Oh, the wonderful Web!

31 03 2008

So I’ve been hired by a company to make their web site – right? Good money and it’s just about finished. I just need to do some tweaks and upload it to the site. Now, before the site is completely active, I thought I’d do a test run and upload it, and test it out on several browsers on several different computers running different OS’s.

Well, I must be doing it wrong because I can’t see a darn thing. More headaches. This is why I didn’t become a programmer.

So what does this have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing! Just another Useless Tidbit. Oh – and I’ll be offline for a day or two while I get this headache fixed.

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So the Do-Not-Call list does-not-work….

26 03 2008

Okay.  I have my phone numbers registered with the State of Florida’s Do Not Call list.  For those of you who may not know what that is, for a very small fee every year ($5), and for each number registered, it’s supposed to keep these pesky telemarketers from calling your phone.  Does it work?  Hmm.  Hard to say.  I get so many calls here on a regular basis anyway, between my business and the accountant I share my office with (and believe me, he gets a LOT of calls….), it’s truly hard to see if it’s working.  We haven’t gotten many automated calls so far this year.  You know, those really annoying calls where it’s just a recording, not even a real person to yell at…

That’s probably the worst thing about telemarketers.  If it’s a real person that calls, and manages to pronounce my name correctly, I try to be nice about it.  After all, they’re just trying to do their job!  But woe to the heavily-accent-laden telemarketer that mispronounces my name and then refuses to get off the phone!  Those are the ones that I like to have a little bit of fun with.

One of my favorites is when someone calling from India picks up after a slight delay (a dead giveaway it’s a solicitation call!), then mispronounces my name.  Then they try to sell me some piece of junk product that I have absolutely no use for whatsoever.  So then, I usually ask how it will be shipped, to which they answer by parcel post.  I then usually wait a minute before replying, “But I want it tomorrow.  Can’t you deliver it?”  Then the banter begins, and it usually ends with them hanging up the phone.

I haven’t lost a banter yet….





Worries about the economy…

25 03 2008

Well, just like everyone else, I’m worried about what’s happening with our economy.  I’m practically pulling all the jobs I can, while I can, to save up some extra money, just in case.   That’s why there haven’t been a lot of posts lately….

So I apologize for that.  But, back to more Useless Tidbits!  So today is my ex’s birthday, so I thought I would post some interesting facts about this particular day in history.  I find it rather interesting that on this day, there was so much brutal murders and disasters.  Hmmm, maybe that should have told me something….

1947 A coal mine explosion in Centralia, Ill., killed 111 people.
   
1975 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot to death by a nephew with a history of mental illness.
1988 Robert E. Chambers Jr. pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin in New York City’s so-called “preppie murder case.”
1990 Fire raced through an illegal social club in New York City, killing 87 people, most of them Honduran and Dominican immigrants.
1992 Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev returned to Earth from the Mir space station after a 10-month stay, during which his native country, the Soviet Union, ceased to exist.




My Banner on Tidbits

20 03 2008

I had someone email me with a question about the picture that’s at the top of my blog. Well, that’s an easy answer, but not the simplest explanation.

The picture is that of a Pantone color fan. You know those fans that painters have that they whip out to show you what different colors will look like on your walls? That’s essentially what the Pantone fan is, only we use it in the printing business. Just like we have standards on the web for displaying web pages (HTML/XML/Java/Flash), in graphics and printing we have Pantone. It’s the most widely used and accepted standards for printing pieces off of presses/copiers/inkjets. It’s really nothing more than a color-code for a specific color, which is nothing more than a very specific combination of the four primary colors. There have been color wheels and fans in use for decades, but the Pantone system is probably the most accurate and accepted standard.

Just a useless tidbit here: If you ever get something printed at a print shop and they ask you if there’s any PMS colors, just so you don’t sound stupid, here’s your answer. If your graphic designer gives you a logo that’s marked PMS 237, that’s a Pantone color. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. In general, Pantone colors cost a little more, but they are completely worth it if you absolutely have to have the color match, as in your company logo. Good thing to be using the same blue and orange every time you get your letterhead printed.

PMS color can also allow us in the printing business to do what we call a “Spot” color. That’s where a specific PMS color completely covers a part of the paper, and doesn’t have any sort of ‘grain’ to it. If you look at something printed in the newspaper or magazine, it’s usually printed using only the standard four colors (cyan(blue)+magenta(red)+yellow+black=CMYK). If you took a magnifier to it, you’d see little dots that actually make up the colors and patterns. With “spot” colors, you don’t have that. It’s completely solid. Using a spot color with a glossy paper can turn out some truly beautiful pieces.

So, since I’ve been getting so many inquiries about printing and graphics, I’ll add some more entries as some interesting stuff comes up.





