Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another Louisiana Soldier Dies

A Kenner, LA, soldier was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad.
Peter J. Hahn, 31, became the 22nd National Guard soldier from Louisiana to die in Iraq, the 21st in combat. A total of 42 U.S. soldiers and Marines from Louisiana have been killed....

Hahn joined the National Guard in 1996 after serving three years in the Army and was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant first class.

Hahn was assigned to the Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team.

He was one of the 3,000 Louisiana Guardsmen of the 256th Infantry Brigade who have been patrolling a section of suburban Baghdad since November.

Until recently, most of the deaths the unit suffered were from roadside bombs, but the most recent deaths, including Hahn's, were from hostile fire.

More National Guardsman from Louisiana have been killed than from any other state. The National Guard in New York and Arkansas have lost 16 soldiers each, and Mississippi has lost 14.
Our prayers go out to Seargeant Hahn's family.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Now, What Was That You Said about "Newsweek"?

The BBC News reports today that

An inmate at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp accused US guards of flushing a Koran down the toilet back in 2002, declassified FBI documents reveal. (italics mine)

Of course, our administration declared this claim by Newsweek to be lies, damned lies that gave a bad and false impression about our godly nation.

Give us all a break.

Click the links and read the truth.

Let's hope somebody at Newsweek has the balls to throw this back in Bush's face.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Old Dirty Bastard

Here's the back story: Loyola University here has decided to award the entire Landrieu family honorary doctorate degrees for their lifetime of service to our community and state.

And they're very nice people who have dedicated their lives to “giving back.”


Unfortunately, as Catholics, they do not condemn all abortion along the church's party line. So our illustrious archbishop, Alfred Hughes (name sound familiar? he came to us from Boston), has stamped his foot and declared he won't attend the party.

The prick.

Leave it to local columnist James Gill to come up with some choice comments about the little scamp's bad manners. This is a must read.

In the meantime, Hughes has not apparently seen fit to comment on the news coming out of Ponchatoula.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Just So You Don't Worry

I received a phone call yesterday around noon from those crazy computer guys across the river letting me know the work of migrating my data files had been done.

I was able to get to the store by five that afternoon. To show I had no hard feelings (sic), I picked out a new Logitech cordless keyboard/mouse combination to buy (on sale, $89.99 plus tax) before proceeding to the service counter.

The guys there were great. After just a few minutes of passive-aggressive horseplay (dropping the old hard drive onto the countertop, stopping to joke with coworkers while "the receipt printed," not thinking to bag the hardware until I asked them to do it), I was cheerily on my way back across the mighty Crescent City Connection.

Home by six, I had the files transferred and the new keyboard/mouse up and running by eight. Not bad.

But I still have the uncomfortable suspicion I would be wise not to go back to that store.

Hell, that's fine by me.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Where Have I Been?

Well, certainly not OPP, nothing as politically stimulating as that. No, if anyone were to ask me (which they haven't), I would reply:

"Just living the life, son, living the life."

Since I last posted, I have suffered the sad demise of my friend and companion, PC. Yes, the old warhorse finally kicked the bucket. But life goes on, and I have acquired a new and younger, sleeker little babe with a rack you would not believe.

Ah, the delights of male menopause.

What has riled me today to take keyboard back in hand is this posting from
Salon.com about that northern light, Rick Santorum. It seems the National Weather Service is doing too good a job and is outperforming various private-sector weather services that they have had to turn to the Honorable (sic) Senator from Pennsylvania for help in degrading that Federal entity. What it all boils down to is that the private business guys are "just looking for a level playing field." And what that means is summed up by Eric Boehlert, the poster:

As the Toledo Blade's editorial page puts it today, "If the Postal Service can compete with the likes of Federal Express, the National Weather Service should be allowed to compete with commercial weather forecasters. In any event, the taxpayers need to get the maximum bang for their bucks. This attempt to limit the National Weather Service is all flash and no lightning. "

All this amounts to is more of that old tired canard that government ought to be run like a business. Well, let me make a confession here. I know Government. I am intimate with a Civil Servant. In fact, this CS manages one of the most highly productive and efficient governmental offices in the state. The employees working there know the ins and outs of the services they offer and they provide those services to the public with courtesy, respect, and competence. They also deal with businesses every day and each of them can say (as they frequently do), “Business ought to be run like government.” It all boils down to providing a service (a product) to a customer in a manner that is satisfying to all concerned.

And if anyone in that operation stumbles, my friend will know about it within two hours or so. How? By a personal phone call or an email from a Cabinet Secretary, a State Representative, or someone working in the Office of the Governor.

