September 30, 2006

Walking In the Fall

Whatever else you might say about Massachusetts, one thing that is seldom mentioned is the natural beauty of the area. People who grew up here don't think it's anything special because it isn't dramatic enough. Suffice it to say that they have never been to the midwest or they wouldn't make such rash statements.

Today was a beautiful day - cool, sunny - just the day for a long walk. We took one of our longer routes today. It's 6 miles total (at times it seems like it's up hill both ways). I took my treo and grabbed a bunch of pictures. Sadly I'm not even a good photographer - these were of the point, shoot, pray variety. I can't tell what they look like on the tiny screen of the treo, I can only really see them when I get them on my computer.

The first pictures come at the halfway point. Up til then, I was looking around and taking in the changing leaves and fall flowers. This is from about 1/4 of the way up the side of a long hill. (Yes these are all thumbnails, click to enlarge)

At the top of the hill is a view in the opposite direction of the other picture.

Back at the bottom of the hill is a field. In the first picture you can see just a bit of it - looks like a lawn from up higher. This is surrounded by hills and more trees (yes we live in a forest). Because of the sun in the background, the picture fades out a bit - gives it a soft quality.

This next one, I obviously didn't account for the sunlight, but I think it turned out kinda cool. I was trying to get a picture of the gorgeous purple flowers. It was someone's yard and I didn't want to trespass, so I stood on the road to take the picture.

There are wildflowers growing all over the sides of the road. At one particular spot (the first of the next 4 pictures), there is a short rock wall and then a stream behind that. The stream is mostly overgrown and can't really be seen very well, but it sounds lovely as you walk next to it. Along with the varying colors of leaves everywhere, the next several pictures are those of wildflowers, planted flowers, and some lovely leaves.

The last is one of the roads near our house. The trees aren't fully turning color yet, but they're starting.

All in all a lovely day for a walk.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 12:48 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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September 29, 2006

Do You Play Golf?

I don't. But if you do, you are very likely to want to buy nifty equipment. It seems there is a company out there, that feels the need to keep their product pricing... ummm.... pure. Foreign Object Damage has the low-down.


...Because of the military discounts, Bonaventure Discount Golf in Augusta and Gordon Lakes Golf Course on Fort Gordon no longer receive Ping products...Karsten Manufacturing Corp. of Phoenix, Ariz., which has a registered trademark on the Ping brand, discontinued its Bonaventure and Gordon Lakes accounts in August.

That's right - because of Military discounts, Ping has pulled its products. This is why:

It's something we put in place to protect our brand," said Bill Gates, Ping's director of distribution and associate general counsel.... no exceptions can be made when it comes to shops selling their clubs under the suggested price listed in their agreement ...

A couple of excerpts from Ping's letter to Bonaventure:

Please do not call your field representative regarding the following ... When PING adopted the iFIT Pricing Policy, it unilaterally decided to close accounts that sell a PING product for less than its Blue Column Price. As a result, Account Number 16906 is closed effective immediately.

The entire article is here (registration required)

Ah - well guess that marketing genius strategy will protect their product. Personally, I'm all for protecting it to the point where no one buys it anymore. Quite obviously they are such a "hot" company, they don't need the little people anymore.

Hey Ping - guess what? These are the people who make it possible for your company to exist. They're the ones who make it possible for your business to prosper. They're the ones who keep us safe so we can go out and make money that we can spend on things like golf.

Have a look at how much money they make for performing this service for you.

But, hey, by all means, keep your pricing protected. Make sure you don't let those military people catch a break. I'll do my best to pass this along to everyone I know. We'll try our best to be sure your pricing isn't contaminated by anyone who supports the military. After all, you obviously don't need us. Happy Sales to you.

Hat tip Blackfive.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 11:58 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Contagion!

Yes, the stump of the Bad Example Family Tree is another year older today. Because Grau was kind enough to let everyone know, I just had to get the boy some nice presents.

First we have something every Packer Fan is required to wear all season long, your very own cheesehead hat.

cheesehead.jpg

Not only that, but we have to wrap up that beverage of choice in something to keep it from spilling during those exciting Hail Mary passes...

chesse_wedge_can_holder.jpg

Sadly, the Packers have no Cheerleaders, which means I can't send any your way, but you have Ktreva so I don't think you'll miss them.

