Saturday, March 31, 2007

5 Guys in a Limo

This is..umm.. hmmm... cute? It was on Kevin's blog. I would have sent you there, but he just links you on to YouTube. So I'm cutting out a few middlemen. Here you go...

Book Report: Praise Habit

I just couldn't get into "Praise Habit" -- I found myself going to bed without reading, or reading Reader's Digest, Car & Driver, Fast Company and Inc. but not wanting to pick it up. It's cute and all, but I couldn't get into it and finally gave up.

I'm now working on Disney War and having trouble putting it down. I'm to the point now where you feel sorry for everyone and realize just what kind of good they did for Disney in the early days.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Today is a was a good day.

New JibJab: What We Call the News

There's a new JibJab: What We Call the News... I dunno... the whole Terrance and Phillip style animation is kinda disturbing to me. WWCtN is no This Land or Big Box Mart. Still can't figure out which one I like better.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Phones

The new phones are here! While the interface is just as clunky, the outside casing looks fresher. I note that these are made in China (the others were made in Singapore) so hopefully these should work better (aka not break) due to superior manufacturing.

Because they came within the 30 days of the first account being opened, Cingular's treating it like the original account wasn't closed. So we pay the outstanding bill, get a credit back for the days the service was cancelled -- when FedExTurtle finally delivered the phones to StinkFly, rather than when we sent them or even when we let them know we were sending them or when the phone stopped working. Then the new service starts on the first, so we do get a few free days. Whatever. Just so long as the Wirefly mess is all behind us.

Of course, even Amazon couldn't get the area code right and shipped 206's. Is this a sign? Should we move to The City? Sadly, they were out of good numbers so our numbers are nowhere near each other. E-mail me for the new number.

So to figure out the billing and get the numbers changed, that's #1 and #2 for the new round.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ruining My Own Chances...

Ok, I'm affecting my own changes, but this is just silly. Rotorooter wants to Pimp Your John. Ok, they don't really. They want you to subscribe to their newsletter (!!) and get out some cheap advertising by getting everyone else to spread the word for them. (I don't get any extra votes or benefit for noting this here.)


from Lori...

Dark Day

Well, this is just turning out to be a banner day.

5:30 am... music. snooze. cha-chunk. whirrrrrrr..... silence. Barely a chance to wake up and BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Yes, that's right, Puget Sound Energy dropped us off grid again. Forced energy conservation. Great. Now my clock radio (backup battery.. brilliant and painful) and the security alarm are letting us know simultaneously that I need to get up and that the power is out. The houses behind us who we thought were on Tacoma City were dark and and in the other direction didn't see lights until SeaTac, but it was still early.

Showered in the dark, that's cool. Stumbled around in the dark knocking stuff over. Cut myself some banana bread in the kitchen. Went down and rode the exercise bike. No lights, no Squawk Box, no WiFi. So I sat in the dark riding and playing, ironically, Minesweeper. Which I suck at and could not play for days and days.

Got dressed, manually opened both garages and put the cars in the drive and then headed out. Up to the FW/Tacoma intersection and the gas station has power. The last outage told me to fill the car's gas tank immediately. No wallet. So, on to work. Remember that there's at least food in my cube so I'll have lunch. (Didn't bring lunch - last outage told me not to open the refrigerator if I didn't need to.)

Despite my efforts to be a calmer driver, I did have to honk and flash my lights at someone. Even though it did no good. It was an impromptu 4-way on a dead red and she was refusing to get up there and take her turn. She should have stayed home.

I hear on the radio that it's localized to 10,000 homes along the arterial I'll be taking. So I cut over and drive through as many parking lots as I can, skipping a lot of 4-ways. Was great, though in retrospect, should one race through empty parking lots without one's wallet? Eh.

Get to work and realize that the stupid health screening is today for the health insurance and we weren't supposed to eat for 8 hours before. Today would have been the perfect day to do that. I should have just gone up and had it done anyway, then I would have looked really good at my follow-up. But I know they'd ask and I don't want to lie. I also don't want to go 8 hours without eating which is somewhat of a sad thing to say when I work here where despite our efforts and all the resources of our wonderful donors children still die at a rate of 4 a minute in Africa due to a lack of food or clean water.

So now I need to resched.

I tried to just vent on Twitter and get it out of my system but all it did was wipe out my post from last night. It's being a jerk today.

Well, I guess at this point there's nothing to do but go grab a nice hot cup of coffee and smile at it.

