Friday, December 29, 2006

Darn I wish I had a cellphone

Finally looked at my phone after about 4 hours and saw I had a message. The guy- who does have a cell - had called from the tunnel at 2:30 to say he was running late...presumably because he was stuck in the tunnel.

Of course by that time I had already left, but at least he made the effort.

Still believe he cheated me, though. There is absolutely no way it took him *10* hours to type 20 500-600 word articles. There is just no way.

But most of my anger is not really at him but at me, since I should have known better than to let either of these two situations develop (the clipping and this).

Oh, well. Lessons still learned.

I'm now alternating between Sleepy Hollow and CSI (which has just ended) on TV, while working on my laptop. I don't care for gore so it's kind of hard to watch CSI, each time they show something graphic I switch to Sleepy Hollow...and of course there we've got Johnny Depp digging into someone's decapitated neck with one of his forceps or whatever...still if you can ignore the gore in Sleepy Hollow most of it is pretty good...don't really care for the ending but what can ya do?

I will go see Night at the Museum tomorrow and write a review of it.

Rant pt 2

I ended up not going to the movie the guy who has just stolen $56 from me also kept me waiting 30 minutes before he did it.

He lives in Norfolk, I live in York County. To make sure we both didn't have to drive a heckuva long way, we compromised on the Casemate Museum inside Fort Monroe, a well-known landmark just as you get off the tunnel from Norfolk over the James River. (Or whatever that particular body of water is!)

THe first day we were supposed to meet there, so that I could give him the stuff to work on, he never showed up. I waited for 30 minutes before leaving. He said that he hadn't realized that Fort Monroe was still an operating fort...and apparently didn't try to go inside and look for the musueum. (I had forgotten it was called the Casemate Museum and just called it the Civil War museum - but there is only one museum, period, inside the fort, so he should still have been able to find it.)

But, I'm easy going. So I decided to meet him there the next day. This time he was 15 minutes late. But he flourished a couple of maps that he'd used to try to find his way inside the fort (it's a big fort, and there's a building you can stop off at to pick up such maps, and the signs to the museum suck), so I cut him slack again. (Although to my way of thinking if you're meeting someone at a place you don't know, you leave early so you can get there early, in case you need some extra time. But, that's just me.)

So, today, I'd arranged to meet him at 3 pm. 3 pm in the Norfolk tunnel is not a good time, especially on a Friday...but I'd forgotten about that and he who lives on the other side of the bloody tunnel should have taken it into account.

Anyway, I waited for 27 minutes. (Actually, I waited for 45 minutes. I know Fort Monroe and the location of the museum well, but I'm always 15 minutes early for any meeting. If I'm not familiar with where I'm supposed to meet someone, I'm usually there *30* minutes early, just because I leave myself enough time in case I get lost.

So, I started driving away, was on the 'home stretch' out of the fort, when he drove past. He waved, so naturally I had to turn around and drive back to the Museum. Have to admit I was swearing. I'd been tempted to leave 2 minutes earlier than I had actually done - if I had done so I would have missed him entirely and could have saved my $56 - because I would have told him via email that he could keep those articles in lieu of payment and to heck with him.

Anyway, he did say he'd been caught in the tunnel - and I had turned the radio on on my way out and it had said that there was congestion in the tunnel so I knew he was speaking the truth....but if you've got an appointment to meet someone, and you know a certain tunnel is a b*tch at a certain time of day, you leave early, just in case.

So, he gives me the box I had given him, and a red binder. All of the articles were in plastic sleeves, and I'd told him as he finished each article to put it in the binder. (Why else would I have given him the binder?) Well, he hadn't done that. He'd put everything back in the box.

Where did you stop at? I asked. I wanted to take hold of the pages he'd typed, howsoever many there might be, and say, "It took you 10 hours to type this?" (Sure, each page was 8 X 10. But the article in question on each page took up, at the *most*, 2 columns of the page, and none were more than 600 words each, if that.)

Anyway, he starts paging through the sleeves, going deeper and deeper into them, and I'm just thinking...Christ. But, I just said, "Never mind." And handed him $80. So, he in essence stole $56 from me, because there is no way in hell that he worked 10 hours on that project. He worked 3 hours - at about 30 words per minute. That's what I think.

