Friday, February 27, 2009


Last night Terri discovered 9 fraudulent withdrawals from our PayPal account, supplemented by our checking account credit line, totalling over $5000!

Immediate stress. Adrenaline for both of us.

Calls to bank and PayPal.

I spoke to an understanding and helpful reassuring guy on the line from PayPal. He said the money would be restored. He was excellent.

Someone in New Zealand added their address to our account. Someone tried to get a debit card on our account too. I believe all the transactions were in Euros or Pounds, not dollars. While speaking with PayPal it seem there were four more 'withdrawals' since our discovery (based on checking account activity, posted the day before.)

I think we'll be okay, but the whole mess was eye opening and scary and I can't guess how they found us and our password (since changed and much more difficult - I hope!) ... I have twin security programs on our computer.

Trust no one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Just as a follow up, I thought he pretty much pulled it off.

As for the writing, I thought it was pretty good, perhaps a little disjointed in parts, but it ended strong - there was the hope and inspiration if those close-minded obstructionist partisans are penetrable.

Now we'll see what happens.

PS: I am surprised that he got the "we invented cars" wrong. Someone should have known this...?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


In about 4 hours, President Obama will give an address to congress and the nation. This will be VERY interesting not only for what he says but how he says it. Since you can expect "these are the fixes we've begun" you know he'll sell them to all, just as he will the need for these. But what interests me most is HOW he says it - will you believe? Will the pundits back off even a little? A great PERFORMANCE would help quiet anxieties. He's given good calm speeches before. I doubt very much he'll adopt a new style. Still, this is a time to pull out the Ronald Reagan "Great Communicator Speech Guide." Actually, if you think about it, Clinton was 8 years of terrific speech making. Reagan was great at it. Kennedy too if you want to go back that far. Point is that many alive and watching will have those benchmarks to compare him to - will they feel reassured? This is a big, big deal. Hope is alive. Can the President amplify it?

Monday, February 23, 2009


FWIW, which is very little: I thought they really tried to breathe some life into this year's show, and succeeded in some ways.

The set was beautiful. I would have loved to have seen all those hanging crystals in person. I like that they moved the audience in closer to the stage. Liked that they didn't cut anyone with music. This is the first year in many I can say I see someone trying to make it better.

Hugh Jackman worked for me. I thought he brought a new zing! to the show. Much better than the usually self-conscious jokesters they have tried.

I liked having the 5 previous winners or nominees cite this year's individuals. The words were sometimes wonderful and not gushy; others seemed poorly written and empty (maybe the stars did their own thing?) Never forgot in every movie, there are WRITERS putting words into the actors' mouths. Some just don't do well by themselves.

Queen Latifah drips class. She has a self-possession and calm which is magnetic.

Loved the montages. A few "WOW"s were voiced by me.

There were better exchanges between presenters. I laughed at Ben Stiller. In fact I laughed several times out loud. The filmed Judd Aptow piece was hilarious. Again I laughed out loud.

Strangely, there were several times when the self-professed "party atmosphere" lagged due to simple indulgent (slow) production - when they'd go to animation for the categories... it halted the flow. The pieces were too long.

The audience watching from home will never ever be huge when the show is bogged down by categories you don't know (though the explanations were neat - I really loved the screenplay part) and people you don't care about thanking lists of names you also never heard of.

So basically, the evening is psychotic, as the industry pimps itself to the public and to itself. If it could come down on the audience side, eliminate the broadcast of the doldrums awards, it could re inflate the ratings.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I fell off a skateboard when I was 39, broke my ankle, was hospitalized, had surgery, endured a foot to hip non-weight-bearing cast for 6 weeks, and lost my nerve.

When Terri declared a No Presents zone this Valentine's Day, I suggested we DO something - like take an aerial tour over Austin. When I found those by helicopter, I thought I had the right idea, but they wanted $4-500 for what I'd say was a quickie. Too much.

