Friday, July 27, 2012

Federal Employees Pay

When I started to work for the US Geological Survey in August 1978, it was known from a study commissioned by then President Carter that federal employees were 20+% underpaid compared to comparable private sector jobs for comparable size organization, companies, state agencies, etc.

That trend continued through all the subsequent presidential administration, all of whom commissioned the same study, some to know and some to try to prevent giving federal employees pay raises. The only benefits for federal employees are job security, which has almost disappeared over the years with changes in the regulations, health insurance, and an average annuity, more the longer you stay up to the maximum of 40 years.

Starting in 1986 federal employees could save additional money with the retirement through the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which I did along with many others. While it helped when I retired in December 2005, it didn't help enough under the recent years of the economy and two of the last three years of frozen annuity payments.

But that's wandering. The point is that all the studies commissioned by all the president from Carter through GW Bush have proven that federal employees are underpaid by 20-24% depending on the time of the study. Now the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is saying those studies don't matter as they were not definitive compared to today's salaires.

Well, not that's not true. What has happened is that while federal employees salaries have stagnated by the President Obama and this Congress, private sector salaries have fallen where the 20% difference has almost disappeared. That means while federal employees have suffered, now private sector employees are suffering.

That's not parity, that's suffering. And now private sector workers understand what federal employees have known and lived for over 3 decades now, being underpaid.

Consider This

If you're one of the minority who don't want any new gun laws, meaning additional to the current existing laws, then consider this thought. What if a lawful gun owner, meaning someone who has no criminal background and bought all their guns and ammunition legally, walked into the establishment and shot a number of people, killing some and injurying many, one or more of whom were members of your immediate family, what would you think and how would you feel then?

Wait, it did happen, in the town where I went to high school, started college and enlisted in the military, Aurora, Colorado. What would you say to those families who lost loved ones or are facing life with a loved one serious physically injured or traumatized by the events in the theater? And if one of those families was yours? What would you tell yourself then?

Would you then still support the right of the shooter who was a lawful gun owner who bought all his guns and ammunition legally? Would you still defend his Second Amendment rights? Would you still think guns are the highest right a person has in this country? Even over the rights of the public to be safe and secure in public?

Would you still consider, if you're not already, being a member of the NRA and their political view on guns? And the NRA? Where are you in light of the facts about the shooter? He wasn't crazy, maybe obsessed, but not crazy. He was intelligent and smart. And he had no criminal background. He was the perfect NRA member. A good citizen. Really? Really.

And still would be if he hadn't walked into the movie theater heavily armed with clear intentions. And that's the point, what do we do now? All the words, even mine, are useless in the face of this tragedy. All of the words are meaningless if nothing changes. So what do we do now? Consider that too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sorry Apple - Not

After installing the latest update to many of Apple's app this morning, which seem more to bring them in line with OS-X 10.8, Mountain Lion, I have to say I won't be upgrading to Mountain Lion for awhile, like months.

Really. You really screwed up with new Safari 6 with the changes to remove really nifty features and functions (see previous post) for the look and function like an iPad, except a Mac with a 27" monitor is not an ipad. They're different platforms with different uses and needs, so why consolidate the browser and not keep some differences to suit each platform?

And reading about the changes in Mountain Lion the last few weeks, I don't like any of the new things and changes, and don't want my user interface to look like my iPad. It's why I have an iPad, and not why I have the Mac. The Mac is a computer, not a tablet. What don't you understand? And sorry I don't use the iCloud beyond e-mail and only that because it was required from the transfer of my Mobile Me account.

The truth is I set the Mac under Lion to mimic Snow Leopard, which I consider the last best user operating system. I keep my Mac separate from my iPad and iPhone and don't use the iCloud except for one e-mail account. I also update or transfer anything to the iPad or iPhone via the Mac which has all the files for them.

If you're wondering, or not, why? I don't trust the iCloud for two reasons. It's not a cloud but larger server systems which stores everything you want there, so it's not like it's private or anything. And that's the second reason, do you really trust Apple or any cloud storage with any of your computer stuff?

Apparently simplicity isn't an Apple priority anymore. The activity window and view source code were two very simple, easy to use features which are now gone. They're in the developer window but don't work or look the same. You didn't have to remove these features. So why did you?