Bright spot... Amazon now say "March 27-April 30" as the estimated delivery date for our new new cell phones and gave us a DHL tracking code. DHL says today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Car, My Bubble

I resolved last week to have better drives. I mean, my entire drive each way is only 7 miles. Or, 3 Subways, 2 Quiznoses, 3 Tullys and 2 Starbuckses and a Jamba Juice.

But I decided there's no reason for anyone else to tick me off. They can drive however they want, but it shouldn't affect me. I'm not in a hurry to anywhere and I'm not late. I don't mean to suggest I'm going to start driving slow, but it does mean I need to leave a little more room between me and the car in front of me.

This has mostly worked the past few days. Sadly, this evening it didn't and I'm embarassed. First was a car that came up to the turn lane in front of me. It had just missed the protected green, but it failed to pull into the intersection to take the free. It finally did pull in, but then just sat there, finally doing nothing as the light turned to yellow and then red. I flashed my lights at them. They just sat there as the cars made wide turns around her. doo doo doo doo doo.

A little while later she ended up behind me for about half a mile. Possibly grumbling about the jerk with the Jesus fish and Calvin cross on the back bumper.

A few blocks later, I passed a semi who couldn't stay in his lane and I honked as I passed, driving on the center bumps. He eventually ended up behind me at a stop light. And again I grumbled at myself.

Well, hopefully I can learn from it.

More Nerdy

Here's the Donny Osmond track from White & Nerdy.

Here's the Making Of...

And just for kicks, here's the video itself since I haven't seen it in a few days...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Incomplete To Do List

It was my goal this weekend to do nothing. I failed. I guess I forgot, or I got busy. Now, Saturday was pretty spectacular in that I read a lot and sat around, but it wasn't quite nothing.

You see, my goal had been to sit down and for 30 minutes, do absolutely nothing. If I feel asleep, cool. If I zoned out and watched the rain, cool. If I had a brilliant idea and figured out what comes after the internet, cool.

But I forgot to sit down and do nothing. Perhaps next weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

TV and Photos

If you're not watching Andy Barker, PI, you are really missing out. And you have no excuse, they're available for viewing on

I'm also looking forward to Thank God You're Here. The premise has a lot of promise. An established actor (and the promos have shown many) is dressed into a costume and then walks through a door onto a stage in front of a live studio audience. They have no idea what's on the stage, or even who. Someone on stage will utter the catchphrase "Thank God You're Here!" and then the scene will progress. Has so much promise.

In other news, I've finally uploaded February and March photos to Flickr. As always, you'll need to sign in for most of the shots of people.

Beloved art professor dies at 59


Beloved art professor dies at 59
December 08, 2006

Former PLU art professor Lawrence Gold passed away from complications from a recent stroke on Dec. 1. He was 59 years old.

Gold joined the PLU faculty in 1984. Following minor heart surgery in 2002, he suffered a stroke and remained on medical and other leaves until his formal retirement last May.

He was born in Chicago, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University in 1971 and a master’s in fine arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1976. While living in Madison, Gold was a singer-songwriter.

Gold was a gifted and popular teacher who was energized by student learning. He continued to visit campus, and team taught courses even after his medical leave began in 2002.

He was active in PLU’s Center for Teaching and Learning and had a keen interest in "relational pedagogy." His teaching took him beyond the art department, and included team teaching with a number of colleagues in the international core. His interest in global education led to the development of two successful study away programs in Findhorn, Scotland, and Crystal Waters, Australia.

John Hallam, chair of the art department, characterized Gold’s art works as diverse, bridging design, sculpture and painting. In addition to PLU University Gallery showings, Gold’s work was shown at the Tacoma Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, American Art Company in Tacoma and the Blue Heron Art Center on Vashon Island.

Gold is survived by his wife, Lisa Queen ’00, and a brother. A private remembrance was held, and cards may be sent through the president’s office.

Had a class with Professor Gold my sophomore year. He was a really cool guy, artistic, flair, ponytail and all, but not a suffering artist. In addition to his professorship at PLU, he also designed product containers for other companies. One of the things he told us early on is one of my favorite pieces of trivia. For most of the world, the overall favorite color is blue. Except in the middle East and Africa, where the favorite color is green because of little vegetation there is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Link Night

Some interesting stuff recently...

365 Guy - Feels his life is boring, so he decided at the beginning of the year to shake things up.

Dark Food - Completely pitch-black unlit restaurant employing blind waitstaff. Way to be empowering.

