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Comment Been there, done that. (Score 1) 770

My heart goes out to you. My house took a lightning hit many years ago and I lost 3 TVs, 4 VCRs (it was a long time ago), 1 CD player, one combo CD/LaserDisc player (like I said, a long time ago), all our phones, several appliances, and even the house intercom.

My advice is to shop carefully and don't expect to replace everything. Generally, I'd say get the best-suited, most versatile core components of a system that you can eventually grow back to the same level of usefulness and convenience you once had.

Avoid the temptation to get something cheap to fill every slot that's been emptied. If you do, you get all your functionality back immediately but you'll ultimately be unhappy with the quality of your purchases.

Comment Great! I'd rather see them play with real guns... (Score 1) 335

...like this 13-year-girl. She's getting out of the house, away from staring at a screen, spending time with family and learning useful skills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yd4B77PkeaU

I feel sorry for folks stuck living in places where this sort of thing is prohibited or considered socially unacceptable.

Comment Over 110K names, some turnover, how we did it (Score 4, Interesting) 383

Where I last worked, there were over 110K employees and we had plenty of people sharing the same name. Here's how it went.

Default: first.last@xxx.gov

Same names: first.middleinitial.last@xxx.gov

Still the same: Senior employee got first.middleinitial.last@xxx.gov. Junior employee got first.x.last@xxx.gov.

Still the same? Increment the middle initial. The first person with the same name as someone else got an "x", the second person got a "y", the third got a "z", and I don't think we ever needed to exceed that. If necessary, we would have just continued through the alphabet, starting back at "a".

The biggest single problem we had with names and email addresses was employees who were legally empowered to use a different identity when dealing with the public. Anything that the public might see (their name or signature on a document, their email address, etc.) was a pseudonym, yet we had to use their legal names for internal purposes. Undercovers are a pain but I assume the OP won't be dealing with that. :-)

Comment Maybe we can call it The Amiga Principle (Score 1) 171

From an early age, my dad taught me that anything that was truly popular probably wasn't the best because (1) the best usually costs too much to be popular and (2) most people are too ignorant to make the best choice, so if most people choose it, it's probably not best.

I'm old now and have had a chance to observe how these principles play out in the real world over many decades. You'd be surprised how often I've found his wisdom has applied.

Comment Work, of course (Score 1) 256

I used to always volunteer to work. The office would be empty and I could always get some serious work done on those odd projects that always get put off into the future.

Luckily, my former employer usually cut everyone loose at about 2pm or so. By then, as my sis always says, "It gets drunk out early." After the invariably hair-raising drive home, I stayed there.

Everclear and soda can do a perfectly adequate job of putting me on my butt if that's my goal or maybe I'll just go to bed. I never understood the reason for partying during really big events where the crowd crush is such a pain. I'm happy to party at the drop of a hat but this particular holiday is just too overdone.

Comment Re:Is the primary commemorative plaque definitive? (Score 1) 149

Informative, but no. Before the park was refurbished with a new central fountain, those walls, and those granite plaques, that spot had almost nothing on it except a few large bronze medallions set in the concrete at ground level at the entrance. You walked over the plaque I was originally thinking of.

That's the right spot, though. Interesting to see what's there now.

Wow - it HAS been a long time since I walked that park. Now that I think about it, it's probably been around 20 years. I shouldn't be surprised things have changed that much.

But if the "a" was carried over from the original bronze to the new granite (I'll take your word for it; I can't make out anything), then I guess my original point still stands.

Comment Is the primary commemorative plaque definitive? (Score 4, Interesting) 149

Last time I was there, at Tranquility Park in downtown Houston, across from the old federal building/current federal courts at 515 Rusk, there was a giant plaque at the entrance to the park quoting those first words from the moon.

The quote included the missing "a".

Somebody thought highly enough of the theory that the article belonged in the sentence that they cast it in bronze, decades ago, soon after the landing.

It's been a while since I've been in that park. Is there anybody who works nearby who can verify that the plaque, complete with the "a", is still there? It used to be at the corner entrance on the Rusk side of the park.

Comment Re:Good plan, but not for those results (Score 1) 470

You attribute to the GP more benign motives than I do. I've seen too many people say too many times "You wouldn't be fat if you'd just push away from the table!"

(Fucking DeBakey actually said that in a TV interview many, many years ago. I'll never forget it.)

It's simply not true. The human body is too complex to take such a simplistic view. It's easy to find case after case where person A takes in fewer calories, eats better quality food, and exercises more than person B. Yet person A is fat and B is stick-thin. The fact is, we nearly all take in more calories than needed to maintain weight. Whether we get fat or not does not depend on the number of calories anywhere near as much as it depends on how efficiently our particular body chooses to store them as fat. That's a completely different discussion from any I've ever seen started with a cite of the law of conservation of energy. People who start off with cites like that generally don't have the foggiest clue about what makes people fat.

