Thursday, March 25, 2010

A gift of $5,000?

Another friend asked,
"If you were given $5,000 to live and study abroad, would you go?",
to which I responded as follows:

Sorry, but I'll have to use the $5,000* to pay for my mandatory annual health care,
thanks to the new health deform - - er, REform - - law!

* (the estimated amount the average taxpayer without health care will have to pay, whether he/she likes it or not, unless he/she opts to pay the legally questionnable 2.5% "penalty" of gross income in subsequent years' taxes)

Of Philosophy and Logic

A friend asked a question about life, the universe, and everything.
I responded as follows:

Define "evil"?
"Live" backwards, of course,
which, by association, implies that all life is evil,
and nothing is good,
except for dogs,
because we all know what "dog" is backwards.

This bit of philosophic sophistry has been brought to you by the same people who promised you better living with a health deform - - er, REform - - bill that helps 30 million people at the expense of 150 million, while adding $1 trillion to the national debt of $12 trillion (and growing), yet magically saves $450 billion in ten years. Logical? You bet your taxes!

Got another reference

My boss' boss kindly consented to be my second reference (the guy hired me, and, after over 2 years since we last saw each other, he remembered me!).

I went grocery shopping at 8pm Wednesday. I rarely go so late, but I was out of eggs and milk, and it's much quieter than going during the day. I loathe the muzak Kroger plays, which is, apparently, at the (acting) store manager's discretion, which, in Frankfort's (KY) West Side Kroger, is usually light rap (if there is such a thing!) or hip-hop with weird clapping or clicking techno noises in the background (the East Side Kroger usually plays much lighter fare, though, occasionally, it's country and western, which I loathe as much as rap!). Whatever happened to Percy Faith, Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, et al.? Anyway, tonight, I was pleasantly surprised (nay, shocked!) to hear classic rock and roll, which started with Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (I've seen the lights go out on Broadway)", which brought a smile to this New Yorker's, and, just so I'd hear the whole song, I bought about 20 items (most of which I don't need - - cakes, cookies, etc) instead of the two I wanted! Studies have proven that pleasant muzak encourages people to buy. Why hasn't Kroger (or any retailer) learned from this? I've even seen blacks cringe at the rap and hip-hop being played (which is always too loud, IMHO; one time, I asked the info desk clerk to lower it, and she did; three people at the cashiers applauded, including one black! I sent an e-mail to Kroger about it, and never heard that loudness since, and the rap/hip-hop has been toned down (no techno noises in the past year!). Bravo, Kroger!)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday: did nothing, with scattered boredom heading into Tuesday

I can't find an auto parts retailer who has the exact match (or even a close one) for the EGR vacuum hose that is slightly cracked. Ford wants $15 for the 8" tube. A local company sells all kinds of hoses and tubes to the general public, so I'm hoping they have a more reasonable match.  If not, I have 2 options: (1) shrink wrap the cracked tube, or (2) cut off the bad end and, using a "tee" connector, attach slices of the hose that didn't work to the very end of the connector, which would probably work (i.e., the bad end wouldn't be exposed to the vacuum, so there wouldn't be a "collapse" issue.

Nothing of note happened at my volunteer stint at CKRE.

Called a headhunter who found me on LinkedIn.com (a social network site for business people, and those seeking jobs or having jobs to fill). She claims to have contract work as a C developer in Pittsburgh, but, based on the qualifications list she e-mailed, it appears to be only a 70% match. However, I've never had a job that was a 100% match going in, so that's neither here nor there. We had a pleasant half-hour conversation, and she told me the company name and the pay rate, both of which are fine, but I'm not holding my breath. We'll see!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Combined Saturday & Sunday post

Saturday: nothing of consequence; didn't play tennis, as it is my rotation out for the next two Saturdays, which is good, because it may give my shoulder time to heal. I sit out this Tuesday's tennis, as well, and I'll volunteer to sit out of this Wednesday's tennis, as well.

Sunday: Went to my apartment mailbox and PO box for the mail (I only go twice a week, since I get little of consequence; I'm notified of most of my bills via e-mail).

Went to the car parts retailer to replace my EGR vacuum hose which is slightly cracked around the EGR conduit's flange (a common problem), but, is not of major importance, because it hasn't gone through to the inside of the hose. Unfortunately, the one they selected (under $2) wasn't wide enough to fit properly, nor was it strong enough to withstand the vacuum (i.e., it collapsed as soon as the vacuum started), so I'll try a different auto parts store; if that doesn't help, then I'll go to Ford (the non-fitting hose is pretty much worthless for anything else, so it's money down the drain, but, fortunately, it's only a little money (guess I won't be buying those lottery tickets, this week!)).

Changed my monitor from the old, huge, CRT to a super-trim LCD, which I bought from my library's "Friends" sale (of which I'm their webmaster: http://psplfriends.org/). It uses about 1/3 the power of the old one (from 250 watts to 70!!!). The display looks different than the older unit; I tried different settings, but, none were any better. I'm sure I'll get used to it, eventually.

Other than that, it was a pretty boring weekend, especially since Fox Sports Network in my area didn't broadcast the Indian Wells semi- and finals.


[ADDENDUM]
Ford wanted $15 for the 12" hose which has special reinforcement, so I just said, "no"!
If it becomes an issue, I'll just buy some shrink wrap to go around the hose,
or just wrap it with plastic wrap and electrical tape. $15. Seriously?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Broken server, broken tooth

It may sound like a book or movie title, but it isn't either. Here's the scoop:

The radio station for the blind where I'm a volunteer reader needs a computer to hook-up to their server to enable people to hear the broadcast using their computers. After a few tries over a few days, I was able to make the computer work on a standard ethernet connection, but not with the server. I managed to get another computer up and running for one of the interns, but couldn't get a brand new Windows 7 computer to acknowledge the presence of an old computer. One out of three ain't bad, I suppose!

After doing my Friday reading, I went home.

I made myself a bean and cheese tortilla, and, after a couple of calm, soft, bites, I heard a sound I'm becoming more used to as the years go on: The crack of a newly broken tooth. I've already spent $700 in two days on 4 teeth (one broken + three replacement fillings; two of those four need a root canal and crown), so what's another $100 or so? My next appt is on March 30 (I have at least 5 more teeth to be worked on, mostly to replace old fillings); I think I can wait until then, but I'll call my dentist to let her know, just in case she wants me to come in, sooner. =sigh=

I tried to upload a new page for my friend's website, http://TheGumptionCommunity.com, but I couldn't connect to the FTP site. So, I tried the host site, but found that they upgraded their security, requiring a new password, even though the existing one is over 10 characters long and is a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Unfortunately, the only person who can make the change is the account's designated primary owner, who is a friend of my friend, so I can't do anything until he deigns to check his e-mail and do whatever's necessary to fix the "problem", including telling me what the new password is.

Not a good day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sore shoulder that no St Patty's beer can numb!

Did the laundry (2-1/2 loads), then had lunch at Subway ($7 for a 6" meal?!?! (sub, 2 cookies, 21 oz drink) for 50 cents more, I could have had a footlong, that I could have finished for dinner! what a ripoff! Never again, boy!!! I sent a polite comment via their website; maybe they'll be nice enough to give me a free 6" sub, which would make up for it), then watched the Indian Wells tennis at the Lexington Tennis Club (Nadal beat Isner in 3 sets (Isner had huge problems with the strings of his first two racquets; some stringer is out of a job!!!); Djokovic is out; Roddick is about to win), then played two hours of tennis (first time I've won a set with this group, albeit in a tie-breaker!!!), but my shoulder hurt so badly, I couldn't serve overhand for my last time prior to the tie-breaker (served one underhand for a service winner!), and did a half-effort overhand for my 2 tie-break serves. Fortunately, I have 2 weeks of being out of most of my groups' rotations, so, hopefully, it'll be enough to heal, if only somewhat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dentist or tennis? Open your mouth and say "lob".