We had seen Segway tours of people through downtown... people leaning forward gliding along in single file behind a guide. I'd read about these things and wondered what it'd be like.

Terri agreed.

We chose the 2 hour tour which seemed a little more speed-oriented and wasn't the downtown stop at every house and listen to the history of the Guy Who Grew Old There.

I booked the deal Friday, when it was 78 degrees and sunny.

Then I started to believe I'd fall and break my arm. I thought Terri would be okay. This might have to do with the fact that she jumped out of an airplane and I would not do that. Plus I had lingering fear from my last and final skateboard ride.

Saturday dawned cool, cloudy and windy. These three things travel together in Texas.
They probably also stay at the big downtown Holiday Inn, which is where we went, dressed in layers, to Segway. It was 53 degrees.

Stepping on one, held by the instructor, was an immediate moment of instability, trying to 'locate the center' as the guide put it. While the glider didn't want to throw me off, its rapid adjustments caused my over compensations to oscillate for a few seconds. But pretty soon, we had the hang of it, however tenuously, and soon we were in line and amazed as our instructor/guide was riding forward but looking backward, videotaping us all.

We rode through Austin East Side neighborhoods, in what we'll call "transition." Alongside some of the smallest - no, the very smallest homes I've ever seen, are condos, duplexes, 6 plexes (at $650,000 per!) We saw modern homes next to the most run down. We passed two biker groups (gangs?) forming for an evening out. SOCIAL NOTE: It's impossible to look tough rising a dorky Segway, leaning while standing, wearing a bicycle helmet, and in my case, a jacket with BOB in big orange letters on the back. I tried for friendly.

The pit bull was stopped by a metal fence. At another shack, the three German Shepherds seemed too lazy to chase us. I am sure they could have jumped that little fence. Think: tiny house, maybe a 6 x 12 foot 'yard' and 3 German Shepherds.

For almost two hours we glided along. If you haven't seen one of these things, I'll link here, though this ends in a crash. Another one you can search for is Chimp on a Segway. You can get hurt, but I think you have to try. Or be drunk. Or stupid.
Or get hit by a car.

Afterward we discovered that perhaps due to nerves, some muscles were rubbery or sore (maybe from an initial CLENCH?)

For me, I can't see any practicality of owning one, and they will crest a 20 degree hill, but I think our hills here are steeper.

We might return on a warmer day, as veterans of gliding, to take the City Tour.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I have an excuse. It's the Jackhammering. Only in today's World Of Construction they don't use Jack, they use a long vibrating snout on an earth-moving thing where the claw used to be. Jack only weighs, what? - 250 pounds? This thing can press down with almost the whole weight of the earth-moving thing, like a ballet dancer on a pirouette (try that, spell-check!)

Since I work out of the house, when there's work, which isn't so much these days, I note the construction on the lot right next door, where the builder has decided to deal with drainage issues by digging out all around and now through the rock that is just below dirt here.

The builder is doing two homes at once. Both are white like the model's teeth in the tooth-whitening strips' ad. They are supposed to be one of harmony with nature. The design review committee approved this glaring assault on our rods and cones, perhaps as revenge against sentient life.

These two homes sit, in mid-construction - at the bottom of a longish downhill driveway and slope. Apparently it dawned on the builder that the water will run down the hill. Measures are underway to build a sluice.

Thankfully, I have nothing to record or the microphone would pick up the constant unique and immediately identifiable sound of steel on rock, hydrauliced to pulverize and annoy.


The collision between a US and a Russian satellite over Siberia may have been accidental and the first of its kind, but experts say more crashes will inevitably occur and could have geopolitical consequences. (Luke Baker LONDON) (Reuters)

I don't understand. Here's space - all of space - okay, less than that, due to gravity, but they put these satellites into a pretty darn big place 500 miles over earth and two of them hit each other? How impossible is that?

You get out your Red Ryder BB gun and I'll get mine and at 100 feet we'll see if we can hit each other's BB in flight! I'm not Mister Math Whiz but I would guess, reasonably, that two satellites hitting each other is even harder.

