Tuesday, 03 March 2009

Splitting the difference

Jeff Jacoby:

WINTER DOESN’T OFFICIALLY END for another three weeks, but Daylight Savings Time arrives next Sunday, and with it the semiannual aggravation of resetting every clock and watch in our lives. (Don’t forget the microwave! And the car dashboard!) Must we be saddled forever with this World War I-era relic? Contrary to popular belief, daylight savings doesn’t reduce energy consumption, it increases it. And not everybody relishes late-evening daylight; plenty of people would rather see sunlight earlier in the morning.

We can end this spring-forward-fall-back madness once and for all — and we can do so without having to choose between daylight time and standard time. The solution is simply to split the difference: Let’s amend the Uniform Time Act so that clocks would be shifted by 30 minutes — then let’s leave them that way for good.

posted by retrophisch at 10:33 PM -->in nature , rant , that's life
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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The End Times

Tony Woodlief never fails to amuse me in some fashion:

[T]his is what we have come to: a grown man, grooming his eyebrows in traffic, using his rear-view mirror. In Wichita.

posted by retrophisch at 3:04 PM -->in fun , quote , rant
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Monday, 05 March 2007

Yeah, what he said

Tom’s thoughts on the National Anthem mirror my own.

The missus can regale you with many a tale of Super Bowl, college bowl, NASCAR, baseball, hockey, and other sports viewing wherein I severely critique the anthem singing because they fail in one of the ways Tom speaks of.

Look, we know you’re a good singer. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been chosen in the first place. And if it’s a major sporting event, we know you’re a great singer.

(Or you’re just the flavor of the month, since we all know popularity doesn’t necessarily reflect impressive skill.)

(We do know that, right?)

posted by retrophisch at 1:41 PM -->in baseball , football , hockey , rant
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Sunday, 25 February 2007

Don’t Ban Incandescents

From the 02.26.07 edition of Red Herring magazine:

California’s proposed incandescent bulb ban (see “Could California Ban the Bulb?” RedHerring.com, February 1, 2007) is ridiculous! Fluorescent bulbs may last longer (not in my house) but you have to include the cost of the ballast and the starter in both energy to produce and additional expense of the fixture. When these and the additional cost of installation are included in the equation, plus fixture replacement costs due to poor reliability, the cost of fluorescent lighting is vastly more expensive than incandescent lighting. Incandescent lighting is also better for the health of our eyes and sanity as that endless flicker fatigues the eyes and drives people nuts!

Fluorescent bulbs are also considered hazardous waste. The energy costs to clean up or keep the environment clean are not worth the few bucks saved at the meter. This ban is not a good idea. Neither is Title 24, which bans incandescent sockets in new-home construction. People just change out the fluorescent fixtures to incandescent after the house has been inspected. Then the fixtures just end up in the dump. I for one will just buy my bulbs out of state and stock up.

The best way to reduce energy waste is to educate people and business to not waste it. Turn the lights off when not in use!

—Roger Smith, Bishop, California

With the mass, recent push for everyone to switch to fluorescent bulbs, I thought a contrarian point of view might be good for discussion.

posted by retrophisch at 1:44 PM -->in liberty , rant , tech
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Thursday, 18 January 2007

Once again, we learn why they’re called analysts

So let me get this straight:

Apple sets new company records for revenue and profit, beats the Street’s estimates, and ships 28 percent more Macs and 50 percent more iPods than they did this time a year ago, but because a bunch of analysts don’t like future estimates, the stock price takes a dive?

No wonder monkeys do just as good a job at the stock market as analysts.

posted by retrophisch at 8:25 PM -->in Macintosh , ipod , rant
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Sunday, 31 December 2006

Doomed by the dish

So it’s the biggest college football weekend of the year.

And I’m missing all of it.

I am not doing so willingly.

Friday, we had some thunderstorms in the area. Nothing too bad, though the rain was intense at times, and we had a few lightning strikes here and there. But it’s rained much worse, and we’ve had lightning last longer.

Our DirecTV satellite dish system became inoperable at some point Friday afternoon. Two days later, still nothing. It would seem, after all the troubleshooting I’ve done, that the problem is the dish is out of alignment.

My bride thinks the disalignment began with the severe cold snap we got last month, which brought in some ice, and we lost the satellite signal for about a day. She thinks, and I can’t find any fault in her logic, the weight from whatever ice collected on the dish was enough to begin the process, and wind since has steadily moved it more until it’s just off enough that we’re getting nothing.

Except last night.

At midnight.

When we were turning in, and I just kicked on the satellite receiver for the heck of it.

This morning, nada. Nothing. Reset all three receivers. Zip. Zero. On startup, the receivers never get beyond 0% in receiving the satellite signal. I’ve checked cables on all the receivers. I checked the cables in the OnQ box upstairs. My friend Drew suggested I disconnect one of the satellite lines from the multiplexer in the OnQ box and hook it directly in to one of the receivers, to rule out the multiplexer as the problem.

So I lugged my JVC 13-inch television, and the attached receiver, from the study, upstairs to the OnQ box, and plugged it in directly. Still nothing.

So, having ruled out everything else, it has to be the dish itself.

This is what was determined yesterday afternoon, when, after 24 hours of no signal, I called DirecTV technical support. (Note: If you have to do this, never waste time with the first-line customer service reps. All of the ones I’ve spoken with have been pleasant, but they’ve got limited knowledge, and your best bet is to ask them to connect you to “second-tier tech support”, where more knowledgeable folks reside.) The tech rep I spoke with, after I explained to her everything I had done to that point, said it sounded like everything had been ruled out but the dish itself. So she scheduled a technician to come out to the house to get up on the roof to realign the dish.

Thursday.

Thursday.

Just in case you didn’t catch that, the tech is coming on Thursday.

Thursday, January 4th. After which there is only one bowl game of any significance, the BCS Championship Game.

So if I get to watch any of the big bowl games tomorrow, it will only be due to Brent’s generosity in inviting me over to his place. I’ll get to watch the bowl game I care about the most, LSU vs Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, over at Drew’s. (Which isn’t bad, since we all went to LSU, Drew and I were in ROTC together, and it’s always fun to watch the games with fellow alumni.) Still…Thursday?

Apparently the technicians don’t work on Sunday, and I can’t begrudge them a day off during the week. They’re not working on what is likely the second-biggest football day of the year (after Super Bowl Sunday, of course), since it’s New Year’s Day, and I can’t begrudge them having that day off, either. Likewise, no techs are being scheduled on Tuesday the 2d, as that’s the National Day of Mourning for President Ford. I can’t begrudge them that, either. And since Wednesday is the first day available after three straight days of unavailability, it’s booked solid when I called on Saturday afternoon. So I’m left with Thursday.

And while I can’t begrudge the techs the above three days off, I’m still left with the feeling that this all stinks. The timing absolutely sucks. At no point did anyone from DirecTV say, “Gee, you’ve been a customer of ours for nearly a decade. Let’s see how soon we can get someone out there.” Which would of course have made me deliriously happy, but we can’t always get what we want, which is someone out right now to fix the problem.

Because the problem is about twenty feet up, on the roof of our second-story home with a steep, pitched roof, and I have no ladder taller than eight feet. And while I don’t fear heights, the prospect of getting on the steep, pitched roof while it’s as windy as it is today—provided I had a ladder taller than eight feet—isn’t very appealing.

I know what those of you who know me are probably thinking: Why don’t you have Verizon’s FiOS TV, anyway? You have the fiber optic for Internet and phone, why not for television, too?

A good question, certainly, and the answer is this: because earlier this year, midway through January and before FiOS TV was available, my bride placed an order with DirecTV for two of their new satellite receiver/DVR units, and this locked us in to a new, two-year contract with DirecTV. Even though we were long out of our original contract. That’s why we don’t have FiOS TV. (And please don’t think I blame my wife in any way. The receivers these new ones replaced were old, and sucked, and we wanted DVR capability in the study and bedroom.)

I’m seriously considering looking into what it would cost us to break that last year with DirecTV. I’ve been looking at TiVo units direct from TiVo, because, despite the company’s problems, their product is still the best DVR available, and all others pale in comparison. There may be a hefty cost for a switch now, but I’m wondering if it would be worth it to never again have to worry about being doomed by a unaligned dish.

posted by retrophisch at 5:29 PM -->in football , rant , tech
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Tuesday, 03 October 2006

Frustration at the P.O.

(With apologies to Eudora Welty.)

Since I began unloading some CDs on Amazon Marketplace, I’ve been spending more time than usual at my local post office. In an effort to maximize my profit margin, like a good little capitalist, I’ve been using my tax dollar-funded government mail service to ship the Marketplace-sold items.

The majority of these items have been CDs, which I pop in to a CD mailer—purchased in bulk at our local OfficeMax—then slap a postage label on to before depositing it in the outgoing mail slot within the post office. I haven’t stood in line to interact with a postal worker to mail any of these items, instead using my good friend, the Automated Postal Center. (If you’ve never used an APC, think of it as an ATM that instead of dispensing cash takes it, and in return weighs your letter or light package and spits out the proper postage.)

So, as I was saying, I’ve always used the APC, and never had to wait in line to get postage.

Until today.

On Saturday, while out with my sweet, I stopped by the post office with the full intent of using the APC and leaving the outgoing CD in the appropriate mail slot, and getting on with the rest of our evening.

Only the APC was unable to dispense the postage for this particular parcel.

Because it’s going to an APO.

I got a message on the APC’s screen stating it was unable to provide postage for APO addresses, and I would have to stand in the always-long line and wait to interact with a postal worker. Sigh…

Today, after dropping the little phisch off at school, I steeled myself and entered the doors of the post office. Looking forlornly at the Automated Postal Center, standing by itself, waiting to be used, which no one was, I shuffled to the back of the already-long line.

Then I noticed that of the four stations at the counter from which a postal worker should be interacting with the citizens that fund their always-in-the-red dysfunctional “business”, there was one worker.

Twenty-five minutes later—I was so glad I had the foresight to bring a magazine—I began my interaction with the aforementioned solo postal worker. She did not know why the APC was unable to handle postage for an APO address. No, there was nothing really special about the APO address which would negate the APC being able to to process postage for it. It was likely just a matter of someone somewhere not having gotten around to programming the APC to handle APO postage. (Or better yet, some management bureaucrat not having made the decision to provide postage for APO addresses through the APC.) No, the APO postage for first-class mail was not any more expensive than first-class mail to any where else in the country. (Every CD I’ve shipped individually has been US $1.35. Every one. Including this one.)

So a half hour out of my morning to get the same little sticky piece of postage from a human that I could have gotten in two minutes from the Automated Postal Center. I’m thinking of running the calculations to see if the half hour of my time was worth the profit-margin savings. Then again, that just might frustrate me more.

posted by retrophisch at 11:25 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 23 August 2006

And Sony wonders why they’re losing to Samsung and Apple

We have a Sony DirecTV/Tivo unit my mother-in-law gave as a Christmas gift to us several years ago. In techno-age, it’s ready to retire and move to Florida, but it still does the job, and the TiVo interface is still light-years ahead of DirecTV’s own DVR receivers, of which we have two.

Some of the buttons on the Sony remote have stopped working, however, and it’s finally gotten to the point where we need a new remote. A trip to Sony’s web site reveals they no longer sell the remote (shocker, I know), but there is an online form with which you can inquire as to parts. So I fill it out, noting we have the DirecTV receiver/TiVo DVR combo unit, as well as putting in the only part numbers I’m able to find any where on the remote itself.

This was a month ago.

Today, I receive a reply from Sony. Therein, I’m told:

I think you might have model SVR2000. If this is it, the remote is rmtv303 (147603612) which is nla. Please go on www.yahoo.com and type in either the part number of the model number of the remote and do a search. There still should be internet distribuors that carry it.

Fine and dandy, this was along the lines of what I was expecting. Except the genius got the model number wrong, and the part number for the remote wrong. I only discovered this after doing exactly what is suggested above, running a Yahoo search. On one page which listed several remotes, I discovered another part number for a Sony TiVo remote, and it turned out to be the correct one.

