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: NRAblacklist.com). 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: PlacesNamed.com 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 findaflushot.com.

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 MoveOn.org: "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 USResolve.org. 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!

seasonal context switch

I really don't mind the Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) as long as I can use my ATM card (Geomagnetic Storm Hits Earth, Tweaking Power Grids). As far as geomagnetic storms go, this one's listed as "strong" (a G-3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scale for Geomagnetic Storms).

Speaking of CMEs, I crawled into the attic this morning to light the furnace's pilot light (I got a blue flame - and not one of those red or yellow ones). The forecast is for the weather to change: yesterday it was 90F, and tonight it's supposed to be 45F (brr!). If I lived in southern California, I might be more concerned about the Santa Ana winds and the wildfires (the Goddard Space Flight Center website has an article about the fires).

Finally, I was ready to trash an empty bottle of Vitamin E when I noticed the USP (United States Phamacopeial Convention) designation, and then (moments later!) I noticed the USDA Organic seal on my Optimum Power Breakfast™ (from Nature's Path). How onomatopoetic! A quick study shows that stuff in the UK costs 50% more than here in The States: 'Rip-off' Britain investigated makes for good reading.

Thursday, October 23

Gene, the film star!

Maybe someday I'll become a movie star! Since the drive isn't as long as it is to Hollywood, I could start at the Studios at Las Colinas. Now I just have to get discovered. I bet I could make a gansta rap movie about Macomb County (Michigan) Circuit Court Judge Deborah Servitto, or get a TV commercial eating Campbell's Select Microwavable Bowls!

Maybe They are just out to get me: Pick A Conspiracy Theory.

I think I'll go to the (14th Annual !) American Indian Art Festival & Market this weekend (it's being held in the Dallas Arts District).

Wednesday, October 22

Elm=Ellum? So why doesn't Main=Mailun?

I accidentally drove through Deep Ellum (mostly bars on Elm Street, east of Central Expressway) tonight, after the Dallas Homeowners League meeting didn't happen where I thought it was gonna happen (they said one thing on their postcard, and another on their web site). It wasn't a completely wasted trip; it's the first time I've ever been to the Central Branch of the Dallas Public Library (a seriously large building). And (drum roll) I renewed my library card. Woo hoo!

Elm Street was mostly deserted tonight (Wednesday). Certainly no signs of the The Deep Ellum Film Festival.

Video Vault shows how cigarette companies commonly made product placements, even on cartoons! ("We don't market our products to children!") I suspect you won't be able to buy them on dooyoo? which is a British version of e-pinions, apparently. Then again, Google says that similar sites are ConsumerSearch; AskAnOwner; Quality Ratings; Want & Vote; Complaints.com; Ratings.Net and Rip-Off Britain (to name a few).

Jerry Jones and The Big Tuna (Bill Parcells) aren't the only Dallas sports owners/managers that make the news. Don't forget Mark Cuban: Dallas Mavericks: Small Companies, Big Returns

do we have to keep everything for 5 years? not so sure after trying to make heads or tails of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (aka SOX ?)

If the Gene Bob blog doesn't put you to sleep, perhaps you should read Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) or the National Sleep Awareness Week - 2004 Preview. Then, there is Alec's website: crypticide.org which has spectacular photos of his compost pile. My heart, be still!

Sundry

Fry's Electronics sells almost anything; I understand they started as a grocery reseller in the Bay Area, and when they saw how much money they could make selling stuff to nerds, they (mostly) got out of the grocery business. To this day, it's the only place I know where you can buy a motherboard, a comb, a 4 ohm resistor, a 2-liter bottle of cola and a copy of Penthouse under the same roof. Not sure if they sell Campbell's Soup At Hand (I drank/ate their Clam Chowder).

Plaxo has an app that lets you update a central copy of your info which is automagically distributed to the address books of those you specify. Hmmm.

I still find it fascinating that I can't HotSync my Palm Address Book to Microsoft Outlook Express without spending $20 on a 3rd party application (Jibe). Another application (unrelated) which has been spoken highly of is SpamAssassin

The year I arrived in Dallas, there was an ice storm during Thanksgiving. Yaktrax would have come in handy then.

