Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Jay: The Sixth Already?
That means it’s Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Or was when he was alive, rather than doing a lively spin in his grave when his name is invoked this year.
Henry is either a great accidental talker or he makes the girls look verbally slow. He’s extroverted and vocal in the first place, and obviously bright, so he may be going in for earlier language. “Hi da da” is pretty surprising, but so is “I did,” which he apparently picked up from Valerie’s “I did it!” as the equivalent of saying “yay!” Totally in context, and not the first time he has clearly said “hi.” Or enthused about seeing me.
I think there’s a post office run in my today. Books, this time, though it would be great if something sold from Deb’s crochet shop first thing and made it a two-fer. So I’ll probably run to the store as well, for a small pack of wipes. Annoyingly, it’s rainy and I still haven’t looked up how to replace the wiper blade online, in a size I can actually read.
With CotC done, I have a rapid succession of money-related things to do. The old big client wants to hire me personally to do some web site updates, which I had suggested because I saw nobody had taken it over. There’s e-mail out to clarify the scope, which will either be adding, removing, and modifying the list of attorneys and their profile pages, or will be that plus adding a news section. If it’s only the former, I may add a static page where the news section belongs. Well, it could entail removing links that imply a news section, come to think of it. We’ll see.
Maybe more at the business site. Ads for the business site, on our various sites. Perhaps an e-mail to people soliciting work.
Already have a second e-mail out to an advertiser, in case the contact isn’t there or my first one didn’t make it there.
Modify the existing resume and create another one. Start posting it online.
There’s more, but no need to list it all here, and some will depend on how other things flow and momentum. Big thing is I don’t have CotC to work on, even if that was a promotional opportunity, and I can run through some other stuff.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I have to finish this edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, which is actually well timed for self-promotion. Thankfully I have a good host for next week, and I hope more will volunteer for subsequent editions. The ones who have done it so far have been great, and seemed at least as happy and enthusiastic as when people hosted at their own blogs. I enjoyed going out and finding items for it, though I wish I’d had more time. Or perhaps not, since there are an awful lot of them.
I need to send some e-mails.
Already did my first checks of OnForce work orders, which appear not to be that frequent, and the domain auction, which promises to go exactly nowhere.
I may do more work on the digital coaching and tech support business site, or at least post at the blog. That also needs to get some promotion across our various sites, probably in the form of a homegrown ad that came to mind yesterday.
Probably yesterday’s list continued, basically, including resume work and posting same here and there and updating LinkedIn and so forth.
Okay, off to more coffee and CotC. The latter is likely to provoke a string of efforts from the list that tie into it being a self-promotion venue.
I could do without such gloomy weather. It looks like it’s 4:00 in the morning.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Jay: That’d Be One Venue-Bursting Family Reunion
All blue eyed people are related? Imagine that! Next thing you know, they’ll be telling us all people are related. Oh wait, a bestselling anonymous author already did, thousands of years ago.
But seriously, it’s fascinating, and akin to the recent news about red hair genetics. 6,000 to 10,000 years isn’t all that long, really.
It’s also fascinating that it’s just one step to get from blue eyes to albino.
At any rate, I’ve always assumed that darker skin and eyes were more the “natural” condition, with lighter being a mutation/adaptation along the line.
Jay: Lightening Up
Apart from any other consideration, like needing money that badly, we’re looking at lightening up on “stuff” by selling some of it off. That way if we do change states (if not spins or flavors), we’ll have less to move, or to shed at the last minute. Whether we move will depend in part on whether RomneyCare or something like it goes national, and on the economics of it all. Obviously we have to bootstrap back up to where we could even think about moving.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking it might be worth offering any given thing in question via the blog(s) first, for “things we’d ship” items.
Thoughts? On the whole ‘selling things off” exercise in general?
