Archive for the 'Random Rants' Category

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com

Dear Mr. Bezos,

The irony of writing this letter to you on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day is noted, but is not intentional.  I learned two days ago of your donation of $2.5 million to support same-sex marriage initiatives in Washington state.  I considered the idea of ending my affiliation with Amazon in response, but in truth, I like your service, just like I like Starbucks even though I disagree with many of their policies as well.  However, today you committed a fatal error.  You assumed you had your Cloud Drive hook set when you yanked the line.  You are wrong.

I found this email in my inbox today:

Your Account Is Changing

Cloud Player and Cloud Drive are now separate services. Music you previously imported intoCloud Drive will remain in Cloud Drive at its original audio quality, and won’t count toward your Cloud Drive storage limit. Music you import to Cloud Drive in the future will no longer be available in Cloud Player.

You’ve been enjoying a free promotional subscription to Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. After it ends, you will be limited to 250 imported songs in Cloud Player.

Customers who are over that limit and close to expiration receive 30 days to test out our new features. Once you log in, you have 30 days to enjoy your music, everywhere. If you’d like to keep using Cloud Player for free, remove songs from your ‘Imported’ playlist until your library is below the 250 song limit before the 30 days are up. At the end of the 30-day free upgrade, if you have more than 250 imported songs in Cloud Player, you will not be able to play your previously imported music in Cloud Player – but you can start fresh and re-import up to 250 songs. Music you imported before July 24th will remain stored in Cloud Drive.

When you upgrade to Cloud Player Premium for $25 per year, you can import up to 250,000 songs. Upgrade before your promotional subscription ends and get 50 GB of Cloud Drive storage at no additional cost. Learn more.

Mr. Bezos, with all due respect, forget you.  I don’t mind paying money for my Sirius/XM subscription.  But then again, I actually USE my Satellite Radio subscription on a daily basis.  In fact, I don’t know what I’d do on my commute to/from work without FirstWave, Siriusly Sinatra, SEC Play-by-Play, and The Catholic Channel.  I saved my music on the Amazon Cloud Drive so that I could listen to it at work. (My employer’s firewall blocks Sirius/XM, along with almost every other music access website.)  Then when Amazon no longer supported my employer’s dinosaur of a browser that they insist on not upgrading (we can’t download anything, either), I couldn’t even listen to that anymore.  My computer at home is mute due to a driver problem that no one can diagnose, much less fix.  So why the hell would I pay money for a service I can almost never use?

I activated my 30-day free trial, though, just so I can download everything from my Cloud Drive onto my phone (I just installed a 32-gig memory card).  Once that’s done, consider my Cloud Drive account closed.  This doesn’t mean I am cutting Amazon off entirely, however.  I’ll maintain my Amazon account to support my Kindle, but upgrading to a Kindle Fire is no longer the set decision it once was.  In fact, I am going to do some serious research into the Nook Color, for which Barnes and Noble has made several VERY generous discount offers in the past.   Still, that is a decision that requires disposable income, a necessity that the Communist-in-Chief has made an impossibility for wage slaves like me.  But that is a different argument, and not germane to this discussion save for the fact that your demand that I pony up $25 a year to maintain a cloud drive that I almost never use is something to which I am not going to accede.

Meanwhile, I hope you sleep well with the votes you made with your pocketbook.  I know I won’t lose sleep with the votes I have made with mine.  In fact, although my body is weak today, my spirit is soaring.

Sincerely,

>^..^<

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When God Closes a Door….

On my last post, I’d declared that I knew what I wanted…and whom.  Two days after I posted that, though, the “whom” declared that he didn’t know whom he wanted…but he didn’t see it being me.  One thing I’d most appreciated about him was the fact that he could be honest without being brutal.  I won’ t say I wasn’t hurt or disappointed, but I was grateful for the fact that he didn’t string me on or take advantage of my generosity.  In the end, we parted as friends.

Although this guy was the basis in my renewed faith and determination to begin RCIA, ending the relationship with him has not in the least affected my relationship with Christ, or the Church.  I went to the first preliminary class this past week, and it was such a blessing.  My office mate Amy has agreed to be my Sponsor.  She was the first and only one I really considered for the task.  Asking her turned out to be such a blessing.  She had come into the office in a bad mood the day before and had mistaken some information I had put on her desk (I knew she’d want to see it first thing) for me tasking her.  She still felt guilty about her reaction to seeing the info; I had blown it off and forgotten it almost immediately.

