Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Passport Photo Racket

CVS charges $9.99 to take a passport photo. Other companies like AAA and Fedex charge about the same. This is a pure racket.

I took a normal photo against a white background with my smart phone and correctly sized it at I saved the file on my USB thumb drive and took it to CVS and paid $0.29 to print out five passport photos.

There is a serious discrepancy in pricing when I paid 1/35 what the person in line beside me paid. That's unfortunate for him - but why is it that we are expected to pay so much for exactly the same product?

Next time you need a passport photo for a visa application or passport renewal, save your money and take the photo yourself.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Google Laptop!

Well, I've never won lotteries or prizes until today. I came home to a surprise UPS shipment - being the return address was my hometown, I thought it was an early Christmas present from my parents. No, it was from Google!

On a lark, I signed up last week for Google's CR-48 pilot program.

Well, so far it's really cool. 90% of the time, I'm checking email, surfing, or doing stuff online. I share docs on google docs. I use google calendar. I post pics with Picasa. I'm a self confessed Google head.

The only complaint so far: Netflix doesn't work. But then again, it doesn't work on my pre-Intel iBook either.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tea Baggers, and the rising discontent

I haven't had much to say for a while, but this news really got my attention: Census Worker Found Hanged.

News reports described a school teacher working part time for the Census Bureau, preparing for next year's decennial census, was found hanged with the word "feds" inscribed across his chest.

It's harrowing to read this - nearly a decade ago, I was a part time census worker, going door to door in my own neighborhood, confirming empty residences, and asking people for their forms. The reactions I got varied greatly - for the most part, people were weary. I was, after all, "the government" knocking on their door.

In some parts of the country, the decennial census sweep is the only time the US Government knocks on your door. Most of us don't ever have federal warrants served, and the post man rarely actually bothers to knock, and on rural routes, the mail is probably left at a post office box. It is an intrusion for some people, and on a slippery slope just before the feds show up to confiscate guns, I suppose they believe.

It demonstrates to me that the vitriol that we saw this last summer - I saw one first hand in Kitanning, Pennnsylvania - is going out of control. Add in President Carter's recent remarks on race, healthcare, and the president - and you can see a nasty cocktail of emotions.

What is the way out? I don't know. I'm pessimistic. I think we're going to see more fear and discontent before civility returns to the land.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Japan gets a flat top

The Japanese Marine Self Defense Forces have commissioned the Hyuga, technically a destroyer, and the largest vessel the MSDF have built.

Well, it has a flat top, carries up to 11 helicopters, and is very much the same size as the Italian Navy's flag ship, and aircraft carrier, the Giuseppe Garibaldi.

This farce is strikingly similar to the GSDF's "special vehicle's" from years ago. Everyone else would just call it a tank.

So, close your eyes real tight, and imagine that it is just a destroyer.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meeting with a foreign head of government. Check.

Well, Aso made news today. He allowed Mark Knoller of CBS news to add a check mark for Obama.
Meetings with a foreign leader in the Oval Office: 1
That's it. Not even a footnote really. It seemed clear that the only desire by the Japanese be that they are first. They were the first country visited by the newly sworn in Secretary of State Clinton. They were the first government to visit Obama in the Oval Office. The trip seems so quickly thrown together that their only achievement seems to be first in line. All substance seems to have been thrown out the window for the sake of style.

But one thing baffles me. Apparently, Aso met with some various experts on Japan this afternoon for lunch (since he didn't eat at the White House). The team included a variety of Japan hands, most of whom seem to have been former officials for president Bush 41 or 43. Did they not have enough time to schedule interviews with many of the Obama supporters who have not yet been appointed to jobs in the administration? Did they notice that we spent the last two years choosing a new president, and that parties changed hands?

Monday, February 23, 2009

What's Aso to do?

In his post-Presidency, with low approval ratings, President Bush was offered a job as a greeter at a hardware store in Dallas.

With approval ratings in the teens, and 4/5 Japanese disapproving, I wonder what Aso will do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thank you... pencil?

Well, the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film went to La Maison en Petits Cubes tonight.

Kunio Kato thanked his pencil...

His broken English speech amounted to "Thank you" plus various nouns.

Including his pencil...

Well, it fits the mold. Only North Korea seems capable of doing worse on average TOEFL scores than Japan does.

PS - The best foreign film went to Departures. The acceptance speech was given in complete sentences.