Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why Wait Until You're Dead?

The above link is to pictures of famous grafiti artist Banksy hanging art in museums. He has friends create a distraction and then he sneaks art onto the wall, complete with appropriately designed description/donor tags. Clever.

Terry Schiavo

Well, perhaps it's time I told you my opinion of this whole big deal. You know what I think? I think that you don't really care. So, that's the extent of my public opinion.

But I have linked to this great editorial piece on MSNBC.com from a doctor. He doesn't really talk about the controversial subject, but all the things we can and should learn from having witnessed this, first and foremost, the importance of a living will. Do not leave it to your loved ones to try to figure out what you would have wanted. Instead, you must clearly specify which types of measures you want performed and which types of measures you do not want performed.

With that, I'll publicly go on record right now saying that the only organ I care about is my brain. If there is real, legitimate brain activity, use ventilators, feeding tubes, pacemakers, and lots of fricking morphine to keep me alive. But if I do not have real, legitimate brain activity going on (well, by my usual standards, that is), and no reasonable chance that it will return in a reasonable amount of time (2 years?), then there's no reason to spend money and grief trying to keep the rest of the system going. If I suffer some horrible disease and forget everything, but have the capacity to learn again, fine. But if the mental activity that makes me "me" is gone, if I can't regain me, or develop a new me (that is, I cannot comprehend or participate in my world beyond that of involuntary reaction), strap the body into a wheelchair, get it to a bluff with palm trees overlooking the ocean and just sit with it until it's completed shutting down.

Side thoughts... Did the pope go on a feeding tube to make a point? Or more likely he goes on the tube regularly but this is the first time they've publicized it to make a point?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Derrrrrrr.....


Can I get a job as a proofreader? Or just a job where I can criticize and point out errors and things that don't make sense?

Happy Easter

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Now How Will Dad Fall Asleep?

MSNBC.COM -- It was a common site growing up to see dad sacked out on the couch while Wall $treet Week glowed on the TV across the room. Wall $treet Week will end its 35-year run soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Is everyone here but me an idiot? (aka Today's Spelling Lesson)

Ladies and gentleman, let's talk about two words that are not spelled alike and do not even sound alike.

The first is losing - (loo-zing) - to misplace, to lose, to find oneself to no longer have... (or, see dictionary.com)

The second is loosing - (loose-ing) - to make less tight, to give freedom to... (or, see dictionary.com)

Now, to the interns running the NBC4 website... let's think about this... did the truck driver make his brakes less tight before careening down the hill, or did he suddenly discover that he had no brakes? (Although partial credit for spelling "its" and "brakes" correctly.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Let's Dance

"Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." - Friedrich Nietzsche

To iPod or not to iPod

CNET.COM -- This article makes a good case for Napster vs. Apple iTunes... provided you want to pay legally for all your music. Interesting thought, paying a monthly subscription for music. I don't have an iPod or any sort of music player, though I did buy a yearly subscription to LaunchCast Plus. Unfortunately, it's only good for listening to when there's a computer handy.

Guns don't kill people...

I call "bullshit."

What kills people? Stupid f'ing kids whose stupid f'ing guardians provide them with access to guns. The story says authorities believe that the guns used in this latest school rampage were the grandfather's, a cop. It was the grandfather's car that the kid drove to school in.

I've not been out of high school that long, but we didn't worry about stuff like that. I think the saw the grip of a gun once, and I can't remember if it was at school or not, but the guy didn't strike me as a type to use it and that was in Jr. High. There were fights every day at school, but they were always fistfights over stupid stuff by well-known people. I mean, I don't remember anyone really getting teased alot. If anything, you were more likely to just not get noticed.

I feel a little bit for the kid in this case, though, his mom is permanently in a nursing home due to a brain injury from a car accident and his dad committed suicide a few years ago. That's really got to affect a kid. Living in Minnesota can't be much fun, either.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy Spring

According to the long and dry article above, the first day of spring isn't a fixed date and that more often than not, it's March 20, not 21st., but occasionally March 19 for some parts of the US. And that the seasons are changing in length each year. Or something. If you're not me, this link will probably prove boring.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Life is like...

...an hourglass glued to the table.

That's kind of interesting. Or depressing. I choose to believe that's a pessimistic view of life. But if that's true, then I guess you need to overturn the entire table for a new view.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Send it back

Every day it floods in... offers for digital cable, home mortgages and more. If only there were some way to stem the tide, some way to identify the senders and block the spam. If only everything went through a single source so this stuff can be tracked.

Oh... wait... it does. Our government.

Yes, that's right, I'm talking about our United States Postal Service. While there's all this talk about "Do Not Call" and CAN-SPAM, I find the biggest offense is the daily innundation of crap mailed to my house.

