Thursday, May 31, 2007


Again, the weather guy we watched last night was wrong. I don't know how he holds his job! The only people more wrong are defense contractors when they blue sky their estimates.

Here's the latest on the IAV-Stryker: "The original bid was for $3.98 billion for 2,131 vehicles for a per vehicle cost of $1,867,667.76 per copy. Comparing that with the present 01, 02 and 03 budget figures, we have them spending $2.889 billion for 1081 vehicles for a per vehicle cost of $2.67 million. If we use the last figure to formulate the remaining costs, we find total program costs of the vehicle and R&D to be at least $5.847 billion, a cost overrun of $3.889 billion or a cost overrun of $1.868 million per vehicle." Nice. Oh - and the thing breaks down every 4.5 hours.

As of September 2002 the Army was flying Stryker in C-130s under a temporary waiver issued by the Air Force. The waiver was necessary because the vehicle is too wide to accommodate the 14-inch safety aisle around all sides that is required by the Air Force for the loadmaster. Additionally, only a portion of its crew may fly in the same aircraft. Yet, the Army disputes claims that Stryker -- the centerpiece of its new Brigade Combat Teams -- is not transportable via C-130. During the Millennium Challenge exercise the Infantry Carrier Vehicle variant required multiple alterations to fit into a C-130: The crew removed two smoke grenade launchers, all antennas, a left rear bracket that blocked egress over the top of the vehicle, the Remote Weapons System and the third-row wheel's bump-stop. Reassembly upon landing took as long as 17 minutes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Terri watches our Visa bill like a hawk. She noticed some strange charges today. Upon investigation we found that, yes indeed, someone has our number and is attempting to charge with it. Visa is out about $465. They caught on and denied payment for an immediate and quick $300 more.

The account is cancelled. The cards cut up. New ones on the way.

I wouldn't call it flat out identity theft, but it is unnerving. We never lost a card (or wallet)... that means somewhere someone got a hold of a real and true transaction, copied the numbers, and it took off from there. Nice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I was on hold for 91 minutes, on a service call to a hardware and software company. They never did "assign the next available expert to my call." But don't you wonder if there's anyone there at ALL? How would you know?

Their 'boxes' cost our client $60,000.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


This is offered to all those who have gone before me or will follow into the abyss. May you find comfort in my story.

It starts with my feeling that the sound card that shipped with this computer, although it works fine, is hammered crap. Not that you'd notice.

I do voice recordings way at the other end of the house and to make a long story short, can't move the microphone to the computer or the computer to the microphone. So I have been recording 'on location' into a CD burner then walking the CD to the computer where I copy into my editing program.

It'd be much easier to run a long wire from there to here. I bought the wire and adaptor. And it fit and was long enough. 100 feet.

But my old sound card didn't have what's called a LINE INPUT. I could probably get away with using the microphone input and just turn all the equipment in the studio way down. But then I lose a microphone hookup for Skype and it's prone to distort running a line level into a lower level. You following this?

I do my diligence and find a midprice sound card which collects raves for its sound quality and ease of installation.

You can see it coming, right?

Well, I've been inside this computer more than a few times. PHYSICALLY, it was a piece of cake. I then loaded the drivers. I stepped onto a mine.

I lost the ability to record anything.

I tried everything.

There are control panels and defaults and settings and I thought I got them all right. I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Went online and downloaded newer drivers. Looked at forums to see if anyone else was having a problem like mine. Nope.

I called customer service. 47 minutes on hold. The guy comes on in a stereotypical nerd voice and I can hear him typing into HIS database asking MY questions. Not clue one.

And so, as I describe in detail what I've tried, I click on some setting and.... it works.

As a funny end to the story - on SKYPE (VOIP - telephone on theinternet) you can call a recording machine and it plays you back right away to be sure your settings work. I did. It did. I called my business associate and friend. He says, "BOB, I can't hear you. Bob, are you there?" I AM talking. "Bob?" I text message him that I'll call back. Hang up. He calls me back. "Hey Bob, I was kidding you."

