May 2, 2007: Lots of News Today

Today is a day of freedom when I don’t own a house. No house. None. No homeowners association to pay. No neighbours to fight with.

Today Governor Corzine pays a fine for not wearing his seatbelt in a near fatal crash that he was involved in recently. However he did not receive a ticket for the highly publicized event until after a man filed a complaint with the courts that he had not been given a ticket as a normal citizen would have been. Even at that point he did not receive a ticket. He had to request one of the police. It is amazing how willing the police are to be impressed with political figures and celebrities and treat them so differently. It is a form of corruption that has no paper-trail. Just a general sense of famous and powerful people being above the law and law enforcement agencies more than willing to go along with that.

More interesting than the seatbelt issue, though, was the fact that the police are investigating the accident to see if the accident was avoidable and, if so, training or potentially disciplinary action will be taken against the driver. Now the accident took place at 95 miles per hour (153 kilometers per hour) – almost 50% faster than the state’s maximum speed limit. I am not complaining that the officer was driving this fast. I am totally in support of raising the speed limits as all traffic travels safely at much higher speeds every day and, in fact, driving the speed limit is very dangerous on many US highways. So why set a speed limit so low as to simply allow police to arrest almost anyone at anytime? It is unreasonable. But because the NJ State Police are saying that the fact that the driver was traveling at 95 mph was NOT grounds for the accident to have been avoidable they are clearly stating that driving at that speed is not dangerous and that any law made to keep drivers beneath that speed is not in the interest of safety but for some other reason (politics if I was to guess.) It was also reported separately that the governor’s police escort from the hospital back to his home recently was clocked by reporters following the caravan as significantly speeding at around 80 mph. So the police are definitely not considering the speed to be an issue.

We had a thunderstorm late yesterday evening before we went to bed but we never really heard any rain come and by this morning everything had passed and there really wasn’t any sign of the storm. Speaking of rain – the Bound Brook train station (the one that is just a few hundred yards from the condo that Dominica and I considered) finally reopened today as the flooding has finally subsided enough for the highly elevated train to run again. Boy are we glad that we didn’t buy anything down there. That would have been awful.

In the never ending pet food poisoning scandal from China it has been discovered that a chicken facility in Indiana has had a large number of chickens poisoned via their tainted feed stocks (presumably from China) and that the poison melamine has been introduced into the human food supply as well as the pet food supply from chicken scraps. The contamination was actually discovered because of sick pets and pet food being traced back to the human food supply chain. At this point the effects of melamine on humans is unknown but it is clear that serious pressure needs to be put onto the Chinese government to bring those responsible to trial. This is a widespread, intentional poisoning of American pets and people. The FDA really needs to block all food sourced from China until the Chinese government can present a reasonable plan for regulating their food supply. One hundred thousand chickens are going to be destroyed because of this poisoning because we can’t risk their meat entering the food supply and their eggs could also be contaminated. The death toll to pets and livestock is staggering and we have no idea if there are humans dieing from this as well.

In Britain they now have lip reading surveillance cameras. This introduces more fears of privacy invasion although, reasonably, anything that you have ever said in public could have been lip-read by someone. So the change is just that it is easier to do it now and automated.

Here is a serious one: the movie industry is claiming to have copyrighted the number 218497016402258850000. Meaning any math, anywhere, that can count to this number is now illegal. And publishing it is illegal. Oh no, I might get sued for copyright infringement. It is a NUMBER. You cannot copyright MATH. Let alone a simple number. Maybe I should copyright the MPAA’s phone number and sue them for using the phone. Here is another problem with a copyrighted number – good luck proving that no one has ever used it before!

An amazing new discovery that cells die from the reintroduction of oxygen and not from oxygen deprivation has the potential to lead to amazing new forms of death prevention. With new techniques being investigated there is a potential for people to be revived possibly HOURS after they are considered clinically dead. This is some interesting stuff indeed.

We have learned that has received a cease and desist order for publishing the aforementioned number. Digg originally complied with the request (although they refer to the number as “code” which it is NOT. This is far worse than calling XHTML markup “code”. No one calls the number “five” “code”) but now are fighting the C&D actively and stories are being posted.

Today was an interesting news day with the state of New Jersey considering adding wind turbines inside of the famous Jersey Barriers that fill the NJ highways to use the wind power from passing traffic to power a light rail line!

