite. A few days later he approached me as I was headed out somewhere, and proceeded to tell me that he used to have long hair (which I do - what's left of it anyway). He went on to say that he had long hair up until one day when some strangers stopped on the side of the road thinking he was a girl - so he cut it off.
Um... great. You're telling me this why? Are you calling me a girl? Are you trying to say you're 'cooler' than me cause you cut it? I didn't get it, nor did I wish to find out. I simply laughed, nodded, then went on my way.
Tonight, he cornered me again...
He asked me what I did for a living and what hours I worked, because he noticed my vehicle in the parking lot is always out there in the morning and that I usually come home late. Yes, I said, I have odd hours (without telling him what I did for a living). Then he said, "Oh you mean you work the 'lazy a$$' second shift?" - Um... yeah I said, if you say so.
So now he's basically called me a girl, and a "lazy a$$" - how's that for neighborly?
Actually, I guess I just answered my question. I think I'll go back to ignoring him. If I just have to 'nod' and acknowledge him and leads him to insulting me - I guess the answer is pretty obvious. But I'm not that type of person, so I'll continue to fight with this internally - AND I'm also aware too that this is 'twice' now that he's spoken with me, and with each time it will get easier to bring up things to talk about. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vocabulary Test


A little back story first... While on twitter, one of folks I follow was talking about a FREE e-book that he just got for his Kindle. I have enjoyed his tweets, so I thought, 'it's free - why not give it a try'. I finished the book last night and I have to say it was one of the toughest books I've read in as long as I can remember. It seemed like every other page, I was coming across a word that I didn't know the meaning of! Luckily the Kindle has a "built-in" dictionary, and I obviously took advantage of that feature. In my defense... the book was written around 1911, and it was originally written in French, so some of the words have a French origin.
But I'm curious: out of these 86 words, how many do you know the meaning of?
(also, some of the words, I was able to deduce the meaning of based on the context, but even so I marked it as a word I didn't know). (also: any misspellings are from the book).
Oh - and if you're interested... you can download the book here. I found it a good read overall (the ending kinda fell apart for me only due to an increase of character names and I was getting a bit lost).
>>>
munificent
remunerated
coign
vexation
chit
copse
presentiment
escritoire
circumlocutions
pretermitted
vouchsafed
gendarme
peremptory
navvies
quietened
crapulous
monomania
paroxysms
adduce
efface
dentelated
pilules
peremptorily
képi
impassivity
fastidiousness
wen
equipage
felloes
perambulator
rushes
mien
pursy
squireens
ulster
disquisition
obloquy
deferent
abstracted
impudence
conciliate
abdicate
expiate
peremptory
throve
anodynes
unctuous
evinced
discomfited
ministrations
interminable
libations :one of my favorites
evincing
potations
unctuously
garrulity
peremptorily
brooked
alighted
jemmy :one of my favorites
vouchsafed
peccadillo
privations
adroitly
plucky
major-domo
paroxysm
peripatetic
warder
blenched
acclivity
soliloquising
vituperation
calumny
Bosh
Torquemada
lorgnettes
adducing
Proteus
perfunctorily
deprecatingly
inveterate
callow
toffs :one of my favorites
lugubrious

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Mall

Today I took a trip over to the local mall. I have not been there in quite some time so it was interesting to see how things changed. I used to frequent this mall regularly in most cases to eat at the food court. They had a big array of restaurants and I enjoyed "people watching". Well, the first change was that the food court moved. Some of the same names there, but also quite a few were missing from the lineup. It seemed like a more condensed version of how I remembered it. Now, perhaps, it was a HOT Sunday afternoon, but it also seemed very crowded. I have a feeling people were there just sucking up the free air conditioning (and it was nice and cool there, I admit). The main reason I went there is that I thought I might get my new eye-glass prescription fulfilled at the Lenscrafters (which is where I got my glasses about 4 years ago). At the same time, I wanted to see what their selection of Rx Sunglasses were and to check out the prices. Wow. That was a bit of a setback. JUST to get new lenses into my existing frames... $325!!! Suddenly I can see much better today! For a "cheap" pair of sunglasses the prices started at $119 for the frames, and went up from there. Needless to say, I walked out of there to re-think my options. I'm still not sure what I'll do now.
Back to the mall...
One of the things that struck me most about all the shops (some new some old)... MOST of the shops are geared to the younger crowd. Hard to pinpoint an age, but I'll say late teens to mid 20's. I actually started to feel 'old' as I was walking around!
One other observation... I thought while I was there, I might as well check the Apple Store there. It was PACKED with people! But as I looked around, it was packed with kids! I mean like 12-15 year old! At one point, the iphones on display were all being "played" with by little kids!? Other teens were just surfing the web, one kid was watching "ultimate wrestling" online. It was like a day care center in there or something. So throw in all the hustle and bustle, the loud music, and I just couldn't wait to get out of the store!
So maybe it is a sign I'm getting older, but I doubt I'll be headed back to the mall any time soon (unless I do decide to get the sunglasses there - but I won't be "shopping").

edit: This was just a great coincidence, I had to update this post...
As I talk about the younger kids hanging out in the apple store, I have seen this youtube clip (and soon to be internet star (if he isn't already)) popping up all over the place.
I admire this kids creativity and his ability to make a name for himself at his local apple store.
So enjoy a little "Boom Boom Pow" lip sync from Nicholifavs...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Verizon and FIOS

I'll try to keep this short.
I decided to call Verizon this morning to see if I could take care of a problem that has been annoying me. My neighborhood had FIOS installed about a year ago (perhaps longer). Almost once a week, I get a mailer (sometimes 2!) encouraging me to switch to FIOS. I can't believe the money they've wasted on these mailings to me, not to mention all the dead trees, ink, etc... I tried calling about a month ago to get them to remove my name from the mailing list. Oddly enough, the man told me he could do that, but then just after I gave him my name, I was disconnected. Irony?
I thought, well he had my name, and my phone number so he should have the right information to complete my request. No. A month later, and I'm STILL getting a mailer a week. So I decided to try again.
I spoke with a VERY nice and polite woman. I really tip my hat to her. (note: I think I got a nice person, because I called the "sales" line, and not the tech support). She agreed she could do that, and apologized for the mulitple mailings. Great!
It all went well, that I decided to take care of the next issue with her...
I signed up for Verizon DSL about 2-3 years ago. At the time, I got a price of about $29.99 if I agreed to a one year term. Fine. I didn't really pay attention to the data rate because it was the only one they had. Since that time, my friend and relative who signed up within the year, they had an option of a 1MB plan for $17.99 (which they now have raised to $19.99) OR a 3MB plan for $29.99.
Well, I've been checking my speeds and I'm only getting about 1.5MB, so I thought, I must be on an old plan.
I asked the woman all of the above, and she confirmed that she could switch me to the 3MB plan for $29.99 - GREAT! But....
Tonight I get home, and check my speeds... again, it's still at 1.5MB. I call up again to find out what happened.
Over an hour and a half on the phone, I talked to a customer service rep, who transfered me to tech support, who said there was nothing he could do, because my plan still said 3MB OR 1.5MB - and I had to take the issue back up with customer service. ugh.
I called back, and spent another 30 minutes on the phone (with another nice woman), and long story short, she says she was able to switch me to the 3MB/1.5MB plan.
Really verizon?! These are the plans you offer for $29.99?
1) a 3MB OR 1.5MB
2) a 3MB/1.5MB
Seriously?

Note the use of the plan names... it's not "up to" 3MB it's presented as an "either, or" - how can this be possible?

Verizon - you're at the top of my list now. You have made Comcast look good today. Ugh.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

small rant...

It amazes me now how the time gets away from me regarding this here blog...

