Saturday, December 31, 2005


It took a year less 18 days. I searched everywhere again and again. And again. I looked in every remaining movers' box.

When we unpacked, we cut down every box... laid all packing paper flat. Nothing would escape. But my $1000 microphone (okay, $950) was lost. LOST. Or (cue dramatic music) stolen. But it was in a box in a box when I last saw it (or remember seeing it) so who would even know what it was or want it? The PACKER! The MOVER! The weaselly assistant packer!!! Naaa. They didn't have the look. A microphone isn't a commodity - it's not like everyone wants one (or would even recognize the nondescript box.)

Planning a trip sometime later this winter, Terri had begun looking for the snorkel gear - it was MIA! This led to my bumping around the storage darkness over the garage and then in the attic, reopening all the remaining boxes (MAN I TOOK A TON OF PICTURES OVER THE YEARS!!!) My high school yearbook was spotted. My college radio stint in pictures - a favorite is the boys trying to pull my tongue out with needle nose pliers. Terri's baby dolls, her CRIB!

Found the snorkel, masks and fins. It was with her childhood stuffed animals. They weren't using them.

But no microphone.

However, by then, my adrenal-search-gland-mojo was workin', so I went through the whole house, every drawer, shelf, box... no luck!

Then I thought I'd try one more place. Of course the box LOOKED like files, but was "stuff" wrapped in paper and in the stuff... was the missing microphone.

Boy did that feel good. Perseverance paid in full!

Friday, December 30, 2005


I generally like SONY. I expect that when I replace my TV, it'll be a SONY. Still, their proposed settlement for their DRM computer-invading program strikes me as an "are you kidding?" proposal.

SONY had secreted some files (called rootkit) on millions of music CDs to ward off piracy that in fact, if played on a computer, rendered those computers very vulnerable to malware (and apparently it was VERY difficult to remove!) Read about that here.

They have put forward a proposal which, to my eye, at best gives those affected three free downloads of CDs to right the wrong. Here's that story.

Boy, if they had put me through the hell I read about, I'd feel that $100 cash wasn't enough!

And I wonder how those free downloads affect the artists involved? Do they get royalties from SONY on those 'free downloads' or do they just bite the bullet with no recourse themselves?

I see no good in any of this. What do you think?

More lawsuits to settle!

It's amazing when a corporation is so unthinking. Or so arrogant. This from the C-NET coverage of the story by Molly Wood (no relation!): "...the president of Sony BMG's global digital business division, Thomas Hesse, told National Public Radio that most people don't know what a rootkit is, so they shouldn't care that it had been secretly installed on their PCs. Mr. Hesse, they care. And they should start caring a whole lot more--on November 10, BitDefender uncovered the first Trojan horse (but possibly not the last) that takes advantage of the unpatched DRM technology to open a backdoor on a Windows PC."

Thursday, December 29, 2005


The networks typically go into the dead zone (not the show) at this time of year. What lousy programming!

This might be a great time for a new show to debut.

That new game/reality show - I don't even know what it was called - where the contestant holds what they have or goes for something better (they hope!) hosted by a dramatic bald guy took 5 of the top 15 shows last week, I believe. See?

But I hope for more. And better. I've been watching reruns and petrified crap.

Hi, my name is Bob and I'm a TiVo addict!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


There were 54 grass fires in Austin last week. We have a serious drought going on... about 50% down from normal rain amounts for the year. We also have nice warm weather with low humidity. And sun.

There's a burn ban in all Metro counties. You can't have any fire outdoors unless it's, say, a BBQ. One of THOSE burned a house down near Dallas.

So what do you think are for sale just outside Travis county? FIREWORKS!!! Oh, they are holding back the bottle rockets and aerial bombs and flying flaming things but... what the #%#$@^*!!?

Glad I cut the prairie. What was once 2 feet high is now stubble around the house.

Somebody wrote that in Texas, fireworks are like guns. I LIKE FIREWORKS. (And guns!) I like my house more! Never seen a kid with a sparkler that didn't throw it at the end.

Should be an interesting next few days.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


In doing - uh, research, on the net, I found this item which can help all those on ranches. Something you might want to try on your next visit to the farm.

A chicken can be hypnotized, or put into a trance by holding its head down against the ground, and continuously drawing a line along the ground with a stick or a finger, starting at its beak and extending straight outward in front of the chicken.

If the chicken is hypnotized in this manner, it will remain immobile for somewhere between 15 seconds to 30 minutes, continuing to stare at the line.

This is not the same thing as the tequila stare I developed one night in Martinique. I am no chicken!

Monday, December 26, 2005

CSN&Y: "Our house, is a very very very fine house..."

WE LOVE OUR HOUSE. The architect/builder did a wonderful job! We like and endorse him!

Apparently some feelings were ruffled since I left this out in my Christmas-Letter attempt at humor, which was not my intention. The Christmas letter is set up to be an anti-brag letter that you get sometimes. And raving about the house would qualify as a brag.

Next year I think I'll go back to the mythical family I created years ago, and chronicle their adventures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


So I'm not PC. Sorry. Happy Festivus then.

Every time I smell felt, I think of the green felt covering my Lionel trainboard that Santa put up under the tree when I was young. I could barely get to sleep when I'd hear him cursing loudly as he smashed his hand, or got a shock from the Plasticville interior lights that poked up from beneath the board.

We had early twinkling lights and they made little "dings" as they superheated to just below tree-torching temperatures, then would wink out. The whole tree-full made a sound like ice crystals should make when they form in the air on a cobalt sky day of sunny cold.

I would stare into the reflective balls and see the world wrap around itself. I still like shiny metal colors. I still like it when the world wraps around itself.

I'd drop a tablet into my train smokestack and the locomotive would start to puff. It would circle the tree endlessly, with my careful driving on the big transformer. Sometimes it would veer off the board at high speed and crash to the valley floor below. Luckily, it would miss the stack of presents which were on display there. I'd lean on the horn and it would remind me of the real ones I'd sometimes hear wailing into the dark, when the wind was right, off in the distance, right before I feel asleep, safe in my bed.

Sometimes I'd go back to the now 'empty' stocking hung with care and find another special toy hidden in the toe. That was great!

I loved guns. One of my favorite Christmases brought a ping pong ball gun. There was a picture of my dad showing a very young me how to shoot it. This was not my typical dad. Years later, after some drinking, he and my uncle stood in the ocean surf shooting 45s at the moon. How I wish he would have played with me that way.

Christmases are like a cavalcade of time and memory. Benchmarks for family, friends, joy, and loss. I hope they bring you peace and jubilation this year. And maybe you get your ping pong ball gun!

Friday, December 23, 2005


72 degrees. Hot sun. Nice breeze. Blue sky. Hip SoCo cafe. As I blew out the one candle on my cheesecake with carmelized bananas on macaroon crust drizzled with mango sauce, I realized, this doesn't suck. Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Letter 2005

You know, that eggnog was really strong! Glad I only had 6 cups!

Every year we send a letter along with Christmas Cards. It started out as a spoof of those brag letters you get - you know the ones... and evolved into various forms since then. Since we lost some friends' addresses over the years and they just might see this, here is this year's installment.

In previous years I would let my creativity go and it wasn't uncommon that folks would later remark, "I didn't understand all of it, but I enjoyed the part I did." This year I aimed for the whole room. Here it is:


I can’t get into the Christmas state of mind, because here in Austin, as I begin this letter (November 7) it will be 87 degrees. Still, Christmas displays are up in stores, and one of my old radio stations in Minneapolis went all-Christmas-music November 4th. Good thing I’m not still there – I’d be suicidal. You can only Rock Around the Christmas Tree so many time before you snap. We drove south on I-35 last January 14th, leaving -14 degrees in Minnesota, sub zero in Iowa, snow in Kansas, to hit the 50s in Texas: and Salvation!

The house wasn’t completely finished when we arrived, and so swarms of workers descended upon us like moths on a lightbulb, for months. My fulltime job became watching for their dirty fingerprints on freshly painted walls, finding Things That Didn’t Work… and so on. It was like CSI meets Home Depot. One day there were 24 workers here. Some of them actually worked. Few spoke English, so I’d speak and they’d pretend and nod. Pretend and nod is a construction sport in border states. I am certain some spoke English well, but were even better Pretenders.

And now, about 10 months later, (MaƱana to the 10th power) we still wait for the final list to be completed. We are not alone, as almost everyone here, no matter which builder, has had similar experiences. (One builder works on a property with “free ranging livestock” a.k.a. horses – he told me that the home (by then sheetrocked) was open, and that the horses went in and took a dump!)

Our community has about 36 families in and another 20 or so homes under construction (of eventually 400). The developer merged with a very upscale golf community developer and they have raised prices immediately. As early as we were, I think we qualify for “settler” status. That means we will be shunned by the rich folks, but can have a rotted wagon wheel and cow skull on display.

Local lore is that in the evenings you can hear the lions at the zoo, which sits on the next ridge about three miles away. When I ‘pass gas’ I now claim it was a lion roar. Terri gives me ‘the look.’

Good thing we don’t play golf because a golf membership costs about as much as two of my first house. On top of that are dues, caddy fees, clubhouse tips, and if I were to attempt to play, many lost balls. I figure that if I played once a week, my triple bogeys would cost $500 each. Happily, I found a local pistol/rifle range and will take some golf balls there as targets. Shoot golf? Why sure.

