July 19, 2014

list of books

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , at 7:15 pm by weiszguy

I’ve been keeping a list of books I’ve read for ten years now. That’s pretty crazy, and makes me feel old!

The list is linked at the right, in case you’re feeling bored. Looking over the list, I can remember where I was and what was going on in life at the point when I read each one. Well, most of them. Some I don’t even know what they are.

I recommend keeping a list like this. In ten years you’ll be glad you did.

June 18, 2014

hiring demographics

Posted in gender differences, philosophy tagged , , at 5:56 pm by weiszguy

If I ran Google, or Yahoo, or the government, or any other organization, we would hire the very best people we could find. In the engineering department, we would hire the very best engineers available. In accounting, marketing, and web-development, the same.

Race and sex would have nothing to do with the hiring decisions. Why would they? If we had a choice between two applicants, would we really choose the lesser of the two because that applicant came from a preferred demographic?

I don’t know if Google and Yahoo, et al, are actually being run this way. It’s possible they have hidden agendas we know nothing about. But if we assume they hire the best people, regardless of external factors, then why should we be upset about recent news that a majority are white males? They’re not hiring white males, they’re hiring engineers, accountants, and marketers.

http://qz.com/214558/google-diversity-in-technology/

If 47% of the U.S. workforce is female, but only 30% of Google’s employees are female, why would Google try to change that? Google isn’t trying to match the demographics of the U.S. workforce, they’re trying to get the best engineers, accountants, and marketers they can, right?

At least, that’s how it would be if I was in charge.

October 8, 2013

I took the FSOT

Posted in career, education tagged , , at 6:53 pm by weiszguy

I took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) on this weekend. The FSOT is the entrance exam for people who want to work in the Foreign Service, i.e., work in embassies and consulates in other countries. I don’t have the results yet, they said to expect results in 3-4 weeks.

The test is in four parts: job knowledge, biographical information, English expression, and the essay.

The job knowledge section was the hardest. Dozens of 4-choice multiple choice questions, covering history, geography, politics, economics, computers, and probably several other topics. The questions were difficult because many of the answers were very similar. I took several practice tests and was scoring in the mid-80s. The real test felt very similar to these practice tests, so my real score is probably similar.

The hardest section was the biographical information section. Again, dozens of multiple choice questions, this time about yourself. For example, how many times in the last six months have people come to you for help resolving a personnel issue? 0,1,2,3,4,5. If you answer anything other than zero, you have to list the specific incidents. This one in completely impossible to get a feel for. I decided it was best not to be humble, but not to stretch the truth either. I answered truthfully, but there’s no way to know exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t try to game this one.

The English expression portion of the test was the most difficult. You have  several paragraphs of text, with certain words or phrases underlined. You have to pick the best substitution for the underlined portions, from a list of substitutions. The test measures your grasp of the English language. I wish I would have had more time to think through all the choices, but I think I did alright anyway.

Of all the sections of the test, the essay was the most difficult. You have thirty minutes, including the time it takes to read the prompt (which is itself a small essay) and think of responses. THIS IS NOT MUCH TIME, although I suppose if you had more time, you would just think and type slower. I was able to come up with three points, and intro and conclusion, and beautiful transitions between them all. I don’t know if any of it made sense, but they kept saying they were looking only at the structure of the essay, and not the content. I went right down to the wire, finishing with seconds left on the clock. Also, typing QWERTY rather than Dvorak would be a big help.

May 8, 2013

crazy HuffPo

Posted in blogging tagged at 8:37 pm by weiszguy

What, exactly, is the Huffington Post all about?

Support for the Vietnam War is on the rise. Why?

