Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Shout-Out To Carolina Cousins

Today I have a special, personal (if somewhat open), missive. I understand from a very reliable source that greetings, kudos, and great felicitations are due to my dear young cousins from South Carolina.

Eric, Christopher:

Congratulations on your achievement! I understand that all your hard work this past semester has paid off and that you have both been placed on the Honor Roll!

Now you're so smart… figure-out who told me! (One hint: I assure you is my aunt, even though you both once corrected me on that point.)

Keep up the good work guys!

And wherever you are today, congratulations on your latest achievements!

Don Bergquist - October 31, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Rene


Daylight Saving Time Begins (Europe)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can Dogs Pout?

Saga sure can!

She is not at all happy with me today! You see I played a mean trick on her… "You want to go for a ride in the car?" I said to her excitedly early this morning. We piled into the car and headed out. I had a stop to make dropping a few books at the library, so it was more than the short trip that she associates with the evil place.

So when we pulled up to the vet, she looked at me with a look of disbelief. They poked her with pins, and cut her nails. ¡Pobrecita!

When we got home, she curled up on the couch and sulked. Then, when she decided that she was not sulking effectively (being that I immediately left the room and went to the office). She followed me upstairs, and sulked on the easy chair. Then on the futon, and finally, curled-up on the floor beside my feet. Where finally, I noticed she was sulking.

Wherever you are today, I hope that whatever trespasses you have suffered, your sulking is more productive than hers!

Don Bergquist - October 30, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Mischief Night

Monday, October 25, 2010

Would It Have Killed You To Take Five More Steps‽

Yesterday I ran down to the King Soopers to do my weekly shopping and saw something that I could not believe I witnessed. I am glad that I did! Because without my having seen it, I would not have believed it!

As I approached my car, a woman started pushing an empty cart away from her car, at the corner of the lot. She went nearly half-way down the aisle and pushed the cart up against the planter that I was parked against. I was not sure, but I thought I heard it bang against my driver's door as she walked away. Either way, it was entirely too close to my car. I would have to move it to get into the car, let alone to leave the space.

"Excuse me," I said to her as she walked past me. "If you leave your cart there I will not be able to open my driver's side door. The cart corral is just the other side of the next car down the row... I think that's where you meant to leave it."

She looked at me brazenly, rolled her eyes, and walked back to her cart. Without a word to me, she retrieved it (this time, I definitely heard the ding against the side of the car) and deposited it in the cart corral. She walked back past me, averting her gaze.

"Thank you. Have a great day!" I said as she passed.

I had thought that was it. But then, as I was unloading my groceries into the trunk, a car pulled up beside me. It was the car that she had gotten into. The window wound down and the woman's husband leaned out. "You owe my wife an apology." He growled at me.

Really‽ That's the way he wanted to play it? Okay!

Two could play that game, but my decision was to go for understated. I pulled my grocery list out of my pocket, stepped to the front of the car, and made note of the license plate number.

All the while, the man was yelling at me. "What are you doing? Did you hear me? Are you going to apologize to my wife?" demanded the man.

Tucking the pad back into my pocket, I answered the guy's questions. "Let's answer the last one first. No. I do not intend to apologize to your wife. What is there to apologize for? 'I'm sorry I caught you hitting my car with your cart, perhaps?' No. I don’t think so.

"As to whether or not I heard you, sir, I am sure that there are cashiers inside the store that heard you. The fact that I am answering your questions should make the answer to your second question self-evident.

"Now, to your first question. I am making note of your license number because your wife neglected to tell me how to get in touch with you should I need to settle the bill for the damage she did to my car with her cart. Thank you for stopping by and rectifying that. When I finish getting my groceries in the car, I will go look at the side of my car. Do you want to wait or shall I find you with the bill later?"

The man looked at his wife. "It was just a tap." She whined.

"Try and find us!" then man said and with that, he drove off with a completely unnecessary squealing of tires.

It is so nice when Karma catches-up with some jerk who desperately deserves it! Here's a word of warning: Allison Parkway (in Lakewood) is a bad place to be speeding. There are lots of cops around because of the Courthouse and the Police Station, and they usually park and watch for people speeding past the Park-N-Ride.

There was no damage to my car, but he and his wife had been so staggeringly rude, that it felt good to see their car pulled over just in front of the police car with the lights flashing!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will remember: everything you put out there eventually comes back to you! Make sure what you're sending out into the universe is something you'll want to see again.

Don Bergquist - October 25, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Michelle

Happy birthday to my cousin Jacob

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's National Retirement Planning Week!

This is a week set aside to remind Americans to plan for their retirement.

Regardless of what you think may happen with the Social Security Trust Fund (there are those who believe they will never see a dime of that money), you cannot plan all you expenses to be covered by the Social Security Administration payments. Have you seen the projected payments? On the latest worksheet that SSA sent me the projected monthly payment is less than my current weekly take-home pay.