We’re looking at Amazon for book sales. eBay seems like something we might prefer to avoid, but we may wind up there. I understand Craigslist might be ideal for larger and more locally targeted items. Then again, it has wild west elements as well. It’s kind of disgusting to look through it at people offering computer work at unsustainable rates that range from below market down to barely above free.
Listing stuff here doesn’t get the traffic it might elsewhere, but it would be satisfying to give our smaller community first crack.
Jay: Yasoft? Microhoo?
Big news this morning: Microsoft bidding big for Yahoo! Not unexpected per se, but landscape shifting.
Erm… let’s see. Just trying to dump what’s interesting and can be typed fast so I can move along.
Today I need to run to the post office to send a package to Australia. Seems like not only will there be more business from there, but also Deb has found a winning focus for her shop. Which you’ve visited, right? See the sidebar. Also need to hit the store. Should try to get outside before the rain hits. Need to put at least one of the new wiper blades on the truck. I seem to recall they were a pain to install last time.
I need to correspond about an upcoming job wiping and reinstalling a computer that’s had way too much trouble for the owner and I would have flattened, or flat out replaced, long ago. Friend of mine doing the support for it free for a friend of his, now lives a few states away so for the hands on they’re paying me. Thought it was going to be a while, but it’s moved up to almost immediately. Which also means I need to review the dump of support correspondence between my friend and Microsoft and Adaptec and be sure I am firm on the situation. Though as much as anything I figure I’m the knowledgeable hands on-site, with my friend doing some of the driving otherwise.
I need to continue the web site updates and flier project. Actually, I should do sample fliers and show them to my landlord, who suggested the concept.
I need to compose another e-mail soliciting work from a few dozen people.
Then there’s another e-mail I need to compose, that could result in money.
Today or tomorrow I’ll want to make a pea soup. My mother and grandmother had a plague of ham bones and already made three in rapid succession, so the basically insisted I take home the one they had in the freezer, plus a bag of peas. That’s thawing in the fridge.
Enough typing. Gotta get rolling.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Woke up way too early, before 5:00, couldn’t get back to sleep. Now I feel like I’ll keel over, at the point when everyone else is about to start waking up.
Our coating of snow yesterday turned into a coastal thing that dumped real snow out there, enough that I may have to go shovel. Or not, since three days of temps are supposed to be 35, 44 and 48.
Made an amazing blueberry pound cake with some frozen blueberries Sadie got from her grandfather. She loves blueberries.
Made bread for the first time ever, with a recipe from my brother that he e-mailed me in 2001, which turns out to be almost identical to the CIA bread recipe I found online to try to determine the amount of sugar to use, as that wasn’t listed. I screwed up the steps at a key point, but still ended up with something about as good as anything we’d buy. When it calls for putting the warm milk mixture in a bowl and then adding flour, it says to put in 2 cups then mix, then add the yeast water. I put in all the flour, then saw what the directions actually said. Decided to cut the yeast into it anyway, and hope for the best. Fudged it with a little warm water to make it mix in better. It rose stubbornly, but it did rise. The loaves ended up perhaps smaller and heavier in texture than they would have. In my travels I learned about skimming versus not skimming the milk to make it fluffier or heavier.
Making bread was easier than I’d expected. I routinely cook things that are more time and trouble than making a couple loaves of bread, so I’ll do it again for sure. I want to figure out what the ingredients cost, versus buying, say, a couple loaves of Italian bread.
I also made chili yesterday, slightly heavier on the beans than usual, but still meaty. The girls devoured it, and in fact gave it preference over the bread, despite having tried and enjoyed tastes of the bread beforehand. I also experimented with giving them glasses of water with supper. They have sippy cups of milk, watered juice, or lemonade all day, but usually have nothing to drink at the table with a meal. Figured it was time for them, especially Sadie, to learn to drink from a regular cup better. She loved it. Valerie, who drinks expertly from a bowl, had, or pretended to have, trouble.
Sadie has also started using big kid toothpaste you have to spit out. For some reason, that resulted in her having me brush the teeth for her, but she wants them to be properly clean and admires them in the mirror afterward.
