Clamoring for change.

Let’s just say that you’ve been announced as CEO to head up whatever company you are working at right now. Forget the logistics and just dream with me. For a few of you, that would mean a pay bump that was substantial, life-changing, but not exorbitant. For others, you’d move from making 5 figures to 9 or 10 overnight. Let’s forget about how life changing that would be, and let’s look at how much you’d be making over peers that you worked with only yesterday:

http://go.bloomberg.com/multimedia/ceo-pay-ratio/

That’s what it’s all about, folks.

It’s the damnedest thing. These people are making many many multiples of what the people who are doing the bulk of the work are. No one has called them in to check on it either. You just keep increasing the CEO pay while tightening the screws on the workers, supply chain, and all other aspects of the business. If you’re a stockholder, you should be screaming at the top of your lungs for the CEO’s pay to get reduced to something a little less crazy. The fact that you should only be appeased when the company is making the most money it can make for you is the drive to go and get mad about it, especially when you hear that a company is going down the path of reducing the workforce.

One free pass.

It’s been a while, blog.

I decided, while stewing over something at my desk at lunch today, that I’ve given much less than my fair shake to some people in life. You’d never know it, but I’m quick to judge, quick to defend, and will die passionately while making sure I got the sword I fell on right up to the hilt. If I’m warring against you, I’m warring for a reason, more than ready to die at my cause.

That’s not the most gracious way to handle it.

I’ve decided that as of today, everyone I’ve ever judged gets that slate wiped clean. I’m willing to both forgive (which I do) and forget (which I don’t) every past transgression, every past spat or argument, and every past issue I’ve ever had with you. People change, and I’m bad about holding on to who they are, and not what they’ve become. I’m willing to see everyone out one more time.

Except for you, FNG.

FNG is a character in my life that I have the displeasure of having to interact with 5 days a week. He’s sneaky, sniveling, brash, and just plain an asshole. I think I’m going to chronicle him here. Mostly because if he ever finds out, he’s not my boss, so he can’t fire me!

For the first time in 2 years, I’ve felt like writing today. Maybe it’s because I’m restless, or because I’m frustrated, but it’s good to do again.

Fixing all the nation’s problems in one fell swoop.

I don’t often talk politics, but I’ve been talking with my mother a lot lately, and it turns out that we’ve pretty well figured out the whole of the nation’s problems, and done it in very short order. It may not all make fluid sense, but it’s kinda out there now. And away we go:

1.) Eliminate all foreign aid. Sure it’s nice to give to a country in need some cash to get them out of a sticky situation, but the constant giving of money that we do to many countries is taking money out of the mouths of people in this country. Why are we not taking care of our own people first?

2.) Eliminate all foreign military presence. Yeah, this is probably one of the most controversial of my decisions, but if we don’t have good enough relationships with our allies that when we need to get close we can borrow an airstrip and pay them for using things, then they aren’t our allies. And if they can’t protect themselves, I’m sorry, but again we have feed and care for our own people before we can do anything for anyone else.

3.) Eliminate NAFTA and all foreign trade agreements where we can ship the work outside the country and the companies reap big rewards. There is a trade defecit present, and the only ones getting rich from it are the big companies. When Fruit of the Loom shipped their manufacturing to Mexico, the price of the underwear didn’t get cheaper. Again, this goes back to the fact that we need to help ourselves first, we shouldn’t funnel so much money into other countries when they aren’t funnelling any money back to the US.

4.) Send all illegal immigrants back to their country of origin. If you didn’t fill out the correct paperwork and go through the correct channels to get here, you don’t deserve to stay here. A limited amnesty would be provided for illegal immigrants that came here, paid their taxes, and have been productive members of society. Those here that are not under political asylum and here illegally mostly burden the system without paying back. This would also include the elimination of the rule that says if you are born here, you are automatically a citizen. Being a citizen of the USA is not a right, it’s a privelege.

5.) Make Welfare run out. Welfare is not something you should be on for your entire life. You should do something to earn your paycheck. There are many many citizens that have a sense of entitlement and think that the government owes them. The government doesn’t owe you shit. At the end, the best you should be is even. And there are many ways you can work. Either you can take one of those jobs that we opened up by sending all the illegal immigrants home, or you can take one of the jobs that moves back to the US when we cancel NAFTA et al, or you can go work for the government, because with all the paperwork we are going to add as far as citizens and corporations filing taxes (more later) as well as other programs the government runs, there’s plenty of desk jobs. If you’re still without work, you could serve as labor for the Corps of Engineers (similar to the New Deal), or serve in the military. Everyone should be able to work, and with all the jobs that will come back into the country, there should be enough to go around.

