Monday, January 31, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
So, with that background, I obviously find today's news riveting.
In an unprecedented assault against seven mob families in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the F.B.I. and local authorities began arresting close to 130 people on Thursday on charges including murder, racketeering and extortion, people briefed on the arrests said.
The sweep began before dawn, and the targets ranged from reputed small-time book makers and crime-family functionaries to six reputed senior mob figures from three crime families, including the entire current leadership of the Colombo crime family, according to several people briefed on the arrests.
Among those charged, some of the people said, were roughly 30 made members of New York’s five crime families and the families in New Jersey and New England, along with scores of mob associates and several union officials.
The arrests, including one expected in Italy, were based on 16 unrelated indictments handed up in federal courts in four jurisdictions, several of the people said. Taken together, they amounted to the largest such sweep of organized crime figures conducted in recent history by federal authorities.
Monday, January 17, 2011
"Who is the greater fool, the fool or the fool who follows him." (Obi-Wan Kenobi to Han Solo, in Star Wars.")In 2004, the 50 year old original boiler in our house failed. We bought a replacement boiler through Minnegasco/Centerpoint, which hired a sub-contractor to install it. ("The most capable guys in the business," we were told.) They had the darnest time getting one of the baseboards in our family room to heat, and sent out different guys (including the owner) at least 4 times. Eventually, we decided to live with the fact that baseboard would not heat.
In 2008, our replacement boiler failed. Minnegasco/Centerpoint replaced it under warranty, and used the same sub-contractor, but we (i.e., insurance) had to pay for a ruptured line that occurred during the failure. However, after the replacement boiler was installed, not only did that particular family room baseboard not heat, but neither of the baseboards in my son's room would heat and a radiator in the basement would not heat. Since my son's bedroom is over our tuckunder garage, that meant that his room was 10 degrees colder (at least) than the rest of the house in the winter. After a couple of futile visits to try to figure out the problem (for which I had to take time off of work), the sub-contractor (which had already been paid by Minnegasco/Centerpoint) stopped returning my calls. So I didn't pay Minnegasco/Centerpoint.
After about 6 months, a manager from the Minnegasco/Centerpoint collections department called and requested payment. I said "no heat in my son's room, no money." He said that Minnegasco/Centerpoint was not aware of a problem, and he arranged for a Minnegasco/Centerpoint guy and the lead technician from the sub-contractor to come out and scope out the problem, which forced me to take another day off work. Their diagnosis was that it was a problem with the the way the lines were plumbed, even though they had always worked fine before the original boiler failed. The sub-contractor offered to re-plumb the lines for $1500, with the caveat that heating results would not be guaranteed. Unimpressed, I passed but, worried about our credit, I paid Minnegasco/Centerpoint and decided to live with the problem.
For the last two years we have been heating my son's room with an electric heater. Finally, fed up, I put an ad on Craigslist offering a reward for anyone who could fix the problem without re-doing our boiler plumbing. A guy accepted the challenge, and he was due out late this morning. To demonstrate the problem for him, I turned up the heat earlier this morning and, of course, those baseboards did not heat. But then I noticed something. The knobs on the baseboards that didn't work were turned outward (some knobs are on the left side, some on the right side, so it was not a matter of turning them to the right or to the left) and the knobs on the baseboards that worked were turned inward. So I decided to conduct an experiment. Within 2 minutes, the problem was fixed and we had heat everywhere. Fortunately, I was able to call off the repair guy before he got here, although I didn't have the guts to tell him why so I made up an excuse.
So, two notes to self. (1) Service people, as a general rule, suck. (2) If a baseboard isn't working, check to see if the knobs are turned inward.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
On Saturday, I watched one of the greatest runs that I have ever seen. This post is to preserve it so I can find it when I want to watch it again. Here and here are a couple my other favorites.
But, for my money, Barry Sanders put together the greatest number of physics-defying runs ever. If you watch this video, notice how many guys that are trying to tackle him just completely whiff.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
This type of news story helps bring me back to Earth when I drift toward self-pity about some inconvenient or unwelcome event in my life.
(CNN) -- Dozens of women were raped in a coordinated attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo on New Year's Day, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday. . .
Rape is a frequent weapon of war in Congo, the United Nations says.
It has named the Democratic Republic of Congo the "rape capital of the world," with 15,000 women raped in eastern Congo in 2009.