And if this is any indication of Mountain Lion, you can count me out until it's a necessity. For now I've wasted $20 bucks on other things far worse, but right now, I can't think of one after Mountain Lion.

Apple Safari 6

Well, stupid me for updating to Apple's new version 6 of Safari, designed to mimic more iPad use and look. And yeah, on a Mac, it's sucks. I mean really sucks. And here's why.

First, the tabs are not fixed width anymore, but vary with the width of the browser window and number of tabs open. This may work on iPads and iPhones but not on Mac with larger monitor and browser windows.

Second, the activity window is not available as a window but in the developer window. The activity window is extremely useful to monitor when Web pages load to find problems, broken links, large files, etc., and putting it as a developer window on the bottom isn't smart because it's smaller and only applies to the Web page in the tab, not all the tabs.

Third, the view source code option is not in the view options but in the developer window options. This helps Web designers and user who look at the code to understand the Web page(s), and displaying it in a very small window isn't smart for the same reason, too small on the bottom.

These two take away viewing space in the browser window, opening on the bottom. As separate windows, the user could still see the who Web page(s) and the activity and source code. This change doesn't help anyone.

Fourth, the Google search window in the toolbar is encorporated in the URL window, no separate windows. That's more personal choice, but still it should be a choice or a toolbar option. And what's with the dimming of the URL past the domain name? What function does that serve, like we're searching for the URL we typed in the window?

I'll add more to this list as I discover their stupidity. Apparently Apple thinks users are idiots and don't want information with the browser. Gee, I thought that type of thinking only persisted at Microsoft, but I guess the people at Apple are drinking the iPad/iPhone cool-aid for Macs. So to them I say.

Mac's are NOT iPads or iPhones

I still like Safari but not version 6. And sadly you can't uninstall it or reinstall the old version. There's no going back. I've tried two overnight copies and a clone version. So, to Apple I say.

Apple you really suck this time!

Yeah, really. And to others.

Do not install Safari 6 in the Apple update

Because you can't go back to Safari 5.1.7. It won't work from any source routine backups, Time Machine or a clone copy. They changed something where it won't open. And you can't reinstall 5.1.7 as the installation prevents installing it over any newer version of itself.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who We Are

In light of the massacre in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and the information about the proliferation and ease of purchasing guns and ammuntion, there is a very clear view that when it comes to this nation and us as a people, we are our own worst enemy. When anyone can buy a weapons arsenal to kill tens of people, and a few can kill many more, what's not to think anyone can, and some do, what we fear, killing Americans is very easy.

Many more Americans have been killed every year by other Americans than those killed on September 11, 2001. And yet we don't do anything about it while we fight endless wars against enemies in faraway countries who number fewer than those killed every year in the US. Why do we fear them more than we fear our ability and capacity to kill each other?

There are an estimated 245 million-plus guns in the US, and more made and sold every year. The shooter in Colorado had an automatic rifle with a high capacity clip and 3,000 rounds of ammuntion, a 12-gauge shotgun with 350 rounds of ammunition and two handguns with another 3,000 rounds of ammunition. That's not for personal safety and protection.

And no laws or checks stopped him from buying those and more. For what? Think about it. In the end, only one thing that is very clear, this is who we are, and like it or not, we are our own worst enemy. So why aren't we fighting that?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What It's Not

Update.--At his request today the Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki in the last year of his contract to help the Mariners since he didn't plan to resign with the team. Ok, I respect him for that, but what did the team get in return? Two minor league pitchers. Prospects, just hope, and like almost every trade under this GM, it's just hope.

And what about all the other prospects he's gotten for the team? Well, if you say they're minor league players with potential, you're be right, and they're still just minor league players playing in the big leagues. Yes, a very good defensive team, but that's all. They still have to rely on pitching and when that fails, which more often than not, they lose.

Do you think we could trade the Mariner's General Manager?

Original Post.--Looking at the standings, the Mariners are in last place in the American West division, 15 games below .500 plus or minus a few games. But looking at the team statistics, the Mariners can't say it's what it's not. Really.

You see the Tampa Bay Rays, Mariners and Oakland Athletics are the three worst hitting teams in baseball. Not the American Leauge, but both leagues. The Mariners are about in the middle of the pack for pitching, the Rays and A's better but not significantly better.

