Archive for February, 2005

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

February 28, 2005

Last evening my CPA called to tell me my tax returns were done. He also said he had been trying to e-mail them to me for an hour, but the program they were using to create PDF files had bitten the dust.

I said I knew of a free PDF-generating program that could be downloaded from the net. He said theirs costs $10,000. Per year.

All I can say is, for that price, that program had better vacuum, dust, clean toilets, cater lunches and give back rubs on demand in addition to making PDFs. Even Adobe Acrobat Professional is only $449.

I think I’m in the wrong business.

Wow.

February 27, 2005

City Comforts Blog reminds us that the past was in color. Well, of course it was… but those of us who weren’t around 100 years ago are kind of used to seeing it in black and white, or sepia.

An entry at Wizbang first sent me off looking for 100-year-old color photographs, with a link found at Vodkapundit to a site with color photos from World War I.

And a comment on the Vodkapundit entry by Dean Esmay led me to this site, which in turn led me here, where there are 1902 (that’s the quantity, not the year) color images taken in the last years of Tsarist Russia. Some of the images are better reproduced than others…. Here is just one example:

Utterly fascinating.

An explanation of how the photographs were made can be found in the “comments” section of the Vodkapundit entry, and the gallery page also gives a brief explanation.

(And I suppose if I tried, I could cram even more links into this post.)

Social Security Hokey-Pokey

February 27, 2005

Political Calculations has posted a Social Security Calculator for our consideration.

If you scroll down, you will find plenty of links to other insights and commentary on social security calculations, including Spear Shaker’s take on Schumer’s fuzzy math.

(Hat tip: Patrick Ruffini)

Not A Scam After All

February 23, 2005

A co-worker just got a call, allegedly from her VISA card issuer, saying they suspected fraudulent charges, and they needed to verify some things.

Quite correctly (hey, we don’t hire no dummies here!) she said, “How do I know you’re even VISA?” They gave her a “security department” phone number to call back. Again, quite correctly, she came in and said to me, “What do I do now? How do I know THAT number is for real?”

We went to the website of the issuing bank and found the credit card department phone number (which was not the one she was given) and she called that.

Yes, it was indeed the bank calling, and it seems her VISA card has traveled to Paris and all over the United States without her, spending thousands of dollars, and all since February 17. She has the card in her physical custody, but hardly ever uses it, preferring to use her check card instead.

So I wonder who is traveling the world pretending to be her? Perhaps it’s this lady. She looks enough like my co-worker to be her twin sister.

Update: Later my co-worker said that the credit card issuer sends her zero-balance statements every month. She got to wondering whether someone had stolen the mail out of her non-locking mailbox. I suggested she opt to get her statements online from now on. Even though I have a locking mailbox, I am going to switch all my accounts over to paperless statements. One just can’t be too careful these days.

Drat… :(

February 22, 2005

In the last few days I have devolved from Large Mammal to Marauding Marsupial. Does this mean I have to change my diet? Do Marauding Marsupials need as much caffeine as Large Mammals?

Yesterday we went skating. After a couple of hours I was about ready to quit, but decided to go around one more time. Naturally, that was the time some little kid skidded RIGHT in front of me (if he’d been any closer, he would have been in my skates with me) and the wind from his passage knocked me right flat on my –er, pinkytoe.

Fortunately… the Lexus has heated seats, AKA pinkytoe-warmers, although I will admit my pinkytoe was frozen long before it went splat! on the ice.

After skating, miracle of miracles, the two carloads of us managed to find our way over to the Olive Garden in south San Jose without anybody getting excessively lost.

And the CPA is taking me to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Carmel Valley this evening, after our tax meeting. Are Marauding Marsupials allowed to eat Italian food two days in a row? I guess we’ll find out…

Holy Blooming Wildflowers, Batman!

February 21, 2005

Some of you may know that one of my hobbies is photographing wildflowers. Each year I wait impatiently for the first blooms to put in their appearance.

This year, because of all the rain, they’re getting an early start. In walks around the neighborhood, I noticed that there were a few things already blooming. So over the weekend I decided to go flower-hunting seriously. Saturday, I was all set to go, but it started to rain. So I headed out on Sunday to Fort Ord, the local closed army base, the hind end of which has been turned over for public use with lots and lots of hiking trails. I had only planned to hike about 5 miles, but I got lost on a trail I hadn’t been on before, turned the wrong way (and the map was inaccurate to boot) so by the time I was done, I had hiked a very footsore 6 1/2 miles.