Austin is a neat city. The U, the state capitol, tech biz and the music scene all add up to a delightful mix. But many people have the wrong impression of Texas. Actually, Texas is such a big state (and I’ve driven almost top to bottom and east to west at one time or another over the years) that it has a wide diversity of geographies and attitudes. For example, Dallas is where you’ll find people who wear suits, Fort Worth is where people wear cowboy boots. You’ll find some of either in each, but you get the idea. Then there’s El Paso which is Hispanic for Keep Driving. And Pasadena, outside Houston, is full of chemical plants that regularly blow up. Pasadena is Hispanic for Don’t Light a Match.

Texas mythbusters:
Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy is not the state anthem. You can‘t get Longneck (a bottle of beer) in a can. Hardscrabble is dirt, not a board game. Tumbleweeds DO tumble. You often DO hear the coyote’s wail, on the trail. Willie Nelson doesn’t smoke Newports. You cannot wear spurs in a water bed. Armadillos are not battery powered. “Ahm a’fixin’ to fix the fax” is a possible sentence in these here parts.

You can get to these here parts if you drive thataway.

Terri worked at Wells Fargo for a while but prefers more interaction with realtors so has joined LAND MORTGAGE which isn’t just about land. They are affiliated with the largest realty company here. She’s the David Copperfield of Loans. That means she works magic. I just hope she doesn’t saw me in half.

There’s a bumper sticker and unofficial slogan KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD. Just doin’ my part.

Today it’s November 23rd as I write this part. 82 degrees and low humidity at 12:50PM. Some trees are showing some color. This is worth a good gloat as we put on shorts and honor our northern friends. Ice-melt dues paid in full, thank you.

Time flies. But it sits in a cramped seat with a late departure and no peanuts. And it can’t use the restroom while the “fasten Seat Belt” light is lit. But still, it flies on frequent-flier miles. New homes are popping up as if the picture is speeded up. Our community is becoming just that. We love it here.

The only downside is that so many friends are scattered all over North America. If only we could see you more often, it’d be so much better. Well, there’s always the internet, phone, etc.

We wish you a very happy holiday season and great New Year.

Bob and Terri Wood (Bob comments on anything) (Bob’s Home Theater blog) (Bob’s neighborhood blog) (Bob’s website) Soon to be Bob's new website consultation business. If you click on it before January 1 and it's up, it is a work in progress with elements missing.

Monday, December 19, 2005


A pretty good case here! With lots of show and tell

Decaf follies

"Wekatumidonkas" - translation: Welcome to McDonalds.

I speak with clear slow announcer tones into the speaker at drive thru:




The screen, mercifully, is in English. It's correct.


...Just another Manic Monday!

A sidebar, as my friend Kevin would say:
My father, in Paris, with itchy toe - I assume, athlete's foot, tried out his high school French in a drug store... and apparently tried to order cheese for his shoe.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Neighbors just put up LIONS - full size stone ones - on either side of the end of their pool. These beasts can be seen by anyone nearby. There sure wasn't anything pictured like that in the Living In Union With Nature brochure for this development.

Somebody please call the Ostentatious Department of the Police!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


HERE's one for the ladies The click on the orange circle. When the page opens bigger, click on it again.

Click on that link to discover the truth behind magazine covers. Also known as "what Photoshop can do" (amazing retouching!) this will help any person with poor body self-image due to the constant media barrage of "beautiful people."

And Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Apprentice

Donald Trump hired his fourth apprentice on Thursday, choosing consulting firm CEO Randal Pinkett during a live telecast of the finale of NBC's "The Apprentice."

Trump chose Pinkett over financial journalist Rebecca Jarvis THEN asked him if he should also hire Rebecca, who was as impressive as a 23 year older could possibly be. And I only mention her age because she was amazingly mature, tremendously capable, and good natured. Randal said no.

Both were outstanding.

Trump offered Pinkett, the first African-American to win the apprentice job, his choice of supervising either the construction of a luxury condo complex in Jersey City or the expansion and renovation of his three Atlantic City casinos. Pinkett, 34, chose the latter job, which will last at least one year and possibly longer.

Pinkett is a star. Trump hired a great find.

Randal answered the Donald that The Apprentice was a ONE WINNER contest and that it should stay that way; Trump then didn't hire Rebecca, but he clearly wanted to.

I hope he reconsiders.

What a classless move on Pinkett's part. He simply gave the wrong answer at the last moment.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Okay, play along with me, please.

DuPont (which admits no wrongdoing; I assume because if they did they'd be liable for damages someday) makes a toxic chemical. It's Perflourooctanoic acid (aka PFOA). It's been around for 50 years.

It's in probably in your blood as it was in 95% of Americans tested.

It persists in the environment indefinitely.

It migrates long distances in the air.

It's been found in the blood of polar bears near the North Pole.

EPA says it passes to fetuses in the womb. In animal tests it caused birth defects. DuPont knew this since 1981.

Last year DuPont agreed to pay West Virginians who had their drinking water contaminated up to #342 million.

DuPont reported $27 BILLION in net sales last year.

The EPA's fine? 16.6 million, with another 10.25 million as a civil fine.

Now shake your head with me. It just doesn't seem right. So little does.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Here’s how girls know if you’re checking them out. They yawn while looking away. Then five seconds later, they turn around and look at you. If you’re yawning, dude, you’re busted.

I read this on another blog and pass it along to any male readers for whom it can prove to be good intelligence.

When you get older, you just yawn and fart. If you can fart gold, women will smile at you. Otherwise, they give you "the look."


When I programmed a radio station in Houston, we had a good ole earth dog of an engineer. I liked his voice. He was quite the character. We also had a young gofer hanging around (he later went on to program!)

I wrote and aired a promo which still tickles me whenever I think of it. Something like this:

DAD (Almost stoned Earthdog) "SON?"
KID "Yes Dad"
DAD "You know you're gettin' older now and I think it's time you knew..."
KID "Knew what dad?"
DAD "About Christmas."
KID "Christmas?"
DAD "Yeah. See Christmas isn't about Santa Claus and gifts..."
KID "It isn't?"
DAD "No, the true meaning of Christmas is.... BIG BULBS! Just like a lot of things you'll discover later in life, BIGGER is BETTER!"

And off it went into a Christmas Light promotion. There was also a line about all the cats leaving the neighborhood because of the lazers he had put into the plastic reindeer. That's how I remember it - the guys acted it out with such fatherly advice versus boyish innocense.

The good old days. Before everything got corporate. And that radio station... in Houston, Texas, was owned by (I am not making this up) Eskimoes.


Was the headline on page A20 of today's Austin American-Statesman. Nice. I had already eaten pages A-1 through A-19 as an excellent source of fiber, to help prevent colorectal cancer! I had been shredding the paper and eating it with milk and a spoonful of brown sugar ever since they stopped using Lead-Based and switched to Soy-Based ink.

This story is from today's Journal of The American Medical Association, so you know it must be true.

So now it's a free for all in junk food land.

All over the Austinworld, all three kids who read the paper as deep as page A-20 will rejoice. Mom was wrong. No more pencil shavings for lunch! No more broccoli. (And have you ever noticed how E Coli bears a strange brotherhood with the spelling of Broccoli anyway? Mighty suspicious!)

It seems like everything is topsy turvy (which fails an SUV in Rollover Tests by the Insurance Institute of America)... what was good is usually discovered to be bad, what was bad is now good. This doesn't explain why NBC banned a video snippet of Pamela Anderson pole dancing in an Elton John video.

Me, I've been suspicious of authority ever since I didn't go blind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Last night while watching TiVo TV, I heard just a piece of an advertisement as I hit high speed skip. It shouted "DIAMOND BRACELET for THIRTY NINE NINETY FIVE." I said, "Huh?" "They mean $3995.00? They HAVE to mean $3995! It couldn't be $39.95! Could it?" I hit the backup button. Yup. $39.95

Here's a news flash - an urban legend - It ISN'T (ALWAYS) "the thought that counts."

Give her a $39.95 diamond bracelet and prepare to eat out of a can for a while. Maybe in the snow or rain. Sleep with the dog. Write a country song: "I screwed myself for $39.95."

I fear for any man - no matter how disadvantaged or down on his luck who comes home with a $39.95 Diamond Bracelet.

Maybe it's a BAIT and SWITCH thing. You go in and say, "I'd like the $39.95 Diamond Bracelet, please." The clerk stares at you with eyes that say "Here's a guy who won't have sex except alone for a long long time." And they bring the piece out under the 4 megawatt special jeweler lighting that makes coal sparkle. You squint. There appears to be a glint. It's the $39.95 glint. The goodbye kiss in semi-preciousness.

A sidebar: diamonds aren't even precious stones. They are a strictly controlled market that drives prices up along with great marketing. Look it up. They don't want you to know it, but it's true.

So you see the glint. "Uh, what's the next size up?" "Oh, HERE'S a nice one... NINETEENNINETYFIVE." Now you get a glimmer and a sparkle. Then it dawns on you: "ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED NINETY FIVE dollars." "Uh, A little more than I was hoping to spend."

Run away.

