Take Me Home Country Road

First weekend of the renovation and my house already looks like it'll fit in nicely in West Virginia. Take a look at the following two pictures from my "bulkhead replacement" project. The old one is rusted with a bit of primer showing through. The new one, in all of its glory hanging under the clothes line, is the WV state color: West Virginia Primer Red. Who knew that spending 4 years in VA could do this to someone...

Notice Manuela in the background of picture number two...in a tube top nonetheless! I can't wait for the Dukes of Hazzard movie to come out.
Also, look at the bags at the corner of the shed...you got it, manure. I really am feeling a little redneckish.


Another First for Paci.Blog

From the brother who brought you Paci.Blog's innaugural Fisking comes another first.

Here is Paci.Blog's first instance of catblogging.

Yesterday was the day!

As you can see from the pictures below, the contractor got started stripping the siding from my house. These guys were at my house for 11 hours yesterday. They removed ALL of the aluminum siding from my house and removed the underlying wood siding on one side.



Now I KNOW I have the ugliest house on the block.


NEWSFLASH: Roberts documents reveal a conservative

Really? Damn that George Bush! How could he do something so sneaky as nominate a conservative to replace another (less, but still) conservative judge on the Supreme Court. What is this country coming to. Damn it! I'm off to Canada.

From the article:

In a September 9, 1981, memo to O'Connor, Roberts argued that Supreme Court nominees should not answer questions on specific cases, citing the "appearance of impropriety":

"The proposition that the only way senators can ascertain a nominee's views is through questions on specific cases should be rejected. If nominees will lie concerning their philosophy, they will lie in response to specific questions as well.

"The suggestion that a simple understanding that no promise is intended when a nominee answers a specific question will completely remove the disqualification problem is absurd. The appearance of impropriety remains."
OK so far. Just a little common sense.
Roberts drafted possible questions and suggested responses for O'Connor on issues such as judicial activism and immigration policy.

Roberts indicated he briefed O'Connor on past confirmation hearing questions and testimony (including what he called "particularly good answers").

Roberts indicated he held mock confirmation hearings with O'Connor, posing questions to her from past confirmation hearings.
OK, let me think...THAT WAS HIS JOB. He was tasked with preparing Sandra Day O'Connor for the very same confirmation hearings he's about to go through. On top of that, he's a lawyer and what he was doing can also be called "prepping a witness." I see all the time on "Law & Order." There's nothing insideous about it. Hell, Jack McCoy is as lefty as they get and he preps witnesses all the time! Is this another one of those double-standard things we keep hearing about?
Roberts helped compile profiles of Senate Judiciary Committee members, including identifying their likely areas of questioning, "pet projects and concerns."
Know thyne enemy?

I have to get back to work. I'll touch this post up a little bit later...

No really, today is the day...

At least I think it is. The contractor called yesterday to inform us that they would, in fact, start the project today, Thursday, July 28th 2005. I really hope to come home from work at 5:00PM today to see a dumpster full of aluminum siding and an ugly-ass, blue-peeling-lead-paint house!


Spammers have blogs?

What the hell is this? It doesn't look like any language I've every seen -- including esperanto. It's got more consonants than Welsh greeting! Someone help me out here...

Wisdom of Our Blogfathers (I)

One of the first blogs we read back in the heady days of 2000 was OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web Today.

It is consistently one of the best reads of the blogosphere despite the protestations of its proprietor James Taranto that it is something other than a blog.

Today, Mr. Taranto brings us the first of a three part look back at BOTWT's first five years.

Those of you unfamiliar with this fantastic site will benefit from the intro. Those who are initiated will appreciate the retrospective and perhaps finally catch the meaning behind some of Taranto's inside jokes.

We're not so secretly hoping he'll highlight one of our many contributions. See "Oliver Twit"

Clinton: Don't look a gift...cow in the mouth?

From today's World Section on CNN:

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- A Kenyan says he offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter's hand in marriage five years ago -- and is still waiting for an answer.

I can understand the 40 goats, but why would he want 20 more cows?


You can always tell a Harvard man....

The old saying goes: "You can always tell a Harvard man -- but you can't tell him very much".

Today's Boston Globe offers further proof of this aphorism in the form of undergraduate Dusty Farned's ignorant rant against automation.

It also gives me the honor of posting paci.blog's official First Fisking.

Checkout line blues
By Dusty D. Farned

July 27, 2005

FROM GROCERY stores to home improvement warehouses, the tedious, boring, and dreadful checkout process is getting better. Now you can check yourself out! You may even save some money on that magazine you did not really need or on the candy bar your toddler begged and begged for until you could not stand it any longer.

Yet, is saving two minutes and perhaps $2 in the self-checkout line worth the jobs of your friends and family and maybe even yourself?