So a small rant I wanted to get off my chest.
My new pet peeve is companies who CHANGE their product.
I am a creature of habit. I admit that. I don't like change. I understand all the points behind it though; learning to adapt, exploring the world, growing as a person, etc...
I've gotten used to (and enjoy) the same type or flavor of Lance Crackers every morning for breakfast (except weekends). They are a Swiss Cheese flavor - though they taste NOTHING like Swiss cheese. But I enjoy them. Well, about 3 months (perhaps longer) ago, Lance crackers phased out that particular flavor! I since learned that they were introducing new flavors that involve a new "whole wheat" cracker - and big surprise - they cost more. Now I must adapt to these new flavors, which I don't like as much.
Then to top that off... the local supermarket where I get them... has just stopped carrying them! They only have a "keebler" ones which to me are horrible because their cracker parts are too sweet. So now, I have to find a new grocery store that sells lance crackers. I did notice the other day that the local "club store" carries Austin brand wheat crackers so perhaps I'll give that a try next time I'm low.
I'll throw out another one though I hope it's not too personal...
Underwear! I am picky about the type of clothes I like mostly regarding fit and fabric (I don't care "as much" as what they look like, as long as they are comfortable). When I find a brand I like, I usually stick with it. So a couple weeks ago, I went out to pick up some replacement undies, so I went back to the store I got them at last time, and picked out the same ones. I bring them home, try them on next time, and they feel different. Here, I look at the label and they are 95% cotton, and 5% Spandex!?!?! Grr. So 90's! :) So now, what do I do, do I have to start the search for a whole new brand name now? What made them decide to change the fabric percentages?!
So companies out there... don't be so quick to change products. There are such things as loyal customers.
Ok, that feels better now.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Kindle - first impressions


Yep, I got myself a Kindle! Well, with help from some recent birthday gift certificates that is...
I've been eyeing these things for quite some time now. But I could never justify the price. While I very much enjoy reading, I tend to do my reading before bed each night which means I usually only get a few pages in per night before Mr. Sandman clunks me over the head. BUT I do love books. In fact, I admire others who have or make more time for reading. I am making an effort to increase my reading time as well.

So first let me say, there are some things that trouble me regarding a Kindle.
1) I've never had an issue where I couldn't read anything because I had a dead battery.
2) I've never dropped my entire bookcase to the point where if I did, I wouldn't be able to read those books anymore.
3) I'm very troubled by the tight grips that Amazon is building into their Kindle format.
4) I don't like the high costs of the Kindle editions (on some books - other books are FREE!)

But... I received mine yesterday morning, and upon opening it, and getting to know it as the day progressed, I felt like I was holding a magical device.
It seems to be VERY nicely designed which is important for a device like this. As I was unpacking it (which the packing is really nicely done as well), I couldn't help but notice a heavy "Apple" influence. (Learn from the best).
The device is a tad heavier than what I expected, but it's certainly a good weight.
I so far have "purchased" only one book - which was a wopping ¢99! It was Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" (I started to read this book some time ago, but never finished it). I've also "purchased" a handful of the FREE books. (I had to laugh as many of the "top sellers" are FREE books - I suspect that is because people who buy a Kindle can't afford to buy books anymore!)
There is defintely going to be a price war ahead (happening now!). People are NOT going to want to spend more than the $9.99 base price. They view an e-book as not being as expensive as a paper book (I do anyway). But I'm sure in due time the prices will even out.

As far as readbility and navigation etc...
The e-ink is very nice. The only complaint is that the background is a tad too dark in my opinion. IF Amazon were smart, they would not have made the unit a stark bright white. It only emphasizes that the "paper" is about 40% gray. They should have made the unit a dark gray (abt 80% which would have given the illusion of a brighter "paper". So far though, It is very readable though (I've heard some people complain of eyestrain on long periods).
The navigation is nice, but I think it could use a little work. I'm sure though, once I get the hang of what the buttons do, I'll adapt and it won't be an issue (for example, I tend to want to use the 5-way button to turn pages).

All in all, a really nice device, and I hope to get many hours of enjoyment from it.
One last comment... this is only the "second generation" Kindle... and it's only been out for a little over a year or so (meaning the first gen Kindle). I'm aware that soon my unit will be out of date, but such is the price to pay for adopting new technology.
I will enjoy it for a long time I'm sure.
(note, I'm STILL using my second gen. ipod and like it very much!)

Oh... one more thing... the images they have while the unit is in sleep mode are fantastic! The levels of gray are enough to do justice to a black and white image.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

political comment

Sometimes the web can make you feel good.

I find myself on twitter a lot. I enjoy seeing.hearing what people who I choose to "follow" are doing. One of those reasons is because I tend to pick people who I find interesting. So it's a sort of self-fulling loop.
One of those persons that I chose to follow is a republican. Not just a regular republican but a right wing republican with his own blog and his own video blog. I can't recall where I discovered this person and how I came about following him. But I enjoy keeping an ear on what "the other side" is up to. I don't comment on his tweets, and usually I don't comment on his blog posts. I feel like it's not my place to be the "troll" on his thoughts and opinions. By all means he's free to post what he believes in. But... (You knew there was a but coming right? :)
The other day, I read a post on his blog. It was (I think) by another person as it was listed under commentary. The title of the blog was something like "Why I'm through with the Republican party". It was a short post actually. Only 8 paragraphs. I read through the 7 paragraphs and they all were criticisms of the current party and basically pointing out how they are not the voice of a "true conservative" anymore. I even found myself agreeing with some of his/her points. But then... In the last paragraph, he starts with "But I will continue to support the Republican party..." (there was a vague disclaimer attached to that sentence something like if they act like how they promised on the campaign trail).
I couldn't believe it. Here was a poignant expression about how the GOP is losing it's way, and it ends with the author claiming he'll still support the party?! I couldn't help myself to post a comment. I tried to be respectful, and not use personal attacks (like so many internet comments), but I also pointed out how I didn't understand the thinking and and logic.
I went back today, to check the blog post to see if I had raised the ire of all the other Rep's on that site. I was expecting to get an earful, but much to my surprise the article is not there. Earlier today, I got an error that said the website is being re-designed so perhaps it was just a technical glitch, and once the web designer gets around to it, he'll fix the link, but for now, I can't help but wonder... did I have anything to do with the pulling of the article because they read the article and said "gee, he's right, that doesn't make any sense".
I'll try to remember to check over the next few days and see if it reappears. If it does, I'll update this post.
(note: I realize I'm being vague, and not listing the blog. I don't want to drive either other Reps or Dems and start a comment flame war.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Funny photo | SF compost


This morning I read over on the Inhabitat blog that San Francisco has jut made it a "law" (seems odd to think of this as a law) that the city will now add mandatory composting to their waste management. I applaud this effort (though I'm a little confused how it all will work - I'm sorry, I can't see how this will a) Not smell! (because people will not know what is the right thing to compost or not, and because people are lazy (and/or stupid) and they'll just put anything they want into the compost catagory) and b) not attract rodents.
But hopefully they have it all figured out - because I know first hand - no wait, I guess it's "second hand" that my ma also composts for their small backyard garden. It's really a good thing.

All of the above said... when I looked at the photo above, I just had to laugh at the guy in the lower right hand side. He's just got his head down, and is pinching his nose as if he has the worst tension headache. I can just imagine him as one of the mayor's advisers and he's thinking to himself, 'THIS will be a disaster!' :)

(if you can't see it, you can click on the image to enlarge it).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran Election thoughts...

