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Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Funny Headlines from March 10th
Today, two headlines really caught my attention. Both were worthy of Jay Leno’s headline segment…too bad he’s off the air.
The first entry is from Indonesia.
This Indonesian House Is for Sale and Comes With a Pond, a Backyard and … a Wife.
Yeah, that’s right buy a house get a wife. When I was single, my New Year’s Resolution for many years was “get a life, get a wife.” Someone finally did me one better. I’m glad some enterprising woman has found a way to prosper in Obama’s economy; however, I think you should get title insurance in case what you find under the burka really belongs there. Actually, she’s not bad. See her photo below. Do you think Obama could try this in Detroit?
And the Beatles said money can’t buy you love.
The second story is from Southern California.
Health Officials Warning Of Incidents Of Ocular Syphilis Along West Coast
Ok, let’s analyze this one. In this news story, doctors are advised to keep an eye out for this rare form of syphilis. Where are people putting their body parts to get this disease…in their eyes? Yeah, I know your momma said it could make you go blind but did she really mean this? Yuck….
“Funny” can mean humorous but it can also mean “peculiar” or “just not right”. This next story certainly meets that definition.
Feds have 6.5M Social Security numbers for people 112 years old, and up
Yes, even though worldwide there are only 35 people aged 112 and older, our government has 6.5 million social security numbers for folks in that age bracket that are currently receiving benefits. Just remember this statistic when you hear a politician talk of the pain that would result in people’s lives if government tried to reduce fraud and waste.
Well at least these articles distract me from the thought of the circular firing squad drill this week-end.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Yet Another CRP Convention—So Who Cares
Freedom in the United States is experiencing a “cascade failure” as even more power is taken from citizens and given to Washington. I don’t think that it’s a matter of folks not caring; it’s that they seem powerless to stand up to the rising tide of evil and lawlessness that is modern politics. What was once the dynamic of the Evil Party versus the Stupid Party has changed into the Evil Party versus the Enabling Party.
In much of modern American politics, Republicans are irrelevant—especially on both Coasts. There is nothing to unite them except they’re not Democrats. As a group, the current crop of office holders stands for nothing and offers less. The Republican Party has forsaken the way shown them by Ronald Reagan and instead created a leadership vacuum within our country. This lack of principled leadership has transformed the Party into a playground for egotistical rich people that want instant political power without earning it. You know the names: Bush, Robertson, Romney, Isa, Munger, Trump, Fiorina, Whitman, etc.
In California, this situation is especially dire. The leadership of the California Republican Party has contented themselves with establishing a top-down organization that is nothing but a “good ‘ole boys club”. They do not care what rank and file party members feel or what is important to them. In fact, regular Republicans are nothing but sheep to be led and a macro group of potential donors.
The CRP waste millions of dollars each election cycle by hiring the most inexperienced and often incompetent people that money can buy. They filter out men and women of integrity with their ineffectiveness. As a group, their paid staff is just as useless as their consultants.
Every two years, this broken political apparatus is thrust upon well-meaning candidates who are then led to their political slaughter while staffers and consultants rape their campaign war-chests. The Party then discards the candidates that loose and promote the weakest staffers to work in Sacramento as their reward for helping to maintain the status quo. Then in two years, they do it again to a new crop of candidates.
In this dystopian political world, they do manage to persuade some to volunteer. However, the number of folks willing to volunteer in campaigns is in rapid decline. Once exposed to campaign dysfunction, many volunteers disappear long before Election Day. Few will return for the next cycle. The shortage of volunteers is regarded not as a symptom of a Party in trouble but “just the way it is”.
The trend of declining Party registration appears irreversible. The folks in power have little incentive to change. The smaller the pool of California Republicans, the bigger fish they become. That the pond is evaporating is beyond their ability to comprehend.
Barring Divine intervention, this generation of leaders and the next few are a lost cause.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Star Wars Commander Mourned
I have played several popular smart phone games over the last three or four years that use a client/server model. Typically, in exchange for some vaguely defined reason, if you log in with Facebook they will sync your saved game somewhere “in the cloud”. Every one of these games has eventually crashed and I have permanently lost all progress in the game.