There was a long piece this weekend in papers I read at the coffee shop. The numbers are staggering! An overwhelming majority of Americans have no retirement plan. The number was somewhere in the sixty-percentile. Of the people planning for their retirement, over half have less than $25,000 set aside. That's fine if you're young...

Thankfully, I have relatives who whipped me into shape at an early age to join my company's 401(k) plan as soon as I could. What's my plan for retirement? I want to travel and NOT have to meet with clients to pay for it!

Wherever you are this week, I hope you'll take a moment this week and look at your retirement plans!

Don Bergquist - October 19, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Sarah


Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Improvement

It was a busy time at home this past weekend. After Comcast decided to more than double my rate for cable (and then add insult to injury by sending me a letter telling me that I had been charged less than I should have been for years and my bill would be going up again next month) I decided to dump them.

The installation of my new DirecTV was part of the reason behind my deciding to pull the Television in the living room down off the wall and run some more cables. The other reason was that I was tired of having to swap the cables available between the various devices I have.

When the television was installed a couple years ago, I asked that the installers run a cable for every connection on the back while they were doing the set-up. I cannot remember what the winning argument was (it was possibly the expense of the cables - they were horribly expensive at the time, it was possible that they claimed not to have enough cabling with them…) but for some reason, they installed only a few of the connections; just what I needed at the time. It was okay back then, but as I have bought more A/V Equipment, I have noticed the fact that I don't have enough cables run!

Therefore, I decided to go out and get all the cables to connect all the terminals on the back of the set and run them while I had the set off the wall anyway. Whatever the proffered excuse for not running all the cables at the time of the install, I have the feeling that part of the reason they weren't run was that it was a pain to do! There are more than a dozen different connections on the back of the TV, component, composite, HDMI, Network Cables, etc.

I had thought the problem was going to be getting all the cables through the small hole in the junction box, but that was the easy part; getting them back out of the wall at the bottom of the drop was the hard part. Well…

The first few went relatively easily, you drop them and they slither down between the drywall - gravity does most of the work. The problem is the conduits that run horizontally thought the wall between where the cables enter and where they emerge. When the first few cables go through, they go through fairly easily. The later cables have less clear space to go through. By the last couple, I had to bounce the cable until it hit a clear spot. I found that cursing at the cables as I jiggered them helped. Well, it helped me!

I did have the help of a friend from next-door who came over to help me lift the TV off the wall and back onto its mounting bracket. I could not have accomplished it alone! I told her yesterday that I was glad that I installed more cables than I needed - all the cables I could. When telling her what I needed, I had missed one of my video recorders. Installing more than I needed was definitely the right way to go!

Wherever you are, I hope you had a productive weekend!

Don Bergquist - October 19, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Voted

Be careful what you wish for. It's trite and obvious advice. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to it.

I've always wished that there were a viable third party. I guess that, while technically, the TEA Party is a part of the Republican Party, it does sort-of qualify as a third party. This weekend for the first time, I noticed that a few of the candidates on the news had a "(T)" behind their name instead of a "(D)" or an "(R)." So at least the media are considering them a third party - in places.

But are they really a third party? In most the places that they are running, they ran in the Republican primaries. In most places, they are running as Republicans. If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, and it runs in the duck primaries, it'd probably not a goose.

By "viable third party," I really meant one that wasn't completely composed of the extreme lunatic fringe of one of the two existing parties. What I would really love to see is a party that combines the best of both: Fiscal conservatism with Social liberalism; I want a party that realizes that they cannot hope to legislate morality so they can focus on what the government should be doing. A government is supposed to regulate the economy so that the populace can thrive financially. A government is supposed to keep the peace so that the individuals can practice the rights afforded them by the community.

Colorado is one of those "purple" states you hear so much about these days. By which is meant that the race is close. We have an interesting mix of people in Colorado. The voting pool is about as evenly split as can be. The largest voting bloc (at about 35%) is Republican; the third largest at approximately 32% is Democratic. The second largest voting bloc (if you can call a non-homogenous, unrelated group of people a "bloc") is the non-affiliated voters.

It is impossible to turn on the television these days without seeing an assault on the senses by the various parties trying to vilify their competition. The problem is that unless you actually do your own research, these ads make it appear that the opponent is Satan's own spawn. Person X supports a tax raise, Person Y kills jobs, Person X is against personal choice, Person Y wants to eliminate Medicare, Person X kicks puppies, and Person Y pushes pins into babies.

The only thing I can say is watch these things with a skeptical eye. Watch them and ask yourself who is paying for the ad. Unfortunately, since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are "people" and have the right to give unfettered money secretly to political campaigns, it became much easier for the 800-pound gorilla to toss its weight around and disrupt the political process. It really gives new meaning to "Government for the people, by the people…"

I vote my mail-in ballot. This morning, on my way to run my other errands, I went past the Taj Mahal (the ironic nickname for the Jefferson County Administrative Center) to drop my mail-in ballot into the drive-by voting poll box. I've done my civic duty - I voted.