And finally, I waxed nostalgic when I read Is polygamy OK?

Monday, October 20

We're just cogs in the railway of life

I've been on a few trains, but only one in the US: the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) that goes from ORD (O'Hare Airport) to downtown Chicago. It was late at night, and the train was accompanied by 2 policemen with their German Shepherd Dog. I felt safe, until they escorted a vagrant from the train, about 3 stops from my destination. I remember being accosted by a panhandler when I exited the station, but I really didn't fear for my life (like that time I took a wrong turn leaving the Los Angeles Convention Center).

Anyway, I was spellbound to read about the Pikes Peak Cog Railway which uses a non-traditional track in order to climb (and descend) the steep grade in the Colorado (Rocky) mountains. Gotta do that sometime. Also, I wonder how that compares to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway in Albuquerque (far as I know, it's the only way to get to High Finance restaurant).

I've been to the local train station, but for a business gathering at one of their meeting rooms (distantly reminds me of a meeting on the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach CA, but that's an item for another blog entry, on a future day). Amtrak's Texas Eagle departs from Dallas' Union Station.

Then there's the story of the oh-so-entertaining round trip train from Vienna to Budapest (you guessed it .. a future blog item).

Finally, I'm amused to see that green fluorescent tubes are still manufactured. When I was in college they were tested in the library; we were told that as the older tubes burned out, they'd be replaced by the low-power green tubes, and that we'd never notice the difference. Wrong! Not only did they really stand out when side-by-side with the traditional white tubes, but they didn't seem to have the same lumens. Now, I see them marketed for night fishing and infant phototherapy. Hmm. I thought about this when one of my GE reveal® bulbs malfunctioned (it didn't burn out .. it's one of those $%^& 3-way bulbs that never seems to work correctly). I'm still unconvinced that they make me feel any happier than traditional bulbs.

Sunday, October 19

Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda

okay, I've had it with wheresgeorge.com .. of 335 bills submitted, i got 3 hits. and only 1 within the last year. too much effort for too little return. I suspect many people stopped using the site due to those incredibly annoying popup ads that appear each time you add a bill (I use the Google toolbar, which does an excellent job blocking popups, plus all the goodies it offers).

speaking of too little return, I have decided to author a White Paper: The Drinking Straws at American Fast Food Restaurants. I like the straws at McDonald's and Sonic, but throw away the ones from Wendy's and Chick-fil-A. Why? ISD (Insufficient Straw Diameter) : soft drinks taste better when consumed through a wider straw. Unless there's something else to the mix (those chains add water to a condensed syrup, and they could have better water at McDonald's, I guess).

which reminds me of the Asian places that have boba (aka Bubble Tea; Pearl Tea) : one chain is named Fat Straws (others are Lollicup; Noodle Bar). It's basically an Icee® with (optional) tapioca balls at the bottom (be sure to order them "with pearl" if you want the Cracker Jack®-like surprise). You slurp these balls through the extra-wide straw and then eat them along with the flavored slush. I remember the first time I had boba: I wasn't expecting the ball, and as I chewed it, it seemed familiar, but I could not place where I'd tasted it before. In hindsight, that's because the tapioca was completely out of context: usually it's in a bowl by itself and not compressed into a semi-hard ball at the bottom of a Slurpee®.

BTW, "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda" was the original name for 7-Up® (so says The Straight Dope)

GoogL'ost: The Shirley Temple Soda Pop Company and (unrelated) Afri-Cola

Saturday, October 18

There's a time and place for everything

When I lived in Los Angeles, Bob and I went to see [Do the Right Thing] at a predominately black theatre. This was very different than most theatres; the patrons constantly shouted at the onscreen actors, and I missed about 90% of the dialog. For about 1 nanosecond, I thought about yelling to the crowd "SHUT UP! I CAN'T HEAR WHAT THEY'RE SAYING!" then I realized that would be unacceptable behavior. I thought of that when I happened across the website for InSight Cinema (a chain of theatres for the deaf) and MoPix® (Motion Picture Access).

