Monthly Archives: May 2012

Heebie-Geebie complains about fences being built around a nearby school playground.

Going through, my school did not have fences around its playground. You could walk on the premises freely.

And get ticketed for trespassing.

In light of that, I think fences are okay.

Category: School

Since Clancy and I switched smartphones, we’ve had to over a new host worth of parts. We had variations of the Touch Pro going back four years and the Touch Pro 2 specifically going back two. We had a lot of accessories (some for all the devices, a couple limited to TP2s). The new phones switch from Mini-USB to Micro-USB, so new everything is required, pretty much. Because they are standard cables, however, they’re dirt cheap. On top of this, I needed new earpieces and I keep an army of 5 or so handy. On top of that, the tablet has a proprietary cable (surprisingly not too expensive). And battery chargers. And batteries. So it’s been a parade of accessories as all of my eBay orders arrived. It’s been difficult to keep the dining room clean.

The late arrivals came from China. A universal charger for batteries. I thought this was good because it would work with the HTC, Motorola, and Samsung devices. It might be good, if I had any idea how to use it. Everything is in Chinese.

Category: Market

So remember how I had to replace all my credit cards and was waiting to see which accounts I’d need to update? I overlooked one. A very important one! Internet! So our internet account almost got cut off. To make sure it wouldn’t, I decided to call in and pay by phone.

It turns out that my local ISP was purchased by a larger ISP and the larger ISP has lower prices for faster maximum speeds. So, because I actually called in because I screwed up, I now have a better deal.

Of course, a part of me wanted to know why in the world they hadn’t called me to tell me about this amazing new opportunity. Other than the fact that they were previously giving me less while charging me more for it and that’s a pretty good deal for them. So I asked. She said that all customers were called and notified. I almost objected, but then I remembered what I always do when I get a call from the cable company: Tell them I’m not interested. Oops.

I also had a startlingly good interaction with Verizon wherein I will now be getting more for less rather than less for more.

I’m on a roll. Albeit not necessarily for the right reasons.

Category: Market

The dude to the right is a character from the TV show Fringe named Lincoln Lee. That thing you see in his right ear is not an ear-ring. Rather, it’s a bluetooth-like device worn by characters in the “alternate universe.”

I long for that day in this one. Not for the day that bluetooth earpieces look like jewelry, but for the day when it is socially acceptable to wear these things at all times.

I ran across a neighbor at Safeway. He commented, “You really do always have that thing in your ear, don’t you? Do you sleep in it?”

Not generally, no.

It really has been an ongoing thing for me. Ever since I started listening to stuff at work a few jobs back, I decided that I wanted the ability to listen to things whenever I want. Therefore, the bluetooth is in my ear as often as not during my waking hours. This elicits a various responses. Some people joke about it (leave it in there long enough, your skin is going to grow over it!). I had a former boss who was frustrated by it. I always took it out whenever someone started talking to me, even though I could hear them just fine with it in. After that, I started keeping it out unless I was actively listening to something.

I keep about five of them around, so that I always have multiple ones charged. I suppose it looks goofy. Some might say that it’s rule because it gives the appearance that you’re not listening. I consider that to be a faulty norm. With the exception of discomfort (and I rarely feel that, thanks Plantronics!) there isn’t much reason to ever take it out. Even for someone that is moderately hard-of-hearing as I am.

I hope that this is one of those norms that does change. Maybe they need to do a better job of signalling whether someone is actually on a call or listening to something. However, the perception of it being douchey needs to be retired. We should accept the practicality of it. I don’t know if that day will ever come to pass. I still cling to my belt-holster for my cell phone as it becomes increasingly unacceptable (as phones increasingly fit into pockets). Sometimes, society moves the wrong direction.

Category: Server Room, Theater

-{Originally posted on NaPP}-

There was an article in the Redstone Gazette the other day about Ryersen Gas Stations donating $1,000,000 to St Matthews. Redstone is the blue collar town where I substitute teach. Ryersen is a very large chain of gas stations in the region that has its corporate HQ in Redstone. St Matthews is the local catholic school.

The whole thing left a rather bad taste in my mouth. Some of it is pure partisanship. I substitute at Redstone High School, St Matthew’s public alternative. And my thought on reading the headline was that St Matthews doesn’t need that money, and Redstone schools can use it! St Matthews is where the rich kids go (and select others) while most of the town is struggling to get by. Even setting aside my biases (I don’t substitute at the high school all that much anyway and wouldn’t expect the money to go towards my getting a raise), this raises some class-hackles.

