Saturday, April 04, 2009

2342 Why some, but not others?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The shootings in Binghamton have received a lot of media attention. The shooter, by the way, was recently laid off by The Company. The theory is that he was upset because his grasp of English was poor, making it difficult to find another job. I'm not surprised at the possibility that The Company brought him in from Pakistan on a work permit, then dumped him.

But that's not what I'm wondering about right now.

I'm wondering why, when articles in US and world newspapers and news sites reporting this incident cite earlier similar mass shootings, they mention the guy who went on a rampage in Alabama last month, and the Virginia Tech incident, and Columbine, and several others, but no one mentions the shootings this past Sunday at a nursing home in North Carolina.

Well, I don't have to wonder why nobody mentions it, because almost nobody knows about it. And that's my question. Why does nobody know? Why was it ignored? You can find reports, but you have to look for them (in contrast to the non-news of levees that DIDN'T break in North Dakota).

I have to wonder what is the basis for media decisions to flood us with some stories, but ignore others.

Is it possible that most of the seven elderly residents and one employee killed, and others wounded, were black, and therefore not worth mention? (I don't know that they are, just something else to wonder about.)

Sorta like when a white child goes missing, the whole country hears about it, but when a black child goes missing, everybody just shrugs.


Update: Others are wondering, too. In his blog, Field Negro points out

The thin coverage the story has received nationwide has been rather astounding. According to, in the 24 hours since news broke about the bloody killing spree, it has received just 180 mentions on cable and network television, combined (i.e. ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and NBC.)

By contrast, the flood that didn't materialize as feared in Fargo, North Dakota, over the weekend received nearly 250 mentions during the same time span. So the flood that didn't happen got more coverage than than the killing rampage that left eight people dead in North Carolina.

Friday, April 03, 2009

2341 Seller Setup Day

Friday, March 3, 2009

I spent almost the whole day exploring options for getting set up as an eBay seller, with PayPal, eBay, a listing template, and a photo host.

I decided to use Auctiva for the template and photos. Auctiva has a selection of like a thousand well-designed templates I can select from, I can upload photos to Auctiva, and they'll allow up to 25 photos in a listing --- and Auctiva is free.

I don't like the Auctiva checkout system. I've had some experience with that as a buyer, but it turns out I can turn that off in my listings.

Now I have to set up a photo area, if I can find an uncluttered spot somewhere in the house, and take some pictures. I'm going to start with the clothes that got packed away when I lost weight, or that I bought online and don't look good on me. I donated most of the weight-loss clothes, but there are things that were hardly or never worn (some even still have tags) that are packed away downstairs.

Oh, and books. I should probably start sorting and selling books. And shoes.

Maybe I should set up some kind of bookkeeping system, too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

2340 Freelance an option?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Michael Totten has posted a link to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a successful freelance writer, who is going to be posting on her website chapters of "The Freelancer’s Survival Guide", a book she is writing.

Anyone who is interested in working for themselves in any field might want to check it out.

2339 Fire control

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In previous years, you could get a (free) burn permit that was good for about two weeks. The fire district wanted permits of limited duration so that they could withhold permits when weather conditions were bad for fires. There's a healthy fine for having a fire without a permit.

When I got the permit today, I was surprised to find that it was valid for a full year. I walked out wondering what that would mean when it got real dry in late summer.

The local fire department is completely volunteer. When I was a member, there were over 200 volunteers. Now it's down to a third or a quarter of that, and they are desperate for people. The town wants to go with professional firefighters, which would mean a good-sized increase in taxes, which has almost no chance of passing a referendum.

It seems to me that if your fire department is understaffed, you'd want to limit outdoor brush burning to only safe times and conditions. So what's with this unlimited burn permission?

The conspiracy theorist that lives in the back of my head is whispering that the town hopes to have a few good fires. Let a few people accidentally burn down a few houses and barns by burning brush in dry or windy conditions. Let the fire spread and threaten more houses and businesses. Let folks see how inadequate our current fire coverage is. That would drum up some support for a pro fire department. It's not like they're targeting anyone - it would be completely the luck of the draw.


