Thursday, August 30, 2007

PSA: Why exercise can be a good thing

I know, I know: I usually complain about exercising. I've never felt good after a work-out. I can't ignore that I am in the best physical condition in my entire life, and we all know the old saw no pain, no gain, but I've resigned myself to the possibility that either

  • all those who say they enjoy exercise are liars
  • I'm just not the type that can enjoy it, so I'll never understand what they are talking about

To that end, I am always looking for new ways to get excited about exercise. Then I found this:

Just imagine what this can do for those with bad backs.

This does give an interesting view of exercise, don't you agree??

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Quick Hits

...and now for a return of Quick Hits:

  • Sen. Larry Craig (R), flushed out. OK, that was a lame pun. Any hope of this guy earning a defense from me went out the door the moment I learned he pleaded guilty. He should resign now.

    Yes, there are those in Congress (particularly in the current majority) who have been charged with equally/more heinous crimes and are still serving, but we're not taking about them. We're talking about a man, an educated man, a member of the upper house of Congress, who was presumably informed of his right counsel, and who freely and in his right mind pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

    Now, I can dare to ask WHAT he pleaded to: tapping a foot, running his hand under the wall. Yes, you and I know what this probably means, but in a court of law does it prove beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed (or, presumably, was about to be committed)? I am not so sure.

    But what he is, by his own plea, is guilty. Not because he may or may not be gay (I don't care, outside of his probable lying about same), I don't care if he may or may not be bisexual. He was being investigated for an alleged extra-marital affair. He denied it. He then put himself directly in the way of a speeding train (metaphorically speaking), allegedly in the mens room stall. By pleading guilty, he is guilty. (Say, doesn't this at all sound like a former Head of State, whose speeding train materialized itself in the manner of a blue Gap dress??).

    Time to resign. Time for the Republican Party to push him out - quietly at first, perhaps - but push him out all the same.
  • A.G. the A.G. All this talk today about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation wasn't news to Imus in the Morning fans. For more on this, see ImusTruth's clip from March of this year.

    Well, the Democrats battered another member of the Administration out of office. Ever notice how they find one guy to attack, to attack, to attack, and then move on to someone else?

    But now what? We have appointed an interim A.G., the Solicitor General, Paul Clement. In the interim before the next A.G. is confirmed, Acting A.G. Clement should begin to show the Left what a real Right-Wing A.G. is like (hint: nothing at all like Mr. Gonzales). Congress will be unable to rein him in, and will be more than happy to confirm anyone President Bush proposes.

    Perhaps Acting A.G. Clement can start by investigating all those contributions Sen. Hillary Clinton recieved from a questionable address....

  • Progress in Iraq : You want proof we're making progress in Iraq? Here's a simple test: which major US Political Party would Iran want in power here in America? Why, the one that keeps calling for our withdrawal from Iraq! That way, they can fill a so-called vacuum, or the one that would exist if we left before the job was done.

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The nation, as a whole, is doing very well. Even for the poor.

OK, this is required reading. And I invite anyone who can produce evidence dismissing the assertions made herein.

The economic health of the nation, as a whole, is doing well. Yes, even for the poor. Don't take my word for it; the following is based on Census data released today and is presented in an article by Robert Rector appearing at National Review Online:

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau,
taken from a variety of government reports:

  • 46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person. The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or
    more cars.
  • 97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions. 78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.
  • 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception. 89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms.

Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100-percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally well-nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But, even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have “enough” food to eat, while only two percent say they “often” do not have enough to eat.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR, or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not
overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient
funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as
representing all of the nation’s poor: There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. A third of “poor” households have both cell and land-line telephones. A third also telephone answering machines. At the other extreme, approximately one-tenth of families in poverty have no phone at all. Similarly, while the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.

Yes, there are poor people, but they are not nearly as destitute as some would say (Paging Sen. John Edwards...).

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

So how is your summer?

Check out my poll, way at the bottom of this screen. It's a BetaBlogger tool. Hopefully I can one day reposition it above the fold.

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and how was your day, Dear?

Well, the weekend started off OK, I suppose. Took off Friday as a trip to Delaware was required (don't ask; its too much to go into in a blog). That took most of the day.

I cleaned out my 1990 Toyota Corolla. Remember? The one with over 320,000 miles? Procrastination and a misplaced title has kept the car in possession - in spite of it not running for quite some time - for far too long. What is freaky is that if you look at Google Maps, and focus on the right coordinates, you'll see this:
That's right; that red spec has got to be the car featured in the photo in this post. Yeah, you and my MBH are in sync: it's time for that heap to go.

But Hey! I cleaned it out because some guy actually wants it. I told him it doesn't run, but doesn't care. NOW that I have found the title, I'll call him. Um, that is, if I can find his number...