The DMN must be seeing some success with its Editorial Blog, because that has expanded to Larry Powell's Pet Blog (good stuff; I'll bookmark it for later). The DMN (Dallas Managed News) has a history of self-serving projects that get trashed when not enough people participate. I remember the Dallas Community megasite they started for local non-profit groups; they held local how-to seminars for website novices, and then .. one day, the site just vanished, taking hundreds (thousands?) of sites off the air). It was a site that depended on advertising revenue (banner ads, etc.), so the nonprofits could get a free website. I ran one of those sub-sites and was never notified that the plug was about to be pulled (maybe they lost my email address). Early versions of community.dallasnews.com are visible via the Internet Archive, even though the site itself is now defunct (eventually they figured out how to use the robots.txt file to hide their content, so the latter editions are not visible).

With 20/20 hindsight, I suspected the DMN brought their site online in a preemptive way, to keep other website entrepreneurs (such as Neighborhoods.Net) from gaining a foothold in this new media (there are only so many advertising dollars available).

Anyway, Larry Powell's Pet Blog somehow led me to Animal Allies of Texas (in nearby Garland). There are several of these animal-welfare non-profit organizations on the web. I wonder if they began their web life on community.dallasnews.com?

GoogL'ost: NutritionReallyWorks.com

Friday, October 17

... and then there's Thishenge and Thathenge

I was nosing around /. (slashdot .. the best known nerd blog) and saw a mention of the Stonehenge Laser Scan. Their website was down, so I Google'd for information and wandered across Stonehenge's lesser-known cousin: Seahenge. Note to self: must learn how to SCUBA so as to visit this place.

Today's other new words: Smink and Scion (thanks to Tim for the latter).

I was on the patio tonight, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a high school marching band. At first, I assumed it was the hallucinogenic mushrooms, then I remembered that I'm less than 1.5 miles from Richardson's Eagle/Mustang stadium, which seats 12,000 (more than many small colleges). And no, this Big City School is not listed in Texas Agriculture magazine.

It's too bad that we can't send crop dusters after spammers; until then we'll have to read Getting Rid of Spam and Other E-mail Pests.

Camtech 2000 Downloads

Achoo!

Pollen.com lists the day's best & worst cities for pollen; as expected, this changes every day. I was saddened to see that all of today's top 5 cities for Worst Pollen are in Texas (Dallas; Ft. Worth; San Antonio; Laredo; San Angelo), and was giddy (!) to see that the city where I attended undergrad college is listed in today's bottom 5 (i.e. lowest pollen).

whatever possessed me to do a backward search for this (the Gene Bob) blog, I have no idea, but it pointed me to the blog matrix as well as blo.gs (gs is the top level domain for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands)

Amusing find du jour (thanks, Carl!) : Canadian Tire (hint: it's plastic and not rubber, eh).

GoogL'ost: the Song of Gene-Bob

Thursday, October 16

The Checklist

One of the Things I Have Never Done is participate in one of those Walks For Charity.

So, when I spotted one this coming Sunday (on the DFWinternational.org web site - I get their weekly e-news), I decided to check it out. This one is called the Dallas Partnership Walk, and is sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation. Hmm .. not sure that's the one I'd choose. I have images of being photographed, and appearing on page 1 of the Dallas Morning News. The idea of Gene-Bob being exploited for political gain is too much!

While wandering around the web, I stumbled across the Dallas Peace Center, which publishes an online newsletter called the Dallas Peace Times. Then there's the World Affairs Council, which started in Dallas in 1951 (the anti-globalization protestors probably don't care for them).

Finally, I spotted the last 10 seconds of a local news broadcast talking about IdleAire so I looked for them on the web. They make a gadget for diesel trucks, to lower their emissions.

Wednesday, October 15

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Comparing the websites of GutterMAXX and GutterHelmet is no comparison; the latter has real information, while the former is designed to provoke you to call their toll-free number. How do you spell b-o-r-i-n-g ? BTW, the guy who installed the seamless gutters on my home in 1994 said he also did the gutters for Mary Kay Ash's home (she died in 2001). Yes indeed, she wanted pink gutters. He says her driveway concrete was mixed with pink paint, too. Bizarre.

GoogL'ost: National Museum of Roller Skating (Lincoln, Nebraska). Where else would such a tourist mecca be located?

Sunday, October 12

Gene Bob creates yet another new word!

