Friday, September 29, 2006

Kudos to Congress: CARE act re-authorized

The House of Representatives re-authorized the CARE act, the federal program named in honor of Indiana teenager Ryan White. The program provides assistance to thousands of Americans infected with HIV/AIDS.

I am a big proponent in cutting federal spending, but that's only on matters of pork and nonsense. Programs such at the CARE act are necessary and worthy of funding.




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Long time No see

Last night, I was supposed to finish up this OT project I've been on for the last week. Various delays have caused me not to be able to finish the task, as I intended on Wednesday. Some of the delays were caused by my principle tasks at work getting in the way, some were caused by the OT task lead or other uncontrollable issues.

Last night I was going to get the code update requests from the Task Lead, re-edit (for the 10th time!) the code to meet his changes, and edit the documentation to spec. It would have consumed most of the overnight hours, but I intended on making the deadline, and my word is my bond.

So as I was about to get down to work last night when the phone rang. Rang? Does anyone's phone really ring anymore? Is the electronic tones really ringing? How many of you are old enough to have actually dialed a phone?? Sorry, I am still about a 2 cups of coffee behind.

So the phone rang. It was my old friend from college, who is a lurker and an infrequent commenter of this blog. As such, he'll remain nameless (unless this post guilts him into identifying himself). He and I go back to the days of the college campus radio station in Queens, NY. Back then, a bunch of us were always hanging out together, including the gal who became my much-better-half (whom he refers to as 'The Blonde'). Many were the mornings he and I would arrive at the Station before 7AM, power up the studios, and start the day with a shot or three of Jack Daniels (this was before I embraced the glory that is caffeine). Morning classes were so much easier to take when you start with a shot of sunshine like that, you know?

Thanks to the glories of e-mail and IM, we stay in touch but we haven't spoken on the phone in well over a year or so. And we haven't seen each other in ... in ...

It occurred to us last night that it's been about 14 years.... where did the time go? He's yet to meet my kids, and I haven't met his better-half of 8 years. How is it that so much time can pass in what seems like a short period? It would be different if I could say Well, we live on different continents, or coasts but, truth be told, he lives north of NYC, not exactly out of my driving range (considering my commute, especially). We talked for a couple hours last night, well past my being able to even consider doing my OT work. In the end we agreed we'd have to get together before either of us are ready to collect Social Security (Here's your quarter, now go away), I do hope that becomes a reality soon. It was great chatting, picking up like 14 hours instead of 14 years have passed.

Old friends they mean more to me
than the new friends do
Because they can see where you are
and they know where you've been

So instead of staying up and working last night, I decided to turn in and get to work before 6 AM again today to get the work done. And in the end, the joke is on me: the task lead never got me the final updates... so my Status Report will show, plainly, that the deliverable would have been done by 10 AM (easily) had I received the updates.

At least I have no guilt about talking on the phone last night.




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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Early morning

Instead of staying up late last night, I opted to rise earlier than usual... which meant I got to work at 6 AM... and amazingly, I ended up chasing deer out of the office parking lot.

Where I work isn't exactly rural, like where I live. To see 3 adult and 2 young deer pawing on asphalt in a largely residential neighborhood surprised me.

Memo to file: more than half of the lights in the parking lot are out at 6 AM. Not that I care, personally, but I know there are colleagues of mine who work well past 6 PM, so they really ought to be lit.

Off to refill my coffee cup...



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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Of coffee and deadlines

So my week rolls on with my completing my routine work, my OT, and the stuff that regularly consumes 4/5 nights each week. In short, I am sleeping even less than usual (and since my usual has been told to me by others to be too little to start with, makes this an interesting morning to say the least).

I've forced myself to restrict posting this week, but saw this and had to make an exception:


In order to ensure userfriendly.org gets it due props, you'll have to click the snip I have above to see the punch line. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll know why I say it's worth the effort! This particular theme in the strip began on Monday...

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My life is like a situation comedy

In spite of my work load, I am thinking about those of you who return regularly to my humble blog. So knowing I'll be swamped the next few days, on a few hours sleep I offer the following:

On my drive home last night I realized my life is like a common theme in TV situation comedies. Not that I am particularly funny, altho I admit I, personally, have my moments, but in another way.

  • Ralph and Alice Kramden

  • Fred and Wilma Flintstone

  • Barney and Betty Rubble

  • Cheryl and Jim (on According to Jim)

  • Monica and Chandler, Ross & Rachel
Now I've named a few couples from TV, and I know there are others but I can't think of them at this hour. Your job is two fold:

  • Name for me other couples that are like these I've named above. They don't necessarily have to be married, but have to be an established 'couple'. Now there are certain couples who would not qualify:

  • Jaimie and Paul Buchman

  • Al and Peg Bundy

  • Thurston and Lovey Howell
These three couples aren't what I had in mind when I said my life is like a common sitcom theme. So the second task for you...

  • Tell me why I think my life is like a common sitcom theme.

I can't promise you a prize, because I haven't any swag to offer. Just admiration and lots of props to those who participate and to those who guess correctly. And maybe, just maybe, you'll find this exercise somewhat fun. Post your ideas, and I'll reveal the answer Friday afternoon.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Imus and Charities

He is a radio icon, a legend. And he may well embody the very definition of curmudgeon. But you cannot fault the charitable efforts of one John Donald Imus, host of the wildly popular IMUS IN THE MORNING radio show, heard coast-to-coast and around the world and on MSNBC.

Whether it be his own IMUS RANCH FOR KIDS WITH CANCER, or his fund raising efforts for sibling of SIDS victims, or his advocacy for Autism funding (frequently with Sen. Santorum), Mr. Imus' generosity is worth everyone's acclaim.

