Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hey Lula, Don’t Blame Me for this mess!

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown got an earful from the Brazilian President about the current financial crisis.

"This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by the irrational behavior of people who were white and blue-eyed, who before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, but now have demonstrated they know nothing about economics,"

-- President Lula da Silva of Brazil

I want to assure everyone that I had absolutely nothing to do with this crisis. I know nothing about economics except that my k401 is greatly diminished. My eyes have invoked comments before. In China a few children would call me Gweilo and seemed genuinely afraid of me. My eye color is listed as blue on my driver license, but over time I think it is changing to more of a grey to match my financial mood. It’s hard for me to judge because I’m on the inside looking out. You decide:


Lula, This is all genetically determined

Thanks Maureen for writing an Op-Ed about this:

Blue Eyed Greed

Monday, March 23, 2009

A mailbox for the ages

What are the rules for a mailbox?

    • The regulation height is 42" from the bottom of the mailbox to the ground.
    • Your house number should be clearly marked on the mailbox with painted numbers or stickers no less than 1" high.
    • The box should be on the right-hand side of the road as traveled by the mail carrier.
    • It should be located approximately 2' from the side of the road to ensure the carrier can get off the road enough to clear traffic.

In my town there is another unwritten “suggestion”. That is to make your mailbox vandal-proof. I have had my mailbox smashed numerous times with baseball bats. Once my attention was drawn to a small fire. Somebody had set the newspaper on fire and the plastic newspaper tube was burning in spectacular fashion. For me it was a moment of suspend belief, wondering what why I was seeing this orange glow from the road side.

My neighbor has constructed a mailbox that is truly awe-inspiring, only pictures can do it justice:




Saturday, March 21, 2009

Does "Blackle" save energy?

In the "old" days when I worked at Digital, we used to use VT100 character cell terminals. I always chose white text on a black background (this was a setting) because I knew that the black parts of the screen meant that the electron gun of the CRT display was turned off, and as a result the only current expended was being used on the white characters. This was partly environmental but mostly because I wanted to avoid seeing the 60 Hz refresh of a totally white background. I'm very sensitive to screen flicker and would set the refresh rate at the highest setting possible. Perhaps this is a symptom of my Asperger's syndrome but that is a topic for another post.

My sister informed me of an alternative site to Google that had a black background. The name of the site is Blackle, and if you use a CRT there is a certain amount of truth to the premise that a black background will save energy. Of course most clever people have already embraced the more energy efficient LCD screens which rely on polarizing filters and a backlit screen which is "on" all the time. So I will give my sister a shout-out for discovering this but in reality it is mostly hype. Of course a quick search on Google produced a real life demonstration, Here is the video:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Webcam Time

'I’m not very good spokesman, but I am happy with my new WebCam. I’m not as excited as that ShamWow guy, but this thing has a Carl Zeiss lens and is MUCH better than the old Intel ones that used to come with Gateway machines. Of course, to be useful, both parties need to have one of these things. It even worked on my Vista machine, truly miraculous.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Capital One “Convenience Checks”

Stop with these checks already! What do I have to do to convince this company to stop sending me blank checks with MY NAME on them? I’ve canceled my account (after I noted the interest rate would be 29.7%), I’ve informed the 3 credit agencies, dma choice and anything else I could find to stop it.

Consider how these BLANK checks are sitting in our mail boxes with our names on them. The envelopes are not inconspicuous with the prominent “Capital One” logo screaming out to thieves “Take me, cash me and stick the bill to the name pre-printed on the check”.

Of course the company assures us that we have zero liability if they are stolen or misused. I wondered about that a bit until I came across a small comment on the last page:

$0 fraud liability claims are subject to verification and investigation.

Isn’t that special? Unwanted checks arrive with MY NAME on them and the crack CSI team at Capital One will investigate if someone steals them. Sure they will!

I was going to include an online link to abuses but after finding so many horror stories, I’ve decided to leave this to you. Simply Google “Convenience Check Fraud” and stand back.

