Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Like finding a needle in a hay stack.

Now that I am back on a watchbill I spend a fair amount of time telling and listening to various sea stories with the other watchstanders. I am far from the saltiest sailor but I have a few good stories. One of the odd stories that came up during the watch was from the very salty warrant officer who said while on deployment he and his boatswain mate saw something floating in the ocean and hooked it. When he pulled it in he realized it was a head in a helmet. What are the odds of finding a head in an ocean?

Another salty sailor in the room, an IT1, told a story about how his flight deck safety officer had his head cut off during helo ops on his ship. The stories usual bounce back and forth, so warrant explained how the head was still in a helmet, US Navy issue, and then looked at IT1 and asked if he was in the Gulf? IT1 nodded and asked 97? Warrant said yup. IT1 said, yeah the head bounced off the hangar deck and rolled into the ocean, we never found it...

So 10 years ago these 2 guys were in the same ocean. One of them had a sailor decapitated and lost the head while the other witnessed the head being retrieved. A very disturbing coincidence.

Friday, March 16, 2007

USAA makes the front page of Business Week

My favorite bank/investment/insurance company was just rated #1 in customer service in the US, just above Four Seasons. USAA really is THE best company I have ever dealt with. I call them at least once every move to update my insurance and they always handle it seamlessly. I started with just a checking account but eventually opened up a credit card, moved my auto and property insurance, moved my Roth IRA (and set one up for Rikki too), and finally opened up a performers first savings account (currently at 5.23%, I don't know of a higher rate). I do all of my banking online, except check cashing. Strange enough they just started check cashing online too. Just scan a check and with any scanner and their free software and you can send it via email and have it instantly credited to your account. At this point we no longer need a brick and mortar bank.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thanks to Jerry for forwarding this to us. We live about 200 ft from where this happened. And our house that is being demolished was probably one of the many that has been broken into. I miss Hawaii, but I do not miss stuff like this :-p

Suspected Copper Thief Who Fell to Death Identified
March 15, 2007 12:57 AM
By Minna Sugimoto

HONOLULU (KHNL) - We now know the name of the man who investigators say was killed during his quest for copper. The Honolulu medical examiner says Taily Corpuz of Waipahu died from blunt force injuries after being electrocuted and falling off a utility pole.

It happened at a military construction site off Catlin Drive near the Honolulu International Airport last night. Investigators believe the 54-year-old climbed up to the transformer on the pole to steal copper wire, when he suffered an electrical shock and fell some 40 feet.

"This construction company has done everything that they could," Maj. Kurt Kendro, Honolulu Police Department, said. "They have a fence up. They have random security patrols in the area. But yet, these people are motivated to get that copper for that $2 a pound."

Construction workers told police thieves also have been taking copper from the old homes at the site.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Global Warming

Few people know that February was the coldest month on record in many parts of the US. You won't hear about this from the mainstream media. Full details are here:

Global Warming is the next "feel good" cause that is going to be thrown around as the elections get closer. Numerous scientists on both sides have facts and figures for and against what is now being referred to as the more PC "climate change." Anyone who questions the idea of global warming will be scorned and demonized so it is a cause every politician will have to parade. My problem with this is the attention it will draw away from more important issues. The weatherman can not forecast tomorrows temperature very accurately and people expect scientists to be able to predict the global temperature decades from now? This is just absurd to me, weather patterns go in cycles like so many other things in nature and I do not think humans are significant enough to cause a major change to our global environment. And we certainly are not smart enough to predict the weather. At least not yet.

The best way to combat the global warming fanatics is to use their own data against them. For example according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization report "human meat consumption is said to be the number one cause of global warming." Now how can eating meat and dairy products cause global warming? Farts "accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2)." It isn't such a feel good cause when people are told they have to cut back on their meat and dairy consumption. The leading cause of global warming is not the automobile or the coal plant, nor huge companies. It is you and me (unless you are a vegan). Not only are livestock causing global warming they also use 30% of all landmass, are a leading cause of deforestation, and the source/vehicle for many diseases. So instead of going out to buy a Pruis or blaming evil capitalists I hope some people decide to instead change their diets.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Next DVD

We are looking at another format war very similar to the Sony Beta vs. JVC VHS format of the 80's. Beta was a superior format, but Sony blew it because JVC did a better job advertising the cheaper VHS format. Now we have Sony Blu-Ray (100 gb) versus the HD-DVD (50gb) format. I think the format war is already over. Sony has learned from their mistakes and the blu-ray will pull away quickly. Otherwise my PS3 may not be such a good deal. About half the movies we are getting from Blockbuster are now Blu-ray format. The new players are really computers, which means you will be able to upgrade the software as they add new features to the movies. The first movie we watched (Chicken Little) looked great and the best part for me was it played directly without having to choose "play movie" from a menu (I REALLY hate DVD menus, if I want a menu I'll push the menu button, otherwise when I put a DVD in I want it to play! Unfortunately other titles still force menus). The next generation DVD players are now computers. So expect some huge improvements, I'm sure they will have numerous software upgrades to add cool new features (Like our Phillips TV which has a USB port, just download a software upgrade to a thumb drive, plug it into the TV and turn it on to upgrade).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Confessions Of A Former Verizon Sales Rep

I wish I had read this a month ago when we just renewed our 2 yr contract with new phones:

• Never get a 2-year contract. "The only benefit to a 2 yr contract is a $50 savings on your phone. Its not worth it. Take the $50 and get a 1 year then you can upgrade to a new phone every 10 months."

• Verizon reps get tons of money from new lines and certain accessories and text packages, take advantage of this. They won't let a new customer walk out the door. "Play hardball, they will do anything to get the new lines. VZW makes $ off the service, not the phones. Tell them you don't want to mail in the rebate. There does come a point of diminishing returns. For example, if you walked in and wanted a $39 plan and a free Treo 700, not gonna happen. But I have given away almost every non-PDA phone in the store for the right deal. Also tell them you will buy the accessories, and text package. Trust me here, these are 2 of the biggest metrics for the reps. Return the accessories the next day and call customer care to cancel your text package."

• Mention the lost or stolen program to get 25% off a new phone, even if you're under contract. Who's to say you didn't lose it?

• If you're on a rate plan of $59.99 or higher, you can get "a new phone (and new contract) for the discounted price after 12 months."

• Insurance is a rip-off. It costs too much and has a $50 deductible.
• Tell them you'll sign up for the Unlimited Data Plan with your Treo. "Speaking of Treos, often they offer an extra $100 off if you get the Unlimited data plan. Get it.. Save $100 and cancel it the next day if you don't want it. The leverage here is amazing also because that high end data package counts as a new activation in a roundabout way for the rep. None of the data packages are contractual. I use to tell the customers this just to save them $."

• Reps don't get as much money if you're still in a contract. If you upgrade on the phone with Verizon, the store reps won't be as motivated to help you.

• Ask for a loyalty credit on the phone before going to the store. "One way to work the system if you have New Every 2 and are out of contract is to call customer care, have them put you back into contract, but ask for a loyalty credit (up to $60 off your next months bill), then go into the retail store and use your New Every 2. The two credits can't be combined and that is the only way to get both. I've never seen this not work, although they could technically say that you already got a credit, but the system are not that informative and I have never seen that happen. Just make sure you know the contract rules for VZW in your state, and make sure you go to the store in time to cancel the new contract in case you cant use the NE2."