Buy something so foo-foo (spelled frou-frou, but I don't think that's common) that you'd be embarrassed to buy it. You stand a much better chance bringing THAT under the Christmas tree.

Men, we must stand united. There are rules to the universe we don't all learn. Let others guide you through the maze. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I am working feverishly on a new project - a website optimization business. It's amazing how many BAD websites there are - and I'm not being Mister Designer here, I'm talking about websites which are no more than poorly constructed billboards for businesses. They languish largely unseen, either ignoring or violating the principles which determine prominence. Some are built and forgotten. "Websites don't work," is the thought that often follows. That's wrong thinking.

Meanwhile in 2004, 812 million people used the web(Source: Neilsen/NetRatings)
and Consumers spent $117 BILLION online (Source: ComScore)

Clearly this is the hot new medium. I want my piece. I see a need. Once up, I will tout the site and service here fyi. It should only be a matter of days.

I am using a different building program which is HEAD AND SHOULDERS above the one I used on It's better in every way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I've never had luck with weed wackers. They die soon after the warranty explodes, I mean, expires. The one I have now has two states of running (admittedly intermittent and rare) - in one state the motor turns the nylon strips in a clockwise fashion, the way you'd expect. In the other, it goes back and forth, about 180 degrees one way, then reverses and goes 180 degrees the other. It shudders a lot while doing this which must be the shudder of the laws of mechanical motion being violated.

One day recently we went into the garage and smelled gas. I crawled down to critter eye level and looked for dangerous puddles under the cars. Nothing. Then Terri discovered that the weedwacker had sprung a leak.

I banished it to the outside.

Nothing looks loose, and nothing appears disconnected.

Just now I decided to try to start it and sure enough, it cranked after a few hundred pulls. Okay, I exaggerate, but I still have that spasm in my right arm from all that yanking and I tell ya it's hard to type. Or keyboard.

(You still type at keyboards? Just like CDs are records?)

Anyway, I ran the wacker all along the places that needed trimming up to a point at which it crapped out for no reason. I noticed the dripping gas was smoking. Time to call it a wacked-day and walk-away.

Yesterday I pulled on the lawnmower so many times I think I'm permanently crooked. It was only after rigor-armis set in that I discovered the spark plug cap had come off.

I tell ya, Steve Martin will play me in the movie.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gas leak. (Excuse me.)

I'd like to think Steve Martin would play me in a movie of my life.

Yesterday was COLD. Texas cold. Cars were swerving off roads by the scores. Many workplaces and schools shut down. We had a quarter inch of ice. The psychological damage is as great as the fender bending.

We declared it time to light the gas logs.

After years of real wood, my namesake, after all, years of being ripped off by the traveling log salesmen - "got this load of oak in the truck... $80 a cord." (That's a face cord, half the size of a cord. A reduction like that would blow a drug deal up in gunfire!) Well, the oak would turn into pine just below where you could see it. Or it'd be pungent toxic chemical-smell tree, direct from Love Canal or any other EPA skull and crossbone forrest. I also bought cords of won'tburn logs.

So when we moved to these here parts, we opted for a gas fireplace. No wood salesmen, no termites in the woodpile, no spiders to torch, no snakes a-hiding.

Yessiree, got us a two sided wide baby. Got the upgraded ceramic logs with texture and even the ember glow pieces (sold by the GRAM). All went well upon install, last winter. Thursday, I fired it up again. Make that, turned the handle. Lit the lighter. Probed for the pilot. It would light, then go out. I actually read the instructions.

Our knob is upside down. That's confusing.

Finally, I called the guy who sold it. He came by today - nice guy - and lit it right up. See, I was lighting the GAS LEAK, not the pilot.

Long story short, he replaced the explosion-in-your-face part and got it going.

The living room and kitchen are about 95 degrees now. I don't want to turn it off till Terri sees flame (and warms her work-weary butt cheeks on our hearth.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Frost and frozen rain in Our Part of Texas. Are we haunted? I swear I smell Minneapolis in the north wind.

If you have trouble getting into the Christmas Spirit, this may be why:

RE: Organizational Changes at the North Pole

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.
Streamlining was necessary due to the North Pole's loss of dominance
of the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels
and mail order catalogs have diminished Santa's market share.
He could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of
a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity
from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School,
is anticipated. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental
emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press. I am
pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition
still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the
strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way,
not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was
into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate
comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time
of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole
to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately,
the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas"

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out
to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging
plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective.
In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned.
The positions are therefore eliminated;

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a
call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been
calling, how often and how long they talked;

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors.
Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative
implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious
metals as well as a mix of T-bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order;

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded.
It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is
an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and
an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that
from now on every goose it gets will be a good one;

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times.
The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order.
The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore
enhance their outplacement;

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy
scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought.
The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility.
Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be
phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of
international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest
replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability
may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect
an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the
band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music
and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line;

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals,
and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching
deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day,
service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's
association seeking expansion to include the legal profession
("thirteen lawyers-a-suing) action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary
in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request
management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs
is the right number.

Not my writing, but so right! Don't know who gets the credit, but they probably will be the ones with coal in their stocking. My ex-boss - a hard working, really good man, was fired this past week by a greedy company which will remain nameless (their initials are both Cs). I dedicate this post to him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Revenge of the Blue North

I knew I KNEW I shouldn't have mentioned the cold in Minnesota. It's like antagonizing the guy holding the shotgun aimed at your face. Where does the cold air go? It goes south.

Today the pool was steaming. And, no, the heat isn't on.

FROST has struck!

And... shudder... a WINTER STORM WARNING. Hysterical weather stooges have the look of grandma at a prune store after 3 days of constipation.

It was 84 on Saturday and now this reminder of the last 12 years comes sliding through Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and into Texas. Our border is NOT secure.

It even made us drag out the Christmas Tree. Our Christmas Tree is the yule equivalent of a stuffed dear. Lots of lights, even ones that don't work, are sewn by Malaysian factory slaves into the green plastic of the 1024 branches and tips.

I avoided death by attic Brown Recluse Spider. I avoided sticking my toe into the attic mousetraps. I missed falling down the stairs, and the impaling by aluminum tree spike as I fell.

Is that the Christmas spirit I feel? Or a dust allergy?

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Today Terri said "It looks like snow," It does, except it's 50 degrees (and cloudy.)

One reason we picked Austin was climate - it's nicely Sunny a LOT and almost never snows. It's warmer than Minneapolis by a good 20 degrees at worst.

In Minneapolis we had -60 Fahrenheit one day one winter. Not wind chill. That was the record. For highs, I think we were just under 110. This ravages the paint on your home. Every three years you need fresh paint. In five years, you were the neighborhood disgrace!

Salt ravages the car.

The plows would ravage my front yard grass, plowing the whole cul-de-sac onto it. Every spring there'd be 6 feet or so of piled, compacted, salt-laden BERG, rotting my grass and killing any hopes of good spring green. Spring = May. March gives hope, but it's false. April is a tease like a sexy co-ed. May would be spring, then summer. Part of the resilience of the folks up north is their optimism. End of February - 'we're almost out of it.' End of March: 'here she comes.' April: 'any day now.'

I do kind of miss the Christmas light wars, though.

If you haven't seen this video of these Christmas lights you should - watch the whole thing though! Click here and feel for the neighbors!The Today Show just featured that Christmas house with all the lights and music!

The guy’s an engineer (obviously), and works for GE. They’re in Ohio.

In order not to bother the neighbors with the sound, he broadcasts the music on a low power FM “station”, and people listen in their cars, when they get in the neighborhood.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like SUM-mer

Predicted high today in Austin - 84. 60 degrees warmer than our old home.

To be fair to the blue northers, it will be much cooler this week... down to 48 as a high later in the week.

Funny how your perspective changes. That would be GREAT in Minnesota, but is chilly here, because our blood is thin.

I realize that without hearing constant Christmas music (on the radio station I programmed) and without working in a mall full of decorations, and having no kids, the spirit hasn't moved me yet.

However, it probably has you in its grasp, so here:


1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups of dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or raisins
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila (silver or gold, as desired)

Sample the Cuervo to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the
highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy
bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again.
At this point it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still OK, try
another cup ... just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit, Pick the frigging fruit off floor...
Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck
in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the
Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Check the Jose Cuervo.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a
spoon of sugar, or
somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to
beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, FINISH
the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

Friday, December 02, 2005

CHRISTMAS 2005 Part One

A local food chain wanted to do something special for Christmas. Or the holiday season, to be more PC. (Sorry, to me it will always be CHRISTMAS. You can keep Kwanza or June Teenth or Festivus or whatever you want and enjoy that all for celebratin' self... it's CHRISTMAS to me. No shame in it. It's okay with Hallmark. Blame it and everything else on my parents. Mr. Shegog, the next door neighbor, pretended to be Santa. I believed. To this day, whenever I smell felt - the green on my Lionel train board that went under the tree... or see a sparkle - the twinkling lights and reflective wondrous ornaments... or hear really good cursing - my dad putting up the tree on the train board and getting a shock or two from the lights, while I was tucked away in bed with visions of CHRISTMAS, I think of Santa, Bethlehem, Stocking hung with care, wrapping paper, pine smell and my lost innocence.

Where was I?

