Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great timing

I'm watching After Armageddon on the History International channel. It purports to show how humanity would fare if a global pandemic decimated the population. They actually are showing, during some commercial breaks, a disclaimer that this is not an actual emergency. Presumably, that's to prevent another War of the Worlds panic from occurring.

Comcast, in its infinite wisdom, just interrupted this program with emergency test tones. It was their weekly required test of the EBS, but their timing was absolutely exquisite. LOLOL.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biased questions? No thanks.

Today, I declined to be a part of some political poll or other. Since the caller never identified whose campaign or cause they actually were, I can't tell just who it is that's trying to doctor data.

The call began like this:

"This is not a sales call. Senator ____ is planning to vote for a bill that would raise taxes on US oil and gas companies. Are you in favor of this?"

I said, "I'm sorry, I can't give my opinion based on only one sentence of information about the bill."

She went on, "This bill would raise taxes on US oil and gas companies, making it hard for them to compete at home and abroad. Are you in favor of this?"

Now, it should be patently obvious to anyone with the IQ of an end table that they're trying to skew as many answers as possible to be NO. They are hoping to make this bill sound like it's the worst possible legislation that Senator ____ could ever support. They want people to hear "raise taxes" and answer NO, we do not favor this. Or they want us to hear only "raise taxes" and "hard to compete at home and abroad" and answer NO, we do not approve of this bill.

Then they can spin it to show that the American public is against this bill and/or Senator ____'s representation of his constituents.

I wasn't going to play along. I told them I'm sorry, but I can't take part in a survey, as I work from home and need to keep the line clear. (Both true.) End of conversation.

No way on earth am I going to give my opinion of this bill, based solely on the content of BLATANTLY biased questions. I still have no clue which bill this is (meaning I can't look it up and form my opinion based on actual information) or what political group it was that called me. It could be anything from oil/gas company lobbyists to Senator ____'s opponent in the next election. Either way, I'm not playing their game.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini the D-pet pwns Captain, Round 2

It's been about ten weeks since Mini the Chihuahua came to live with us, and the Resident Pair of Cats (TM) still give her stares like she's something from Mars. They get along with her, for the most part, but they still appear to be trying to figure out what in heck she IS.

Captain and Stanley, both cats who are firmly committed to staying in the In, like to sniff Mini when we come back from a walk in the Out. Or at least, Captain USED to like sniffing Mini until a few weeks ago, when we returned from a walk in the rain. Mini shook herself dry, right in Captain's face, and he ran away from the water-emitting Martian that just sprayed droplets all over him.

It's taken him the better part of a month to gradually start approaching the dog after walks again. I fear that tonight, we suffered a setback.

See, there was Captain, bravely standing nose-to-nose with Mini, immediately after we came in the door. The Martian promptly sneezed, loudly and vigorously, right in his face. Captain beat a hasty retreat to the far end of the first floor.

Poor Captain. He just can't win.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Owie.

Man, I'm falling the heck apart. I picked up a new knee brace for use when I'm on the treadmill, since I occasionally get zapped by kneecap pain while I'm walking and that's never good.

And I finally gave up on waiting for my right thumb to stop killing me, and bought a thumb splint. I've had my thumb immobilized for about 8 hours and the pain is only just starting to subside. Sheesh... trigger fingers, thumb pain... fanabla. Middle age is doing its best to be aggravating.

Friday, July 16, 2010

STUPID Criminal Tricks. LOL

BWAHAHA... Here's the latest entry for the Stupid Criminal Tricks file.


Man posts bail with counterfeit bills

Most people post bail to stay out of jail.

Not to risk a lot more time there.

According to Cinnaminson Police, a Camden man included counterfeit $20 bills while paying his $400 bail on July 7.

Lousy counterfeit $20s.

Run off on a color copier, apparently.

"They're pretty poor. I didn't have to touch them and I knew they were bad," said Detective Sgt. William K. Covert.

