Saturday, March 25

I like my tag...

...and I didn't even have to be a Sons of Confederate Veterans member to get one.

Friday, March 24

Tis spring...

...and it's the season for layoffs. Jobs are such meaningless drivel, just a chasing of the wind. Learn to embrace the thing you dread and you'll fear nothing.

First the manager...then four


Indeed, the rumor mill was right...but not me. I don't even remember how many times the music has stopped playing. All I see are the chairs left. So the music starts again. Around the chairs we scurry, each with their own strategy on the remaining ones left. And so it continues. Life is beautiful.

Monday, March 20

I must have missed something

But as they say, follow the money.

New York-based Verizon telecommunications will pay five-hundred-sixty-thousand dollars in state fines by the end of March for failing to create enough jobs in Oklahoma the past two years.

Officials from Verizon Communications Incorporated and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce both say the penalties are justified. The company employed 1,763 people in Oklahoma, mostly in Tulsa, as of Dec. 31. That's about the same as in 2004 and down 200 from 2003.
I'm sure it was thought easier to come up with the fine than to hire a couple hundred new faces in Oklahoma. Who wants to work, let alone live, in Oklahoma anyway? I know this comes from the state settlement due to the Worldcom scandal that MCI carried as old baggage into its merger with Verizon, but a fine for failing to create jobs?

I'm concerned about the precedent that this sets for other companies. Then again, maybe I'm missing something. Maybe this has happened before and I just don't know about it but that still shouldn't make this acceptable. Since when should an enterprise pay a penalty for not hiring unnecessary workers?

Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan got their day in court and justice was served. Plenty of states' pension funds lost money in the Worldcom fiasco. Plenty of employees lost their jobs and/or savings because of the vanishing value of the stock. I think this is some sort of oblique way for Oklahoma to recoup some of their loss with the mutual knowledge that MCI/Verizon wasn't going to meet the conditions of the settlement. And so the money rolls in to the state coffers while Worldcom stock holders and employees, who probably suffered the most economic hardship, won't see any of it.

Friday, March 17

Well, I'm NOT going to take it anymore

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.

We know things are bad -- worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot -- I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write... All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a human being, (expletive deleted)! My life has value!" So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

- from the character Howard Beale as played by Peter Finch in "Network"

This is my window and I'm opening it. Yeah, I see the things going on and it's worse now than when this movie was made. Some folks think things aren't really getting worse, things go in cycles and this is one of those down cycles in the history of civilization. I'm no sociology professor but it doesn't take much more than an eighth grade education to figure out that we're in a whole lot worse shape now than we were 30 years ago.

Movies and television shows glorify homosexuals and every other kind of perverse, decadent lifestyle. Television and radio sells the news more than it reports it. Reality television, especially American Idol, is a weekly reminder that slavery didn't end with the 13th Amendment, it just changed masters. I'm even sickened by almost all television evangelists. I may not be able to fashion the whole world to my liking but I'll design my two-bit part of it. As of two weeks ago we've "killed" the set. Oh, it wasn't by design exactly, but I finally gave up trying to be snake charmed by the sheer idiocy and moribundity that is modern American television broadcasting. I'm not wasting my time or money with it. As I told the Dish Network rep when he asked for a reason I was discontinuing the service, "Television is disgusting."

Tuesday, March 14

America: From Freedom to Fascism

Aaron Russo, who was expected to capture the Libertarian Party nomination for president in 2004 until Michael Badnarik came along, has written, produced and directed a film entitled America: From Freedom to Fascism, an expose' on the IRS and the fradulent tax system. Check the link and watch the trailer for yourself. I'd like to see it in full release sometime but think it would only make me too angry for words.

We're a bunch of lemmings, too afraid to do anything but what our government tells us. Voting as a freedom is a joke. On the horizon, I see the reward of the cliff we're about to dive off of.

Monday, March 13

The Miracle at Norway

It almost seemed like a miracle to Haldis Gundersen when she turned on her kitchen faucet this weekend and found the water had turned into beer.

"We had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little," Gundersen, 50, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. "I turned on the kitchen faucet and beer came out."
I can see it now. Pilgrimages to Kristiandsund (Hey, even the name sounds like a holy place) by virgin-mary-in-the-french-toast devotees. Engaged couples wanting to book the bar to have their wedding ceremonies at the miraculous spigot of suds.

Saturday, March 11

ISW resurrected

As if the first time didn't convince some moronic bean counter of the futility, Verizon Business, the formerly monikered MCI, decides ISW (mass market inside wiring) field services should get another try by our highly trained, technologically advanced staff of employees instead of contractors. And so your humble blogger got his turn in the rotation this week. How I've been looking forward to roach motels and web filled crawl spaces. How, indeed. But at least I can say I didn't get pissed on again.

On the last go round of ISW several months ago, I had a dispatch to an apartment for an NDT/JSR (No Dial-tone/Jack Specific Room). I initially get to the apartment and a 4 year old boy answers the door. I'm not supposed to enter a residence without an adult present, which has presented some problems on previous occasions, but those are stories for other times, so I call out into the apartment and hear the voice of an adult female from one of the back bedrooms to allay my qualms. Quickly checking the kitchen wall jack before making my way to the bedroom, I found DT (Dial-tone) there, narrowing down the possible problem to the bedrooms, oblivious to Frank Zappa's admonition, as I continue down the hall, following this dismayed 4 year old along with his two year-old diaperless brother to their mother.

Arriving at the doorway to the bedroom, I greet this woman breastfeeding her infant, lying in bed. The breastfeeding didn't bother me. It's her apartment, her bed, she can do as she chooses. What did bother me was the fact that modesty in this situation wasn't her strong suit (pun intended). Also, times like that kinda puts me in a compromising situation. Suppose she decides she wants to play games, of the clothing kind. Again, more than once, I've been in situations which could have easily turned more difficult to get out of than I got into in the first place, but again these are stories for other times. Nevertheless, I listened to her explantion of the problem, conscientiously trying to overlook her apparel, or lack thereof.

She tells me this story of her roomate who's moved out and how they each had their own phone numbers in the apartment. Now she's got the apartment to herself and wants her number to work in her former roomie's bedroom, which she's occupying as we spake atop this queen sized bed giving sustenance to her little suckler. 'Three kids and where's the father', I'm thinking but know better than to ask. "Where's the jack?", I do inquire of her. She explains the jack is on the other side of the bed as she also maintains she doesn't want to get up from the bed because of her "accommodations". 'And you want a red Lamborghini waiting in the parking lot for you when I'm finished. How many lotto tickets have you bought this week?', I thought. I tried to explain to her how this couldn't be, but told her that I would try to work on it from a different angle in the other bedroom.

The second bedroom was without any furniture, a small relief at this point. I found a jack in that room and was crouched down taking the cover plate off when junior-without-a-diaper, or whatever his name was, gets interested in what it is I'm doing. So interested, in fact, that as I'm crouched down on the floor to reach the jack he gets near enough to put his hand on my right leg to steady himself. Yeah, I know. Cute, you might think, and I've had that happen to me dozens of times. What hadn't happened to me before was what happened then. I felt my pant leg getting warm and realized that this little fart was ...

'OK, that's it! Suckulation or no suckulation action, you're coming off the bed now, woman!', I thought as I reassembled the jack and reentered her bedroom. I maintain that she's got to let me get to the jack, all the while thinking how much I'd like to discuss with her junior's opinion of my work so far. Reluctantly, she gets off the bed and begins to explain to me exactly where the jack is while telling me how to the mattress off the bed to get to it. Great, if I wanna get outta this pissant, in more ways than one, apartment now, I've gotta become a furniture mover. Eventually I rewire the jack and get her number to come up. She's happy, junior hasn't enjoyed a more relieving time, and I'm scrounging around the truck looking for something to squelch the lovely new masculine scent I've acquired before I go on the next call.

Sunday, March 5

How to get rid of a Stoner Son

Joe over at Evangelical Outpost has a hilarious post on how to get rid of the son you don't need. Great stuff. Fer instance...

Day #1 – The first step is to get him out of the house for a few hours. Tell him you found $20 in the washer and were wondering if it was his. While he is out giving his “tithes to the Rastafarian church” call a carpenter, preferably one that is handy with sheetrock. A good drywall specialist can have the door to your son's room sealed off in less than an hour. Be sure to have it painted so that it blends in with the surrounding wall.
When your son returns and wonders why he can't find the door to his room pretend you don't know what he is talking about and "remind" him that he moved out six years ago. Convince him that he is having a “flashback” from the time he ate those weird mushrooms.

It finally happened

Bellsouth finally gets assimilated.AT&T makes deal to buy Bellsouth for 67 billion.

AT&T Inc. said Sunday it will acquire smaller rival BellSouth Corp. for $67 billion in stock, in a deal that goes a long way toward resurrecting the old Ma Bell telephone system.
The deal would substantially expand the reach of AT&T, already the country's largest telecommunications company by the number of customers served.
I expected the behemoths of AT&T (legacy SBC) and Verizon (legacy MCI) taking center stage in the telecom wars to result in conservative, antebellum Bellsouth becoming a prime takeover target.

AT&T will have a huge LEC (local exchange carrier) footprint, stretching from California to Florida and become strong competition for Verizon in local business services. I expect to see some commercial rate wars in the near future but local residential services seeing some possible increases. This will make Qwest the only other major LEC to survive and they'll have to play the game smart and conservatively to stay alive but will probably become a takeover target in the not too distant future, that is if the regulatory powers that be approve the AT&T/Bellsouth merger. Cincinnati Bell will become the only remaining LEC to carry the familiar Bell logo.