So Saturday was spent running errands and doing the things most people do on Saturdays. Today was the first day of our local fair, where our Karate school puts on a one-hour demonstration. We started with about 50 people - at least half of which family of the students. Before long we had them packed in, and standing on the sides. We do put on a good show. Plus the gal students get to deck the big lugs (like me), so that's always a crowd pleaser. We get to do it again Friday night.

We couldn't hang at the fair, as I had to run over to SIL's house and spend the afternoon cutting the trees that fell in last night's storms. 4 trees in all, and one had the surprise of being surrounded by poison ivy. What fun. I am sore as hell. Every 3 years or so I need my chain saw; it's got to be at least 30 year old Sears electric. But it runs well. Have no idea when last the chain was sharpened. Like I said: procrastinator.

I am also way-behind my 6-month ritual of updating my resume. It's a habit I got into a few years back; always good to keep it sharp! Maybe instead of blowing off lunch for work, I'll blow off lunch for myself this week and refresh it.

Just like that old heap of a Corolla may one day disappear from my yard, I may one day find a job with a normal commute.

Ya never know.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Who am I to argue?

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Iraq on Sunday, and said, and I quote:

"We are ready to be useful"

To be fair, that quote came from Al Jazeera, so it may well be misrepresenting.

H/t GOP Vixen

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Late summer quiz

Revisiting a post I reprinted at the beginning of the summer

"What has 18 teeth and 88 legs?

The funnel cake line at the West End Fair!"

That wasn't MY joke, I simply reprinted it from the Pocono Record.

If you're looking for late summer fun, come to the Fair. It's always a good time!

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Cell Hell

Well, it's that time again. Actually, it's long beyond that time again. The time when this correspondent gets a new cell phone.

Last time, in 2005, I found a fairly extensive collection of phones at the local stores. These days, if the phones do not have full keyboards or play dozens of tunes, they're not on the shelf at all.

Don't get me wrong: I am a gadget geek. I frequently carry my Pocket PC (iPaq H3850), which is pretty useful in spite of now being ancient in IT terms (I've had it about 3 years, and the model dates back 5 years). But, especially in the warmer months, its a pain to carry with a cell phone. Of course, the device was given to me by my job, so that means it cost me nothing (remember my motto: if it's free, it's for me!). I don't spend my cash on stuff like that.

And as for cell phones I still maintain that if I am forced to sign a 2 year contract, I better get a phone for nothing or next-to-nothing. I could buy unlocked phones from eBay or wherever, but I've heard enough stories of people getting scammed that I simply decided I don't have the time to deal with that business.

So I've been off-contract since January. Admittedly, I've been lazy in selecting a new phone. Complicating matters is that I share the minutes with my MBH and her sister; so when I get a new phone, they get a new phone. Rarely do either of them make enough calls (besides to each other) that would justify their own contract, so pooling minutes works well.

And while they neither want or desire a fancy phone, they have to get the same model of device. So trying to get them to agree on a phone can be an arduous task.

With that said, after 7 months, I finally ordered phones on Sunday. They got Nokia 6126, and I got myself a Samsung BlackJack.

So I should be happy, right?

I placed the order online Sunday. Living in rural Pennsylvania, my address in unlike people who live in other areas: My home address is Rural Route 4, Box 1234, TownName, PA, Zip. The Post Office recognizes it. The IRS certainly does. So do Fed Ex, UPS and DHL. But all too frequently, online ship-to address forms cough at the thought of shipping to a PO Box. So we've adopted a street-address, as in RR 4, 1234 Quaint Street Name, TownName, PA Zip. The Post Office accepts this, since Letter Carriers can figure it out, and so do the other package companies. So that's what I put in for the ship-to address.

Tracking the package via Bloglines, I found out yesterday that the three boxes were originally 'on truck' then 'held for proper addressing.' Calling FedEx, I gave them my info.

She: The address is incomplete, sir.
Me: OK, here it is.
She: Thank you sir, but we show only RR 4, TownName. Unfortunately we're bound by AT&T's contract with us.
Me: OK, what does that mean to me?
She: We can't correct your address. You either have to come to our office, or we have to return them to AT&T.

Now where I live, there's a FedEx hub about 30 miles south of me... practically on my way home from work.

Me: I understand; just hold it at the 30 miles south location and I'll pick it up tomorrow.
She: Oh, no sir! It's at the 85 mile northwest location. You can pick it up there.
Me: WHAT? Why in the world do you deliver out of that location and not the closer one?
She: That's the closest one to your area.
Me: What about the 30 miles south location?
She: Well... it appears the line that divides the territory is just south of your town.
Me: It's no wonder you guys couldn't find Tom Hanks on that island.
She: Sir? Tom who? What island?
Me: Skip it. You can't ship it to the closer location?
She: No sir, we can either hold it or return it.
Me: You're telling me I have to give up about 3 hours of my time because AT&T couldn't give you a proper address? And because you can't send the package to a more convenient location?
She: I can give you easy driving directions!

