ramblings from the noisedoctor

October 1, 2009

news to file under ‘no duh’

Filed under: family, soapbox, unclear on the concept, useless junk — noisedoctor @ 2:46 pm

I just saw this “news” story on a recent email from Baby Center. Here’s some highlights the article:

Less TV brings more parent-child interaction

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 (HealthDay News) — Parent-child interactions suffer when a television is blaring in the background, a new report finds.

The finding is important because more than one-third of American infants and toddlers live in homes where the television is on most or all the time, even if no one’s watching, researchers say.

The researchers studied how much verbal interaction there was between parents and children, whether parents were actively involved in their children’s play, and whether they responded to each other’s questions and suggestions.

The study authors found that while the TV was on, parents spent about 20 percent less time talking to their children and were less active, attentive and responsive to their kids, resulting in a decrease in the quality of the interactions.

“Although previous research found that background television disrupts young children’s solitary play, this is the first study to demonstrate its impact on the quantity and quality of parent-child interactions,” the researchers explained in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development.

Eureka! What a brilliant new discovery! Sheesh. Seriously… Someone needed to do a research study to determine this? I guess common sense just isn’t good enough, huh?

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August 14, 2009

now that’s great church stewardship… not!

Filed under: Christianity, people unlike us, soapbox, unclear on the concept — noisedoctor @ 1:56 pm

This news story on the heels of me pondering my church and stewardship.

HASLETT, Mich. – Divine intervention? Or just plain luck? No matter what the circumstances, a Michigan church is $70,000 richer courtesy of the Michigan Lottery. The Covenant Life Worship Center and its 25 members in Haslett, Mich. had one of the second-prize tickets in the Lucky 7s raffle held May 4.

The $10 ticket was purchased at a convenience store in Haslett, five miles northeast of downtown Lansing. The lottery Web site says the odds of a single ticket winning $70,000 in Lucky 7s are one in 55,556. Michigan Lottery officials say the church will receive the full amount of the prize because it is a tax-exempt group.

Pastor Marilyn Parmelee tells the Lansing State Journal that the prize money will go toward the church building fund, setting up a missionary fund and supporting local community service projects.

I was concerned about my church not taking “free” government money for a geothermal heat system. Here’s a church that takes its money and buys lottery tickets. Wow. That’s great stewardship. I just can’t quite put words together to describe my feelings. I guess I can’t wrap my head around their thought process.

May 28, 2009

and that’s why it was called “the web” in the first place

Filed under: freecycle, soapbox, unclear on the concept, useless junk — Tags: , — noisedoctor @ 8:53 am

In my effort to save an item from the landfill and maybe make someone else’s life just a little brighter, I posted an item on our local freecycle group yesterday. It happens to be a wedding cake top decoration that my wife and I got as a gift before our wedding but never used. To make it easier for people to see what it looks like, I added a link to the manufacturer’s web site so they could see a picture. Makes sense, right? Here’s what I got today from the moderator:

Links are not allowed to be used on this group. Most of the time, link go to a sales site and this is a Free site.
Please use our PHOTO tab for your photos or just add ‘photo available upon request’.

You may repost.

Thanks!

Um… isn’t that what the whole point of the world-wide-web was in the first place? Instead of stealing the image from the manufacturer’s web site and posting it somewhere else, I chose to simply link people to it. And the whole “free” and “sales site” just doesn’t make any sense to me. Interesting, Yahoo hosts the freecycle group page and there are plenty of links within Yahoo to services they sell. Actually, there’s 3 “sponsor results” on the yahoo group site. So, the difference would be???

I just can’t help but think of Jesus and the religious “establishment” he challenged time and again. They took God’s law and built up all these traditions around it–some good and some not so good. Here our local power-hungry moderator has added a whole set of rules (ala traditions) on top of the freecycle.org guidelines (ala law). And, yes, there’s nothing in there about not posting links, I checked.

May 19, 2009

so voluntary, it’s required! (part 2)

Filed under: soapbox, unclear on the concept, useless junk — Tags: — noisedoctor @ 10:16 am

Here’s a note I got from my employer recently. I am one of those few oddball people that believe that questionnaires that ask for your “race” is pointless. My “race” is human. Not white, African-American, Hispanic, etc. We’re all one race. So, I don’t fill it in. Ever. And, almost everywhere, that information is optional. It would appear that with my employer, it is optional… sort of. I don’t have to fill it in, but they’ll just go ahead and do it for me. For whatever good that will accomplish. Supposedly the federal government requires this information. Brilliant policy, folks. But, what else would I expect coming from the feds.

