Ups and Downs of the Week

Verizon – Just dumped our landline connection through our cable company and ported the number over to Verizon. So now we pay $10/mo for a house phone instead of $30. We would have had  it working through our new Bluetooth base and extension phones if it weren’t for…

UPS – Ok, I’ll spot them two days for the weather. But things that were due to be delivered on Tuesday should have been delivered today. Now we have to wait until Monday due to “Emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control.” What a crock of shit. How about Piss Poor Prior Planning. Seems to me UPS should have been able to adjust for a few bad weather days. I used to drive for UPS in Germany. We never seemed to have a problem covering bad weather days. And Fedex delivered today. No excuses for not delivering packages that have been at the local UPS center for three days.

Verizon Mifi – Due to icing and downed power lines, we lost our normal internet connection for three days this week. The Mifi kept us in touch with the outside world.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Three-Day Weekends – I know we just came off the Christmas break, but I really need this long weekend.

Flooding in Australia – Yikes! Talk about serious flooding. Over 3/4 of the state of Queensland (700,000+ sq mi) is flooded. That’s an incredible amount of water.  (As an aside, I love the guy setting his axle locks for four-wheel drive while wrestling with an umbrella. I mean, does it really matter if you get a little wet?)

Tax Hike – Illinois *finally* joined the rest of the US and upped its income tax to a level that might just sustain the government. They failed to raise the tax on cigarettes, though. They also failed to pass legislation to borrow money to pay their immediate debt needs, but that was a two-edged sword to begin with. Maybe not increasing the state’s debt will be a good thing.

Red Sox – I’m so looking forward to this coming season. Papelbon and Ellsbury both went to arbitration today. I think they’re very attractive lures if the right fish comes along. If they stay, all is good. If they get traded for more big-name talent, all is good. Classic win/win.

Arizona Shootings – So many sad stories here. This is what happens when a person with a severe mental illness can walk into a Walmart and buy a gun. I’m ok with 2nd Amendment rights, but let’s at least start doing *real* background checks before we hand out deadly weapons. And what’s with newly elected Senator from Illinois Mark Kirk calling for the death penalty for the shooter? What part of “mentally ill” is beyond his comprehension?  This was a tragedy in every sense of the word, but this Loughner guy is clearly a very sick person. Many people out there knew he needed help but did little. So now we just execute him? Think again, Senator Kirk.

Gabby Giffords – Talk about a combination of strength and luck. One in a million people could survive being shot in the head. But to survive a through-and-through head shot and be sitting up communicating with family in a week? Un-be-lievable. This woman will be back in Congress soon. Maybe her suffering will open some eyes and bring a little decency to the floor. Maybe.

Ups and Downs of 2010

Family – Although we’ve been through some illnesses and injuries, we’re all still healthy and doing ok. There’s a lot to be said for that. Our own family here has grown with the addition of some new cats and kittens. They’re a lot of work, but they’re worth it.

Economy – Despite some positive (and I use that term lightly) indicators, the economy is still in the dumpster and shows few signs of recovering soon. I’m halfway through the third year of a pay freeze, although I am very glad I still have a job. The oil companies and speculators are in the act of committing wholesale robbery again, but the rest of us won’t be seeing an increase in income in the near future.

Red Sox – Another roller coaster season. They did very well considering injuries and such, but they faded badly at the end, mostly due to really poor pitching performances. On the bright side, they’ve picked up Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Bobby Jenks, so 2011 is looking pretty sweet right now. Can’t wait for April.

Patriots – Talk about a surprising season. Most folks had predicted they’d be lucky to have a winning season. Instead they’re leading the NFL. Amazing coaching by Belichick and another banner year for Brady have lifted them to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Amazing.

Miracles – Or maybe just really good planning. Either way, it was the year’s bright spot to see the Chilean miners make it out of that hell hole alive.

Airline Travel – It gets worse and worse. Between the nightmare of getting through TSA’s gauntlet and the continued mismanagement of the airlines themselves, there is no shortage of really pissed off fliers out there.

Technology – Some really cool stuff appeared on the scene this year. Apple and Android led the way with a quantum leap in mobile computing. My personal tech inventory got a boost this year from a very nice 42″ HDTV and new Canon T1i DSLR. Plus I saw most Red Sox games on the new HDTV thanks to my Roku box (although a mini-thumbs down to MLB.TV’s poor service, which almost made the whole deal worthless).

Education – Mine is done. At least the formal part of it. I completed my degree program and was awarded my Master of Science degree on Dec. 20th. So glad that’s behind me.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Done with School – Defended my thesis (CCK) this week, so I’m done. My degree requirements are complete. No more school for me.

Congress – Can it get any worse?

