Monday, March 28, 2011

Legislation for the Grumpy

Oh, it's been one of those days. A new blog post idea every couple hours. People were finding a myriad of ways to irk me today. In no particular order, here are some of the topics that caused generally higher levels of annoyance than usual (which is already pretty high):

  • Scott Walker
  • Corporate income taxes
  • South Carolina
  • Miranda rights
I also had a couple questions about prayer that I think the web community could help me answer, but I think my blog is a little too young for such sensitive topics at the moment.

So let's spin the wheel and see where we land tonight...............

South Carolina it is!  (Ooh.  It's a theme.  Last week it was South Dakota that was on my list.)

Ok, South Carolina, I know you're one of the redder of the red states, and as such, your general "government get out of my business" hackles are going to be raised a little more easily than they might in some other states, but really? With all that's going on in the country and, I'm assuming, in your state right now, this is where you're choosing to spend your energy?

For those of you who don't know, South Carolina lawmakers have proposed a bill which would allow incandescent bulbs to be made in SC and then sold only in SC, thereby allowing them (they hope) to avoid the federal law phasing out incandescent bulbs in favor of CFL's. (Here's the SC light bulb story on AP if you're interested.) The bill is called the "Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act." Seriously, if the name of your bill sounds like it belongs in an SNL sketch, you should just stop right there.

I get it SC. You don't want the federal government telling you what kind of light bulbs to buy. And CFL's don't fully light up right away. And the color is different. And they're more expensive. And they have mercury. And they're not as pretty.  I know.  And you're right.

Except that there's this: when you use that incandescent light bulb, we have to burn more coal to light your house than we otherwise would. And that pollutes my air. And it uses up what I think we can all agree is a precious and finite resource: fossil fuel. We may not love coal, but it's pretty much what we've got right now, so can't we all agree that we should try to use less of it?

And (IMHO) this is really government at its best. It's making people do things that, if only one person did it, wouldn't amount to very much, but if we all do it, actually has a huge impact. And it's not just "isn't this nice" sort of impact. It's preserving our national wealth and decreasing air pollution, which is something that helps us all, i.e. just what the government is supposed to do for us.  

It reminds me of that kick-ass video where the 1959 Chevy and the 2009 Chevy are used in a crash test. (If you haven't seen it, you totally need to watch it: Crash Test Video. I'm not kidding. It's kick-ass.) The 1959 Chevy is this huge hunk of steel compared to the little plastic 2009 Chevy, but the '59 is completely destroyed.  No crumple zones. No seat belts. No air bags.Windshield goes flying off the car. The entire dashboard moves into the passenger cabin and crushes the driver / impales him with the steering column. In the '09, the passenger area remains almost completely intact. My point? None of that happens without government intervention. Without government safety standards, sure, there would be some cars that hold themselves up as the leaders in safety. But your baseline automobiles wouldn't be the amazingly safe vehicles we all benefit from having today.

So South Carolina, really? Incandescent light bulbs? I know it's a sad day, but it's time to let it go. Their time has come, just like it came for the horse-drawn carriages and Atari video game systems. If you really want to protect people's right to play Pong, fine; have at it. Just realize, it's only a matter of time. And there's probably a few more pressing issues that the people of South Carolina need you to start tending to. So get to it.

Meanwhile, I need to figure out which of those other topics I'm going to bitch about tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

facebook privacy backdoor

I was just taking a look at my facebook privacy settings.  I was actually trying to fix a bug that won't let me upload photos from my iPhone 4, but I stumbled across a group of settings that I was rather annoyed at. So I'm sharing them here in case anyone else wants to turn these off. You may all know about this one already, but I didn't, so I'm sharing.

Here was the screen I eventually found that was troubling:

Based on what it says here, I'm going to assume that if one of my facebook friends grants access to an application, game, or website, then that application will also have access to everything I have checked here that I also share with my facebook friends. The screen you see above is what was checked by default; I have never modified these settings. Personally, I choose to opt out of the "more social experience."

Anyway, if you want to find this screen, too, here's how you find it.  In the top right hand corner of your facebook page, click on Account > Privacy Settings.

You will see this screen:

Click on Edit your settings from the Apps and Websites section. On the next screen, click on Edit Settings next to Info accessible through your friends.

You will then see the screen from before:

Select or deselect whichever options you're comfortable with. Hope this helps.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dear Google, Can You Build Me a New Toy?

