Monday, July 18, 2005

Back up to speed

I've got a mailto link in place (bot-proof, at least today). I've got a site meter (current reading: 1). I've got comments and track-backs (although I need to figure those out). The only thing I seem to be missing is a blogroll.

But, if you are reading this, you probably already visit everyone who would be on my blogroll. So until I find a new and unique voice of the people, it's a slightly lower priority than, say, thinking up some actual content.

But welcome back, whoever you are.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Further admin notes

OK, I've got a pleasantly obfuscated mailto link working again.

Blogger seemed to imply that it now supported comments, but so far I don't see any evidence of them. So for now, I guess I'll go ahead and ignore comments via e-mail.

Administrative notes

I wasn't happy with something that was taking too long to load. So I blew out my old format, and fired up a new one.

The good news is that it loads quickly. The not so good news is that I lost a bunch of tweaks that I had put into the old format. That isn't such a bad thing, most of them were out of date anyway. Still, I am without comments at the moment, and without an obvious contact address. So...

I can be reached via email at lastname firstinitial at There is no space between the last name & the first initial. But blogger has a seriously brain-dead editor, so I can't offhand figure out how to make it prettier.

There should be more than enough information within plain sight for anyone, but not anybot, to interpret that.

Comments will eventually be enabled, but they were never very active anyway.

Call me busy, call me lazy

Just don't call me late to dinner.

OK, so I have been recalcitrant in typing anything here. Put it down to a supreme funk on the political scene, combined with an upswing in family life.

So, I'll ignore the political stuff for now. Suffice to say I am still not overly impressed with the current administration. Or my junior senator. Or my local representative, or my local state senator. Perhaps I'm not cut out of the right(!pun) mold for life in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.

On a family front, for those who know or care, things are going well. Almost a year into my job I am continuing to both enjoy and be challenged by it. When I consider the morale situation at my last job (before I got laid off) I still find it somewhat astonishing that there can be jobs where people show up regularly and are productive while they are there. It's actually pretty cool.

The rest of the family is thriving. More details are certainly available, but probably not for publication. If you want to be on our Christmas letter list, drop me a line at the above address.

On other fronts, Go Lance!

Oh, and don't get me started about the US Grand Prix. Astonishingly, the only party coming out looking good at the moment seems to be Michelin, and they were the ones who screwed up in the first place. Ugh. Still, I always thought that RoadAmerica or RoadAtlanta would have been better venues than the bastardized track at Indy, whose main purpose seemed to be to preserve the golf course.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

George Bush, Undercover Liberal

Wow, how long did that take me? Four days from swearing off politics to putting W in a post title. C'est la guerre, I suppose.

Anyway, the left blogosphere is twittering and muttering about the trial balloon tax proposal that proposes taking away health insurance deductability for employers. The theory seems to be that employers will drop health insurance for their employees like a hot potato as soon as the feds aren't underwriting it.

I say, why is this a bad thing?

It will cause short-term pain for a lot of people for whom I sympathise, and for whom I would hope that a short-term solution could be found. It will also massively increase support and momentum for the single-payer solution that many progressives (including me) consider to be the only rational way to provide health care. In the end, the effectiveness of an insurance scheme is directly proportional to the size of the pool. The only way to seriously provide insurance is to make the pool as big as possible. Realistically, the limit of that pool is pretty much the US population, but I'm sure that the odds work out better that way on payment than they do on the 80 (+ family) pool that I'm in right now.

However, my recent hospitalization (under an HMO) for five days, with visits from three specialists, a number of procedures, and the daily attention of my PCP (whom I had never met before) seems to have cost me $10. For that, I have no complaints about the current system, since I am insured. I am equally certain that most employed, insured people feel that way.

It seems that nothing except the massive abandonment of health insurance as a perk of business will encourage the single-payer plan. For his efforts in that direction, I have to salute W.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Weekend Outings

After spending a long day on Saturday cleaning the garage and waiting for the Sears guy to come and repair our microwave (he came, but didn't repair it) we took a day out on Sunday.

