Monday, February 28, 2011

I am seriously annoyed.

I am angry with Google. Google owns Blogger and it owns Picasa. So why can't I export a picture from Picasa to my Google-owned blog. I am also angry with myself for being such a dumb cluck about computers.

Grrrrr!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So now I can't post pictures

I can't export photos from Picasa into Blogger. I am looking for a good, easy, simple free photo editing software so I can continue to upload pictures, particularly to my painting blog. Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Re-arranging the kitchen




I got new cupboards in my kitchen, and spent a day worrying about re-arranging the storage space. At the start, I was searching for the perfect place to keep each item--should all canned goods be kept together, or should canned soup have its own place? What about baking needs? What should go where to make my tasks easier? should mixing bowls next to the mixer, or near the flour and sugar?

These questions vexed me for hours. I was trying to discover the Platonic ideal for kitchen storage, and it made my head ache. After putting the soup on the same shelf as other canned goods, I gave it its own shelf space, then discovered I did not have enough soup to fill the shelf. So canned pears went on the shelf. Then green beans and cranberry sauce. What about olives? Should they be with pickles? Even though the pickles are in a jar? Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise?

It was 5 o'clock, and I hadn't even had a chance to read the morning paper. And I was going out at 7:15. So I ended up just putting everything any old place, just to get it out of my sight, Platonic ideal be damned.

Monday, February 21, 2011

belgium has had no government for 250 days

and they seem to be getting along just fine.

Maybe we should try it?

Green bottles. 2011

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Does Canada have a wall separating church and state?


Department of complaining

Either I'm getting really cranky, or there is something wrong with modern life, in the administrative sense, I mean.  None of this threatens health or happiness,  it only makes life dreary and frustrating and eats up your time.  At the end of your day, nothing has advanced, no problems have been solved.  You might as well have stayed in bed.

Today I had a routine appointment with my family doctor. This necessarily involves going to  St Francis Hospital and finding a parking space in their parking garage, which is not easy, and then finding your car when you leave, which is almost impossible to me.  St Francis Hospital was obviously built in episodes:  every day, they decided they needed a new department and tacked it on somewhere where space could be found.  So it consists of a series of hallways, doors, elevators, and confusing signs, all loosely connected, sometimes by a short staircase.  Sometimes not.  Nothing has any distinguishing features; everything is one enormous St Francis blob.  So you wander up and down the halls, first left, then right, until you find the office you are looking for.

The office this particular doctor shares with God knows how many others would be greatly improved if its decor emulated a Greyhound Bus Station.  It is an enormous, low-ceiling room containing cheap chairs and tables, ugly floor tiles and nothing else. Not a picture, not a poster, not a plant, real or phony, not a toy or magazine, though there were plenty of children present.  It was striking how empty of adornment it was, how little there was for the eye to feast on, or even to observe.  Have I mentioned that everything was beige? Or that the lighting was really poor?  Not that there was anything to look at, but still...All you could do was sit there hoping the low ceiling would not drop further and crush the inhabitants into a large brick of beigeness.

A television set with the sound turned off was broadcasting a video illustrating CPR.  I watched this for a while, then tried to eavesdrop on a pair of women dressed in Muslim drapery.  But they were practicing their Arabic, no doubt trying to perfect plans for the Wilmington intifada, so I could not understand them.

The doctor told me he could not send my prescription to Express Scripts because the hospital's new computer system could not communicate with the Express Scripts computer.  Go figure.

Having finally seen the doctor, I then went to my pharmacy, where the prescription he had electronically sent was nowhere to be found, and waited for 45 minutes looking at the shampoos and the 50 percent off Valentine candy, spent 10 minutes reading People Magazine about poor Chelsea Clinton's marital problems, and came home.

I don't know where the morning went, but I spent the rest of the day trying to return a defective DVD to Amazon.com.  Since I did this from my computer, it was relatively easy.  Except I kept going around in circles, from one screen to another, and back to the first.  I bought a set of DVDs, and one of them was defective, but try telling thta to Amazon.  I've returned items to Amazon before, but this time I couldn't print a mailing label at all.  They also used to have a button saying "Contact us," but I guess too many people contacted them, so they eliminated it.  They seem to have disconnected their phone as well, if they ever had one.  Not that I like speaking to anyone's caller direction system. 