Funny. He really got me.

And the computer didn't.

Then, maybe because I wrote this on the same computer, it turned on me. Not long after I wrote the above. Big woe. Lost both sets of drivers. Rollback. Reinstall. Try every permutation of settings.

Continue with hope, losing faith. Haunt forums, pleading for knowledge and an assist.

Hours pass, completely absorbed.

And then, I hit the right combo. Magic. It all works the way I want.

Humbled, I bow before the Gateway in awe and Thanklitude 2.1.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I love ice cream. And since I've lived all over, I have a pretty good overview of good ice creams. It's basically these qualities that matter to me:

Texture - too much ice and you've got gellato. Smooth beats creamy.
Flavor - some artificial flavors are too strong; fake chocolate seems like it has alcohol in it. Same with fake vanilla.
Sweetness - Here's where some fall apart. It should be sweet, not eggy, not syrupy.
Heft - too much air and you've got yuk... tasteless yuk.

And so - happily - the local BLUE BELL brand is among the best I've had. Terri bought a half gallon of NEW Neapolitan yesterday... and on the label it says HOMEMADE several times.


How do you make HOMEMADE in a factory?

That's not home. I'm pretty sure they don't have whole communities of old ladies with their hair in nets, cranking coolers.
What's HOMEMADE anyway? A recipe? Sorry, when it crosses into the PLANT and you multiply proportions of ingredients by - oh - a couple thousand times, it ain't HOMEMADE.

And they say on the label that they use artificial flavors, too. HOMEMADE? Yeah - a home for CHEMISTS maybe.

Still, I like it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I have had 1GB of memory in my computer for some time now and wondered what would happen if I doubled it. Unfortunately, since my computer requires matched banks of same size modules (it says) I had to buy TWO 1 GB modules. I was planning to also use 2 x 256MB so each bank would have one large and one smaller bank for a total of 2.5GB. On boot, the screen gave me grief. So I went with the twin 1GB modules alone.

Man, it does seem to have made quite a difference, that and speeding up my mouse (go to control panel if you are interested.) I also defragged (until now it always said I didn't have to do that.)

Now this is silly but I'll 'fess up: I want to get 2 more GB to max out the machine. Apparently don't need it - just want it. However, I will wait till the price hits rock bottom (as SD and CF cards seem to have done.) Meanwhile, it's zippideedodah.

Oh - I also bought a higher fidelity sound card. Customer reviews were pretty clear -it's a great sounding card VERY easy to install. Uh, yeah. I can put it into the slot but then what happens remains to be seen.

Until now, or almost now, whenever I had to do some voicework in my studio/listening room, I'd burn a CD there and then load it into the editor in this computer on the other side of the house (and it cannot be moved.)

So the solution, I hope, will be a 100 foot cable from here to there and I'll only have to record once. Directly into the computer's audio editor. If sounds better, great. If it sounds the same, great. Then it's convenience that wins.

I'm quite comfortable inside the computer. Over the years I've replaced DVD drives, added hard drive #2, memory and more memory and other cards too. AS with my landscaping extra sprinkler heads and adaptors, I now have a ton of cables that we don't use since USB, and an extra DVD drive, replaced under warranty but apparently fine anyway... and a gig of memory in 256x4 (PC3200 184pin 400Mhz DDR2.) God knows what else but I know there are boxes of it all.

I had an interesting computer experience the other day - a program would only backup to the A drive floppy (which I have, thankfully.) I tried the D (CD burner but nooooooooo.)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Most folks assume that a chicken nugget is just a piece of fried chicken, right? Wrong! Did you know, for example, that a McDonald's Chicken McNugget is 56% corn?

What else is in a McDonald's Chicken McNugget? Besides corn, and to a lesser extent, chicken, The Omnivore's Dilemma describes all of the thirty-eight ingredients that make up a McNugget ­ one of which I'll bet you'll never guess. During this part of the book, the author has just ordered a meal from McDonald's with his family and taken one of the flyers available at McDonald's called "A Full Serving of Nutrition Facts: Choose the Best Meal for You."

