Do packages earn frequent traveler miles?

August 30, 2010

I’ve been waiting for a package, and I get daily notifications about “rescheduled delivery”. It was mailed on the 23rd in Lenexa, KS, about 800 miles from here. It’s currently in Chelmsford, MA, about 2300 miles away. The question is, will it continue it’s eastward journey, crossing two oceans and Eurasia, or will it turn around? Too bad packages don’t get stamps every time they get reloaded.

Update:  It just spend 2 days in Hodkins, IL.  I hope it mailed me a post card.


Hunting the elusive spare part

April 27, 2010

Repair instead of replacement has become a rarely used option in our society, so usually not for items over lets say a day’s salary in price. I once had a Shimadzu rep tell me that my $100,000 instrument was an “intermediate” model, produced only for half a year, and after the 5 years guaranteed replacement part period they weren’t stocking any more parts. Leaving me to fix my 6 year old doorstop via ebay.

But, at least, the rep tried to find me the part. Yesterday, my four year old Sonicwall firewall router died of a failed power supply board. Luckily, that’s only four screws, a pulled plug and an overnight shipment of a replacement part from resurrection. Or so I thought. But no, you’re not buying a piece of hardware from Sonicwall (so with a $1,000 price tag it might seem so), you’re just buying the right to buy their services. After several failed attempts to get a hold of anyone I finally to the answer: No, we won’t sell you a spare part. We will sell you a service contract with all the fixings you don’t need (most of my filtering etc is done server side, all the unit did was serve as an auditable intrusion log), and then you get to talk to someone about replacing your part.
I felt reminded of the $3 extended warranty at Walmart for the $10 calculator your kid is going to lose in six months.
Fortunately someone at Sonicwall forgot to erase the parts number on the power board, so after some googling the new part is in the mail, $28 plus overnight fee. May it live happily ever after.

Tax less and the deficit will go away!

April 27, 2010

A good friend of mine just became the campaign media director for a candidate for congress. Naturally I had to look at the website. And yes, there it was, reduce the budget deficit and eliminate national debt by, you guessed it, taking in LESS money. We have to eliminate all the wasteful spending of course, so there are some holy cows that are not to be touched:
Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Benefits and programs related to national security should clearly be off the table in terms of cuts
Can’t offend your donors in the AARP or jeopardize your national security credentials.
One hint, if you have a lot of fixed expenditures, the way to not run a deficit is by taking in more money than you spend. We’re the least taxed people in the western world, the one thing we don’t need is more tax relief to send to China or Switzerland.

“But it’s free”

April 22, 2010

As a professional, I subscribe to a number of mostly free publications to at least keep up with the highlights of recent developments. It’s amazing how many well made trade journals are out there, and some of them are actually quite good. What’s not so good is, once you get yourself on some publisher’s address list, you find yourself subscribed to journals you never heard off on subjects you have zero interest in. Pharmaceutical Formulation&Quality, the one I just tossed again, is something not applicable to someone researching moon dust, and I told the lady inquiring about my interest and needing to update my information so. What quite obviously didn’t stop her from confirming my subscription anyway, as I didn’t expect it would. I’ve tried friendly explanation, requests for being taken of their mailing and calling lists, yelled, hung up, doesn’t matter. You can’t stop the flood. So my mail box gets filled month after month with high gloss magazines, shipped cross country, wrapped in plastic, straight into my circular file.
Happy Earth Day.

When you can’t sleep after watching a movie

April 19, 2010

it’s rarely because you’re steaming about the awful science.  But last night I finally got around to watch 2012, and yes, the science  was that bad.

It starts out with the “scientist” finding out about neutrinos from an extra large solar flare heating the earth; he calls it “physically impossible”, unfortunately, while he’s right, that doesn’t stop the movie from accepting it as fact.  Now, the sun keeps mysteriously heating the earth’s core for another three years while the plot unfolds.  When the cake is finished to come out of the oven, California is the first place to go, the pacific plate having conveniently changed direction of it’s motion and pulling away from the North American plate.  It takes Arnie with it, so at least no more Terminator movies, you have to think positive.  The next big calamity is (the writer having followed Discovery channel) the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera as a super-volcano.  The ash cloud immediately starts blanketing the country, reaching Washington, DC in 7 hours.  That’s a good 300 mph, must have had a very favorable jet stream.  It also makes it 800 miles to the south to Vegas in that time, the jet stream being slightly schizophrenic and unable to make up its directional mind.

And this is where the believability scale drops from Discovery channel to The Enquirer.  Hell brakes lose, dogs and cats, continents shifting, flood waves, poles reversing, the works.  The white house gets smashed by an aircraft carrier, which someone parked plot-enhancing in Chesapeake bay, instead of safely 1000 miles out in the open ocean.  While the heroes enjoy a smooth ride towards Asia, the continents go for a stroll, shortening their trip by a 1000 miles.  Assuming a 12 h flight time, and some acceleration time, that gives us a good 100 mph, pretty good speed for a land mass.  The poles reverse in the meantime too, about a million times faster than usual, but the movie was too long as it is already.  A 1500 m flood wave cleans out most of the earth, what makes me happy to live at 6300 ft, so I would have to cancel the Florida trip to Disneyland.

So, in a proper apocalypse you’d have high speed continents, worldwide floods, a melting earth crust, the end.

Not in this one, oddly enough, all that continent shifting pole reversal stuff not only used up all that excess thermal energy in the planet, it also seem to have stopped the neutrinos from bothering us further.  After 28 days, the heroes emerge to nice weather and a smooth ocean, completely disproving all those theories about major volcano eruptions clouding the atmosphere for years.  And to top it all off, Africa was on holiday while all this happened, providing a nice landing place for the arks, so it’s left to the viewer to decide if they crash on an uncharted reef as hard as the science.

Somehow alien invasion would have been more believable to lead to the 2012 cataclysm, rather than the presented series of events, but he made that movie already.

Hello world!

April 13, 2010
Main Entry: 1mess
Pronunciation: \ˈmes\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English mes, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin missus course at a meal, from missus, past participle of mittere to put, from Latin, to send — more at smite
Date: 14th century

1 : a quantity of food: a archaic : food set on a table at one time b : a prepared dish of soft food; also : a mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together c : enough food of a specified kind for a dish or a meal <picked a mess of peas for dinner>
2 a : a group of persons who regularly take their meals together; also : a meal so taken b : a place where meals are regularly served to a group : mess hall
3 a : a disordered, untidy, offensive, or unpleasant state or condition <your room is in a mess> b : one that is disordered, untidy, offensive, or unpleasant usually because of blundering, laxity, or misconduct <[the movie] is a mess, as sloppy in concept as it is in execution — Judith Crist>
4 : a large quantity or number

Expects posts on food, politics, science,  space materials, guns, kids, gardening, dogs and pulling a 35 ft trailer in high winds.