Comment Re:More Irrational Gun Nuts (Score 1) 1232

...to use constitutional amendments to attack other constitutional amendments...amounts to mass insanity

Agreed. I wonder how slippery the slope will turn out to be.

The Heller decision made it clear that gun ownership is an individual right. But when the laws change and all gun owners are forced to get a license, will it be fair game to demand that all journalists go through a background check and get a government stamp of approval before they are allowed to make a living by arranging words on a screen?

If exercising your rights is reason enough to be "outed" like this, how about an interactive map showing the homes of everyone who writes for the paper, holds a management position, or sits on the board? Fair's fair, right?

Comment Re:Good plan, but not for those results (Score 1) 470

The law of conservation of energy?

You're an idiot. The human body isn't a simple machine where an easily accountable amount of energy going in will produce a given amount of work.

Most people can do the simple experiment of eating exactly the same thing this month as they did last month with the same amount of activity. Make one change - this month divide that daily food intake into 8 equal parts and have 8 small meals at even intervals throughout the day. Same energy in, same energy out, and you WILL lose weight.

In my own case, I was forced to experiment radically. I was diagnosed with diabetes. What tipped me off to go to the doctor was that I had lost 50 to 60 pounds even tough I was cramming my face with all the carbs I could lay my hands on.

After the diagnosis, I went after the disease with a vengance. I consumed fewer calories, ate only high quality foods, and exercised daily till I was ready to drop. I took my prescribed meds. And I kept meticulous records showing my wonderful drop in blood sugar, substantial decrease in daily calorie intake, and substantial increase in physical activity. I showed up at the next appointment, 3 months later, with a ream of charts and graphs to show that I had done everything I was supposed to do.

My A1c number dropped from 12.9 to 6.1. I was in control of my diabetes.

One problem - despite the fact that I took in fewer calories, did more work, and maintained extensive records to back that up, one of the medicines prescribed had weight gain as a side effect.

I had radically reduced my caloric intake, radically improved the quality of food I ate, radically increased the amount of exercise I did and I still GAINED 40 pounds.

Anyone who makes simple references to the law of conservation of energy in this context is a person completely incompetent to speak to the subject. Please, AC, STFU until you have half a clue what you're talking about.

Comment public vs. private (Score 5, Informative) 375

During the dotcom bubble, I was at the top end of the age range (35-ish) that was fashionable and working for a US TLA as a general-purpose sysadmin greybeard in an all-Unix shop. I networked more than most and corresponded with lots of folks both in govt and the private sector. I don't know why I did it because I loved my work and wasn't looking for anything new but I did like to keep up and keep in touch with lots of folks. Also, it didn't hurt and sometimes greatly amused me that the part of my email address just to the left of the ".gov" tended to get my emails read.

During those years I turned down a number of job offers. I don't remember specifically; some were informal "let's talk" and others were "I'll pay you $X to come work for us". But I distinctly remember several offers that would have as much as quadrupled my pay (which would have put me at double the going rate since, as a fed, I was already being paid only about half what the average private sector employee in my position received.)

I never bit. Of those companies, none survive today. All of them wanted me to trade my 40-hour work week with time-and-a-half for overtime for positions where I essentially worked 24 hours a day, perhaps 12 at the office and the rest of the time wearing a pager. None offered more than a couple of holidays. None offered sick or vacation time that was more than a farce. The pay, though, would have been great if I was willing to step into the hamster wheel and start running.

So maybe I'm a doddering old fool. Maybe I was unambitious. All I know is that now I'm retired. My retirement check covers my expenses plus a little...and that's after deductions for all taxes, decent health insurance, very good life insurance, and fairly good long-term care insurance. It's not lounging on a yacht with supermodels but I'm not afraid of being three paychecks from living in my car, either.

Folks who spit on public-sector employees simply don't understand. I often wonder if it's worth the (usually wasted) effort I sometime put towards trying to help them see things from a broader perspective.

Comment Fry's? (Score 1) 547

Y'know, I'd go to a store that offered all the stuff in the checkout area of my local Fry's (plus their magazine rack) with some regularity. That's a pretty attractive product mix.

But if they've got the "Let's make everybody feel like a suspected shoplifter" jerks at the exit door, then the whole idea is a non-starter. :-)

Seriously, though, the GP is in Houston. There are plenty of neighborhoods around here where stores like he describes are found and doing well. It's partly cultural and partly the fact that Houston has (essentially) no zoning.

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