Sam Adams Policies are anti-family

Reading this editorial I realized one thing:  Sam Adams doesn’t live a life with kids.  Of course, I already knew that given the public airing of his dirty laundry, but having been a vicitim of these “Green Streets” projects, it is pretty clear to me.  We live off of Hawthorne in a relatively busy neighborhood, which tends to have a lot of families with kids.  One common element with those  families is that they all have to drive their kids to various activities and locations.  Biking is really not an option, most of the destination are spread throughout Southeast Portland, and carrying twenty pounds of baseball gear on a bike just isn’t a good idea.   As a result of this need to drive, we have cars.  Cars have to be parked somewhere.  One of the charms of the neighborhood is that many of the houses don’t have driveways.  They didn’t really need them when the houses were built, so people park their cars on the street.  In addition, we have had two condos constructed in our neighborhood in the last five years.  One of them has three offstreet parking places for the twelve units, and the other has no offstreet parking for the twenty-four units.  The City’s policy is that since the condos were built within 100 feet of a bus stop, they don’t require offstreet parking.  The unfortunate thing is that every single person that has moved into the 24 unit condo has two cars.  The available parking in the neighborhood has disappeared.  These condos are a direct push for “high density housing”, which is another Adams policy of note. 

Back to the “Green Streets” project:  The parking study for it was done prior to the construction of the condos.  These curb extensions eat up many of the preexisting parking spaces, which makes the parking all the worse.  In the early stages of the project, various families in the neighborhood tried to point this out to the group in charge of the project.  They made small allowances, but nothing significant.   In personal experience my family has  lost two parking spaces in front of our house.  For what?  The argument is that it reduces stormwater backup, and provides filtering.  Well, with yesterday’s rain, ALL of these additions  in our neighborhood were full of water by 7 AM, and our street was  flooded.  We had a little over an inch of rain yesterday in our neighborhood according to my weather station.  Big help they were. 

His argument in the editorial is that these extensions are going to somehow make things safer to bicycles.  Given that our street is barely wide enough for one lane of traffic with cars parked on both sides of the street, all the extensions do is force the bikes into the middle of the street.  How does that make anything safer?  It does slow traffic down a lot.  Several times a day,  we have people backing up a half a block to the intersection because there is only enough room for one car on the street at a time.  Prior to the condos, and green streets project, there were often room for two at a time.

The city also has the nerve to expect that the home owners are going to make efforts to clean and maintain these curb extensions.  If by “clean and maintain”, they really mean “ignore”, then I’m all for it.

Back to my initial premise:  These projects are anti-family.  Increased traffic in our neighborhood due to high density housing makes it dangerous for kids to play outside,  no parking near our homes makes it difficult to deal with children (ever had to carry your groceries an extra block in the rain from your car while managing a 3-year old?),  and storm water facilities that don’t really work and just compound the traffic problem.

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Bally’s Fitness is annoying…

I have had a Bally’s Fitness membership for many years, and I really haven’t had occasion to use it in the last couple. I maintained the membership because Lisa gets a cheaper membership through mine. She hasn’t been going much in the last year, so we decided it was time to cancel it. I looked up the contact information on the website and called the 800 number. After traversing the phone tree, I was told I needed to call a different number. Hmm. Ok, called that number. For the next 20 minutes, I traversed the phone tree trying to find a way to cancel my membership. None of the options applied. Finally out of frustration, I chose one of the cancellation options. After listening to another long list of things I didn’t care about, I was told “Press 1 to speak to a representative”. Ok, sounds good. “Please enter your member number”. Ummm. I don’t know. I can’t remember where I put my card… I entered all zeros. After a few iterations of that, “If you would like to speak to a representative and don’t have your membership number, we will charge you 10.00 for the service.” What?!?? I sat on hold for a few minutes. Hung up. Dug through the drawers upstairs and found the card buried there. Called back and went through the phone tree.  Again. Entered the membership number. Immediately got a real person, which was odd considering there were “extended delays” when I had called just a few minutes ago. Told her I wanted to cancel. She asked why. “I don’t go”. Long pause. “We offer a service to maintain your membership on hold for $4 a month”. I just wanted to cancel. I was then informed I had to “mail a request to the central office stating that I wanted to cancel my membership”. What??! An hour of my life was eaten up in this process.  I bet they are going to charge me to cancel too.

