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Author: ClintonFrizzell77

Letter to LA Times, June 2010, Subject is California Primary Election Results.

Letter to LA Times, June 2010, Subject is California Primary Election Results.

The day after the last California election I looked through my LA Times print edition to find the election results.   Where was the results buried?  It is most frustrating that I can easily  find sports scores but not political scores.

Do you have to be told why newspaper subscriptions are falling?  I will thus tell you.  It is because newspaper management, at times, is not capable of realizing and thus meeting the needs of its customers.  I think this arrogance comes from taking on some POB swagger.  Try to remember that arrogance leads to stupid.

Office Time Software Review

Office Time Software Review

I suddenly got a job as a contract worker.  Previously I had been paid a salary.  I was now my own boss and had to charge the client by the minute.  What a change in mind set for me!  Everything I do takes on a different meaning.  Time is now money for me.  I needed a method of recording my time and generating the bills to the clients.  I found a nice small book at Staples.  It measures 7in tall, 4in wide and has a sewn binding.  It is called “dollar and cent memo book” and is Stapes item #182022.  Each page has room for a page heading at the top.  Then one narrow first or left column, wide second column and two narrow right column going close to the bottom but the bottom has a small white space which I do not use.  Here is the way I set the book up:
Each page is a different day.  The date is written at the top of the page.  One page is for one day only.  Some times I need more than one page if there is a long list of tasks that I perform.  This book stays at home.  I never take it with my to job sites.

  • Column far left (hour rate).
  • Wide second column: task description.
  • Third narrow column is the hours I worked.
  • Last and far right column is the minutes I worked.

I do not charge a fixed rate but tier my charges depending upon a number of factors.  Here is my rate card (each amount is by the hour):

Client contact and meetings  $40  (I love it when they jaw bone in meetings and I thus get paid more.)

  • Phone calls  $20
  • E-mail  $20
  • Research  $40
  • Design  $80
  • Other non billable  $0
  • Repair  $80
  • Maintenance  $80
  • Travel portal to portal second call, same day.  $20
  • Generate purchase order  $40
  • Documentation, create or modify $20
  • Strategic planning  $50  (This category is used for small purchased items and my liaison individual at the business is ok with this).
  • Other billable  $30

This rate card listed above is very important when you use a computer billing program and your rate per hour differs by task.

I already had a digital watch and use the stopwatch function for timing my on the job work.  I start charging the client when I step out of my vehicle.  There is a very good reason for this.  Some parking lots are long distances from the work site.   I figure I should not be penalized for this and thus charge the client for the walking time.  If I can not find a parking spot within a reasonable time, I start the watch anyway as I look for a parking location.  If I have to get a parking pass I start charging from the time I step out of the car at the parking office and I do not stop the watch until I get back into my car after the job is completed.  I charge all parking fees to the client including parking tickets.  If I get called back a second time to the work site and I deem this due to poor planning on the clients end, why should I suffer for my time, wear and tear on my vehicle, and gas because some numb scull failed to plan properly.  I charge portal to portal travel rate and I let the client know this before I get into my car.

I am a Mac computer person because I value my time and the Windows computers are dreadful and time wasters.  The software I use to record my time and generate my bills to the client is called Office Time. It is simple to use and has features that simply make my task recording very easy.  I have been using this software for months now and I can not think of any improvement, it is that close to perfection for me.

Some Office Time features:
Each task category allows you to bill at a different rate.
The program includes real time stop watch recording of your time or you can input the task later.  You can pause, stop and restart the stopwatch if your working at your computer.  If you do not use your computer for any reasonable length of time a splash screen pops up asking you if you want to continue the stopwatch timer or take time off.  I have walked away from my computer to get a mug of tea and the computer program knows I had walked away because if failed to detect any mouse and key strokes.
On the top of my Mac screen is a number of program icons.  One icon is for Office Time.  I use Spaces a LOT and do research and phone calls using my laptop. I can be on another screen away from Office Time but its icon on the top of my computer screen can call up the stop watch.
The invoices are created in simple text format.  The program does a pretty good job of itemizing all the tasks by date.  I added a logo for my business into the billing document, quite easy to do.