These two paragraphs are taken directly from The Omnivore's Dilemma:

"The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.

According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are "anti-foaming agents" like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it's also flammable.

But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill."

Bet you never thought that was in your chicken McNuggets!

This from (no corn added!)


Advertsing is gonna getcha!

Women might not know this but there are ads right above urinals in many mens' rooms.
On floors in many supermarkets (it's a 3M process). On sides of bigass trucks (again, 3M.) Logos are being projected by laser onto buildings.

EVERYTHING is media.

And now, introducing... the Luggage Carou-sell!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


It should be "THE $50 OR MORE STORE." I cannot go to LOWES and walk out with a minimal purchase. And here I go again. Even with a short list there's a 'thing' I should pick up - or a bargain. Or an ELECTRIC thing. "Hey, we NEED this." "Wow, that's cool, let's get it."

This time my plan is for one more bag of mulch and a couple extenders for our irrigation nozzles. Should be under $10. Maybe even under $5.

Place your bets. I will try to avoid the Weed Weasel aisle.


Well, the first thing was seeing what might grow in the shade, because I went in through the garden section. Found two likely candidates. Then it occurred to me to pick up some Plant Hormone because I was running out... and my nozzles, but I forgot what size so I bought both sizes (at about .40 each, no big deal)... then mulch and, yeah, I could use more compost because I must grow grass and this is the siege!

The tools called to me. I didn't answer.

The story isn't over. I bought the wrong adaptors for the nozzles. Back to the store. More stuff.

And again, I buy the wrong nozzles... I assumed they were fixed, not pop-ups. They are popups. I need 6 inch popups. But I will keep the wrong ones, 'because you never know when you'll need something like that.' Ladies, this is man thought. Learn.

I figured out along the way why so many landscapers suck. Like me, they accumulate a lot of extra gardening stuff and the wife says one day, "You should be a landscaper..." and so the guy thinks, "Yeah - I can make money with all this crap." But, like me, he has not a single clue what he's doing. Result: Bad Landscaper. We've gone through 5 of them so far.


Saturday, May 12, 2007


So let me ask a basic question. I won the Italian Lottery TWICE, so what should I do? Claim both winnings at the same time or stagger it? Boy, wouldn't you think they'd call and not simply send an Email?

Is it e-mail or Email? or email?

Friday, May 11, 2007


I understand addiction. I am addicted to sweets. But there aren't any in the house. All the stashes have been emptied (except for dark chocolate which to me is like tar. I don't eat asphalt and I don't eat dark chocolate!)

So for the third time today I again looked in the pantry and drawers and hidey holes. Nothing. Then, a miracle. Deep in the back of our candy drawer, hidden by old hard candy (like sucking a marble - I don't suck marbles) and dark chocolate, I spotted two petrified caramels and a BONUS mini Reese cup. And reaching for them I got two white tips from candy corn long gone.

I will live to see another day.

Yuk. I found that with the cellophane on or off, petrified caramel tastes the same. And the Peanut Butter Cup had an odd taste. And my stomach hurts.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Hour 3. I've looked at the new cars - the new TT is a huge design leap forward.

I've picked my favorite from those on display ($101,000 - sold by the way an R8 V-10). MY car is in the service bay, where, after fixing what I brought it here for, they found another problem. When you come to the AUDI repair center you can expect $300-400 surprises! Sometimes more.

I took a tranquilizer before arrival. I HATE car service. It's one of those things you know you need but I can't come to trust the compentency of the fixers. I have had numerous examples of that, especially with my Porsche when I had it. (4 visits for the same problem?)