This model of saving the game somewhere other than my phone is stupid. I want the game saved on my device and I want control over where to save a backup or whether it should be backed up. I also want more than one game save. I want my son to have a saved game that he plays so he can leave daddy’s game alone and vice versa. I also would rather have the backup saved on my One Drive than have to give somebody access to my Facebook account. Also, I want different saves on each of my devices. I don’t want my Windows Phone game to overwrite the one on my Surface tablet—which has happened recently with Tiny Death Star.
Today I woke up to find my last four months of effort on Star Wars Commander gone. I turned on the game today and ended up in the tutorial. I know I can play thru the tutorial and then try logging into Facebook but I know that I will either lose my Surface game or the phone game because both are not going to be backed up. This programming model is too stupid to let me have both saves.
This happened on Tiny Death Star and Ice Age Village. Push an upgrade and break the game. So, I’m done with any games from Game Loft or Disney or anybody else that requires a Facebook login to play.
For any programmers that might read this, this is also why I won’t do any in game purchases. When I can lose the entire game save with no reliable back up, why should I buy the weapon upgrade or game currency? Talk about Vaporware.
So far, only Blizzard has been able to make the client/server model work and they needs huge amounts of hard drive storage on my desktop computer to make it work. I don’t mind a few bugs in a phone or tablet application but when they result in lost games then I won’t be investing time and money in that product.
Monday, December 15, 2014
CRA another Chartering Controversy
The Board of the California Republican Assembly is voting on approval of the formation of the Sutter-Yuba Republican Assembly. While you would think that Board members in northern California would be supporters of growth in the North, this is not universally true. A few malcontents have voiced opposition because they have been denied the opportunity to stand before the Board at a formal meeting and opine about their concerns that having two tiny counties represented in one chapter would be an offense.
Sage wisdom such as this has been put forward to delay the vote:
Not only do the two counties have different elected officials, but they are also distinctive in terms of their demographics, geographies, economies, histories, and politics. – Tom Hudson
Yeah right. Yuba City is in Sutter County and Marysville is in Yuba County across the Feather River Bridge. The towns are about 1,500 feet apart during the rainy season but somehow they are different in terms of “demographics, geographies, economies, histories, and politics”. The only thing they differ on is which has a higher unemployment rate and more folks on government assistance.
Charter Review Chairman, Carl Brickey, fire off a rebuttal to Hudson that reads in part:
1. Sutter County has a population of approximately 93,500. Yuba County has a population of approximately 73,000. This combines for a total population of approximately 166,500. This makes the purposed unit population for the proposed territory is smaller than most other CRA units in the state.
2. The Sutter-Yuba Republican Assembly would be in one Assembly District, one Senate District and one Congressional District.
Hudson has had a spotty track record of interpreting the Bylaws and providing good counsel. Had he been any good at running his parts of the CRA meetings over which he presided, there would have been two or three fewer Board meetings during the last few years. In addition, there is his assertion earlier this year that CRA chapters were not required to have minutes of their meetings even though they are subject to Robert’s Rules of Order and Secretary is a required position. Such comments—which he reportedly still stands by—undermine any credibility that I would like to grant him.
Hudson also says,
I am not permanently opposed to the concept of chartering this combined Sutter-Yuba Republican Assembly. Since we have a Board meeting already scheduled, I do not see any reason to rush into a decision on chartering this new group without a discussion.
It has been discussed at two previous Board meetings where Hudson was in attendance. His objection after a Board vote was called is the first question anyone has raised with Charter Review about this chapter. Unfortunately, this type of grandstanding is typical in CRA. Also the motion on the floor is vote Yes or No not delay; Tom is out of order.
The thing you need to know about Tom is that facts are secondary to him; he gets his way by bluffing. If he can make a statement with enough assertiveness and with enough force, people tend to defer to him because he is an attorney and therefore folks assume he has a superior understanding of the rules. This is not the case. Tom picks which direction that he wishes to push a discussion and then makes assertions of fact –true or not—that move the discussion his way. He knows that he who frames the issue wins the debate.
My advice to Tom and his minions is to allow the group to grow. Anybody that wants to identify themselves as Republicans anywhere in California should be welcome. CRA has booted enough folks out of the group over the last few years why don’t we let some new ones in?