For the record, the SVR2000 is the Sony TiVo DVR; it is not the DirecTV receiver/TiVo combo. That is model SAT-T60. The remote part number for the SAT-T60 is RM-Y809. I found a new one for $55, with a 30-day, money-back guarantee (yay, Yahoo!). This is future reference for myself, as well as help for anyone else who may find themselves in a similar situation.

I just think it shows very bad form for a Sony employee to, (a) take a month to respond, and (b) when finally responding, providing the wrong information. I was very explicit in noting that we had the DirecTV receiver/TiVo combo, and not the TiVo-only SVR2000.

Sony has rested on its laurels, and formerly well-deserved reputation, for too long, and it continues to result in products no one are buying, and poor customer service after the fact.

posted by retrophisch at 10:10 AM -->in rant , tech
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Monday, 21 August 2006

Do you know what sucks?

Having a quarter bottle of picante sauce in the fridge, plus an unopened bottle in the pantry, and not a single tortilla chip any where in the house.

posted by retrophisch at 11:23 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 06 August 2006

The Anti-Semitism Story No One’s Talking About

Jeff Jacoby has a great piece on he disparity in reporting regarding Mel Gibson’s drunken racial slurs, and Naveed Haq’s murderous rampage at a Jewish center in Seattle. The latter is yet another example, as Jacoby points out, noting other such type attacks which have taken place over the past few years, of members of the “Religion of Peace” suddenly developing “Sudden Jihad Syndrome”.

A Christian, who is such a rabid anti-abortionist that he begins killing doctors who perform the operation, is news fodder for weeks. But if a Muslim walks up to the counter of the Israeli-owned airline El Al, killing two people as he sprays the ticket area with bullets, it’s quickly swept under the proverbial rug. What is the media’s reluctance to point out what we know to be true: that the so-called “Religion of Peace” shows, day in and day out by the behavior of its adherents, that it is anything but.

posted by retrophisch at 10:15 AM -->in politics , rant
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Thursday, 20 July 2006

Miscellany

If only I had room in any of my bathrooms for one of these.

* * *

Just when you think there might be some hope in this world that the tide of sexual immorality would take a turn for the better, something like the Shame On You Kit pops up. How about never putting yourself in the situation to have to have a “Shame On You Kit”?

* * *

As a satisfied customer, I highly recommend KnowledgeNews, which today had a bit on the differences between viruses and bacteria. I loved this analogy:

Imagine it this way. If just one of the 10 to 100 trillion cells in your body were the size of a baseball park, the average bacterium would be the size of the pitcher’s mound. The average virus would be the size of the baseball.

posted by retrophisch at 7:34 PM -->in learning , rant , tech
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Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Miscellany

As is so often the case with video or film, the music totally makes the FedEx pilots drive around thunderstorm short film.

* * *

I sincerely hope JPMorgan Chase & Co. realize they just flushed $150 million.

* * *

This may have been posited elsewhere, but I think when the Power Mac G5 replacement ships, it will simply be called “Mac Pro”. You have the Pro designation separating the portable models, and they’re not going to call a tower/desktop without a built-in monitor “iMac Pro”. Apple will still want to differentiate the line from the consumer series, so it will just be Mac Pro.

posted by retrophisch at 10:45 AM -->in Macintosh , fun , rant
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Monday, 10 April 2006

You boys are kidding, right?

Look, I’m just as much of a word nerd as Jim, Erik, or John, but gentlemen, with all due respect, this has to be the dumbest idea for a boycott I’ve heard in a while.

Besides, I get better customer service from Walgreens than I do from CVS, so I’ll pass on this particular boycott.

posted by retrophisch at 11:13 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 05 February 2006

“We don’t anticipate any management mistakes.”

Given my personal experience working for Verizon, and continuously hearing stories from my friends who are still employed there, this rings so true.

posted by retrophisch at 1:42 PM -->in fun , rant
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Thursday, 19 January 2006

The latest on mobile phone manners

Tony Long:

Look, the world is not your personal playground. Do not share with us your musical tastes; do not share with us your latest wheelings and dealings. In public places, you have an obligation to hold up your end of the implied social contract by not imposing yourself on those around you. This is crucial to a civilized society and just because technology allows you to act like a braying ass in public doesn’t mean you should do it. Quite the contrary, in fact. You need to be more aware of your surroundings than ever.

I particularly liked one suggestion:

Ditch the ring tone and put the phone on vibrate. The only person who cares about an incoming call on your phone is you. Don’t worry, you’ll feel it. (It feels go-o-o-od.) Most ring tones are not only intrusive, they’re inane.

One feature I like on my phone, and I’m sure it’s on most new phones, is the option to have it simultaneously vibrate and ring. My phone vibrates first, then starts the ring tone, so I can usually nab it when only the first couple of notes are playing. It’s also dead simple to change from “Vibe & Ring” to “Vibrate” when the situation demands (church, movies, restaurants).

The fact that most ring tones are inane is why I roll my own. My “standard” ring tone is the opening twenty-two seconds of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. When strangers hear it, I always get a knowing smile, or a quizzical look that says, I know that melody, but I can’t quite place it… It’s certainly unique, and I won’t confuse it with anyone else’s ring.

Which brings me to my own mobile phone usage tip: change your ring tone from whatever the default is. (If you can; I realize older phones still in use may not have that option.) I don’t know why, but I find it irritating when the default Moto or Nokia ring tone goes off. Find something else. Please.

posted by retrophisch at 11:30 PM -->in phone , rant
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Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Every rose has its thorn

If Tiff is feeling old, then I must be positively ancient.

Speaking of depressing age news, I have noted that I am now in another, less desirable demographic, what with the birthday last month.

Previously, when filling out surveys and such, I could confidently click on the age demographic buttons for 25-34, or 26-34, or however they broke it down. Now, it seems every single age demographic mapping I would fall in to is listed as 35-50. Fifty?

Granted, we do grow to be more like our parents the older we get, but from a pop culture standpoint, I can tell you I have little in common with my fifty-something parents. (No, I do not use the term “fifty-something” because I have no idea how old my parents are. I know exactly how old they are, but because they are not the same age, I thought the more generic “fifty-something” was more appropriate.)

For the record, Tiff, I’ve seen the same commercial, and come to the same realization. It’s nice to know another closet metal-head is out there.

posted by retrophisch at 10:23 AM -->in rant
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Thursday, 12 January 2006

Hot Potato

Is it not enough that as the father of a two year-old, I already hear “Hot Potato” by The Wiggles in my sleep, that now Special K has to use it for their idiotic diet commercials?

posted by retrophisch at 11:16 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Dear Papa John’s

Normally, when we order out for fast-food pizza, we order from a Papa John’s franchise. We usually order a thin-crust pizza of some type.

Tonight, we decided to try the Papa’s Perfect Pan, the subject of much advertising of late.

We will not be ordering this particular pizza again.

What kind of pans are you running through that oven? When it comes to fast-food pizza, this version of the Pan Pizza can’t hold a candle to Pizza Hut’s venerable pan-style pizza. Not only in terms of taste, but for me, the latter evokes memories of college, and my comrades from ROTC, as a personal pan pizza and the salad bar, coupled with the largest iced tea possible, was our after-drill meal on Thursdays. Good stuff, and good pizza. For fast-food pizza, that is.

Papa, you’ve got something to learn from the Hut in this area.

posted by retrophisch at 9:11 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 14 November 2005

Today’s miscellany

Yeah, it’s been up a few days, but I’m just getting to it, okay? John Gruber has come around, much as I have recently, to the notion of PowerBook-as-main/only-system, a concept Lee has been a proponent of for some time. John also has an in-depth review of the latest 15-inch PowerBook, outfitted just as I would like, with his usual attention to detail.

It’s Monday evening, and I’m still sore from the neighborhood tree planting from Saturday morning. Eleven ten-gallon trees to go in the neighborhood’s greenbelt area. Seventy homes, with an average of two adults per home. Seven people showed up, including myself. Yeah.

An interesting tip I picked up from No Plot? No Problem! shows an innovative use for all that spam that gets collected for me. This one writer keeps a list of names that show up in the From field of spam e-mails, so she always has a pool of character names to pull from. I really like this, since usually when I’m working on fiction, I can come up with two or three good character names, then I start really pulling stuff out of bodily orifices. A simple text document in BBEdit now has 305 names, one per line, and the built-in Kill Duplicates filter ensures I don’t have the same name twice.

posted by retrophisch at 6:43 PM -->in Macintosh , rant , tech , writing
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Sunday, 13 November 2005

VZW needs a new ad agency

Am I the only one that thinks the new “It’s the network” series of commercials for Verizon Wireless are actually more annoying than the old “Can you hear me now?” commercials?

Update: Okay, I am forced to admit to a redeeming quality of these commercials. Tom’s passionate defense of them as funny via IM made me laugh. “Perhaps goth angst doesn’t translate to Texan” has to be the IM quote of the day.

posted by retrophisch at 10:09 PM -->in phone , rant
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Tuesday, 08 November 2005

Go to vote, get a ticket

Alternative title: My Moron Moment of the Day

Of course, I have no one to blame but myself.

Each election cycle, Denton County, in its infinite wisdom, changes the polling place for our precinct, and apparently for all precincts in the county. This election was no different. So after finding out we would be voting at Bridlewood Elementary, I set off to vote.

I have passed by the Bridlewood development several times, but have never been inside. There is a golf club as part of the development, and part of the fairway parallels Bridlewood Boulevard. I followed my Yahoo! Maps directions, and turned off the main road to get to the school. After navigating a couple of turns, I find myself on Remington Park Drive, the street the school is on. I’m doing about 30, and slow to 20 when I hit the school zone, which starts near the top of a rise. As I begin to crest the rise, I see the school on my left, and a red sign with “Vote Here” in black and a large white arrow directing me in to the school’s parking lot. I come down the rise, put on my blinker, and turn left in to the school parking lot. Then I hear the “Whoop!” of the motorcycle’s cop siren. He does a single blast, and that’s enough to get my attention.

I pull over to one side of the aisle I’m on, wondering what I’m getting stopped for. It couldn’t be the school zone speed limit. I was doing twenty. I know I was doing twenty, because I’m fastidious about keeping it at twenty while in a school zone. Did I bump up to 22, maybe, coming down the rise? He’s going to give me a citation for that? These are the thoughts running through my head as he walks up to the window.

Driver’s license, insurance, I hand them over. He checks to make sure the insurance is current and hands the paper back. Then he asks if I know why he stopped me, and I tell him, no, I don’t. “You missed a stop sign back there, Mr. Turner.”

I did what?

Yep, never saw it. Sure enough, as I was leaving the school after I voted, there it was. Just on the down slope of that rise. I allowed my attention to laser-focus on the school and that “Vote Here” sign, and I totally missed the stop sign. (Stupid developer, putting a cul-de-sac right there in the middle of a down slope…)

So now I get to do the payment + defensive driving course (hopefully I can do the video version) thing, to keep this off my record and from affecting my insurance. It’s not good to be unemployed and broke, and have to cough up money because you were stupid. So again, totally my fault for not paying attention, and this voting experience could have been better.

On the totally geeky side of things, the officer had a handheld computer which allowed him to scan in my license info—thanks to the handy magnetic strip on the back—then punch in the violation, then I signed on the screen a la signing for a package from UPS or FedEx. He punched another button, and a paper version of the citation rolled out of the top. Nice to see the Town saving a little money by doing away with cases of duplicate/triplicate citations. I’m sure there’s a time savings, too, for the officer when he turns in the citations at the end of his shift. If I had to get a ticket, pretty nifty way to have done so.

posted by retrophisch at 4:44 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 23 October 2005

And you built it that way why?

It rains nine months out of the year in Seattle. So why oh why would you replace an aging dome with an open-air stadium? Collective stupidity?

posted by retrophisch at 5:16 PM -->in football , rant
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Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Why stock analysts are worthless

(Alternative title: There’s an reason the word “anal” is in “analyst”)

Apple quadruples its profit, but the stock takes a ten percent-plus dive because the company “missed” the number of iPod sales stock analysts —who are not employees of Apple, do not sit on the Board of Directors, and who are not Apple executives— said they thought the company should have sold? They sold 6.4 million iPods in a three months. How many Rios did Creative sell in the last three months? Oh, that’s right, they canned that music player.