Dear Google,

I would like you to build me a new product. Because as I see it, what you do best is to sit back and watch what everyone's doing on the web for a couple years, and then go, "Yep, we can do that better." And then you do. You started off building a better search engine. Google Maps replaced Mapquest.  GMail. Google Voice. Heck, I'm using Chrome as my browser right now (and LOVE it!). So, Google, here is what I would like for you to build for me: A Social Network Dashboard. And here is what I want it to do:

  • Let me view all of my social media feeds
  • Let me post to my various social media feeds
  • Let me keep all my social networking sites separate, but accessible from one point.
  • But mostly, let all my "friends", "followers", and blog "readers" follow me from one place.
Because to be honest, Google, we social networking users are really in need of this type of service. 

I'm like you, Google; I'm a straggler. I only joined facebook two years ago. And it wasn't until the last month that I finally got around to joining Twitter and LinkedIn. Then I started a blog. Then a second blog. (You can't have one blog, really.) And now that I'm part of three social networks, writing two blogs, and following several others, I gotta' tell you that it's a mess.

First off, I can't stand posting stuff to Twitter and then to facebook. A) It's a pain. B) Anyone who I'm both "friends" with and who "follows" me is going to have to read my stuff twice. And trust me, nothing I'm saying is really all that amazing that it needs to be read twice. And even if it was, how many great one liners are as funny the second time you hear them as they were the first. Very few. But if I don't post my witticisms in both places, then OMG (wassup Oxford), someone might miss something profound that I've just shared, and I really can't have that happening. (I know, I know.  I just said that nothing I said was that amazing. I'm a little schizophrenic, or hadn't you noticed.  Didn't you read that part where I said that I have two blogs? There's one for each me.)

Oh, so then there's my blogs. Every time I add a post to one of my blogs, I have to go to facebook and Twitter and tell everyone that I just posted something to my blog.  "Hey! Go read my blog!" Because, well you know, I can't spend all this time writing a blog post and not have my friends and followers know that it's out there. But all this self-promotion, yuck. Think of how many extra tweets and status updates and blog posts I could be writing if I wasn't so busy writing on one site about what I'm writing about on the other sites that some of my people might not be following, reading, or friending me on. Did you follow all that? Of course you didn't. I told you, it's a huge mess.

So, Google, could you be a dear and build us a better social networking tool. I don't need you to reinvent facebook or Twitter or blogs (though clearly you've already got my blog), I just want my friends and followers and readers to not have to hear me say the same thing two and three and four times. Do you want to read the same thing two or three or four times? No, no one wants to read the same thing two or three or four times. (See how annoying that is!) 

But really, I can't have people missing out on something fabulous that I said in one place, but didn't mention in another place. All this fabulousness really shouldn't be missed.

Thanks, Google.  I really am your biggest fan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gun Rights Parable

So I have a little story to tell.  It's a fictional story, but well, you never know how fictional.

A woman, let's call her Suzy, just bought her first home. Suzy's a single mom and the house she and her daughter will now call home is farm house just outside the city limits of your typical American small town. Suzy's excited about having a home and a yard where her daughter can play, but she's concerned about the safety of her family. She knows that living in rural America, if she calls 911, it'll be 10-15 minutes before anyone would actually arrive at her house. Suzy doesn't own a gun, but has been around them all her life and knows well how to be a responsible gun owner.  Suzy decides to buy a gun.

But wait... in the town where Suzy lives, there are no gun shops. Due to laws recently passed, the nearest gun shop is a two hour drive from her home. So Suzy waits for her next day off from her job as a waitress in the town's diner, arranges to have a neighbor watch her daughter, and drives the two hours to the nearest gun shop to buy a gun.

When Suzy gets to the gun shop, she has already done her research and generally knows which gun she wants to buy.  She talks to the owner and gets some additional information about her potential purchase. She picks out a gun and prepares to make her purchase.

Wait again...

"There's a three day waiting period to buy a gun, ma'am.  Need to do a background check. So you need to fill out this form and come back in three days," the shop owner informs her.

"Couldn't I have filled this out at home," Suzy asks?

"Nope," responds the gun shop owner. "Needs to be filled out in person so I can check your ID."

"But I had to drive two hours to get here. I'll have to take another day off of work to come back."

"Sorry ma'am.  There's nothing I can do about it. And I hate to be the one to tell you, but you have to attend a gun safety class, too."


"Yes, ma'am. After you fill out this form, you also need to attend a gun safety class before I can sell you a gun."

"But I've been handling guns my whole life."  Suzy is getting frustrated. "Who offers the classes? And how long are they?"

"There's a place just down the street that offers the classes. Class is only a few hours long."

"Down the street? But I told you I live two hours away. I have to come back and take the class and then come back again to buy the gun? This is ridiculous."

"I know ma'am. We're not a fan of the law either."

"Well, ok. I'll fill out the form, but it might be a couple months before I can get back twice for both the class and again to buy the gun."

