Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Main Entry: as·cer·tain
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English acertainen, from Middle French acertainer, from a- (from Latin ad-) + certain
Date: 15th century
1 archaic : to make certain, exact, or precise
2 : to find out or learn with certainty
synonym see DISCOVER
- as·cer·tain·able /-'tA-n&-b&l/ adjective
- as·cer·tain·ment /-'tAn-m&nt/ noun
So yeah, my entire day is going to be spent wrapped in a parka. Humorously, the building's air venting system is still operational, meaning that *cool* air is still being blown about the building, effectively making it warmer outside rather than in.
1:20 PM UPDATE:: One of my coworkers apparently carries a space heater around in his car and has been so kind to donate it to our office for the remainder of the day.
My roomie and I are quite fond of movies. More precisely, we are fond of spending our evenings parked on respective couches watching DVDs (and sports, to be fair). Recently we expanded our evening line ups beyond your typical movie fare to that of the television show ilk.
What we found when we explored this avenue was pretty interesting. Just about every show has its own season on DVD. The great thing about these programs is that you get to watch them without any commercial interruptions. unfortunately, this has an adverse effect on some shows.
Alf, for example, I remember from my childhood as being a terrific show. It was full of yuks, had a great plot and there was Gordon Shumway! Now, as I have watched the show, its not so good. For one, the plot is pretty threadbare. I think my liberal arts degree may have a part in this portion of my critique, and I hate myself for being so hoity toity over the plot holes in Alf. (Conversely, as a side note, i absolutely LOVE watching Walker, Texas Ranger) But Alf is kind of lame, really, and Alf without commercial interruption just magnifies this fact to uncomfortable proportions.
On the other end of the spectrum there are the HBO shows, which were designed without commercials in mind, and are thus more cogent when viewed as a whole. Also, jsut about every show that HBO has ever shown is on DVD, so the library is quite extensive. So, of course, given my fondness for Westerns I had to vote that we rent the first season of DEADWOOD. We were not disappointed, as this proved to be a very entertaining programme.
For those of you unfamiliar with DEADWOOD, the plot revolves around life in the booming town (at this point little more than a camp) and its various characters as they come and go. Being that I'm only 2 episodes in I am pretty certain that there will be many more characters yet to appear. Thus far I know the following:
At this point it is safe to say that I am thoroughly hooked on the show. I was actually upset last night that we didn't have another two episodes to watch. *sigh* We watched some flaky Western with Dwight Yoakum and Billy Bob Thornton instead. I couldn't tell you what it was about, really, as I lost interest pretty fast and just read stuff about DEADWOOD on the internet after that.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Two Boise Parks Department Zamboni drivers who made a joy ride lunch run to a Burger King are out of work and may even face criminal prosecution.
Boise Parks officials fired them immediately upon hearing of the stunt. The two employees decided it would be fun to drive the rigs half a mile from the City owned and operated ICE WORLD indoor skating rink at the outlet mall to the hamburger joint.
They could be charged with operating unlicensed motor vehicles on a public street, but there is little chance for a speeding conviction.
Team Dave may not jump on things as fast as the GUARDIAN and some citizens think they should, but last week when a citizen complained to the mayor’s hotline about what he saw at the drive thru window at Burger King, they got right on it.
Parks Department director Jim Hall called the stunt, “One of the five stupidest things I have seen in 35 years of work in public parks.” He didn’t elaborate on the other four, but our curiosity is certainly aroused.
Hall said the Zamboni ice grooming machines are finely tuned vehicles worth $75,000 each.
“We have inspected both vehicles and there was no apparent damage,” said Hall. Repair costs to a damaged blade could run $10,000 according to Hall.
The Ice World skating arena hasn’t been a great source of pride for the city since millionaire J.R. Simplot donated it several years ago. A former employee was charged with selling city owned skates and hockey sticks on EBay after a Canadian cop alerted them.