Hold on, it gets better.

Those same analysts, who are poo-pooing Apple for failing to sell as many iPods as the analysts thought they should have sold, seem to think Delphi is a good buy. No wonder monkeys are just as good at the stock market as these guys.

[With thanks to John Gruber, and Matt Deatherage and W.R. Wing on the MacJournals-Talk list.]

posted by retrophisch at 10:46 PM -->in Macintosh , ipod , rant
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Saturday, 24 September 2005

So we’re even rewriting sports history right now

Attention Steve Levy and the rest of ESPN’s anchors:

USC did not win the national championship in 2003.

USC did not win the national championship in 2003.

USC did

not

win

the national championship in 2003.

The Trojans did not play in the BCS national championship game for the 2003 season. The BCS was created to determine a single national champion. For 2003, that national champion is LSU.

USC is not a two-time defending national champion. If you continue to insist they are, then I expect you to also refer to Auburn as a current defending national champion.

posted by retrophisch at 10:13 PM -->in football , rant
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Wednesday, 21 September 2005

I’m thinking Cluetrain should be required reading for the Authors Guild

Note to self: do not join the clueless Authors Guild.

I echo Gruber’s sentiments regarding the decision of the Authors Guild to sue Google over Google Print. For one, an author can choose to exclude his work in a fairly simple process. Second, as an aspiring author, were I to publish a book, I would love to see it read by as many people as possible. If Google Print helped me accomplish that, so much the better.

posted by retrophisch at 2:12 PM -->in rant , tech , web/site
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Thursday, 15 September 2005

And yet a part of me still misses corporate America

My employed friends almost daily remind me of the travails of life in corporate America. I’d still like a job, thanks.

IMs on dealing with HR


posted by retrophisch at 4:02 PM -->in rant
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Friday, 09 September 2005

Do I look like a narcissistic metrosexual to you?

An unsolicited copy of the premier issue of Men’s Vogue arrived in the daily post.

What.

The.

Hell.

???

posted by retrophisch at 3:03 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 05 September 2005

The mattress scam

The time has come. We made the decision to transition our two year-old to a “big boy bed.” Not an actual bed with a frame and headboard, mind you; we’re just throwing the mattress on top of the box springs on the floor. Parental common sense: it’s fewer inches they will fall when they roll themselves off the edge. Parental common sense, part deux: it’s shoved in to the corner, cutting the number of edges available for rolling off in half.

So we took advantage of the Labor Day sales this holiday weekend and went mattress shopping. I thought I would pass along some helpful hints, should you find yourself in this situation. (Which you will, eventually, unless you enjoy self-induced spine curvature because you’re still sleeping on the mattress you took to college with you nearly twenty years ago.)

Forget comparison shopping. Mattress stores will sell the same brands, but it will be impossible for you to compare models. Why? Because the mattress manufacturers and retailers are sadists, that’s why.

Manufacturer X has a nice medium-range mattress, which is in demand by three different retailers. So Manufacturer X has three separate tags identifying this mattress for Retailers 1, 2, and 3. Therefore, when you are in Retailer 2, and looking at Mattress X2, you have no idea it’s the exact same mattress as the X1 you saw at Retailer 1. And so on. So forget comparison shopping.

Throw the price guarantee back in their face. All three of the retailers whose doors we darkened offered some form of a price guarantee: matching, 110% of the difference, etc. It’s totally laughable, because of the lack of comparison-shopping ability consumers have when it comes to mattresses. They know you’re not going to find the Sealy Posturepedic X95J Super Sleeper any where else, because it’s not called the X95J Super Sleeper any where else. It will be called the F4 Dream Cushion, have a different fabric covering it, and you’ll be none the wiser.

So when the sales person mentions the price guarantee while you’re browsing, you can laugh and tell him he is full of it.

Hire a babysitter. I’m sure a neighbor would’ve been happy to watch our son for a couple of hours, but I didn’t think about this until after the fact. Consumer Reports recommends lying on a mattress in the store for 15 minutes to get a definitive feel for its comfort. Obviously the anal-retentives at CR have never gone mattress shopping with their Thomas the Tank Engine-obsessed two year-old in tow. One is unable to lie on a mattress for 15 seconds as the aforementioned two year-old tears up and down the aisles, running his Thomas and Percy trains over the mattresses as he goes.

In the end, buying a mattress is still a gut call. We didn’t want to go cheap, but we didn’t want to spend a grand on a set, either. We were looking for something in the middle, that would get him to his teenage years. Hopefully, we have succeeded.

posted by retrophisch at 8:57 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 04 September 2005

Further proof Alec Baldwin sucks

George Carlin is a better narrator for Thomas the Tank Engine.

posted by retrophisch at 7:57 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 22 August 2005

Are you kidding? Dracula?

Nothing proves more how the mainstream media has gone off their collective rocker than the fact that this week, ABC’s 20/20 is devoted to the myth of Dracula.

posted by retrophisch at 9:09 PM -->in rant
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Saturday, 20 August 2005

This is science fiction?

Since when does Liar, Liar qualify as science fiction? I just saw an advertisement on SciFi declaring they will be showing it next week. I didn’t realize they were so desperate for time fillers…

posted by retrophisch at 11:26 PM -->in rant
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The NCAA Football Championship BS has already begun

No, that is not a typo in the title. I mean “BS,” not “BCS,” though some would argue they have become one and the same.

I mention this because a few moments ago I flipped on the idiot box to channel surf while relaxing for a few minutes. The satellite receiver had been left on NBC, which is showing the AVP Nissan Manhattan Beach Open, the women’s final, to be specific. They were just coming back from commercial, and noted that in attendance was a large portion of the USC Trojan football team. Then there was the magical BS moment:

“It’s hard enough for a team to win a national title, much less three, which no team has ever done before…” said spokesbabe to Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart.

She was, of course, referring to the fact that USC is ranked #1 in the pre-season polls, and the Trojans will be the frontrunners for another national title in NCAA football. She is, of course, wrong, as is any other sports broadcaster, to suggest that USC may become the first team to win three in a row.

USC did not win the national championship in 2003.

Let me say that again, for the many Trojan worshippers out there, including those infesting sports broadcasting.

USC did not win the national championship in 2003.

That honor went to LSU, which defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS National Championship.

The whole point of the BCS, despite its myriad shortcomings, is to have a clear national champion at the end of the college football season. The whole point of the BCS is that there will no longer be a shared national title. One champion. One.

LSU was the national championship team for 2003. USC was the national championship team for 2004. USC will not become the first team to win three national titles in a row, should they prevail in 2005.

Was USC denied this opportunity, by virtue of Oklahoma being ranked higher in the standings at the end of the year, and getting the shot against LSU in the Sugar Bowl? Undoubtedly. Just as Auburn was denied the opportunity of a national title by virtue of Oklahoma being ranked higher at the end of the 2004 season. Chalk it up to a bias toward Oklahoma in the poll voters. (I note with amusement that now, having gotten it wrong two years in a row, Oklahoma doesn’t even break the Top 5 in any of the preseason polls.)

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: If USC and its worshippers want LSU to share the national title with them for 2003, then USC must share the 2004 title with Auburn. Leinart and Co. will be going for their second title in a row this year, not their third.

posted by retrophisch at 4:39 PM -->in fun , rant
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Wednesday, 17 August 2005

What should they do with the company, Michael?

The company Michael Dell said should be sold off and the money given to its shareholders is kicking his butt:

Overall customer satisfaction with the PC industry is unchanged from a year ago at 74, but changes within the industry give Apple a commanding lead. The PC maker maintains big improvements from 2003 and 2004, holding at 81 for a second year. Apple’s sales are up 33%, net income has grown 300% and its stock price has nearly tripled over the past year. A slew of product innovations and an emphasis on digital technologies and customer service have been very successful for Apple with a high degree of customer loyalty as a result.

Dell is a different story. Based on a strategy of mass customization, the #1 PC maker worldwide has been a leader in customer satisfaction for several years. This quarter, it suffers a sharp drop in ACSI, down 6% to 74. Customer service in particular has become a problem, and service quality lags not only Apple but also the rest of the industry. Customer complaints are up significantly with long wait-times and difficulties with Dell’s call-center abound. Still, competitive pricing as a result of Dell’s direct-sales business model keeps overall customer satisfaction slightly above other competitors, with the exception of Apple. Whether Dell’s declining satisfaction will have a negative impact on the company’s stock performance remains to be seen; however, ACSI history has shown that changes in customer satisfaction often signal similar changes in future financial performance. Apple’s stock price is up 35% for the year-to-date, whereas Dell’s is flat.

[Via MacInTouch, emphasis in quoted text added. —R]

posted by retrophisch at 12:59 PM -->in Macintosh , rant , tech
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FedEx follies

I am attempting to return a product to a manufacturer. I have reviewed the product for publication, and the company would like it back. The company in question has graciously allowed me to ship the product back to them using their FedEx account. They asked I ship it ground, to minimize the expense. I have no problem with that. Then things got interesting.

I can’t simply ask FedEx for a pickup at my residence, because it seems they require the pickup to be from the account holder’s address, which in this case is in California. I’m in Texas. So you can see problem #1.

So I looked up the nearest FedEx Ground shipping locations from my home. Look at that, there’s about half a dozen in the Town of Flower Mound. After hitting about three of them, I learned this little tidbit: FedEx does not provide these third-party providers with airbills (ground bills?) for Ground shipping. To ship Ground from these third-party shippers, it has to be on their assigned FedEx account, for which they already have plenty of pre-printed bar-coded stickers, courtesy of FedEx. These shippers are not equipped to ship in the method I require, from me to the company, on the company’s dime. Now you can see problem #2.

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment on the other side of the city. No problemo, I pondered, I’ll bring the box with me, and I’ll stop by the main FedEx site on the grounds of DFW International. It’s on the way home. I arrived at 10:19 AM. Problem #3: The customer service desk doesn’t open until noon.

In the past, I’ve always been quite pleased with the level of customer service I’ve gotten from FedEx, but it is ridiculous how hard they’re making it to ship this product back to its manufacturer.

My wife is looking into getting a bill of lading for FedEx Ground from her company’s mail room. Should that fail, it means another drive out to the airport for me tomorrow. After noon, of course.

posted by retrophisch at 11:27 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 03 August 2005

Pinkie D’s

Anyone else out there annoyed by the pinkie commercials being run by McDonald’s for their new “premium” chicken sandwiches? Does anyone actually eat sandwiches or burgers that way?

posted by retrophisch at 10:22 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 13 July 2005

How, exactly, am I supposed to obtain experience if…?

Earlier today, I applied for an IT&S Manager position with a local hospital. Late this afternoon, I received a reply:

Christopher,

I appreciate your quick response. The hospital insists that all candidates have a healthcare background in a hospital setting.

I am sure that your experience and background will generate interest in the IT industry. Unfortunately, I am unable to assist you, being focused entirely in the healthcare industry.

Good luck,

Name removed

Now, this is for an IT position, mind you. So they want their IT people to have a background in the healthcare industry. I can understand that. It makes sense to a degree.

However, and someone correct me if they know of some cloning procedure to which the rest of us are not privy: people are not born with, nor enter the workforce, with any particular experience whatsoever. For me to obtain a “healthcare background,”it stands to reason that someone has to take a chance and give me a shot, does it not? It’s the age-old catch-22:

“We’re looking for someone with experience in this area.” “How am I supposed to gain experience in this area unless someone gives me a chance at it?”

It’s not like I can up and start my own hospital tomorrow to gain a “healthcare background.”

posted by retrophisch at 9:32 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 05 July 2005

Geldof and friends miss the mark

I am quite proud to say I did not watch a single second of the incredibly vapid, colossal waste of time and public airwaves that was Live 8. Rick Moran, on the other hand, did watch it, and gets what Geldof and crew do not:

The idea that “raising awareness” of Africa’s plight will save starving children is absurd. In order to save those children, you don’t have to snap your fingers, what you need is wholesale regime changes in 2 dozen or more countries where governments use starvation as the weapon of choice against rebelious populations. Africa’s problem is not lack of food. It is not a lack of arable land, or water resources, or agricultural know-how (they’ve been farming in Africa since before the Egyptians got themselves organized). At bottom, Africa’s problem is, well, Africans. Embracing the socialist doctrines of the old Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1970’s and 80’s, the grandiose schemes and huge development projects undertaken with some of the $220 billion in western aid that has gone to the continent since the 1960’s proved to be boondoggles of the first magnitude.

