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Sun 2002-12-01 - 16:32

I'm quite tired. Fighting off what's still left of my sore throat, so I'm going to continue sleeping my day away after I finish this. I'm hoping that — let's see — 9.5hrs of sleep will be enough to get me back on track.

The power just went out. I wish someone would explain to me why a washing machine, a space heater, a computer (Celeron-based, no less) running headless, and laptop, and 2 light bulbs (1 incandescent, 1 fluorescent) can overload things. Also why, when they're in completely different areas of the house, the power goes out globally, but not at the master breaker. Every single one of the little ones flipped. Maybe a surge or something?

So I dropped my space heater back down to 900W, which isn't nearly enough to keep it warm up here. I guess it's preparing me for night at the Hilltop, where it drops enough in temperature at night that I can wear 2 shirts, a sweater, and thick pants, and still be cold.

You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he be of your brothers, or of your foreigners who are in your land within your gates: in his day you shall give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down on it; for he is poor, and sets his heart on it: lest he cry against you to Yahweh, and it be sin to you.

— Deuteronomy 24:14-15 (WEB)

I don't like Wal-Mart. I'm no stranger to employees being treated badly by employers, but the things I saw in retail were generally restricted to being verbally assaulted by managers in front of customers, forced to work hours past the end of a shift because the manager had something go wrong in his personal life, being encouraged to mislead customers, watching the best and most loyal workers being given raises less than even the cost of living, and everything you'd expect from a national retail chain.

Wal-Mart seems to have its own class of slime, and forcing workers to work off the clock (yeah, voluntary... I've heard that one before) isn't something I like to endorse with my money (buying gifts at "fair trade" stores is, though).

"Because it's such a small community, jobs aren't that good there," Corey testified. "You held on to your job. I feared losing my job. I feared getting fired."

The last sentence from that story explains why so many people aren't content with merely not shopping at Wal-Mart, but want it out of their community. Once Wal-Mart enters a small town, it replaces the existing businesses, making the town dependent on it for shopping and jobs. Workers who previously had good jobs with reasonable managers are reduced to singing the Wal-Mart Cheer every morning for under-poverty-level wages and no health insurance. And on an anecdotal level, the times I've gone into Wal-Mart, the employees were rude and far more useless than one would expect in American chain retail, and it smelled funny besides.

Thing is, it seems I'm not allowed to dislike Wal-Mart. Someone mentions that I should go to Wal-Mart and buy something, I say I don't like to shop at Wal-Mart and leave it at that, and I'm responded to with anything from incredulousness to outright hostility. By Joie's family especially. I don't know if it's one of those things where I'm from the city and can't be trusted and think I'm better than them and blah blah, or what, but they sure seem to have intense devotion to it, for a store they don't seem to shop at much. Joie's dad, normally a union man and advocate of the worker, strangely said that Every job is like that; none of 'em are any better than the other..

Well, no they're not. I've always been paid for my work, every job I've had has given me health insurance, and aside from Office Depot there hasn't even been a blatant distinction between "management" and "labor". I refuse to apologize for expecting to be treated as a competent professional in the workplace, and wanting that for others. Some claim that tech workers need to start engaging in collective action, and I can't say I completely disagree, but I hope we're spared from the environment I see so many people mired in here, where blue-collar good, white-collar bad, it doesn't matter how good an employee is if the incompetent guy has been there for a year longer, the employee can never negotiate a raise for himself or become a manager, and the union causes trouble where none exists in order to keep itself relevant. And they wondered why I wanted to work in Steamboat, rather than Craig or Hayden....

The Amish seem to like Wal-Mart, at least.

Fri 2002-12-06 - 15:26

addictive musings

I should just start a habit of smoking whenever the bar's open. I'd at least get the full experience that way, considering that right now I get the stinging eyes and weird tongue numbness just from the drifting smoke.

Making coffee at work, I've noticed that while both the regular and the decaf have some oil in them, the decaf has a disturbing iridescent sheen of something on its surface. On the occasions I've had to drink coffee, I've personally noticed a bitter taste to the decaf that doesn't seem to be otherwise present in coffee, aside from Starbucks-burnt beans. Considering that decaffeinated coffee has the same cardiovascular effects as the raw stuff (this news thanks to Paul Harvey, of all people), it seems to me that one might as well just moderate one's intake, or if caffeine is personally unacceptable, just swear off coffee altogether rather than put up with what decaffeination does to it. I should note that the regular and decaf are different brands of coffee, but I've seen this effect in many different brands.

Natasha brings us the unsurprising news that people who like drugs smoke pot first because it's easy to get.

the world can be a really dumb place

In what seems an effort by the facts to fit my predictions, a Wal-Mart manager stole donations to "Toys for Tots" and photographers are being arrested as terrorists for taking pictures of buildings.

Of all the things that they could be sued for, Sprint, Nextel, and Alltel are being hit with a class-action for passing the charges for the whole cell-phone-GPS marriage on to customers, and labeling it cost recovery. Clearly the phone company will never be honest as such, but I don't see how this can be labeled a lie, either.

The 9th Circuit is busy trodding on the 2nd Amendment:

Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. [...] To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.

— Richard Henry Lee

The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun.

— Patrick Henry

How is the killing of an unborn child in a traffic accident a criminal matter? Considering that the mother herself can legally remove that bit of tissue herself if she so chooses, I'm wondering why Alfieri wasn't simply responsible for recklessly vandalizing Andrews's property.

I think there should be a betting pool on how long before the United States demands that Iraq move Baghdad 10 miles.

The horrid black hole called GRO J1655-40 is approaching planet Earth with great strides.

techie ramblings

It seems every time I switch jobs, I stop using my Visor for anything besides a simple phone list until I've adjusted to my new situation, at which time I pick up new tools and techniques. That time has come. I'm now rabidly addicted to HandyShopper (even the ancient beta version that I happen to have). Besides listing products by store, by category, or by the intersection of both, totaling up the cost, and all kinds of other shopping goodies, it has enough general-purpose checklist features that I'm remapping my To-Do button as soon as I'm done with my old events. The only problem with that is that as I've now switched to Date Book+, the To-Do list won't be compatible. But I'm thinking I'll put timed stuff in the date book and random checklists in the to-dos, and all will be well in the world.

I've got a fully working PTML (my custom markup language) parser now, and all I have left to do is flesh out the HTML transforms. While I did run into a few snags, they were mostly of the assigning-to-the-wrong-variable variety, and it's nice knowing that I can convey a lot more semantic information than plain HTML would allow, and that I won't need to resort to tricks like a kludgy lameness filter.

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Last modified: Sat May 6 19:20:10 MDT 2000