Monday, July 03, 2006

update: teva programmers finally get a clue

At last, at last, my dad got his gift certificate from Teva. It turned out that there was a glitch in the forms they use for processing—for some reason, the state of the shipping address was showing up as the state for the billing address in the receipt. Which means that, if the state is not your billing state (such as for a gift sent to Michigan from Connecticut), the credit card company will not process the transaction. As it shouldn’t.

With a lot of perseverance on the customer service rep Gina L.‘s part, and her willingness to tell the programmers that they had made a mistake (and telling them again and again until they fixed it—programmers never believe that laypeople know what the hell they’re talking about, do they? Even though I told Gina what to tell them, it still took a while to sink in. The fact that it just didn’t work should have been the tip-off, but programmers, particularly asp jockies, are often among the most arrogrant frecks on the planet.)

What’s really weird is nobody was ever notified of a failed transaction—not the customer (me), not the service reps—nobody. So I bet they lost thousands in sales over the 12 days the problem persisted. All those gift certificates that should have been sent ... on all the carts we manage, every single one notifies us if there is a failed transaction and, here’s a concept, even provides an error report so we know if it’s the customer who screwed up (like a mis-typed number) or if we did (like forgetting a piece of info that needs to be submitted). And we test test test before deploying a new system.

I would say that all’s well that ends well, but I’ll wait and see if my dad can successfully use his gift certificate on before I decide it’s ok. They did send him an apology for screwing up our father’s day present.

posted by lee on 07/03/06 at 10:00 AM
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lieberman collecting sigs to run as whatever

According to the AP, as reported in the New York Times, Lieberman says he’ll start petitioning to run as an “Independent Democrat” in November:

‘‘While I believe that I will win the Aug. 8 primary, I know there are no guarantees in elections,’’ Lieberman told reporters on the steps of Connecticut’s statehouse. ‘‘No one really knows how many Democrats will come out to vote on what may be a hot day in August.’‘

Lieberman said he will still be running as a Democrat even if he’s not the party’s nominee and plans to remain part of the Democratic caucus in the Senate if re-elected.

Hedging his bets yet again, just like he did during the prez campaign. What the hell is an “Independent Democrat?” Oh, I forgot, that’s a Republican in a Democrat’s costume.

How, exactly, is he going to run as a Democrat when Ned Lamont is chosen by us noble Democrats who brave the August heat to vote on the 8th? How lame is it to blame hot weather for losing the primary? In advance, no less.

What will he do if Democrats turn out in droves to vote against him?

It’s time to seriously consider term limits for our elected officials. I’m leaning toward two terms max for senators and four-year-term elected positions, and three terms max for representatives and other two-year-term elected positions. Anything more than that and it becomes their career and most politicians consider it an entitlement—which Liebermouth clearly does.

Worth reading is David Sirota’s recent column in the Hartford Courant: Who’s Lieberman Represent? Not You

Apparently, the Lieberman campaign’s cynical strategy is to smear the opponent and then convince the public that holding a contested election is somehow wrong, when in reality that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen in our democracy.

Lieberman wants to make this election about whether he is a likable guy.

But this is not a two-bit popularity contest. This is a critical election about whether Connecticut Democrats believe Lieberman is representing their party and mainstream America in the Senate, or whether he has lost his way and become part of the corrupt establishment in Washington.

A look at Lieberman’s record shows he is most decidedly the latter—a senator who has “gone Washington” and forgotten about the people who elected him. Lieberman may call himself a centrist, but the record shows he has used his platform to push policies that are far out of step with what ordinary Americans want from their government.

How to avoid having our elected officials become part of the establishment in Washington, corrupt or no? Term limits. This would take care of Lieberman-type BS and also take care of a great deal of the corrupting influence of lobbyists—they’d have to cultivate new patsies and that will definitely cut into their bottom lines. And maybe it might happen that our elected officials would actually work for us. What a concept. The pols won’t have to spend the bulk of their terms raising cash to keep their jobs; just think of all the work they could get done during their lame duck term!

UPDATE: Take a look at Lieberman on CNN, over at Crooks & Liars (he’s so damned arrogant—but what, exactly, had he accomplished in the last 18 years?)

posted by lee on 07/03/06 at 10:48 AM
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

warren, ohio

Well, we’re spending the night in Ohio as we trek to Michigan for niece Kristine’s wedding to Matt on Saturday. We’re staying at the Comfort Inn in Warren, Ohio, which is very close to Youngstown (near the Pennsylvania border).

