February 2002 Archives

Excuses v. achievement

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"One of the many penetrating insights of the late Eric Hoffer was that, for many people, an excuse is better than an achievement. That is because an achievement, no matter how great, leaves you having to prove yourself again in the future. But an excuse can last for life." [Thomas Sowell]

Bush clueless?

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"New York Times reporter Frank Bruni will release his bio of Bush in early March and reports have the book portraying Bush as 'largely unaware of [popular] culture,' according to the New York Daily News. Bush has never heard of Leonardo DiCaprio or Stone Phillips. And he's clueless about HBO's hit series 'Sex and the City.'" Debbie Schlussel responds. For the record, I've not seen 'Sex in the City' either (don't even get HBO), and I wish I didn't know who Leonardo DiCaprio or Stone Phillips were.

Worst-Case Scenario

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I have been amused by the The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Thank goodness it's now a website. Hey, you never know when this stuff might come in handy.

Valentine's day

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For Valentine's Day this year John hit the nail on the head by just slipping me a wad of $20 dollar bills and telling me to have a great time. He earned some extra cash instructing an Advanced Cardiac Life Support class at the local hospital here so I didn't even have to see the withdrawl in the check register!

Today I went up to Little Rock and had my hair frosted and cut. It is nice to be blonde again and it's amazing how every time after I get my haircut I wonder what in the heck I waited so long for. All is well in the world and I have a wonderful husband!

ISP Ratings

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Geek stuff. "Everyone hates slow modem dial-ups and never-ending waits for pages to load. During those long dark nights of your ISP's soul, it's natural to wonder whether you might be better off with another provider. Visit eTesting Labs: U.S. ISP Ratings...and take a look around. Find out how competing ISPs compare on connection speeds and how they stack up on those all-important Web download times. There's no time to waste." [YIL]

The Hotel Westhoff

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You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave [The Hotel Westhoff].

Blue and Gold Banquet

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Dunn and I went the the annual Blue and Gold Banquet this evening. We didn't win the father & son cake competition, but we had fun trying. The winner was a cake made to look like a hot dog and french fries (go figure).

The Westhoff Olympic Games Commission realizes that the use of the word "Olympic" is probably a copyright violation.  If it will help we promise to donate all proceeds of the games to the IOC.

Dell Doldrums

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No word back from Dell, I don't expect I will hear from them. I did uncover an e-mail in my archives from months back explaining how to get XP, though it didn't mention the expiration date. I think I'm going to drop this, they've broken my will.

I'm sitting at work, I was called in to take care of a soldier with [censored to protect patient confidentiality]. It's a bummer, as I am off for President's Day.

Dan is exorcising

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My brother Dan is exorcising his demons on his new weblog.

Happy v-day

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No Wait, Happy "V-day." The world is becoming a very strange place.

My valentine

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Happy Valentine's day! My valentine, the former Rachel Rackham of Thousand Oaks California, now has her own website, have a look-see.

The end of this week

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I'm glad to see the end of this week (I'm off tomorrow). Yesterday we had our annual Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program exercise. It is over, thank goodness, and I will not (ever) have to do another one. This one was particularly painful because the EMT evaluators were...less effective.

Katie went into the MTC Yesterday!

Spelling bee

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Dunn is a great speller and made it to the all school second grade spelling bee where he succeeded in spelling his way to the alternate position. I keep telling him it isn't very nice to wish for illness for the first and second place spellers but he really wants to go to the district level...

Along those lines, the elementary schools here have an " Arkansas Quiz Bowl" where they compete against each other to see who knows the most about Arkansas state history etc. I have to admit I have avoided studying these facts with Dunn as I didn't really care if he knew all that much about Arkansas (couldn't we just forget the whole two years ever happened...)

Anyway, yesterday Dunn came bounding in from school and announced that HE was in the Quiz Bowl and he better get studying!!! I was astounded. "Dunn, we haven't studied those things at all, how did you make it into the Quiz Bowl?" "I guess I just got easy questions mom." So I began quizzing him on the little factoid sheets they sent home. Despite my best efforts, Dunn is a little Arkansas expert. State song (and composer) state seal, symbols of industry, gem, mineral, number of counties, understanding all the elements of the flag, when AR was in the confederacy, state bird, flower, tree, and on and on and on. You would not believe the number of dates he has memorized. I can only imagine how great he would do if his mom actually helped him and he didn't have to just pick up what he could from other kids studying etc. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.

Surprise breakfast

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Last night I was nursing Emma in the living room when Chase came in and said, "Mommy, your surprise breakfast is ready for you." I was distracted and just said something like, "that's nice Chasey, Thank you". He came in later and told me I needed to come eat my breakfast he made me. This time I was on my way upstairs to change Emma into her jammies so I again put him off. At this point it had finally sunk in what Chase had been telling me and what might await me in my kitchen. I was a little nervous about going in and finding out exactly what my breakfast a'la' Chasey might entail. (memories of Dunn throwing raw eggs around the house were starting to fight their way out of my supressed consciousness)

At this point I heard John come in from a late night at work and when I didn't hear any loud yelling as he made his way through the kitchen I was a little emboldened. I made my way downstairs , intercepted by Chase on the stairs who was still very excited about this surprise breakfast concept. As I made my way to the kitchen I was met with a counter full of an odd assortment of fridge dwellers. It seems Chase's idea of the perfect surprise breakfast is: a jar of mayonaise, the ketchup bottle, kosher dill spears, a Hickory Farms summer sausage, a zip lock baggie of left over canned mushroom slices, and a jar of Prego spaghetti sauce. He was very upset when I started putting them back in the fridge without partaking of the feast and it took some smooth Mommy Maniputlations to convince him that it would be best to put his Breakfast in the fridge and we would eat it a little bit at a time over the next little while...

A risk assessment tool

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This Risk Assessment Tool uses information from the Framingham Heart Study to predict a person’s chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.

My Dell tech support guy

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My Dell tech support guy called me at home today during lunch. At first I was delighted, but it soon became apparent that the call was going nowhere...


Per our phone conversation just a few moments ago, I am forwarding our previous correspondence so you can forward it to the small business dept.

My service tag is: ********

It's unfortunate that this is going back to small business--they have already told me that there is "nothing [they] can do" and suggested that I correspond with you in customer service. In any event, I appreciate your help.

This is sad.

John Westhoff

Dell responds (the saga continues)

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Dell responds (the saga continues)...

Dear Mr. Westhoff,

Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Care.

I apologize for the delay in returning your e-mail and hope to have your issues resolved quickly as we value you as a Dell customer.

I have been using computers for fifteen years now. After working in the industry I have learned the hard way that you always wait at least nine months after a new OS is released. Trust me I worked engineering and R&D departments and will tell you that you should wait. If you really want XP I can push the issue to see if I can't get it for you.

Thank you for contacting Dell and I apologize for your delays.

Dell eSupport and Services

and my response...

Gregory, Thank you.

Yes--I'd had the same thoughts, which is probably why I didn't end up calling back earlier (my big mistake apparently). It's good advice and your point is well taken (witness the problems my friends who were early adopters of Win 2000 had getting drivers, etc.).

That having been said, this is more than a technical issue--I sincerely feel that what happened to me was just plain bad business. And as a fiscal matter, this is a now or never kind of issue: if I wait as you suggest, it is less likely that my claim to a $20 OS is going to be taken seriously. I'd end up paying upwards of $200 for XP (frankly, that's something I just won't do--I'm more likely to put that $200 into my next system...and as things stand now, it's unlikely that that system would be a Dell.)

So Gregory, if you could prevail on my behalf to have Dell send me XP for $20, I would really appreciate it. It would go a long way toward restoring my goodwill in the company.

John Westhoff

Booker T. Washington

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My offering for Black History Month. Read "Up from Slavery," the autobiography of Booker T. Washington. You can certainly buy a copy, but the full text is available here (be warned, it is a big file). "Washington was the leading role model for two generations of American blacks, but these days he doesn't even get mentioned much in Black History Month, perhaps because his Christian values are not considered politically correct." [Marvin Olasky]

American Academy of...Pediatrics?

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It's a great day not to have chosen Pediatrics as a specialty. "The American Academy of Pediatrics has embarrassed itself by wading into a controversy for which its members have no particular expertise at all." [Maggie Gallagher]

Dear Dell

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I wrote this letter today on Dell Computer's Customer Service site:

Dear Dell:

I apologize if this is not the correct forum for this--please forward this message to the appropriate department.

Last summer I bought a PC for my personal use from your "small business" division. Things have been great with one (major) exception.

I bought the computer before Windows XP was available in part because it promised a $20 upgrade to XP when the OS became available. I took the bait. My computer arrived in great shape, just as I had requested it, but without documentation as to how I could upgrade (perhaps in my excitement to order a Dell I missed the fine print?). A few weeks later I called you and asked how I would go about getting the upgrade. The person taking my call was unsure and after some "checking" she said that I didn't need to do anything for now since the OS wasn't available, but implied that it would all be made clear to me in time, not to worry. So I waited...too long apparently. Last month I called (the home dept) to inquire as to why I had not yet heard from Dell on this matter and I was told that (sorry) the expiration date on that offer was 12/31/01 and I was too late! Ooops. Hmmm...I called the small business dept (at the suggestion of the home PC employee) and she indeed confirmed that I was out of luck. To add salt to my wound she confirmed that yes, I had called last year and the dutiful employee I spoke with had indeed recorded that she had "explained to customer how to get upgrade" (somehow this was done without my knowledge)...I think you know where I'm going with this.

Look, I'm not a fortune-500 company but I am a reasonably tech-savy middle class guy with two PCs in the home right now--contemplating buying a third; and I have four young kids (i.e. I anticipate buying LOTS of computers over my lifetime!)

I have to tell you I am not impressed with Dell right now--and I'm torn. On the one hand, I don't know of a PC manufacturer so consistently praised for the quality of the product and (perhaps more so) their customer service. I've used your PCs at work and recommended them to family and friends. On the other hand, it will be difficult to buy a Dell PC in the future if this is the way it's going to be. I bristle when I see the Dell logo at startup--the pain! I feel betrayed.

So please, cough up Windows XP for the $20 advertised, and please don't tell me that I need to "contact Microsoft" or that "there's nothing [you] can do because the OS is not a Dell product." I'm asking YOU to take the hit and let's preserve a beautiful friendship.

John Westhoff, M.D.
(A Dell fan spurned)

Happy hanukkia

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"I went to the menora [hanukkia], and there were about 40 or 50 Mormons there, yelling at me that if I took it down, I was a wimp," Zippel recounts. "The Mormons thought that menora was the best thing in the world." [from The Jerusalem Post Newspaper]

Prostesting capitalism

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Lest you thought prostesting capitalism was all work and no play, CNN reports on the scheduled World Economic Forum protests: "The carnival-like atmosphere the activists hope to create is meant to show that protesting can be fun." What is all the fuss about? "Oh, just one of these big get-togethers for international capitalists, politicians and assorted muckety-muck economists and journalists. In other words, it's precisely the kind of group the anti-globalization left holds responsible for all the evils of the world:" the worst kind of irony.

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