Wednesday, December 31

Angry Bovines

I spotted an article on the Consumer Reports web site, regarding TSEs (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) .. there's some good information about mutant proteins and prions in their article : Mad cow update: How to limit your risk.

I read yesterday that the government is considering mandating RFID tags (along with retina matching) for cattle, instead of those easy-to-change ear tags. The Canadian program is called NLID (National Livestock Identification for Dairy). I think that's a really good idea; there's far too much risk that an errant rancher will try to bypass the law when one of their cows turns sick (so-called "downer cows") and they risk the loss of income. Something should be done so that the ranchers don't lose their investment if they have to dispose of an animal, rather than butcher and sell it.

Jill-Bob elaborated: "sometimes downer cows are as such because they have a broken leg or other affliction completely unrelated to Mad Cow or some other illness. Heck, maybe it just has a cold and doesn't feel like getting up and walking. "

I suspect we haven't heard the end of Mad Cow quite yet. For example, there's an article in a Singapore paper about the health risks of all US beef, given common (lax) slaughter practices: Muscle cuts are mad-cow safe? Bull!

Tuesday, December 30

Feed Me, Entertain Me

Several years ago (when I lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles), I went to a restaurant called Ed Debevic's. It was a recreation of a 1950's diner, where the staff was encouraged to act the part, in addition to just getting diner-style food. The neon sign said "Eat at Ed's"; they were always busy. A plus was the local talent pool: many of the staff were aspiring actors and actresses (but this one was located in Torrance, which is a long way from Hollywood and the hiring directors). I remember a gum-chewing waitress "named" Shirley who sat down and had a (50's era) conversation with us. I wish there were more places like that; life is too boring.

The only apparent web presence of Ed Debevic's is on the website, so I'm not sure if they changed their affiliation, or if I never had it right in the first place. Sadly, the only remaining location is where Ed's started: Chicago. I thought they were part of the legendary Lettuce Entertain You (Let Us=Lettuce, get it?) group, but I could be wrong. Here in Dallas, the only representative of that group is Maggiano's Little Italy®, which has two locations.

I nosed around a website listing restaurants in Torrance CA to confirm that Ed Debevic's isn't there any longer. I did spot a few places that I fondly remember, including El Pollo Loco ("the crazy chicken") which was an excellent chicken QSR (Quick Service Restaurant). I deem them excellent because they actually seemed to care about delivering a healthy product.

Saturday, December 27

John Lewis? nah, too plain ... let's try Jona Lewie

Last night, I watched an old movie on VHS (does anyone remember tape?) : The Graduate (1967) .. on my new Sony DVD-VHS deck. I like the way that new VHS decks do a "smart rewind" of the tape, going very fast until it nears the end, at which time it slows, so as not to rip the tape apart. The new deck will work better with my other Sony stuff, but its arrival created the need to shuffle things, so I moved the Sharp DVD-VHS to the bedroom, and now the Sony VHS-only unit (from the bedroom) will be seeking a new home.

I now have 3 electronic gadgets to dispose (others are a first-generation satellite receiver and another VCR, all of them working but just older stuff). I found the old remote controls and manuals; now I just need boxes. I should list them on eBay, which is better than paying the newspaper for a classified ad (they don't refund if it doesn't sell).

Deep Thought #20: classified advertising used to be a cash cow; I wonder how long that'll last, in this age of the Internet?

I no longer have any VHS-only units in the house, which suits me just fine. I'm also happy to see how prevalent the combo units have become; even a year ago it was rare to see them in the stores, and now they're everywhere. Heck, I even mailed a letter (remember those?) to Consumer Reports a few years ago, asking them to review these dual-purpose units, since they had not previously done so (I received a form letter thanking me for my suggestion).

I remembered that I even owned that tape of The Graduate after doing a periodic "removal of duplicates" from my movie collection. No matter how much I try, I seem to buy DVDs of movies that I already own on VHS, so I end up with duplicates. Somehow, I ended up with 13 of those, so I took them to Half-Price Books and sold them for about $1 each (I should go back to the store today, to see how much they were marked up).

Rather than take the cash, I bought 2 CDs and my first-ever book-on-tape (it's for a book that I already own, but will be referring back to, so I wanted the quick way of finding out everything that's in the book). Once I got the cassette tape home, I nearly panicked when I didn't remember if I still had anything other than a portable unit on which to play it! Fortunately (!) I'd forgotten that there's a "dubbing deck" in my stereo component rack (allows quick copies of cassettes).

Two of my favorite "Christmas songs" are upbeat-yet-dark: one is a 1980 diddy called Stop the Cavalry, by Jona Lewie; it caught my attention on a Doctor Demento collection. Not knowing anything about Jona, I Googled and found: Jona Lewie's biography. Turns out he was a member of Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs, producing a one-hit wonder called Sea Side Shuffle. My other favorite is Weird Al Yankovic's Christmas at Ground Zero. After listening to them both, I am a happy camper.

Will go to the Angelika tonight to see Bubba Ho-Tep (a story about what really happened to Elvis and JFK, when they collaborated in a west Texas nursing home (obviously a documentary!).

Friday, December 26

Friday Five

What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
stringing together a bunch of small things into big things. this goes for both work and home. at home, it was combining lots of small projects, when added together, making for big changes overall (wow .. is this the same house?). this includes complete repainting; conversion of one room to a real exercise room; re-roofing (after the April hailstorm); gutter covers; removal of the old phone jacks, cable TV jacks; garage cabinet installation; etc.

What was your biggest disappointment?
not hitting my target weight by year's end. i came within 10 pounds, then would slide back to 14 over, then back to within 10, but can't yet break the barrier. it has got to be mental, at this stage. i've seen numerous plateaus over the course, and they seem to disappear rapidly, in search of the next (lower) mesa.

What do you hope the new year brings?
it won't happen, but .. i'd like to see Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group Get A Clue. Osama: your bullying tactics (yes, including mass murder) make you worse than the perceived wrong you are seeking to right. My suggestion? Change your tactics. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were on the right track .. non-violent change of thought is the answer, but much harder. IMHO, life's most difficult lesson is tolerance.
Deep Thought #19: what happens if you meet extra-terrestrials, compare notes, and find that (insert name of random religion) doesn't exist on that distant planet? Doesn't that make your religion a sham? (and yes, this requires faith that We Are Not Alone)

Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? If yes, what will they be?
no; they're a waste of time. this doesn't mean i won't have goals to meet, but resolutions are intended to make other people think you're serious about stuff.

What are your plans for New Year's Eve?
no plans yet .. i typically won't decide on anything until i'm within 48 hours of The Big Event, anyhoo. maybe i should do something radically different this year? hmm.

Wednesday, December 24

Speaking of suspicious ...

An out-of-state relative forwarded a long, boring story about some yo in Houston who got a $200 ticket for not slowing down while passing a parked (flashing lights on) ambulance.

Those emails commonly smell of being fake, so I tracked down the reference to Senate Bill 193 (SB193) and found that there is a new law on that issue. Along with many others, SB193 is conveniently explained on the web site (they're affiliated with the National Motorists Association (NMA)); the specific page is New Laws and Announcements - NMA Texas.

Although is a decent web site with good, factual information, I'm a suspicious guy. I wondered about the National Motorists Association, so I used one of the web tools to find who owns the domain name, and found it registered to James Baxter of Waunakee, Wisconsin. The web site lists him as President, and someone else as a Communications Director, but few other details.

The home page of the NMA goes so far as to taunt MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to prove that their figures are correct (the exact quote is: "NHTSA and MADD proclaimed that 17,970 people were killed by drunk drivers in 2002. We say prove it!"); this will not win the NMA any friends, except amongst those who willfully drive drunk. For all I know, the NMA is a guy working out of his basement, and his Communications Director is a drinkin' buddy who lives down the street (hey, I could be wrong).