Friday, March 3

The Inimitable Billy D

Yes, he's back in the blogosphere.

And so I thought a trip down blogging avenue, just off memory lane, would be appropriate.

Here's what I think are some of Billy's more priceless moments...

Ten Million Reasons I'm glad I'm A Guy
I'm a guy, hear me roar...

The Penguins
Perhaps it's why he's considered a walking conspiracy?

The Reformation of Billy D
I admire a man who tries to amend his ingesting, inhaling habits and advertises it to the world. I hope he stayed on the wagon.

Conspiracy Wednesday
The genesis of what would become mind numbing, reason warped reading. The duct tape on my head is to keep my mind from leaking.

The End of Innocence
I already knew that anyone can be a father. This is when I discovered Billy D is a dad.

Thursday, March 2

Six Months Later...Part 3

Every sort of public official has given their estimates for recovery. After seeing what I have, I'd say about 10 years, if not longer. And that's if city, parish (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties) and state government works to make changes favorable to residents and businesses returning. I couldn't put it better than Triton's comment from yesterday's post...

A city works sort of like a business; if it can't give the customers (residents) what they want, then they'll go to a competitor. And, as with any business or market, getting back lost market share is quite difficult. Many of the folks who left will never return, because the benefits don't outweigh the costs of moving again...If New Orleans wants a fast recovery, the solution is simple; create a free-market zone the likes of which is unseen anywhere else. No socialism, no business regulations, no taxes, etc. This would provide the incentives needed to recover lost market share. We both know, however, that Ray Nagin isn't about to do anything like that.
I couldn't agree more and no, he won't. Nagin's earlier proposal to create a gaming zone in downtown New Orleans was asinine. Gambling proliferates vices and it would only restrain the city from rising from the ruins. He might as well have Hershey's convert the Superdome into a chocolate confection.I went down there last weekend to help one family move out. That is something that has already played out repeatedly for those with the wherewithal. So long as current state and city leaders continue to point fingers at each other and the feds, the hemorrhaging of residents and local businesses will continue and make any semblance of pre-Katrina New Orleans only a distant memory.
In the meantime, a sad truth is that the New Orleans culture, like the homes and buildings, has been decimated. As people have moved away, they are more likely to settle where they are. As levee rebuilding and hurricane protection becomes less certain, so does the possibility that people will risk their homes and livelyhoods to stay. I have a difficult time imagining the remaining faithful metro New Orleanians being confident of protection for their property and lives with another hurricane season rapidly approaching. Without exception, every residential street I travelled by had FEMA trailers parked in front of homes. How will the people living in those trailers cope when another CAT 3 hurricane approaches from the gulf? Hurricane Katrina may have been a message from God as some suggest. Hopefully it opened the eyes of victims and exposed the misplaced public trust. Louisiana politics has been uniquely shady. Perhaps this was the electorate epiphany that was needed to reorder their priorities. Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in levees. God help the people of New Orleans to trust in You.

Wednesday, March 1

Six Months Later...Part 2

The customary signs of life in East New Orleans and St. Bernard are absent. The fast food eateries, like the ones pictured above, were closed, leaving one to wonder when they ever might open again. I drove some of the main streets in these areas and found but few businesses open at all. The word on the street is that Vetter Lumber on St. Bernard highway in Chalmette has been doing very well as has Home Depot. Apparently small contractors as well as scattered homeowners are keeping them busy. There were a few stalwart major car dealerships open in East New Orleans, some by virtue of generators. But there were no restaurants or grocery stores open for business. Even if you knew your way around the area, local gas stations or convenience stores were at a premium. For those in these affected areas to get any services or supplies, they had to go to Metairie or Kenner (about a 30 minute drive) or across the lake to Slidell (about a 30 to 40 minute drive).

The Metairie/Kenner area seems to have survived relatively unscathed. Business in Metairie is bustling. Traffic in the area is about as I remember it, which, though a good sign of recovery, has always been a typically bad element of its suburban living. One problem many businesses are having is employees. There aren't enough of them. One Popeyes Fried Chicken restaurant was soliciting on its sign for workers with a $9.00/hr starting salary. Burger King restaurants in the area will award a $5000 signing bonus, paid pro-rata monthly, for those who commit to work for a year. Some local employers have gone so far as to arrange to have trailers put on company property to house their employees just to retain them.

Outside of the Metairie/Kenner area and away from downtown, I'd estimate 90% of the traffic lights weren't operating. It took a little getting used to driving on some of the streets without the protection of a traffic light as I had been accustomed to in the past. More than once I flew through an intersection without realizing. Still, there were significantly fewer vehicles on these roads than I remember there being on past occasions, especially during Mardi Gras season, so any difficulty with traffic was nonexistant. Some travelling out-of-towners could be seen doing just what we were, snapping pictures of the ruins.