Next we have a little something to keep you warm all winter, a few barrels of Jack to put in the basement.

barrelhouse.jpg

Not to mention - this dandy accessory for the kilt

dirk.jpg

We're nearly done, but I do have one last thing. For the next time you decide to let your moustache get hideously long...

moustachewax.jpg

Have a great birthday little stump.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 06:51 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 27, 2006

Attention Munuvians!

In case you don't get over to the Munuviana page very often (or maybe not at all), Sunday is the big moving day.

We will be moving to new servers this Sunday, the 1st of October. I'm working to minimize the downtime, but there will be at least a couple of hours where people might get sent to the old servers instead of the new ones.

Expect there will be some downtime. No matter how well prepared, how much prior work is done (and Pixy has been working on this like crazy), there are always glitches - that's just the way it is. BUT once we're all moved over, things should hum along beautifully. Therefore a little downtime will bring much more stable blogging. YAY!

Posted by: Teresa in Weblogs at 09:48 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 26, 2006

Fun With Email

Today our email server decided to go insane. I was receiving mail just fine - sending wasn't so good. I think everything I sent became multiple copies. Not only that, but as soon as you know you can't send email because there's a problem... that's exactly the time you have the most emails to send. Never fails.

I must say that if I don't respond immediately to something - I'll totally forget about it. Wonky email servers don't help me one bit.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 05:35 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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I Don't Suppose We Could Just See the Football Game

I hear New Orleans won their first game back in the Super Dome last night. If you tried to watch the game though, you would have found none of the announcers were really interested in that, they kept wanting to have profound conversations about New Orleans. (one guesses it was to show what caring sensitive guys they were)

I was a bit ahead of things and managed to tune into part of the pregame show - I immediately changed the channel and watched something else until the game was set to start... 8:30... right? Oh silly me - tuned back over there and they were producing tons of supposedly entertaining graphic artistry. No game yet - tune out for a while as I have zero interest in perfoming musical entertainment cooked up for this big night - I was looking for football.

Somewhere along about 8:50 - the game finally got underway. I tuned back in just in time to see the (probably world famous by now) blocked punt that allowed N.O. to score their first touchdown. At this point, do the announcers talk about the great play and how it was done? NOOOO - we have to talk about what this means to the city of New Orleans, we have to hearken back to the "flood victims" we have to wallow in the drek. Ick - flip the channel.

Come back later, catch the next scoring play - a pass and run into the endzone. When one of the idiots in the booth said something to the effect of "I should have something profound to say at this moment, but I just can't think of anything". I turned off the game for good for the night.

It's a shame because it's nice to see N.O. playing excellent football for once in the history of the franchise. It would be nice to see players doing their thing and doing it well. In other words - a good football game is a pleasure to watch... but...

What I can't stand... the constant harping on Katrina and it's aftermath. All right already! I've got it! They had a hurricane and a flood and things have been bad. This is a football game - not a fund raiser for a city that's already gotten billions in aid and all the attention as Katrina victim number 1 - while the rest of the region gets little to no attention. We KNOW.

Your regular show isn't that fabulous to begin with - so let's go back to talking football during a football game - it would be a novelty I know, but if that Monday night game is any indication of the direction of the show - I won't be watching at all anymore.

Oh - and one last thing ESPN, CBS, and whoever else shows football games - especially in prime time. You have tons of time BEFORE the game starts to introduce the line-up for the night. The coaches have to have it in before the players hit the field. Quit cutting away from the action to show players introducing themselves and where they went to college. For that matter - why does their college matter anyway? Who else in the work world goes out and introduces themselves to the world as "Hi I'm Joe Smith, manager at Big Company, college was UMASS". They aren't in college anymore - they are pros - and this is football. If you want me to tune in - show me the game.

Posted by: Teresa in Sports at 12:55 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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September 25, 2006

Family Day

Today is Family Day and Tammi has requested family stories to celebrate the day.

My kids are now grown and living out on their own, but one thing we always did when they were growing up, was to sit down together for dinner. Well, sometimes my husband didn't make it home in time if he was working late, but at the very least, it was the kids and I having a meal at the same time, at the dinner table in the kitchen.