The food chain wanted to do something special. They put up an ice skating rink on their roof. It's about 40 x 60. Saturday it will be 84 degrees here. Guess where all the TV stations will do their remote shot?

I once staged a snow storm on the hottest day of a hot spell in Montreal... it was in the 90s (before metrification, thank you.) We got coverage in 5 of the then 6 daily papers. Front page on 4, full front page on one (in color!) Local and network news (twice.) This was for the radio station for which I worked.

Years later I wanted to get my morning show to drive a refrigerated truck full of snow 'for the children' somewhere south... but couldn't arrange.

Know what? I can't get into the Christmas spirit... can't drag the tree out of hiding yet. Must be the weather. Or the lack of REAL cold. Displaced in time and space, that's me!

I give Terri credit for the joke below. I chuckle everytime I see it or think about it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WOW! Google keeps expanding services!

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service that lets people speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.

A Web surfer can click a phone icon adjacent to an ad, enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google's service calls the advertiser's phone number and when the Web surfer picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she hears ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected, according to a Google Click-to-Call frequently-asked-questions page...

Now every 35 year old guy who still lives with MOM can click on the porn actress' line, "I'LL GET IT, MOM, IT'S FOR ME!"

Seriously, this is great thinking. These Google guys are ahead of the curve!

And Skype too, if you don't have it - is free, easy, and WAY cool. You use your broadband to speak to anyone else on Skype's software (typically there are 4 million users using - on line - at any time!) The kick - it's full fidelity and as if they are in the room with you. Difficult to explain, it's better than telephone by LEAPS and BOUNDS. You need a microphone and speakers - these can be bought for very cheap at Radio Shack or a computer store.


A friend in need.

I have a buddy many many miles away who is going through a gut-wrench. We spoke about it and I felt so helpless for him. Advice from the unqualified - that's me. But I tried to help while he kept apologizing for even bringing his problem to the conversation. I told him friends are friends, and I'd try to help because that's what true friends do. I care.

I've always wished I could find the words to make a difference... the speech or whisper that REALLY made a difference. Somehow I doubt I've scored the way I want to - but wouldn't it be great - just once - to turn the tide or clear the despair, to bring hope, to inspire, to help... with words!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Used to be we'd get every catalog ever. And maybe 3 of each Victoria Secret catalog (which I didn't mind, but man, they must have a HIGH profit margin because we'd get a new mailing about every other day! I saw more of the models than rock stars and David Copperfield put together!)

But a change is in the wind, I fear. Maybe it was that we moved, but the UPS people sure do know we are here, and I assume the mailorder machine does too. Terri doesn't think anything of ordering then returning things (not a guy thought - we buy we endure.) Maybe that's why we enjoy such earthly catalog delights. Or USED to as now it seems every day there are more and more E shopping E mails in the inbox.

I think I remember that 28 BILLION dollars will be spent online this season (or this year, I'm not sure which!) Anyway you slice it, if I want models, I'll have to Google-Ogle. Good thing we don't still have the parrot. Those catalogs were high end cage liner!

Monday, November 28, 2005


A story of a gamer who won a tourney's top prize of $150,000 takes today's Raised Eyebrow Award. That and the term they used to describe him, "Cyberathlete." Excuse me? Oxymoron alert!

I don't begrudge the winner. Anybody who wins $150,000 has good fortune and good for them.

But c'mon... twitching thumbs and great hand/eye co-ordination is a skill set, certainly, but ATHLETE it isn't.

I've never gotten into the games I've seen. They just don't interest me. Like The Simpsons - so many have described it as the best writing on TV but I can't get past the cartoons. Some people hate clowns. I just can't spend time watching animation on that level.

I'm sure no expert of the gaming world but from the ads I now see in heavy rotation on TV for the X-Box Xmas season, I'm still not interested. (I admit I have wasted some time on my IPAQ playing whatever it is that came with it, a game which requires strategy, not hand/eye.)

Years ago I tried a flying simulation computer program but it was just too disconnected from the real thing (I have an old crusty pilot's license) for me.

My mother couldn't navigate a microwave's control panel. I wonder if my lack of gamesmanship-interest is the same thing for the next generation?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

GREENHOUSE GASES to be cut back.

Current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years, say researchers who have finished cataloguing air bubbles trapped for millennia inside Antarctic ice. The record, which extends back over the past eight ice ages, shows that today's concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane far outstrip those in the past.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen 200 times faster over the past 50 years than at any other time during this period, says Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern, Switzerland, who led the analysis.

Today the Bush administration has finally come around to the side of environmentalists who have been sounding the alarm of global warming for some time. "We will put forth a bill to limit the growth of plants and flowers in greenhouses," said the President, who is spending time with his family at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I must have passed a threshold. Watching the first two hours of the AMAs (Dick Clark's version of the Grammys - seriously, that's what they are) I felt that most of it was weak. Cedric - pass. His brief dance was the best part of his act. His jokes mostly fell flat. Lindsay Lohan - pass. Hillary Duff - pass. You could just see the corporatization of some of these 'stars' as it was all fluff and posing, lacking any real substance. I'm too old to remember (or care) which was which - Lindsay or Hillary had dancers in wild action behind her; it looked like some bizarre disconnect ritual. They were trying very hard to(distract?) And you could hear that the lead - Lindsay or Hillary - was missing notes by the bushel. One was worse by far than the other.

Mariah Carey looked like she belongs in a tank at Seaworld. She blamed her monitors for a bad performance. Granted. But the monitors didn't chow down for her. I haven't seen Mariah for years (actually have avoided her successfully) but wow! she has packed it on. Put THAT in a slinky dress and you get something I don't want to see. If she dropped a boob out of that dress, it'd be a seismic disturbance!

It's probably me and my tastes.

Rob Thomas was good. Sheryl Crow was pro. Cindy Lauper was very good. Los Lonely Boys and Carlos Santana were the best we saw till we left for Threshold, a fair sci-fi show with no dancers trying to make the aliens look good.

I read that there were plenty of artist no-shows. Can't blame them.

FBI or CIA warnings!

Beware if you get these. They appear to be E-mails from the FBI or CIA that you've visited 30 illegal websites. They try to get you to open attachments. DON'T. Pure scams. Over the past day we've received about a dozen of these along with bogus "your account is opened, click to see details" from a variety of "sources."

We didn't subscribe to them.

Best to delete then delete deleted.

Rat Bastards!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Adventures in Urology!

Here's a clue - if you see that as a cable-tv listing, pass.

It is a beautiful bright, blue-sky 60 degree+ morning deep in the heart of Texas. And on this wonderful day, I must drive to the Urologist for a checkup post-surgery, now that 4 1/2 weeks have elapsed. I'm not used to morning traffic, working out of the house as I have, so I left with plenty of time to spare.

Since the surgery, the URGE will come up at a sometimes-alarming rate, and there's no holding it back for more than a minute or two, if you get my drift.

So here I go into the sun, driving to this hidden medical center. Last time I took the wrong exit. THIS time I will be much more careful. First left, then a right, then second left, good. Boy, I drink a lot for breakfast - all that juice and that big bowl of cereal... the pressure is on, but I think I'll make it. All is good. Hey, there's the hospital. DARN I missed my exit. Hey, I have to GO.

Remember, it comes on quickly. I make the NEXT exit, hoping I can find my way back... in time.

Oh heck, I am lost. Where's a coffee shop or anything with a bathroom.

There aren't any. It's pawn shops and body shops and nothing looks open anyway.

I start to plan. And discover at some state of being you just don't care... you do what you have to do.

When I first turned onto this exit, I noticed a 'street' that seemed out of place, almost like the sugar cane fields James Bond drove through in one of his movies with Sean Connery as Bond. Very atypical in the land of pawn. High grasses, I guess, along the road.

I will stop.

But then ahead I notice what may be the hospital maybe a mile away. The doc's office is nearby. I decide to go for it. I race.

And hit the longest light in the world. I am on a third-world alley compared to the main thoroughfare I must cross. And I am seriously thinking about just gunning it to run the light at a traffic pause. The only thing that holds me back is if a cop sees this and stops me (assuming I survive it), I won't have time to explain. It'll be a demonstration!

FINALLY the light lets me go and I don't (if you get my drift). I race through the intersection and miss another turn.

I circle back. Park in any space. Make my dash... and I know if the doctor's office doesn't open till 9 I am sunk. Hand on the door, I am like a NASA countdown and the rocket is about to leave the bounds of earth!

The door is open. I make a run for the restroom. And make it. Just in time.

Thankful grew a new dimension today!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Car insurance discounts.

Are now possible. There's a box. You hook it to your car and then regularly download it into your computer and send the collected data to the insurance company. They, in turn, can see how fast you drove, etc., and reward careful drivers with lower rates.

Unless your teenager takes the car.

The 'rat box' will 'out' them. You may not want to know.

One fine fall afternoon, driving my mother's car home from my rural high school, the devil on my right shoulder goaded me with his pitchfork. My lust-for-speed gland was stimulated. "Go ahead, Bobby - the road is straight and long and you can see it's only fields on both sides and I wonder how fast this car will GOOOOOoooo?" Wuss-boy answered. I floored it. The Chevy got up to about 90, then I hit a dip in the road and launched the car into the air. Really did. It came down in a shower of sparks. And stalled. Would NOT start. I had to call home from a house up the street. They sent the repair guy who towed it away and later said that, "WHOEVER HAS BEEN DRIVING THIS CAR HAS BEEN DRIVING IT HARD." Understand that my parents were so conservative my father DIDN'T DRIVE and my mother (who topped out at 35 mph) insisted that radios in cars were dangerous - "because you couldn't hear ambulances."


