Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Show us your papers

Well, now we know the purpose of the Patriot Act... it is to protect us from grandmothers riding on buses.

The story is a little old but worth repeating for those who missed it.

Deborah Davis lives in Colorado. She is a grandmother with a son fighting in Iraq. Every day she takes the bus to work. The bus happens to go through a federal facility in order to drop off federal employees. When the bus pulls into the facility, a guard comes on the bus and demands to see identification. Ms. Davis doesn't think that American citizens riding on public buses should have to show ID, so she refuses to produce proof of identity. So two guards grab her, handcuff her, and cart her off to the guard station... and then wonder "what now?" What do you do when a harmless grandmother refuses to show you her driver's license. They ended up giving her two tickets for minor infractions and sending her off. Eventually all the charges were dropped but the government refused to do away with the policy. So the end result is that the bus company is going to change the routes so that the buses don't go through the facility. It would make much more sense for the guards to check the ID's of people getting off the bus instead of harassing American citizens who just want to get to work. And does anyone really think that asking people on the bus for ID is making anyone at the federal facility safer?

Death to Converts

From Karl Keating...

Abdul Rahman is 41 and may not make it to 42. The Afghani converted to Christianity, and that is a crime in a country that operates under Sharia.

Rahman is under arrest in Kabul, and the prosecutor wants him executed for abandoning Islam. Rahman has been told his life will be spared if he converts back to Islam, but so far he has declined the offer. He has a real chance of becoming a martyr for the faith.

As we wait to see what happens to him, it would be a courtesy to have silence from those who keep telling us that Islam is a religion of peace.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

She just gets more and more beautiful

How Mikey sleeps

Here's another one of Mikey. Try this one if you dare. (1) Sit on the bed with your legs crossed as if you were doing yoga. (2) Fall straight ahead until your head is on the bed. (3) Start snoring. I would need surgery if I attempted to sleep that way.

Notice that his pajamas are pulled up over his knees and that he is sleeping on top of his blankets. We put him under the blankets at one point but he won't stay under them.

I started a conversation about sleep positions on and it seems like a lot of our kids like to sleep folded in half.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shopping with the girls - Part 2

I went shopping with the girls again but this time Michel came too!

It was another shopping day with the girls and Michel was feeling better so she decided to come along. Michel's parents are staying with us so they watched Mikey while we went off on our little adeventure. Beth and Irene are addicted to CD shopping so we went to the same two stores for CDs that we went to last week. We added side trips to a bookstore and to a pet store. The pet store was giving away cats so I was lucky to get out of there without taking a cat home with us. We went to Applebee's for lunch and then to Starbuck's for dessert. After, we brought Irene home with us and the two girls went upstairs to Beth's room and listened to their CDs. Beth had a good day... I like to see her spend time with her friends because sometimes kids with disabled siblings become isolated from their peers. But I don't think there is any chance of that happening with Beth.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Felony Surfing?

Back in October I asked about the ethics of piggy-backing on someone's unencrypted wireless network. A recent issue of WXPNews had an article dealing with just that question. The title caught my eye - Is Your Wireless Web Surfing Breaking the Law? I had some questions about the morality of wireless piggy-backing but the idea that it might be illegal didn't occur to me. The line in the article that caught my eye was: Last summer, a man in Florida was arrested on felony charges of unauthorized use of a wireless network when he sat in a parked car and connected to a WAP in another man's house. The story made big news when it happened but we've been trying to find out, with little luck, what the disposition was. A man was arrested for using someone else's wi-fi? I hope that there is more to this story than that!

Here is a little more detail but I haven't been able to find a resolution to this case - Man charged with wireless trespassing.

In a response to the article, one person wrote, "attaching to [another person's] network is less like trespassing on their property than it is like eating the apples that fell off their tree into your yard." I tend to feel this way too. Anyone who wants to use my unencrypted Wi-Fi network is welcome to it. In fact, I think we need universal, unencrypted Wi-Fi. The ability to access the internet from anywhere with any wireless device would be a huge boon for society. I expect to see it in my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My new phone

I finally treated myself and got a new phone with an iPod built in. Michel wanted to get a line on our family plan for her dad. He has prostate cancer so Michel wanted to make sure that he can always get in touch with us if he needs us. So I ordered a new line and got to pick a new phone. So I ordered a Motorola ROKR which is considered old now so I was able to get it a bargain price. The phone only holds 100 songs which is not a lot but I love it. I use it in the car with an adapter to hook it up to my car stereo and at work I use the headphones so I can get work done without being bothered by all the talk around me. There were complaints about this phone because it is a little bulky but I have big, fat fingers so I like a phone with a little "meat" to it.