The most amazing thing, though, since my last post is on a more personal level.  I certainly didn’t expect to start dating again right away, but the moment I met Bill, we clicked.  He travels all through central and south Texas during the week (oh, yes, I’m jealous–I’d give my eye teeth to have a job that allowed me to travel frequently), and likes to spend his weekends playing his saxophone wherever he can.  Yes, despite my obvious bias, he is that good!  We have so much in common, it’s almost freaky.  Our kids are very close in age (he has 4 to my 3), we both love just about all kinds of music (he just never let his playing  lapse, is all), we enjoy similar activities (allowing for differences in upbringing–his was a blue-collar life in New England; mine is strictly white-collar, Southern suburbia), and both long to travel–the difference is, he gets to.  That might change, though.  We’re talking about taking a trip together in the fall.  We shall see.  I’d love the chance to go, I just know better than to count my chickens before they hatch.  It’s a lot of time between now and the fall, and a lot could change.

Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy the daylights out of this relationship.   Never in my life have I felt freer, more appreciated, or more adored.  I, on the other hand, am giddily overwhelmed by the attention, which I freely admit to eating up.  I just hope he doesn’t think I’m saying I like these things just to impress him.  I’m not, I really do enjoy them!

Stay tuned, Sports Fans.  I’ll keep you updated–both of you.

The Pause that Refreshes

If you remember that ad slogan, too, we are too damn old!

Yesterday was the 1st anniversary of the finalization of my divorce.  Since then, “Independence Day” has taken on a whole new and wonderful meaning for me.  It apparently is becoming a personal tradition to celebrate in a big way by doing a big adventure.  Last year, I spent July 4 weekend in the Oklahoma City area, indulging with some shooty goodness with my good friends Michael and Jenni.  This year, I took off on the 2nd with my friend from work Leslie, her husband Robert, their friend Kim, my boys and two friends of my youngest to go tubing down the Guadalupe river in Gruene, (pronounced “Green”) Texas.  We were later joined by two of Robert’s coworkers, and off we went.

I learned quite a lot on this trip.

1.  Six hours floating on a tube, no matter how pleasant, is Too.  Damn.  Long.

2.  Plan ahead with the car keys.  The tubing rental keeps your keys as collateral.  One, it makes sure they get their tube back.  Two, it makes sure you don’t lose your keys in the river or get them wet (which, in the modern era of automobiling, makes them useless).  If I had realized it, I’d have given my valet key (which can get wet) to my son, and turned in my high-tech set to the attendant.  This would have lessened the impact of #3.

3.  Make sure EVERYONE is clear on the game plan.  We’d all agreed on the 6-hour float.  My youngest and his friends got off at the 3-hour point, which left them stranded at the car (the agreed-upon meeting place) for 4 hours (the 2nd half of the river was so slow that at a couple of times, I was actually going BACKWARDS!) without food, water, or a t-shirt to cover up.

4.  I don’t care if you never burn.  Use sunscreen.  If only I would listen to my own advice.

5.  If you don’t heed #4, vinegar does help to alleviate the pain.  Thanks, Butch and Dorie!  Just remember to keep the vinegar away from the rubber rash.  OUCH!

6.  When you think you have enough beer in your cooler, add more.  You don’t.

7.  If you are a female and tubing alone (I’d gotten separated from the rest of the group shortly after the 3-hour point), you will not suffer for company, especially if you have a floating cooler that looks like a giant fishing bobber.  I got a couple of nibbles along the way, and could’ve snagged a big, loud, drunk Aggie if I’d wanted to.  Yesterday was strictly catch-and-release, though.

I have to admit, though, that my brief encounter with that big, loud, drunk Aggie was what got me to thinking along the remainder of my tubing expedition.  In the conversation, he’d mentioned the last time he was on the Guad, exactly two years earlier.  It got me to thinking of how different my activity was exactly one year earlier, when I was on very dry land, bruising the daylights out of my arm with my .303 Lee Enfield.

It also got me to thinking about how far I’ve come in my life since the divorce.  I’ve bought a house for my parents and me to live in, right on the other side of the Interstate from my son’s school.  He walks there sometimes (via the underpass).  My daughter and granddaughter moved in briefly, then moved back with my son-in-law and seem very happy now.  I’m glad for them, and glad I was in a position to help when times got uncertain.

My eldest is with me now.  He is still adrift, and it pains me greatly to see him without direction.  In a perfect world, I would send him to stay with a good mutual friend a couple of states away whom I think could set him on a solid path.  My friend and his wife just had a baby, though, and I couldn’t make that imposition on them.  Not now.

