Quote Of The Day – Jack London

Today’s first Quote Of The Day of the New Year comes from San Francisco Bay Area native author, journalist, short story write and social activist Jack London, who was one of the first fiction writers to actually earn big bags of cash and obtain worldwide celebrity status from his writing efforts alone.

He might be best known for The Call of the Wild, White Fang, To Build a Fire and The Sea Wolf. In 1906 he published an eye-witness report of the San Francisco earthquake in Collier’s magazine titled: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! SHIIIIIIIIIIIT!” (Okay I made up that last part. The actual headline was The Story Of An Eyewitness, but I think my version was far more engaging and probably more accurate.) He may or may not have committed suicide at the age of 40 at his ranch in Sonoma County, but his official cause of death was uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose.

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Happy New Year!

Thank God that’s over. May this New Year bring you luck and prosperity and immense happiness in all you do in 2017. Happy New Year!

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Quote Of The Day – Jules Verne

In light of the coming new year I thought today’s Quote of the Day was particularly relevant as we look ahead to 2017 with hopes and dreams of a kinder, gentler, less turbulent and tumultuous twelve months.

You can’t call yourself a nerd and not be familiar with the works of Jules Verne  (1828 – 1905); a French novelist, poet and playwright who wrote a number of highly imaginative adventure novels for their time, and was often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction” and one of the founders of the genre (along with H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley and a few others).

He is best known for writing Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around The World in Eighty Days. Verne also holds the distinction of being the second most translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.

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Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown, maybe painted pink.

“What if Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

– Dr. Seuss

God bless us, everyone and Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas Nerds!

I’m kind of sort of more or less on vacation now for the holidays with too much time on my hands and so you get this. You may have already seen this as its been all over the Interwebs lately, but in case you haven’t, here you go – Chewbacca sings Silent Night. It was actually created in 1999 by a bloke named Scott Anderson as a joke for some his co-workers. Who knew it would become such a thing? Turn it up and don’t be afraid to sing along if you know the words.

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Stupid Mercury

Because Mercury is the planet situated closest to the Sun, its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s. About three or four times a year for over a three week period, Mercury speeds past Earth and as a result we experience a Mercury retrograde period, which brings a whole lot of batshit crazy things along with it.

This is an astronomical/astrological phenomenon makes it look as if Mercury is going backwards because of the relationship between both Earth’s and Mercury’s orbit around the Sun. But Mercury is not actually going backwards – everything just feels that way.

I like to think I’m a reasonably intelligent man, but I do occasionally find myself doing stupid things. When I find myself doing more stupid things things than normal, its usually when Mercury is in retrograde.

Here’s a good example. While recently conducting a routine check of my business checking account online (smart, right?) I noticed some Amazon charges listed that I did not recognize. I couldn’t really tell what they were because there were no real descriptions – just dates and amounts. Because I typically don’t use that account for personal purchases, and didn’t remember using it recently, I concluded that my account was compromised. I contacted my bank’s fraud department and disputed the charges, cancelled my debit card and ordered a new one. With my card now deactivated I soon started to get notifications from various direct debit suppliers that my card was declined and services would be cancelled, but I couldn’t update any billing information until my new card arrived – which takes about a week.

And then I start getting emails from Amazon: “We are writing to let you know that we have put your account on hold because your card issuer has disputed one or more transactions that you have made. As a result of the dispute, your card issuer has withdrawn the funds and we have not been paid for this order. Your account will remain on hold until we receive this payment.”

Oh crap. Amazon provided details of those transactions in the emails and it turns out I did actually make those purchases – I just inadvertently used the wrong debit card. I’m currently correcting the mistake with Amazon but am still locked out of my Amazon account at the time of this writing, Had I checked my order history on Amazon to compare the dates and amounts of the transactions in question before contacting my bank I would not be in this mess. Stupid. I’m sorry you won’t get that Christmas present you wanted on your Amazon Wish List this year.

As my stupidity continued and mistakes and overall weirdness started piling up, I began to wonder if maybe Mercury was in retrograde, because this has traditionally been a pattern. Sure enough it is and things started to make sense.

Mercury rules all types of communication, including listening, speaking, learning, reading, editing, social media interactions, researching, negotiating, selling, and buying. Mercury also rules commuting and driving, as well as moving parts, such as those found in cars, all formal contracts and agreements, and important documents such as book manuscripts or term papers, agreements, deeds, contracts, leases, wills, and so forth. Also all types of code, including computer codes, as well as transportation, shipping, and travel.