I think I’ll lay back down after all. I have the can’t stay upright feeling that’s like being sick as much as sleepy.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Jay: Welcome, Blank
The company that owns the hospital where we had all three kids has bought the medical practice we have used for several years, rebranding both with the parent name.
There was once a computer company locally that used the same generic name, so that is what I think of when I see it.
There was no warning. Reportedly 15 of the doctors are leaving for a different practice. In suspiciously close timing with this, our own doctor sent us notices to reschedule every appointment that falls next month. While it’s doubtful he’s leaving, as he practically runs the place, it would appear he’s taking at least two weeks off.
Being insurance outlaws and Just That Broke, the only one we’re actually concerned with rescheduling is the baby’s, as shots are involved. We’ve also been talking about changing doctors, going back and forth between attachment to the one we have, and annoyance. Which is in part due to the increasingly bureaucratic nature of the large practice. Which the merger obviously feeds.
The other day we received patient cards, one for each of us, each under separate cover. That also served as the announcement of the merger.
The cards are blank.
They are for accessing medical records for each of us, so any office or hospital in their network of them can identify us and pull up our records. Presumably they contain an embedded RFID chip or something, which made me entertain “let’s put Mr. Hamster in the microwave” thoughts.
But they’re blank. Five cards to keep track of, and they have no way for us to identify which is which without working out a way to label them ourselves.
That just seems weird, after going to all that trouble to make everything electronic and theoretically efficient, and to issue the cards.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Jay: What a Gas
So now I remember…
In my travels yesterday, I stopped to fill the tank on the truck. For which I also bought wiper blades, as one is shredding. Mounting them is another thing to be done today.
Middleboro has an incredibly stupid regulation, as I’ve mentioned before, whereby all cars must pull through the gas pumps in the same direction. At least at self-serve stations. That means 90% of the gas gets sold on one side of the pump, and there can be a line, while the other side stands vacant.
I’d been thinking that the hoses are pretty long, and all the more likely to be so to counteract the regulatory nonsense. I’d been thinking the truck isn’t that wide, and the bed is lower than the roof of a typical car. So I’d been thinking that I ought to be able to pump wrong-sided.
I tried it. Their hoses are amazingly short. It was all I could do to reach. Then the funny angle apparently disabled the automatic shutoff, so I ended up with gas splurting out all over my hand and onto my shoe. Doh! Of the $41.79 to fill it, probably it should have stopped not later than $41. Yay.
Lesson learned. I use the other side every time, even if it means waiting in line.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Jay: Twenty Years
I just realized yesterday the significance of when in time I am.
It was twenty years ago that college had delivered me into an economy that didn’t want me.
December 16, 1987 was the date when I had my last final of my last class ever in college. It just happened to be MA 318, “quantitative methods for management,” a math class specifically for management science majors, with prerequisites of the other three required math classes in calculus and statistics. Turned out none of the prerequisite math was actually needed for the capstone math class.
That math class also stands out because I befriended a girl named Barbara Princiotta, who picked me out to buddy with for stuff like sharing notes if one of us wasn’t there. I ended up loaning her my tests from cost accounting, in which I had a 96 average, and never did get them back. Ended up falling out of touch with her, despite having hit it off, having visited her house in Franklin and met her parents, and having gone out for a drink with her and her boyfriend. I believe his name was Keith.
At the time, I was completely disillusioned with accounting. She impressed me with her laser focus on becoming a CPA. She knew precisely what she wanted and was pursuing it doggedly. Another example of being more intelligent than most being cool, but not everything.
It’s interesting, but I’ve digressed from the intended narrative.
