Archive for June, 2007

Please, oh please, don’t move me to Missouri

Let me preface this blog post by saying I mean no disrespect to Missouri or to anyone who lives in Missouri. I could have chosen any of a dozen of these to blog about, it just happened to be Missouri today. And I don’t want to move to Missouri. ๐Ÿ™‚

A couple times per week, Jodi gets a postcard from a hospital or private practice group which is heavily recruiting for <x> (where X was “internal medicine” last year, and now has turned to “neurology”). Here was the Kansas City, MO one from this past week:

Kansas City Solicitation

There’s a bit of a theme to these postcards, and I’ll summarize it here:

  • Our <hospital/practice> is such a great place to work. We’ll pay you tons of money and pay off student loans, etc. Not lots of call, lots of opportunity, etc, etc.
  • We are located in wonderful <either a) some vague reference to the nearest metropolitan area to indicate that the job is out in the boonies or b) some metropolitan area that is not particularly desirable> which is SUCH a great place to live. Look at all the great amenities our area has to offer: <some mix of interesting stuff that they likely actually have very little of and things I have no interest in>!
  • No, seriously, stop laughing. You should consider our <hospital/practice>. (I’m paraphrasing this last one. They have professional publicity people working on these, so it’s a little more subtle)

Hehe. Ok, I exaggerate somewhat. And I’m certainly glad that Jodi will have (seemingly) lots of choices and opportunities to select from when she’s finished with her residency program. But one other theme I’ve noticed on a number (but not all) of these solicitations: they’re very heavily skewed to the Midwest and rural mid-Atlantic. As a particularly unscientific study, this could be taken to mean that nobody wants to live in these areas. I concur. And I don’t recall ever getting any of these cards from any place I’d jump at the chance to move to.

Anyway, I guess only time will tell where we end up. But I kind of hope it’s not Missouri.

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One of my biggest complaints about smokers

Now, I could write up an entire series of blog posts about smokers and what I find irritating about smoking. I’ll save myself the time and you the hassles of reading such a sequence, and boil down my complaints to a single one that’s bugging me today.

Smokers litter

That’s my big complaint today. Now, prefacing this rant with the acknowledgement that it’s not fair to collectively condemn an entire group of people for such a thing, I think it’s fair to say that the average smoker is distinctly more inclined to litter than the average non-smoker.

Oh come on, Evan… you might say. That’s just hogwash. I’m a smoker and I don’t litter. Well, unfortunately, many of your smoking brothers-in-arms are not so considerate!

Why, recently I saw someone roll down their car window while driving along 23rd Ave S in Seattle and heave an emptied pack of cigarettes (wrapper) out the window. Now, it’s possible they weren’t a smoker… but somehow I doubt it.

And that doesn’t even begin to explain the dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of cigarette butts I walk past each day. Sure, it’s possible they were all appropriately disposed of in trash bins which were subsequently blown over by wind, scattering the cigarette butts throughout the land. But I doubt it.

Smokers – your habit is disgusting enough; can’t you please throw away your litter in the appropriate place like everyone else does?!

(note to my cigar and/or pot smoking readers — I don’t see nearly as much of these as litter, so while I’m not a fan of the second-hand smoke, at least you and yours are seemingly off the hook for litter-common-sense ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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The Defining Moment

This book covered the first 100 days of FDRs government, as well as the period leading up to and through his election. Like seemingly everyone, I’ve always considered FDR something of a folk hero for his success in turning the depression and leading us up to and through the challenges of the 2nd World War. After reading this book, I have renewed appreciation for this great man, but I’m also a little alarmed at some of the mechanisms he had to use to get it done!

In many ways FDR was terrifyingly like George W Bush in his approaches! Yes, GWB. How so? Well, FDR spent a great deal of his time misleading those he was “working with” into a position where he would get his way — a good example is the way he handled the transition to power and the bank crisis with Hoover: he pretended to have not received letters, pretended to have sent a reply that “got lost”, etc… all to ensure the clock would run out on Hoover and FDR would be able to sweep in and “fix” the problem on his own. No direct parallel in GWB world, but the “feigning ignorance” while the clock runs and sending conflicting/misleading messages suited to the purposes of obfuscation is a Bush tactic we’ve seen time and time again in the past few years. And there’s no doubt it works, it’s just a bit underhanded.

Also, the more obvious example was the way FDR essentially set himself up as a dictator during his presidency — adding more power to the executive, removing power from others, trying to stack the supreme court, stripping/violating citizen civil liberties, etc. A whole honeybucket of unpleasant and inappropriate actions that are not looked on very favorably by history. Not too far off from many of the things the GWB administration has done (no oversight from congress, wiretapping, torture/habeas corpus, classified leaks, etc… I could go on and on)

Now, the good news is that FDR was also quite a bit like Bill Clinton (or Ronald Reagan if you prefer) in that he was able to get the public to back just about any good (or bad) thing he could come up with. He was a real salesman, and an effective spokesman for our country for many years. And he was effective both internationally, and — perhaps more importantly given the depression — domestically. He was able to get people “back to work” (and more importantly, the American public BELIEVED they were getting back to work, even if it was not as broad as it seemed in advertising.