I get 3-5 mortgage offers a week, at least one piece of garbage from Adelphia, and for a few days straight, the offers for representation were pouring in. Apparently a former resident was recently apprehended for some pretty major crime.

(Hey, Adelphia - I don't even have cable at the house - I wound the cord up in a tree in the backyard so I didn't have to look at it marring my view of the sky as it uselessly hung across my backyard. The satellite dish's shadow is much less of a detractor from my view.)

So all the mail is funneled through a single source and yet for all the things we complain about with e-mail and our phones -- forged return addresses, caller ID blocking, unsolicited contact -- our federal government has printed themselves a ticket to spam us in the worst possible way.

When we moved from Glendale, we did not have our old phone number give out the new phone number. And we put a post office box in Pasadena as the forwarding address for mail. Then we closed the post office box in Pasadena and put the old address in Glendale as the forwarding address.

As a result, our phone has been nearly silent. The worst offender, Chase. We had to ask at least half a dozen times before they put us on their "Do Not Call List." To compensate, they seem to have upped the frequency of their postal mailings. But with any unsolicited telemarketer, we need to simply utter the words "No thank you." If that doesn't work, we add "Please end this call now or we're going to report you to the Do Not Call list." and that usually works. As a last resort, "I'm hanging up the phone now. Thank you." and then hang up the phone.

Spam has never been a huge problem with e-mail. Years ago, I had a really cool AIM name, but I forgot the password and was forced to quickly come up with a new one. To simplify, I used that new name as my e-mail address at Hotmail and others. It's been virtually spam-free for years. It's just my first name, the year I graduated and the initials of the school I graduated from. To a dictionary spammer, it's too random to guess, and I've avoided posting it anywhere on the internet or using it to enter contests. (I have other addresses for that.) Besides, Hotmail's done a great job with spam control and I just press "This is junk." and it's gone. My work address, that's another story. But even still, it's easy enough to highlight all the spam e-mail subject lines and hit delete. Problem solved in 5 seconds.

But mail is an entirely different problem.

First, the government doesn't check to see if the person even lives here, just put any old name and address on a piece of mail and the post office will blindly, efficiently, see it to its destination. Nevermind if it's wrong or not. I get mail for at least five or six different last names other than my own. I'm only the house's fourth owner.

Secondly, you don't always know what you're getting. At least with e-mail, you can usually quickly identify spam by the sender and/or subject, or for legitimate e-mail, see who the sender is and get some idea of what it's about. Not so with mail. It's legally ok to put only an address and a stamp on an envelope and send it off. No return address, nothing. (That seems to indicate that the sender doesn't even care if they have the correct address... even AOL's Postmaster demands that you monitor your inbox and quickly take care of bounced address/unsubscribe requests when you send to the wrong address or the person who got the e-mail doesn't want to receive future e-mails from you.)

Thirdly, there's no laws to help you stem the tide. I tried calling the 1-800 number published in one of the offers from Adelphia. I was told that I would probably need to go, in person, to an Adelphia office three or four towns over and that maybe somebody there would be able to help me get my name off the mailing list.

Lastly, it's a much more time consuming process to protect my identity and keep my life organized when it comes to postal spam than it is with e-mail or phone. Again, click-click-delete and the spam is gone. Click and the phone is hung up. The closest thing I have to a saving grace is that my mail is delivered through a mail slot into my house, so it's more secure. But I don't like how daily someone can send me a piece of mail and tell me about myself, true or not. They can include my name, my age, my social security, you name it. Now I've got to sort through, open, and shred all of this stuff. Thankfully, no one's sent me anthrax.

Well, no more. I have begun sending it back.

Washington Mutual? "Do not have a relationship with this entity. Return to sender."

Adelphia? "Refused - this is spam. Return to sender."

BMG, Columbia House, etc.? "Return to sender - remove from mailing list."

Unrecognized name? "Sender unknown to recipient. Return to sender."

If the government is going to profit by helping companies to spam me, I'm going to make sure they profit just a little bit less. Join me...
send it back.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Into each life a little rain must fall...

...and into every life, some sunshine.

I have been experiencing a period of real pleasantness. The car, fixed, some major house projects done, family life really enjoyable.

It's weird, because often when something goes wrong, my first instinct is "What did I do to deserve this?" Karma. After the panic attack subsides, I have to think to myself "everyone has car trouble" or "anyone's house could flood." But even during last week's car trouble, I could only laugh. Thankfully, because of the problems I had in college with my car (or the stupidity of locking keys in the truck) and I was impressed at how Kevin was able to call a 1-800 number and have a guy show up in a tow truck, look at a card with three little A's on it, get my trunk unlocked, wish us a good evening and drive away.

