June 15, 2007: Ralstons Come to Visit

Apparently Arizona’s “The Thing” is their own southwest version of South Carolina’s “South of the Border”.

Tom Yager, possibly the most important and influential proponent of Apple in the Enterprise, blast into the iPhone’s lack of an SDK on Ahead of the Curve. Apparently Apple has decided to make the iPhone nothing more than a flashy-looking Safari web browser with no real functionality. Boy am I glad that I bought a Palm Treo! Not only do I get cool applications and far more functionality but I am not limited to the slowest data network too. No wonder Apple was willing to be yoked with Cingular (oh sorry, the NEW AT&T – like any of us have forgotten how bad the service was from the last AT&T) – their iPhone doesn’t even do anything that people will want a data network for. So Cingular (argh, TNAT&T) isn’t the weak link in the chain.

I was up until one 0’clock last night cleaning in the apartment. I was pretty tired this morning and didn’t wake up until seven thirty and couldn’t go to the gym. Oops. I had decided to take yesterday as my one day a week off instead of Sunday just because I couldn’t get time to go yesterday but I sure didn’t mean to miss going this morning. I will have to squeeze some time in tonight!

Art and Danielle were scheduled to leave home around eight o’clock this morning. They are traveling down on their “new” motorcycle that Art bought a few weeks ago. The trip normally takes five to six hours when coming down on the highway but they are planning on making several stops and taking some backroads so they are giving themselves about eight hours to make the trip.

It is going to be a busy weekend for me. I have my normal late Friday night tonight plus I have a security rollout that I have to do in addition to my normal Friday work. We will be visiting tonight and going out to eat most likely too. Then tomorrow the plan is that all of us will go into Manhattan for the day and hang out. We are planning on taking Oreo to daycare for the day so that he doesn’t have to be home alone all day – he wouldn’t be very happy. Then Sunday morning I have to head up to Ithaca and will be working there all afternoon before turning around and driving back to Newark. Next week I am in Manhattan all week except for Monday and Craig is coming down from Rochester on Tuesday and will be down all week too. I am staying in Newark next weekend but Dominica will be going to Frankfort to visit. Oreo will be staying with me.

Eris, the largest of the known Solar “dwarf planets”, has been measured and is found to be 27% larger than Pluto. Had Pluto remained classified as a full planet rather than a dwarf (leaving the Solar System with just eight full planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) then Eris would clearly have become our tenth planet.

Kodak has a major breakthrough in CMOS sensors used in digital cameras this week. This new technology is expected to make digital cameras much more light sensitive giving them a better range for shutter and lighting bringing them more into line with analogue/chemical cameras. Digital cameras have done very well in overall image quality but shutter speed and light sensitivity have been a weak point making traditional camera technology the only serious option for some applications.

eWeek reports today that a couple of judges have denied class action lawsuits against companies such as Rite Aid, Harry & David, Ikea, KB Toys, Disney, Regal Cinemas and AMC Theaters because they feel that the plaintiffs cases are too strong and that the damages will be too hard for the companies to bare! The judges actually admitted to denying justice because they don’t want undue hardship (in their opinion) brought against big businesses. This must be one of the most blatant cases of denial of due processes ever. The lawsuits are over the FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) which is a federal law protecting consumer credit data. These companies and others willfully printed illegal data onto paper receipts after FACTA was in place forbidding such types of discloser. Plaintiffs are hoping that their appeals will be heard and are not taking this lying down. This is more than a lawsuit about whether a few renegade big businesses can thumb their noses at the US government but whether or not independent judges can choose at their own discretion to whom the federal laws passed by Congress apply.

I found an olderish article from Ephraim Schwartz whom I generally like to read on the “Dumbing Down and Smartening Up” on the web. I tend to take an interest in the social ramifications of technology (as opposed to the often discussed ethical ramifications which I find to be nothing more than semantics.) I am one of the very rare breed of people who are neither Digital Natives nor Digital Immigrants. I grew up in the era of transition and have been using computers since my very young childhood but I used computers long before they were devices of communications. My perspective on computers and the Internet are very different than either the DN or DI parties. I have the native comfort of a DN with the attention span and textual bias of the DI. But I represent probably less than .5% of the population in that I have a long term relationship with computers without any significant life gap while having had access to networking technologies for less than half of my life.