The Mariners have one of the best defensive teams in baseball. So what it's not? Both the Rays and A's have winning records, both above .500 if only by a few games. The A's are catching the Angels for second place in the AL West. The Rays are in third in the AL East ahead of Toronto and Boston.

Both the Rays and A's are in the fight for one of the one-game playoffs, either tying for the lead for one of the two teams or within a game or so behind. In other words, despite poor hitting, average pitching and average defense, they're in the race for the playoffs.

The Mariners, however, are long out of it, 10 games behind the team for the second playoff spot. And that's what it's not. It's not about statistics. It's not about who's better, as the Mariners have good team stats. It's about the one thing they haven't learned to do yet under Eric Wedge.

They don't know how to win

It's that simple. They're under .500 in one-run and two-run games. They under .500 in extra inning games. They're under .500 in every statistics about winning games. They play tough, hard baseball, but they're showing that's not enough. You can see it in the situations they should do well.

You can see it in the players in the batter's box. Many of the team simply don't know how to hit the baseball. They're paid to be professional players, to play and hit. They do the former well but they do the latter badly. Even a novice knowledgeable fan like me can see they're not professional hitters.

And what's worse is that their triple-A team, the Tacoma Rainiers, doesn't have any better players. The team General Manager have said they're building to the future and have great prospects. But great prospects don't win games, good professional players win games and the Mariners aren't winning games.

It's that simple. And the fault lies with the players who need to get and be professoinal hitters, at least average, say .250 or better batting average, none have a higher average than about .270 so none are threats to pitchers, and hit when it counts, to score runs but mostly hit to win games.

And the fault lies with the management to find and get good players to win games. The current GM hasn't fielded a winning team despite several team managers, so that eliminates the latter as the issue, especially since former managers are managing winning teams.

The current GM simply isn't doing his job too. That's what they, both the players and the GM, are not doing where other teams are doing quite well. In baseball, it's about winning, everything else is just the looking at the off season and hopes of spring training and next year.

And that's the Mariners, again for another season with two months of the season left to play. Their only goal now is not lose 90 or more games for another season. Maybe we can hope for a new GM next year? One who actually knows how to get and put a winning team on the field? And players who will win games?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's a Hmmm...

I'm running what it is called a late 2010 Mac Pro, the last generation of the line of big Apple computers meant for the people that need lots of everything, power, speed, memory, inputs/ouputs, etc. built into the machine where it's virtually plug and play. You can simply size it up to whatever you want because it's fully capable of more than anything anyone would use.

My Mac Pro is more the middle of the road Mac, the newer chips but more modest memory (16 GB's) and disks (four 1 TB). It's the input and output that was part of the decision to upgrade from a early 2006 G5 PPC. I run two printers and two scanners and two external disk servers, all of which simply plugged in and worked, and lots of applications simultaneously.

I upgraded to OS-X 10.7 (now 10.7.4), Lion, because many of the applications were being developed and then and now available were built around Lion with the an eye to OS-X 10.8, Mountain Lion. Personally I was happy with OS-X 10.6, Snow Leopard, and it's updates for the look and use, and with the upgrade made Lion do the same.

Now Apple is set to release OS-X 10.8, Mountain Lion, which is built around iCloud and the iPad user features and functions. And that's the "Hmm...", because so far I haven't seen any reason to upgrade to Mountain Lion. Apple is changing everything I like about the Mac Pro and Snow Leopard and Lion to emulate an iPad.

The word stupid comes to mind but then Apple isn't develping Mountain Lion for the Mac Pro but the Apple line of laptop and iMac computers so merge the user experience. The Mac Pro is more an after thought to fit Mountain Lion into a bigger computer which users won't need or want.

I didn't upgrade to Lion for about 3 months after it's release so it could be sorted out and the software companies could get upgrades or updates to the users. So I'll likely do the same but it may even be longer, like 6 months or more because all that I've read about Mountain Lion makes me think that, for me, it's not worth it, yet.

I don't use the iCloud except users had to move their Mobile Me account to it or lose it. I only keep my e-mail in iCloud and have no interest or intention of doing anything more with iCloud. It's why I have the Mac Pro, everything is here and readily available, and I own it. Well, except one application, Adobe's Muse, which is leased and I'm testing for a year.