They were almost as obvious as the copies of $1 bills he's seen created by students trying to fool soda machines.

The paper didn't feel right. It lacked the colored threads. And Andrew Jackson's face was kind of fuzzy.

Ronald White, 35, was arrested for several counts of shoplifting from a Burlington Coat Factory and Shop-Rite on Route 130.

He had $900 in cash on him, not all of it counterfeit.

Cash is accepted at both stores.

Police also discovered he had outstanding warrants from Camden that required $400 for bail.

So, while the shoplifting charges were being processed, White paid the bail.

The next day, Covert discovered that five of the $20 bills were funny money.

Very phony funny money.

No way these bills would ever pass the pen test, where a special marker is dragged across.

Some forgers bleach $5 bills, then reprint them with images from $100 bills, hoping to fool the pen test, Covert said.

Holding such bills up to a light quickly reveals they're fake.

A complaint was signed against White for forgery.

But before police found him, he found police.

On Monday, White turned up at the Cinnaminson Police station, saying he overpaid for the bail and wanted his money back.

In his possession were two more bogus $20 bills, police said.

Today, he was still in Burlington County Jail, in lieu of paying $5,000 cash bail.

"One of my favorite sayings is, you can't teach stupid, because every day something else comes up and you just shake your head," Covert said.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

F.D.A. Panel to Vote on Whether Avandia Should Stay on Market - NYTimes.com

I first saw the news about the FDA's discussion on whether to restrict Avandia, a diabetes drug, because of the dangerous side effects it can cause, yesterday when I was on the treadmill. One of the TVs at the gym showed a news report on the subject. Though I couldn't hear the audio of the TV report without plugging earphones into the attachment on the treadmill, there were enough printed "headlines" on the screen to give me the gist of the report. Today, I saw this article about Avandia, and the FDA's possible decision to restrict its sale or even withdraw it from the market, in the New York Times.

That made me all the more determined to stick with the new calorie count/exercise daily regimen. If diabetes is preventable in my case, then I'm darn well going to bust my tail preventing it, and if it isn't, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I won't go down without a battle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mini and Paco

We have several other families on our block with dogs. One in particular is at the other end of the block, and they have a Chihuahua named Paco. He just turned 4 and he is a bit smaller than Mini. He's also all kinds of cute and, like Mini, loves other dogs.

Mini and I encountered him and his Paw during tonight's walk. Not only was Mini all happy to see Paco, she started to get friskier than I've ever seen her since her arrival. She started bouncing around like a puppy and even did several "play bows". I was floored. It's the first time I've seen her invite another dog to play.

She really is starting to come out of her shell, the longer she's here. :-) I guess the more confident she becomes that she's not going to have another upheaval, and the farther in the past her still-recent huge life changes are, the more her real personality shines through. And even more than before, she is deserving of the nickname "6 lbs. of Happy".

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nook, the sequel

I just had a look at the MobileRead Forums. Turns out that the first run of nook ereaders, to which mine apparently belongs, was made with plastic that's prone to this problem. But there's a design tweak in later production runs of the device that's intended to prevent this problem from recurring. Good. I'll get to see what that change entails in 3-5 business days. :-)

Nook

I had to call Barnes and Noble's customer service today. I noticed a crack developing on the frame of my nook ebook reader, right where one of the page-advance buttons is located.

As it happens, I was in the vicinity of a B&N store in Willow Grove this afternoon, so I stopped by there and asked for advice at their nook counter. They gave me the (800)THE-BOOK phone number to call, which I did. There's no question that my nook is within the 1-year warranty period, as the devices haven't even been on the market for a year.

I've got my RMA number and instructions for exchanging the machines, and the replacement device is on its way.

Here's hoping that they figure out how to overcome this particular design flaw. The replacement device might not be any different than the one I'm sending back, in which case I hope two things: 1. that the one-year warranty time period resets itself upon my receiving the new device, and 2. if this happens to me again, which is a distinct possibility as I'm an avid user of the device, the NEXT replacement machine will have whatever fix is required to prevent this particular form of wear-and-tear.