Yes, as long as I am not fool enough to waste it on a copy of the Boston Globe, which obviously is having trouble getting quality writers for its op-ed page. Come to think of it, maybe this is the Globe's solution to avoid having to pay a real salary and benefits to hire another Ellen Goodman or Derrick Z. Jackson to pen undergraduate-quality screeds when, for a lot less, they can have the genuine, er, article.

Every generation has protested technological development taking their jobs, and every generation has failed to stop it. Still, it is so disconcerting to see this generation not even cry foul. Are we so tech-friendly that we have lost sight of our real friends?

Actually, because we are tech friendly, we can choose options in life that give us more time with our friends. (Unless the moron in front of us in the self-service lane is checking out produce and taking forever to look up each item instead of keying in the damn Price Look Up codes that are stuck on each and every fruit or vegetable FOR THAT VERY PURPOSE.)

We know where management is. Watching joyously from the locked booth.

I was wondering where the maniacal laughter was coming from today at the Stop & Shop.

But cashiers and bag-handlers, where are you? Your current jobs are at stake. Can't you see it is already happening? The ''inefficient" lanes may still be there, but only two out of 10 are ever open.

Grocery workers of the world unite! Go on strike how ‘bout it? Or convince management to raise prices to hire more of you. I’m sure that will keep your customers – you know, the ones who buy the food which pays the bills which funds the payroll … you get the idea – loyal.

Sure, eventually these jobs will cease to exist. But do you realize that despite the cotton picker's invention in 1850, it wasn't until nearly 1950 that an entire cotton crop was harvested by machine. This is in part because of kinks in the invention but as much because of the stubbornness of Southerners. Certainly their jobs were more demanding than ours; still, the labor force refused to give them up. Why? Employment is security, unemployment is hell, and 90 degrees working beats 90 degrees in the shade of the unemployment line any day.

God bless those stubborn Southerners! Do you realize that it wasn’t until nearly 1866 that people actually GOT PAID to pick cotton in Dixie? Do you think that maybe the automation on which postwar industry was founded, which created loads of opportunities for Southern blacks to make a better living doing something besides agriculture (oh, around 1950!), had something to do with that?

Prolonging progress is a tradition we should sometimes keep. In a time of high unemployment, widespread employment of illegal immigrants, offshore call centers, overwhelming import loads made by child workers and under harsh conditions, every American job should be preserved from corporate greed. Most employees pack their bags at night and leave from another town. But no matter what town you are in now, the most basic of jobs, checkout jobs, are being cut before your eyes. Just as management manages to take care of its own, so should we protect our fellow workers.

Well Mr. Smarty Pants, what are you doing about it? I take it you are majoring in Retail Clerkship at Crimson Community College in a show of solidarity?

Local and state governments should tax additionally when self-checkout lines are used for revenue to support job training and small business loans. This will also slow the process as customers refuse to pay extra. Customers, who care to care, should refuse to use these lines beginning now. Employees, remembering jobs equal equality, should do what is in their united bargaining power to prevent the machines from working and let it be known to everyone, including fellow employees and every customer, what they represent -- no less than less jobs.

Aha! There’s a creative solution. Tax them! Why only at the state and local level? Why not let the feds get their piece, too?

Customers, who care to care, should refuse to use these lines beginning now.

Grammarians who care to care should refuse to hire Harvard grads who do not care to punctuate properly.

Employees, remembering jobs equal equality, should do what is in their united bargaining power to prevent the machines from working and let it be known to everyone, including fellow employees and every customer, what they represent -- no less than less jobs.

I understand Mr. Farned’s need to create disincentives to such abhorrent behavior, but perhaps he could find a more creative and effective way to gum up the works. The wheels of fiscal policy grind much too slowly for any self-respecting Luddite. Legislation is for wussies!

How about taking a more “Think Globally, Act Locally” approach and get a crowd of like-minded nostalgia buffs to engage in direct citizen action? Go down to the local supermarket with a fist full of singles, stock up on produce, and use the self-checkout lane (see above bete noir). Just remember to limit your order to ten (10) items or less and don’t be unlucky enough to be in line in front of me.

Management knows no one plans to work checkout and bagging jobs forever, so it is unlikely much uproar will occur. They're right, these aren't dream jobs, largely because they have refused to make them so. But for most people, at some point in life, any job is a dream come true.

Yes, it’s called the first step on the ladder, entry-level, dude. Such jobs are always subject to replacement by machine. Perhaps YOUR ideal grocery store can have TWO employees at each checkout station: one to scan in the price and the other to do the arithmetic manually.

Sure, it isn't like utility meter readers, higher grossing workers, are being replaced with automated ways of doing their jobs -- wait, that, too, is happening. My gas meter is read from the street and instead of multiple employees and one week of work, it takes one person one day in a truck to record the whole town. Efficient for the company, yes, but my utility prices have not gone down.

That’s because the rates are regulated, you dope. These companies also have expensive benefits to pay out not only to their existing employees but their retirees, too.

