Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why it's important to have friends (Africa: Day 2, October 31, 2007)

If you ever go to a foreign country, the very first thing you'd better do is make friends. If I hadn't been recognized from my blog by a nice lady in Africa, almost a year ago while eating dinner at the Venezia, then my life would be much different at right this moment.

Tara's Game Room

I'm currently sitting in Tara's house in Saraj, on the western of outskirts of Tripoli, in Libya.  (shown above)To be specific, I have spent the last two days wearing her shorts and her husband's T-shirts while I wait for my entire life (luggage) to be delivered, assuming of course it's not lost forever into the hands of some islamic militant ipod-toting, gps using, bandit. In addition to ALL my clothing and tools, the most disasterous aspect to all this is that my cell phone charger and iPod chargers are in my luggage.  So, if something isn't done very soon, I'll be sans iPod and with no communications... which is WAY not cool.

Let me see if I can tell this story from the beginning...

Saturday October 28th

We left the USA on Saturday, the 28th of October via RDU and IAD on to LRH and then to TIP, arriving finally at 3PM on the 29th. After enduring 25 hours of flying and no sleep, we spent three hours sitting in immigration with no visas. Why in the world would we travel with no visas? Well, we were told they would be waiting there for us. I should say at this point that each and every airline employee who asked to see my Visa shook their head in the same manner when I blithely informed them of the fact that my Visa was waiting for me in Africa. They simply muttered something and stamped my ticket, before giving me a "good luck you poor bastard" gaze as I walked on to my next destination.

Well, since we spent three hours in customs, our ride had left us, naturally assuming we had missed the flight. From here we managed to wrangle a cab to the hotel we always stay at, and then were fairly surprised to find there were no rooms. Neither me nor my guys knew anything about it, but there is a major international air-show going on in Tripoli as well as an expo, so the entire town is booked solid. And I DO mean the ENTIRE town. After being told we couldn't get rooms at the Wenzrik, we started trying other hotels. We went through six hotels before finally trying the Corinthia, assuming that at one-thousand dollars per night, they were sure to have a vacancy. Ummm.. no. Even they were booked solid.

After 4 hours of trying, we were finally able to reach Mani on the phone so we had our taxi driver drop us off at the Corinthia where we would rhendevouz with Mani and plan a course of action ultimately destined to put our sorry asses in a bed sometime before dawn.

By paying a cab driver 50 bucks I was able to get him to drive all over town while we ate dinner and have him try to locate us a room, which he eventually did. When our friend  Haitam called about the room the cab driver told him it was 85.00 each, for one night, which isn't too bad really.... except this hotel is only 50.00 per person per night. He was trying to make an additional 35.00 off our desperation.... stupid capitalist. Haitam renogotiated us a room rate and took us to the hotel so at 11:30 PM we finally got in a room and I was able to call Tara and explain why we couldnt meet her at the airport 12 hours earlier.

So, twice already in our first twelve hours, we were saved only by the gracious nature of friends we'd met earlier in our travels. Tara called me later Monday night and we were able to explain what happened and why we couldn't meet with her. Gracious as always, she offered to put us up the following days until we were able to either get a hotel or move on to the desert.

Tuesday, October 30th

Tuesday began with a little less drama, however I still had no change of clothes to wear and have been in the same garments now since I left the states. Probably smelly, but no worse for wear we meet Tara for lunch and then she took us for some shopping before heading back to her place.  I've been to her house before but didn't get to really appreciate it the first time. Tim and I were accomodated on the 2nd and a half story (that's kinda the best way to explain it). We each have great sized rooms, and obviously an Internet connection, and the hospitality of a really great lady who makes a pretty mean taco when she wants to.

I spent the remainder of the day trying to get British Airways to track my lost baggage down. Unfortunately I can't call an 800 number from Libya, so I had to get April to handle the US offices while I contacted London and Libya offices. After a few hours of trying to reach everyone in the world (literally the whole world) all April and I could determine was that British Airways is completely useless. The tripoli office told me to cal the airport.. wow.. YOU are the airline who lost my luggage and you want me to call the airport that it never came to? That's freakin brilliant! British Airways in London has no information at all. British Airways online responded with a message saying "we'll respond." Well, hot-diggity! When? BA in America could only tell April that the knew it was lost.. not when, not where, not anything else, just that its lost. I guess when I find it, they'll want me to call them and tell them where it was, for their records...

Having nothing else to do of significance, and now garbed in Tara's clothes, the three of us pretty much relegated ourselves to Gaming on the computers until bed time.

Wednesday, October 31st

Well, it's Halloween I guess huh? Happy Freakin Trick.

Today began by sleeping-in in my king-size guest bed. I got up, called all the airlines and lost & found departments again, and still nothing. Tara was kind enough to put a few of her company guys on it. They deal with this sort of thing from time to time as well and are experienced in how to get your gear back, most of the time.