As much as I am angry with FedEx, the real blame is AT&Ts. Of course, if FedEx could ship the boxes back to AT&T, you'd think they could ship them to another one of their own offices.

So I called AT&T; I said that after being a customer of theirs for 8 years, I was not amused. Either correct my address, get them to move the boxes to the other location, or cancel the order.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the order is cancelled. Or at least I think it is. I'm calling them this morning to see whats-what.

I know: in the global scope of life, this is not even worth mentioning. But I am so danged busy, I don't have the time to deal with this crap.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick! Call Rev. Al!

Who knew Don Imus' influence was so vast! seen on the campus of Cornell University.

h/t Conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Class of 2011: Here's your list

The tradition continues! Last year I re-posted Beloit (Wis) University's Mindest list, and I do so again today.

These lists include the many things that many people take for granted but for having been born after a certain year.

  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals.
  4. They never “rolled down” a car window.
  5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  7. They have grown up with bottled water.
  8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
  12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  14. Music has always been “unplugged.”
  15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
  16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
  17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
  18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
  19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson. (Ed: even as Bart remains 10 years old, seemingly in perpetuity!)
  20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
  21. Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
  22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
  23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  24. Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
  25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred. (Ed: well, that is debatable)
  27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola “MagiCan.”
  29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest’s subliminal messages.
  30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  32. They grew up in Wayne’s World.
  33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”
  35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
  36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
  37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
  38. On Parents’ Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
  39. Fox has always been a major network.
  40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh.
  41. The “Blue Man Group” has always been everywhere.
  42. Women’s studies majors have always been offered on campus.
  43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
  45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  46. Most phone calls have never been private.
  47. High definition television has always been available.
  48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
  49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
  50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
  51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation. (Ed.: Ahem! This is debatable, too!)
  52. Time has always worked with Warner.
  53. Tienanmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre. (Ed.: A sad comment on education!)
  54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
  55. MTV has never featured music videos.
  56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
  57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
  58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  59. They’re always texting 1 n other.
  60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
  61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said “goodbye to rusty cars.”
  63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
  64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
  65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
  66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
  68. Burma has always been Myanmar.
  69. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
  70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.

How many of my readers are suddenly feeling old??


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Protecting your privacy on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I read a lot of technical newsletters and blogs, among them TechRepublic. A quick scan of the my inbox revealed an article concerning identity theft on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (all of which I have a presence).

Now its no secret that I don't personally identify myself, and I have my reasons, but I never understood why so many people give away so much detail about themselves.

Consider this article from TechRepublic (which linked from an Information Week piece) about a bogus friend on FaceBook:

[The] researchers created a profile on Facebook for a small plastic frog they named Freddi Staur, which is an anagram of “ID fraudster.” Divulging only a small amount of information about himself, “Freddi” sent out 200 requests to a wide variety of other Facebook users, asking them to join the frog’s friend list.

To round-up the results of the 200 contacted, 87 responded and agreed to be friends (To a frog?!)
  • 82% gave “Freddi” an open view of their profiles

  • 72% divulged at least one of their e-mail addresses

  • 84% gave up their date of birth

  • 87% offered details about the location/name of their school or work

  • 78% gave their current address

Now to some people, these stats mean little, but I am a little shocked at the idea of giving away DOB and current address.

I used to avoid social networks - in particular MySpace - because of the way users could amass tens of thousands of friends, but I am careful to vet the people I accept into my network. Particularly in LinkedIn, the theory of networking with people you know can have positive results down the line (either finding people to fill a job, or - eek - if I ever need to find one again). But you have to wonder about people who willingly accept invitations to link to a guy named Richard Cranium1... whose profile includes

Exploring the possibilities, potential, weaknesses, strengths, assumptions and
opportunities of viral, internet, social and remote networking.

More is the pity: 2 of Dick's contacts are people I personally know and have worked along side. I'm off to send some e-mail...

Moral of the post: keep tabs on who you let join your network, and what those people can learn about you!

1 If you can't see the euphemism in Richard Cranium, have another cup of coffee and try again.

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    Monday funny

    Do you think this is what my boss meant during my annual review last month?

    May I recommend you click through to see the whole strip to enjoy the punchline in its entirety. I could put the whole strip here, but in the interest of fair-play, Scott Adams' syndicators, and the entities that buy ad space on Dilbert.Com, etc. (not to mention my aversion to lawsuits), go ahead and follow the link.