A recent audit of [company name]’s Human Resources systems has identified your employee record as having an Ethnic Group value of “Not Applicable” or “I prefer not to disclose.” As an affirmative action employer, [company name] is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity and is required to report race/ethnicity data to the federal government. To assist us in complying with that commitment, please update the Race/Ethnic Group value in your record in HR Online no later than [date]. This information will be kept confidential and will be used for employment compliance purposes only.

The government defines the race/ethnic groups. Please follow the instructions below to update your record with the applicable race/ethnic group value(s). Even though you have had an opportunity to self-identify in the past, the federal government now has additional options from which to select. There is an option to select more than one race/ethnic group if you so desire.

If you choose not to self-identify your race/ethnicity by the aforementioned date, the federal government requires [company name] to determine this information by visual survey and/or other available information. Once [company name] makes a visual determination of your race/ethnicity, your record will be updated accordingly.

[…instructions for how to provide the information…]

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

April 8, 2009

do as we say, not as we do

Filed under: humor, soapbox, unclear on the concept, useless junk — Tags: , , — noisedoctor @ 3:19 pm

Yet another example of “do as we say, not as we do” today. I got a 16-page company newsletter/magazine in the mail. Now, I got mine in the mail because I work from home. I assume everyone else got theirs at the office. But, really, that’s a trivial matter. On page 4, I see:

Become an environmental steward

Join the thousands of team members who are already helping improve our efficiency (and profitability) by greening [company name].

Oh… but it gets even better. On the next page in a nice colorful block, under “Five quick ways to ‘green’ your workplace” it says “Print smarter. Encourage team members to print in black and white, print only pages needed and print double-sided.”

Let’s see… I’m holding a 16-page color document. Oh, but at least it’s double sided… Because, gee, I guess it’s easier/cheaper to print a few hundred thousand of these than make a PDF and email it to everyone, huh?

Brilliant.

February 13, 2009

everything is a competition

Filed under: family, soapbox, society — noisedoctor @ 11:53 am

Two things caught my attention recently and made me think about this. A few weeks ago, I saw an ad on HGTV for some upcoming show where their show hosts would be in some sort of competition of landscaping/decorations or such. I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. I thought, “You’re having decorators compete? Where does this ‘competition’ thing end?”

Then last Sunday in church, there was an announcement about the kids in the Awana program going to some Bible memorization competition. I’m all for kids learning Bible verses, but is a competition the right method to encourage this? Is it a good message to send to our kids? I don’t know. It just makes me wonder.

It just seems that everything in the world is a competition: singing, dancing, being locked in a house, castaway on an island, etc., etc., etc. Maybe it’s just human nature. I’ve watched my nephews make practically everything in life a competition between them–if they can make bathroom habits a contest, they can make anything a contest.

I guess I’m just pondering “out loud” at this point. It’s something I plan to study and pray about.

February 10, 2009

so voluntary, it’s required!

Filed under: humor, lame companies, soapbox, unclear on the concept — noisedoctor @ 3:39 pm

The company for whom I have worked for the last 1.5 years was bought up at the end of last year. So, we’re going through the process of applying for jobs within the “new” company. No big deal, right?

So, as I’m completing my profile today, I reached a page that said “entering your sex and race information is strictly voluntary…” and “failure to provide that information will in no way affect you…” So, I decided not to enter it. I clicked the “continue” button.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Yup. took me back to the page with a red warning message: “You must enter all the information on this page before proceeding.”

So, it’s voluntary for me to provide that information–but it’s required. Brilliant! I’m applying for a job at a company that can’t tell the difference between optional and required. If I were just a few years older I could work as a greeter at Wal-Mart…

January 29, 2009

WANTED: a heart

Filed under: freecycle, no good deed goes unpunished, soapbox — Tags: — noisedoctor @ 10:38 am

That’s what I’m tempted to post to our local freecycle group. I’m not looking for a heart for myself, but for our “tin-person” moderators. Let me explain. Over the past few weeks, there have been a series of arson fires in a nearby town–including one that cost 8 or 9 families everything but their lives and the clothes on their backs. Several people posted to the county freecycle group to solicit donations to help these people out. To which one of our moderators posted:

ADMIN: Donations for victims of [town name] Fires
Several members have made posts asking for donations for the victims
of the [town name] fires. While we have sympathy for those affected
by the fires, we must remind members that Freecycle(TM) is not a
charity organization. This is not the appropriate venue for
coordinating a relief effort.