GoogL'ost looks more Klingon than GoogleLost. Either way, it's far more entertaining than "Stray find of the day" and less likely to prompt a call from the nice barristers @ Google.

So here's my GoogL'ost du Jour:

As if by accident (I was trying to find the new Google: Search by Location feature), I wandered across the Google Weblog, and was summarily transfixed for hours. Then, once I started using Search by Location (okay, so it's in beta test) I stumbled across Smoke Free World (while looking for bowling resources near my home). This is not how I found B.A.D. Bowling (BAD = Bowling for Architects and Designers -- it's a group of bowlers in NYC). For that, I looked for the phrase "Bowling for Dummies" !!

Saturday, October 11

Gadu-Gadu! Umgawa!

It's sad that Instant Messaging [IM] client applications like Trillian and Gaim (see below) have to play cat-and-mouse with the IM providers (MSN, Yahoo!, IRC, ICQ and AOL). The providers want you to use their client software (presumably so they can push advertising content), but this means that the user usually has to run a separate application for each provider. Well, the latest patch for (the free) Trillian Basic (to handle the latest Yahoo! and MSN protocols) is now available on the Trillian downloads site. Trillian allows you to run one client (instead of five) to do instant messaging. Trillian Basic doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the individual clients have, but it sure is nice not having to run 5 applications to do instant messaging. I'm not sure how many whistles or bells you get if you upgrade to Trillian Pro.

Trivia: www.trillian.cc is Cerulean Studios' web site .. and cc is the top level domain for (drum roll) the Cocos Islands - Keelings.

Speaking of IM clients, What Is Gaim?: "Gaim is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM (Oscar and TOC protocols), ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr networks."

I traded some IMs with Tony (an ex-boss) on Thursday; he's still doing Linux at Linux Networx. Rock on, Tony.

Meanwhile, Wayne (ex-roommate in Chicago) IM'd me to say that he's off to Seoul, via Seattle. This after being home only 5 days from a jaunt to Italy, France and the UK. Travel is glamorous, Wayne.

Essay question: so what is food?

North Texas Food Bank is aligned with America's Second Harvest (one of the better-run charities, according to the American Institute of Philanthropy). Food banks don't accept beer, which is probably just fine with the Beer Can Collectors of America. If I was a dog or cat, I might want to shop at Natural Life Pet Products.

Friday, October 10

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

just to show that not all stupidity is confined to the Deep South: Illinois Parents Sue School Over Wireless Network (if only they had known about the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie). This would be a better world if people would take a few minutes to understand how stuff works, rather than running off at the mouth with a new conspiracy theory!

EPC (Electronic Product Code, aka Auto-ID) will replace the UPC (Uniform Product Code) barcode labels that adorn everything sold in retail. RFID is a subset of Auto-ID, er .. EPC.

RFID Privacy reports (on their blog) : "Texas Instruments has developed an RFID chip that can survive dry cleaning" (true); conspiracy theorists say this means that The Guverrmint [sic] will be tracking all of us, all the time.

Heck, The Government can't even get rid of the quaint $1 bill (paper) and move us to a $1 coin. The cash registers would then be free to put $2 bills where they store $1 bills now. Why is this so difficult? Ditto goes for the move to the metric system. We seem to be able to handle 2 Liter bottles of soda, but precious little else metric: go figure.

Message from GeneBob to The Government: Just Do It.

BTW, here's my reaction to RFID tags in clothing: conspiracy theorists don't bathe/clean their clothes now, so how will this change anything? They think that showering in chlorinated water renders them sterile!

The web is full of conspiracy theorists (thanks be to free speech), including the Stop RFID web site and CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (who want to ban those wonderful loyalty cards). There is even a site with anti-RFID Bumper Stickers; I haven't seen a real one yet (and hopefully never will). This is not an endorsement of any of these conspiracy theorists (I find the bulk of them trivial and very foolish).

Wednesday, October 8

Please to give me your fish!