But, no doubt, Ken Ryersen went to St Matthews. Because most people of note in Redstone went to St Matthews. The city’s leaders (most of whom aren’t ethnically from Catholic countries, despite most of the town itself being so) tend to have gone there. So of course that’s where a lot of the emphasis is going to be. Notably, St Matthews’s football team gets to play at a district stadium, free of charge (this has been a point of contention with some).

Anyhow, it’s natural that Ryersen would want to support the school that he went to. It does create a genuine problem, however, when this school soaks up a lot of the kids that could otherwise be lifting Redstone’s district up. And it does seem to create a wall of sorts.

Category: School

-{Originally posted on NaPP}-

I thought about writing a (more significant) post, but there’s not much I can touch upon that James Joyner didn’t here. There’s no single snippit that I want to excerpt, so I would recommend going over and reading the whole thing.

I am not anti-corporation or anti-profit, though I have to confess some skepticism of for-profit universities. I’ve been contemplating going back to college in an online capacity and have been sticking to state colleges (and WGU). There are so many bad incentives involved that make me skeptical. Bad incentives from the government. Bad incentives from society. Bad incentives for and from the potential customers.

Some of this is related to my very strong belief in the State University. I am not as skeptical of the non-profit privates as the for-profits, but I am still not a huge fan. This does qualify as a bias. When I see a list of state universities that are struggling, I am more likely to come up with alternative explanations as to why this doesn’t mean that the model is necessarily bad. Of course, sometimes I think the model is bad. I think it’s problematic to send ill-prepared kids to college. I question whether open enrollment universities should even exist (I’m more sympathetic to community colleges). But even here, I don’t think the universities themselves are the problem. Even though, if I were running things, at least some of them would cease to exist. But I’ll still take them over their for-profit alternative, so I guess as long as we have the University of Phoenix, we should have a lower-cost alternative.

Category: School

I got to see the world premier of a movie over the weekend. The world premier was in… Callie, Arapaho. Namely because it was filmed around these parts. It was a really low-budget film, though they did a really good job of making the money count.

We have a two-drop theater here in Callie. Most of the time, we don’t get first-run movies. When a big one – particularly, fortunately, one that stars a Marvel superhero – comes out, we’ll get that one. But otherwise, it’s dollar-theater timing at real theater prices. Of course, not many real movie theaters have reclining seats. This one does. It’s pretty rare there are more than a dozen people in the theater for any given movie. I’m a little worried that they will go out of business, but they seem to be getting by.

Today, in stark contrast to usual, they had a packed house. The movie was a half-hour late getting started as they tried to fit everyone in. Fortunately, the fire marshal wasn’t around. I ended up with what might have been the best seat in the house. It was almost certainly the only seat where nobody was sitting behind me and I could actually recline.

The movie itself was worth my time. It was free, though I wouldn’t have felt bad putting money down for it. It mostly took place on a ranch and the open range, but the “city” scenes were recognizable Callie locales. The story itself involved a ranch family and one of their ranch-hands. There were a number of predictable elements, such as the ranch hand’s love interest being the daughter of the ranching family. There were some interesting class elements in the movie, wherein you look at a set-up where one family has accumulated enough so that they can mostly rely on others to work on the ranch, while the hands do the heavy lifting and wait on that paycheck. The patriarch is handicapped, and the older son is works on the ranch (until he disappears, which is the plot). The younger son is sort of kept away from it. The idea was apparently to groom him to help run the ranch, but since he was never relied on, he was never groomed.

When the film ended, I felt the urge to clap, but nobody else clapped. They eventually did when the credits started rolling and some local names appeared. It was a little bit weird when the lights turned on and one of the main actors of the film (and the director) that I’d been watching on the screen was suddenly standing right there. It felt a little bit like when I was in a urinal next to a guy that I had previously seen on CMT.

Category: Downtown

We were pretty late in filling out our 2010 taxes, because the student loan people couldn’t get us the information that we needed. But we are supposed to be getting a refund in the ballpark of $12,500 dollars. I’m beginning to wonder if that money isn’t fictitious. When I filled it out, I requested Direct Deposit. Apparently, if you’re post-deadline, they can’t do that. So I sent it in by mail. A month or so later, we got a letter saying that they couldn’t do direct deposit and that they would be sending it to us by mail. Contact them if it hasn’t arrived in 3-4 weeks. 5-6 weeks later, and it still hasn’t arrived. So I call the IRS. They tell me that they’ve sent it before they even sent the letter saying that they were going to send it. So now I have to fill out a form to inquire where the check is. They will then investigate and get back to me. That’s going to be another 6-8 weeks. The only problem is that I didn’t write down the information on which day they sent the check, which the form needs. So now I am going to have to call the IRS again.

