Monday, March 30, 2009

Test post from my phone

In turkey last year, I tried to use a program that promised to creat blog posts from my handheld. Never could get it to work.

Now, google has a simpler way to do this. Let's see if it works...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

anybody looking for a WiFi handheld?

I just posted this on craigslist.

It's been a great little device, but I just don't need it anymore, since I got my handy 8525.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lowe's has everything you need

First of all, it's always fun to shop at Lowe's because, since all signs are in both English and Spanish, every visit creates opportunities to enhance your Spanish vocabulary.

While standing for a seeming eternity at the Customer Service desk at my local Lowe's this afternoon, I happened to notice something curious. They have a multi-page chart with, in dozens of languages, the phrase 'point to your language' and 'an interpreter will be provided for you.'

This is a very nice service they are providing, for customers from any nation on Earth. In this list, there were an astonishing variety of world languages, including (I checked) seven dialects of Chinese.

At the end of the 'European' section, after Swedish and Ukranian, I was somewhat astonished to see -- wait for it -- 'Yiddish'. Had to take a photo with my phone:

Think about it - this implies not only that a Yiddish speaker would be shopping at Lowe's for his PVC pipe, electrical fixtures, or whatever (implying a 'handy-around-the-house' Yiddish speaker), but that such a person would speak NO OTHER language, hence requiring the fairly-specialized services of a Yiddish-English translator (who, I assume, normally deals in fiction, rather than laminate).

I didn't check to see if Latin was listed, but, if they thought to include Yiddish, I wouldn't be surprised. If you get back there before I do, let me know.

and now for something completely different



So, Scott Yeager is asking the Supreme Court to not permit the government from retrying him on Enron fraud, since the first trial was deadlocked on multiple counts (fraud, money laundering, insider trading, etc. etc. etc).

I respect Justice Breyer and, in the interest of protecting civil liberties, I think his position is valid. The problem with protecting civil liberties, is that it protects both the innocent and the snakes.

Yeager cashed in $54 million of Enron stock and options before bailing. He was at the top of the organization, and, if this wasn't insider trading and fraud, he was a manager completely out-of-touch.

Maybe I'm naive, but I thought the philosophy of work is that you get rewarded for bringing your organization success. Yeager was fabulously enriched and his justification for keeping the loot is that he had no idea that things were going to utterly crash and burn.

What am I missing? Good thing this attitude is nowhere to be found nowadays - we have sure learned our lessons!

Here's the classic 'Enron Communications' photo (i.e. the predecessor of Enron Broadband Services) in the very early days, when this group was most of the entire company, and we were all going to be millionaires. Some of the people in this photo actually did.

That's Yeager in the middle of the Big Three (and me, two heads away, in the back row, with the gargoyle on my shoulder).

Monday, March 23, 2009

want to make your blood boil?

read it and weep.

I'm currently reading a history of Spain, covering the period about 1450-1750. Right now, I am in the 1560's, a time of political and financial unrest, as Philip II dealt with the absurd Empire he inherited from his papa, the remarkable Charles V.

It's a story of an economy ruined, banks failing, shifting political alliances, finger-pointing, and public frustration, totally different from our time.


Friday, March 20, 2009

work shortage

Talked to another former client yesterday afternoon, an ecology center in Sonoma, CA. They are laying off folks and cutting hours, so it's the end of that road, too.

That makes two clients pretty much gone, and my main contact at my main client is so swamped with work that, although there is stuff to be done, I have not received the specs to get started.

Thanks to the amazing folks at Friends of Trees, though, I still get a couple of hours of little changes every week. It's barely enough to keep me sitting here at my computer, surfing around political sites, Spain tourism sites, and craigslist.

Currently reading Imperial Spain 1469-1716. I've just finished the age of Ferdinand and Isabella and am moving into the world of Charles V.

Most amazing factoid to date: F&A, as you know, mandated the expulsion of Jews and Muslims in 1492 (which deprived Spain of some of its most creative and clever folks, including my Toledo ancestors, but that's another story).