Next week, he will be speaking at a fundraiser for the Spina Bifida Association, another worthy cause and an event for which he deserves respect for supporting.

(Yeah, I know I am busy, but some things are more important than my lunch)



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Broadband and other woes

I am so far behind it's amazing I have the time to post this...

So on Friday I was granted permission to work from home... good thing, right?

That is until my lame excuse for a broadband provider started screwing with my connection. Where I live I am offered an amazing choice of a one ISP, one phone company, and one cable company... and -- now get this -- they're all owned by the same parent company!

So when my DSL modem's xfer light went yellow, I phoned the ISP... nope, they said, it's not them. You have to call the telco.

See, they can't call the telco... even though they're a different division of the same company. Nope, I have to do it. And after explaining that I haven't been online in over an hour, they say Nope, it's not us... you'll need to diagnose the problem with the ISP.

Is it any wonder I was in a foul mood?

So for the better part of each day over the weekend, I was sans broadband. It seemed to come back up cleanly around 2:00 PM Sunday, but by that time I was nursing the head cold that the four of us at home were passing around all weekend.

Translation: almost none of my work-at-home I was planning to do -- which includes my normal work plus the OT I've been doing -- is completed. And the OT is due by end of week.

What the hell.. it's not like I sleep much anyway...



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Friday, September 22, 2006

The correct answer: Yes, sir.

Here's why children are taught (or, used to be taught) to respect authority, in particular police officers:

...and why dashboard cams are a true benefit to both the police and public.

Tammy Bruce had linked to a 90 second version of this, but I think seeing the entire segment is more compelling, since her attitude is clearly evident.

Moral: when given a choice of obeying or being Tasered, choose wisely!


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Weekend forecast


Oh look... sunny skies are coming....


... except this weekend!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Joseph Leonardi, Candidate for US House of Representatives

Note: With a scant 48 days left until the election, I intend on focusing on different candidates who deserve to be elected.

In Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District, there is an incumbent who is facing a compelling challenger. Dr. Joseph Leonardi has challenged Paul Kanjorski for his seat in the US Congress, and the good doctor has got game, and he stands a good chance of winning.

Dr. Leonardi is in tune with the people on a wide array of topics, including gun ownership -- a huge issue in NE Pennsylvania, in particular to hunters and sportsmen, illegal immigration - where the good doctor understands the definition of the term illegal, a sensible tax reform plan for all tax payers, and openly embraces and supports our military.

It should be noted that Dr. Leonardi's campaign must be striking a chord with his opponent: in spite of a local County's League of Women Voters efforts to arrange a debate, Rep. Kanjorski has declined. Dr. Leonardi's open pledge to debate anytime, anywhere stands alone.

The voters in the 11th District are a diverse group. They are on the fringe edge of the solidly Republican-dominated center portion of the state, flanked by the forever-Blue Democrat Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. With the increasing number of expats from New York City moving to the District, the long-time residents are seeing their District turning a deeper shade of blue.

Just as the largest number of voters in the history of the Union came out to vote for President Bush in the 2004 election, so can the voters turn out in force again for Dr. Leonardi.

www.LeonardiForCongress.com


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Enjoying Autumn Leaves

If you can't get to Pennsylvania this Fall, you can catch some great color changes via web cam:

This is a shot from Bushkill Falls, a terrific place to visit if you like nature trails and waterfalls. We haven't visited it in over 4 years, in spite of how close we live to it, which I suppose akin to a New Yorker who hasn't been to the top of the Empire State Building. Peak season in NE PA is mid October.

See other sites from around the Commonwealth, with live video, at Fall In PA.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Attention shoppers: Voter Registration in aisle 7...

I can't wait for the noise about this:

Wal-Mart strides into election fray
Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer, is planning to launch a voter registration and education campaign this fall targeted at its 1.3 million employees in an effort to combat growing criticism from Democrats and labor unions.

...

The company's decision appears to be a response to several high-profile Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and four 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls, who participated in a labor-organized anti-Wal-Mart campaign this summer.

After years of being assailed by Labor Unions working to support Democratic candidates who would write legislation targeting their business, Wal-Mart is taking their case to the people. After P-Diddy's failed Vote or Die campaign, and the now (seemingly) defunct MTV Rock-The-Vote blog, it will be interesting how mucnegativeve press Wal-Mart's efforts will get from the MSM.

Lest you think I am being too hard on Wal-Mart's critics for suggesting a coordinated effort to hurt the company, consider:

Wal-Mart's opponents escalated their attacks this summer with a Wake Up Wal-Mart's tour. The tour, funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, held anti-Wal-Mart rallies around the country.

I think it's about time Wal-Mart stood up for itself. Now we wait for the editorials against their effort

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more on Number please....

Back in August I posted about a cold-call I received on my cell phone. Back then I missed the call from 866-383-0986. Since that day, the call has come in to my cell 5 or 6 times, never leaving a voice mail message. But yesterday I managed to answer it!

Like I posted in August, the script was the same. Right out of the box, the chap -- speaking with a distinctive accent that is likely native to India -- asked for my fax number. I asked why, and he explained it had to do with my domain registration and it was imperative I give him my fax number.

Friends, if I had a domain registration, this humble blog would not be hosted with Blogspot. So I pushed for information, and the man was hesitant to respond, other than to again ask for my fax number. Sensing he was a flunky operating from a script, I told him I was on to his scam and that he was attempting to solicit information for a fraudulent purpose. The man stammered.

