jillithian: (pwnd Cute Overload)
So, the intertubes is a wonderous place full of win.

Recently I added a Twitter account to my online repertoire. Casually I mentioned that I had a song in my head. The next day, the band who recorded that song started "following" me on Twitter. So, I looked at their profile, saw they had an official website, visited it and realized that they were playing in my town May 10th - 12th. Not only that, but their new female lead is a St. Cloud native.

I purchased two tickets to their May 10th show. Not sure who's using the second ticket yet...
jillithian: (*lick* Cute Overload)
The part that made my ears perk up:
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers."

I understand he did leave out a couple of religions, but I am mostly happy that he mentioned the "non-believers". It's sad that there are people in the House of Representatives and Senate that fall under that category but will not admit it in public for fear of retribution from their constituents. I am a Humanist. I guess I'm not particularly fond of the term "non-believer," but I will take what I can get in recognition.

A full transcript of President Obama's inaugural address can be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Inauguration/Story?id=6689022
jillithian: (foil hats)
from St. Cloud Times

Grede will cut an additional 60 employees

By Britt Johnsen • bljohnsen@stcloudtimes.com • December 11, 2008
Grede Foundries said Wednesday it is laying off more than 60 workers from its roster of about 300, the fourth round of layoffs this year for the St. Cloud auto-parts maker.

Cuts will affect positions across the plant, said John Haas, vice president of operations. The company has suffered from a 30 percent to 40 percent drop in orders in the last six months. Its biggest customers — Chrysler, GM and Daimler, which account for 75 percent of Grede Foundries’ business — are part of the ailing auto industry that has pinned its hopes on a federal bailout.

Haas also said the manufacturer will transition from running five eight-hour shifts to four 10-hour workdays. That should help the company save money on energy and improve the plant’s overall efficiency, he said.

He said he hopes the business will not have to do any more layoffs. The layoffs announced Wednesday were not permanent and they did not create severance packages for employees, Haas said.

If and when the economy turns around, he expects to bring back employees and the regular five-day workweek.

At the same time, he is realistic about the economy and how it has affected his business and industry.

“(People) just don’t trust the economy right now,” he said. “We’re caught up in that.”

Elsewhere in the country, President-elect Barack Obama defended the auto bailout as necessary given the threat a potential Big Three collapse could pose to an already-battered economy.

“As messy as it may be, I think there’s a sense of, ‘Let’s stabilize the patient,’ ” he said in an interview published in Wednesday’s editions of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

He called the auto industry’s plight — lackluster sales, choked credit and widespread economic turmoil — “the perfect storm.”

Haas said the economy “is what it is.” Everyone in his industry is struggling, he said.

“At some point in time, it’s survival of the fittest,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


I don't work there and I don't know of anyone who works there, but losing those jobs is not going to help the struggling economy in town. And yet I still don't think the auto industry should get bailed out yet. They need budgets and plans on how the money will DIRECTLY help them.

People should watch the movie Who Killed The Electric Car?. It has some very interesting viewpoints - especially regarding the serviceability of electric vehicles and its effect on car companies' bottom lines.
jillithian: (PeeWee's breakfast)
from St. Cloud Times
Wal-Mart to pay $54.25 million to settle Minnesota lawsuit

The Associated Press • December 9, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay up to $54.25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged the discount giant cut workers’ break time and allowed employees to work off the clock in Minnesota.

Wal-Mart and attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the settlement today.

The class includes about 100,000 current and former hourly workers who were employed at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs in Minnesota from Sept. 11, 1998, through Nov. 14, 2008.

Wal-Mart has also agreed to maintain electronic systems, surveys and notices to stay compliant with wage and hour policies and Minnesota laws.

In July, a Dakota County judge ruled against Wal-Mart in the lawsuit, saying the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer violated state labor laws 2 million times by cutting worker break time and “willfully” allowing employees to work off the clock. Court proceedings had been scheduled for next month to determine punitive damages.
jillithian: (Default)
Holy crap is this interesting news.

As a person who develops ideas, it's interesting in that most companies will put a clause in the employment contract that they have ownership of your ideas that you create and develop during your employment there.

From BBC News:

Bratz loses battle of the dolls

Bratz dolls are facing removal from all shops after a US federal court banned parent company MGA Entertainment from making the Barbie-rival.