Wherever you are today, I hope you're exercising your rights and responsibilities and making your own decision about where you want the country to go. Remember: If you can't be bothered to vote, you really have no room to complain about the results of the election!

Don Bergquist - October 17, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Yom Kippur Begins At Sundown

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Is Service!?

This does not bode well!

I seem to have the worst luck whenever I change service providers. There must be something that keeps me changing them. Oh! Yes, that’s right! Cost and service.

This time the complaint is with DirecTV. After years of watching my cable bill grow by nickel and dime, I received a cable bill this month that had gone up by nearly 100%! Paying more than $100/month to watch nothing but commercial TV is not something I am willing to do! To add insult to injury, when I called Comcast to ask why the bill this month was so high, I was informed that there had been a billing error for the past year, they had never put in the billing increase that should have gone into affect! I asked if there was a way they could switch me to a different plan to keep me as a client.

They are running ads all over the schedule that show prices as low as $29/month. I was told that the special promotions were for new customers only. I was told that I could change my service package, return my DVR and drop the channel group that includes three of the five channels I watch with any regularity to save myself about $20/month. I think not!

So, I have decided to install DirecTV. The programming package similar to what I currently have; actually, it has far more channels but as I really only watch a few channels, hundreds of other channels I will never watch do not really impress me. (I wonder if that Pink Floyd song should be updated: “I’ve got 210 channels of shit on the TV to choose from.” Just think, back when the song One Of My Turns was new 13 channels of television was a lot. But I digress...

So, I decided to switch. My installation was scheduled for Sunday morning 08:00 – 12:00. So imagine how shocked I was to be called at 07:50 to be told that the install was not going to happen. Seems they had run out of equipment to install and decided not to tell me until Sunday morning. Now, I can understand that they might have been out of equipment, but my problem with the situation is that they had to have known this before Sunday morning!

When I called I was told that they had expected a shipment on Friday which had not come in. The installer could not seem to understand why I was upset that I was just learning about the change in plan ten minutes before they were supposed to arrive. I had cancelled plans to be available and they didn’t seem to care! To quote Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: “If that’s their sales pitch, what must it be like in the Complaints department?”

Oh well, the install is rescheduled for next weekend… We’ll see. The good thing is that once this is done, I will have service at less than half the price I am currently paying Comcast, I will have the ability to watch shows that I have recorded from any television set, and I will have a fixed price for the next two years. After that… well, we’ll just have to jump off that bridge when we get to it.

Wherever you are today, I hope your weekend has been lovely, and (on the whole) annoyance-free.

Don Bergquist – October 11, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Columbus Day

Monday, October 04, 2010

Autumn In Colorado

This is really my favorite time of the year. Sure, the spring bulbs peeking out from under the crusty Spring snow is lovely, and yes, the frosted fields of winter are great too, but the fall has the color and still affords lovely conditions for getting our and doing what needs to be done!

And do the necessary certainly was on tap yesterday. I wanted to get out to do a few things Sunday that needed doing, local running around on errands, things that needed to be done... the kind of thing that must be done each weekend. I decided that after two lovely days in the mountains, it really would be better for me to get some errands done.

But even with a day to stay down in Bear Valley and do the drudgery that is necessary, it was a lovely weekend. Now it is back to work!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your weekend was a lovely one!

Don Bergquist - October 04, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Another Lovely Day!

Were it my goal to be a travel writer I would have to invest in maps better than the ones I have. I cannot tell you where the picture below was taken other than to say that it is outside of Leadville. The railroad tracks here are running approximately southwest, and that off in that general direction are Aspen and Crested Butte.

But I have no way of telling you what the mountains we are looking at here are. I think that they are in the San Isabel National Forrest.

All I can say with any certainty is that it was another lovely day in the Colorado Rockies! Now if you will excuse me, it's time to get out there and enjoy what promises to be another lovely weekend day!

Wherever you are today, I hope your weekend is as lovely as can be!

Don Bergquist - October 03, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Daylight Saving Time Begins (Australia)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Only A Hint...

Today, you get just a hint of the kind of weekend I am having.

I'm loving my new job, but they do not allow us to carryover vacation from year-to-year, so I have to take 6.5 days of vacation before the end of the year. So I decided to take Friday off and get an early start on the weekend.

The news has been saying that we are in the peak of fall here in Central Colorado. So yesterday I took a few passes off the list of roads I had never driven in Colorado. The hint? You could not ask for prettier skies or more lovely conditions!

Now if you don't mind, I am going to post this up and get out and enjoy what is supposed to be another lovely morning! (There is a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon.)

Wherever you are today, I hope that your weekend is full of blue skies!

Don Bergquist - October 02, 2010 - Minturn, Colorado, USA

Phileas Fogg Begins His Journey "Around the World in Eighty Days."