Sunday, December 21

of BodPods and El Toro

The BMI calculator says that I should weigh between 129 and 173, to be in the [normal] range for someone 5'10" tall. That's 151 ±22 pounds with an associated BMI of 18.5-24.9. Okay .. I like precise numbers for which to aim.

The George told me about the BodPod, but I suspect those are outlawed in Texas; it doesn't look enough like El Toro (the bucking bronco machine @ Gilley's).

I agree with the BodPod's premise: "The scale cannot tell the difference between a pound of fat and a pound of muscle" but I have one of those body fat analyzer scales (from Measurement Specialties, found at the local Bed, Bath & Beyond) which uses a small electrical impulse to make those measurements. Caveat: it doesn't work if you're wearing socks (darn!).

Saturday, December 20

and while I'm in the neighborhood ...

Yesterday was the annual Last Friday Before Winter Break, Let's See How Much Meat We Can Consume at Texas de Brazil (one of 3 Brazilian steakhouses in the Metroplex). I felt like I was attending a study group of Atkins dieters.

Jill-Bob mused at joining the 50 States Marathon Club but she can't be serious! However, a sample would be kewl .. heck, I'd go with her to the Brookings Marathon in South Dakota next May, if only to see nearby (412 miles) Mount Rushmore. Brookings is a mere 950 miles from Dallas, with easy directions: take I-35 to I-29. I wonder if I could squeeze my KPS - 1800 in the boot of Ziggy Z?

Unrelated: Modern Kids Don't Smile When They Visit Santa is fundamentally flawed; the sample size is a mere 30 children.

Friday, December 19

Friday Five

List your five favorite beverages
lychee boba (slush w/tapioca balls);
Coldbuster® (Jamba Juice);
cold cow's milk (1% milkfat);
Iced Tazo Chai (Starbucks®);
Snapple® Kiwi-Strawberry

List your five favorite websites
Yahoo!; Google; Reuters; DVD Universe; (Internet Movie DataBase)

List your five favorite snack foods
any fresh fruit; trail mix; spicy turkey jerky; original SunChips®; Sonic tater tots (that last one was a stretch)

List your five favorite board and/or card games
Clue®; poker; Dallasopoly®; Trivial Pursuit®; Scrabble®

List your five favorite computer and/or game system games
I don't play computer games any more. Well, except for Turkey Shooter

Wednesday, December 17

of coffee and SUVs

The nearest Caribou Coffee store is about 820 miles away (in Atlanta), according to the web site. That'd be a long haul for a coffee; it's a good thing that I'm not an SUV driver. At 13 miles per gallon (average for an SUV) that would cost about $190 (126 gallons) for gasoline (assuming $1.50/gallon, round trip) not to mention wear-and-tear. Lee Czarapata (of Runzheimer International) estimates that a GMC Yukon with V-8 engine costs 78.64 cents a mile to operate. In comparison, my 2-door (2001 model) car would drink about $80 (53 gallons) of gasoline for the same round trip.

Before last weekend, the last time The George came to Dallas was in 1995 (I think). That time, she wanted to see the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (this was before The Fort Worth Herd was paraded down the city streets each day).

Tuesday, December 16

vampires in orange Winnebagos

I spent 45 minutes giving blood and debugging a portable printer today.

originally, i thought the Carter Bloodcare "mobile unit" was due on 6/12 (6 December) instead of 16/12 (16 December), but their email reminders changed that. since i was the first appointment of the day, i unexpectedly found myself helping the staff-of-3 "fix" the printer that's connected to their Windows 2000 based laptop. Okay, I merely advised them to move the printer a bit, so there wasn't so much strain on the parallel cable .. at which point it worked perfectly (instead of spewing junk). If only all technical support issues were that easy.

the blood donation was almost painless .. the nurse did a great job of minimizing the pain involved with the needle prick, and things seemed to go much smoother than my last donation (late July). and this time, i didn't make the mistake of letting them take blood from my right (bowling !) arm.

the "mobile unit" is a specially-designed RV painted orange (inside there is a private consultation room and 4 or 5 couches where you rest while the blood is drawn). there's also a bench on which to sit, after the donation (where you drink some juice and eat a couple cookies) .. this is to make sure that help is available, if you begin to pass out (i have learned not to lie when they ask if you had a good breakfast). and yes, I Got the T-Shirt for the effort.

Monday, December 15

5 movies in 3 days

Friday night, The George forced me to watch a chick flick (my limit is one per calendar quarter): so, we saw Love Actually (2003) before riding the elevator up Reunion Tower to watch The Prom Parade and look at the city lights from 500+ feet in the air. Then it was Taking Sides (2001) on Saturday, followed by Elf (2003) on Sunday. This does not include DVD viewings of Blade Runner (1982) and The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000).

Sunday, December 14

Major kudos, Jill !

Major kudos to Jill-Bob for finishing her first marathon! She did it mostly on pace, and is now resting a few days, before training for her next marathon (I'm betting on Prague in May 2004).

The George (in town from Chicago) commented that Dallas' White Rock Marathon is very different from The Chicago Marathon (October), which does a lot of self-promotion. In Dallas, there were no obvious (promotional) signs that a marathon was even taking place. Want a positive? Parking was a breeze.


Friday, December 12

Friday Five

Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?
Snow? In Dallas? Yeah, right. I think the average snowfall is 2 inches .. yes, all season. I enjoy the change of weather, but don't mind living in a place where I don't have to shovel the sidewalk. Which reminds me, I still haven't raked any leaves (maybe next week). And on the rare occasions when it does snow, watching North Texans "lay in supplies" at the stores is great fun (you'd think they're preparing for 30 days without food, water, electricity).

What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?
Not sure I have one; I'm not big on traditions since (by definition) it means doing the same thing, time after time, year after year. How bo-ring. Then again, the thing I do at work involves consistency: making information available in the same format, as new products and technologies are introduced. Hmm. As to who I'd willingly spend the holiday? Well, I think you know who you are (no, I'm not naming names on The Blog).

Do you do have any holiday traditions?
After Thanksgiving, I stay away from the shopping malls until one hour before closing.

Do you do anything to help the needy?
Most years, I make a sizable contribution to the North Texas Food Bank (affiliated with America's Second Harvest). In years past, I've donated unused coats, and added to the toy collection at work. I also try to help the critters by donating to the SPCA of Texas.

What one gift would you like for yourself?

Thursday, December 11

click to continue

William pointed me to this Christmas tree light gadget (he found it at a local hardware store): LightKeeper. It's supposed to fix/find burned out bulbs, and William advises that clicking the LightKeeper is great fun. William, perhaps you need to Get Out More! :-)

Curiosity of the week? Understanding the difference between the black and red blindfolds on Talk Sex with Sue (Oxygen channel)

spotted: the Texas Music Project (including the Don't Mess with Texas CD)

Tuesday, December 9

yes, it's my alma mater .. wanna make something of it?

I bought a sweatshirt from these guys about a year ago: Electoral College Sportswear & Accessories. Am happy to see they're still around. Am also happy that the vast majority of the people who see my apparel don't get the joke.

Speaking of not getting the joke, this one wasn't obvious to me until .. well .. the last line: Squishy Yellow Elegy

Saturday, December 6


Newspeak (1984, 1956) is not related to Nadsat (A Clockwork Orange, 1971) and I won't even mention the Klingon Language Institute.

Following this morning's 6am haircut (don't ask), I spotted an article in the DMN, along with a photo of two protestors (who probably follow her around the country) at Hillary Clinton's book-signing in Austin. This duo had placards listing their web site (aka FReep). FREEP reminds me of CREEP (Nixon's Committee to RE-Elect the President) .. who was in charge the day that acronym was suggested?