And now it is evening, the day is over, and Shabbat is coming.  24 hours off from frustration.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloated local government

Not here, but in England.

It's the same the whole world over, though.  In public service employment, I mean.

“Crazy non-jobs like cheerleading development officers and press officers tasked with spinning propaganda on bin collections provide no value to the public.
“Getting rid of the bloated bureaucracy that has grown in some elements of local government will ensure local authorities can protect front-line services.”

According to the data, the number of people employed by local authorities in Britain stood at 2,728,000 in 1997 when Labour came to power. Last year the figure was 2,907,000. There were 741,702 people on council payrolls who were not in traditional “front- line” jobs such as those in education, social services, recreation, libraries, planning, environmental health, culture, heritage or trading standards.[snip]


Among the jobs that have been spawned by the boom in “non-jobs” were a “bouncy castle attendant” on a salary of £13,000 at Angus council in Scotland and a “cheerleading development officer” in Falkirk.
Yesterday, ministers seized on Liverpool city council’s decision to advertise three highly paid “non-jobs” on a day when it was announcing job cuts in other areas. They were for a director of regeneration and employment on a salary of “up to £140,000”; an assistant director of adult services on £90,000 a year; and an assistant director for supporting communities, also on £90,000 a year. The council said it would be making cuts of £91 million, resulting in closures of libraries, leisure centres and youth projects and hundreds of job losses.
[snip]


This week it was disclosed that 220 town hall executives received a higher salary than the Prime Minister’s £142,500 a year.
At least 26 chief executives earned more than £200,000 last year and 1,000 council officials more than £100,000...

Ministers point out that public sector productivity fell under Labour while private sector productivity rose. Public sector salaries are now higher than those in the private sector.The TaxPayers’ Alliance has highlighted a series of “non-jobs” advertised by local authorities.
They included North East Lincolnshire council advertising for a “future shape programme manager” on £70,189 per annum.
The campaign group published research which showed that last year councils spent £5 million on 141 jobs for political advisers, £6 million on 183 European officer posts, and £10 million on 350 climate change officer roles.

It's no different  in local government here.  There are lots of small towns in New Jersey--I forget the exact number.  There were 60 in our library consortium alone.  Each had a chief of police, a recreation director, a social worker, a judge, a court clerk, and innumerable persons who were not at their desks because they had gone outdoors for a smoke.  Each one had a desk, a computer, health insurance, paid vacation, and a pension plan.  They all used up their share of oxygen and then some.

I should add that in the library we had part-timers who filled the roles of adjunct faculty in colleges and of slaves in the Roman Empire.  They got no health insurance or paid vacation, had to share a desk and a computer with someone else, and did a great many of the humble tasks that makes the place go on ticking.  These are the people the axe falls on when there is a financial crisis.  Their hours are cut, causing the library doors to be locked at the most inconvenient times.

Meanwhile the director of cheer-leading development or karaoke education gets an annual raise.

Texas politician thinks the term "black hole" is racist

He sounds like a product of the American education system.

It costs a lot of money to turn out citizens who are this ignorant.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mr Charm's bill collectors

Some company has been burning up the telephone wires trying to collect a debt from Mr Charm.  The poor devils who do the calling are actually alive, but in the sense of being free agents they might as well be robots.  They have and are allowed to have, as much discretion as puppets.  In fact, they memorize their spiel and will not depart from it.  I ought to know, as I have heard it plenty of times.

Mr Charm, according to them, owes their firm, Bloodsuckrs R US, $1,000.  When I asked what the sum was for, they referred to a Mastercard which he allegedly had once had.  Since Mr Charm was a devoted user of American Express all his adult life, I did not believe in the existence of this Mastercard, and asked them to send me the particulars, like:  when did he open this account, which bank, what did he buy and when.  

In (non)response to my question, each of the poor devils informed me that they were required by law to tell me:  this was an attempt to collect a debt, Yada yada, yada.  I asked them again to give me the particulars of his debt, and they repeated the spiel.  Could they refer me to someone who knew what he was talking about?  This is an attempt to collect a debt.

A debt for what?  They didn't know.   Now Mr Charm, though once a Democrat, was a born Republican in the sense that he sat down at his desk with all the bills once a month and paid them,  though smoke occasionally came out of his ears. He even balanced his checkbook. He was the son of a woman who was too proud to go on welfare during the Depression even when her children were hungry. People like that pay their bills.

He's quite deaf now and his memory is not what it once was, but he denied emphatically ever having had a Mastercard.  And I believe him.  And if he had had one, he would have paid it.

So I decided to probe a little further.  Could they connect me to someone who knew what they were talking about?  Their canned script did not allow for any deviations from "This is an attempt...".  Could they, or someone, write to me?  I even promised to pay it if they could provide believable information.

Someone finally gave me the name of the company and suggested I write to them, but I was getting a little annoyed by this time and suggested that since they wanted my money rather than the other way around it was worth a stamp and and a look at the file.  Suppose I called you and asked you to send me $1,100.  Would you do it, with no evidence?  Me either.

So there we left it.   And since I have Caller ID, there it will remain.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In defense of libraries

This is the best argument for public libraries I have seen in a long time:

It’s true that you can’t use volunteers to manage a large library that serves the diversifying media needs of every imaginable customer in the year 2011, but not every cluster of shacks on some windblown sheepfold can expect to have a library like that, and to lack one is not a misfortune if your foremost concern is with reading...What’s needed by the reader, as such, is a lot of books, selected and organized with a modicum of intelligence, and the free run of them. Everything else is detail.
I can only add that it is important that libraries be open a sufficient number of hours  to allow the readers to visit them at their own convenience, not that of the library staff..

Now all my library friends are very unhappy with the cuts in library service in New Jersey under Chris Christie.  They should know that the decision to cut back library hours is made at the local level and designed to inconvenience the taxpayer to the max, while preserving necessities such as no show jobs for no-account relatives or giving no-bid contracts to friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why do demonstrations take place in Egypt?

I was reflecting on why demonstrations are taking place in Egypt instead of, oh, I don't know, Wilmington, DE.  Here's my theory:

1)  Warm climate.  It's a lot more pleasant to demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt this time of year than in Cairo, IL.

2)  Youth of the populace.  Young people enjoy standing around screaming , marching, and waving signs more than people my age.  We have rheumatism and our feet hurt.

3) Unemployment.  The Egyptian demonstrators don't have to get up in the morning and go to work.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Income tax blues

At the Cute Little Library we had a volunteer who helped people with their income tax.  Theoretically the service was for low income people or seniors, but it was difficult to say no once people sat in front of you with their private papers spread in front of them, or so Mr Evans, the luckless volunteer, told me.  He did say that he really did not like to do taxes for people who made more money than he did, but he helped everybody he could.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, we had lots of complaints for and about poor Mr Evans.  One old lady told him exactly how much refund she wanted and was quite put out when he refused to guarantee results.  Several seniors complained that their neighbors got larger refunds than they did.   And of course, other patrons weighed in with complaints that Mr Evans and his clients made too much noise and were preventing them from using the library in peace.

One of our more unhinged patrons considered Mr Evans the devil's spawn and held up a giant crucifix when she was in his vicinity to ward off his evil influence.

But Mr Evans was at least a volunteer and knew what he was in for.  The rest of us were just trying to do our jobs and did not want to give tax advice nor were we qualified to do so. Look at it this way:  if you were an expert on personal finance, would you take a low-paying job at the public library? 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Why not discourage preparation for bad jobs?

What difference does it make?

Kid graduates with degree in theater, gets job folding sweaters.
Kid graduates with degree in women's studies, gets job folding sweaters.
Kid graduates with degree in English literature, gets job folding sweaters.

The first kid pursues a hobby acting or directing in regional theater, enjoys a fulfilling avocation.   For theater, you could substitute playing an instrument, singing, painting.   So maybe the kid doesn't make a name for himself in theater or movies or as a soloist at Carnegie Hall.  He still has learned something he values which is of use to him.

The other two--not so much.

Got milk?

You won't for long.

Unless British dairy farmers find a way to make it up on volume.