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/5150b85078c90a2ef4000565

Kim Kardashian Pregnancy Weight Fat-Shaming: Why You Really Should Care

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-gray/kim-kardashian-pregnancy-weight-fat-shaming_b_2951324.html

How the Real Housewives Have Made America Better

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kareem-abduljabbar/the-real-housewives_b_3132360.html

What I Found in My 5-Year-Old Daughter’s Diary

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-bongiorno/what-i-found-in-my-daughters-diary_b_3088908.html

Here’s What Really Happens in the Women’s Bathroom

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-peck/what-happens-in-womens-bathroom_b_3194168.html

My Son Wears Pink: To Share or Not to Share?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-zuckerberg/my-son-wears-pink-to-shar_b_3219007.html

How to Meditate Your Way Through Menopause

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-sarver-dolgen/meditation-and-menopause-how-to-meditate_b_3163743.html

Alaska moose head donated to Navy warship

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130507/us-navy-warship-moose-head/

My Wife Is Not a Rotisserie Chicken or Leaky Faucet

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-guyton/my-wife-is-not-a-rotisserie-chicken-or-a-leaky-faucet_b_3197568.html

November 29, 2012

two context menus

Posted in office, technology tagged , at 6:19 pm by weiszguy

When I use Google Spreadsheets in Firefox, and I right-click in the spreadsheet, I get two right-click (context) menus, one from the browser, and one from the spreadsheet, like this:

two context menus

Is anyone else having a problem like this? Do you know how I can fix it?

Usually the two menus appear on top of each other, so I have to hit the Esc key to dismiss one menu before I can access the other.

two context menus

UPDATE:

I figured out the answer to this problem. In Firefox, go to Options, Content tab, click the “Advanced” button next to the “Enable JavaScript” check box, and then check “Disable or replace context menus”

Which, apparently, allows websites to disable or replace context menus.

Works in my version of Firefox, 20.0.1
Image

April 25, 2012

men and women

Posted in gender differences, human nature tagged , at 8:54 pm by weiszguy

We need men and women.

Not just in a biological sense. And not just in an inclusive, feel-good, be-at-one-with-humanity sense, either.

The reason we need men and women is because men and women are different. The two sexes have opposite and often complementary strengths and weaknesses. A world where women have no say would have too much of certain characteristics, and not enough of other, necessary, characteristics. The same is true of a world ruled by women.

Here’s what we don’t need. We don’t need men to be more like women. And we don’t need women to be more like men. We need men to be men. And we need women to be women. To tell a man to let his feminine side show is to remove from him the thing that society needs from him. To tell a woman to work on her masculine side is to remove from  her the thing that society needs from her.

That is all.

November 29, 2011

years of accumulated fitness

Posted in money at 6:55 pm by weiszguy

Now I’m the last one to harp on physical fitness, but this quote really spoke to me.

I’m finding that years of accumulated fitness are — literally — money in the bank.

Over the last few years I’ve started to see more and more of my peers spending money — lots of money — fixing their health. They are not necessarily in terrible shape, but few of them are as active as I am. They suffer from knee problems. Back problems. Shoulder problems. Digestive problems. Prostrate problems. Osteoporosis. Insomnia. Arthritis. Diabetes. Memory loss. Cancer.

Looking for help, they invest in prescription drugs, medications, hormones, supplements, complicated tests, scans, chiropractor visits, podiatrist visits, procedures, body replacements, surgeries, chemo and radiation. Not to mention expensive health care insurance.

I’m 6’0″, 280 lbs, and 39 years old. Maybe I’ll start thinking about this.

August 17, 2011

The Exterminator released today

Posted in giving, technology, video games tagged , , , at 7:51 am by weiszguy

5 teens in our church built an iPhone game. It’s called “The Exterminator”, and it goes on sale today in the App Store. All proceeds go toward the purchase of the old Rye high school, which we’re going to turn into a community center.

itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-exterminator/id451668182

Would you do two favors for me?

  1. Buy the game! It only costs $1. (works on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
  2. “Like” the game on Facebook. That will help with visibility.

FAQ

Was this game really written by teens?
Yes! I know them personally. They went to a teen retreat last winter, and the speaker there gave each group $100 and told them to make it grow and do something to benefit their communities. This is what our teens chose to do.

