Sunday, April 30, 2006

Do you ever see a glimpse of your own future?

I just did. You know the guy who sits on the porch in his little chair for hours at end, and watches all the people walking and driving by, trying to parallel park, walking their dogs... If I make it to age 60, I'm pretty sure that'll be me.

Sunday Funnies

This probably is "too much information," but there's something I really like to do on Sunday mornings. I get up early, hit the grocery store for some snack food, and come back home to watch the Sunday morning political talk shows. I just can't get my day started without Bob Schieffer, Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos. It's my way of keeping up with politics.

Bob Schieffer had Condie on today. What's her job again? It seems she believes herself to be the administration's (incompetent) press secretary. How's she ever going to have any diplomatic credibility abroad if she has absolutely no credibility locally. Bob tried to pin her down on some old issues, like troop levels in Iraq. Her answer was evasive and contentless (as usual): everyone makes mistakes and it's not the right time to analyze the potential mistakes surrounding the war. What she doesn't seem to understand is that even though every large operation will inevitably make mistakes, it's still alright to revisit the decisions leading to them. Decisions can be made intelligently and in good faith and still be wrong, and then decisions can be made hurriedly and tendentiously by Defense Secretaries on crack. That is, was it the administration's gross negligence and willful ignorance of the facts at hand which directly led to the horrible mess? (And further, if now's not the right time to discuss this, tell us when? We won't wait until a seemingly eternal war is finally abandoned.) Unfortunately, I don't think Condie even understood the question. Bob had to give up and move on.

On George Stephanopoulos's show, the highlight by far was George Will. His endless pessimism summed up this week in politics well. The topic at the roundtable was gas prices. Sure they've gone up, but they've been higher (e.g. in 1981, adjusted for inflation). Higher gas prices do have positive side-effects: they encourage conservation and thus have a positive effect on global warming (which the administration doesn't "believe" in...). The U.S. by far uses the most crude oil at 21 million barrels a day. China's at about 6, and India's at about 1 and a half. Cut domestic consumption. Increase production. (A windfall profits tax will hurt production. Carter did it; it didn't help then.) Encourage hybrid vehicles and E85. Give those idiots who bought SUVs what they deserve... Is this really so much of a problem?

Then Tim Russert had some interesting people, including our own Dick Durbin. He was on the opposite end of every issue from all three of the other guests. He seems to think the profits the oil companies see, and the salaries of the top men is completely out of line. But it's commensurate with what top men in other industries get. Look at what top hedge fund traders get paid. Half a billion dollars is a decent salary. Maybe that's too much, or maybe not. They get paid if they perform well, and they are accountable not just for their decisions but also the vicissitudes that affect their markets. Seems to me that if that CEO types are uniformly paid that highly, people must value what they do, and think that they are worth that. I suppose I'm a capitalist; I believe in a free market.

In other news, we have dropped a notch in the convention market. We were previously second to Las Vegas, but now we also follow Orlando. I mention this because some people think I happen to have a special fondness for Rosemont and the hummel museum...

Friday, April 28, 2006

To the pub...

So I should let you know that my laptop now works. I had talked to Dell technical support at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and Thursday morning my laptop hard drive arrived. That's a pleasant surprise. I quickly installed it, then worked on installing my preferred operating system. This took a little bit longer than it should have, but I eventually got everything set.

Tonight, we went to the pub. We went to watch basketball. Rob, Bert, Elizabeth, George, Matt and Christina came. I was being overly "social" though. I was hanging out with some people nearer the pool table and more willing to play pool. The people were trying to hook me up with one of their female friends.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Baby we can make it if we're heart to heart

Tuesday I crossed off most of my to-do list. In the process, I learned a lesson:

Don't call Dell technical support. Ever. I learned this the hard way. I called them, spent a little over half an hour giving personal information and describing the problem to a lady with one of the thickest Indian accents I've ever heard. This included giving my phone number, so she could call back if we got disconnected. Great idea! Poorly implemented: as we were discussing the problem at hand, the connection was dropped. No one called back. So I tried calling again. This time I got a guy, also clearly Indian, but with a much milder accent. He also seemed to know what he was doing. We got to the same part in the conversation before the connection was dropped, again. Naturally, he never called me back either. And I had no ticket number, and nothing had been started to actually resolve my problem. This is precisely why I had put off this call...

So at this point, frustrated, I tried Dell's online technical support. The lady was very helpful. Even though it took an hour, and her responses lagged considerably, it was infinitely better. I should have a part coming in a few days.

With a great feeling of accomplishment, I arrived at the CP for our pool league. It was the last week of regular play. Next week starts the playoffs. We're in the playoffs, but so is everyone else. (Our division only has 6 teams. The first team automatically advances, and the next 4 have these playoffs.) Anyways, we're having trouble with attendance. One of our guys is captain of a softball team. One is being flaky for unknown reasons.

The highlight of the day was the ride home. On the southbound red line, three girls entered at some downtown stop. One said, "Hey, look what James wrote," and pulled out a small note and began to read it aloud:

Dear Lola,

Your absence is like being hit in the ankle with a blunt object.

I grant you that being hit in the ankle with a blunt object must hurt, but when thinking of potentially painful things, is this the first one that pops into your mind? I had trouble not laughing too noticably. (There's a blog which specializes in things overheard on Chicago mass transit. Wouldn't you figure?)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Texas Blues

There's a song I like. I heard it attributed to a Texan blues singer. I think it was Mance Lipscomb, but I'm not sure. I haven't found it among his songs, as far as I can tell online. I heard it covered by some band on Prairie Home Companion, probably in 2003. The leitmotif of the song is "chains." Any help?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rumours of my Demise

To make a long story short, my laptop died. Actually, it seems the hard drive died. (It was my fault, but I won't get into that.) As a result, my access to jgarrett was hampered until now.

Anyways, I've been having a great few weeks, lately. I'll avoid getting saccharine about it, but I'm beginning to build a better appreciation... (Good luck if you can figure out what I'm talking about! In 2 weeks, I probably won't even know.)

I've been keeping in touch with that prospie who e-mailed me a while back. He decided to come. I'm somewhat curious how he found me. Anyways, because of a lack of access to my primary e-mail, I had to get inventive in figuring out how to respond to his last e-mail (which is on my now dead laptop). I googled, and he has a myspace page. So now do I (so I could message him). That's in the category of things I doubt I'll ever think about again. My brother has a myspace page even...

I should get back to real life now that I've checked this off my to-do list.