Saturday, September 07, 2002

What I did on my summer vacation ...

I've had better vacations. Stanley and I left for Oscoda, MI on August 23rd. The trip was a bit nightmarish in part, but all in all, okay. When we left, all was well with our world and we were REALLY looking forward to a badly needed vacation -- days on the shore of Lake Huron, visiting my parents and other family living in Michigan, going to Bingo and maybe even winning, plans to go to the Michigan shoreline above Cross Village so Stanley could see my favorite place on the planet ...

The only thing troubling me was that my sister was feeling really sick, which, for her, is unusual.

The worst part about the trip out there was our stop in Newton Falls, Ohio, at the Rodeway Inn. We stayed there because they take pets. Well, it was fairly clean, at least, but a total creepout otherwise. We do NOT recommend it. It was pretty expensive, too, at $60 for a room in the middle of Nowhere. We got in so late there was only one place open for a meal: Kountry Kitchen. We have a rule of thumb: never eat anywhere that uses a "K" instead of a "C." It was an omen. We should've gone hungry.

Things were okay for a couple of days. We had a few problems launching a web site -- miscommunication mainly -- but worked that through so it was not really a big deal, but annoying because we wanted to relax and not have to work on a website we thought was finished.

Then, I called my sister to find out how she was doing, and she told me she was heading out the door because her doctor told her to go to the emergency room immediately. The emergency room was in a hospital about a thousand miles away, in Boston. We sat tight until we could find out what was going on. It turned out that she was in the acute phase of Wegener's granulamatosis, her kidney's had shut down, needed chemotherapy, in real trouble. So we knew we had to head back east earlier than we'd planned.

So, we're still on vacation, but we're now in Boston, and trying to help my sister and her family with stuff. Stanley never dreamed he'd have to mow almost an acre of lawn while on vacation. Or fix a toilet. I had no plans to scrub and clean and ferry kids to soccer games ... but I couldn't relax anyway while my sister is in trouble.

Then, I figured out that I've been laid-off from my part-time gig. Not found out, not notified, just figured it out. Canned along with at least eight or nine colleagues. Since NetOps turned off my access to the company email and website, I figured it out (this place is imploding, and has been for a while, so I wasn't really surprised, just annoyed that they couldn't wait until I got back from vacation to flip the switches). So I rattled the network to get my suspicions confirmed -- the network of refugees from the same place, who knew what was going on before the survivors did. Amazing.

So, my sister is sick with an illness that will threaten her the rest of her life, and a small but steady income stream has been clipped way before I was really prepared for it. Great vacation, eh? And it isn't even over. Not until Monday.

Ah well. I needed more time, anyway, now I'll have it.

What really pisses me off, though, is my sister's problem should've been diagnosed a long time ago. Her medical group, Harvard Vanguard, wouldn't let her go to a specialist earlier, and her assigned physician dismissed my sister as just another hypochondriacal woman - ignored her symptoms, gave her a prescription for Paxil, referred her to a shrink - total incompetence, which could've killed my sister. My sister's symptoms present a textbook case of Wegener's -- even though it is rare, according to everything I've read about it, it should've been an easy diagnosis to make much, much earlier if her physician had actually listened instead of making assumptions. Just another reason people should stop treating physicians as gods.
posted by lee on 09/07/02 at 10:38 PM
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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

bummer morning

Well, I schlepped in to collect my junk, sign my layoff agreement (weird, that, eh?) sign my "contractor's" agreement, say allegedly temporary goodbyes to some people, leave my card ... I did not want to go in at all. The news was even worse than I thought. I hated every second I was there today, faithfully did my chores such as emptying out all the junk from my directories, scrubbing my email, etc. as quickly as I could, turned in my keys, and then practically ran out the door. The place looks like a neutron bomb hit -- where once there were 80, now there are about 45 or 50, max. Sad. The day before what would've been my two-year anniversary (9/11, oddly enough). I really hope this place can pull off a turnaround over the next three months -- there are so many really good and smart people there who don't deserve to be saddled with a failure.
posted by lee on 09/10/02 at 07:26 PM
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

This is BS

They're going to wreck Sherwood Island. They plan on building a 9/11 "memorial" on the point, allegedly facing the Manhattan skyline, which you CANNOT see from Sherwood Island. What a crock of crap. Here are the sad details of this expensive joke: Sept. 11 Living Memorial.

The "Friends" of Sherwood have been pretty systematically wrecking it -- last summer, they tore out all of the beautiful beach plums. I wish to god they'd just leave the place alone. This memorial makes no sense -- who the hell will travel to CT and pay $10 to see four trees? It's just the destruction of a nice, clear view of the sound. Sure they chose Sherwood -- just put it someplace out of the way. God forbid it should go in Greenwich. It's meaningless.
posted by lee on 09/11/02 at 03:41 AM
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where do i sign up to help in the fight to restore democracy?

Thanks to Stanley for this Nation article: How 9/11 Changed Our Lives

One excerpt that struck home:
"Ithaca, NY
What surprises and disappoints me is how little has changed since the terrorist attacks. I thought the horrific death and destruction on our own soil so clearly demonstrated hatred and resentment toward us that we would work ceaselessly to implement an evenhanded approach to Israel and Palestine. I thought our leaders would ask us to make some sacrifices, and we'd give up our SUVs and other aspects of our everyday life built on oil gluttony and being beholden to Saudi Arabia. I thought a successful attack with box-cutters would highlight the stupidity of "missile defense" and we'd begin to change how we spent our defense dollars. I thought we'd finally acknowledge we need transportation diversity and begin creating a healthy passenger rail system with less dependence on air travel. I thought we'd become less unilateral and work harder to build alliances and honor treaties. I was so wrong.