Business 2.0, a Time magazine, has been preaching backups (as if any competent business manager isn’t aware of backups – lets face it people either do it or don’t do it but no one isn’t aware of the need to backup everything) but they haven’t been making working backups for themselves and managed to lose the June issue of their magazine! People knew about making backups of things long before computers were around. And computer backups have been in the mainstream consciousness since Dr. Seaver lost everything because he only saved to floppy on Growing Pains in the mid 1980s. Lost computer data has been an ongoing joke for unsavvy computer users for decades. People who use floppy disks were the biggest source of jokes for many years. No one can claim ignorance in this day and age.

The war at home becomes more violent today as a recording made at Kent State in 1970 resurfaces from the government archives at Yale. On the tape they have discovered the command, issued by the National Guard Forces, to open fire on the students who were protesting the Vietnam Conflict. Previously it was speculated that the gunfire was an accident. But now the truth is coming out and it is believed that the students were simply murdered. An ongoing battle between the American public that opposes offensive wars and the totalitarian posturing of the US government that is more willing to fight a war at home than it is to stop fighting a war abroad. An important lesson in a time when the Vietnam conflict is being relived before our very eyes.

It is a busy news day here, apparently. I wrapped up my week’s homework early this morning. One less thing to worry about. I have a paper now due on Sunday but all of my graded homework has been turned in so all that I have left is writing a few “ungraded” papers just to get the credit for having done my homework and I will be done with the class. It is really hard to believe that I am almost done with my first master’s class. The time has just flown by! I hardly feel like I have done any work at all. I know that Dominica wishes that she felt that way about her Systems Analysis and Design class.

I got a really nice critique from one of my classmates today. Every week we have to critique two peoples’ essays. It was quite encouraging. I was also talking to a coworker in Ireland today and while we were talking he said that he was watching one of my lectures online!

Today the US Army increases its defiance of the US Constitution and is requiring that anyone even remotely connected to the military including soldiers, soldiers’ families and civilian contractors have any communications from them be cleared first by a commanding officer. Of course we expect soldiers themselves to be gagged as they traditionally have been. Once you choose to be a soldier you sign away all of your rights. You voluntarily give up your practical citizenship as an American. Its the price you pay for the job you want. It’s voluntary (at the moment, anyway. Once there is a draft it becomes unconstitutional to choose who can and cannot speak freely.) But forcing relatives and civilians to clear any communications is outright constitutional violations. Not that that is anything new for the Army who has clearly stated in the last few months that a commanding officer has more authority, according to the Army lawyers, over the actions of a soldier than does the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitution or the American public. To make matters even worse the Army is not telling these parties about the gag order and keeping the documents secret on a high security Army knowledge base system to which most of these people have no access. Once again, to overseas readers, the US Army is NOT the military arm of the US but a renegade military terrorist organization. It is not acting under US law or in the interest of the American people or at our request.  We can only hope that Congress will cut off the lifeline to the military and leave them with no financial option but to return home (or, of course, stay and live in the wonderful land of Iraq that they helped to create.)
The plan tonight is for Dominica and I to do some shopping.  She is working late every night this week and next to help make up for the time that she has to take out of her schedule to take her test on Wednesday and then to take Friday off altogether.  She has also been taking shorter lunches to make up more time.  So I am going home to 1180 and relaxing a little and running to the post office to do our address change now that the house in Geneseo is sold.  Then I will go up to Wallington and pick up Oreo and meet Dominica to do our shopping.

May 1, 2007: Dipping Day or May Day

I was up at five this morning. If only as a child I would have known what my work schedule would be like as an adult. I might never have grown up. I got into the office but it was a slow morning again. Pheww.

Maypole from Flicker

I decided that we needed a picture of a maypole today. Today Dominica scheduled the second of her two CompTIA A+ exams. She is scheduled to take the test on May 9th – the day before we leave for Florida. So that is Wednesday.

Dad called right about noon to let me know that the house in Geneseo officially closed. It is sold and no longer any concern of ours! We are so excited. That has been such a burden for so long. That is so much that we just don’t have to worry about now.  Today is a happy day.

Today was a pretty slow day.  I got a lot of work done and headed for home around half past three.  Unfortunately Interstate 78 was closed due to an accident so we were all rerouted to some town that I didn’t know going in the wrong direction so I had to hop off of the highway and just start wandering around trying to figure out how to get back to Newark.  So, once again, getting home took over an hour even though I left long before rush hour.

Tonight we just relaxed as we know that Dominica has to start pounding on the A+ and do nothing but that until she takes her test next week.  But the house being sold is a major stress reliever and as soon as she takes her A+ test we will be off to Walt Disney World for our mini-vacation.  So the timing is perfect.  She will be really ready for that.

April 30, 2007

I am back on the early shift this week so I had to get up at twenty past five this morning. It wasn’t that bad though. I felt pretty good when I got up.

Windows Server codenamed “Longhorn” and also referred to at times as Windows Server 2007 but without an official release name as of yet was released this morning in its first public beta so I ran right out and downloaded the ISO image of the DVD so that I could try it out.

Today was a mostly slow day. Not all that much going on. I left work around three thirty. It is a gorgeous day today. Spring must be here for real now.

I played some guitar when I got home – for about two hours. In some ways it is really strange to be playing the guitar again after not playing more than once in seven years and in other ways it seems like I never stopped playing since I started playing in 1983.

Dominica came home and felt like ordering in Italian so we called Nino’s and had them deliver.  We watched some WKRP in Cincinnati and then some Good Eats.  Dad got home at four this afternoon.  It was an early night for us.  I have to be up early in the morning.

April 29, 2007: We Smell a Rat… errr Mouse

Quote of the Day is from Rabelais: “Science without conscience is the soul’s perdition.”

I slept in until seven this morning (I didnt’ think that I would ever say that.) This is how you can tell that I am getting older. I spent some time working on homework while Dominica was still sleeping. I have a bit of work that needs to be done today. Dominica has homework to do as well but not as much as I do.

At nine thirty we walked down to the Robert Treat and met dad for breakfast. We decided to just have the breakfast buffet in the hotel. That would be a mistake. No wonder no one can get into the brunch buffet at the Theater Square Grill without reservations – the Robert Treat really does not understand wat hotel dining is supposed to be like. The Robert Treat has Maize which is supposed to be one of the few high end restaurants in town but we haven’t made it there yet so we can’t tell you for sure. But we ate at the hotel breakfast which was hard to find and required cash not credit – in a “luxury” hotel? This was very strange. It was actually an extremely poor and somewhat overpriced breakfast not nearly competing with a diner, IHOP or any other hotel. It was almost bare with just scrambled eggs, potatoes, French toast, sausage (eww), fruit and one type of roll making up pretty much the entire buffet. And the rolls weren’t very good. It was incredibly weak.

After breakfast we headed back to the apartment and just visited for the day. I worked on homework at RIT too as I have a bit that is due today.

We were all pretty tired and dad needs a bit of rest before driving back home so we decided to leave Newark pretty early to get dad back to his hotel in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. It was around four when we left Newark.

The drive out to Tannersville went by quickly. We had dinner at the Tandoor Palace there in Tannersville connected to the hotel where dad is staying. The food was good. We enjoy eating there from time to time. We got past it quite often.

After eating we said goodbye and Dominica, Oreo and I drove back east to Newark. We spent the evening each working on our homework while Oreo slept some more. He is still very tired.

Right when we got back to our apartment I was walking Oreo down the hall and halfway between the elevators and our apartment door as we rounded the bend in the hall I saw something flash across the floor out of the corner of my eye. Oreo almost stepped on it and if Dominica hadn’t been behind me to get a good look at it I would have thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me. But no such luck… we have rats mice living on our floor 🙁 I have never lived in a building with rats before. In fact I have never seen a rat in the wild before if you can believe that! But it is surprising to have them so high up in a skyscraper like 1180 Raymond Blvd. But there are big spaces beneath the apartment doors so a rat can travel in and out of apartments with ease and there are empty apartments where they can easily live plus locked electric and mechanical rooms as well as the trash room. Every one of these rooms has plenty of open space beneath the doors so that the rats can run at full speed under them making them nearly impossible to catch. So now our door is blocked by a towel in the hopes of dissuading any would be uninvited guests from prowling around our apartment.

[The exterminators came the next day and told us that Newark has giant mice compared to what we are used to and that that was all that it was.  Although for me there is no difference between mice and rats from a “badness” perspective as both are friendly and cute but both carry the same diseases and are just as dangerous from that perspective.  If it wasn’t for the disease factor I wouldn’t worry about them at all.]

April 28, 2007: Dad Comes to Newark

Quote of the Day from herm1t: “Viruses don’t harm, ignorance does. Is ignorance a defense?”

I was up at six this morning and got right into the shower. I got downstairs ready to drive out to Tannersville to get dad but my car wasn’t ready for me so I had to wait a little while for that. The drive out to Pennsylvania went pretty smoothly until I reached the toll booths at the Delaware Water Gap and realized that I had given away my last dollar last night and that Dominica has not yet signed up the BMW with EZPass. So I got off at Exit 1 (read: Last exit before toll) and drove around trying to find an ATM to get cash. No luck. From the map you can see that to the north the exit skirts the mountain. In fact that is a one lane park road with a three minute red light in each direction. Oops. That cost me ten minutes just doing a U-turn. Then to the south the road just loops you back onto the highway. Argh. So I had to drive back to Exit 4 to find an ATM. Altogether I must have lost half an hour just getting through the toll booth. And the ATM was definitely set up for people like me since it charged me a $4 ATM fee! So that toll booth crossing cost $.75 in toll, $4 in ATM fee, about a dozen miles worth of gas which is another $1 or so and half an hour of my time!

I finally managed to pick up dad a little after nine at the Days Inn in Tannersville and we headed back east to Newark. This is dad’s first time traveling through the Delaware Water Gap up here in the read gap. He has crossed the river farther south on Interstate 78 but that isn’t the same. This is “the gap”.

It takes just about an hour to go between Newark and Tannersville. We came in on Interstate 280, the Newark/Jersey City spur off of Interstate 80, all the way in to the McCarter Highway (NJ 21) and around to Commerce Street so that we could pull up to 1180 Raymond Blvd. Dad was quite impressed with the building and the lobby and met our concierge. He had a pretty good idea of the building having looked at it online and having taken a virtual tour that we posted online previously. We went up to the apartment but Dominica wasn’t ready to go yet and we had some things that we had to take care of before we would be able to run to breakfast.

It was only a little bit before noon when we were finally able to walk over to Food for Life to get a late breakfast. Dad was very surprised by Food for Life and really loved it. He loved it so much that he wanted to come back for dinner tonight. While we were there they had a photographer working taking pictures of some of their dishes. The pictures are going to be used in the drive-through of their new Dayton, Ohio location.

Speaking of Ohio, dad and I were talking about Ohio metro areas and I did a little research. Currently, if measured by the meaningless “city center” or “city limit” approach Columbus is by far the largest city in Ohio dwarfing the Cleveland and Cincinnati city centers by as much as almost double. But when measured by metro area Cleveland reigns supreme with a conservative measurement at 2.2 million (and the extended Cleveland metro at just under 3 million – the extended metro includes those areas that have recently become engulfed by the expanding metro district.) Cincinnati is not far behind at 2.1 million. But Columbus falls to a fairly lagging third with 1.7 million. I also learned that Cleveland was originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve before being separated into the state of Ohio. So Cleveland is one of those rare cities having once been in one state and is now in another.

We went for a walk over on the east side of Military Park and took dad up to the Robert Treat Hotel for him to check in. The check in experience wasn’t very impressive for what claims to be Newark’s luxury hotel. They definitely acted as if it was an inconvenience to have a guest checking in. Like they were doing us a favour. Once we got him checked in we headed back out and noticed that the Robert Treat calls itself the hotel of Presidents and has a plaque on its outside wall with a relief of the four presidents who have stayed there – Wilson, FDR, Truman and Kennedy which are the four presidents to have brought America into major conflicts during the twentieth century. Wilson brought the US into World War I. FDR took us into World War II. Truman into Korea. And Kennedy, of course, into Vietnam. Those were our only significant twentieth century military engagements (there were many others but no others that had any real impact on the nation in general – most other conflicts were fought with little knowledge of the events at home.) So I think that the Robert Treat should be known as the “War Monger” hotel as I believe all four wars were fought unnecessarily and that the United States was, to some degree, an aggressor nation fighting for political power and not national defense (this is a complex argument that involved WWI having been aggressive and WW2 being the result of that action, etc.)

We spent the afternoon just relaxing in the apartment and visiting.  Dad has decided that he won’t be making the long drive down to Newark again and will just fly in the future as the airport is just too handy to pass up.

At five thirty we went back to Food for Life so dad could try out their dinner menu.  He ended up loving that as well.  After dinner we walked him back over to the Robert Treat so that he could get some rest as it has been a long trip down.

We went back home and did some work around the apartment and then watched some WKRP in Cincinnati.  While we watched the show I strung my classical guitar (an M. Harabi Model 35) for the first time since February, 2000 when I last did professional performing.  That was a weird feeling.  I played a borrowed classical guitar in May, 2001 for a single performance at Craig and Emily’s wedding but that was the last time that I have played at all.  I had to use a borrowed guitar then because mine had dried out and the neck and snapped off.  I had it repaired but never played it again.  It took a while to get the strings all on, stretched and somewhat tuned.  I played for about forty-five minutes to an hour.  I am not very good but still able to play.  It was weird playing guitar again after all of these years.  This was the first time that Dominica has ever heard me play!