I can’t help but wonder if Tom is setting himself up as the loyal opposition to John Briscoe in preparation for a possible run at the top spot in CRA.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Verizon Disses Windows Phone
Verizon Wireless is having a promotion today to get people to switch to their company. Missing from Connection Day is the Nokia/Microsoft brand. Windows is not on the list either but Blackberry is? This is why I plan to leave Verizon. I want better pricing and more options—they offer neither.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Stuff that Just Ain’t Right
OK, first we had headlines about SUVs attacking people and property and now we have rebellious body parts causing problems. (With Bill Clinton visiting a nearby college today, this remark seems even more appropriate.)
Jose’s finger is reportedly resting comfortably, it is unclear if he is now considered “dismembered”. How the rest of Jose is feeling after the accident is unclear. Presumable the gun is at fault.
This license plate frame was seen yesterday. Oh, in case you were wondering, the driver was in fact a woman.
The commonality of both of these pictures seems to be public education.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Example of Why Govenment is Going Broke
When bureaucrats “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” that’s bad. When that bureaucrat is your boss it’s hell. I had that experience yesterday.
My main task at work is to do collections. This isn’t the typical “cold calling” where some guy in New York or Guatemala calls your house at dinnertime and threatens to remove your kneecaps or repo your car. My job is a lot more low keyed that that. I try to collect money from former California state employees that were over paid for a variety of reasons. Truthfully most of these screw-ups are the result of personnel specialists that don’t know what they are doing or that don’t follow-up from one month to the next resulting in an accumulation of unresolved issues. Government employees usually operate by the “squeaky wheel” method so if it doesn’t make noise then it doesn’t get fixed.
Well my department is hemorrhaging money—especially since it is financed out of the General Fund. Democrats try to defund law enforcement in any form since they believe criminals are not really bad people just socioeconomically disadvantaged. As a result, my department is making an effort to collect money owed to them.
The collection process here is anemic when compared to the private sector. In my department, employees owe millions of dollars due to overpayments. I’m tasked with trying to get about 1 ½ million from headquarters employees. (There are over thirty entities in my department with Headquarters being the largest.) Most of this money is never recovered; in part due to the restrictions placed on us by the government. We cannot go after any retirement money or disability payments—even if the employee owes tens of thousands of dollars. We also are bound by a notification statute—if you are not informed that you were overpaid within three years—the state can never go after you. Another constraint—which was removed two years ago—was that even if you owed the state money and everyone knew it, personnel was prohibited from collecting it from your final check unless you voluntarily allowed them to do so. In other words the standing policy was “bill me later”.
Last year, the collection unit for our department recovered about $120,000. It costs the department about double this amount in wages and benefits just to have my unit on the payroll. This collection recovery figure includes not just our efforts but those of the Franchise Tax Board (intercepting tax returns) and a collection agency acting on our behalf. My recollection is that FTB recovered just over four percent of the collection amount given to them while the collection agency recovered about two percent of the amount turned over to them.
Our collection efforts can only be triggered when two conditions are met: the employee has left state service—not just our department—and the first notification letter was sent within the three year statute. We then follow up with three letters sent at 30 day or longer intervals. Only after all letters are sent can we turn the people over to FTB and the collection agency. Typically this period is a two year cycle—at least on paper. The reality is that I have seen people at FTB for over seven years and similar intervals at the collection agency. Often no money is collected. Some people have been thru the collection cycle two and three times. If we don’t have records of previous collection attempts or they are incomplete then management will make us do the whole thing over again. The presumption is that if we don’t have the records then nothing was ever done. The burden is on the former employees to prove that we have already attempted collection.
Historically, management is reluctant to write-off anything once the collection process is complete. Prior to taking on the responsibility of Headquarters a few months ago, another agency that I had responsibility for had items in collections dating back to 1998—these are still actively in the collection process.
Once that first letter is made, we will periodically hound former employees. Death is not a barrier to our collection efforts. I often sent letters to dead people that read in part, “Should you return to State service, SCO will notify the Department you have reinstated with to pursue collection of your overpayment to CDCR.”
This job is not very difficult once the work is organized. I am confident that I sent more collection letters out last month than the rest of my unit put together. Let’s just say that Rush Limbaugh is not the only guy that shows up to work every day with “half his brain tied behind his back just to make it fair”.