2338 I feel so virtuous

Thursday, April 2, 2009
  • To quick shop, for frapp coffee and green tea.
  • To town hall, for burn permit and recycle sticker.
  • To bank, for cash.
  • To gas station, for gas.
  • To grocery store, for potatoes and marshmallows for the bonfire.
  • To hardware store, for plastic drop cloth.
  • To gourmet deli, for spinach and goat cheese salad, and quiche.
  • Wrote a letter to the insurance agent informing him that there have been no changes in my situation, and therefore I do not feel a (sales) meeting is necessary.
  • Paid the medical bills from the IBC scare.
  • Called the radiologists' office to assure them that I DID see the surgeon as recommended and they can stop bugging me.
  • Sorted all the lingerie I've accumulated over the past year into "shockingly revealing", "subtle and sophisticated", "doesn't fit / don't like - to resell".
  • Reduced the mending/tailoring pile by about three inches.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

2337 Chuckle

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Martin Bashir of "Nightline" (who seems to have a British accent) pronounces it "Bahrock O'Bomber". Sounds like a good name for a rapper.

2336 What's the automobile insurance rate in Louisiana?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I just found out that Louisiana has "drive-through daiquiri joints". Yeah. You drive up to the window, place your order for any of a variety of mixed drinks, from daiquiris to Long Island iced tea, and the attendant hands the drink to the driver, yeah, to the driver!, the person who is driving, in a styrofoam cup, with a piece of tape over the straw hole. The tape keeps it legal. That way, it's not an open container. A straw is served on the side.

What do you suppose the purpose of the straw is? I mean, if you're going to take it home, wouldn't you just pop the top off and drink it from the cup? Or pour it into a glass? How naive am I?

The story in the UK Guardian says
A medium sized beaker costs $5.25 (£3.60), and for those who are determined to take drive-through drinking to the ultimate level, a gallon-sized tankard is available for $23. "They're very popular," says the manager.
What's the DWI/DUI arrest rate in LA? Accident rate? Insurance rate?


2335 Bits

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Afghanistan isn't in the news much. I think there's more actual fighting going on there than we realize. Here is a photo essay from those Boston folks.

I thought that the Taliban, when they were running things, forbade the growing of opium poppies, and that's why the farmers were happy to get rid of the Taliban. But captions on some of the photos say that the Taliban is funded by opium.

I don't understand.


My house has been filled for the past three days by the sounds of chain saws. The Hairless Hunk and his assistant have been cleaning up all those trees I lost in the ice storm a few months ago. They'll finish tomorrow or Saturday.

There's a huge bonfire in my front yard (for which I do not have a burn permit). I dug through the pantry for marshmallows, but they were old and hard. Phooey. I'll try to remember to pick up some potatoes and marshmallows tomorrow. (I LOVE potatoes wrapped in foil and baked in a wood fire.)


I had a three-hour lunch with Roman today. I'm glad we're still friends. For the past two years he's been working his way through the local single lady population, and is now dating a woman in Vermont - a five hour drive away. She sounds really nice. I hopes she proves as good as she sounds.


I am the ombudsman for the local Mensa chapter (mediator for disputes in the group). First Woman was reelected president, and Roman had told me about an incident at a dinner two weeks ago, where FW went off on the treasurer, in his opinion completely unreasonably, and the treasurer promptly resigned. The treasurer, by the way, is the one I call "The Ditz". She wasn't exactly reasonable either. Apparently Ditz was unaware that you don't cross, correct, or push FW.

I thought about it for about 50 seconds, and decided that I really don't want to get involved in any disputes that involve FW, and that's looking more and more like it might eventually happen, so I fired off an email to the members of the Board, resigning as 0mbudsman. Yeah, I'm chicken. Read that "About Me" where it says "no stress allowed".

That was two weeks ago, and I have heard nothing. I realize now that I didn't include an "as of" date. Hmmm. National requires that a local group have an 0mbudsman, so I might not be allowed to resign until they find another, and that might be difficult, especially if they make no effort to find another.

I may have to go to the next Board business meeting and resign in person, and I really really really REALLY! don't want to do that.