Dam building for electricity that nobody needs or can use is just one small example. What isn’t known and probably can never be calculated is the out and out theivery of aid funds by African leaders, their families, their extended families, their cronies, and the western companies who are forced into kickback schemes in order to win contracts with this human daisy chain of graft and corruption.

[…]

Which makes Live 8 about as relevant to helping solve Africa’s problems as the activities of the masked anarchists who are gleefully running around Edinburgh smashing windows and torching automobiles as if to prove the efficacy of corporal punishment denied them when they were children.

All something like Live 8 does is alleviate whatever guilt those who organize and participate may be feeling about the problem. Personally, I’m making a difference in Africa, one child at a time. His name is Emmanuel, he lives in Tanzania, and though he is five years older, he shares a birthday with my son.

I don’t share this to get a pat on the back; I share it to say you don’t need a bunch of celebs cavorting on stage, “raising awareness,” to personally make a difference. Not to mention that Geldof and crew would never tell you about Compassion, World Vision, the Barnabas Fund, Mercy Ships, or myriad other organizations which have been making a difference for years.

How many meals could be provided, through organizations already on the ground, by the multi-carat diamond necklace Madonna was wearing, if she weren’t so busy flipping off the world? Angelina Jolie aside, when was the last time any of these spoiled celebrity brats spent time helping in a refugee camp? They are the ones with the supposed influence, and certainly the funds, and the best they can come up with is a concert to “raise awareness”? Let’s see Geldof, Madonna, McCartney, and the rest put their money where their mouths are.

[A wave of the fin to Jeff for pointing to Rick’s post.]

posted by retrophisch at 8:26 PM -->in helping , politics , rant
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About Lance

I am pretty ambivalent with regard to Lance Armstrong. Like a majority of Americans, I’m not a gearhead, unlike my pal Dan (who needs a new blog title). I did cheer for Armstrong when he battled back from cancer to win the Tour de France. I booed him over essentially choosing his career over his family. Like the large majority of professional athletes, Armstrong is nothing more than someone you can admire for his professional achievements, but should be avoided for pretty much anything else. Via the aforementioned Dan, an interview with the latest Armstrong biographer, Dan Coyle, confirms this:

VN: What is your personal take on Lance Armstrong?

DC: As his teammate Jonathan Vaughters once told me, there’s a pattern with Lance: he gets close to people, and inevitably something goes haywire. I must admit, the closer I got to him, the less I found myself admiring him. Now that I have distance again, I find myself admiring him more. Let me put it this way - he is a good hero for my 10-year old son, but I wouldn’t necessarily want him to date my daughter.

VN: One former teammate once described him as “one of the unhappiest men I’ve met.” Do you think Lance Armstrong is happy?

DC: He is more driven than happy. As Floyd Landis puts it in the book, “Lance doesn’t want to be hugged, he wants to kick everybody’s ass.”

Armstrong may not want to psychoanalyze himself, but I’d be happy to do so. From the myriad things I’ve read here and there about him, I would say Lance is a poster child for why involved fathers, or father-figures, mentors, are so important in a child’s life. In some ways, Lance is scared to love because he didn’t get that love only a father can provide. He has a void in his heart that he has only been able to fill with his desire to dominate and win in the sport of cycling.

Personally, I think I’d rather be around someone who’s happy.

posted by retrophisch at 8:42 AM -->in rant
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Sunday, 19 June 2005

When editing goes wrong

One of the local semi-independent stations is showing Ronin this evening. Now, being one of my favorite action movies, because it is a thinking-man’s action movie and not a mindless blood and gore fest, I figured I would keep it on while I languished away the hours working on my wife’s XP box. (Bad, XP, bad!) Those of you who haven’t seen the movie can skip the rest, because I’m going to talk about a specific plot point, and it contains kinda-sorta spoiler info.

I realize there’s a lot of editing that has to go in to a film like this, to put it on non-cable television during “family hours” on the weekend. In addition to filtering out the curse words, and especially bloody scenes, the broadcasters have to be concerned with a time factor as well, mostly so they can get enough advertising in to cover the cost of showing the movie. I can appreciate all of this.

But then they go and cut what I consider a central tenant of the movie. Maybe it’s because I am a fan of this film, and have seen it a few times. Maybe persons who have never seen it before won’t miss the scene because they don’t know to miss it.

The scene I’m referring to is at Jean-Pierre’s, where Vincent (Jean Reno) takes Sam (Robert De Niro) after the latter has been shot. While recovering, Sam watches as Jean-Pierre paints miniature samurai warriors for a diorama he has created. His hobby, as he explains to Sam. We see Jean-Pierre put the latest dry figure on to the diorama, and we cut to the next scene.

They completely cut out the rest of the scene with Jean-Pierre, who explains to Sam about the 47 Ronin, and what ronin were: masterless samurai. The 47 Ronin were despondent over failing their master, who was killed by a rival warlord. So, in time, they gave their lives in an attempt to kill the rival. The term ronin in the case of the movie is supposed to refer to agents who have left the fold of their respective agency, like Sam. I always thought this scene was rather important, as it goes a long way toward explaining the title of the film, even if not directly. It’s a shame it was cut for the television broadcast.

posted by retrophisch at 9:18 PM -->in fun , rant
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Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Shapiro’s latest

Ben Shapiro:

Social liberalism seeks to promote a “live and let live” society wherein all types of deviant behavior is tolerated and accepted. Those on the left have thrust their notion of a “civilized,” amoral society upon all of us. The fact of the matter is that “live and let live” directly contradicts the notion of communal society; we all have to abide by certain rules to live together. An amoral society minimizes the rules under which we live together; any change in those rules is bound to affect all of us.

And it has. By discarding traditional morality in favor of amoralism, we have catered to the lowest common denominator.

[…]

We have successfully defined deviancy down; the deviant is now considered normal. Meanwhile, we have defined deviancy up; the normal is now considered deviant. And the effects upon my generation — the porn generation — have been disastrous. We are apathetic about morality, and that apathy translates into nihilism and narcissism — and in the end, into generational self-destruction. Like it or not, the porn generation is the future of this country.

posted by retrophisch at 8:15 AM -->in liberty , rant
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Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Do we really care?

It is a sad, sad, sad indictment of our American culture when the trial verdict of a washed-up has-been, who hasn’t put out a decent record in more than a decade, is the top news story of the day.

posted by retrophisch at 8:41 AM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Reaction to offense: Muslim vs Christian

I’m sorry for another post from Best of the Web, but Taranto and company are simply on today:

Still, by way of comparison, recall that three years ago Palestinian Arab terrorists occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Priests reported that “gunmen tore up Bibles for toilet paper,” according to the Daily Camera of Boulder, Colo. The Chicago Tribune noted after the siege that “altars had been turned into cooking and eating tables, a sacrilege to the religious faithful.”

Christians in the U.S. responded by declining to riot and refraining from killing anyone. They had the same response 15 or so years ago when the National Endowment for the Arts was subsidizing the scatological desecration of a crucifix and other Christian symbols. This should also put to rest the oft-heard calumny that America’s “religious right” is somehow a Christian equivalent of our jihadi enemies.

This goes hand-in-hand with what Jeff has been saying.

posted by retrophisch at 10:17 PM -->in liberty , rant
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Thursday, 12 May 2005

PETA’s Dirty Secret

PETA kills animals.

I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

posted by retrophisch at 2:40 PM -->in politics , rant
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Monday, 18 April 2005

About that overvalued Euro…

Bruce Bawer:

…[A] study by a Swedish research organization, Timbro, which compared the gross domestic products of the 15 European Union members (before the 2004 expansion) with those of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia.

[…]

After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

[…]

If the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi. In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro’s statistics suggest otherwise.

[Via Political Diary.]

posted by retrophisch at 10:55 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 17 April 2005

Closing the book on the metrosexual revolution

Thank God.

Doug Giles:

Now, for all you Backstreet Boys who are wondering if, if, you are one of these metrosexual males from whom women, men and small animals are running, I’ve concocted a little test to help you shed your proclivities toward abnormality and begin to saddle up and ride in a more masculine direction. Are you ready? If you start to hyper-ventilate, just take a break and control your breathing. Here we go.

Now did you think I was going to ruin it by posting Doug’s test? That’s why the article is hyper-linked, for crying out loud. Go. Click. Read. Laugh.

posted by retrophisch at 12:18 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 13 April 2005

What would we do without stock analysts?

Today’s MDJ provides good background information on Apple’s quarterly financial conference call coming later this afternoon. Matt & Company’s analysis of the stock “analyst” situation is spot on:

If Apple beats its own estimates by 10%, those results are merely “in line with analyst expectations.” If Apple’s estimates were spot on, then the company didn’t live up to those “analyst expectations.” In a sane world, the market would punish the analysts for missing their forecast, but that’s not where we live. The analysts would blame Apple, not themselves, and issue feverish research notes accusing the company of “underperforming” and “bursting its bubble.” The stock price, in turn, would summarily fall.

[Emphasis added. —R]

So like many segments of our society, the “analysts” will play the blame game if Apple’s figures don’t match up with theirs. It’s not their fault their projections were wrong; it’s Apple’s fault for failing to meet the analysts’ expectations, even if Apple’s figures fall in line with Apple’s projections. Much like how a certain Mr. O’Grady and other rumor-mongers blame Apple when new product specifications fail to match up to their caffeine-driven imaginations. MDJ’s taking-to-task of the anaylsts continues:

Still, one shouldn’t ignore the possibility that Apple will post a solid quarter that looks “bad” simply because it doesn’t meet the fantasies of analysts who are busily inventing video iPods, media servers, and Apple-branded cell phones in their feverish little heads. The exuberance has placed Apple in the uncomfortable position of needing to beat its own guidance by 10% or more just to keep up with expectations.

UPDATE, 7:55 PM: It’s all moot, at least this time, as Apple blows away everyone’s projections. [Via Matt D..]

posted by retrophisch at 2:03 PM -->in Macintosh , rant
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Thursday, 24 March 2005

Chris Who?

Is there any doubt left that Chris Kattan is a third-rate hack whose career at Saturday Night Live only lasted as long as it did because he rode the coattails of the vastly more talented Will Ferrell? This was reinforced today when, while channel-surfing, I came across this tidbit:

“Coming up next, SNL veteran Chris Kattan re-enacts a classic Ellen scene…”

In my defense, I only settled on Ms. DeGeneres’s show because at the time she was interviewing Sandra Bullock, the second-most beautiful woman in the world.

posted by retrophisch at 11:19 PM -->in rant
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Comcast 2005 Customer Survey

Earlier in the week, we received a post card-based customer satisfaction survey from Comcast. We get ultra-basic cable and our high-speed Internet access from Comcast. I was looking forward to letting them have it, as we have been very displeased with their level of service the past few months.

First, bad Comcast, bad! for not having a way to complete the survey online. This would undoubtedly have led to my being able to write more than I was able to on your flimsy little post card.

Second, out of the four scores—Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor—Comcast failed to rate the top spot in any category, got a Good for it’s Field Tech experience, and rated a Poor when it comes to overall Customer Service experience.

My comment:

A way to speak to knowledgeable techs on the phone would be nice, since some of us know way more about how our high-speed Internet access works than the customer service reps. This would lead to faster problem resolution. Also, outages every other week are likely not winning Comcast many fans.

That’s all I was able to get on the card, because Comcast decided it needed to put its logo in the bottom right quarter of the card, eating up valuable writing real estate.

I have gotten to the point where I start out any phone conversation with a customer service rep with something like this: “Our high-speed Internet access is down. I’ve reset the cable modem multiple times. The cable television is much fuzzier than normal. It’s not a problem with the lines in my house, you have an outage.”

To which the customer service rep still insists I reset the cable modem again. Which I don’t, even though I tell them I do, since I’ve already done it, as I stated “multiple times.” In the past, well, ever, every time our access has been lost, it has been due to an area-wide outage. It has never been due to the lines in or connecting directly to our house. One would think this sort of thing would be noted in account notes. Then the customer service rep could see the outage history and reasonably conclude that I know what the hell I’m talking about when I call.