I asked if he felt ashamed for participating in a fraud. I think he stifled a sob saying he was only doing his job. I demanded a contact number and he gave me 800-591-7398 and then terminated the call. I called the number he provided, which was to a company named Domain Registration (view their whois); I declined to wait on hold for a human.

This is some kind of data mining operation... Curiously, while I was at my work out last night, two more calls from 866-383-0986 came through to my cell phone. I think the next time they call I'll give them an eFax number and see what happens.



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Avast ye, matey... today is the day!

Once again, it is TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY! So after you've read about how you are supposed to speak, click on over to Maidink's place, where everything posted will be piratized (comments, too!)

I called home and told my 10 year old son Aye, Matey!! Be sure my wench is ready for me when I return home, arrrgh.

He replied Do you mean your adjustable wench, or your slip-joint??




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Holy BabyBoomer!

Happy birthday Adam West, who turns 78 today.

--

Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com

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"If we don't win, they had to cheat!"

MacRanger wonders if the MSM is preparing for a big loss this November, by preparing the Voter Fraud argument even before the polls open:

Macsmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense » Blog Archive » Calling Keith Olbermann: "Any doubts that the MSM is sniffing yet another loss for Democrats in November? Well, if so, read how they are already pulling out the “Voter Fraud” card already."
An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.
Why is it that experts who say the devices are reliable are seldom heard from, but those who say the contrary get all the ink??

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Monday, September 18, 2006

For Military Spouses

Always willing to do my part for those in the Military, and for those they leave behind, I am linking to a post at From My Position...

I want the world to know about a great new blog that launched today - SpouseBuZZ.com. It is written BY military spouses FOR military spouses. Please help spread the word! If you have a blog, give it a plug (please?)... if you have friends who are military spouses, send them an e-mail. And most of all, if you are a military spouse, check it out!!!
As I am neither in the military, nor is my spouse, I can't comment first-hand about this new Blog, but I have learned a lot reading From My Position so I think his spouse's site will be quite informative, especially to its target audience.

If either you or someone you know is a Military Spouse, please point them towards SpouseBuZZ.

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Meme tag

My buddy TrekMedic obviously knows how busy I am... for why else would he tag me with this meme?

  • Were you born before the end of the first Gulf war? Yes.
  • Childhood nickname? Common sense and decency makes it impossible to repeat here.
  • Historical person you have the biggest crush on? I read once that Martha Washington was a looker in her day, but seriously, never considered this before, nor can I imagine anyone now.
  • Favorite type of candy? Snickers Bar
  • Favorite foreign country? Favorite? Italy I suppose.
  • Fish or chicken? Chicken.
  • Do you have your own perfume line? Huh?
  • Have you ever written a children's book? I can't say I have.
  • Have you been in a movie based on a book? Nor have I ever been in a movie at all!
  • Ever posed nude for a photo? And risk breaking the camera??
  • Guiltiest pleasure? Lime flavored Kool-Aid with strips of bologna. .
  • What are you allergic to? Nothing yet.
  • Worst pickup line you've heard? Probably any I used back in the day.
  • Were you bas mitzvahed? Like Trek asked, Can they do that to a Catholic??
  • Have you ever cried during a TV interview? Having never been interviewed, it has never been an issue.
  • If they made a movie of your life, who would play you? Probably someone desperate for the work.
  • Pet peeve? Hypocrites.
  • If you weren't doing what you do, what job would you like to have? Anything that paid.
  • Place you will never be found? Are you asking where I'd hide so I could never be found? Heh... why would I say? Or are you asking a location I wouldn't be found? If the latter, any place that practices bigotry or exclusion in any way.

You are now self-tagged: go forth and post to your own.




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Did You Know...


blonde sagacity asks the musical question Did You Know...

...that according to the 'world body' lack of access to a private toilet could be considered an "outrage upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" and a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

Something for those McCain fans to ponder...


I may complain about my workload, but it's not this bad!

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Democrats need to take strong security stance

Don't take my word for it, take Sen. Barack Obama's word:

{Sen. Barack Obama} warned Democratic activists Sunday that the party must take a tougher stance on national security if it wants to succeed in the November elections.

It is refreshing to see a man considered to be a rising star in Politics get it right, even if he is with the Opposition Party.

h/t GOP Bloggers


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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shopping

Lots of shopping happening in my house this weekend; not that shopping is so rare, nor that it's rare I am involved, but for a change I was more active than being a passive participant.
I dislike food shopping with my much-better-half, if for no other reason than it is not a spectator sport. I push the cart, when my 10 year old lets me, or I wander the aisles with the brood, presumably being there only to reach the items on the top shelf. Were there to be frequent items I was needed to reach, it probably wouldn't be so bad. As it is, it's usually no more than one or two items per trip. I've offered to split the shopping list and go about, but she prefers we shop together. Saturday's seem to be the big day for all of us to go to the supermarket, so that was the morning.

The afternoon found us in Kohls, this time for me in particular. I don't wear out shoes fast. I essentially own two pair of black, dress shoes. One pair stays home and is rarely used, the other pair stay at the office. I have a pair of brown suede casuals that I wear as my commuter shoes... its either those, a pair leather boat shoes, or one of my 2 pairs of sneakers that get worn in the car, depending on my mood. The suede shoes are pretty old... not really appropriate for wearing in the office.

The home-based black shoes used to be my daily wears, until they wore out just to the point that the soles would need to be replaced. That's the state that the office shoes are currently in. In the past I used to find one of the few remaining shoe-makers and have the soles replaced, but its getting hard to find them nowadays. There is a guy in my neighborhood who has a home-based shop, but he's often closed Saturdays.