Plus, one could argue, even with the questionable things he did — FDR did more good than harm. That alone puts him closer to the Clinton legacy than the GW Bush legacy.

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HDTV (HDHomeRun) update

The last post on this was quite a while ago, so I suppose it’s not really fair to leave it at that. To recap, previously I had purchased an HDHR (HDHomeRun) box to serve as my HDTV tuner into my Media Center (MCE2005). The initial results were not good. I followed all the steps posted in the setup guide at the HDHR forum, and it all seemed to work ok at first… I was able to tune ATSC channels from the attached antenna, watch live TV, etc. However, each time I scheduled a recording, it was a roll of the dice. In most cases, I would get 2-3 minutes of recording out of a 30 minute scheduled show.

Doubly strange, because MCE (I had thought) is supposed to detect a “lost signal” during a show recording and restart the recording when signal returns (?). In any event, this was not happening and we had a few, tragic, missed recordings (I was particularly unhappy to have missed one of the season final episodes of The Office… ACK!)

In any event, there’s a happy ending in here somewhere. I posted to the forum and got no direct response (I’d link the post, but it seems to have been pruned). However, there was an indirect response to someone else with a similar problem, indicating an errant ICMP packet signaling a loss of connectivity to the HDHR. This, evidently, leads to exactly the “partial recording” problem I was having.

I proved the point by scheduling a recording and then yanking out the network connection from HDHR to the switch while it was recording. Sure enough, the end-result recorded file looked just like the symptoms I had been seeing — a full-length recording, where only the first portion was recorded (ie – partial light-colored timeline bar with the rest of the 30 mins greyed out as though it was only 5 minutes into the actual recording process).

Ok, so it was a loss of network connectivity. Hmm. Well, could be cables, could be network card, COULD BE THE SWITCH. Ah ha! This 5-port 10/100 switch I had thrown back into service for the HDHR<->MCE connection is a couple of years old and I had a vague recollection that one or more of the ports on it had had really low throughput in its previous use. The switch was the obvious culprit… maybe a loose connection inside or it’s just finally giving up the ghost.

Sure enough, “switched out” (yes, pun) this older switch for a known-good replacement… and… SUCCESS! Zero missed recordings in the few weeks since I made the swap.

YAY! And now, with a few weeks of success behind us, I can say that the HDHR is the coolest thing since forever. I feel so retro using rabbit ears antenna to get my TV, but the quality is heads and shoulders above what I get from my analog cable; and there’s NO way to get HD on my MCE from the cable company without hacking something together (Firewire from a STB) or paying TONS of $$ for cablecard. Blegh. 90% of my fairly limited TV watching comes from NBC in any case, so now I’m even more inclined to dump my cable. If only Comedy Central would sell a monthly IP/download subscription for TDS and Colbert, I’d be all set.

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Until I find you

Not all of John Irving’s books are available in audible (in fact, only a handful are). This “new” (now probably 2 years old) book, however, was available, so it’s the next one in my listen pile.

It took me AGES to get through this book (almost a month of nearly daily listening). Not because it was a slow or bad book. Quite the opposite, it was actually quite an interesting and engaging book. But it was long, 35+ hours to listen through, so it just took a long time!

In traditional John Irving fashion, there are his standard sort of strange topics: Wrestling, kinky/strange/inappropriate sex and sexual encounters,  broken relationships, stoic/unfeeling participants.

A handful of new topics added: tattoos, organ playing, prostitutes in Amsterdam.

And, finally, a couple of “curiously absent” old favorites we’ve seen in other stories: stories within a story, zoos, and German literature.  (Catherine points out that I only think these are standard-faire Irving because of the set of his books I’ve read and the ones I’ve yet to read).

Hehe. I’m such a cynic. John Irving has such an engaging writing style, I just can’t stay away… even as his books get weirder and weirder (or, some might argue, LESS weird). The idea that his real-life experiences play into some of his writing topics is particularly interesting.

That said, I nearly always have trouble connecting with one or more of the characters in his books, and this one was no exception. I had a very hard time understanding





Jack’s reaction when Emma died. I think that was partly the point, but still I found it empathetically a very sad point and it made me feel particularly sad for Jack for his lack of emotion.

I also didn’t understand why William never tried to “find” Jack after he turned 18 and there was no real risk of interference from Alice. Seems they could have enjoyed so much more time together.

Oh well. Another good book down. Only a couple more JI books to go and I’ll be caught up. Problem is I need to actually read most of the rest, so it might be a while. ๐Ÿ™‚

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What? No Comedy Central?

I don’t get hotels that have ESPN1-ESPN7 but don’t have Comedy Central. Makes no sense at all.

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