My new dentist - - a lovely woman with a great sense of humor and 3 dogs - - removed old fillings from three teeth (she only had time for 2, but she thought I could handle one more, which I thought was nice, especially since I was late coming from my volunteer stint at CKRE (radioeye.org), where I failed to make their "new" computer work with their server after THREE hours of non-stop work!). I left the office feeling as if everything on the right side of my nose to my lower jaw was drooping down to my chest (when I looked in the mirror, I found I was right!).  ;)

With just an hour to go before my last-minute fill-in for a tennis group, and unable to eat, thanks to the above work, I had barely enough energy to play in that group, much less my regular group, just a few minutes later! Fortunately, the first group got tired after just one hour (10 minutes of warm-up left 20 minutes of the 1-1/2 hour court time, which I gratefully used to relax and wash before the subsequent group).

Got home, hoping to see some of the Indian Wells tennis on Fox Sports Network, but there was a hockey game instead (what's the old joke? "I went to the fights, and a hockey game broke out?"). However, I was actually glad, because, between my now-not-numb very sore mouth and my tennis-induced very painful shoulder pain (possibly a rotator cuff, but the pain has migrated to the top of my shoulder . . . odd), I was in some serious pain and very, very, tired, so I took a couple of Tylenol and went to bed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Check the check

Just went to the unemployment office to find out why I haven't been able to get my checks. It seems that about 10% of Kentuckians are in some bizarre black hole of a glitch, where we are ALLOWED to receive benefits, but UNable toactually get checks!!! Fortunately, Frankfort is a small town, and my case worker has taken care of it, but warned me that it will probably continue for a while. =sigh=

I also dropped of some books at the Friends' book store at my local library.

My Facebook friends are getting a little tired of groaning at my bad jokes. I try explaining to them my situation of unemployment and sheer boredom, not to mention that my true, long-time, friends have LONG abandoned me, thanks to my puns and jokes!  ;)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Big yawn

Cleaned the inside of the car windows.

Picked-up the mail, which I do on a twice-weekly basis, primarily because I get nothing of import.
Didn't this time, either!

Went home, watched some tube, and that was that.

As I said: Big yawn!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good tennis match (finally!)

Ran a few errands, then played tennis and FINALLY won a couple of sets, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2!
I'm looking forward to next week's Indian Wells tennis event, broadcast on the Tennis Channel
and Fox Sports Network (I don't get TC on my cable station, so I'm hoping my local FSN will carry it).

Other than that, I fixed the computer that I had bought from my local library a few weeks ago; it's a nifty system that I spent all of $85 on, but, for some reason, it wouldn't connect to the 'net via my broadband connection. After days, if not weeks of scouring the net on my own system, I finally discovered that certain installations of Windows XP have problems with LAN connections, that was fixed by a subsequent download from Microsoft. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it! My original intent was to give it to the radio station where I volunteer (radioeye.org), but they just refurbished a number of their computers, so it isn't necessary. I suppose I could swap my old CRT for the much thinner and more energy efficient LCD monitor, but, if I do give the computer away, the recipient may need a small footprint monitor. Nice to have options, eh?

Spent the day watching TV, marvelling at my barometer which is measuring 29.5 inches ("changeable") during a very light, misty rain. Oddly, it's slightly lower than when we had a hurricane and recent heavy snows (2" of snow on two separate days within a week of each other). Go figure!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A lot going on at CKRE

Due to a, literally, last-minute (and superbly timed!) cancellation from a volunteer, I had to record an additional half-hour newspaper reading, just before I walked out the CKRE offices, after finishing my scheduled hour.  They also have a desperate need to fix their free online streaming of the station's radio broadcast for the blind. They got a computer, but it doesn't have up-to-date software, so I volunteered to supply that (I'm a computer programmer with over 30 years of experience, but nothing to do with networking or servers, so somebody else is going to assist with that). I also got word from my local library, where I volunteer, that they are going to donate badly needed library-style magazine file holders, which hold a months' worth of magazine, newspapers, etc.


