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Showing posts from 2010

Pain Revisited

After my bout with the migraine, my back continued to hurt to the point where I could barely walk, as every movement and step with my right leg gave me screaming pain, enough so to bring literal tears to my eyes. I emailed a friend with whom I had planned to go to the movies yesterday and canceled. Yesterday, Wednesday, I called my MIL, who is a nurse, and asked her advice about going to my GP or the ER and simply what she thought I should do about the pain/discomfort.

With the time of year, and with the poor medical system in this town, she recommended that my GP was most likely out of town/away and that I would sit for literally hours in the ER without being seen-- which wouldn't help my back and would probably make me sicker, what with all the ill people that would be there (their doctors being out of town too). She recommended taking some Midol/Aleve, keeping the heating pad on it, and taking a hot bath or shower as soon as my wife got home (so, if I couldn't get out of th…

Privacy

Why is a customer's privacy so hard for current programmers/companies to safeguard?

Recently there have been many articles, lawsuits, and news programs/segments dedicated to showing just how much of your personal data is constantly leaked to third parties (just one example, here). I find it mind-boggling that these same companies, Facebook and Apple in particular, year in and year out are the subject of these lawsuits and reports, yet don't fix the system so it doesn't happen. It literally is cheaper for them to settle the lawsuits or go to court each time than it is to simply fix it so it can't happen.

Some will argue, "But you are using a social networking site, you take that risk!" No, actually, I don't. Just because a site is based around the idea of connecting with others doesn't mean I automatically give up my right to choose to whom I give my personal data. I use Facebook to connect with people I actually know. I limit my app usage. I am NOT, i…

Hurts So (Not) Good

Sometimes, being me hurts more than other times. Today is one of those days. I woke up to a splitting, pounding headache. Within an hour it had turned into a low-level migraine, which caused me to wear my sunglasses in the house and avoid too loud of noises (I wasn't sound sensitive, but I didn't want to push it either). Then a spot on my lower back, on my right side, suddenly decided to swell and cause excruciating pain whenever I moved around.

All this on a day where it snows 5 inches over night and we have to go out and do some shoveling. There is, simply, no way to avoid bright lights when you are in a winter wonderland. The snow reflects and redirects any light like a mirror. The shoveling hurt like hell on my back. By the time we were done, I was easing toward medium strength migraine, my back hurt worse than ever, and I was having hot/cold flashes, was sweaty, and disgruntled.

The migraine eased back with some more Advil and with the darkening of the skies and sunset. T…

Paying the (Court) Costs

I think that the easiest way to cut down the plethora of frivolous lawsuits is to pass a federal statute that says that the loser and the law firm of any lawsuit, be it federal, civil, class-action, or any other type, must pay all the legal fees and court costs of BOTH SIDES of the lawsuit.

Recently, a fan at a Jets game in 2008 sued a player who threw a gigantic snowball at him. If you watch the video (here), you see that the fan is excited to have been the recipient of the snowball, sort of dances around and waves the big ball of snow around in celebration. Yet, two years later, he is suing the player for lost wages, emotional damages, future lost earnings, and a whole host of other issues.

If he had been injured enough to be out of work due to this incident, he would not be reacting as he did to it. He would have gone down in a heap and not gotten up. Paramedics would have been called to the stadium and he would have left on a gurney and been in the hospital in traction.

The man is…

How to Fix DC Comics: Kryptonians

DC Comics has a nice panoply of heroes and an interesting and long history. However, it constantly struggles with the interconnectedness of its far-flung characters and the hierarchy of the characters as they related to one another within the fictional universe. The following idea came to me as a way in which to resolve some of these issues.