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Published: November 26, 2006
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25 — The palm tree, like so much here, rose to fame largely because of vanity and image control, then met its downfall when the money ran out.
The Los Angeles City Council, fed up with the cost of caring for the trees, with their errant fronds that plunge perilously each winter, and with the fact that they provide little shade, have declared them the enemy of the urban forest and wish that most would disappear.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2006
By TOM RAUM Associated Press Writer
(AP) The war in Iraq has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in the war that President Bush's father fought in, World War II. As of Sunday, the conflict in Iraq has raged for three years and just over eight months.
Only the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years), have engaged America longer.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I spent my Thanksgiving in Redwood Shores, a nice little town next to Redwood City (town motto: Voted Climate Best By Government Test) that also happens to be home to Oracle and some other high tech outfits. That's my uncle, Myles, and I on the left. It was a good time. The atmosphere was very intimate, and this allowed us all to converse freely.
Of course, being in Northern California, and because we are in an election year, politics came up. The subject of Rumsfeld's being charged by a foreign court and the threat of impeachment came up in conversation. Now, every good conversationalist knows that there are two absolute taboos for polite dinner conversation: Religion & Politics. Needless to say, I ignored this rule (and usually I'm so very good at being diplomatic ...) and made a little argument against American citizens being tried in foreign courts. If anything, I conceded, he should be tried here before anywhere else. My dinner companions were generally on board with the idea, though I think some of them saw me as some sort of "Red Stater" isolationist (which, honestly, I kind of am, sans The Red State stuff -- I'm a total Independent (go figure)).
On that note, I'll take a moment to remark on the very odd political climate that is Northern California. Such a liberal place, while still retaining such "hoity-toityness", it seems a real contradiction. My uncle, by the way, is predicting very good things for the country in the next 2 - 4 years, because of the Democratic controlled houses. He is sad that I have grown up under the Republicans. "You've never seen how good it can really be!" He says. Sadly, I am kind of indifferent. I vote, I do what I can in that arena, but then I take my hands off. Because, really, what's the point of getting all steamed up over it? What can I do about things? I realize (and you can call me jaded) that the political machine in American is much, much too large for me to have any direct personal affect on. Or, if that is not the case, well then, I am just kind of lazy. So it goes.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
New lakes had appeared as if by magic in the arid scrublands. Instead of hunting for puddles in the sandstone, she could lead her 100 animals to drink their fill. She would quench her own thirst as well, parting the film on the water's surface with her hands and leaning down to swallow.
Despite the abundant water, an unexpected blessing, her flock failed to thrive. The birthrate dropped, and the few new lambs that did appear had a hard time walking. Some were born without eyes.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
So as of late I have been spending time with a lovely Hungarian lass. Being the chap (read: dork) I am, I try to learn about Hungary, the Hungarian people and culture, maybe even pick up a few words here and there in the language. Now mind you, the first things are easy enough, its just a matter of wikipedia'ing Hungary and spending the time to learn and retain some things. The last thing, the language, well, that's another story. I should tell you as a preface, without too much of an inflated ego, that I was able to master Latin through high school and college, so I can navigate the Romance languages and German without too much turbulence (Portuguese ... eh, not so much). I even know some Japanese and Korean. Hungarian, however, has turned out to be next to impossible. Its like reading Greek (hat tip, Bill).
Without being too dismissive, there are entirely too many "z"s, "c"s, and "j"s in this language. It gets worse: they combine this devilish trio of consonants to form special consonants from time to time. Some lovely examples:
Good night! = Jó éjszakát!
Thank you very much! = Köszönöm szépen!
Would you like to see my stamp collection? = Megnézed a bélyeggyûjteményem?
Yeah, so with that having been said, I do not think that I am going to master the Hungarian language any time soon. At best, I see myself learning some key phrases, butchering them terribly/pronouncing them like a child with a mouth full of candy and generally evoking a light hearted grin from anyone who actually DOES speak Hungarian (read: the girl and her mother). However, there is the "endearment" factor to consider in all of this, and I am banking on that big time.
