The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Am In A Tizzy



I don't know what a "tizzy" actually is but I I think I am in one. I suppose I should call it a "period of excess anxiety" since that is closer to what it is.

Last Saturday, the garage access door from the house decided (yes, it does have a mind of its own) to mess up. I should not blame the door, though, it was the lock/latch mechanism which became balky. I went through the door to the garage and could not open it again to get back into the house. I had to open the big garage door and get back into the house through the front door. I called a locksmith, who could not come out until that day but promised he would be there Monday morning.

Monday morning came and went and no locksmith showed up. So, Monday afternoon I called a different locksmith and he came out a couple of hours later. 


The problem was with the latch piece itself (see drawing on the left). It jammed. It's not hard to fix but you need the door open in order to work on it. I did not have that luxury. I had a similar problem in Manassas on the townhouse we owned then and had to kick the door in to get in.

The locksmith who showed up told me he sees the problem about once a month. I had him fix that door latch and do the same repair on two other doors which were occasionally jamming.

At the same time, I was still trying to get the cell phone to link up seamlessly with the new car. And, to top it off, I had to run the golf group on Monday (27 players) when Pete (our esteemed leader) fell sick on Sunday. Normally, he would call on Joe to take over but Joe was out of town this week (still is) to attend his granddaughter's softball tournament in Alabama. I am not organized enough to do this efficiently. While I didn't make a mess of it, I can assure you it did not go smoothly.

I also had to run the Wednesday golf group but not many go to that so it wasn't difficult. I will have to do it today (Friday) again but, again, not many show up for that day so it shouldn't be too hard. I really hope Pete will be feeling better come Monday. And that Joe returns soon!


I don't like having to do any work since I am supposed to be retired.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

SPAM!


 I found a lovely piece of spam in my spam folder the other day...

It looked like this:



  Registration Confirmation View Online  
http://image.bncollegemail.com/lib/fe6a1570716004797413/m/1/032_logo.jpg Logo
  Textbooks   |   Apparel   |   Offers
CONNECT:   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Blog
Welcome!
Dear Darrell,

Thank you for registering and welcome to the York Technical College Bookstore! We have everything you need to succeed in school -- and to show off your school spirit.

To access your account, just visit our website, click Login/Sign Up at the top of the page and enter your username and password.

Your user name (email address): dwhaire@gmail.com

Now that you're all set on our website, why not register here to receive e-mails from us, too? You'll receive promotions, updates, discounts and more.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at (803) 327-8011 or email SM032@bncollege.com.

Thanks for choosing York Technical College Bookstore!
  B&N CollegeYork Technical College Bookstore
452 South Anderson Road
Rock Hill, SC 29730
SHARE:   Email   Facebook   Twitter
 
 
This email was sent to dwhaire@gmail.com   |   Unsubscribe
barnes & noble college 120 Mountainview Boulevard Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
 
 So I replied with this:

I never signed up and do not want to receive anything from you.
 
To my surprise, I received a reply:
 
"Dear Darrell,
 
       We apologize for any problems this may have caused. If you would like to stop the emails, there is an 'Unsubscribe' button at the bottom of the original email. If you click that you should stop receiving emails.
Best Regards,
York Tech. Bookstore Staff.


York Technical College Bookstore
Barnes and Noble #032
Phone: 803.981.7293
Fax: 803.325.2895
http://yorktech.bncollege.com
http://www.bncnews.com
 

I was amused. Those who know me know my name is not "Darrell" but "Douglas" but I ignored that. After I sent the reply to them, I unsubscribed from all future mailings from them.

It is obvious to me that it is BARNES & NOBLE who started this and is engaging in spamming. This saddens me a bit because I thought legitimate businesses did not stoop this low. I am obviously naive.

And, so, I replied to their reply with these words:

"Then your organization is engaging in fraud to entice registrants through SPAM. Disgusting"
 
 
Just thought I would pass this on to my readers and let you decide if you wish to do any business with  BARNES & NOBLE

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cell Phone Confusion


We (Faye and I) purchased a Lincoln  last week, as I told you last week. But, of course, that wasn't the end of the story. With a new car purchase (as with any major purchase) there are things that happen afterward. Things like learning the idiosyncrasies of the new vehicle and dealing with communication needs. The Lucerne had OnStar, which Faye used to make the occasional phone call. Fords and Lincolns do not use OnStar and, therefore, we (meaning "I") needed to come up with some kind of replacement system.

In my Focus, I simply used the Bluetooth connection my cell phone and the Focus supported. That seemed like the ideal way to deal with the communication issue I had with the Lincoln. So I ambled to the local Walmart and purchased a "GoPhone." Not a smartphone, just what they call a feature phone. They are cheap and work well for this purpose. You see, all Faye needed was a way to make hands-free phone calls. She did not need apps or anything fancy like that.

