Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Here’s a great scenario… you are 40 years old and you have just invested all of your savings into the stock market because Congress decided that Social Security is a drain upon the nations economic health. You are now making the decisions as to how your retirement plan money will be invested. You chose some fancily named funds that seemed to be doing quite well. Oh, oh! On the bright side, you still have 25 years left before retirement beckons and you may have recovered something…
This is it. There are no more days this month. February will soon be history and in a big way. The stock market collapse on Tuesday will change the way Americans think about the global market. If it doesn’t, we’re denser than I thought…
For decades now, the market on Wall Street has wagged the tail of the world. But not this time.
And I noticed that the headlines this morning were all about subjects other than financial? The DJIA drops 416 points and I only found one headline in the Times. (
“Market Recovers!” would be a nice one to see, but I’m not holding my breath.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
These are the explanations that I find irritating,
"...his company experimented with offering nutritional information on its menus a couple of years ago, but pulled back after receiving feedback from customers that they didn’t want it...
Really? Customers actually said, "Please don't tell me anything about the food I'm eating"? Why do I find that hard to believe?
...No,” she said. “They’re serving what customers want.”
That's always the excuse used. I'm a customer and I want smaller portions!
Frustrating. There’s nothing like a power outage to remind you how dependent you are on the steady flow of electricity. I could probably cope better if I had some advance notice…but no; the power always goes off when least expected. We were watching The Da Vinci Code when the power failed and I should have taken advantage of that moment and told myself that there was no sense in watching it when the power returned. That had to be one of the worst movies of all time. The power outage lasted about 30 minutes and then, like robots, we returned to the movie and watched it all of the way to the end. Did we really think it would get better?
I suppose we should invest in some sort of lantern that would allow us to read or to play a game of cards while waiting for the power to return. A flashlight just doesn’t cut it as a good reading light. Candles are frustrating; the light flickering. A generator would be even better; hardwired into the electrical panel. But that would be a pretty expensive method for dealing with short term temporary power loss. Hmm, I wonder; how much?
And it looks like I should be looking at a
Monday, February 26, 2007
I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible. - Oscar Wilde ****
There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action. - Bertrand Russell *****
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. - Emile Chartier ***
A conservative is a man who sits and thinks, mostly sits. - Woodrow Wilson *****
Everyone rises to their level of incompetence. - Laurence J. Peter ***
No human thing is of serious importance. - Plato *****
No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather. - Michael Pritchard **
Quit worrying about your health. It'll go away. - Robert Orben ***
And I feel quite successful...I didn't even notice that the Oscars were being handed out once again. When did that happen? And when I was reminded of that fact, it was the Oscar for best documentary that I was happy about. The rest of them? Who cares!
You haven't seen "An Inconvenient Truth"? You should...
This month is just about over with and it seems as if went by in a whirl. What happened? Probably too much happened. As I’ve stated before; retirement has turned out to be far different than how I had envisioned it. Days of leisure? Nope! That’s a myth. But, as a procrastinator of the highest magnitude, I usually have only myself to blame.
I know that I have been neglecting my other blogs for the past month; not because there was very little to write about, there was plenty. But I have discovered over the years that I can’t write unless inspired. And that inspiration is a nebulous thing. I can’t summon it up; demand its presence! That’s certainly not an original thought…a million ‘would be authors’ have said the same thing.
My daughter recently posted her thoughts about writing as a possible career move. I think everyone who reads a great deal also wonders if they have what it takes to become an author. I’ve certainly done that and I continue to wonder. But I don’t believe I want to face the hard work that goes into becoming a published author. I’m retired. So I’m going to have to content myself with my every day journal and my blogs. And I do have 3 or 4 short stories that I turn to when I’m bored with the blogs and I add a paragraph or two.
Now that I’ve said that, I must admit that if a writer’s workshop became available in the near future, and locally, I would like to attend. Who knows? I might get lucky!
And now… Words of wisdom, or simply stating the obvious?
"If we were to design a system for electing a president, I don’t think we could do worse. It’s terrible."
GOV. EDWARD G. RENDELL of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, on what has become a two-year presidential election cycle.
I read that close to a BILLION dollars will be spent during this coming election. And the obvious will not be noted by the electorate…the one who spends the most will win. Instead, the triumphant masses will anoint their chosen one with all sorts of supernatural powers. “We elected him because he’s brave and smart and (fill in your own thoughts here)…” We don’t want to believe that a person can become president simply by paying for it. Yet that’s the truth of it. Always has been, always will be.