So, obviously I shouldn't have paid him the money...but I just wanted to close the situation and move on.

So, I've learned a couple of lessons now. Expensive, but I've learned 'em. Later on tonight I'm going to work on my newspaper clippings for exactly 1 hour. At the end of that hour I will know exactly how many pieces were done, and I will type up instructions for my next person which will state that I expect her to get that many pieces done each hour. She'll have the option to disagree with that production rate and decline the job - but if she agrees to it, then that's how I will pay her.

As for the typing... I've got to earn a few more bucks from Elance before I can have someone work on that project again. Then I'll advertise it in Craigs List again at a flat rate of $24 - 3 hours at $8 an hour, for someone who can type at least 70 wpm. If someone takes it, fine. If not, fine also. (And at the end of three hours however much that person gets done will give me an idea if I'm justified in my rage right now, or not. I'm thinking I'm quite justified, but we'll see.)

From now on, that's the way I'll be working.

So, sorry for the rant. I feel better now.

Hard to get good help these days

Today I'm just going to vent about what's been going on in my life recently. I am not a happy camper.

I am so busy running my various websites that I don't have time to work on my own projects - my newspaper clippings and a shipwreck database. Since I've got some extra money coming in these days thanks to Elance, I decided I'd go ahead and advertise for help on my local Craigs List and pay some entry level people to do the work for me.

So first I tried my newspaper clippings project. Woman did 9 hours before she said she had to stop as her husband was being transferred. (Military). So I came and picked up the material I'd given her - several boxes, etc, with instructions to separate out pages that had articles on both sides (since she didn't have a copier). Well, she'd filed things in appropriate files as I'd asked her, but she hadn't separated out the pages. And, from my experience doing the same work, there wasn't 9 hours of work there. 5 hours, maybe. *Maybe*

I didn't say anything, I just paid her for 9 hours and took the stuff away. Then I re-did the ad and lowered the pay rate, and got someone else who is going to start after the new year. I'll institute a few more controls - telling her exactly how many pieces of paper I expect to be done in an hour, etc., so she knows what to shoot for.

Then, there was the illustration fiasco, which I believe I talked about here. I do have someone lined up but since I'm about to have to overpay on yet another project I'm not sure if I'm going to go through with this one.

I've got a notebook full of shipwreck articles. Each one about 500 words long, if that. I wanted them typed into a word processing file. From there I'd take the information cotained within, massage the data (since to upload articles "as is" would be to violate their copyright) and then upload them onto the web.

I counted out those articles, and there were 60 of them. The guy who I chose for the job said he could type 70 words a minute. As I handed over the stuff, I said, "It shouldn't take you more than three hours." And I agreed to pay $8 an hour.

So, two days later he calls me and asks me if I want him to continue with the job, as he's worked for *10* hours and is only half way through. There's 116 articles there, he says.

And I was just flabbergasted. I wouldn't have minded so much paying this guy $80 for the project if he'd actually finished it, but to tell me he's worked for 10 hours and isn't even halfway through - that is just plumb ridiculous.

Obviously, he should have stopped work at 3 hours, seen how much longer it was going to take him, and called me then, not done 7 extra hours and *then* called me.

And he's sent me everything he's done...and it's obvious from that as well that there's not 10 hours worth of work least not for a typist who can type 70 wpm.

I was extremely tempted to tell him to keep all the stuff I'd given him and whistle and wait for his money, but finally I thought, no, just pay him off and take this as a lesson. Either he's deliberately cheating me or he simply has no idea how to conduct business. If someone expects a task to take only 3 hours, and you can tell at the end of 3 hours it's going to take much longer, you contact the person THEN. You don't do an additional 7 hours work. Or if you DO do an additional 7 hours work, you finish the job in that time.

So, I'm not too happy right now. On top of that I've been redesigning my The Thunder Child site, and since I don't have a content management system I'm having to redo each page separately and that's taking forever. I didn't want to have the expense of a content management system - also I like the freedom of being able to modifying the layout of a particular page if it's necessary for the look of the article - but the time I've wasted --- I'm changing my header to remove the banner advertising I'd put up there, which I've decided looks tacky, as well as not generating any money-- is just too much.