Finally, there was another DMN article entitled Salivations from Santa which listed several pet-related gift sites. Hmm .. what to get Beta (the wonder dog); Samantha and Pandora? My favorite site from that article? Hard to say, but I'm leaning toward Political Pet

Thursday, December 4

another day, another word

Had a major domestic emergency tonight: Pandora ran out of cat litter! Since Pandora uses a LitterMaid™, she has a different brand of litter than Samantha. So, I went to Target® (open late for The Season) and purchased two boxes of Arm & Hammer® Super Scoop®. Now, Pandora can purr easier, knowing that she has a backup box onsite.

I signed up for a blood donation tomorrow (those who frequent the Gene Bob Blog know this is the 2nd one for me this year: see the July 29+31 entries). I look at it as way to get a free cholesterol test! While on the blood donation web site, I spotted an unfamiliar word: autologous. defines autologous as: derived or transferred from the same individual's body. Well, okay, yeah.

Got an email from the woman who runs advising that there will be no list this week. as a resulI, i will preserve numerous brain cells.

Another tidbit I learned today: buzz marketing (no relation to seagull management)

and then there was an interesting article titled The RFID Imperative.
Deep Thought #18: I wonder if McDonald's will put RFID tags in every Quarter Pounder?

Tuesday, December 2


I continue to be amused by Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy but I have to wonder how many episodes they can do before we've seen all there is to see? I started thinking about what spinoffs they could do:

Queer Eye for the Bowler
(their makeover revolves around the haute couture Which Is Bowling)

Queer Eye for the Mime
(they do a makeover of his tiny invisible box)

Queer Eye for the Sociopath
(as they work, they find body parts throughout the double-wide trailer)

Queer Eye for the Farm Guy
(the Fab Five travels to Arkansas and have no access to anything but Wal-Mart)

and the ultimate spinoff:
Queer Eye for the Queer Guy
(for those gay folks who have no sense of style: you know who you are!)

GoogL'ost: The Foot in Mouth award (oddly enough, on the British Plain English Campaign web site)

Sunday, November 30


Eric pointed me to a most-excellent site: As explained on their About page: "The Halfbakery is a communal database of original, fictitious inventions ..." One of the many places to which it led me was Böb, the World's First Talking Dog.


Unexpected side-by-side results have always amused me.

I remember going to a double-feature (remember those?) in 1985. It was one of those shopping-mall-megaplexes where they have a large number of small screens, each seating maybe 100 people. Anyhoo, the double feature was Weird Science and Real Genius. Being a very small theatre, the marquee above the door was equally small, so the geniuses at the theatre abbreviated the double-feature: REAL WEIRD

Yesterday, I thought about this as I was treated to a handbill juxtaposition. Handbills - you know, those door-hanger advertisements that are thoughtfully affixed to your front doorknob (by highly trained Members Of Society) with tape, friction, or (my least favorite) rubber bands. For the past year, I've collected handbills (they're not just pizza coupons) into a growing pile. Yesterday, the same rubber band combined Dell Computer and a Dog Poop Collection service.

And then (maybe this just hit me funny) the sign outside Oxmoor Center (Louisville Kentucky) which said:

Jewish Hospital

Friday, November 28

Friday Five

Do you like to shop? Why or why not?
No; it's not a good use of my time, unless I know exactly what I'm seeking. Internet shopping (ro)bots are better. Life is too short to wander aimlessly through retail stores because they usually don't stock what I want (stores obsess with getting the cheapest available stuff, and in my mind .. low cost = inferior quality).

What was the last thing you purchased?
A Western Bacon combo at a (somewhat rare in these parts) Carl's Jr. restaurant (at a Love's Truck Stop in Van, TX). This was on the way home after going Over The River and Through The Woods. When I lived in California, I dined at Carl's often, so I made an extra effort to stop at this one after spotting it on Tuesday.

Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?
It depends. At an actual store, it's easier to judge quality. I purchase almost all big-ticket (photography, etc.) items over the web, as well as DVDs; CDs; books (Wish Lists are great, but shipping fees associated with impulse buys will negate the savings if you're not careful). Almost every time I've bought shoes or clothing over the web, I've had to exchange it (why can't a size 11 be the same from one manufacturer to another? grrrrr.)

Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?
Yes, but it wasn't much. It started as $1 a week, then eked up to $10 a week before I got my first job (stringing tennis rackets)

What was the last thing you regret purchasing?
Anything cheaply made (which I view as throwing my hard-earned money away). I think the real cost of an item is the difference between the least-acceptable (quality) item and what I want to buy. Example: the cost of a car is the difference between what I want, and a utilitarian/dependable vehicle (it can't be butt-ugly either .. I won't drive a Pontiac Aztek).

Sunday, November 23

Stupid Human Tricks

One of my favorite Stoopid Human Trick stories is about the Benihana chef from Alabama. A Japanese friend from a small town in California was visiting me (years ago) and she wanted to go to Benihana; fine. The actor/chef was from the Deep South (I assumed Alabama) and was trying to fake a Japanese accent. I don't know which was more hysterical - his failed attempt at the fake, or the fact that he assumed we couldn't tell this pasty-faced Goober wasn't really Japanese. I have since tried to mimic him, but I can't do it. Hey - you try mimicing a Southern Boy faking a Japanese accent (my mouth refuses to bend that way). I think of this every time I see the trailer for The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise (hint: he's as Japanese as I am).

Another story concerns a 90-minute flight I took, when I sat behind a 20-something German couple, very much in luv. He'd lean over to her and whisper (what sounded to me like) Ghhfhg-hhhzt-kfth and she'd lean over to him and say something similar, an octave or so higher. It was all I could do to avoid bursting out in laughter. Lesson learned? German is not the Language Of Love (exception: "Liebchen")

then there's this view of my realtor-in-NYC friend's day. Her name has been changed, to protect the innocent. She schedules appointments in 15 minutes intervals, all day:
(door opens, queue NonStopNewYorkAccent) hiya, I'm Sandy Well Whaddaya Think? What a view, Huh? You like the place? You want it? Listen I got another appointment Hey whassamatter I Ain't Got All Day Here Time's A Wastin' Okay If You Can't Make Up Your Freakin' Mind Just Cwoll Me Here's My Card Gotta Run! Toodles!! (door closes)

GoogL'ost: Oh Joy! Movie Trivia - Film Facts

If You Drop It, Should You Eat It? Scientists Weigh In on the 5-Second Rule, Phyllis Picklesimer, September 2003

interMISHin? whazzat?

I awoke to the sound of a strong wind, followed a few minutes later by an equally strong rain (a good test for my new GutterHelmet®). Now, all is quiet.

Friday night's movie @ Trish & Scott's was Brazil (Robert De Niro played an important cameo role). Watching it on the 65" HDTV thing was amusing. I haven't seen that movie since Bob and I rented it on VHS (back in Los Angeles). I must Blog Bob sometime .. hmm.

I watched the first half of The Sand Pebbles (Steve McQueen, etc.) on DVD last night. I had to laugh when, at the 90-minute mark, the screen faded to black and the word INTERMISSION appeared. I was a bit tired and not ready for another 90 minutes, so I pressed [stop] and the DVD thoughtfully said something like "okay .. saving current state" so I'm expecting to pick up where I left off.