I spent most of college working at Christy’s Markets, until I had a meltdown and left that. I’d started a business of sorts in 1986, just before leaving the job, but it ended up half-hearted. That was Solo Services, after the Jay Solo pseudonym/nom de plume a friend came up with in 1985. That was tax preparation, bookkeeping and such. That was not sufficient. While working in the Wareham store, I met a guy who delivered Boston Globes every morning. That’s how I knew to get into that, which was great for finishing college. I later went on to have an interview with that guy’s father, who owned a substantial office supply store that would soon succumb to Staples. The paper delivery guy did sales there and thought of me when they needed a bookkeeper. I wasn’t actually done with school yet, and I thought the pay was too low, reinforced by one of my accounting professors. It was six years later I finally made more than that paltry offer.
The above made me realize that I started businesses in 1986, 1996, and 2006. Funny. Especially since I probably started one in 1976 as well.
I was officially class of 1988, grouped with the rogue February graduates, but able to participate in the spring ceremony if I wanted, which I didn’t, to the dismay of some.
There I was, tumbling unceremoniously out of college like so much laundry down a chute, ready to conquer the world. Or not. 1988.
The theoretical average pay for accounting degrees then was 27k. My income didn’t hit that until 1996. I delivered newspapers, with a little break “to jobhunt full time,” until about May 1990. As far as I was concerned, the economy was dead during that time. What ifs abound, naturally. It would have made sense to take something, anything and start stepping toward something better from that. It would have made sense to look for lower paying work the college degree would land, but that was not accounting-related. It didn’t help that my education was that, so I looked for that, but didn’t really want to do that, but didn’t have anything better in mind.
It was also 1988, I think next month, around the same time as I started blogging in 2003, I got my first PC. I had a TRS80 from 1985 on, but this was a real PC, a 286, so I could learn Lotus 1-2-3 and get a job more easily, and so I could write and do resumes more easily and stuff. Twenty years!
While the objective of getting accounting work by learning relevant software didn’t work, and I didn’t stop worrying about money long enough to focus and write the NGAM or whatever, it set me firmly on the road to geekdom. It was pre-internet, so it really was geekdom, not surfdom. (He types gleefully, amused with his cleverness and wondering how few people will get it.)
Anyway, 1988. It’s kind of a mess. Kind of a blur. Though not as much so as 1989.
I attempted to send out resumes, but wouldn’t send them to Boston or other points too far north or citified. I attempted to muddle through a bit of bookkeeping and tax side work, including some for a guy who always made me uneasy with his glossed-over sleazy aura. He sold insurance, helped people get financial aid, and pretty much whatever else he could. He gave me the immortal advice to go out and buy a new car because getting into debt was a great incentive to go make money.
I ended up doing just that, after an axle broke on the latest old car I was driving. Trouble was, being in debt made no difference, except to make it worse that I might as well have been on an employment blacklist, or so it felt. To the point where I had a nightmare about trying to get in with someone for an interview before a fax could arrive telling them no, I was on The List.
While it makes me nervous that the press and naysayers have talked us into a downturn, aided by the mortgage and realty good-timers and all that, and it makes me nervous to realize the synchronicity between 1988 and 2008, the two aren’t really comparable. If I work half as hard at getting work now as I did then, I could be overwhelmed with options. It’s a dramatically different world. Even spiraling down, the economy is better. Heck, I don’t think it was bad in 1988, not enough to put me so firmly where I ended up had I acted and/or lucked differently. I do think the pep talk about the car was the moral equivalent, only less so, of all the people the past few years who couldn’t understand our not going out and buying a house we couldn’t afford, wouldn’t qualify for without questionable practices all around, at what was obviously the top of the market. While circumstances may keep us from waiting that long, it’s likely to be several years before things normalize. Which is to say, prices and payments required matching available incomes to some rational degree, and no more expectation of relatively short term enrichment.