I’ve also been having to make calls to various banks, cancelling the credit/debit cards on my lost wallet and requesting replacements. Three cheers for Discover, who had a new one out to me in two days. By two days, I thought they meant three. I thought that if I called on Sunday, they’d mail it out on Monday and it would arrive on Wednesday. It arrived early Tuesday. The Bank of the Northern Hemisphere was less responsive, giving me what I had expected from everybody: either five to seven (for debit) or five to 10 days (for credit). The cards are coming from Lakota, which is in our mailing unit, so I’m hoping it’ll be close to the former. This is important because I will be heading to Vegas on Wednesday and it would be helpful to have more plastic rather than less (though never again will I have all my plastic in a single wallet. Back to Discover, the only annoying thing about that process was that, when it came to activating my card, they made me talk to a live person who had a script about asking me what I loved about my Discover Card. I truthfully answered: “You got me a new card in two days.”

The last round of phone involved medical bills. Evidently, our insurance company carries nothing when it comes to pregnancy. I’ve never seen so many “Insurance payments: $0” in my life. In the first case, they simply didn’t have our insurance information. So I played phone tag for four days while we tried to get that situated. After looking at all of the other bills, I am expecting that insurance won’t pay for anything anyway. There are arguments against insurance covering pregnancy, though it brings up one of my constant irritations with our health care system, which is that you never know if something will be paid for until after you do it.

Category: Hospital, Market

I took a rare trip to Redstone that did not involve a substituting gig so that I could take care of some of the stuff I don’t have time to when I am in school all day. However, I got a bit of a late start and by the time I got up here and through Walmart (to return those clothes we bought in Delosa in lieu of having luggage), it was too late to go to either of the ideal coffeehouses. So it was Hastings or Starbucks. I opted for Hastings.

And wouldn’t you know it, I ordered the coffee and fired up the computer only to find out that the Internet was down. I couldn’t get an IP address. I convinced them to reboot the router, which turned out to be a mistake because they inexplicably put their business operations and “Free WiFi” on the same router. So their entire system was down during the reboot and nobody could buy anything. Oops.

Anyhow, rebooting the router didn’t work. So I decided to put my nice new Android phone to the test and see if I could tether (connect computer to phone to Internet). This involved two OSes that I am not remarkably familiar with, Linux and Android. But I got it to work! Booyah! Linux has actually made significant strides in making it easier to install third party software. And Android has turned out to work quite well.

I do have to watch my usage, since I’m on a 4GB limit. At least for now. I called Verizon to ask about something else and the girl on the other end very helpfully pointed out that I was only put on the limit by mistake. She submitted a request to get me back to unlimited. We’ll see if it happens.

I only got up to .5GB last month. I only had it part of the month, but I spent the whole time downloading apps and other stuff that would use an abnormal amount of bandwidth. So I feel pretty confident about staying within the limits.

Unfortunately, I can’t check past usage because of a glitch on Verizon’s site. Another glitch on the site is why I had to call. And yet another glitch is why I was put on 4GB in the first place. Verizon’s website needs work.

Category: Downtown

I’ve complained before about the regulations with electronics and flight. I’d heard that there is some testing in the works for Kindle devices and was wondering if maybe they were considering lightening up on it.

Not United, though, that’s for sure. In fact, they’ve changed up their pre-flight lecture routine to… clarify… how serious they are about this. They repeat like fifty times that “off means off (and not Airplane Mode)” and have added rather than subtracted to the rules: no cell phones on – even in Airplane Mode – at any point in the flight.

As someone who uses their phone for a host of purposes, this is lame.

It’s also rather counterproductive. Presumably, they make a special case against phones for fear that people won’t actually turn the radios off. But the same can be said for tablets, which are allowed. Or computers, which are allowed.

A lot of this goes to what I think is the impossibility of drafting any sort of rules on this with any consistency.

It’s not unlike a large software company that I used to work for. They prohibited Pocket PCs for security reasons. But they allowed smartphones for productivity reasons. At the time, a smartphone was a Pocket PC with voice/data capabilities and a camera.

Due to ongoing sleep deficits, the inability to use (certain) electronics did not really turn out to be an issue this time. I was usually asleep during take-off and landing did not take long enough for boredom to set in before I could turn my cell back on.

Category: Road