Friday, November 18, 2005

Power Blip

Yesterday I was sitting listening to and evaluating a very powerful new amplifier pair (one for each channel). My worst fear came true - a power blip. I call it a blip but it was actually a failure and restoration all within what I'd estimate to be a second. About as long as it takes to say BLIP. I had feared that these new amps would destroy my speakers or blow me out of the room as they were not on 'protection.' (Yes, there's a whole industry that offers electronic regulation and protection for exotic systems (and computers, etc.))

The blip took down my PREamplifier (control unit) as the it knocked its protection off line. (That's supposed to happen - the unit will sacrifice itself if necessary.)

The amps stayed on and there was no shotgun blast of speaker cones. In fact, no noise at all. Thankfully!

The computer in another room rebooted. The Fax machine (usually a pansy in these things) stayed on. The new coffee machine clock went boogidy boogidy.

This took me back to my first job in radio in Annapolis, Maryland. We had BAD power at this little AM radio station (810 WYRE - "The Voice of the Bay"). It was so small we didn't have an engineer; rather, a "contract engineer" who would come by once a month or when needed, to keep us legal or working. Well, I was on the air in afternoon 'drive' - a big deal (to me, in this, my first job) - and we went off the air due to a power failure. It came back after a short while but the transmitter didn't. And I couldn't get the door open to reset the circuit breaker inside. I pushed and SHOVED and banged and others came and we all PUSHED and PULLED and... no dice. We called the engineer, panicked. Dead air is the worst sin in radio and it feels like life is ending and time goes by real slowly. The man comes in what must have been 40 minutes later and points to a dent in the door - "See this dent?" We all nod. He says, "That's where Adam f****d Eve. This thing is that old!" He then pushed the door with just a little effort near the Adam and Eve LoveMark, and the door creaked open. We reset the breaker and went back on the air.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly
compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,
"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has,
we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating;
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with
the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would
have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason.
You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows,
shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could
continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would
cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case
you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun,
was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive but
would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights
would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed
an Illegal Operation"
warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you
out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door
handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to
learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would
operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.

These are not mine, but worthy!

And finally for the politically insensitive:

After numerous rounds of "We don't know if Osama is still alive",
Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own
handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a single line of
coded message:

Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condi Rice. Condi and her
aides had no clue either, so they sent it to the FBI. No one could
solve it at the FBI so i! t went to the CIA, then to the NSA.

With no clue as to its meaning they eventually asked Israel's Shin
Bet for help. Within a minute Shin Bet cabled the White House with
this reply:

"Tell the President he's holding the message upside down."


Yesterday was do the pool chore day. I first do the chemical tests then drag the gallon o' acid to the acid hungry pool and splash it into the water, on the coping, my pants, shoes, etc.

As I headed back to the garage around the sidewalk that rims the house, I heard a scritch coming from one of the downspouts. It caught my attention. There it was again, like something was falling through the pipe. And yet, the sky was clear, there are no overhanging trees. I spotted what appeared to be a thin branch sticking out the bottom of the spout. Then it disappeared as I heard the noise. It popped back then disappeared again. What the...? I bent down, looked closely and (since I was wearing my acid proof gloves) carefully pulled the stick from the pipe... and found myself holding the tail of a gecko. A nice specimen, too. I freed him/her/it and felt very brave.

No car insurance was discussed.


This week, Clark, a town in North Texas, changed its name to DISH CITY, to take advantage of an offer from Dish Network for free satellite TV service for the community (for ten years - worth about $4500 per home).

Some have criticized this move, calling the town sellouts.

Other cities (towns, actually) have apparently flirted with name changes over the years for commercial purposes. But heck, when they sell naming rights to stadii all over the country, why not?

In fact, I think our own Spanish Oaks community here should become BMW, Jaguar or Lexus, Texas (nice ring, huh?)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


It hit me. Why don't I set up a blog for this community? This gated, luxury-home community? Where would it lead? What content would be in it? Would I open pandorra's gold box? Or become an administrative nightmare? Might be interesting.
Not sure where that'll lead. Lawsuits? Men-in-Black surveilance? Shunning? (PS: I opened it but only one other person knows about it so far.) I'll become a BLOGLORD, yeah, that's it.

For some reason (thanks to you) my blogs both experienced big spikes in readership Monday. Tuesday was back to normal. Not sure why. But I appreciate it. Thank you! I do try to keep them moving and interesting, though I don't think there's enough humor in this one. I'll do better.

Today I must reach into the pool and do the chemistry check. You have to reach a few feet down - surface water is like a Catholic who only goes to church on Easter and Christmas, I guess. Last night was our first cool night - it'll be interesting to see how quickly the water cools. I will probably fall in. Can't believe I haven't dropped my phone in there yet. Or tripped while carrying the acid.

My website is also increasing month to month, and I am seriously ready to start another, though a different kind, and this next one will be through a different method of construction - much easier too, I hope. The program I use now is incredibly time consuming, mechanically, and the new one which I have obtained looks much simpler. Time will tell.

There are many stories of those who retire on internet money and I admit I like the idea. I just hope the state of that money-making isn't like last-in on the pyramid scheme. I sure have learned a lot in the months I've been doing this! There IS a lot to learn.

Here's a fun thing for you: we are now on our 4th landscaper who took my box of seeds and was a no-show on both his 'today or tommorrow' promise to do the work Monday. I call this the curse of the landscaper!

PS: He just called and said "tomorrow" again. Did you know that weeds can laugh? I know I heard them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Don’t Use Sony’s Web-based XCP Uninstaller

Sony’s Web-Based Uninstaller Opens a Big Security Hole; Sony to Recall Discs

Read all about it. It gets worse!

SONY installed copy 'protection' on CDs (see below). Then it was found that the 'protection' infected computers and made them vulnerable. Then SONY released a patch. The patch, however, might be worse than the original problem.

"Hello? Is this the public relations department? Yes. We have a slight problem and I was wondering if we could get together..."


In response to representations made by the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency out of concern that emerging technologies “were making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to execute authorized surveillance”, the US communications governing body, the Federal Communications Commission, issued a final Order effective Monday November 14th compelling all broadband Internet service providers and many Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies to include backdoors allowing police and many other enforcement agencies to directly eavesdrop on their customers by April 2007.

Doing the wrong thing. BAD BOB.

I know it's wrong but I make the excuse that it's human nature to gloat. Although we are facing our first real cool front of the year, we can't help but rejoice that we are not in for the Minneapolis weather forecast (our last home for almost a dozen years): rain into freezing rain into snow.

That first drive is just awful - people need a few icy roads under their tires every year before they remember how to drive. And freezing rain is the worst.

So tonight when we visit the Weather Channel we will remember our friends up there and feel for them while we enjoy OUR cold front as temps dip and winds blow... and the temp drops to the 40s.

Terri fell enough times on ice and snow to plan a masterful escape. I thank her regularly!

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Page added to Website

The High End Studio contains some wild gear for you to see. I will add to it as appropriate gear comes into my view and I have time to track it down.

For now:

A subwoofer that makes your kidneys fall out! (Well, it could! Goes down to ONE cycle.)

A cheap digital room correction device!

A $122,000 record playing turntable!

Are the first three entries.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Today we mark as Terri received her first scorpion bite. She's okay and says it was less than a bee sting. It was a little one she says, and she did some internet research and says the pain can be treated by a new pair of shoes.

I am still a scorpvirgin.

On another subject, I'd like to try an experiment. If you enjoy this blog would you pass the word and blog address to a friend who might also enjoy it? Stats are pretty stable - I get about the same views every day and I am curious what can be done to goose the readership. (Write better? More? Get more nutso? Any ideas? Comments welcome!)

Another interesting thing (to me) is that my OTHER blog about Home Theater is also stable... and both track at almost the same distance from each other day by day (this one leads.)

An aside: Watching UT football has been such a wonderful thing - the team is awesome (loaded with talent, coached very very well and remarkably free of obvious ego!) and it's so cool to watch them ROLL over the competition week by week. Hook 'em Horns! I haven't ever enjoyed any sport this much in any city I've lived.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I've been wondering...

1- Does it look to you like Bill Clinton has ET's finger? I saw him give a talk and I swear that thing was really long and crooked and just odd. No lighted tip though.

2- Why do UFOs drive around at night with their lights on? What are they afraid of running into? Or are these the old geezers of the galaxy who drive around with their version of the turn signal on?

3- What will KFC do if Bird Flu hits humans? Squirrel?

4- Why does the government subsidize tobacco farmers and energy companies?

5- Where did that snake on our front porch this morning GO?

6- Why is alcohol legal and Marijuana illegal?


Remember, I have another blog for HOME THEATER at

and a website dedicated to Making Home Theater Easy with guides and reviews at

Please have a look when you get a chance!


DETROIT - Union workers at General Motors Corp. ratified a deal to help the automaker cut billions of dollars in health-care costs, but analysts said the move was far from enough to turn things around at the struggling auto giant.