I lived with my brother from early 1986 until June 1988, just before my niece arrived in July. Followed by my nephew in September, making it a good year in at least a couple ways. After that, almost exactly two years, I lived on the second floor of a house belonging to an elderly friend of my grandmother’s. It was one of those pseudo-apartments, which is also how the house where I grew up was setup, with my grandparents on the second floor. The entrance was shared, but there was a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and a fourth room I used as an office, with the very computer desk I am typing at now. It was surreal, and I will endeavor to avoid any situation like it again. The woman was in the process of dying of cancer, and even aside from that could be kind of random. It was cheap; kind of the opposite of the new car thing, where I didn’t risk being homeless through lack of income, so there was less theoretical urgency. Which made it as bad as it was good, at least from one perspective.
During that couple years of job hunting and coasting, I was so thoroughly insulted by one of the recruiting companies, which all seemed snooty at the time, that I still worry about dealing with recruiters, even though that is standard for my skill set. Apart from one instance of a friend sending me to demonstrate to a mainly temp agency that I couldn’t type (especially since it was a typewriter; I was already getting a bit of speed up on a keyboard) , I have never dealt with an outfit like that again. It was weird, being in business and having recruiters contact me from the opposite perspective, wanting to place people.
Yet another “wow, I guess I really do hold grudges” moment, remembering that.
I didn’t get a job of substance, and that just barely, until 1993. 1994 Was a step up, and was the last time I had to look for a job. The people who did the hiring apologized that they couldn’t pay more. To me it was the most I’d ever made, ohmygod, and almost as much as I was theoretically supposed to be able to make in 1988, six years earlier. In retrospect, of course, I realize it was low by at least 20%, and stayed that way for the duration, even when I was making almost 160% of my starting pay. Oh well. It was a great experience I don’t regret at all.
Obviously that can’t happen this time, and while I may have to settle for almost anything, the sum of everything I do has to become adequate and beyond. Writing this has reminded me of another angle I’d thought of writing about recently, but I’ll either save it for its own post or skip it entirely.
Wow. Twenty years. That’s amazing, because it was just a few years ago, you know? Then wow, scary, realizing there’s any kind of similarity, given how bad it was.
(Wow, I started this at 6:59 AM and it’s 3:16 PM now.)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Jay: IT Worker Shortage
Well, it’s promising to know that I am in short supply.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Jay: Neatly Tangled
It’s back, and fixed except lost blogroll links that were in a widget. Those I seem to have recovered, messily, from the SQL file backup of the database. Actually, neat trick; I copied and pasted from the file into an e-mail to Deb and where it converted the URLs to links in among the garbage, they will be easy to pick out.
Deb’s e-mail at that domain works now, too.
Now I need to work on CotC! And snow shoveling, for which I don’t think I have more than another hour of delay. They plowed in the other side of the street, and when ours is plowed in it will be time to at least clear the steps and a walk and the end, even if it’s not that deep. It appears to be deadly wet. We’re in the 4 - 8 zone and it’s supposed to be largely done in about an hour.
Also need to upgrade Dan’s WordPress, but that can wait until later.
Also need to do post-upgrade backups of everything, but that can wait until later.
Dammit, I have to do something more directly monetary this week. Sheesh.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Jay: No Birthdays
The next one I have on record is for our friend Weekend Pundit Deb, during the upcoming week.
Why is Sadie bringing me random coasters as if they are offerings? I don’t think I need to be appeased.
Anyway, it’s been a fun morning so far.
Expression Engine rocks in many ways, and of course backtracked to having a free version. In some ways, WordPress has just caught up with things it can do.
It lacks anything like Akismet, for comment spam. It attracts little comment spam, and the spam must be entered manually. Usually it’s not there more than a few minutes before we delete it, and there are perhaps a few per week. Which makes it about the same as what gets past Akismet on the WordPress blogs.
Early this morning we got slammed with 24 spam comments from China, some coming in even as I was deleting the others. I ended up deleting them by IP address, to be efficient. Then I blocked the IP address. Then another IP address submitted a few more. Blocking the second IP address brought it to a halt. Still, it was disturbing. Not sure what set them off.