Just as my son started 7th grade, we moved from one town to another - much better place and bigger house. This meant we often had one of his best friends at our house for the weekend as they now lived 30 miles apart. (they would trade off - so half the time, my son would be down there for the weekend)

One day, after numerous weekends at our house, D (friend of young son) said to me, "do you always eat dinner together?". I looked at him in surprise because I had never expected that question. I said "yes, always"... it never occured to me to do things any other way. He said, "we only have dinner together when we do a family get together".

Now there are a couple of things to note here. First of all, I am not a short order cook. I make a meal, everyone eats the meal. If you don't like the meal... that's too bad, cause I don't do special orders. Plus I want all the mess in one room. Once kids start taking food to their rooms, things get messy very fast, then I have to go clean up the mess and the attendant bugs.

Secondly, D's extended family had frequent get togethers. They are a close knit group even though they are several hours apart. This means they have meals together, it just isn't every night.

I did find it amusing. I guess he figured everyone should be able to nuke their own food and head off in different directions unless it was a special occasion. But since we never even owned a microwave until we moved to the then "new house", I wasn't in the habit of using it for anything other than warming leftovers. Therefore I didn't have the right kind of food for individual "heat and eat".

There weren't ever had any profound discussions around the table that I remember. We probably should have done, but most of the time it was pretty much general conversation - except for my son who was busy eating and didn't have much to say. I don't know that having a daily family meal influenced either of my kids in the matter of substance abuse (which seems to be the point of the officially designated family day). At least until they got to college age, it was my one good chance to catch a glimpse of them during the course of a day, otherwise they would have holed up in their rooms and I'd never even see them.

If they ever have kids, I wonder if they will do the "family meal".

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 07:15 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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September 23, 2006

Fun With Data

Are we surprised to find that...

U.S. Commerce Dept. has lost 1,137 laptops since '01
As many as 249 of them contained some personal data

September 22, 2006 (IDG News Service) -- The U.S. Commerce Department reported that 1,137 laptops have been lost or stolen since 2001, with 249 of them containing some degree of personal data.

The department couldn't determine whose data may have been on the machines, of which 672 belonged to the U.S. Census Bureau. It isn't aware of any data having been used improperly, it said Thursday.

Much depends on what they mean by "some degree of personal data". That could be names only, it could be addresses, it could be other information. One has to wonder if they even know.

The Census Bureau's laptops -- used for collecting census data in the field -- rarely contain data on more than 100 households, and the data can't be accessed by the surveyors, many of whom are temporary, hourly employees, the department said.

However, the Census Bureau also lost 15 handheld computers used to gather survey data. As a result, the department is contacting 558 households. The risk of the data being misused is "extremely low," it said, since the data is encrypted and two passwords are required for access.

The Census data has always bothered me. You can't refuse to answer the questions or you get into legal trouble. Yet, it all goes on computers which are supposedly safe. (yes they still want you to feel things are safe, even after all their recent big news data breaches - aren't they just so cute)

The Census Bureau, like the IRS, appears to be somewhat more careful with the data they collect. But who do they have working for them? I hope they are more careful than this:

Unisys subcontractor arrested in VA computer theft
D.C. man charged with stealing desktop with info on thousands

September 15, 2006 (IDG News Service) -- Authorities have charged a 21-year-old Unisys Corp. subcontractor with stealing a desktop computer with billing information on as many as 38,000 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical patients.

Khalil Abdulla-Raheem of Washington was charged Wednesday with theft of government property. He is the employee of an unnamed company that "provides temporary labor to Unisys," according to a statement released by the VA's Office of Inspector General.

That is all the information we have about this man. The police aren't saying much and not a single news organization took it upon themselves to find out more about him. That shows us how interested the news "reporters" are about data theft. I guess Khalil is lucky he likes to steal computers rather than have public fights with a girlfriend. After all, if they had arrested him for something like hitting a woman, we would know his entire life history from start to finish by now.

Yes, I have all kinds of problems with the government and it's lack of data security. From iffy personel with access to the data all the way to leaving the information open for anyone who wants it. It's a complete mess.

Unfortunately you have to try and move a government that is nearly completely inert and has been for at least 50 years. The bureaucracy is so bloated, it just about takes an act of God to make a single change. (protesters may now swarm Capitol Hill and tell God to stop making the government protect the data) The VA data theft of 26 million names was a nudge.

Let's hope it's enough of a push to inspire all government bureaucrats get things turned around...

