My XBox Live Gamer Card
Tuesday, January 6. 2009
I'm trying to sell some things on craigslist. I got a response last night from firstname.lastname@example.org who asked if I still had the bed I'm selling. I responded with yes, to which they sent the following:
Thanks for the prompt response and i will love to make an instant
purchase,so pls do withdraw the advert from Craigslist,i don't mind
adding an extra $50 for you to take the advert down from craigslist
so that i can be rest assured that am in hand of the item. I will
also like you to know that i will be paying via check,and it will be
over night payment due to the distance .You don't need to bother your
self with the shipment ,i will take care of that.So i will need you to
provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of
the check. 1.Your full name 2.Your mailing address be it residential
or postal address 3.Your phone number.i wishes you a happy new Year
I was blown away that apparently he expected me to ship my bed with no money up front and then wait for a check.
A check that likely would never come.
I responded with "Sorry, cash only."
Thursday, October 16. 2008
I'm a dual citizen, the product of an English father and American mother, and born in the UK. The British part of me cringes when I read things like this. How does any government get to the point where they believe even setting one foot down the road to despotism is the right thing to do? Similar, equally frightening things could happen in the US, but we do have one bit of advantage, we haven't given up our guns like the citizens of the UK have.
In this country I've seen things like The Patriot Act as a cynical grab for power by a government intent on grabbing as much power as possible. Is this the case in the UK also? Or am I over-reacting and these are really "good" people who simply live in a culture of fear trying their best to alleviate their fears by giving up essential liberties?
How does this play out? Do we go down Orwell or Alan Moore's road? When do people who need to be free men and women start saying enough is enough?
In the USA we have the opportunity to send that message in just about three weeks. Unfortunately we won't do it. We will vote for the lesser of two evils. We will vote for status quo. We will vote for those who will protect us from the terrorists and the pedophiles by limiting essential freedoms.
What will it take for us to become more frightened of our own government, and tell them "We are not afraid and will no longer sacrifice essential liberties for some illusory safety?"
Wednesday, September 24. 2008
According to this article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board has implemented a 50% minimum score for all grades handed out.
While some districts use "F" as a failing grade, the city uses an "E."
"The 'E' is to be recorded no lower than a 50 percent, regardless of the actual percent earned. For example, if the student earns a 20 percent on a class assignment, the grade is recorded as a 50 percent," said the memo from Jerri Lippert, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, and Mary VanHorn, a PFT vice president.
If Johnny get's one out of ten correct on his math quiz, Johnny get's 50%. If Susie get's 45 out of 100 on her social studies paper, Susie gets 50%. They are doing this so students who don't do well don't have such a big hole to dig out of later on. What sense does that make?
More importantly what does it teach the children to whom anything less than an A is unacceptable? All three of my sons are straight-A students. All three of them bust their tails to do work that is worthy of an A. Why don't they get any bonuses for doing exceptional work? why is it only the stupid kids who get bonuses? Quite frankly, if you earn below a 50% in any course of study at any time it's because you weren't even trying. So why are the students who try, who take pride in the fact that they do try being singled out unfairly?
Perhaps this quote from the article is the ultimate irony:
...she said one teacher she knows already worries about how awkward it will look when a student correctly answers three of 10 questions on a math quiz -- and gets a 50 percent.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board gets an epic fail on this one...
...Oh wait, they can't, they only get a 50% epic fail.
Monday, September 15. 2008
Having three sons I've heard my share of tattling. My sons also know that tattling is a sure way to get into dad's or mom's doghouse. If one of my boys is not risking his safety or someone else's safety their responsibility is to have their brother's back, not to rat them out. It's a lesson that they have a hard time learning, even when the tattler gets punished and the tattlee does not. Hopefully eventually they will completely learn the lesson.
Tonight was one of those nights where the people who plan stuff get together to see how they can make the boy's mother and me pull our hair out. Kellan had a game he needed to be at at 5:30. Travis's Back to School Night was also at 5:30. The two locations were far enough apart that it was difficult to get everyone where they needed to be in a timely fashion. In addition, the man providing dinner (me) ended up waiting in line at Wendy's for ten plus minutes throwing the entire schedule off.
Jennifer and I both went to Back to School Night. Our thinking on that was Travis only has three of those left and Kellan has lots and lots of soccer games left. I had to leave the high school and go pick Kellan up after the game and return with him to the high school. The game was just ending when I pulled into the parking lot at the school where he was playing. I got out and wandered over to his team to listen to the coaches post-game briefing. I didn't see the game, I don't know the tale of the tape, I'm not sure what interactions happened during the game. I do know what I saw and heard after the game.
