Friday, June 18, 2010

What 25,000 Barrels Of Oil Looks Like

From the geeks at Gizmodo:

Estimates of how much of BP's oil is gushing into the gulf each day range from 25,000 to 40,000 barrels' worth a day. Here's what the low end of that looks like stacked to the heavens.
The animation was made using the Unreal Development Kit, and simulates 25,000 barrels stacked 15,000 feet into the air, then collapsing group by group.

All of that. Full of oil. Every day. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I took my car in to be serviced yesterday (Cue the ominous organ music indicating trouble ahead)

I took my car in for service yesterday as it was time for a checkup  and the car was having a couple of problems. Without going into too much detail in the introduction I will say that I received an email from my Hyundai dealer asking me how they did in servicing my car. I had a couple of minutes to kill this morning so I wrote back this email message:


I am the owner of a 2006 Hyundai Sonata purchased at (a local Hyundai dealer) and received on the day that (the dealer) was sold to (another local car dealer). Since then (that local dealer) was sold to you folks. I have noticed also that (my sales person), the person who sold me this car is now working for you. I chatted with her recently about purchasing a new Sonata when the "turbos" are available. My Hyundai Sonata has been the most comfortable, reliable car I have owned and I will be delighted to have another one in the future. I have been bringing my car into your service center since the changeover for all of its scheduled and "elective" service. I also take it to a auto detailer 3 times a year to have the car detailed. As you can see from my records I do take very good care of my Hyundai (it is the 4th one I have owned) and I look to you folks to keep it in tip-top condition.

Recently I brought my car in for brake service and had the front brake pads replaced and some other maintenance which was performed quickly and I was quite pleased. It was at about 50,000 miles on the odometer. When I came in for my 60,000 mile service I was told that I would need to replace the front brake pads as they were down to a several millimeters. I explained that the brake pads were just replaced but the person at the service desk said that perhaps I had been especially hard on them or something to that effect. Since I am the only person who drives this car and I have not altered the way I drive, I could not see how it was possible that the wear I had put on the brake pads in 50,000 miles could be replicated in just 10,000 additional miles of driving. I insisted that the measurements be done again and sure enough, the measurements were incorrect. I marked this problem down to a simple error and left it at that.

I came in to the service center yesterday for my 66,000 mile service and I noted a couple of things I wanted looked at. To backpedal a little bit I had had a friend of my husband's (who owns a reputable garage/service center on Cape Cod) align the front end of my car as it seemed to need it and the guy could use the business. He said that my car needed struts and he put new ones on my car. Since he did this the car (left front wheel area) has been making a very audible squeaking noise. I hesitated to bring it back to this friend so I brought it into your service center to have the problem diagnosed. I also have experienced an electrical smoke-type smell in the cabin of the car (twice now) when the car is running. I wanted that looked into as well.

When I called in the afternoon to see what the status of the car was the person I spoke with said that the technician had taken the car out to test for the squeak and heard nothing. He also said that there was no evidence of an electrical burning smell in the car either. The regular service had been performed and I could pick up the car. At this point I simply snapped. The noise in the wheel area is so distinctive and loud that it is (not even next to) impossible not to hear the sound. The service rep said that they could not hear anything and that if I wanted to I could come in and drive the car myself with the technician and see if there was a noise then. I asked if he went out with the car in traffic or simply around the parking lot and he stated that you have a course that you folks use to test. I told him that I wanted to have someone else go out on this course he described, this time with the windows up, the radio and air conditioning off and listen again. I said that I would be after 4pm to pick up my car. When I got there I was told that there was indeed a loud squeak in the left front area and that I could either have you take the old strut off and put it back on "properly" for $193.00 or have a new strut ordered from Hyundai and have that one put on for (approx) $400.00. He said that if I went for the first option and it still squeaked then I would be billed for the $193 plus the $400 to replace the strut altogether. So my choices were $193 or $400 now or $600 later.

I have no problem paying for a new strut as I am going to have the other guy refund my money for the work they did. My distress is that this is now the second time I have been given incorrect, incomplete, or no information at all about problems I have asked your people to diagnose. I bring my car to a dealer to maintain it because I want the best service for my car. I do not now feel comfortable relying on you folks to do this. While I had to plead with you folks to diagnose one problem that you said I did not have, only to find out that it is actually a problem (the wheel squeak), the issue of the electrical burning smell has not been resolved. I told the service person, when I made the appointment, that it was intermittent and that the instances of my smelling the burning smell were months apart. For him or a technician to simply sit in the car with the engine running (as I was told) to see if they could smell it is laughable. I expected that as it is an electrical problem that a more thorough examination would have been conducted. That obviously did not happen.

I am now waiting to hear from your service department regarding the arrival of the strut needed to replace the one that is squeaking. As I was made to pay for the part "up front" I will be bringing my car into (the dealership) to have it installed but I must say that I am seriously considering taking my business elsewhere as I do not feel that I have been given the service or deference a long time customer at your business deserves. Let me simply state that I am not trying to shake you down for anything. I am perfectly willing and able to pay for any service that needs to be done on my car. It would be a great inconvenience to take my car off Cape to have it serviced, and I would be in the position of trying out a new service company that may or not be "up to snuff" but unless you can respond to my concerns and give me a more positive outcome to these issues I will have no choice.

I am sorry that I have to ask you to begin your days with an email such as this but as a small business owner myself I understand the need for reactions from customers to the service they receive at the hands of our employees. I await your reply.


Frenchy from Frenchy's House Party

I thought that I may have been a little rough on these guys so I sent the note off to Mike the Dick and asked him to tell me if I was too aggressive with them. He said no and I felt better. 

Shortly thereafter I got a call from the service manager basically giving me oral sex over the phone saying how sorry he was for the bad experiences I have had and that he had no idea, blah, blah, blah... I told him I just wanted to have my car fixed and not be given the old "oh he's just a queer and doesn't know anything about cars" routine. (In fact I don't know anything about cars but that is way beside the point.) He said that when the part arrives he will personally oversee the installation and test it himself and from now on all work done on my car would be inspected by him personally (yes he said "personally" twice in the same sentence). I told him thanks very much and that I would wait before I sent off my "how was your experience with our service department" questionnaire from HyundaiUSA. We'll see. 

I guess at this point the moral of the story is "the squeaky wheel gets you phone sex from a butch auto mechanic"!

Read the transcript of closing arguments in the Proposition 8 trial


Judge Walker is expected to rule in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in a few weeks, and the case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Reuters reports on the defense's stunning statement that they did not need any evidence to prove the purpose of marriage:
Coop Conservative Charles Cooper led the defense, arguing that it is reasonable to fear that allowing same-sex marriage would undermine heterosexual marriage and self-evident that the purpose of marriage was procreating and raising children.

You don't have to have evidence" to prove that the purpose of marriage is to bear and raise children, he said in the closing arguments, citing legal precedents.
Months earlier, he had surprised the court by saying he did not know how gay marriage would hurt heterosexuals -- and that he did not need to know in order to win the case.

"At the end of the day, 'I don't know' and 'I don't have to present any evidence,' with all respect to Mr. Cooper, doesn't cut it," responded Olson on Wednesday. Walker subjected Cooper to a barrage of questions, turning the lawyer's closing arguments into a cross-examination about the purpose of marriage, the state's role, and whether gays deserve special court protection akin to racial minorities. Cooper contended that the only way to invalidate Prop 8 was to prove there had been absolutely no good reason, or rational basis, for millions of Californians to back it.
NOM's Maggie Gallagher basically conceded the trial in a statement late yesterday:
"Chuck Cooper is a heckuva lawyer. At stake in this case is the future of marriage in all 50 states, and he's right that this attempt to shut down the debate by constitutionalizing gay marriage will backfire. Americans have a right to vote for marriage. Ted Olson doesn't seem to understand the argument, and judging from today's exchanges neither does Judge Walker. I expect Judge Walker will overrule Prop 8. But millions of Americans do understand why marriage is the union of husband and wife and I believe the majority of the Supreme Court will as well."

Here is the official transcript from yesterday's closing arguments:

GOP Congressman from Texas Apologizes for BP having to put aside $20B for cleanup

And people wonder why we don't have a credible energy policy in this country. The depth to which these energy company bootlickers will go to get money for their campaign knows no bounds. I am speechless!

Kate Kendall from NCLR on the closing arguments in Proposition 8 trial

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boston Pride Parade

The 40th annual Boston Pride Parade was this past weekend. The Contessa di Pomodori traveled to Boston to watch the parade and enjoy a fabulous luncheon at The Four Seasons.

We found ourself a spot at Au Bon Pain on Boylston Street and had a snak while waiting for the parade to begin. Once it started we were standing next to a group of twinkies one of whom had a terrific tattoo of Paul Newman on his bicep. I asked if I could take a photo of it for my friends at the House Party and he agreed. To our surprise, under the sleeve of the t-shirt was James Dean as well. It is nice to see that the "young'uns" are enjoying the same guys we found so attractive in our younger days too.

After the parade The Contessa and I went to the Four Seasons for luncheon. The Crab Chowder was a lovely smooth chowder full of tender sweet crab and finished with a drizzle of tarragon-infused oil. We both had that. The Contessa then had a seared Ahi club sandwich and I had a Reuben that was made with house-cured pastrami and house-made sauerkraut that had sliced cherry peppers in it. Really nice luncheon!

As we waited for our car from the valet, the LA Lakers started arriving under the porte-cochere of the hotel. Now I consider myself tall at 6'4'', but these guys... Ay! Everyone's eyes turned skyward when these guys walked by. All in all it was an enjoyable time.

The video presented below was made online with Windows Live's Movie Maker program. Not great but it'll do in a pinch. Enjoy.

Jenny Craig Diet Update, Week 11

Yes House Partiers, it's that time again. I'll bet you can guess how I did this week from the photo at left. When I went to Jenny's last week, I had so much Jenny "Cuisine" left over that I didn't have to buy any dinners and only a couple of lunches and breakfasts to make up my week's allotment. I had been out a lot and had missed an occasional meal so we managed my menu for last week by using up the food I already had. Great! That'll save me a few bucks. 

I went into the Jenny office this week not really expecting to have shown a great loss but hoping for at least something. I had gone through the freezer and made a list of all of the stuff I had left over and to my surprise I still had 7 dinners and a couple of lunches still "in stock". The meaning of this was clear; I haven't been sticking to my diet and all of those leftovers plus my weigh-in provided the proof. I was in the plus column by 0.4 pounds. Yes... I had gained 0.4 pounds! Kim told me that it could be the fact I was wearing jeans and last week lighter khakis. She also said it could be that the fiber supplements I am taking are the culprits by making me retain water. I know the truth though. I do need to stick with the diet. I need to eat everything they tell me to because I do find that if I follow the diet religiously I do lose weight. 

So there it is. I need to work a little harder but as they say at Jenny Craig: "The greatest personal successes come from rising after we fall."