Last time I was here, they told me I had some sort of oil leak... $400 or so... but I felt cheap and said skip it. As it happens, the oil level hasn't changed one bit and - the reason I am here - the plastic pan that seals the bottom of the engine was ripped off some when I ran over a deer carcass, then really ripped as I exited a driveway which had unusual dips, causing scrapes, finishing the job the deer began.

There was no oil I could see in the pan.

Interestingly we had to drive through a stream to visit a neighbor's house the other night. I'd guess the water was only 6 inches deep. I was thinking that my broken pan was acting as a water scoop. Well, we made it, and so far they haven't found the 'one more thing' and I might actually get out of here in another hour and a half.

But truthfully, I like my car - my favorite of all I've owned. I would buy another Audi. They are engineered very smartly. After 9 years my A6 looks good still. And HOW many inches of Minnesota snow has it been through? And how much salt and sand has ridden in the gunk? Drives nicely, though it's always been underpowered. I plan to drive it for a few more years then attempt to find a used A8 from the new model run. Maybe save $30-40k that way and still pick up a great car!

A neighbor drives a Bentley. Next time I see him I will insist on a ride. Just for kicks!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


GANG REAPED. Why? because my email address has clearly been HARVESTED by persons or more likely BOTS of deceit. Almost every day I receive great news of another lottery win. So it seems likely that I'm on the spread all around The Greater India list of doofuses (dufii?) to stooge. If all the same people, then why do they think the Lucky Lottery Leprechaun 'O Chance Drawing will be more enticing than the Fidelity Sweepstakes Of County Cork?

Meanwhile, apparent non-english-educated peeps are trying to conspire with me to dredge those millions out of Africa. Dear Sir, Kind Sir, Lovely Person... I hope you don't, but you probably DO know the come-on. Most aren't even good reading. At least make up a good storie (sic.)

I haven't posted much lately as I have two projects to juggle... one is the new radio format ALLHITSFM (see which we now have in setup progress on our first US station. There's a ton of work to do for the first one, then it gets easier. The second project is called Desktop Delivery and here's the scoop on that:

There's a next step up from email, direct mail, telemarketing, and other inefficient attempts at bonding and communicating.

This wonderful tool is called Desktop Delivery, a branded channel for marketing communications. It's a program that, once loaded onto a computer (and is verified as completely safe, btw), presents a front-of-screen page of content at a user-specified time, content that changes every day. And contains links to whatever you wish...

Daily exposure keeps your donor base interested and involved. A relationship is formed that goes much farther than a once in a while call to action or website visit.

Imagine – your daily page can even contain video, for example, showing the beauty of the horses you are trying to save. With Desktop Delivery, you can send text, audio, video or combinations. With links to your site, to congress, affiliates, store, etc.

Desktop Delivery will track the views and click-thrus. You’ll have feedback on what hot buttons work best! To protect identities, no personal info is gathered.

Desktop Delivery is a marvel. Relatively few have seen it and those who do are climbing on board.

Response rates skyrocket!

Unlike E mail, ISPs cannot change formatting of Desktop Delivery. According to MarketingSherpa, 59% of people have their e-mail images blocked! This is also spam-block-proof because it doesn't go through a mailbox - it's a DESKTOP tool (with icon you can click any time to retrieve the page.) Changing e-mail addresses have no effect.

Desktop Delivery puts your message right there, out front, with unbeatable prominence. When finished, the viewer clicks any key, and it disappears.

There are no cookies involved. Firewalls don't stop it. It's immune to Anti-Virus (and as I said above, certified completely safe.) Connection speed is irrelevant. Desktop Delivery loads in the background, unobtrusively. Plays instantly.

Desktop Delivery is the next step in communication: a hybrid of traditional and online marketing strategies. It's a brief encounter on a daily basis. This is compelling, anticipatory, daily, permission-based advertising.

I invite you to download a trial. Save the file to your desktop then open it - you're done.

This could be HUGE. Some big players are already on board (wish I had found them but I didn't.) If you know someone who might be interested, please drop me a line: (Harvest away, Email Address BOT of Deceitful Come-ons.)