Are you really buying the old Rye high school?
Yes! What the Greenhorn Valley needs most is a place for people to hang out. Everybody has a “First Space”, their homes. Everybody has a “Second Space”, their work or school. What’s missing here is a “Third Space”, where people can hang out, chat, drink coffee, play basketball. That’s what we want to provide.

Where can I get more information?
148apps.com reviewed the game.
Our church has a page with a lot of detail.
The game has a Facebook page.
Here’s a YouTube trailer for the game.

April 27, 2011

finally, we have a birth certificate

Posted in politics, presidents, stuff I think about tagged , at 6:32 pm by weiszguy

We finally have a birth certificate!  Hopefully this whole thing will just go away now.  This was a pretty smart move by Team Obama: since the issue has been laid to rest, it won’t be an issue in the 2012 election, nobody will be able to attack Obama on that front, and there will be one less insufferable talking point to suffer through.

But there could be a much more strategic move at play here.  Could this be an effort by Team Obama to strengthen Team Trump, since Trump would be an easier foe to vanquish than Mitt Rominy or Tim Pawlenty?  Trump is already strutting his stuff.  He’s the guy who forced Obama’s hand!  He’s our hero!  But Obama knows (and I think we all know) that a Trump candidacy would be a joke.  When it comes down to the wire, who among us is going to vote for Trump over Obama?  Trump is like Ross Perot and Ron Paul – has some great ideas, but nobody will vote for him.

On the other hand, why can’t we force all candidates to show us their birth certificates?  Seriously.  The US Constitution makes two demands on any candidate for President: he must be 35 years of age, and he must be a natural-born citizen. See Article II, Section 1.  Why, in the past 222 years, has no one ever thought to check up on these candidates?  It is completely reasonable to have the Federal Election Commission certify each candidate for president.  The FEC can attest to the candidate’s age, and to his having been born in this country.  Then we would never have to go through this again.

Is there any chance this birth certificate could be a fake?

February 21, 2011

new tab in Google Spreadsheet

Posted in office tagged , at 7:23 am by weiszguy

I have a couple Google Spreadsheets that I use to track annual items. Every year, I add a new tab, and I keep the old tabs around for reference.

I have these spreadsheets bookmarked in my browser so I can get to them quickly without going through the docs list on Google Docs. The bookmarks are great, but after I added a new tab for 2011, the spreadsheet would still open in the old 2010 tab.

I discovered that the spreadsheet would open on the old tab if I used the bookmark, but it would open on the new tab if I used the docs list. The difference had to be the text of the URL, right?

Bingo.

Here’s the text of the URL from my bookmark:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AujXCaDA7ic1ctobe0oxN2N3OU5tSWZjc25rbUprSEE&hl=en#gid=5

and here’s the text of the URL from my docs list:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AujXCaDA7ic1ctobe0oxN2N3OU5tSWZjc25rbUprSEE&hl=en#gid=6

The ‘gid’ number at the end of the URL is a tab number. In this case, the spreadsheet will open on tab number 6, instead of tab number 5. I can open any tab in the spreadsheet just by changing that last digit.

If you’re having a similar problem, the solution is to delete your bookmark, open the spreadsheet from the docs list, then add a new bookmark.

February 17, 2011

dumb lies

Posted in human nature tagged at 6:25 pm by weiszguy

Once I went to Caracas, Venezuela with my youth group. While there I took a dare – and lost. The price for losing was shaving a patch of hair off my leg, in the middle of my thigh. Kind of embarrassing, but I enjoyed the attention.

I week later (back home) I was getting a physical. I checked out fine, but the doctor asked about the missing hair. I told him I just got back from Venezuela, where I was climbing a tree and scraped my leg.

The patch of missing hair was about 2 inches square, the skin was smooth, and there were no scratches or scrapes. There’s no way that doctor believed me.

To this day I don’t know why I made up that story. Was I embarrassed to have lost a dare? And why did I make up such a dumb story?

I wish I could go find that doctor and tell him, “Naw, I was just kidding!”

February 16, 2011

evernote in dropbox

Posted in stuff I think about, technology tagged , , at 8:37 pm by weiszguy

Would there be any benefit to putting your Evernote database in your Dropbox folder?