Of course, nothing is ever easy so Cingular gave me nothing but headaches about getting the order processed. I placed the order over the web and everything seemed to go OK but then I got a note advising me that I had to call them. So I called and after clicking through a dozen prompts I got put on hold and sat waiting for 30 minutes ("due to unusual call volumes...blah blah blah" - if they are so unusual then why is that every time I call I get put on hold forever?). Finally I get a real person and they tell me I have a business account so I have to use the business site. A business account? Whatever. So I go to the business web site to place my order and guess what? You can't add a line to the family plan at the business web site. It tells me that you have to call to add a line. Arghhh! So I call and get put on hold for another 30 minutes. Finally I get a person and they tell me that the phone I want can't be ordered for a business account. Fine, I say, then make the account a non-business account. So they change the account but now they can't take my order because they are the business account person. He transfers me and guess what? Back on hold again. Finally I get a person but they can't get my account information so they advise me to place my order on the web again. So it's back to the Cingular web site where I place my order again.

Everything looks OK but then a couple of days later I get another email telling me that the order can't be placed and I need to fax them a copy of my driver's license and social security card. Now there is zero chance that I will fax those to anyone. Again I call and again I'm back on hold. When I finally get a person they can't help because they can't figure out why the order won't go through and they want to transfer me to someone else. At this point I lose it, tell them that Cingular sucks, and slam down the phone. I have been on hold for at least 2 and a half hours. So I send an email telling them how they suck at customer service. I work in customer service (I'm in IT but I run the customer facing web portal for Symbol) and I would never allow a customer to get this kind of treatment. We have a policy that the customer's problem is your problem and you need to take responsibility and get it fixed. When a customer calls I answer them right away or I get their phone number and call them back with an answer. I don't leave customers on hold. I wrote all this and a lot more in my email and guess what? The person responding fixed everything. They got my order taken care of and sent me a brand new phone instead of a refurbished one. Later, when I had a question about my bill, I skipped calling and went right to email. I got a response back the next day that was clear and accurate. Cingular needs to work on training their people on the phone to be as responsive as the people on the email.

Mikey's new bed

We finally got Mikey a "big boy" bed. We had Mikey in a crib for the longest time, mostly because we were worried about him getting up in the middle of the night and wandering off. But he outgrew the crib so we got him a toddler bed from Ikea but he managed to break it. It had a guard rail and Mikey would sit in the bed and push the guard rail with his feet. The wood cracked and the whole bed came crashing down. So for the last couple of weeks Mikey has been sleeping on his mattress on the floor. I had asked Mikey what kind of bed he wanted, and he ran into his sister's room and pointed to her bed. Saturday, while Mikey was out at his socialization program, Michel and I went off to Ikea to buy Mikey a new bed and mattress (and a new mattress for Beth, too). Even in three separate boxes the thing weighed a ton but I managed to get it upstairs and spent the rest of the day putting it together.

When it was time for Mikey to go to bed, I brought him upstairs and he saw his new bed for the first time. You have heard the expression, "his jaw dropped"? Mikey's jaw dropped and he stared at the bed unbelieving what he saw. Then a huge smile came to his face and he jumped into his new bed. He was thrilled. We were worried that Mikey would fall out of the bed because he rolls around at night all over the place. While we had the mattress on the floor, we would find Mikey by the door or over by the closet, everywhere but on his mattress. So I took his old mattress and put it by the side of his bed. We needn't have worried. Mikey didn't come close to falling out of bed so we stopped using the mattress after the first night.

So now my big boy finally has a big boy bed. Next, a TV for his room. He deserves it!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Shopping with the girls

Michel didn't feel well and Beth and her friend Irene wanted to go shopping so Dad volunteered to take them. We went CD shopping and Beth used a gift certificate she go on Christmas to load up on CDs. I took them to Applebee's for lunch and then we went to Starbuck's for cupcakes (I had a latte). It was fun but those two sure can talk. I don't think there was a moment of silence during the entire outing. In the picture, Irene is on the left and Beth is on the right.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More snow

March has come in like a lion with sudden cold temperatures (below 20 degrees) and some snow. The weatherman screwed up though. They predicted more snow then what we got so I left work early to work from home. As it turned out, the snow stopped just a little while after I left work.