The Writer’s Corner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

The Writer’s Corner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

The Writer’s Corner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

This little place is part bookstore and part coffee bar. If you’re from Seattle, as I am, it reminds one of all the coffee places around town. It is also a great place for having a coffee break when it’s too hot or too cold or too wet outside or you just need to get away from the crowd. There isn’t much seating – just one or two tables and a sofa and two easy chairs.

The items for sale are books (not that many – mostly Disney related or popular fiction suitable for vacation reading), music (definitely all Disney-related), autograph books and journals and the like, and also some kitchen-related Disney items.

There are soft drinks and specialty coffee drinks. The coffee is the contract-required Nescafe brand, but if you get a latte or such, it is generally better than the hopelessly weak Nescafe served most places in the theme parks.

Snacks include giant cookies, rice crispy treats, etc. A word about the cookies: if you like soft cookies, like I do, don’t be drawn in by the cookies which are higher than they are round. I think it’s because they have to cook them slowly to get them done all the way through. But in any case, they are all crunchy, even the chocolate chip, sugar cookies, and peanut butter cookies. If you like soft cookies, choose the ones that resemble small Frisbees.

However, the ultimate attraction of this place is the small size and change of mood from the rest of the park. It is located next to the Sci-Fi Drive-in Diner and quite close to the Star Tours ride. If you visit during the Christmas season, this is a great stop after seeing the Osborne Family Festival of lights which is quite close.

Sci-Fi Drive In Diner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

Sci-Fi Drive In Diner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

Sci-Fi Drive In Diner – MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

I ate that this restaurant in 2000 and then again in April of 2007. Things haven’t changed much.

This time I took my niece (age 14) and nephew (age 18) to this restaurant. They picked it because of the theming. I have to admit the theming is excellent. The premise is that you are going to a drive-in movie and eating in your car while you watch the movie.

The setting of the restaurant is a semi-dark “drive-in theatre” with a big movie screen up in front. The seating looks like cars, old fashioned Cadillac-type cars with 3 rows of seats. The walls are painted to look like outdoor southern California with palm trees and gentle hills. While we were waiting to be seated my nephew had to use the restroom, so he got a view of the restaurant before the rest of us entered. When he came back I asked him, “What did you think?” He said “It was all I hoped for and more.” I did not detect any adolescent sarcasm in his report. I have to agree with him that the ambiance is excellent.

When we got out seats, the young people sat in the front seat of the car (it’s only 2 people wide) and I sat in the second seat. Eventually, we picked up two more “hitch hikers” in the third seat of our car. (There are a couple of tables that have a car front and back attached to a regular table. In this seating arrangement, the party is sitting with the movie screen to their side rather than straight ahead. This would work if there was a person in a wheelchair, a very large size person, or a party that was more interested in interacting with each other than in the theming. In the last instance, there are much better restaurants for spending quality time with one’s friends or family.)

The eating surface is a shelf-type affair, affixed in front of your car seats. There is a low-level light all along the shelf for reading the menu. It’s not much good for anything else.

As for the movie screen, it is huge and really looks like the old drive-in theaters that I used to go to with my family in the mid-1960’s. There is a “speaker” on the pole by each car (just like the drive-in) and the sound is good. The movie screen plays a series of trailers for old and really bad sci-fi movies (I even watched some of them as a child) as well as a number of ads for the drive-in theater. The ads are also classics for the snack bar, just the kind you used to see at the old drive-ins. The film is on a loop that lasts about 45 minutes, which is about all the time that you want to be spending in this restaurant.

At the end of the meal, instead of a check for your meal, you are presented with a “speeding ticket” for the damages.