Typically, personnel will not generate one collection letter for everything on an employee’s account but letters are generated individually or in small batches for most items. Occasionally, other items occur after the collection process has begun. We have no control over this process. 30 days after the first letters are generated and sent to the employee, responsibility falls on my unit to continue the collection process.
Yesterday, my supervisor refused to sign the collection letters for two employees because we were missing collection letters for items on their accounts. My reaction was, really? I try to do my best when generating these letters so I took a look at the accounts to see what the issue was. I was incredulous. The amounts necessary to halt collection were thirteen and fifty-nine cents respectively.
Just so you understand what my supervisor was demanding… I was expected to send emails to each personnel specialist instructing them to complete the forms for .13 and .59 cents. The forms were then to be placed in envelopes, stamped and mailed to the employees. A copy of each letter would then need to be scanned and attached in the accounting program with the original filed in the employee’s personnel file. Then I would have to wait for 30 days before continuing collections. Yeah, I know: postage and an envelope cost more than that but this is the government.
As a taxpayer and a human being, this instruction was offensive. Instead, I printed copies of the accounting items and then taped a dime, nickel and two pennies to the item for seventeen cents and the taped two quarters, a nickel and four pennies to the other document for fifty-nine cents and submitted them for deposit. Once the payment is posted I can continue collections on the employees.
I have the satisfaction that I saved the taxpayers a few dollars and denied a few bureaucrats a pyric victory by letting common sense triumph over process.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Isis 1970’s v 2014
When I was a kid, this was the face of Isis.
Today, this is the face of ISIS: Jahadi John
Who in this country thinks a few drone strikes will stop these guys?
Isn’t he wearing the same outfit that they want all women to wear?
How will Obama screw up this threat to civilization?
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Buying a New Car
Buying a new car is not something that I was looking forward to doing; however, the 22 year old daughter finally decided that depending on others to get her around town was not working. As I told the wife many years ago, “As long as mommy will drop everything to taxi her daughter around, she will not be interested in getting a license. Only when she is inconvenienced enough will she be motivated to learn to drive.” Well that day is finally upon us. The daughter is paying a professional instructor to learn to drive. The target for her to get the license was mid-September. I had told the children that they can have my Jeep Liberty whenever they get their license. It is clear the day was at hand so a week and a half before Labor Day, I set out to get a new vehicle for myself. I had not planned to blog on this but I think others can learn from my experiences.
I spent much of my time on the Kelly Blue Book http://www.kbb.com/ website. I also utilized J.D. Powers and YouTube for supplemental information.
My initial parameters were: a price near $22 K and better mileage than the Liberty which gets 13 City & 17 Highway. In addition I wanted something like my wife’s Ford Sync and navigation.
From my research I compiled the following list of vehicles to look at:
Once I had a list, I began to test drive various vehicles. This is where things began to get strange. I am listing my experiences in chronological order.
Elk Grove Ford (Wednesday)
I like my wife’s Ford C-Max both for its mileage and technology. The Ford Sync system is really great. I started at the Ford dealer where we had purchased the C-Max about a year before. I walked on the lot about 90 percent ready to buy a Fiesta or Focus with the Titanium options package. (This is the high end option package and the only one offering both Sync and navigation.) The sales guy that I got was new. You can tell by how he acted and the fact that he was on the lot a 7 p.m. on a weekday which was when I arrived. He could not locate the vehicle that I has seen online prior to visiting their lot—this occurred many times during my visits at various dealerships. The lot was poorly lit and the vehicle that I finally was allowed to sit in had no lock cylinder in the steering column; thus it was not drivable. I left the lot without ever test driving anything. The sales guy said that they had “loss leaders” in the Saturday paper so check there and I might get lucky. Had he shown me what I wanted to see and then let me drive it, I probably would have purchased it that night. I went home and spoke with my wife about the experience and that is when the above list was created.
Elk Grove Kia (Thursday)
The following day after work I went to Elk Grove Kia. The salesman there was nice and knew his product much better than the Ford guys. The test drive was good and the inside was roomy. The Kia Soul also had the options that I was looking for without having to buy their highest end options package. My wife arrived after work and was able to go on a second test drive in the vehicle. Later we looked up the J.D. Powers rating and a video review on the Internet, this car was moved to the top of my list.