6.) Flat tax. As long as you make above the poverty limit, your tax rate is the same no matter if you make a dollar over or a million dollars over. No more loopholes, no more off-shore accounts either. Oh, and taking other compensations in lieu of cash would be taxed appropriately too. Also, removing the caps of where medicare and social security stop taxing should help those funds, but you’re allowed to opt out of paying those taxes. However, opting out means you never get a dime from those funds.

7.) Eliminate corporate tax loopholes. GE paid no taxes last year, and their revenues were in the Billions last year. And a lot of those revenues went to their executives and their stockholders. While I understand that the stockholders get paid when the company does good, the execs taking millions and millions a year are just being greedy, and they just need that money to feed their sense of entitlement and the race to have the biggest and the best. Eliminating the loopholes of off-shore accounts and incorporating inside of other countries just to shelter the money would be eliminated, and corporations still found doing it would be penalized as the money comes back into the country.

It’s not all fixed, I guess, but it’s a damn good start.

Tis the season

http://action.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147486887

Rant time, kiddos.

We’re not taking the Christ out of Christmas, we’re letting everyone celebrate their Christ too.

I have a real problem with people that are boycotting retailers or fighting with me on the internets because I’m finally taking an opinion and stand on the fact that saying Merry Christmas is not the right thing to say. Let’s get it right people: Merry Christmas is dead.

First, we’ve went away from the original meaning of Christmas. It’s no longer the Christian holiday we all expect it to be. It’s super commercialized, and the very farthest away from the birth of baby Jesus and what that means to the Christian world.

Second, Christmas isn’t the only holiday during this time of the year. We’ve got Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. By excluding any of these, you’re offending a group or groups of people. Most importantly, if you leave off Thanksgiving, you’re alienating pretty much every religion not covered under the other three holidays, which is over 60% of the world’s population. (Yes, Thanksgiving is US only during this time of year, another rant for another time about American centrosity).

Third, I would be very upset about walking into a place either as a customer or a employee that was doing a strict “Merry Christmas” only message when I’m not a Christian. I would be totally offended, and would walk out, especially if made to adhere to using it, as it would offend my sense (or lack thereof) or religion.

Fourth, the person who shared the top link on Facebook is female. I know I’ve seen her wear Victoria’s Secret items before. I’ll be tee-totally damned if I see her boycott Vickie’s for the rest of her life over this. If I do, I’ll eat my hat.

It’s not Bacon… It’s Bacon Soda!

So much like my last post, this started off of a Google Reader item. An awesome person named Megan shared something amazing. Something life changing. Something so incredibly indescribable there’s no way I could do it justice. Bacon Soda. I immediately bought not one but two… TWO ORDERS. It’s like I was ordering real bacon. One piece of bacon is awesome, two is that much more awesomer! So I bought it, and waited. And waited more. And even more. Checking the tracking number every day, just like it was a birthday present being shipped right to me. (which is in 8 days, BTW. I like shiny things.) And then today, I check my mailbox on lunch on a hunch, and there’s a key! To the package box! I put the key in, turn, and I get an amazing sight. The sight of a Jones Soda box. I open it on my car ride back to work, and the smell of bacon wafts through my car. A magical scent. Excitement fills my nose. I can’t wait to get home and chill the soda. 4PM couldn’t come quick enough. Rush home, throw it in the fridge, and get to cooking supper. Burgers and fries, a great meal that’s always lovingly topped by bacon. Pull everything off the George Foreman and out of the oven, and sit down with my wonderful meal and delicious soda. Crack the soda, and start to sip it down, and…. it’s revolting. It’s disgusting. But by damned, it tastes like bacon. It tastes like bacon juice and sugar. And while bacon is amazing, in liquid form it’s nothing but nasty. I shall not forget the taste. Now, I’ll admit there may be a bias, as I was eating seasoned fries and seasoned burgers, so I’m currently cleansing my palate with a beer. And if it’s any different, you’ll be informed. But something tells me the first taste is as good as it gets.

Now, for pictures.

THE BOX!


THE MEAL!


THE SODA!!!!