Dire-fly - My Wirefly review on Epinions.

Twitter Vision - a nearly real-time look at twits as tweets make them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Customer Disservice

I give up. This is an actual e-mail. I've re-ordered the pieces for easier blog readability.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: --------
> Sent: Mar 17, 2007 5:20:20 PM
> Subject: Amazon Promo Center Email
> First Name:
> Last Name: -------
> Email: -------
> Zip Code: --------
> Phone: ---------
> Comments: We canceled the order and return the phones to Wirefly. (One
> was defective and they don't do exchanges.) We've repurchased the phones
> through instead and so ------ isn't a valid request
> anymore. Sorry for the hassle.
> Tracking Number: ------


On 3/19/07, Amazon Rebates wrote:
> Dear ------------: Tracking number: ------------
> Thank you for your rebate inquiry. We are pleased to inform you that your
> submission has been received, and it is in the final stages of validation.
> Once we have verified that you have maintained your service for 90 days, the
> rebate should be mailed within 30 days.
> We appreciate your participation in this promotion. If there is anything
> else we can do to assist you, please contact us at
> We are always happy to help.
> You can also track the status of your rebate, using the Tracking number
> above, at
> Eddy
> Promotions Customer Services


-----Original Message-----
From: -------------
Sent: Mar 19, 2007 10:30:01 PM
Subject: Re: Amazon Promo Center Email (#----------)

Hi, actually, if you'll re-read my original e-mail, we've canceled the order
and returned the phones to Wirefly. We no longer qualify for the rebate.
Just wanted to let you know so you could cancel the refund request.


Dear ----------:

Thank you for your rebate inquiry. Your rebate is in the final stages of validation. Once we have verification of your purchase/service, the rebate should be mailed within 30 days. Generally, verification takes no more than 14 days, but sometime it can take up to 30 days.

We appreciate your participation in this promotion. If there is anything else we can do to assist you, please contact us at We are always happy to help.

You can also track the status of your rebate, using the Tracking number above, at

Promotions Customer Services

Have You Met Ted?

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is a truly fascinating phenomenon. Online, it's a series of talks on all manner of things. I listened to a few today while working. It both illustrated my own ignorance while simultaneously exciting me -- I was learning about all kinds of amazing things and types of thought. Very cool. I've only scratched the surface, it'll take me some time to work through all the current ones, but some really great thought. And probably quite a few more books to add to my book list.

Here's one I found particularly interesting... One profound quote from it: "All the salvation of the world requires is the intelligent pursuit of self-interest."

I've also been listening to Relevant Magazine's podcast. They have Dan Hill, a pastor from Santa Cruz on it. He's coming out with a set of books "They Like Jesus, But They Hate Church" (for church leaders) and "We Like Jesus, But We Hate Church" (for everyone else). Sounds interesting. Basically he said that his research showed that people are really spiritual, hungry, and accepting of the message of Jesus. But so much of their view of pastors and church are fed by the bad examples in the media. And that churches have focussed so much on "community" that it's become closed to those who aren't in the church and that people are now afraid to associate with and/or share the message with those outside their circle of comfort and security. Really interesting.

And then you can't forget the Lost podcast from last week... was with the woman who takes the scripts and has to figure out how to shoot them... what settings they'll need, what kinds of technical stuff (like 17 dump trucks full of shaved ice to turn a street in Hawaii to a street in New York in the dead of winter) or an abandoned military post in Hawaii into an active military post in the middle of Iraq.

And also, I recommend the Scrubs podcasts. They stick together two people from the show (cast and crew) and they talk while watching an episode. Really fun stuff, some great insight and you get to hear the actors in a new light. I swear, it would just be awesome to have Ken Jenkins -- who plays Dr. Kelso -- over for a Scrubs marathon. He is like the nicest guy and he just laughs so hard and earnestly at stuff.

Taking Out The Trash

CINDYCRAWFORD.BLOGSPOT.COM -- Kevin makes a very compelling argument about throwing out the collective works of Richard Jeni and Brad Delp. Probably the single best and most well-argued editorial pieces I've read all year. More...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cool Stuff (Links)

CamMap - Directory of live webcams

Live TV App For Your Google Start Page

Braincast (Beta) - Call in, it records a message and then e-mails it to you. Handy.

Download YouTube Videos - watching a video you'd like to download? Easy. Just go up and change the URL of the website you're viewing. For example, change with

Saturday, March 17, 2007

And They're Off...