Sacramento Hyundai (Friday)
The day after completing the Kia test drive we went to look at the Hyundai Veloster. But first we had to find the dealership. The map on their website was their old location—which they had left about three years ago; however, the physical address was correct and about three miles away. The fact that they couldn’t even update their website was a harbinger of things to come. On paper the Veloster vehicle looked unique and sporty. The three door feature and overall exterior seemed like it was worth a look. The Hyundai is one of several vehicles that I had trouble getting into. When seated behind the wheel, my head hit the roof. I’m only 5’ 10” and this was never an issue in the past. (It was several times during my vehicle search.) The interior dimensions were incredibly small. The manufacturing materials and design quality were poor. The car felt cheaply done. The drive was by far the worst of any vehicle. I’ve run lawnmowers with more horsepower than this car. I had trouble getting the car up to the 45 mph speed limit of the road in front of the dealership. The other turn-off we found out about Hyundai is that their navigation system is not free; it is one of several subscription services that you must have to keep things working. They have a service comparable to GM’s OnStar which also requires a subscription.
Elk Grove Honda
We fled the Hyundai dealer for another trip to the Elk Grove Auto Mall. We then visited the Honda dealership. The Fit was much smaller than Kia’s Soul. It also had a small engine and noticeably less power. Once seated in this car, I also hit my head on the roof of the car. A seat adjustment was able to correct this somewhat but one would think the sale folks would stage the car so this is not even an issue for buyers. The sales guy did a good job of demonstrating the various configurations of storage in the Fit; however, the part about the passenger seat lying flat so you could sleep in the car was a feature only unsupervised teenagers would enjoy to the fullest. (To do this the headrest was not attached but laying behind the seat.) The Honda dealer was the first of several that we encountered that would not sell us the vehicle at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. On a separate piece of paper right next to the factory label was another label with options added by the dealership. We were told that all vehicles sold by the dealer included these options. The options were not necessary and added several thousand dollars to the sales price. The entertainment/navigation system was very Apple centric and the video display was very small. The salesman was nice but their business model of additional mark-ups and Apple centric cars were a turnoff.
Elk Grove Nissan
Again, going to a dealership after sunset proved to be a surreal experience. This time my wife and I were greeted by the Wonder Twins. We were interested in seeing the Nissan Juke. We were greeted by a female who asked if we wanted sales or service. We were directed to a male sales person. The young girl that had greeted us was also trying to help us. We told them what we were interested in which was 2014 with rebate, navigation, etc. We were directed to a 2013 model Juke; there were no 2014s on the lot and 2015 models had not arrived yet. We test drove this vehicle only to find out afterwards that it was not even a front-wheel drive—which is what we asked for—but an all-wheel drive. So after doing all the research online and telling the sales folks what we were wanting to see, we were shown the wrong model year, with the wrong transmission and the wrong features. As we were experiencing this Nissan dealership, I kept whispering to my wife that this was the automobile equivalent of Hotel Hell. These folks could use the intervention of Gordon Ramsey or Mike Holmes to turn this place around. Dysfunction Junction should be the address of this dealership.
Roseville Auto Maul (Saturday)
On Saturday morning, my wife got up about 6 A.M. and for the first time in our eleven year marriage; she bought a copy of the Sacramento Bee…just to see the auto ads. Elk Grove Ford did have some “loss leader” cars as I was told, with a few offered with “one at this price” disclaimer, but none had the features that I was looking for. We decided to see what we could find at the Roseville Auto Mall. We ate breakfast and piled into the car with our nine year old and drove up to Roseville. We found the Kia dealer on the car’s map; however, trying to get into the auto mall was our first challenge. We headed down Lead Hill Rd and ended-up doing a complete circle around the whole area before finding the entrance—there is only one way in and out of the Mall.