Patriots – Kicked NY Jets to the curb where they belong. Now they need to dominate the Bears to cement their position as the premier NFL team this year.

Red Sox – They finally opened the purse strings and bought some serious talent. I’m really looking forward to next season now. They still need some starting pitchers and mucho bullpen help.

Ramsau Webcam – Caught a ghost family crossing the bridge.

Ramsau Ghosts

US Postal Service – The single worst way to ship anything. My order from NY made it from the shipper in some small town in upstate to Forest Park, IL (Chicagoland) in a day. Somehow 3 days later it still hasn’t made it downstate to my door. Pathetic.

Ups and Downs of the week.

Christkindlmarkt – The annual Christmas markets opened today in Europe. I’d love to be there. A nice hot Glühwein and a tasty bratwurst are perfect while strolling through the market stalls. Doesn’t get any better. Some year we’ll spend Christmas in Europe. Below are live webcams of the markets in Nürnberg and Salzburg. Two of my favorite cities.

Nürnberg Christkindlmarkt

Nürnberg Christkindlmarkt

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt

Black Friday – Always seems to bring out the worst in people right at the time of year when we’re supposed to be seeing the best.

Patriots – They looked shaky at the start against Detroit, but then they turned it around in the 2nd half. Still can’t shake the Jets, though. The Red Sox were in the premium division this year and it appears the Patriots are as well.

Ups and Downs of the week.

Isringhausen BMW – Good to know there are still dealers who will stand behind their products.

Unreliable Contractors – Seems to be the norm for this area. The economy may be in the dumps elsewhere, but around here contractors blow off work so often they must have a ton of it coming in.

Patriots – Best record in the NFL. Randy who?

Spammers – Get a life already. Losers.

Gross Injustice – An Oakland, CA transit cop kneels on a prone suspect, draws his pistol, and shoots the kid in cold blood. The whole thing gets captured on video leaving no doubt as to what happened. And yet he gets a whopping two years, reduced by the time he’s spent behind bars already. Unbelievable.

Ups and Downs of the week.

Texas Rangers – Did I say it would take a miracle? Well, miracles happen. They sent the Yankmees packin’ and they did it at home in Arlington. I’m glad the fans there got to enjoy it. Looked like a great party.

Dosas – My new favorite Indian meal. Very tasty indeed.

Bozo drivers – I’ve seen way more than my share this week. How people can drive in such a clueless state of mind and survive is a mystery.

Willie – We rescued a little male kitten from starving this week. Now he’s quite happy and lots of fun to watch.



Filter Forge Freepacks – Very cool freeware for creating image variations through outstanding filters. This is a modern picture of Rothenburg, Germany made to look like it was taken in the 1930’s.

Old or New?

Ups and Downs of the week.

Mike Lowell – Long one of my favorite players, he’ll be retiring after this season. Lowell is one of those rare pro sports players with no major ego issues and a burning desire to excel all the time even when the bozos in the front office treat him like dirt. The Sox are going to miss him next year.

Politics – Nothing but attack ads tonight during the news. Going to be a long couple of months.

Patriots – They looked like amateurs against the Jets. So one good game and one lousy. Not the best start to the season.

Congress – If they’re stupid enough to have Colbert “testify” in front of them and make them look like jackasses, God help us when something really crucial comes up.

Ups and Downs of the week.

Red Sox – They keep blowing games they should win. Tonight, Mike Cameron, who should just bag the rest of the season and get his surgery, missed a catch in the outfield and blew two great chances at the plate to drive in runs, including a pathetic final at-bat of the game when he watched a pitch right over the center of the plate go by to strike out with bases loaded in a one run game. Sox left 13 men on base. Just pitiful.

Amendments – It’s time to do away with the practice of adding pork barrel amendments to every damn piece of legislation that comes up. Make the bill focus on one thing only. If you want money for something else, start a new bill. Think of the money we’ll save when idiotic, pork barrel expenditures are forced to stand on their own merit (or lack thereof).

Ups and Downs of the week.

Red Sox – Faltering on this West Coast trip, mostly due to poor bullpen pitching. That said, they left the bases loaded three times last night without bringing in a run. And worst of all, Pedroia is hurt and may be out for a while. Still, they’re in 2nd place, so it’s not all bad.

Blame Game – Enough with the useless finger pointing. The disaster in the gulf is now a physics problem and will be solved as such. Finger pointing won’t make it happen any sooner.

Apple iOS4 – Nice update. Couple of big improvements to an already cool system.

Windows 7 64-Bit – A little equal time here. MS has a winner in Windows 7 64-bit. Very fast and still with some way cool features. Just bring plenty of horsepower if you want to play.

Critters – Been busy in the backyard lately.


Little Guy

After dinner swim

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