Wonder if I could program a veeper to act as me so I never have to leave home again?

in the "whew, that's a relief" category: Larry Dignan's article Does Honesty Pay Off?: conventional wisdom says there's no financial return in meeting the fraud-fighting requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

GoogL'ost: Mondo Times and magazania

Friday, November 21

Friday Five

List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.
0. Lose those last 14 pounds to meet my target weight
1. Win the lottery
2. Win the lottery again
3. Win the lottery again
4. Win the lottery again

List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.
0. Jim Belza (an elementary school classmate)
1. Carolyn D. in NYC
2. T. Steeley (high school)
3. David McClure (7-8th grade classmate; I heard he became a doctor).
4. Man Hyong Kim (another elementary school classmate)

List five things you'd like to learn how to do.
0. win the lottery
1. speak, read & write Japanese
2. speak, read & write Russian
3. speak, read & write Urdu
4. speak, read & write German

List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).
0. Not tell anyone!
1. Buy something that's expensive (like Maryland)
2. Give a random waitress a thousand dollar tip
3. Invest the proceeds (I know .. how bo-ring)
4. Try to win the lottery again

List five things you do that help you relax.
0. you mean -- besides the obvious?
1. sleep
2. nap
3. doze
4. win the lottery

I wonder how many online survey companies exist? I found a list of several hundred on the Council of American Survey Research Organizations website; prior to finding that site, I was only familiar with National Family Opinion - aka NFO Interactive and Synovate - aka

Spotted via the Neil Sperry website: The Mistletoe Center (no relation to

GoogL'ost: National Farmers

Thursday, November 20

what about JR Ewing and South Fork Ranch?

It amazes me that the #1 tourist attraction in Dallas is the site of JFK's assassination. Word is that several TV networks are sending their anchors to town; on Saturday, it will be 40 years since that day (I was living about 750 miles from here). An article in today's DMN questions whether Dallas will ever get over the stigma.

The History Channel has been airing a 15-year old series about the alleged conspiracy involving Kennedy's assassination (22 Nov 1963). It's impossible to believe all the theories (there are dozens which overlap) but I was captivated by an explanation of a 2nd gunman shooting from below ground level (a manhole) that makes a lot of sense. If you've ever watched The Zapruder Film and listened to the absurd "magic bullet" theory espoused by The Warren Commission, you'll understand why it makes zero sense that Lee Harvey Oswald [LHO] was the only one shooting at JFK that day (there were 4 shots fired, not 3 .. and LHO only got off 3 rounds).

Today's fun words to say: zamboni; paraquat; exacerbate (and then there are The George's words: fluffer; gazebo)

Unrelated: tonight I'll dine with Hay-Jax and Jill-Bob. Details here later, if I survive the ordeal. :P

Wednesday, November 19

RIF <> Really Idyllic Feeling

The George gave me brief details of a layoff at her employer today. This is never fun.

We had a RIF (reduction in force) at my employer about 2 months ago; most were given 60 days to either find an internal job, or accept a severance package. The economy hasn't seen the bottom yet .. I don't care what you read in the newspaper.

This reminds me of the last time I was RIF'd, more than 14 years ago. I was in a small office (30 people?) of a large company, and a guy from Corporate HR arrived onsite unexpectedly. They began paging people, one by one, to come to the front conference room. It didn't take long to figure out that if your name was called, you were toast. I'd been there 6 months and suspected much of the decision was LIFO (remember your accounting classes?) so I wasn't completely bummed to be given a check for 6 months' pay and shown the door. Long story short .. I started working for my current employer 7 days later and have been here 14 years last month. So, that was a good pay year: I was paid for 12 months and I worked 6, and my new employer paid me more than I asked for (to be equal with my co-workers) plus my regular pay. Lemon, meet lemonade.

Tuesday, November 18

DQ Museum: closed for repair

backyard rain gauge says 1.6" fell here yesterday .. it was a day of rainstorms and a tornado watch (never became a warning). then, bowling last night; our team won 1 game of 4 (okay : bowl 3 games and the average constitutes game 4) which is not as good as the prior 2 weeks where we won 7 of 8. basically, it was just an off-night: one lane was dry and the next was oily (as if they stopped oiling when they reached the halfway mark) making consistency a challenge for a scratch bowler such as myself.

email from The George this morning: she has the White Rock Marathon weekend planned down to 15-minute intervals (ha!) which is very CFRP*. One of the to-do items is The Nasher Sculpture Center (note: Center, not Centre). Her friends are shocked that there is more to Dallas culture than a trip to the Dairy Queen.
* Christian Fascist Republican Party
Word on the street is that we'll be mobbed by the paparazzi this weekend: the 40th anniversary of JFK's assassination.

Sunday, November 16

close, but no cigar

Yesterday afternoon, I came as close as I ever will to running a marathon. I drove a marathon .. all 26.2 miles of it (and boy, are my arms tired).

okay; it was a scouting exercise. Jill-Bob, who will run in next month's White Rock Marathon was advised to scout the course. So, I volunteered to drive if she would navigate. I chose the theme: Scout the Route (this only works for English purists, who naturally rhyme those two words .. most Americans would say Scout the Root, which makes no sense at all).

One thing I should've brought along: a CD of crowd sounds ("hey Jill-Bob .. you GO girl !!" and so forth). Today, the course was much quieter than it will be on Race Day.

The race starts and ends at the American Airlines Center. Soon after the beginning, and near the end, the marathon goes through the West End and even goes within a block of the former Texas School Book Depository (from where Oswald shot at JFK). Most of the White Rock Marathon goes through neighborhoods (besides a 10-mile segment around White Rock Lake itself). There are precious few attempts to awe the runners with the commercial side of Dallas, which is probably for the best. The George (not a -Bob since she's not a Texan) wants to watch from atop Reunion Tower, where the runners will look more like ants.

There are several stretches where the runners will be on the same road for several miles: these include McKinney Avenue (trendy); Turtle Creek Boulevard (wide and majestic); Ellsworth Avenue (narrow and occasionally kitschy) and tree-lined Swiss Avenue (the latter was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973). Nearby you can find Munger Place. Around White Rock Lake, we found ourselves in a vast minority of cars .. most vehicles were bicycles (and of course, there were hundreds of runners .. some of whom will undoubtedly be in the race next month). It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect .. mid 70's and slightly overcast. Next month, it'll probably be frozen rain on Race Day.


Saturday, November 15

sequel: Six Easy Pieces

I watched Five Easy Pieces (1970) on DVD last night. Amazing how Jack Nicholson looks different at age 33 (when the movie was shot) than age 66 (now). I wonder what Jack will look like when he turns 99? Lessons learned from the movie?
1. sideburns recede as you age.
2. a smug look at 33 becomes a bewildered+euphoric look at 66 (on the sidelines at the Laker games)
3. big-studio movies were better in the `70s (now the best movies are from the independent studios)
4. a great plot can be left undone at the end; sequels are mostly pointless

Sunday's DVD? Chinatown (another Jack film)

MaGaW is meeting today (after the rain ends!) to discuss the Winter Holiday Gala (no more repeats of the flaming piñata fiasco of 2002). Then, I'll meet up with Jill-Bob at Sherlock's before we Scout The Route of the White Rock Marathon.

GoogL'ost: Thinking Baptists - For People Who Don't Think That's An Oxymoron

Abbreviation learned? QSR: Quick Service Restaurant (I suppose the term [fast food] is passé?) Also see QSR Magazine.

Friday, November 14

Friday Five

Using one adjective, describe your current living space. spacious.

Using two adjectives, describe your current employer. loquacious; arrogant.

Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime. clandestine; artful; creative.

Using four adjectives, describe your typical day. stressful; monotonous; predictable; provoking.

Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life. flavorful; essential; challenging; olfactory; restful.

When I first completed this, I wasn't sure about a few words. Were they really adjectives? Turns out that many were transitive verbs (v.t.) according to

Lives in United States/Texas/Dallas, speaks English and Spanish. My interests are Photography/Flatulence.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Texas, Dallas, English, Spanish, Photography.