"Um, I'm afraid that won't do. After you fill out the form, you need to buy the gun within 10 weeks or the process expires and you have to start all over again."

"What! That's crazy! I work two jobs, I had to find someone to watch my daughter, and I had to drive two hours to get here. Now you're telling me I need to do that two more times in the next 10 weeks as well as attend a class that will tell me a bunch of information I already know just to buy a gun! This is ridiculous! It's like they're trying to make it impossible to buy a gun legally."

"Yes, ma'am. I agree. It really is ridiculous."

Suzy filled out the form, left the store, and began her two hour drive back home.

Now I don't know how you feel about gun rights in America, but regardless of your position on the subject, owning a gun is legal in this country. So any laws we enact should be aimed at making it safer for gun owners and non-gun owners, should help us ensure that criminals don't buy guns, and should prevent people from becoming victims of gun violence. Laws should not be put into place where the sole intention is to make it harder for people to do what is 100% legal in this country: buy or own a gun.

But wait, there's more...

100% of what I just said absolutely, positively applies to the rights of women in this country to get an abortion. No matter your personal opinion about the morality of a woman's choice to have an abortion, it is 100% legal in this country. So no woman should have to drive two hours to see a doctor, only to be told that they have to come back three days later. No woman should be told that in those three days, they have to go see another group who will council them against the decision that they are making. No woman should have to jump through hoops designed, not to provide them with more information or better healthcare, but only designed to make it harder for them to choose to have a medical procedure that is 100% legal in this country.

So South Dakota, let me suggest that you put into place the same laws for your gun owners as you do for women in your state. My guess is that voters in South Dakota would never stand for such blatant disregard for their rights as Americans.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Perfect Tag Line

I don't want you to think that all I do is complain. So today, I'll share something I like. I really like it when companies come up with the perfect tag line. "What?" you might be thinking, but let me explain.

Today's perfect tag line: "There's fast food, and then there's KFC."

Why is this so perfect? Because even though KFC dumped this tag line years ago, I am never able to go to a KFC without thinking, "There's fast food, and then there's KFC." Today was no different.

I went to KFC tonight to get dinner for my husband and me. I pull into the drive-thru at 7:36 p.m. There is one care in front of me. My husband had texted me his order and I realize I have a question. I text him quickly, hoping he'll respond before I have to order. He texts me back. I wait. I text him back.  He texts me again.  I wait.... another 3 minutes before I even got to pull up and to the speaker. Hmmm. Guess I was worried about nothing.

I pull up.  I'm ready to order. Instead I waited. Then I placed my order. I pulled up behind the one car in front of me at the window. I waited. I pull up. I pay. I wait. And wait.

"Ma'aam, we don't have enough green beans left for your order. Can I get you something else?" And how is it that you didn't realize this when I was ordering? Whatever. Give me mashed potatoes.

I wait some more.

They hand me my food at 7:50. 14 minutes start to finish. Explain this to me. It's not like they had to kill the chicken. They pretty much just had to put the already cooked and sitting under a heat lamp chicken into a box.

So, my friends, I say again, there is fast food, and then there's KFC.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

No More Questions

I am an American. As such, I have been raised to believe that capitalism = goodness. So believe me, retailers of the world, I understand that you'd really like it if when I come to your establishment to buy the loss leader, you'd really like it if I also buy the item with the 3000% profit margin.  I get it. Really, I do.

But heaven help me if I go to one more gas station where I have to specify that my credit card that is not a debit card is being used as a credit card, enter my ZIP code, say no to a car wash, and say no to a receipt... all before you turn on the damn gas! Always when I'm running late. Always when it's raining or 3 degrees outside. Can't you at least turn those damn things off when the temperature falls below freezing!

I have a mental map of gas stations that have done this to me. I'm not going back there. And that, my friends, is capitalism at work.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Hate the Haters

I tried to listen to the radio today.  Made me want to stick something sharp in my eye.

I used to be able to turn on the radio and pleasantly listen to WGN (AM 720) at any time of day, regardless of who was on. But then the "new management" drove my beloved station into the ground.  So since John Williams wasn't on yet, I usually turn to NPR.  They were talking about snowboards.  Really?  They just finished an 11 day pledge drive and the first day back they're talking about snowboarding.  Whatever.  Next.

Let's try music.  I have 11 non-NPR pre-sets in my car, all are music stations.  Nothing on.  Seriously?  I only get about 15 minutes of time in my car where I don't have a four-year-old dictating the radio/music we listen to and there's nothing on.