I went to Kohls, as opposed to a Payless Shoes, in the hope of finding a pair still manufactured in the states... no such luck, not even on the high-end prices, which I wouldn't normally pay for otherwise. So I selected a pair from the rack ($54) and they'll be pressed into service Monday. My spouse mentioned something about not wearing the same shoe more than a few days each week but I am convinced that's a theory purported by shoe manufacturers.

The old office pair will be polished -- I do keep my dress shoes polished, and with paste wax, not the liquid stuff, and stored with shoe trees -- and brought home. The old pair will be permanently retired.

Now I know that sounds like a big shopping weekend for me, but it didn't stop there. My much-better-half presented me with a new watch, for reasons I can't fathom. Yes, I need a watch, that's a no brainier. But I own several, really. A couple of watches that have been knocked around a lot, and didn't cost much at all ... two things I am happy about because I am accident prone and cheap. But I also have two watches that I rarely wear because I am afraid to do so because I am so klutzy. One is a Hamilton my maternal grandfather left me, and the other is Rolex my dad gave me when his eyesight finally failed him. Both work well, but neither am I comfortable wearing because they are so expensive.

Pictured at right is my new Timex. This is a very nice watch, make no mistake about it. I should be angry she spent so much on watch for me, but in her defense she bought herself a new watch as well. Admittedly, she said hers was less than price of mine, so it is by no means fair. So now I am going to have be self-conscious of myself in everything I do. I mean, come on, if I were to damage either of the other two watches, neither my grandfather nor dad would 'notice', but in this case... well, I could go on but why bother?

Someone at work may notice you have a more professional looking watch she said. Since when do I care what other people think of my watch, other than for the correct time?

Heh... good thing I snagged that OT.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

OT, Caffeine, and 'flex facial exercise'

The boss calls me to chat:

HE: How would you like to make me look good, and make some OT for yourself?

As if I was going to say no: No, boss, I don't want to make you look good, and No, I don't want money.

It turns out another group in the company has had two people leave, one for Georgia (left the company), one for an extended medical leave. So they're short handed and they have a delivery.

So I'll be adding to my workload for the next 4-6 weeks pushing out this delivery. Of course, I can't do that work at the expense of my work, and since he was asked by his boss to find someone to bail out the project, there's no pressure at all. So this work goes on top of the three other tasks I perform daily, and the 2 projects I am managing.

I am already out of the house 4 nights each week -- everything from TKD to Cub Scouts -- and this work will easily add 1-2 hours a day for me. But hey, give me coffee and I am good to go.

In fact, the other morning I thought of a new motto for myself. In the past it has been If it is free, it is for me! But that's now sort of old... I kind of like:

Sleep is for people who can't tolerate caffeine.

Kinda catchy, no? If I can't replace this template with something interesting, perhaps I'll change the header text.

The downside of this OT is that I'll have even less time to blog than I have had lately, which quite frankly ain't been much. My referrer log still shows a lot of hits on a variety of topics I've posted about (most frequent referrer: any of the listed names of the deceased from Sept 11, 2001, 2nd most frequent: my post on the chilling QVC product: 'flex facial exercise and toning').

Not surprisingly, however, as my posting of any real content has diminished, so have the visits. With a scant more than 50 days left until election day, I do have a few essays on several candidates (in PA and across the country) that I intend on finishing. Maybe I'll be blessed with some insomnia before too long... don't give up on me yet.

In the meantime... time to head out... gotta get some Diet Coke...


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

AirAmerica: Now, financially bankrupt too!

Of late, I can only listen to AirAmerica for about 30 minutes a day. Since 1-Sep, the New York flagship of AirAmerica was relocated to a low-power station; as such, I can only hear about 20-30 minutes (weather permitting) on my way home. But I will listen today to hear how Randi Rhodes spins this development:

Air America to Declare Bankruptcy NewsBusters.org: "Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing, three independent sources have told ThinkProgress.

Air America could remain on the air under the deal, but significant personnel changes are already in the works. Sources say five Air America employees were laid off yesterday and were told there would be no severance without capital infusion or bankruptcy. Also, Air America has ended its relationship with host Jerry Springer.

Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing, three independent sources have told ThinkProgress.
Air America could remain on the air under the deal, but significant personnel changes are already in the works. Sources say five Air America employees were laid off yesterday and
were told there would be no severance without capital infusion or bankruptcy. Also, Air America has ended its relationship with host Jerry Springer. "

While I am not surprised, I am amazed the network lasted as long as it did. I am far from an authority in broadcasting, but I did a brief stint in collegiate radio. We had it easy: Overhead and electricity? The station was in the UC, thus we had no utility bills. Salaries? Heh; students volunteered to work there. Sponsors? Well, we had a few, mostly in-kind spots for beer distributors that supplied libations to campus activities and Army ROTC, but the rest were PSAs and station promos. Ratings? We were carrier current, which means we actually managed to get less ratings than AirAmerica.

Still, if students didn't like what we played, we heard about it. If we didn't serve as an unpaid Intern opportunity to the Communication majors, we would have lost our free rent. I signed-up to be a sic-jockey because one day I hated what was being played. After an audition and FCC license approval, I was given a 6AM spot. In time I made it to the afternoons, which was prime time in the Rathskeller.

AirAmerica has been nothing but hate towards President Bush and Republicans from day one. In short, bankrupt of any content outside of a single topic. Now, its finances have equaled their content.

Cheer up, Liberals: GreenStone Media thinks it can fill the void. Good luck.