Damn. If I weren't a life member, I'd be tempted to resign from the group completely for a year or so. That would solve more than one problem. Maybe I can get myself reassigned to the Albany group. From what I've seen, they're more fun, anyway.


I have been getting several calls a day for several weeks now from each of two entities - one that shows on the screen as "Phone-a-thon 866-800-2202", and the other as "Nielson tv rati 813-366-9800". I haven't answered, and I'm wondering how long it will take for them to give up on me.

They seem to know that my recorder picks up on the fifth ring. They let it ring exactly four times, then drop. It's getting to be very annoying, because when the phone rings, I leave wherever I am and whatever I'm doing to go look at the screen. They're going to force me to carry the handset around with me.

Whoever you are, I hate you! And at this point, you really don't want me to answer! You might learn some new words.


Later - Googled the Nielson number. Got this:

According to other people who hate them, they want you to take a tv survey, and they'll KEEP CALLING until you answer, and if you don't agree to take the survey they keep calling until you do. It seems the only way to get rid of them is to tell them, the first time you answer the phone, that you are blind and don't watch tv.

The other number is Ruffalo Cody, a non-profit telemarketing firm based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that is hired by universities, archdioses, healthcare and many others. They never let it ring more than four times.

I also found the FCC site where you can report telemarketers who bug you, and those calls that drive me up a tree - when you answer, there's no one there, known as an "abandoned call". Report them to


Even Later: Boy, I keep finding more information! This on a complaint forum:
"I used to work for RuffaloCODY. What the company does, is make calls for various non-profits. All that is needed for the calls to stop, is for one to answer the phone (wait, for a few seconds after answering), make sure that you know where the call is coming from (ex. WHYY, Geisinger, Univ. of xxxx) and state that you'd like to be removed from the call list. You must make sure that the caller states where they're calling from before saying "Do Not Call", otherwise, you'll be called back. There is a list for each company, and your number is sent to the client as a DNC. It's as simple as answering the phone. The calls persist until one answers. Reporting to the FCC, Attorney General is useless, as what is done is legal."

2334 Conf*cker, more info

For more information on the Conficker worm, go to

If you can't get to that site, ta rah! you are infected. You'll have to go to a non-infected computer to get there and to download the fix.

BTW - That's a Symantec site, and they sell Norton Antivirus, but other well known and respected antivirus products will work as well.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2333 Household Hints, sigh....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Way back when I lived in St. Louis, I was the editor of the New Neighbors' League newsletter (sorta like Welcome Wagon, but with luncheons).

I also wrote a small household hints column.

One spring, I included a gardening hint: "Having trouble differentiating between weeds and flowers in the flower bed? Grasp the suspect plant tightly at the base of the stem and tug. If it stays rooted, it's a weed. If it pulls out, it was a flower."

Believe it or not, at the next luncheon I was accosted at by at least three women who informed me angrily that my "hint" had devastated their flower beds.

They were serious, which I didn't realize until I had laughed and made it worse.

People don't always get my jokes.

I don't always understand how other people's minds work. Or don't work, as the case may be.

2332 Conf*cker

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We've been hearing a lot lately about the Conficker virus (or worm, or whatever). I watched the 60 Minutes story on it this past weekend, and that clip was Kim Komando's Video of the Day today.

She says:
"This 60 Minutes piece is pretty scary. It gives the impression that nothing can be done about Conficker. That’s not the case. It can be blocked, detected and removed. I have a great tip that will tell you how. Be sure to read it."
So I went to her link, and ended up running a free 4.5 hour Windows Live OneCare scan which found a bunch of stuff on my system, but nothing important. There was one piece of minor adware, 317 invalid (i.e. - leftover and unconnected) registry items, and a whopping 1507.5 MB of dead temporary files, all of which OneCare fixed.

So I guess I can be reasonably confident that I don't have Conf*cker. Why the "*"? Because "con" means "with", and I figure they just misspelled the "ficker" part slightly to get the name past parental blocks. The name is descriptive. They're "f*cking with" us.