And it’s not always money that is paid, sometimes it’s promised power or access to power. That’s as good as gold.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
That’s better. The heater is running and we’re quite comfortable. I burned up the last of the cut firewood that was stored in the garage and now I can sweep up the mess that was left behind.
When the repairman took out the old heat exchanger we got a good look at the damage. The underside of the tubes, unseen from the top, was riddled with large holes that were allowing carbon monoxide to enter the house. If the house had been smaller, I’m sure we would have been affected. We now have a CO detector in our bedroom. A little late, but better…
On a different note; I have revived my links to Bartleby.com, the greatest of reference sites. I used to get their Word of the Day mailed to me, along with a WAV file to play and hear the word spoken correctly. Here’s today’s word; Palinode. I wonder if it will post and then play when I move this text over to Blogger?
Saturday, February 24, 2007
I was scanning the headlines when I ran across this one, “Better Pay for Judges Capable, independent and impartial judges are essential to the workings of American democracy.”
Of course I had to think about what a juror is paid these days. And then compare that to what the rest of the people in the courtroom are being paid. I know; jurors aren’t in the courtroom for money, but for justice. It’s our civic duty, etc. But did you know that the jury system is not universal throughout the world? It’s very much an American thing. And how good is it? If it is such a good thing, why aren’t more countries using it? And since we don't pay jurors very much, we really can't expect much from them. After all; what's the downside of being "fired" from jury duty?
After reading about the case of Julie Amero and her conviction, by a jury of her peers? I’m absolutely certain that I don’t want to be judged by dimwits like that! If I’m going to be judged, I want the best and the brightest, not the average. I’ve seen the average and they scare me!
I would support an overhaul of the justice system; getting rid of the elected justices (And juries) and replacing them with a well paid cadre of appointed judges. Those appointments valid only as long as the judge passes a yearly performance review by a panel of retired justices. And that reviewing panel must come from a geographical location far distant from that of the reviewed. Remove all possibilities of partisanship. Salaries would be based on the quality of the judgments and not the quantity.
Friday, February 23, 2007
When I first read this headline, I was certain that the US wasn't among the signers. But I was both wrong and right...our government didn't even bother to show up.
"Some key arms makers _ including the U.S., Russia, Israel and China _ snubbed the conference of 49 nations. Of those attending, Poland, Romania and Japan did not approve the final text."
Why? Is there anything worthwhile about these weapons? Anything at all? OK, you're right; they do help to balance our trade deficit.
Read this for some good reasons to continue avoiding Power Point for anything serious.
Our local library had a copy of
This refusal to communicate is a hallmark of the current administration. Does anyone wonder why they cannot spread democracy? When democracy looks like their version of it, who would want it?
I have always admired
Web mastering is not all it’s cracked up to be… was it ever? But it is fascinating to see how much it has changed since I first experimented with it back in the 90’s. CSS is what’s used these days to expand on the basic HTML of a web page and so I’m tasked with learning how to use that.
And during this process of self instruction, I came across a
I learned to use HTML the old fashioned way by using Notepad and typing in all of the instructions. Boring. But it does teach you all about the keyboard shortcuts for Delete, Cut and Paste and a few other more obscure ones. Now I’m a fan of WYSIWYG programming (Coffee Cup HTML Editor) and only use code editing to trim some lengthy instructions.
And speaking of old fashioned, the web sites I’ve been working on lately have an old fashioned look that has got to go! Definitely 20th century. I need to do more reviewing of websites for the ‘look’ I want.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The rain has arrived once again. And also the good news that our heating system will be fixed…tomorrow morning. Of course I have to continue cutting wood and feeding the fire for the next 24 hours. But after that, it’s back to the future! I can walk over to the thermostat and tell the system to warm me up or cool me down. No more ashes and no more dirt on the rug. Well, no more than usual.
But amidst all the joy of having our heating system back, is the realization that it’s an old system (19 years) and this might just be the beginning of our problems with it. If so, our insurance policy will have been a wise choice. Just this one repair will have made the cost of the policy worthwhile.
And now the news… Clinton, Obama camps mix it up verbally
“The two front-runners in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination traded jabs Wednesday over remarks made by a Hollywood mogul and a powerful
Sad. Will we have to endure 18 months of this? The two least likely to win candidates have become the news media darlings. They are currently not valid front runners, but they definitely are the current ‘Britney Spears’ of the political world.