Later in the afternoon, my boss got to Tripoli and asked us to meet with the client so we can go to the desert tomorrow... did I mention I have no clothes, no tools, no gear, no toiletries, and basically nothing I need to do my job? As such, Tim is going by himself to Ras Lanuf while I stay here for a few more days and try to get this mess straightened out on my side.

So far, I've heard from my guy in the field, Mohamed Torshi, and he asked me "why are we here? I'm here with four egyptians and we have no idea what we're supposed to be doing, have no car, and basically can't do anything..." The one guy I have who DOES have a car is in Sirte doing something else, when he's supposed to be in Ras Lanuf doing his job, which is par for the course with him. He's politically connected, so I pretty much can't touch him, yet I'm forced to employ him for the benefit of Wasta.

So when I DO get to the desert, I have to get my team straightened out, get desert passes for everyone, try to round-up a car (or three) to drive, and then start the project... all of this is of course pending I actually get my clothing and tools straightened out in the next few days. If not, I'm sending my CEO a huge bill to replace all my gear, then I'm hopping my happy little butt on a plane and heading for the promised land!

On top of all this, I found out today that I have to be back in the states in about three weeks. I have a court appointment in Washington DC (nothing I've done, no worries) that I can't miss. Joy...

So, that's been my week so far. This has by far been the most messed-up deployment we've ever had. There is literally no way I'm going to be able to get anything handled at this rate. I haven't even been able to tell my CEO that I've got to leave in three weeks yet, but I guess I'll let him know tomorrow when I see him. I talked to him today and he didn't seem too concerned with my well-being, so long as one of us got to Ras Lanuf to get the project going.

Truth be told, it's annoying, but it's not terrible. It could all be much worse. I have luckily made wonderful friends who have gone out of their way to help us out when we have nothing in return except our gratitude to offer them.  If not for them,  I would seriously have gone crazy.

I'm going cut this off here and get on to working on my other to-do's. I'll write more when I can.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Contacting Me Overseas

For those who can't remember how to reach me but want to, here's how to contact me when I'm in Africa.


Do NOT call my cell phone! I mean, you can, but it's going to give you a weird message because I have to take out my SIM card when I'm in Africa. If not, each voicemail costs me about $4.00 US. So, use the methods below to reach me and Cingular can't connect you to my voicemail if my card isn't plugged into my phone at the time of your call.


Call My Local Number: 252-565-4626
This will ring straight into my Internet voicemail while I'm gone, but it will email me the voicemail message and allow me to know I have one too, so I can check it on the web or on the phone. Otherwise, I don't have a way to know I have voicemail waiting.


Call my Libyan phone number: 011-218-92-744-8702
Just dial that exactly as you see it on the screen.
011- Tells your phone to connect to the international circuitboard.
218- Tells it you are calling the country of Libya
92- Is my area code (yes, it has two numbers instead of three)
744-8702- is my local number there.

Email Me:
Most of you know my email address, but I've been discovering some recent problems trying to connect to my american server from Libya because it appears most of the country is blacklisted... SO... instead of emailing me at, please contact me at

Yahoo Me: alornmage
My username on Yahoo Messenger is alornmage, so you can contact me that way if I'm online.

Times you can reach me:
This is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. We are 6 hours ahead of you in Libya, sometimes 7 depending on the year. We are usually available all day and part of the early evening, but we have to contend with trying to get a signal through the concrete buildings, which doesn't work too well. Basically, you can get me on the phone if I'm standing outside working, or driving around the field in the truck, or eating dinner at the patio at night. If I'm in my room, you can just hang it up... no service inside the block at all.


The best time to reach us is as follows:
Daytime: 7AM our time until about 5PM. That equates to 1 AM Eastern until 10 AM eastern, so pretty much that means you need to call us in the mornings, because it's afternoon there already for us. If you call us after 6 PM EST, then it's after midnight there and we're already in the block and can't get your call... and even if we could, we don't want to talk to you THAT badly. lol.

I'll be quite honest about it, it's VERY lonely being stuck in a third world country, in the middle of the desert, with few people who even speak your language and we only have each other to talk to for most of a month (Tim and I) so we LOVE having folks call or email us while we're gone.

Just please do me a favor and don't email us any large email attachments if you can avoid it. Our "DSL" speeds over there are about 2-3kb/s, meaning just trying to load this web page literally takes over half an hour. (If you've been on the internet since the days of dial-up, then you'll understand this. Remember that REALLY SLOW dial-up connection you used to have? Yeah, well that's about 21 times faster than we can connect...) Loading GMAIL is pretty fast, only about 5 minutes or so to get logged in, but any large email attachment while we're there could completely shut down our emails for the rest of the trip.

New Way To Contact Me

Hi all. I just finally managed to get signed up into GrandCentral ( a telephone company) that makes it a little easier for me to reach you guys.


This web link won't connect you to me, but it will let you leave me a voicemail that I will get in my email in Libya. Just leave me a message and I'll call/email you back.



Click the Button and when it changes, enter your name and phone number. The service will automatically call you on your phone, and then connect you to me. It's really really fast, so you won't have to wait for anything. Pretty cool huh.

NOTE: It's automatically set to be a private call, so your caller ID wont be showed to anyone, in case you're worried about that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Leavin.. on a jet plane (ugh.. again)

Well, I'm leaving out of here on Sunday afternoon. It's official. I called and booked plane tickets yesterday morning. Now, with the short notice, I've been in a mad rush to accomplish all the things I need to in order to get out of here on time.

It took me 6 hours and $733.00 later before I had managed to get together all the things I need for this trip. You'd think that after having been over there so many times it would be cheaper after awhile? Not so much. I spent $290.00 on a backpack today... can you believe that crap? For that much money I expected it to drive itself the other stores and then pack itself and perform its own baggage check, but nope, it's just a bag to hold crap.

20177-SI I promise I don't make a habit of foolishly spending frivolously on stuff. Most often I spend forever doing comparison shopping online, then browsing stores, and eventually I settle on something in the middle of the price range. However, this makes my 6th trip to Africa and I've never had a laptop bag survive more than one trip. I started with the 39.99 from Wal-Mart, later upgraded to a 65.00 one when the first one died after a trip, then upgraded to a 130.00 one when THAT one died. After one trip, I had to replace the 130.00 with another one just like it (under warranty thankfully) and then the same problem happened to the replacement one and now they won't warranty that one...

Considering that we usually have to carry a $1600.00 laptop, a $500.00 GPS, multiple $100.00 external drives, $250 Ipaqs, $250.00  digital cameras, $400 world phones, and a $300.00 iPod, we need something that can protect our materials. This one came with a "no-matter-what" warranty for 25 years... so I'm going to put it to the test. Can you tell I'm still trying to justify this to myself???  Did you know that a $290.00 backpack is CHEAP nowadays, depending on where you shop? When I grew up the most expensive thing you could buy was L.L. Bean and those were $65.00 or so. I was in high school before my mother could afford to get me one and I've still got it to this day and it's STILL in great shape.  It was such a cool thing to have that I've always taken care of it. And now, eleven years later, I have a freakin' three hundred dollar bag that doesn't even carry itself around on electric wheels or anything.... inflation sucks.

In other news, I've been frantically freaking out while trying to update the web site, shopping cart, and forums for, while trying to build a new site for Robinson Jewelers, specc'ing a new camera job for a company in Raleigh, trying to setup a new phase of our current project, getting our equipment that's 4 months late to ship finally sent out of the country, locating new vendors that can handle industrial fulfillment quantities, trying to purchase three new cars from the Netherlands and have them shipped to Africa, and then finally working on updating my iPod with new money.

Oh yeah.. crud... I started this post so I could post my flight info for my family and April to be able to get to if they need to. So, here it is:

SERVICE        FROM                TO
-------------- ------------------- ---------------------
               1440                1557
               EQUIPMENT:BOEING 737-500
               1945                0650  29OCT
               EQUIPMENT:BOEING 777-200/300
               0930                1500
               EQUIPMENT:AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-100/200


OK. I'll post some more in a bit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's official.. kinda sorta...

Well, I'm not confirmed on the date yet, but it looks like it might be this coming Sunday or Monday. I'll know more tomorrow. The fact of the matter is, however, that I'm leaving again for Africa in the very near future.

I hate that I'm going to miss my anniversary with April... that part really sucks a lot. If I'm lucky they'll reschedule and postpone again, which would be great, but I never know until the last minute. That's just the way this job works.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all a heads-up. I'll post more when I can.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

The changing world...

Today, as I read the news, I discover just how fast the world is changing. In just today's news I read that 140 countries are constantly employing hackers to break into US Government computer systems, the Department of Homeland Security was breached by computer hackers, and that foreign intelligence services are now using video games to recruit spies... what a change from only 5 years ago.

What is America focusing on in the meantime? Well, the major Internet news in government is that RIAA, MPAA, and BREIN are doing their best to beat computer hackers by shutting down P2P sites (and failing miserably I might add). Meanwhile,the rest of the world is employing hackers to break into our computer systems while we work on stopping people from getting free music online.

Do you know why MI5 and MI6 are recruiting through the Internet Gaming community? Because that's where the geeks are, that's where the new talent lies. Forget your requirements for a 4 year degree from Oxford, focus instead on honing your hacking skills and hand-eye coordination in the virtual world. Honestly, it makes perfect sense. The gaming and P2P internet communities are the brightest minds currently in existence on our planet... so the UK decided to try to recruit them for cyber-intelligence. Brilliant! I'd consider moving there just to get the job!

Here's an idea. Start a government funded IT think tank in the US. Yes, I know we already have them... they're clandestine and denied everywhere the world over, but we all know we have them. Hire them from every exosphere of the Internet; Usenet, P2P, gamers, phishers, phreaks, etc. Put them in a huge complex, pay them massive amounts of money, and give them the biggest Internet pipe in the country.

Then you just sit back and tell 'em what you need.... and wait for it to be delivered to you in email.