After that, I went shopping, mostly to rent the animated film "Ponyo" from "Redbox", which I absolutely love ("Netflix" is now trying desperately to catch up with the innovative and inexpensive system, which is, allegedly, responsible for shutting down many mom-and-pop video stores, and, my guess is, eventually, high-end video store chains). I went to a supermarket that had "Redbox" in an area I've never been, before. Of course, I wound-up waiting with four other people, thanks to a clearly indigent woman (?; might have been a guy; truly not sure!) whose, allegedly, gov't-issued credit card (welfare???) didn't work, and, of course, she had bought everything but the kitchen sink (not suspicious at all, right?). Fortunately, the rest of us on line had an excellent sense of humor (2 older men, 2 younger women); if it had been a more social occasion, we probably would have all gone out to lunch, and laughed about the incident! The cashier and bagger were forced to take the indigent woman to the service desk.

Got home, and enjoyed a huge lunch while watching "Ponyo". IMHO, "Ponyo" is overrated, though I liked it. However, I think it's too high above kids' heads, as are most of animation creator's, Hayao Miyazaki's, productions, including such well-known flicks as "Princess Mononoke" and, my personal favorite of his, "Spirited Away". Visually stunning works, but almost indecipherable to children, much less adults! Fortunately, such works of art are wonderful launching pads of the imagination, especially in this era of vapid cartoon dreck, so I can't find too much fault with them.

Worst tennis EVER!!!

I was invited to play tennis with a group of guys I've played with before and see all the time at the club. Unfortunately, I - - for lack of a better word - - sucked rocks! I held only 1 of 6 serves (double-faulted more times in the three sets we played than I had in my entire life!), and had nearly 75% unforced errors. The guys were gracious, but I think that's only because I brought a new can of balls!  ;)

I tested my windshield wiper/washer at 50 mph, and it worked perfectly, thanks to the newly installed wiper arm (not blade), but forgot to test it at the 70 mph highway speeds (which is almost suicidal, due to the outrageously huge potholes! I see that the Federal gov't saw fit to send a notice to everyone saying that the Census forms are on their way; I wonder whose money was spent on *that* bit of fluff! "Change we need!").

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Windshield wiper fix failed; tennis not much better

Per yesterday's diary, bending the wiper arm didn't help, so I replaced it with a new one that I had on hand. It "feels" better and snapped on better and worked while in park, but only highway movement will tell the true story, so it'll have to wait until Thursday's tennis trip to Lexington.

I keep losing in my Wednesday tennis; although two of my service games were lost due to overzealous partners (who, I'm pretty sure, ramped up their play - - to our detriment - - only because I haven't been playing well). I have yet to win a set with my Wed group, and my other groups aren't faring much better. I'm sure my sore arm (feels like a rotator cuff injury or, possibly, bursitis; the pain keeps "moving" from right to left of my right shoulder, and from the top of my right shoulder to the edge of my wrist, which has a long, on-going carpal tunnel syndrome problem. But, I'd rather play, than not. When my fall/winter tennis groups end, I think I'll sit out the summer, except for occasional games with friends, just to see if things heal on their own (yes, I know rotator cuff injuries require surgery, but, without health insurance, I'm not going to go to a doctor (especially not one in Kentucky!), unless the pain becomes unbearable, or I can't lift anything, which does happen on occasion).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Volunteering and tennis

Did my volunteer stint at CKRE this morning, then some window shopping (why doesn't anybody sell men's pajamas anymore?!?!), sat around the tennis club for 5 hours doing nothing waiting for my scheduled hour (actually, I was supposed to play only once this week, but was asked to fill-in for three groups, so I'll be playing four times!), and then went home in a light rain, in which, naturally, my driver's side wiper decided not to make any contact with the windshield! Nothing I could do at 9pm at night, so I drove home a little slower and more cautiously. Fortunately, the rain ended when I got to my home town, and most of it dried or blew off (gotta do something about this chronic problem; I can't find a decent wiper blade; it could be the arm, so I'm going to replace that, too (happen to have a spare, but I'm not sure if it's a universal fit or only for one particular side, which, of course, will be the wrong side!)).