At first glance, maybe. If your Evernote database was in your Dropbox folder, then your Evernote database would be automatically synced across all your computing devices.

At second glance, no. Evernote itself is a syncing tool. Any device that you have Evernote installed on will automatically be synced with all your other computers. Thus, putting Evernote in Dropbox is an unnecessary redundancy.

At third glance, yes. The free version of Evernote imposes a 60 MB per month upload limit. This means you may have month left at the end of your uploads. To get around this, store your Evernote database in your Dropbox folder, and make your Evernote notebooks “local”. Local notebooks are not synced with Evernote, and don’t count against your upload limit, but since they’re in Dropbox, they’ll be synced with all your devices anyway.

February 14, 2011

kindleboards

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , at 7:48 am by weiszguy

If you read www.kindleboards.com, like I do, you’ve probably noticed several large sections of ads at the top of the page that push the content way down the page, and sometime even completely off the page. I got annoyed. So I wrote a script to remove just the middle section of ads. Find it at http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/96735 Just push the “Install” button.

February 8, 2011

publicly owned pro sports teams

Posted in investing tagged , at 8:25 pm by weiszguy

A friend of mine was bragging recently about his favorite football team, the Packers, which is publicly owned.  Being publicly owned is a huge advantage over private ownership, because the team isn’t as susceptible to the whims of the owner.

I’ve never heard of a publicly owned team before, so I went to check it out.  From the blurb on Google Finance, I found out that “shares [of the Packers] do not increase in value nor pay dividends, and can only be sold back to the team.”  Kind of curious.  Share prices that don’t fluctuate, don’t pay dividends, and can’t be sold?  I give the team some money and I get nothing for it?

On the Packers website, I learned that there have only been four offerings of shares in the history of the team, and there is no way to buy in at any other time but the offerings.

None of this makes any sense.

But what if we had actual, publicly-owned, publicly-traded sports teams?  You could buy and sell shares of the teams on the open market, and the share price would fluctuate with supply and demand.  Each team could potentially pay dividends, or not, just like any other public company, whose board decides dividends based on the best interests of the shareholders.

Different teams would have different share prices, of course.  Buying a share of the Green Bay Packers in the week before their Super Bowl appearance would probably cost a small fortune.  Shares of the Carolina Panthers, after a somewhat underwhelming 2-14 season, could be had for a song.

Now all we need is to convince Jerry Jones to go public.

January 31, 2011

create your own extended warranty

Posted in budget, investing, saving, stuff I think about tagged at 7:32 pm by weiszguy

Extended warranties are almost always a bad idea.  An extended warranty is the protection plan offered to you when you buy some gadget or other.  Relative to the cost of the gadget, the extended warranty is pretty expensive, and you almost never get the opportunity to take advantage of it.

In other words, your gadget almost never breaks in the period of time covered by the extended warranty.  It may break early on, due to a manufacturing defect, in which case the plain vanilla warranty that comes standard will cover the repair.  Or it may break due to old age, which will be after the extended warranty period is expired.  Result?  You gave the company a bunch more of your money and didn’t get anything for it.

The problem is, declining the extended warranty makes you nervous.  What if it does break during the extended period?  Won’t you be upset you didn’t buy the warrant?

Try this.  Next time you are offered an extended warranty, ask what the cost is, but then decline the plan.  When you get home, take that amount of money and set it aside in your own “extended warranty” fund.  Do this every time you are offered a plan.  Eventually that fund will be really big, because you won’t ever need it.  You’ll save yourself the expense, you’ll earn interest, and if you ever do have a covered accident, you’ll have plenty of money to just buy yourself a new one.  Beauty, eh?

January 25, 2011

old search engines never die

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , at 8:26 pm by weiszguy

Back in the early (pre-Google) days of the internet there were many, many, MANY, search engines vying for your searches. One of these, Yahoo!, has succeeded (at least so far). But when’s the last time you heard of AltaVista, Excite, Hotbot, Lycos, or MyWay? Guess what? They’re still there!