We have some new neighbors just down the block who reported that they signed up with Verizon for local phone and fiber optic, which VZ has been laying all over town. Many of us in the neighborhood have been waiting for some sort of notification from Verizon that they were ready to offer us high-speed access via fiber, so we could dump Comcast. Where’s that number?

posted by retrophisch at 2:58 PM -->in rant , tech
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Tuesday, 22 March 2005

If it’s contraband, can we remove it from display?

Further proof that (a) I don’t know much about and don’t care to know much about “modern” art, and (b) that some people have too much time on their hands: Contraband. What rubbish.

posted by retrophisch at 11:15 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 21 March 2005

You moved Seinfeld to when?

So our local Fox station has been advertising that they’re bringing back King of the Hill to its late-night comedy line-up, following Seinfeld. Great, I thought. I like KotH, too, though I don’t watch it nearly as much as Seinfeld.

What I’ve been missing from all of these little ads was the decision to move my favorite television show from its spot at 10:30 PM CST, to 11. In its place? A Current Affair. Or as I like to call it, A Current Who Cares? Now to dash a letter off to the station manager…

posted by retrophisch at 10:47 PM -->in fun , rant
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Wednesday, 09 March 2005

Hack hack

Funny how differently colds affect folks. My son has been fighting one longer than I, and it manifests itself with a constantly running nose. Meds from the pediatrician are helping with that. And other than the runny nose, he’s been in his usual great mood for the most part.

For me, my nose doesn’t run, but instead the congestion drains down my throat, meaning I’m constantly coughing. OTC congestion and cough meds haven’t been doing the trick, and last night was the first with the new script from the doc. Still, I was lucky to have gotten four hours of sleep, the longest uninterrupted bit being around an hour and a half. Not to mention that the coughing lends itself to a near-constant headache, and I am not one who usually gets headaches.

The good news is that I can feel the new meds working. As the saying goes, it just takes time. Right now, with an empty house, I think it’s time for a nap.

posted by retrophisch at 8:35 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 02 March 2005

Being hijacked

I am not referring to an airline hijacking.

Michael informed me this morning that our host for ATPM told him we went over our bandwidth limit for the month of February by 17 GB.

After further investigation, we learned that most of this extra bandwidth is going toward serving up various JPEGS to other sites. In other words, rather than downloading the desktop pictures we offer to our readers each month, and hosting it on their own server, people are linking directly to the file on our server for display on their sites. They are hijacking these images, and our bandwidth. This is nothing new. It’s just never happened on such a large scale before with any site I’ve been involved in.

People, this is not cool. First off, those desktop pictures are the copyrighted property of a photographer or artist who graciously donated their use to ATPM, and subsequently to our readers, as desktop pictures. This means if you want to use said picture on your web site, or any other medium, you should be contacting that photographer or artist for permission. Second, if said photographer or artist grants you permission for usage, you then host the picture on your own site. To link to the picture directly on ATPM means you are stealing our bandwidth, and driving up our costs.

We are not a for-profit publication. Our staff is all-volunteer, from the top down. Any moneys generated from ads and sponsorships goes in to our hosting costs, and after ten consecutive years of publication, those costs can be considerable. Thus, bandwidth is not something we can afford to give away, and certainly not at the rate of an extra 17 GB every month.

If you are one of the many persons out there linking directly to one of our pictures, please stop. You are violating legitimate copyright and stealing bandwidth from a group of people who do something each month out of love and joy.

posted by retrophisch at 10:05 PM -->in Macintosh , rant , web/site
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Tuesday, 01 March 2005

Mickey Mouse Musical Toaster

No, I’m not kidding. As if we needed another reason to lobby for copyright law overhaul.

posted by retrophisch at 12:36 AM -->in fun , rant , tech
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Saturday, 26 February 2005

Great moments in socialized medicine

Dave Murphy, for the San Francisco Chronicle:

From the time Tilly Merrell was a year old, doctors told her family she would never have a normal life — or even a normal meal.

British doctors found that the food she swallowed went into her lungs instead of her stomach, causing devastating lung infections. They said she had isolated bulbar palsy, and their solution was to feed her through a stomach tube. Forever.

But having a backpack with a food pump wired to her stomach wasn’t much of a life for a girl whose favorite smell is bacon frying — a girl who once broke through a locked kitchen door in an effort to sneak some cheese. So her family got help from their community of Warndon, about 120 miles north of London, raising enough money to take Tilly, now 8, on a 5,000-mile journey they hoped might change her life, a journey to Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.

Doctors at Packard were intrigued that she had no neurological symptoms often associated with the palsy. In all other ways, she was a normal child with a mischievous smile and a truckload of energy. After seeing her Feb. 7, they ran three tests and found out what was wrong with her.

Nothing.

And you wonder why conservatives froth at the mouth over such nonsense as HILLARY!Care.

[Via Jack on World_SIG.]

posted by retrophisch at 3:30 PM -->in politics , rant
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Thursday, 17 February 2005

Congratulations to the NHL and NHLPA

The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, a fact proudly touted in the sports world by the NHL. Now professional hockey can lay claim to another famous first in North American professional sports: it is the first to cancel an entire season.

I was raised on LSU football, and later, during the Dale Brown glory years, LSU basketball. When I was a student at LSU, the Tigers began their dominance of the College World Series in the 1990s. Growing up in Baton Rouge, we had no professional sports teams, only the New Orleans Saints, an hour’s drive away. Doesn’t sound like much, but that hour’s drive may as well have been an ocean. I didn’t pay attention to the Saints until I was a resident of the New Orleans metroplex, and while I attended a few games, most were at someone else’s expense.

I got in to hockey my last year in college, when I had my own place and cable television. ESPN’s National Hockey Night brought me at least a game a week, and I grew addicted. Maybe it was all the attention Pavel Bure received, but I found myself following the Vancouver Canucks, and thrilled to their Stanley Cup bid in 1994. Taking the Rangers to seven games, it was probably the greatest Stanley Cup series I’ve watched since I began to love the game.

My first NHL game was in 1996, when my spouse and I ventured from New Orleans to Dallas to see the Stars play the Canucks. It was a memorable weekend for several reasons: it was my first time in Dallas; Dallas saw a big snow storm the night of our arrival, leaving us “trapped” in our hotel most of the next day; we saw our some friends we hadn’t seen in three years; and the Canucks walloped the Stars.

My wife was recruited by a Dallas law firm, and in July 1998, we made the move from New Orleans. I was at the first home game of the 1998-99 season for the Stars, and I watched or listened to every game that year. I stayed up all night long to see Brett Hull score the third-overtime goal (and sorry, Buffalo, it was a goal) to deliver the Stars franchise its first-ever Stanley Cup.

I’ve been to a few games each year since then, mostly thanks to recruiting and client development efforts on the part of my wife’s now-former firm. But I’ve also paid my own way on more than one occasion to see the Stars play. I’ve rooted for Mo, and Eddie the Eagle, Turk and Nieuwey.

And now the players of the NHLPA have thrown away all of the good will they have built up over the years, not only with myself, but with millions of other hockey fans.

Yes, I lay the bulk of the blame for this cancellation at the feet of the players and their union. If they were willing to concede to a salary cap at the eleventh hour, why were they not willing to do so earlier in the lost season, when there was still a season to be salvaged? Why are they letting this season go away because of 6.5 million dollars per team. That’s right. That is the difference in the total salary-cap figures the teams want to impose, and the players are willing to accept. Six-point-five million. That’s about a couple hundred thousand per player on each team. That’s pathetic.

As I’ve noted before, these guys get paid to play a game. They get to do as their profession in life something millions of people wish they could do as well for just one afternoon. We made you. Sure, you have great talent and skill. No one denies that. But where would you be without hockey fans? Playing pick-up games on the town’s frozen pond in between gutting fish or delivering packages? Professional sports run on fans. Professional sports gain television contracts to reach more fans because advertisers are willing to spend money to reach those fans in an attempt to sell products. No fans means no professional sport.

I’m not saying the team owners and the league get a pass, please don’t misunderstand. I’m a good little capitalist, and believe both the owners and the players should try to make as much money as possible. But everyone negotiates their salary; first, when you gain employment, then thereafter based on your performance and later experience. It’s the same whether you’re working at McDonald’s, coding for a Fortune 100 company, or playing a professional sport. And sometimes, the business just doesn’t have enough money in the bag to pay you what you want—and believe you deserve—to get paid.

Maybe the answer isn’t a salary cap. Maybe some of these smaller market teams in the NHL should be allowed to shrivel and die, even in the birthplace of hockey, O Canada. That would be good capitalism. It would also mean a smaller marketplace in the NHL for players, so maybe the players and their union should think twice before embarking on a course of action which would lead to that outcome, as fewer of them would be employed.

When the Stars began play in Dallas in 1993, many people thought they’d never see the NHL below the Mason-Dixon line. Today, you have five NHL teams in the old South: Dallas, the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Nashville Predators, and the Carolina Hurricanes. Two of those teams have won the Stanley Cup. Those people who thought “What is hockey doing in Texas?” must be out of their minds wondering “What is hockey doing in Tampa Bay?” Never mind the fact that the Lightning now have their name on the Cup.

Three years ago, however, Tampa Bay would have been a poster child for the NHL chopping block. The Ottawa Senators have always been so (in my mind, at least). After a wildly successful inaugural season, attendance has been disappointing at Nashville games. I’m not hearing much from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and I can’t imagine that market supporting a NHL team in the long run, unless they can consistently begin making long playoff runs. Maybe some of these teams should never have been allowed to be. Maybe some of them should be allowed to fold.

None of that really matters now. There will be no 2004-05 season for the National Hockey League. A suitable compromise could not be reached by the two sides. Both sides have gotten rich at the expense of the one thing they cannot afford to lose: fans. It will take years for the NHL/NHLPA to win back the fans it is going to lose with this utter nonsense.

I don’t particularly care for basketball, other than to actually play it. The NBA holds no appeal to me, even less so now that I’ve actually attended a NBA game. While I’ll watch the NFL, I don’t follow a specific team, and I much prefer the college game. I think Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones are both incredible egomaniacs, and could care less about the Mavericks or Cowboys while either is running his respective show.

That leaves me with hockey and baseball. My winter, as far as sports are concerned, is shot. I think MLB (talk about a league needing a salary cap) spring season starts next month…

posted by retrophisch at 12:51 AM -->in hockey , rant
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Sunday, 13 February 2005

In my right mind

So I’ve been thinking about Daniel Pink’s article, “Revenge of the Right Brain”, over the past couple of days, and it’s amazing how much my own feelings toward a future career mirror his piece.

One would have to consult my parents as to when I may have first exhibited artistic sensibilities, but as I grew up, I was very fond of writing, drawing, and music. I was always doodling, tracing, sketching. Making up stories, or just bits of stories. In seventh grade, I started playing the clarinet in band, was quickly moved to the bass clarinet by Mr. Dawson, our fantastic teacher-director, and continued all the way through high school. I did not attempt to gain a music scholarship to LSU; I had a partial academic scholarship, and the Air Force wanted to pay the rest of my way, so long as I was willing to be an electrical engineer.

By the end of my freshman year, my Air Force scholarship was gone. My grades tanked, and they yanked it. I was not a party animal, I did not go hog-wild upon becoming a college student. I simply goofed off.

Looking back, maybe there was a subconscious effort on my part to sabotage my academic and future professional careers. I was a right-brain person, suddenly thrust in to a left-brain world. No longer burdened with studies related to engineering, I remained in Air Force ROTC, and switched majors: criminal justice. When LSU’s Criminal Justice department was terminated as a separate division the following year, swallowed by the larger Sociology department, I was forced to change majors again. Not particularly interested in a sociology degree, I opted instead for political science, a decidedly more right-brained course of study. I minored in history. I excelled in English classes, testing out of Freshman English 101, or whatever it’s technically called.

The large part of my professional career since college, however, once again led me in to left-brain land. I have been involved with computer technology, troubleshooting, and support, for over a dozen years. When I was laid off in October of 2003, I was both devastated and optimistic. My son was only two months old, and I was looking forward to spending a lot of time with him, which has been great. Perhaps this was the opportunity to move in to a new field as well.