First off, let me admit I am not following the Iran Election events closely. But that being said, I have a few thoughts I want to throw out there...
I am very much into twitter now as a means of communication, mini-blogging, and in general keeping an eye on whats going on in the world. A trend I see on twitter is people making their avatar green to show support for the Iranian people who are protesting for democracy and legitimate elections. I have refrained from taking part on this bandwagon. For fear of sounding callous (which I'm not), I don't see the point. In fact, someone on twitter said it nicely... "it's like putting the yellow ribbons on our trees and cars to show support for the troops". It's a superficial sign that shows what you think, rather than actually helping in a meaningful way. Again, if you are supporting the Iranians and want to show solidarity that's great, but I would hope that the people doing this are also doing more than just changing their avatars.
Another item that I really just noticed today (Sunday), is that the republicans are now using this event to criticize Obama. You have two lines of critiques... one: He's meddling in other countries affairs too much, or two: he's not doing enough. The cry today coming from the right wing is that he's not doing enough. Yet, I hear them claim this but I don't hear what it is they want him to do. In my opinion, he's handling it well for the moment. He's raised concern over the legitimacy of the election, and condemned any violent behavior and at the same time praised the protestors for peacful demonstrations. That to me sounds like the right thing to do. It's up to their lawmakers and lawenforcers to determine if the election has been rigged or not. We (as a country) should stay out of their affiars. I think back to when our election was possibly stolen in When our president was "appointed" by the Supreme Court. I would not have listened to another countries leader regarding the election.
So, I'll continue to follow this news with some minor interest. I support the Iranians who are passionate enough to protest (matter of fact, WE should learn a lesson from them if our election is ever called into question again). I hope the people in Iran continue to demonstrate peacfully, and I hope it is all resolved in a favorable way that is best for the Iranian people.
(disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind on any of this upon learning further information).

Friday, June 19, 2009

not much to say

no really... I've been trying to think about something to blog about for the past couple days and nothing has struck me.
I'm enjoying the time spent now visiting with "west coast" family as they are in town now for their vacation.
I'm still keeping an eye on political stuff, but to be honest I'm also trying to take a brake from all the mud slinging and negativity.
I'm sort of in mid-limbo on my hobbies - mostly frustrated with my whole lack of space in my small apartment to do anything.
I guess the only bit of good news is that I FINALLY got around to shelling out the money to buy two new tires for my truck. I've needed them for a while, yet kept postponing it until I made up my mind about keeping my truck or selling it and gettting a Prius. I still want a prius, but I'm not ready to go into debt again just yet (or deplete my savings to buy a car). So the new tires will buy me some more time to make up my mind.
So that's about it for now.
I hope to have more intersting topics soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

cartoon


I don't recall where on the internet I found this one - Sorry for not giving attribution.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

kid on a plane...

I just remembered another small story about my plane ride home from vacation.
I had a transfer in PHX Arizona, and when I got on the plane, I was sitting about the 4th row back.
People were filing into the plane as we were boarding.
Then there was a small gap in the flow of people, and the stewardess (or is it hostess? I forget what the PC term is now)... brings on a younger kid. I'm guessing him to be around 8 years old perhaps. So she seats him two rows in front of me in a middle seat between two other women.
She fills out some paperwork and the plane continues to board, and in a short amount of time, we're off and on our way.
I don't recall exactly when it happened but it was around the time when the "Flight attendants" (That's the PC term!) start to get ready for the first round of drinks and peanuts. I placed my order for a tomato juice (no ice), and I'm waiting (like the rest of the plane) to be served our little cup of beverage. I'm not really paying attention, just sort of looking forward, when I see something move at the top of the chair that the kid is in... What the? It's brown and scaly! It's literally slithering! First thing to pop in my mind is Samuel Jackson Cursing about Snakes on a PLANE! And how could this be happening - Just like the movie!?
Then all of a sudden the snake's head appears and it's obviously fake - whew :)
The guy who was the row in front of me (who would be directly behind the kid) let out a big sigh too - I think he might have been actually scared. The flight attendant walked past, then started joking with the kid about his "real snake" - yeah! Laugh it up kid!
Luckily the kid had no other surprises in store, but there for a second, I was fooled, and couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Karma is calling...

Ring Ring - Karma is calling.

This little story is going to haunt me for some time now until I can find a way to rectify it.
This past week I was on vacation. I went to the west coast to visit family and take in the sights and sounds of sunny California. I had an awesome time (as always). (One of the highlights was seeing a press conference with Arnold "The Governator" himself! It was a situation we just sort of lucked into by chance and it was pretty cool. I hope to post photos soon.)
But the story is this...
As I left California I had a connecting flight in Phoenix AZ. I arrived at PHX only to learn my flight had been delayed an hour. I didn't let it bother me at all, and took the time to eat my sandwich (that my sis made for me with some extra surprise goodies) at the little kids table that happened to have some old Popeye cartoons playing. (it was funny actually, here I am sitting on these little stools meant for kids eating my lunch and watching cartoons, and behind me was another TV with a story I was hearing in the background of how a man was recently shot... I conciously made the effort to tune it out, and enjoyed my Popeye.)
After lunch, I wandered over to my gate, and sat down to wait. As I approached my seat, I looked down and saw that someone had dropped a $1. Cool! I asked the guy sitting one chair away, if he lost a $1 - the expresion on his face was priceless. It was as if I wanted to come up with a story about how it was his, but his mind just froze so he said "no". I asked the other guy on the other side of me, if it was his, and he just said no. Woohoo!
But then... As I was sitting there, I noticed a small black object under the chair across from me. It looked like it might be a cell phone but I wasn't entirely sure. I wasn't ready yet to get down on my hands and knees to go reaching for a piece of plastic trash like off of some luggage or something. Just as I was getting up the nerve to crawling for it, this young guy walks in front of me and sits down. Ugh, I really don't want to ask this guy to move now, just so I can crawl under his chair. I sit patiently and wait for him to get up. The more I look at it, the more I'm convinced it's a cell phone. The kid across from me was a strange one. He was dressed in a skull shirt, had a big skull metal belt buckle on (that he was mighty proud of cause he was polishing it and meticulously tucking in his shirt so it was visible.) He had on some Skull "Van" Sneakers and carried around two drumsticks covered in electrical tape. The kid also had a heavy brow which gave him a neanderthal look, with messy blonde hair. He proceeded to start taking stuff out of his small duffle bag. mostly clothes. He seemed oblivious that I was watching him closely, or for that matter, that there were even other people around him (it was very crowded for some reason). This kid fascinated me, and disgusted me at the same time. As he was dumping his clothes on the floor, he picked up a pair of underwear (presumably his!) and smelled them! Who does this? Sure, I might have picked up a shirt that I had laying on my floor when I was a teen to smell the pits to see if it was dirty or clean, but underwear? No way. He repacked his bag, then proceeded to really dig his finger into his nostril like there was no tomorrow. Not just once either. I was thinking to myself, does this kid have any social skills at all?!
He then bends over to pick up more of the clothes when he lets out a 'gasp' and grabs the cell phone! I was like a deer in headlights! What do I do now? Do I confront this mentally unstable guy? I watch him, in the hopes that he'll do the right thing and turn it into the desk for "lost and found". He starts looking all around. Then once he's sure no one is looking he opens the phone and starts pushing buttons (didn't make a call). I still didn't know what to do, and then realized I had let too much time slip by to say anything. I SO wanted to just say to him "I saw that, and hope you'll do the right thing and return the phone." But I didn't.
Shortly later, he picked his stuff up, and walked over to the wall near his gate and sat down and started playing with his drum sticks. I thought maybe he was drumming along to the music playing on his ipod... then I realized, he didn't have any headphones in. He was just "air drumming" like crazy.
Eventually, they announced that the flight he was waiting for was transfered to a different gate and he got up and left.
I so wanted to tell someone, but chickened out for fear of getting involved.
All I could imagine was how some innocent person was going to have all sorts of problems with their lost phone. Possible billing issues if the kid decided to run up the phone bill, or worse yet, get all the contact information out of the phone. I felt really bad for not doing the right thing, and acting faster when I saw it.
I fear now that someday that karma train will come around and get me back for this. As I was sitting in the airport wondering how it would hit me (ie: would I lose my phone now too?!), I thought - wait a second... if I believe in Karma, then that means the person who lost their cell phone must have also done something wrong! So the karma train was gettin back at HIM and not ME! :)
I know I still should have acted sooner or said something, and this will haunt me for a long time now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

politics and mindset


Wow, is this the longest I've gone without posting to my blog?
I think it is. My apologies.

