Friday, August 29, 2008

good discussion

There's a thought provoking discussion going in the comment section over here:

Monster Hunter Nation -- politics-makes-my-brain-hurt

It's nice to see intelligent people can disagree without insulting each other.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

working class politicians

some nice lil tidbits from
Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. Prior to 1969, Congress did so by enacting stand-alone legislation. From 1789 through 1968, Congress raised its pay 22 times using this procedure. Congressional salaries initially were $1,500. By 1968, they had risen to $30,000. Stand-alone legislation may still be used to raise Member pay, as it was most recently in 1982, 1983, 1989, and 1991, but two other methods — including an automatic annual adjustment procedure and a commission process — are now also available.

Under the annual adjustment procedure, Members are scheduled to receive a 2.8% adjustment in January 2009. Members originally were scheduled to receive a 2.7% increase in January 2008. The increase was revised to 2.5%, resulting in a salary in 2008 of $169,300, to match the percent increase in the base pay of General Schedule (GS) employees. By law, Members may not receive an increase greater than the increase in the base pay of GS employees. Congress voted to deny the scheduled January 2007 adjustment. Members previously received a pay increase (1.9%) in January 2006, increasing their salary to the rate of $165,200.[emphasis mine]
no one ... and I mean NO ONE who makes 169k / year understands the working class American citizen.
Projected January 2009 Member Pay Increase of 2.8%
Under the formula established in the Ethics Reform Act, Members may receive a pay adjustment in January 2009 of 2.8%. This adjustment — if not revised by Congress or constrained by provisions of the Ethics Reform Act related to the pay increase for General Schedule employees — would increase salaries for Members of Congress to $174,000.
now 174,000 - 169,000 = 5,000

on a personal note, their raise will be approximately equal to my income for 6 months.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rookie Evolution & the Buddy System

I don't really have mastery of the gun hobbyist vocabulary yet so I listen more than I talk.

I walked into the local Cabela's a few months back and stood near the gun counter for a while watching and listening. I soaked up a full load of new info and decided I'd take a break to mull over some concepts and ideas, so I strolled up to the deli for a snack. A while later I had all my questions lined up and went back to the gun counter to select a victim. After about 4 questions he got tired of me and passed me off to a coworker with a higher level of newbie skills.

All in all not a bad day. I got 2 cards and some contact info for basic handgun classes, concealed carry instructors & local ranges; some good poop on eye/ear safety (you may shoot different stuff over time, but you'll always need eye and ear protection, so quality gear is a good investment); and the standard allotment of personal preference advice about caliber and ammo.

Being new to the shooter scene is a lot like being in a foreign country. It's hard to put your questions into a form people can understand when you don't have a good working vocabulary of the local lingo. It slows my learning curve that I'm not good with nomenclature; if someone says "I just bought a glock 29", I hear "I just bought a handgun". So a good bit of the info shooters send my way goes right over my head. But I'm learning. Having lotsa free time to do research helps.

Now several months later; I've been to a couple local gun shows, visited online with a couple gun-bloggers, chatted up some of the guys behind the counter at the local ranges and gun shops and managed to spend some $$. But as I'm still not part of the 'in crowd' or a bona fide regular customer, I still get that 'new kid' feeling when I walk into a serious firearm environment.

During my Army years I bounced around a lot and usually there was someone assigned to meet the newbie at the airport and show him the ropes. The buddy system works; adjusting to the new place is waaaay easier with a buddy. I didn't realize how much of a difference it makes until I showed up at a new duty station and there was no assigned buddy. Lucky for me it was west Texas and the first guy I ran into was bored and a vet. Needless to say, when it was my turn to be the assigned buddy, I took the duty seriously.

In the interest of fighting firearm ignorance, and easing first timers into the environment while minimizing the social stress, I thought about the old army buddy system. Wouldn't it be easier if you had a buddy to show you the ropes; range rules, driving directions, how to avoid range rush-hour, someone to introduce you and keep you from making too many of those embarrassing rookie mistakes?

During my web-wanderings I've run across a few bloggers who have open invites for first timers to come out and shoot. Some offering to supply everything; targets, ammo, a variety of firearms, etc.

idea: lets make a list and get all the info in one place.