The court issued the order after Barbie-maker Mattel, won a landmark copyright-infringement case against MGA in August.

Bratz designer Carter Bryant had been found guilty of developing the Bratz brand while still working for Mattel. ...
jillithian: (Default)
Man-Made Wetlands Filter Wastewater From Facility.

The AP (12/5, Felberbaum) reports, "Eventually the birds, foxes, turtles and deer stumbled upon a man-made wetlands that naturally filters wastewater from the nation's biggest tobacco maker. The nearly 50 acres of wetlands are part of a $7 million science experiment," which is "using more than 150,000 plants to filter wastewater discharged by Philip Morris USA's Park 500 facility." This "project along the James River...became fully operational over the summer" and now "is creating a habitat for many animal species -- a stark contrast from the industrial city of steel buildings and towers less than a mile away." The AP notes, "Wastewater first flowed into the wetlands in March and more than 15 species of plants like bullrush and duck potato were installed shortly afterward, followed by more than 70 varieties of animals that come and go with the seasons." About "1.8 million gallons of treated wastewater a day moves through a series of ponds with native trees and shrubs. The plant life and microbes absorb mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous before the water reaches the river."
jillithian: (pwnd Cute Overload)
This is awesome:

from St. Cloud Times website

Athletic complex upgrades bring savings
By Lawrence Schumacher • lschumacher@stcloudtimes.com • December 3, 2008

If not for the deep fryer in the concession stand, natural gas would no longer be needed at St. Cloud’s Municipal Athletic Complex.

“We’ve had a normal gas bill of $14,000 or $15,000 a month, but this month I figure it’ll be more like $200 or $300,” said Todd Bissett, arena operations manager at the MAC.

Bissett, other city officials, builders and contractors and some curious residents showed up Tuesday at Dave Torrey Arena to see what’s making the MAC not a little, but a lot “greener” these days.

The answer is a $1.7 million geoexchange heating and cooling system installed during the summer and fall. It is ready for this winter’s skating season.

The system will cut natural gas use by 95 percent, electricity use by 30 percent, save 4 million gallons of water and eliminate 300,000 pounds of greenhouse gases while saving the city money, said Bob Swanger, vice president for Harris Companies, the group that sold the technology to the city.Read more... )
jillithian: (typewriter)
In continuing coverage of my previous post:

Lawmakers Urge Government Enforcement Of Chemical Ban In Toys.

USA Today (11/25, Szabo) reported, "Congressional supporters of a new law meant to protect children from dangerous chemicals are trying to make sure that the government enforces the legislation as they intended." The legislation was passed in August as "a landmark consumer safety law that raises standards for toys and virtually bans several hormone-like chemicals called phthalates in products for children under 12." Last week, a staff attorney at the Consumer Product Safety Commission "released a legal opinion stating that stores may continue to sell toys with phthalates, as long as those items were made before Feb. 10." But, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), co-author of the ban, said that, according to this statement, "that could allow toys with phthalates to remain on the shelves for years, with no way for parents to know which toys contain the chemicals." She added that "lawmakers wanted toys with the controversial chemicals to be off the market when the law takes effect Feb. 10."


I had emailed all of my lawmakers about this. It's not exactly what I wanted, but it is MUCH better than what was previously going to happen.
jillithian: (typewriter)
Senator Coleman and I have been corresponding a lot, lately. I've sent him a couple of emails recently (along with similar emails to my representatives) and he's been kind enough to respond (or, has some well appointed staff members). The Congress.org website can be dangerous in the hands of an opinionated and demanding woman such as myself.

My most recent email I've sent him:
I oppose the $25 billion in emergency loans to the auto industry because
bad management should NOT be rewarded. These car companies are hurting
because they haven't actually had to COMPETE with any foreign car
companies due to the funds the government has already sent them over the
years. Let's get American cars competitive again! If they don't have to
fight for their own existence - like any other company out there - they
get complacent, uncompetitive and too big - like they are now.

Sincerely,


Jill


And his very informative response:Read more... )

It took me a second to remember that we have a threatened Ford plant in St. Paul ([livejournal.com profile] viksin and [livejournal.com profile] princeaeneas both lived near it for a while). It seems the more I learn in my Internation Business Management class, the less I am for government bailouts. The history of Nokia is interesting in that they came from a highly competitive environment and had to be competitive in order to succeed and survive. However, I think the failure of the $600 billion financial bailout is looming large in the minds of Congress right now - and rightly so! - and they are finally looking at it in a financially smart way. Banks shouldn't give out money and loans willy nilly without seeing how the money will be used. Governments shouldn't either.

In similar news, the recount resumes today. Looks like Senator Coleman may be beating Mr. Franken by only tens of votes. Talk about every vote counts!
jillithian: (Grumpy)
This really pisses me off:

Federal Regulators Decide Some Toys With Banned Plastics To Stay on Market.

On the front page of its Business section, the Washington Post (11/19, D1, Shin) reports, "A new federal ban on the use of the controversial chemical phthalate in teethers, pacifiers and other children's products won't apply to goods already in warehouses or on store shelves," the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said on Tuesday. Under the decision, "it will be illegal to sell products made after the ban takes effect Feb. 10 that contain certain types of phthalates, chemicals used in soft plastic that have been linked to reproductive problems." The ban, "passed in August as part of a landmark product safety law, is supposed to remain in effect until a panel finishes a scientific review of phthalates." But, according to "consumer advocates and several Hill staffers who worked on the provision," the "decision violates the intent of the law." Consumer advocates also claim that "the decision will cause confusion for consumers," asking, "How will parents know whether the rubber ducky they're buying was made today and not in March?" Notably, "the decision came as a relief to makers of children's products...who faced the prospect of having to test products and components at great expense."


This directly means that they are putting money in front of children's health. And that's just WRONG.
jillithian: (Default)
Another excellent article written by my good friend [livejournal.com profile] thetim regarding trailblazers in history: Trailblazers

Read it!
jillithian: (Toe Jam)
Wow.

According to Google 2008 Elections page, Al Franken lost to the incumbent Norm Coleman for Minnesota's US Senate race by less than 600 votes. 1,210,942 to Norm versus 1,210,371 to Al.

Holy crap. I'd be asking for a recount, too, if it was that close!

Historic

Nov. 4th, 2008 10:14 pm
jillithian: (pwnd Cute Overload)
I voted for the first African American President of the United States.

Yes, I did.

Interesting to note: at the polls, once they verify that you are registered, they give you one of two different color voter receipts to exchange for a ballot: white for pre-registered and orange for election day registered.

When I voted tonight at 6pm, the pile of orange was just as tall as the pile of white for my ward. As I left the voting room, I snuck a peek at the other ward's room, and there was a table packed full of young new voters filling out their registration cards.

That's freakin' awesome. Let's hope they vote next year, too!

Let's just keep our fingers crossed that Tinklenberg kicks Michelle Bachman out of the US House!

Also, I really respect Senator McCain's concession speech. I appreciate the respect he is giving President-elect Obama.



How am I supposed to go to sleep after this?!?
jillithian: (Default)
Take an example of the US Citizenship test:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13442226

I scored a 90%!

[livejournal.com profile] dibsy can probably tell us if that test is a good representation of the real test...
jillithian: (vomitus girl)
Ummm....

So, BBC News' website has the Day In Pictures which I enjoy viewing when I have a few moments. Today, there is this one:

The caption reads as such:
Japan's Princess Takamado pours tea for Britain's Prince Charles during the prince's visit to Nagano.


Am I the only one who notices that Price Charles' mug says "BEER" on the side of it?
jillithian: (Polly)
To steal from [livejournal.com profile] gfrancie, this link is so freaking amazing it makes me cry: http://wearenottheenemy.blogspot.com/


And, this link is so freaking frustrating, again, I feel like crying: Minnesota State Law Library: Same Sex Marriage.

And so, I now admit to grabbing almost the entire post here that Ms. Gennie wrote and I emailed my state representatives and my state senator. (I said that "my friend said it best:...")

Seriously, you need to go to the first link up above. It is so full of love and wonderfulness.
jillithian: (Grumpy)
I am disappointed by Reader's Digest.

Growing up, I had an affinity for it as something to aspire to be smart enough to read all the way through - not just the jokes and after-story snippets.

Tim brought home a copy of the April digest from work a week or so ago with the front cover talking about living green. I read through it the other night and have been disappointed ever since.

At the bottom of the page, they had a list of 5 Things Not to Sweat.

Maybe it's my current immersion in academia that makes me require references and citations for anything stated as fact, but #1 (Turning off your car's air conditioner) and #5 (Going organic) of that list pissed me off. There are comments that just are hearsay with nothing to back them up. Vague comments just come off as incorrect and misleading.

Reader's Digest says:
Yes, the AC does affect fuel efficiency. But Consumer Reports figures it amounts to only one mile per gallon, and edmunds.com says you could end up burning more if you open the windows and increase air resistance.


Bankrate.com (in this article after speaking with, AND CITING, people from Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, Consumer Reports' auto-test department, and GasBuddy.com) says:
So to achieve maximum fuel efficiency, motorists should avoid using the air conditioner at speeds below 40 mph and travel with their windows down.
...
Drive at speeds over 55 mph with windows down and you'll decrease fuel economy by up to 20 percent or greater.
...
It's all in your speed.

You don't get that impression from the snippet Reader's Digest published, do you?

Reader's Digest says:
Since organic farms often yield less per acre than factory farms, organic food requires more land, leaving less room for forests that absorb carbon dioxide and wilderness areas that promote biodiversity.


The LA Times reported (full article also reprinted here):
The study, published in today's issue of Science, reported that organic farming methods used 50% less energy, 97% less pesticide and as much as 51% less fertilizer than conventional methods.

After two decades of cultivation, the soil in the study's test plots was still rich in nutrients, resistant to erosion and readily water absorbent. Overall, organic crop yields averaged about 20% less than conventionally farmed crops, although the differences covered a wide range. Potato yields, for example, were 58% to 66% of those produced by conventional means. The production of wheat reached 90% of a conventional harvest.

...

To measure the benefits and drawbacks of each system, the researchers set up 96 small plots on a site near Basel, Switzerland where they grew wheat and potatoes on a seven-year crop rotation cycle.

After three cycles, Fliessbach said that the advantages conferred by the organic system could be divided into "below ground benefits" and "above ground benefits."

Below-ground benefits included a rich diversity of microorganisms, which in turn led to better soil structure, more efficient plant growth and superior water absorbency. Higher counts of beneficial insects such as earthworms contributed to soil fertility and reduced fertilizer requirements by half.

Above ground, organic farming proved resistant to the classical scourges of farming crops : drought and erosion. It also eliminated the problems of pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer pollution.
...

In April 2001, Washington State's Reganold published a six-year study in the magazine Nature, concluding that organic apple farming was not only better for the soil and the environment than its conventional counterpart but had comparable yields, higher profits and greater energy efficiency.

Again, with the over generalization, Reader's Digest fails to confer the truth and instead just perpetuates hearsay.
jillithian: (Grumpy)
It is articles like this one that make me very hesitant to ever travel to the Middle East:

From the BBC
Saudi cleric favours one-eye veil

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

The question of how much of her face a woman should cover is a controversial topic in many Muslim societies.

The niqab is more common in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but women in much of the Muslim Middle East wear a headscarf which covers only their hair.

Sheikh Habadan, an ultra-conservative cleric who is said to have wide influence among religious Saudis, was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd.


Only being able to see out one eye would not be healthy for either eye and could be fatal in public and traffic when depth perception is required. Of course, many places in Saudi Arabia don't allow women to be seen in public without very strict requirements. People were protesting the Olympics in China for their lack of support for human rights, but the USA is no different when many of our top officials are bedfellows with Saudi Arabians that allow - or even PROMOTE - this kind of bullshit.

I have respect for people following their beliefs and faiths, but there are limits to what is a belief and a faith and what is just men dictating the actions of women.
jillithian: (Default)
Voluntary System of Accountability Program
From their website:
The VSA is a voluntary initiative for 4-year public colleges and universities. Developed through a partnership between the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the VSA is designed to help institutions meet the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate accountability and stewardship to public
  • Measure educational outcomes to identify effective educational practices
  • Assemble information that is accessible, understandable, and comparable


Both my university and [livejournal.com profile] thetim and [livejournal.com profile] princess_nicci's previous university are participants. There's some interesting stuff in there.

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jillithian: (Default)
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