Whenever you get around to it.. whoever you are.. I want a job.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dunno about you, but I'm bored to death

071012_HDdvds_120x90 As I often do in the mornings to pass the tedium of the early part of the day, I was reading the news this morning when a blog-worthy topic came to my attention.


I know I'm one of the overly-techy people in my group of friends, but this particular argument keeps me wondering as more and more TV commercials are slammed at us grandstanding the benefits of the new digital video era. What? There's a NEW video era?

Personally, I think it could go one of two ways. 1.) HD-DVD or Blu-Ray wins the battle and in two years no one is making anything good on regular DVD anymore. 2) All the people from 8 years ago who bought Laser-Discs and Divx players will have yet another toy to purchase that will die on the shelf. Read the article first, then I'll tell ya why I think the latter is the case.

Blu-Ray? HD-DVD? or neither...

And I quote:

Many column inches and much screen space have been filled with discussions of a "war" between two rival next-generation DVD formats. On one hand, it's understandable: the opposing camps are manned by the world's leading technology companies and the biggest names in film and television: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Dell, Intel, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, MGM and many more.

But more than 18 months after the launch of both formats, the question remains, should the average consumer care? Most would say, "not yet." Both sides are still engaged in a battle for consumer attention and dollars, while some are prematurely declaring victory. (Panasonic is the most recent to predict Blu-ray--which it is backing exclusively--will be the undisputed champion.)

There is no guarantee either of these formats will still be viable 12 months from now, so it's unclear why the casual movie fan would consider investing in either side at all--particular because the price of the players and discs are still relatively high. More importantly, many consumers think regular old DVDs are perfectly fine.

The studios and hardware makers on both sides are betting heavily on launching a new format, of course. But all the bickering and public posturing over the last year looks patently ridiculous when one considers how few discs and players these industry giants are actually arguing over.

Case in point: 300 is the fastest-selling next-generation title so far, according to Warner Bros., which says it sold 250,000 high-definition copies of it in the first week. (How fitting that the most successful next-generation movie thus far is about a group of warriors waging an unwinnable battle).

At an industry conference last week, representatives from Microsoft (HD DVD), Sony and Pioneer (Blu-ray), sniped at each other over the number of copies of 300 sold on each format. Blu-ray claims its version of the disc outsold HD DVD's by a margin of two to one in the first week. The breakdown was actually 65 percent Blu-ray, 35 percent HD DVD, according to a Warner Bros. representative.

But only when you consider that the studio sold more than 5 million copies of 300 on standard DVD does it become clear that all this posturing is over less than 5 percent of sales. On the hardware side, DisplaySearch said 5 percent of sales of standalone DVD players in September were either HD DVD or Blu-ray.

For now, both sides are priming the pump to create awareness for a technology that, currently, most consumers can't necessarily even take advantage of because they need a full high-definition (1080p) television to get the maximum effect of an HD DVD or Blu-ray movie.

"It's a different sell if you don't have an HDTV set yet," said Paul Erickson, director of DVD and HD market research for DisplaySearch. "Most of the appeal (of a next-generation player) will come from (having) 1080p. While that may be the standard in the future, 720p is still selling very strongly."

Luckily for the backers of both formats, high-definition TV sets are selling well these days. Eight out of every 10 TVs sold in the month of August were HDTVs, according to the NPD Group. And 1080p adoption is on the upswing as well; sales of 40-inch and larger LCD TVs that output 1080p resolution have increased more than 40 percent in the last year, according to data from DisplaySearch.

But NPD uncovered a very telling statistic in its 2007 report on high-definition video: 73 percent of current HDTV owners "are satisfied with DVD and don't feel the need to replace" their current players.

Ultimately, DVDs are good enough for most people. Most consumers probably already own a DVD player. If they don't, the average price is certainly more attractive than those of either HD DVD or Blu-ray players. Though prices of both have come way down in the last nine months, the average price for next-generation DVD players is $390 more than standard DVD players.

"DVD is a victim of its own success. It's a good technology," said Josh Martin, an analyst with Yankee Group Research. Plus, the step up to DVD from VHS tapes is not analogous to the step up from DVD to high-definition discs. "Next-gen isn't redefining, it's more tweaking of the technology. Content owners think it's a bigger leap, but consumers look at (a next-generation disc), and it's a disc, and it's not worth $600 or whatever" for the player to go with it.

Some would argue the biggest roadblock in Blu-ray and HD DVD's aspirations of becoming the standard in home video actually isn't the format competition--it's inexpensive, so-called upconverting DVD players, or standard players that have the ability to take regular DVDs and translate them into 1080p, the same resolution as Blu-ray and HD DVD. Though the studios and hardware makers will argue that it's just not the same as the movies recorded and played back in 1080p, it will be good enough for the average consumer.

Another turnoff to consumers is that most titles are not released on both formats. Though 300 was released on both, blockbuster titles like Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Spiderman 3 will not be available on both.

Warner Bros. is the one remaining major studio to play it neutral and offer its content on both Blu-ray and HD DVD. Paramount was taking this same approach until its much-publicized decision to go HD DVD-only in August.