My white trash neighbors decided to move their broken down pick-up truck at 11:30pm; I suspect that they sold it to someone, who could only take it at night. Good riddance! Now, if only someone would buy these used and rotten neighbors!

Dealt with obnoxious neighbors

My white trash neighbor (complete with unregistered/untagged pick-up truck with flat tire in parking lot, being used as his storage shed) had his son (?) and friend do something with his pick-up, though I couldn't figure out what. That wouldn't have bothered me, but, for a solid hour, the "kids" blasted their stereo of rap. I kept thinking, the old man (probably in his early 40's) will get tired of it, and ask them to lower it, but, no. So, I put on my OSHA 30db headset and managed to tolerate it, though the painful throbbing went right through the doors and windows, even though the vehicle was about 20 yards away, and gave me a mild headache.  I truly don't understand how kids can enjoy something like that (one thing I *do* know for certain: most will need Obama's health plan to pay for their damaged eardrums!). I also don't understand why he stays here: he has a wife, three-four cars (haven't figured out which is which or whose), and either one or two young sons or grandkids or adopted . . . it must be costing him more to stay in the little townhouse, which is barely enough for me! Why doesn't he find a nice trailer park, set up a pink flamingo or two, and buy a shotgun so he or a family member can . . . oh, I don't want to go "there", do I? (gotta love these kids' street slang, lingo, and expressions!)

I got e-mails from my tennis buddies asking if I would take their places during the week, so I went from playing no times - - as it would, otherwise, have been my rotational "off" days - - to playing three times (the normal amount, but, still, I was actually looking forward to not playing! However, if the aforementioned trash keeps up with the ear shattering rap crap, then I'm probably best off away from home, at least during the daylight hours; I may have to move, soon, as I don't think I'll be able to stand unending summer days of that).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday shopping

Last Monday was 30 degrees; Saturday, it reached 50; now, it's down to 40!
Mother Nature: Just like a woman who can't make up her mind!
(ooooh, I'll bet I'm going to "heck" for that little joke!)  ;)

I spent early Sunday morning shopping. My grocer (Kroger) had a phenomenal number of "manager's specials" (i.e., half-price for out-of-date goods), which I scarfed up. After that, I did a few household chores, took a nap, did some stuff on the computer, watched some tube (not even one second of the Oscars! I didn't watch the Olympics, either! I must be a Communist or something!), then called it a night (see, I'm actually sleep-typing this!).  ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nothing much

I played a terrible set of tennis, followed by a slightly less worse one.
The details have been mercifully erased from my mind,
so I won't bore you with them.

I got home, took a nap, watched some tube . . . another fascinating day ends.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Volunteer then nothing

I volunteered at Central Kentucky Radio Eye, then went home and vegged.

Oh, what an exciting life I lead!