So, first this little story...
The other day I was driving into work. I was leaving the ramp from one highway and merging onto a new highway. As I did, this little green car that was behind me on the ramp got impatient with me, and quickly accelerated past me in the "fast lane". In what like to call a "karmic moment" (or would that be "Carmic" - Sry - couldn't resist), no sooner did he pass me, that the light up ahead turned yellow then red. So needless to say, as he was sitting at the light, I pulled up along side of him. As I did though, I noticed his bumper stickers... There were three...
The first one said: Put Locks on Criminals - Not GUNS.
The second one said: Fight Crime - SHOOT BACK.
The third one... it was one of those "Jesus Fish" with a cross inside of it.
I just had to shake my head and smile.
It's funny how a "christian" can read and interpret whatever they want out of the bible... or is it selective picking and chosing of what to believe. I digress... I wanted so much to get in a debate with that person and ask him, "What about Jesus' quote about if a person takes your jacket, offer him your shirt?" - or perhaps "Turn the other cheek" - or even more general "how does forgiveness factor into your bumper sticker philosphy?" I decided not to cause he'd probably shoot me :)

This is sort of related, but perhaps it deserves another post... nah...
Later that same day, I was surfing the web, and I stumbled upon a website that sold these other bumper stickers... they were designed like typical "election" bumperstickers (ie: red white blue, bold letters, etc...) It said "Republicans for Voldemort" - ha! I found it here.
I smiled... but then it hit me...
I know a few Repblicans and conservatives. I have gotten into debates with them over certain topics, and usually I end up kinda scratching my head, and wondering "how can they think that?" as I'm sure they do the same to my thoughts and opinions. There are certain topics that we see things in complete opposites! Then that's when it hit me... perhaps there are other things that we see as complete opposites... Do republicans root for Voldermort to win against Harry Potter? Do they root for Darth Vader to win against his battle with Luke Skywalker? Did they laugh when Old Yeller... I can't even say that one. I wonder how many movies out there where their morals and judgements are so opposite to mine that they root for "the bad guy"?

(and yes... I'm trying to be funny here. I don't really think Rep's root for Vader or Voldemort, though I'm sure some of them do ;)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek

Just a short movie review here: Go see it! Perhaps, I'll go more into it at a later time, as I have a few observations that perhaps I am the only one who noticed such things (well, on one item anyway).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Swine flu h1n1


Just a small observation I thought of this morning.
I'm still not too worried about this "swine flu" which apparently is now being called the H1N1 virus. At the same time, I am watching this story, and I am "concerned".
I have started to follow @cdcemergency on twitter and occasionally I'll check ouot their official webpage of info here to check on the latest numbers.
But this morning I realized...
Some of those number represent people who have had the virus, and by now are also probably on the mend as they say. It's been about a week and I suspect some of the first patients are now on the road to recovery and doing better now. But to look at the chart of numbers coming out, the numbers will never go down (unless they change the practice), which will make the numbers appear more worrisome than need be.

I replied to the CDC on twitter suggesting they incorporate my idea, but did not recieve a reply. I suppose they know what they are doing better than I. I just think it's a valid point though.

Stay healthy everyone, and take those extra precautions now to avoid getting sick.

Tech Tags:

[edit: 5/4/09 fixed typo in title not swin flue swine flu]

Friday, May 01, 2009

conspiracy kook


A quick post...
I have C-span on in the background this morning as I am surfing the web. They are accepting call-ins about the news today of justice retiring from the Supreme Court (which means Obama will get to pick one.) It is the usual stream of public calls, where every now and then you get someone who has an "alternative" idea... this guy just called in, and was saying something about how Bush stole the election in 2000 via the supreme court, or rather with their help. Then he mentioned a name of a person who was killed (I didn't catch the name)... the host of C-span (I think it's Peter Slen), had a smirk on his face like "here we go" - The host then asked a question something like "well, why haven't we ever heard of this guy before, wouldn't that be on the front page?" To which the man said that the media is controlled by the Gov. So the host said, "Sir, where do you get your information?"
The man said "The internet."
The host let loose a larger smirk, you could easily read his mind as saying 'here we go, an internet kook'.
Then the man clarified and said he listens to "Democracy Now" (Which USED to be on my cable TV, but has recently been canceled). Democracy Now is still available online.
Now here's the kicker that prompted this post...
The host then says "Democracy Now? We just interviewed Amy Goodman a little while ago, and you can watch that interview on our website."
Ha! So, this "kooky conspiracy" guy gets laughed at (well, smirked at) for gathering his news info online, to which your response is "you can get more of OUR news on the internet."


Friday, April 17, 2009

Long time

I just realized it's been a while since I posted anything. I guess not much to talk about :)
I thought maybe I'd add a little of my thoughts regarding the recent "tea parties" the other day.
The events were on April 15th - to coincide with Tax day. I believe it was only around the 13th that I had heard anything about these tea parties. I was surfing the channels and stopped in to see what Fox "news" was talking about and that's when I learned about them. So the next day, I emailed my conservative buddy to ask him what the story was behind the events. From my web surfing, it sounded like Glenn Beck had a lot to do with promoting the event(s). My buddy is a big Beck fan. My first question was: Is this a republican/conservative thing or is it for everyone? He replied it was for anyone. So I started looking further into the events. I thought it odd, that I kinda have a finger on the pulse of politics, I've got my internet sources, I watch the news channels a little each day, yet I had not heard anything about these tea parties. As I dug further, I kept seeing that the only people talking about these events were the right wing media. People like Glenn Beck, The entire FOX talking heads line-up really, and the right wing blogger Michelle Malkin. I could not find one "left wing" or even "middle wing" group talking about the events. I started to think perhaps my friend was not being totally up front with me. I questioned him on this... his reply was something like "well, anyone is allowed to attend". Okay, I get it now. I thought of the analogy, that it's like a Christian Easter celebration... sure anyone is "allowed" to attend, but since the message is about the resurrection, chances are that you're not going to get many Jewish or Muslim folks showing up.
On the day of the event, I was skimming the web for news updates. A lot of photos I saw that showed a large crowd with banners and signs and T-shirts had some slogans that were anti-obama. Yet, I was still hearing claims on Fox that this was a "bi-partisan" event.
I watched the coverage on TV when I got home on Fox, and noted some of the "personalities" that were speaking at the events... the entire fox news commentators were scattered around the the different cities. Then there were guys like "Tim Rich" who is a country western singer, who I can only assume is a Rep/Con because he was friends with Hannity. There was former Rep Presidential candidate "Mike Huckabee" sitting next to "Neil Boortz" and they were promoting the "fair tax" issue. At another city was Newt Gingrich. My point here again, I didn't see any "middle of the road" personalities, and I certainly didn't see any Left wing speakers.

The reason I bring all this up - to be clear, I'm not against some of the messages (of which there were a lot of topics), I'm certainly not against the idea of people gathering to protest something they believe in! What interests me (and scares me a little) was how this event came about. Here you have the Fox news organization who were doing a tricky dance and carefully choosing their words... they made it a point to say they were not "promoting" the event, they were just "covering" the event because it was news worthy. But the genius of that, was that it was a self fulfilling prophecy - in that, it only became news worthy when the news covered it :) I really give them credit for thinking like this. It was a brilliant way to "manipulate" a bunch of people into believing this was a "grass roots" event. Yes, I know, there is a certain element of this that WAS grass roots. But the websites put up to organize the event were Republican/Conservative groups, then the fox news promoting it as newsworthy, was the perfect formula to get people to show up.