I picked up a pamphlet at the nook counter that appears to be about some sort of parts and protection plan. That might turn out to be an investment that's worth making. Ah, the joys of being among the early owners of a gadget.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Great week

Mini's had a grand couple of days. We took her with us to Stone Harbor yesterday. The Flyers prospects were taking part in their annual Trial on the Isle there, as well as having an autograph signing in the afternoon and a softball game for charity after that. Let me tell you how much Mini LOVED all the attention she got! We brought the doggie stroller to give her a place to rest and be out of the sun as needed, but when she was out of the stroller there was a steady stream of people who wanted to fuss over her. So she was one tired, happy doggie by the time the day was over!

Now tonight, Mark and I walked down to a vantage point where we could see the post-Phillies-game fireworks. Mini came with us. Again, she loved it. Any place where Mom and Dad are is a great place, as far as she's concerned. Fireworks? Noise? Flashing glittery things in the sky? She didn't care.

Except at the very end, when Mini made me wonder just how much English she actually understands. When the grand finale was over, Mark applauded. I was holding Mini, so I couldn't clap, but I did say, "Yaaaay! Say yay, Mini." And Mini responded with one small "Wuf!" :-)

So the pyrotechnics display met with Mini's approval. You saw it here first.

Now she's zonked on my lap. Occasionally, she makes tiny snore noises. She's one tired little furball after the past couple of days.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I wanna tickle the KITTY TUM!

Captain puts his Tum Fuzz on display for the world to see and dote upon.

Critterfest

Don't look now, but there's a critterfest in the hallway. :-)

Oh no

There's breaking news that a "Duck" boat collided with a barge, capsized and sank. Two passengers are missing. I'm watching the TV even as I type and they're showing the video of people being brought to ERs.

This really rots. Thoughts and prayers to all involved, accident victims and searchers alike.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Next day aches

Wow, is my knee sore after all that treadmill yesterday.

Knee, meet naproxen and more treadmill today. I don't care WHAT gets sore, I won't be put off this new regimen. Any time I get tempted to slack off, all I'll have to do is remember what my Grandmom went through with diabetes. Rest assured, that's definitely enough to spur my behind right back into action.

In other news, it's supposed to break the 100 degree mark today. I walked the dog a little while ago and let me tell you, we might already be at that point. GOOD GRIEF. I'd light a candle to thank God for the invention of air conditioning, but it's too hot to light candles. ;-) It's beastly out there.

I'm down to the final 100 pages of War and Peace, so I'm expecting to finish the book today. I'm going to miss these characters after being "with" them for so long. I know a lot of my friends and family are readers, particularly the ones who visit here, so let me recommend tackling War and Peace. Think of it as a TV Season or two (or three)'s worth of following a cast of characters.

Flyers Prospect Camp will be going on this week. Good. I could use the diversion of a dose of summer hockey.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Emulation

Mark has a "lifetime" membership to a particular gym chain that is within walking distance of the house where he grew up. They don't offer such memberships anymore, but they used to. With his membership, he no longer has to pay a monthly fee, and he can avail himself of any franchise in that chain, including one near our home.

I, meanwhile, have reinstated my membership in a relatively new (and quite reasonably-priced) gym chain that opened near our home within the past few years. I'm not sure what it would have cost for me to join Mark's gym, but it's sure to be more than the cost of this place. And it would be silly for Mark to join my gym when he already belongs to a different one.

Which is my lead-in to my good news. Mark had today off, for the July 4 holiday. I went to my gym for my treadmill walk, and came home to find that Mark was out. Where was he? At HIS gym.