    Incidentally, with regards to my salary bump from last month: it could always be better, but it was nothing to sneeze at, either.

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    Friday, August 17, 2007

    Is it quitting time yet?

    What a wacky week...

    I was tasked at work to prepare a presentation that will (hopefully) entice a different government organization in using the infrastructure tools of the application for which I was hired as an Subject Matter Expert (SME).

    Calling upon my roots when I worked for a Value Added Reseller, I created a working demo of the presentation, which met all of the management's expectations (before I was to present to the potential customer).

    That was 2 weeks ago; since then, two other such tasks have been given to me: one was to instruct a middle-manager how to present the same application to another organization (good luck chum: I am an SME for a reason), and another presentation to be created next week.

    All this on top of my already stacked work-load makes for a busy week. Today, 2 weeks later since the original request, I am scheduled to deliver the dog and pony show for the potential government customer. As luck would have it, the demo was moved from 1:30 to 3:30, which means I'll be home much later than normal.

    The upshot of all this: our contract to sustain the application is under contract until 30-Sept-2008; we're in a very good position for renewals through 2013. If we can generate interest in the core application in other organizations, the program will only get better. So, yeah, I'm geared up to give a kick-ass presentation and expect to make the sale, so to speak.

    Will I get a commission? Hell no. I am salary.

    But if today and the next two presentations go well -- even if 2/3 go to contract -- even though my annual review was only completed in July, I will petition for a review of my compensation.

    Or perhaps a permanent status granted to my telecommuting (i.e.: once per week).

    I better get some consideration, that's all I'm saying...


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    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    On commericalism, kids and 4 year olds with headaches

    The other day my 4 year old son came up to me, the back of his hand placed against his forehead, and sighed heavily.

    HE: My forehead hurts.

    In spite of the melodramatic acting, I took an interest.
    ME: Really? Did you bump your head?
    HE: No, not today.
    That he emphasized that he didn't bump it today gave me a hint this was perhaps not a real ailment. But I checked his head anyway.
    ME: Well it looks fine to me.
    HE: Do we have any HeadOn? You apply it directly to the forehead. That's what I need!
    Knowing my instincts were proven correct, I sent him on his way. But the incident reminded me about an e-mail I received from the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood (CCFC), who was all aghast that a study revealed that kids preferred damn-near anything wrapped in a McDonald's wrapper.

    The first thought to cross my mind upon reading it was: Someone actually paid for a study to prove this?

    Maybe I am the odd-man here (and believe me: it wouldn't be the first time - or last), but so-called studies of this kind are no surprise. What parent hasn't tried to mask the taste of mashed-peas for a toddler by making airplane sounds as the spoon winds its way to the child's mouth? Who hasn't mixed fruit juice with liquid medicine so a kid will drink it? Didn't Mary Poppins opine that A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ?

    Of course marketing works! The very fact you or I buy product A or B is based largely on marketing efforts. So what?

    The point I am making here, which was so badly missed by the CCFC, is that kids don't buy their own food, at least not the majority of the time. Just because I grew up with the kid-centric desire to go to McDonald's (back in the day when Mayor McCheese was in office, and Grimace had 4 arms) doesn't mean my parents let me go whenever I damn well pleased.

    As an aside, it should be noted that my father used to argue with me at the dinner table that I would eat my fish meal if it was in a McDonald's wrapper. In spite of my promises to him that I would never eat a Filet-o-Fish sandwich, he refused to accept that I did not like seafood - something which has not changed to this day.

    So when these advocacy groups attack businesses that cater to children, ask yourself this: where are the parents? Why do these kids seemingly get to buy whatever the hell they want, when they want, and as much as they want? When I read that kids are being treated for obesity because they eat at McD's too much, I ask why the parents didn't feed them better.

    And don't tell me the kids whine, or complain about peer pressure. If you can't rein your kids in over issues like McNuggets or Head-On, how in the world are you going to handle a really tough issue??

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    It's a Trap!

    Funny video of the day

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    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Consider me flattered

    I happened to scan my referer log this evening, and saw this entry:

    Now I am now so naive to think someone actually read my blog post about Don Imus and decided then to place a link to it on the WSJ page.

    Rather, I assume some bot found my page (probably via Technorati) and linked it accordingly, site unseen, albeit temporarily.

    But hey: a refer from a top-shelf paper is enough for me!

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    I-Man gets a win


    **EXCLUSIVE 10:19 AM ET ** Radio host Don Imus has agreed to settle his contract with CBS for $20 million, and a non disparaging clause, legal sources claim. The move opens the possibility Imus will soon return to the airwaves -- on WABC in New York! [Top radio executive strongly dismisses Imus will be offered WABC slot] Developing...

    This is still awaiting a formal announcement from CBS, but it sounds legit. And it's long overdue. Imus should never have been fired in the first place.

    My MBH, who tends to scan the morning cable news shows, says Joe Scarborough has been going out of his way to drop Imus' name into discussions, and always on a positive vibe.

    Believe me: having a non-disparaging clause will save CBS a lot more than the reportedly $20 million they're paying Imus.

    I doubt, personally, WABC will sacrifice their AM drive-time team of Curtis and Kuby, because they are their main, local anchor. No way would the suits sacrifice Curtis for Imus.

    But hey, who ever thought the suits would have sacked Lionel??

    Can't wait for the return of Imus and the gang, including Bernard McGirk

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    Monday, August 13, 2007


    What's the cost of an older vehicle getting ... well, older?

    Truly, at 206K miles, I can't complain.

    I had purchased the power-window motor on my own, and was about to install it, but once I learned the shop would have it a few days, I asked them to put it in. I know: giving a mechanic a part to install is like brinng your own eggs to a diner, but they make enough on me - on a total of 3 vehicles, year round - that I don't mind asking that kind of favor. This bill alone was $900.

    But on the bright side, I can't get a reliable SUV for a little over a $1,000/year....

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    One down...

    They say the first cut is the hardest...

    After tonight, anyone writing about a presidential candidate named Thompson will not feel forced to use his first name. Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and Bush administration official, has withdrawn from the race tonight after a disappointing result in the Ames straw poll:
    Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson dropped out of the race for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination tonight, a day after he finished a disappointing sixth in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.

    "I have no regrets about running," Thompson said in a statement released by his campaign. "I felt my record as Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services gave me the experience I needed to serve as President, but I respect the decision of the voters."

    Thompson is the first casualty of Saturday's Straw Poll. He had pledged to leave the race if he didn't finish first or second in the non-binding vote, which is seen as the first serious test of the 2008 Republican race.
    Thompson thanked his supporters, but acknowledged the obvious -- that his campaign had generated no traction at all, anywhere. The sixth-place finish in a race in which the top three national candidates did not participate in a state bordering on his own made it clear that he had no future as a candidate.
    Captain's Quarters

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    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    A Dark and Stormy kind of night!

    I was digging through a closet in a storage room of my house this evening... Calling it a storage room is to mean a corner of the family room, near the coal stove, where stuff is stored. As this house has neither an attic nor basement, somethings are stored in such fashion.

    What, do you suppose, did I find?

    Some readers may recall that in a prior career-position I spent a great deal of time in Bermuda - and if you do recall then allow me to express how flattered I am that you do, and if you don't, well you can read a little about it here . Having spent so much time on the isle, I brought home a few souvenirs, including a bottle of Gosling's Black Seal Rum . Not sure how long they aged it, but it has to be at least 11 years since I brought it home with me.

    Adding to my good fortune was that I found some ginger ale in the garage! A proper Dark and Stormy demands chilled ginger ale!

    While I would most enjoy an opportunity to return, again, to Bermuda, it's nice to know Black Seal is available in a PA State Store.

    Salute', good health to you all!

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    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Life's Been Good

    I have a mansion, forget the price.
    Ain't never been there they tell me it's nice.
    I live in hotels, tear out the walls.
    I have accountants pay for it all.

    They say I'm crazy, but I have a good time.
    I'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime.
    Life's been good to me so far.
    Tonight, at Musikfest, the legendary Mr. Joe Walsh will perform in concert. This song is one of his signature tunes, but his body of work is so much greater than this, both as a solo artist and with The Eagles.
    My Masarati does one-eighty-five.
    I lost my license, now I don't drive.
    I have a limo, ride in the back.
    I lock the doors in case I'm attacked.
    I'm makin' records, my fans they can't wait.
    They write me letters, tell me I'm great.
    So I got me an office, gold records on the wall.
    Just leave a message, maybe I'll call.

    Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through.
    (Everybody say I'm cool......He's cool)
    I can't complain but sometimes I still do.
    Life's been good to me so far

    It's been too many years since I last saw a live concert event, but alas, this year will be no different. Too many other commitments, too much logistics to work out in order to make it happen.

    I'd love to hear the riff in the middle live.

    I go to parties, sometimes until 4.
    It's hard to leave when you can't find the door.
    It's tough to handle this fortune and fame.
    Everybody's so different, I haven't changed.
    They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time
    (Everybody say oh, yeah.....OH,YEAH)
    I keep on going guess I'll never know why.
    Life's been good to me so far. (yeah,yeah,yeah)

    Even as I sound like I am full of myself for not going to concerts or the like, there's a theme in this song that holds pretty true in my life.

