Illinois again tries to dance around the 2nd amendment

February 22, 2009 at 9:55 pm (Political Ponderings)

Illinois already has the FOID card, which requires citizens to register with the state to own a firearm – which many, many critics claim is likely little more than a way to track down the owners once they finally figure out how to outlaw them all together.
Now, there’s a big making the rounds to amend this with the following:

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Provides that any person who owns a firearm in this State shall maintain a policy of liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Provides that a person shall be deemed the owner of a firearm after the firearm is lost or stolen until such loss or theft is reported to the police department or sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the owner resides. Provides that the Department of State Police shall revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued under this Act if the Department finds that the person to whom such card was issued possesses or acquires a firearm and does not submit evidence to the Department of State Police that he or she has been issued in his or her name a liability insurance policy in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Effective January 1, 2010.

Ephasis mine, link to the summary here.

So in a nutshell, since they haven’t figured out how to legally ban handguns all together, they’re trying to make it so expensive and legally risky to own one that many people who would otherwise own one will be scared away by the cost and/or legal risk, and they also want it to be retroactive so that even people who have owned firearms for years will be required to fall under these new legal guidelines.

Is it likely to pass? Probably not, but still, I find it amazing how blatantly they try to dance around the Bill of Rights.

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Dude, I’m (maybe, possibly) getting a Dell

February 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m getting a fairly decent return on my taxes this year (which, really, means I should fill out my W4 withholding forms a little differently so that I get to keep more of it over the course of the year instead of getting a big refund, but that’s a different topic), and I’m thinking of putting a little bit of it into a Dell netbook.

For those not familiar, netbooks have become a pretty popular trend over the last year or two, and are basically tiny laptop/notebook computers.

Because of the small size, they would suck to use as your only computer, but for something that’s highly portable, for limited use, they seem pretty cool.
I’m thinking having one would be handy for two reasons:

1) I sometimes like the idea of watching TV while working on the computer, and the TV and my computer are in completely separate parts of the house, and
2) once the weather starts warming up, I plan to start going out walking with LabGirl several nights a week on a walking path that’s near her house, and packing it along would allow me to take care of my nightly email-and-stock-market-checking fix without having to go home or take over LabGirl’s computer to do it.

And, the lower-end model can be had for $249, which seems pretty darned reasonable.
It’s a bit of a lightweight, having a 1.6ghz processor but only 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, but again as this would be a secondary computer, not that big of a deal.
Also, rather than Windows, the $249 version comes with Ubuntu for the operating system – which I’ve read a few complaints about from reviews on Dell’s web site from people not familiar with the system, but since my primary PC already uses a modified version of Ubuntu called Linux Mint, again that’s just fine with me.

Here’s a fairly short review of this little ‘net companion:

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Swap-a-DVD

February 16, 2009 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Just signed up and already have trades going –

You know there are a lot of movies that I think are great when I see them and that I think I’d like enough to own a copy, but then after watching them once or twice they just sort of sit around.
So why not trade them for something else?

Swap-a-DVD is an online DVD trading club where you can list the DVDs you wouldn’t mind having taken off of your hands, and then create a Wish List of DVDs that you’d be interested in getting in return.

After you list 10 DVDs that you’d be willing to trade you are automatically given credit for 1 DVD you can get from someone else. Afterwards, for every DVD you send out, you get credit to get another in return.

Looks to be a pretty swank system, and there are a ton of DVDs available (there are a number of other similar sites out there but this one seems to be by far the most heavily used one).

Within minutes of getting set up, I got a request to send a DVD out (a copy of Masters of Science Fiction that I won in a drawing a while back and wasn’t that great anyway), and already got an offer to receive a copy of Clerks (or one of about four other items from my Wish List) in return.

I’ll be sure to update on how well everything goes – so far the only glitch I’ve run into is that I currently can’t read the messages in my “personal messages” folder, but that’s more than likely either a pop-up blocker thing or a Linux thing, and I’ve emailed them to see what we can figure out on it.