Information posts are not allowed on this group, but may be submitted
to our chat site:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%5Bgroup name]

Thank you for your cooperation,
The Moderator Team

Yes, I know freecycle isn’t a place for a relief effort. However, it is a grassroots movement. Therefore, it should be very much tied into local events, especially tragedies. But, let’s take a look at the freecycle mission statement.

Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.

Let me break down these posts seeking help for these fire-impacted families as I see it:

  • gifting movement: yes definitely encourages gifting
  • reduces waste: no
  • saves precious resources: yes/perhaps I would argue that it does by easing the burden on the Red Cross, etc.
  • eases the burden on our landfills: no
  • enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community: most definitely yes

I’ll admit, that doesn’t result in a resounding yes towards meeting the mission, but it’s far from a responding no either. I can respect the moderators wanting to keep the groun on-topic and keep the “junk” messages to a minimum. But, chastising people for seeking to help a group of families which just lost all their earthly possessions is just cold and heartless.

November 9, 2008

i hope your voting experience was better than mine

Filed under: no good deed goes unpunished, politics, soapbox, society — Tags: , — noisedoctor @ 8:44 am

On Tuesday I went to my polling location. I waited in line for over an hour to get to the registration desk. There I had to give my name to 4 different people. The first two checked a book that I was in the correct place (the second had me sign next to my name). The second two wrote down my name and ballot number (just in case you thought it was anonymous voting). Then I got my chance to head to a voting booth.

Now, I had to wait an hour. It must be that there just weren’t enough voting machines to handle the load, right? Was that because there was a problem with the machines? Of course not. When I finally got my ballot, only 2 of the 6 voting machines were in use. The entire delay was the “sign-in” process.

I figured I just hit the polling location at a bad time. As I was leaving, however, the line was twice as long as when I started. My wife voted much later in the day and had to wait over an hour. She asked one of the people working the polls about the wait time and they said it was pretty much the same all day long.

So much for picking bad times to vote. If the center has over an hour wait constantly all day long, don’t you think someone might just realize that there’s a problem? I guess that would imply competence and some level of caring. No wonder people complain about the hassles of voting. I’ve apparently become one of them.

January 29, 2008

etymotic rocks!

Filed under: cool companies, geeky stuff, kudos, music, soapbox — Tags: , — noisedoctor @ 5:34 pm

These days, I rarely run across great customer service–often decent customer service, but great service catches my attention. I thought I should give them some props here, for whatever that’s worth.

A little over a year ago (maybe longer, not sure), I got a set of the Etymotic ER-4 earphones as a gift from my previous employer for some extra work I did. They are really sweet. I used to travel every week on planes and trains, and these earphones were just amazing at blocking out the noise. Their sound quality is nothing short of amazing as well–and was thisclose to having a PhD in acoustics. Once I stopped traveling and didn’t have a real need for these, I decided to use them while doing outdoor jobs: mowing grass, chainsawing, chipping wood, etc. They cut out more noise than my custom-made ear plugs and over-the-ear muffs combined–and I could listen to music with only 1 click above what I’d listen without the noise-generating device nearby, again, with amazing quality–I used to pick out things from some songs while mowing grass that I had never noticed on my home or car stereo before. Okay, enough raving.

Well, at the end of this past summer, the sound in the earphones started to cut in and out, like there was some sort of loose connection in the line. If I wiggled the wires (not at the plug or earphones), it would usually come back in. Eventually, I had to give up on listening to music, but since they blocked more noise than my other noise-suppression arsenal, I used them without any music.

A few weeks ago I finally got my tail in gear and sent them an e-mail to ask if they could be looked at. They quickly and professionally responded that the units have a 2 year warranty and gave me an RMA # and their address to mail them back. Not having any proof-of-purchase, I reluctantly mailed them in. I figured that I’d get a phone call or e-mail telling me they needed a repair and it would cost me handily to get back my prized earphones.

Oh, not so. I got a box in the mail today. Not my earphones, but a brand new set of the same model. There was a sheet from the company documenting their testing and confirmation of the problem with my earphones, and an invoice for $0.00.

Wow. You guys rock! I am so thrilled to have these earphones back and ecstatic to have them repaired/replaced for free–great customer service all the way around. It’s impressive to see a company stand behind their product like this these days. Kudos!

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