Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Old Man's WarI was pleased to finally read this prequel to “The Ghost Brigades” which I read last year.

Like “The Ghost Brigades” I found “Old Man’s War” to be a fairly simple story that explores a world where it is really possible to get a second (and a third and a forth..) chance to live your life.

Set in a future where the human race is competing with myriad other alien races for substantially the same resources, the humans recruit their soldiers from Earth’s seventy year olds and give them new and improved bodies to get the best kind of soldier: One that is physically superb and has the grounding and experience to understand what’s at stake and a stake in the future that they are helping to protect (they pretty much all have children and grandchildren that they want to see survive into the future).

Told exclusively from the point of view of the protagonist,  you will not get lost or confused as to what is going on. Nor is there any need to try to interpret different story threads to try to divine future confluences as you do with the more complex stories told by Peter F. Hamilton or Frank Herbert.

This is an enjoyable, easy read that IMHO speaks to issues that it is absolutely possible that the human race may face one day.

Posted under Books

This post was written by Marc
on August 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

“Severe Weather Alert” being made less useful?

Earlier, on Saturday, I checked the weather using “Yahoo!” as I do any morning and I saw that there was a “Severe Weather Alert”.  This is typically a hyperlink, in an attention-getting red font to let me know that a dire weather situation is either in process or approaching. So I clicked on it to read… this…

Severe Weather Alert Marietta

Ignore for now the fact that nobody understands what an “Orange” anything is, what the hell is this doing as a *Severe Weather Alert*? Tell me about flooding, tornadoes, high winds… tell me about *weather*.

I don’t really see why “grandma may be sensitive to the smog” needs to be here. We already have resources that cater to special needs folks and their sensitivities. I know because I check those too. I have allergies and I check the allergy page to see what’s up pollen-wise.

I also disagree with the Severe Weather Alert page being used to indicate that conditions are ripe for a fire to start somewhere in the woods if you’re careless with your matches. I can *kind* of see how it is related to the weather but it’s not really “severe weather” in and of itself is it? Now, once the fire has started, I can see the smoke being blown around becoming part of some kind of weather advisory as it has become part of the local weather system. I’d want to know about fog or smoke impacting my local area. *That* can affect my drive or my plans to go golfing.

We need to stop watering down our systems because they’re handy. Pretty soon we’ll start having those “not even remotely proven to be effective” “Amber Alerts” for child abductions being included in the severe weather alert simply because it is accessed by a localized demographic rather than because it meets the criteria of being actually “weather”.

A lot of systems are created with good intentions and are often quite effective. I *like* the Severe Weather Alert system. It’s when they get hijacked for other purposes because folks are too lazy to put the effort into establishing a new system that they begin to lose their effect.

If I see “Severe Weather Alerts” often and keep finding them to be something not even remotely relevant to that purpose, of course I’m going to start ignoring them and probably get caught with my pants down the next time a severe thunderstorm or a tornado advisory is being published.

Oh and, in spite of my allergies, I completed a 31 mile bicycle ride in this “orange air” and don’t seem to be the worse for it.

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on August 10, 2009 at 10:06 am

Subway, overpricing by accident? Does anybody know?

I was in a Subway restaurant a few weeks ago (July 20), the one in Alpharetta at 131 South Main Street, and decided to split a sub with my wife. We ordered their foot-long Chicken and Bacon Ranch sub, toasted. This is a premium sub that goes for $7 according to their menu. We “make it a meal” for an additional $2 and get a medium drink and potato chips too.

Somehow, when this is rung up it costs $10.70.   So I point this out to the manager and she checks the menu and sees that this is obviously not right, apologizes and refunds me the difference. She also says something about how she’s not sure why the computer is doing this but she’ll get it taken care of.

Yesterday, we went back to Subway and ordered the same meal again (I am really a sucker for that sub) and, lo and behold, the same situation. Again I pointed it out and this time there was no question just a “Gee, you’re right, it’s still wrong.”. The manager remembered me from last time and told me they had no control over the pricing in the computer but that she’ll notify “head office” again.

Am I being cynical here in believing that Subway is overcharging on a premium item because they know that they *can*? How carefully do you check your change or the price when you are at a fast food restaurant?

Don’t get me wrong, the employees were very polite and there was never any question about what I should be paying for the sub. But it seems to me that such a glaring error is something that would be addressed quickly.

Does anybody know of any other Subway overcharging? Is this an isolated thing at an isolated store or is this something a bit more widespread. Given that they claim that pricing is set centrally I should think that all the Subway restaurants in a certain area (presumably throughout Alpharetta at least) would share the same pricing tables and, hence, will all be charging the wrong price.

Let me know…

Posted under Affluenza, Opinions, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on August 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm