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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weird Al on eBay

I used to buy and sell on eBay when they were charging only $0.25 list your junk valuables for auction. I even bought a car on eBay 10yrs ago. Still have it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and NON-Fruit Based Computers…

(July/31 update: After a week with no updated status for the new school year, a second visit to the district office was needed to get registered and good to go for the 2012/13 school year)

It’s that time of year again. The new school year starts Aug/15. If I want to work the 2011/12 school year, I need to renew my credential.

My “California Commission on Teacher Credentialing 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit” expires August 1, 2011.

The yearly bribe to renew, which is not tax deductible btw, previously cost me the equivalent of ½ a full day assignment pay rate. The state of California is evidentially broke, so they increased the fee to about 2/3 of one days pay starting this year.

For that fee, I previously received in the mail a credential certificate that I could copy for the local school district(s). The fancy certificate was done away with a few years ago due to budget cuts

“Click here to print your credential permit” saves the state millions on envelope costs, postage and handling I guess. I know the drill so it’s no big deal…except the local school district won’t accept the credential as printed from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing web site.

While the web site will print a page with all the correct data, including name, document number, expiration dates, etc, it won’t, for some reason, include the official “California Commission on Teacher Credentialing” identification banner on the top of the page.

This banner is prominently displayed on the computer screen, but for some reason it isn’t included on the printed copy. Maybe some fruit based computer does print this page correctly, but the only way to get almost the same result on a Microsoft computer is to use the screen capture key “Prt Scr”, and then “paste” the result onto a blank photo editor program page like MS/Paint. You then need to crop all "not credential" looking stuff off and print just the credential image.

Of course that clips off all original web site identifiers and time stamp info that district claims they need to make it official.

I would hope that the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing might use some of the increased fees they charge to  hire a professional web page developer to redesign and TEST this “print credential” feature using a few more of the popularly used computers…not just the fruity ones.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Alternative Vacation Accomodations - Airbnb


We were attending a wedding in the Chicago area in July. Claudette and I have never been to Chicago before so we thought it a good idea to extend our stay and see the sights of downtown Chicago. We needed a hotel room.

Our wish list included:
  1) Short walk to/from the hotel and CTA
  2) We were informed that the preferred area to stay would be near “the Loop” and/or the river.
  3)  Of course, a view would be a bonus.

After checking some other hotel rates in the area, I realized that our wish list might be a bit too ambitious for our budget.  It was then I remembered coming across an “alternative accommodations” web site called

Located on the river across the street from Trump Tower, Airbnb listed Ruth’s place. It satisfied ALL our wish list requirements at a much more affordable price. It’s a short walk to the CTA Blue Line back to ORD. It’s near all the river boat tours and “river walk” access.

As this was our first experience with Airbnb, Claudette was a bit hesitant about my “alternative to hotel” stay. A lot of "what if" questions had to be answered.

"...What if this is a scam? What do we do? Where is this place? How do we get there? Sleep on a sofa bed bed for three nights?, etc,etc"

She soon warmed to the idea after seeing the photos and reviews of Ruth’s condo at the Marina Towers in Chicago

We had full access to the studio half of the condo that included the kitchen, living room (with sofa bed), a balcony with fantastic views of the river, bridges and across the street from Trump Tower. Our host was warm and friendly and eager to make sure we had everything we needed.

During our stay, Ruth occupied her bedroom/office to give us privacy while we were in the condo.

We had three days of exploring the Navy Pier, marina beaches and Millennium Park.  We took the Chicago River Architecture Cruise tour (which includes Ruth’s building) and Lake Michigan & Fireworks cruise tour. We even managed to hit “Taste of Chicago” week to sample the best of Chicago’s restaurants.

Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful (with the few exceptions of the ever present panhandlers), but on the whole three thumbs up for Chicago!

Friday, July 13, 2012

7 Minutes of Terror

Rube Goldberg would be proud: 
 NASA: Curiosity Rover's Risky Mars Landing