UPDATE: Seems that rumor of their filing is wrong, or perhaps premature. The Cinncinati Posts reports No decision has yet been made regarding filing for bankruptcy. So while I'll stand by my statements about Air America's lack of any content that would draw listeners and sponsors their way, I retract the above post.

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Colleague Idiosyncrasies

OK, everyone knows someone at the office who is not-quite-right by some standard. Maybe its the guy who collects action figures, maybe its the gal who has just a few too many photos of her family on display. Heaven knows there are plenty of reasons why people would look askew at yours, truly, so I am not trying to imply I am above the fray.

There was a manager I worked for briefly a few years ago who had the most unusual collection of stuff in his office. I am not talking about tchotchkes, or a blizzard of paper everywhere, I am talking about stuff. He had both of those and more. He had piles and piles of magazines, some going back years and many in their mailing bag (still unread). He had taken the empty boxes from the copy paper and filled them with packets of take-out ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, whatever. In another box was a collection of half-and-half containers, unopened!

The work space on his desk, what little of it could be seen around the piles of paper, was at least 4" higher that the desktop itself. He had ads and reviews of Apple computers hanging on bulletin boards, even though they were years out of date, the shop was all PC based, and that the man admitted he never owned a Mac.

He, among others, was let go over time. The day he left I imagined a large dumpster being filled from his office window.

Another colleague I worked with had a collection of action figures, ranging from Star Trek and Star Wars characters to soldiers. While it was a Defense Contractors office, the range and number of these toys were a bit more than one would expect to find in a work place.

Then there's the guy who drinks a lot of soda: some canned, some bottled. Not terribly unusual. He drinks and leaves the cans on his desk. Stacked. Some three high.

Curious... the count often reaches 30 or more before another co-worker recycles them for him. And often, there are several that contain a few ounces of drink left inside.

I'd need someone to objectively assess my idiosyncrasies, because its certain I have them. Sadly, no one I work with knows I blog, so there won't be any insight for you, the readers.

But I am curious about your colleagues and their quirks.



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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

He may be a Master, but that doesn't make him a good debater

Last night, upon arriving at Tae Kwon Do class early, the following discussion ensued between my Martial Arts instructor and myself:

SIR: Good evening Chas.
ME: Good evening Sir.
SIR: So I hear gas prices are coming down; that's good news for you with your commute. You don't suppose the upcoming elections have anything to do with it, do you?
ME: Are you suggesting that the Free Market affects elections?


....Read More...
SIR: Not at all; it just seems funny that the prices are going down 2 months before an election.
ME: Thankfully, to date this year we've had a comparatively light hurricane season, so our limited refinery capacity wasn't affected.
SIR: So the Saudis have nothing to do with the price of oil?
ME: I didn't say that; but unless we have more refining capacity to keep up with our demand, the prices will always be affected locally. What if we had more domestic supply that would reduce our need for foreign oil?
SIR: Oh, come on... are you telling me we really need that much oil from the Arab world?
ME: A minute ago you were blaming them for the high prices, so what is your point?
SIR: Well, couldn't they drill more?
ME: Sure, but they have no compelling reason, since we don't drill nearly as much as we ought to. Why is it the Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro can sink new wells in the Gulf of Mexico, but we can't?
SIR: Oh, yeah, well Chavez is starting to align with China.
ME: Speaking of which, did you know China's importation of oil is up 12% over last year?
SIR: Really? Well I'm glad I bought my heating oil for the winter last month!
ME: Yes sir.

I could have pointed out he bought the oil at the higher prices, but somehow I think I would have paid for that observation in push-ups. He may well be a 6th Dan, but he isn't much of a debater.





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Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

No comments from me on this anniversary, just a link back to my posting 3 years ago in tribute.

UPDATE

Other simple tributes worth noting:



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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Double Play

Well, we did it...

My much-better-half and two sons hit a drive-in tonight. For my oldest and I, it was the second drive-in in 24 hours... and we did see the famouse CARS movie, and loved it. We were going to stay for the second feature, PIRATES, but during intermission both boys zonked out, and my wife was even nodding.... I was ready to go all night, but hey... those seats aren't the best to sleep in, so...

How was your evening?


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Friday, September 08, 2006

CARS detoured

Such a disappointment ... Since CARS is being shown at the other nearby drive-in, they were unable to show it tonight. So. So

--

Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com

I preserved the post I sent around 10:30 last evening, such as it was. I tried sending a post via text messaging, and the cut-off is the apparent result.

We didn't see CARS last night; having had seen OVER THE HEDGE in June, it was somewhat of a let down.

Otherwise, the overnight was fun... loads of activities for the boys, and this morning we found the #1 necessisty for all Scout Leaders: COFFEE. Everything was dripping in dew, and the whole grounds were covered in fog. Instead of properly folding the tent, we through it into the Blazer and headed home; it's outside, set up, right now drying out.

Who knows? Maybe I'll convince my much-better-half to go to the other local drive-in and see CARS tonight!

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Driving to a Drive-In to see a Driving Movie

Tonight my oldest boy and I are off to a mini-camping adventure. A drive-in theater near us closes each year to the public and hosts a camping event for Scouts (Boys and Girls) and their families.

Last year's event was held in May, and it was cold (surprisingly) overnight. This year I expect to be chilly, but not like last year. On the schedule will be CARS and a movie stated to have broad local appeal .... I am guessing INVINCIBLE, since everyone in these parts are big Eagles fans (ok, so I am not a big football fan).

Amazingly, the one movie I wanted to get the boys to see this year was CARS, but it rained every weekend night it played; with a 3 year old, its hard to go to a theater for movies, so we're quite pleased to have 2 drive-ins close by (one about 15 minutes away, and the one we're going tonight is about 50 mins away).