I worked for AT&T for 34 years... you would think I would know something about phones. And I do... but not what I needed to know about Bluetooth and phones that use it.

The phone I bought had Bluetooth capability but it did not have it turned on. I found that and enabled it. Then I learned that I needed to turn something called "visibility" on because that, too, was disabled by default. These two things made the phone discoverable by the vehicle. But it still didn't work right. It would find the phone but then the phone would ask if I wanted to "sync" with the system in the car. And, after answering that in the affirmative, it wanted to know if it should share the addressbook with the system. It took me a few days to figure out how to make that automatic. It turned out that I needed to look under "Devices", find "SYNC" and then configure an option that said "Always connect."

That made it work the same as my other cell phone which only needed to be told to "Auto-sync."

I hate it when phones are smarter than me. And I really hate that the terminology they use is not standardized.


And, in addition, the door from the house to the garage decided to act up, prompting me to have to call a locksmith to fix it. Of course, no locksmith could come out until Monday so it was two days of using the handheld garage door openers and the front door.

I did not have a good weekend.

 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We're All Going To Die!


And, of course, it's all our fault. It isn't clear in this article if humans will be wiped out in this "mass extinction" but perhaps...

The article, at one point, states:
The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event.

Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.


I have to wonder... just how are we doing this? Or, in other words, just what is causing this reduction in populations?

The article says:
Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

The article says the large vertebrates show the greatest decline. It attributes this to humans basically crowding them out. That is, we are expanding rapidly and, in so doing, are shrinking their available habitats. That's understandable. But it could blow back on us... for example...

"Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission," said Dirzo, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle."

Most of the mass extinctions in history have come from huge meteors or the eruptions of super-volcanos. But, this time, it's US (human beings) at fault. I disagree... a little.

While I agree that our encroachment on the habitats of animals is an important, even major, factor in the reduction of many species I do not agree that we are in the beginning stages of a Mass Extinction. I think we are a part of nature, part of the fauna on the planet, and are just doing what any species does; expanding our habitat. We are the "dominant species" now.  We have always done this... and likely always will. No other species cares whether its actions impacts its fellow species (and we once didn't) but they have impacted other species. Nature, for the most part, kept that impact down. A species which grows too large in number displaces others... which sometimes affects its own ability to expand and which can then cause their own species to contract. We are doing that (expanding our habitat) and have been for millions of years.

We started as a small population in a very large world. We have grown enormously over the ages. This naturally displaces other species and probably caused numerous species extinctions. It is only recently that the idea that this is bad has become mainstream. Maybe only recently have we even bothered to notice.

But don't worry, our own actions may prove to be the regulation factor in our population size. The article talks about an increase in rodent population, for example, which could increase the number of pathogens which could, naturally, kill a large number of us off. Science, however, will try to combat these pathogens and reduce the impact. This could result in our maintaining (or even increasing) our numbers.

Seems to me that perhaps science ought to consider that it is at the heart of our problems and stop doing what they have been doing. Let us dwindle in size as we once did through plagues (mostly) and natural disasters.

Join me! Become a Neo-Luddite and save the planet!



Monday, July 28, 2014

Bubbles


I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.
 
We've seen "bubbles" a few times. Few of us notice them when they are growing, only when they "pop." I am speaking of economic bubbles here. They are useful economic devices, these bubbles, but very dangerous. Creating, or expanding (by encouraging), a bubble can bring an economy back from a recession or out of a doldrum.  Those that recognize a bubble can benefit financially from it. Most of us don't. Most of us eventually get hurt by the collapse of one. 


Take the real estate bubble of a few years ago. I took advantage of it when it inflated the price of my home in West Palm Beach. It paid for my house here in Paradise when I sold it. The false equity did, that is. What is "false equity?" That would be the amount of equity above what a "normal" market price would offer. Let's say you bought a house in 1993 for $120,000 (as I did), that home would be worth $161500 in 2005 in a "normal" market. Except we were in a real estate bubble in 2005 and the home was worth more than twice that amount. After we bought our home here, of course, its value dropped quite a bit  when the real estate bubble "popped" but that would only matter if we tried to sell the house... something we did not  (and do not) plan to do.



Timing is everything. While I was still in West Palm Beach, a co-worker told me how he was making money on the side... by being part of a group of people who speculated in real estate. It was a great idea... as long as the bubble was growing in size. But all bubbles eventually burst, just as they did when we were little kids. And when this bubble broke, this co-worker and his group  saw their fortunes dwindle.... rapidly.

Like all things in a market; it's buy low, sell high to make money. The time to get out is before the bubble deflates. The big problem is recognizing just when that is. I got lucky with real estate, many others did not.