I have not kept completely out of the right-brain sphere these past twelve years, however. I began volunteering as a copy editor with ATPM in the summer of 1998, and began writing the occasional review or opinion piece shorly thereafter. Today, I’m the Managing Editor, and quite happy to work with the fine staff of our little publication, all of whom do what they do because we enjoy the Macintosh platform. I also believe a goodly number of the staffers are like myself, and enjoy having this right-brain outlet, compared with the left-brain professions they may be involved with.

This blog, like its predecessor, is nothing more than an outlet for those right-brain skills yearning for exercise.

Which brings us back to Pink’s article, in which he hypothesizes that the coming “age” will be devoted to more right-brain activities, as opposed to where we currently are now, and have been, where more left-brain occupations have reigned supreme. I’m all for it. I feel as though I have a couple of books in me, and I love the editing thing. Just ask some of my online friends and acquaintances how many times I’ve annoyed them over misspellings and other grammatical gaffes on their blogs. Likewise, they are quick to point out my own brain burps, in large part because they know I care about such things. (Though with Lawson, I suspect it’s just out of spite.)

There is a part of me which has enjoyed my past dozen years in the tech field, and I would heartily welcome another job in that arena. Yet another part of me yearns for something different, something more right-brained, and this is reflected in some of my Monster search agents. In the mean time, I’ll concentrate on editing, writing, digital photography, and most of all, being a dad.

posted by retrophisch at 10:47 PM -->in Macintosh , fun , rant
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Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Annoyance: CD security tape

I can appreciate the little sticky security tape on the tops of CDs sold to consumers. I realize it is a preventive measure against the CDs being stolen from out of the cases in a store.

However, I am quite sure that over the past year or so, the tape has gotten increasingly more difficult to get off. It used to be, if you were careful, you could pull up the tape on one side of the CD, and slowly pull the entire thing off. Not any more.

Now, the tape splits at the slightest hint of intolerance to being pulled. It took a good five minutes to get all of the security tape off Amy Grant’s latest. Normally, this should be a 30- to 45-second process.

I realize someone out there will say something to the effect of, You wouldn’t have this problem if you just ordered the entire album from the iTunes Music Store. I like having the physical CD, with liner notes, thank you very much. The process of opening said CD did not used to be this annoying. Now it is. That is the complaint.

posted by retrophisch at 8:59 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 05 October 2004

Such maturity for a CEO

Lee points to another Silicon.com article which reveals Steve Ballmer is even more of a childish imbecile than was previously thought.

posted by retrophisch at 9:56 PM -->in rant
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Memo to Steve Ballmer

Mr. Ballmer:

Despite your reckless and libelous statements regarding Apple and the iPod, please note that your 12-year-old is likely hiding stolen music in all kinds of places, given that your 12-year-old is likely much smarter than you are, having grown up with the technology your company had to steal copy “innovate”. (He’s also probably hiding a lot of other stuff he has found on the Internet.)

A challenge then, to the CEO of Microsoft: without any warning whatsoever, conduct a full-scale examination of the hard drive of every Microsoft employee, including every PDA, every digital music player, every MP3-playing mobile phone. Cross-check the findings of digital music with each employee’s personal CD collection. Report the findings of how much stolen music is residing inside Microsoft itself. That is, if you’re not too busy dancing around on stage like a fool and flinging your feces at your competition, monkey-boy.

(Via MacMinute)

posted by retrophisch at 11:12 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Gates

Six years after Steve Jobs and Apple declared the floppy disk dead, with the release of the iMac, Bill Gates states the same:

In some ways, I think this is the first time I can say that the floppy disk is dead. You know, we enjoyed the floppy disk, it was nice, it got smaller and smaller, but because of compatibility reasons, it sort of got stuck at the 1.44 megabyte level, and carrying them around, and having that big physical slot in machines, that became a real burden. Today, you get a low-cost USB flash drive, with 64 megabits on it very, very inexpensively. And so we can say the capacity there for something that’s smaller, better connectors, faster, just superior in every way has made that outmoded.

So I suppose now that the tech industry pundits will proclaim Mr. Gates as a tremendous visionary for getting rid of the tiresome floppy disk, when in fact, Mr. Gates’ company is one entity responsible for extending the floppy’s life.

(via RAILhead Design)

posted by retrophisch at 3:01 PM -->in rant , tech
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Friday, 30 January 2004

It’s about time

Pixar dumps Disney.

Pixar will be the better for it. Eisner is an idiot. I hope the Disney board roasts him on a spit.

(Thanks, Michael.)

posted by retrophisch at 11:38 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 03 December 2003

The real reason behind IT purchasing

In the most recent Macintosh Daily Journal, Matt Deatherage & Co. take Information Week to task over their recent PC Vendor poll and rankings. MDJ correctly points out what’s really behind the buying decisions of most corporate IT managers:

IT buyers list many important factors, but when Apple meets them, they ignore them because Apple is not the “standard.” The most important consideration for IT buyers is not cost, customer service, quality, reputation, or proven technology, even if the magazine’s survey said so. The most important factor is that the PCs be Intel-compatible so they can run Windows, but no one wants to say that because it makes them look inflexible. Windows is the elephant in the middle of the room, and rather than talk about it, InformationWeek made up reasons why Apple doesn’t meet criteria when it obviously does. It’s hard to see how that is information, even if it does come out weekly.

posted by retrophisch at 10:20 AM -->in Macintosh , rant , tech
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Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Dell product “designers”

Have you seen the commercial being plastered across the airwaves by Dell featuring the interns and Dell’s product “designers”?

The thought that Michael Dull employs product designers in the first place is tremendously laughable. It becomes more humorous when you notice the products said “designers” are handling:

  • a PDA—designed and produced by an OEM, with Dell’s logo planted on it
  • a printer—Dell has never made printers, does not make printers, and won’t make printers, so there’s no need to employ a printer “designer”
  • a flat-panel display—designed and produced by an OEM, with Dell’s logo planted on it
  • Inspiron notebook computer—the only item featured that actually is designed by Dull’s product “designers,” and is about as inspiring as a Michael Jordan Hanes briefs commercial.

Truly pathetic. Unfortunately, I’m sure Joe Consumer has no concept of how Dull operates, and is buying this hook, line, and sinker.

You want truly innovative product design? Come on over.

posted by retrophisch at 12:36 PM -->in rant , tech
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Friday, 26 September 2003

Comments spam

I check my email this morning, and what do I find but some idiot has uploaded penis enlargement spam into the comments section of one of my posts (from October 2002, no less).

Comment deleted, IP banned. Don’t you morons have anything better to do?

posted by retrophisch at 9:35 AM -->in rant , web/site
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RIFfed

So the brilliant executive minds at Verizon Information Services finally decided on a plan for its IT personnel, and made said plan known to all of us yesterday at an 8 AM meeting: layoffs, or in corporate jargon, a RIF (Reduction In Force).

On the one hand, I can respect this decision, as I believe it better for the company than the other major proposal that was looked at, which was outsourcing IT personnel under AMDOCS, our main contractor, and provider of much of the core server software the business runs on.

Only everyone pretty much hates AMDOCS; their code is sloppy, as the Toad can well attest, and they’re arrogant to boot, with a “we know better than you” attitude toward even the most techincally competent among the Verizon IT staff (most of whom are more technically competent than said AMDOCS personnel). The only reason this scenario didn’t play out was because Verizon couldn’t get AMDOCS to swallow a lot of salary and benefits issues that would have taken better care of Verizon employees who were outsourced.

So my team lost three people yesterday, and I was one of them. I’m still on the payroll until 24 October, and the severance package looks pretty good.

So potential employers, I’m a Mac geek with a decade of experience in computer support, with a little HTML knowledge I’d like to expand on. I need to stay in the Dallas area, and I’m open to contract, contract-to-hire, or, best of all, permanent positions.

posted by retrophisch at 9:30 AM -->in rant
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Thursday, 11 September 2003

Infuriating

So while the gloom of layoffs settled over the IT groups at VIS for the better part of a year, Chuck Lee, the former GTE CEO who sold us out to Bell Atlantic, is still picking up the perks: bq. Verizon Communication’s former chairman and co-CEO, Charles Lee, became a “consultant” for the firm when he retired last year. In addition to the standard goodies, like office space, a staff, and use of an aircraft, he’s receiving a consulting fee of $250,000 per month. (That’s not a typo.) You’d think after getting paid $4 to $5 million in salary plus bonus over the past few years, and $27 million in options in 2002 alone, he’d have enough to retire on. Guess not. So I may lose my job, but heaven forbid that Chuck Lee not get to ride around in the corporate jet while he “consults” on where the company can make cuts…
posted by retrophisch at 9:29 AM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 05 August 2003

Hurricane, Himicane, Deshawnacane

I know the Toad has to be ticked off at the latest antics of one of our beloved Congresscritters, People’s Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. She insists that the names assigned to hurricanes by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are too “lily white,” and they should use African-American names as well. She even offered a few examples; none of which are African in origin, and some of which have been completely made up by black Americans. This reader’s response puts it all in perspective: bq. “You can be sure if there were too many ‘black’ names assigned to hurricanes, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee would instead be complaining that this practice unfairly stereotypes blacks as violent. Let’s hope this silly storm blows over!” And to think that this is our most pressing problem with racism and discrimination…
posted by retrophisch at 1:59 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Remembering Bob Hope

When I arrived at work today, the flags—American, Texas, Verizon—were all at half-staff, and I thought to myself, “What the…?” I totally missed the President’s directive to fly flags at half-staff on the day of Hope’s burial. That put my mind at ease. (For a brief moment, I thought some VZ employee had died, and this had been ordered by the corporate bigwigs; a big no-no when it comes to proper flag decorum. In an instance such as that, the only flag that should be lowered would be the Verizon flag.) Born in 1970, I have no memories of Bob Hope’s vaudeville and radio work, though I have heard excerpts here and there. My greatest memories of him were of the television comedy specials he did, as well as the numerous USO shows he performed throughout the 1970s and ’80s. To me, the latter was the great thing about Bob Hope: not that he was a tremendous entertainer, which he was, having worked in every medium of the time—stage, radio, television, and feature film. Rather, he never forgot those who put their lives on the line to defend our nation, the nation that gave him the freedom to do what he did. Bob Hope gave back. He gave those who needed it the thing his last name stood for. That is a legacy worth remembering, and one all in the entertainment business should recall and work toward. (Thanks to Rick for the clarification and link.) UPDATE, 5:15 PM: I felt the President’s words were worth sharing: bq. “Bob Hope made us laugh. He lifted our spirits. Bob Hope served our nation. We will mourn the loss of a good man. Bob Hope served our nation when he went to battlefields to entertain thousands of troops from different generations. We extend our prayers to his family. God bless his soul.” —President George W. Bush
posted by retrophisch at 3:27 PM -->in liberty , rant
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Monday, 28 July 2003

Kill the album

Steven offers Frank discussion on why some “artists” don’t want to participate in the iTunes Music Store.

Is the demise of the album format, if it even happens, a bad thing? What about the good things might pop up in its place? What advantages come from embracing the tides of change?

[…]

Or maybe, as the market shifts towards being merit-based, there will be a renewed interest in actually making higher quality individual tracks rather than a lot of filler. Wouldn’t that be awful? Maybe songs would have melodies again, or musicians might learn how to play more than one instrument. It’s even possible that lyrics might stray from the tried-and-true “man, my middle-class white male life here in America sure sucks”. It would be catastrophic.