During Mercury retrograde periods these areas tend to get scrambled or spin out of control. There are more noticeable errors, disruptions, breakdowns, and complications with all of these things, in different variations for everyone. This is what Mercury Retrograde has become famous for.

Here are a few useful tips to help you get though this period of mayhem.

Mercury retrograde periods are considered poor times to do anything involving communications, such as launch a magazine, website, or an advertising or publicity campaign, or to launch any new endeavors for that matter, even if they are not related to the communications industries.

Don’t make any important moves when Mercury is retrograde. Nothing will be settled successfully for the future during these periods anyway – you will find it nearly impossible to nail down a plan. During a retrograde period, it is hard to get decisions from others. Even if a decision is made, it will be subject to change, either just after Mercury turns to direct motion or much later.

Similarly, a retrograde period is not a good time to sign any contracts or even to shake hands on any new agreements. Do not close on a house during this time nor sign a lease. Problems could crop up later that were completely unanticipated.

Don’t start a new job. If you’re a manager, if you can, hold off hiring anyone. You will have difficulty choosing the right candidate.

Do not have plastic surgery or other elective surgery – mistakes are more prone to happen than at other times, or when judgment is off.

Be extra careful when sending important documents. Be equally careful about whom you send email to – especially when you “reply all.”

Miscommunications abound, so take good notes and keep summarizing what you think the other person has told you or agreed to.

Mercury retrograde periods are notorious for causing computers to crash and for machines, appliances, and other electronic devices to show signs of wear, requiring urgent repair. Backup your computer in advance of any Mercury retrograde period.

Do not install new software on your personal computer until the retrograde period is over. Weird things happen during these periods.

Don’t buy or sell anything expensive. If you are buying or selling a house, expect problems, errors, delays, and setbacks.

Automobiles are highly susceptible too. If you are driving any significant distance during a period where Mercury is retrograde, bring extra maps and/or make sure your GPS is up to date, you have enough oil and gas, and verify that you have the correct address.

If you are flying, check with your airline to make sure your flight is departing on time. Have your luggage well-marked so that it won’t get lost or sent to the wrong airport, and bring your iPod and a good book to the airport, as there could be lots of delays.

Better yet just stay home.

Forgetfulness can be a problem during these phases. You are more likely to leave your airline ticket or passport on your desk rather than put it in your pocket; leave your cell phone, sunglasses, or gloves in the back seat of a cab; or lock yourself out of your car or house. Forgetfulness can be a problem during these phases.

Couples tend to create miscommunications too – people aren’t always thinking straight during these phases. Try not to jump to conclusions, and keep striving for clarity. Mercury retrograde is notorious for creating confusion.

It’s not all bad though. Mercury rules anything that begins with “re.” This is a great time to revisit, redo, reassess, repair, repeat, redesign and reconnect with people, projects, and circumstances from the past. Reorganize your files or closets. Pack up old clothes you haven’t worn in a while and give them to charity. Clean out your junk drawer.

Take some extra leisure time. Leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need when you are traveling. Instead of making it stressful, plan to show up to the airport an hour early and enjoy that book and latte. Spend some time hanging with your peeps. Plan some mellow nights with your tribe, and be the voice of calm and collected reason while everyone else is freaking out.

And plan ahead for next time so you don’t get caught completely by surprise. The current and next Mercury Retrograde phases are as follows:

• Dec 19, 2016 to Jan 8, 2017 – too late, you’re doomed.

• April 9 – May 3, 2017 – bravely run away.

• August 12 – Sept 5, 2017 – shelter in place.

• December 3 – December 22, 2017 – dig a hole somewhere and hide until it’s over and/or your Amazon account is unlocked, whichever comes first.

Good luck!

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Quote of the Day – Charlie Chaplin

Today’s Quote of the Day comes from Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE (1889 – 1977); an English comic actor, filmmaker, writer and composer who rose to fame during the silent film era, with his onscreen character “the Tramp” considered one of the most important figures in the history of film. And yes, Sir Tramp was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (it’s actually called that) in 1975. He was most worthy of the title.

Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. Some of his best known movies were selected for preservation in the National film Registry, including: The Immigrant (1917), The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), and The Great Dictator (1940) where Chaplin satirized Adolf Hitler brilliantly. (He already had the moustache.)

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