Wednesday, November 12

and in an instant, everything has changed ...

A few weeks ago, I was asked (by the local homeowners association) to take some photos of some of the officers who have, for years, patrolled our neighborhood as off-duty members of the Dallas Police Department. As a result, I was able to meet 6 officers who earn a few extra dollars and help keep us safe. These "photo sessions" had a way of humanizing these men to me, whom I otherwise would not have personified as guys who like to snorkel, coach Little League games or just go for a walk with their wives. I probably spent 10-15 minutes with each officer, chatting about stuff.

Well, early this morning (about 3:30am) one of those officers I met was on his normal shift, a long way from our neighborhood, when he was shot with a shotgun (along with two other officers). He wasn't killed, but he suffered severe damage to his right arm (see Police standoff ends with gunman, 2 others dead).

Just goes to show how tenuous life can be.

Separately .. it wasn't more than 3 weeks ago when I heard that a former co-worker's wife died suddenly. Turns out she choked on some food, and her husband thought it was completely dislodged. She went into the bedroom to lay down and rest, and apparently the food re-lodged and she asphxiated. They had 3 small children at home; the husband worked full time and his wife was fulltime caregiver to the kids. Suddenly, everything has changed ...

Monday, November 10

Not A Nabob In Whoville ...

We'll see how long the DMN gives its new venture before it comes to a screeching halt. I predict 4 months for Quick! .. then (unrelated) there is The Grinch Who Stole Linux.

Sunday, November 9

International Sunday

Spent 3+ hours today at the DFW International Festival. The weather was pleasant enough, allowing for dry movement between the buildings (St. Mark's School of Texas campus), around the food court and back to the jousting area. There were 2 gymnasiums full of (surprise!) international exhibits, each with a stage for live music and dance. A couple exhibitors were really out there (politically) espousing such bizarre causes as "Give Peace A Chance" (honestly!).

I bought a couple CDs (Incan influence) from Wayanay .. very restful stuff (so much so that while playing them at home, I passed out on the couch for hours). Also sampled a döner (yum!) at the Turkish food booth; special thanks go to Jill-Bob for helping me finish this off (she also spotted a way to test my parallel parking ability, after we discussed my theory of "college mode parking" (aka stalking the pedestrians)).

One of the unmanned booths (but with a big website banner) was the Pakistan Society of North Texas. I didn't spot any booths from Iraq or North Korea, but Iran (the only representative of the Axis of Evil) was represented. There were 2 booths each for Russia; India and Vietnam .. not sure what was going on there.

Sadly, my camera's flash somehow landed in one of those special-effects modes, which I didn't notice until I got home. As a result, the only clear photos are those taken without the flash. {sigh} Will have to return to the festival next year and correct this mistake.

Saturday, November 8

purging time

It's time to recycle all the catalogs that have landed in my snail mailbox in the past N years. But first, I must list them for posterity:

Art: Doug Prather | Kentucky Derby Museum | Southwest Indian Foundation | Texas Parks & Wildlife
Automotive: AutoSport | Bavarian Autosport | California Car Cover | Griot's Garage | Stylin Concepts Motoring Accessories
Clothing: Blair menswear | Coldwater Creek | Duluth Trading | Lands' End | L L Bean | Marshall Field's | Miles Kimball | Norm Thompson | Orvis | Winter Silks
Country: Back to Basics | Country Homes and Gardens Book Club | Gardeners Supply Company | Heartland America | Picket Fence | Plow & Hearth | Troy Bilt | Vermont Country Store
Electronics: B&H | Black Box | Cambridge Soundworks | Crutchfield | Cyberguys | HelloDirect | J&R music|computer world | Miles Tek | Radio Shack | Sharper Image | Sound Promotions | Techni-Tool | TechnoScout
Food & Wine: Bigelow Tea | See's Candies | Smuckers | Stock Yards | Wine Country Gift Baskets | Wine Enthusiast
Household: Clean Team | Crate and Barrel | Design within Reach | EXPO Design Center | Home Decorators | Home Marketplace | Home Trends | Home Visions | Improvements | Preferred Living | SilvoHome | Smarthome | Solutions | Van Dyke's Restorers
Kitchen: Chef's | Pfaltzgraff | Professional Cutlery Direct | Sur La Table
Office: Office Depot | OfficeMax | Reliable Home Office
Pets: Drs Foster & Smith | J-B Wholesale Pet Supplies | R C Steele Pet Supplies | All Natural Springtime
Shoes: B.A. Mason | FootSmart | Wissota Trader
Travel: Alaska | American Orient Express | Columbia River Cruise | TravelSmith
Wind: Into the Wind | Quality Flags | Wind & Weather
Miscellany: Brookstone hard to find tools | Clever Gear | Franklin Mint | FTD | Gadget Alert | Get Organized | Hammacher Schlemmer | Harriet Carter | Herrington | Lifestyle Fascination | Nolo | Real Goods | Ross-Simons | Sky Mall | Sportys Tool Shop™ | The Territory Ahead | Things you never knew existed (Johnson Smith) | Whatever Works

{sigh} - "Inspirational Posters, Sport Prints and Lithographs" also has a good demotivational section. Not sure if they have a business relationship with the nice folks at (great calendars!) or not. When I finished nosing around, I used Google's [Similar Pages] feature and found Friday Five .. hmm. I will backdate an entry now.

Friday, November 7

Friday Five

this week's Friday Five questions

What food do you like that most people hate?
Hard to answer without knowing what people really hate. I suspect it's one that commonly gets a "eww" retort. The popular ones would be anchovies; sushi; and my own concoction: a Milky Dew (half milk, half Mountain Dew). This begs the question: is liquid considered food? I also like eggplant and spinach; so shoot me.

What food do you hate that most people love?
French (Freedom) Fries. When I order a "meal" at a drive-thru, I commonly give the fries to my dog. All but the most perfect ones, natch. Saw that most fries are sliced near where the potatoes grow (Idaho) .. they're cut to the fast fooder's spec (thickness, square tips or not, etc.) and bagged. I wonder how those waffle fries at Chick-Fil-A are cut?

What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?
Laura Bush. This First Lady doesn't do squat for me. I suspect that would be true for anyone who would willingly spend perfectly good brain cells hanging around W. The last hot first lady was Rosalynn Carter (even her husband thought so).

What famous person, whom many people may find unappealing, do you find attractive?
Julianna Margulies? I suspect many guys don't care for her, but oh, momma ...

What popular trend baffles you?
Reality Television, for the most part: they're completely predictable. I read somewhere that Alzheimer's Disease can be prevented by changing your habits (oxymoron?) frequently. Don't put your shoes in the same place in the closet; take a different route to work each day; eat dinner for breakfast, etc.

Thursday, November 6

theme parks

when we go bowling and it's not part of a league, we often use pseudonyms (Gilligan, Skipper, Shelob). This reminded me of a 1990-ish training i attended in California where they had themes for the practice workstations. one memorable theme (someone else chose it!) was bodily fluids. it was amusing copying files from [puss] to [bile] to well, you get the idea. Tonight, we're going to a German restaurant before (practice) bowling, so we'll use the pseudonyms "Hans, Frans und Deiter".

another thing which amuses me is the email alert I get from each day. for years, they've been oblivious to a programming error, which often puts the current temperature outside the predicted range. here are the alerts for today and the day before:

Dallas, TX : Cloudy 52-56F, Now 46F
Dallas, TX : Rain 49-60F, Now: 63F

How hard would it be to change the forecast? Example fix:

Dallas, TX : Cloudy 46-56F, Now 46F
Dallas, TX : Rain 49-63F, Now: 63F

Speaking of quality, I've mused here before about typos in Closed Captions. Turns out there's a Caption Quality Initiative underway.