I hit the SCAN button.  No...  No...  No...  Next...  I don't stop when I hear some guy talking about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Chicago's Progressive Radio station...  Next... Next... Oh, I am a sucker for talk radio.  I always want to know where the conversation was going after the 10 second hit I get from the SCAN button.  So two stations after I passed it, I reach over and manually go back to hear what they were saying about Wisconsin.  I have been known to do this same thing when I SCAN past the religious talk stations, too.  I just have to know what the point they were making was going to be.

Now listen here folks, I am a liberal.  Not a crazy liberal, but I really don't hold many conservative positions.  But this guy was impossible to listen to!  He sounded like a liberal version of Rush Limbaugh.  How do you people (of either political stripe)  listen to this?  Who finds this enjoyable? I mean, I basically agreed with most of the points he was making, but it's so acerbic! It literally made me cringe. Why are so many people drawn to radio and TV shows where the whole premise is to point out that they think they people who hold different opinions are completely wrong and are idiots?  (This, coming from someone who was considering naming her blog, "People Are Idiots."  I know.)

I, more than most people I know, LOVE a good debate.  I love to discuss religion, abortion, taxes, politics, you name it, with people who disagree with me.  I don't do it often, because most people HATE to discuss these things.  But even if no one changes their position, I feel I can learn from the discussion.

What I don't understand is listening to hate.  And that's what I hear in most talk radio and 24-hour news today.  Stir people up.  Do that by playing to the things that make them mad.  And that makes me mad.

So after 2 minutes, I had to turn it off.  I drove in silence.  It was really my best option.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Real Me

Well, it was unanimous.  That was the dumbest name for a blog ever.  Everyone said, "That's so not you."  Duh! The new name may not be perfect, but it's definitely me.  And it's sticking, so go ahead an bookmark it now.

On the plus side, I actually got to see what it's like when everyone agrees with you about something.  This will definitely not be happening again.  In the last couple weeks I've been all worked up about Planned Parenthood funding cuts, the crap in Wisconsin, childhood vaccinations, the war in Afghanistan, the moron who couldn't get my order right at McDonald's after repeating it four (that's right four) times, the crazy vendor I have to deal with at work, and the judge who stiffly fined a father for trying to "defraud" a school district by lying about his address so he could send his child to their schools because the district he actually lives in has such crappy schools.  Oh, so much to bitch about, so little time.

So hopefully, there won't be many more blogging about blogging.  BORING!

Now I only have to decide where to begin?  Y'all want to know how I feel about the death penalty being abolished in Illinois?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buyers Remorse

Well, my baby blog is only two days old and I'm already thinking I've made at least one bad decision as it's parent.  "Heaven's Suggestion Box."  Really?  That's what I came up with?  It's almost like naming your child after a piece of fruit.  And it's not like I have some great excuse like it was three in the morning and I was on a deadline.  Nope, just dumb.

Heaven's Suggestion Box sounds so sweet and adorable.  I am not sweet.  Don't get me wrong, I have loads of redeeming qualities, but sweetness is not one of them.  And well, how to put this gently.... um, I'm an athiest.  Yeah, ironic, huh?

So it's now time for my first big decision as a blogger:  stick it out or change it up.  After all, I think a whopping 8 people read that first post.  (Hello, adoring fans, aka, my Facebook friends!)  So it's not too late.  A couple key strokes and my blog could be called, "$#*! to Complain About" or "People Are Idiots."  FYI, if you're wondering what this blog is going to be about, those two alternate titles should give you an idea.

Or I could embrace the irony.  Did you Google "Heaven blogs" and end up here?  Sorry, I can't help you.  BTW, don't bother trying it.  Google doesn't know about me yet.  The blog is only 2 days old, remember?

Well, I'm going to go mull it over.  In the meantime, here's my entry for the suggestion box:

I really don't like it when the dumbest thing I've witnessed all day was done by me. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Something to Complain About

When I was in college, I worked briefly at a local hospital.  In the Radiology Department there was a Frank and Ernest comic strip pinned to the bulletin board.  Frank and Ernest were angels standing on puffy clouds next to a suggestion box.  Frank says, "If everything is so perfect up here, why is there a suggestion box?"  Ernest replies, "Because some people can't be truly happy unless they have something to complain about."  I loved this comic strip.  Have you ever read anything more true?  It wasn't until years later that I realized that the suggestion box was for me.  Those people who always have something to complain about... it was totally me.  (I wasn't really what you'd call self-aware in my youth.)

So does the world really need another blog?  Of course it doesn't.  But since I have very important opinions to share with the world several times a day, what the heck.

Welcome to my blog. Heaven's Suggestion Box:  the place where I bitch about things that totally aren't worth bitching about and save my husband from having to hear me bitch about them.