Monday, January 28, 2008

Your Cell Number

Your cell number is now for sale via an online directory - at Those with pay-as-you-go plans like TracFone are not even immune. How do they get your number? From public records where you may have left it as a contact number. So far, over 90 million numbers are in this directory. I don't know if there is a way to opt out. I doubt it. If there was, I'm sure there would be exceptions like there is with the "Do Not Call" list.

I don't like it either, but it had to happen sooner or later. It won't be long and that information will be available for free - just like a regular phone book.


Followup from The Consumerist:

"In response to consumer feedback," Inteliius says it will discontinue selling your private cellphone number in its searchable online database. Liz Murray, Communications Manager at Intelius in a press release that, besides trying to explain away their actions, also spent half of its time touting the company's Cell Phone Caller ID program, said, "As a company, we have strived to be at the forefront of innovation...We realize that in this instance we may have been ahead of our time." That's right, it was a notion from some future time where mankind has evolved into a more advanced being that doesn't care about its privacy.

However, they add:

Despite the press release, as of this writing, the company is still advertising the cell phone directory on its site.

That means, they will still sell your number info. They just aren't showing the directory list.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Am Your Brother (remix)

On a recent American Idol, this clown ended the show. I think he's in love with Simon.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Telescope Moon

Telescope Moon
Originally uploaded by HighPlainsDox
I took the opportunity tonight to shoot the moon through our telescope. It wasn't too cold (around 40), and the wind was low. I set up the Tasco 700mm telescope with a 3x Barlow lens in my camera adapter. If you ever tried this before, you know how hard it is to get a good, clear shot this way. The camera was on its tripod, and the telescope naturally on its. It required constant adjustment to track the moon, and a little trial-and-error to get the right exposure.

This is the first attempt through the telescope with the Rebel XT. I think it did ok.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Caption This!

No, this isn't a contest or anything. I just thought it would be interesting to see what kind of captions you all could come up with. :) Don't be shy.

(Click for full-size photo.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bird Watching

Took a little jaunt to a nearby lake, and shot a few birds this afternoon. There were lots of Canada geese, but they were a bit far off. Now an then they flew over, but mostly the gulls kept me entertained.

As Gomer might say, "Guuuuuuuuuully!"

Scam Alert!

Here is a scam I got in EMail today. The words "click here" were a link to some site in Canada - Don't fall for this one. The IRS does not ask you to put in a refund request, even if you file electronically. Here is the text in its entirety:

Internal Revenue Service

United States Department of the Treasury

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have
determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $390.23.
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3-9 days in order to
process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons.
For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To access your tax refund, please click here.

Best Regards,
Tax Refund Deparment
Internal Revenue Service


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Entertainment Tonight

Tonight was "Atonement" night. I took a friend to see it, and we were not disappointed. I highly recommend it.

Set around the time of WWII, it's the story of an English girl who bears false witness against a man she has a crush on - accused of an assault he did not commit. He is arrested, and through the court process is found guilty and given the choice between prison and joining the army. He joins the army and goes through the horrors of war instead of the horrors of an English prison. His accuser suffers a lot of guilt through the months and years, and attempts to atone for her lies by becoming a wartime nurse. Her increasing bouts of conscience materialize throughout.

I won't spoil it for you, but the story travels some ingenious roads towards a powerful not-to-be-expected ending. The cinematography is top-notch, and some excellent continuous footage. Expect to be gripped at the end.

Go see it.

Customer Disservice

Doesn't it make you wonder? Are there any companies/corporations that actually want to keep their customers, and consider them the life blood of their existence? I have my doubts.

I just had to call Travelocity last night - again - to see why I haven't gotten the refund they promised me. I had a reservation I couldn't keep due to reasons outside my control. I thought maybe I needed to do something I hadn't. The representative I spoke with when I cancelled my trip was really nice and helpful. Unfortunately, he apparently didn't follow through with his assurances and promises. When I talked to the lady rep this time told me another agent apparently didn't follow through. Of course, she went through their typical apology spill and this time assured me I should see my refund in 7 - 10 business days. It's already been the promised 30 days, now it will be another two weeks, I'm sure. We shall see.

I have never had a legitimate problem with any company, and not had to call them repeatedly. I don't get it. In this age of high-speed communication and the ability to transfer money in the blink of an eye, why can't (or don't) they use that ability to keep their customers happy? They can take money from their customers in a fraction of a second, but they can't give it back using the same technique? I don't buy it.

It's not just a "money thing". Even when just looking for information, it's a nightmare to find a telephone answerer that knows the answers. If it isn't on the computer screen, they can't tell you what you want/need to know. Frustrating.



For most part, ours are pretty good. They mind their own business, keep watch on each other's houses when requested, and are friendly enough.

There is one set of neighbors, though. The kind you would [stereotypically] find in a ratty single-wide mobile home. The odor of pot and God knows what is not uncommon wisping from their house. Their parenting ability is highly in question, as are the visitors they frequently have. They have dogs in their back yard, and I guarantee you they don't know the first thing about raising one. Occasionally, they have a young pit bull there - chained to a car with an inadequate chain. They (the people) are loud and obnoxious, their characteristic quarrels are a public display. Just what I want to experience: marital bliss of a bunch of miscreants. They are "trashy" in the literal sense. Not at all uncommon to have to dig out trash from our rose bushes between us. As I type, there are a couple of short lengths of 12" plastic pipe in them. At my first opportunity, they will be in the dumpster.

If they were the type of people that could be talked to about their "low-rent" habits, I would. Unfortunately, when they are obnoxious enough, the police have to be called - anonymously, of course.

There's always one.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunset Shoot

Last night I got out and caught a sunset at the right time. I haven't done much sunset shooting with my Rebel XT yet. Seems like the sky doesn't cooperate or I just plain miss it. Last night, the sky was pretty good, with a lot of depth. Here are a couple of the shots I got.

You can see more by clicking on any of the images on my photo stream at the top right of this page.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Interesting Weather

Had some interesting weather go through today. Nothing like we'd expect in January. I got tipped off to a rainbow within view, and actually had time to grab my camera and run up the street and grab a couple shots.

This one looks like it could have been bad, but it's deceptive. Cloud tops were no more than 12,000 feet as it passed. It just yielded a little rain.

Kinda makes me anxious for storm season. :)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Walk Into The Past

I went to a flea market today and had a great time. It was in the 70's, and there were about 50-60 vendors, most of which were indoors. The store fronts were in the Western small town style, complete with wooden sidewalks.

There were all kinds of things, as you might expect - even a shop selling birds.

One of the shops I seem to frequent are antique shops. The more I do, the more I take a stroll down Memory Lane. Here are a couple of things that brought back memories of my childhood in Iowa.
I don't know exactly when during my childhood, but this dinette set is vivid in my memory. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was just like one we had.

I don't know whose this was, but one of these was in our home, too.

One of the vendors had some hand-crafted angel ornaments crafted from.......well, maybe I better show you first.
Believe it or not, these are real, natural cotton bolls. I never would have believed it!

One of the things I picked up was a soap dish. Thought my Mom would like it. On the back, it says:
Bone China
Lavender Rose

As the day wore on, the winds whipped up a good bit of dust. Other than that, it was a perfect day!