Apparently I am not the only person who has noticed that the Presidential campaigns have started insanely early this year. Wil Wheaton writes that we only have 586 More Days of This to go through before we actually sit down to elect someone. The bombardment of the campaigns so early was so intense that I was confused as to what year the election was! It is just like Christmas. There needs to be some sort of social limitation on this stuff. The public needs to take a stand and not stand for it (to mix my metaphors) and vote against people who start campaigning, or whatever they are doing, too early.

I have to quote Wil Wheaton from another blog entry just because, out of context, this line is hilarious: “If I start hearing slot machines and smelling hookers, desperation, and that ubiquitous casino air freshener in my house, I’m going to go see a doctor about more than my inner ear.”

The Ralstons arrived at the apartment around a quarter to five. Their drive went pretty well. I called them just after five to see if they were able to get in okay.  They did end up getting a little lost as they looked for the apartment and ended up driving around for a while far to the east of Newark but they were there hours ahead of us getting out work so it didn’t effect anything.

I managed to leave work just a little after six.  I got home and Dominica was already there.  We hung out for about an hour or a little more and then decided to go out to the Ironbound and get dinner at Mompou on Ferry Street.  We hung out at the restaurant for a really long time and it was around midnight when we finally returned to 1180.

We thought that we were in for the night but ended up having quite a mess to deal with.  Art had to help the valet park the motorcycle that he and Danielle had ridden down on as the valets are no insured for riding motorcycles.  We knew that this was going to be an issue and had made arrangements for it yesterday with the night valet who was on again tonight and it wasn’t a problem just something that we had to deal with.  But this is where the excitement begins.

Once the overnight valet had Art alone in the parking garage she suddenly announced that there had been a sudden (after midnight apparently since we had turned his motorcycle over to the valet services eight hours before this) change in policy and that he would have to give her twenty dollars cash right away before he could keep his motorcycle in the garage.  We had had issues with this some months ago when Josh had stayed with us and the valet management had said that money was only to be collected when people were leaving, not when they were arriving, and to not give money to the valets until that time for our own protection since it was policy not to collect until we left so taking it early is either a mistake or worse.

Art didn’t have cash on him so we went back to the apartment but the valet didn’t let it go.  She made the concierge call our apartment and tell us that we had to come down and pay for the parking.  So I went down with him and explained to the concierge and then the valet that we had been told, in no uncertain terms, by her management that we were absolutely not to pay her ahead of time for parking.  But she would have none of that and started yelling at us at the front desk in front of the concierge about how we were calling her a thief (apparently she had that on her mind) and that she would be in trouble if she didn’t have the money.  At one point she claimed that it was a new policy two days previous and at another time she claimed that the new policy was from that morning.  She made claims that the motorcycle had been left out all day because the manager was suspicious of us not paying and didn’t want it in the garage until cash had been collected.  She also said that she had discussed this with us before taking the bike down but did not, in fact, mention it until she had Art alone without me there to catch that she was doing something that she wasn’t supposed to do.

I explained to everyone that the management, who hires her, gave us explicit instructions for their and our protection and that she, not being a manager, certainly did not have the authority to, after midnight, inform us of new policies especially eight hours and three valets after the motorcycle had been taken into possession by the garage!  We even offered to put the money in an envelope and leave it with the building concierge so that we would have paid but that it would go directly to the manager in the morning – that way there was no way that she could get in trouble and everyone would be protected.  She continued yelling and would accept no agreement that didn’t involve her having cash in her hand.  We finally gave in but forced her to take the money with the concierge as a witness and made her fill out a “receipt” which she was not at all prepared to do.

It is clear from hindsight that the valet was high and was completely out of her mind.  She was mostly incoherent and violated the law, policy and decency.  She wanted cash and wasn’t afraid to verbally assault us even right in the lobby of our home in front of the concierge.  Now this is just one more thing that I have to deal with with the building.  This crazy, high valet was trying to steal money from our guests and wasn’t afraid to go way beyond conning them to get it.  She definitely needs to not just be fired but banned from setting foot in the building.  She is definitely not safe having access to our vehicles and we need to fear retaliation against our person for obviously calling her on her con and getting her caught.

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