The Multi-Babel Translator could be addictively funny. I had some entertaining results when I used the best advertising slogans as input. Here are some before-and-after results:

Generosity: It advanced as rapidly as possible of r├ęcolteuse
started as:
Bounty: The quicker picker-upper

If ciao sufficient, the end to transmit the thing more better possible
started as:
When you care enough to send the very best

The brown express of Vixen jumps in the inactive dog.
started as:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The hour is the hour, of the way this that comes all the good men with their country.
started as:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

Two all cattles small of cakes, special, insalata sauce main one, cheese, have goodses with the vinegar, clear bulbs of the inscatolato in a Sesamsamenbrioche.
started as:
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun
(a Big Mac from McDonald's)

Noninterests that one; They do not know, where it was.
started as (thanks, Dave!):
Don't touch that; you don't know where it has been.

Marks of the time to slip further on like arrow; the flies with the fruit appreciate a banana.
started as (thanks, Dave!):
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

If inner of you that you do not create, the probabilities are that the nobody different one that.
started as (thanks, Walter!):
If you don't believe in yourself, chances are that nobody else will.

and finally:

The relative the first complete day as automati of regolators selects to us, of those who the secret, that it expresses itself of Schwarzenegger D ' Arnold, that would give the form to transistion without the joint to the office of rifle automatic of the regolator, but if the new detail of aucuns in the direction, within them, the defects of California molded to ossequio.
started as (thanks, Associated Press!):
On his first full day as governor elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed confidence that he would make a seamless transition to the governor's office, but provided no new specifics on how he plans to cure California's ills.

Tuesday, October 7

Titanic

Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg says that the majority of blogs are abandoned after 2 months. Does this mean that most people only have 2 months (or less) worth of stuff to say? Hmm.

Coming this weekend: 8th annual ArmeniaFest

should I invest in a GutterHelmet™? It seems a better approach than leaf screens (I got a bid for each: leaf screens are 25% the cost of a GutterHelmet). I suspect this is one of those "you get what you pay for" issues. In my old age (!) I have learned that it is possible to throw your money away on Cheap Stuff That Just Doesn't Work.

Any excuse for a party ...

1998 was the 150th Anniversary of the Women's Rights Movement. I wandered across the legacy98.org web site, which includes A Short History of the Movement. The "Short History" is 10 pages long! I once heard (never substantiated) that the average woman uses 7x as many words in a day as the average man.

Mostly unrelated: a memorable piece on Comedy Central's The Man Show when Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla setup a booth with a petition to "Stop Women's Suffrage" .. it was amazing how many women signed the petition, when Jimmy and Adam explained that they were "just trying to end women having to suffrage".

I hope the California Recall/Governor's Election goes smoothly. I considered taking one of Sky High Airlines flights, but didn't.

What do you call 3000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

2,871 Saabs, Volvos and BMWs were on the TRICOLOR when it sank in the English Channel on 14 December 2002. Funny that I didn't hear about this when it happened; perhaps it should be on Deaf Dude's Deaf Links. Maybe the captain of the Kariba was on Fentanyl?

Monday, October 6

Microsoft Pleads "No Contest"

Incompetech contained an entertaining item: Microsoft Technical Support vs. The Psychic Friends Network : Which Provides Better Support for Microsoft Products? (no comment about The Smart-Ass Guide to Art, on the same site).

Sunday, October 5

Wash for 30 seconds using soap and hot water ...

Restrooms of the Future is hosted by the improbably named "Caring Hands, Inc." (this site reminded me of urinal.net, which is not for the easily disgusted). Want a more sanitary laugh? improbable.com contains things that go bang|whuff|splat|bad|nowhere else|with beer and the Winners of the Ig Nobel Prizes.

Google Directory - Recreation > Humor > Bizarre

Spotted on AOL Weekender's list of stuff to do in Dallas: The Texas Renaissance Festival (I can only guess they are easily confused by the similarity of Plantersville (Houston) to Farmersville (Dallas). Then again, perhaps the folks at digitalcity.com are just stupid; 200 miles away is not local. I suggest they consult one of the many online maps such as mapquest.com.

There are some useful topographic maps of the states on the poorly named o hwy.com (Online Highways) -- marketed as "the Guide to Travel, Leisure and Recreation in North America and beyond". I had some fun playing with the interactive stuff on National Atlas.gov .. overlaying stuff like the annual precipitation (or the railroads) in Dallas County, Texas along with the names of the cities.

Saturday, October 4

green, Green, GREEN

I was reading the DMN and spotted an ad for Green Living (an environmentally-friendly retail store). I'll visit them when I go to the Angelika (and Kubys!) next week. I don't remember how I came across it, but I also spotted GreenGuide.com (for profit, not to be confused with GreenGuide.org which is non-profit, and based in Minneapolis-St.Paul).

I was nosing around Silk's web site when I spotted Child Labor Coalition which had a link to Candy USA (an item about African child labor).

Friday, October 3

rock and roll

I've been into photography for a long time .. probably had my first camera by 10 or 12 years old. I'm now on my 3rd digital camera. Am mulling a jaunt to the Dallas Arboretum while the Monarch butterflies are in town. There are good photo hints on the National Garden Month web site.

I've heard of Godzilla, then Mozilla and now Birdzilla. Almost makes me want to join the Lepidopterists' Society.

I've been through many earthquakes, when I lived in the Los Angeles basin (until 1993). I don't even blink unless it's a 5.0 or higher. Here are the ones I remember:

#1) My First Earthquake (circa 1983): I just thought someone was banging on the door - very loud. Turns out it was the doorframe and door meeting in a new way.
#2) I was sitting in my car at a stoplight, and I wondered why the signals were swaying and the car bouncing up and down.
#3) I was on the phone with someone back east .. I (rather calmly) advised them that we were having an earthquake, and if the phone disconnected, I'd call them back when service was restored.
#4) I was working late, on the 18th floor of an office in El Segundo (just south of LAX) and wondered why the window blinds were tinkling .. turns out it was the Bay Area quake (23 March 1991)

after a time, you'll develop a second sense about them. You automatically think where you'll go if it gets serious (door frames are the strongest part of a building .. I second-naturedly will go there). Stay away from windows (glass shards), power lines, nuclear reactors, farmers markets, etc.

Thursday, October 2

Closed captioning dyslexia

Closed captioning dyslexia is the first article I've seen to comment on what I call Closed Caption Bloopers (it appeared in the Toronto Star). There are several good sites for information on Closed Caption, including the National Captioning Institute and captions.org (background information regarding deafness may be found on deafness.about.com and the Closed Captioning FAQ).

Something that doesn't require closed caption is some of the funniest audio (once you understand the Language Removal concept) I've ever heard: California Gubernatorial Candidates (language removed). (this stuff gets old fast, but my initial reaction was LOL - laughing out loud)

The Obscure Organization promises to make you think, but what were they thinking when they posted Yohaun's Head Splitting Translations ?

Some of the best investigative journalism in Dallas comes from the alternative press; The Dallas Observer bills itself as "The Alternative Dallas connection for events, event listings, music reviews, CD reviews, and all of the latest alternative news from the Dallas area". Okay, okay .. alternative. I get it.

Note to self: interesting that Blogspot/Blogger fails the Bobby Accessibility Test

Wednesday, October 1

Green Acres

Jill had considered putting bead board on her ceiling, but decided that would be "too country". This, from the woman who's gonna put floor tile on the ceiling instead. I suspect this is a delayed response to her trip Down Under last year, where water swirls backwards. She retorts "I don't do the country look in my house! The floor tile doesn't scream country ducks with blue bows around their necks!" Gene-Bob's prediction: it won't be too long before she moves the telephone, from its current location atop the pole (next to the house). Ah, life in Hooterville!

Here's yet-another article about the food fare at the fair: Texas-Fried Oreos, Anyone?

The weather in Dallas is usually too hot, or too cold. This week (thank you Three Bears) it's just right. So, I've decided to burn a week of vacation next week, and a journey to the Texas State Fair seems in order (I've been twice since moving here in 1993). Another thing I'll certainly do whilst on holiday is take in a daytime flick @ The Angelika.

I have several friends who've been out of work for awhile (no fault of their own). I suggested they practice the interview with these hardcore tech-interview style riddles. It couldn't hurt, and it just might help. One thing they will not be expected to do on the job interview is to Measure The Speed of Light With Chocolate and a Microwave.

blog: InternetWeek.com editor Mitch Wagner