When I became a lead QA tester at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple identity crisis), I knew I was in a dead end job that would last three years and went back to school to learn computer programming. Although the dot com bubble was over by Fall 2002, I couldn’t get into some classes because there were too many students and too few seats as information technology (I.T.) was still hot. Towards the end in Spring 2007, I couldn’t get into some classes because there were few students and too many seats as health care was much hotter.
I graduated with an associate in science degree in computer programming and made the dean’s honor list for maintaining a 4.0 G.P.A. (a consolation prize for not being able to take assembly language programming in my final semester). Thanks to a $3,000 tax credit during that time, Uncle Sam picked up the tab for my career change. My first job out of school was help desk support, where I made the same amount of money as I did as a lead QA tester except I worked only 40 hours instead of 80 hours per week. This wasn’t what I went to school for, but it was good enough to make a living and a career. All I needed was for all these baby boomers to start retiring so I can have job security for life.
Then the Great Recession came to Silicon Valley in 2008.
After two years of being unemployed, six months of underemployed (working 20 hours a month) and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, I’m working full time in the I.T. field. The biggest problem I have now is working with all the baby boomers still hanging on to their jobs, complaining about being unable to retire and/or afford the latest tech gadget, and bossing me around because they are more experienced farts than I am. This wasn’t what I imagined job security would be like 10 years ago when I planned my career change.
A recent study states that fewer young people want to work in I.T., which means a shortage of qualified workers for future I.T. jobs. Assuming, of course, the visa cap isn’t lifted to allow Fortune 500 companies to import skilled workers from India and other countries to take those jobs away from American workers. Between young and old workers, both domestic and foreign, this is the generational war that I find myself stuck between.
Perhaps this doesn’t matter. I’m only working in I.T. long enough until I can earn a living as a writer and ebook publisher. My job security should come from what I do as an entrepreneur and not on the current trends in the job market. Or maybe I should go off the grid and become a farmer.
I thought getting donation requests from the Mitt Romney campaign in the mail was bad enough. A letter promising $1,000 USD made me rolled my eyes. After filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to wipe out my credit card debt last year, these types of letters and credit card offers flooded my mailbox. The credit card industry wants my business again because they know I can’t file bankruptcy for ten years. Before I fed the letter to the shredder, I glanced at the small print to see what the catch was. The typical APR was 36% or so. The 299% APR made my eyes bulged out.
Plain Green, LLC is a tribal lending entity wholly owned by the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, Montana, a sovereign nation located within the United States of America, and is operating with the Tribe’s Reservation. Maximum loan amount for initial loan is $1,000. Refer to Loan Cost & Terms for additional details. Complete disclosures of APR, fees and payment terms are provided within the Loan Agreement. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for an example loan of $1,000 is 299.17% with 24 bi-weekly payments of $124.16; pricing in effect as June 11, 2012. See plaingreenloans.com for more information.
That can’t be legal, I thought. A quick internet search confirmed that high APRs are legal for short term loans, especially payday loans in some states that have no APR cap. However, since this particular offer is from Plain Green, there is concern that the online payday lenders and Indian tribes are using tribal sovereignty to evade consumer protection laws to make money off of those who can least afford it. The entire financial industry is in the business of fleecing suckers (i.e., taxpayers), its perfectly legal as the political system is bought and owned by Wall Street, and Congressional leaders often engaged in inside trading to benefit themselves.
Three months after I filed for bankruptcy I got a secured credit card, where I put up a small deposit and paid a yearly fee for a small credit line to help rebuild my credit. My reoccurring expenses are charged to this credit card that I paid off in full each month. I applied for another credit card with a much bigger credit line to purchase an Apple iPad 2 earlier this year. I should have the balance paid off by the end of summer. Ironically, these two credit cards—both have a 23% APR—are from the same companies that I previously had accounts with before I filed for bankruptcy.
If I get another donation request from the Mitt Romney campaign again, I’ll give them the address for Plain Green. Perhaps the the online payday lenders and Indian tribes will want to make a political donation, if they haven’t already.
I voted for Proposition 29, a new $1.00 USD per pack cigarette tax, which was narrowly defeated after being too close to call for two weeks after the election. Being a non-smoker who grew up in a family of smokers in California, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if society has fewer smokers. Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry spent $47 million USD to defeat the proposition. (That’s $11 million USD more than what Governor Jerry Brown spent on his campaign in 2010.) Don’t be surprised to see another cigarette tax on the ballot again in the near future.
The first election after I turned 18-years-old had Proposition 88, a $0.25 USD per pack cigarette tax, on the ballot in November 1988. I voted yes because I wanted my father to quit smoking. He started smoking when he was 15-years-old and smoked for the next 30 years. (He and his brothers used to drive from Idaho to buy untaxed cigarettes in Oregon and sell them out of the trunk of their car in Southern California during the 1950’s.) After Proposition 88 passed and the new cigarette tax went into effect, he couldn’t see himself paying $20+ USD per cartoon every other week. (It’s $40 to $50 USD per cartoon today.) So he quit smoking and chewed gum until he kicked the habit, living another 30 years before he died from lung cancer last month.
Perhaps it was good thing that the cigarette tax was defeated. Our enlightened leaders in the legislature borrowed money against the tobacco settlement fund to plug the holes in the state budget in 2003. Higher cigarette taxes mean lower cigarette revenues, which means that the state will have to cover the bond repayments out of the general fund. Another ticking time bomb in the state budget that will hit taxpayers sooner or later. Seems like you can’t improve public health without shooting yourself in the foot at the same time.