One final comment, cause this is MUCH longer than I anticipated.
I found the message and the timing of this event rather... ironic (I think that's the correct word).
For 8 years, we were under a republican president who has set several records on the amount of spending that he has done, the amount of debt that he caused the country to fall into, the initial bailout plan, the growth of government, etc... all the things that I would have thought would raise the ire of the Rep/Conservative members. But not once did they "demonstrate". Then... you have a Democratic President elected into office who cut the taxes on 95% of the American public (including MANY of the protestors), and yet the demonstrators were full of angry signs against Obama. I'd love to see a statistic to see how many of those demonstrators voted for McCain where they would of had higher taxes. Yep, I think Irony is the right word.


Perhaps Jon Stewart sums it up in his typical way...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Nationwide Tax Protests
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Monday, April 06, 2009

Movie: Duplicity


I'm naming my blog post of this as if it were a movie review (which I will include), but that's not the main point I want to address... more on that in a bit...

The movie Duplicity: It just didn't cut it for me. My biggest complaint was that it ended up being too complicated. It is another corporate espionage film with some twists and turns, that ends up twisting and turning so much that I didn't know which way was up. I'm really getting tired of films that jump around in time so many times. Sure there are benefits to flashbacks, but to have one after another, to try and explain a story is not conducive to good story-telling.
As I spoke with my friend afterward we both agreed that Julia Roberts looked a little (to use his word) bedraggled. In fact, there was one shot early on in the movie where Julia was backlit by the setting sun... in doing so, it highlighted a lot of neck hair! Really poor choice of lighting! I understand she's getting older, and all, but some of her wardrobe choices were also unflattering as well. If I were Julia, I'd be mad :)
I won't go into details here so as not to spoil anything, but the ending was also a huge let down, and made absolutely no sense at all to me.

BUT... here's the topic I wanted to post about...
During one scene, Clive Owen (who I thought did a good job), bumps into a woman at a bar and spills her drink. He apologizes, and offers to buy her a new one and asks what it was. The woman says it was an "appletini" (the new trend in martini's as I understand it is to have them flavored).
So Owen orders one for her, and one for himself. They chit-chat for a bit and the bartender brings the drinks out and say "That'll be $26".... I almost fell out of my movie seat! :)
Really?! Is that what drinks are going for now-a-days? $13 for one drink?!
The last time I went to a bar in the city, I was SHOCKED that a beer was $5, but $13?!
Again, maybe it's cause I'm older, maybe it's cause I'm cheap, maybe because I'm more concious of my spending do to these econimc times, but I can not fathom how they could charge $13 for one drink.
Ok, rant over. :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cezanne


I probably should have blogged about this when it was fresher in my mind.
Lucky you (the reader) will probably be treated to a shorter blog post this way.

So it was called "Cezanne and Beyond". It was an exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I went with my ma (you can read her account of the event on her blog here). We both enjoy art and it was a nice day.
The drive over could have been a nightmare, we learned just before leaving there was some sort of Greek Parade going down the main street that takes you to the Museum. I had my little gps device with me, but I'm not 100% comfortable trusting that device, nor do I know the city well enough to go off the beaten paths. Luckily though, we missed any sort of traffic and got there in time. In fact, we got there about 40 minutes early... which as it turns out was a good thing, because it was super crowded!
Oh, and yes... the art...
I really enjoyed the exhibit. I learned that while I don't necessarily like everything Cezanne did, I did really enjoy a lot of his work. There was one that stood out above the others as one of my favorites. Unfortunately, In my rush to leave the house to avoid the parade, I forgot to bring a notpad and pencil to take any notes. Google to the rescue... it was called "The Bridge at Maincy". The above photo does not do the colors justice though. (I found the photo here on this website.)
Now... here's the thing that really surprised me... since there were other artists shown in this exhibit, I got to see some other "masters" works. To my surprise I ended up really impressed with another artists work other than Cezanne... Mondrian! Sure, like most of you, I've seen the white checkerboards with splashes of red, yellow and blue. I thought that was all that Mondrian did! Well, I was wrong. Some of the paintings I saw were also geometrical in nature, but the colors and designs really impressed me! As a result, after the exhibit, while perusing the gift shop, I picked up a small book about Mondrian and not Cezanne (no offense Paul).
Ok, I think I said something about keeping this short...
Nutshell, a great day, appreciating fine art and learning other ways to see my world.
And yes... I might just pick up my brush again and try a watercolor soon.

PS> I decided to join the museum for a one year membership. I HOPE I will be able to take advantage of this membership, and head over there on a regular basis, and explore what else the museum has to offer.

PS2> I also learned that there is an artist that I really did NOT like... Henri Matisse (wiki).
A few others that I DID enjoy: Georges Braque, Jasper Johns, Alberto Giacometti, Charles Demuth, Ellsworth Kelly (some of kelly's stuff I liked).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

DCCC

I opened a piece of 'junk mail' today. It was from the DCCC or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It had a letter from Nancy Pelosi in it (I'm sure she did not write this letter). It had a little folded piece of paper in it with lines on the inside where you can write a message to President Obama. The slip of paper that asks you for a monetary 'donation' (It's not a charity) starts with the line:
"I've written a message of hope to President Obama. Please deliver it to him for me...."

This turns my stomach in so many ways.
But the biggest...
The letter gives the 'illusion' that IF I were to donate this money, that my card will make it right to the desk of President Obama. It's a borderline bribe. Give us money, and we'll see that your message gets through.
The 'gall' to call this little folded piece of paper a "Hope card" to play off of people's ignorance is also disturbing.
DCCC - I doubt I will ever contribute anything to your organisation due to this letter.
Shame on you.

http://change-congress.org/

Friday, March 27, 2009

where is everyone?

This is just a random thought I had tonight.
I've had similar thoughts before, so it's not new or anything, but every now and then it strikes me.
So tonight, I was driving home from work. It's a drive I've made almost every week morning and every weeknight through a semi-small town. It has a main street that has maybe 5 businesses on it, the rest is about 8-10 blocks of houses.
Going too work, There is a section of main street that is off the main highway, and the speed limit is 35 mph. I'd say it's about average. It even goes past the local high school (there's a sign that says if kids are around then the speed limit is 25mph.) But 35 is "comfortable. Sure, on few mornings when I'm running late, I might push it up to 40, but I usually try to go the speed limit.
Now almost half way from the highway, to my office there is a creek with a little bridge over it. This (I think?) marks the township line... but more importantly, it marks a 10mph speed drop. It goes from 35 down to 25. It's only about 4-5 blocks, but it's SO tedious to go 25! Especially when I'm running late in the morning.
Tonight, I was driving home, and there's that little sign of relief - thank goodness, I'm outta that 25mph zone and can go back up to 35. I pondered... WHY? is it 25mph for that part of town, and 35mph for this part of town? I thought... usually every township picks 25 in a "residential" area. you know in case there are kids around... and that's when it hit me. I've been driving this same route day after day, and for the most part, I never see ANYONE outside. Sure, there is the occasional jogger, or woman walking her dog, or occasionally some teens, but trust me they are few and far between.
It always amazes me how a "small town" can feel so deserted. We live in our houses (and apartments) and might occasionally go outside when we have to (yard work, take the garbage out, etc,) but for the most part, I have no idea who lives in the neighborhood where I work. It's kinda creepy.
Now... In all fairness, I personally am a stay at home person. So, 'maybe' if I got out more, I'd see more, but I don't think so. People have somehow moved from a social interaction to preferring to stay home.
Related...(or not)... I recently rented a series of documentaries about the Great Depression. Actually, I'm not sure how to describe the dvd. It's called "Our Daily Bread" (imdb here). It was a movie filmed in 1934 and was about a couple who got an opportunity to run a farm. The husband was out of work for a length of time (As were many others since it was the great depression.) so an uncle offered them the farm to live on, and IF they could make a go of it they were welcome to stay there. Without giving away too much of the plot, the farm attracts many others to help out. maybe 50 or more famlies and couples from all walks of life. The movie shows how they build a community. I couldn't help to think... if this were today... there is NO way this idea would have worked. People don't trust one another, they don't want to help one another, the don't want to work for a common goal or common good. It seems to be every person for themselves.

