Monday, September 29, 2008


I thought I saw Katie Couric's eyeballs spin like slot machine windows when she interviewed Sarah Palin the other day. I watched a recording, which allowed me to rewind and answer my dumfounded, "WHA?"

Now Sarah faces a serious test - the debate Thursday night, with Senator Biden.

First of all, Biden is in a tight spot. He can't be bullying, condescending, or mock her at all. He's got to wait and let her do herself in or he'll be hated. And this guy also has a wingnut loose on his facts when he gets oratorally wound up, so to speak, so to speak. (sic)

The question is really this: Can Sarah memorize enough material to cover all or most of the questions she'll face? If she's able, that's the way to go.

Throw in a couple more "Hockey Mom" quotes, and the electorate not running for medication at that point will love her like a reality show 'star.'

And of course, if you don't know the answer, change the question, "Well, what I think needs to be said is this: ........."

Expectations are low - seriously low - so with a little memorization, she might actually do well.

"Gimme a "U" Gimme a "A" Gimme a "S".... no, wait... well, you know."

UPDATE: I read interviews with Alaska politicians who have debated her - they said she's tremendously effective at being liked even though her statements tend to be very broad non-answers. Both guys lost to her. I also read a very interesting theory - if you can call it that - that right after the debate Thursday, Biden will step down for health reasons and Obama will tap Hillary Clinton to be VP.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I borrowed an infrared stealth homeland security and varmint cam. After several nights, we caught the bugger on video, continuing to rip apart our landscaping.

Today we stopped at Academy sports store to buy a trap. Academy is huge; along the wall with traps were duck decoys. The LUCKY DUCK QUIVERING DUCK BUTT caught my eye, as it will now doubt catch the sex-crazed eye of the poor duck that tries to ride this love boat.

You don't believe me, you city-dwelling prude? Click here

Terri and I also took advantage of the aging of our phones to extend the service contracts and get new ones. Hers was becoming cranky and mine was having battery issues.

What do you think arrived in email while we were at the phone store? CLICK THIS : I don't think this is a trick.

I think it explains why our new phones came with the deep-fryer options.

Friday, September 26, 2008


My saga continues, despite this crap:

Dear Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to me.

I understand that there was no Activate Windows command under System Tools. I fully understand the inconvenience the issue has caused and that the current situation can be frustrating. Please be assured that I will continue working closely with you until the issue resolved.

Big whoop. The last two instructions were thwarted by reality. Most recently - 'register it with a reperesentative online - call this number - and choose a live agent.' I call - there's no way to ACCESS a human at all. Hey, Microsoft - when you update your procedures, tell India!

Saturday Update: they are bouncing me higher up the ladder... within 72 hours.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I feel obliged to follow up my story below on the rigors of attempting to install XP SP3 on this computer:

Emailed repeated exchanges have been UNhelpful, i.e.: do this: step one, step two, step three. But when I execute step one it doesn't lead to what the instructions say will happen, stopping me right there. This has happened again and again. Add to that for some reason unknown to me, WORD now crashes regularly. Plus, their telephone center seems to only have recorded information...

With such a huge installed base there must be millions or stories in the naked-cyber-city, but mine is entirely frustrating, time consuming and unproductive. I'd expect them to be better than this.

Monday, September 22, 2008


It sucked so badly I thought it might suck back on itself, wormhole-like, and consume the opening, which would have been fitting and merciful. There was so much wrong I don't even want to relive it in my mind to enumerate the bad ideas and poor choices.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I am reminded of The EYE OF THE SPARROW sung by, I believe, Sammy Davis Jr., from the old TV series Barretta.

Recently I attempted to 'join' a stock=photo supplier - whereby they 'represent' your work as ad agencies, publications and what have you, shop at their site. While on vacation, their email notification was in the large stack awaiting our return.

"No, not good enough" is what I saw, though there were different words.

Farther down the stack of E was another from the same place:

"We're going out of business."

So it's, Bad, Bad, or Bad, Good, or Good, Good.

Were they too focused (pun!) on their product? Or not enough?

Which brings me to FRINGE, touted as the BEST NEW SHOW ON TELEVISION. Uhhh, no.
I've watched two episodes now. The sound is exceptional. The HD picture is great. The photography is exceptional. Episode 2 had great editing for about 5 minutes.

The plots have been awful. The writing GOD awful, the acting, especially of a lead character (the old guy) WAY over the moon. The lead actress just doesn't visually hold the screen for anything but one angle.

For five minutes, they had it going. Then it sucked and sucked and sucked. I am intrigued by - what could they DO to fix it? You'd have to shift the show's direction away from the old man but since he's crucial to finding oddball solutions to the problem du jour, that isn't likely.