Now, as to the food… When I first visited this restaurant in 2000, I just had dessert because I wanted to see the restaurant, but I had a smaller income and could not afford a whole meal there. (Compared to all Walt Disney World restaurants, this one is not especially expensive. It was my job that was the problem, not the price of the restaurant).
This time, I had more food. My niece, who hardly eats anything, had a child’s hamburger. She reported that it was “fine.” My nephew ordered the chili with salsa topping off the appetizer menu. He reported that it could afford to have more chili and less salsa. I also ordered off the appetizer menu and had the tortilla chips with artichoke/parmesan dip. There were plenty of chips, but the dip was quite bland. Given the quality of the food, I was pleased that none of us were really hungry when we visited this restaurant. One of the items on the menu is spare ribs with bar-b-que sauce. I tried to imagine eating ribs with a lot of sauce and trying to keep track of everything in the semi-darkness. Not a pretty picture.

On the beverage menu they offered, besides the usual things, Spite soda mixed with flavored syrups. I had the green apple, which was quite good. I only wish they had had a diet version.

Overall, the theming is fun and carried out well. It would probably be the most fun if you’re of the age to actually remember some of the bad movies and/or going to drive-in theaters. Even though I can now afford the food, if I take people there in the future I will stick to my original dessert-only plan. If you go to this restaurant be clear that you’re going for the theming experience and not for the food.

New telescope.

New telescope.

My son and I were walking through the Brea Mall and I spotted the Discovery Store had a sale. We entered and found out that the store was closing down in a few months. The company was retreating to Internet sales only. By August the stores expected to close their doors. Immediately, I took a look at the Meade telescopes. I had always wanted a good telescope but could not afford one. They were marked down 30%. I jotted down the model numbers and prices. When I got home I went on the Internet. I found three telescopes that I wanted. My family talked me out of the $1,400 one, a Meade LX90 LNT. I looked at the ETX-125 PE and it was my next choice. I went to the store again and it was sold. I wrote an e-mail to one of the Orange County (California) Astronomers guru’s to ask for some advice and here is part of his reply:

“Big question on what telescope to buy…..
As a general rule one should not buy a telescope without knowing a lot about it., especially if you are interested in photography. The Orange County Astronomy has a beginner’s class to deal with these types of questions, unfortunately we have just completed the sessions regarding telescopes and that doesn’t help you if you must decide in the next few days…. first decision is whether you want to do photography and then what type of photography (in other words what kind of camera you will be using?)
If you want to do top quality photography with a CCD specialized camera, then you should probably go with a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope
of no less than 8 inch aperture with a very stable mount…..cost $1800-$2000 and above without camera, or eyepieces. If you just want to take a picture using your digital camera or web camera then about any telescope with a motor drive can be used to take a picture of moon & planets. If you don’t want to take pictures then the Dobsonian type telescopes offer larger aperture for less money. Once this decision is made than you want to purchase the largest aperture telescope you can afford, store, lift and transport.

I wouldn’t purchase your first scope to take pictures (8inch or larger scope)……I would recommend spending a lot less money to get a 3-5 inch aperture Go-to-scope first…..if you stay interested then upgrade to a telescope to do good quality photography at a later time.

The Meade ETX -90 would be a good first choice…….the ETX-70 is a little small unless you plan on backpacking with it and want a lighter scope or the ETX-90 is more money than you wanted to spend. I would not recommend anything less than a 70 mm aperture (ETX-70).”

Good advice. I went back to the Brea store and purchased the ETX-90PE for $527.22. I was later to discover that this purchase gave me credit to help pay for some lenses in a few days.



Updated Tags: May 18, 2019
Whiskers surgery – Peg tube problem 5-15-07

Whiskers surgery – Peg tube problem 5-15-07

This morning I could not get solids through the PEG tube.  I tied at least six times over two hours.  Out of frustration, I called the Critical Care facility and they suggested that I bring the cat in.   Once I arrived they took all the vital signs and found that the cat had lost one pound. They were concerned and gave me 8 cans of Eukanuba Veterinary Diet Maximum – Calorie food.  I was instructed to give 1 and 1/2 cans a day (before it was 2 and 1/2 cans).   I was told to mix about 1/2 cup of water to this new food as it had a runny consistency already.   They did find the PEG tube to be defective.   Whiskers respiration rate was just over 30 per minute.