Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Been Away Too Long

I've apparently been ignoring my blog since August 2014. I should probably correct that.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hurricane Katrina 9 Years Later

As we marked the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina yesterday I couldn't help but think how much life has changed since "the storm." For one thing, there's always that phrase "the storm" and everybody knows which storm you're talking about. We still relate stories to each other in terms of whether they happened in places before or after "the storm." Although the population of the area has nearly returned to pre-Katrina numbers that population has shifted farther north, away from the beach. Along the beach itself there are still huge tracts of vacant property where hotels, motels, stores, restaurants, apartments, and houses once stood. Most have not rebuilt because of new elevation requirements and significantly higher insurance rates. Some schools have closed because children no longer live in the areas serviced by them, while other schools are bursting at the seams because of new neighborhoods that sprang up after the storm. As if things weren't bad enough, as we were finally revving things up in Katrina recovery we got hit with the BP oil spill. It's been a trying time, but we're making it. Whenever I talk about Katrina I have to mention one little thing that is a sticking point of residents in this area. Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast and wiped out entire neighborhoods and towns and did billions of dollars of damage from wind, rain, and storm surge. Katrina did not strike New Orleans. New Orleans fell victim to an engineering failure 2 days after Katrina made landfall in Mississippi. New Orleans flooded when levees broke. Mississippi was struck directly by the storm. There is a difference, but for most people outside of the area only New Orleans comes to mind when they think of Katrina. That's all. I'll post about Katrina again next year for the 10th anniversary.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hercule Poirot Returns!

The twelfth (and I believe final) season of Poirot comes to PBS Masterpiece Mystery this weekend and I'm stoked! It seems like I've been watching the show forever, and it likewise seems to have been away forever. I'm sure I've seen just about every episode, many of them multiple times. David Suchet has been in the role for over 20 years and has truly made it his own. When I view other adaptations of Poirot stories with other actors in the lead role they just don't seem right to me. Two new episodes are airing, the first this Sunday and the last the following weekend. I'm going to have to confirm if this is truly the final season as I read something about that perhaps 9 months or more ago. My little gray cells are buzzing with anticipation.

Farewell to the Receptionist?

I've been noticing lately that many businesses that used to have a receptionist no longer have one. Instead of having a friendly voice to answer all calls or a friendly face to greet all visitors I've seen setups where you walk into the empty lobby and pick up a phone to talk to someone in an office elsewhere in the building. I've also seen setups where you press an intercom button and announce yourself before being buzzed into an empty lobby to wait for someone to come out and meet you. In other situations I've seen various people handle receptionist duties in addition to their regular job responsibilities. The receptionist has become redundant. As one person said, it's just like how Microsoft Word made secretaries redundant. Why have a secretary compose a letter for you when you can do it yourself? Have companies decided having a receptionist is unnecessary? Is the receptionist a victim of the economic recession or of changing times?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Martian

I finished listening to the unabridged audiobook for The Martian by Andy Weir and I highly recommend it. The story is mostly told from the perspective of an astronaut accidentally stranded by his teammates after a dust storm while on a 31-day Mars expedition. Weir certainly seemed to have researched his subject thoroughly. The novel has enough technical details to satisfy a hard sci-fi fan such as myself but with enough drama to satisfy someone who just likes a good book. It was definitely an audiobook I didn't want to stop listening to. I kept promising myself I would stop at the end of the next chapter (just so I could get some sleep) but I couldn't stop. It's just that good.

Laptops: Growth and Shrinkage

A few months back a friend asked me for a recommendation for a new laptop. Her home had been burglarized and the thieves had taken her old 17" laptop and a bunch of music CDs. I told her to get a 14" or 15" with as much RAM and hard drive space as would fit her budget. She asked why I didn't recommend replacing her 17" with another 17" and I told her they're just too big and bulky to be portable. I told her she would want to leave a 17" laptop at home, as she had done with her old one, instead of carrying it around with her. I couldn't get her to accept that the 17" laptop had fallen out of fashion though. She ended up hunting around until she finally found one and bought it. A couple of months later she told me I had been right. After lugging around the new 17" for several weeks and comparing it to her best friend's 15" laptop she agreed that it was too big to be easily portable.

Just a few years ago the 17" laptop was the golden boy of portable computing. They were hailed as desktop replacement units, perfect movie-watching machines, and every laptop manufacturer offered several 17" models to choose from. Flash forward to today and the 17" laptop is a rarity. Most manufacturers only offer a couple of different configurations of them, nowhere near as many as they once did. Most laptop buyers have concluded that size matters and a 17" is just too much. It's amazing how that works. Today's laptops are, for the most part, smaller, thinner, and lighter. The 17" that used to be normal is now considered to be a monstrosity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't say, "I can't." Do say, "I don't want to."

There are some instances when you really don't want to do something. Maybe your sister wants you to babysit both of her kids when you'd planned to sit on the sofa watching Orange is the New Black all night. Maybe your neighbor wants to make use of your yard for additional parking for the party he's throwing on Saturday. Maybe your roommate wants to borrow $50. In many or all of these instances the natural temptation is to say, "I can't." That's not the truth. Actually, you can, but you don't want to. Don't say, "I can't." Say instead, "I don't want to." The latter is a statement of the determined force of your will. You are saying without a doubt that no matter the circumstances you don't want to. Your mind is made up. It can't be changed. Otherwise, you're saying there are outside factors that, if altered or accommodated, can mean that you will do what is being asked of you. When it's a matter of your decision to do something or not, make it known that it's your will that is making the decision.

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