October 02, 2002

Greedy little luddites

West Coast ports remain closed today for the fourth day in a row now. Labor disputes are never completely one-sided, but this one seems more absurd than most. Basically, the port operators would like to use modern technology -- like bar-code scanners -- to make the ports more efficient. The union has decided that any increase in efficiency might mean that not all of them were needed, so has decided not to budge on this issue.

Meanwhile, while the union has decided that theirs should be the only job category in the history of the world not affected by new technology (visited your local blacksmith lately?), the effects from the shutdown, estimated to cost the economy $1 billion per day, are soon going to start rippling across the country. Lots more people are going to be out of work when stores can't get their merchandise and manufacturers can't get their parts because all the goods are sitting out in the water somewhere.


Posted by Mike at 09:07 AM | Comments (3)

October 07, 2002


I'm writing this from Denver, where I just arrived with Dany, a co-worker of mine. Tomorrow we're in a business meeting with another company, and then we fly back and get home in time for dinner.

This was the first time I had been at the San Jose airport since the Transportation Security Administration had completely taken over airport screening duties. Where the screeners used to be almost entirely Filipino, they are all now very white. It's an interesting issue -- much has been written about the unfairness of kicking all the former employees out of jobs that now require US citizenship. The problem is that the former employees mostly sucked. I'm sure there were some that were good, but the fact is that I almost always got through security at San Jose with distressing ease. I don't think it necessarily makes sense that workers have to be US citizens -- I've known many, many smart immigrants, and even more stupid Americans -- but I do think it makes sense to change the previous staff.

The flight was virtually deserted. We flew on a Boeing 757 that had maybe ten rows worth of people. So we moved up to the deserted exit row. It is incredible the difference that makes in leg room.

Over the weekend, while Meredith was at her 23 hour concert, I bought a new pair of $50 noise-canceling headphones from Panasonic. Mostly I bought them because the cheapo headphones I was using to play Counter-Strike were starting to really annoy me, but I spent the extra money to get the noise-canceling model mostly out of curiosity about how well it would work. And, they work pretty well. It's not like it gets rid of the noise from the jet engines, but it does substantially cut back on it. It made listening to music far, far more pleasant. I'm sure that Bose's $300 model works much better, but I couldn't really justify $300 on headphones.

I'm staying at a Marriot Residence Inn, on "The Garden Level". It's called that because "Subterranean Level" didn't sound appealing. Right outside my window is the retaining wall. Lovely view. Very nice concrete.

So, all this so I can go to a two hour meeting. It sounds a little insane, really. But here I am.

Home soon...

Posted by Mike at 11:16 PM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2002

and I'm back

I got back tonight from Denver. The bed in the hotel last night sucked, which was sort of surprising for a Marriott. Oh well. So after not getting a lot of sleep, I got up and had breakfast with Dany and Bruce before heading to our meeting.

There was an unfortunate miscommunication about where the meeting was, though, so the first thing we did was drive to a different building, 20 minutes away. Given that and the delay in realizing we were at the wrong place, we were about an hour late in starting the meeting. Oops.

Dany and I had to leave a few minutes early so we could get back to our flight on time. The United check-in area in the Denver Airport had a display case of items that were prohibited to carry on. The items included a knife, brass knuckles, a bullet, flares, and a 12V automotive battery. A car battery? Does that come up a lot?

On arriving back in San Jose, I took a cab back to Microsoft. Like the last time I was in a cab, this driver took the approach that it was best to avoid braking for slow traffic or stop lights until the last possible second. While I'm sure this got me to my destination faster, I personally think I'd rather get there 20 seconds later and not lose half an hour off my life from thinking that I was about to die several times on the drive. But maybe that's just me. I also don't think of carrying car batteries onto airplanes, so clearly I'm different.

At any rate ... it's good to be home.

Posted by Mike at 09:44 PM

October 09, 2002

Irony is...

I just registered to attend the January Macworld convention in San Francisco, an annual event for all things Macintosh.

The online registration for Macworld was handled by a Windows server running Microsoft Active Server Pages.


Posted by Mike at 02:22 PM | Comments (5)

October 10, 2002

People who are evil

I frequently find myself stunned by the large awards that juries seem to routinely give out to people for punitive damages. These all too often seem to be about rewarding people for being idiots. The perfect example is those people who were shocked, shocked and appalled, to discover that the cigarettes they started smoking in the last twenty years caused health problems.

But sometimes the astronomical sums sound reasonable. Today, a jury awarded a woman $2.2 billion in a lawsuit she brought against a pharmacist who admitted to watering down the woman's chemotherapy drugs. The pharmacist said he did so because he was short on money. The CNN article says that Federal authorities believe the scheme may have afffected as many as 4,200 patients.

I am hard pressed to imagine of a money-skimming scheme more perverse than this. I am aghast at the evil that some people are capable of.

Posted by Mike at 08:44 PM | Comments (1)

one way to wash a cat...

This was the cat's idea, not mine.


I took him out before closing the door and turning on the water.

Posted by Mike at 11:27 PM | Comments (1)

October 14, 2002

It's all my wife's fault

As Meredith has written, she is sick.

So am I.

I guess this is what I get for marrying a school teacher who, every year, gets to bring home a fresh set of germs. Lucky me. I suppose it could be worse -- I could have married an elementary school teacher. They get lots more germs, I'm told.

Still, being sick and having a fever sucks.


Posted by Mike at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)