Saturday, February 19, 2005

Plainfield PMUA Sucks

Plainfield NJ used to have garbage collection done by private companies that had to compete with each other. Garbage collection cost about $30 a month.

A few years ago Plainfield kicked out all the garbage collection companies and instituted the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA). All Plainfield residents are forced, by law, to use the PMUA for their garbage collection. Now instead of paying $30 a month, we pay $240 every 3 months.

This wouldn't be so incredibly bad if they provided good service.

Over the Christmas holidays, they didn't bother to pick up garbage on the Friday before Christmas, and on the Friday before New Years. So garbage pickup happened once a week for two weeks rather than twice a week.

This type of scheduling shows no regard for public health issues.

Yesterday was garbage pickup day. My garbage can was at the curb on time. They came. They took one bag of garbage out of my can. They left the other bag of garbage in the can.

For this kind of service I am paying more than double what a competitive private company used to charge me.

I am SO impressed!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blast in Lebanon

There was an assassination by car bombing in Beirut today.

People tried to blame Syria.

But it was obvious from the first moment I heard about it that those to blame are either Israel or the US.

What I don't understand is why doesn't everyone see that.

Lebanon can't possibly fall for this and blame Syria now can they? Please tell me they aren't that stupid. Or corrupt.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tart Warmers

We went out shopping for a present for Chloe since her birthday is coming up and we are going to a party for her tomorrow night.

We arrived at a candle shop. I wanted a sculptured fantasy figure candle. But didn't find one.
However, I did discover Tart Warmers. These are charming smelly things that you put on a special candle burning thing with a tea light underneath. The tea light melts the tart which gives off a pleasant scent.

Having bought some for her, I wanted some for me so bought me some too.

Got it home, fired it up. All seemed well. I lit up two of them in two different tart warmer things.

After a while though one of them appeared to be giving off smoke.

That didn't seem quite right.

I touched the side of the tart warmer. Hmm, hot!!

So then I tried to blow it out. It wouldn't blow.

I went and got a butter knife and tapped it out.

The other tart warmer seems happy. It's bigger and the biggerness makes it work safer and better.

I need to get another bigger tart warmer so I can burn two at a time....

Every time I light up a candle I imagine my house burning down.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


While I'm on the topic of Taxes... I don't understand why people are willing to e-file their taxes. When you file electronically, you lose all control over what is being sent out to the federal government about you. You don't know what Taxcut or whatever is sending out. You are taking it on faith that they are sending what they say they are sending.

Give me a paper printout any day. Now I can actually see and hold and touch and proofread what is being revealed to the fed gov about me. I have control.

And another thing. Why would people be willing to give the IRS their bank account information? They have to for Direct Deposit. I am not willing to expose my naked bleeding heart to the cold uncaring eye of the IRS. They can just mail me a check.

Kiplinger Taxcut Bugs

I have used Kiplinger Taxcut software to do my taxes for oh, maybe ten years now? And never had a problem.

I am used to getting about a $2,000 tax refund.

This year I filled out all the forms for 2004 and noticed that my refund was around $189. Hmm, that's not good.

Then when I got to the tuition deduction, the software only asked about my schooling. It didn't ask about my two kids. That was funny!

When I was all done, and clicked on the Final Error Check button, the errors found told me that my kids were not my kids, and furthermore they were not American citizens!

I had imported the information from last year's Taxcut into this year's version. In all previous years this worked smoothly and my kids were always recognized as my kids. Not this time!

Even after I updated the software to the February 2005 release, Taxcut didn't think my kids were my kids.

I had to go into the Dependent Worksheet and tell the software that not only were they my kids, one is my son and the other is my daughter. I had to do this several times before I was able to persuade Taxcut that they really are my babies.

I also had to tell Taxcut multiple times that they are American citizens. Taxcut didn't want to believe me but after I selected American Citizen about five times it stopped warning me that they aren't.

So then my refund was around $2700 where it should be.

But this experience left me feeling uncertain about Taxcut. If they could fuck up something as basic as my children and their dependent relationship to me, their mother, what else did Taxcut fuck up? Are they carrying my W-2 values through to all forms correctly? Are they dropping something else that I input?

I'm thinking about switching to some other tax software next year.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Hawks are beautiful creatures. I saw a Cooper Hawk up close today. It was on Charlie's pigeon coop's landing board, eyeing all those fat pigeons he keeps.

Charlie said he wants to kill the Cooper Hawk.

I didn't like that idea and I went home soon after he said that.

He called me up later and we chatted and he said You seemed upset when you left. What's wrong?

So I told him I didn't like him wanting to kill the hawk.

We discussed what he can do about it threatening his pigeons in a nonlethal way.
He can trap it, and take it 100 miles away and let it go.
He can put up a mirror which might scare it off.
He can make a robot owl that moves every now and then - like a scarecrow.
He can get an Eagle Owl and move it in and hopefully the Eagle Owl will make the Cooper Hawk go away. I sent him a link where he can buy one.

I'm glad I told him what was bothering me. Now he knows not to kill the hawk or he will upset me. My opinion matters to him.

Laura Antoniou

I'm planning to attend TES tonight and Laura Antoniou will be the featured speaker. In preparation for going to see her, and hoping to persuade myself to actually take the train to NYC - a long haul and it may rain or snow tonight, so I needed convincing - I visited her blog at

I discovered that Laura Antoniou enjoys using the computer but doesn't really know what she's doing on a PC. How do I know this? Well, she posted her Feb. 7, 2005 entry twice. OK I thought, maybe that was just a mistake. But scrolling down her page, I saw that her very next entry was also botched. That one goes "Somehow I Knew This". She wanted to have an image but instead she has a broken gif which exposes the naked img code.

So I saw that she doesn't know what she's doing.

However, she seems like an interesting person, and I went to the website for which she botched the image tag, and I had fun there. I found out that I am an website personality. People go to me for things. Yeah.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I need to do something to stop playing that First Class Solitaire game at, so I decided to start a Blog. This is actually my second blog. My first one dates back to 2000. I had one of the very first blogs. That makes me an early adopter i guess.

So... what happened today? Well, for starters, on my way to work I took the ramp from Route 287 South to the Parkway South and the first thing that happened was I hit a horrendous pothole. I thought for sure my tire or wheel broke. So I have been driving scared all day since then. I reported the pothole to the Parkway tolltaker at the Driscoll Bridge. I wonder how long it will take them to fix that hole. I am pleased to note that my car appears to still be working OK. It is a 2003 Chrysler Sebring with whatever tires came with it, standard. Good stuff.