Most of all, though, the encounter with the drunk Aggie got me to thinking about relationships.  As I said before, I could’ve snagged him if I’d really wanted to.  I’d have had to be stone deaf not to hear and blind not to see the come-on.  The thing was, I didn’t want to.  Y’see, I have a good man in my life now.  A wonderful, giving man.  One I haven’t seen much of the last couple of weeks because he is so giving.  It was beginning to allow room for the demons of self-doubt to creep in and do their undoing.   How many of my readers (both of them) have heard the whispers in your psyche before:  “You can’t keep him.  You’re not good enough.  It won’t last; why do you hang on?”

Then I got to thinking.  He IS a good man.  He is generous to a fault and sweet.  He tells me how much he appreciates what I do.  When I met him, he mentioned that the two major relationships in his life–his marriage and a long-term relationship–were both ended by the other party.  My response then was “I don’t understand how any woman (much less two) could leave you.  Four months later, I still don’t.  In fact, I understand that aspect even less.  I flat-out refuse to go down that path.  It’s not up to me to say what the future holds, but this much I know.  If it does end, it won’t be because of me.  For that, I will be grateful to the loud, drunk Aggie for making me realize what I want in my life…and whom.

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot

In yesterday’s news was yet another arrest of a teacher for sexual misconduct with a student.  This time, it was the sponsor of the DECA program in a section of Austin known for its affluence and athletics.  Quite frankly, I really don’t care that the student was 18 and technically an adult.  Neither does the state, because until the boy (and I DO mean boy) graduates, it’s still a 2nd degree felony, regardless of age.  If this tryst had happened only 3 1/2 weeks later, after graduation, there’d be no story.  It still would have been reprehensible, but not illegal.

I make no secret of the fact that I used to teach.  I also make no secret that a 6-figure salary wouldn’t get me back in a classroom.  Asinine demands of the academics in the ivory towers and hamstrings from having to teach test-taking instead of rational thought have driven out many of the best and brightest from the teaching profession.  I personally know scores of dedicated, brilliant teachers who want permanent jobs, but can’t get work because of petty politics.

But scumbags like Christina McCann get in and stay in long enough to damage not only individual lives but whole communities.  It is a failure of society as a whole and this entire “end justifies the means” mentality.

When I was very young, I watched my dad hard at work in the little house that used to stand outside gate 2 at Sanford Stadium.  It was Dad’s job during the 2nd half of University of Georgia football games to count the money collected at the ticket windows, secure it, and take it under police escort to the Athletic Department before the game ended and traffic choked for the next several hours.

Ticket sales at that time were a cash-only operation, and the large table in that tiny room was literally covered in tills that overflowed with greenbacks.  Dad quickly but methodically sorted the bills, counted them, and bound them in the appropriate sleeve, and put them in the cloth moneybags provided by the bank.

My little eyes, not even in the double-digits when it came to age, widened in fascination at the sight of more cash than I had ever before seen, and rarely seen since.  In my youthful ignorance, I asked my dad what seemed to me to be a reasonable question.  “Daddy, are you ever tempted by all this money?”

My father stopped counting, put down the stack of bills he was working on, looked me straight in the eye, and said lovingly but very firmly, “The day I’m tempted will be the day I quit.”

When Dad did quit a quarter of a century later, it was the lure of his grandchildren, not money, that pulled him away.

Too bad for the entire teaching profession that Christina McCann and her ilk never got that kind of schooling.

I’m B-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-CK!!!

I cannot apologize enough, Sports Fans, for my prolonged absence.  I just looked at my last post–over 8 months ago.  For a self-styled writer, that is unforgivable.  Some of my self-imposed exile was deliberate, some just life getting in the way.  Still, I feel both of my regular readers (OK, all three) deserve an explanation.  Notice I said “explanation.”  There is no excuse.

The deliberate part of my silence was because I was going through a divorce.  Don’t tell me you’re sorry.  I’m not.  It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time.  It’s not that I didn’t try to make my marriage work; I busted my ass and bent over backwards for 24 years trying to make it work.  I sacrificed everything, including a great deal of my soul.  I had my reasons for staying with the ex long after I knew the marriage had become a sham.  When I finally said “enough is enough,” I came to find out I had almost waited too long to end it.  While the divorce was pending, I decided it was best not to air anything in public.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you…, etc.”

Then when it was all over, I was just freakin’ busy.  Work had accelerated to a breakneck pace.  Mom had a cancer scare.  My son spent two weeks in the UK, having the time of his life and falling in love with the city of London.  Although I wasn’t really looking, I met someone wonderful, and am still trying to figure out where that will go.  My mom and dad moved in, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter got their own place, and my good friends Instinct and Intuition moved in for a little while they get settled in nice, sane Redlandia.

That’s the Reader’s Digest version of the last 8 months.  I’m off now to help unload I-squared’s truck and hopefully eke out a few hours with someone special.  I promise not to be gone so long again.