For anyone interested in the language, this site is a terrific resource.
London, England - One of the world's most successful multinational states, and a key ally of the United States, could in a few months time start to unravel: I mean, of course, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The process will be set in motion if the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) ends up the largest party in the Scottish parliament after elections next May. This is a distinct possibility. The break up of the UK will not be inevitable even if the SNP do dominate the parliament, but it will certainly make the political classes of Britain -- and perhaps of the U.S. and the main EU states too -- think hard about the point and value of the union to them. (Ironically, the elections will come just a matter of days after the 300th anniversary of the creation of modern Britain when the Scottish and English parliaments were merged in 1707.)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Drunk Until Proven Innocent
Published On Tuesday, November 21, 2006 3:55 AM
By PIOTR C. BRZEZINSKI
Admittedly, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a tough group to oppose. It represents the forces of good (mothers) against the bad (drunk drivers). But the group has strayed from its roots. Once upon a time, MADD simply used public awareness to combat drunk driving; now it advocates ineffective authoritarian policies to eliminate all drunk driving.
Aside from the implicit fun of growing new facial hair and sculpting it to ridiculous configurations, there is the family irk factor involved in my scruffy merriment. I am not, by nature, a guy who embraces the holidays. In fact, for the first 16 or so years of my life I spent the holidays alone and well, became accustomed to that. Of course, life changes and now I have all these familial and friendly obligations to fulfill in association with these otherwise arbitrary days. I struggled against this tide for awhile, but last year tried a new tack: I totally got into the holiday spirit. My life was kind of topsy-turvy at the time, so a new approach was warranted. Lo and behold! It made the holidays not so bad. In fact, I rather enjoyed them. The following Spring sucked, but that's another story for another post ...
But yeah -- back to beards. So I now have these familial and friendly obligations (i.e. parties and get-togethers) to attend which means we're more or less in public and/or with relatives that we haven't seen (and won't see again) for a long time. That being said, certain members of my family happen to be a little more "old fashioned" than others. By old fashioned I mean that they think men should not step out of the house in anything less than a shirt and tie, and wearing a beard is only acceptable once you hit 40+ or you are a college Professor (whichever comes first). So my beard is an instant nag magnet to these individuals. A younger, lesser (and cleaner shaven) me might be put off by this, but today's Wes just rolls with it. In fact, I am integrating it as part of my overall theme of embracing the holidays. (Santa theme?) I realize the very juvenile aspect of deriving pleasure from peeving your family, but please recognize that I am growing the beard for my own pleasure and any enjoyment I derive from irritating members of my immediate family with it is secondary to me asserting my individual right over my body. Yeah. Grr! Beards! Stay tuned for interesting stories and perhaps some photos ...
Sunday, November 19, 2006
What a crock that turned out to be.
I rolled up to the OP at about 12, which was a good 10-15 minutes into the game. What was I met with? A sea of Red and Silver! Could it be that this was a HUGE Griz gathering? No. Not at all. Turns out there's this other college team that plays a pretty good game of football, maybe you've heard of them? Ohio State? Yeah, so some OSU alum rented out the whole friggin' bar for the OSU/Michigan game. So instead of seeing my beloved Grizzlies pound the Bobcats from ol' Missoula I instead watched the Buckeyes lay waste to the Wolverines.
I decided to make the best of the situation and went ahead and rooted for the Buckeyes since their colors are pretty similar to the Montana colors (scarlet and silver for USU versus maroon and silver for Montana). At the end of the day my adopted team had won (yay) and my real team did, too (YAY), so that was good twice over. I was a little disappointed in not being able to watch the Griz play, but so it goes. Luckliy, I have some awesome friends who joined in my celebrations, and we welcomed the night in the right mood.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Here's some stats to prep you, along with some useful links (as if you cared):
|The Griz-Cat tradition began in 1897, below are scores from the series over the past years. Currently the Montana Grizzlies lead the series, 65-35-5.|
|n/c = no contest||n/t = no team||* = played twice in same season|
Commentary via the Missoulian (Missoula paper)
Can't Make It, Wanna Watch?