After appearing at the U.S. Open with his signature bird call to protest deforestation, Andrew “Jungle Bird” Dudley apologizes for what happened in a CNN interview.
He was also interviewed at 99designs in San Francisco, which is running a logo design contest for Jungle Bird.
If you’re plastered at the U.S. Open golf tournament in San Francisco while wearing a British stocking cap and making bird calls before an American TV audience, it helps to be British with a slight resemblance to Simon Pegg. According to SFPD spokesman, public drunkenness wasn’t a crime since Andrew “Jungle Bird” Dudley had a ticket to be there. Only in San Francisco does that kind of wanker logic makes sense.
Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee must be running out of the big donors to keep their 2012 presidential campaign running. I got three campaign solicitations in the mail last week to contribute $25 USD or more. Perhaps no one had told them that I belong to the bottom 1% crowd that can’t afford to give $25 USD or more, and a moderate conservative (i.e., Reagan Democrat) in California. If they’re hitting me up for money, they must be scraping the bottom of the contribution barrel in desperation.
Although I’m a registered Republican, I haven’t renewed my membership in the RNC since John McCain stopped being a maverick to pander to the right wing extremists in the 2008 presidential election. With Mitt Romney doubling down on the failed economic policies of the George W. Bush Administration, whom half of Republicans blame for the current state of the economy, I voted for NONE OF THE ABOVE in the primary election this month and may do so again in the general election in November.
I still want to know if Mitt Romney is a closet unicorn or not. If he can’t provide his birth certificate to prove he’s not a unicorn, another reason not to vote for him.
A nine-year-old Scotland girl, Martha Payne, got into trouble when the local newspaper ran a headline about her food blog that featured photos of the meals served at her school and the small minds of the school board banned her from publishing any new photos. That got the blogosphere riled up. Soon the small minds were backpedaling away from the ban as the controversy attracted the attention of political higher ups. On top of that, she was also raising money to feed children in Malawi.
Publicity caused by the ban helped the schoolgirl smash through her £7,000 fundraising target for the Mary’s Meals charity – with total pledges of more than £30,000 being made by Friday afternoon.
The total stood at only about £2,000 on Thursday evening.
A Mary’s Meals spokesman said: “We are overwhelmed by the huge response to her efforts today which has led to so many more people donating to her online donation page.
“Thanks to this fantastic support, Martha has now raised enough money to build a kitchen in Malawi for children receiving Mary’s Meals as part of our Sponsor A School initiative and has broken the record for hitting a Sponsor A School online fundraising target in the quickest amount of time”.
Thanks to the small minds of the school board, Mary’s Meals will have more than enough money to open kitchens to feed as many children as possible.
P R O M E T H E U S
When I went to see “Prometheus” at the AMC Mercado 20, I was shocked—shocked!—to see that the California Lottery Commission was airing a revised Lady Luck video. And then there was the movie itself. I had kept my expectations low and avoided reading any reviews. (Unlike “The Avenger” movie that got hyped to death for months, this movie barely made a peep on my radar.) Being a prequel to “Alien” that explores the origin of the space jockey in the crashed spaceship on the moon LV-426, I wanted to be surprised by how everything was put together.
I was surprised but not in a good way.
The first hour of the movie was quite beautiful as the origin of humanity begins with an eight-foot-tall giant—”engineers” as they would later be called—who sacrifices himself by drinking a black liquid that tears apart his DNA to form new life on an uninhabited planet. Many eons later, a team of archeologists find the oldest cave painting with humans worshiping a giant alien pointing to a star cluster that links all the ancient civilizations to Earth. (If you’re into UFO conspiracy theories, some people believe that the Nephilims were giant aliens.) A few years after that discovery, the spaceship Prometheus lands on the moon LV-233 and the crew begins their mission with conflicting agendas.
For the next 90 minutes, the plot holes starts piling up fast and furious. Two major plot holes ruined the movie for me. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now.
Why does the moon bears the designation LV-233 in “Prometheus” instead of LV-426 in the “Alien” movies? No clue. Although the weather patterns are violent on LV-233, it’s not yet the hellhole that becomes LV-426. The two moons are obviously supposed to be the same location but the designation doesn’t match up.
When the captain jettisons the life support module and sacrifices the Prometheus to prevent the alien spaceship from leaving the moon, the alien spaceship crashes to a rolling halt into its final position, and the space jockey is strapped down in the flight chair, all we needed was the chest buster alien to pop out and leave the space jockey dead to match the scene in “Alien.” That didn’t happen. The space jockey comes crashing into the life support module to be attacked and infected by a huge facehugger. The movie ends with a crude-looking xenomorph emerging from the dead space jockey. This is not the sleek killing machine we all come to love and admire.
Seems like director Ridley C. Scott took all the plot lines from a wrong turn at Albuquerque TV trope and mixed them together with the best parts of “Aliens” to create “Prometheus,” which is less than the sum of its parts. The unanswered questions will probably be answered in the next sequel or two. This wasn’t the completed movie that I expected it to be.
As I waited for the movie trailers and “Prometheus” to start at AMC Mercado 20 in Santa Clara this past weekend, the California Lottery black scratcher video, where Lady Luck slaps some clueless idiot to let him know that he won, came up on the big screen. I sat back to enjoy this video but it wasn’t the video I was expecting. This video had Lady Lucky blowing air on the clueless idiot.
The original ad was too violent for the moral sensibilities of elected officials in Sacramento that the lottery commission replaced it with a different version. Never mind that the new ad was shown before the showing of an R-rated movie—SPOILER ALERT!—where Noomi Rapace gives herself a violent C-section to abort an unwanted alien fetus.