Roseville Mitsubishi Kia
We went first to the Kia dealership to see a Soul with the features were looking for; namely, an Exclaim with sun roof and upgraded stereo package with navigation but NO leather seats. We actually test drove two different Souls. The cars on the Kia lot however were not for sale at the manufacturer’s suggested retail (sticker) price because once again there was an additional sticker next to the factory one. The additional sticker said, “Dealer markup” and added almost three thousand dollars to the vehicle price. We asked about the sticker and were told it was for rent, sales commissions and advertising. The implication was Kia was leaving them penniless without the additional money garnered from this markup which by the way Elk Grove Kia does not have on their cars.
We next went to the Nissan dealer to see the Sentra. I actually sat in three different cars at the dealership. The cars on the lot were so packed together that the first ones I looked at were not able to get to the street for a test drive. Like the Hyundai, these were cheap looking and the interiors were not well constructed. All three cars had visible defects in the plastic parts of the interior. The cars were cramped. If I recall correctly my head was hitting the roof or close to doing so. This was not my recollection of my 1980 Sentra that got 48 mpg Highway. As for features, I could duct tape my cell phone to the dash and have a better navigation experience—including screen size—than that offered by Nissan. I was disappointed.
Next we went to the Ford dealer at the Roseville Auto Mall. By the time it was over, this was by far the most miserable experience and biggest waste of time of the entire car shopping adventure. Our visit was in two parts separated by a very nice lunch at the Squeeze Inn in Roseville.
Visit #1 we had a nice sales person who was probably in his 50’s. We initially asked to look at the Focus that I had been denied test driving in Elk Grove several days before. After further examination, the sales guy had us talked into looking at a Fusion. We took the Fusion for a test drive and wow. This car had the best acceleration and smoothest ride of any car I drove. The interior was roomy to boot. It was not equipped as we wanted and did not come with the rebates we had hoped for since it was a 2015 and not a 2014. I had decided my list had been reduced to a Fusion or Soul. Since by now it was lunch time, we agreed to meet after we took a lunch break. When in Roseville, we typically eat at the Squeeze Inn; mostly because they have good food and also because they are right down the street from Fry’s Electronics.
Visit #2 started an hour and a half later with us meeting up with our salesman only to find he was with another customer that had previously made an appointment with him. He briefed another sales guy and handed us off to him. This new sales guy was a kid in his mid-20’s. All this kid had to do was find a 2014 with the features that we wanted and tell us about the great rebates that we knew Ford was offering for the Labor Day holiday and he stood a 95 percent chance of closing the sale. As we talked with him, we learned that he had played football at San Jose State. As badly as he dropped the ball on this sale, I can see why he is no longer playing football. He wandered aimlessly around the lot looking at stickers to find us a 2014 with the features that we asked for. Not once did he consult another sales person or a computer to check inventory. Previously we learned that in addition to this lot they had another one nearby with another 500 cars on it. Not finding the car we wanted, he led us inside the dealership and he and this other guy tried to flip us into considering a used car. In the course of this discussion, they asked us for a twelve thousand dollar down payment knowing full well that we had no car to trade because the old one was going to our college aged daughter. We were repeated insulted and finally walked out. Once they saw us get up to leave, they continued to ignore what we had asked for and offer us other vehicles we were not interested in. Never once did the offer us a 2014 with the features we wanted and furthermore they never offered us any rebates when I know for a fact that the rebates available totaled over $4,500. These guys were abusive and rude. If Yelp does car sales I would give them a zero.
On the way out of Roseville, we called our Kia salesman in Elk Grove. Much to our surprise and delight—in the few days since we has been there—they had received a new car shipment that included a Soul with the Exclaim package and no leather seats. We headed over to the dealer and took it for a test drive. We began filling out papers for purchasing the car. At 5 pm, our credit union’s loan approval folks were all gone and we could not get approved for 2.9 percent as we were promised. The dealer wanted us to complete paperwork for 4.9 percent with the promise that once we were approved we could have the lower rate of 2.9. We rejected the idea of completing the paperwork at the higher interest rate and said we would wait for the credit union’s approval. Shortly after 10 A.M. on Sunday, we got the call that our loan was approved at the 2.9 percent rate. That afternoon we returned to the Kia dealership and finished the paperwork. Finally, on Sunday evening I was able to drive home in a new 2015 Kia Soul.
The Kia Soul is a wonderful vehicle and fun to drive. I have yet to see anything close to the 31 mpg Highway that the EPA puts on the sticker. I’m getting about 24 mpg with the ECO feature on. Oh, Kia did give me a discount for being a veteran—something no one else ever offered me.