Kryptonians and their powers are one of the toughest aspects of the DC Universe. Through Kal-El/Superman, we know that the Kryptonians are god-like in their abilities when given a strong enough power source (our yellow star). Overall, however, the Kryptonian's history has been varied and subject to change. I suggest DC Comics codifies it (within reason) using the following history.
~~~~~~~ Sometime in the far distant past, the Kryptonians were a proud and strong race of bipedal humanoids. They were a scientifically advanced species, curious about the universe in general. There arose within their ranks a leader who was charismatic and persuasiv…

Anonymous Gifts

When I give to a charity or cause, I prefer to do it low-key and behind the scenes. I don't like people to know, I don't share how much or when or what causes I give to with my friends or family, and I support what I support because I want to at that moment, and for no deeper meaning.

I get irritated when charities then use their ways and means to continue to ply me for money. I gave what I gave when I gave it... leave me alone. If you leave me alone, you are much more likely to get me to donate again in the future.

Most, however, hammer me to the point where I ask them to remove my name from their rolls and to never contact me again. Which they rarely do.

I have given to a host of causes in the past: AIDS, breast cancer, the homeless, food at holiday times, liver research, cancer research, ALS, arthritis. I've given my stuff to shelters and Good Will and churches.

But, and here's the catch, I do it all anonymously and simply because I feel like it that day and for no …

Movie Frustration

I am an avid movie watcher. It is one of my most favorite things to do. I feel that movies are America's "oral tradition," the way in which it hands down its values and stories to the next generation, and presents itself to other cultures.

Lately, however, I have been very disappointed in the movies in general. Hollywood has gone soft, preferring to rehash the same old story rather than finding the gem in the submission file. While it is true that remakes and sequels can be good (see Toy Story 3 for one example), it most often is not.

Most recently, my wife and I went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It, like so many movies, is based on an existing story which has lasted and has been beloved for years (decades in this particular case). Yet, outside of a decent opening scene, using the names, and the general theme being the same, the producers, writers, and director decided to completely change the story for the screen. They took an exciting action/adventure story, with…

Sick Again

Since I take medications that lower my immune system responses, I get sick a lot. If you are a frequent reader to my blog, you already know this from many past blogs on the subject. However, since moving to my present location, I have been much healthier than ever for a few reasons: my wife helps me to eat better; I work from home, so I don't constantly get hit by sick people and people's sick children in an office environment; with the weather here, I don't go out as much so, again, I'm not around as many other people who are carrying their own germs.

My wife goes out of her way to avoid sick people at her office, to keep herself healthy, and to try not to bring anything home. Most of our friends know about my health, so they try to limit exposing me to stuff if they are sick, too. So, overall, I'm better than ever these days.

However, I still get sick. The cold swings, the wet weather, the fact it is unavoidable to go out sometimes, seeing friends (many of whom h…

DCUO Revisited

I guess the big problem I have with DCU Online is that it is a massively multiplayer online game. If it was a simple first-person style action game, without being online (or, like Diablo 1 and 2 were, possible to play online with friends but not a requirement), it would be worth the $50 for the game just for the action and the graphics, both of which are well-done.

However, they want you to play with others online, and plan to charge $15 a month to do so. The problem I have is that the stories are not immersive enough, there is nearly zero replayability in the game, and the action feels just about the same regardless of the character type and style you select. I guess you could play it twice-- once as a hero and once as a villain. However, Sony will likely find the same thing is true for their eventual audience that they found in City of Heroes/Villains and Champions Online-- in general, the people who want to play these games want to be, well, heroes. COV never had more than about a …

DC Universe Online

The Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) for the new game DC Universe Online (DCUO), currently in Closed Beta, was lifted yesterday. It is now safe to talk about the game. Unfortunately for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), this means that many of us in the closed beta can warn people away from this game.
When creating a game in a genre that already exists, most manufacturers look at their competition, do some data mining on what works and what doesn't work, and try to “one up” their predecessors by keeping what works and by fixing what doesn't work. Sony did not choose to do this in any noticeable way. So instead of a game that is incrementally better than either City of Heroes/Villains (COX) or Champions Online (CO), you have a game that has all of their faults and a few new ones of its own.
Ostensibly, DCUO was made as both a PC game and a game for the PS3 console system. However, those two clients will run entirely separately at launch. This means that PC users of the game will neve…

Giving 'Til it Hurts

I hate the double-standard to which America is held. Most nations deplore American's "meddling ways." They publicly denounce anything that the country does that may be construed as tampering with their country. They hate American businesses coming in and driving out the local businesses. They curse our politics and our "war mongering" ways.

That is, they hate it all until a disaster strikes, whether man-made or natural. No nation gives more money, food, or personnel to a disaster than America. If America decided not to give to the next big disaster, the world would suddenly shoulder so much responsibility, both financial and other, that the other nations would come crying back to us for our assistance.

