Month: December 2011

Light My Fire!

The Amazon Kindle Fire is my favorite Christmas present. It is all as advertised, and more. It is a book reader, and a web surfer. It is not a great pad computer like the iPad, but costs hundreds of dollars less than an Apple iPad.

My Kindle Fire is exactly what I wanted. I did not want another computer to carry around. I already have a nice laptop, and neither the iPad or Fire can do what the laptop does. Both the iPad and Fire are entertainment devices, but the primary purpose of the Fire is as a Kindle book reader. Like the iPad, you can also subscribe to magazines, and watch streaming videos, and take care of your email. But, with my laptop I can do actual work for which the iPad and Fire were not designed.

The neat thing about the Fire is that you have immediate access to your Amazon account, and can rent or purchase content from Amazon, or get free streaming movies, too.

Don’t worry about running out of memory. Amazon stores all your stuff in the cloud, accessible with the built-in WiFi.

One of the desired features of the Kindle Fire is that it is a computer that runs on the Google Android operating system. Lots of mobile devices run  Android, including smart phones, pad computers, and my great little Kindle Fire. According to Google, 3.7 million new devices running the Android system were activated over the two day Christmas Eve and Christmas day period.

Even more Apple IOS devices were activated. These were a mix of iPhones, iPod Touch, and iPads.

The message, here, is that the mobile computing market is here to stay, and the killer applications are entertainment media. Books, magazines, newspapers, music, movies, YouTube videos, and games dominate the usage of these devices.

It’s all stuff with which to pass time, and this says volumes about our society.

Christmas Eve Gift?

Today is Christmas Eve, and as ordained by all, was a good day to sleep in. We did, and we slept really late having stayed up after midnight watching some movie we can’t even remember this morning. A new Morning After pill for memory would be much appreciated by citizens above a certain age.

After I finally got out of the bed, I decided the first order of things was a shower, as I did not hear Sam, or fifteen year old dachshund, barking. Now, Sam doesn’t bark to go outside. No, siree! Not our Sam. Our four legged critter only barks AFTER he has done his dirty deed and wants me to clean up his mess. After all, he does have his standards.

This morning I figured Sam’s bladder was either not over-full, or he was dead because I had not heard him barking. Much to my shame, I was hoping that when I went downstairs I would find the old guy in terminal slumber on his bed pillow. What a dreadful way to think about the family pet.

Sam has no idea how close he has come to meeting his Maker, on several occasions. Whenever I clean up after him, or have to pay his veterinary bills, I do some mental scheming to figure out how to ease him into the next life, but I am always afraid that the Pet CIS people will penetrate any pet crime and punish the perpetrator, me. I don’t want to spend the next five years in a place where bad things can happen to a person.

Enough of the day-dreaming. Sam was alive this morning, having broken through the pet gate and defiled the den with his less than hygienic habits. This morning, Sam came really close to making the trip to his Sweet By And By.

Being a beneficent person, I gave old Sam a reprieve on his sentence. Today is Christmas Eve, and I have decided to give him another chance.

Well, enough bad and sad stuff. I gotta go and finish my Christmas shopping. One thing I will get is a new pillow for Sam’s bed. The old guy needs it.

Bah, Humbug!

That’s me. I am the original Bah, Humbug guy.

It is the Christmas season, and we are all  supposed to be jolly, but it wasn’t always that way with me, no matter how many nagging females or hopeful little faces were around the house. Now, before you get all upset and confrontational, let me explain a few things.

Until I retired (was fired at an advanced age), I was always under major stress during the happy holiday time of the year. For about thirty years, I was in sales, and the way things work out, the holiday season falls right smack dab into the busiest time of the sales year.

Let me explain.

Panic time in sales is the fourth quarter when you are trying to make up for slack months. The fourth calendar quarter is the time when you score LOTS of business for two reasons. First, many projects and contracts tend to be awarded that time of the year because other companies operate on the same fiscal calendar as yours. Secondly, some buyers find extra money in their budget, and they have have to spend it or lose it.

All this means that there can be TONS of orders to let, and lots of negotiations and pricing to do. If you are a sales manager responsible for tens of millions of dollars of business, just keeping up with your people and making sure nothing falls in the cracks is a full time job. Indeed, you can wind up working through the entire holiday season, except for Christmas Day. It’s true, and it always happened to me.

Add all this business to the idea that your management is constantly pushing for more, and more, and more. Now, you get the idea that the stress is coming from two different directions, from over you and under you in the organizational food chain.

Don’t forget your commitments to ship TONS of stuff before the first of the year  to meet shipments quotas. Or, don’t forget to make sure that the factory does not ship all your orders EARLY just because the factory manager is paid on how much ships from his little kingdom. It can be really embarrassing when a truck loaded with several thousand pounds of steel arrives at your customer’s warehouse, and there is no place for them to store it.

Next, try to explain to the customer why they are being billed early so your accounting department can look good at year’s end.

Oh! I forgot the Christmas parties, and the celebratory lunches for customers, sales people, office staff, and management. Lots of heavy boozing and late night pandering with people that can get you fired can put you into the hospital.

Every Christmas Day for years and years, I was sick with stomach problems. All the work, social activity, boozing, partying, and all those things under the heading of just doing my job damned near put me in the hospital.

Yeah, sure. Merry Christmas, everybody. Pass the Pepto, please.

Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city. Ring-A-Ding-Ding.

Let’s Outlaw Electronics Usage In Cars

There is an MSNBC article about this self-same subject entitled, Scientists endorse driver cellphone proposal… It’s not that MSNBC is normally worth reading, but even a blind hog can occasionally find an acorn. In the article the scientists are recommending the banning of all personal electronic devices while driving. Does this include radios, CD players, and iPods?

I have thought for a long time that using cell phones while driving is very dangerous. You know it is, and yet you still keep endangering my life, and the lives of others because you just have to talk to your wife/lover/boyfriend/customer while driving in 70 mph traffic on the San Diego Freeway, or whatever thoroughfare you are whizzing at the moment.

It is a no-brainer that texting while driving is deathfully dangerous, and it is generally no-brain people like teenagers that persist in this activity, even though the activity is universally against the law.

But, this proposed ban of all personal electronic devices is taking the war to a new level. Now, not only are brainless texters at risk of breaking laws or murdering untold of millions of citizens, but, we are all put at risk of the ultimate boredom of having to drive our cars with nothing else to do!

We have all thought of our cars as rolling radios and CD players for a long time. Now, we have iPods, iPhones, MP3 players, DVD players, Blackberries, and two-way radios to keep us company. It gets lonely out there, and we have triumphed over that with our personal electronics. I wonder if the proposed ban includes our personal vibrators medical devices?

Now, I don’t remember any laws against reading a newspaper, magazine, or comic book while driving. I don’t remember a law forbidding the application of facial makeup while driving. I don’t remember any law against a lady putting on her pantyhose while driving. All these are known cases of attention-diverting activities performed by at least one woman driving to work in her Chevrolet Suburban, and all on the same morning! She could have wiped out an entire battalion of troops with that tank.

Some of us are better drivers than others, and doing little things while driving is generally non-life threatening. However, talking on the phone, typing text into a device, or watching Toy Story on a DVD player are definitely candidates for legislative solutions.

So, let us keep our personal electronic devices that don’t require talking or taking your eyes off the road. Cell phones, two-way radios, and personal video devices should be banned for our mutual good.

Pearl Harbor Day

It has been seventy years since the Japanese nation attacked the US Naval facilities at Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack. In the last few years our nation has let its attention drift away from the principles for which the defenders, and casualties of Pearl Harbor fought and died.

With our lack-luster leaders in Washington, there are few in the current government that understand what was at stake in World War II after Pearl Harbor. It was not a certainty that we would win a war against two of the best trained and equipped military machines in modern history. We won because we had to, and the spirit of the American people was unbeatable.

Now, I worry that the American people understand the meaning of freedom, and what those little liberties they surrender every day mean in the long run. Our Constitution has been defiled by Supreme Court rulings that retroactively write things into the document that were never intended. We have a Congress that refuses to do its financial duty, and a President who does not care about anything except his campaign for re-election.

Today, we ask, “Where are our leaders?”. Tomorrow we will ask, “What happened to our freedoms?”

This story is turning out to be not very pleasant, and will not have a good ending.

Remember not only Pearl Harbor, but the reasons for the sacrifices of millions of American men and women through history for the freedoms we enjoy today, and for which the rest of the world is envious.

If The Post Office Goes Out Of Business…

Do I still need that mailbox on my curb? Why, of all times, is the US Postal Service talking about curtailing service? Last weekend, I had to install a new mailbox, and now am suffering from the leaning mailbox syndrome.

You see, it all started with my concern about a couple of pine trees that were next to my driveway. In Georgia pines are not considered real trees, but more like weeds in the tree family. You cannot get rid of the things, and when a good wind comes along they are likely to fall on your house or car. Even with insurance, you are still in for a world of hurt with your insurance company as you try to get new dining tables, carpets and china out of a pine tree experience.

So, I contracted with a fly-by-night tree company to get four pine trees out of my yard. When they finally showed up on a Saturday morning, they yanked my existing mailbox out of the ground, and propped it against the garage door because it was in their way. My precious mailbox had been in the ground for twenty years doing its job. It was partially rotted, and did not re-install very well.

In my estimation those tree guys cheated me out of at least two years worth of mailbox life before I had to replace it. My trashy looking mailbox was the subject of some controversy in the neighborhood, but I refused to go all decorative. I was going for the mailbox longevity record.

I went to Home Depot and had a pow-wow with a clerk who was an expert on mailbox installations. I was anti-digging and anti-concrete. Lazy was a word to describe my attitude. My new mentor went right along with the idea, and I wound up with a no-dig mailbox post, along with a new black, shiny mailbox. All I had to do was to drive a steel stake into the ground, and fit the top of the stake into a pre-drilled hole in the bottom of the  new wooden post.

Yeah, sure.

Equipped with hammer and level, I commenced the job. Let me say that there is no way to keep a steel stake perfectly vertical while pounding the hell out of the thing with a hammer. Plus, the heavy cedar post seems to make up its own rules when it comes to a lean/no-lean attitude.

Yep! My new mailbox leans to one side. Of course, this is extremely embarrassing because all my neighbors have nice, perfectly vertical mailboxes with cute little wrought iron or otherwise decorative posts. Gheeez!  What a bunch of anal retentive perfectionists.

I guess I will have to wait another twenty years to replace this mail box, or the US Postal Service can just go out of business and I can yank the damned thing out of the ground.