I hope that some readers of this blog might learn from my experience.
• Don’t pay more than the sticker price on any new car
• Know when to walk away
• Don’t be pressured or bullied by sales people or their “closers”
• Stick to your budget
• Know what interest rate that you can finance before shopping
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Adobe Acrobat Error 0:104 Fixed
Here’s what I learned at work today.
PC Configuration and Problem Symptoms
PC with Acrobat and Acrobat Reader both installed; Acrobat older version than Reader. In my case Acrobat 9 and Reader 11.
Employee has PDF form that is supposed to be filled-out automatically in web browser. In my instance it was a deposit form from State Treasurer website. When trying to generate deposit slip with numbers from the website, employee gets this error message:
There is a problem with Adobe Acrobat/Reader.
It is running, please exit and try again. (0:104)
It took three hours but the fix is easy. It is in two parts.
1. Registry Edit
a.Run Regedit as Admin
b.Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Software\Adobe\Acrobat\Exe
d.From “C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Acrobat\Adobe.exe” to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Reader11.0\Reader\AdoRD32.exe”
2. Acrobat Reader
a.Open Acrobat Reader
b.Go to Edit > Preferences > Security (Enhanced)
c.Click on Host button
d.Enter website address where form data is coming from (copy and paste from web browser)
Step 1 changes default only for opening documents in web browser from Acrobat to Acrobat Reader. You do not need to change file associations in Control Panel. Step 2 should get rid of security prompt when opening PDF populated with data in the web browser othwise you may need to refresh the page.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Amazon.com Music Cloud Album Confusion
I have been using the Amazon Cloud for music but it has shortcomings that apparently they don’t have any interest in fixing.
• The most obvious is that you can’t edit or reject the album cover that they wish to assign to your music. (See below for examples).
• Secondly, I can find no easy way to distinguish between music sources. Which songs did I buy from them and which did I upload myself?
• Lastly, whatever happened to matching music and letting me get a digital copy that would replace and LP that I ripped myself?
This English “boy band” was a big seller in Europe but this ripped CD clearly has the wrong cover.
Johnny Depp’s short lived singing career is mistaken for The Carpenters! Does Amazon think he looks more like Karen or Richard?
Rod Stewart is two or three decades after the folks listed on this album cover.
Sweet Comfort Band is not Foreigner. Again, this CD purchased in Canada somehow misses the mark.
While the Cornerstone article on Mike Warnke mentions his partying after shows, I don’t think Word ever had this as a draft cover for his comedy LPs.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Red Robin: Faulty Family Fare
I took the family to the local Red Robin restaurant yesterday for dinner. It is the first time in over a year that we have visited them. The experience was unsatisfactory.
We waited twenty minutes for a table—which is not that unusual—even when several tables were not in use. Our waitress was not very good. We never did get napkins or silverware brought to our table—even after food was served. I had to get up and walk over to the food prep area and get them from another employee. Later I had to go back to get mustard for the wife. The food was noticeable smaller portions than it used to be and was not prepared the same way. No attempt was made to garnish the plates or show pride in the food. Also, the “bottomless French fries” weren’t very bottomless when they never brought them out right away and kept the basket full. (Our teenager eats French fries by the handful.) Our $55 outing (for four) was disappointing. Pizza would have been cheaper.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Who Took the Gun to the Lego Movie?
I went to the local theater on Monday to take the boys to the Lego Movie. We were meeting another party there so I bought tickets for all of us. I left the teenager to meet his friends out front while little brother and I went inside to save some seats. (It was clear the early show was filling quickly since it was the President’s Day holiday.)
After securing seats, I called the teenager and told him what great seats we had taken. He then informed me that his friends were on the way with an extra person. He told me he had already tried to get an extra ticket but the show was now sold out. Much to my disappointment, this was a package deal and we all needed to sit together in the same showing; since that was no longer possible, I reluctantly left the theater and proceeded to get a refund for the show.