Welcoming the ratification, which was announced by the United Auto Workers union on Friday, GM said the deal would slash its long-term health-care liability by $15 billion, cut its hourly health-care liability by 25 percent, and reduce health-care expenses by about $3 billion annually, before taxes.

GM shares rose more than 4 percent on the news, after spiraling to a 23-year low on Thursday on fears about mounting financial woes at GM and a possible strike at its main auto parts supplier, bankrupt Delphi Corp.

"The deal is a move in the right direction, but no one thinks this is the end to their problems. The laundry list of the things that GM needs to do to fix itself is about a dozen items long, and this deal was a small item on that list," Argus Research Group analyst Kevin Tynan said.


GM is said to be considering certain redesigns aimed at trimming expense further. For example, preliminary talks have centered around removal of glove compartments from all GM cars. "Most folks rarely use them anyway, they are usually full of junk you thought you lost years ago. And the heat in the car ruins the condoms," said Peter Booker, GM Expense Reduction Specialist. "And turn signals on all four corners of the car - we might move them to the roof and only need two that way. And why a parking brake? People put the car into Park - that should be enough! Ashtrays have been proven to be a safety hazard - we can cut them. That means cigarette lighters can go too. You ever drop one of those into your lap? Liability costs right there - eliminated!"

GM is allegedly working on new 3 wheel designs for the Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Copper at all time high - Penny affected

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Copper prices touched a lifetime high Friday above $1.90 a pound on supply concerns, platinum hit a 26-year peak and gold futures marked a five-session climb to close 2.5% higher for the week.

The rising price of copper finally took its toll on the Lincoln cent in 1982. The composition in 1982 was changed to an alloy of 99.2 percent zinc and 0.8 percent copper, plated by pure copper - making the total composition 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper.

Citing the rise in copper prices, the Bush administration today suggested that "Zinc cannot be far behind the other precious metals" and that most folks are annoyed by Pennies anyway. "They keep them in jars." This helps the economy by, in effect, retiring that money, though sometimes those jars are taken to banks or coin aggregator automation machines in supermarkets where they are put back in circulation.

For 2006, the Treasury Department has proposed a New Penny to be made completely of Soy protein polymer. Over time, when exposed to air, it would disintegrate to a harmless grey fiber. "This will stop Penny hoarding and strengthen our economy at the same time," said a spokesperson.

"As a further benefit, the New Soy Penny will be edible. Said the spokesperson, "This will allow those less fortunate to actually get a wholesome fiber packed meal for about a dollar. That will help the economy, help keep America healthy... and regular too. It's a win-win-win."

Production of the New Penny will be subcontracted to the Haliburton Companies.

Fly the Crappy Skies

A new Zagat survey reports low scores for many airlines; every airline slipped since the last poll in 2001. (5277 frequent fliers and travel professionals surveyed)

Delays, service and food were the main complaints. At the top: Continental, Midwest, JetBlue, Aloha. At the bottom: Northwest, US Air, Spirit.

Here's MY list of gripes:

Ticket counter check in - they type a zillion entries. I swear they are sending E mail to each other. I can log on and be around the world on a website in seconds. So why don't they use a better and easier technology instead of so many keystrokes?
(We always buy and seat-assign by website when possible, and then kiosk check-in at airport. Avoid the people!)

Gate agents that act like gods/goddesses. Hey, stop being so RUDE. I was upset once because we missed a connecting flight by about a minute after running from gate to gate for fifteen minutes, and when said I thought it was wrong since they could see the flight was late getting in and should have held the connection, she said if I persisted she'd call the police. Want to feel helpless? Try that.

Smelly planes. Gross. Can't they blow them out? Some are people smells, some are just musty. Yuk.

Non-communicative pilots. You sit and wait and wait and wait and John Friggin Wayne up there never thinks to let you know what the heck is up. Communist!

Snippy flight attendants. Once upon a time they seemed nice. Some still are. Some are just jerks. Men and women both.

Never try to sleep on the aisle because they will park the cart and ice chip and open cans right by your ear.

Seats. Oh my god, who makes these things? There's no way to be comfortable and there's no legroom (I'm 6 feet - that's not so abnormal, is it?) I'd pay more for room. (Not first class room, but that's ridiculous room. Yes, we have upgraded from time to time. Yes, we felt special. But it's generally not worth the price differential.)

Bathrooms. If they let you even approach the bathroom ("sir, the "fasten seatbelt" sign is still illuminated, please take you seat!" "Hey, if I take my seat it's going to be wet, okay?" "Sir, you must sit." "Sure I do, because you can't stand and pee in that grotesque thing you call a restroom." "Sir, if you don't sit immediately, I'll..." "Hey, I am POSSESSED BY MY BLADDER okay, and it's going to explode.." "Sir, you can't speak about explosions on an aircraft or you will be detained by federal agents upon disembarkation!" "I am going to disemURINATE after sitting on the ground for that extra hour before we took off..." "Sir, RETURN TO YOUR SEAT." "Can I have a blanket and empty soda can then?"


Never flush an airline toilet while sitting. You'll either get a butt cheek sucked right off your body or you'll be bathed in blue fluid. The good news is ice won't form on your butt for some time.

I was once on a flight - a DC9 I think - that hit the Pittsburgh runway so hard the stewardess started crying. I am not making this up.

Maybe there's room for Sadistic Air. "If you can fit in the seat, we'll find other ways to punish you."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

West Wing Debate

If you watched it, you were not alone, but you weren't in the majority either.

I saw two polls: they put Santos' (Jimmy Smits') win at 70% and 54%. Just like real polling?

As a ratings sweeps month stunt, the live debate was a modest success: the audience of 9.6 million viewers beat the show's season average of 8.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. But = the show was a distant third in the ratings to ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and CBS' "Cold Case."

The NBC NEWS bug was on screen for the whole debate, which some think hurts their cred. I agree and was surprised. These things used to be guarded much more carefully.

But then Larry King interviewed Boston Legal's Denny Crane this past episode.

You can't tell what's real and what's not any more, unless you pay attention and see through the blur. A survey I read recently says increasing numbers of 'young folks' get their news from blogs and shows such as The Daily Show (satire) and The Colbert Report* (more satire.)

They don't trust the 'real' news organizations.

I noticed last night the local newscast has less than 12 minutes of NEWS content on it. Couple of sentences cover THIS and a couple more THAT. As I grow older I care more about the news. Why is that? Maybe I have a greater understanding of the inherent drama of life.

* If you watch, you're not imagining it - Colbert is pronounced ColBEAR so they pronounce Report RePOOR. Funny!

Paris Hilton and clubbers fender bender - the video

POOR rich folks. Not average rich folks - tycoon kids... their life must be so hard.

This is a scary video - and the beautiful Bentley - the same one I want (cough cough) - is driven away from a club Wednesday night by the driver WHO APPEARS TO HAVE A JACKET OVER HIS HEAD. Goes about 6 feet right into the back of a truck. Then pulls off some bad maneuvers.

The Police let them go later, even though... well, if you have high speed internet, try the link (it might be overloaded on your first try) and see for yourself.

Click here to see the Bentley crash and some scary driving

Imagine the repair job for even a scratch on a Bentley. It hurts to think about it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

All Fedexed Up - again

I have been waiting for about a week for a FedEx ground delivery from California.

The shipper sent me the tracking number and I've watched the process via online tracking. I do believe that FedEx does a generally good job and I trust their handling (so far). Yet their telephone automation system is a bitch to navigate. Clue: first chance you get, say REPRESENTATIVE to get a live person. Many of their screen forms are also confusing if you go by internet. Good luck! My wife thinks it's my fault but last time she ended up stuck too, and lost her mind when the REPRESENTATIVE couldn't figure out our problem either.

And now, for the tracking data...

First of all, it posts slowly (days late at some times) and secondly, for my package, they have it going from me to the shipper, instead of the other way around, and "document" picking it up here (they didn't) and taking it there (today).

Wouldn't that me a MAJOR MAJOR software error? Or a major shipping error if indeed it got to Texas then went back?

Such obvious goofs from such a major company. Wouldn't you think they watch for these things?

Monday, November 07, 2005

All Christmas Music Radio has begun again

All over the nation, Christmas music 24/7 has begun on certain radio stations. Does it seem early this year to you? Here's why: what was initially a stunt was proven very popular some years back, and other station operators were quick to notice that new audience came into their stations when they played Christmas music. This would get people used to personalities or at least get them to set a button for a station that previously didn't have one. Buttons are important.

Seeing that success, all over the US, other stations lay in wait the year after, and THEY went all Christmas too. It was a war of all Christmas music. Many markets had two stations trying to out Santa each other. I know - I was in that battle myself.

Some markets had three or MORE stations doing this.

Now at least a handful of stations have already jumped. "First in wins" is the thinking. Actually, doing a better job probably matters as much. And advertising it matters more.

Here's the awful truth: there are only a small number of Christmas songs which are non-religious and not too slow, that you can play. Although NEW Christmas songs come out every year, nobody ever heard them before, and they usually are ignored. After all, you grew up listening to WHITE CHRISTMAS and it makes you all warm and fuzzy for the best (hopefully) days of your youth, so it packs way more power than the newly recorded CHRISTMAS IS EGGNOG DREAMS OF YOU.

