Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Almost random thoughts.

Today IH-35 reminded me that it is, and I am not, in charge of my schedule. After several days of an easy morning commute, even through rain, today was a mess. It took an hour and ten minutes to make my 14 miles. That's an average of 12 miles per hour, in case you wondered, on a U.S. interstate highway.

I generally listen during my morning commute to NPR's local member station, KSTX, of which I am a member. In most things I find their reporting interesting and accurate and at least somewhat balanced. But locally their traffic reporting is less than worthless. This morning, as the traffic reporter discussed the accidents on IH-10, on Loop 1604, and on various surface streets around San Antonio, he reported delays on IH-35 "from the intersection of Austin Highway all the way to Walzem." Well. Austin Highway does NOT intersect IH-35. It does intersect Walzem one-half mile west of IH-35. See my note, above, about this morning's commute. IH-35 South was packed and stop and go from north of FM 3009 to well past the split onto IH-410 South near Walzem. And on IH-35 North there was a passenger van sideways near Loop 1604 blocking two north-bound lanes. This caused the north-bound traffic to be backed up several miles to beyond Walzem. As I switched off the frustrating traffic report at about 8:50 AM there was still no mention of the traffic woes on IH-35 in which, by then, I had been snarled for 70 minutes. Thank you, KSTX. Accurate traffic reporting has the potential to ease our commute, reduce idling (which causes extra pollution), and improve our economy directly through less lost time. I wish KSTX could give me reliable reporting that would let me effectively adjust my commute time or my route.

This morning's headline in the San Antonio Express News noted that Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter had "Jumped to the Dems." It is fitting that he should jump to the Dems, since he's been dancing to their tune for several years anyway.

Our local UPS driver told me this morning that business has been steady through March. Maybe the worst of our economic slump is over. I trust our UPS driver more than I trust Timothy Geitner (or Henry Paulson, or Paul O'Neill, or Ben Bernanke, et. al.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on life and death.

The president of Pakistan thinks that Osama Bin Laden must surely be dead by now. Ironic, as the government of Pakistan is very nearly dead, itself.

GM tells us that Pontiac is dead, following Oldsmobile to the great automotive brand resting place. Killed, I think, by 20 years of automotive "quality" that depended almost solely on the tacking-on of plastic body cladding just in case the car was not ugly enough on its own. Dressing a pig in lipstick? A front lower lip, a spoiler a wheel flare: Tack it on. We'll make the damn think ugly one way or another. Pontiac's proudest moment in design history: The Aztec. It did not need any plastic tack-ons to make it ugly. They added some anyway. I had become convinced that GM's Pontiac was the Ottawa tribe's revenge on American society for the damage the white settlers did to their tribe and their lands. R.I.P. Chief Pontiac.

In the meantime, our economy, if not dead, is surley on the critical list. The medicos have told us for years to lay off the red meat, fat, salt, and sugar--confine our diets to the nutrients we need and kick obesity. Our economy has the same health problems - a bloated morbidity brought on by too many years of excesses. One of the first questions posed by my economics professor, low these many decades ago, was, "What would be the state of the world economy if people suddenly decided to spend only on basic needs?" What? No cell phones or Wii games? No meals out or convenience foods at home? No increasing credit card limits? No designer jeans? No speedboats or RVs? Hah! That'll never happen!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Washington D.C. cherry blossoms.

I'm in D.C. for a couple of days and the cherry trees are in full bloom. It is truly an awesome sight. I've been here many times but always missed the bloom season by a day or a week or two early or late. I have not had time to play tourist, plus, today was darkly overcast, but I got a couple of quick snapshots yesterday. If anyone cares to look at them, you will find them at


Quick update re: the cloud.

Well, I did it. Signed up for Gmail, and so far, so good. I have consolidated my work and personal emails into Gmail, have it filtering using tags, adding action items directly from email into My Tasks and My Calendar then archiving the emails. That keeps my inbox clean and the tasks and events link right back to the originating email for reference. Neat. And with the addition of a widget that gives color tags, finding things in my archived mail is a snap, and, if it isn't the powerful search feature is great. I like the way Gmail lets me send and receive as if I were using the "native" email account, and allows me to automatically reply from the email address the original was sent to. So, the move to cloud computing has been good. Not perfect. I would like to be able to sort by sender or topic. I don't care for the way Gmail handles replies and the action "buttons" are in places that seem less than logical to me, but, still, good. One of the biggest advantages I see is that I'll have a copy of my sent emails available (so long as I can get to Gmail) from anywhere, regardless of which email I sent from. That can be big for me.