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License to (Not) Call

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:58 PM

About eight weeks ago, I ordered some new license plates. Specifically Missouri Conservation plates — they have a nice picture of the state bird on them and the money goes to support Missouri's wonderful system of parks operated by the Conservation Department.

To get the plates, you must fill out a form, send it to the right people in Jeff City, wait, receive a form back, and then send that form back to Jeff City (this time to the Department of Revenue). This was much more of a project than I originally anticipated — I doubt I would have even bothered had know precisely how long it would all take to get organized.

At any rate, I sent the second batch of stuff in about eight weeks ago. The idea is that you hear from your local licenses bureau when the plates come in. So I waited. I figured it might take a couple of weeks. Or maybe a month. Or maybe six weeks. Finally, at the eight week point, I decided to call. I get ahold of a the bureau and the staffer goes and looks in the plates that they've received. Sure enough, the plate was there. It seems they forgot to tell me the plate came in. Just a minor detail, eh?

Tomorrow, I shall get my plates.

TQ: Relaxing

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:07 PM

Below is this week's Thursday Question from Mark.

1.After a rough day at the office what is the first thing you do to help unwind?
I'm not consistent, but often times, I'll sit down and check my e-mail. That's a nice break before I start on whatever I need to accomplish at home.

2.If your day has been particularly rough, do you change something about your normal schedule to help ease the stress?
Maybe I will do less when I get home. :)

3.Do you find that working out helps you to deal with stress better?
No, not really.

4. What do you consider a nice stress free thing to do? Like on a day off or maybe right before going to bed.
Reading a good book. As time permits, I always have some book I'm in the middle of to read before bed (usually fairly fluffy fiction). For a break during the day (or on a “stress free” kind of day), I'll have something else I'd like to read, but requires me to be sharper than something I'd read before bed, that I'll read. The latter may be fiction or non-fiction — I switch back and forth.

Photography is another stress free kind of activity on a day off.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

Twain on Cats

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:42 AM

I heard this last night and thought it worth posting:

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

I certainly was right about the first part. My cat woke me up several times last night as he tried to take more and more of the bed. But, he isn't spoiled or anything like that. ;)

What a Deal!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:02 AM

American is having a warehouse sale at the moment. I went there today to see if there was anything terribly useful I might need that was on sale (last time they had this sale, I ended up with two Mac Mini's, as some may recall).

Well, I did not find much, but I did leave carrying $0.02 worth of merchandise. No, you didn't read wrong; I said two cents. For whatever reason, American had little kits from Nikon that consisted of a strap to attach to a camera (to go around one's neck), two lithium batteries and a roll of 35mm film. I don't recall American ever carrying a 35mm SLR, but that's what these little kits were intended to go with. At any rate, the strap seemed useful enough, in case my Sony one would ever wear out, and perhaps the batteries could come in handy too, so the Nikon kits had a buyer for one penny a piece.

I probably should have bought a protection plan to cover the purchase… ;)

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

By Tim Butler | Posted at 10:19 PM

Maybe it struck me because I just spent several hours reading a logic text. Maybe it is just the fact that I tend to love locating logical fallacies — especially post hoc fallacies. At any rate, the American Family Association gave me another reason to shake my head. According to an e-mail from them that was forwarded to me:

The boycott of Ford Motor Company continues to be effective. Sales in August dropped 11.6%. This follows drops of 5% in March,
7% in April, 2% in May, 6.8% in June and 4.1% in July.

Let's consider this in the form of a logical argument. The AFA has told people to boycott Ford because of its support of homosexuality and Ford's sales are dropping, therefore the boycott is effective. This just screams of the type of propaganda that the AFA normally uses. The letter continues by noting how “stubborn” Ford is for continuing to support “homosexual groups:”

“Rather than save money by cutting financial support to homosexual groups, Ford plans to cut production by 21%, trim the number of
dealers, reportedly is seeking a merger or alliance with another auto
maker, studying taking the company private, and considering selling
their Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover units.”

Now, if Ford had been doing great when the boycott began, I'd concede maybe the boycott is working. I might even be happy the boycott is working — I am, after all, on the same side as the AFA in rejecting “homosexual rights” such as homosexual marriage. But, the point must be made that all of the American car companies are facing major struggles at the moment, and only Ford is being boycotted. Moreover, Ford's woes go back several years before the AFA decided to boycott the company. All of the strategies the AFA mentions Ford considering are sensible given Ford's situation. Its buying spree of the mid-to-late 90s was ill-advised, lower purchasing necessitates lower production and less dealers, etc. GM is working through a similar set of considerations, and Chrysler already followed through with the idea of merging with another car maker (I guess the AFA missed the “Ask Dr. Z” commercials that remind everyone that Chrysler is a division of DaimlerChrysler).

Now, the AFA may be illogical and prone to hyperbole, but they aren't stupid. They admit this, but only farther down in the e-mail, after some (many?) may have gone off to celebrate the power of their boycotting the Blue Oval. That admission reads:

“While Ford, General Motors and Chrysler had similar financial problems when the AFA boycott began, most analysts see General Motors and Chrysler conditions improving. While not responsible for all of Ford's financial problems, the boycott is not doubt having a major effect. Ford blames it on the cost of gasoline. But General Motors and Chrysler face the same problem of $3 a gallon gas, yet their situation is improving.”

