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Archive for April, 2007

The seven stages

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

If you read a lot, you’ll probably have the same reaction to “The Seven Stages of Falling in Love With an Author” that I did — which was “That is so true!” I’ve gone through that process many times, especially the Worry and Denial stages. (For me, the Denial stage is mostly Withdrawal.)
Tamara has clearly discovered another aspect of the Acceptance stage. If you can’t read any more books by your favorite author, you can at least try to get your friends addicted to the stuff. That’s almost as much fun.

Getting rid of junk mail

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

A year or two ago, I noticed that virtually all of the paper mail addressed to me was junk, and I decided to find out what I could do about it. After researching my options at Junkbusters, I did two things:

  • I signed up for the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service, which is basically just a list of people who have asked that DMA members not send them any mail.
  • Because the vast majority of junk mail that I was getting consisted of offers to lend me money in some fashion (pre-approved credit cards, mortgage refinancing, home equity loans, and so forth), I thought it was worthwhile to also sign up for the Opt-Out list maintained by the four credit reporting companies. This list informs lenders that I don’t want to receive offers from them by mail.

I’m not sure what result I was expecting, but I was astonished to find that these two actions eliminated virtually all my junk mail. These days I receive almost none. So if you are tired of junk in your mailbox, these are a couple of things you probably should try.
Note: After I signed up for the Mail Preference Service, the DMA started charging a one-time fee of $1.00 for it. That’s mildly annoying, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pay it if I were signing up today.

No good deed goes unpunished

Friday, April 27th, 2007

On the evening of April 25, while driving home from work, I accidentally strayed a foot or so onto the right shoulder of Highway 1. As luck would have it, there is a deep pothole in that particular stretch of shoulder. BAM! Flat tire.
While I was struggling to get the lug nuts off, a pickup truck stopped on the shoulder behind my car. It was a company truck bearing the logo of the construction firm that’s handling the I-540 project, and the driver was a construction worker wearing a hardhat and an orange safety vest. He brought tools from his truck and took over the task of changing my tire. In a few minutes, he was done. After I shook his hand and thanked him, he got back in his truck and drove away.
I didn’t get his name, but I wrote down the name of the company and the number on the side of the truck. The next morning, I called the company’s Raleigh office and left a message saying that I would like to find out who my anonymous benefactor was, so I could write a letter to his supervisor expressing my gratitude for his help.
This morning, they called me back. The caller was a very nice woman who explained that, while they appreciated my call, it’s best if I don’t write that letter. It turns out that their employees are not allowed to stop and help people. In the past, some people who were aided have responded by suing the company. So the company now has a policy forbidding that sort of rescue. The worker who changed my tire was breaking the rules by doing so.
I was stunned. I told the nice lady that I didn’t blame them for their policy, but I was appalled that people would sue them under those circumstances. She agreed, and assured me that I didn’t get the worker in trouble by calling. Her husband is the man’s supervisor and has told him, off the record, that he did a good thing by helping me out. But officially, he shouldn’t do it again.
I thanked her and agreed to let the matter drop.
What kind of person would repay a spontaneous act of kindness by filing a lawsuit?

Birdinators

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Rob Beschizza, one of the contributors to Wired‘s Gadget Lab blog, agrees with what I wrote about the Robops. He thinks they should be “equipped with sidewinders and lasers.”

Exit the Dragon

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Dragon Magazine has been a part of the Dungeons & Dragons gaming hobby for over three decades. From its inaugural issue in 1976, Dragon was published every month — first by TSR Inc., then (after TSR went bankrupt in 1997) by Wizards of the Coast, and finally (after WotC outsourced its periodicals in 2002) by Paizo Publishing.
But later this year, the magazine will close its doors. Dragon and its sister magazine Dungeon will cease publication after their September issues. In its announcement, Paizo stated that WotC will be “moving to an online model” for publication of those kinds of content.

Bamboo saves the planet

Friday, April 6th, 2007

I was pleased to read on the Cali Bamboo site that the problem of global warming has been solved:

It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years, and provide a renewable source of food, building material, and erosion prevention.

Sounds good to me. I’m glad that’s settled.

A place to write stuff

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Ben has started a new blog. He says its purpose is “to have a place to write stuff”. Despite the title (But Seriously . . .), it’s actually rather amusing. Well, it makes me laugh, anyway. Check it out for yourself and let him know what you think.
I notice that he’s using WordPress, as Bob and Virgil do for their blogs. Perhaps I should find out what advantages WordPress has in comparison to Movable Type (which is what I’m using here). A lot of people seem to like it.