Well, I've wandered down this trail in my story, and now I don't know where it's lead me, nor do I know where to go from here. Sorry to have taken you down this path as well.
I guess what I'm saying is... go outside.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hospital?!

Oh boy... here we go....
I HOPE this will not be a big headache, but I'm mentally preparing myself for a nightmare.

I noticed on Friday, I got an important looking envelope from a local hospital. Huh, It's prob just some marketing mail or something. Well, last night, I opened it and almost fell off my chair. It was a BILL for $719.00!!! What?! I look at it again, yep, it's in my name, and I look at the reason. It just says that I visited a Dr. Mazz (not his real name) for an Emergency Room visit back in November of 2008. Now you've probably guessed by now the problem here.... I was never at that hospital!
I can't call their billing department until Monday to get things straightened out, so now I have another full day of worrying what all this will mean. Of course I'm HOPING it's some weird clerical error, and after one phone call it will be resolved. But I am also afraid of the worst too. Medical identity theft. I googled that last night, and of course was met with several horror stories of folks who went through this. So again, I'm trying not to worry about it. But it's tough.
My fear is what other information this "alternate me" has about me. Did he just pull my name and number from a phone book? Does he have my social sec number? What other info does he have (if any?!)
I can't comprehend how this can happen. My friends and family will tell you that I'm SO careful about protecting my personal information. To the point of being a little over-protective. (whenever I use my credit card at a store, I try to keep my finger over the numbers in case there is a camera above).

Well, I hope to post a follow up here on Monday that is good news.

verizon dsl

Don't worry, I'll keep this one short.

Verizon DSL:
About a week ago or maybe two, I had a problem with my DSL losing the connection and SLOW connect speeds. After giving them 1-2 days to try and straighten things out on their end, I finally had to call. After dealing with the tech support, who went through all the pre-programed questions (did you turn the computer off and on), they said the problem was probably outside and that they'd send a tech out on Monday. Well, Monday morning at 7:02, I got a computer voice telling me the problem was fixed. Good.
Until this last Fri night. ugh. here we go again - i thought. After watching the blinking green light for about an hour, praying to the DSL gods, I finally gave up, and was preparing to call the tech support again and get totally frustrated again. When for some odd reason, I thought... ya know what... let me just unplug my phone jack and see if that does anything. I pulled the plug, blew in the jack (yeah, that's no better than kicking a car tire when the engine stops - i know). I plugged it back in, when much to my surprise... IT WORKED! I had a nice fast connection!
So... in the spirit of being fair, I've grumbled in the past about Verizon's lack of tech support common sense, and this time... it WAS my inside line. So apologies to you Verizon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

testing

odd... my last post would not actually post. Got a strange error from google blogspot...
bX-u6oq7x
whatever that means!?

I'm curious if this post goes through.

Hmm, that was strange. I changed some underscores "_" to dashes "-" and it went through with no errors. kooky.

Ninja Kid!

This was a little event that happened to me and I just had to blog about it. It's several days later, and I woke up this morning and one of my first thoughts was 'Yikes! I forgot to post that to my blog!' - so here it is.

Monday nights I usually go to Wegmans for my grocery shopping.
I had made my rounds through the store and was about the head to the checkout when I remembered I had forgotten to pick up some soy milk. So I head back to the refrigerated aisle.
The soy milk is in the very last door furthest from the check out. There is a main aisle in between... kinda like this: o-------a --------x Where "o" is the checkout, the lines represent the fridges and the x represents the soy milk.
The "a" represents an end cap freezer where they sell the bags of ice cubes like for parties.

Anyway...
I grab my milk and start heading for the front of the store for check out.
I almost get to the aisle, when out of the Freezer (a), This little kid springs out and jumps in the middle of the aisle! Lands rather un-gracefully but not quite a fall.
He looks up at me and flashes this huge mischievous grin from ear to ear.
I just had to laugh/smile back at him :)
He then paused, looked both ways, and ran towards the front of the store (to catch up with his mother who I later saw in the checkout line).

I think I smiled all the way home on this one.
Sure it was prob a tad dangerous, sure the mother should have paid more attention to her kid and should have known that 1) he wasn't with her as she wasn't in the fridge aisle anymore and 2) was standing on bags of ice inside of a freezer.
But I couldn't help but laugh.
As someone who might have gotten into some mischievious trouble myself as a young lad, I could related to this boy's spirit :)

I will never approach an ice cube freezer again now without expecting some 10 year old kid to jump out!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Apartment complex

A day in the life post...
Note: I will admit... I'm cheap. It sounds fancier if I say "frugal" but I'm ok with "cheap". I hope SOMEDAY to own a house. Until that day comes, I can't see spending a lot of money to rent a nicer apartment. So while it's technically my own fault for continuing to re-sign my lease each year at this crappy apartment complex, I can't seem to justify paying a higher price, and then to just have other "issues". I'm sure any and every apartment complex has it's own individual problems. You put any group of people together to live, and you are bound to have issues.
That said, I thought I'd copy an email I wrote this morning to see how my day started off...
>>>

Well, this is how my day has gone so far...
Sleeping...
Sleeping...
Sleeping...
RING!!!
RING!!!
[groggily]
Helloo?
[silence]
Hello?!
[almost ready to hangup]
"Hello, This is verizon's automated internet service. We're alerting you that we fixed the problem."
[click]
me: what time is it?!
7:01AM
Sheesh.
Well, maybe I can get back to sleep.
close eyes...
close eyes...
Boy, I really have to go to the bathroom, maybe I'll do that, and then I'll be able to get to sleep...
[potty]
thats better...
close eyes...
close eyes...
close eyes...
[WOOSH!!!! - Downstairs neighbor turning on shower]
close eyes...
close eyes...
[ Pbbbbb. Vrmbbbb.... outside a car with either a hole in the muffler, or a "hotrod" muffler starts up. Revs engine a few times, then takes off. This is the third time I've noticed this car in the early morning (yes, my window is closed).
close eyes...
close eyes...
[Woof]
close eyes...
close eyes...
[Woof]
close eyes...
close eyes...
[woof]
close eyes...
close eyes...
Again, this is the 5th or 6th time I've been aware of this dog. I start counting the seconds in my head between dog barks...
8, 9, 15, 16, 7, 9, 10, 15, etc...
I start to ponder...
What kind of dog barks at such odd intervals?! What is happening in that apartment that causes this dog to just bark at 10 second intervals every morning?
close eyes...
close eyes...
OPEN eyes... ugh... its starting to get light out now...
close eyes...
close eyes...
heres the muffled talking of downstairs neighbors boyfriend talking...
close eyes...
close eyes...
Starts to ponder... What if I built a foam wall, would that help eliminate all these outdoor sounds?
What's gonna happen when the warmer weather gets here, and I want to sleep with the window open?!
I really should get that crack in the window fixed, but that will mean dealing with the cruddy maintenance people.
Which reminds me, WHEN are they gonna finish painting the flimsy rotting wooden fence outside in the parking lot?! All winter it's remained half painted, like they literally ran out of paint and said, "oh well, that's good enough, maybe no one will notice"
AND... should I REALLY have to be the one to call and complain that there is a large broken tree branch hanging precariously above the parked cars? If that thing falls, it's surely gonna cause some damage. Doesn't anyone who works here see that it's broken?!
eyes wide open now...
eyes wide open now...
eyes wide open now...
8am...
eyes wide open now...
eyes wide open now...
Well, this is pointless laying here, I should get up and check my DSL to see if it's working ok.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Winter: What makes it cold out?