For you, I mean. Not us, the consumers.

posted by retrophisch at 3:25 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 02 July 2003

Journalist war illogic

Oh, this is rich: bq. “There was a disturbing attitude from the Pentagon toward unilaterals,” said Campagna, Mideast program coordinator for the nonprofit group. “They gave the perception that if you weren’t embedded, you covered the war at your own risk, and that U.S. troops were under no obligation to at least avoid endangering you.” Um, yeah. It’s called _war_, you blockhead. _Everyone_ is participating at their own peril. The military’s job is to accomplish the task handed to them by the politicians. More often than not, this means moving in, engaging and killing the enemy (while trying to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties; but hey, it’s _war_), then securing the area they now occupy. They do *not* have time to babysit reporters who don’t play by the rules. Those unilaterals _wanted_ to be where they were. If you can’t stand the heat…
posted by retrophisch at 11:09 AM -->in liberty , rant
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Monday, 30 June 2003

Yellow Pages hot commodity

Knowing the company I work for, the n3rdling thought I would be interested in this article. Yes, the Yellow Pages business is a cash cow. One of the reasons Bell Atlantic wanted to buy out GTE was that our Yellow Pages business was a major revenue generator; our last year prior to the “merger,” GTE Directories accounted for 20% of all the revenue for all of GTE. I haven’t heard any numbers in the past two years regarding VZ Directories’ contribution to the overall revenue structure, but I’m sure it’s not as high a percentage. In addition to the economic downturn, we’ve got the former Bell Atlantic books dragging us down…
posted by retrophisch at 4:36 PM -->in rant
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Friday, 27 June 2003

I am Dilbert

Our workgroup maintains a central server for others in the company to access important information re: our projects, software to install, etc. As part of all of this, our sysadmin recently created a report that shows all of the current “advertisements” going out to our users, reminding them they need to upgrade Application X or what have you. Our great and wise sysadmin then puts a link to this report directly on the front page of our server, easy to find, easy to click on, easy to download. So then my boss decides that this isn’t good enough, and that the report has to be emailed to our opposite numbers on the eastern seaboard. Now the opposite numbers have the exact same access to the aforementioned web page as we do. They can just as easily go fetch this report as any of us can. But now I have to email them a copy of it _every week_! <sigh> Anyone want to hire a Mac-head with some basic web design skills? As long as you’re in Dallas and you’ve got killer health insurance, I’m flexible on other stuff…
posted by retrophisch at 1:41 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 25 June 2003

Corporate Behavior for Dummies

1. Verizon Wireless rants, raves, and whines about how the FCC regulation for wireless local number portability—letting you keep your same phone number, even when you change providers—is going to cost billions and billions of dollars. Despite the fact that the FCC regulation has been in place for _years_ and wireless providers have chosen to ignore it, since the FCC has failed to enforce it. 2. Take the FCC to court over the issue! 3. After the court rules against you, give in and announce that you’re going to lead the industry and everyone should copy you, because by Zeus, _you’re_ doing what’s _best_ for the _customer_. (But only after being forced to…)
posted by retrophisch at 11:43 AM -->in rant
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Thursday, 19 June 2003

Microsoft comes full circle with IE

Marc Marshall brings up the excellent point that Microsoft has come full circle with regard to Internet Explorer. His is the last post in Macintouch’s Browser Future report for today:

The bottom line in this situation is this: For the past several years, Microsoft gave away a free browser to kill the competition, and succeeded. Now, they have stopped development of their standalone product, and are giving people exactly three choices to get their “standard” product: 1) Buy Windows. 2) Use MSN for Internet access. 3) Pay them $10/month or $80 per year. No free options, no free upgrades.

The price is higher than Opera or Omni’s paid competition, and you don’t have a free option, and you have an ongoing fee. In fact, if MS starts charging annual licensing for Windows, there will be no lifetime-licence-purchasable version of IE. This sounds like exactly the sort of consumer hostile situation that monopolies create, and governments are supposed to protect us from.

Now that they’ve pretty much saturated the market, Microsoft has been scrambling on how to consistently generate revenue. They have long discussed subscription software licensing, and this situation with IE appears to be the first shot across the bow. Unfortunately, I do not forsee the mass sheep of Windows and IE/Mac users torpedoing the Microsoft Bismarck any time soon.

posted by retrophisch at 2:17 PM -->in Macintosh , rant , web/site
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Friday, 13 June 2003

Speaking of “Rewriting Living History”

As to the truths contained in Hillary’s ghost-written tome, consider this: On April 29, 1997, Hillary told CNN’s Larry King that she would never run for public office. Two years later…
posted by retrophisch at 9:27 AM -->in rant
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Monday, 09 June 2003

Notes on San Diego

So my lovely bride and I have this relatively new tradition (3 years old now) of going for a 4-day weekend the week of our anniversary. This year, our trip took us to San Diego. We took in Seaworld, saw Shamu. My favorite had to be the dolphin show (with a couple of pilot whales). What can I say, I’m partial to dolphins. Kel really enjoyed the sea lion show, which was an outstanding comedy. The next day was spent at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. While we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, there were many times when we wondered, what’s the big deal? There are other zoos with better exhibits/enclosures, and far better layouts (Audubon Zoo in New Orleans springs to mind). SDZ does deserve its reputation, however, because of its fantastic research programs; it outspends and outperforms any other zoo in the country; pretty much the world. Our last full day was spent driving up the 101, aka SH 21, alongside the coastline. Let me say, this was a profound disappointment. While lunch in La Jolla (say La Hoya) was nice, overlooking Scripps Park and the Cove, we only saw the ocean three or four other times, and only briefly as we drove past. Much different than the drive south from San Francisco to Carmel, where you’re hugging the ocean—albeit a few dozen feet up a cliff—nearly every mile. And California road signage sucks. Sucks. I’m talking enormous, Oreck/Kirby/Hoover suckage. We ended up at the south gate of Camp Pendleton, turned back through the Oceanside Marina, then popped over to I-5 back to downtown San Diego. We roomed at Prava, a three year-old hotel and spa, converted from a time-share property. (They still maintain a relationship with time-share companies, which is how we stayed there.) Located in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, we had plenty of great places to eat within walking distance. Prava makes the Retrophisch Recommends(tm) list of places to stay.
posted by retrophisch at 10:09 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 03 June 2003

Galloway moving to ESPN radio

One of my favorite sports-talk hosts is moving from WBAP, 820 AM, to the station’s ESPN radio affiliate. This stinks, since I never listen to ESPN radio, keeping the radio—when I listen to the radio—on either WBAP or KWRD 100.7 FM (Christian talk radio). This is all in the D/FW metro area, by the way. One problem I have with ESPN radio, or, at least, the affiliate here in town: when I’m watching the freaking Stanley Cup Finals on your company’s main network, it sure would be nice to have the game on the radio, if I have to leave the house, as I did this weekend. I wonder if the same would be true if ESPN was carrying the NBA Finals, or the World Series?
posted by retrophisch at 11:45 AM -->in fun , hockey , rant
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Tuesday, 06 May 2003

And they’re such a peaceful people…

You certainly can’t blame the Israelis for decimating the Palestinian female ranks:
Each year, dozens and probably hundreds of brutal “honor killings” of Palestinian women and girls—most of whom are virtually blameless—go unreported, according to an anthropologist’s recent study.
The story is scheduled for an issue of The World & I magazine.
posted by retrophisch at 11:19 AM -->in rant
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Sunday, 04 May 2003

Those incredibly intelligent, wonderfully sensitive celebrities

“I’m getting more famouser by the day.” —Avril Lavigne

“I quit flying five years ago. Personally, I don’t want to die with tourists.” —Billy Bob Thornton

As reported in the 5 May 2003 issue of Us Weekly.

posted by retrophisch at 12:22 AM -->in quote , rant
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Friday, 02 May 2003

I have an accent?

A couple of days ago I was talking to my little sister on the phone (okay, she’s 27, but she’ll always be my “little” sister), and she stated that I was picking up a Texas accent.

Seeing how I have long confounded people as to my origins by being pretty much accent-less, this is a trifle upsetting…

posted by retrophisch at 12:50 PM -->in fun , rant
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Thursday, 01 May 2003

Dropping out of the job market?

There is a story from the NY Times talking about a growing segment of the American population doing exactly that. Of note:

“People use the unemployment rate as some kind of gauge of the health of the economy,” said Robert H. Topel, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. But because of the number of people now outside of the labor force, he said, “the unemployment rate does not give you the same kind of information it did in the 1970’s or 1960’s.”

(A little disappointed in the Times—you do not put an apostrophe-s after a year to state a decade; just put the s after the year, as in, 1970s.)

The real gem, though, has to be this:

“I’ve been trying to find a conventional job for two years,” Ms. Leftridge said. “Finally, I’m thinking about doing a home-based business. I don’t see it as giving up. I see it as expanding my search. I ought to be able to make some money this way, and start building back my savings, in a situation where I’m not hostage to any company’s budget, to any budget.”

Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking if I get laid off. Better to be the hostage-taker than the hostage. Or something like that.

posted by retrophisch at 9:09 AM -->in rant
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Thursday, 10 April 2003

And he works because…?

So I just found out that the attorney in the office next to my wife’s is worth, combined with his mother, nearly US $4 billion. The Schaefflers are in a 5-way tie for the 83rd spot on Forbes’ World’s Richest People 2003 list.

We’re both stumped as to why he would waste time pretending to work at a law firm in Dallas.

Me? I’d be planted on a beach on Kaua’i.

posted by retrophisch at 2:31 PM -->in rant
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Fun with spammers

This isn’t necessarily an anti-spam measure; it’s more along the lines of revenge. From the latest Dilbert newsletter comes this reader gem:

Here’s a fun hobby of mine: When I get e-mail spam that includes an 800-number, I save the number for later. Then when one of the hundreds of Nigerian scam e-mails hits my e-mail box, I reply enthusiastically and give the 800-number of the spammer as my own. I feel that people in the DNRC have a responsibility to introduce A-holes to each other.
posted by retrophisch at 2:19 PM -->in fun , rant , tech
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Wednesday, 02 April 2003

A-ha!

Now I know why I like “I Drove All Night” by Celine Dion so much—it’s a Roy Orbison song. It was driving me batty; I knew this wasn’t an original song by Celine, that I had heard it before. I remembered liking it from those past listening sessions. I knew it was a male voice kicking around in my head. Then it just suddenly clicked. I’m digging out my Orbison cassettes and CDs when I get home…
posted by retrophisch at 12:34 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 01 April 2003

Shameful confession

Damn you, Daimler-Chrysler.

Thanks to your commercials, I cannot get Celine Dion’s “I Drove All Night” out of my head. Now the MP3 is in rotation in iTunes. She has a set of pipes on her, I’ll say that much.

(from her latest album)

posted by retrophisch at 3:37 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 18 March 2003

A barber shop

A barber shop. That’s what I want. Not a salon. Not another Supercuts, Great Clips, Sports Clips, or any other generic salon-style chain that have all but killed the Great American Barber Shop. I’m tired of salons. I’m tired of Great Clips, Sports Clips, Supercuts, et al. Salons are for the ladies. Men don’t see stylists; we see barbers.

I want real barber chairs, hot shaving foam, straight razors. The operation overseen by a cast of crusty old SOBs who know how to talk sports, politics, hunting, fishing, power tools, cars; you know, guy stuff.

Call the chamber of commerce, suggests my spouse. Ask them if they know of any in the town. Well, what do you know? :)

Just opened this past October, the Back N Time Antique Barber Shop is what I’ve been looking for. The staff isn’t old, or crusty, and I’ve only been there once, so I can’t speak much as to if they are SOBs. But we talked March Madness and hockey. Complimentary sodas. Complimentary snacks & candy. Antique furniture, especially of the barber-shop variety. They have an old cash register that would take at least two guys to carry out the door, more likely three—if it wasn’t bolted to an antique cabinet. An old shoeshine stand stands guard by the front door, which is flanked by barber poles.

Oh, right—the haircut. Aces. I got a great haircut in the kind of atmosphere I grew up with. I will definitely be seeing Steve, Fred, Ace, and Jimmie Z again.

posted by retrophisch at 9:35 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 12 March 2003

Firearms ‘zines need to increase online presence

Something I’ve noticed from the various firearms magazines I read: their online presences suck. The various publications from Harris, for instance, only show the latest cover and table of contents, and a link to subscribe. No links to articles listed in the TOC. Nope, nothing from that issue available online. Guns Magazine fares only slightly better, giving you the feature story from each month to read. Whoever is uploading the accompanying pictures for those features needs to be fired (no pun intended); they are abhorrent. Granted, nothing would compare with the high-resolution glossies in the paper mag, but these are ridiculous.