Most of those Arab nations that hate us and from which it seems the vast majority of anti-Western terrorist seem to spring would cease to exist without American business, American imports/exports, American tourism, and American financial and military assistance. …

TMI

The Information Age, indeed. I am drowning in information. Everywhere I go there is something new, something probative, something radical, something obscene, something political, or something religious screaming at me. The news cycle is twenty-four hours a day, which means that reports and news providers have to keep hitting it (whatever it happens to be) until you are unconscious and don't care any more.

The first signs of this apocalypse should have been one of these:
The first war in Iraq, where CNN came into its own and had people glued to their TV sets watching minute by minute updates on what was happening. At least during this one, people still cared through the hours and days of the war.The OJ trial, where people were glued to their TV sets watching a sports figure trying to put skin-tight gloves over plastic gloves. People couldn't get enough and were turned into news junkies looking for their next fix of OJ info during the day and flipped on the TV as soon as they got…

First Snow

There is something almost magical about the first snowfall of the year
The world grows quiet and sounds of everyday life are unclear
Even the children's howls of joy seem somehow subdued
White powder covers the world and everything seems new
Fresh and clean and with my worries and cares
Held in check as gossamer flakes fall through the air
Cold seems less a hindrance and I breathe in the crisp morning
Standing just inside my door with thoughts of snowmen aborning
Images of lopsided snow angels and stout forts dotting the land
With a sigh I shut the door and return to the work at hand
The passions of youth must be delayed at least for a time
As toward work and bills and mature endeavors I turn my mind
But with a rueful grin and one more backward glance
I promise swift return to this snow covered world that entranced
Me into rolling back the years the aches the lost chances and with youthful glee
I will return to this winter wonderland and, in turn, the child inside will return to m…

Amazon Item Grouping

I simply don't understand why Amazon.com even has the "group my items" selection available during checkout. I have not had one order with multiple items in it ship together since September 2009.

My wife and I order using Amazon quite often. When the item(s) are for us, we have to drive a fair amount to get to the location where we can have them delivered. I know we're not alone in this, as many rural people, near-border individuals, and even apartment dwellers often cannot ship directly to their homes and have to have a PO Box, package delivery location, or similar and some just aren't close by. When the items I've requested to be grouped ship separately, this often means separate hour-long drives to the pick up location, costing me time, gas costs, and other frustrations that could be minimized if the items were actually grouped together.

What is further irritating is that Amazon shows me the items in question as "in stock" but doesn't tell me …

To Cry For

I'm not the most emotional person you could meet. I keep most of the "big" emotions locked down tight and don't share them or show them often. Oh, you'll see me laughing and smiling often enough, or possibly angry, but you won't see me sad or hurt very often.

Movies and stories in a very specific area do bring out the tears in me, though. If I'm watching a story where the protagonists are making the choice to sacrifice themselves or purposely do something knowing they will fail but choosing to do it anyway, the action stirs something within me.

Last night, my wife caught me with tears streaming down my face. I was watching an ESPN E:60 story about a child who simply loves baseball but was born with progeria. The child was 7, but had a body of a 60-70 year. He only grew to be 27" tall. He had to overcome almost dying in the hospital at birth, and a host of illnesses and trouble since then. But all the child wanted to do was play baseball, so the paren…

Republican "Victory"

The Republicans and Tea Party got what they wanted, victory over the hated Democrats in Congress and a narrowing of the margin in the Senate. They also won a number of governor positions in many states.

However, looking at it historically, this may not actually have been what the Republicans wanted.

In the last 100 or so years, every President who lost the House and or Senate during mid-term elections has won re-election. This bodes well for Obama's presidency.

The Republicans, who brought us to a recession and nearly a depression over eight years of spending, tax cuts, and blaming Democrats, will now have to convince the public that the fact the economy has stabilized in the last two years is somehow their doing, even though they fought the Democrats every step of the way in some of the most contentious battles in recent decades. Will the American public buy into it?

In the past, cross party mid-term changes have allowed for some of the best compromises to be passed into law. Jus…

President Obama's Accomplishments, mid-term

I know the far right and Tea Party members in particular don't want to be abused by facts, so this won't make any difference to them as we near the mid-term elections, but I thought it interesting to note the accomplishments of our current President at the mid-term. Here's hoping he is this productive in the second two years of his presidency.

~~~

Thanks to Robert P. Watson, PhD., Professor of American Studies, Lynn University, who compiled this list and writes “Like all presidents, Barack Obama has made mistakes. But, as a presidential historian, I have been struck by claims being put forward by Obama’s many critics and the news media that he has accomplished little when, in fact, his presidency is easily one of the most active in history.” ETHICSOrdered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009) Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and tran…