I'm going to have to go see Night at the Museum this afternoon to cheer myself up. 3 hours out of my day that I can ill-afford, but I need a break!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Granny Basketball

If you're a woman in your 70s, or know of one who is, then you've got to show them this clip!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I wish everyone a merry Christmas - this regardless of your religious affiliation. I myself am an atheist, but it's the idea of the Season that I wish for everyone - peace on earth, goodwill to Men. (As in, all people, men and women.) is the link for BBC radio 7. I've been remiss in daily listing the Sci fi stuff they've got on offer. You've missed part 1 of Out of the Silent Planet. You've also missed Parts 1 and 2 of the Paul McGann Doctor Who Chimes of Midnight. I'd enjoyed the War of the Worlds takeoff they'd done, but this one was just too grim - all about the murder of a servant in Edwardian London - and I decided I wasn't in the mood for it. is the home of American Old time radio. Stan Freberg (not Frieberg, or Freiberg, which is how I thought this was supposed to be spelled, even though I must have seen it spelled properly dozens of times. It's like Quartermass vs Quatermass - we see what we expect to see) hasn't been the host since October 6, 2006, according to Wikipedia, but it doesn't say why he's no longer there. COnsidering that he is 80 years old and was still broadcasting, I'm assuming it's ill health rather than a desire to retire that has made this occur.

Classic radio bit, which Freburg put on his record album is most famous for a bit in which, through the magic of sound effects, Freberg drained Lake Michigan and refilled it with hot chocolate, whipped cream, and a cherry, saying, "Let's see them do that on television!"

Anyway, looks like they're changing the Radio Spirits site. It's been a month since I've been there, and I no longer see the Archives and the Upcoming Schedule! How stupid is that?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Uncommon courtesy

Since courtesy doesn't appear to be common anymore, "Uncommon courtesty" is a more accurate title of this entry. There's all too little uncommon courtesy out in the business world these days.

If you go to any usenet board discussing sports, film, whatever, you'll find that rudeness is the order of the day. There's always at least one person on any board who likes to stir up trouble, and there are always a few others who will respond to newbie questions with sarcasm, etc. etc. People like to put other people down in order to puff themselves up.

And that's annoying, not so much that they're rude as that it heightens one's curiosity - are they as big-mouthed in their private lives as they are in the anonymity of cyberspace? I'd really like to know!

Anyway, my tale today is of two people, both of whom are just starting out in their careers, both of whom have just lost any chance of employment from me.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to find an artist to draw illustrations for a young adult book I'm writing. So I placed an ad in Craig's List, in the one for my local area.

I got one response with samples enclosed, from an artist who did good work but not in the way I liked. His work was more of a "hang on the wall" static, variety. So I said thanks but no thanks.

Then I got an email out of the blue from someone who was just the epitome of a conceited young man. (The kind who thinks he knows it all and can do it better than anyone else in his field, despite the fact that others have 30 years experience and he's just out of college -- I've seen them several times in my various places of employment.)

Anyway, I had offered $10 per illustration, and wanted 10 illustrations, of which 5 would illustrate action from the book, and the others would be simple generic drawings like fish or shells. And I specified I wanted line drawings. Not too time consuming, I thought. I'd seen caricaturists in malls draw people in five minutes, for that price, so I assumed it'd be a good 'entry-level' wage.

This guy didn't see it that way. "Takes 2-4 hours to do a decent illustration, and you want 10, that's not even minimum wage."

Now, if he had said just that, and that alone, I would have emailed him back and said, "Okay, I hadn't realized. Send me some samples and tell me what you'd like per each, and let's discuss it."

But that's not what he did. His entire message to me was redolent of sarcasm, as he accused me of trying to get something for nothing, and told me I should "dip a finger in some lampblack, draw as best I could, and tell my readers it was abstract art."

