Sunday, December 31

The Genre Committee

who sits on the "Genre Committee" that decides what music is part of what genre?

As I spent the better part of the last 4 days uploading the bulk of my CD collection to iTunes, to dump to my iPod, I noted that some of the genres chosen were laughable.
(metrics: 474 CDs equalled 5470 songs; 14.5 days; 19.34 GB) Once on my Mac, the download to the iPod took 60 minutes.
My biggest peeve is with the [World] genre; this should be abolished (it's very US-centric). At minimum I'd replace it with the country of the musicians. Seeing [Haiti] and [Senegal] means much more to me than (Rest Of) "World" - permanently relegating any non-US music as Second Class. Bah.

Actually, They* do an adequate job most of the time. iTunes' alternative is what you see when no Internet connection is available; the songs are imported with generic names: Track 01; Track 02 and so forth. (Advanced/Get CD Track Names will fetch the CDDB info after the fact, as needed)
*"They" is in flux, apparently; given the history behind the CDDB (and freedb), it's amazing this continues to work at all. iTunes is using Gracenote; there's no (obvious) way to change that provider.
While it was amusing to see "Weird Al" Yankovic put into the [Books & Spoken] genre, it was downright irritating to find no consistency among my American Indian selections .. listed randomnly as [World], [Folk], or [Unclassifiable].

Other examples: my Reggae CDs became [International] .. distinct from [World], mind you! Clannad's music became [Folk] (versus Celtic). Apparently They were trying to keep it down to 20 genres, worldwide. Oh, please.

And don't even get me started on the "Soundtrack" category. Most of the songs are compiliations, so labeling an album as one genre when the individual songs are quite different just .. well .. befuddles me.

Friday, December 29

"stubborn" lacks the connotation

Joseph Nye has an item over on HuffPo today that's worth a quick read: A New Year's Wish for George Bush.

After doing so, my 40-pence analysis: I know for a fact that President Quagmire lacks the brain cells to know the difference between a war and a campaign. If He bothered to ask His brain (Karl Rove - the Puppetmaster) about this at all, I'm sure He was assured that His base [now 29% and falling] would rally around a war, but not a campaign
(which sounds too much like a political campaign, with all those balloons and handshaking and ponies and buttons and banners and BBQ and oh-my-what-fun)
so he should put that silly thought of a PhraseShift out of His mind. I suppose Nye has to be (at least mildly) Politically Correct. He says that President Quagmire is being "stubborn" by using the phrase "The War On Terra" when that simply marginalizes the term [WAR].

Not having to be PC myself, and apparently a better student of connotations than Nye, I can say that the POTUS is simply pigheaded.

Bottom line: the only way this Rocket Surgeon will ever get it is when His daughters are drafted, and end up on the front lines. Then again, they might be al Qaeda's main target, since Britain's Prince Harry will apparently be kept far from the front lines. RHIP, ya know.

Thursday, December 28

Hoosier Translator

Jill's only been gone a few days, and already I'm having trouble understanding her new* dialect. She asked:
"can yew not send to the fastmail account anymore?"
I initially read that to mean "why can't you send stuff to fastmail?!?" as opposed to what she meant, namely: "please use the Gmail account, moron"

Turns out she just hasn't configured her mail client for the new ISP, but can read/reply to the Gmail account from any browser. I attribute the miscommunication to a Hoosier:Texan malprocessing error.

Noteworthy: Google currently has "about 4,670,000" references to [Hoosier] in its database, but NONE include the phrase [Hoosier Translator]. Until they reindex this blog!

Meanwhile, I'm dumping my 471 CDs to iTunes (long overdue project). Some of the CDs read at 20x or higher, while others are more like 2x (if the CD is either old+scratched, or used a high sampling rate). While I'm doing it "in background," it's still gonna take at least 3 days. Happy happy joy joy.
*actually, Hoosier is Jill's native tongue. She apparently went to a TSL (Texan as a Second Language) class years ago.

Monday, December 25


I'm wondering if I should get a playmate for my Mac mini. This would replace my oldest PC -- now on the "B" side of a KVM switch.

The Sony (PCV-J150) power supply has been a weak link (in addition to the 512 MB memory limit):
1- it gagged when I tried to install a midrange video card
(the Radeon 9250) a few months ago - so I put that adapter in my Sempron instead;
2- the connectors are proprietary, so a motherboard swap isn't possible (the connector won't attach to standard motherboards).
I still (sadly) have to run a few Windows-only apps, so I should also consider a software solution, namely running Parallels Desktop for Mac (speed isn't my primary concern -- the 1.83 GHz Core Duo shouldn't care).

I nosed around the web for a few hours, but can't decide what to do. None of the major players in the PC space (Dell, HP) build what I'm seeking. The closest thing I found Out There is AOpen's MiniPC.

The specs I like on the Mac mini are:
SFF (small form factor)
relatively green (+ for fanless)
legacy free (no parallel, PS2 or VGA)
meaning: USB 2.0; Firewire; DVI
multicore (since That's The Trend)
Gig-E (+ for Wireless-G)
I tend to prefer AMD over Intel, and while I don't need uberGamer-quality graphics, something that'll run stuff like Second Life* without crashing every hour would be nice. That's why running Parallels is not ideal - I'd be limited to the built-in graphics of the Mac mini - an Intel GMA950).
*which wants a GeForce 6600; Radeon 9600; or better
I like the mini-ITX form factor, which at 170mm is similar to the Mac mini's 165mm size (adding the system case will make the PC larger). Bottom line: my need isn't immediate, so I'll likely think about it for awhile longer.

Saturday, December 23

¡ Viva Fármers Brañch !

This morning, when I moseyed outside to fetch my weekend edition of the Dallas Managed News (inexplicably, it arrives Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most-but-not-all Mondays), I found this on my sidewalk:

The 2006 Farmers Branch (Texas) phone directory .. in Mexican*!
* why some people refer to the language as "Spanish" is Beyond Me. The language spoken South Of The Border bears only passing resemblance to that spoken in Spain. Here, Español==Mexican. Okay, maybe Honduran, too. And Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican, and Salvadoran, and ...
I live about 7 miles from Farmers Branch, so why this landed on MY sidewalk is also Beyond Me. It's also very interesting, given the recent news about Farmers Branch and their Wii (War against illegal immigration). Was this an honest mistake, or is Someone Out There sending a message?

And for those of you who are curious, this Páginas Amarillas ("Yellow Pages", for you gringos) is not a bilingual directory; it is ONLY in Español.

Thursday, December 21

SMU Jumps The Shark

It took 20 years, but Southern Methodist University (a/k/a SMU) here in Dallas finally found a way to top its previous worst-ever event. I wonder how many people remember 1987, when a recruiting scandal earned it college football's "death penalty"? (see SMU and The Death Penalty)

So, how did they top it? They just announced that they'll house the presidential library of the Biggest Disgrace In US History: that of President George W. Quagmire.

Oh, the shame. Sadly (!) the average SMU student aspires little more than finding a way to avoid jail while spending Daddy's Money for four years, then be hired by an SMU alumni who couldn't care less if their employee can read or write. In that sense, the George W. Bush Presidential Library is a perfect fit.

Has SMU jumped the shark with this one? You bet.

Wednesday, December 20

Santa's Elves Versus TXU

Conspiracy theorists may suspect that TXU controls the weather.

I wonder how today's Lump Of Coal For TXU distribution will go, given the heavy rain and thunderstorms that are prowling about?

In case you Missed The Memo, here it is (which landed in my inbox yesterday afternoon):

Elves? In Dallas? That's right.

Wednesday morning at 11 am, Santa's Elves will arrive in full force ... sleigh and all. This year they'll be giving out gifts of a different kind.

TXU wants to build 11 new dirty coal power plants across the state. Governor Perry has fast-tracked the permits for the proposed plants. If TXU's plan is approved, the result for Texans will be the equivalent of a one-ton lump of coal for every Texan, every year, for the next 50 years. So Santa's Elves have to come to the rescue.

Help deliver the message to John Wilder: "Thanks - but no thanks - on the dirty coal plants." Head down to 1500 Main Street (about five blocks north of Dallas City Hall) and look for the sleigh and elves.

What: Elves will hand out individually wrapped lumps of coal to Dallas citizens. Citizens will receive a postage paid envelope and are encouraged to re-gift the coal to TXU CEO John Wilder.

When: Wednesday, December 20, 11 am.
Where: Pegasus Plaza at 1500 Main Street, near Iron Cactus' Patio on the Plaza.
Look for the sleigh and elves.

Happy Holidays! Help keep them healthy by sending a lump of coal to John Wilder.