Why are they still there? Is it for nostalgic purposes? Somebody just can’t bear to pull the plug on a bit of internet history? Is it possible these engines are still making money? Surely not.

Why didn’t they succeed? They weren’t properly capitalized? They were too confusing? Not a cool enough name?

January 20, 2011

value of a college education

Posted in career, education tagged at 6:13 pm by weiszguy

College isn’t for everyone. So many people go to college without knowing why. They go just because that’s what you’re supposed to do after high school. But they don’t have a goal in mind – there is nothing that they are trying to do that requires the college education.

So they end up wasting several years of their lives while racking up astronomical debt that they can’t repay because they don’t know what they want to do.

Now add to that this study that shows a large chuck of the college population isn’t even learning anything.

http://consumerist.com/2011/01/study-many-students-learn-little-in-college.html

If you are finishing high school and you don’t know what you want to do – DON’T GO TO COLLEGE!  Kill some time, goof off, join the military, work in the family business, start your own business – heck, get a job flipping burgers. After you’ve done that for a while you’ll probably have some idea what you want to do. But whatever you do, don’t go to college unless you can tell me in two sentences why you’re going.

January 19, 2011

folgers destroyed our coffee maker

Posted in Starbucks tagged , at 12:04 pm by weiszguy

The coffee maker at work hadn’t been used in months when I inherited it a while back, and the prehistoric sludge inside supported a thick layer of fuzzy green gunk. I took it home and scrubbed everything I could reach, and twice gave it the vinegar detox treatment.

I brought it back to work and filled it with cold, filtered water and brewed Starbucks finest blend in it. The aroma wafted through the office and drew all coffee lovers to it, and some only occasional coffee lovers.

This happy scene replayed itself day after day until, one day, we had no more grounds. I stole some grounds from another coffee maker in the building – but these were no ordinary grounds, no, these were Folgers finest blend.

The aroma was instantly revolting. It smelled bitter and metallic, as if it had come from Louisiana through an interstate pipeline. The flavor (once I got over the aroma) lacked anything beyond brown heated water.

The coffee didn’t get any better over the next few days. Thinking the problem was the grounds, I brought in some home-ground Starbucks to test my hypothesis. The ugly, bitter, metallic aroma and flavor disappeared instantly, as if by magic. I tried Folgers again the next day, and the ugliness returned.

The next batch of grounds the company purchased for office use was Folgers. No use complaining to HR – what was done was done. It took two months to use up that tub of nastiness, and then HR was persuaded to remedy its ways and return to Starbucks.

But this time the Starbucks didn’t taste the same. It was different from the Folgers, but it wasn’t as good as previous Starbucks attempts. I made Starbucks again the next several days, but it was never as good.

Taking the coffee maker home for another detox didn’t help. Brewing more Starbucks didn’t help. I even brewed another pot of Folgers just to see if the Folgers was tasting different too. No joy.

Folgers destroyed our coffee maker.

January 16, 2011

what would you do if

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , at 9:49 pm by weiszguy

… you found $1 million dollars in a duffel bag?

… you lost 30 pounds?

… you lost 100 pounds?

… a meteor fell on your dog?

… you hiccupped for three days straight?

… you could play the piano well?

… you had a successful book published?

… you still had money in the bank at the end of the month?

… you knew the answers to everything?

January 13, 2011

why I blog

Posted in blogging, philosophy tagged , at 6:43 pm by weiszguy

I blog because I need a place to work out my thoughts. Often I start daydreaming, if that’s the right word, and when I come to, I realize I’ve been explaining something very carefully, as if to another person. Sometimes this is something I understand very clearly, so my explaining was as if I was teaching something to a child. Sometimes the thing I’ve been explaining I don’t understand at all, and so my explaining was more like exploring.

In any case, I’ve had this conversation going on in my head, and I need to get this stuff out of my head while I still remember it, because it will quickly leave my head, and then be gone. I flatter myself that one day, I’ll have had something important going on in there. If that day ever comes, I want it recorded.