Completely unrelated is the Timebase Archive - Humanitas International - Human Rights and Humanitarian Action. When I have time [sic] I'll go back and read that site out loud. I encountered this site while Google'ing for a publication called Ostara (by Liebenfels).

Wednesday, November 5

I'll take "Things That Are Yellow," Alex

Texas Lemon Law Information ... and then there's Flashing Yellow Lights Puzzle BMW Driver and then there's the punchline: ".. but the bad news? It's Hillary's handwriting." Something that isn't yellow are the new multi-colored $20 bills I got from an ATM. I took one inside the bank branch and asked to exchange it for twenty $1 coins. Poor teller acted like I made his day ("I've been trying to get rid of these for 3 weeks!" he exclaimed). I bet he goes home and blogs the event.

I was watching an awe-inspiring History Channel segment (Modern Marvels: Drive-Thru) and learned where the words turnpike and carhop originated. Oh boy oh boy, am I gonna wow them down at Cheers! Seriously educational benefit: several uses of RFID (subset of EPC) include Mobil Speedpass and The TollTag (there's also Transcore's PassKey (Pegasus) system, and EZ TAG in Houston .. word is all of those are being made interoperable). It won't be long before I can buy a Big Mac with my TollTag (seriously).

Stuff I gotta confirm: there are no more Pig Stands (the first drive-thru) in Dallas?

Tuesday, November 4


I don't do shopping malls, unless there's no alternative. I was amused to see the website for Valley View Center (no relation to the Temple of Yehwe); I suspect most local malls have their own sites. (I will troll for those Real Soon Now).

Outsourcing: cities and counties (including Dallas) can have their regulations posted to the web by Municipal Code Corporation. I cannot conceive of anything more exciting!

GoogL'ost: Asbestos led me to Asbestos in Automobiles and Brakes

Deep Thought #17: is sniffing chrysotile asbestos healthier than sniffing airplane glue?

Monday, November 3

less than 5 months until April Fool's Day

I checked the calendar, and no, it's not a full moon, but the loonies are out in force! Check out these 4 sites (all quite funny, for different reasons): MS Linux; The Ten Most Abused Words in Tech; Mrs. Betty Bowers; Halloween Reclamation.

Deep Thought #16: I wonder if Hormel®, Tyson®, etc. would be scared by a new meat conglomerate called Bambi's Mom®? (you know .. Bambi's Mom® brand tuna; Bambi's Mom® brand turkey, etc.)

Sunday, November 2


I found a nice (albeit incomplete) glossary of audio-video terms at which explained the stuff I see when HDTV is discussed. It's even better when you combine that with The Difference Between HDTV, EDTV, and SDTV by Evan Powell, ProjectorCentral, October 2, 2003

Here are the common HDTV (High Definition Television) resolutions:
1080i : 1920x1080 interlaced
720i : 1280x720 interlaced
720p : 1280x720 progressive

EDTV (Enhanced Definition Television)
480p (aka 525p) : 640 x 480 progressive

SDTV (Standard Definition Television .. aka the stuff we all grew up with)
480i (aka 525i) : 640x480 interlaced

While I'm thinking about it, I am commonly amused at how marketing stumbles when they go for the next technology leap. I'm surprised there wasn't a Super Definition TV in the list. And what will come after HDTV? Probably UDTV (ultra definition TV) then SUTV (super ultra definition) then ... (queue sound of Gene Bob being dragged away in a straight jacket).

News Flash: PDAs don't cure procrastination

Having a PDA can be too handy. Over the past year, I scribbled down website addresses when I encountered them. As a result, I now have a way-too-long list of stuff to see:

spotted in DFW Living: Key Access \ Affluent Living Publications; LampsPlus®; The Pull-Out Shelf Company; Paragon Distributing; Ultimate Edge; The Grout Doctor

digital photo stuff: dotphoto; ophoto (Kodak); shutterfly

spotted in Premier Egg Roll's window (Chinese drive-thru): Sherlock Bones - tracer of missing pets ("$1000 for missing boxer")

spotted who-knows-where: Internet Scout Project ("research and development projects that provide better tools and services for finding, filtering and delivering online information and metadata"); ("the single best source for facts"); ("Now over 17,203 Free Searchable Public Record Databases")

What's Next: Wired magazine; DemocraticUnderground; NutriCounter; (possibly includes the Ott-Lite VisionSaver DesignPro 18 watt floor lamp ($129) and the Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling headset ($300))

then there are ("compilation of laws related to unsolicited bulk and commercial e-mail") and SpamCop; SpyCop

spotted on MIT's Blogdex: ("putting the rarin' back in librarian"); (Adam Curry); Talking Points Memo (Joshua Micah Marshall); (Jeffrey Zeldman); (Claire Robertson, down undah)

Chef's; Derby Museum; Duluth Trading; Front Gate; Gardeners; Garrett Wade; Herrington; Home Trends; Improvements; In the Company of Dogs; Into the Wind; JB Pet; Lands End; Levenger; LL Bean; MasterAnimalCare; Nabisco; Nolo; NormThompson; OfficeMax; Orvis; Picket Fence; Plow & Hearth; Power House; Shop Lifestyle; Vermont Country Store; Wind and Weather.

There. All done. I feel like I've just purged. I am renewed.

bhagwan baguette

I almost forgot about the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, had I not noticed the new ad campaign by Arby's for their Roast Beef Marinades! sandwiches, only a few weeks after Burger King announced its own baguettes (baguette reminds me of bhagwan).

Note that the late bhagwan is not one of the 3 fat chicks, who are on a quest of non-obesity; their site led me to co-sponsored by McDonald's (trying out a new healthy menu).

Note that Burger King is marketing their new menu as healthy (5 grams of fat) while Arby's doesn't even try:

Arby's: Roast Beef Marinades
Southwest Beef `n Pepper Jack
French Onion Beef `n Swiss
Italian Beef `n Provolone

Burger King (5 grams of fat each):
Smoky BBQ Fire-Grilled Chicken Baguette
Santa Fe Fire-Grilled Chicken Baguette
Savory Mustard Chicken Baguette

While Googl'ing for Salads & More (McDonald's healthy menu - not yet available in Dallas?), I wandered across which took me to .. what can I say but McYeeeeeHaaaa!

GoggL'ost: National Association of Convenience Stores and

Saturday, November 1

meeting day

woke up at 6a, fetched+read the DMN then showered and dropped off newspapers at 7a @ the SMD (Specially Marked Dumpster) by the elementary school (I needed to free my recycling bin to hold the coffee paraphenalia - below). then, off to Albertsons to get 6 dozen donuts then off to Starbucks to fetch a 5-gallon Camtainer® (made by Cambro Manufacturing) of coffee, then off to the 8a meeting. Only 30 people showed (of 60 planned) so several people went home with extra coffee and/or donuts.

Once that was done, I put the Camtainer back in my car and will return it later, but first I had to meet 2 co-workers at 10a @ Plano Super Bowl for some Saturday morning practice. It was a very different crowd than on league night .. nearly all were elementary school (or younger) children .. complete with balloons, birthday songs, and so on. Todd (aka Skipper) brought his 5-year old daughter, and she bowled one game (84) without the bumpers! John and I were also incognito as Gilligan and Shelob (the Giant Cave Spider).

I'm still getting the hang of bowling the curve ball (as you release the ball, you spin the ball slightly, as if you are shaking hands with someone) but this is helping my average by about 40 pins a game. Could be worse; I could be training for a marathon.