Thank you,
The Texas Team at Environmental Defense
What'll you bet TXU's John Wilder takes all the coal and immediately sets it on fire, so that we all can get a whiff of what he thinks about environmental sanity?

Sunday, December 17

the end of an era

Just about now, Jill-Bob is losing her -Bob status, crossing from Texas into The Great Abyss. Part of this is due to global warming, you see, as the Texas summers just got to be Too Much To Bear. You see, she discovered that it's far more pleasant to run in 40F weather, than 80F. So, she packed up her duds and critters and moved north, perhaps a few miles closer to Medicine Hat.

I've known Jill since, uh .. 1993, when I moved here from Los Angeles. It'll be weird knowing that she ain't within (easy) driving distance. Will The Saucer Crowd fade into extinction without her Maternal Guidance? Time will tell.

I suspect Jill's a pioneer of sorts, as past mass-migrations from the cold northern climes to the sunny beaches begin to reverse. Within our lifetime, we may see the extinction of the polar bear from the wild parts of the world, relegated only to zoos where they may be supplied an uninterrupted food supply. I also heard that the European ski resorts are having a tough time, given both a shorter season and less of their product (snow) to go around.

Politically, I have to wonder if the red-blue divide will turn into a north-south pattern, versus the current coastline-interior split. Those who remain in denial about global warming will stay in the south, sprinting from air-conditioned vehicles to air-conditioned buildings, while scarce energy continues to influence an upward price spiral. Eventually they may realize that there's a price to pay for those lofted ceilings and entryways, in the form of the BTUs needed to keep the human occupants comfortable. Eventually, but not yet. For now, the typically red-voting southerner will be happy to buy another Hummer (or F250 clone) to haul around whatever it is they haul around. Naturally, the elevation of those vehicles provides them ample opportunity to (literally) look down upon The Little People.

And the divide widens.

Back to present day reality: I suspect Jill will be rolling into her new digs around midnight* with Marvin, Simone and the others seeking a warm place to whiz. Good luck with The Grand Adventure, Jill-Bob.
* not being a classic Morning Person, it didn't surprise me that her 7am start time came and went.
Today, it's already 71F and aiming for a high of 81F. In mid-December. Go figure. Meanwhile, I programmed my TiVo to record the 8pm (24 Dec) [Spotlight] on LinkTV (DirecTV 375), titled "Global Warming: Bush's Climate of Fear". Sounds like a cheery way to celebrate The Holidays, eh?

Tuesday, December 12

spam survey

When I checked Yahoo email this morning:

25 new messages
of which
9 were flagged as spam
9 spams were in my inbox, not flagged
6 were legit messages

When I checked Gmail this morning:

22 new messages
of which
9 were flagged as spam (1 was a false positive)
0 spams were in my inbox
13 were legit messages

Can I draw any conclusions, other than that (assuming messages are similar) Gmail's spam filtering is much better than Yahoo's?

Saturday, December 9

no victory at Victory

Check another "thing I've never done before" off the list: I rendezvoused with a DART train (34°F on the platform) so that Jill-Bob and I could ride to a Dallas Stars game. Following her directions closely, I allowed a Red Line train to pass, then hopped onto the one which goes directly to Victory Station at the American Airlines Center. Voila!

Here's the view of the rink from our seats in section 312:

The only one doing any scoring (the Stars lost 0-2) was Jill-Bob, who scored a free Chipotle burrito coupon:

from the Chipotle blimp (doing acrobatics a few feet above our heads):

Jill-Bob was entertained by the guys from a local radio station (the "Jack FM Speedo Team"):

while I was entertained by the Dallas Stars Ice Girls. I wonder if they make house calls? I have some snow that needs shoveling too!

Aside: one of the advertisers was Yet Another Energy Drink : HAVOC. Isn't that market (pardon the pun) oversaturated?

Friday, December 8


I finally remembered to get a flu shot, while driving past CareNow (a local doc-in-the-box). It was $15 and so very exciting (zzzz). The information form that's handed out says the ideal time to be vaccinated is October-November, so I'm hoping the virus waits awhile before making the rounds.

Like last year, the small diameter needles are barely perceptable. They asked me to hang around for 10 minutes after the shot, to make sure I didn't have an immediate allergic reaction. I waited 8 minutes, then left. Do you think they'll come after me?

can you spell "brrrrrr" ?

It's a three-dog night here, temperatures dropping to the low 20s(F). Gotta git me 2 more dogs, I reckon. I recently installed new weatherstripping around two of my outside doors, where the old stuff had worn thin. Good timing, huh?

Speaking of timing, I have to wonder about Dubya's hair color. Now, 6+ years into His Debacle, He's starting to realize that 93.6% of the world's population Knows. We're onto the fact that He finally figured out that This Presidency Thing isn't just another big joke from His college fraternity days, something to add to His resume. Still, His incessant condescendence and smirking send me over the edge every time I see His face on the telly. His I-Am-Still-The-Decider mantra remains apalling, yet not surprising, given His reaction to the recent Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach. I secretly get a thrill by seeing the pain on His face each time He tries to avoid reality. Fascinating.

I just have to wonder if He has yet realized that the democratization of Iraq can never work*. Democracies (appear to - correct me if I'm wrong) require the "cooperation" of your neighbors. Here in the USA, we're bordered by Canada and Mexico. Iraq, OTOH, is bordered by countries that are not democracies and have no desire to go down that road. What on earth would persuade Iran, Syria and (Saudi) Arabia to endorse a style of government that would mean the demise of their own? I don't get it.
* unless He listens to Belacqua Jones (example: Send the Iraq Study Group home; victory in Iraq is within our grasp.
Entertaining read: Diane McWhorter's Unmentionable lessons of the midterm aftermath.

PS to Raul: yes, I updated Sundry on Thursday. You can now rest easier.

Tuesday, December 5

avoiding the Mall Hives

Saturday, I made my biannual pilgrimmage to an indoor shopping mall, albeit briefly. I went to NorthPark Center to locate the B&M version of The Apple Store. Fortunately, the mall's interactive map (MS-IE only, apparently) allowed me to park at the nearest entrance, which became the nearest exit once my shopping was done. Upon entering the mall, I found my destination about 4 stores away: perfect. My exposure to Mall People thus having been limited, I didn't break out in Mall Hives, as has happened before.

Good news about that experience: I also didn't have to Run The Gauntlet of those ubiquitous Red Kettle People. I don't know if that's a Northpark Mall Policy (banning them from the premises - as Target has done) or if I was merely lucky. Guess I should do some Target shopping, to reward them for their continued stance on the matter.

Saturday, December 2

the anti-shopping list

I've been spending more time with my Mac (PowerBook-G4) lately, partly due to the convenience offered by its built-in WiFi. One of my long-overdue projects at home has been to slap my DVDs, videotapes and (gasp!) books into a database, and it's much easier schlepping my laptop from room to room, than any of the 3 alternatives:
  1. writing stuff down on paper, then transcribing;
  2. entering stuff directly into my PDA, which lacks a fullsize keyboard;
  3. bringing the stuff-to-be-catalogued to the PC, then taking them back
Once everything's online, I'll be able to move them to MobileDB (on my Palm) and then use it as an anti-shopping list*. Keeping it updated will be easier, too, since I can update the database on the Palm, and it'll be HotSync'd the next time I charge it.
* anti-shopping list [ASL] -- a list of stuff I already own. If something's on that list, it means I shouldn't buy it again.
An ASL would've saved me several times over the years, when I spotted something in the store which intrigued me, and I didn't remember if I'd already ordered it online (hence, in transit) or if I'd simply added it to an online Wish List somewhere.

I expect my ASL to become more handy as I continue to age, and can no longer distinguish between the things I want and the things I already have.

I've been a fan of Instant Messaging for eons, but never liked needing client software for each protocol (AIM, YIM, ICQ, etc.) .. I've used Trillian on my Windows box for years, and now found a Quite Good One for my Mac: Adium. The interface is clean, flexible and works while I'm WiFi'ing my way around the globe. I tried one called [Fire] but it had a nasty habit of locking up, needed a [Force Quit] to return the system to normal. YMMV.

Thursday, November 30


Today was a good day not to travel. For once, I found myself being The Local Guy while everyone else was sweating the Joy which is Travel during a Texas Weather Event.

By 10am today, everything looked normal outside, but the weather radar painted a bleak picture .. freezing rain turning to snow. Several of them were watching the various airline websites, and watching their flights switch from [ON TIME] to [DELAYED] to [CANCELED]. It's no fun spending the night at an airport, so I advised anyone who couldn't get out of town to call me, and I'd supply lodging for the evening. By the time the evening arrived, there were no calls so the Gene Bob Motel went unused. Too bad - Beta was looking forward to someone to play with.