If you know anyway to stop these, please leave a comment.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recycle Project – Satellite Dish

I know, you have spent a small fortune on a cat bed from Petco and the cat ignores it. I made a wonderful scratching post that the cats sneer at as they destroy speakers grills and door jams. All you need is an outdated satellite dish and a warm day:


Satellite dishes are also great launching pads for helicopter type fireworks. They need a bit of a spin before they become airborne and the slightly concave area manages to both contain and facilitate their successful launch


Other uses? I have been thinking of a bird bath, but I need to evaluate whether dish or DirectTV is the better choices.

Juvenile Bird … now in March?

I’m trying to understand why this young fearless bird is visiting my feeder. It’s behavior is very strange. It sits on the feeder but is not afraid of humans. It looks like a young bird, but I would expect that birds would be raising their young later in the spring.


When I say fearless, I mean fearless:


Let them eat cake

A.I.G. planning Huge Bonuses after $170 Billion Bailout

This was a headline story in the New York Times. I wonder what folks who have lost their jobs and savings feel about these clowns. I have a problem understanding how you can get a bonus for running your business into bankruptcy (why didn’t that happen?).

In my opinion the most ironic part of the article is the letter that Edward M. Liddy (the government appointed chairman of A.I.G.) wrote to Timothy F. Geithner:

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.

Let’s file that statement under “Pay for Performance”

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sushi anyone? – TGIF’s diversion

You made it through another week, Congratulations! Take a break from the stream of bad economic news and watch something to make you smile.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Say it with less than 140 characters

I'll admit that I'm intrigued with twitter. It might be a childlike fantasy that we can have super powers and read other peoples thoughts. Apparently people are only too willing to post their thoughts online as long as the thoughts are less than 140 characters. As a result I no longer have that fantasy. Most messages demonstrate that the majority of us live very mundane lives. I find this vaguely reassuring, being ordinary.
One bright spot in this world of under 140 characters is the opportunity to write Haiku and Poems (at least short poems). It's quite satisfying to conceive an idea and as you type it, watch a character counter tick to zero. It changes color just as it passes 10. Hit return and your pithy observation is born to the world (or as it is known the twitterverse). One person observed that many of the Haiku are written about cats. If you have a cat I don't need to explain this.
I don't see many poems or novels coming through, but it is just a matter of time. Haiku is big on twitter , really big. I have provided a link to a running feed of twitter haiku traffic (look in right column beneath the chickadee photo, scroll down).
In school we were always asked to write a 3 page essay or a 1000 word book report. Isn't it great to be constrained to less than 140 characters?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Get a free Laptop? not really

Twitter is fun, but some of the people who decide to “follow” you don’t really care about your “tweets”

Consider this:

Jewel (jordananda) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Not really, Jewel’s profile picture has the name “girl14”. That seems a strange name for a profile picture doesn’t it?

Jewel has a link to a web page to explain how to get a FREE MAC laptop… Wow, and she likes “free stuff”

Funny about the free part, you need to buy something.

Here is the legal part to peruse for your amusement:

I’ll highlight the gotcha parts:


† THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. SEE TERMS FOR COMPLETE DETAILS. Members are being accepted subject to the following Program Requirements: 1) Must be a legal US resident; 2) must be at least 18 years old or older; 3) must have a valid email and shipping address; 4) Eligible members can receive the incentive gift package by completing two reward offers from each of the Top, Prime and Premium reward offer page options. Various types of reward offers are available. Completion of reward offers most often requires a purchase or filing a credit application and being accepted for a financial product such as a credit card or consumer loan. The following link illustrates a Representative Sample of reward offers by group along with monetary and non-monetary obligations. Failure to submit accurate registration information will result in loss of eligibility. This promotion is administered solely by this website. The manufacturers and retailers of the gift items offered through our programs have not endorsed this promotion and are not affiliated with the promotion in anyway. All trademarks, service marks, logos, and/or domain names (including the names of products and retailers) are property of their respective owners. This promotion is not valid to residents of Washington state and is void where prohibited by law. Please read the Terms and Conditions for complete program details. Your information will be shared with our marketing partners. Please read the Privacy Policy for more details.