Back in the old days...(Is that a good name for a blog?) we had political party conventions where the candidates were chosen by the party faithful. It usually took the full week of the convention for this to happen, though there was a good chance it had already been decided by those in "the back room". Was it a better system? No. But it was mercifully short!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Another morning searching for images. This time I’m looking for advertising from the 1940’s and it’s been hard to find. It’s scattered all over the internet and I’m looking for one central location. There is a site for the history of advertising and it has a great collection, but most of the images are from the first part of the 20th century or older.
While I was looking for those images, I ran across an article from the Economist, detailing the big drop in tourism to this country. The number of foreign visitors has dropped 17% since 2000. And last year, the number of visitors from western Europe dropped 3% despite the fact that it was a record year for world wide tourism.
According to the article, the travel industry blames ‘a tortuous visa process and a perception of poor treatment on entering the country.’ In a survey last year,
Wow! Who would have thought that people would rather go to the Middle East before visiting
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Fake websites? Of course... try this site. OK, they aren't really 'fake', just randomly designed.
Of course there is a need for 'fake' Latin. And so there is a website to provide it.
And once you've mangled your website beyond description, you might want to use a 'fake' identity from now on.
-"nearly three-fourths of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average."
So far, so good; it’s a quiet morning. But with 4 year old twins sleeping nearby, there is no guarantee that the silence will last. Both the cat and I are taking no chances and we’re tiptoeing past the door to their room.
What’s new? The one story I keep reading about, the JetBlue story; has turned into a couple of news items. First, JetBlue kept a number of passengers on their planes for an extended period of time (11 hours) during a storm. Now Congress is debating a ‘passenger’s rights bill’ that would give airline passengers some protection from the airlines. The airlines, in general, deny that there is any need for such a bill and are asking the Congress to drop the whole thing. JetBlue, to their credit, is admitting that a terrible thing had happened and is asking their passengers to forgive them.
As a former frequent flyer I can make a valid comment (or more). I do know that there is a thin veneer of civility between passengers and crew on most flights. And you can feel the tension that exists between the two. Say the wrong thing or smile inappropriately and the wrath of a flight crew can descend upon the passenger without warning. The flight crew has the ‘power’ and they know it! Being subservient is not an option for them.
I was stuck on a plane for only 6 hours, so I can’t even imagine 11 hours! We had pulled away from the gate at
When I got off the plane in
And whenever I hear the airlines moan about their troubles…I remember the empty seats on that plane. Go for it Congress!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Change is good! That’s one of my favorite maxims. And it looks as if we will see some weather changes soon. “1 to 3 feet of snow are possible at the highest elevations through Friday. Rainfall amounts in the valley are expected to be around one to two inches by Friday.
It sounds like I need to get busy working on replenishing the woodpile. Not my favorite thing to do. But at least I have plenty of olive wood available for my use.
And now this…It seems as if digital photos are going to be a big part of my life for the foreseeable future. We’re putting together a slide show for the church to use at different public functions. A slide show that will attempt to show the role of the church in the community. Luckily, I have a large collection of images ready to use; all I have to do is find the right ones. And that’s the big problem. I have created folders, lots of folders, for the thousands of images I have, but I’m not that good at putting the images in the correct folder. I have a good start on the sorting, but I can already see that I will have hours more!
Yesterday, I started looking for photos of Orland, using PicSearch. On one of the sites I found this, Wandering Lizard?, a site with images only…or very little text. If you weren’t familiar with the area, the photos would be meaningless. But since the photos were of such exceptional quality, I had to find out more about the author. After seeing the previews, it’s obvious that I need to view all of the links. (Wow! There’s a lot here. Links everywhere!) This is the kind of photography I wish I were able to create…
I just did some more research on the photographer and the site…3,500 pages! I think I’m going to be busy looking at this work for awhile.
I just did some more research on the photographer and the site…3,500 pages! I think I’m going to be busy looking at this work for awhile.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Back when the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, the Afghans quickly learned to target their helicopters. And using American supplied weapons, they were shot down regularly. A $25 RPG and the loss of a multi million dollar aircraft. Plus the irreplaceable loss of lives. That's what drove the Soviets from the country...
Planning Seen in Iraqi Attacks on U.S. Copters
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID S. CLOUD
Documents captured from insurgents indicate that some of the recent attacks are the result of a strategy to down coalition aircraft.