It could've been worse .. looks like this storm's gonna dump a load on Chicago, Detroit, and places northeast. At least they'll get it in the form of snow, and not our local delicacy: ice.

Speaking of delicacies, I discovered Cracker Nuts at a local Asian grocery, and fear I may be hooked. Nagaraya makes several flavors of this "crispy peanut" treat; I've already sampled the garlic and plan to fetch a pack of butter flavored next. Yumm.

They also have a flavor called "Adobo" but I'm not sure what that is - probably different than its mud-inspired namesake "Adobe".

Wednesday, November 29

impending doom!?

(local radar at 7pm Wednesday)

I'm 2 days into a 3-day class; several visitors have flights tomorrow and are in a mild panic, given the local weather forecaster's tendency to exaggerate. By this time tomorrow we'll know, but I'm expecting this to be yet another non-event. Today's high was 73F or so, and with the ground that warm, I doubt anything frozen will stick tomorrow. Sure, there'll be some thunderstorms tonight (see the radar above) and then the cold front moves through, dropping temperatures by 30-50 degrees as tomorrow wears on.

Naturally (in the class), i'm doing my best to incite a riot calm folks down:
"2 inches of snow? THOUSANDS WILL DIE!"
In Dallas, a Winter Storm Advisory (not even a warning) tends to send the locals scurrying to the grocery stores, where they're programmed to buy ANYthing remaining on the shelf, as if Hurricane Katrina was coming to visit.

(tomorrow's forecast)

Sunday, November 26

bring back the draft!

I have to wonder if this is a stunt: Congressman Rangel Will Seek to Reinstate Draft. I've read about this gent, and it seems as if this is the third time (?) he's proposed returning to compulsory military service (unless your daddy has enough money to sneak you into the Alabama National Guard, like some POTUS we know). Then again, it could be that Rangel (a Democrat) is using this tactic to force a debate on whether we should recall the troops in Iraq (and presumably send them to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban, or to Tehran to put an end to Iran's Nuke Bomb Program, or to Pyongyang to say hello to Kim Jung Il). With all these Wars On Terror that we'll be fighting for the next hundred years or so, it just makes sense to mandate military service again, although I'd be strongly in favor of only sending Republicans (see Operation Yellow Elephant).

I recently watched a 2-hour PBS show about the 1960's, and it brought back memories of the Vietnam-era draft, along with the anti-war (actually anti-draft) protests, the rise and fall of LBJ and Richard Nixon, and so forth. I was still a bit young to appreciate those days (I entered the 6th grade in 1969 as the decade closed), and was more interested in tricking out my bicycle than what was happening in Hanoi.
Deep thought: Although the Brooklyn Dodgers became Los Angeles Dodgers, it's odd that Draft Dodgers never became Dodger Dogs.
It's only a vague memory, but I recall the periodic "lotto ball" where draft numbers were called by the Selective Service System. I seemed to recall a large drum with 366 balls, one for each day of the year. If your number was called, you had a certain amount of time in which to either report to the local recruting office, or plan your extended vacation to Canada.

Saturday, November 25

By the Time I Get to Phoenix ...

Paula finally headed back to Phoenix on Friday and was "home" 25 hour later, after spending the night in Las Cruces, NM. Now she has to install all the networking toys (wireless-G; gigabit switch; NAS appliance) that she bought while here. It should be easy, but .. (as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say:) "there's always somethin".

I recall that the approximate distance between Dallas and El Paso (635 miles) is the same as the number of the Interstate highway which loops around Dallas (I-635). Beta's been asking permission to update her blog so I guess she has something to say about the last couple weeks.

Friday, November 24

either way, it's still $20

I typically use a tire (tyre, to you Brits) pressure gauge in the car, when I remember to check the air. Often that's about once a month, unless I notice the car's a bit sluggish taking a corner.

So, when it came time to replace a front floor mat, I spotted (nearby) an acceptable price on a set of Indicator Valve Caps for the tires (Tire Check, by Kleen Wheels). Now, as I'm approaching my parked car, I can glance down and see when one/more of my tires has lost enough air to merit a stop at the air pump. The indicator is difficult to master: green=good and red=bad. Golly, I hope I can remember this. The set of four was $20.

Speaking of air, I recently asked the "experts" about the trend of some car service places to fill tires with nitrogen instead of "plain air". The merchants claim that the nitrogen molecules are larger, and hence won't leak as fast. For $20 (i.e. $5/tyre) that should be true, but my local experts say it's basically a marketing ploy (i.e. "crap"). Maybe if I was driving a racecar around Texas Motor Speedway, but not on the way to the market.

Thursday, November 23


I have to wonder if the transition to ISBN-13 will cause the crumbling of western civilization.

Recently, I noticed my newest books now sport TWO (2!) ISBNs: ISBN-10 and ISBN-13. The new ones are needed in much the same way the phone companies had to adapt new area codes to deal with the plethora of cellphones and other communication devices (does anyone remember the pager? - now we just use Text Messaging instead). Since I keep an online list of all my books (so I don't buy duplicates) I'll have to adapt them to ISBN-13 which arrives 1/1/2007. I guess this is good; that means that more books are being published, and the demise of The Paper Book (to make way for e-Books) is still A Future Event.

I haven't been this excited since I started getting 5 different phone directories every year.

What makes this a sad event is that I was just getting the hang of the ISBN-10 system. I figured out that the first digit always seemed to be a 0 or 1; followed by a hyphen; followed by a code (of semi-random length) indicating the publisher; followed by a number for the book itself; followed by a final hyphen and what I assumed was an edition number (which sometimes became -X). Turns out the last digit was a "check digit" and had nothing to do with the edition: wow.

Yes, I could read the ISBN FAQ but that would suck all the joy out of deciphering the scheme. I suppose by the time They transition to ISBN-next (inevitable) I'll have it all figured out.

The ISBN-10 scheme would conceivably produce duplicates when the hyphens were removed (0-13-123456-4 is the same as 0-1312-3456-4, right?) but the online bookstores seem to remove them (for URLs, etc.) without consequence. The new ISBN-13 appeared to be an ISBN-10 with a prefix "978", but there's more to it than that (which I discovered after reading another ISBN explanation). It turns out the conversion of ISBN-10 to ISBN-13 digits requires a re-calculation of the check digit, which is done programmatically. Bummer.

Worth noting: my oldest books don't have ISBNs : only Library of Congress book numbers. I suspect there was a transition back in those days, too, although I don't remember civilization collapsing. I may have been in class that day.

Ref: International Standard Book Number = ISBN. This has nothing to do with the DDC (Dewey Decimal System), for which I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, November 21

in search of L-tryptophan

There's a new QSR chain in town called Raising Cane’s that's not far from me (NW corner of Campbell/Coit). Their specialty? Chicken Fingers. Yes, you heard right. Every time I've driven by, there's been a long line at the drive-thru, so I tried it at 3pm today and was only 3rd in line (tolerable).

My verdict: not half bad. The "fingers" seemed larger than most, and the fact that they were made from fresh chicken left them juicier than expected. Also noteworthy: they have the old-style "crinkle cut" French fries. I'm sure I'll return, but have to wonder how well they'll do with such a limited menu. Reminds me of the original McDonald's, or White Castle, or In-N-Out Burger (all of whose menus experienced creeping featurism as the years passed).

Anyhoo, Turkey Day's coming soon, so I'll have to stop by the grocery and fetch some turkey hotdogs or turkey bologna, to get my dose of L-tryptophan. Cane's ain't got no turkey on the menu.

Saturday, November 18

a smoking turd blossom behind every tree?

There was an interesting item over on Texas Kos today: Is MSM Still Spinning For GOP, Against Democrats? which did resonate with me.

For many years (12?) the mainstream media [MSM] have been using the Republicans' code words (see George Lakoff's splendid book "Don't Think of an Elephant") at every opportunity, and now, just a few days after the election, CBS News (which I've been TiVo'ing for awhile) was ready to write off the Democrats - specifically incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - after her pick for House Majority Leader was voted down. Sure, maybe she could've smelled the votes and then backed only the likely winner, but isn't that just catering to Ochlocracy?

I'm not sure if the other MSM outlets (NBC; ABC; CNN) were parroting the same talking points, or if A Sinister Force was behind it all. Am I turning into a Conspiracy Nut who sees Karl Rove behind every corner?

Thursday, November 16

remembering The Q

There is ONE photo on the Q Center's website which shows the type room I was in (The Q Tower) and I'm not sure how they got such a wide-angle lens (the facility is said to have been a former Catholic Girls School dormitory, before Accenture bought-then-sold it). While not palatial amenities, it's nice to have a room to yourself, not having to share with someone you barely know.