Really disappointing. If they make it through 5 episodes, then that means there's nothing else on.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


You might want to skip to the one below this if you aren't into politics. Below is a continuing story about Windows XP SP3, the final chapter to be written - or resolved - yet. EVERY TIME I get the computer to work right, I go and add something or upgrade (ha!) and it takes me back several steps. WHY I DON'T LEARN remains a mystery. It's a genetic urge toward progress maybe?

I just read something about why the media has been so nasty to Sarah Palin. I've got to get this off my chest.

"The media" doesn't exist. It's too broad a generalization. You can find a cable network which leans republican (FOX) and one which leans democrat (MSNBC). There's a lot less unanimity than has been suggested, though I think both 'sides' miss important points about their own cause celebs.

The Palin issue, to me, is that here's a woman with little experience who will surely be led around by the nose by those whose entire professional career has been to do just that - and they are really GOOD at it. If McCain should pass while in office, she's going to be so vulnerable to the system. It'd take Jimmy Stewart and a Mr. Deeds MOVIE SCRIPT to work it out differently.

I get the need for serious change. I want that. But to take someone with so little experience and set them into that scenario is just dangerous. We'd all like to believe that good triumphs evil, but that's naive, or to be less cynical, isn't in the mid-game, is maybe the end game. We'd all like to believe that someone with pure intentions or the commonality of us all (!?) could bring what we need. Folks, the system is CORRUPT. We are being LIED TO by both sides, call them sins of omission or commission... there are so many half truths: platform planks that can only be accomplished if CONGRESS goes along, or the SUPREME COURT goes along.

We have incredible waste, regulatory oversight gone lame, a gutted constitution, a war on two fronts (so far), a horrible economy, lack of leadership in so many ways, and so much more. We've got troubles!!! Jimmy Carter (arguably one of the highest IQ presidents ever) could simply not work the system. History repeats itself. You have to work the system.

In MY opinion, we need the inspiration and (god, I hope) drive of an Obama, coupled with the experience of Biden over the insubstantialities of McCain and Palin. Neither choice is perfect.


I don't think those Seinfeld spots for the PC are going to do anything but hurt his reputation. That's based on the one I saw where he and Bill Gates have moved in with 'an ordinary family.'

Meanwhile, I received an update notice that XP SP3 was ready for me. I've never met or even heard of one Vista user to like it (indeed, they HATE it), and since I have SP2 and it seems stable and since I want to keep XP tip-top, I loaded SP3. BIG MISTAKE.

SP3 wants to be 'validated.' The validation key (XP was preinstalled on my computer, with the key documentation on a sticker on the actual computer tower) comes up as INVALID. The SP3 won't register and seems to have a 30 day time bomb built-in. I don't know what exactly happens when time's up. I contact Microsoft. The fella can't help - I need another level of tech support. I send the email. Here's the response below... and I simply post it so you might know what YOU can get into... the bottom line is, the key on the email doesn't match what's on my machine and the replacement .dll link is a dead page.

I am LOST. Without Kate.

Dear Robert,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Windows Update Support. My name is Annie and I am glad to work with you. You can contact me directly by sending an email to with the case ID SRX1078962371 in the subject line.

From the case log, I understand that after loading Service Pack 3 and rebooting the computer, it would like to validate. When enter the product key on the sticker, it told that it was the one on the computer. The product key is MTPFX-KXF74-HBHH4-2WVXX-84Y6D. If I have misunderstood your concern, please do not hesitate to let me know.

I understand the inconvenience you have experienced. Please be assured that I will do my best to help you.

After checking the information you attached, I am glad to inform you that the Product Key MTPFX-KXF74-HBHH4-2WVXX-84Y6D is genuine for Windows XP Home Edition. I would like to explain that the issue appeared because the system has not been validated successfully. As there is a genuine key on hand, this issue can be caused by one of the following factors:

1. The system wasn’t installed with the genuine key.
2. The Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) engine hasn’t been installed correctly.

At this time, let’s try the following steps to check if the genuine key is installed on the system.

Run WGA Diagnostic Tool

1. Please open Internet Explorer and visit the following link to download the WGA Diagnostic Tool:

2. Save the "MGADiag.exe" file to the "Desktop," and then double click on the file to run the tool.

3. Click the “Continue” button.

In the "Windows" tab, please check if the Validation Status and Product Key are the same as the information below.

Validation Status: Genuine


If they are the same, we can take the following steps to see if the issue can be resolved.

Step 1: Temporarily disable the security programs for troubleshooting purposes only


The following programs can prevent the validation tool from running properly:

Norton Security programs

Panda Antivirus programs

Web Accelerator programs

Anti-Spyware programs

Pop-up Blockers

If any of the above programs cause the issue, please check if it can be re-configured to accept the WGA ActiveX control. Otherwise, please temporarily disable it to enable the WGA validation tool to work. Please ensure the program is re-enabled after we complete the troubleshooting steps.

Step 2: Install the WGA engine manually


The WGA engine may have been already installed, but is not working properly. We can use the following steps to install the latest version of WGA. This will ensure that the engine files will be copied and registered properly.

1. Click "Start"-> "Search".

2. Select "All files and folders", and then search for the following files:


If you find the above file, please right click to rename it to something new, such as legitcheckcontrol.old.

3. Please download the update KB905474 from the following website link and save it to your Desktop:

4. After downloading the update, please double-click the downloaded file on your Desktop, and it will be launched automatically. Please follow the instructions to install it.

After we have finished the above steps, please restart the computer and try to validate Windows again. If we still encounter issues after performing the above steps, please refer to Step 3.

Step 3: Visit the WGA Diagnostic webpage


Please access the following website:

On the website, we can test some system settings and confirm that there are no other blocking issues with your validation or Internet Explorer settings blocking the validation process.

If you have accessed the site but the validation issue persists, in order to narrow down the cause and provide more effective suggestions, we need to collect more information.

Please capture a screenshot when the error message occurs on the validation webpage.



1. Please access the following website and click the “Validate Now” button on the webpage:

2. When the error appears, please press the "Print Screen" key (PrtScn) on your keyboard.

3. Click "Start", click "Run", type "MSPAINT", and click "OK".

4. In Paint, click "Paste" under the "Edit" Menu, click "Save" under the "File" menu, type a file name for the screenshot, choose JPEG as "Save as type", click "Desktop" on the left pane, and click "Save".

5. Please find the screenshot on the Desktop and send it as an attachment to: .

Note: When attaching files to emails, the process will vary depending on the email application being used. While you are composing the email, most applications will provide you with either an "Attach" button or Paper Clip Icon to click in order to attach a file. After clicking this button/icon you must browse to the file you wish to attach and select it by either double clicking it or clicking it once and then clicking on the "Attach" button.

However, if the Validation Status and Product Key are different with the information I provided, please collect the WGA Diagnostic Data for further research.

WGA Diagnostic Data


1. Please follow the steps at the beginning of this email on how to "Run WGA Diagnostic Tool".

2. Under the “Windows” tab, click the "Copy" button.

3. Open up an email, and paste (when editing the email, press Ctrl + V) the information collected by using the tool.

4. Please send the email to me at

Thank you for your cooperation. Once I obtain the information, I will perform further research and get back to you as soon as possible. If there is anything unclear, please feel free to let me know. It’s my pleasure to be of assistance.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Annie Zhou

Microsoft Windows Update Support Professional


Very satisfied customers are my top priority. Please let either myself or my manager know what you think of the level of service provided. You can send feedback directly to my manager, Tony Tang at

Windows Live OneCare:

Give your computer continuous antivirus and firewall protection, along with regular tune-ups and back-ups to maintain its performance

GOD HELP ME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last night we returned from a great vacation, or "holiday," as they say in Canada.
I may be jet lagged. Pictures will have to wait several weeks since there are so many (more than 500, I think, and those are the KEEPERS.) Here's a phone cam picture...

The route was fly Austin to Salt Lake City, transfer to Jackson, Wyoming, stay there, drive to Yellowstone, stay there, back to Jackson for a night, return via air to SLC, drive to Sundance Utah, fly home. IKE missed Austin completely.

I realized along the way my mind isn't shot - I actually managed to count (and I believe accurately) that our return flight was my 476th airplane flight. Not included: blimp, ultralights.

Despite earplugs, I must note the girl with the broken ankle in 1C, just in front and across the aisle from us last night, nattered for 2 hours 38 minutes non-stop. Drugs? Pain?

Noted, and there will be much more follow-up as the lag wears off:

People in Utah universally drive far over the already high speed limit.
Gas stations near SLC airport are well hidden.
IKEA makes a pretty darn good SUV! I preferred it to the XTERA we had later in the week. Okay, it was a KIA. Surprise surprise!
Yellowstone has many yellow stones.

We saw 5 moose; pronghorn, elk, squirrels, chipmunks, horses, cattle, geese, ducks, stork (or egret or whatever), hawks, bald eagle, too many bison to count (not to include the one Terri ate part of... it came with Lobster. Surf and... Prairie? She also had antelope at another restaurant. I tasted: Bison, chewy, not bad - Antelope, okay, but maybe that was the prep and gravy which was tasty.)