We avoided NYC and New Jersey traffic again this year, heading west by first going up to Danbury to I-84, to I-81 near Scranton and Wilkes-Barrie, then down to I-80 and over. Going out of our way actually saves us a lot of time. It took us just over seven hours to reach Warren—and probably would’ve taken less time except there are some slow spots on 80 where there is construction. All in all, not a bad trip at all so far. The cat made it without upchucking, and Ginger, well, she just likes to go wherever we’re going.

Comfort Inn, Warren, OHI’ve grown tired of motels on the interstates, and have had my eye on the Comfort Inn Hotel in Warren since last year. It’s an old hotel, I guess about a hundred years old, that Comfort Inn took over. Stanley bitched about how ugly everything was as we exited I-80 and drove about eight miles north to get to downtown Warren—strip malls and big boxes that could be Anywhere, USA (including Constitution Ave. in Norwalk). Then we got the hotel, which is right across the street from the town square, where there was a band playing in the bandstand when we arrived (a polka). A beautiful town square, with huge old trees and surrounded by interesting government buildings (Warren is the county seat of whatever county this is) and buildings made of brick and cut limestone. The Midwest. Like you’d find in a Ray Bradbury story.

Our room is a large room facing the square! Huge windows, clean, a comfortable bed. I was thrilled when we walked into the lobby because it features stained glass and real, old oak that hotel owners, past and present, had the sense never to paint, a friendly desk clerk. We unpacked and then parked the car. We took the dog out for a walk and had a park to take her too instead of a strip of grass along the interstate where the traffic scares her into misery. She was so happy walking around the square with us—it is really pretty here. I think we’ll stay here again in August when we go on our usual vacation. Oh, and when we were across from the hotel in the town square, Stanley glanced back at the hotel and saw Twitch sitting in the window, watching us. I really wish I would’ve had my camera—it was such an interesting shot, that stupid cat staring at us from the second floor of the hotel.

We should get to Dearborn tomorrow around 3:30 or 4:00, give or take 30 minutes. Time to check into Casa de Cara (my sister Cara’s house) and then we off to Rochester Hills for the Rehearsal/Welcome to the Out of Towners dinner being hosted by Matt’s parents. It will be nice to finally meet them. Saturday is the wedding and reception, and Sunday I hope we can catch up with family, hang out a bit, then on Monday, we’re going to leave in the morning and probably drive straight through (it’s about 11 hours total, maybe twelve, between Detroit and Norwalk. Much longer if you go through Canada, which might seem to make more sense but nothing, and I mean nothing passes by slower than the flatlands of Ontario ... except maybe driving north through eastern Kansas ... )

The bad part about traveling on Thursday was that we missed the debate between Liebermouth and Ned Lamont. But most, or maybe even all of it, is posted on YouTube ( and I managed to watch all of the videos posted (oh, did I mention this hotel has a super wireless connection?) and I thought Liebermouth came off like an angry, arrogant toad. I was pretty shocked at his use of Reagan’s line—wasn’t Ronnie a Republican? And, of course, he dragged in a dead Kennedy—as if ... Eighteen years is enough, Joe—you haven’t done shite for CT as far as I’ve been able to tell. And what is this horse manure about saving the Sound? Last I heard, lobsters are still scarce on the Sound and now the salt marshes are dying off, he didn’t have enough clout (or maybe he just didn’t care enough) to prevent that pipeline from being laid across the Sound and I sure don’t hear him speaking out again the liquefied natural gas “island” that’s being shoved down our throats. He burbled on about transportation money—but it still takes more than an hour to drive the ten miles between Stamford and Norwalk during rush “hour” (which seems to last 2.5-3 hours now) and Metro North is overcrowded and there’s very little public transit to get you to the train station (and non-existent parking if you drive there). Just hearing Lieberman’s voice makes my skin crawl the same way listening to Bushie’s bs makes it crawl ... eyew. I like Ned Lamont and I believe him when he says he’d going to fight for progressive, Democrat causes.

posted by lee on 07/06/06 at 08:59 PM
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

they got hitched without a hitch

Kris and Matt’s wedding was beautiful. Kris was beautiful and looked so happy it made my heart ache. Here are Matt and Kris (click to enlarge)

Kristine Mitroka married Matthew Downey, July 8, 2006

I put a bunch of pictures of the wedding (taken by me, Stanley, Cara, and Brian) and you can find them here on Picasaweb (the three gallery that start out with the word “Reception”): There are several pictures of Kate here—she looked lovely as well.

I was ok until the part of the reception where Dad danced with Kristine. When Kris’s mom Jamie got married all those many moons ago, Dad and Jamie did the father-daughter dance to “Sunrise, Sunset.” Well, that’s the song that played as Dad danced with Kris. It meant a lot and of course I couldn’t keep the tears out of my eyes.