(some participants at The Q Center on a coffee break)

It was good to see so many colleagues .. many new faces and some from years gone by. There are enough of us (1300) that it was split into two waves (the second arriving within hours of our departure). The "memo on the pillow" said we had to vacate our rooms (roughly the size of the sleeper on a train) by 7:45.

The Q's food wasn't bad .. I pigged out on breakfast Tuesday and didn't even want to think about PseudoDinner (hors' de oeuvres at The Partner Pavilion) that night!

Worth noting: one of the buildings - 4 stories - has inverted the floor numbers, such that [1] is on top and [4] is at ground level. I suspect there's a logical explanation, although I had to resort to the elevator to figure out where my 2nd meeting was on Monday.

Wednesday, November 15

176 minutes late

(de-icers at ORD as seen from my seat on AA 2325)

Travel is glamorous.
Travel is glamorous.
Travel is glamorous.

If I repeat that to myself another 436 times, maybe I'll believe it.

The conference at the Q Center (about 45 minutes west of Chicago O'Hare Airport) ended at 10am yesterday, but I didn't get home until after 7pm. Even then, yesterday's travel could've been much worse.

When I boarded the bus, one of my colleagues said that some of the flights to Dallas had been canceled due to the high winds (25-40mph, with 50 mph gusts) .. great. So I quickly called the airline and they confirmed that mine had been canceled, but offered to put me on an earlier flight; I agreed. Once at the airport (after checking in and navigating security) I spotted 3 colleagues and grabbed a bite with them (Chili's Too). Three of us were en route Dallas, and one had to go through Austin* because all the Dallas flights were overbooked.
* Although his flight left Chicago on time, he was still in Austin waiting for a flight to Dallas, after we landed at DFW, nearly 3 hours late.
When it came time to board the flight, Brad-Bob and I wandered over to the monitors and saw our flight was now showing a 3-hour delay: splendid. So, we proceeded to try to find a WiFi hotspot and get some work done while we waited.

Although several networks appeared, only the SSID named [concourse] worked for me (banners confirmed that this was "official"). After too many (40?) minutes experimenting, I found a working signal next to gate H4 and was able to access email and a web browser (to keep an eye on my flight status). Maybe I should get a new WiFi detector which shows where the signal's originating. Mine can tell signal strength, but no more (even so, it was better than the guy walking around the K concourse with his laptop, searching for a usable signal). I've seen some detectors that claim to detect open WiFi networks, as well as cameras (which use a signal for their auto-focus).
Boingo AsYouGo is $7 at ORD (and Midway). It's cheaper ($5) at ATL and higher ($8) elsewhere. They also have a monthly plan ("Boingo Monthly Unlimited Subscription") for $22, but I'm not travelling enough to justify that.
I suspect the other SSIDs were there just to taunt me. Names like "Free WiFi" and "Public Access" were appealing, but I couldn't make a connection. There were also numerous other SSIDs being broadcast, which appeared to be individual laptops. Oh well .. there will be other flights, and more glamorous travel.

Tuesday, November 14

Fine! Just Fine!

On the way to the airport a few days ago, I stopped at the Subway near 635-LBJ to grab a bite before the flight (airline food .. never haute cuisine .. has become mostly non-existant).

While there, I watched one of the CAUSS volunteers rip down several signs placed illegally on a telephone pole. He did it quickly and efficiently - I watched as his car rapidly pulled up next to the sign, the occupant exited with a special tool-on-a-pole designed to reach those signs placed high off the ground, and promptly slashed one into pieces and gathered the remnants into his trunk. Just as quickly as he arrived, he was gone.

I thought about this after reading an article in today's New York Times about how states are clamping down on campaign signs - often placed by volunteers who don't return to remove them after the election. Dallas has a 70-day window: signs can't be up more than 60 days before an election, and have to be down no more than 10 days after it's over. That said, the law appears to be seldom enforced (at least, I've never heard of candidates being fined).

Friday, November 10

how to boil a frog

Wednesday night, I watched the DVD of a new independent film called [Red State]* that wasn't exactly uplifting. It left me feeling sorry for the classic Red Staters, whose Christian religious faith leaves them with no ability to understand why their political party (the Republicans) lost the mid-term elections.
* not to be confused with Red State Roadtrip (2005)
Certainly they don't understand the subtleties of the right-wing propaganda they're fed everyday by Rush Limbaugh (in rural America, they have no choice but to listen to him, since local stations cater to the whim of the local bullies*). One valuable lesson about propaganda: it is subtle .. like the story of how to boil a frog by gradually raising the temperature of the pot so that the boilee doesn't realize what's happening.
* If yew don't air The Rush Show, I won't advertise my tractor bizness with yew, and yer radeo station'll go bankrupp!!
Why do some people remain in rural areas? I suspect that many start their lives there and see no reason to explore beyond the county line, since the Green Acres lifestyle is all they've ever known. Opportunities are limited in Rural America, and along with that often comes a limited educational system, where the people can be more easily propagandized into radical viewpoints. Others may have Seen The World, but find the slower lifestyle desirable. The fact that there are enough of these folks to have provided a base for the neocons for years is quite remarkable.

Now that they've been raised this way, is there a way to educate them out of this Moral Toilet they've been drawn into? After watching [Red State], the answer is "probably not". It reminds me of a 1986 book by David Shipler [Arab and Jew: wounded spirits in a promised land] that left me depressed with the knowledge that there is no way for those two sides to ever get along.

Wednesday, November 8

status quo no mo

As of late tonight, the news is that the Democrats control both the House and Senate, for the first time in many years. Now they face the challenge of acting responsibly so they don't find themselves with The Short Straw 2 years from now.

So much for my prediction last week, that the Republican Get Out The Vote Machine would flatten the Democrats again. At least my phone will stop ringing with those (anonymous) Out Of Area calls from Republicans wanting me to vote for their incumbents. Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry was re-elected as Texas Governor (39%), but Democrat Chris Bell won the Dallas County vote 40-35%.


Even the Right Wing Dallas Morning News (they back Republicans about 70% of the time) had this to say today:
"Voters swept aside years of Republican domination in Dallas County on Tuesday, electing the county's first black district attorney, dumping the favored Republican county judge and giving dozens of GOP judgeships to Democrats. The upheaval was probably a surprise for many Republicans, including Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher, who lost a squeaker to Democrat Jim Foster."

These "4x4" signs were not uncommon during the election.

Bad news: I still don't have a state Representative, since the ethically-challenged Republican incumbent won 52-46% (after running a smear campaign). Well, he'll show his face in another 2 years when he runs again .. until then, we won't see him (he'll be hiding in his gated community, if anyone cares).

Heck, it looks like even the Virginia racists (led by incumbent Senator Macaca (R-VA)) will lose, while Santorum (R-PA) went down in flames Big Time. Tester (D) beat Burns (R) in Montana. It's too bad Tennessee didn't elect Harold Ford, but the Republican challenger's racist TV ad snuffed that chance: this goes to show that the Deep South still won't elect a non-white to the US Senate, 141 years after The War Of Northern Aggression ended (1865).

Jill-Bob was amused to hear that I voted for quite a few Libertarians yesterday. Turns out that there were only Republican-vs-Libertarian candidates in many local races, so I voted against The Rovians at every opportunity (in those races, Libertarians consistently got 20-25%). Their base remains small, though .. in races against a sole Democratic challenger, they got about 3% on average (only a handful polled more than 10% versus a Democrat).

Me, well .. I'm still in favor of abolishing political parties so that voters will have to choose based on the candidate and not the party. And I'd still love to see term limits for the US Senate and Congress. I know .. dream on.

Finally (not to be missed): Politicians Sweep Midterm Elections / Resounding Victories In All States, Counties, Cities, Towns. Oh, how I adore The Onion!

Monday, November 6

morally bankrupt

This would be amazing if it turned out to be enforceable:
GOP Dirty Trick Campaign May Finally Backrupt NRCC - Really!
... but the odds of the politicians finding a loophole to exempt them from the National Do Not Call list are very, very high. Still, this particular Republican Dirty Trick (pretend to represent the Democrats, make a very long phone call, with "paid for by the Republicans" at the VERY end) reeks.

Here's another article about it:
Republican Robocall Pretexting Campaign (thanks, /.!)

My state representative (another Republican - surprise, surprise) is running a similar dirty campaign; although his opponent has taken the high road, he's accusing her of saying all sorts of nasty (must be true!) things about him and his family. Although I've heard nothing from her (I guess I'm not on The A List), she's probably telling the truth: that the only time the incumbent's even able to Fog A Mirror is when an election rolls around, or when one of his contributors is about to make a "campaign contribution" (wink-wink-nudge-nudge). The poor dears (in their gated community, on a lake, in a $1.4M home) are probably unable to even face their servants. Oh, the horror.