A few things were obvious from this experience:  

  1. Bally’s doesn’t make it easy to talk to a real customer service person.
  2. They go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible to cancel a membership.
  3. They really don’t care about their customers.
  4. I won’t recommend them to ANYONE based on this experience.

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An odd similiarity…

A coworker and I made an observation that there is a behavior pattern that is similar in both three-year-olds and members of Congress:

1. Choose a meaningless event that has recently occurred
2. Take the opposite position of whomever talked last
3. Throw a tantrum

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A New Term To Add To Your Vocabulary

A common term around the office is the “Silver Bullet”. It refers to the notion that some simple radical instrument or change is going to fix all the problems that are being encountered. I have begun referring to these instead as “Silver Boomerang” ideas. The implications of the term are that the results of the change are difficult to predict, and have the likely potential to smack you in the back of your head. Wham!

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Required Viewing

I ran across this web site the other day while reading about climate change. In my mind, it is required viewing for anyone interested in residing on this planet. Especially check out the sections about Carbon Dioxide Levels and Global Average Temperature, as they speak volumes.

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The only constant is change

I had been running this site off a Linux server in my basement for the last 7 years or so. At the time, I got the fastest connection available: 768k DSL. I later upgraded to 1.5Mb DSL. Now life has different priorities. I spend much of my free time with my family, and I no longer had time to maintain the machine or the OS. I have moved the server to a hosted space, disconnected the DSL and turned off the server after all this time. I can safely say that my basement is now devoid of the whine of fan motors. We also have a much speedier 16 Mb connection thanks to Comcast. Qwest had sent us advertisements over and over again saying that Fiber was coming to our neighborhood (with 20Mb service), and even went as far as to put flyers on the doors of the whole neighborhood saying that it was available. Calls into Qwest proved fruitless in that regard. Their loss.

For the curious, the previous site was run a dual processor Pentium III 450 that I inherited from a previous job on Gentoo Linux. I only had one crash the whole time it was up, and that was because of unexpected power loss and damage to the motherboard. I’d recommend a UPS for any computer without a built in battery.

The site goes on. Whee.

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Eliminate Executive Restrooms

I have heard people say that CEO compensation isn’t really out of balance with their responsibilities.  Really?  Take a typical S&P 500 CEO.  If they earn 1.5 million in salary, that is equivalent to 1,500,000/52/5/8 = $721.15 per hour.    Considering minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.  Ok, so a typical CEO makes 100 times that of a minimum wage worker in salary.  The reality, though is that only a fraction of the typical CEO’s compensation comes in as salary.  The AFL-CIO database of CEO compensation lists the average compensation for S&P 500 executives at $10,836,843 a year.  In other words:  $10,836,843/52/5/8 = $5210 per hour.

I think we should eliminate executive restrooms.  Here is my reasoning:  Let’s say the typical S&P CEO visits the restroom three times a day during normal business hours, at five minutes a trip this adds up to 15 minutes a day.  $5210/hour equates to $86 a minute, thus the CEO costs the company $1290 a day in bathroom trips.  If this is a daily occurrence,  $1290*5*52 = $335,400 a year to go to the bathroom.

Considering the President of the United States is compensated $400K a year, well, I’ll let you make the leap.

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Mileage Accuracy

I started an experiment with the last fill up of the tank of gas in my truck. I reset the truck’s trip odometer, and also reset the trip computer in my Garmin Nuvi. After 140 miles or so, the Nuvi is reading a little over 2.5 miles more than the trip odometer. The question is: Which one is right? I guess I’ll have to find a known distance, and reset both of them to see. Something to add to the to-do list, but certainly not at the top.

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Unmotivational continued…

"placid, silent self-criticism"

It appears that the unmotivational posters are being done by someone at work. Here is the latest.

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unmotivational posters

Recently at my place of employment, there have been a rash of “productivity” posters placed around the workspace, with the intent to give helpful advice about how to be a better performer. I just find them insulting. Take this example:

Work early, late, and on weekends and you will get more done!

Work early, late, and on weekends and you will get more done!

Another poster, which disappeared prior to me getting a picture of it, mentioned that better collaboration is possible if you wear under-arm deodorant. I’m not kidding.

As we keep scaling back spending at work, I wonder how much they spent on this poster campaign. Hmmm.

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