Hell, why even have gas mains? We could probably have more jobs for drivers and clerks if the gas companies were required (or, better yet, incentivized by state and local taxes) to make periodic truck deliveries.

Prices for your groceries and home improvement materials will also continue to grow. In fact, the only change to come is the line at the store will get shorter, and not because it is self-checkout. The line will shorten because someone, a lot of someones, perhaps you or me or her or him, can now not afford to put dinner on the table or to patch the leak in the roof because a lot of jobs were getting axed while we rushed by to save a little time.

Just as the economy has collapsed because a) most grocery stores no longer do delivery because all of their customers have cars, b) most lumber yards no longer do much retail business, and c) most Harvard students no longer hire others to type (or proofread) their essays.

Put me down for “None of the Above” – self service, of course.

Yesterday was the day...

OK, the project is a little behind. The dumpster was delivered and placed in the driveway. However, there is still aluminum siding on the house. This project is going to drive me insane.
Why are we redoing the siding and windows?

Take a peek:

No, the house isn't pink -- it's beige. That's what happens to aluminum siding after 50 years. The above picture was taken before we moved in. I believe that this is inspection day. Anyhow, the tree you see in front is no longer there and the landscaping is a bit better out front. I will post more pictures later.


Today is the day...

The dumpster arrives today at the homestead -- in theory. Our contractor should be stripping the 50 year-old aluminum siding off of our house today and we'll get to see what shape the clapboards are in. New siding, new windows, oh my! I can't wait.
Stay tuned for more details and, quite possibly, pictures.


File this under "Why?"

This CNN story makes me wonder if elected officials are required to take a class on tact -- how not to have any.


Review: War of the Worlds

Well, this isn't a review per se, just a few thoughts on this summer blockbuster...

The Good
Dakota Fanning is the cutest, coolest, most wise-assed daughter a NJ container ship unloader could have. I've read reviews saying all this girl did was scream her way through the movie -- NOT TRUE. She is a breath of fresh air. Let's hope she keeps making movies -- good movies -- and doesn't turn into the next Lindsay Lohan. This girl has quite a career ahead of her.

The Bad
Not enough action. "WHAT?" you might say. Ok, there was plenty of action -- Tripods with vaporizer beams, air strikes by Apache helicopters, Marines peppering tripods with Javelin missiles -- it was just diluted by human drama [see below] -- especially lefty human drama. Not every movie needs some deep meaning! Can't we just be invaded by aliens for no reason whatsoever once in a while? Must we be compared to some plague and be forced to look into our hearts to know why we are the victims? If it doesn't work for understanding Al Qaeda, it won't work for aliens driving tripods. Sorry, it's true. Go back to hugging trees and blocking court nominations.

The Ugly
Tim Robbins. Need I say more? His character sucked -- plain and simple. I'm happy Tom Cruise's character killed him. Damn lefty. It would not have been so bad had his character not delivered his anti-war, anti-Iraq propaganda during the "this is way too long of a scene for the unmedicated masses" basement hideout scene. Tim's character says something like, "they're going to lose. The occupying force always loses." Great. That's what we need to hear, a whiny lefty delivering prophecies. Thanks, but no thanks. I have no qualms with the line, it just the combination of the line and who delivered it. It might just as well have been Susan Sarandon.

Enough for now.



London police shoot, kill suspect

His dying words: "Dude, when did you guys get guns?"


Gotta love the e-blog

This is great! A simple e-mail to an address at blogger and WHAMMO!!! I have a blog entry. Could it BE simpler. Please forgive me as I am on the dull edge of this blogging phenomenon.

Chiming In

This is my first ever blog post (as opposed to blog comment or email to a blogger that gets posted).

I'm preparing for an investment firm interview and don't have too much to say publicly right now.

But I promise to post more than once every two years.

Ok, so I lied...

What the hell is this? I'm going to have nightmares forever now. Isn't that the creepiest looking doll you've ever seen?

Let me take a second shot at this bloggin' thang...

Two posts in close to two years! I must say, at this rate I may just beat those 1,000,000 monkeys on typewriters...then again, I never really wrote much and when I did, I couldn't read it. It's hard reading what one has written -- there is something personal about it, something weird. Then again, it's probably just me.
I've picked a new template for the blog, maybe now I will get around to posting things. However, I haven't decided on what to post or what the editorial direction of this blog should be.

I can tell you the following:
  • It won't be about my job. I like my job and people don't want to hear about people's awesome jobs -- they want to hear about gross stupidity, butt-headed managers, silly business decisions, etc.
  • It won't be about other blogs. Why should it be? There are enough sites and blogs out there that cover other blogs.
  • It will be work safe.
  • It will have postings and stories about my cats. What can I say, my cats are attention getters and love seeing themselves published all over the web.
  • I may take content from either of my brothers who also just happen to share my surname. (funny how that works)
  • Nobody but my brothers and possibly my father will ever read this blog. (prove me wrong by leaving a comment)

That's about all for now.