Unrelated, but worth watching: Fareed Zacharia interviewed Andrew Sullivan on his Foreign Exchange program. Sullivan (there to promote a new book) is one of the few conservatives who really understands why so many of us loathe the current state of the Republican party. If you can find a few minutes, give this interview a look before it's purged (it won't be online until tomorrow).

Sunday, November 5

fish tacos

I finally got around to trying Taco del Mar in Addison (at the corner of Beltline and Quorum) and was pleasantly surprised with all the choices. I opted for a couple fish tacos with corn tortillas with shredded cabbage (think cole slaw) and pico de gallo. And oh yes, a side of black beans and rice. All for about $6. Verdict: yummm.

Since they are directly below Addison Improv, they have challenges with parking, especially on Friday and Saturday night. Fortunately, they have two reserved spaces that make it easy to slip in and out even when the nearby valets are charging $4 to put your car most anywhere - including violating the "no parking in fire lane". I guess the Addison Fire Department is just looking the other way.

Saturday, November 4

awkward !

Whaddaya bet Monday's call between Pastor Ted and President Quagmire is a bit strained? If you've been under a rock the past 36 hours, here's an entertaining missive: What Wisdom Did Haggard Share with Bush Every Monday?
Quagmire: So you let your peepee touch his peepee?

Pastor Ted: Yes, your Excellency. And more.

Quagmire: How much more?

Pastor Ted: I'd rather not say. I will say: "I did not inhale."

Quagmire: I won't tell Laura.


Pastor Ted: What's that clicking sound? Is this call being recorded?

Quagmire: All calls are being recorded, P.T. Welcome to America. Do you hate freedom?
Footnote: the MSM keeps repeating the claim that Haggard's evengelicals account for 30 million members. Since the USA just passed 300 million in population (it was in all the papers), this means that 1 of every 10 people belongs to Haggard's church. Sounds to me like he's also guilty of LYING. For shame, P.T .. for shame!

Interesting spot: "launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund in October 2006, is a one-stop-shop for election related information"
(normally I'd toss that on my Sundry on Thursday blog but this is time-sensitive).

Thursday, November 2

domestic certification

It's too bad there's no standardization/certification in the home-cleaning profession.

Ever since I had my wood floors resurfaced (which included a thorough post-work cleaning) I've had 4 different maids. Before that, I had none.

Wanda* - spoke English, and minimal Spanish. Brought a helper most days. Easily the most competent of the lot. Showed her helper all sorts of tricks of the trade, including little stuff like folding a triangle on the toilet paper, so the user would know she'd been there.

Amazonia* - was Wanda's English-speaking assistant. She took over when Wanda decided to go all-commercial. She was tall enough to reach the tops of the doors, unlike the others. Things worked well for awhile, then she started showing up very late, or not at all. Lots of excuses about working multiple jobs, working the 3rd shift, etc. She became undependable, so I eventually had to show her the door. Too bad, as she really needed the money.

Juanita* - spoke little English, but her daughter was fluent (they worked as a team). Sadly, she simply would not set the alarm when she left (I heard she thought Immigration would be there in a few seconds after arming it). I gave her two chances, then fired her. Since then, I heard that her work's been slipping at her other customers.

Estella* - speaks little English, so I've resorted to online translation tools, and a bit of pointing/gesturing. Peculiar #1: after she finishes a room, she closes the door. Last week, this trapped my cats in one bedroom, and one of them had to go #2 (on the carpet) since it couldn't get to The Litter Box. It could've been worse: #1 (cat urine) is much harder to clean up. Peculiar #2: the first time she was here, she decided the heavy paper cleaning cloths were machine washable (they weren't -- I raked the pulp from the inside of the washing machine). I've tried to position the Real Cleaning Rags where she'll find them, but so far .. no such luck. Eventually I'll be working from home one of the days she's here, and will try to communicate that to her. Peculiar #3: she appeared baffled when my vacuum cleaner suddenly stopped working .. so, I demonstrated how to change a bag .. problem solved?
*the names are changed, to protect their identities
Most all of them (except Wanda) also have an annoying habit of putting things in (sometimes) nearby drawers, and never returning them to the top-of-the-table from whence they came. Often it takes several days (!) to locate them again, as "nearby" may be loosely defined as "within 10 yards".

Tuesday, October 31

the butt stops here

Yesterday, I spotted A Texas Idiot throwing a cigarette butt out his window. I guess it was too much trouble to put it in his SUV's ashtray. I made a note of the details, then went online today (Don't Mess with Texas) and reported him. It asked for:
  1. time/date
  2. location
  3. license plate
  4. vehicle make
  5. what was tossed (cigarette butt/cup-can-bottle/fast food trash/other)
  6. who tossed it (driver, passenger or truck bed)
According to the website, here's what happens next:
"When TxDOT receives the information it is compared to our vehicle registration database and an exact match is located. A letter is mailed to the litterer along with a Don't Mess with Texas litterbag to remind them to put their trash where it belongs!"
I'd be happier if TxDOT assigned them to a road crew - 4 hours for the first violation, and an additional 8 hours for every violation after that. Odds are they can't do that, since those who would abuse the system (think: disgruntled teenagers) could make innocent peoples' lives miserable.

I also heard that you can dial #SMOKE (#76653) from your wireless phone and report a polluting (oil smoke) vehicle. I'll have to add that to my cellphone directory and try it sometime.

Saturday, October 28

Republicans can't read?

Today, the local Republican incumbent (Texas state Congress) rang my doorbell and placed a doorhanger advertising his campaign. The problem is that I have a NO SOLICITORS sign and (as far as I'm concerned) that applies DOUBLE to politicians.

Texas state legislators earn $7,200 a year, but mine lives in a house (on a lake) appraised at $1.4 million, and drives a Rolls-Royce. And those are just the obvious signs of flaunting his wealth. What's wrong with this picture? Time to vote this Career Politician out of office, far as I'm concerned.

Okay, to be fair ... maybe he inherited this from a relative who was a thieving politician in the past. That could explain a lot.

Update: I got an anonymous phone call on Sunday wanting me to vote for this scumbag. It says (quote) "Tony is a former teacher and principal who will improve our schools, crack down on illegal immigration, and keep our taxes as low as possible. His opponent is a liberal attorney from New Jersey who is waging a negative and dirty campaign."

fun! with spam

Spammers must be, on average, even more stupid than the average Republican Party Lackey.

Today, while sipping my morning coffee, I took a (very) few minutes to look at one email account which has become a spam trap. I originally used this account only for a job search, so all the spam came as the result of my resume being Out There. Since I'm not currently in the job market, this account serves no other function. In the past 4 days, it attracted 182 emails; all were trapped by the spam filter (my settings are to relegate anyone not in my Address Book as a spammer).

Of the 182 messages, I looked only at the Subject lines for a breakdown:
43 - sex      (either "make me a stud" or "viagra spelled N different ways")
38 - health (mostly innocent stuff like "want to be healthy?")
37 - nebulous (random words)
30 - cheap medicine
24 - credit (most say TransUnion; Experian; Equifax or FICO)
7 - name (my name is in the Subject: line)
3 - get rich quick
It's worth noting that I didn't read the body text of ANY of these. People who want to reach me are in my Address Book. Even if someone acquires that list, odds are very high that the spam filters will trap the message due to content alone. Legitimate senders may have to resort to a phone call to advise me that an email is en route, but resending is trivial (for all but AOL newbies).

Memos to spammers:
1-Your messages are not reaching me.

2-You are throwing your money away - the only one making any money is the guy who sold you the list. By the way, 98% of the addresses have been abandoned due to excess spam, anyway. You're paying good money for a list which contains only 2% live addresses, and I'd guess that 90% of that 2% (get our your calculator - if you can operate one) will be trapped by spam filters. Your odds at even getting anyone to read your message - much less respond - is starting to look very, very remote. Then again, you never were any good at math.

3-You'd be better off playing the lottery -- which is for other people who Can't Do Math, either.

4-You'd do much better putting the money you're paying for the spam list into a savings account at 2%, but since you didn't pay attention in school, I don't expect any of you inbreds to understand this.
Spam™ (the capitalized one) is probably a trademark of Hormel Foods, who produce fine meat products. No harm intended, guys.

Friday, October 27

Republican scare tactics (part eleventy-four)

In the past week, I've received a different daily phone call from either a Republican shill or a Republican candidate. Today, the NCSP (or was it NSCP?) called and repeatedly begged me to "press 1" to indicate my opposition to same-sex marriage.