[addendum] Got hit with the av.exe virus, again! This time, through Facebook: a friend's message displayed, AVG anti-virus said it caught something, then, BOOM, my computer was under the virus' spell. Fortunately, as this was the second time it has happened (refer to my 02/14/2010 post), it was much easier to find and remove the virus, and restore things to normal. This is at least the second time that Facebook has caused a virus. If it happens, again, I'll stop using it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pleasant surprise from an old friend

A friend I haven't seen in years, but communicate with via e-mail, occasionally, sent me an e-mail saying he'd be landing at the airport near me on business, but he'd only be there for a short time (two days). I read the e-mail at 12:15pm, but his plane was supposed to land at 1pm, and he didn't say which airline or flight #. I wanted to surprise him, so I rushed over, and there he was (it's a small airport, so I had no trouble figuring out the airline, etc). I couldn't believe that, when I saw him, he had barely changed from all those years ago! He looked great! He was in a hurry, so we got to his hotel, checked-in, then went to a local college pizza/pub (recommended by the hotel) for a sandwich (the food and service was great, though a little pricey). He had to run to the job, and without knowing what his schedule would be today or the next day, and with a 5pm departure, we left assuming that we wouldn't be able to see each other again, so I wished him well, thanked him for lunch, and told him to say "hi" to his wife and his pet pig (18 years old!). It was a very nice change of pace, and very nice to see him.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tennis cancelled, but clothes clean

I can't believe that I ran out of just about anything to wear! How lazy am I that I actually forgot to do the wash this weekend? Granted, I have to go to a laundromat (my apartment doesn't have a w/d), but that's no excuse!

Fortunately, my tennis was cancelled, so I don't have to make the 25 mile, one-way trip (saved some gas, but spent it on unneeded groceries; hey! I deserve some treats every once in a while!).

Sold some two-fer vitamins/minerals on eBay that I decided weren't doing me any good (i.e., I tried the ones that "cost" me, then decided to forgo the "free" ones). Unfortunately, with the cost of mailing through the post office, I broke even on the deal! But, that's okay; I'd rather it go to someone else who got a great bargain, then just throw the stuff out (nobody I knew wanted them!). eBay has not been very good to me. Although I have sold unbelieveable junk (a dead (!) battery, old technology, etc), I couldn't even give away some decent stuff (sheet music, LP's, framed art, etc)! Between low or no bids, postage, and eBay fees (which, pretty much, forces people to use their Paypal system, at additional cost to the seller), my spreadsheet says I've lost nearly $100 over the past decade. And, yes, I've tried selling locally for free and on Craigslist, etc, but I'm even more afraid of getting weirdos at my door or bounced checks! I guess tossing stuff or giving it to charity is the only way to make money on it! =sigh=

Volunteering, movie, lunch, and tennis

After doing my weekly volunteer stint at Central Kentucky Radio Eye (radioeye.org), I saw "Planet 51", a banal but harmless, imitative but fast-paced, movie, then had lunch at a Thai restaurant that I "infrequent", then played tennis (twice, one right after the other, thanks to a group needing a sub), then went home.

It's the little things that keep the unemployed going!  ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hygiene! How are ya?

My new dentists' hygienist is 30 years old, looks 20; married, of course (not that it matters, as I am too old for either age!). She really dug out some dirt, which 12 hours later, I can still feel the probes and scrapes. She says that two teeth are "bad"; the one that was temporarily filled, and the one above it, which will need a crown, as the dentist (who is on vacation) had said. Otherwise, she preferred to leave the remaining diagnoses to the dentist, although she said I would need "some work". Nearly all the problems are on my right (dominant) side, which is "normal", as most people brush better on the side that offers an easier reach (i.e., the side opposite their dominant hand); having said that, it is somewhat coincidental, because much of my ancient silver fillings have cracked (as if the rest of me hasn't!). This office is probably the best dental team I've found in nearly 5 years, so, I'm very happy (and relieved!), even though I'm going to wind-up poorer and in a great deal of pain when all is said and done! On the other hand, my teeth will be much whiter, as this office doesn't use silver.

I normally don't advertise websites, but I just discovered that Hulu.com carries free films from all around the world, so I'm getting to see some fare that I wouldn't find in Kentucky during their first run, even if they were shown, here! I now have something to pass a bit of layoff time (actually, I have tons of VHS and DVD films I could watch; about 10% of which I've never seen before, and nearly 89% of which I haven't seen in ages!).