Readers
Do I expect people to actually read this stuff? No, I don’t. Occasionally I may say something that really hits home with someone else, but since I blog about such a wide variety of things, I don’t expect very much of what I write to hit home very often.

Writing
Am I just doing this to jump-start a wish to be a potential wannabe writer? No, I am not. I don’t want to write for a living and I’m not trying to gain a following.  I suppose if someone came to me with a lucrative book contract I’d have to think about it for a bit, but that’s not what I’m gunning for here.

January 12, 2011

CCMD meeting report

Posted in newspaper, stuff I think about tagged , at 7:25 pm by weiszguy

Here is a report of the CCMD meeting I attended last night.  This report will appear in the January 19, 2011, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

***

At the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Colorado City Metropolitan District, held on January 11, 2011, the board passed Resolution 1-2011, designating posting places within the district and county.  By law, all public boards and committees must give public notice of their meetings.  The Colorado City Metropolitan District will post official notices of all meetings in 2011 at the office of the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder, at the CCMD Administration Building, at the Rec Center in Colorado City, at the Post Office in Colorado City, and on the CCMD website at http://www.coloradocitymetro.us/

Also at the meeting, the board rescinded its lease of the Community Center to R&L Airgun Supply.  The board had previously approved the lease to R&L, but since that time, R&L has discovered that it is unable to move into the facility due to zoning restrictions. (http://www.rlairgunsupply.com/)

The board discussed reinstating the Golf Course Advisory Board.  The board needs this committee of golf course advocates to make suggestions for improvements to the golf course, run events to raise funds for the golf course, suggest policies and fees, and volunteer time for getting things done at the golf course.  The board is considering starting up the Golf Course Advisory Board with representative members from the different golf associations, and one at-large member.

The next meeting of the CCMD Board of Directors will be at 6:00pm, on January 25, 2011, at the CCMD Administration Building.

January 11, 2011

go ahead – gloat

Posted in human nature, money, movies tagged , , at 5:34 am by weiszguy

The natural human instinct is to gloat.

You win a game of foosball, you gloat over your opponent. You get beat, you expect the winner to gloat.

You find a duffel bag with $1 million in small, unmarked bills, you can’t keep it to yourself. You buy things. You treat your friends. You take your closest friend, in strictest confidence, to the back closet where you stashed the loot – just to show it off.

You get a big promotion, you sell a manuscript, your son scores the winning touchdown. You gloat.

It’s also the reason there are so many movies and books where the bad guy has the good guy at gunpoint and says, “Since you’re going to die anyway, I might as well tell you everything…” And then he ties up all the loose ends in the story. The bad guy needs to good guy to understand exactly why he is going to lose, exactly why the bad guy is so brilliant.

Try it sometime. Next time you run into incredible good luck, or achieve some big accomplishment, try not to tell anyone. Try to keep it to yourself.

January 10, 2011

200 year plan

Posted in inheritance, money tagged at 9:47 am by weiszguy

A while back I wrote about a five-year plan. Recently I’ve been challenged to take a bit longer view – I’ve started working on the 200 year plan. Whoa! Why 200 years? I’ll be long dead, and so will my children and grandchildren. In fact, I expect seven to eight generations will be following me in the next 200 years.

What will life be like in 2211? Will it be as different from 2011 as 2011 is from 1811? Will we finally have Jetson-style flying cars? Will we fly faster than light? Will my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren still be suffering from the common cold? What will that eighth generation look like? How many people will be members of that generation? And more importantly, why should I put together a 200 year plan that proposes to teach that generation anything? What can I possibly teach somebody who won’t be born until after my name is long forgotten? What can someone 200 years ago teach me today?

200 year from now technology will be completely different; national boundaries will be different; moral, ethical, and cultural norms will be different. Even the world’s major religions, while they will probably still be around, will be very different. About the only thing that will be unchanged is human nature, which has been constant for millennia.