It’s Amazing…

…the lengths I’ll take just to tick someone off!

This one’s for you, Mark!  😀

We Interrupt this Series

Yes, I have an update on my progress with MediFast.  Yes, the news is good.  However, there are more pressing issues weighing on my mind now, and I’ve gotta release it before I go stark, raving mad.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT EXCEL?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My husband thinks Excel’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  When the proverbial gun is put to my head (that’s what it takes for me to use the damn thing; I never go willingly), I’d like to put Excel through the bread slicer.

I’ve tried for 15 years to make heads or tails of Excel.  I can’t.  It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.  Perhaps twice in my lifetime, I have asked Hubby to create a spreadsheet for me.  No matter how complex and demanding my request is, in 10 minutes, he has a spreadsheet that does exactly what I want it to do, tailored to my PhD level of expertise. (Push here, Dummy!)

Today was a “gun to my head” day.  I witnessed something at work today that required an official report be submitted.  Guess what?  The report was a pre-formed Excel document–exactly the wrong format for something comprised only of words!  When I ask Hubby for Excel, it’s because I need to crunch numbers.  When the report is comprised solely of words (okay, you have to use numbers to indicate the time of day, but come on!), wouldn’t common sense dictate using a program named…oh, I don’t know…perhaps…”WORD“?!?

Oops, I almost forgot:  one Tenet of Truth learned earlier this week:

Why is it called “common sense” when it is all too rare?

Well, it turns out that if you access the incident report through the intranet, only one person on the premises can use it at a time; everyone else is locked out.  There were several unrelated “train wrecks” at work today; at least 5 people I know of needed to submit these forms for one reason or another.   So I started composing my report on a Word document with the intention of copying and pasting it onto the official report when it was my turn.

Finally, my turn came, and I copied, pasted, and…the whole text (about 3/4 page) wound up crammed onto one line of the Excel report document.  I called my boss (one of the authorized tech support people in my building) and asked what I should do.  He said “don’t worry about it; when you print it, it’ll come out right.”  Then I had all the info entered and spell-checked, and (based on past experience and the fact that the printer is a good 1/4 mile walk away), I did a “print preview.”  Guess what?  EVERYTHING WAS CRAMMED ON ONE LINE!!!

Well, that’s not really true.  Only the first line and the top half of the letters on the second line appeared.  The remainder of my report was covered up with blank lines on the form!   AAAARGH!  I start calling around, looking for a nearby co-worker who knows something about Excel other than how to cuss at it.  The one person who did was another co-worker trying to fill out the same report.  She was as frustrated as I.

All told, 3/5 of the staff in our department could not carry out a single professional duty the entire afternoon because of the requirement to have this TPS POS Excel document signed, sealed and delivered by the end of the day.  Finally, another intrepid co-worker in my department who was dealing with the same intransigent report form found a back door.  Apparently, the company’s internal home page not only had a link to the form of which none of us were aware, but it had a data-entry page comprised of simple, easy to use text boxes!  You just typed in your info in the appropriate boxes, clicked “enter,” and Presto Change-o!  The blinkin’ Excel report was done perfectly and ready for printing.

The frustrations of the day were legion.  We had to undergo a month of OJT before we could put in our first day on our real job, yet none of us ever knew that this “back door” existed.  Actually, what we were taught to use was the back door complete with creaky hinges, peeling paint, and rusty, torn screens.  What we weren’t told about was the ultra-modern chrome and glass front entry complete with automatic door opener.

All of us said at one time or another “If this had been a Word document, I’d have been done in (15-30-45) minutes.”  Doing this Excel aberration took all of us, working independently over three hours, in which we all had to get someone else to take on our normal duties.  An extremely inefficient use of company time.

I had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for this afternoon at an office 10 minutes away from where I work.  My normal end of the day is 30 minutes before the time I’d set for my appointment–no problem, right?  WRONG!!!  By the time I’d ended this Excel snipe hunt and got to my 109-degree car (that’s downright cool–the last three days were 111 or 112!), I had two minutes.  Wasn’t going to happen.  I was 10 minutes late and my blood pressure was 20 points higher (systolic AND diastolic each) than my last reading at a weigh-in on Monday.  Worst of all is that, as much as this day called for a beer or 12, alcohol is strictly verboten on this diet.  Not even one.  I asked my beer aficionado boss to please have a six-pack for me this weekend.  He said no problem–he’s going golfing tomorrow.  I knew I could count on him!

At least I have the weekend to recover.  I’m optimistic–after all, the way today was, I’ve got nowhere to go but up.


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