I started with the handful of volunteer bloggers and an outdated link list I found where someone had already started the same project. I sent out a few emails and the replies started coming back. I added a MENTOR section to my sidebar and replied with vague promises of future creativity and sophistication for the upcoming versions.

I was hoping for a dozen; so far I have more than half that and it's only been a couple weeks. If I can keep up with it we might have something. I suspect a great number of the anti-gunners are motivated by fear of the unknown. If we can educate them 1 at a time by making sure their initial experience is fun and informative and SAFE; we stand a chance.

I've seen people get turned off by bad initial experiences with dogs, motorcycles, sushi, and half a dozen other things. I hope we can make your first range visit a good one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

it figures .....

if you page down you can see a really super happy sugar coated yummy review of the Apple Tech support service

I called them today about a couple small issues with the latest software update and a guy named Mohamed picked up the phone ......


not allowed to be good ?

from ESPN
9-year-old boy told he's too good to pitch

no kid left behind was bad enough, now you're not allowed to excel ?

Give. Me. A. Break.

Words fail me. My brain is stuck on the fact some people think this is right.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

apple a day...

I recently took the plunge and bought a cell phone. Not just any cell phone, I went full out and got the I-Phone. I-Phone is the Leatherman of phones imho.

**Note: at the time of my purchase the I-Phone came bundled with AT&T phone plan. No optional providers.

I got:
-alarm clock with multiple alarms
-portable internet/maps/weather
-remote email/addressbook
-rollover minutes

ok, ok. Other brands will do some of that stuff too. Plus, the 'jack of all trades master of none' rule applies to things like the camera which doesn't really dazzle a true photographer; but it meets MY needs pretty well.

Blissful harmony for about 10 days. ATTN: I-Phone is not gravity or impact resistant.
Much sadness.

I-Phone #2 was not from this reality. It was from our ANTI-REALITY. Everything #1 did #2 didn't do.
Sadness x2

#3 fell someplace in the middle. I got it after a trip acrooooooosssss the metro area to the only Apple store around. It didn't cost me anything; they tested #2 and handed me #3 after about an hour.

About 3 weeks ago #3's battery went T-U (military term) and decided not to hold a charge.
sigh, additional sadness, and I picked up the land-line to call support once again.

**Note: I spout off about what I think or believe a lot. I try to keep my mouth shut when the topic is something I don't know well. I have worked tech support, in person, over the counter, over the phone, via chat, for the military, for civilians. I know a bit about good tech support and bad tech support.

So far, I can complain about the consistency of the product (I-phone).
I can complain (and did, loudly and often) about the local AT&T store that sold me the original product and accessories.
I can complain about AT&T customer service, phone support, billing, website etc.
I can complain about the line at the local Apple store and the traffic to and from said store.

However, Apple tech/phone/customer service support is FREAKIN' AWESOME!
I'm never on hold more than a few minutes. By 'few' I mean a SINGLE DIGIT number.
I always get a REAL PERSON.
I always get someone who speaks ENGLISH and if they have any accent at all its an accent FROM THE USA.
I don't get treated like I'm an idiot.
They talk WITH you instead of AT you.
I have changed phones 3 times and have had ZERO data loss.
I could go on, but I don't want to gush at a level that destroys credibility.

btw, #4 is on site and working well.
total down time:
7/31 1150pm (2350 if you prefer) -- 15 min phone call
8/1 am -- Fed Ex shipping box delivery attempt (I was at the doc so I missed it)
8/4 am -- Fed Ex shipping box arrived
8/6 -- packed up #3 / applied label / dropped at Fed Ex shipping center
8/7 7:15 am -- email notification of #3's arrival at service center
8/7 5pm (yeah, same day) -- email notification #4 packed and issued a shipping # by Fed Ex.
8/8 #4 in hand. (no charge)
**hats off to Fed Ex, I think the package spent more time on my desk than it did in their trucks.

8 days. Including:1 Saturday, 1 Sunday and the 3 days I farted around packing up #3. that's unreal.

oh yeah, and Apple called AT&T .. got my monthy phone bill pro-rated for the outage time....