So to me the only reason to upgrade is so I can turn all the iCloud and iPad features off and keep the Lion user interface, features, functions and use. That means all I would gain is the stuff "under the hood", like application certification, more sandboxing applications, security, etc.

Is that worth it? That's what I haven't decided and why it's a "Hmmm..."

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Don't vote for Mitt Romney because you disagree or dislike President Obama. That's not a reason to vote against Obama because you might be getting a president who is worse, and then where will you be except regreting your vote. If you don't like President Obama, just don't vote for President.

Don't give Mitt Romney your vote for that reason. It's the old adage about thinking the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, only to discover when you get there you're worse off and can't get back. Remember it's better to work to change President Obama than replace him.

I'm not enthusiastic about President Obama after his 2008 campaign promises, the Affordable Healthcare Act (like it but it's not enough), his military posture, the now nearly forever war in Afghanistan, and so on down the list. But I know Mitt Romney is far worse and would be worse for America and Americans.

Romney is a fraud, a liar, a cheat, and everything else you can call and still be honest. He's not worthy of being president. So I'll take what I have than get something worse, and that's my point. Think hard before you vote for Romney, and not just because you don't agree with President Obama

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Off The Cliff

Here's a thought. Let's go off the cliff with the national debt ceiling deal negotiated between the President, Democrats and Republicans which goes into effect on January 1st. Let's do it and watch what happens. Really. Because we know the Democrats will fix it and the Republicans will have to go along. So...

Let's Go Off the Cliff

As Mae West said, "It's going to be a bumpy ride.", and she was right then and is right now. So let's do it!

It's Not

What Mitt Romney and the Republicans don't understand about the American people? It's simple.

It's Not About the Money!

It's about what money can do to help them in their life, with the family and for their future. That's what it's about, the usefulness of money to help and improve one's life. Money is the means, not the end.

And that's what Romney doesn't understand because all he and his friends, the Republicans and corporations know is money as the end. More of it however you can, cheat, lie, steal, fraud, whatever, and above all else, buy politicians to help you get richer.

The average American from the lowest to the moderate incomes simply want enough money to pay the bills, buy a home, help their children, provide for their retirement and ensure financial disasters don't devastate their life. It's that simple. Having a good life and money is the means.

When all politicians understand, accept and decide to do that, then America and Americans will be greater than we are now. So, how about it politicians? Or am I just talking to deaf ears, closed minds and empty hearts?

Let's Face It

Let's face the facts. The Republicans in Congress are doing nothing to help the Democrats and especially this President and more so doing nothing to help Americans with jobs, foreclosure protection, healthcare and health insurance, and so on down the list of the many thing proposed by the President and Democrats and either not brought to the floor of the House for a vote or filibustered in the Senate.

The Republicans have done nothing to improve the economy, small businesses or state or local governments. They have done nothing but push their political agenda while condemning the President on the economy, jobs, taxes, and so on. The very things they have blocked in Congress.

The very things they argue they're for but don't support because they have nothing to show to prove they are for these things. That's the facts. They have proven to be all words and no action to help Americans and the economy, only helping the wealthy and corporations to their own financial and political benefit.

That's why this election is so important, to restore Congress to actually get things done for America and Americans. That's not the Republicans' plan or agenda. But it's always their way with lies and empty promises. Instead of listening to them, ask them yourself what they have actually accomplished with the Democrats and the President to help all of us.

Ask them and judge the answer for yourself, not the words or promises, but the results.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


On the moral case people make for drones, here's a thought. Sometimes the idea, "something is better than nothing or something worse", is still wrong if people still die. Citing statistics for fewer innoncent people dying from drone attacks than from other types of attacks the military uses against enemies doesn't make drones the moral choice.

Changing to drones doesn't make it better when and where innocent people still die. We wouldn't accept it if foreign militaries used drones against American targets and killed innocent Americans, so why do we accept innocent foreigners dying in our drone attacks? Collateral damage (the polite term for innocent dead people) is still collateral damage, still dead people.

I doubt the loved ones of the dead make the distinction about the moral choice made by us. People still die. Nothing changes that fact, only how we choose to kill them. And that's not a moral choice, it's an immoral one.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

All-Star Break

Well, the baseball season has hit the just over halfway mark with the break for the annual all-star game next Tuesday, and I just watched the Mariners lose 2-1 in 13 innings to the Oakland A's, the team with the worst team hitting average in baseball.