Come on, guys, get it together. I can sort of understand not putting up anything from the current month’s magazine; you don’t want to gut your off-the-shelf sales. At the very least you should be uploading all of your back issues, with all of the articles and columns, not just the monthly “feature.” If you want to charge a nominal subscription fee, a la Consumer Reports, Playboy, et al, then go for it, but give us a chance at more content than a solitary article and a cover picture.

posted by retrophisch at 12:26 PM -->in firearms , rant
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Thursday, 27 February 2003

Look at my incredibly massive ego!

Jerry Jerk, er, Jones, has released the NFL’s all-time leading rusher from the Dallas Cowboys. Players take note: this is how Jerry rewards your (well-paid) service to his organization. After 13 years, 3 Super Bowl wins, and the rushing title, Emmitt is now out in the cold. The only reason Jones kept Smith around for the 2002 season was so Number 22 would break the league rushing record in a Cowboys uniform; again, glorification for Jones’ ego.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a Cowboys fan, and have not been since we moved to Dallas. I remain, however, an Emmitt Smith fan, and I hope he gets what he wants: a shot at another Super Bowl as a team’s number-one back.

Everyone in Dallas will be in tears that Jerry let Emmitt go, but they’ll spin it as simply a financial matter, that Smith is costing the team too much money. Jerry has long hinted that he doesn’t think Emmitt has what it takes any more to be a number-one running back. Gee, Jerry, maybe if Emmitt had an offensive line that could block elderly grandmothers, much less Pro Bowl linebackers, that would’ve helped the past three seasons. And a quarterback that could throw accurately and consistently wouldn’t hurt either.

posted by retrophisch at 3:24 PM -->in rant
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Friday, 21 February 2003

gurgle

Burger King has joined McDonald’s on my places of never to eat again.

posted by retrophisch at 1:52 PM -->in rant
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Friday, 14 February 2003

Fine, the gloves are off

So, back in January, the New York Times’ editorial page headline screamed “The War Against Women,” the letter therein lambasting the Bush administration’s moves with regard to the right to life. The Times chose to use the term “anti-choice” in the editorial, rather than “pro-life.”

This fails to honor the news-writing custom of adopting a group’s preferred terminology in referring to its aims. Therefore, I (while not a newsperson, per se, but at any rate…) shall no longer refer to the opposition as “pro-choice,” but rather as “pro-death,” since that’s what they really are. Coke or Pepsi is a choice, the life of a child is not.

posted by retrophisch at 12:20 AM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 05 February 2003

Right on, Reebok!

You know that annoying Nike Shox ad with the guy running across the soccer field wearing only his Shox shoes and a scarf? Reebok, with the help of Terry Tate, has effectively nuked it, and good riddance. Kudos, Reebokkers!!

(registration and QuickTime or WMP required — click on “Streak This, Baby!”)

posted by retrophisch at 7:50 PM -->in fun , rant
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Tuesday, 04 February 2003

Health improvements

Well, after taking a couple of sick days, I’m beginning to feel normal again. The anti-nausea and anti-spasmodic drugs the ER doc prescribed for me have been helping immensely. I can feel my appetite coming back as well, eating 2 bowls of chicken and relatively bland stuff (water chestnuts, celery, white and green onions) at Genghis Grill, before dropping my sister off at the airport for her flight home.

Yesterday, for kicks, I got on the scale, and discovered that I had lost somewhere between 7-10 pounds in about 48 hours. I say 7-10 because I generally float within a 5-pound range when I weigh myself.

Plenty of rest has gone a long way toward recovery, and I should be back in the saddle at work tomorrow. For those that knew, thanks for your kind words and thoughts.

posted by retrophisch at 3:49 PM -->in rant
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Sunday, 02 February 2003

Being sick sucks

And it really, really, really sucks when you end up at the ER at 11:45 on a Saturday night because you’re so dehydrated and you can’t get fluids in by drinking water or Gatorade because you keep puking it up. Two IV bags of fluids, 3 blood samples, 2 x-rays, and 1 urine sample later, we learn I’ve got some kind of nasty virus because my white cell count is over 20,000. This is not a good thing.

I was released about 3 in the morning. After stopping at the 24-hour Tom Thumb pharmacy nearby and getting my new drugs and a 2-liter of Sprite, we crashed into bed some time around 4.

Steady improvements all day today, no more throwing up, which makes me happy because I really, really, really hate that. Bland food is all I can eat, so it’s been dry toast, crackers, and rice. I’m feeling tons better, though not still 100%.

While we had talked about what kind of fun, exciting things we could do with my little sister while she is in town visiting, this little adventure was the furthest thing from our minds. :)

posted by retrophisch at 10:35 PM -->in rant
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Thursday, 30 January 2003

Miller on the ACLU

My friends know that in general I detest Dennis Miller, but he made an excellent point regarding the ACLU on the Tonight Show this week:

“The ACLU spent this entire holiday season protesting public displays of the nativity scene. Yeah, that’s the problem with America right now: Public displays of Christ’s birth, that’s the problem. It’s unbelievable to me. The ACLU will no longer fight for your right to put up a nativity scene, but they’ll fight for the right of the local freak who wants to stumble onto the scene and have sex with one of the sheep.”

Hmmm. Maybe I’ve misunderstood Dennis throughout the ’90s, but I always got the feeling he never took a stand on either side of the political aisle.

posted by retrophisch at 4:41 PM -->in liberty , quote , rant
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“Balanced” reporting

If a ban on partial-birth abortion, decidedly a conservative issue, is a “sop to the far right,” why isn’t a campaign finance reform bill, decidedly a leftist issue, a “sop to the far left?”

posted by retrophisch at 4:05 PM -->in rant
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Knowing Who Your Friends Are

I know several folks out there, even some I call acquaintances and friends, believe that the United States, and specifically President Bush, is acting as a bully against Saddam and that world opinion is not with us. Sorry to say, but France, Russia, China, and far-left peace protestors do not constitute world opinon, no matter what their apologists in the mass media would have you think.

My friend Michael reports that on MSNBC just a while ago, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stated, “When I see the American flag, I don’t just see a symbol of the United States, I see a symbol of freedom and democracy.”

Berlusconi gets it; our fight with Saddam isn’t purely about weapons of mass destruction, though that is the most significant reason. It’s not about controlling Iraqi oil reserves, either, despite what some conspiracy-minded leftists would have you believe. Beyond Saddam’s WMD threat, our fight with Saddam is about the freedom from oppression of the Iraqi people.

And if you think I’m wrong, then you need to check out the open letter sent to The Wall Street Journal, the Times of London and other newspapers today, by, respectively, the prime ministers of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Britain, the president of the Czech Republic and the prime ministers of Hungary, Poland and Denmark.

They get it. Each of these countries was touched in some way by oppression in the 20th century, namely Nazism and communism, and they note this. As nations, they speak from experience. As nations, they know what the Iraqi people are suffering; and they are willing to assist in the regime change necessary for Iraqi liberation. They get it. Why do so many Americans not?

Jordan’s King Hussein has apparently stated the U.S. can use his country as a staging area. At a press conference, Spain announced unconditional support for the United States with regard to handling Saddam. Other nations are rallying to America’s call to end Saddam’s tyrannical and threatening regime. I wonder how Jennings, Rather, and Brokaw will spin these developments in “world opinion.”

posted by retrophisch at 2:18 PM -->in liberty , rant
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Sunday, 26 January 2003

Frickin’ Celine Dion?!?!?

Can someone answer me why a French Canadian is singing “God Bless America” during the Super Bowl pre-game show? “My home sweet home?” She’s Canadian! She lives in Canada! Her home is Canada! Is is that hard to find a talented American singer to sing “God Bless America?”

At least American girls sang the national anthem. And quite nicely, I might add, not showboating or over-acting/singing in trying to show off their vocal skills. Hats off to the Dixie Chicks.

posted by retrophisch at 6:26 PM -->in rant
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Saturday, 18 January 2003

Heaton rocks!

There are reasons why Patricia Heaton continues to be one of my favorite actresses. She’s absolutely fabulous on Everybody Loves Raymond, and she continues to stand up for traditional Judeo-Christian values. Last Monday, Heaton walked out of the American Music Awards before she was due to intoduce a retrospective montage. Why? Because she was digusted by “an onslaught of lewd jokes and off-color remarks.” bq. “I’m no prude, but this was such a vulgar and disgusting show,” Heaton said. Heaton summarizes my own thoughts exactly: bq. “The entire evening became about bleeping. It was as if they were trying to become more like the MTV awards. But it’s one thing if this kind of stuff is on MTV at 10 at night. It’s quite another if it’s on ABC at 8 o’clock. I don’t know what Dick Clark was thinking.” Heaton fired back, when asked if she’s worried about any sort of “you’ll never present again” backlash: “Who cares?” Major retrophisch kudos to Patricia Heaton for taking a stand against the Hollywonk culture.
posted by retrophisch at 5:57 PM -->in rant
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Thursday, 02 January 2003

There are other teams, Dallas sports fans

As a transplanted Texan, one of the things that has bothered me since our move here in ‘98 has been how Cowboys-focused Dallas sports fans are. This year has been no exception; with “America’s Team” winning only 5 games, it has been wisely speculated for the past month if Dave Campo would remain the Cowboys head coach.

This is how sad this town is when it comes to their NFL team: one news station interrupted a tornado warning to announce Campo’s firing earlier this week. A tornado warning! Now we know that Bill Parcels is the new head coach, blah, blah, blah.

Hello, Dallas? The Mavericks are kicking the tail out of every other team in the NBA, sitting alone atop the league. The Stars are trading the #1 spot in the NHL with Detroit and Ottawa on a nightly basis. You have championship-contending teams! They just don’t play in Texas Stadium.

Maybe now that the Cowboys’ season is over, you’ll pull your collective head out of Jerry Jones’ butt and realize that. Go Stars!

posted by retrophisch at 11:25 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 23 December 2002

The One True Quoting Style

Michael calls it on Chris Hanson’s observation. Take note, emailers of the world.

At work, I am forced to use Entourage as my Exchange client under OS X. One thing that is nice about Entourage is the preference that lets you turn off the formatted, Outlook/Exchange-type email that includes HTML, and have plain-text, Internet email, complete with quotes. It’s not pure text; HTML mail still gets through, but it offers me enough of the plain-text, Internet email experience that I feel like I’m using a real email client.

posted by retrophisch at 2:52 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 20 November 2002

work sucks

Today has been so mind-numbingly boring. I am working on a task that your average 3d-grader could accomplish. We have this online archive of tips and tricks, that field support personnel could consult, that “has” to be cataloged for review, so persons higher-up the decision chain than I can decide what to delete, what to update, etc. There is no easy way to catalog all of this stuff, since I basically have to read each item to summarize it in the Excel spreadsheet it’s all going in. So far, everything is so woefully out of date, it’s a virtual given that the whole thing will be trashed. So why are they bothering? Because my bosses like to torture me? Because they haven’t given me any other project that’s actually worth my time, skillls, or knowledge?

I know, I know. Be thankful I have a job and get paid for the mind-numbingly boring work anyway. It would still be nice to get a project that’s actually challenging in some way and doesn’t have me getting up every fifteen minutes just to stay awake…

posted by retrophisch at 4:38 PM -->in rant
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Tuesday, 05 November 2002

Why HTML in email is bad

Personally, I have long maintained that HTML belongs in browsers, not my email client. One of the reasons I use Mailsmith is that it never shows HTML in my email, stripping it in to plain text, if possible, and at worst keeping it as an HTML attachment I can open in my browser.

Scot Hacker wrote an excellent article that sums up all of my reasons why you shouldn’t use HTML in your email, and he offers tips on several email clients/services for turning HTML formatting off. Bookmark this one, boys and girls. (Thanks, Lee!)

posted by retrophisch at 3:08 PM -->in rant
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Monday, 04 November 2002

Work sucks

To-do list:

  1. Bite tongue
  2. Restrain urge to strangle bosses (I have two!)
  3. Suck it up
  4. Look for a new job
posted by retrophisch at 2:59 PM -->in rant
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Wednesday, 23 October 2002

Ick

I don’t know what people are bringing back from the cafeteria, but it smells awful. And they wonder why I refuse to eat there…

posted by retrophisch at 11:52 AM -->in rant
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