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The Misadventures of Quinxy von Besiex truths, lies, and everything in between

4Jan/140

A Happy ACA (Obamacare) Subscriber

The news is filled with people bemoaning the ACA (aka Obamacare).  I am not one of them.  My situation has greatly improved.  I was a single guy, no kids, early forties, paying $650/month for a HIPAA plan with very high copays and $5,000 deductible.  I am now paying $370/month for a platinum plan (10% copay) with $500 deductible.  I couldn't be happier.

I have always been a non-smoker, non-drinker, non-drug user, and reasonably healthy.  But no insurance company would give me an individual healthcare plan, not since I was 25.  I was rejected without explanation by many companies.  Presumably they rejected me based on pre-existing conditions, but my pre-existing conditions were trivial, some mild depression and anxiety, but never hospitalized for that or anything else.  I finally got insurance through work, and was able to transition to an individual HIPAA plan after becoming a consultant.  I could not switch to anything better or cheaper, though, still no company not forced by HIPAA to take me would have me.  And I looked into the "high risk" pool coverage (the only other option) that California offered and was shocked to find it was a) expensive, b) had a long waiting list to get in, c) provided really low and weak coverage.  So, until the ACA rolled out January 1, 2014 I was stuck.

The news reporting of others' experience with ACA plans has me a little confused.  The vast majority of people seem to have had really lousy policies which didn't offer much coverage and they are now complaining that they are forced to buy a more comprehensive policy and thus pay more for it.  I have somewhat limited sympathy for those situations, because I think the reality is that those cheap policies often just wind up shifting the cost to everyone when someone who has one of those policies gets seriously ill, finds their policy doesn't provide adequate coverage, and goes bankrupt or otherwise requires the hospitals and debt agencies to eat the loss when they can't pay their bills.  The people buying those policies may claim that it's the right plan for them, the right price, and that it's just what they need, but I have to believe on a macro scale that's just not born out, that the rest of society takes a financial hit for their stinginess.  If you know that to be false, please correct me.  For the remaining minority of people making the news whose prices have gone up significantly without an increase in coverage, and without any offsetting tax reduction, I do feel very badly, and hope cheaper options become available, or other corrective measures are taken.

If nothing else, I am very glad that the health insurance system was finally forced to move away from the cruel and capricious system of excluding people because of pre-existing conditions, it was a savage system that usually unfairly penalized people who had no hand in their conditions, leaving them to fend for themselves or pay dearly for rotten coverage.  Whatever people may say about the ACA, at least it did away with that...

^ Q

3Jan/140

Why Christians Should Pay for Health Insurance Covered Abortions

I wish that we lived in a world where people could always control what their dollars directly and indirectly funded, but we don't, and Christians only seem to care when it's their money and something they believe is immoral.  Would most Christians support another person's "rights" not to have their income tax fund foreign wars/actions they morally oppose?  The vast majority of Christians would certainly not, and for that reason I cannot support their right to pick and choose their healthcare funding according to their morals.  If they want to broaden the debate, and argue that everyone should be able to refuse to contribute towards things they believe are immoral, then I'll be happy to support their cause.  Until then, we might as well all be stuck in the same boat, until we together pick a course that gets us to a better land.

^ Q

P.S. - Of course beyond issues of morality, there are lots of other purely lifestyle related costs we make others pay for.  If a couple chooses to have 5 children that can incur public schooling costs of $600k (from kindergarten through high school), that burden is disproportionately covered by those who choose to never have any kids or have just one.  As a society we have decided to pool our resources, accepting the many potential inequities, injustices, and betrayals of personal conscience.  We can't have it both ways.

28Dec/130

Note to Self: Clean Out Laptop Vents More Often!

I recently had a problem where my laptop shut down to protect itself from heat after only a few minutes of playing a game.  I'd played the game quite a bit in recent weeks, so I couldn't figure out why the computer shut down this time.  I installed Core Temp to keep track of just how hot my CPU was getting and sure enough it would instantly jump up to 200-215 F the moment the game started and hover there (max CPU temperature before shutdown is ~221 F).  Not knowing what the temperatures were expected to be playing this game, I didn't know if my situation was highly unusual or totally normal (seemed unusual, but I wasn't sure as the laptop wasn't meant for gaming).  I made a mental note to clean out the CPU and GPU vents on the laptop.  Today I did that and wow, doing the exact same thing the CPU temperatures are now 160 F instead of 210 F, a huge 50 F drop (25% drop)!  I had no idea it could make so much of a difference.  I really must remember to clean out the vents/fans once a month.

^ Q

Filed under: Technology No Comments
2Dec/132

The Unsporting Life of Deer Hunting

hunting-deer-designI understand many of the aspects of what makes hunting appealing. I like guns. I like the outdoors, and experiencing it through hiking and camping. But where I begin to lose my understanding is with the selection of deer as targets. Deer are pretty inoffensive creatures. From my contact with them, in my backyard, on hikes, on roads, at parks, they seem fairly sweet, fairly trusting, and fairly stupid. A few times a year they wander into my back yard and even with me or my dog outside they don't immediately take flight. The only real danger they represent to man is of the jumping in front of the car variety; and while that is a problem, and does take human lives, the deer are as innocent as can be in the matter. So, why pick on deer? Making matters worse is the way in which many people choose to hunt deer.  Today begins deer hunting season where I live and I just read a news article which included interviews from people about their kills and this one woman said, "The deer had just bedded down for a rest, right in front of me, and I got it!"  Umm.... That just seems so unsporting. The deer doesn't have a chance. It's not moving, it's not afraid, it's not on guard, it's just lying down to relax after a hard day of deer-ing, and this woman sees that as the perfect moment to end its life?

I knew a guy who owned a large piece of land on which he ran a hang gliding school during the summer months. Someone approached him one fall to see if the property could be used for hunting. The guy I knew politely declined, saying he didn't think deer hunting was very sporting. The man then revealed that his method of hunting was to use only a large knife, and to leap from a tree to kill the deer. The property owner changed his mind, and gave the other man the go ahead. And apparently the guy was legit and did in fact kill a deer this way. Now, I'm not sure what was involved in that hunt, I imagine some bait was used to get the deer to stray under the tree where the man was. But, still, it seems a hell of a lot better than safely dropping a sleepy buck from fifty feet away with a scope.

I can make some sense of people killing lions, tigers, sharks, (perhaps) bears, creatures that seem to possess some cunning, that require some skill to take, involve some element of personal risk, etc. But killing a friendly, curious, inoffensive deer just does not make much sense to me. And of course when hunters use automated feeders to bait and lure the animals, providing them feed for weeks or months ahead of the hunt to ensure they will be easy, docile, trusting, available prey when the day comes, I completely lose the plot.

I don't get it. Clearly I don't. I must be using the wrong yardstick to try and measure the sporting-ness and enjoyment of deer hunting. Perhaps a more realistic understanding of deer hunting is to see it as a mix of a plinker doing some backyard target shooting and a farmer killing a penned animal. It's not about giving the animal a fair chance, or any chance at all, it's about the conversion of a deer into meat and/or a trophy, with the added enjoyment of firing a gun and relatively easy target shooting. Still, it doesn't sound like fun to me. Even if the deer was animatronic, and any moral questions were suspended, I just can't imagine myself finding much delight in this type of hunting, against what seems relatively easy prey. My only experience of anything close to "hunting" is playing paintball, against witting humans, and for me the enjoyment is the challenge of getting inside the mind of the opponent, trying to do battle with his strategy, and in the skill involved in the shooting, and selecting, tuning the equipment.  If you replaced my human opponents in the paintball park with some deer wearing goggles and face masks I think I'd feel rather embarrassed to take a shot at them, least of all because they were wearing goggles and a mask; it just wouldn't seem sporting.

^ Q

1Dec/130

How is Paul Walker’s (Fast and Furious) death a tragedy*?

Actor Paul Walker of the Fast and Furious movie franchise and his friend and business partner Roger Rodas died the other day and the world seems to be mourning the loss as a horrific, unexpected, unfair tragedy, but I'm struggling to see it as they do.

Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious franchise celebrated street racing and tuning culture, directly and indirectly encouraging its growth in recent years.  Paul Walker and Roger Rodas were business partners in a tuning, custom car company, which surely supplied sweeter rides to many people who would then drive them at excessive speeds on public roads. People illegally street racing, even if it's only racing against themselves, arrogantly put others lives in serious danger for their own pleasure. Paul Walker and Roger Rodas died in a car meant for racing going (we can safely assume based on the destruction of the car) well above the speed limit on a public road. It is a horrible thing when anyone dies, but I'm struggling to understand how this situation is extraordinarily tragic.  He and the driver made a conscious choice, as they had no doubt many other times before, to put others' lives at risk by driving at excessive speed on a public road.  They rolled the dice, and this time they lost.  It feels more predictable than tragic.