Though it received a moderate amount of flack for reportedly taking money to make the switch, the studio could be credited for at least picking a side. Warner Bros. is still backing both, which while potentially offers consumers more choice in the short term, could actually serve to further prolong the format war. Because, after all, if a powerful studio like Warner Bros. isn't choosing a side, why should consumers?

"This is not a format war on technology, it's a format war on content, and no one's going to win," said Yankee Group's Martin. At this point, he contends, there are two outcomes: Toshiba, which backs HD DVD, and Sony, which supports Blu-ray, can realize they're only hurting themselves and come up with one standard--"that's not likely to happen," he says--or the studios can get together and agree to offer everything on both or on one format.

"Then the free market decides what the winning format is," Martin said.


Here's the question:

Why bother with either? With the exception of trying to shove anew product down our overly-gorged consumer throats, what's the point in a new video format? Most of the consumer market today is replacing standard TVs with Digital LCD, Plasmas, or projection models, all of which are capable of delivering some really awesome video. Likewise our DVD players are integrated into our home stereos, stand alone units, computers, cars, X-Boxes, Playstations, and more. What in the world makes them think we aren't happy with the DVD's we have now?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Too bad NOT to share

A few weeks ago I took my cat, Cordy, in to the vets office to have a routine procedure performed to try to see if it could help with her shedding on the furniture. Now, I'm not one to usually do this sort of thing. I don't take my animals to a salon or put them in ridiculous clothing, but the hair on my new couches was driving me crazy.

Well, I can't say they didn't complete the task.. she definitely wont shed now.. at least for a year or so...


Look at my poor cat!


They shaved my Maine Coon! And the only thing worse than actually being shaved completely is being left looking like someone cross-bred Dr Evil's dog with my cats head!

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What have you all been up to?

Three weeks home and I've hardly seen anyone. I've been so busy trying to "see" everyone before I go back that I haven't gotten to really hang out with friends much at all. Danielle's computer to fix, Tori's computer to fix, my new computer to build, office to redecorate, see the family, work 40+ hours a week.... that's pretty much made everything a frantic rush to accomplish everything I've missed out on for the last three months.

So, I'll share a little of the highlights if you're curious what I've been up to.

Finally Setup The New Office

Yes, after moving some of my furniture from apartment to apartment for the last nine years I finally made the decision to go all out and make the office a "real" place to work. First problem: disposing of, clearing out, upgrading, and otherwise figuring out what to do with my entire life's stash of stuff. Fortunately almost all my important stuff I wanted to find new homes for were able to be relocated to new owners... lol. Mom got a new desk, ray got a DVD player, a VCR, a laptop, etc.

So, want to see what one solid week of evening work looks like? I'll share.


This is basically what it got stripped back down to, not because I'm that obsessive compulsive but more like none of the new stuff would fit with any of the old stuff still in the room. The room is just too small to do very much with, but it's all I have to work with.

This is April's side of the new room (shown below) We got her a new desk, new lamp, and new speakers for her computer.


This is my side.. down with the wall of wired. It's been replaced by organization and contemporarily upgraded.


Well, now that you've seen the upgrade, let me get back to the real work of blogging important stuff... yeah right, huh?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Same Site: New Face Lift

Since its inception, the Scooby Central web site has become less and less my own possession and more a shared community, though the postings in recent months still primarily consist of my contributions.

To that end, I have rejuvenated the official web site with a similar site. As far as the blogging is concerned, nothing will change. I'm still going to do all my work here on the Scooby site: However, owning the code on my own server means I can do other things on that I can't do in Scooby Central. To that end, I will be re-posting all my old poetry, jokes, and photos on there, in addition to dual-posting on both sites. As always, I love input from anyone, good or bad. Drop me a line on either site and share your thoughts.


{<!--Code Hurts--!>} I have a headache...

Hey all. It's been a busy few days for me. I've jumped back into the code world with both feet with absolutely no warning. After spending half of the last year in Africa with very little time behind the keyboard it was an adjustment when I decided to take on a new project this week.


My mother and myself are members of a non-profit organization called, NCBBA, short for the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association. After years and years of trying to get them to do so, they finally ran into a problem that necessitated the complete rebuilding of their web site on a new host, complete with new forums, online application processing, AND had to do all this using software and protocols that would make it easy for them to edit their own site, make changes to the shopping carts, administer their own company email server, etc.

So, for the last two and a half days, while rebuilding my office at nights, I have done absolutely nothing but code this new web site for NCBBA. Now, after two days without leaving the house, not being sure I've even showered, and the necessary consumption of unhealthy amounts of caffeine, it's completed. Take a moment and check it out at If you're someone who cared about the ability to preserve our national shoreline for the enjoyment of the public, you might want to consider showing your support by joining. There's actually legislature going before congress that could completely close large portions of our beaches to the public forever! Freedoms like the right to enjoy the natural beauty of the beach and the shore are some of the things this organization fights to preserve. As a non-profit organization, they are forbidden from lobbying, so they depend on people like you who care to spread the word. Check 'em out! Want to chat about how they operate or what they stand for? Join the Buggy Board and ask questions!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

iPhone? I think.. not

I've got two things for you... one is a news article, and the other is WHY this stuff happens. I KNEW I didn't want one of these things yet (Aside from the HUGE lawsuit that's going to happen when the apple update bricks all those million phones... but I'll tell you about that one later.)

