Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Posted tonight to the UTCSTAFF Yahoo List

I could not resist. After a dozen people wrote in complaining (on principle, not because they were personally affected) about the State of Tennessee imposing a $50/month health insurance surcharge, I wanted to be the first to correct their thinking. Ha! Yeah, I'm just that dumb.

***My humble post***

With all the issues that this campus faces, it's a small change in health insurance that has generated so much outrage on the normally all-too-quiet mailing list...and so it is my distinct honor to cast the sole dissenting vote.

I am in favor of the tobacco use surcharge!

It seems that in seeking to reduce health costs the state had a choice: either raise everyone's rates, or just raise the rates on people who choose to smoke and therefore have poorer health. Then use some of that revenue to fund a long overdue program of assistance to help people quit the very same deadly habit. Makes sense to me!

This is not the holocaust, and the analogies comparing it to such are inappropriate. No one is telling people they can't smoke. You have same the choice to smoke or not that you've had since you became an adult. Most or all of the rhetoric we've heard so far would have us believe that if we allow this surcharge to stand, Big Brother will soon have cameras in every bedroom, take away all our guns, reinstate prohibition, and eventually execute everyone who doesn't meet government standards of theology and geometry. Calm down, folks. Auto, life, and (gasp!) health insurance companies have been charging groups different rates based on risk factors for as long as I can remember and the world hasn't ended yet. If you honestly think that a well-intentioned plan to help employees live longer and healthier lives is in fact an evil plot to whittle away your freedoms, perhaps a University is not the institution where you should spend your time.

I have friends who smoke, and I support their right to do so as long as it doesn't harm someone else. But they ought to quit, and every one of them knows it. Smoking is bad. Discouraging smoking (while allowing the freedom to choose to smoke) is good! What more is there to say?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why I Like Traffic Cameras

The people who get up in arms about traffic cameras are usually (not always, but usually) the ones who were caught by those cameras. They ought to be thankful it was the camera who caught them, since they pay only a small $50 fine and nothing goes on their record. Me, I'm sick of people who zoom along our little roads at high speeds, and I'm scared sick of somebody t-boning into me at an intersection when they deliberately try to push the limits and end up running a red light. (Note: If I had the power I would confiscate the motorcycles from the idiots who do 140 MPH on 153 and pop wheelies in traffic. My friend El Torro says they only kill themselves, but you tell me what will happen when a 500 pound motorcycle comes head-on through my windshield at 140 MPH. Or talk to the lady who was killed by a 19-year-old doing a wheelie across Market Street Bridge.)

One guy was mad because it was his teenage son speeding in his car, and yet he had to pay the ticket. He finds out his son is driving irresponsibly, and he's mad at the city, not at his son!

Traffic cameras prevent accidents and save lives. Traffic cameras generate revenue for the city. Traffic cameras punish the guilty. The problem for the guilty is that the cameras do it so efficiently, so perfectly, without risking the lives of our public servants, that if you break the law you'll pay a penalty for it, every time. Perhaps eventually you'll be persuaded to stop breaking the law. Are you telling me that's a bad thing?

If you don't think people should drive the speed limit or stop at red lights, work to change the laws. Don't get angry at the police officer or traffic camera--does it really matter which one caught you?--who did their duty and wrote a ticket.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What is Wrong Here?

I don't understand why everyone in Chattanooga is sick all the time, especially me. When we lived on the boat, we were happy and healthy. We came back to Chattanooga, and suddenly we're facing headaches, sinus infections, and chronic insomnia.

The late and beloved Forrest Cantrell always called it "the creeping crud," that raspy throat and tight cough that everyone in my household has been living with since November. I can count the days I've felt well--really well, as in "I feel like going mountain biking or hiking!"--since Thanksgiving on one finger. Every few weeks we go get antibiotics and get better for a while, but pretty soon we're back in Marlboro Country.

Maybe we can survive until the seasons finish changing, and summer burns all the germs and allergens into oblivion. Until then, I might as well buy stock in Rite Aid because I'm giving them half my paycheck anyway.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Not to Install a Garage Door Opener

Here is a partial list of all the ways you can maximize the fun of replacing a garage door opener.

First, order the exact same model as you are replacing because you think you can just bolt the motor unit in place and be done in less than five minutes. That won't work, because the design will have changed just enough to make the new unit incompatible. Of course you could have simply replaced the faulty circuit board in the old opener, but that would have cost $80, which is far less than a whole new opener, but too much money for one little board. So yes, definitely stick to the higher ground and buy the whole kit and kaboodle.

Be sure not to read the instructions that say you have to put the rounded bolts on one side the track, and the flat bolts on the other. And please do NOT pay any heed to the warnings about removing that plastic tie wrap on the gear, because what harm could that do...unless perhaps it allowed you to rotate the chain and get the entire system out of whack so that the motor was trying to open a door that was already open. Finally, be absolutely sure that you do NOT check that the chain is on the sprocket before bolting the motor and track back into place. This way you'll get to take the entire shabang back down again to thread and tighten the chain after you just spent 20 minutes getting it bolted in place.

I you are careful to follow all of the steps above in just the right order, you can make what would have been a thirty minute job into an entire day of installing, uninstalling, installing, uninstalling, and finally collapsing in exhaustion.

One final hint: if you have been typing for five minutes on a post as I have, and then by some inexplicable combination of keystrokes manage to highlight everything you've typed and delete it in one stroke, try Control-Z. That much, to my amazement, worked.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Okay, I give up, the Mac is better!

So you make one mistake (buying a PC instead of a Mac) and you end up paying dearly. Took delivery of a new desktop PC today and Microsoft was so thrilled that I had a non-pirated copy of Windows XP that they offered a free download of Media Player 11. Not sure why I agreed to that, but I did (maybe because I thought it might include an actual codec that would one to watch DVDs--imagine that!--using something called "media player"). Suddenly Roxio Update started popping up every two minutes, asking for a CD that Dell didn't send me, and so I started googling and trying various fixes and the box hadn't popped up for a long time so I thought I'd start the LONG install of Adobe CS3. I was on DVD #4 when the Roxio box popped up and evidently killed my installation.

Say what you will, pay what you will, but this would never happen on a Mac.