And I'm looking at this message and feeling kind of shocked. If the rate of pay isn't up to snuff for you, just laugh, shake your head, and move on. But this guy chose to contact me and bawl me out, and so I'm the one shaking the head.

So I emailed him back and said, "Hey, thanks for educating me, I hadn't realized. Had you done so in a professional manner, we could have discussed it and you might be looking at a job right now. But since you chose to be a smartass about it, you're not getting this job, you're not getting any jobs from me in the future, and you won't be getting any jobs from my friends whom I could have steered your way."

And, heck, potentially that could have added up to ("added up" being the operative phrase) some big bucks for this guy. I have several websites to which I'd like to add illustrations, and if I'd liked this guy's work he could have had those jobs. I know other people with websites, or who want books published and need illustrations, and he could have had *those* jobs.

But because he just *had* to put down a total stranger and exercise his cleverness and wit, he lost out on it all.

Then I got another response, from a young woman this time, who didn't have a problem with the $10 per illustration. But, the samples she sent me were of murals, not of actual illustratiuve art. So I sent her an example of a woman diver - who looked the way I wanted this woman's stuff to look, and said, hey, this is a test, redraw this for me very quickly (because I didn't want her to have to spend a lot of time on it).

And she misunderstood what I wanted, and thought I was going to send her clipart for her to redraw, and she thought she'd be cheating if she did that.

And, if she had voiced this concern in a professional manner, I could have said, "No, you misunderstood, it was just a test."

But she didn't. She went all ballistic and sarcastic on me, and I'm reading her illiterate rant and just throwing up my hands thinking, "Is no one teaching these kids manners or common courtesy or how to communicate in a professional manner any more?"

These kids have been watching too much American Idol, or sitcoms in which the people sit around exchanging verbal abuse, and think that they can get away with it in real life as well.

So, anyway, I emailed the woman back and said "Good luck in your future career."

The ad has another two weeks to run. I wonder who will email me next?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fat vs Hair

I'm staying up way past my bedtime, watching a show called The King of Queens. I've only watched bits and pieces of it before...but I've never cared for it. Basically, an overweight guy is happily married to a slender, beautiful woman. Anyone ever see a sitcom where a plain, overweight woman is happily married to a handsome, in shape man?

The episode tonight that I'm going to watch til its conclusion is one in which the husband Doug had intended to lose 25 pounds to go to his high school reunion. But he can't stand to drink lite beer so he says, I am what I am, and he gives up on his weight loss plan. So he tells his wife that she'll have to look good for the both of them. But, he doesn't like her new hair style - she's got it up in a bun, and doesn't want her to go to his reunion looking like that.

So the wife asks Doug's friend what he thinks of her hair, he tells her its ugly, and so she decides to wear it down, despite the fact that she likes it and her female friends tell her it looks good. She goes to her husband's reunion, where he shows her off as a beautiful woman, and she cooperates to show off her body to his ex class mates.

So what's the message being given out by this particular episode? The guy has a lousy job but because he's got a beautiful wife he can hold his own with the other guys who makes tons of money? [We see no old female classmates whom can comment on how much extra weight he's put on to the wife...] So the fact that *he* is a fat slob makes no nevermind.

And the show has just ended and because the late librarian at the school used to wear her hair in a bun, and looks like a bad tempered spinster, the wife decides to remove the bun.

Exactly how I thought this predictable episode would end.

Piece of crap.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bad Orson Welles

Just saw this in the news today.

There was a spoof announcement, on a major Belgian television station = that the French speaking portion of the country had separated from the rest of the country. Thousands of people took it seriously and news stations and websites were inundated with questions.

Considering that Belgium is part of the EEC - at least, I think it is - I don't know what the big deal is. There is no Belgium anymore, surely, it's all Euros and Europeans...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

And now for something completely different - sci fi!

This is a science and science fiction blog, and I've been talking about other stuff recently...

So thought I'd better have something sci fi...

Went to see The Prestige today. Didn't much care for it. But it is sci fi, or perhaps steam punk would be a better I'll be writing up a review of it for this blog shortly...for all that it's been out for at least a month already!

