Category: General

February 20, 2009

On music and life

by admin — Categories: GeneralComments Off on On music and life

Have you ever stopped to consider how important music is?  It comforts and soothes, rouses and relaxes. I think it’s second to religion in its importance to health and life.  Without music, we’re missing the rhythms and color that keep us connected to ourselves.  It broadens our heart.

I’m a huge smooth jazz fan.  That doesn’t mean it’s the only music I like and it doesn’t mean I like all smooth jazz, but it fulfills something in me.  Balm for the beast, I suppose.  I like the sophistication, the individuality, the uniquity. Yeah, I know uniquity isn’t a word, but it is uniquely descriptive.

Now that I’ve got you all cranked up about how totally pompous I can be, check this out.  Free Jazz Explained by Ukeridge.  It makes me smile every time I watch it.  I hope it does the same for you.

February 7, 2009

When too much is too much

by DJ — Categories: Economics, General — Tags: , , 3 Comments

Recently I joined the twitter movement. My personal jury is still out on twittering, but I have gotten at least one positive out of the experience: I am learning new things. This post is about one of those new things.

I am following a girlfriend from work. She’s a marketing guru. If she reads this, she would say, no, I’m not a guru. Well, in my eyes she is. She’s very smart and I admire her a lot. She twittered overnight this interesting little blurb that caught my attention this morning when I logged in: Hard to recruit top talent for $500K” look @ what *top talent* got us. let’s look @ some new talent shall we? Then she included this link http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/business/04pay.html?_r=2&hp to an article in the New York Times. This article discusses President Obama’s wish to put a cap on executive salaries.

I followed the link and after reading the article, I had to come here and post my two cents about what top executives earn.

In our current economic state, I think it is truly appalling that these ‘top dogs’ are paid the millions they make in total compensation. I’m not saying they aren’t worth it, but let’s deconstruct for a minute. For each $1 million they make, 20 average-income earners could have a job. According to a quick google of the average American household income revealed an income of $50,000+/-. Personally I find that to be a bit surprising as I thought it was still much lower and closer to the $40,000 mark. I digress.

Without getting totally off track in this post, here is my point: unless you *own* your own company, why should an employer pay you such an obscene amount of money? Let’s be realistic here folks. Yes, we are the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a country built on the promise of equal opportunity and success. We have immigrants who prove you can start with nothing and build a comfortable life here. I understand the need to want to attract top talent, I understand you have to sometimes sweeten the pot to keep talent, but total annual compensation about and beyond $1,000,000 is pretty outrageous (that’s not really the word I want, but it’s all I’ve got right now). I am glad these people have been successful, but let’s get realistic, what did they really do to earn those multi-million dollar salaries? Did they bring in revenue that could pay the salaries of those around them being let go? Did they bring in revenue that more than covers their own compensation and help the very company they work for realize a profit? Obviously not. In the wake of all this bailout frenzy, how can these people keep straight faces and accept their paychecks? I know this is not what my girlfriend was driving at when she shared this article, but it is what was sparked in my brain the more I thought about. What truly makes someone’s work worth millions and millions of dollars? Doctors don’t even make that much money, neither does the office the President. It’s just plain wrong.

And yes… you, too, can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/djhornsby.

January 13, 2009

Chocolate is a drug

by Nori — Categories: GeneralComments Off on Chocolate is a drug

This is a fact every woman knows, chocolate is a drug.  It may make us fat, but it makes us feel better while it’s making us fat.  Isn’t that the definition of a drug?  An imbibable bad consequence attached to a good feeling?

On the plus side, chocolate has all sorts of really good things in it to offset the “you’re gonna get fat” vibe.  Flavonoids are one of it’s nice little side bennies.  Flavinoids are good for your blood pressure and your heart.

Quoting from prohealth.com, “One study found that a substance in cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (NO), a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure. Another study showed that flavonols in cocoa prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, and make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. Flavonoids are plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties; so far, scientists have found more than 4,000 kinds. Cocoa beans contain large quantities of flavonoids, and so do red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples and many other fruits and vegetables.”

So while I’m drinking my wine and eating my chocolate covered cranberries, I’ll know I’m doing something good for my heart.

January 5, 2009

Braininess

by Nori — Categories: GeneralComments Off on Braininess

My brain never stops thinking about things.  I wake up with music playing in my head and usually have music playing in my head in the background all through the day.  If I’m lucky it’s music I enjoy . . . like Tina Turner’s Thunderdome or Diana Krall’s Narrow Daylight, something classic rock or smooth jazz.  I strive to listening to music I really like.  Can you imagine having musak playing in your head with no way to get it out?   Or, God forbid, bad country and western.  ACK!

I’m always pondering concepts and problems.  I don’t think I’m abnormal.  I’ve always got a puzzle I’m working through.  Sometimes they’re just small but interesting things like new quilt patterns, daily sudoku, jigsaw and word puzzles.  My favorite long term working puzzles are multidimensional.  A real life game of Spider, constantly backtracking to try different options until you’ve cleared the board.

My current challenge involves building economically so we live comfortably debt free.  That’s more complex than it initially sounds.  It doesn’t help that I am continually being distracted by enticing little winged “what ifs”.

I think a lot of people are like me, with a brain that’s always busy doing something.  It makes for an interesting life.

January 5, 2009

What do you read, and why?

by Nori — Categories: GeneralComments Off on What do you read, and why?

Have you ever examined what you read and why?  Are you a “read it once, then you’re done” reader or are you a rereader?  I’m a rereader.  I have a library full of books I enjoy reading again and again.  I do run into books I wouldn’t bother to read again, some which didn’t even merit a compete read the first time through, but generally, if it’s a book I enjoyed, I add it to my collection to be read again in a year or so.  I’ve got two Georgette Heyer I’ve had since I was a teenager (The Devil’s Cub and These Old Shades).  I haven’t read them in a couple years, so it’s about time to drag them out again.  Regency England, arrogant men, feisty woman, nefarious deeds and carriage chases!  How fun is that?

What type of books appeal to you?  I’m not into history, horror or pointless drama.  I like action and books with interesting characters and good plots and I devour them like candy.  I like books where the characters grow, solve problems, mature and develop and have interesting relationships.  I don’t like books about people who are petty or stupid.  Life is just too short and we really do get enough of that in real life.

I have a tendency to skim over the first sex scene in a book and skip all the rest completely.  Been there, done that, don’t feel a voyeuristic desire to keep repeating the same mantra.  I don’t like books that are dark, depressing or devoid of humor.  I don’t care for books where the main characters take themselves too seriously or are unrealistic.  I like books that make me laugh out loud, ponder hard and cry occasionally.  That’s what good writing’s about, isn’t it?

I have favorite authors.  Some of my favorites you’ve probably never heard of.  Have you ever heard of Jay McLarty?  He writes a really good series about a documents courier.  The main character is your average looking slightly chubby, not terribly athletic fella with a decent brain, just like someone we might actually know.  The writing is sharp, the characters well written and the plot and story telling interesting.  I like Tom Clancy (who doesn’t), Grisham, Robb/Roberts, Lowell, Johansen, Dick Francis, PD James and the lady who wrote the JP Beaumont series. Pretty much anyone who reads has heard of them.

Have you ever heard of Jennifer Cruisie?  Her stuff is really funny and most of it I enjoy it immensely.  Her Welcome to Temptation/Faking It series is excellent.  Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters mysteries are excellent, though her preceeding romances didn’t do much for me.  I’ve been keeping my eye out to see if/when a sequel in the Blackbird series will be announced.  So far, no joy.

I like some science fiction/fantasy, but not a huge chunk of it.  If the main character’s a vampire, you can pretty much count me out.  I like writing that flows, and a lot of sci-fi/fantasy doesn’t or it’s so ponderously written I can’t imagine wending my way through it.  If the Harry Potter books hadn’t come out in audio, I might not have read them, and they are some of my favorites.  Hurray for audiobooks!   McCaffrey is, of course, excellent.  Have you ever heard of S Andrew Swann?  His Nohar (Forests of the Night, Emperors of the Twilight, Specters of the Dawn/Partisan, Revolutionary, Profiteer) series are outstanding.  Another series that’s excellent is David Feintuch’s Midshipman series. Lots of angst, suspense and maturing going on there.

I’ve just discovered a new sci-fi/fantasy author I like a lot.  I’ve always said a good author could write a cookbook and I’d love it, and this lady is one of those.  Patricia Briggs has written a number of books, some stand alone, some serial, that are truly excellent.  I’ve managed to work my way through everything she’s written except her first book, which I haven’t yet managed to find and there’s not a dud in the lot.  Her Mercedes Thompson series is a great read and lots of fun.  I can hardly wait for the next installment.  A measure of an author’s work is whether I’m willing to pay full price for their books.  This author’s definately on the list with Johansen, Lowell, Robb/Roberts and a few others.

There are, of course, books my favorite authors have written that earned a “my God, why did they bother” response.  Jennifer Crusie’s got an older romance that’s a real stinker.  Definately no rereading there and I bought the audio on the basis of her other work.  <sigh>

Some writers co-author and produce stuff that doesn’t have the same maturity/sophistication/flare as their lone work.  It may be they have paired with authors which don’t interest me.  Anne McCaffrey has written a number of books with Mercedes Lackey, whose writing I don’t particularly care for.  I wouldn’t read a book written by her alone, but I will give an early co-authored book a sceptical chance.  So far only a few have rate a reread.  Lackey’s work lacks the smoothness/maturity/interest that McCaffrey achieves with ease.  Her characters come across as plastic and lacking dimension.  JMPO

Another not quite charming fit is Grisham and the guy who paired with him to do the Op Center series.  Some are readable, some aren’t.  I have a couple on audio that I listen to when I’ve run through everything else and need a break.  Nothing to write home about.

There are long past authors I enjoy immensely.  Have you ever heard of Ngaio Marsh?  Her books are good, though not quite to the same degree as Dorothy L. Sayers’.  Sayers’ Sir Peter Whimsey novels are very enjoyable.  The glimpse back into post WW1 England are very interesting, the mysteries are very well crafted and the stories are great fun, well worth a reread.  I particularly like Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon.

Treat yourself to a good book.  You don’t have to pay full price to get a good read.  Find something used on half.com, amazon.com or ebay and enjoy a good book.  If you haven’t read the author before, check on amazon.com and see if they have a “see inside” on one of the author’s books.  You can usually read the first five or six pages there to get a feel for the author’s style and topic.  If you liked it and you’re not a rereader, pass it on to someone else who might like it too when you’re done.

November 29, 2008

Ode to the Holidays

by Nori — Categories: General1 Comment

Did you enjoy Thanksgiving?  If you could have, what would you have done instead of what you did?  Is life really long enough for us to do things we don’t enjoy when we have a choice to do something else?

Just asking . . .

November 26, 2008

And I’m now on the other side of the fence.

by Nori — Categories: GeneralComments Off on And I’m now on the other side of the fence.

I’m spending a bit of time discussing the Fair Tax Act and I’ve run across a person who produces long posts casting aspersions at other posters.  I have faint memories of wearing that particular hair shirt . . . <rolling eyes at self>.  I am now the one in the position of saying ‘communicate’, ‘discourse’ and ‘dialog’.  <sigh>  Saying “listen you dumbass” was SO much more fun.

November 14, 2008

Affection without expectation

by Nori — Categories: General1 Comment

A couple years ago I was looking for a way to tell my friends and family I held them close to my heart without making them feel obligated to respond in kind.  After all, not all of us feel warm and fuzzy all the time.  So my answer to the problem was “love you, bye.”  At the end of the phone conversation, I could say “love you, bye” and it mostly removed any obligation for a response in kind from the person at the other end of the line because our conversation was done.

I don’t do it all the time . . . not every call, just when I felt moved to express my affection.  It expresses my feelings in a light and airy way that can be taken as lightly or seriously as the recipient deems.  It works.

I had the treat of hearing it come back around a few days ago.  I heard someone who was neither a relation nor a close personal friend say it to someone else in parting.  What a lovely thing!

So pass on the love.  Let people know you love them in an uncomplicated yet heartfelt way.  Life is really short.  Let your friends and family know you care and make it a concious thing.  Pass on the love you feel.  Tomorrow may be too late.

November 8, 2008

Did you know . . .

by Nori — Categories: GeneralComments Off on Did you know . . .

Sometimes I learn the most interesting thing when doing research.  Sometimes it’s not even what I was looking for.  Did you know Google has different sites on different servers to service different country?  I occasionally hit a foreign google site when I do a search . . . sometimes when I’m just going to google.com, which explains why my friend can see Google letters masked in voting booths on voting day and I can’t.

That’s interesting in itself, but not my point.  Did you know there are sites dedicated just to looking up words for scrabble people?  I didn’t.  I was working on a no clues crossword when I thought it would be nice if I could search for and find a site that allowed you to put in the known letters and get a list of words that match.  I ran into the scrabble link and saved it.  With my new word lookup site, that gives me two good puzzle reference sites I didn’t have before.  Cool!

November 7, 2008

On the topic of programming…

by DJ — Categories: Energy, General — Tags: , 1 Comment

Brilliant! Just brilliant!

I am writing a post instead of commenting because I have a different spin on the whole programming issue to get off my chest.

My partner-in-crime on this blog is truly brilliant. She has spoiled me horribly over the years by using the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method. Now I’m a pretty smart cookie and do good figuring things out on my own. But my friend here has helped in many ways to make my life easier through her Web programming. As a result I am indeed spoiled.

My case today… why do they have to make it so [you fill in the blank with the explicative of your choice] hard to make a very simple text change within a corporate Web site? I understand all too well why large corporations have this protocol they like to follow for updating their Web site, but if you are in a position making those updates, they make it all but impossible to work effectively and efficiently. I have been trying to make a simple update for way too long, and it wasn’t until I used a back door that I could make it. That’s just wrong. I will stop there.

My next peeve is they use a style sheet. Well, that’s great. We get a consistent look and feel to the site. I have no issue with using style sheets, as I know I get anal about consistency. My peeve? I updated a page using their code, and it is NOT consistent with the rest of the site. What’s wrong with this picture? Grrrrrr…

And yes, this is filed under energy because it is a waste of my energy trying to understand why they have to make it so … hard!

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