A Happy 75th Anniversary!

12 03 2008

Happy Anniversary to Franklin D. Roosevelt, on the anniversary of his first fireside chat as President. I was going to simply write a synopsis about his speech, but as I started reading it, doesn’t it look sort of familiar to what’s happening today? Take a long, good look at his speech, and the quote below.

The quote is from a campaign speech (I’m terribly sorry – I couldn’t tell which one…) that describes corporate America….

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Hmmm. What’s this about Bank of America controlling a third of the banking market??? And Citigroup controlling almost another third??? Now, I’m no economist, but even I know that it’s not a good idea to have monopolies. Can anyone say Microsoft?? (Not a monopoly my heinie…)

One of my friends, Rich, is an economist, and I was just remarking to him about how our history seems to repeat itself every 70 years or so.  Keep in mind this is the 75th anniversary of this speech – TO THE DAY!  Okay, so now for the speech. I am taking this directly from John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14540.

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking—with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the . making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms, should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

First of all, let me state the simple fact that when you deposit money in a bank the bank does not put the money into a safe deposit vault. It invests your money in many different forms of credit—bonds, commercial paper, mortgages and many other kinds of loans. In other words, the bank puts your money to work to keep the wheels of industry and of agriculture turning around. A comparatively small part of the money you put into the bank is kept in currency—an amount which in normal times is wholly sufficient to cover the cash needs of the average citizen. In other words, the total amount of all the currency in the country is only a small fraction of the total deposits in all of the banks.

What, then, happened during the last few days of February and the first few days of March? Because of undermined confidence on the part of the public, there was a general rush by a large portion of our population to turn bank deposits into currency or gold—a rush so great that the soundest banks could not get enough currency to meet the demand. The reason for this was that on the spur of the moment it was, of course, impossible to sell perfectly sound assets of a bank and convert them into cash except at panic prices far below their real value.

By the afternoon of March 3d scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business. Proclamations temporarily closing them in whole or in part had been issued by the Governors in almost all the States.

It was then that I issued the proclamation providing for the nationwide bank holiday, and this was the first step in the Government’s reconstruction of our financial and economic fabric.

The second step was the legislation promptly and patriotically passed by the Congress confirming my proclamation and broadening my powers so that it became possible in view of the requirement of time to extend the holiday and lift the ban of that holiday gradually. This law also gave authority to develop a program of rehabilitation of our banking facilities. I want to tell our citizens in every part of the Nation that the national Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—showed by this action a devotion to public welfare and a realization of the emergency and the necessity for speed that it is difficult to match in our history.

The third stage has been the series of regulations permitting the banks to continue their functions to take care of the distribution of food and household necessities and the payment of payrolls.

This bank holiday, while resulting in many cases in great inconvenience, is affording us the opportunity to supply the currency necessary to meet the situation. No sound bank is a dollar worse off than it was when it closed its doors last Monday. Neither is any bank which may turn out not to be in a position for immediate opening. The new law allows the twelve Federal Reserve Banks to issue additional currency on good assets and thus the banks which reopen will be able to meet every legitimate call. The new currency is being sent out by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in large volume to every part of the country. It is sound currency because it is backed by actual, good assets.

A question you will ask is this: why are all the banks not to be reopened at the same time? The answer is simple. Your Government does not intend that the history of the past few years shall be repeated. We do not want and will not have another epidemic of bank failures.

As a result, we start tomorrow, Monday, with the opening of banks in the twelve Federal Reserve Bank cities—those banks which on first examination by the Treasury have already been found to be all right. This will be followed on Tuesday by the resumption of all their functions by banks already found to be sound in cities where there are recognized clearing houses. That means about 250 cities of the United States.

On Wednesday and succeeding days banks in smaller places all through the country will resume business, subject, of course, to the Government’s physical ability to complete its survey. It is necessary that the reopening of banks be extended over a period in order to permit the banks to make applications for necessary loans, to obtain currency needed to meet their requirements and to enable the Government to make common sense checkups.

Let me make it clear to you that if your bank does not open the first day you are by no means justified in believing that it will not open. A bank that opens on one of the subsequent days is in exactly the same status as the bank that opens tomorrow.

I know that many people are worrying about State banks not members of the Federal Reserve System. These banks can and will receive assistance from member banks and from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. These State banks are following the same course as the National banks except that they get their licenses to resume business from the State authorities, and these authorities have been asked by the Secretary of the Treasury to permit their good banks to open up on the same schedule as the national banks. I am confident that the State Banking Departments will be as careful as the national Government in the policy relating to the opening of banks and will follow the same broad policy.