This isn't real camping... the drive-in prohibits ground fires... hell, we can't cook anything at all, even with propane. But its a good time and the forecast is for no rain, so it ought to be fun. I'll try to blog by text messaging, or even (gasp!) an audio post...



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More on the Disney DocuDrama

Jay Tea at Wizbang opines succintly:

And when CBS (in an eerily-prescient form of "fake but accurate") planned a "biography" of Ronald Reagan that was little more than a thinly-veiled smear piece, there were lots of howls of protest and outrage. But the strongest action I can recall was a threat to boycott sponsors of the shows. And it worked -- CBS moved it to Showtime, a network completely free of advertising sponsors to threaten.

Instead, the Democratic party is showing one area where it actually has some testicular fortitude -- if you say something (or even might be planning to say something) that threatens their heroes, that makes them look bad, they'll go straight for your jugular with all the power of the federal government they can muster. Constitutional principles (freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and so on) be damned.

So if you like the idea of Congress deciding just what opinions and viewpoints can and can not be aired over the public airwaves, feel free to support the NutRoots' takeover of the Democratic party and their move to take the reins of government. For one, it'll take that awful burden of thinking for yourself off your hands.

There's a lot more layers to the onion of this dispute. If ABC caves in, it will be a sad day, indeed, in free speech.



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Anyone got a pair of scissors?

Earlier this week I spoke about political censorship, and then the rants against Path to 9/11 came up, nicely summed up in three panels:





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HEADLINE: NY Times rants on Wal*Mart

Wal*Mart is in the New York Times again, this time about Conservative think-tanks allegedly not revealing that the Walton Family Foundation has given grants to them.

This is what passes for news at the Old Grey Lady? If there was word that the Walton Family was financing AirAmerica, now that would be news.

Details at The Corner at NRO


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Much ado about Disney

MacRanger writes about the frenzy over ABC/Disney's Path to 9/11:

Think about it folks, ABC wouldn'?t have spent $40 million dollars and two years of production if they hadn'?t already vetted the facts they will portray. Regardless of the hysteria, they are on pretty good ground. In fact, the witnesses are all too willing to come forward if needed to give their accounts in person if needed.

Let's remember that the 9/11 Commission report didn't report all the facts and in some cases - like Able Danger - ignored facts. The writers and directors pulled a lot of storyline not from editorial license, but from eye witness accounts. THATS why you see such a push back. They know the real Clinton legacy is about to go in the crapper and while the Democratic Party has pretty much disavowed the Clinton's, the fact is that they are the last Democrats that were in power during the terrorism filled 90s, and proved that they cannot be trusted with National Security.

In 2004, while people on the right complained about the bias and outright lies of Fahrenheit 9/11, the movie went on. Today, Senate Democrats threaten Disney with legislative and legal sanctions.

Sounds to me like the movie is far more truth rather than fiction.


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Kudos to Senator Santorum

Saw this on The IMUS Blog:

The campaign for Senator Rick Santorum has received some good news. Two organizations thanked him for his battle to get the Combating Autism Act passed. This ad from Autism Speaks and the Cure Autism Now Foundation appeared in yesterdays Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. You can view the ad here.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On the road

After what seems like a marathon posting day yesterday, this will probably be my only entry today.

After many months, I am back in the neighborhood I used to work in 2 years ago. By the end of the year, I'll oversee moving the data center to a location closer to my current office. A quick recap, if you care, of how and why I work where I do is here.

So this morning I rode the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the road I spent sooo many years commuting it became part of my pseudonym, through the Surekill I mean Schuylkill Expressway over to Ben Franklin bridge and into South Jersey. After taking care of business, and hooking up with a friend or three I used to work with, I hope to catch up with a buddy of mine in Philly before heading home.

Just like ol' times....



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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Political speech: banned in USA...

...thanks to Sens. McCain and Feingold:  

We are now 60 days from the midterm elections, a key date for anyone hoping to exercise free political speech in the world's first free and democratic republic. America has entered the John McCain-Russ Feingold blackout period, where the federal government must enforce a ban on any third-party political advertising that has the temerity to mention incumbent politicians by name.

Read more about how this atrocious law affects you at Captains Quarters.

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Scents and Sensibilities

My much-better-half thought she was doing me a favor by spraying Febreeze all over my car's interior.  

The minor reason why it wasn’t helpful is that it’s been raining for some time, so it is damp and humid, which means the Febreeze will never drive, at least not right away.

Complicating matters is that I hate the scent of Febreeze.   I mean, what is it?   It is not a ‘clean’ scent to me.  To me, inanimate objects that lack any discernable odor are clean smelling.  

And with my needing to be at a remote site tomorrow, with my predictable 2 hour commute, that aroma will be with me all day.

Gee… thanks hon!

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Robbing the state coffers to pay one school district

This is rich.

In 2004, PA Senator Rick Santorum was falsely accused of using money from his Penn Hills school district that his children were not entitled to use to pay for a Charter School tuition.  Under PA law, residents may enroll their children in Charter Schools that are located outside their local school district.

Sen. Santorum’s children were enrolled in a Virtual Charter School (VCS), and fully sanctioned school under PA law, that delivers a specific curriculum of study to children who are taught outside of classrooms.  The students typically learn in their homes, but can be anywhere there is an Internet connection.   These schools are becoming more and more popular each year, and the results speak for themselves.    School Districts, however, are up in arms over them, as the VCS’ are entitled to 80% of their costs per student from each School District.   With the lack of overhead a Brick and Mortar school has, VCS’ operate at significantly lower cost, so the 80% of the 100% of taxes paid to the School District goes a long way.

The accusations against Sen. Santorum revolved around how he owned two homes, one in the Penn Hills (PA) School District, and one in Virginia.  As he is a US Senator, it should come as no surprise that the Senator spends a great deal of time in the Washington, DC area;  a good family man, the Senator has his family spend a great deal of time in the DC area as well.  Without the school bus obligations, his children enrolled in a VCS means they can be educated and stay close to him when he is at the office.

The Penn Hills school district disputed whether the Santorums actually lived in Pennsylvania.  Did you read that sentence?  They questioned whether a sitting US Senator actually resided in his state.  

The issue largely cooled off when the Senator and Mrs. Santorum elected to remove their children from the VCS and instead home school them in a traditional manner.  The issue was stirred again this past week when Dr. Gerald Zahorchak, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education, authorized the expenditure of $55,000 to be paid to the Penn Hills school district to settle the dispute.   This payment does not address whether the Santorums did anything wrong, and neither he nor the VCS they used have any obligation to pay the State back any money.  

What remains unclear to me, a tax payer of the Commonwealth, is what authrority the Sec. of Education has to take monies from the general fund to pay a school district that can't read a plainly written law.

So instead of the residents of the Penn Hills School District encouraging their School Board to cease and desist their baseless attack on the Santorum family – who by all accounts were following both the letter and spirit of the Charter School provisions of PA Law – the entire tax base of the Commonwealth are paying the School District $55,000.
When one considers how the Secretary of Education is chosen by Governor Rendell, who is running for re-election, and how this senseless use of tax payer monies can be used to make the Santorum’s appear to have done something wrong, you have to wonder what the true motives of Dr. Zahochak were.

State agrees to pay Penn Hills schools
Sen. Rick Santorum should reimburse Penn Hills School District

See Sen. Santorum’s latest ad

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How many indeed?

How many licks?

Every now and then I see the old Tootsie Pop TV commercial:

Kid: Mr. Turtle... how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Turtle: I never made it without biting. Ask Mr. Owl.

Kid: Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Owl: (swiping the kids Tootsie Pop) Let's find out ... a one... a two-whoo... three (bites into it and hands the kid an empty stick). Three.

I don't why I am thinking about this commercial this morning, but Kathleen might be responsible.

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Signs of the changes in seasons

  • Yesterday, some of the tree tops in the mountains were showing early color changes
  • This morning, instead of having my drivers-side window open the entire commute, which is how I generally ride year round (downpours the only exception), I had to choose between closing the window or raising the heat; the window lost.
  • I got to my office parking lot just as the sun was rising; pretty soon it'll be dark when I arrive.



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Monday, September 04, 2006

This and that

Times have been more than a little hectic.   I haven’t managed a visit to my parents in Queens, NYC for about 6 months.   Some may say ‘so what, it’s a long ride’ but when they remember my daily commute is no longer than a drive to NYC it becomes apparent I need to manage my time better.  Logistics, the bulwark of my career, is something I need to focus on more in my personal life.

Dad’s latest toy is a talking caller-id.   It speaks the numbers of the incoming call, and then allows him to record the person’s name in his own voice for playback the next time that call comes in.  Pretty cool, especially since his eyesight has failed him.    At his prompting I phoned their home with my cell phone; by the second ring his voice, digitally recorded, announced Charlie’s cell phone. Neat, to say the least.

At the last minute, the one-day trip turned into an overnight, for which I was glad (not to mention my folks!).   While there I did some necessary house-cleaning on their PC, and saw some aunts and uncles who stopped in.   The four of us were in and out in about 24 hours, but that’s how it goes.

Ticking away the moments that make up the dog-days: My own blogging has suffered of late; I found no less than a dozen posts in DRAFT, waiting to be completed.    That most of them are so dated means I’ll probably not finish them, ever.   Which, of course, begs the question why blog at all?  

That’s a question I’ve found myself asking a lot of late.  Back in the spring I worked on a new template, showed it to Sue, a long time friend in real-life, who tried to be nice but basically said ‘you’re not serious, right?’ and so the template upgrade plan went idle.   The last time I did a major face-lift was just over 2 years ago, coinciding with my employment transition.    What I need, template-wise, is the assistance of someone who, unlike me, is not graphically-challenged and who will work for cheap (read: nothing, other than credit).   That everything connected to this blog is done on the cheap (free) is in line with my motto: If it’s free, it’s for me.  

Naturally, I don’t expect anyone to flood my inbox volunteering to upgrade this site, but who knows.

This morning, NYC news had all the live remotes from neighborhoods without power… and its always the same scenario: why does this happen? (a tree fell on your power lines), why does it take so long to fix?  (several hundred trees fell on several hundred power lines), etc.   Back when I started to repair my clothes washer, I had lost power for about 16 hours… I dealt with it in, in +80 temperatures.  No one came to my neighborhood, and for good reason: we all dealt with it.  No sense bitching.

What is it about TV reports?   They’re always the same thing:  studio anchor sets up the piece, throws it to the reporter doing a live remote.   Reporter sets up the piece again, and cues a tape in the studio.   Tape ends, the live reporter is cued to offer a closing word, says her/his name, and throws it back to the anchor.   So why did we go to the live remote, if that person only cued the tape report?  Often, we (the viewer) are taken to a courthouse, sometimes at 5AM, to be told It was here last night that accused axe murder was found guilty or It will be here that the accused will learn his fate…. Why do we have these live remotes from places that aren’t even open, as if standing on the court house steps somehow enhances the story?