Anyhoo, if you’ve got some DVDs collecting dust, you might want to look into it.

(Side note: They also have a similar site for books: PaperBackSwap.com - Our online book club offers free books when you swap, trade, or exchange your used books with other book club members for free.)

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Had a Good V-Day

February 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Started the day by getting to the florist at 10:00 to pick up the bouquet I reserved, then made my way to the hospital where LabGirl works, and after getting a few directions from the folks at the information desk who didn’t seem all that sure themselves, eventually made my way down into the into the lower hidden bowels of the hospital where visitors normally don’t go, and without too much trouble found the lab where she works.
To find that she had left for lunch.
But, her co-workers let me wait it out in one of the lab’s offices, and when she got back from lunch they told her there was a doctor waiting to talk to her in the office – where she walked in and found me and a bunch of flowers instead. 🙂

I wasn’t able to stay long, as she did have work she needed to get done, but she seemed very happy for the surprise regardless.

Afterwards I went over to my parents’ house for a while as they wanted to see me as well, and there I had lunch finished off with some chocolate cake, and then hung out with my nephew for a while, first taking him to a comic & game shop to look around and then spending some time in an arcade (where I got high score on Donkey Kong! Yah! And no, it probably had nothing to do with the fact that nobody else ever plays the game, even though I did get high score only making it to level 4 😛 ).

Then in the evening LabGirl came over to my place, where I made strawberry balsamic chicken with berry flavored sparkling water to go with it:

Afterwards I made a chocolate fondue which we dipped strawberries and other fruit into while sitting in front of the fireplace and drinking champagne.

Being our first V-Day together, I also got her a fairly fancy-shmancy heart-shaped box of chocolates, which was covered in padded velvet and had a sort of braided gold trim around the edge.

I did have to apologize to her a little earlier in the week and forewarned her that she probably wouldn’t be getting any gifts as the only ones I could think of that would be worthwhile (rather than just obligatory) I would have to order and wouldn’t be able to get there on time.
But, considering how happy she looked as we snuggled and ate chocolate covered strawberries in front of the fire, I don’t think she minded much.

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Actually made a profit in the market today

February 11, 2009 at 5:41 pm (Money & Investing)

Go me! $40 for a few mouse clicks!

Now to just see if I can repeat the performance in the future 😛

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Yet Another T-Shirt I Want

February 7, 2009 at 1:26 pm (Political Ponderings)

There are so many I want, but yet I already have so many that I have two dresser drawers filled with just t-shirts. I wonder if there’s a 12-step program for that.

Anyway, this one is from Glenn Beck’s web site – a ring-winger commentator who I know very little about but from the little I’ve read and heard of him he seems pretty entertaining (and who’s radio podcast I may start checking out once O’Reilly’s radio show goes off the air in a few weeks):

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Obama takes on CEO of GE as economic advisor

February 7, 2009 at 1:05 pm (Political Ponderings)

Obama said the members of the board are private citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence and integrity.

(full story)

Because, you know, how GE has been losing money for ages while still (until very recently) doing business with countries like Iran is the perfect example of economic achievement and integrity.

So I wonder just how far in bed with the Obama administration GE will end up being? Could this be one of the reasons that CNBC (owned by GE) has been the official Obama Cheerleader Network for the last couple of years? I wonder how many of the planned government funds for “green energy technologies” are going to go straight to GE projects?
Does nobody else see this as a huge conflict of interest?

Again, I must take a moment to bitch about Obama’s “No special interests in Washington” promises from the campaign.

*sigh*

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Fanboys finally opens at a theater not near you

February 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm (Movies & TV)

This movie has been talked about around the net for probably a couple of year now and the release date kept getting pushed back – but yesterday it finally came out.
At a total of 44 screens across the entire country, mainly in the huge cities like NY, LA, and Chicago.
And like most “limited release” films, not here.
I’m really not that big of a Star Wars fan, but I thought it still looked like it could be pretty entertaining – oh well, yet another one I’m going to have to rent instead of going to in the theater.