Last night I got some of the WordPress sites upgraded to the latest edition, after finding there was a security hole along the way that could allow them to insert links into a WordPress blogroll. Still have to do Bizosphere after I post this.
CotC is the gorilla on the agenda today. I need to go through the entries. Ideally I need to go find some host picks in the spirit of the new format. I wanted to write the post about blog carnivals being dead before now, but it remains a couple paragraphs, days old, in my offline editor.
Anywho, to work I go for a while, then lunch of fried mashed potato, with scrambled eggs for me and the girls, leftover scrambled hamburger in sour cream gravy for Deb. Maybe some leftover butternut for Henry. Then back to work, mainly on CotC-related stuff, perhaps a post or two of kid pics thrown in here this afternoon.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Jay: Trip On the Reality Bucket
I wasn’t sure how I would use it. Reality TV blogging? A new personal blog? Well, it went into our collection of cool domain names for future reference.
A while back, we decided to set it up as a “let it all hang out” political, and perhaps cultural context, place to do our “joke ‘em if they can’t take a...” blogging. People could simply choose not to go there and read, and it would keep what we really think out from among the pictures of the kids and general inanity.
For that we decided to use RealityBucket.
We also decided to open the place to people who might want to unload sometimes, be they bloggers already or not, and be they like us, nearly straight up libertarians (with anarcho- tendencies in the ideal and realist- tendencies in the actual), left leaners, right leaners, horizontally prone, whatever. After all, in truth few people don’t lean at least 51% libertarian, making them more with us than against us, and everyone sooner or later faces reality as it is. It can be a chilly high dive, into the Reality Bucket.
We decided to use our known identities. Family? Yeah, you. We don’t want to feel oppressed, so think whatever you want about what we post there, but if you disagree that vehemently, go quietly on your way and avoid the place. That applies to RL and online friends, too.
There are a few people already with accounts there, mostly under aliases.
If you would like to post there, as yourself or under an alias, let me know at jay @ this domain. Perhaps you don’t “do” political blogging, but sometimes feel like ranting and it’s pent up so not to offend your normal readers. Or even the abnormal ones. Perhaps you don’t blog at all, but would like an outlet, however infrequent.
I will need to know who you are and how you want to be known on the blog, and I will need an e-mail address to associate with your account via a forwarder (or directly). If you are known as, say, Gandalf at RB, I will create an address gandalf @ the realitybucket.com domain, which will forward to the address you choose (or I’ll use the address you supply, if you prefer).
No, you won’t get paid for this. Or you shouldn’t ever count on it.
If we become popular enough to have ad revenue that amounts to more than a pittance that helps justify the hosting and the effort of having the blog, we might seek to share, but we’ll cross that bridge when it spans something.
I, for one, do plan to post there, and have a backlog. That includes intent to toss out individual issue posts, cover my stance, and invite other posters there to chime in on the same topic. Speaking of reality, the other thing that came to mind in connection with such a blog and its name was annoyance with sound bite stances. For instance, the political quizzes are way too “for X, or against it,” when your stance might be that it’s a state issue, not federal, or that you’re for a variant, or that you believe the starting assumption is nonsense and the question should be moot.
So sign up if you will. Read or not, as you will. It could be interesting.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Somehow managed to get sick overnight. You’d think the weather was crazy and the kids made sleep interesting or something.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Jay: You Would Think…
That whacky warm weather would be a grand thing. And it is, when I think of the heating bill, but it’s unsettling, uncomfortable and odd otherwise. We only opened one window for a good chunk of yesterday. We could have used another couple of them open. But then, I found myself thinking that the more heat trapped inside, the longer until the heat ran again.
Yesterday was almost 70. Today is predicted to be 60 for Boston and 62 around here.
Just as well, I suppose. The other day when I walked the kids to the post office there were still humps of icy snow in spots on the sidewalks here and there. Nothing you couldn’t roll over or around, but it still needed a day or three of melting.