I've never seen Blake's Seven, but I like a guy who starred in the show, Paul Darrow. He guest-starred on a Colin Baker Doctor Who, Timelash, in which he portrays a character who looks remarkably like Richard III. And funnily enough, many years later I was walking around the Renaissance festival held in Minneapolis and came across a poster stall, and saw a Richard III portrait which used Paul Darrow as the model. P.D. Breeding-Black is the artist.

Anyway, did the ol' search on Youtube and came up with this 4 minute clip of a Monty Python song by Eric Idle set to Blake's Seven. IT is really hilarious. But I'm going to have to get this series soon and check it out.

Bruce Lee

I've only seen Bruce Lee as Kato, in Marlowe with James Garner, in Longsteet, and Enter the Dragon.

There's plenty of stuff at Youtube, so I thought I'd put three of 'em here.

First one is silent, and he's showing moves out of a horse stance. The next two have sound.

The Eye of the Beholder

I'm a fan of Pat Summitt - coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols. I'm a fan because she's the winningest coach in NCAA Div 1 history, women or men, her athletes graduate, and she has a lot of class. I think she'd win a few more games if she'd change her offense to a motion offense, but that's just me.

Anyway, I frequent a few WCBB message boards during the college season - most often the Summitt which is the Lady Vols board and the Boneyard which is the UConn board. The Lady Vols and the UConn Huskies have a rivalry going back since 1995, when Geno Auriemma brought the program into national prominence. He's also beaten the Lady Vols more often than not in the last ten years.

So if you go to the Lady Vols boards, Auriemma is a jerk, UConn fans are jerks and Pat is the greatest coach ever, and if you go to the Boneyard boards it's the Lady Vols fans who are the jerks and Auriemma who is the greatest coach ever. (I've yet to seen anything bad written about Coach Summitt as a person - certainly no one has called her a jerk.)

And, occasionally, UConn fans go over to the Summitt to post, and vice versa.

I spend most of my time on the Summitt board, so I see the reaction of the Vols fans to these posters, and I have to admit its getting on my nerves.

Let me preface the following comments by saying that this occurs everywhere. If you go to usenet and check on the boards for any and all sports teams, there are posters there who are as vicious and savage and childish as anything you'll get at the Summitt. (Well, the Summitteers don't get *quite* as vicious because there is a moderator who goes about locking threads - I've yet to figure out what the trigger is to getting a thread locked...but there ya go.)

Anyway, the point of this is whenever a UConn fan comes over to the Summitt defending their program against comments made by the Summitteers, a great many - not all, but a great many - of the Summitteers react in a rude and childish fashion. And yet a thread today is accusing the UConn people of always being the rude ones and initiating the conflict.

And I just had to laugh. Pot - kettle - black.

I've attempted to point out this childishness and unfairness in specific threads on a couple of occasions, and was privately chastised by one of the 'BWOC' for "preaching". Well, I didn't think I was preaching - I'm not religious and even if I was I wouldn't try to force my god down someone's throat on a sports message board - but I was pointing out rudeness and idiocy and making a plea for common sense and common courtesy. Well...perhaps it is true to say that good manners are my God and in that sense I was preaching...but why should good manners be allowed to entirely disappear from this earth?

My concern though is not about the lack of good manners but that these people who are so rude apparently don't realize that it is they who are being rude. They say something demeaning about the UConn program, a UConn fan comes in and denies it, and the UConn fan is accused of being rude.

It's this kind of "blinders" situation which makes you realize that there's never going to be peace on earth between countries, between religions, between sports fan, because even when people speak the same language they don't comprehend what the other is saying.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Story of my life

This song, "Breakaway" by Big Pig, is from the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure from 1989. It spoke to me then and it speaks to me now.

The singer is Sherine Abeyratne. I haven't been able to find out what she's done since the band disbanded just a couple of years after it formed, around 1991, she's got such a great voice I'm surprised she didn't make it big with someone else.

"Remixed" trailers make you see movies in a new way

I was browsing through Youtube today and found a few funny trailers.

Sound of Music - really highlights the Nazi aspect of it.
May Poppins - renamed "Scary Mary". IF you hadn't seen the original you'd get a fright!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lose Weight and Keep it Off - Guaranteed!