Friday, October 31

NRA: chock full of rocket surgeons

I was reading the Dallas Managed News this morning when I spotted Ellen Goodman's editorial about the National Rifle Association's 19-page blacklist (see also the anti-site: BTW, it's only 18 pages - just goes to show their liberal agenda .. these tree-huggers can't even count straight! Pardon me while I oil my AK-47 squirrel rifle (maybe an XM8 would be a better choice?).

Yesterday, I was helping a friend locate the name of a city, when all she had was a ZIP code: to the rescue!

and then there's Eric (studying to be a professional Oracle-ite) who pointed me to the distinguished filmography of Roger Corman (pretty obvious the studies are getting to him .. in between SQL chapters, he's musing about screenplays such as "Uday of the Living Dead").

Wednesday, October 29

southern California fires

One of my cousins living in San Diego suggested viewing San Diego Channel 10 (click [Slideshows: Viewers Send In Fire Photos])
Also (related): NASA Earth Observatory and National Fire Protection Association

Unrelated: I was trying to track down information on the Homeland Security's "Emergency Response Network" but was frustrated. Instead I found dozens of sites including the FBI Dallas Emergency Response Network; CDC Emergency Preparedness & Response Site; Anarchist Black Cross Network; CERT Coordination Center

Definitely gotta git me one of these books: Six Feet Under: Better Living Through Death and maybe one of these: America 24/7

Random spots: Advertising Age; Vietnam embracing open-source products

GoogL'ost: Larta, the think tank for technology businesses (wonder how they compare to The Rand Corporation (I interviewed with them, when I lived in Los Angeles)).

Am mulling installing plantation shutters across the front of my house, so my interest was piqued when an ad for The Louver Shop landed in the snailmail. I nosed around their site for awhile, then Google'd for [Similar Pages] which took me to Plantation Shutter which took me to The Old House Web which took me to Wood Identification Procedures which did not take me to Working For Change

Class Action

Too bad I never felt impeded while going to my favorite movie theatre (The Angelika). Turns out they lost a class-action lawsuit - details are at Class Action - Mockingbird Station (part of the Class Action Administration web site). After reading through all the stuff, it turns out anyone who felt they couldn't navigate the property is entitled to $50 from a large fund, and the property owners agreed (without admitting guilt) to donate $30,000 each to 8 accessibility-related charities (total $240,000). Hmmm.

Over the years, I've been underwhelmed by the amount that an individual gets from one of these class-action lawsuits. I remember a couple settlements: one from Microsoft gave you a discount if you bought even more of their products! Another got some trinket (free data cartridge?) if you bought another Iomega product. I suspect the only ones who make out like bandits are the attorneys.

At 12:43AM Monday morning (soon after midnight Sunday) I got a phone call from my XGF (who obviously is chronomically challenged - she thought it was 9:30). She was still at work, and once she realized the hour, the call ended. If it hadn't been for that, I might not have noticed a chill in the house. I have 2 furnaces, and the large one (middle of the house) wasn't on (the thermostat read 67 degrees). So, I located a flashlight and went to investigate. Turns out the "kill switch" wasn't depressed completely, and once I corrected that, the furnace roared to life (at 1am with the neighborhood quiet, that's a fair choice of words). And no, I didn't wet my pants.

The next morning, I noticed a weird smell from the smaller furnace (whose pilot light I lit the day before). The smell, as was explained to me in years past, is from burning dust .. the stuff that accumulates atop the flame elements during off-season. I can only imagine hundreds of thousands of dust mites, searing after months of solitude. Good thing they don't have an attorney .. they might file a class action suit against me.

Tuesday, October 28

jet lag, time change

It'll be several more days before all my timepieces (things which contain clocks) are reset for Standard Time (the change was 2am this past Sunday). Years ago, I would've set my alarm clock for 2am and hurriedly raced around the house to change everything (well, okay .. not really .. even I am not that anal). No more; now it takes days and weeks before I change everything (well, almost everything: the clock on the bread machine is so obscure that I often wait until the first Sunday in April when we return to Daylight Saving Time).

I mentally accounted for about 20 things that need resetting. More and more of My Stuff automatically adjusts: VCR/DVD player (synchs to one of those out-of-band signals in the broadcast stream); wall clock above the fireplace (synchs to WWV); Palm PDA (PalmOS 5); computers; wireless phone/answering machine (CallerID); satellite receiver (which contains its own CallerID gizmo for on-screen display).

Stuff That Requires a Manual Reset includes: the alarm system; the VCR (it's supposed to autosync, but ...); breadmaker; oven; microwave; 2 wall clocks; my "clocktail table"; the digital cameras; the camcorder; alarm clock; 2 wired phones; 2 wristwatches; and of course, the car. Some of these (like the car) have obscure ways of resetting the clock.

There's a classic riddle about whether a clock that runs fast (or slow) is more accurate than one which is broken, since the latter will always be correct twice per day.

got an email from Marty (high school chum) who is back from Ireland (icy runway, airline strike, reroute through LAX and the accompanying smoke-related delay). A NASA website had an incredible photo of the smoke from the wildfires.

Her story reminded me of my return from 10 days in Australia, years ago. Took me 3 DAYS to recover from that jet lag (theory: west->east jetlag is harder because you're going against the normal Earth rotation) and I nearly turned into oncoming traffic, having easily adapted to driving on the left (and the righthand drive rental car). BTW, the first indication that you're not yet adapted: you flip the turn signal, and the windshield wipers engage.

Monday, October 27

do the math!

I was amused/disgusted by the tone of the reporter who wrote DirecTV suing Floridians who watch it for free. He compares DirecTV to the music industry's recent headlines, suing the "poor helpless people" who download music for free. Oh, please. Can't someone Do The Math?

Let's assume that DirecTV (or a music studio -- the argument is the same) spends millions of dollars to go into business. In DirecTV's case, they design and deploy (launch) a satellite, buy enormous amounts of computers to make their service work, hire boatloads of people to staff their customer service phones, bring online a nice website that allows me to do much of this myself, and so on. None of this comes free, and I get billed my share. Then along comes my neighbor who doesn't want to pay; he just wants the service for next-to-nothing (the cost of a descrambler). So, let's use an extreme (to make my point). Let's assume that I am the only person who didn't buy the descrambler; my share of the DBS (direct broadcast satellite) is .. oh, $1 BILLION A YEAR. So guess what? I drop the service (waaay out of my budget). As a result, the provider goes bankrupt, and now even the losers who bought the descrambler have no service.

On the other hand, there is the economic theory of mass production (the more users, the lower the cost for everyone). The same argument applies to the music industry: I am disgusted by those who say they think CD prices are too high. Well, duh. Do the math! The fixed costs associated with producing music must increasingly be spread among a smaller group (buyers) who subsidize those who steal the music. That's why a CD now costs $18, you idiots! Do I buy a lot fewer CDs now than when they were $11? You bet! (BTW, the music industry seems to think that once they sue everyone who downloaded music for free, their situation will turn around. THINK AGAIN!)

And yes, I've heard all those inane arguments about the real reason being bad music, and CDs containing 1 good song and 17 lousy ones. The remedy is (enable rocket surgeon [or brain scientist] mode): DON'T BUY CRAP.

It also amazes me how journalists (aside: I was one, years ago - will blog that later) can turn their own morals on and off. I spotted a story on a Tallahassee FL website, and I was interested in finding the original (in New Jersey). So, a few mouse clicks later I found 1010 WINS: County Thinks Humor Might Slow Down Drivers with a copyright at the bottom. Then I noticed how that copyright (showing who wrote the original) was conveniently missing from dozens of other websites who added it to their own content (some credited the Associated Press, many did not).

Finally, let's hope the Volunteer Center of North Texas cross-checks the Dallas-Fort Worth Crime Stoppers site. Then again, volunteer = free, right? Just like satellite descramblers and music. Harumph.