Paul Walker may have been in many respects a wonderful human being, a kind and generous human being, doing more good for the world than bad, but I find it a little disturbing that so many who celebrate him and bemoan the event seem to fail to recognize the cause-and-effect nature of the accident, and how much worse it could have easily been if they had taken others' lives with them.  I don't expect people in their mini Twitter eulogies/etc. to remark about this, necessarily, but in the dozens of news site comments I've read I've not seen a single person seem to make the connection, instead I see people saying things like, "If Paul had been driving I bet this wouldn't have happened, he was a great driver."  and "If they'd been driving XYZ car instead this wouldn't have happened."  Surely a lot of people are missing the point.

Imagine if this had instead been a heroin overdose death of a great actor whose professional life involved making six movies celebrating the wondrous joys of heroin and drug culture and co-owning a company that sold drug paraphernalia.  People would mourn the loss of the actor but not fail to notice the pretty direct cause-and-effect relationship at work in the death.

If you drive recklessly and/or at excessive speeds on public roads you are selfishly risking other people's lives and your own for your own kicks.  You should be jailed until and unless you can abide by the laws and pose a no-more-than-normal risk to others.

^ Q

* I mean "tragedy" in a sense greater than that attached to anyone's death; all deaths being tragic.

16Nov/130

How can anyone not see that universal health care is inevitable?

Ignoring implementation issues and the specific terms of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), I really don't understand how any sensible person can fail to see the logical necessity of having an entire society covered by health care (at least to the level of catastrophic health insurance).  

The simple facts are these:

  • Anyone can become ill.
  • Being ill is expensive, being seriously ill is incomprehensively (life destroyingly) expensive.
  • Many people do not have health insurance.
  • U.S. hospitals are required to provide life-saving health care to people regardless of ability to pay.
  • U.S. hospitals also provide health care with non life-saving conditions who they expect to pay.
  • Until the ACA many people were unable to get insurance or had severely limited policies because of pre-existing conditions (many, if not most, of which were absolutely not a result of poor diet, lifestyle choices).
  • U.S. hospitals cover the cost of non-paying patients by raising costs for paying patients, depressing nurse and doctor pay, and thereby effectively taxing everyone who pays for medical services.
  • People who go bankrupt because of high medical bills cost shift financial burdens to everyone (from unpaid bank/car/school/credit car loans, etc.).
  • Younger people require less health care than older people; but young people (who do not die prematurely) will all to a person become old people.

The system we've had from the eighties until now has been very shoddily constructed.  The concept with any insurance is simple, distribute the risk across the largest pool of relevant people, so that they can all can be protected at a price they can afford.  The issue of what is the relevant pool is certainly up for some discussion.  Those issuing the insurance want to collect enough premiums to cover the risks they are securing (and make a profit), sell as many policies as possible to ensure that their risk is distributed / mitigated and profits maximized, and eliminate as many bad, ongoing risks as possible.  

Unlike any other kind of insurance I can think of (e.g., car insurance, homeowner's insurance, life insurance) , a person need do nothing more than exist in order to potentially require others to pay for expenses (medical in this case) on their behalf.  It makes sense to require owners and operators of cars to have car insurance because they have created a situation in which they are very likely to create potentially catastrophic expenses for themselves and others by the use or misuse of a car.  And while pedestrians who do not own/operate a car can and do cause some car accidents, the events are few enough that society has decided to let that risk be absorbed by drivers, not everyone (in other words, if a pedestrian causes a car accident, the car insurance (depending on policy) would help the driver, and separately sue the pedestrian).  But simply being born is all that is required to potentially cost others in society tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  A baby might be born into the world to parents without insurance and immediately require $200k of life saving care, an uninsured 18 year old might require expensive cancer treatments and have no family support.  