    Sure, it's been decades since I last went to a party until 4 (ah, how I sometimes long for my NY roots, where closing a bar means 4AM). I certainly don't have a concern of fans attacking my limo. And "fortune and fame" may not be my destiny, but in all honesty I can say

    Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through. I can't complain but sometimes I still do. Life's been good to me so far
    .... well, maybe life could be a bit better, you know, for my family.

    But we're not doing bad.

    I keep on going guess I'll never know why...

    (Just be on the look-out for a flock of wah-wahs.)

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    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Wicked Lightning

    Tuesday night, there was a wicked thunder storm in my area.

    The lightning ahead of it was the greatest I've ever seen. It was magical.

    Well, until it hit ground.

    That night I was scanning e-mail, with the storm just blowing in. The thunder was getting closer to the lightning, and then I saw the darkness of the night turn bluish, and I heard CRACK! followed by a the boom of thunder that shook the house. I shut down the PC (yes, I have a UPS, but not even that could take such a hit) and ran upstairs, meeting my MBH at the landing. I went outside to see what, if anything, around the house took the hit.

    A quick scan in the darkness showed no evidence of a strike. I heard my neighbor's sons (17-22) running around, sounding anything but concerned in their voices. I was about circle around to their property when the rain started falling in buckets, so back inside I went.

    Thursday (tonight) I met my neighbor as I put out the trash. She told me of the tree outside her house that took the lightning strike. How the bark blew off it in 1" stripe down the length of it. When she described how there was now a hole in her macadam (asphalt for us city-slickers), I had to see it for myself.

    About 6' from the base of the tree, there was a mini volcano-like rupture in the blacktop. A big chunk landed on the hood of her son's car, which was in between the tree and the hole. Pieces of tar and blacktop were mixed with tree bark. They knew a strike happened, but they didn't see the tree or the hole until daylight. How fortunate it didn't erupt under his car, I thought.

    She then described how her sons car won't start. It'll crank, but not start. Nothing evidently is wrong - no blown fuses, for example - but it won't turn over. Her minivan, parked on the other side of the tree, runs fine, but no longer has air conditioning.

    And in the house, 2 DVD players, 1 VCR and 1 TV have apparently fried. No smoke or anything, they just won't turn on at all.

    And my neighbor's husband? He's a licensed electrician. Even he thought his surge-suppressors were enough. Now he'll unplug all of his video equipment whenever there's a storm.

    Hope the insurance covers at least some of their costs!

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    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    Biased Media Reporting

    You say you want another example of media bias? How about biased media reporting?

    Item: In September 2006, this blog noted the arrival of GreenStone Media , and many media outlets promoted the launch (see Google News Archive from Sept. 2006), and as did many blogs as well.

    Fast forward to this week:

    GreenStone Media is preparing to discontinue operations effective Aug. 17. Only about eight affiliates cleared the programming in mostly mid-size and smaller markets, hardly enough to sustain the network.

    “This is a longer and more expensive process than an independent programming company can shoulder in today’s turbulent marketplace,” said Susan Ness, president and CEO of Greenstone
    Media and former FCC Commissioner. “We’ve found growing interest in the radio marketplace and on other platforms, but we can’t responsibly predict success in a future near enough to match our investors’ resources.”

    The company, which produces and distributes 48 hours of programming, offers streaming on its Web site ( and provides podcasts, is still hoping that some last-minute financing or partnership could come through.

    Not unlike big-sibling AirAmerica, GreenStone are unable to secure listeners or ratings to sustain their operation without a bail-out. But the combination of talent AND a message that people want is not what this post is about.

    What it is about is biased reporting. I've demonstrated the number of posts proclaiming the launch of GreenStone. How many posts speak of its collapse? By my count, 2: Rush Limbaugh and Brian Maloney's RadioEqualizer got the story.

    Why isn't the news of their demise given similar coverage?

    And whatever happened to the Bronx Boys & Girls Club money that was mishandled by AirAmerica? You don't read much about that, do you?

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    Head scratcher - Newt Gingrich

    I am confused.

    It has been long established that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is considering entering the 2008 Presidential race. And since the spring, he made it clear when he might formally jump in:

    ABC News: According to Gingrich, Republicans need to realize that Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a good chance of winning the White House if she gets her party's nomination.

    "They are very effective at raking on their opponents," he said of the Clintons. "I think she has a very good chance to win the presidency."

    That's fine. So how does that square with a near-endorsement?

    Austin American-Statesman: It fell shy of an endorsement, to be sure, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lauded Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, saying those who think the New York senator can’t run the White House are “just wrong.”

    “Senator Clinton is a very formidable professional. She works very hard. She has thought a long time about this,” Gingrich told reporters at the National Press Club. “The suggestion that she would not be capable of this is just wrong.”

    This is far from the first time Mr. Gingrich has embraced Sen. Hillary Clinton. It is unprecedented, in that you never hear of anyone on the Left ever speaking well of those on the Right. That, in itself, is a stark contrast between Conservatives and Liberals.

    But in a larger picture, while it does take the bigger person to find points of admiration in ones opponent, that does nothing to persuade the great numbers of undecideds, who (unlike most of my readers) do not follow politics except for the 8-12 weeks before election day. And in the sound-bite mentality so common theses days, those voters will lack the depth of knowledge necessary to see the big picture, and instead will only recall the negatives spoken about the candidates.

    Mr. Gingrich is entitled to speak his mind, to be sure, even if he's wrong. Mrs. Clinton has no executive skills to speak of. She has never been in an elective office, She has never run a business. There is simply no evidence to back Mr. Gingrich's claim.

    But if, as he as suggested, Mrs. Clinton has a very good chance to win in 2008, he'd do his Conservative values, his Party, his Country and himself a world of good if he would dismiss such idle comments.

    I have gone on record regarding Mr. Gingcrich's potential run, ironically sub-titled Double Standards. While his Conservative cred is largely impeccable, he remains far from the top as being my first pick for President.

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    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Never yell MOVIE in a crowded Firehouse

    Today was the long-overdue day for the office fire extinguishers to be recharged.

    This facility currently occupies two office spaces, connected, in a one-story building. In short, unless you are inside the rest-rooms, you won't have too much trouble finding a window. Still, fire codes are in place, so there are 6 extinguishers throughout the location. All but one was overdue for recharged by 3 years (the other: 2 years).

    The service tech came in, and took all 6 to his truck outside for recharging.

    Heh... wouldn't it have been ironic had a fire started when all 6 were outside??

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    Election '08

    Yeah, yeah, it's still too early... but then again, it isn't.

    Some folks think it is fait accompli that the GOP will lose the Presidency in 2008.

    Then again, some people are worried they may hold it, as told in The Democratic Daily:

    Here’s the latest issues poll from NBC/WSJ. There’s plenty of meat to consider if you spend some time really thinking through these numbers. Notice the Democratic ranking in Homeland Security. ...

    If the American people are not confident of the Democratic Party’s ability to protect the USA….we have a very real electoral problem.

    What got me laughing was this comment following this post:

    This is what scares the Hell out of me:
    a Clinton vs. F. Thompson match up.
    None of this is indicative of the GOP being able to rest on their laurels; the road ahead is a long one.The GOP has to remind the people that the tax cuts are what has made the economy as strong as it is. They need to remind them they've stood at the door and blocked amnesty (after ignoring the issue for too long, yes, but still...).
    But it is evidence that the battle isn't over yet, not by a long shot.

    If the GOP focuses their Conservative values they will demonstrate, once again, that Ronald Reagan was right, and that they will be victorious at the ballot box again.

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    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Dancing about architecture.

    One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Elvis Costello, who is credited with:

    Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

    Along those same lines, today I read Frank Zappa (another musical genius in many genres) who similarly said:

    Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.

    You may have noticed I added a piece of Java Script with a daily quote. There's 31 of them, one for each day (duh), and periodically I'll update the list. Costello's quote is already there; next refresh I'll add Zappa's.

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    Rainy days and Mondays

    Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
    Sometimes I'd like to quit
    Nothing ever seems to fit
    Hangin' around
    Nothing to do but frown
    Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

    I've used the phrase rainy days and Mondays as a throw-away line for years, but today it seems most appropos. No reason for it, but it seems an unusually blah day. Thanks to the magic that is YouTube, those of you too young to have apprecicated The Carpenters can get a glimpse - audibly and visually - of the magic that was lost years ago.

    Over the weekend I had in my head a number of things to post about, but never quite got them published. I even mused about having a separate blog of all the posts that I started and never finished; like many posts that are here, they were timely but wouldn't necessarily stand the test of time. Some were, if I may be so bold, funny, and others were so bad it's no wonder I didn't publish them.

    My feed list is full of unread posts, and more than a few 'daily reads' are long overdue. I have scads to say about Decision '08 -- did you hear how Sen. Obamma has ruined his chances for the top slot? (While I am not the first to make that prediction, I doubt I'll be the last). He joins the likes of Sens. McCain and Edwards, so he won't be lonely.

    I am pleased to have found the time to engage a reader in the discussion regarding Pennsylvania Cyber Charter Schools... while it is focused on PA, specifically, it is a worthy debate in any state.

    Hopefully I'll find my groove again soon... maybe I just need a vacation.

    Heh. Sometimes I crack myself up.

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    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Sometimes it's tough being a guy

    So I mentioned the gal in the office who was expecting, and since that post she gave birth to her new daughter.