But then the Mariners can't say too much, they have the second worst team hitting average in baseball. On top of that, they don't have one player hitting over .270 average, not even Ichiro this year. And that's not all, they're now the worst team in the American league, 15 games below .500 and only better than 4 national league teams, who all are 20 or more games below .500.

There is some good news. They have one of the best defensive teams in baseball and a decent pitching team (about average). But that's all the good news, because believe it or not, they don't have any better players on their triple-A team, the Tacoma Rainiers who are in last place in their division 13 games below .500.

Yeah, really, that bad, and it can only get worse in the second half of the season, easily on pace to lose 90 games for another season, for 4 of the last 5 seasons and 6 of the last 9 seasons. This is the team each year the owners and General Manager calls "building for the future."

Well, they're right if the future is fielding one of the worst teams in the American league with no real hitting threats, only one real pitching threat who doesn't get run support to win, and a good defensive team who can't hit let alone win. And they're right if them keep the same GM who supposedly makes great trades and finds good prospects to field the team we're supposedly to love and rout for.

Really? This will be the 3rd of the 4th losing season under the current GM. Yeah. Why hasn't he been fired or replaced? All we hear from him are hype and promises. And we've been through numerous managers over the years, all of whom eventually get fired. For what?

Well the current manager, Eric Wedge, is finally getting the point across, it's the players. They're paid enoumous salaries to play baseball. They're professionals and they're playing worse than their own triple-A team. Even the announcers and the fans like me can see what they're doing wrong.

Eric Wedge is right. There's nothing that can be done. Only the players have to start being professional players. They play hard, especially defensively, but they can't hit. It's that simple and it's that obvious even to fans. And unless they change, the season is done and will be burnt by Labor Day.

How about it Mariners? Any hope more than words? We'll see but I don't see anything positive when they have nothing to trade by the July 31st trade deadline except Ichiro, and judging from the vision of the GM, I doubt he'd know who to trade for except more of the same quality triple-A level players who are"good prospects."

The same words we've heard from him for several years now. It's started a long season and it will end one too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tax or Penalty

After hearing all the hype, especially the flip-flop of Romney, over the Affordable Care Act mandate and the tax or penalty assessed if you don't buy health insurance when you can afford it, they forget the one point that makes the whole issue and especially all the words, moot and really just political pandering and positioning.

It doesn't matter as you still write the damn check.

They forget or don't want to remind people, the IRS will send you a letter to remit a specific amount and you will be required to send them a check. So, in the end, it doesn't matter what you call it, it's still money and it's still owed to the IRS. Now can we get back to the real issues than this stupid, false one?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Very late

I apologize for being late with any entries in the last week or so. I've been flat on the floor since Sunday with siactica a pinched nerve between the nerves in the spinal cord to the hips and legs. I have a minor episode last year in the left leg and what started two weeks ago as a minor episode in the right leg which left my lower leg from the knee to the toes numb.

Well, Sunday the episode got very worse but recovered later in the day. Monday was the day it became a full blown pain in the right leg and numbnness from the knee to the toes. The doctors found the two disc for the siactic nerve had a moderate bulge but thought the pinch nerve was "down the line" since the pain wasn't in my lower back but just in the leg(s).

Since Sunday I've been lying on an air mattress since it's the only position where there is not pain. By today the pain has dimished to only the area with the numbness, which is the knee, shin and foot/toes. My knee has no response to the reflex test. Yes, totally numb, and the surrounding muscles hurt from compensating or not working.

So that's why nothing is new in a week. I couldn't sit until I found a way to kneel with two pillows in a chair to sit here now, and the pain is bearable. I can only walk for a few minutes before the leg hurts but then the pain stablizes where I can limp around. I have an appointment next week after this week's visit to the local urgent care clinic.

After that it will be specialist(s) to see what, if anything, can be done to overcome what is initially diagnosed as degenerative disc disease. Last year it took 6 weeks to fade away. This looks longer without some medical intervention. It's worse and more widespread. Now I can work on my computer again to update the blogs and Website for a few minutes before I have to stretch out for awhile.

In the end, it's the story of just one's genetics with your spine and back muscles, how you work and live, and how you take care of them. Because when you get old, it hurts a lot more and takes longer to recover.