I've never had a problem with viruses. I don't download music or games. If I find a video that requires a special viewer be downloaded, I skip it. I don't click on links in spam. I don't download attachments on email, no matter who they're from, unless I'm already sure they're safe (sorry, Sister. You forward to me a lot of email with attachments, and I never download or open any of the attachments except the photos from you and the nieces). I have a firewall, and a Firefox dohickey that tells me whether sites are safe or not. I have a virus scanner that automatically updates itself (lately, multiple times a day!) and runs itself a couple times a week. I don't put links in this blog unless I'm fairly confident (as confident as one can be) that they're trustworthy.

Conf*cker is more dangerous than the run-of-the-mill virus, though, because it might have already quietly infected even trusted and secure sites, so you can't even trust Google or Firefox or the Wall Street Journal.

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. Run your scans this evening. Turn your computer off tonight, not just to sleep. Cross your fingers tomorrow. Don't do any online banking or shopping until you hear what Conf*cker might be doing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

2331 I am left candidateless

Monday, March 30, 2009

I vote.

I don't feel I am informed enough on the voting record and intentions of the candidates, and the campaign ads and information is not helpful, so deciding who to vote for is difficult. Voting a straight party ticket is silly and thoughtless. I feel no party loyalties, although in a pinch, I do tend to lean more liberal than conservative --- except when I'm more conservative than liberal.

Even if you do hear the promises, you can't believe them. What a candidate does once in office is frequently quite different from the campaign rhetoric. Sometimes it's because once in office, they are privy to information they didn't have before. Sometimes they just plain told us what we wanted to hear.

Over the years, especially since the mudslinging and negative campaigning began a few decades ago, I have settled on my method for choosing a candidate when all other means fail me.

I vote for the candidate with the least nasty campaign.

I figure that, if nothing else, the campaign style shows the candidate's honesty and integrity. And as far as I'm concerned, honesty and integrity is more important than any history or promises, or anything the opposition says.

When Hillary Clinton went to the cabinet, Kirsten Gillibrand moved from the House to the Senate, and there will be an election to fill her seat in the House.

I can't vote for either of the candidates.

I've never seen a more negative campaign, such bashing, so much distortion, so many appeals to unreasoned emotion. Neither set of ads tell me anything about why I should vote for one or the other, only why I shouldn't vote for the opponent. Ok, I'll take their advice and I won't vote for either. They are both nasty nasty nasty people.

I want a last-minute write-in.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2330 Scary

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The storm is over, so at 11 pm I went outside to get something out of my car. It was very still, quiet, deep dark, and then I heard a strange sound unlike anything I'd ever heard before. It sounded like a long half-scream, half-howl, and it was just down the hill below the back of my house. Maybe a woman, maybe an animal.

That was followed by very loud racket. Very. At first it sounded like maybe a raucous teen party with too loud heavy metal music and a lot of shouting. I walked to the corner of the house, so I could hear it better, and then, clearer, without the house in the way, it sounded more like dogs barking, many many dogs, but not barking so much as yipping. Not a few, either. There had to be at least a dozen of them, all in full voice.

Coyotes? I know we have a lot of them. I've seen them crossing my back yard. I'm not afraid of one healthy coyote (Healthy. Rabid is a different story. I'd be afraid of a rabid mouse!) but a pack is a different story.

They scared me.


Later. I did some reading. Coyotes have several vocalizations. Yipping is how they welcome other members of the pack. And they mate between February and April.

So I was right the first time - it WAS a raucous party. Probably two packs meeting.

2329 Storm of movies

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Major thunderstorm this evening. The electricity has bounced twice in the past hour. Nothing is falling from the sky yet, but there's sure a lot of noise. The cats have gone into hiding.

I didn't do a thing all day today. I discovered a tv channel that has old movies all day, and I got hooked, watched four, followed by 60 Minutes and The Amazing Race. I'm embarrassed to tell you what I watched, but I can say that the Harry Belafonte of the 60's was a better actor than the Sidney Poitier of the same era, and Bobby Darin was surprisingly good in serious dramatic roles.

Oh, and I changed the blog template. If you're reading this as a feed, click on the entry title and go take a look. The only thing I'm a little annoyed by is that the links in the text are coming up pale gray, so they don't show up very well. I used to have them set to pink and underlined, but I can't find anywhere on this template where I can change how links look.