In the morning we went to start the Christmas season by seeing "The Polar Express", which is playing (among other places) at the IMAX at the Carnegie Science Center. The boys loved it, and Valerie and I enjoyed it too, much more than the New York Times reviewer seemed to. The IMAXing worked well too, given a number of swooping chasing scenes that occurred in the film. Definitely a thumbs up from our small band of reviewers.

After that, we had a picnic lunch down in the cafeteria and let the boys play for an hour in the exhibits. Some of the best entertainment money we spend in Pittsburgh is our Carnegie Museum membership. It gives us access to four museums, and we don't feel guilty about leaving when the boys' attention span collapses since the marginal cost of any visit is nothing. And they are good museams, for us and even for Vincent, who is 2 1/2.

After the museum we headed out to Greensburg to look at a couch. We had hoped that the boys would fall asleep in the car during the hourlong drive out there, but they didn't. Luckily, anticipating a furniture shopping trip, we had brought enough electronic entertainment during the hour or so that it took us to decide to buy it. Then they both fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Nothing frantically exciting, but a good day out at a glorious time of year.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

F1 Wrapup

Not much to say, really. It was clear from the beginning of the season that Michael Schumacher was going to win the drivers' championship, and he did. Ferrar was going to win the Constructors' championship, and they did.

The season was astonishingly dominated by Ferrari and its drivers. They, and Bridgestone, have clearly figured out how to win under the current regulations, and no one else could stop them. Since it isn't really clear what will change for next year, I am expecting (although not looking forward to) another season of Ferrari domination next year.

In other news, Villeneuve will drive for Sauber (Ferrari Jr., so to speak) next year. Many see this as a foot in the door to get him into his father's old seat at Ferrari. While this might be an interesting combination, the record of Sauber drivers moving up to Ferrari is pretty much nonexistant. So I'd encourage a massive exhalation in Quebec.

As for CART . Hmmm... Is CART still racing? Somehow they lost my interest this year. This was probably a result of sticking their telecasts on SpikeTV (TV for guys?) and not carrying races live. The result was too ghastly to watch, so I stopped. I understand that Bourdais was the champion. As I have seen observed elsewhere, however, it really isn't clear that having a French champion is going to do a lot for their popularity in the US.

And NASCAR? Well, the new bizarre points system has produced a close race for the championship at the end of the season. Still, you have to strongly believe that a full-course yellow is a necessary part of racing before you can buy into it being a key part of the championship. As long as NASCAR continues to add vanilla 1.5 mile ovals to its season, I will continue to only watch those races that are interesting -- long tracks (Daytona, Talladega), Short tracks (Bristol, Martinsville), Road courses (Sears Point, Watkins Glen), oddball courses (Darlington, Dover) and the original 1.5 mile tri-oval, Charlotte. For the rest, I'll just check the results online and let the race fade off TiVo.

I'm Alive

OK, so since I'm not ancient, perhpas I'm alive isn't too surprising. But a little over two months between postings is a little excessive.

Put it down to employment, health issues, and a general malaise.

So, employment is good, but time-consuming. Given that I feel awkward about blogging from the office, I would have to blog from home. But two young children, two middle-aged dogs, and a house to take care of, somehow the hometime doesn't seem to allow much activity. (Right now, it's 11:15 on a Saturday night, and everyone else (incudling the doge) has gone to bed. Can' do that during the week).

Health. Hmm, after five days of hospitalization, the conclusion is that I have issues that can be pretty much entirely treated by drugs. That's a good thing... But still, I've burned something like a year's worth of sick leave and vacation dealing with these issues, with more to come. That's not such a good thing, but a necessary side effect (I suppose) of employment (which is still definitely a good thing).

General malaise? Well, the November election caused that. Let me be clar about this. George W. Bush inspired me to get off my arse and get naturalized. After living under him as four years as Governor (I moved to Austin in 1996) I couldn't understand how anyone could vote for him for president. So I became an American (entirely legally, I had had a Green card since 1977) explicitly to vote for his opponent in this election. It worked -- PA went for Kerry.