I hear people say, "I'm 23 [or perhaps 53], I'm unlikely to get sick, I don't need health insurance.  I'm self-insuring."  But that is just ignorant, they are not self-insuring.  They have no capacity to cover catastrophic costs.  If that 23 (or 53) year old suddenly finds out they have an aggressive cancer that requires tens or hundreds of thousands in treatment, the odds are extremely high that they will not meet their financial obligations and may escape them through bankruptcy.  We all would pay for that person's decision not to have health insurance, through higher medical costs, through higher bank and credit card costs (if they went bankrupt).  

And if we can acknowledge that everyone needs insurance and should have it throughout their life, then the notion that young people are paying rates higher than the benefits they collectively will receive in the short term, in order to subsidize older people's premiums, becomes somewhat moot.  What does it matter?  They could divide up total lifetime health care premiums by the 77.5 years (or so) we're expected to live and charge that amount to everyone, so it is completely consistent from age 1 to age 77.  But it makes more sense to me to charge less when people are younger and have fewer resources, and more when people are older and are more likely to have more resources.  Further, it makes even more sense to adjust the premiums somewhat so that they do not continue to grow insanely high as you get very old, when people have a fixed income; this requires shifting some of those costs to those who are younger.  I fail to see any ideological, moral, logistical problem with this.  

I cannot imagine anyone suggesting we charge an 80 year old a premium based on their actual one-year likelihood to require major medical help, it would cost them far more than they could afford.  Likewise why would we imagine charging a 23 year old only what he's likely to cost medically in the near term?  Insurance only works as a concept if people are in it for the long haul.

I think Obama has made a mess of the current and critical ACA 2014 debut, between the website failures and the grossly misleading statements about people being able to keep their health care (I am one who was notified that I am losing mine), but I can only still conclude it was the right thing to do and we're long overdue for having it.  If the Republicans wanted a different solution they had decades in power under several Bushes and a Reagan in which to implement something, and they did not; I'm not even aware of any serious, sensible solution they've proposed which acknowledges that everyone must have coverage for all their lives if the system is to work.

Am I missing something?

^ Quinxy

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013 Quinxy von Besiex
9Nov/130

My Treadmill Desk: Week 1

treadmill_deskLast week I set up a treadmill desk.  I've gained more pounds than I'd like to admit over the last couple of years, trying to eat my way out of unhappiness, combined with a move that placed me far away from the healthier eating-out food options I used to enjoy (and far closer to the sinister ones).

I had years ago heard about people using treadmill desks and had always meant to give it a try.   As I am at my computer 14 hours a day or so the ability to turn some of that time into a workout was very appealing.  For my recent birthday I bought myself a LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill with the goal of using it in a treadmill desk setup.  A few companies now make treadmills specifically for use with a desk, some even include the desk, and LifeSpan does in fact make a treadmill for these purposes, the LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Standing Desk Treadmill (no desk included).  As I compared the features of LifeSpan's desk-flavored treadmill with their regular treadmill I became convinced that I'd be far better off converting their traditional treadmill to desk use.  The non-desk version costs the exact same amount ($999) but includes a number of really powerful features: a) variable incline 0 - 15 degrees), b) pulse rate monitor (in handrails or via chest strap), c) fancier programs (since it uses incline and pulse monitor), and d) it includes running speeds (0.5 - 10 mph, instead of 0.4 - 4 mph). The only feature you seem to lose is some sort of bluetooth ability, which I didn't really investigate.  Otherwise they appear identical in terms of specs.

All I had to do to convert the non-desk version to one I could use with my desk was remove the vertical portion of the treadmill, which involved removing a few bolts and pulling the console's cable out so I could re-run the cable to the console which I had now mounted on my desk with double sided foam tape.  Easy-peasy.  And I bought the chest strap ($40) so I could get constant heart rate monitoring without needing to hold onto hand rails; originally I was going to remount the hand rails to my desk, but the chest strap is a far more elegant solution.

For the desk I use my much loved Ikea Jerker, a design Ikea never should have retired (anyone who wants one and lives near a major metropolitan area can find one on Craigslist for $75 - 100).  I set up a second Ikea Jerker desk to the left of my treadmill desk with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse so when I want to sit in a normal chair I can just work there (using RDP).  The idea was to virtually force myself to use the treadmill desk as I would do almost anything to avoid using this tiny single monitor and less familiar keyboard when I could be using my three monitor setup with my normal keyboard/mouse, but to permit me a fallback when I needed it.  The other side of that is that I actually would rather walk than stand, I find standing less comfortable, so as long as I'm standing, I'm highly likely to walk.

After the first few days I discovered that my fall back desk with tiny monitor really wasn't such a brilliant idea.  I need to be on my computer 14 or so hours every day and it's just never going to be realistic for me to walk all 14 hours.  And since I was just starting back into an exercise routine and needed time for my body to adjust I'm doing about 2 - 3 hours walking a day, and using that tiny little monitor and unfamiliar keyboard just wasn't cutting it, my productivity plummeted.  I would either work slowly or completely avoid doing things on the computer, suddenly wanting to organize, clean things, etc.  I needed another solution...  and this is when I made my treadmill chair!

SONY DSCYears ago I bought a pair of those fantastic aluminum stools that Crate and Barrel was kind enough to knock off.  I bought it for my MAME arcade machine, which is currently in storage.  It was the perfect height to place on top of the treadmill so that I could use my regular setup without standing.  The problem was, I didn't want to damage the treadmill belt, and it seemed inevitable that distributing my weight down to those four thin aluminum legs was a recipe for disaster.  I'm sure the belt would have been fine for a while, but it certainly would have accelerated its deterioration.  But what material would be safe to use against a treadmill belt, to allow me to distribute the weight better?  Wood?  Metal?  Cardboard?  Shoes!  If there's anything that a treadmill was meant to have on it, it's shoes!  So I ran down to Walmart and bought two pairs of fake converse shoes for $12 a pair and made wooden inserts for the shoes onto which I attached the stool legs (via hot glue gun).  And it works perfectly!

Now I can use my treadmill for walking and whenever I need take a break on my treadmill chair.

I've been using the setup for about a week now and I must say I am encouraged. The first couple of days I walked about 2 hours, then I took a day off because my legs were hurting, and the next couple of days I've been doing about 2.5 - 3 hours a day. One issue has been trying to figure out what the right speed is. For the first few days I was at 1.5 mph, then I bumped it up to about 2.0 to 2.5 mph for the last few days, and am finding the speed I can do relates quite a bit to the work I need to do. Trying to operate a mouse with precision in a graphic design package at 2.5 mph isn't something I can yet do. This is where the incline is particularly nice, and why I'm very happy I got a treadmill with incline. If I need to dial down the speed I can always increase the incline to make sure I'm still getting a good workout. Right now to write this I'm doing 1.8 mph and a 5 degree incline, instead of 2.8 mph and a 0 degree incline. The CDC says you need to be going at least 3 mph for a healthy fast walking exercise, but that is still a little beyond my abilities to do while using my computer.

Only time will tell if this is a lasting solution to my problem of being too sedentary.

^ Quinxy

8Nov/130

Sketchup Hanging on Start? Disable OpenGL Acceleration via Registry

My Sketchup 2013 copy suddenly stopped working right. First it would hang if I tried to add a scene, then it just hang and race the processor once it started up. I tried all the latest drivers for my AMD Radeon 7800M, but no change.

I knew I could at least run Sketchup if I could disable the use of OpenGL hardware acceleration.

The registry key that you need to modify is in this registry branch:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SketchUp\SketchUp 2013\Preferences

Modify this registry key:
GfxUseAccelerationOnScreen

And make it now equal to 0 (it's of type REG_DWORD)

Voila!

Sketchup should now start!

Of course it'll perform very poorly if you're working with a big/complex model and you're using "View > Face Style > Shaded" or  "View > Face Style > Shaded with Textures" so remember you can switch to "View > Face Style > Wireframe" when you can get by without seeing the faces and textures because that will still perform very well.

Working without the hardware acceleration is better than not being able to use Sketchup at all.  Not sure if my problem is truly a driver problem as Tremble/Sketchup would have me believe or if it's a bug in Sketchup.

^ Quinxy

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25Jun/130

LinkedIn: How I Grew My Network Fast, from 30 to 1300 Connections in Only 14 days

linkedin__1217linkedinAs part of my combination job search and software project promotion I've made it my goal to revitalized my my LinkedIn network.  I signed up 7 years ago but just never used it.  I began with a very modest ~30 connections and within 14 days I reached 1300 1st degree connections, all with minimal effort.  Let me share with you the "magic" of how I did it.

