Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Of course, you can visit my website for more info about me, or feel free to email me anytime.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

High Security

So, I was at Wal Mart yesterday, after having (finally) seen the new Harry Potter movie. Just stopped by to pick up a few things before heading home. You know how they now have self-checkout counters,so that you can totally avoid any contact with a live employee? Well I was going through one of those lines, and as I was paying with my credit card, it became apparent that the little stylus pen used to work the pin-pad was not working.

Now, of course, you can use your finger to punch the buttons on the little screen, and it still works. But this becomes problematic when you have to actually sign for your purchases. I'm not sure why I didn't think of trying to use my fingernail to do this. Though, I can't for the life of me understand why my finger would still be able to push buttons and yet the stylus pen would be completely ineffective.

So there I was, at the checkout counter, abandoned by all who work there, frantically scribbling with the little pen, hoping that I could get it to make some sort of mark.

And then, Hallelujah! A single straight line, about a quarter of an inch long, appeared.

Now, of course, I can't imagine any place that would ever accept that for an "official" signature designating that you agree to pay all of the money their store saw fit to charge you for their goods. But, having run out of obvious options, I used used my finger to hit the "accept" button.

And it worked. It didn't even question it. How's that for credit card security?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Furloughs

Well, the furlough agreement for CSU staff passed, with a statewide average of over 80% in favor. Interestingly, our campus wasn't that much in favor of it. In fact, the unit I'm in, Unit 9, actually voted it down 53% to 47%. But, as in all things, the majority rules, and so come next month we all take a 10% pay cut in return for being forced to not work for 24 days over the coming academic year.

I logged onto my staff account today and noticed that we have already had our salaries effectively frozen since July 1, 2007. Not even a cost of living adjustment, to say nothing of merit par or service pay increases, for two years now. But we haven't been giving enough, apparently.

Anyway, today I signed up for the new furlough Q&A workshop that Human Resources is offering. So tomorrow I'll spend an hour and a half listening to other staff people gripe and bemoan about their personal situations, while someone in an assumed position of authority tells us that we really don't know for sure how this is all going to be implemented.

And life goes on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cockroach

So, I've just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth, and since I didn't have free wi-fi access there I was unable to blog whilst there. But the trip was a smashing success, which is to say I went on lots of rides and ate lots of overpriced food. We had something of an auspicious start to our trip though.

On the way down to Anaheim, we stopped at the McDonalds in Buttonwillow for a brief snack, dare I say lunch, before heading on again. We were rather surprised to find a cockroach calmly exploring the eating area inside. In fact, it was the family with three kids that first noticed him, and the kids kept remarking at rather loud volumes how there was a cockroach running around on the floor. This got the attention of several of the store employees, and for a brief while everyone stopped and watched the little critter scurry to and fro.

The show became boring after awhile, and everyone went back to their own daily routines. The cockroach, sensing that he was losing his audience, promptly made a beeline for our table, and passed underneath my feet.

Now, by this point, Whitney was getting rather traumatized by the whole thing, so she flagged down a passing worker and asked if we could use their little broom to sweep the critter outside. She promptly stepped on the unfortunate bug, and the left him there, with one leg still twitching, next to our table. Well this was too much for Whitney, so she grabbed a napkin and cleaned the cockroach up and threw him away.

I guess cockroaches must be a fairly normal thing in Buttonwillow, since the whole of the McDonalds staff seemed completely uninterested in ridding their establishment of the pest. Mental note: don't stop to eat in Buttonwillow again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Disneyland...One Last Time

Well, seeing as how my Annual Passport to Disneyland expires on July 27, it makes sense that I need to take one last trip, so on Monday we depart for a two day mini-vacation. I'm usually opposed to tackling Disneyland in the summer just because of the large number of crowds that are typically there, but at least we'll be there from Monday through Wednesday, which is the slowest part of the week.

I've gotten lucky on the hotel; we normally stay at the Anaheim Plaza Hotel, which is a nice spacious property right across the street from the park. It is, usually by far, the cheapest hotel within walking distance to the park.

When I originally booked the hotel, the rate listed was $89 a night. Not too bad, especially when you consider that most properties on that block go for over $100 a night. But that rate would get even better...

I guess in these economic times, people in general are less apt to travel, because they have less money to spend. It used to be that if you were trying to book a hotel fairly last minute, say a week or so before you go, it would cost a bit more than if you booked a couple of months or more in advance. Not anymore.

On a lark, I happened to look up the hotel on the web again this week, and I saw that the room rates had dropped to $79 a night. Nice! So, of course, I re-booked and cancelled my original reservation, saving about $23 on two nights when tax is factored in. But wait, there's more...

This morning I checked again - and the rate had dropped to $69 a night! So, naturally, I rebooked. Again. And cancelled my previous reservation. Again. And saved another $23. Again.

I think I shall have to treat myself to a nice dinner in the park with all these savings. Or maybe I'll splurge on churros and double chocolate chip muffins.

I have to wonder, though, how long it will be before hotels start charging in advance and not allowing refunds for canceling, like airlines do now. And like the Travelodge hotels in England do now. I'm sure I can't be the only one who continually checks prices and re-books when they drop. I guess time will tell on that one.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Water and Sewer

So, apparently the City of Sacramento is fairly inept in keeping track of what services it should be billing for for residential properties. Perhaps there's just too many bills and fees associated with living in California, maybe that's the problem.

A couple of weeks ago we got a letter fro the City of Sacramento welcoming us to our new home (that we've lived in for over a year and half now), and informing us that they would be handling our billing for water and sewer from now on.

A couple of days later we received another letter saying, basically, "Oops, it seems we've forgotten to bill you (and everyone in your complex) for the past year and a half, so we're going to bill you for past services as well". Lovely.

Now, I was under the impression that our HOA covered these services, so it was no surpise to me that I never received a bill in the last 20 months. A cursory examination of our HOA's expense reports shows that they pay over $10,000 a year to the City for water and sewer. But, apparently, that's only for the "common" areas of the property, and not individual units. Which mean that there's something in the neighborhood of $26,000 of up-till-now-un-billed services for the units in our small community.

How in the world did the City miss that??

So, in today's mail, we received our bill for the current month and the past 20 months, and no have until the 27th of July to pay the $653.50 balance. And you wonder why California is so screwed up? Great job to the Capital City for setting such a fine example of business practices.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Have a Pint?

Well, 8 days and 391 pictures later, I am back at work following a fabulous vacation to England. Currently I'm catching up on the 260 email messages that accrued while I was away (It would have been more, but I didn't check and delete a bunch of junk while in Wolverhampton).

It occurs to me now, as I read a Facebook comment suggesting that I should have a pint on behalf of various poor souls stuck in Sacramento, that I didn't quite have enough pints of ale whilst I was there, at least not enough for British standards.

While we were at the Black Country Living Museum, just a short 20 minute bus ride from Wolverhampton to Dudley, we discovered, among other things, that the typical coal miner would ingest up to 12 pints of ale - per day! That's a lot of beer.

I think I had a total of 4 pints while I was over there, or an average of one-half pint per day. And that was mostly of Stella Artois, with a little Amstel Light thrown in for good measure. I did better at the wedding however, at least approaching a respectable British standard. I think I had a mimosa (though they don't call them that - it's something like Bucksfizz over there, at least in Welsh country), three glasses of red wine, and two glasses of champagne. Granted, this was over a period of 5-6 hours of time. But still.

Well, I guess it's back to work now, for at least a half day today, and back to playing musicals tonight. Gotta earn money anyway, not only for bills but for our next vacation - a mini two day trip to Disneyland on July 20. It's quiet at work right now, but that will change, as this is the jazz camp week after all, so it's about to get very noisy here...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back in the USA

Well I'm back in the good ol' USA, our trip to the United Kingdom done and in the books. The wedding, our excuse for taking an 8 day holiday, went off without a hitch. Well, that is, except for the hitch that was supposed to happen.

The reception went well, and featured some Welsh square dancing and even some fireworks of the variety which would be illegal here in California. And the food - well it was incredible, especially considering that it was put together in a portable kitchen.

London was a great treat, and a fabulous end to a wonderful vacation. We were able to see Billy Elliot, a play of Peter Pan, the British Museum, and the Tower of London, and I even got to shake hands with Prince William - a small brush with royalty.

Pictures should be posted soon on my website...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Well, here we are spending the 4th of July in England, the land we gained independence from, though no one we've met seems to hold any grudges about that.

It's also the day of the big wedding of Justin and Katherine at St. Peters church in Wolverhampton. We were fortunate to get a private free tour of the church, which dates from the 1400s, from one of the priests of the church. We were simply in the right place at the right time, and he and his dog apparently had nothing better to do. The church is quite spectacular, with dozens of massive stain glass window scenes depicting the life of Jesus and various kings and saints.

The site of the church, incidentally, has been a church site since the 800s when it was occupied by monks who had been given the land by Lady Wolfrun, for whom Wolverhampton is named. There still exists one column from that time which is believed to have originally had a wooden cross atop it. But I digress.

Today's plans call for some light shopping and wedding preparations, and later we bud to Old Hope Farm for the reception, which is the home of the bride's family. I don't think we'll see any fireworks today, but that's okay. It's a welcome trade to have a nice relaxing vacation. Now I have a few hours to kill...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Technology Unlimited

As I sit in the lobby of the Brittannia Hotel in Wolverhampton, England, I can't help but be amazed at how much technology has grown since I was a kid. I'm typing on an iPod touch, specifically the one I found in a seat cushion at the Arden Fair Mall. Imagine! Being able to check email and Facebook and blog from a little device that fits in the palm of your hand. All wireless. All free. Gotta love technology. Well today it's off to explore the city, check out the art museum and city park, and maybe do some shopping. More to come...