Oops - sorry I was daydreaming that bureaucrats even care about stuff like data security. They only care about their jobs. So, how about we start firing people who work in departments where data remains unsecured. If they have to stop everything they're doing and work only on securing data, we'd all be better off. We would also find out how much dead wood there is in the government when no one notices these people aren't doing their jobs.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 07:47 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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September 22, 2006

He Must Be Distracted

Could it be the Fire Ants? Or maybe the Straight White Guy is simply chagrined over his most recent downfall while playing pool.

Whatever the case, I am shocked... shocked I tell you... that Eric missed these wondrous happenings in the world.

Court says $32,000 is too much to fondle bosom

not to mention...

Couples line up for passion in a car on stilts

Eric, my man, we look to you to keep us informed of these things happening in our world! It's a tough job, but someone has to do it, who better than you with your Marine training to get the job done.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 21, 2006

Stupid Lab Tricks

My blog sis Bou recently had to go to the lab and have blood drawn for routine blood tests. It wasn't pretty...

My name was called and my confirmation number asked for. I explained that I forgot it and was met with an icy stare combined with the “you are the 100th stupid person I have dealt with today and it is only 8AM.” I apologized and asked if she could look it up.

At the moment I'm thinking... a VERY nasty letter about this woman's "desk-side manner" and their idiotic appointment system, would be on it's way to her bosses. That remark was completely uncalled for. I don't care what her excuse might be, I don't care what she has to do to work around this, that's her job, to take care of these kinds of issues. Why does she think she was hired? To go through a rote "good morning, have a seat"? This type of behavior should be grounds for firing her. Period.

We all forget stuff, even important stuff, so when we do, we are already feeling pretty stupid ourselves for not having everything together. This woman is taking advantage of the fact that Bou knows she already made a mistake - and she's rubbing her nose in it. I guess to such a moron, she thinks people forget things simply to cause her problems every day.

Oh yeah, I can see every person in that room sat down that morning and said to themselves... "how can I make the lab receptionist's day really bad." That's all I would be thinking about when I went to get blood drawn.

It would seem, that although you can call a central location to make appointments… the women who work in the lab have NO VISIBILITY as to who is scheduled to come that day in addition to the normal Walk-ins. They don’t get an appointment list. So there was no way of knowing.

...

I called, was put on hold for 15 minutes, where the girl informed me that confirmation numbers were the responsibility of the patient and once they were given, they were not recorded in the system.

The woman on the phone told me she could in fact confirm that I did have an appointment, but that was it, so I handed my cell to the hostile woman at the front desk, who spoke to her, realizing I was not up there lying.

This is the fault of whoever developed such a stupid system. And yes, the system itself is at fault here.

First you have a number given out that cannot be confirmed by ANYONE that it actually exists! That in itself is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. If they have no way of knowing what the number is supposed to be - how in the world can they use it? What is to prevent someone who knows the system from creating their own number and using it without making an appointment?

Second, you can not... let me repeat this CAN NOT make it the responsibilty of the patient to keep track of a number given to them over the phone. Why were there "100 stupid people" already that day? Because they built this into the system. The system itself is flawed. Even the best people forget things, don't bring paperwork, lose numbers they should have kept, transpose numbers or mis-hear numbers read to them over the phone.

The fact that their system does NOT keep track (which is an easy thing to do), is the stupid thing. The person who built the system never ever tested it with real live people. There is no possible way you won't have a rate of between 25-50% (if not more) of the patients forgetting to bring their confirmation number with them, losing the number before the appointment, having the wrong number... The fact that anyone running a lab thought this system would work, just shows how out of touch they are with reality!

Last of all, some people cited "confidentiality" claims when commiserating with Bou over this fiasco. This is not a confidentiality issue, it is an extremely flawed appointment process. If they were worried about an imposter walking in and having the test done in Bou's place, that issue would be resolved with a picture ID plus questions, not with a confirmation number. Still, the only bit of confidentiality at this point of the process is the fact that she has the appointment. But it's not a secret from the people at the lab, they would have to have her information to make an appointment. Confidentiality comes in to play for real when the results are sent out. This mess is an appointment issue complete with insurmountable problems caused by the system itself.

All in all, if I were Bou, I'd be writing a scathing letter to the people who run that place. I would also ask the doctor if there was anywhere else I could have my lab work done, because I would not want to give one penny more of my money (or even insurance money) to fund such stupidity.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 06:11 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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