Edit: Yeah, the second taste is not all that good either. No bueno. Sorry Jones, this was not a hit.

Pros: Tastes like bacon!

Cons: Tastes like bacon!

State of Parenting today

This started out as a Google Reader comment on a Dooce post.

Okay y’all. Pull up a chair and listen to old man Daniel spin some stuff your way. Don’t agree? Comment below.

I read the post on Dooce, and I just can’t stand it any more. I just can’t fucking BELIEVE the nerve of people these days with regards to kids. We in America have gotten way too soft here lately with how we are raising our children. You tell your kids what the score is. Tell them to do what they need to do, and not to do what they don’t need to do. If they don’t follow the rules, they either get the consequences by their own hand or a punishment. End of story. Your kids aren’t supposed to be your best friends. You’re the guardians and caretakers, you set the rules and they follow. Not saying don’t be nice. Be awesome to your kids. But there’s a boss to be had, and by damn it’s not them. You tell your kids not to jump out that window. They won’t.

Top Ten E-mail Faux Pas

1.) Setting the High Importance flag on EVERY E-mail

2.) Replying to an e-mail thread with a totally different conversation

3.) Doing 2 without changing the subject of the e-mail

4.) No subject

5.) Using the same subject for 3 different e-mails on three different topics

6.) Including too many people in an e-mail chain

7.) Having to retain e-mail forever because the documentation doesn’t live anywhere else

8.) Those damn e-mail forwards

9.) Signatures that are longer than 3-4 short lines (just this week, I got a signature with 12 lines and with 8 )

10.) Calling or stopping by less than a minute after sending an e-mail to talk about the e-mail

When I’m not posting here, you may find me at these other wonderful sites

I’ve been working on some other sites lately. First, one site I help administer when Allison is not available: http://www.cuteonthecheap.com . Second, my buddy Jeven needed a place to host a website, so I’ve hosted him here with my hosting plan: http://www.xsmootx.com . Third, a project from Dr. Crystal Rae Coel Coleman a professor that I’ve been helping out with as she publishes a second edition of her book, The Presentation Guide Book: http://thepresentationguidebook.com .

How I’m making my money work harder for me

Like lots of working Americans, I have a 401K that both I and my employer contribute to.  Also, like lots of working Americans, I had really no idea how to make that money work for me.  I just get in my quarterly summary of what happened to my money, chuck it in the file pile, and go on with my life.  When the last one came in last week, rather than just looking at the bottom line gain, I looked through the details of what my money was in to see how it was performing against the other things I could put my money in.  What I saw there was interesting, and has led me to change how my money is investing, and will lead to bigger gains as our economy is finally coming out of its funk.

Before making my change, my money was going into two categories of mutual funds: Short-Term Fixed Income and Balanced/Asset Allocation funds.  The Fixed Income fund is known for a low risk and a low return and there’s never much activity with the rate of return.  It has stayed around 4% since the inception of my 401K.  The Balanced/ Asset Allocation fund is one that Principal sets up based on your projected retirement date (mine being 2050), and it is a medium risk and a medium return.  This is a safe way to play investments, but without great risk, there is no great reward.  I’m stockpiling cash for free, and based on that (and the fact the balance on my 401k has never went below what I’ve put in it), I decided to get a little more aggressive with my investing setup.

To figure out what I wanted to do with my money, I turned back to the statement I got in the mail.  I took all the funds and compared them on a basis of how they had done over the past 10 years.  In the past 10 years, we’ve had a bubble burst on us (2000) and we’ve had the current recession we are in.  That says to me if the funds can perform decently over that 10 year period, they’re bulletproof to near anything.  I also listen to Dave Ramsey, and follow his advice on the subject of how to do mutual fund investing (even though re recently has changed his stance to a 5 year track record and not a 10), so that helped me set my time table.  What I found was that the Short-Term Fixed Income fund was at around 4%, and that was the lower of the two funds I was in.  I made that my baseline for what funds had to have done over the past 10 years in order to qualify it to get my money.  I looked through all the other funds and found 8 funds that had been around for 10 years and had a track record of 4% earnings or more over that time frame.  I took each of their 10-year return percentages, and summed them up, and then got a percentage based on (fund return / total of fund returns).  I made that the percentage I based my investment in the fund upon.  What I found is that most of my money went into the higher risk, higher reward fund categories, with five funds in the Small/Mid U.S. Equity category and one in International Equity.  Some may see this as a fairly aggressive stance, but for a man as young as I, I can afford to take some risks because I won’t need that money for quite a long time.  In crunching the numbers some more along with reviewing past statements, I realized that if I had done this same analysis even 6 months ago when the market was at the absolute worst, I would have earned a 90% return on a significant portion of my money.  There would have been no more risk, and there would have been much more reward.