But now, when things are going really well, I'm not sitting here going "What could I have possibly done to deserve this?" Sure, I made an extra effort to be really nice and grateful to the AAA lady and the tow truck driver last week when I had to have my car towed, but I still drive to fast, get irritated too fast and probably spend a little too much time each morning at work reading the day's headlines. I really can't have done anything to deserve this, nor could I possibly believe that I had anything to do with this. It could be God, giving me a period of sunshine, or it could just be life going smoothly for the moment. Or, it could be part of my attitude... the thing about trying to be nicer and more social to people, beyond what it takes to conduct a transaction. Or maybe it's just a nice time.

But I'm also aware that we can expect periods of darkness, periods of adversity, trials and hardships. I still potentially have jury duty coming up, and I got a summons again about the dog thing... more than a full month after I actually showed up in court to find no ticket had ever actually been issued, I get a letter from the city informing me that the court date had been moved to May. Not too excited about that.

But I'm not dreading the next period of darkness. I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am enjoying life. Money's still tight, time is still a premium... But it's not just the nice day to day, but it's been a couple of weeks of real contentment. Not to mention some beautiful weather that reminded me of my first summer in California, punctuated by a few days of mild rain that has helped the grass to really grow but not caused any new leaks or flooding in the house.

It's nice. I may not have much control over things, but I'm just going to really enjoy this time. Even if it means the chores don't get done as quickly, or I can't complete as much contract work, I'm going to enjoy life.

Maybe it will translate into even more calm and better driving habits. Now that would be truly telling.

Friday, March 11, 2005

My Disease

Well, I've consulted the internet and self-diagnosed. I have a very, very mild case of dyscalculia, which is more commonly known as numeric dyslexia. The only thing that seems to affect me is that constant transposing of numbers. Thought I'd share.

File this under "Creative Solutions"

I LOVE this - check out the link above to find out how city authorities in India deal with tardy taxpayers.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Keanu Reeves with a beard?

No, just some dork named James Lamb.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Murderous James Lamb

Apparently some guy named James Lamb killed some guy way back in the day. The story, as it seems, was he and another guy wanted these two women to be their wives, only the women were already married. They scared one guy off, but the other guy stood his ground and they killed him. Then they married the women. Hope I'm not related.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Regulate This!

Unless Congress makes passes some specific laws, the Federal Elections Commission would be potentially responsible for fining individuals like myself were we to put a link on our website to a political campaign. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Random Mood

When she opened up her eyes, she was blinded by the lights:
Everything was flashing red and blue.
She heard: "Do you know were you are?" as they pulled her from her car:
She saw the helicopter and she knew, oh, it must be really bad.
And as they lifted off the ground,
The only thing that she could think about,

Was the last thing she said to her husband that morning,
An' the look on his face when she slammed the door.
And the way she drove off, without one ounce of regret.
And knowing: "I love you" was not the last thing she said.

She tried to stay awake long enough to see his face,
Wishin' she could take the whole day back.
She kept asking where he is, and "Am I gonna live?"
While the voices in the room faded fast.
Before she drifted off, they tried to calm her down.
But on and on, all she talked about,

Was the last thing she said to her husband that morning,
An' the look on his face when she slammed the door.
And the way she drove off, without one ounce of regret.
And knowing: "I love you" was not the last thing she said.

He was waitin' in the hall, starin’ at the wall,
When he finally saw the doctor walk his way.
Oh, he was scared to death, just holding his breath,
Right up until he heard the doctor say: "She’ll be okay,
"And right now she needs her rest, but she wanted me to tell you she’s sorry:
"And ‘I love you’ was the last thing she said."

---- and ---

Floorboard's filled with baby toys,
And empty coke bottles and coffee cups.
Drivin' through the rain with no radio,
Tryin' not to wake her up.
Cellphone says "low battery",
God, what if I break down?
I'm just lookin' for an exit with a lotta lights,
A safe little interstate town.

Just a cheap hotel,
With a single bed,
And cable TV:
Is good enough for me and Emily.

Some day, when she's old enough,
She's gonna start askin' questions about him.
Some kid at school brings his Dad for show an' tell,
An' gets her little mind a-wonderin':
"Where's my Daddy? Do I have one?
"Does he not love me like you do?"
Oh, maybe I'll find someone to love the both of us,
And I'll tell her when she's old enough to know the truth.

Will it break her heart?
Will she understand,
That I had to leave?
That's what was best for me an' Emily.

That house was never clean enough; his dinner never warm enough.
Nothing I did was ever good enough to make him happy.
So, I guess, he gave me what he thought I deserved,
But it would kill me if he ever raised his hand to her.

Big rigs are throwin' rain on my windshield,
And I feel like they're laughin' at me.
Fin'lly the storm is lettin' up,
And the mornin' is breakin' free.

It's a brand new day,
It's a second chance.
Yesterday is just a memory,
For me and Emily.
Ah.

Floorboard is filled with baby toys,
And empty coke bottles and coffee cups.
Least there's one good thing that he gave me,
And she's startin' to wake up.