A good station will avoid the fringe songs and play the others to death. You will listen as a zombie and can't help yourself. When you want the feeling, you will want Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree or Let It Snow. Believe me, I've seen the research. So what the stations do is find maybe a dozen or more versions of each chestnut and rotate song titles about every 45 minutes to hour and a half.

Sometimes the station audiences go UP, sometimes not. I think all Christmas music can get people to notice and remember what they listen to, and that's a large part of successful radio programming.

Wonder if XM will have an ALL XMAS channel?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wouldn't it be nice...

It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.

Read the article. Then wait 4 years. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rubbing it in

November 5: T-shirt, shorts, barefeet. Blue sky, dry wind and 85.5 degrees: why we moved from Minneapolis.


If you thought the ads over urinals were the last frontier of advertising, you are wrong. And don't forget to wash your hands.

I find this hard to believe, but there it was, in the parking lot of Home Depot: Advertising on the stripes that delineate parking spaces! MAYTAG MAYTAG MAYTAG.

Long ago I thought they should experiment in Minnesota, where they cut grooves in to the roads for better traction, to see if they couldn't engrave advertising or warnings like phonograph records. If you went the right speed, your tires would act as a stylus and "play" the road. SLOW CURVE AHEAD. Or better - COCA COLA!!! Or STOP AT MCDONALDS - NEXT EXIT.

I've already blogged about selling advertising on the dollar bill.

It's everywhere. See the blog below. We may be more programmed than we suspect!

Bob Shops (2)

I noticed the supermarket was playing CLASSIC ROCK over the PA system. Classic Rock may be today's BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. Makes sense, as it fits most of the demographic I saw shopping - I'd put the average age at 45... the bullseye 40-50.

Radio station thinking is that one's musical taste is set in their last year of formal education. So some song from, say, 1978, when someone was 18, puts them at... 45 now.

I heard Janis Joplin sing "Busted Flat in Baton Rouge..."

And when I went back to the car I noticed one tire needed air. Coincidence?

I heard the Ozark Mountain Daredevils sing Jackie Blue. I bought water: OZARKA water.

Jackson Browne sang something. I - atypically for me - brought home some BROWNIES.

I am too frightened to delve deeper. I think we are all slaves to mind control. Cue Rod Serling. It may have been sunny, but yesterday was clearly in The Twilight Zone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bob Shops

Terri has guilt-tripped me into going to the supermarket. Alone. Generally this falls under her chores. Sexist it may be, but there you have it. She doesn't do weeding. I do. Maybe it's the view of the world I inherited from my parents in the 50s... my mother shopped. Come to think of it, my dad didn't weed. Nor did he drive a car. Don't get me started!

Now the thing I have noticed in my dash-in-for-one-thing visits in the past or when I might go with Terri on those rare eclipse-days, is that men don't belong. They all seem so lost. That's because we ARE lost. Women are ticked because we are contra-flow - so who knew you are supposed to go UP this aisle and DOWN that one? (And why?)

Guys will be found staring at the tomato paste section with blank looks of the hopelessly confused.

Guys will squeeze fruit, smile, and remember that high school moment... you know the one.

Guys will bring home many (more) things NOT ON THE LIST (and they will hear about it.)

Guys will buy UNAUTHORIZED versions of what's on the list, swayed by packaging or not paying any attention to the list's brand names. Lured by price or seduced by some primal urge, we'll fail.

Guys will avoid direct eye contact with other guys. Shame?

No guy shops in a cowboy hat.

Some guys like to cook and know what they are doing in the store. I forgive them and figure their chemistry-set gene went wrong and became a gumbo gene. Or they are aliens.

Guys will take several samples of anything sampled if it smells good.

Stores cater to women. There are old granny women behind all samples, but, if replaced by babes, would sell enormous quantities of whatever to the guys who might happen by. They will then eat HANDFULS of whatever it is, just to linger. They will look at the babes like puppys look at bones. They will discuss food they wouldn't normally eat.

Note to men: SOMEONE I KNOW WELL has deliberately tried screwing up the list in order to never be handed this duty again. It didn't work.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A break-up

We just received word that a couple we have been friends with over some years has broken up. (They've been living out of the country so we haven't seen them in a long time.)

Apparently this is far beyond the various differences that crop up as a relationship changes over time.

So sad.

It makes you feel helpless.

I had their picture on my office wall for almost 10 years, frozen in wave-at-the-camera smiles, sitting in the tropic sun on a cruise ship. That state of perpetual happiness is the way they are frozen in my memory. I am in denial.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hillary swings at a slow ball over the plate

President Bush announced a plan to combat a possible pandemic. Specifically Bird Flu.

U.S. Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton noted that the United States has struggled to cope with the annual influenza outbreaks. "Since 2000, we have experienced three shortages of seasonal influenza vaccine," she said in a statement.

"While it is welcome news that the administration is focused on vaccine research and stockpiling in the event of a pandemic flu, the question is how will the administration handle distribution and communications with a system that has failed to meet seasonal flu vaccine demands in three out of the last five years?"

I'm not a fan of Hillary, but you have to admit this was a shot which was just waiting to be taken. And justifiably so. I can't imagine the media whipped chaos we'd face if a serious killer bug got loose in our population. I CAN imagine the government doing another Katrina FEMA chicken dance.

SONY does a bad thing

Looks like certain copyprotected SONY CDs are encoded with programs that will reside on your computer and you can't rid yourself of them.

Here's a link if you are a technoweenie: The really technical detail is here. Just be careful before playing any disc in your computer drive. Read the label carefully about digital rights management (DRM). Incidentally, in comments on this gent's site it appears it may be illegal for SONY to have done this. UPDATE: Now Sony fesses up!

The IPod

I was in an electronics retailer the other day, looking for more memory for my computer at a great price. Of course they didn't have any. If I could have remembered which store had the ad in Sunday's paper...

I sure wish you could buy PERSONAL RAM!

I have a mind like a steel sieve.

Anyway, a nice young (college?) kid and I got to talking. I asked him what was hot and he told me the IPod nano was so hot they couldn't keep them (especially the expensive one) in stock. He showed me the demo model. Really cool. And small.

I remember - when was it? 1978 or so, seeing the first SONY WALKMAN (on cassettes!) I ordered it on the spot! Incredible. It was so cool to be on vacation, sitting on the beach in the sun, with these tiny headphones on, signaling that I was 'in the know.' And the sound was so much better than what we had up till then!

Fast forward a few years to the same story with the early portable CD player. Sitting on an airplane after the 'use of electronic devices okay' being real cool. And the sound!

And now, the IPod. But I have two issues - even though there's no denying the cool factor - the sound isn't what I'd want unless I'd use uncompressed files, buy expensive Etymotic headphones see this section of my website for more, and then have to buy all those songs AGAIN, or dub them from discs.

Just too much trouble. And way too expensive. And man, if the darn thing broke or I lost it after spending THOUSANDS on it...

When I worked in radio last, we had a huge file server which had all the songs from all the stations in the building on it and I could listen to any and all of them from my desktop - the ultimate collection. Once in a while I'd go find some gem and entertain myself, but truthfully, the novelty wears off. A "reunion" with that special song works once or twice but then, I'm done for another 10 years.

I have assembled quite the stereo system at home, in a special room designed for one purpose - the best sound you can get. Years in the making and tweaking, it's the best I can manage - I call it my land yacht because for the money invested I could have a nice nice boat!

I'd hate to diminish those musical experiences by overplaying my favorites - hmmm.... like RADIO does.

I think the model is wrong. I think you should get preloaded IPods with all music FREE for X plays. Then if you want to keep a song, you click on it and when you recharge the IPod, it 'charges' your account for permanent permission to keep playing that song. A download would replace that song with another. This would help disseminate new music to people who normally wouldn't hear it, and certainly the computers could find what you like and load similar songs or genres.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The West Wing

An interesting twist next Sunday, as the two 'candidates' for President in this fiction will debate LIVE on TV (with limited commercial interruption - nice touch!)

Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda will remind us what it looks like when good men seriously debate the issues. And believe me, we will no doubt hear both sides of some serious issues.

Will they study the positions of the men they portray and actually wing it, or simply do the script? I think the latter. Any actor is much better when propelled by writing of the caliber you find on The West Wing.

Maybe these guys have photographic memory - I couldn't memorize a paragraph let alone a 25+ minute speech (roughly equal time with maybe some backstage shots.) I sure do envy those who can.

It's an odd circumstance - having TWO likeable guys to 'choose' from, neither coated by mud slung from the other's camp. If only the real world was so idyllic.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fallen Hero

Yesterday a letter arrived from my high school. They fingered my favorite and popular priest/teacher as guilty of sexual abuse. Where they once revered the man and used his name to drive fund-raising at this Catholic prep boys school, now they will strip his name from the building named as his memorial, and wipe his memory from fund-raising solicitations.

I had him in at least 6 classes over 4 years. He was brilliant, with multiple degrees. I remember raising my hand during a test - he came down to my side. I saw a loophole (they plagued me) and wanted to know if the question meant THIS or THAT. He then moved his lips to my ear, as if to whisper, and simply blew air! As if to blow out cobwebs. Funny!