I still don't understand, however, what the possible appeal of this man can be. I lived in Texas, and I knew a number of people like him. Most of them were ruuning marginal businesses, verging on the edge of bankruptcy, and not entirely understanding why. How did this man manage to convince people to let him dirve a major country to the edge of bankruptcy and not understand why?

Too many understands in the last paragraph, but I'll let it go. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is still a financial mess, but a great city to live near.

Blogging-wise, I think I'll step away from politics from now on and stick to racing and family issues. I can't say way, but somehow the blogs I read in my new time-constrained state have a lot more personal content, even if I don't know the authors, and a lot less political content.

Oh, and on a final note, I really hope that the "Seed of Chucky" isn't called Olivia, because that would scare me. Really scare me. Perhaps a couple of people who read this (and I assume that such people would have an RSS aggregator) would understand why. I remember the postcards at the wedding...

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Mad Irish Priests

Are there any other kind? Well, in this case, I was interested to see that the idiot who decided to run onto the Hangar Straight at Silverstone last year during the British Grand Prix chose to mug a marathoner at the Olympics this year.

At least he seems to have figured out the basic physics of insane protester vs. X and decided that 10 mph human is a safer value of X than 200 MPH car.

That said, his presence at the Olympics, reprising his performance of last year certainly suggests that key elements of the welfare state in Britain (hospitalization for the insane, anyone...???) are as fouled up as similar institutions in the US. Perhaps this explains Blair's adulation of Bush the Younger.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Between starting a new job, 2 weeks of televised sports (yeah TiVo & digital cable), and a very short vacation, I have apparently abandoned this forum for over a month.

Now our family schedule has settled out, and I thought I'd dip my toes back into the blog with a few random observations. Since I am listening to Bush's convention speech right now, they may be angry observations, but he seems mostly laughable and confused. I mean, really, should you diss somebody for touting Hollywood when one of your leadoff speakers was Arnold Whatsisname?

Hmmm. It looks like security just dragged one of the Bush twins out, but it might have been someone else. The dark haired one -- NotJenna -- but I digress.

They said on the radio the other day that the last time Pittsburgh saw 90 degrees was before in September 2002, before I moved here. This has a lot to do with why we left Texas.

I was driving home this evening, on a reasonably fast road, and was behind a car with a distinct "W" sticker on it. It was only just before I turned off that I got close enough to see that the W had a red circle and slash. You gotta be careful about the messages you can send.

Call it the yard sign poll. So far, in my verrry Republican part of the North Hills, I have seen two houses with Kerry/Edwards signs and no houses with Bush/Cheney signs. I don't know what this means, but I'll try to keep my count current. I did see a few Mike Turzai signs -- our state house rep who is running unopposed on the GOP ticket.

There is apparently one HOV lane in Pennsylvania. It runs from my house (well, near enough) to downtown Pittsburgh. But it's usage has dropped 20% since it was opened a decade ago, while traffic on that road has increased 20%. That can't be good.

I watched the Daily Show Bush Video last night and the RNC one tonight. I think the RNC may have been funnier, albeit unintentionally.

More to come...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Life Update

It took a while -- almost eleven months to the day -- but I will once again be gainfully employed as of Monday. Woohooo!, as my children are wont to say. I got the job offer last Monday, and after accepting it immediately found that my to-do list of little jobs around the house had become extremely long. Replacing taps (and, it turned out, drainpipes), hanging towel rails, putting up closet doors, mowing the lawn, all sorts of things. OK, I haven't mowed the lawn yet...

I think the hardest hit family members will be the dogs. I've been staying home all day since October 2002, and they are kind of used to it. They'll work it out somehow, though. Anyway, my extremely intermittent blogging will probably become even more so over the next few weeks as I adjust to spending most of my waking hours outside the house.