Since I didn't comply, I'm sure they'll keep calling until I buckle. The CallerID just says "Out of Area" so they're obviously too ashamed of their tactics to call from a verifiable phone number. Also funny how they didn't ask me to "press 2" to indicate that I think there are more important things in life, and how I couldn't care less about gay marriage. If they want it, fine by me. If they don't, fine by me.

It doesn't stop with the phone calls. Each day, I get a direct-mail piece telling me that the Democrats are (en masse) extraterrestrials (see above) but never what positives their own candidates possess - probably because their candidate's only positive is their desire to hold onto power, and protect pedophiles.

If you take the time to read the fine print in their direct mail piece, you can't help but laugh. Example: the first item says that the Democratic candidate defended drug dealers, child molesters and rapists. Oh my goodness - how awful!! HIDDEN MEANING: those being accused of a crime must be defended by someone with questionable morals (Republicans are above reproach and would turn down all those cases, you see). The rest of the stuff is equally absurd, but notice that they boldfaced all the juicy stuff ("child molesters"; "adult video"; "sued for malpractice") with none of the explanatory details. After all, who needs details when all you can read are headlines?

and then another direct mail piece from The Republican Party of Texas:

HIDDEN MEANING: Democrats will eat your babies (unless they're busy carrying flashlights for Mexicans to cross the border). It's too bad the average inbred Texas voter will slurp this up like an Arctic Rush® at Dayree-Queen.

Thursday, October 26

polls alone won't cut it

Prediction: when Wednesday morning, November 8th rolls around, Democrats around the country will be pounding their heads against the wall, wondering why they weren't able to take back either the House or the Senate. Right now, they're busy high-fiving each other as they review the various polls showing their leads in many races.

What will happen between now and then is that The Republican Get-Out-The-Vote machine will squash them like a steamroller. The Democrats haven't figured out that they need to get their voters to the polls (and avoid the rigged electronic voting machines) before they can declare victory.

Well, at least they'll be happy for a few more days. Until the votes have been counted. Then, it'll be back to Rove-As-Usual. They have only themselves to blame.

It's very odd to see this sign, which has been unheard of during most of the time I've been in Texas. Democrats have kept a low profile for the past dozen years, only meeting in secluded places such as coffee shops and bookstores.

Related, possibly entertaining websites: True Blue Action and Dallas For Change.

Sunday, October 22

eephus ain't BBQ. but then, what izzit?

Well, Michelle's back in TBA [The Bay Area] after a week here in Big D.

Among other amusements, we hit four (4) different barbecue chains and she rated Sonny Bryan's at the top, followed closely by Spring Creek and Pappa's, with Dickey's a distant fourth (to be fair, we were the last to arrive before closing, and barbeque probably peaks earlier in the day).

We tried using a semi-scientific method, assigning various weights to the meat; sauce; veggies; bread; ambiance; and sundry. Each time, Michelle ordered the pork ribs so as to minimize the remaining variables (the meat was assigned about 50% of the score). Sadly, her bell pepper allergy proved to be a problem, as she spotted it in most of the vegetable offerings (whether it was really there is conjecture). We agreed that Sonny Bryan's had the best bread (fresh, buttered top) and Pappa's the worst (a slice of Wonder Bread wrapped in a bag).

Finally, Michelle's concerned about all the eephus that's here, there and everywhere. Presumably, eephus==bacteria, but I couldn't find anything anywhere which made that correlation. Is it possible this is a term used by her parents when she was a youngun, and she can't shake it from her vocabulary?

Friday, October 20

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Earlier today, Michelle and I moseyed to downtown Dallas where (after 13+ years here) I finally took in the #1 tourist attraction: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (a/k/a the building formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository). There's a lot of great video and 1963 artifacts on display; it was well done. Trivia: the "Sixth Floor Museum" now occupies both the sixth and seventh floors of the building. The first floor is used by the Dallas County Commissioners Court (John Wiley Price et al). The second through fifth floors are office space at "411 Elm Street". There's a webcam at The Sniper's Perch on the 6th floor.

After the tour, we moseyed downstairs and watched some antiwar protestors who arrived at The Grassy Knoll in time to be viewed by the commuters leaving for home, and listened to
a street vendor hawking newspaper-style photos of the assassination. I wonder if he's ever been inside The Gift Shop to see what he's up against?
Deep Thought: did Texas do away with issuing school books after November, 1963? If so, that could explain why we're 49th (of 50) in education.

(here's a closeup of the plaque on 411 Elm Street; someone's emphasized the word "ALLEGEDLY", since conspiracy theories continue to this day)

Thursday, October 19

The Soylent Greenhouse Effect

Last night, Michelle & I watched Soylent Green (1973) (the documentary starring Charlton Heston and other notables) and were amused (?) to see them talking about global warming, as one of the premises of the film. Of course, they referred to it as The Greenhouse Effect, but the inference was there, nonetheless.

Related: several years ago, I bought a splendid T-shirt from the Soylent Green Biscuit Company; people who see it either get the joke, or don't. Hmm .. even thinking about it makes me hungry for one of those Soylent Green Crackers .. mmm, mmm, good.

Wednesday, October 18

Sessions: cut and run (TX-32)

Today's entertaining post: ALL GOVERNOR, ALL THE TIME (in the right-wing Dallas Blog). The story's about how Pete Sessions ($e$$ion$) is doing a cut-and-run anytime he's due to compete with Will Pryor - his Democratic challenger in TX-32.

No surprise : Sessions probably couldn't even fog a mirror, much less talk coherently about the issues.

I repeat: TERM LIMITS!

Saturday, October 14

Saturday in the park

Michelle swooped into town Friday afternoon*, for a couple days' visit. We're taking in some of the culinary delights, amongst other stuff, which gave me a chance to sample places I haven't visited before (since my 13+ years here in Dallas).
*Just before she arrived, I dropped by St Paul's Hospital to see how Trish-Bob was doing after her surgery. Turns out I was the First Visitor Of The Day - woo hoo! By the way, it turns out that St. Paul's Hospital is unrelated to Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks - whoda thunkit?
One of these is Luby's Cafeteria, a chain with lots of Texas history. Not unexpectedly, we were the youngest ones there at the 6pm dinnertime (by at least 20 years). Notable: a very large analog clock on the wall, so that even the most vision-challenged senior wouldn't have trouble knowing the time. I had baked sole almandine along with some broccoli and other veggies, which wasn't half bad. No complaints.

The next day, we waited 20 minutes (Saturday-noon) to have a late breakfast at Cindi's New York Delicatessen (four locations). I had a veggie omelet which came with real hashbrowns (unlike Deli News) and a short stack-o-pancakes. That was plenty to keep me going until we fed again, around 8pm at Spring Creek Barbecue, where we skillfully dodged The Bread Girl's repeated attempt to fatten us up.

Between feedings, we nosed around Saigon-Taipei market (Garland) and scored a couple dragonfruit, and then Michelle found a coolie hat at Hiep Thai market (Garland) to close out the ensemble.

Wednesday, October 11

Will Pryor vs Pete $e$$ion$

Since Everybody Knows™ that incumbents (even the pedophile-protecting Republicans) win 96% of their races, I don't give Will Pryor (candidate for U.S. Congress, Texas 32nd District) much of a chance, but .. ya never know. Since I'm still a firm believer in term limits for Senators and Congressmen, I'd be happy if Pete $e$$ion$ were out of work, come November 8th.

Sessions ran a typically-dirty campaign several years ago when he beat Democratic veteran Martin Frost, after one of the famous gerrymandered-district fiascos that the Texas Republicans pulled (to eliminate as many districts which could "go Democratic" as possible).

Eventually, what goes around, comes around.
Everybody Knows is a trademark of the state-run media (Fox "News"); Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Tuesday, October 10

home school lesson

Alec says that Bishop Ussher dates the beginning of the world to 4004 BC (6010 years ago).

The Jewish calendar (which starts at "creation") says this is year 5767.

The difference between the two (243 years) is thus contested.

Logical conclusion: the 243 year span must've been the period when the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth.

Monday, October 9

Kim's got a brand new toy

Well, I'll bet Daddy Bush is a Happy Camper today. Following his son's provocative speech in January 2002, North Korea now has a nuclear nucular bomb. You can bet they've sent a messenger (FNJ - OIIE) to Tehran with the detailed plans, so they can fast-track their own program.

I wonder which country will be the first target of Kim Jong-il's new toy?
Deep Thought: I've heard estimates of the blast as anywhere from 1/60 our [1945] Hiroshima bomb, to 1/2 as large. Others say they suspect it was a plutonium bomb (i.e. "atomic", not hydrogen). Those low yields make me wonder if they faked the explosion using a large conventional weapon (ala the USA's "Daisy Cutter"). Probably not, since it generated something akin to 4.0 on the Richter scale, and atmospheric tests will detect any residue of radioactivity, but still ...