At the very least, I hoped the attack would jerk enough Americans out of our self-absorption to trigger a grassroots movement to restore democracy. I'm ready to join -- I just don't know what to do.
posted by lee on 09/11/02 at 05:23 PM
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Friday, September 13, 2002

Launched: Edit Strategies

Edit Strategies is launched! This is our latest site; Edit Strategies provides custom editing services for school applicants, students, and business professionals.

It's an e-commerce site, launched using a free shopping cart from NOP Design and hooking into to an gateway. The NOP shopping cart needs some more twitching since it's somewhat limited (hey, it's FREE -- I'm not complaining, just commenting) but it works perfectly with the gateway for one-item purchases. Just need to figure out how to adapt it for multi-item purchases, if possible, and state-specific sales tax (one would think the payment gateway would take of sales tax, but it doesn't. PayPal does a much better job of this.) The solutions are already in the NOP Design forums -- just have to spend some time looking for the answers.

Also incorporated a cool form maker: CSMailto from I highly recommend this. Not only does the product work very well, and is very flexible and the programmer, at least I think Andy Angrick is the programmer, is extremely helpful. They also publish a couple of other CGI scripts I want -- I will probably order them soon. I just love it when products work the way they're supposed to! (Software, especially!)

This site was a lot of fun to build, and we were glad to get back to doing ecommerce solutions (e-commerce on a shoestring budget is possible -- this site is proof). Check it out; comments are welcomed. And, if you need essays or papers edited, our client's rates are very reasonable.
posted by lee on 09/13/02 at 04:02 AM
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Harper Lee

Thanks to Stanley for pointing out this story in today's Chicago Tribune: A life apart: Harper Lee, the complex woman behind 'a delicious mystery.' To Kill a Mockingbird has been a book that's haunted me since I first read it about 35 years ago and I've often wondered what the author is like. Now I know a little more. The only thing I knew about her before is that she lived next door to Truman Capote as a child, and that she helped him with the research for In Cold Blood, another book that had a big impact in my life.
posted by lee on 09/13/02 at 03:47 PM
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Sunday, September 15, 2002

sabre rattling by the pretender

Check out "Bush Across the Rubicon: The Mantra that Means 'This Time It's Serious'" by Robert Fisk in CounterPunch.

... two-thirds of the way through his virtual declaration of war, there came a little, dangerous, telltale code, which suggested that President Bush really does intend to send his tanks across the Tigris river. "The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people,'' he said. In the press gallery, nobody stirred. Below us, not a diplomat shifted in his seat. The speech had already rambled on for 20 minutes but the speechwriters must have known what this meant when they cobbled it together.

Before President Reagan bombed Libya in 1985, he announced that America "had no quarrel with the Libyan people.'' Before he bombed Iraq in 1991, Bush the Father told the world that the United States "had no quarrel with the Iraqi people''. Last year Bush the Son, about the strike at the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, told us he "had no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan". And now that frightening mantra was repeated. There was no quarrel, Mr Bush said absolutely none with the Iraqi people. So it's flak jackets on.

Let's hope Fisk is wrong about this one. Though I doubt it.
posted by lee on 09/15/02 at 03:20 AM
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Monday, September 16, 2002

America’s conflict of interests

W.'s Conflicts of Interest
New York Times, September 16, 2002
When George W. Bush ran for president, he mocked Bill Clinton's addiction to pollsters and promised to tear down the cynical White House trellis of politics and policy.

As it turned out, Mr. Bush didn't need the permanent campaign. He has something far more potent: the permanent war.

Karl Rove and W. have designed a mirror-image presidency. They take everything Poppy did that conservatives regard as a mistake and reverse it.
The right thought that the father's war was too short? O.K., the son's war will be too long.
The right thought that the father's war should have ended with Saddam's disappearance? O.K., the son's war will start with Saddam's disappearance and build its rationale around that blessed event.

Like his dad, Mr. Bush is not keen on delving into tricky domestic issues like Social Security, health care and pension protection. It is hard for a Bush to envision the need for a safety net.

When the Bushes get into the bunker, democracy operates the way they like. It is not messy and cacophonous. It is orderly and symphonic. There are sheriffs and outlaws, patriots and madmen, good and evil, Churchills and Hitlers.

The Bushes love doing things in secret and without a lot of meddling from know-nothings in Congress and smart alecks ... [/snip]

and [snip]
The wartime press is respectful, producing gauzy TV interviews and square-jawed photo spreads, rectifying mangled presidential syntax and mindlessly repeating Minister of Information Ari Fleischer's celebration of the president as "resolute." [/snip]
posted by lee on 09/16/02 at 09:40 PM
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In Search of Al Qaeda

frontline: roots of terror: email from the field | PBS - thanks to for the link to this amazing web journal.
posted by lee on 09/16/02 at 10:01 PM
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Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Guess the Axis

From David Strom's Web Informant comes this interesting bit o' code: Axis Applet. Click on any three countries to find out what they have in common (an Axis, evil or otherwise, is defined as three countries having something in common).

After you play with that awhile, back up the URL to CODeDOC to check out what it's all about - software art with a focus on the code.
posted by lee on 09/17/02 at 04:52 AM
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