A little joke, via mtpolitics.net:
Mike Kramer passes away and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. God takes him to his heavenly home.
Kramer finds his house to his liking. There is a large yard, manicured to Pythagorean precision. His house is filled with Bobcat memorabilia, and his TV set gets all the Bobcat games.
“Wow!” he exclaims. “This is a great house. Thank you . . . ”
His eyes are then distracted by a much larger house upon the hill.
This house is decked out in maroon and silver. A large flag with the UM logo sits atop a golden flagpole, a gilded fence festooned with Griz banners surrounds the house. Next to this house, Kramer’s looks like a shack.
“What’s the deal with that?” Kramer asks. “How come Hauck’s house is so much nicer than mine?”
“Hauck’s house?” God laughs. “Thats my house.”
Thursday, November 16, 2006
This building is the Hibernia Bank. It is obviously closed, but I think it remains a very majestic structure. I dig the dome in the front of the building. If I'm not mistaken, this building survived the quake of 1906. Pretty neat, living history. I try to imagine what this neighborhood was like at that time. Even amidst slum surroundings today it retains an air of importance and dignity. More Here.
Speaking of depravity, here's what stands across the street from the Hibernia Bank. Lovely place, no? Not quite Vegas, but neon nonetheless.
These other two are just old, dilapidated buildings that caught my eye. I have a pet interest in architecture and physical structures, so old buildings hold an interest for me. The first one here is just closed down. The windows are boarded, and it looks completely abandoned, save for a small corner store on the ground floor. I wonder what it was before? Apartments? Perhaps a hotel? I am always intrigued by the "lives" of old buildings, specifically the people that have passed through them during their existence.
This second building is also abandoned; it looks like it was some type of residential hotel before it landed in its present state. Apparently before it was shut down the owners (or someone) thought it would be fun to remove the furniture from inside the building to the exterior walls. There are chairs, lamps, tables, etc. all attached to the outside of the building, hanging above the street. The semi-lawyer in me frets over the liability issues inherent in such a display, but it does speak to my inner photographer (and blogger!).
Interesting to note about this building is that the entire chunk of it is not being used. In contrast to the preceding picture, where a corner store was still operational on the ground floor, this whole building is boarded up and closed off.
I walked south from the Tenderloin across Market to the SOMA (South Of MArket) neighborhood. I noticed all the new buildings going up "South of the Slot" (as it is sometimes called because of the trolley cars that run down Market on grooves in the street) and saw that the area is undergoing some real changes. I question the notion of "revitalization" as it applies to San Francisco these days. Of course, the pejorative term employed to this process is "gentrification". There's some charm about poorer areas and the unique street culture they produce. Granted, nobody likes crime in their neighborhood, and I'm certainly not making a case for that, but it is sad to think of people being displaced and shuffled out of the city altogether just so that a few condos can be erected.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Skipping work without good reason? You have lots of company.
Unscheduled absenteeism at U.S. companies and organizations has climbed to its highest level since 1999, according to results of a recent nationwide survey of human resource executives in U.S. companies and organizations.
The survey, conducted for CCH by the Harris Interactive consulting firm, put the U.S. absenteeism rate at 2.5 percent in 2006, up from 2.3 percent a year ago and the highest since seven years ago when it was 2.7 percent.
It found that personal illness accounts for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest due to family issues (24 percent), personal needs (18 percent), stress (12 percent) and entitlement mentality (11 percent).
Regardless of the reason, the trend is costly for U.S. companies. CCH, which provides human resources and employment law information and services for businesses, said absenteeism costs some large employers an estimated $850,000 per year in direct payroll costs -- more when factoring in lost productivity, morale and temporary labor costs.