Humans will always be looking for happiness. We will always try to make the world better for ourselves and for our children (although maybe not for someone else’s children). We will always have the need to explore and invent. We will always feel the effects of love and hate, friendship and betrayal, birth and death.

Given the constantly changing state of the world, and the unchanging state of human nature, I’d like my progeny to know it’s not all about money. In fact, looking at a 200 year time line, money is almost useless, unless it is used to further human development and understanding. Money can’t buy love, friendship, or eternal life, but it can ease hunger, search for cures for incurable diseases, and establish colonies in outer space.

If you’re reading this in the 23rd century — Hi! I can’t tell you how to communicate with your “computers” or how to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. But I can tell you to seek the things money can’t buy, and to use your money to help others seek the things money can’t buy.

snow day

Posted in stuff I think about tagged at 6:40 am by weiszguy

Snow day!  You know what that means, don’t you?

It means I’ll be going to work just like every other day!

I noticed long ago that snow days were more about an extra day off for teachers and students than about the snow.

UPDATE: I couldn’t make it very far down my road today.  Had to turn around and come back. I take back all those horrible things I said about teachers and students.

January 8, 2011

decapitated christmas tree

Posted in stuff I think about tagged at 9:56 pm by weiszguy

We decided this would be the last year for our Christmas tree.  We’ve had it for several years, and my parents had it for several years before that.

It’s supposed to be a pre-lit tree, but when we set it up this year, several of the bulbs were out.  I tried all the usual troubleshooting options, of course, but the tree didn’t respond favorably.

I’m sitting beside it now.  We took the top third of the tree and threw it in the trash.  (Throwing it out little by little over a month means we don’t have to pay extra for trash hauling.)  Of the remaining two-thirds, a couple entire strings of lights are out.  It’s a sad, helpless tree.

But… we get to have a new tree next year.  We’ll probably get a real tree for a change, or maybe even a live tree that we can plant in the yard when the season is over.

January 7, 2011

why?

Posted in stuff I think about tagged at 9:55 pm by weiszguy

A young man in our church ended his life yesterday.  The pain and hurt among his family and friends is so real you can touch it.  As bad as the pain is, however, the one thing we all want to know, and that we will never be able to know, is Why?

It’s seriously aggravating.  We would love to have known why so that we could help him.  We would love to know why so that we can help others in similar situations.  But now what?  The deed is done, a life is lost, and the lessons remain unlearned.  And there’s nothing we can do about it.

January 6, 2011

leg cramp

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , , at 5:32 am by weiszguy

Summer mornings in Kentucky are cold.  However hot it might get during the day, you’re going to want a little something to keep you warm in the early hours.

The swimming pool at E. P. Tom Sawyer State Park stayed busy all day during the summer, so the swim team had to practice at 6 am.  They would have started earlier if the sun had allowed.

With the seeds still in my eyes, I dove in to begin the warm-up laps.  But this particular morning, my leg objected.  The muscle cramp absolutely forbid that I should swim one stroke more.

The coach made me get out of the water and lay on a deck chair, while two of the female staff massaged my leg.  In all the years since that day, I have never had a better work out.

I was reminded of this story by a leg cramp at 4:45 this morning.

January 5, 2011

women laughing alone with salad

Posted in stuff I think about tagged , , at 8:25 pm by weiszguy

What is it about women and salad?

http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-salad/

Can salad have this same kind of effect on men, too?  I better stay away from it, just in case.

why you should use Google Docs

Posted in office, technology tagged , at 7:18 pm by weiszguy

Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) is an online office suite par excellence.  It has all the components you have come to expect from an installed office package (word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program), plus a few others (forms and drawings).

Google Docs exists entirely online.  You don’t have software on your computer, you don’t have files on your computer.  All you need is access to the internet.