The v3i's are on their way back.

Turns out that evil, clueless, stupid Wirefly doesn't do exchanges on broken merchandise. You get two choices... one - send the Razr to Motorola for repair... two - cancel the entire order with Wirefly: send the phones back, cancel the contract with Cingular. (And they added "And then place a new order.")

Place a new order indeed. Turns out that I made a mistake (sort of) in the first place. But it's entirely understandable. I don't like how Amazon also lists other people's products co-mingled with their own. Had I known the phones were available from Amazon directly and from Wirefly, I would have definitely gone directly to Amazon.

And browsing around their site, I was able to get it to show up with both Amazon and Wirefly (and Wirefly was more prominent) as well as showing only Wirefly - no mention of Amazon.

So, the phones are slowly trudging their way back to Maryland on FedEx Ground. And a new order's been placed with Amazon. Of course, they're out of stock with Amazon. So we could be without cell phones for as much as a month.

Seriously, though, what is doing working with a company as awful as Inphonic aka Wirefly? They were actually kicked out of the Better Business Bureau, I've now found. As of today, they have 2,187 complaints in the last 12 months (3,472 complaints in the past 36 months).

Do a search on "Wirefly Sucks" on Google to find all kinds of stuff about this company.

Anywhere you see the "Powered by InPhonic" you should know you're in trouble... they've got a boiler room in India full of people with accents so thick you can't understand them doing their best to separate you from your money at any and all costs. I used to believe they were just merely incompetent or that their phone jockeys were just poorly trained, but I'm now convinced the whole point of InPhonic/Wirefly/etc. is just to rip you off. They're nothing but a bunch of crooks.

I guess it's no wonder that Sprint, AOL and United Airlines all have cell phone stores run by InPhonic. You can't get a more ringing endorsement of pure evil than this trio. Actually you can... the really dangerous online arm of Amway (Quixtar or Quixar or Ishtar or whatever it's called) is also powered by InPhonic.

I'm hoping (praying to God, actually) that this saga is drawing to a close. I'm hoping that the phones go back, I call Cingular and give them the FedEx tracking number so they can see the phones were returned and the account gets canceled.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Where Did The Music Industry Go Wrong?

NEWS.COM -- An interesting piece on where the music industry went wrong, how it needs to reshape itself and how artists should respond. Interesting, but I think it puts too much back on the artist to be entrepreneur and artist. More...

I wonder if broadcast television holds a useful parallel. They say that The Cosby Show was one of the last times that America all watched television together. There's actually one later show and I can't remember which one it was, know that it was embarrassing to all of us humans. But up until that point, there was a general consciousness and pulse and you could bet that if there was something on the night before, there was a very good chance that nearly everyone saw the same thing. But as cable became available and grew and started offering watchable alternatives, the audience fragmented. But there were fewer eyes for each thing. And it became much harder to find quality, harder to get your product into people's minds.

And now radio/music's heading down the same path. We don't just have the three AM stations in town to listen to, we have CDs, satellite radio, HD Radio, lots of regular radio stations, iTunes / Napster / Wal*Mart / Rhapsody, LaunchCast and so on and so on. How's an artist to get noticed and gain a following? It's gotta be even harder, since you can't say "Tune in every Thursday at 8 pm to hear a new song from me."

To be sure, the bigger artists backed by the studios will continue to thrive, but as choice becomes more ingrained, the masses will be less and less receptive to the same regurgitated and force-fed tripe that the studios put all their weight behind.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Got a Promotion!

So March 11 marked one year living in Washington.

March 12 I got a promotion. I'm in the newly created "Project Manager" position. Until they find someone to fill my current spot, the promotion is large a title and pay change but not a duties change. But I can sense that's gonna change. My boss is being asked to consult more and more at the international level and he's embarking on a organization-sponsored Masters program, so he's going to be gone a lot and needs me to be able to step up.

Coolness. Bring it on.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Experience Economy

I finished The Experience Economy last night. It's a really interesting book and I'm wrestling to try to understand how it applies. I know, though, that others have read this book by some of the terms I hear around the office. And one or both of my bosses have expressed interest in reading it as well. One thing about The Experience Economy was rather interesting. You know how Forrest Gump is a bunch of flashbacks and then near the end all of the sudden it switches to the present tense and starts moving forward? Near the end of TEE, they seem to realize that the "experience" economy really isn't the end game, but that there's one penultimate and final economy above experience -- transformation. It is good, though, because most people aren't yet to experience, so they need all of the stuff in the book about experience before they can move on to transformation. And transformation is good stuff. I can totally relate. Exciting stuff.