<<< CAUTION: SCIENCE AHEAD >>>
Ok, this is gonna sound strange, but I'm not buying the whole explanation of what makes winter cold. Yep, this is explained in probably 4th grade science, but I've been thinking about it lately and I'm just not buying it.
Ok, first the myth...
Some people believe that winter is caused when the earth is further away from the sun. Bzzz. Wrong. In actuality, The earth is closer (only by a little relatively speaking) during the (northern hemisphere's) winter months.
So the next logical question... then why is it always colder in the winter time?
The answer, is due to the earth's tilt. The Earth is tilted 23.44 degrees. Also called the "Axial Tilt" (wikipedia here). And yes, there is a slight wobble, but we won't get into that now.
So, When we are in the summer months, the earth's top (north) is tilted towards the sun, which means it will have MORE sunlight during the daytime, and thus be warmer. Vice Versa, in the southern hemisphere, the earth is tilted away from the sun, so it has shorter days, and less sunlight - thus colder.
Summer and Winter also has to do with the angle of the sunlight hitting the earth too. During the winter, the light hits the earth at a larger angle, whereas in the summer it hits it more face on or directly. You can see some charts and illustrations on this wiki page here.
Ok, I understand all that.
But here's what I don't quite get...
Why the "extreme" temperature shifts from day to day? So for the most part, the temps can be averaged out to lets say "10-15 degrees" (I'm guesstimating). In other words, one day it might be 35º the next it could be 42º or even 28º (a 15º difference).
But as an example here, last weekend (Sat) it was around 50 degrees. I had to crack my window to get some fresh air as I was driving. Then on Sunday night, we got hit with about 8-10 inches of snow, and the temps were in the low 20's! That's a 30º difference in a matter of a day or so!
Our earth's axis sure didn't change during that time! So what caused that temp shift so drastically? To top it off, This coming Saturday, we're supposed to be back up into the 60's!
So, I want to know why or what causes these temperature shifts?
Is it simply the wind patterns? The Jet Stream? A passing rain storm/snow storm? What kind of wind pattern can shift a patch of cold air that far from the north down to the south in a matter of a few hours? Wouldn't you think it would be a fierce windstorm?
Also...
It seems the more drastic temp changes are around spring and fall, ie: if it's summer time, and a 95º day, chances are that the next day will be around 95º too, and not 75º. So why is it more windy (if that's the answer) during the spring and fall?
If anyone can point to a 4th grader who knows this answer, please do. OR better yet a web link that expains this, I'd appreciate it :)
(I tried googling it briefly, but most of the hits came up with temperature shifts due to global warming.) I'm talking about Temp shifts from day to day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Album Art - Tetragnatha!


BEHOLD - The first album cover from the famed Christian Metal Rock Band - Tetragnatha!

The above art is a quick Album cover I threw together because it looked like a fun Challenge.
My Twitter friend @joshuamauldin posted his here and it looked really nice.
When I read the instructions I thought it sounded like it'd be a fun challenge and to give it a try.

Here are the instructions:

If you’re a Photoshop or other kind of image making nerd, you may enjoy this.

1. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2. Go to http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
3. Go to http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
EDIT: I noticed most all of the "intersting" photos were copyrighted. I decided to see if I could use the same random 3rd photo using the creative commons license, and much to my surprise it seemed to work real well with my idea. Here's the link: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
4. Use Photoshop (or something else!) to put it all together.
5. Post a link to it and share with your friends!

>>>

Original photo attribute: Sinfomano

Friday, February 20, 2009

Economic "crisis"

I've hesitated posting anything about the recent economic mess we're in.
I have friends and family that are being directly effected by this mess. I continue to send thoughts and prayers to them and their families to make it through this mess and come out on the other side of it all.

I want to throw these few ideas out there though.
I have never really been into anything even remotely associated with "finance".
I never used to follow politics either. It wasn't until maybe 5-10 years that it started to capture my interest. I would still consider myself a 'beginner" when it comes to understanding these heavy duty issues. But I'm learning. I'm becoming more aware. That said...

A few days ago (possibly a week), I happened to catch a small clip on the Kieth Olberman show. I rarely watch his show. He's basically the "lefty Bill O'Rielly". But this clip caught my attention for some reason. It was a Representative named Paul Kanjorski and he was being interviewed on C-span. The exact date is a bit in dispute. I'll paraphrase here, since I can't find the original clip anymore... He said that on This particular day (right around the time that Lehman Bros Bank failed) That the Fed Reserve "noticed" there was an electronic "run on the banks". People (for some reason) decided on this particualar morning that today was the day to withdraw their money from a rather safe Money market (I think that's the right term). In a period of about 1-2 hours... They saw 550 BILLION Dollars withdrawn from the market. Let me repeat that... in 1-2 hours, 550 BILLION DOLLARS were no longer in play. Rep. Kanjorski said something to the effect that IF the run had continued that by 2pm they would have seen a loss of 5.5 TRILLION! In a nutshell... a complete economic collapse in the USA.
What shoocked me most about hearing this info, was that I wasn't aware of it. I follow the news pretty closely, and not once did I hear any news of this sort.
Earlier in the week I watched a special on PBS on the show called Frontline called "Inside the meltdown", that explained how we started down this rabbit hole of the econimic mess we're in. I had a hard time keeping up with it all. But the two names that they seemed to pin it on, was Bernanke, and Paulson.
As I type this, now, The Market today saw one of its worst days in a while, and the DOW around 2pm hit the lowest it's been in 11 years. Not only that... But there are rumors today that the Government 'might' step in and take over two of America's largest banks... Citigroup, and Bank of America. Due to these rumors, their stocks have both tumbled. Citgroup was under $2 a share (some on twitter where saying that's less than their ATM fee!). BofA was around $3.
I will not be the least bit surprised if over the weekend, that something major doesn't happen.
While I TRY my hardest to remain optimistic, it's difficult. I think we're in a real mess here.
I think this is a GLOBAL crisis also, not just one or two American banks.
I think I'm going to start looking for books about the great depression, to see how people survived it. I think our past may help us get through this mess. You know the ol' saying - Those who don't know the past are doomed to repeat it.
I'm keeping an eye on my bank's stock, and while I feel somewhat safe that my accounts are FDIC insured, It's still scary.
So as not to sound ALL gloom and doom...
The Dow did Rally a little towards the end of the day.
The Gov has issued statements that it will NOT take over citigroup or BofA.
So perhaps TODAY is the turning point. Perhaps things will start to level off next week.
I even saw a news article that said perhaps now is the time to buy a house.

One last point... I also hesitated posting this because EVERY time you turn the news on it's words of caution, and fear, and scare tactics. Even the Frontline show I saw was full of "scary music and a narrator who sounded like he was narrating an Edgar Allan Poe poem". A certain part of the blame for this mess goes directly towards the Media. I try not to listen to a lot of it. I jump in, get some basic news, then turn it off. It can certainly depress you to listen to too much at once.

Hang on folks.
These are interesting times we're in.
Don't let the fear mongering get to you, and stay strong.
Families need to support one another. Friends need to be there.
Hopefully we'll make it through and things will start to pick up again soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wegman's isn't perfect...

UPDATE:
OOPS!!! MY BAD!!!
So a bablubird (username) was kind enough to stop into the local Wegmans today and see if they in fact pulled the product from the shelf... well, it turns out, I made the mistake (though you could see why)... apparently the date I saw that said "Mar 06" was the month and DAY not the YEAR.
I just called the "Great Range Bison" company in Colorado, and confirmed this. The woman was very nice and explained the process to me. It's shipped fresh and not frozen, and has a 25-28 day shelf life. She was able to pull the most recent shipment and confirmed that it matched the March 6th date.
So, My apologies to Wegmans and Great Range.
In my defense, with today's recent peanut scare, I think they should ad the full date to the product date stamp. (I wonder why the two guys behind the meat counter didn't know this, and didn't explain that to me, rather than snicker?)