Benefits:

  • You save all your documents online.  You no longer need to worry about running out of space on your hard drive.  And you don’t have to worry about backing up your files, either.  Google’s systems are infinitely redundant.  If your hard drive crashes, you won’t lose anything.
  • You don’t have to try to remember which computer a certain file is on.  Your files are on the internet and you can reach them from any computer with internet access.
  • You don’t have to try to keep multiple copies of a file in sync.  For example, a certain file is on your home computer, so you bring a copy of the file to work so you can have it there, too.  Now you have multiple copies, and you have to think about keeping all your changes consistent across all your copies.
  • You don’t have to install any software.  You also don’t have to apply any patches or upgrades.  When Google makes changes to their applications, you see it automatically when you log in.
  • You don’t have to email documents to other people.  Attaching a document to an email usually isn’t all that hard, but it’s one less step nonetheless.  Plus, no more merging changes from other people with the master document on your computer.  If you want someone to see the document, you just invite them!
  • You can have multiple people working on a document at the same time.  You can see where each person is in the document, and you can see what they are changing.  Again, this also saves the step of merging changes from multiple copies.
  • If you absolutely need a local copy of a document, you can download it in any of several common office formats, and use your local software to edit it.

If you don’t like Google…
Some folks have an aversion to all things Google.  If this is you, Zoho (http://docs.zoho.com) is another great option for you.  Everything I’ve said about Google Docs also applies to Zoho.  Check it out.

January 4, 2011

RSS – simple!

Posted in blogging, technology tagged , at 8:04 pm by weiszguy

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and that is probably the easiest definition possible.  It’s a way to syndicate, really simply.

Not as many people take advantage of RSS as could benefit by it.  Let’s take a look at the benefits of RSS, and then a quick and easy way to set it up.

The Problem

The reason many people are not taking advantage of RSS, is because they don’t realize how powerful it can be, i.e., they don’t realize they have a problem.

Let’s take a hypothetical internet user named Merlin.  Merlin is a savvy citizen of the 21st century – he gave up television news for Yahoo News.  He particularly like the sports section and his local news section.  He also follows blogs about economics, eastern European politics, and miniature shih tzus.  Merlin visits these five news sources every day.  He has them all bookmarked in his browser.

If Merlin wants to add a new source of information, he has to bookmark it, and then visit it every day.  His list of sites to visit every day quickly becomes quite long, and visiting them all takes more and more time with each new source.  To make matters worse, sometimes there is nothing new on his blogs, and so he has wasted his time checking them out.

What Merlin doesn’t know is there is an elegant solution that combines all his favorite news sources in one place, and only shows him new information.

The Solution

An RSS feed reader is analogous to an email program.  But instead of showing emails, a feed reader shows “feeds”.  A feed is a stream of information from a particular source, published using the RSS standard.  When Merlin starts looking for feeds, he discovers that Yahoo publishes all their sports information on a “Sports” feed.  The miniature shih tzu blog also has a feed.

In a feed reader, Merlin subscribes to these feeds, and the feeds of all his other favorite news sources, and can see them all in one place.  When the Vikings win the Super Bowl, Yahoo adds a story about the miracle to their Sports feed, and Merlin reads it in his feed reader, at the same time he reads the latest economics news, and the latest news from eastern Europe.  Merlin never misses an important story, and he doesn’t waste time surfing to sites that haven’t been updated.

To his great surprise, Merlin discovers that adding new feeds is painless, and reading all his feeds takes much less time than visiting each web site individually.  With all the time he has saved, Merlin adds new feeds with reckless abandon, and is able to keep up with all of them easily.

Getting Started

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a feed reader.  If you have a favorite reader go ahead and use it.  If you don’t have a favorite, use mine – Google Reader http://www.google.com/reader.

Sign in, or create an account if you need to.  Then in the upper left corner of the page, click the “Add a subscription” button.  Then type in the name of the site that has the feed you want to subscribe to.  Google Reader will automatically discover the feed and add it to your list.  Repeat this process with each of your favorite news sources, and soon you’ll a list of feeds that contains all the news that thrills you.  If you’re using a different feed reader, you’ll see different buttons, but the process will be the same.

After you have subscribed to all your feeds, you won’t have to visit those web sites again.  Just open your feed reader, read all the news, and save yourself all the time of visiting each sites separately.

Also, please subscribe to this blog in your reader!

 

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