While I was there the coach for the Centennial U-11 team came over and started talking to one of the dads. I didn't catch what he said until the very end, fortunately Kellan's coach asked him if there was a problem and the coach repeated what he said, "I just wanted you to know that one of your boys wouldn't shake hands with our boys after the game." I was stunned. Here was a grown man ratting out a ten year-old to his coach. I bit my tongue and didn't say a thing, but I really wanted to. I wanted to tell this coach just how impressed I was by the fact that he was ratting out this player.
The whole concept of "sportsmanship" that they think they're teaching the kids these days is one of the most repugnant things I have ever heard of. It's bothered me since Travis started playing ten years ago. We force this kids to stand in line and shake hands and lie after every game. "Good game, good game, good game...." What a load of crap! What if it wasn't a good game? What if the guy you're shaking hands with tripped you and pushed you the entire game? What if you tripped and pushed him?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of good sportsmanship. I believe that we should teach our kids to be good sports. I love seeing a player who was tripped helped back up by the guy who tripped him. I love it when a team realizes they should not have possession of the ball and purposely kicks it out of bounds to turn it over. Watching friends from competing teams greet each other after a game is a great thing. Listening to players acknowledge the the other team was better when they lose or acknowledge the efforts of other players are all very good things. But forcing players to shake hands, forcing them to tell the other team "good game." is not good sportsmanship, it's forcing kids to act the way we believe they should act, not teaching them to act the way we believe they should act.
So what lesson did that Centennial coach teach Kellan's team tonight? I know this it certainly wasn't one I want my son to learn.
Friday, September 12. 2008
Stephen Toulouse (Stepto) is the head of Microsoft's XBox Live Policy Enforcement. I first ran into his name when reading the XBox forums where people would regularly cry about being suspended or banned for "no reason." He would step in and post exactly what the reason for the suspension or ban was, and the results were often hilarious. Shortly after that I started noticing some horrible clan tags in Call of Duty 4. I would file complaints on those clan tags, but was unsure whether MS had a way of checking on game content that was not a part of Live. He assured me that MS was working with Infinity Ward to make sure they could take action when needed. I started reading his blog, I started following him on Twitter and have been impressed with how passionate he is about a number of things, including politics.
His politics and mine do not really match at all, but I certainly appreciate anyone who is willing to to shake off the bonds of apathy and get involved in the process. Yesterday he posted his 9/11 Story. I found it quite interesting, but the part where I sat up and took notice was where he said...
I'm tired of having this shit scared out of me to make my decisions in life. Who I vote for, what measure should pass. I'm tired of thinking about pre 9.11 and yearning for that time and people saying that yearning is naive.
He goes on to talk about what has happened to our society, and how the terrorists cannot be displeased about what has happened to our Great Nation since the attacks.
Our politics don't match, but we certainly share some ideology when it comes to this subject.
Sunday, September 7. 2008
[Updated: September, 7th
I got an email from OnPoint Friday afternoon telling me that they were refunding the entire amount they removed in error. I appreciate them doing the right thing. I'm disappointed it took me writing publicly about it to get the appropriate response, but am appreciative that they DID do it. Thank you.
I live paycheck to paycheck. This month things ended up a bit tighter than usual and my debit card was declined when I tried to buy gas with it this morning. Knowing that I was pretty sure about the amount of money in my account, I fired up the online banking and took a look at what the problem might be. I found it, a seven-dollar charge for having an account that did not meet the minimum average balance requirement. It was the first time that that has happened in a long time, but it was not something for me to get angry about, I have an account with a minimum average balance requirement, I didn't meet the balance, so I pay the fee.
That said, I don't like those kind of surprises, so I called up my friendly OnPoint Community Credit Union and asked if there were another type of account where I wouldn't have to face the sometime seven-dollar fee. The young lady was very nice, asked me for my account number and said "Ohh you have interest checking which has that fee. If you change to basic checking there would never be a fee."
I responded with "Great, I think I'd like to do that, but are their any other services I would lose out on?" and this is where things went downhill for OnPoint and the nice girl who I was chatting with.
Her response was "Well with basic checking you do have to pay a fee for electronic bill-pay."
I was quite taken aback, because I have been paying a fee for my electronic bill-pay since I started using the service. I was under the impression it was the price I paid for using the service.