Ref: Divine Strake

Saturday, October 7

comparing Bushes

News item: today, in Newport News, Virginia, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush was christened after the 82-year-old former president.

CVN-77 USS George H.W. Bush 

Meanwhile, in a farm pond in Crawford, Texas, the puppet-powered rowboat President Quagmire was christened after the 60-year old current president.

the rowboat George Dubya Bush 

YABF : yet another battery fubar

Eventually, my death will be caused by an errant battery; I just know it.

Over the years, I've had my issues with batteries. I've blogged about these demons on at least a dozen occasions (the most recent was a false alarm related to the Sony batteries in my laptop).

This week, the problem was with my home alarm; after I came home to find that it had triggered (I didn't close the door tightly), I was shocked to see there wasn't a Dallas SWAT deployment surrounding my home.

Turns out my alarm company never got the signal because (long story short) the battery backup had failed. Whaat? The system was neutered because the battery went south - and the system didn't warn me; not sure I like that feature. The service guy arrived the same day I reported the problem, and quickly isolated the fault. He says those batteries last about 3 years (maybe 5 under ideal conditions) and probably triggered an amber light on the alarm panel, which I dutifully ignored.

Lessons learned:

#1 I set a calendar reminder, 3 years from now, to replace this battery, so I'm not paying for an alarm that'll never reach the monitoring center.

#2 Retail outlets don't stock a lot of these "alarm system batteries", which can sit on the shelf for many months. Best to check the expiration date, just in case.

#3 My alarm company sells fresh batteries, and will deliver them while they're in my area, almost for cost. I was "quoted" about $15 for one, versus double that from Batteries+ or RadioShack or whoever else carries them.

#4 When the amber "fault" light appears on the control pad, PAY ATTENTION.

Friday, October 6

Texas Governor = US President

Tonight's the night for the Top Secret Debate amongst the candidates for Texas Governor. What makes this absurd (typical Texas) is how the challengers are complaining that incumbent Rick Perry planned this solo debate so as to minimize the audience. After all, it's a Friday night, and that means that 94.3% of the population will be attending the local high school football game, and not glued to the television.

If you dig long enough on the Dallas Managed News website, you'll find:
TEXAS VOTE 2006: THE GOVERNOR'S DEBATE Gubernatorial debate with Gov. Rick Perry and candidates Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn. The media panel will consist of Wayne Slater (The Dallas Morning News), John McCaa (WFAA-TV), Sara Lucero (KENS-TV/San Antonio) and Christine Haas (KVUE-TV/Austin). KHOU-TV's (Houston) Greg Hurst moderates. Live and commercial-free from Dallas. It will also be available for viewing at (7 p.m. Ch. 8.)
Amusingly enough, I found NO sign of this on the local TV station's website: Welcome to the state of Apathy. America: we're choosing Your Next President down here, so .. pay attention.

Thursday, October 5

26^2 = ??

hardly a day goes by when I don't hear of a new word. Oftentimes it's something Truly Amusing like "meanderthal" .. but I think we should exhaust all the remaining SHORT words first. There are just way too many 2-letter words that need a loving home. (Scrabble players be damned), starting with [A] I can think of:

aa; ac; ae; af; ai; aj; ak (postal, and other abbreviations don't count); ao; ap; aq (the Arabs have taught us that we don't need a U after Q anymore); ar; au; av and az (taken: ab; ad; ag; ah; Al (proper name); am; an; as; at; aw; ax; ay)

[B] is more difficult, since all good English words must include A,E,I,O,U and sometimes Y:

ba; bo; bu (taken: be, bi)
ca, ce; ci; cu (taken: co)
da; de; di; du (taken: do)

and then we're back to a vowel [E], so more words become available:

ea; ec; ee; ef; eg; ei; ej; ek; el (Mexican pronoun); en; eo; ep; eq; es; et; eu; ev; ey; ez(taken: eb; Ed; eh (Wisconsonians); em; er; ew; ex

Once we're done with the remaining 2-letter words, we can progress to 3, then 4. After all, etymology is just way overrated.

Wednesday, October 4

You're On Notice - October 4, 2006

(courtesy of the On Notice Generator)

Oops .. looks like somebody misspelled Hizb' Allah ...

Tuesday, October 3

next up: Charles Carl Roberts V ?

My post from Saturday now sounds odd, given that Yet Another Classroom Execution has taken place .. this time in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania where the target was a group of Amish schoolgirls - bound with plastic handcuffs.

This time, the descriptions are about Charles Carl Roberts IV:
" .. an exceptional father ..."

".. a home-schooled Christian ..."

".. a respected and well-liked father of three ..."
Makes me wonder how many other exceptional Christian fathers get off work at 3am, go home and have breakfast with their children, calmly put them on a schoolbus, then proceed to cowardly murder Somebody Else's Children. Presumably one of his OWN children is named Charles Carl Roberts V : will he repeat his father's legacy, 20 years from now?

How many other Sleeper Cells - a/k/a Ticking Time Bombs - are out there, waiting to go off? Is the trigger the instant media attention - do they crave fame, or are they all simply delusional madmen who should've been placed in state mental wards, for the safety of the rest of us?

Saturday, September 30

Mayberry has been bulldozed

It's over 1050 miles from Cazenovia, Wisconsin to Everman, Texas* .. but I couldn't help but draw a parallel between them today.
* about 50 miles from my home in Dallas
Yesterday, a high school principal - John Klang - was shot & killed in Wisconsin after a 15 year old (Eric Hainstock), who felt he'd been teased by other students, decided he had to kill someone.

Coincidentally, the New York Times published an article today about Everman, Texas principal Anthony Price, who has decided that "corporal punishment" (spanking) is a proper way to instill discipline in his middle school.

One of the problems with corporal punishment in 2006 versus 1972 (when I was the age of the Wisconsin shooter) is that it's now (apparently) socially acceptable to bring guns to school, with the intent of killing as many of your classmates/teachers as possible. I can imagine one of principal Price's students, after receiving a spanking, going home to collect her parent's gun and returning to end the life of the man who humilated her.

I don't have an answer to this problem, but those who think they can turn the clock back to The Days of Mayberry are simply delusional.

Who Wants Fairness?

What's wrong with Fairness? Isn't that something we aspire to? Well, turns out the answer - in Rove-Cheney's America - is a resounding NO.

I was mired in traffic a few days ago and flipped on the AM band. While waiting for a traffic report, I heard a waif whining that "we just HAVE to win in November, or the Democrats will bring back The Fairness Doctrine, and that will mean The End of Talk Radio". Naturally, the host (one of the many right wing sociopaths) agreed.

Turns out several Democrats (including Louise Slaughter) have suggested reinstatement of The Fairness Doctrine (quashed in 1987 - during Reagan's presidency) -- which would force radio stations to give as much time to opponents as to Coulter/Limbaugh/their ilk. Also, since Everybody Knows™ that liberal talk radio always loses money, it would be harder for conservative talk radio to be financially viable.
Completely unrelated (ha!): today is the last day of Liberal Talk Radio in Dallas. The local Air America station (KXEB-AM) is turning into a Christian Republican station tomorrow.
I recently read Don't Think of an Elephant and thus find it humorous that The Left is finally starting to wake up and use the Right Wing's DoubleSpeak tactics. Although he's not the one who coined the term - merely popularized it (newspeak, oldspeak, doublethink) - it makes me want to re-read George Orwell's [1984].

Deep Thought: If only Orwell'd named his book [2004], he'd have hit it on the nose. Then he'd have to change his name to Nostradamus, I reckon.
Everybody Knows is a trademark of the state-run media (Fox "News"); Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Friday, September 29

poll extension

I read about the security guards that were stationed at the Highland Park United Methodist Church (President Puppet's "home church in Dallas") when Garrison Keillor came to town Wednesday night. For those not from here, you should know that Highland Park is a whites-only (well, okay .. 99%) city surrounded by Dallas, and filled with some of the most caustic Republicans alive. Actually, they'd prefer it be named White Settlement, if that city name weren't already taken.

So, it didn't surprise me that Keillor was ordered not to even mention the name of his latest book (Homegrown Democrat), lest he offend those in attendance.
Dallas County Precinct 1226 (Highland Park)

87% voted for Bush in 2000
76% voted for Bush in 2004
Speaking of polls .. a recent Zogby poll revealed this of Americans:
73% can name all Three Stooges (Manny, Moe and Jack)
60% can name Superman's home planet (Krypton)
42% can name our three branches of government (Big, Bigger, Biggest)
37% can name which planet is closest to our own sun (Ecuador)
if they'd polled Highland Parkers separately, they'd have found:
83% know Terrell Owens' jersey number
64% know in their "heart of hearts" George W. Bush is the Second Coming of the Messiah
.. and to think Texans are widely thought to be Big Haired, Football Lovin', Corndog Eatin' Morons.

Monday, September 25

4 more for 43!

I wonder how many people even know what the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution says?

If you'd like to create your own poster, go to the Parody Motivator Generator on and enjoy ...

call center translation

I thought it was just me, but after conversations with several friends, I've determined that others have trouble understanding the Indian wersion of English, too (call centers, etc.). With that in mind, I was on a call this morning and noted these misbronunzeations .. berhabs dis jart will be useful to others.

When listening to (studying?) "Indian English", I often detect a German influence (V vs. W) while the Mandarin influence appears at other times (short/choppy words):

the most common problem is switching [V] and [W]:
avare -> aware
ewaluate -> evaluate
less moo wahn -> let's move on
tventy -> twenty
ve -> we
veb zerfer -> web server
VIN-dose -> windows
vurked -> worked
WEHR-shun -> version
another common problem is with the letter [P] which often becomes a [B]:
BEEK-cher -> picture
berhabs dis jart -> perhaps this chart
BRAK-tee-kuhl -> practical
broblem -> problem
bro-NUN-ze-ay-shun -> pronunciation
durn da beige -> turn the page
eem-pah-tint -> important
sbark -> spark
next, they have problems with the [TH] sound, often morfing it into a [D]:
alldoe -> although
deese -> these
dirty -> thirty
dis is -> this is
dree -> three
drew da dore -> through the door
tohw-sense -> thousands
BAY-zis -> basis
BOKE-zis -> boxes
CHOON-ing -> tuning
coe-ing -> going
DAYGA-luke -> take a look
doan half -> don't have
kyde -> guide
quynt -> couldn't
TAYK-nee-cal -> technical
wod -> what
zekkund dry -> second try

Sunday, September 24

Democrat with a spine

I'd almost forgotten what a real US President sounds like. Worth watching: Fox "News" Sunday (Chris Wallace) interview with Bill Clinton. Also, don't miss the Comments.

Tuesday, September 19

Richardson ambience

It's not often that I find a hole-in-the-wall burger place. Part of the reason is that it's still about location-location-location. Most small burger places just couldn't compete with the chains, and have all but disappeared from the landscape. Or, at least it seems that way. Maybe there are more of these out there, but they're just so .. invisible.

A few Sundays ago I was in Richardson searching for a Japanese snack store that LayWah-Bob told me about (Aji Ichiban is at 201 S Greenville). After taking a wrong turn, I somehow found myself staring at:
Del's Charcoal Burgers
110 S McKinney Street, Richardson
This is one of those places you're unlikely to find unless you're looking for it. It's at the corner of Polk & McKinney - but this is a 3-block long McKinney Street - not in the same league as McKinney Avenue in downtown Dallas. Del's is closed on Sunday, but I promised myself I'd mosey back sometime soon. Today was the day; William-Bob and I met there to discuss The Future of Western Civilization, and feed our faces.

Unrelated: Del's Lemonade, somewhere in Rhode Island

Del's Charcoal Burgers, Richardson

Del's seats about 30 people, orders are placed/received from the counter, yet there is a TV in the corner (not tuned to FOX "News" - thankyouverymuch). The menu's pretty simple, and I have to wonder how they can support 3 employees, but .. it's been there many years so they're doing something right. I was mesmorized by the faux brick (atop concrete blocks) with life-size images of John Wayne, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. The Christmas lights (luminarias?) add additional ambience, and it's obvious many of the clientele are regulars. Somehow, I was hoping Norm would drop in. Also noteworthy: "root beer refills - 50 cents"; green hot sauce at the table; lunch-only hours. Richardson is a dry city, with many restaurants avoiding it.

I wonder when Del's will add WiFi and valet parking?

Sunday, September 17

Quality Control

Looks like quality control at the M&M factory isn't what it used to be.

Unrelated: Miles and his mom went home yesterday, after arriving on Labor Day. Beta is deeply depressed, since she thought her old friend had come back permanently. She really enjoyed running and playing and running and playing and running and playing ...

Friday, September 15

attagirl, Molly

Worth reading: Molly Ivins' column about Ann Richards, published today.

My favorite? The story ending with "I am Mrs. Miles." Priceless.

Thursday, September 14

goodbye, Ann

I suspect what I'll remember most about Ann Richards is her oratory; one of the few things I've liked about living here is the occasional gust of creative Texas twang, and Ann was a master of it.

The classic Texas Iron photo of Ann Richards on a motorcycle.

I admire any woman who rides a Harley. Perhaps that's why I found Texas mildly acceptable when I moved here in 1993, when Ann Richards was governor. With that in mind, I was saddened when I Got The Memo soon after 10pm last night:
Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards died after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.
Ann Richards was the last competent, decent human to be Texas Governor*. Since I was living in California at the time, I don't recall whether I knew of Ann Richards before July 1988, when she delivered her great keynote at the Democrat National Convention, but she struck me as a straight-shootin' person who would sometimes get herself into a wee bit of trouble; I can surely relate to that. Her demeanor is surely why I find Kinky Friedman's current campaign so refreshing, compared to the Career Politician (Rick Perry) who's there now.
*Texas Governors haven't always been useless twits like President Quagmire and (current) Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry, both brought to power by Karl Rove (the Turd Blossom). For an example of the slime this pond scum is able to create, look at the commentary at the bottom half of "Bush's war over gay marriage", where Dubya's election to Texas governor is documented.
Texas would do well with more Ann Richards. The best politicians are those who don't monitor their every breath for saying something that won't get them re-elected. There's a magnet on my refrigerator with a quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich:
Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.
Ann Richards wasn't well behaved. I, for one, will miss her.

Additional commentary may be found on the right-wing Dallas Blog, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 13

DAL-IAH-AEX (then reverse)

Yesterday was a 4-flight day. I do enjoy the regional jets (ERJ-145) that Continental flies, even if it does mean enduring the joy of a layover at the Houston Bushport (IAH). The good news is that I didn't have to deal with DFW airport, and could just mosey over to Dallas Love Field (Continental has 2 gates; American has 3 and Southwest has the rest).

The only airlines that serve AEX (Alexandria England International) are Continental, Northwest and Delta; there's no direct service to Dallas anymore. In the past, I flew DFW-AEX on American Eagle but that route's inactive. Continental flies regional jets into AEX via IAH and Northwest is still using props .. the only Delta service is to ATL so not sure what equipment that entails. So, I went to Love Field and flew Continental (using my Delta FF#). Each segment was about 40 minutes airtime.

the PA filter

Several of the (too many) mailing lists I'm on arrives via digest. When a certain amount of time has passed, or a certain number of articles have arrived, I get an email with all the messages piled into one. Nothing new there; digests have been around for decades.

However, one of these digests has recently been infected with a Pompous Ass [PA]. About 50% of the traffic on this list is from His Pompousness. One of the things he loves to do is underscore words. Lots of them. A large percentage of every posting includes this annoyance. He's One Of Those People who lives solely to annoy the rest of us. His primary method is to belittle others, thinking that by doing so he is building himself up to be Larger Than Life. Finally, I've had enough.

Now, when I see his name in header-after-header, I've taken to deleting the entire digest rather than have to even look at any of his postings; this results in missing constructive comments from everyone else. As a result, I'm considering switching that list to Regular Delivery and then installing a filter to delete any message from the PA. I'll get a bit more email than before (multiple messages instead of a digest) but won't see any of the PA's traffic. It's a small price to pay.

Saturday, September 9

so long, Disney/ABC ?

I wonder how hard it will be to erase all references to the Disney/ABC network from my TiVo?

Given that they plan to air Karl Rove's [The Path to 9/11] (an obvious CFRP hack designed to help them retain power in the upcoming midterm elections), I plan to return the favor by:

1. removing Disney/ABC from my list of channels (the only other ones I've removed are the Mexican-language stations, and the religious channels - those with a bottom-of-the-screen number to call with donations, 24x7);

2. remove all Disney/ABC shows from my Season Pass™.

3. delete any Disney/ABC shows already recorded, but not yet viewed.

I'm sure their advertisers will be thrilled. The only one concerned seems to be FOX "News", which has had a monopoly on right-wing propaganda for the last several years. Now that Disney/ABC is turning into a right wing puppet, Fox's monopoly on lies has come to a screeching halt.

13 Sep update: just to close the loop .. ABC did broadcast this GOP-orchestrated hack, so I dutifully removed them from TiVo. Hence, they no longer exist. Biggest downside for me: no more ABC Nightline. Pity.