Well, I think I've 'gushed' on my blog in the past about how much I like Wegmans (a supermarket). Tonight... not so much.
I wandered over to the meat section. Occasionally they have smaller cuts of rib-eye steaks that I enjoy for around $4. not tonight. I was looking over some of the meat selections, when I saw the ground Buffalo meat. I have bought this a few times in the past, with the idea that it would be healthier than eating ground beef. Well, tonight I learned that the Buffalo is very expensive! (I think it was around $10.50 a pound!) I don't know if the price went up since last I bought it, or if I just didn't take notice before.
But... here's the kicker...
I flipped the package over, and saw the "sell by or Freeze before" date... it was September of 2006!!
I looked again... 2006?! That can't be right. I picked up a few more, and they were all around that time! Then I picked up a packed of buffalo cuts, and it was 2004!!!?
I don't know the story behind this. Perhaps it was a misprint (the meat did look "normal"). Perhaps it was frozen in a warehouse somewhere and accidentally was put on the store shelf. Regardless, if it was correct, that could be dangerous! I felt obligated to tell someone.
I saw a guy come out from the back room, and stopped him. I told him. He sort of shrugged and said, I should tell the two men standing behind the meat counter. OK.
I walk up to the counter, and tell them the same thing... they smile.
That was not the reaction I was expecting. I almost said something right then and there, but the guy must have seen my expression, because he lost his smile real quick. Then (as if they didn't believe me) they had me show them what I was talking about. Again, he kinda snickered.
As I'm standing there, he realizes I wasn't leaving and he just turns and says "Thanks".
So I moved on.
As I continued shopping it really bothered me that they just kinda laughed, and the time that I did watch them, they were making no effort to pull the product from the shelf.
After paying for my food, I went to the customer service desk.
I explained it to them also, and then told them that the guys smiled and laughed when I told them. The woman apologized for their behavior.
I'm VERY tempted to drive back tomorrow night to see if they pulled the meat from the shelves or just left it there.
Shame on you Wegmans.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

quick story

Just a quick little post here.
I have family that is about to embark on a new journey in a new apartment/house (it looks wonderful!). It got me to thinking how much I don't like the space I currently live in (A small one bedroom apartment).
I can put up with a lot of things, but the main thing that bothers me is the noise from thin walls. I have pretty much solved my squirrel problem by buying my own trap, and learning how to lure them in (caught 2 so far), and am expecting a spring visit, but we'll see.
So I hopped onto craigslist the other day and found what looked like a nice place for a pretty good increase in rent. I could prob do it without much of a sacrifice.
I sent an email to my other family member and asked for advice and opinion.
She responded by saying (paraphrasing) I should pray to God for guidance...
My response...
Are you kidding me? Even He Himself couldn't rent a room at the Inn and ended up in a cave/barn/manger!
Gosh... I sure do hope the "Big Guy" has a sense of humor. :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Crickets

Chirp - Chirp - Chirp...

Sorry, nothing to say lately.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chess ratings

Chess.com is a place you'll find me frequenting practically every weekday at lunchtime. I enjoy playing chess. I find the simple fact that few games are ever alike and that it never gets boring or repetitive is pretty amazing.
Around December, I decided to step up and try to enter a tournament. A direct competition with anywhere from 3-10 other people (usually guys) in a best of two games. The winner of the first round moves on to the next. I shocked myself! I played really well, and almost won the 1st place spot! (took second). In addition, my rating sky-rocketed to almost 1700! (I usually am around 1400). I was feeling like I was starting to learn the game!
Well... I am in a rut like you would not believe. Perhaps I just got lucky, perhaps I was trying really hard because it was my first tournament, I'm not sure why exactly, but I can't seem to get my rating back up to how I was playing around early December.
At lunchtime, I play what is called "blitz chess" in that each game lasts 10 minutes (or less) per person (so a max of a 20 minute game, but that's extremely rare). I was up around a 1500 blitz rating. Well, not anymore. I've dropped to just around 1400, and can't seem to break that.
I find myself becoming frustrated, because I felt like I had something before that I can't recapture. I keep trying new tactics where I 'thought' that's what I was doing in December, but to no avail.
As I was re-thinking about all this the other day, I had a different thought. Perhaps the rating system is flawed?!
As a person plays more games, you would think that your rating would even out. But that doesn't seem to be the case. There are always new players joining chess.com, who always start off at 1200. So I could be playing a 1300, and loose to this guy who in actuality is really a 1600 player.
If it were a closed system, the ratings should level off, and be fairly accurate, but now I realize that's not the case. (I am still thinking about this, so I may change my opinion later).
I'm curious now if anyone has done a study on this. It seems ripe for study.
If there are any chess players who find this post, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this... do you feel any rating system is accurate? what sort of swing is normal? etc...
Meanwhile, I'll go back to pushing pieces around in the hopes I'll learn something.
If you ever want to play me, just look up cyenobite on chess.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Unicorns and kittens

I hate to sound like a broken record, because I'm almost tired of hearing it myself, but today was a historical day. I am glad I chose to take a half day off so I could watch the Inauguration. I thought it very interesting, and while I'm not crazy enough to want to go sit outside in 20 degree weather, and putting up with all the crowds, I was glad to be home watching the show up close on my television. I mostly watched the C-span channel as they didn't have a lot of commentary. A few times I flipped over to CNN and FOX but could only put up with their ramblings for about 5 minutes.
I'm also VERY thankful that there didn't appear to be any "incidents". All those people gathered in one spot I thought there might be something negative happening, but so far I've not heard one thing.
I do have one image that I want to post about here that I think was an interesting observation...
I was surprised to see Cheney in a wheel chair. I think I heard someone say that he had recently had a slip or something and had gotten hurt. I hope he gets better. I have to laugh though, as several people in my twitter feed said that all he needed was a big white fluffy cat in his lap (apparently one of the famous James Bond villains was in a wheel chair with a fluffy cat).
Then a little while later, I watched George's father walking down the hallway with his cane. I was a bit surprised how old he looked (he is 84). I later learned that he recently had back surgery, and his balance was a little off. He seemed in good spirits but, he definitely had a shuffle walk.
Then I saw George himself, and he did not look happy at all. There was a certain glumness in his facial expression - and to me, it made him also look old.
So then it hit me... here are some of the key figures of the Bush administration leaving office with canes, and wheelchairs, and literally shuffling off... and making way for a youthful man who is fit and in shape. It made me feel good to see some of the "good ol' boys" network leaving office.
Mr. President... you have a lot on your plate now, and a lot of problems to try and fix. I do not envy you at all... but I wish you all the best, and HOPE we as a country can start to fix some of the problems that the previous administration has left us.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

youtube advertising

I probably should post this when I'm not so tired, but I don't want to forget about it. Forgive me if I'm slightly incoherent.
I was watching a video online today on youtube. (Actually it was several videos).
After the third video, I got tired of the pop up ad that appears in the lower 20% of the screen, and would click it off as soon as it popped up.
Then I got angry at youtube for me having to do this.
I understand it is a business. I understand it gets all (most) of its money from advertising. But c'mon. To throw an ad up in front of the video that I'm trying to watch?! How intrusive and obnoxious can you get? What set me off was at the end of the video... You know how when a video ends and then a few other choices pop up as if saying "if you liked that, you might like this video"... well I saw the title of the second video and I wanted to watch it, but I couldn't there was another ad over top of it, and I couldn't close it, or move it. I ended up missing that previous recommended video. Grrr.
So if google is monitoring their blogger sites for comments about youtube, I hope you read this, and can find it in your business heart to make the ads less 'in your face'. The people (as in the masses) are what makes youtube great. Don't ruin it, by covering up any portion of the video that they worked so hard on to make. It's just plain rude.
k thanks bye.