James Fleming dances with granddaughter Kristine Mitroka Downey at her wedding

All of my mother’s sister were there except for Aunt Joan, who is recovering from cancer. Brian snapped this photo of them. Aunt Anne is on the left, next to Aunt Grace, then Aunt Connie, then my mother, Alice. (click to enlarge)

Anne LaPorte, Grace Callahan, Connie Armatis, and Alice Fleming: the Dunn Sister of Wyandotte, Michigan

It was a good wedding, and I’m glad Matt is a member of our family now.

posted by lee on 07/09/06 at 11:16 AM
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

all the king’s men

The New York Times has an interesting article tomorrow: Lieberman Hopes His Fate Isn’t Sealed With a Kiss. “He is in his 18th year in the Senate, where he has prided himself as being moderate, collegial and willing to work with Republicans. He has built the kind of seniority that often leads lawmakers to consider themselves invulnerable.”

He feels so entitled to the Senate seat he was elected to fill three times that he’s forming the Lieberman Party to run in the general election should he be defeated in the primary on August 8. A vanity party.

Let’s end the reign of this arrogant, sanctimonious King George stooge once and for all. Vote for Ned Lamont on August 8.

Here is an interesting story:

“It certainly makes it a lot harder to make your case that you’re a real Democrat as you’re packing your bags.” Bill Curry, who ran for governor against Rowland.

posted by lee on 07/15/06 at 11:54 AM
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

lieberman’s new party

Stanley pointed out to me that the name of DINO Joe’s new party is “Connecticut for Lieberman.” Not, as Stanley pointed out, “Lieberman for Connecticut.” Well and truly a vanity party. I really hope funds from the Democratic Party are not going into CT4LIEbermouth.

posted by lee on 07/16/06 at 12:23 PM
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weather & other miscellaneous stuff

Well, Stanley put in our air conditioners. Last year, we didn’t put them in at all, but today and for the rest of this week it’s supposed to be so hot and humid that all thought ceases. Which is not good for business. When we left for brunch this morning, Ginger didn’t even try to go with us, just lay draped over the top of the stairs. The two small a/c units are just enough to take the edge off downstairs and make our bedroom comfortable (and quiet—it drowns out the street noise).

I tried to close the bedroom door, but the door wouldn’t shut. Stanley says it’s coming apart at the top, and he has to fix it. It’s only about a couple of hundred years old—the humidity is warping it (and everything else in the house, according to Stanley). Too bad it didn’t happen before he painted it.

Last week’s thunderstorm was so bad it scared me—the sky turned that tornado color and there was a tornado warning. So I managed to get the dog down the cellar steps—she’s terrified of the steps, which are very steep. Found the cat and threw him down there too. We didn’t get a tornado here in Norwalk, but there was one near the Tappan Zee area of NY which also cut through Greenwich, CT, so it was damned close. Goes to show, I guess, the weather lessons while growing up in Michigan stuck with me.

Nobody here in Connecticut understands that a tornado warning (vs. a watch) means take shelter now—they think you take shelter only if you see a funnel cloud. One lady said she stood in a doorway to protect herself—guess she figured a tornado is the same thing as an earthquake. I was surprised the weatherman on WTNH didn’t give better instructions—he must never have had a gig in a tornado zone. He covered it, up to a point, but stopped covering it before the edge passed over Norwalk—the storm got much worse just after he went off the air. Very strange—not worth the interruption (hey, Judge Judy was on!) And the cable news channel, which is located right here in Norwalk,              kjmmmmm <—cat walked on the keyboard ... didn’t even have a warning up.

I need to water the gardens. I’d put the sprinkler on the bottom garden because it needs a good soaking, but Stanley ran over my sprinkler with the lawn mower yesterday and now it’s in about ten pieces. And he wouldn’t let me mow because he said it’s too dangerous—I wouldn’t have run over the sprinkler. I’ll go water after the sun goes down, slather myself with bug stuff because the mosquitos are fierce this summer, and just hose down the gardens.

We’re watching two yahoos powerwash the house next door. Cleaning the gutters, powerwashing the vinyl siding and windows—yep, we wanna hire them. Especially the guy that climbs that ladder with one hand ... we’re hoping the water doesn’t get underneath the siding because it’s one of those houses made with particle board that can get that black mold, and we like the people who moved in.

I need some chocolate. Right now.

posted by lee on 07/16/06 at 12:29 PM
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Monday, July 17, 2006

the canary project

The Canary Project photographs and exhibits landscapes around the world that are showing dramatic transformation due to global warming. The project’s photographers/developers are trying to use these photos to convince people that global warming is a clear and present danger by showing via photos, rather than telling via statistics, the evidence that global warming is already happening and should concern us right now.