The man died some years back, so there's no defense. I wonder if it IS all true - but the letter was pretty clear that their proof is sufficient. Cynically, I don't think they'd erase a still-earning dead man from their alumni fund-pledging machinery without good reason.

The whole thing is ugly.

I went looking via Google for more detail on that situation, didn't succeed, but found such a Grand Jury's list of clergy abuse within the Philadelphia Archdiocese, that it sickened me. It was a long, long list with graphic detail.

Where ARE the heroes?

Addendum: This has been wearing on me. The man died in 1980. Could it be the accusations are unfounded? I called the Head of the School and spoke with him. He assured me there was proof. And that others had come forward since the letter was published. I guess part of me was in denial. I never (thankfully) saw that side of the priest. I said, "Well, the world has lost one more hero." The Head of School said, "He was a hero to many - just one that screwed up."

But somehow that seems dismissive. If ANYONE should be held to higher standards, wouldn't it be priests?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hot Rod Chainsaw

Early Sunday mornings I walk the dog. On this particular Sunday the cool crisp air was split into fractals by the unmistakable sound of a two cycle engine. Since we live in a Gated Community where builders are not allowed to build on Sunday by a legal and binding statement in the development brochure, I thought maybe it was a scofflaw working on a cedar with a chainsaw. But, having cut my share of tree, I know the pitch just wasn’t quite right. Razor sharp, even at that early hour, I ran through the list of 2 cycle motors I have known: chain saw is already out, go-kart, maybe, lawnmower, no. Weedwacker, possible. The pitch kept changing, though, and that added a complication to the puzzle: uuuuhhhhhhhUUUHHHHHHHuuuuuhhhhhhHHHHHHH. Then idle, then power. And it was close, but not to be seen. The walk had turned into a puzzle. I detectived. The sound seemed to be getting louder but no one was in sight, and our development is relatively new and unbuilt. There was a perceptible Doppler shift, signaling an approach. As I looked deeper into the Treed Lots which Preserve Our Heritage and Pride In Nature, I saw nothing unusual. Then I noticed Jessie, my dog, looking up. Bingo! Some cheater of death was cutting through the air in a Paraglider!

A Paraglider is a parachute under which you suspend yourself. You slip on a harness onto which hangs a gas engine and a big fan/propeller. You take a few steps, the chute fills with air, you hit the throttle and step into the air. This guy was oblivious to my waving because he was either way too cool to wave or scared completely out of his mind.

Now, I am no novice to adrenaline. I am a private pilot, so I’ve been there and done that. I have flown Ultralights, sort of crashed two of them, and have broken my ankle falling off a skateboard. While in college, I drove a Vespa. I have push started VW Beetles in both forward and reverse. I have seen both versions of Flight of the Phoenix and watched Conn Air twice. Not surprisingly, on that Sunday morning I saw a niche open up.

If you are like me, and crave the ultimate in speed and thrills, I offer a partnership to any inventor who can tear himself away from American Chopper. May I introduce you to HOTROD CHAINSAW. Hotrod Chainsaw is, basically, a chain saw with a wheel on one end and a bicycle seat on the other. Once you get the hang of it, you will experience the Ultimate in speed and thrills. If you sat way too close to the screen watching Road Runner cartoons as a kid, or, better, later in life, this may be the experience of a lifetime! Note: to be used under adult supervision and only after signing a notarized waiver of liability.

Yesterday into the apparently congested skies over Our Slice Of Heaven ™, the SANYO blimp blimped. Again, Jessie looked up. (Whatever happened to Goodyear? How could they let this happen?) Where’s the thrill to blimping?

Local lore has it that someone in this development or darn close, has been seen flying in a JETPACK. That’s a really big knapsack with a jet engine in it a la Bond, James Bond, THUNDERBALL, 1965. This I have to see for myself. This is a prospect for Hotrod Chainsaw!

Friday, October 28, 2005


With the indictment of 'Scooter' Libby on perjury charges, President Bush is now even more tasty feed for his critics who are circling like vultures.

If Karl Rove is nailed - whew!

Bush already was suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency amid growing public unhappiness over the Iraq war, high gas prices/HUGE gas profits and the slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

The indictment came one day after his nominee for the Supreme Court, White House counsel Harriet Miers, was forced to withdraw in the face of a revolt by conservatives. From what I read, she was a flat out dumb choice.

I wonder how low Bush's approval rating can go and what drastic measures he might take to boost his standing. That's what worries me. That and that he appears lost. That and I see no hero on the horizon to save us.

Earth to Hollywood... Earth to Hollywood...

Sly Stallone will make Rambo IV (that's #4, not Intra-Venous) as well as Rocky #6 which will be called Rocky Balboa because #6 is a sign that it's a very old franchise. For those born AFTER the first Rockies.

In "number 6", Rocky will be unmercifully taunted by a neighbor in South Philly, who snaps Rocky's sans-a-belt pants, aggravating a groin pull. Ever the champ, Rocky bulks up on Ensure and seeks revenge.

Rocky will be seen in flashbacks to #1 as he races up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps. He will stare wistfully at the steps from a taxi window.

Listen: you can hear Burgess Meredith hacking in heaven.

In Rambo aka Hambone, he'll battle some evil - a girl goes missing - ooo - to seek justice as if he's Steven Seagal. Stallone is 59 and Jack Palance can take him. The film will cost $50 million to make. I predict DVDs will be out ten seconds after the debut. Then there's the Video Game and the Happy Meal Action Figures that squirt catsup instead of blood.

I don't blame Stallone for cashing in, but man, there must be NO creativity left in H'Wood!

I figure both films will be big hits with night security guards who wear their uniforms on their days off and still live with mom.

Oil company profits at all time high

I've written about it before. Something is wrong wrong wrong. What bothers me most is - even when the story is front page (as it is today here) - there's some political posturing by someone or other, e.g.: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Tuesday called for hearings with oil companies on high energy costs amid calls for a windfall profits tax or other penalties on oil companies. But that's only what I'll call a "Prozacian sense of outrage." Or even grandstanding.

Earnings at Chevron's exploration and production business surged 43 percent to $3.32 billion, while the refining operations posted a more modest 17 percent rise in profit to $573 million.

Astounded? Try this: Exxon's quarterly revenue was a record for any publicly traded U.S. company: $100,000,000,000. Yes, a HUNDRED BILLION!!! And their profit was up 75% from last year.

We need someone to grab this story like a junk yard dog and not let go.

The self serving oil company quoted actually slapped its own back for doing a good job of managing the situation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Workers return

It seems this is the way of the world. It's new to us, since other homes we bought were much farther along in process than this one, which we had designed and built.

The workers are back today. Sealing hallways and rooms in plastic sheeting as prep work.

We moved in in mid January. It's another round of fixing things.

I'm not whining, just warning those obsessives who might fall into the trap. Luckily, our builder supports the service, though it does take quite some time to get it all right.

Sometimes it's bad luck, a poorly done sub-contracting job, or just 'settling' as the house ages a bit.

Today they are retexturizing certain walls where cracks or other blemishes were noted. Then the painters will arrive. And the electrician will try to figure out why the bedroom fan makes such a hum (they've tried many fixes, including other fans!)

A cabinet door. A replacement deck plank. A broken front door window pane.

Meanwhile our 3rd landscaper went MIA in mid bid. Just as well: that money went into my surgery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Another HALLMARK Card you won't see

So glad you got your catheter out
Bet it was with joy you made that loud shout!
Hope now there's no more tube in your life
Except the boob one you watch with your wife

It's a zip-edee-dooo-dah day (Uncle Remus gets song credit). Plenty of sunshine comin' my way! Treated myself to a pumpkin spiced latte and now a warm bath.


Nice to see Bush do something right!

Like air rushes in to fill a vacuum, it felt so good to read the universal praise for Bush's replacement for Alan Greenspan.

No matter what your political view, you have to admit Bush is one beleaguered man, caught in embarrassment after scandal (interestingly, I find it hard to find the right words - he seems inept - I sure hope that perception is wrong.) His approval rating has dropped and dropped. As I've written before, we WANT him to do well as we see ourselves (hopes, ambitions, self-image) somehow reflected in the man who leads.

No matter who you please you displease others of the opposing viewpoint - I get that. Still, the Bush presidency has been spectacularly UNimpressive.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Weather Channel

Watching Wilma on CNN and The Weather Channel, I have to give the edge to CNN - why? More pictures. (It's that simple.) It's really not a matter of forecast or radar - they both do that as well as I can tell - but CNNs multi-screen setup with Wolf Blitzer standing there seems very effective to me.

As a former programmer (or programmer-in-waiting) I have always been fascinated by the idea behind and execution of The Weather Channel. Started as a one-trick-pony (like MTV), it branched into longer form (Storm Stories) and features (all sponsorable.) They even provide radio stations with reports (we took them in Minneapolis for a while, then dropped them because they were weak, in my opinion.)

One of these days, some weather reporter will get conked by shrapnel as they stand in the storm to report. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. They tell the audience to stay out of harm's way WHILE THEY STAND IN IT!

Jim Cantore is head and shoulders above the rest of the men on TWC. And now, after watching today, I feel Stephanie Abrams is right up there in live reportage. She's VERY good... better on the road than in the studio. Pulled off some long standups with clarity and intelligence. That's not easy!