I asked her why I was being charged for it if I shouldn't have been being charged and she said "I'm sorry we must have made a mistake, let me see what I can do."
I waited a bit and she came back and said "I can refund four months worth of those charges."
At this point I was a bit frustrated. I had been paying the fee, because I thought I needed to and never thought to question it, and now I was being told that they had been taking $3.95 from my account every month for thirteen months that they should not have been taking due to an error on their part, and they were only going to credit me for four of those months.
I asked her how her proposal was right, and she said "You have 60 days after each statement to dispute any charges." My response was "How was I to dispute a charge I didn't know was wrong?" her response was "well it's all over the website and your statement." at which point I requested the four month reimbursement and left the call because I was getting too frustrated to be polite.
So if anyone from OnPoint reads this, How is that right? How is it right for you to make a mistake, a mistake which your representative has admitted, a mistake whereby you removed money that was rightfully your customer's from his account, and then refuse to give it back?
To me that's stealing, and just because someone doesn't know they're being stolen from doesn't make it OK.
Friday, August 24. 2007
One of the first tenets of riding a motorcycle is that absolutely everyone else on the road is out to kill you. Once you start thinking with that mindset, it is a whole lot easier to keep yourself safe when you're on your bike.
Feet down on the freeway is not a good thing, when my bike is under power, I have opportunity to dodge, weave, and get the hell out of the way of all those other vehicles on the road that are so much bigger than I am. When my feet are on the pavement on the freeway, it means I'm stopped in a place where people don't generally stop, which means that someone is even more unlikely to be looking for me, which means I'm at greater risk. I don't like that!
I want to say thank you to Mr. Greenpeace Flag Waving Guy who thought the Washington St. overpass across I-205N was a good place to be. I realize you think you were doing a good thing, raising awareness (but of what exactly). What you really did was put me in danger when I didn't need to be. You also likely made a bunch of people late to work. I know the stupidity of drivers is not really your fault, but given your vantage point I'm quite sure you could see what you were doing to traffic, and still you persisted in your efforts to raise awareness (but I'm still not sure what exactly it was you were raising awareness of). Did it make you feel like that kid in the school cafeteria who got up on his chair and shouted "ATTENTION! ATTENTION PLEASE!" and then when everyone stopped what they were doing to look, politely said "Thank you, I like attention"?
I want to say thank you to all the drivers who found these flags interesting enough that they needed to stop on the freeway to check them out. If Mr. Greenpeace Flag Waving Guy had been getting ready to jump I might cut you some slack, but he wasn't, he was just waving his flags, yet you stopped to take in this sight, stopped on the freeway! In case you didn't know, freeways are special kinds of roads where people are encouraged to keep moving, usually at a higher rate of speed than regular roads.
I know neither you Mr. Greenpeace Flag Waving Guy, nor you I-205N drivers really meant any harm, and fortunately, none happened that I know of. In future though, please consider that your actions may be putting people in harms way, not just us folk on motorcycles who end up feet down on the freeway, but everyone out there with a front or rear bumper.
Monday, June 4. 2007
Last Thursday evening I went to see my youngest son playing baseball. It was a lovely night for baseball, and I always enjoy watching him play. At the bottom of the fourth inning my son's team was up to bat, and one of the fathers from the other team came and stood behind the backstop so he could "coach" his son (I think it was his son) who was playing catcher.
Usually when someone stands behind the backstop, a simple "Hey you're blocking the view, could you please move." suffices. That was not to be the case this evening.
The lady sitting next to Jennifer very politely said "Excuse me, but we can't see, could you please move?" She was ignored. Jennifer politely asked also. She was ignored. I watched this with bemusement and decided to help out. I raised my voice loud enough that he couldn't possibly NOT hear me and said "Excuse me, you must not have heard the ladies, but you're blocking their view could you please move?" He shifted to the right. Now instead of blocking homeplate he was blocking the entire first base line.
Once again there was a round of "Please moves" and eventually the woman sitting next to Jennifer got up and moved. I figured that five polite "Please moves" from three different people were likely enough.
I stuffed my hands in my pockets, walked around the bleachers and went and leaned in close and quietly said--so as not to embarrass him--"The ladies asked you politely to please move. Now you can learn some manners yourself, or I can teach them to you."
His response surprised me, he turned around and shoved me twice. and started ranting at me. I pulled my hands out of my pockets and folded my arms across my chest and simply smirked at him. He proceeded to loudly ask me if I wanted a piece of him. If I wanted to "try" him, etc. and then he explained that he had to be there, he was on the coaching staff. I said "Well there's a perfectly good spot to sit on the bleachers right behind the plate." At which point he said one of the stupidest things I've ever heard a grownup say, "Yeah but last time I sat there I got white shit on my shorts." (There was line chalk all over the bleachers, and sure that's not an ideal situation, but it hadn't stopped others from sitting there.) That statement caused a chuckle to ripple through those that heard it.
Bottom line, he moved.
Wednesday, September 21. 2005
On Saturday the 17th my family and I were driving throught the parking lot at the Gateway Shopping Center. We were on our way to replace some power strips that got blown up when an electrician was working on the power in my house.
As we passed Mervyn's I saw three kids leaving the store, followed by a young man. The kids were moving pretty fast, and when the man shouted that they should stop, one of the kids really rabbitted. As the kid ran, the man who'd followed him out of the store dashed after him. This kid was fast and there was no way he was going to get caught. However, someone going to his car saw what was going on and did a sweep kick, and took the legs right out from under the kid. In moments his pursuer was on top of him pinning him to the ground.
Kids two and three started trying to pull their friend away from the man who'd tackled him, but were unable to. At that point, the pursuer started shouting for someone to call 911. I'm a bit slow, but I finally figured out that the pursuer was probably plain-clothes store security, and that the kids had been up to no good. I placed the call and was told the police were already on their way.
The first kid would not stop trying to get away, and the security guard repeatedly had to shift his grip trying to restrain him. Eventually he ended up with the kid on his stomach, holding him face down on the parking lot. We heard kid number one say he'd give the merchandise back or pay for it, and the security guard say "It's too late for that now."
When the first of three police cars arrived I parked my van and headed back to the scene of the scuffle where there was now quite a little crowd. Then things changed. What was an altercation between store security and some shoplifters became something different: kid number one shouted at the security guard, "You're just treating me like this because I'm black!" All of a sudden what had been a case of kids behaving badly became a racial issue.
The police had cuffed two of the kids and put them in the back of their cruisers. I watched as three women who had not seen the beginning, or middle of the altercation came over and started saying nasty things to the police officers and the security guard. I was stunned, instead of yelling at the kids who were being arrested and telling them they should know better, and should not be stealing, they were yelling at the security guard, the police officers and the other bystanders about how these poor kids were being mistreated because they were black. I don't have a bigoted bone in my body (well ok, I am bigoted against stupid people), but the things I saw and heard clarified some of the racial angst and anger I see and read about.
The issue here was kids caught stealing from Mervyn's. However, those three black women tried to change the issue and make it a matter of race. What do we teach our kids when we make the colour of their skin more important than their behaviour?
We're all people dammit! Stealing is wrong whether you're black stealing from white, white stealing from Asian, Asian stealing from gay, gay stealing from Latino, Latino stealing from Christian, Christian stealing from Muslim. When identity becomes more important than behaviour there is a huge problem, and we don't do anyone in our own demographic or any other demographic any favours when we allow it to happen.
Saturday, January 20. 2001
There has been much that I wanted to write about since Election Day, 2000. I have refrained from writing until today, Inauguration Day, just to see how this whole drama played out. Watching President Clinton, Vice President Gore, President-Elect Bush, Vice President-Elect Cheney has turned into something of a national pastime.
I did not vote for either Vice President Gore or Govenor Bush, however, that did not stop me from getting a little teary eyed while watching President-Elect Bush take the oath of office...
Many people have claimed to be embarrassed by the events of the election. Embarrassed that the one remaining Super Power could not decide who its new President should be. My question for them is "Why?"
There is a missionary at my church who works in Uganda. He was home from the field for this election, and I had opportunity to chat with him about his thoughts on the election. His response, confirmed my thoughts on the subject: in many corners of the globe (including the one in which he ministers) the indecision over the outcome of an election would have resulted in civil war. Tanks and troops would be found in the streets as people tried to take advantage of the indecision. The worst thing we saw here was extremely vocal supporters of the Vice President or the Govenor shouting at each other.
The day after the election no one knew who the President was going to be, yet people all over the country got up, went to work or school, did their jobs and returned home peacefully. Even as doubt over the outcome deepened, there was no unrest, people continued to live their lives in peace and prosperity.
So today's inauguration was not just a great day for President Bush and his family; and Vice President Cheney and his family, it was a great day for the United States and its people as they made the peaceful transition to their 43rd President.
I'm proud of our country. I'm proud of our system of government. I'm proud of our people.
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