The photos of the disappearing glaciers in Austria are compelling. And the Katrina photos. Maybe even the Venice photos. But the Netherlands photos don’t really show anything alarming. What the exhibit lacks are comparative photos—the before and after stuff that Al Gore used so effectively in An Inconvenient Truth. The Costa Rica cloud forest series suffers from a big lack of information—I don’t know what, exactly, I’m looking at and why it’s significant or foreboding. I do understand the dead coral reef photos because I know what a living coral reef looks like, but I’m not sure most people do. Since more people will see the website than the exhibition, the Project should spend a lot more time developing it to be a more effective tool.

The site itself is pretty, but the web designer needs to close up the space at the top because it shoves the photos down too far and makes it annoying to view them. It’s also annoying to have to squint at light gray text on all that white.

There could be more links—a lot more links—which would make the website a better resource, but perhaps those will come with time.

It could also stress what you can do right now, rather than burying it in the links page. After we saw An Inconvenient Truth, we switched our Connecticut Light & Power electricity source to 100% green (wind and methane-recovery from landfills) even though it will cost us a bit more per kilowatt hour (1.1 cent per kwh). And we switched our heating oil to biofuel last fall. We’ll buy carbon offsets as soon as we can afford to. We try to conserve energy as much as possible (which is why we were reluctant to put in the air conditioners) and we follow as many guidelines as we can (energy efficient lightbulbs, unplugging bricks and appliances when possible ... ) Multiply our efforts by millions of other households and companies doing similar things, and this might have more of an impact than anything else short of a 60s-era, NASA-like program by our government to lead the world in coming up with alternatives to fossil fuels.

posted by lee on 07/17/06 at 08:26 AM
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ccv and now pac sponsor dinner with ned lamont

Connecticut Choice Voice and Now PAC are co-sponsoring a dinner meeting with Ned Lamont on Tuesday, July 25, 5:30 to 7:30 pm in Hartford. Suggested donation is $50. You can find the details here.

posted by lee on 07/19/06 at 08:46 AM
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Monday, July 24, 2006

greenpeace and other car ads and clinton too

You’ll never see a commercial like this in the US:—I saw this via (which comes out weekly—worth a read).

There are a lot of these monsters around here, and I think it would be safe to say that 100% of them are not purchased because the owner has a need for an off-road vehicle. When I see one of these things, I just assume the driver, if a male, has a very small dick, and if a woman, has a very high score on the self-centered meter. It could be just plain stupidity, but around here, it’s probably an ego issue. It particularly galls me to see one of these with a yellow ribbon or a flag.

The other day, I saw a school-bus-yellow Hummer parked down the street. I think it was an H2. The guy who drives it must have a really tiny dick.

Speaking of commercials, does Chrysler really think running those utterly boring Dr. Z ads over and over and over and over again are going to sell more vehicles? It’s a really bad ad that evokes hostility rather than interest. And, since I’m on the topic of car ads: Taylor Hicks jumped the shark. Ford made sure of that.

I always wonder why so many auto ads run during the 11:00 news. Back-to-back, 15 seconds of some bland auto driving down some road. Tonight it was Nissan then BMW then Ford then Chrysler, one after the other. And GM too, I think, or one of those that offer flexfuel. Must be really cheap to offer flexfuel, or they wouldn’t do it. Are those chains of ads really effective for getting someone to buy a particular brand?

I am totally disgusted with Bill Clinton. I never drank his Kool-Aid (I voted for Perot both times), so I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Bill stumping for LIEberman. I resigned from Barbara Boxer’s PAC when I found out she was coming to campaign for Joe Blowhard—how can she be so vehemently anti-war and still support Liebermouth?

In Frank Rich’s column (The Passion of the Embryos, July 23, 2006), he talks about religion and policy, and wrote this about Ol’ Joe:

It’s possible that even Joe Lieberman, a fellow traveler in the religious right’s Schiavo and indecency jeremiads, could be swept out with Rick Santorum in the 2006 wave. Mr. Lieberman is hardly the only Democrat in the Senate who signed on to the war in Iraq, but he’s surely the most sanctimonious. He is also the only Democrat whose incessant Bible thumping (while running for vice president in 2000) was deemed “inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours” by the Anti-Defamation League. As Ralph Reed used to say: amen.

Here is the link to the article outlining the letter sent to JoLIE by the Anti-Defamation League. Like his hero Bush, Liebermouth is intent on allowing his particular brand of superstition to permeate public policy—which is why he supports the war in Iraq and Israel’s current attempt to wipe Lebanon off the map.

My brain is looping—it’s time to sleep.

posted by lee on 07/24/06 at 11:47 PM
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