The moral of the story is to make sure you are watching your money so it can work harder for you, and don’t be afraid to take more risks, especially when things don’t look the greatest.  You may just make a decision that gives you the leg up on the pile you need.

First paragraph from the book I’m writing.

To the person who knows this story is about her, you told me to write the story. My take on it starts like this:

My son helped me get my bow-tie all straightened out since my hands were dancing all around my body. “Don’t worry,” he says, “you weren’t this nervous when I got married. No reason to start now.” I couldn’t help but agree with him, but after 35 years of pain and toil and heartache, the original dream I had in my mind was finally coming true. I was going to watch her walk down the aisle, hold my hand, and we were going to be one. That fateful day in college, had anyone told me the hell she would put me through to get me the heaven, I would have laughed and said that no woman was ever worth that. Yet, she grabbed my heart and soul at every opportunity and made sure that it was hers. Maybe just for those briefest of moments, but when she saw the opportunity to pounce on me she did. And now, she was going to get me for her own for the rest of my life.

This by no means is finished or even fully fleshed out, partly because the story hasn’t finished yet. We’ll see.

Steel trap mind: DOS Boot disk edition

It’s a joke between myself and friends or myself and coworkers that I can always recall random facts at odd points of time and help them get out of a sticky situation. One thing I get called on for often is how to make a DOS boot disk, with the difficulty of having to use the boot disk for a firmware load, so it has to be lean and mean. That said, here are the files you can remove from your boot disk as long as you are only loading firmware/drivers/doing low level stuff:

Delete all files dealing with MOUSE. There should be a Mouse.COM, and a few others. Delete. Get rid of QBasic.exe and QBasic.hlp. You won’t be programming any QBasic stuff today. Scandisk and chkdsk are usually both on there, might leave one, but if this is solely for a driver load, kill both. Also, look for any .hlp files. If you’re still making a boot disk in this day and age, you’re far from needing “help”. That usually clears half of the disk or more. After that, start nixing the CD*.sys files. And if you still need space after that, complain to the manufacturer that what they are trying to have you do is impossible.

The kindness of strangers.

Those who know me know my almost-zealotry for using Linux, especially the Ubuntu distribution. Those who know me also know that I’m a caring, generous person that will support a cause that appeals to me. I may not give much, but I give what’s affordable and proper. Well, recently I sold a lot of cool stuff I had lying around on eBay, and I had a little cash to play around with. Around the same time of all the sales, I read this post, as I’ve read dozens of others on this site. The HeliOS foundation had done some excellent work at getting people around the Austin, TX area hooked up with a computer in their home. They take donations of old machines and parts and make working machines out of it. They then take a Linux distribution and install that as the operating system, in order not to have to pay for a copy of Windows, and to allow Linux and Free Software to enter these people’s lives. I looked at what I had, looked at those who had not that the HeliOS guys service, and looked at the two cool laptops that they’ve had donated to raise money for those families and communities that can’t afford to have a computer of their own. The decision was pretty obvious. Even if I don’t get a stinkin thing from the raffle, I know that I’ve chipped in for at least one part for one machine so that another child, another working single mother, another family can have a computer to use and enjoy the wonders of the Internet. And for me, that kindness is its own reward. Shortly after I got my reciept from PayPal, I got an e-mail with the subject of ‘Thanks Daniel’ from some person I had no idea who it was. Opened the e-mail, and there, in about three short sentences, a load of gratitude poured out. It was from Ken who is one of the HeliOS guys, to me. Simple, pure words giving thanks for what I had given. And I want to thank you again, Ken, for doing what you all do. Take care out there.

Dear Facebook:

One small request: For the friends you may know feature, take a cue from MySpace and give me people that are friends of my friends, and show me those connections rather than just sending me someone random from my ‘network’. MySpace has helped me connect with people that I’ve lost along the way just by making that feature available for use.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

While discussing the upcoming Conficker worm…

15:31 Laura: It’s literally the same thing like in how infectious diseases spread
If enough people are vaccinated, it’s not a problem
But you get a few people who aren’t, and suddenly it spreads like wildfire
15:32 me: Exactly, because the computers that are infected try to find more uninfected and unpatched programs.
errr computers
15:33 Laura: Tim says “Hmm, I have a feeling its prob some kind of joke. Just because of it doing its payload on april 1″
I responded “Can I henceforth refer to your ejaculate as “payload”?”
me: O_O
15:34 Well played.

What’s powering your Firefox experience?

Adblock Plus 1.0.1 – Perfect show of what Firefox developers are capable of. Subscribe to EasyList, and AdBlockRules.org. Trust me, worth it.
AutoPager 0.4.1.1 – Recently turned on to this by Andy. Automatically paginates things like search results or blogs that have multiple pages.
Better Gmail 2 0.7.3.2
Better GReader 0.5.2
Better Lifehacker 0.4 – The Better series, started from Lifehacker, just plain rocks, especially the flagship Better GMail 2. It’s Greasemonkey scripts rolled into an extension. Makes GM easy.
Delicious Bookmarks 2.1.018 – If you use delicious, this is for you.
Download Statusbar 0.9.6.4 – Keeps all your downloads handy at the bottom of the browser rather than a second small window. Keeps things nice and tidy on the taskbar
DownThemAll! 1.1.1 – Ever have to download all the PDF manuals on one page? Get this and it will cure your rapid onslaught of cursing.
Google Gears 0.5.4.2 – Get this to take Google offline.
Greasefire 1.0.3 – Finds Greasemonkey scripts for pages you are on.
Greasemonkey 0.8.20090123.1 – The end-all extension. You can take any site and modify it with javascript to make it do whatever you want.
InfoLister 0.10 – The cool extension that lets you print off your list of extensions to paste on your website to dote on ;-).
Novell Moonlight 1.0 – Microsoft’s Silverlight ported to Linux. Not everyone needs this, but for those running Ubuntu, it’s wonderful.
RetailMeNot 2.2 – Trying to shop cheaply? Install this, it will alert you to coupon codes for the site. Great to save a couple of bucks.
Tab Mix Plus 0.3.7.3 – Tabs, the way you want them. This extension can do anything you want with tab actions or display of the tabs.
Ubuntu Firefox Modifications 0.6 – Firefox standard in Ubuntu. Makes things work all shiny.
Woot Watcher 1.0.6 – For Wootheads like me, this puts it down in the corner for you. And will pop it up at midnight if you’re awake.

What about you, what do you use?

Reading the other side of the meter.

http://www.theflynnfile.com/2009/03/lge-billing-changeor-how-e-on-will-fund-kentucky-derby-festival-sponsorship.html

Saw this shared in items from my Google friends inside of Google Reader, and I couldn’t read it without shouting things at my computer screen. A transcript of the shouting follows.

First off, the author makes several good points, and I feel that the objections are warranted. No one likes having pay a bill on a faster schedule than they have before. But for me, I also get a sneak peak into almost 300 utility districts and their monthly rituals. So let me enlighten you as to what I see on a monthly basis.

For most utilities I know, the bills are due in anywhere between 10 and 20 days, with the majority falling at 15 days / 2 weeks, but as I’ve seen, several of our customers are going with 10 day billing cycles, especially if they are smaller. With that, I don’t think 12 days is unreasonable. Sure, E-ON/LG&E is a huge corporation with lots of customers, so why the need to run things tighter? They want what everyone else does, a steady stream of revenue so that they don’t have surges and droughts in the income, when the out-go is fairly even throughout the course of a month. As for them not being able to tell you what your bill is by looking it up on a website, that’s ridiculous. Some of the most sophisticated adoptions of technology I have seen in my line of work have come from the most inept of people. Tell LG&E to get their shit together.

Something not mentioned directly in the article as a point of contention was the late fee. When I saw 5%, I laughed. In my experience again, 5% is a godsend of a late charge. Most I deal with are 10%, and another common trend I am noticing is 18%. And yes, these are on bills as large as what LG&E are charging.

And the third thing on this is the issue of LG&E paying for a main sponsorship of Derby, and then complaining they have no money. This, I have a problem with, and rightfully so. Don’t blow everything you have, complain you have nothing left, and are left with a massive pile of debt when it’s all said and done. If everyone did that we’d have total economic collapse. Oh wait. Shit. Already happened.