But first, a major caveat.  Creating a big network requires you to accept the axiom put forward by Will Rogers that, “A stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet.”  The premise of LinkedIn, and most social media sites,  is that you create your network to reflect your real world relationships, and while that would be nice, the reality is that it's never going to happen.  The boundaries of human relationships are fuzzy -- the line between friends, acquaintances, long lost acquaintances, and friendly strangers is blurry.  And people, being naturally social, always seek to make new friends, new acquaintances for personal and professional reasons.  So, if your LinkedIn policy is to limit your network to only people you truly know, then your network will likely be and remain fairly small.  Dunbar's number is a theorized number suggesting humans can only maintain a real cognitive connection with 100-250 others.  As most people do not have thousands and thousands of people they directly know well in real life to invite, if you want a larger network you will need to make connections with friends you haven't met yet.

Invite Your Real World Connections First

Before you begin trying to expand your network with people you may not know, first make sure to spend a few days to a week connecting with those you do know, using LinkedIn's recommendations to allow you to find all those connections which you may not initially directly have access to or remember.  For example, you may remember a coworker John A. at the last company you worked for, but not remember anyone else.  But once John A. accepts your invite LinkedIn will start to suggest the names of others who worked there, too.  This will jog your memory and you can reconnect with those others, and keep expanding your real world connections out in this manner.  Once you embark on adding virtual connections the usefulness of the recommendation system will quickly drop to zero and you'll likely never see another useful real world recommendation again!  So make sure you do this first!

Do Not Invite (Just Any) Random Strangers

It is critical that you do not spam random strangers with LinkedIn requests.  Your LinkedIn account will be suspended!  When anyone receives a LinkedIn invite they have three options: Accept, Archive, or I Don't Know. Accept means just what you think it does.  Archive means do not accept the invite, but file it away so I don't see it any more.  "I Don't Know" theoretically means "I Don't Know [this Person in Real Life]", but what it really means is "I Don't [Want to] Know [this Person]".  If you have too many people say "I Don't Know" then your account will be suspended.  So it is very important you do not invite those who will "I Don't Know" you.  Fortunately a great many friendly strangers within LinkedIn do want to know you and indicate as such in their profiles, a common acronym for these people is LION (LinkedIn Open Network), you will see it in their name line and in their profiles.  But just because they say LION does not necessarily mean they will not "I Don't Know" (IDK) you.  While most LIONs will NOT IDK you, some may use the LION phrase without appreciating what it implies, and others may simply not accept what it implies.  So the way to stay safe is to look in their profile for a phrase like, "I never IDK."  If you're going to invite a friend you haven't met yet, make sure they never IDK!

Indicate your Openness in your Profile

Now that you know about LIONs and IDKs, you can put those elements in your summary and you will see an increase in the number of incoming invitations to connect you will get.  You are saying you are open for others to invite you, and they will.  But this alone will not get you many connections fast.  Your profile is just too invisible.  At best you might get a slow trickle of 0-2 invites a day just by including these things in your summary/profile.

You may wish to remove these indicators from your profile later, once you feel you have enough connections.  I can only assume that many people make judgments based on whether a profile seems more populated by real world connections or virtual ones, and putting LION or IDK in your profile may may lower your profile's perceived value to those people.

Boost Your Visibility by Joining Groups

LinkedIn allows people to see the detailed profiles of others when they are 1st degree connections, 2nd degree connections, or share group membership.  This last item is very important.  If you join a group of 15,000 you have effectively grown your network by that many people, you become more visible to them and they to you.  I recommend joining as many groups as reasonable to your interests, favoring the larger groups (each group indicates how many members are in it and how active it is, there is little value in joining a group of 150 people who have no active conversations).

Join LION (and related) Groups

If your goal is to make friends fast one key is to join LION-related groups.  Almost all of them have posts which are purely there for the purpose of making friends.  The way it works is someone creates a post and says, "Let's network, post your email as a comment!" and people do just that.  The comment threads are often 2,000+ comments long, which means (roughly, there are repeats) 2,000 people are indicating an interest to befriend anyone, and sharing their email address so that you can invite them.

I won't detail the process, but generally speaking here is how you can use these posts/comments if you so choose.

Step 1: Expand entire comment section.  

Keep expanding all the comment pages in the given post.  As you scroll down it will keep expanding the content, until every so often it requires that you click "SHOW MORE COMMENTS".  Keep repeating until you run out or get tired.

Step 2: Copy or save the HTML of that post and the shown comments.

Step 3: Extract the email addresses.

With the content of the page you can now extract the emails into a nice clean list.  You can use online tools to do this (such as this one), your favorite text editor (using regular expression), or other tools.

Step 4: Import your email address list into LinkedIn Contact List.

linkedin_add_contactThe next step will be to send a message to all these people saying that you too would like to connect.  To do this you need to import their email addresses into LinkedIn's contact list.  If you have any contacts already in that list you should delete them, otherwise how will you know who is who?  Deleting is a pain because the contact list only lets you delete in small batches (under ~100?)  otherwise you get an error.

linkedin_add_contact_2Once you have cleared your contact list, it's time to import the new one.  For that click the add contact icon in the top right and then on the page that follows choose the upload contact list option, seen highlighted in the screen capture.  Then just give it your big list of emails.

Step 5: Contact your Contacts!  

Now that the contacts are in the list you need to select them, choose a custom message, and invite them.  I strongly recommend the message you choose reference how you found them and why you are connecting.  Something like, "I found your email listed on the [Insert Name of Original Post] thread as someone interested in more connections, I would like to add you as mine.  Thanks."  And you'll need to repeat this quite a few times because they don't let you email to all at once.  I did it by letter, first all the As, then the Bs, etc.

And voila, the connections will begin to come pouring in.  But keep in mind, having connections doesn't alone do very much for you!  You'll need to begin posting, interacting, etc. to leverage the network you build.

NOTE: LinkedIn imposes a fixed limit on outgoing invites (I believe it is 3,000), so once you hit that limit you won't be able to invite any more people.  Others can still invite you, though.  You can contact customer service to try and get your limit raised but they may not accommodate you.  From what I have read they look at your activity and ratios for IDKing, etc.  And withdrawing invites from your InMail Sent folder does not restore invite credits. 

Update: A week later and I'm now at 2,000 connections.  There has been a steady stream of acceptances since my initial invite distribution, and a subsequent smaller one of about 600 seemed to keep the connections coming.  It remains to be seen just how useful this network will prove to be, to what use I can put it in the promotion of myself, my projects, etc.  I suspect it will have severely limited potential in those respects.

^ Q

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20Jun/131

The N-Word as Used by Whites

wp_paula

Recently celebrity chef Paula Deen was forced to admit she had used the N-word multiple times in the past.  She denied being a racist and seemed to excuse the behavior as  as being done a) a long time ago, b) at least once in reference to an African-American who put a gun to her head in a bank robbery.

Whether it's Mel Gibson hurling abuse at Jewish people, Michael Richards peppering black comedy patrons with the N-word, or Paula Deen venting to her husband about the terror she felt, the explanations given always insist that they would ordinarily never use such language, but that it was a freak event, that they were under extreme provocation, and that, therefore, they are not really racist.  Their position is indefensible.  The insulting words spring to their lips because they are racist, not because the situation inspired the use of those words.

My own interactions with people of color have not always been positive.  I have been a victim of a home robbery committed by an African-American.  And I've been stalked/harassed over months by a separate African-American.  But their skin color was not dominant in my thoughts about why they were a perpetrator and why I was their victim.  One of the perpetrators was a homeless drug addict looking for money for a fix and the other a homeless person with serious mental problems who believed I was living in *his* house.  But never did I find the N-word springing to my lips.  I genuinely cannot imagine why on Earth it would.  I have had ample positive experiences involving people of color that I cannot imagine any provocation sufficient to cause me to reduce an entire diverse race of people down to one ugly, monstrous word.  The N-word couldn't form on my lips because it doesn't ring true in my ears.  If you have ever known one great black person, how could you ever reduce any experience with another black person down to his/her color?

I am a at least a generation removed from most of the celebrities who get caught using the N-word, they grew up in less integrated times, grew up in more (arguably) ignorant times, grew up in more isolated surroundings so perhaps my environment saved me from their thinking.

I surely hold many subtle prejudices which I do not adequately appreciate; I think we humans are almost all of us naturally biased by experience and environment.  But I am thankful that I am not so lost as to find the N-word in my thoughts or speech.

^ Q

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