The naturalist we hired for a photo trip of exploration assured me there were no snakes in Wyoming (or maybe she said poisonous ones.) Anyway, later we encountered her at the lodge office and wrapped around her hand was a snake! A baby boa named Derek. Boa Derek. Anyway, I freaked.

Yellowstone is incredible. Jackson was beautiful; not so much the town which was fine (and where I had one of the best meals EVER) but the view from our room, which I will eventually post, ran to the mountains and what appeared to be thousands of feet below into the valleys. I lost count of the "wows." We saw so many shades of beautiful that no camera could capture. These were soul-stirring colors.

At Sundance we stayed in a cottage which was owned by Juice Newton and her husband. I remember playing her music back when I was on the air in the 70s. Small world. This was pure happenstance. A VERY nice cottage, by the way, full of hubby's polo trophies and a few Juice items - the gold record, etc.

One interesting sidebar: along a trail to various geysers and stewing things, we encountered a herd of bison. They were between us and out. A ranger came along and told everyone we were much much too close to these wild animals. "What should we do?" asked Terri. "Pray," said the ranger. "There's nothing I can do to stop one of those bison and I see many people gored..." We took the long way back. Don't know if anyone was gored.

Later in another part of the park traffic was stopped as a lone bison casually walked down the yellow stripe between traffic lanes, then in this lane, then that one. We all politely waited.

Actually, bison are apparently very dangerous, and also, when they want to be, fast.

More as I unlag.


There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:



The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage a area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.


Have you locked your keys in the car?

Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock it saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!"


Hidden Battery Power

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.


How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?

To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone:
* # 0 6 # A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

And Finally:,


Free Directory Service for Cells

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800) FREE 411, or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now.

This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I feel obliged to comment on Sarah Palin's speech last night. She was good, even very good, but it disgusted me. Below is a link which will give you some background as to the misinformation she spewed.

Click Here

I HATE the way the Republicans have targeted the media. That's called misdirection. It's sleazy. Shoot the messenger. Ignore the substance.

And that crowd ate her words up like a junkie takes free crank. Again, she was a worthy 'pusher' but the facts speak from themselves (or, no, they apparently DO NOT.)

Maybe it's due to the nature of this election? I fear we'll never ever see a civil election in our lives. The internet, the media focus, the lockstep of the parties are all contributing to something ugly; out of the control of reason and truth.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


DEAD. Well, that sucks for us. I think his 'take' on the increasing ridiculousness of the election shrieking would serve for those thinking souls who are ready to throw up.

It's becoming so transparent.

Is that me, my age, my attention, focus, values? Or is it real?

The rebubbalicans (sic) have now decided that to forestall possible Palin nasty reportage from the press, they'll attack the press. Heck, they know that the press is held in low regard (along with congress, the president, the vice president.) Swing hard at what's already an easy target.

I couldn't stand last nights poli-babble. "Now on the floor of the convention, here's Andrea Mitchell with (anyname goes here)." "Anyname, how do you feel Sarah Palin will affect the election?" "Well, I think she's a tremendous asset. She's completely energized the base in a way no one else could have..."

It's amazing how quickly they all march in lock-step. Every interviewee said the same thing. "On message" is what they call it.

Are these people so needy and lost that they have to rely on group-think to substitute for greater depth?

And yes, I admit, the democrats do it too.

Even I fell for the company line when I worked for a big conglomerate. Like a dutiful party member, I would espouse the company line back down to my people. What an idiot I was. It meant zero to anyone, probably lowered my standing among my people, and when the conglomerate came to cut muscle along with fat, I got sliced. So much for loyalty. Meanwhile the bigs still flew around in private jets "for security reasons."

Politics plays like college football cheerleader-think. Slogans, cheers, and an emptiness filled by membership to the group... with the lower group intelligence of a mob.

Monday, September 01, 2008


They say every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the silver lining will apparently keep President Bush and VP Dick 'The Smirk' Cheney out of the Republican convention - it may even keep John McCain off stage. The silver lining is in the fewer comparisons to the Demo-spectacle, the better, because McCain is no McAble when it comes to crowd-rousers.

They say he is showing concern for the people of New Orleans. As I write this, Gustav is still offshore, but has diminished to a category 2: nothing to be sneezed at (especially into the wind.) "Acting presidential" is the role McCain has taken on... but other than showing concern and holding off the balloon drop, I don't really see what he can DO beyond expressing concern.

Meanwhile, Bush is here in Austin.

Later, he should tour any New Orleans devastation with Michael Brown hanging upside-down from a rope beneath the helicopter.