As my younger son and I stood in line to get the refund, I noticed the kids in front of me pick something up that was on the ground, play with it for a few seconds and then drop it again. I looked at the object on the ground in disbelief. I asked my son to pick it up. I then asked him if it was metal. He replied I think so. I then took it from his hand. It was a large bullet for a powerful pistol. (I later learned that it was likely a 38 Special round.) It was about the diameter of my pinkie finger and the casing was about an inch and ¾ long. The bullet was a concave shape.
After completing my refund, I took the bullet and gave it to a security guy at the theater and then we left.
I believe in the Second Amendment—more even than many Conservatives—but no responsible citizen would be dropping live ammo on the ground for small children to play with. I don’t think the owner of that bullet is responsible enough to be “packin’ heat” in public.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Merry Christmas 2013
For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor , The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9: 6 & 7
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Redefined Soon: Dog is Man’s Best Friend
A few years ago, Paul Shanklin did a parody of a man taking wedding vows with his dog. What was a whitty jab at judges changing the definition of marriage a few years ago has taken several large steps toward reality during the first half of this month.
On Monday, a Federal Judge struck down parts of the anti-polygamy laws in Utah.
A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state’s law banning polygamy, after a lawsuit was brought by the stars of the television reality series “Sister Wives.” The ruling late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law’s section prohibiting “cohabitation,” saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.
Elsewhere, the decision was explained as striking down the polygamy law because the law limited freedom of association in violation of the First Amendment. Kody Brown and his four wives, who gained notoriety in the reality TV show “Sister Wives,” are challenging Utah’s bigamy statute, claiming it is unconstitutional because it violates their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech and freedom of association.
OK, so polygamy is now allowed under the First Amendment as a freedom. However, this decision says that a man can still only have one marriage license.
Those of us who support marriage as being between one man and one woman have been saying that the next domino to fall would be prohibitions on polygamy. Clearly, those floodgates are about to burst if they have not already. To decriminalize polygamy is a de facto judicial approval of the behavior.
Next to follow is why limit such loving arrangements to one man and several women. This clearly is discriminatory. What if a women wants multiple men simultaneously? While it might strike at the financial empires of Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint, clearly this is a reasonable corollary once polygamy is allowed. Soon any random assortment of consenting adults will be allowed to play house however they would like.
While this exponential decay of traditional marriage is underway, a second movement is also in the works. When combined to the above discussion, this get really weird because it opens up the possibility of legalizing bestiality.
I would like to introduce the other cutting edge movement that is gaining momentum on the fringe Left; personhood. No sadly, this has nothing to do with recognizing that all the unborn children aborted each year are baby humans. This also has nothing to do with the ethics of euthanasia. Instead the enlightened members of the Ivy League Left are pushing the recognition of the personhood of sentient animals.
Enter Yale University and the “Personhood Beyond the Human Conference” This event held December 6-8, 2013 was described by organizers as:
This historic event will focus on personhood for nonhuman animals, including great apes, cetaceans, and elephants, and will explore evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law. http://nonhumanrights.net/
The event featured the crazy bioethicist, Peter Singer. Singer is the guy who advocates that children that are born should not be declared “human” until they pass rigorous testing. Those children that fail to measure-up as human should be destroyed. “Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person…” http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/faq.html In short, Singer is the poster child for the eugenics movement of the 21st Century.
Here is another quote from the abstract page of the non-human rights web site. “Legal personhood for animals would symbolize and institutionalize the intrinsic value of animals and, furthermore, offer significant procedural advantages.” - Saskia L. Stucki
Once whales, dolphins, elephants, and apes are made legally equivalent to humans—which is one of the chief goals of the conference—then it won’t be long before Fido is added to the list. Every movement needs a face people can love to sell the idea to the masses, what better poster being for this movement than the family dog. Yes, Lassie and Snoopy will be the gateway pets to proving the personhood of canines to the public.
Once the ideas of the Personhood conference gain traction and are combined with the definitions of marriage (and family) being developed by the courts then it is reasonable that an animal could be included into the definition of a family. To exclude such sentient beings from being equal partners in our families is “Speciesist”. If things continue as they are, the day is coming soon when a dog will truly be man’s best friend.
Here are a few passages from the “Good Book” that come to mind on this topic.
And God said , Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful , and multiply , and replenish the earth, and subdue it : and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1: 26-28
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled : therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants .
Leviticus 18: 23-25.