Dumb-Uv-the-Day: Waste Management

Ah, Waste Management. I'd like to think of it as my only legitimate tie to organized crime. I wonder if they'll sue me for that. Anyhow, here's one for you. I signed up for their EZ-Pay (a misnomer!). First off, while you're signing up for automatic bill pay, you still have to then initiate the first transaction manually on their site for reasons I don't get. During the sign-up process, there's a field called "Maximum Charge" -- that is, the most you will allow them to charge your card.

Now I don't know if there are some businesses with more lenient terms and bills that fluxuate more, but I get a pretty standard bill every three months and I have the oh-so-gracious net-10 billing cycle. So there's no reason for me to put in a maximum charge because the box was too small to type "The amount on my bill." So I left it blank. Everything went through fine, no error messages, no indication that I hadn't filled out something that I should have.

It occured to me the other day, looking at Money that it had been awhile since I had gotten charged for garbage service, like four months. So I went online and looked at my bill. It had been due just about a month earlier. I e-mailed them asking what the deal was. A day or two later I got a "delinquent notice" in the mail. So I called this morning and found out that because I hadn't put anything in the maximum field, they hadn't charged my card.

And still no response to the e-mail I submitted last week.

Argh. Boneheads.

But It's Only Been a Week

Hey, look, it's been a week and here I am with my first Cingular Wireless, or AT&T if you will, complaint. It's actually Wirefly's fault, originally. When we bought the phones from Wirefly through, they were set up in the wrong area code. To be sure, 206 is an awesome area code to have, but if we don't live there, it's no good to ask our friends and family to call long distance. When the confirmation e-mail arrived from Wirefly, I called Cingular Wireless (#1). He couldn't figure out what our phone numbers should be and suggested I call the local Cingular Store (#2) which I did. Then I called them back (#3) and they were happy to get the phones set up for the correct phone numbers. The phones arrived a few days later via Fed Ex and when we turned them on they immediately recognized the correct phone numbers.

Saturday night I was playing around and signed into Cingular's website. It showed what I currently owed, and listed all four phone numbers, each with a charge listed next to it. I used the Contact Us (#4) form to contact them and asked what the charges were. I got a nice e-mail back today explaining the charges, but it wasn't enough information to be helpful. So I called Cingular (#5) and the woman who looked at my bill said that they were number change charges and because the mistake wasn't Cingular's, there wasn't anything they could do about it. So I asked to speak to a manager.

I was transferred and got the voicemail of someone. So I explained everything again and am now waiting for the promised call back.

Everyone I've talked to at Cingular (with maybe the exception of #5) has been super-polite and helpful, but it's kind of annoying to feel like I've been ripped off for $62+taxes on phones we've had less than a week is a little frustrating. Hopefully the woman whose voicemail I got will
understand and do right.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Music and Lyrics

Saw Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and that actress who looks like my friend Allison. It was a pleasant enough movie with two complaints. The first is a given -- at one point Drew Barrymore gives a look straight out of Fever Pitch Never Been Kissed The Wedding Singer etc. But we can't fault her, or even "them" for continuing to make these kinds of movies because we keep going to see them. So I guess it's not really a complaint as much as a note because she does it well or we wouldn't keep going. And besides, look at her IMDB list... she's 12-1/2 months younger than me and has credits going back to when I was 4. That's pretty impressive, and extra props for not screwing it up going into adulthood.

The second (and more legitimate) complaint is for poor make-up or the lack of special effects when special-effects are clearly called for. Grant's character is supposed to be a has-been. Part of a wildly famous pop group, he's now a slightly older has-been who performs at fairs and class reunions. But there's a well-done (aka fabulously bad) music video from his heyday you see from time-to-time. They did not do nearly enough to youthify Grant's appearance.

Otherwise, movie was fine and nice and implausible and feel-good.

Oddly, the movie was originally going to be called "Music and Lyics By" which makes more sense but is a worse title. I wonder if more of the music vs. lyrics interplay was cut, from time-to-time the writing seemed to have a High Fidelity-like reverence the part each plays in a song.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Leap of Faith

CHRISTIANITYTODAY.COM -- Non-profits aren't developing enough of their own future leaders and are going to have to draw more and more from the for-profit sector for its leadership. The article looks at the pitfalls they face, the sacrifices they make and the skills they bring leaders bring when they make the leap to the non-profit world. More...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Me and My Llama

Lori got another shoutout in Entertainment Weekly online. Congrats! Discussing the following clip... not sure why of all the things the author highlights, no mention of how awful the song is? (I know it was long ago, but it's part folky/kidsy and all repetition without the charm of a good folk or kid song.)