This too draws on logical fallacies. While constant talk of GM teetering on bankruptcy protection does not strike me as much of an improvement, there have been signs maybe — maybe — GM and the Chrysler Group are fighting back (though Chrysler lost market share in the most recent quarter, as I recall, whereas a few quarters ago, it was gaining market share). But, let's say both GM and Chrysler are doing better. The AFA is assuming a domestic car market where all else is equal (_ceteris paribus_). Could GM and Chrysler's “improving fortunes” maybe, possibly, sorta kinda have something to do with the little bitty fact that those two companies have been busy with major product line changes? Look at the Chrysler Group! Dodge has an almost totally redesigned lineup, Jeep is over doubling its variety of models, and the namesake marquee is midway through a similar makeover. On the other hand, Ford's makeover of products has been going on for a little longer, and their styling, features and marketing just seem far less impressive. Just why would I buy a generic looking Ford Five Hundred over a Honda Accord? Does anyone really think the 2006 Ford Freestar looks that much different from a 1999 Ford Windstar?

Why does this bother me so much? Because I think the AFA's actions generally do more to make Christianity look bad than good. “Christians really must hate homosexuals if they are willing to go so far as to decide what $20,000+ vehicle they will buy just because Ford gives to some homosexual charities,” is the type of thing I see people reading into actions like this. Precisely what does that really accomplish? Does it preach the love of Christ to anyone? Does anyone receive the Gospel because I didn't buy a Ford? Does anyone become “straight” because I didn't buy a Ford? Does it even save a life? When the AFA not only does these actions, but then justifies them with questionable analysis of statistics, I just find myself irritated.

Let's find something better to do then make the Church look like its main purpose is to condemn the world, eh? Let's “believe in the future salvation of all people” and then see what useful thing we can do toward this end.

What I Need to Do to My Bug

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:39 AM

With this guy's additions to his Volkswagen, I could get back and forth to where I need to go a lot faster. What do you think? Should I go ahead and add one to my Beetle? ;)

Oh, and just imagine how well this would work as a solution for quieting those annoying drivers that always have that THUD-THUD-THUD of an overactive bass disturbing everyone sitting around them in traffic. A quick flip of a switch and I'd have their attention and their car might have a nice, blackish discoloration on it too.

Monday Madness on Tuesday: Money and Other Things

By Tim Butler | Posted at 7:21 AM

1. Would you shave your head for any amount of money? If yes, how much?
I'm not sure. I'd really dislike shaving my head, although it wouldn't be really what I'd call suffering. A few thousand, maybe?

2. What “whacky” thing might you do for a large sum of money?
Run around while holding scissors? I don't know. The person offering the large sum of money has to do the hard work of thinking of the ridiculous thing I am suppose to do.

3. What do you think is a “large sum of money?”
Depends on the context. If someone comes up to me and says they earned a “large sum of money” this year at their job, I would expect the number to have six digits. If someone said it was “my lucky day” and they were going to give me a “large sum of money” I would expect that would be a five digit number. If buying a computer costs a “large sum of money,” I would be thinking above $2,000, but likely under $3,500. If dinner was going to cost me a “large sum of money,” I'd expect the price to be between $18-$25/person.

4. Do you watch “reality” tv shows?
No.

5. If so, which do you watch and in what order do you prefer them? If not, are there any you may consider watching?
If I was going to watch one, I might watch one of the talent-focused ones or the “Amazing Race,” which I always hear very good things about.

6. Which reality show have you thought about participating in? Why?
None. If I had a talent worth entering, I might consider one of the talent related shows. I would not consider doing “Survivor,” “Fear Factor” or anything like it.

7. Share one thing you would like to do in life but have not yet done….. think about why you haven't done it and share if you wish.
Sheesh, there are a lot of things. I'd like to learn to play an instrument. I have not done it because it simply requires such a large time commitment.

Late Night Delivery?

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:08 AM

I ordered some books through BN.com the other day, and they were scheduled (according to UPS) to arrive today yesterday. As of midnight, they are still being shown as “out for delivery.” Think I should expect a really late night delivery? :lol:

Sorry for the Delay

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:24 PM

I think the heat is getting to me. After meeting with a client today early in the day, I had very little spunk to do the other things I wanted to do. I ended up going for a short ride and eating an ice cream cone. Talk about hectic! ;)

According to my car's thermometer, it reached over 100 degrees today — I'm not sure what the official temperature count was. I'll just say it was hot, and by all indications, there is plenty more of that coming up over the next few days.

Your Legislators at Work

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:11 AM

Well, it seems that our government passed a bill offering tax credits for purchasing diesel engine-powered vehicles, since they are much more fuel efficient. Nevertheless, based on cleanliness requirements, no 2006 vehicles qualify for the credit. (Hybrids do, despite all the toxic stuff that goes into their batteries that will eventually have to be disposed of.)

Yes, that makes a lot of sense to me.

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