'Organizations are engaged in a tug-of-war for their employees' time,'' said Pamela Wolf, an employment law analyst for CCH. ``With unscheduled absences trending upward, companies need to get a good understanding of why employees are calling in sick at the last minute, what impact this has on other employees who are expected to pick up the slack, as well as the impact it has on customers and anyone else relying on the absent worker.''
PAID LEAVE BANK
The survey found that the use of ''paid leave banks,'' also known as paid time off, are seen as the most effective way for companies to try to reduce unscheduled absences. Paid leave banks provide employees with a bloc of hours to be used for various purposes instead of having to take sick, vacation or personal time.
''Disciplinary action can be effective up to a point, but it can also encourage the wrong behavior if the result is that individuals who are ill come to work sick -- a problem known as presenteeism,'' Wolf said.
Despite higher rates of unscheduled absenteeism overall, CCH said, companies with low morale also have more ill workers showing up for work.
Results were based on an online survey of 326 human resource executives in 47 states from June 28 through July 17. No margin of error was given.
Dodgers may be eyeing Arizona spring home
PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly negotiating with the city of Glendale to relocate their spring training operations from Florida to Arizona.
The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday that the Dodgers would play in a new publicly financed stadium in Glendale that could be shared with the Chicago White Sox, who are thinking of moving their spring operations from Tucson.
The Glendale City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss and potentially act on the plan, according to the newspaper, which said the Dodgers and White Sox must execute formal agreements with the city and possibly a private developer.
The Dodgers would not discuss their plans publicly other than to confirm talks with Glendale over a memorandum of understanding to move to a new stadium. The team will "explore all options," said Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' senior vice president of communications.
The Dodgers have trained in Vero Beach, Fla., since 1948 -- nine years before the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
The team's stadium lease with Indian River County does not expire until 2021. But the Dodgers have the option of opting out of the lease if the team buys the stadium or pays off the county's bonds.
"They are dealing with Arizona because they're a team from the West Coast," said Michael Zito, Indian River County's assistant county administrator who met Dodgers' officials Monday.
The White Sox have trained at $38 million Tucson Electric Park since 1998 and they share that spring facility with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf called Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry on Friday to let him know a proposal to move could be forthcoming.
But Huckleberry said the county has a contract with the White Sox that runs through 2013 and the team must satisfy the county with a replacement team if they opt to leave early.
Meanwhile, the city of Goodyear and the Cleveland Indians also are seeking money from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority to build a $77.5 million spring training stadium.
The state will hold a public hearing Friday to begin considering the Goodyear/Indians' proposal.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Being the lousy cheap skate that I am, instead of actually buying the right to access the internet in any sort of legitimate manner, I steal wireless signal. This, on the one hand, makes me feel like some digital Billy The Kid, surfing the internet through a little mischievousness; on the flip side it means my connection is flaky at best, and drops off from time to time completely. People I chat with have complained to me about being "rude" in that I don't say good bye before I abruptly sign off. Well, folks, there's the reason why. But I apologise anyway, cuz you know I love you anyway.
My favorite program, given my lack of connectivity, is now Kismac. It is awesome blossom and a half. It allows me to see all the networks in my area, and whether or not they are encrypted. The best part, though, is that even this program allows me to collect data and then crack those encytped networks. So eff, you network security peeps. I'm out here, and I'm totally breaking you down. Suckas.
Which brings me to m next point ... shit-tastic internet stuff. Number one on this list is Flash. Eff Flash. Flash is nothing but a crappy gimmick to push ads. It slows down my computer, sucks up bandwidth and even occasionally kills FireFox. All just so that various websites can hock insurance and online dating to me. Don't need either of these services, thank you. Now Eff off.
Speaking of FireFox ... ahh, where to begin? As a Mac user I am initially inclined to use Safari, which is decent, but has some serious interface issues that FireFox solves. The nice thing is that it comes bundled into OSX, is fairly clean and opens things pretty quickly. But, it just doesn't have the functionality of FireFox. FireFox has AdBlock, which is awesome, because I hate advertisements (see infra).