I posted a comment recently about a traffic accident nearby and the fact that it wasn’t reported in any news source that I could find. Now I have the rest of the story! It was raining that night; about and the large truck (10 tons) from the rendering plant was on its way home when it made a left turn too fast. The truck landed on its side and the load spilled out into the intersection. The load consisted of a whole days worth of dead animals and animal parts. Gross! Then a speeding SUV struck the truck, adding to the confusion. No one was hurt but it took quite awhile to clean up the intersection. It was simply offal! (I can’t pass up a chance to use that word in such a great pun.)
Now here is where the local news fails again. They had a perfect chance to use that pun legitimately...and didn't.
A great morning! I always feel this way after doing better than expected in an event. Yes, I have done faster 5K races, but since I wasn’t expecting to beat last years time, it was sweet to have done just that. Especially after such slow practice times leading up to the race. Now I have to get ready for the Bidwell Classic in less than two weeks. Just doing a couple of ten milers during this time should get me back in shape for the longer distance. But after Bidwell? What will my goal be? I better start looking for some more races for spring... and summer.
The fire has been started once again. I had to let it go out the other day because of the unexpected warm temperatures (76°) we were experiencing. The forecast is for more seasonal weather, down into the 40’s and so we begin again. The upside of all of this wood burning is a very low PG&E bill and the promise of a rebate in March because we are such thrifty consumers! (as if we had a choice)
Temperature maintenance is tricky with a wood fire. You have to keep it on ‘low’ with very little air and then add wood only after the fire is down to glowing embers. Then hope that there is enough heat left to ignite the wood you added. Do it at the wrong time and you’re soon on your hands and knees, blowing into the stove in the vain hope of ignition.
News… I understand that another dollar coin was introduced the other day. And once again it’s close to the size of a quarter. Doesn’t anyone in charge of these things understand? It will never be popular until it’s distinctively larger. Start calling in the few 50 cent pieces that are left in circulation; melt them down and make dollars that size. That would work. And I doubt that you will find much interest in keeping the 50 cent piece around. In the meantime, has anyone seen the new coin? Of course not.
And it’s time for some more great quotes…
A waist is a terrible thing to mind.
- Jane Caminos
If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done.
- Peter Ustinov
Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people.
- Kin Hubbard
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
- Sir Winston Churchill
A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing.
- Wernher von Braun
Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.
- Lewis Mumford
- Fred Allen
No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other.
- Jascha Heifetz
Saturday, February 17, 2007
But...I have lost the weight before, so I can do it again.
Friday, February 16, 2007
“A shopping mall where five people were gunned down this week reopened Wednesday as authorities tried to figure out why a Bosnian immigrant committed the rampage and how he got his hands on a pistol.”
It’s beyond me! How in the world could he have done that? Buy a gun, that is. In
And another story that defines your (Our) government in action!
Hi. My name is Steve and I’m addicted to linking. It all started about 7 years ago when I discovered that you could use hypertext markup language in a simple Word document. Links; that would move you quickly from one place to the other within the document and beyond…out onto the internet!
Why, oh why do I do it? Someone needs to help me. I am so addicted to ‘links’ that I now put them everywhere. I can’t write a simple sentence without looking for a way to include a link or two. If you read much on the internet, you will have seen evidence of this sickness everywhere; especially on Wikipedia.
I first noticed my addiction just the other day, when I responded to a post by my granddaughter and I used two links in what should have been a simple declarative sentence… but oh, no! I had to make a production out of it.
Perhaps I can taper off?
It’s been a wonderful journey together. And we continue on, not out of habit, but because we enjoy our traveling companion.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I was looking at the military pay schedule and decided to see what an E4 with over 2 years of experience would make every month. (That would have been my pay schedule when I was on active duty.) $1,786. I make more than that being retired! And I’m not asked to risk my life for it. Let’s see…$21,432 per year as a non-commissioned officer. If you’re new at this war thing, you only make $1,458. Experience counts.
My actual pay when I was an E4? $78 every two weeks. (1961)
And some history..."On Feb. 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, killing 260 crew members and escalating tensions with Spain." When this happened, it was determined to have been caused by Spanish saboteurs. Absolutely! No doubt about it. Later, much later...it was found to have been caused by a faulty boiler.
A great dream. I was hired to be a superintendent again and I was building things. Then I woke up. And it was just as I was explaining to the owner how I had built something similar and this was going to be easy. He was impressed. Darn! I wonder if I can re-run that dream tomorrow night? I’d like to see if I could do it as easily as I claimed.