First, the article, cited from CNN:


SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- A New York woman is so angry at Apple Inc. for lopping $200 off the price of the iPhone that she's filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.

Apple lowered the iPhone's price on September 5 and also said it would stop selling the 4-gigabyte model.

Dongmei Li of Queens, New York, claimed the company violated price discrimination laws when it slashed the price of the 8-gigabyte iPhone by a third, from $599 to $399, within two months of the gadget's June debut.

Apple lowered the iPhone's price on September 5 and also said it would stop selling the $499 4-gigabyte model. Hundreds of early customers who paid full price didn't expect a reduction so soon and complained.

Apple issued an apology the next day. Under its return policy, Apple refunded the $200 difference for those who bought the phone within 14 days of the reduction. And in a move to make peace with those who purchased the higher-priced phone before that period, the company offered a $100 credit at Apple stores.

According to Li's lawsuit, filed on September 24 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, the price reduction injured early purchasers like herself because they cannot resell the product for the same profit as those who bought the cell phone following the price cut.

Li purchased a 4GB iPhone for $499 and alleged that owners of the 4GB model were given less favorable terms than those who bought the 8GB model at the premium price, according to the lawsuit.

Apple spokeswoman Susan Lundgren declined to comment, citing the company's policy to not discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit also named AT&T Inc., the exclusive carrier in the U.S. for the iPhone, and alleged the two companies' required two-year service contract for the iPhone constituted unfair business practices.

Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, declined to comment, saying he had not yet seen the lawsuit.

Second, my response as to WHY this happens to people like me.. the gadget hungry consumer.

It happens because they CAN.. it's as simple as that. Do you think for one moment that Apple invented and release the first 4gb iPhone and then miraculously two months later they managed to invent a second model? Absolutely not. Most likely they have had the 8GB working model for just as long as the 4gb model, certainly much longer than the time that two models have actually been on the market. They do this becaue a small percentage of consumers, myself occasionally included, will ALWAYS want to be the first to own something new and cool. We're gadget-geeks, techno-weenies, etc.  Companies release this stuff for extraordinarily high prices because they KNOW people like us will buy it.. and then turn around AGAIN and buy the newer version.

Personally, I think it's taking advantage of the consumer. Do I think they need to be sued over it? Not really, but personally I wish the lady suing them the best of luck. I DO think there needs to be some legislature out there regulating the sales of equipment that has ALREADY been outclassed by the SAME manufacturer.

I'm a blackjack user, the new cingular phone. Personally I LOVE my phone. It has completely replaced my PDA and my organizer and CAN replace my iPod, but I won't part with my iPod as long as I still draw breath. I bought the Blackjack for $400.00 a month after it came out, thinking it had given the phone sufficient time to come down in price from its whopping $600.00 price tag that it had on release.

Later that same week, I referred Tim, my partner, to the store. He too bought a blackjack, and then one for his wife as well. BOTH their phones combined cost less than mine... wow! Theirs were 150.00 each after rebate. Last month, after returning from Africa, I convinced April to purchase one as well. You know what the going price for a Samsumg Blackjack is right now? $50.00... fifty dollars.. that's it. Am I glad she got the discount? Sure. But I'm personally a little pissed that SHE was able to purchase insurance for her $50.00 phone and I am NOT able to purchase insurance for my $400.00 phone. I find this a little insulting. Not only am I a good customer, but I personally  brought their company three more two-year contracts complete with new phone sales and I was the one who got screwed.

What's up with this methodology of taking advantage of consumers? Honestly, its our fault as consumers that we let it happen but I can't for the life of me figure out a way to force a change in the consumer market because the infection is too broad. It's infected every avenue of manufacure from home entertainment to televisions, automobiles, communications, personal computers, etc. The list of affected industries is endless. I guess in the end the only thing we can do is find something we like, wait for something better to come along, and then buy the original think we liked after its no longer cool and has been replaced by a newer model. Hmm...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thoughts on Atrocity...

(ok.. maybe that's a stretch for a title, but it'll do for lack of creativity at the moment)


Michelle, Hannah's mom, made a comment on Yahoo, since she can't comment on the blog from where she was, that my post ( see post below) seemed a little out of character for me.. a little brash.. harsh, or maybe too quickly posted in a moment of anxiety... all of which I surmise upon reflection is completely true, so for that I apologize.

However, I've seen SOOO many signs over the years, and especially recently, that reading that article on CNN seemed to be the straw that broke the camels back.

Yes, we live in America, home of the free, land of the brave, etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Yes, we respect the rights and liberties of others from all across the world, welcome them to OUR country, and share the bountiful things OUR country has to offer... the things we have spent generations building, creating, working for, fighting and dying for. It is with that spirit that I feel that it is completely unfair for people to start trying to usurp the foundations of this country, the foundation of our belief system, the traditions, cermonies of heritage, and priveleges that we consider our inalienable human rights to do.

When a Jew, a Muslim, an athiest, or any other member of any non-christian religion stands up and says "hey.. stop saying God in the school where my kid goes" or "hey, I don't want to have to see God on my currency because it offends me religiously" or "hey, take those christmas decorations off my kids school bus because you'll ruin the good non-christian upbringing of my children"... I can't help it.. i'm sickened. It's disgusting.

If a christian were to stand up and say "hey.. can we please take a moment to pray for the souls of those lost to (insert your disaster here)...." some radical parent freaks out that we're trying to instill Christian religious doctrine into the souls of their kids, thereby ruining their non-judeo belief structure.

Option A: Accept that you live in a country who has the word GOD written on its justice system, legal tender, and in its patriotic statement....

Option B: Get the hell out of my country you self-serving piece of dung and go some where that will persecute you like you belong.

Option C: Pick up a rifle, join the united states military, and come home with the RIGHT to have an opinion after you've seen what the rest of the world is like.

At the end of the day, my lifestyle and my actions often bely my belief structure, and someday I'll have to answer for that. When that time comes it will be between me and God to sort it out. However, inthe meantime I hate waking up in the morning and seeing people try to make this country like the one they or their ancestors fled from in the first place. That's why this country was founded in the first place.. we left that behind when we segragated our country and started our OWN heritage.. a heritage of pride, values, and justice that has led to the founding of one of the greatest countries this world has ever known.

I'm not a first, second, or even third generation american. My heritage is american back as far as I have been able to search it. Yes, we all came from SOMEWHERE.. german, scot, whatever, however at the end of the day I look back and see that my great-grandfather joined the military to FIGHT for the freedoms we have, as did my Grandfather,  my father before me. That is where I get my strong sense of "ownership" from when I think of this country.. because those I've loved and respected, like Doc, work, bleed, and die daily so that I can put "In God We Trust" on every damn dollar I want to...

Again.... I started this with little to no emotion, trying to come up with a less-hostile approach.... seems I failed on that one agian.

For those of you who assume I'm in the minority on this train of thought, I'll point to the American public as a reference to cite. Many of you remember the big fiasco surrounding the lawsuit trying to remove the words Under God from the pledge of Allegiance, which were added by presidential decree in 1954 by Dwight D Eisenhower. Only ONCE has this country ever come CLOSE to actually removing the phrase and its inherent meaning, that being in the 2002 case of Newdow vs United States Congress, brought by an athiest father objecting to it being taught in schools where his daughter went. Not knowing what to do, the courts took a recess of a couple of days to try to come up with a decision. During that time the polls that crossed the United States by hundreds of different organizations reflected a 90% affirmation of our national creed. 90% of America told that guy to go to hell... hallelujah.. thank GOD!


"One nation, under God, indivisible, with libery and justice for all" (United States Code, Title 4 if you're curious...)


UPDATE: In Reference to the comments received on this post,I did the research and came up with the following information:(if this loses you, read the comments first, then read the part below. It was too much to put into a comment, so I edited the main post and added it post-creation.

Hey Mom. Thanks for the input and for the support. Technically there are 204 "founding fathers" depending on your definition: those who signed the declaration of independence in 1776, those who signed the Articles of Confederation on 1787, and those who signed the Constituion of the United States in 1789. Of those three major foundational documents, there are 143 signatures, 118 of which are unique... meaning some people signed more than one document. Additionally the delegates who participated in the creation of these, but who did not sign are also usually considered in the list of founding fathers, bringing the total to 204.

Specifically, in reference to the Declaration of Independence, 4 of the 56 founding fathers were preachers at the time of signing. Of those 56 total, there was one Catholic (not Roman Catholic just for clarity's sake), 11 Congregationalists, 2 Unitarian Congregationalists, 26 Episcopalians, 2 Diest Episcopalians, 2 Quakers, and 12 Presbyterians.

For clarification:
Congregationalists are puritan-derived independent churches with their own ruling body, specifically a lot of Independent Baptist churches of today would be termed "congregationalist", at least those not part of the Southern Baptist Coalition.

The term idendifies a "christian" membership, though I don't personally share their belief structure, that was created in England in the 17th century as a way to break away from the existing christian denominations of that time.

The term itself comes from the Greek word meaning "elder" and it too is a Christian religion, though ruled by the elders of the church traditionally rather than a voted upon body of members elected through democratic means.

This is the belief in "the" one God, but not in the trinity of the father, son, and holy spirit as three divine entities. They believe in the teachings of christ but regard him as an exemplar, or a wise one, rather than the son of God. According to doctrine, technically Unitarians are christians, though again my beliefs personally separate them farther than they do themselves in the traditional context.

So, that means with the exception of 2 diests (individuals who believe in A GOD, but not necessarily THE God) the entire signing body of the 56 individuals was Christian and professed publicly their christian belief structure to others, including the 4 who were preachers. Rationally, this means that 96.42% of the founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence were professing christians.



Monday, October 01, 2007

One Nation Under God... or was that who we meant after all?

How disguting. I don't have long to write, but I feel I must take a moment to share this. I was reading the news tonight, like I do most every night of late, and was struck by the headline "Groups criticize McCain for calling U.S. 'Christian nation" Wait a minute? Where was I? I could have sworn our pledge of allegiance says "one nation under God"...

Did I miss my guess or doesn't that spell it out pretty clearly? Did the jews, muslims, and others accidentally mistake us for someone else when they immigrated here? I'm pretty sure it posted everywhere throughout our history.

Here is the Associated Press article quoted from CNN in tonight's headlines:


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Muslim and Jewish groups on Monday sharply criticized Sen. John McCain's comments that he would prefer a Christian president to lead the United States. GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain campaigns Sunday in Derry, New Hampshire.

The Arizona Republican's remarks came in an interview with Beliefnet, a Web site that covers religious issues and affairs.

"I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith," the GOP presidential hopeful told the Web site in an interview published Saturday.

McCain also said he agreed with a recent poll that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. "I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation," he said.

On Sunday night, McCain sought to clarify his remarks while campaigning in Hollis, New Hampshire. "What I do mean to say is the United States of America was founded on the values of Judeo-Christian values, which were translated by our founding fathers which is basically the rights of human dignity and human rights," he said.

"I believe that anyone can be president of the United States of any faith," McCain said, saying he was angry his remarks were misinterpreted but "there's nothing I can do about it."

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said McCain's comments failed to recognize that Christianity is not the only faith with beliefs that support the concept of human rights.

"Sorry, Islam and other faiths have their basis in human dignity," Hooper said.

McCain's remarks also "go against the traditions of American pluralism and religious pluralism and inclusion," Hooper said.

Hooper's organization, a Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, said it's trying to organize a group of Muslim leaders to meet with McCain.

The National Jewish Democratic Council, an advocacy group representing Jewish Democrats, also called on the Republican Party to denounce the remarks formally.

"Former maverick John McCain's statements were repugnant," the group's executive director, Ira N. Forman, said in a statement. "It's been sad watching him transform from political maverick to religious right mouthpiece."

Forman added, "Someone running for president ought to understand the Constitution a little better. Nowhere does it say the United States is a 'Christian' nation. How can we trust someone to uphold the Constitution who doesn't even know what is in it?"

McCain's communication director, Jill Hazelbaker, issued a statement Sunday defending her candidate's comments: "Read in context, his interview with Beliefnet makes clear that people of all faiths are entitled to all the rights protected by the Constitution, including the right to practice their religion freely.

"In the interview he also observed that the values protected by the Constitution, by which he meant values such as respect for human life and dignity, are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. That is all he intended to say to the question, America is a Christian nation, and it is hardly a controversial claim."




Guess what? We ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION... WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD.. THE GOD.. get over it or get back on the boat!

We have turned into a country where the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is removed from office for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from his court house building, a California atheist sues to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and loses; then wins on appeal; then loses in the Supreme Court,  President George W. Bush is criticized for his idea of the Faith-Based Initiative, where faith-based organizations could get federal funds where previously they had been barred, and public school bus drivers are required to remove holiday decorations from their busses after complaints of "offended" parents.

Does this mean that non-christians shouldnt have the ability to rule our country? DAMNED RIGHT! No, technically it's not outlawed in the constitution. In fact, it's only ever mentioned once in the constitution. Article 6, third clause stated that "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." So, yes, anyone can rule the country, run for congress, become a senator, be city mayor, or anything else they feel led to do, but for GOD's sake it's about time you people learn that this country is founded on ONE GOD... we always have been and regardless of what you try to do to us, we always will be.

Are you free to worship your god? Defintitely. I defend and hold to heart the freedom of anyone to worship in his or her own manner, but I also defend the founding fathers who created this country in the manner they did. If you don't like it, go back to your war-torn, hunger stricken, poverty ridden, dictatorial, piece of dirt from whence you came and leave our beliefs alone.

In case you're confused, it reads as follows: "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." My best friend in the entire world is currently in a foreign country, fighting and watching his comrades die in order to defend the liberty and justice for those who can't do it for themselves. The VERY LEAST YOU CAN DO is to respect the country's beliefs that is busy trying to save yours, especially when they fight and die so you can have your freedoms overseas.  Either accept our beliefs and enjoy your freedom to peacefully worship whomever you please or get the hell out of my country and go put YOUR life onthe line for your beliefs in some other country!

One man in congress makes ONE remark about christianity and the entire non-christian population of America throws a damned hissy fit. Personally, I'd love the opportunity to shake the mans hand for saying what he did. It's a shame he's going to suffer for it politically.

Some of the people in this country sicken me sometimes.