It is possible that when the banks resume a very few people who have not recovered from their fear may again begin withdrawals. Let me make it clear that the banks will take care of all needs—and it is my belief that hoarding during the past week has become an exceedingly unfashionable pastime. It needs no prophet to tell you that when the people find that they can get their money— that they can get it when they want it for all legitimate purposes—the phantom of fear will soon be laid. People will again be glad to have their money where it will be safely taken care of and where they can use it conveniently at any time. I can assure you that it is safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than under the mattress.

The success of our whole great national program depends, of course, upon the cooperation of the public—on its intelligent support and use of a reliable system.

Remember that the essential accomplishment of the new legislation is that it makes it possible for banks more readily to convert their assets into cash than was the case before. More liberal provision has been made for banks to borrow on these assets at the Reserve Banks and more liberal provision has also been made for issuing currency on the security of these good assets. This currency is not fiat currency. It is issued only on adequate security, and every good bank has an abundance of such security.

One more point before I close. There will be, of course, some banks unable to reopen without being reorganized. The new law allows the Government to assist in making these reorganizations quickly and effectively and even allows the Government to subscribe to at least a part of new capital which may be required.

I hope you can see from this elemental recital of what your Government is doing that there is nothing complex, or radical, in the process.

We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people’s funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans. This was, of course, not true in the vast majority of our banks, but it was true in enough of them to shock the people for a time into a sense of insecurity and to put them into a frame of mind where they did not differentiate, but seemed to assume that the acts of a comparative few had tainted them all. It was the Government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible. And the job is being performed.

I do not promise you that every bank will be reopened or that individual losses will not be suffered, but there will be no losses that possibly could be avoided; and there would have been more and greater losses had we continued to drift. I can even promise you salvation for some at least of the sorely pressed banks. We shall be engaged not merely in reopening sound banks but in the creation of sound banks through reorganization.

It has been wonderful to me to catch the note of confidence from all over the country. I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me in their acceptance of the judgment that has dictated our course, even though all our processes may not have seemed clear to them.

After all, there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work.

It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.

I think I’ll leave this one open for discussion….





And we have liftoff!

11 03 2008

Okay, I admit it. I have always had this facination with the space program. I always wanted to go up in a shuttle. Some of the things I dreamed of doing as a kid, we’re actually achieving right now. The Mars explorer, the Hubble Telescope, and my personal favorite, the Shuttles.

Shuttle Endeavour took off early this morning. And I do mean early. I’m some 300 miles away from Cape Canaveral, and usually I can see the trail of the shuttle as it takes off. I usually like to watch the trail as I see the launch on tv. (I have the NASA satellite feed) And I was planning on getting some really great photos. Until the clouds rolled in. I am completely disappointed. Oh well. Here’s some shots taken from the NASA page. They’re pretty good. Hope you enjoyed them as much as me!

If you want to know more about the shuttle’s mission, go to NASA.gov and check out their site. You can learn about the crew, the mission, and what they will accomplish up there on the International Space Station.

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Our Wonderful Crew

Takeoff

On their way…





An Awesome Weekend!

10 03 2008

Okay, let me lead off by saying what a great weekend it was! Something that I’ve needed for some time. Being a single parent, there isn’t a lot of time that I get to myself. And this weekend was no exception. I spent a lot of time doing things that needed to be done, like filing, and tax work, but I got to do something special on Saturday night. A friend of mine bought tickets to see Jersey Boys at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, and gave one to me for a holiday present. So, the five of us took off for TPAC (as it’s known around here) Saturday night for an incredible story about the Four Seasons. We’re all fans, so it was a lot of fun. What a story!

Not to mention the lights, the set, the way the actors completely entranced the crowd…. What a show! After the show and the curtain calls, the cast asked everyone to sit back down, and they asked everyone to donate to Broadway Cares, a non-profit started and run by Broadway Actors to benefit many different organizations. They were doing backstage tours, signed playbills, signed posters, and more to raise money. From what I could see, they must have raised a lot. I saw lots of 10’s and 20’s in the buckets they were holding on to. Nice to see that the musical crowd still has a heart, unlike what I see at the sports events. If the Lightning stood up on the ice after the game and asked the same questions, I’m positive that the crowd would walk away laughing…

Tickets for both events, sports and musical, cost about the same, but the attitudes are completely different. Cultural people don’t complain as much as sports people. Of course, performers don’t get annual contracts for $15 million just to play some dumb sport. It takes far more smarts to get up on stage and perform versus playing football. Now the coaches, fine. They deserve more as they have to plan logistics, etc. But I haven’t seen a sports player YET that is worth $15 million.

Get out there and support your local orchestras, playwrights, theatres, and actors. There’s far more entertainment there than at some sports event.