Simpsons to Debut in Springfield

MSNBC.COM -- FOX has asked the 16 Springfields in the US to create short films showcasing their town and showing any connections their town has to the fictional TV city. FOX will then hold its premier in one of those towns. That's a pretty neat idea. More...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

All atwitter

Twitter seems to be the latest 2.0 darling. Instead of sitting back and waiting, I decided to get back onto the cutting edge and give it a try. They say the next big thing is "presence" - more interconnected than blogs, faster than e-mail and less obtrusive than a phone call and more universal than a instant message.

Or is it just making sure the world has access to the thoughts in your head too insignificant to even warrant a blog post?

Anyhow, I guess there's a couple components to it. There's the "public timeline" on their website that shows the past 20(? too lazy to count) posts from everyone, and then there's the personal list that shows all of a particular person's posts (twits?), and then you can also connect with other people and see what they're up to. You can even go so far as to post your twits and your friend's twits (would an annoying friend's be "twit's twits"?) wherever, like MySpace or Blogspot or whatever.

So, remains to be seen really what the point of it all is, but I'm trying it out. If you're a regular reader and you start your own twitlist, send me an invite so I can connect with you.

For now, it's got a quasi-permanent placement on the right navbar, but here's a copy right here in this post just because. Wonder if it will break it, trying to show two on the same page. We shall see.

Detroit's Concept Cars

Here's some concept cars from Detroit, courtesy of CNET NEWS.COM. Don't miss the chillingly, dizzyingly bad Ford Airstream.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Beautiful Cars

CNET's NEWS.COM has some great shots of cars from the Geneva Autoshow.

Spring Has Sprung A Leak

Today, it's 8 or 9 degrees colder. It's partly sunny now, but rained really hard earlier today. I still haven't figured out how to get to the wall that I can see from my cube... if I could get to that wall and there wasn't someone in the cube, I could open the blinds. Not sure how long that'd last and if I'd get lost on the way back out and have to take up residence in that department.

Oh... I have a new cell phone number. Look for it at the bottom of my e-mails. My e-mail address is also semi-new, but the old one rolls into the new one.

Ok, so we threw all the tea in the harbor because we were getting taxed without representation, right? So is it at all ironic that whenever someone says "tea" you think of "Lipton" which is a Dutch brand?

California DMV: Red Tape from Hell

The level of uselessness astounds me.

In January of 2006, I renewed my tabs. We moved in March. It pained me to pay a full year when I knew I was moving, but I wanted to stay legal and there's no such thing as a partial payment.

In March of 2006, we moved. Lori received a notice of renewal, forwarded to our new address. We checked the box "Moved out of State" and wrote down "Washington." I'm not sure we provided them with our new address. We also noted that it applied to my car, including license plate number and VIN.

In June of 2006, Lori got the "Notice of Delinquent Renewal" with assessed penalties and the bill for Planned Nonoperation and threats of collection. She called and went around and around on the phone with them, again also mentioning my car. Ultimately she had to mail in a statement to the fact that the cars had been registered in another state and provide proof of that registration.

In August, we started receiving political advertisements at our Washington state address. By the buckets. Several a day. They went on until a week or two after the elections.

In January of 2007, I got a renewal notice for my car. I checked the box "Moved out of State" and wrote down "Washington" and returned the form.

This week, I got the "Notice of Delinquent Renewal" with assessed penalties, threats of collections, etc., etc., etc. I called the 1-800 number. It doesn't take too many keypresses to get to the operator, but if they're not on duty yet, it just asks you to call back during normal business hours without actually informing you as to what those hours are. I finally talked to someone who demanded a faxed copy of my registration without letting me finish my story in the first place.

I sat and fumed for awhile and then called back. As soon as I was connected, I asked to speak to a supervisor. He said "Supervisor... hmm... what did you need?" I sighed and began to explain it to him. After awhile he said "Hang on a second." and set the phone down on this desk noisily. It was quiet for awhile, then I heard a printer, then it was quiet again. Then he picked up and said "I found someone." After more silence, Gloria picked up. I asked her how much the operator had told her. She said that he had handed her the printout and then she asked me to again give my license plate number and details to confirm I was me.

I told my story again and she explained that there was nothing she could do because I was talking to the "Campbell office" and I had sent the form to the "Sacramento office." and that she was willing to help me clear this up. I explained (again) that I understood all that but was trying to communicate that there was a larger problem, that someone who was processing renewal forms wasn't doing their job. She again explained that she was in the "Campbell office" and not the "Sacramento office." I tried to explain that maybe she could tell someone. She offered to give me a 916-area-code phone number so I could call the "Sacramento office" with my concern.

In the end, she offered that I could mail it to her if I didn't want to fax it. I liked that idea much better because I figured she would be more likely to get it and that I trust the US Postal Service more than whoever happens to walk by the fax machine in the Campbell office. ("like the soup!" she said, as a way of avoiding spelling it. I bet she wishes the street name was spelled "Daryl" so she could have said "Like the movie!")

We're government. We don't have to be smart, efficient, or customer-centric. Thankfully, government is one arena I've never been employed by and hopefully never will.

Will we have to go through all this again in 4 years when our California drivers licenses expire?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Test #2

Will it work?

A Mighty Consideration

I was pretty disappointed by For Your Consideration, the latest from the last remaining acts to come out of Castle Rock, that is Christopher Guest and the giant cast of regulars. Sadly, I don't think it was on par with any of the rest. There was a moment of shining when you saw the changes that took place as the nomination rumors built to a froth, but then it was over just that quickly as the nominations came and went.

Spring Has Sprung

Wow... just like that. 62 degrees outside. On the warm side for a thick shirt and black pants. Had to ditch my coat in the car and even then, phew. I am definitely not complaining. It is happy weather. But I knew from early on in the day that it was going to be a good day.

I Hope You Have a Good Life

I heard this song last year and have been looking for the lyrics ever since. I thought it was an amazingly accurate picture and it made me sad, knowing Barkley wasn't having the life she deserved. I searched high and low for the lyrics with no luck. Everyone was praising the song and its author/singer Tim Easton, but no one had the lyrics. I finally resorted to creating a Google alert and it paid off today. So, miss you pain-in-the-rear dog, hope you're enjoying life. For some reason, my original post telling of Barkley's departure never made it on here. I think the Google was having troubles that day and I had posted via e-mail and it got lost. In January, in desperation, I posted in Craigslist. I laid it all out there and immediately started getting responses. Eventually we got one from a woman named Cassie who owned a pet store and doggie daycare. She worked with a rescue organization and they were willing to rescue Barkley. With sadness, we agreed, drove Barkley to Marysville and surrendered her. She's now living with a family in Covington who has two older children and another small dog.

Black Dog (c) Tim Easton
Black dog in the warm sunshine
Looks like she's lost her mind
Why don't we call her back
She can't go on like that

We're standin' in the doorway now
Wondering how black dog got out
If she could only hear me
Black dog might come back again

Black dog will you come around
Black dog won't you lay yourself down

She can run and she can play
Black dog likes to get away
She can bark and she can bite
Black dog keeps you up at night

Neighbors are getting tired
Black dog is in their yard
In your fence a time or two
Before you have to start anew

Black dog will you come around
Black dog won't you lay yourself down

Black dog will run again
Because she's not listening
Sun is settin' on her face
Black dog's wondered far away

I wanna see your face
When they put black dog in place
You say it can't be done
But tomorrow won't be long

Black dog will you come around
Black dog won't you lay yourself down

Black dog will you come around
Black dog when will you lay yourself down

Monday, March 05, 2007

February - Back-Pedaling

I honestly don't know why February was so danged busy. But it was. The weather is getting better so I'm able to start walking more, which should help my diet. I think my goal this month will be to get back into reading more, talking to family more and making sure to bring Lori flowers.

My goals for the year...

Post In My Blog More Frequently - Check.

Artistic Photos - I feel I failed on this count this month. The computer was moved into the kitchen during painting and the printer wasn't connected. Busy.

Lots of Reading - I am failing miserably on this front. I'm working on The Experience Economy. It's good, but there's a lot to think about and I haven't had much time.

More social - I'm still not sure on this one. I've been trying to walk around the office and talk to people and rely less on e-mail. I'm even using *gasp* the phone more.

Diet will return - I'm really disappointed in this month. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I seem to be stuck.

Less Busy - Certainly failed here. I'm actually more busy.