GOOD. Because both of us have got some fixing to do as far as our family doc is concerned. I think I already mentioned that I'm motivated to follow the doc's instructions for keeping my pancreas in working order for as long as humanly possible. Mark, meanwhile, has been working with the doc to get his BP numbers back where they belong. So we both have good reasons to renew acquaintances with the friendly neighborhood treadmill.

Here's to a nice, "Hello, gym; goodbye, evil numbers" result for both of us.

Friday, July 02, 2010

SS United States

Last night, Mark, Mini, and I went to the lighting of the SS United States. In honor of her maiden voyage, and of a BIG donation given to assist with her purchase and maintenance, they illuminated the lights on the bridge and deck, as well as floodlights that shone on the smokestacks.

The SS United States Conservancy also showed a film, SS United States: Lady in Waiting. When we went to the tent where the film was about to be screened, in search of any possible pamphlets about the effort to restore the ship to its former grandeur, we found no pamphlets but we did encounter several Conservancy members that flipped head over heels for Mini. :-) Yep, 6 Lbs of "Make New Friends": that's Mini all over.

Here's the article about the donation: Lenfest gives millions to save SS United States.

Lenfest gives millions to save SS United States

By Jeff Gammage

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest will donate up to $5.8 million to help save the SS United States, the storied ocean liner that's to be celebrated at a riverfront ceremony tonight, officials said.

The funds will be used to buy the ship from its owner, Norwegian Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong, and to maintain the vessel in its current South Philadelphia berth for up to 20 months. During that time, redevelopment and refurbishment plans will be completed.

The news was announced by the Washington-based SS United States Conservancy, which has worked for years to promote the ship and prevent its destruction. The group called Lenfest's donation "a major development in the effort to save the legendary American ocean liner."

The group wants to turn the ship into a historic attraction, permanently set on the waterfront of a major city.

The Lenfest donation has enabled the conservancy to enter into an exclusive purchase-option agreement with Norwegian, officials said.

"This is a game-changer in our work to save this irreplaceable American icon," said conservancy board President Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the ship's designer, William Francis Gibbs. "Mr. Lenfest's vision and generosity give us a fighting chance to preserve the SS United States for generations to come."

She credited the ship's owners, who "turned down higher offers to partner with us in this patriotic effort."

The SS United States still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record, set 58 years ago on her maiden voyage from New York to England. The ship transported four men who were or who became U.S. presidents, along with countless heads of state, military, and business leaders. It also brought immigrants to these shores.

The ship has had numerous owners since being removed from service in 1969. Earlier this year, Norwegian began accepting bids from scrap firms, bringing new urgency to preservation advocates.

Lenfest has been interested in the project. Last year, he pledged $300,000 toward the purchase of the ship.

"Having established a relationship with the conservancy in 2009, Gerry Lenfest literally swept in at the 11th hour to save this national treasure," said Dan McSweeney, executive director of the organization. "Mr. Lenfest understands this ship is a symbol of American preeminence in the 20th century. She can also become a part of America's future promise, potentially creating thousands of jobs during and after refurbishment."

The conservancy holds the purchase option until February 2011. Once title is transferred, the Lenfest donation provides the conservancy with 20 months to begin development. The group wants to establish a public-private partnership to own and operate the ship.

"We are reaching out to potential partners in Philadelphia, New York, and beyond," Gibbs said. "The ship offers some 550,000 square feet of space to develop, and her interiors can be configured in a variety of ways."

Plans could include retail stores, restaurants, museums and entertainment venues.

News of Lenfest's donation is to be formally announced tonight, when the ship is lit during a ceremony on the Delaware River. People can gather at the IKEA store on Columbus Boulevard, across from the ship's berth at Pier 82. The 7 p.m. event, during which the funnels, bridge, radar mast and running lights will be lit, honors the 58th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage.

"We are not out of the woods yet," McSweeney said. "Mr. Lenfest's donation has allowed us to triage the SS United States. Now comes the very challenging work of solidifying plans in New York or Philadelphia and that will take significant capital. . . . This is very far from the end of the story."