A few days ago I edited a website designed to sell a weight-loss book. It was and is a lousy website, but at least now it doesn't have any mispellings or grammatical errors.

The theme throughout the entire website was that you could lose weight *without effort*. No need to diet, no need to exercise, no need to deprive yourself. All you need to know is this one 'secret' and you'll lose weight.

And that of course is garbage. Or rubbish - for my UK readers.

And that is why most people who try to diet and lose weight fail. And will continue to fail.

The culture today - in the States at least - is that nothing must take any effort. Hard work is not to be encouraged. It's not the fact that you're sitting on a couch watching TV and eating cookies all day long that's got you overweight, it's the fact that you stop in at those nasty McDonalds and eat their food - so *they've* got to change the way they make it.

Well, I'm not prepared to give an opinion on how healthy the food at McDonalds or other fast food restaurants is.

But I do know that if people are going to successfully lose weight, and successfully keep that weight off, the ONLY way to do so is by making a complete life-style change. And yes, it's going to be hard work to start with, but so what?

The emphasis on 'never feeling hungry, don't kill yourself exercising, don't make any effort, just lose weight' - is EXACTLY the reason why 99% of all people who want to lose weight fail. They want it to be easy, they expect it to be easy because they read the advertisements that promise them it will be easy - and when it turns out they actually have to make some kind of an effort, they get discouraged, and continue to wait - and weight - around until someone actually does invent an effortless way to lose weight.

But the only way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to make a complete lifestyle change. To stop doing the things that cause you to gain unwanted weight.

There is no need for fad diets, of course. Eat what you want to eat --- just eat it in moderation. Get out and exercise or play a game for 30 minutes a day. The main thing to do is give up pop like Coke or Pepsi. I hate to say this, being a Pepsi drinker myself, but if you're overweight and you drink more than 5 Pepsis a day - give up those Pepsis and don't make any other changes and indeed you will lose weight.

(I have to say that because I managed to give up Pepsis for 3 months and indeed did lose weight, then I went off the wagon and it all came back. What can I say - I love my Pepsis too much.)

And that's a cautionary tale. People who drink coffee know it's easy to get addicted to coffee - you can't do anything before your first cup in the morning. For me it's the same with Pepsi. Try to keep your kids from drinking anything but *real* fruitjuice with no sugar added...and they probably won't have problems in later life.

Having said that, I'm all for leaving candy and pop machines in schools. For goodness sakes, this is the US of A. Government doesn't have the right to tell us what we can eat, how we have to prepare our food, how much we can or cannot weigh.
If the government really wants to get its Big Brother paws on everything, they should clamp down on the media that perpetuates the idea that women should be skeletally thin at all times, and that their only role in life is to please men. Get rid of that insidiousness and a lot of the problems - in the Western world, at any rate, would be over.

If you are legitimately overweight, and want to lose weight, more power to you. It's going to be a battle. Accept that it's going to be a battle. You might have to feel hungry every day for a while, until your stomach acclimates. Just accept it. When you feel hungry you know you're losing weight. Drink a lot of water to fill up your stomach to dull the hunger pains, realize that once your stomach gets used to eating less it will soon stop making you feel so hungry, etc. etc.

Depressed people have a harder time losing weight than happy people. That's because food provides comfort. So that can make it tough as well. Try to get your comfort by buying and reading a good book instead, or watching a fun TV show.

Stay away from fad diets, fad supplements, fad this and that. You can lose weight, as long as you accept that it's going to take effort. Make the effort, and you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It Came From Outer Space trailer

Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush in It Came From Outer Space
Richard Carlson as himself introducted 3D
Not the greatest quality, but interesting.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Peter Sellers as Laurence Olivier as Richard III

My goodness Youtube has a lot of fun stuff.

If you've never seen the 1955 movie Richard III starring Laurence Olivier, you will probably not fully appreciate this clip - but if you have, it's hilarious. And if you havn't - go out and rent it now!

I love Richard III the play. Having said that, it's great theater, not history. In real life Richard did NOT kill his nephews or usurp the throne!