Among the flowers I saw were white fiesta flowers, sun cups, Indian warrior, Indian paintbrush, milk maids, wild cucumber, popcorn flower, miner’s lettuce, filarees, rush-roses just getting ready to open, Fremont’s star lily, monkey flower, ceanothus, manzanita, blue dick, horkelia, Johnny jump-ups, shooting stars, one lone lupine, several unidentified yellow things, fiddlenecks, and everybody’s perennial favorite, baby blue eyes:

Those raindrops are for real. It rained before I got there, and it rained after I left–but it didn’t rain on me.

Here’s one of my other finds. I don’t know its exact species, but it’s in the Indian paintbrush family:

There will be plenty more to come as the season progresses. You have been warned.

Miscellanea

February 17, 2005

Sorry for the light bloggage lately. Been busy, and still trying to shake the dregs of this nasty cold. (Bloggage… sounds like the stuff that comes up when you use a plunger in the drain, right?)

Speaking of drains… I have had quite a little plumbing adventure. It is best summed up in an e-mail I wrote to a company I found on the net:

While searching on the internet to try and find a replacement overflow plate adapter bar, I came across your website, and I wondered if you sell your products to individuals.

Here’s what happened. Last night, while cleaning my tub, I unscrewed the overflow plate to clean underneath it. You can guess what happened. The adapter bar went “plink” and it’s probably halfway to China by now. I stuck a coat hanger down the hole, but that got me nothing but a lot of –well, you don’t want to know what I pulled up, but it wasn’t the adapter bar.

I live in an apartment, and I am way too embarrassed to call the landlord to tell him what I did.

The overflow hole has places for 2 screws. The plate I took off was a 1-screw plate with adapter bar. I went to my local hardware store, and the only thing they had was a 2-screw plate. So I brought it home and tried it, but the screw mounts stick out way too far and the plate will not sit flush against the side of the tub.

So I went hunting online. Apparently, the only thing I can buy via any retail outlet I could find is (a) an overflow plate without an adapter bar, which is exactly what I have now, or (b) an entire kit that includes many more parts than I need.

And then there’s your website. You have a listed part number ***** for a 2 to 1 hole adapter bar. I believe that’s what I need.

So they wrote back and asked if all I needed was the adapter bar, or did I need the plate too. I said just the plate, and did this mean they were willing to sell me one. They said no, we can’t sell to you, but we’ll send you one for free, we don’t usually do this, but we’ll make an exception.

Wow. Now THAT is customer service. If anybody is in the market for wholesale plumbing parts, check with me, and I’ll tell you who these folks are. (They’re located in Carson City, Nevada.)

So the promised part arrived today, via Fed Ex no less. Before going anywhere near the bathtub with it, though, I tied one end of a string to the screw, and the other end to the plate. I really do not want to go through this hokey-pokey again! And voila, I now no longer have a great gaping hole in my bathtub. It is once again neatly covered with the overflow cover plate.

Do you suppose it was my wacky sense of humor that made them willing to send me a free part?

Promises, Promises

February 14, 2005

My CPA just told me that as soon as he gets past a particular legal matter that’s been sucking much of his attention for many months, he will start reading my blog again.

Hey, Mr. CPA. Yeah, I’m talking to you. If you’re reading this, prove it by commenting! Click the link below. I’ll be waiting!

That’s Interesting

February 11, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, for reasons too boring to explain, I had my sister set me up with a screen name on her AOL account.

Since I do not intend to use the account for anything other than getting online via dial-up while traveling (oops, now I have bored y’all), I have not given out the AOL address to anybody, I do not have an AOL profile, and I have not posted the AOL address on any website in any form whatsoever. In other words, I have done everything you’re supposed to do to avoid getting spammed.

Yesterday morning I logged into the account for the first time–and there were 5 spams in the in-box. Now how on earth did THAT happen?

So much for AOL’s much-vaunted anti-spam measures, eh?

Pathetic

February 10, 2005

I’m sick. I’m staying home from work.

You know what’s pathetic? That I am enjoying the opportunity to take a day off!

Back to bed.