However, did you know (ready?) that Ferdinand's mother was Jewish? I always knew that Isabella and her Castile buddies called the shots in that uneasy partnership (Aragon always got a raw deal), but that's pretty creepy, eh?

Don't forget to listen to This American Life this Sunday morning, so you don't have to hear me doing my very first hosting gig on the Portland Yiddish Hour on KBOO. If you don't live in Oregon, you definitely wouldn't want to stream it live at at 10 am PDT.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

powers of 10

Yes, the AIG executive bonuses are a prime example of hubris and insiders gaming the system - we knew that already - and recovering that money would be nice (especially from those who are no longer with the company, which shoots down the 'retention incentive' argument).

However, let us keep in mind that we are talking about a couple hundred million dollars. Although that sum might make a difference in YOUR life, and the lives of 50 of your friends, don't forget that:

We have poured hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars into AIG, and 1 Billion = 1,000 Million. Think about it and you'll realize that the sums over which the punditry is expending all its moral outrage this week is 1/10th of 1 percent of the actual money (OUR money) being forked over.

Remember, any time The Media repeatedly says 'Hey, Look at THIS!", it's a sure sign that it's a diversion.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pranav Mistry

remember that name. Why?

Go here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

a beautiful day in Portland

yet, I am filled with the sense that the American Dream of endless consumer delights has been a Matrix fantasy, fueled by our own eagerness to accept the illusion and the accumulated momentum of scientific and technological progress over the past 200 years (which, like a giant wave, is about to come crashing down on us surfers).

I could be wrong. Maybe we are on the cusp of a transformational wake-up.

However, considering the new Britney video, maybe not.

Still, it's Spring today, and I have no paying work to do (times are lean).

At least Jon Stewart speaks truth.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

and so, it begins...

52 degrees and sunny today, with rain coming this weekend - the perfect opportunity to do what needs to be done: 3 varieties of peas, 2 varieties of spinach, 2 varieties of lettuce, and a few leftover arugula seeds are now in the ground.

Will plant another couple of rows in a couple of weeks.Also, forgot to mention that, last week, we finally completed a project we've been talking about for many years - an asparagus bed that, providing the 20 crowns you see here survive, should last for 15 years. Now, to wait 2 years until the first harvest - I'll let you know if anything comes up.

Monday, March 09, 2009

the joke's on me

ha ha ha ha ha...

laptop battery totally dead today! it appeared to be charging, but stopped at 34%.

Now, the power meter says 'unknown'.

Friday, March 06, 2009

you learn something new every day

At the risk of appearing stupid, I must confess that, even though I've owned various laptops for several years, nobody ever told me that it's very bad to leave your laptop plugged into the AC charger all the time, with the battery inserted.

Who knew?

I had bought a new battery when I got my most-recent used laptop, and was frustrated when, a year later, it would never charge more than 4%, and always appeared to be on the verge of running out. Likewise the battery in Karen's laptop (again, always plugged into the AC), which also, should you unplug the power cord, showed little juice remaining.

I recently did some googling on laptop batteries and charging problems, and came across a site that offered a suggestion for laptop batteries that appear to be virtually dead and unable to recharge. It seemed preposterous.

1) Remove battery from laptop.
2) Slip it inside a ziplock plastic bag.
3) Wrap a dishtowel around it and place in your freezer for at least 13 hours.
4) Remove from freezer and let it slowly come up to room temperature.
5) Insert battery back into laptop, plug in the AC cord, and power up.
6) Go to 'Control Panel | Power Options | Power Meter' and prepare for a shock.

My battery, which never showed more than 4% charged (9 minutes remaining), immediately showed 97% charged, and charging.

I let it sit for a while and when I looked back, it was up to 98% charged!

I unplugged the AC and the control panel updated, to inform me that 'Total time remaining' is now 3.57 hours.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

can you find the twins?

Is it just my imagination, or is there a distinct resemblance between these two schnooks?