Bigger Help Around The House - I've been inconsistent this month. I've taken over the vacuuming duties and I was doing the laundry, but our hot water heater's been having problems so we've been having to do the laundry during the day.

Make It To The City Monthly - Yep, I was up there at least twice. We went to Westlake Mall and Seattle Center for my birthday and then I was back up there for a conference. I think we might be going up there this weekend, too.

New Restaurant Each Month - I don't think we did this in February unless you count the mall food court on my birthday. I need to pick one for February.

Same Restaurants Less - No.

Send Lori More Flowers - Did not send flowers or bring home flowers this month. How sad.

Don't waste time on the computer or doing chores when spending time with Rachel - Yes and no. I did the taxes one night while watching Rachel. But they had to be done. But now they're done. The other night she and I went to Home Depot. There was stuff to buy, but I think she had fun.

Get finances under control - Yep, did that. Spent less than we made. Woo. Not counting tax refunds.

Talk to family more frequently - Did not happen. I will have to refer to this throughout the month so that I'm reminded because I haven't looked at this since last month, unfortunately.

Declutter - Yes, moving forward on that.

Enjoy the view out my bedroom window more - I guess...? That's what I said last month.

Appreciate the beauty of nature more - Check

I missed it.

I intended to commemorate the one year anniversary, thought it was today. Discovered I had missed it by three days. Bummer.

Stranger Than Chicken

If I stood in the parking lot with $5 in my hand, should I go into Hollywood Video and rent "Stranger Than Fiction" or should I go into Panda Express and get some tasty orange chicken? (Disclaimer: They are 20 blocks apart and if I got orange chicken, I'd want a combo and since a combo doesn't include a drink, I'd want that, too and that would push me over $5. And I never carry cash. And I got both the combo and the movie on Saturday.)

While well-cast, the great concept just didn't play out well. I believe it was intentionally mis-marketed to try to make up for some failings. That is, that isn't as funny as it wants to be, as dramatic as it wants to be, and certainly not as daring. There were some really funny moments, some rather interesting graphical effects, a very cool watch, and at some points, some good writing that calls to mind Douglas Adams. But overall, it was predictable and disappointing. It could have been so much more.

Orange Chicken would be a better choice.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tree of News

MSNBC.COM -- For 10 years, a woman (now 24) has been reporting on local news, women's issues, and lately, the war in Darfur -- in handwritten dispatches she's hung on trees in her city. Recently, her work has been picked up by an African Union-run publication and someone's recently provided her a computer and printer to allow her to do more. Kinda cool. More...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

This Is Progress?

One day in 2000, I wanted donut holes. It was one of those weird "project days" -- you know the kind, you're walking around, talking to people, going to meetings. Not a sit - at - your - desk - and - stare - at - your - screen - for - hours kind of day. And I wanted some poppers. So I go to my computer, punch in my location, my credit card and within 45 minutes, there's a call from the front desk that I have an order waiting for me. And yet today, in 2007, this isn't possible.

I'm just saying...

Stupid dot com bubble.

In other news, my new phone isn't here yet. It started in Maryland and has since arrived in and left Indianapolis. Which means it's not going to arrive today, it's going to arrive on Monday or Tuesday. Which means Lori will be the one to receive the package from the FedEx guy. Not that I think they're turned on, but I thought it would be really awesome to call the phone from the house while the guy's coming up the steps, just in case they are turned on. So it would be kind of like The Matrix.

Stupid Fed Ex. Stupid Wirefly. Stupid Amazon. Stupid Cingular. Stupid everyone - involved - with - the - second - and - third - Matrix - movies.

P.S. Honestly, not as grumpy as this post makes it seem. Just a little bit tired and cold and hungry and without my new toy.

Friday, March 02, 2007

At What Cost

I don't know whether to cheer or be sad. Country returns to Los Angeles, but at the expense of KMZT, a classical station. Not only did it have killer call letters, it was a really great station that played a lot of good music, including music from movies. Movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Welcome KKGO, farewell Mozart. Of course, with my iPod car adapter, I haven't listened to the radio up here since Dec. 23, 2006. (MSNBC.COM)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Feel Like Clicking?

Here's a handy, dandy voting guide for some open questions on Yahoo! Answers. (Of course, if I were Yahoo!, I'd make it change the order every time the questions were presented during voting. (If that looks like the case, please vote for mine where it's obvious. Mine are often more likely to use punctuation. And paragraph breaks. And real words. And correct answers.)