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LabGirl and I have our first “We Need To” Talk session

February 5, 2009 at 8:47 am (Dating and Girls)

But hey, it didn’t happen until nearly 9 months after we started dating, and it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Apparently she’s got issue with my apparent coming off as a huge cheap-ass all the time.
Basically, the last few years, especially since I no longer make anywhere near the same money I did when I was in the IT industry, I’ve been noticing how expensive a whole lot of stuff seems to be. And apparently commenting on it. A lot. And it includes stuff that she’s either bought or expressed interest in buying.

Now the thing is – I’m not even gonna lie, I think a lot of stuff out there is seriously overpriced, and in many cases costs more than a competitor’s product because it has “more shiny.” Being a guy, I couldn’t give a ratt’s ass about the “Ohh-Ahh factor” in most consumer products – I just want the thing to do what it’s supposed to and I don’t really care how pretty it is or if it has a couple of extra bells or whistles.
Apparently women like shiny, and are more than willing to pay a premium for it.

Anyway, it seems the big issue is that because I keep saying stuff like “Holy crap, $4 for a cup of coffee??” and “$900 for a washer and drier set is supposed to be a good deal?” and “What makes a ‘spicy’ chicken wrap cost $1.00 more than a ‘buffalo’ chicken wrap?”, while she’s perfectly fine not wondering and frankly not caring why some things cost so much, that she had started taking the comments as some sort of personal attack.

I did have to explain to her than money is frequently on my mind, because I don’t have enough of it. There’s a reason I drive a 10 year old car, live in an apartment, and shop at places she doesn’t like to step foot into like WalMart and thrift stores.
And I honestly do wonder what makes a spicy wrap cost more than a buffalo one. And I also explained the reason I commented on the washer-drier ad was because a while back I actually sold appliances at a Best Buy for a time, and am pretty sure I remember the things costing about $2-300 a pop at the time. (And yes, when she mentioned she paid $750 each for hers, I bit my tongue rather than telling her I thought she got robbed).

I also had to explain that the fact that she makes nearly $20,000 a year more than I do is likely another reason for our differences in perception when it comes to spending. She frankly doesn’t have as much reason to worry about it as I do.

The subject of living together came up (it something we both see as likely happening sooner or later and it’s been tossed out there a couple of times… I’m figuring if things are still going well after my next lease extension we could be looking at something like October-ish) and how she was concerned that money was going to be an issue between us. And I had to tell her that I’ll most likely always be thift-minded – I grew up that way (my parents didn’t have a ton of money either) and have been that way myself pretty much out of necessity for quite a while, and I’ll more than likely make suggestions here and there about how we could save some cash. But I’ve never done more than just suggestions – I’m not out there telling her she’d be completely stupid to buy such-and-such, which, she admitted, was how she was taking my comments (*sigh*). And that yes, the fact that she makes so much more than I do may become an issue somewhere down the line (for example, if we decide to do something to fix the house, is it fair to split the expense 50/50 when it would be a much higher percentage of income for me than for her?) but that it would be something we didn’t need to worry about unless the whole shacking-up thing comes closer to actually happening.

I guess I should be happy that after dating this long that this is the only thing she can come up with that she has a problem with, and it’s really not even that big of a deal – mostly just her being defensive about something she has no reason to be defensive about. But I guess I’ll try to cool it with the smart-ass comments about how expensive shit is if it makes her happier.

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Another Show Bites The Dust

February 2, 2009 at 6:47 pm (Movies & TV)

Just watched the episode of Crusoe that aired over the weekend, and realized it was the last one. Yet another show strengthens my theory of “If Steve likes it, it’ll probably be cancelled in less than two seasons.” (I think the only way Heroes and Lost survived was that I didn’t actually start watching either of them until far into season 2).

Crusoe wasn’t great, but at least it was something different, and we can use more different on TV. I’ll kinda miss it.

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