All because that one, lone, little basically disenfranchised citizen thought enough of herself to complain higher up the food chain. You ever try that with a business?

I did.

Remember my mentioning that my old computer had finally kicked it? As you all know, there is a lot of data on those old hard drives, and it is helpful, if not imperative, to migrate them to one's new system. Since I don't have the materials to do this (and since my old PC would no longer even boot!), I decided to bring my C drive and a 30G external drive to a little outfit that specializes in computer servicing.

I'm not going to embarrass them by mentioning their name. I will only say that two of the words that appear in their DBA are “geek” and “squad.”

On Monday, May 9th, I made my visit, explained what I needed, and paid the price they asked of me up front. Before leaving, I inquired as to the length of time this might take. The service-person told me they might finish it that day or the next. He assured me they would call.

By the middle of the next day, I had received no word, so I decided to contact them. I picked up the phone and dialed their local number. I waited.

And waited some more.

No answer.

I decided to call their 800-number and reached a lovely voice who was very helpful and pulled up my history on her computer. I explained I was only inquiring as to the status of my service. She apologized and said the online record indicated the work should be performed that day, although no one had seemed to have begun the work as of that time. She assured me they would call when it was done.

No problem.

By the end of the day the following day, I decided to check again.

Made a local call.

No answer.

I figured I would make a stop in the store where this little outfit was located on my way home. Again I won't embarrass the business by naming them, except to mention their DBA implies they offer “Outstanding Sales.”

The service-person who spoke to me this time went back and checked on my order then returned to say they hadn't gotten to it yet, that there was a normal one- to five-day turnaround on their service.

Uh-oh, I thought. They need to get their stories straight.

He assured me they would call when the work was done.

On Friday afternoon, I made another call to this establishment. This time someone answered the phone. I said I was inquiring about the status of my service. He politely said he would check if I agreed to hold.

I agreed to hold.

He went away.

When he returned, he told me no one had begun work on my data migration, but that there was a one- to five-day turnaround on their service.

I mentioned this was the fifth day.

Well, you can't expect us to drop everything to do this.”

I realized I was going to turn ugly, so I hung up the phone. Not hard. Softly.

My mind began to recollect all the calls my friend had received from a Cabinet Secretary, a State Representative, or someone working in the Office of the Governor whenever someone took offense from any of those agency employees. I decided to speak to the manager of the store that housed this service department.

ThankyouforcallingBlahBlahthisisdrnspeakinghowmayIhelpyou?”

Huh? What?”

ThankyouforcallingBlahBlahthisisdrnspeakinghowmayIhelpyou?”

Could you spell your name for me, please?”

It's D-A-R-R-E-N.”

Darren. Thank you. Darren, I was calling to find out the status of a service I requested on Monday.”

Yes, sir. I'm sure our people are working on it, sir. You realize there is a one- to seven-day turnaround on these things.”

Aw, shit. Aw, Darren, you're letting me down, li'l dude. You guys have really got to get together and iron out your stories.

Darren, on the first day, your guy told me it was a one-to two-day turnaround. Since then, your guys have told me it's a one- to five-day turnaround. Now you're telling me it's a one- to seven-day turnaround. If I call again Monday, will you tell me it's a one- to ten-day turnaround? Then, later, that it's a two-week turnaround?”

Oh. Could you hold please?”

Certainly.”

I have been listening to the recording of Spamalot a lot lately, so I find myself humming “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” until Darren comes back on the line.

Sir, are you there?”

I'm here, Darren.”

Sir, they will start working on your migration tomorrow morning.”

Okay, Darren. Thank you. Are you working Monday?”

Yes, sir.”

Then I may call you if I don't hear anything by then?”

Oh, yes, sir.”

Thank you. I will.”

That night, I went out and ran into my Civil Servant friend. In the course of catching up on what we both have been up to, I mentioned my week's adventures with private business.

CS said, "I could have done that for you. I'm doing that kind of thing a lot nowadays. What with budget cuts and cuts to staffing, we've had to learn to do all sorts of things for ourselves that we used to farm out. And I mostly do it at home so it doesn't interfere with work."

That was sweet to know. You see, my old computer had two hard drives, and the second one has a lot of data on it that I would like to be able to migrate to my new system.

Government ought to be run like a business, eh?

It seems to me that in the D of C, that is what is happening today.

Are we any the better for it?

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

We Should Hide Ourselves in Shame

The AP has just released this story.

Words are inadequate...
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