    As I left the office today, she was in the parking lot, having driven by to show off her new baby. So I dubbed my best Seinfeld gotta see the bay-bee (click for an mp3) and shared in the moment.

    Two other gals from the office were with her, and one commented on how great mom looked.

    She: Oh and I'm feeling better, too! And look!

    She then draws her hands across her abdomen to smooth her shirt flat and says:

    She: Who'd ever think I'd look this great after a C-Section. I mean, I look great, right?
    Her question was directed to me. I've been in Corporate America so long, this became one of those times I was genuinely afraid to answer. If I agreed (and, for the record, she gave birth 10 days ago, and did look quite good), would that be considered harassment of any kind? And if I disagreed, well ...

    So I did what any guy in an office who wants to keep his job would do.

    Me: Hey! Who am I to argue with you?
    Yeah, I weaseled out it. But at least I didn't offend in any way. I hate the notion that I've become so damned politically correct, but it seems that I have (at least in some ways).

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    Insert a good post title here

    I used to think that once July 4 came along, half of the summer was over. Ironically, I never understood that thinking, because that would assume summer begins in early May (and clearly it doesn't). Today I heard on the radio a commercial for a travel web site, offering last-minute, late summer getaways, so I guess it is safe to say we're more than half-way through the season now.

    Summer is my favorite season, weather-wise (Christmas still ranks as favorite holiday, with Halloween right behind it). The days are longer, and even on the hottest days I prefer warm weather over cold. Unfortunately, the fam hasn't gotten to do any fun trips yet. MBH and the kids, overall, do not enjoy the hot weather nearly as much as I do, so our trips are often in the spring or autumn. So we're looking for a long weekend getaway in September. Maybe in a year or two I'll go for broke and buy a mobile home. Now that would be cool.

    Our neighborhood, unfortunately, lacks any kids who are the age of our sons. This stinks, particularly in the summer, when the 11 year old is left to hang our with the 4 year old; while the younger boy loves it, the older one, not so much after awhile. Most of the kids in the community are 13 and up, which just leaves my boy out of their peer group. Boy Scouts are largely dormant in the summer; there is a week-long camping trip in late August, but he's passing on that one this year (logistically, it's not going to work this year). So we'll try for a day out fishing this weekend, and see how things go from there. Naturally, my folks are still itching for us to ride to NYC, so we need to squeeze that in, too.

    Someone asked about work, and the new position. It's been a rough week. It took 7 days after the announcement was made that I would be the new Help Desk Team Lead for the outgoing Lead has finally begin to transition his duties to me. It's sort of bitter-sweet (for lack of a better term), because while he has a new opportunity in front of him, he's been with this company some 7 years. Over the last year he became unhappy at how the company treated him, and his reasons for his leaving are valid in my view: if the bosses ever did to me what he said they did to him, I'd leave, too. That they have never treated me in that fashion, to date, makes me wonder how much of the abuse was brought on by his actions to them.

    As the new Team Lead, it naturally fell to me to organize his farewell lunch. I don't relish this sort of task, but I agreed to do it. The guy's favorite dish is sushi; believe me when I tell you: I don't enjoy seafood, and sushi is no exception (it was #170 on this list of things I've done, or as in this case, what I haven't done.

    Generally speaking, these luncheons turn into 15-20 people sitting at various tables strategically located in the same area, but never quite altogether. So after a very short time, you aren't even able to shout to the guest of honor, much less converse with him or her. So what's the point? A group eat? If we ate in a cafeteria, would that be the same?

    When I last left a job (Jul '04), I went to 3 lunches with a few friends (separately). That kind of send-off means something, ya know what I mean? And when the time comes for me to leave this place - statistically, I won't be here forever, and for cripes sake I hope I don't have this commute until retirement - even that many lunches would be too much.

    So the 22 of us met at the local sushi restaurant. I was seen as the amateur of the group; I have dined at La Maison Japonaise in Manhattan a few times - it was a favorite of my employer from 11 years ago, where he celebrated big contracts with the company - but I have never tried sushi. I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed, as the place gave us a room for a hibachi preparation. It was an enjoyable performance and delicious meal.

    I had to run out early, unfortunately. That the whole Help Desk Team was there to send off my predecessor, their old Team Lead, someone had to get back to the office, and I thought it only fitting they got to hang around longer. Tomorrow I'll get any loose ends of the transition completed; that he lasted as long as he did after giving notice - both in his desire to hang around, and the company even tolerating him doing so for over 2 weeks - was a surprise to me, indeed, so I won't expect much from him at all Friday.

    So much to discuss in

    • politics
    • economy
    • sports

    Where to start? Not here, not now. I gotta prepare a report or 3 before heading out. Wednesday is a routine TKD night... I best get busy.

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