On a different subject. (That's what paragraphs are for...) As I fool around with these websites I'm publishing, I have to go back and forth between lots of different software. Text editing software, graphics software, HTML editors and last, an FTP program to load it all on the server. Most of these programs are now familiar enough to me so that I don’t have to hesitate when using them. But graphics…that’s a different story. I use an old version of Microsoft PhotoDraw, a program that is no longer in existence. I can create buttons and transparent background 3D text images with it in a snap. But it’s limited and I would love to have Photoshop instead. I need to find out what Photoshop would cost. Is there a substitute for it? I doubt it.
OK, Photoshop costs somewhere between $500 and $700. And since it’s an Adobe product, it works great but is less than intuitive. Far less. So I Googled for substitutes and found GIMP. The price is right; free. And they have tutorials available. But will it work for me?
And the news, of course…
Someone had better tell General Pace what the Decider has decided. This could be embarrassing. Or, perhaps the General is looking forward to an early retirement.
And as I was looking at various blogs this morning, I found a comment that deserves repeating.
“Don't tell me you're a Christian- let me figure it out for myself.
Before spreading indignation about respect for a religion tell me:
Have all the poor been fed?
Have all the naked been clothed and the homeless sheltered?
Have you visited every prisoner?
If not, then you're jumping ahead on the to-do list and need to get back on
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I could always start with a little gossip. I was reading one of those disreputable left-wing blogs and ran across an article that informed me that Laura was going to divorce W just as soon as they left the White House. For a moment I felt like I was standing in line at Raley’s and reading the Star…
But, now that I think of it; where has Laura been lately? And the twins? Not a lot of news exposure for them lately. Are they being held prisoner in the White House basement, by Karl?
Speaking of bloggers, I read some of the comments that so called ‘Christians’ posted on the blog written by a former John Edwards staffer. I don’t remember her name but it isn’t about her anyway. It’s about freedom of speech and it’s apparent that some ‘Christians’ aren’t in favor of it. It’s amazing how people will behave when they believe that God has empowered them to be RIGHT at all times, while everyone else, or those that disagree are WRONG. But these are the same people that, due to a lack of intellect, can’t depend on logic and facts to prove a point; so they steal what they need from Christianity, using it like a club...and a shield.
No matter what the name of the religion; these same people can always be found right in the thick of things. Just change their names and the clothes they are wearing and they would fit right in…in any country and within any religion.
In an odd way, I guess this proves (to me) that, “God so loved the world…” For if He didn’t, we would really be in trouble!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
On a more serious note; with the current administration accusing Iran of supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents, it seems appropriate to see what kind of weapons are being sold…everywhere and by everyone. It didn’t take long to find this website and these facts. Sad. Is there any nation with clean hands?
And this, just in..."Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that he has no information indicating the Iranian government is directing the supply of lethal weapons to Shiite insurgent groups in Iraq."
Apparently General Pace didn't get the memo...
I’m getting back into the world of programming. OK, HTML or XHTML is the lowest form of programming, but it is one step above running ‘scripts’. And I see that it has changed quite a bit since I last used it. I was reading about using ‘Tags’ and making ‘Tag Clouds’ this morning. Now all I have to do is to find a use for it on the Plant Barn website. And if I were to use it, (a Tag Cloud) on the site; does the average garden and nursery site viewer even know what it’s there for? That's always a problem...you can't get too far ahead of the curve or you lose the viewers.
Right now I’m having a hard time finding the right way to display images on the site. What’s the point of a nursery website without some pictures? But, you don’t want the viewer to be waiting for images to download; they need to be compressed while downloading and then instantly decompress for viewing. But jpg files will lose some quality after cycling through compression and decompression. I know...I just haven't really looked for the answer. I'm sure it's out there on a cloud, somewhere.
I just received a reply from my subscription to the LUEM42’s newsletter and included were these links, “Please help these sites by visiting them every day and clicking the link that will cause advertisers to donate money to their cause. You don't have to buy anything.”
The Animal Rescue Site - Feed an Animal in Need:
The Breast Cancer Site - Fund Mammograms for Free:
The Child Health Site - Help a Child in Need Lead a Healthy, Active Life:
The Hunger Site - Give Food for Free to Hungry People in the World:
The Rainforest Site- Help Save Our Rainforests!:
The Literacy Site - Help Children Read By Giving Them Their Own Books: