December 21, 2005

Today is Dominica’s Christmas party at work. She got a pizza lunch and even presents! How cool is that?

Last night dad dropped off the audio CD “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson that I had borrowed some time ago from grandma. It was the only one of her things that I knew that I definitely wanted to have. One thing that I know that I am more likely to get use out of compared to anyone else in the family. Dominica and I are supposed to go over to her old apartment and look around to see if there is anything that we want. We are pretty sure that we will want a few books and maybe some table settings but there isn’t likely to be very much that we will be able to use.

The sun is out and bright today. It is a nice change from all of the dinge that we have been under for the past few weeks. It is looking like we have a White Christmas on the way. Unlikely to lose the snow with the temperatures being so low. This is a really cold December if I remember well.

I talked to a friend in South Carolina today and he thinks that he is going to be able to ship me six or more desktop computers for the school in Castile. He has fast Pentium III’s and some Pentium 4’s. That would be awesome to have that many newer machines for the school. It would make a huge difference. We would definitely be able to fill out the computer lab – which has space for ten machines and maybe eleven if we really squeeze – and would allow us to work on getting computers into all of the individual classrooms. I would really like to see at least one computer in each classroom. I think that that would really help students be able to get access to them whenever they need. The computer lab is often not monitored and students are not allowed to be in there when it is not so getting them into different parts of the school where there are always educators and faculty around could really be a boost to access. And newer, faster machines will make the students a lot happier when they are actually sitting down to use the machines. Currently we have some older Pentium II and Celeron machines in there. For the most part the Pentium II’s are usable but not optimal but the Celerons are just about useless. I would really like to get to a point where we can just scrap those few and move on. I still have no word on the electrical wiring at the school so I don’t know whether or not we can get in there to get the computers ready for the “spring” semester.

I have lots of “loose ends” that need to be wrapped up today so that my holiday week is clear. I have a lot of rebates that have to be taken care of today. That might be my least favourite thing about the Christmas season. Rebates, rebates, rebates. They are everywhere.

I moved over to the new Audible membership structure last night. Now I pay annually but I get charged for only ten months which saves a bundle over doing it the old way. Plus they gave me a ten dollar gift certificate for switching earlier than I had to which, in total, means I buy twenty books and get five free. Good deal, I think. I am pretty happy with it. It is nice because I get all of my book credits at the beginning of the year so that I can use them anytime that I need. So if I don’t choose any books for six months, that is okay, and then if I buy twenty all at once because I am travelling all of the time then that is okay too. It gives me a lot of flexibility that is important when I use the books in the manner that I do. And this way I can wait for books that I really want to release. They also gave me a free audio subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I had the option to pick the WSJ or the New York Times. I think that I can switch back and forth but can only have one at a time. I don’t really want either because I think that they are both incredibly backward and pathetic publications that are so far behind on the news that they are useless but I appreciate the gesture and I am sure that lots of people will really appreciate having that. I have read a number of articles in the WSJ in the past and any one of them that I am knowledgable about I was able to pick out the falsifications. I assume that the articles of which I do not have any foreknowledge that they are also just made up by kids working in NYC offices who have no experience with anything that they are writing about but I have no way to know. Basically, the WSJ has no integrity so I don’t trust anything that they say. I mean really, what is the purpose of a newspaper if you don’t trust it for news? If I don’t all ready know more than them, then I don’t trust them. So that isn’t very useful.

But, in reality, the entire newspaper industry is on its way down anyway. Why would any competent writer work for a newspaper and how do newspapers even attempt to compete. Sure they have deep pockets but those pockets are getting more and more shallow every day. The entire idea of a paper based news service is just ridiculous. It takes so long to write a story, set it, print it and deliver it that the news is terribly outdated even when they do their jobs perfectly. In today’s world the idea of waiting hours for news is silly but a whole day? Who would do that? Newspapers have become the bottom of the news pile. Long ago we used to trust anything in print and nothing through electronic media. But times have changed and with modern information dissemination we have come to discover that the print industry is often so incredibly uninformed and so massively unknowledgable that they are inaccurate or irrelevant at best. I still remember when the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (a Gannet paper) ran an article, a big article, about this revolutionary new media format that would, in the future when it actually released, change the way that we got movies. They totally acted like they had just heard about this new format and that the media didn’t exist yet but was coming in the future and that someday we would want to get one. That format was the DVD and at the time that they ran that article just about everyone I knew all ready had one. But they didn’t even know that they existed let alone were sitting on the shelves at Best Buy. But, I am sure, many of their readers were truly amazed by the fact that they had “insider news media information” about this awesome new technology and when those readers finally saw DVDs for the first time they remembered how the newspaper had been right on top of that new technology trend and had accurately informed them of what it would be like. I really hate the newspaper industry. It is such a useless way to deliver news. It isn’t like people save newspapers. It isn’t like a book that you might want to read again or let someone borrow someday. It just kills trees and fills up our landfills and uses gasoline and diesel to deliver. For what? For the cost of the newspaper you could probably buy yourself Internet access. At least with RSS the news is up to the minute – delivered to you the moment that they finish typing it. They can bring out news incrementally and not write stories based on the amount of information that poured in two hours before printing time. Updates can follow right along and corrections can be made seemlessly.

Dominica got her final results today. She got the second highest grade in her class. She was supposed to have gone into school yesterday for her last day of class. We had driven back from Maryland on Monday night so that she could go to class because she didn’t want to skip her final day. But she ended up shutting off the alarm in her sleep and we didn’t realize it until it was far too late for her even to make it for the last few minutes of the class. So she had to email her professor today.

I got a link to a satellite view of Stonington where Dominica and I were this past weekend. It is pretty cool. The really big pier in the image is the Stonington community pier right next to John and Michelle’s house.

I was decently productive today. Lots of little things that needed to be taken care of before the holiday. I had to run over to Pavilion this afternoon to take dad to pick up his car that he had in the shop today. Then we drove back over to Geneseo and got dinner at the Omega Grill. I got a podcast and a vlog posted today. That is doing pretty well. I finally manage to paste together the clips that I took at the Relyea Christmas Party and get a five minute video up on the Internet Archive for everyone. It is the first vlog posting that is available on the RSS feed here. The first of many, I hope.

Dominica got home and showed off her presents from work. She got a lot of stuff. A new sweatshirt, a baseball cap, a small planner with a pen, a stand alone pen, a bowl and mug set, a bunch of Swiss chocolate, etc. The biggest thing was that she got a Christmas bonus. It isn’t huge but she has only been there for several weeks. We were really surprised that she had gotten anything at all. That is really awesome. And they had a pizza party for the entire staff of her department today – Wednesdays being the only day of the week when the entire department works together.

Min made some dinner and we watched a few episodes of Chef!. We are on the final season now. There were only eighteen episodes, or so, ever made. I did some work on the pile of computers in the living room but didn’t end up getting very far. I have one that I am working on that has a real problem and is probably no good. But I am not sure exactly what is wrong with it so I don’t know what parts from it are good and which ones are part of the problem. So I can’t get the value out of it that I was hoping for.

I had to report the last eBay seller that I dealt with to eBay for stealing from me. They only allow disputes to go on for 90 days and at that point they require you to escalate the dispute to an official claim or to drop the matter. So I made my claim and closed out the dispute. The claim does nothing for me and just puts a big black mark on the reseller’s record. Not a very useful system. I realize that it isn’t eBay’s problem necessarily but having people selling things, cashing the checks and simply never shipping the product makes it difficult to want to do very much business through them. I have had pretty good experiences in the past and this one was a very tiny amount of money but it has been a real pain to deal with and I shouldn’t have to blow this much effort on such a ridiculous item. I only was getting it for a couple dollars under the price it would have been in a shop. It would have been better to have just bought it there. Almost everything I ever win on eBay I find out later that I could have just bought for less somewhere if I would have taken the time to have shopped around first. Even audiobooks that everyone always raves about how inexpensive they are on eBay are cheaper new from Audible.com.

We decided to go to bed early and to get some sleep. We were both pretty tired today. Oreo is always happy when bedtimes comes around.

Remember, everytime someone says “Happy Holidays”, an elf dies.

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