While traveling both to and from NY I encountered idiots in the EZ-Pass lane.  Again.  Coincidenatlly (I am sure) both times the offending vehicles had NJ tags.   Not making any further comment.  I had wondered if I ever complained about these kinds of ignorant drivers in the past, and found I did.   I suppose if I am forgetting what I blogged about, less than a year ago, it may mean I am not even paying attention to what I write.

I thought RSS was supposed to make life easier?  In other news, as my blog posting has taken a hit in frequency, so has my blog reading.  I will be making some drastic cuts in my Bloglines feed list.  For those with a blog who are, even now, checking their position in my feed list, remember please that I sort them by newest-first, so don’t be offended if yours is not at the top of the list (better make a post).  My Daily Read list has grown so much I don’t know how to keep up with my reading and manage to stay employed.    As my responsibilities have grown of late, it’s apparent I am appreciated, so I am in no danger, but it is getting time consuming.   With over 150 feeds, it’s something I ought to clean out before I find work interrupting my reading, instead of vice-versa.

Sacrilege: As I’ve mused in the past, my much-better-half and sons have an affinity to Country Music, something I can stand only slightly easier than Gangsta Rap.  Yesterday morning some gal on the radio was singing Take Another Piece of My Heart, and while I am sure she was singing her best, it was that fact alone that was so dispiriting.    How a soft-spoken singer can take a masterpiece of Janice Joplin’s and not do it justice, never mind releasing it at all, simply amazes me.  I’ve Google’d trying to identify the Country singer to no avail; any idea whose CD I ought no buy for my much-better-half??

Summer, officially or otherwise, has drawn to a close.  We’ll take a much needed vacation in the next few weeks (the aforementioned much-better-half deserves some room service, for example), and we really haven’t been away in 4 years, so we’re more than due.   I used to so look forward to the summer, as it’s probably my favorite season.   But as each year comes and goes even faster than the last, it’s all just the same to me.

I have soo much to post about, regarding politics, that I don’t know where to start, so at the risk of procrastinating I’ll put it off for now.   I have lots to shuffle through before my morning ride (check out the technical blogs I read, for starters), so I will wind this down.  

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A 512 character buffer

Using GMail via my cell phone WAP browser means my posts are limited
to 512 characters. Look for more on why Senator Santorum was
unfairly accused of cheating his home school district on Tuesday.

--
Charlie On The Pennsylvania Turnpike
http://whatsit2you.blogspot.com

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Of monster trucks, road trips and elections

It's been nearly 36 hours since I've had a chance to read or post. In
that time I spent a rain soaked evening participating in a Karate
demo, followed by a monster truck show (also rain soaked) with my 10
year old. On Sunday I opted to forgo watching Meet The Press to
instead drive to Nyc to see my folks. While I plan to download the
MTP debate bet. Mr. Casey & Sen. Santorum, I wanted to state my
objection to the PA Dept. of Ed. for meddling in the disbute over the
Senator's use of a VCS.

--
Charlie On The Pennsylvania Turnpike
http://whatsit2you.blogspot.com

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Fuel Prices Keep Coming Down!

On a holiday weekend no less, regular unleaded gas selling for $2.59.9 !

--

Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com

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Any questions? Any Answers?

Any questions? Any answers?
Any rags? Any bones? Any bottles today? Any rags?
Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff,
portrayed by Groucho Marx, Horse Feathers 1932

I am very much accustomed to password procedures, but today presented a new twist to me. I am used to strong passwords, those that are at least 10 characters in length, do not contain a word that is commonly found in the dictionary, that include special characters (i.e. $%#^), and are alpha-numeric. A common method of conceiving such passwords is to use a numeric replacement of letters, in an almost l33t fashion, such as p@55W0rd .

Today I was presented the following screen:

Click for larger view

I am tasked to name at least 5 answers to these challenge questions:

  • Name of first pet
  • Favorite color
  • Make of favorite car
  • Name of street I grew up on
  • Last name of my favorite teacher
  • First name of childhood friend
  • Favorite sports team

Incredible! And should I forget my password, the system will randomly grab 3 of these to challenge me at proving who I am. Now I understand and accept the security measures connected to my employment, but this was most extreme for a website password.

Picking 4 was easy, but deciding on the last one took some time.

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Labor Day Meme: At this very moment....

As seen at La Shawn Barber's Corner:

1. Are you craving anything and if so, what?

— I crave the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Oh wait, I do know that already (it's 42). While I have no complaints about my salary, I could always stand to earn more money.

2. What is the weather outside, and do you wish it would change?

— In New Jersey, its terribly cloudy and threatening rain. While I work entirely too far from where I live, the weather at home is not much better. Ordinarily I wouldn't care, but our local Fair has had a terrible week, weather wise. Many local firehouses and churches derive their revenue from selling various fair-food, and this week has had a bad attendance due to the rain. My Karate school was scheduled for 2 demos this week, and we were rained out Sunday. Here's hoping for a clear night tonight.

3. What two websites do you think you will go to next after you are finished here?

— Oh, something boring and work related (sorry: can't divulge the URL). After that, Bloglines, without a doubt. If someone like La Shawn scans less than a dozen feeds, am I doing something wrong with over a 100 in my feed list?

4. Do you wish you were somewhere else and if so, where?

— The fictional character Buckaroo Bonzai first coined the phrase no matter where you go, there you are (see the numerous other sources for this quote). No, I really have no other place to go, other than home, after work.

5. Do you wish you were someone else, and if so, who?

I am who I am who I am who am I
Requesting some enlightenment
Could I have been anyone other than me?
- Dave Matthews Band

Really, who else could I be?


Your turn! Comment or track back from your own site.



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