Sunday, October 26

so shoot me

I didn't bother getting a flu shot (yet) but I have seen the FluMist (nasal vaccine) commercials on TV. Not sure if I qualify .. the TV spot said something about not being recommended if you're on aspirin therapy (81 mg per day) but that may only apply to adolescents. This stuff costs about 3-4x that of an injection, so if I do get a flu shot, I'll save my money by letting them poke me with a needle: clinics are found via

Wurstfest is held in New Braunfels, Texas (about a 4 hour one-way drive from Dallas) so I won't be going. The Texas Hill Country (between San Antonio and Austin) is where many German immigrants reside, and they're also well known for Oktoberfest.

Ah, Freedom of Speech: MIS*LEADER is billed as "a daily chronicle of bush administration distortion" (it's a service of "Democracy in Action"). Quite possibly another website run by a 38-year old living above his mother's garage ...

Finally, some job hunters are having luck getting information on prospective companies by using The Thomas Register (billed as "the most comprehensive online resource for finding companies and products manufactured in North America").

In Search of the Elusive Wild Orange Floodlight

I went out to get some milk from the grocery, and ended up forgetting, so now I have to go out again. I'll wait until the Cowboys game starts (the stores will be like ghost towns). I was also unsuccessful locating orange floodlights (for Halloween); I tried Home Depot (which has yellow, red, green and blue floodlights) and Party City, which had a few low-wattage UV-A ("black light") floodlights. Perhaps no one makes orange ones!

While out, I did spot a Braum's store where I'd never noticed it before. Maybe I'll swing by for a Braum's Vanilla Frozen Custard (hey, I'm in the mood for something different). If not that, perhaps the Philly Connection (I checked their website; the nearest one is not where I'd want to be at night).

simpler times

When I was growing up (suburb of a medium-large city) utilities were different. We had an LP (Liquid Propane) stove made by O'Keefe & Merritt which was fueled by one of two cylinders behind the house. When the first ran out, we went outside and screwed the valve shut, and opened the valve on the reserve. When the reserve started running low (you could tell by the hollow sound it made when you tapped it) we'd call the gas company and they'd send a truck to swap the tanks with full ones.

there was a man we called "Mister Frank" who came by once or twice a week to deliver fresh bread. He drove one of those old style bread trucks (I think it was painted green) and we'd leave a note (if we weren't home) to say what we needed: a loaf of wheat or pumpernickel, or whatever. At some point (like most kids) I stopped eating anything but white bread (now I wouldn't touch the stuff). I think Mr Frank delivered milk, too .. I dimly remember an insulated metal box where glass quarts were delivered. We'd leave the money atop the box, or he'd just get the payment on his next visit. I don't remember which grocery we used, but this home bread-and-milk delivery probably saved a lot of wear-and-tear on our cars (which were not nearly as reliable as they are now).

the oil-fueled Sears furnace was fueled by a tank buried near the front of the house. We measured it by a wooden stick that we'd drop into the tank twice a year. When it ran low, we'd call the fuel oil company and they'd send a tanker truck to refill the (500 gallon?) tank. It was very efficient, and I only recall one downside: an occasional black carbon buildup near the heat ducts. It had a pair of filters that needed changing a few times a year.

for most of the time, our water supply came from an underground well in the backyard. At some point, "city water" finally made it to our neighborhood and we attached to it via a pipe that was dug from the street to our house. The house next door was one of the first on the street, and it had a hand water pump next to the garage (although it was more a curiosity by the time I arrived on scene, having been replaced by their own electric well). Both houses had a small water tank inside the basement, which automatically refilled via an electric pump when it ran low.

Sewage disposal was the biggest problem. We had a "sump pump" in the basement, designed to move the waste water (from the sink, shower and the toilets) into the disposal field buried in the backyard. I only remember a problem with it backing up once in 20 years, and that was enough! The "mix" percolated to the surface, showing exactly where the pipes lay below. wheee-uuuuuu it was nasty .. the ground was gooey for weeks (I think the pipes were dug up, or cleaned/flushed) and eventually things returned to normal.

the only utility that hasn't changed much is electricity. It was supplied via cables connected to "telephone poles" to the power grid. When a significant enough ice storm rolled through town, the cables would snap and we'd be without lights (and curiously, refrigeration) for a few days. In hindsight, it would've been prudent to move the frozen foods from the "deep freeze" in the basement to the snowpack behind the house (the house was heated by fuel oil, remember? And when the power's out, the food in the freezer slowly warms to room temperature and spoils).

and finally, there was The Telephone. Yes, this was before you could buy a phone at every drugstore, department store, and grocery in town. Everyone "rented" the phone from The Phone Company (there was only one provider); was rotary-dial; was painted black; and had two real bells inside to provide the ring. [RJ-11 connectors so you could move the phone yourself? HA!] And then there was the service itself. Since we lived in the suburbs, phone circuits were rationed: you shared your service with some (usually unknown) pseudo-neighbor on what was called a party line (they may still exist somewhere).

I remember one day when my father (who ran a business from home) needed to use the phone (to place an order for materials). He'd pick up the phone and hear two women talking. So he'd hang up, and try again a few minutes later. This went on for an hour or so, and the women were unconcerned with the periodic clicks they heard when dad picked up the phone. So, he finally picked up the phone and listened for a few seconds. One woman commented "I paid $2 at Winn-Dixie for a ham" and my father chimed in "You paid too much .. it's cheaper at Kroger" and quickly hung up. About 5 minutes later, he picked up the phone and successfully completed his order for materials, uninterrupted.

Saturday, October 25

Timing .. is .. uh .. TIMING is .. uh .. Timing Is Every ........... Thing

William Shatner had some of the worst delivery of any actor in Hollywood. He was well-known for overacting on Star Trek (ST:TOS = the original series). I suspect he now works for The Kellogg Company: they (well, okay -- Kroger) sold me a box of Fruit Harvest with a "Better If Used By .." 12 Jan 2004, and a coupon on the side that expired 30 September 2003. Doh!

I also noted (with continued amusement) that a local Realtor® can't sync her mailings with the dates inside. She says that architects will be available for viewing on 17 October, but the newsletter was postmarked 21 October and arrived in my mailbox a few days after that. Doh!

Being a rabid fan of fast food, I was not surprised to see a) they finally got around to removing the signage from a closed Grandy's restaurant and b) the local Miami Subs Grill closed. The latter has been struggling with an identity crisis for the past few years, and the Name Brand Concept they tried just didn't work (they sold Nathan's Famous; Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips; and Kenny Rogers Roasters under one roof). I suppose this was an attempt to mimic the trend of dual-locations (I can't even remember the last time I saw a standalone KFC .. they're all combined with Taco Bell or A&W or Pizza Hut).

This trend probably started when shopping malls started adding food courts, where a group could feed from a variety of cuisines. This parallels the trend of co-locating fast food with other stuff, particularly gas stations. I recall seeing Chevron paired with Wendy's and even McDonald's. I've only seen one McSnack (a sidewalk-window version of McDonalds) in La Jolla, California. I have spotted many McDonalds inside airport terminals, many at (you guessed it) food courts.

Finally, someone emailed me Social Security Reform: a 2004 Election Issue. I wasn't aware of the deal the US Senate and House have regarding their retirement plans (this on the heels of voting themselves a nice raise while the rest of us try to hang onto our jobs) and yeah, it smells corrupt!

Being the suspicious sot that I am, I checked the domain registration for Turns out it's a (supposedly disabled) veteran living in an apartment in Florida (nothing wrong with that) and the website is dotted with pro-medical marijuana and send-me-money pointers. Hmm .. sounds very non-profit (.org) to me!