I think it's a sign.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I have to report today. From what I understand, this isn't an automatic jury selection - I'll be in a pool of folks from whom they select jurors. Then, tomorrow, it's the courtroom. Unless the parties settle at the last minute.

I don't know how dull this will be compared to the typical tense TV series. I'd love to see an Alan Shore (Boston Legal) performance, but I fear it's a lot more "get everything on the record" drudge rather than brilliance. Of course you never know what the case will be... a Judge Judy piece (my mother-in-law watched it) or one of the hum-drummables.

There's no parking for this. I will leave very early and walk as far as I have to... but if they could make it more inconvenient, I don't see how.

Well,, I left with a lot of time to sprae and found my way and found parking some distance away and found the courthouse and sat with a book waiting. The clerk came out and told us to file into the courtroom where the judge would dismiss us. She said something about there not being as many cases as they thought... It wasn't clear and she didn't speak loudly.

But, we were sent back into the cracks of society with just a whiff of civic duty. Eau de justice? No, it was Parfum de Showing up.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I voted for Obama. I desperately want change from the past 8 years' worth of ugly.

My view may be blurred by idealism, cataracts, floaters, and astigmatism. I admit that. I think the new administration is blowing it. Here's why.

In my opinion, the masses don't notice but the peaks and valleys of politic. They DO notice when their wallet is empty, their home foreclosed, their homeland attacked, their job gone. They notice hypocrisy, which is so brightly underlined by news and commentation.

Obama said he represented clean government. No lobbyists in his admin. Then, okay, a few exceptions. Several of his nominees for cabinet have tax problems - bad vetting, obviously.

The public is going, "where's the stimulus package?" and the man simply can't deliver. The Republicans are slowing it down (rightly or wrongly I don't know.) The point is the EXPECTATION has been set up to deliver us. The REALITY is, it ain't happening. Not yet.

Instead, the government pushes back digital TV transition to June. How VERY insignificant. And while it may be important to those upon whom the bungled deal fell apart - they got no converter boxes and the funding ran out - to the other 250 million, they're thinking, "Why are they screwing around with THAT?"

And Obama supporters are asked to hold home meetings to discuss things.

What we need is the appearance of, and effect of, a successful economic recovery plan, passed, and on the books. LEADERSHIP. EFFECTIVE leadership. Results.

Obama needs to show some strong emotion against wall street and their orgy of masturbatory bonuses. More than "it's shameful." It might not be his style and who knows what goes on behind the door out of the public view, but I feel, and so do all of us here at me, that he's losing his luster quickly.

I still believe and want to believe, but a thick crust is forming on my idealism. Surely there must be some smart guys in the administration who can get the job done and read the public properly. These first 100 days aren't being managed properly, in my myopic opinion. It worries me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


My friend blurted it out yesterday. I grabbed it before it left the room. I wrote it down. Here is one of those phrases that smacks of genius on so many levels. It'd make a great country song title, too.

We discussed smoking. He stopped about 10 days ago. "How's it going?" "I'm back smoking. But I bought these super hypnosis tapes and they'll work. I'm going to start..."

and now, the GENIUS LINE:

"I'm gonna Quit 'til I stop."

Monday, February 02, 2009


I TiVoed the 5 hour pregame. Thank God! I watched the good parts and raced through the rest. I'd give it about 50/50. There were some really good interviews. The 'panel' was good. NBC force fed way too much co-promotion and sponsorship filler. Al Roker was awful. The whole celebrity room whatever was a terrible idea. Maybe it appeals to the lowest low common denominator, but it sucked for me. Bad idea, bad staging, bad host.

Faith Hill is amazingly beautiful. When I met her before her career blossomed, you wouldn't have said anything but nice. Now, it's WOW. She sang as beautifully as she looks.

Jennifer Hudson did what may be the best (other than Ray Charles) Star Spangled banner I've ever heard. And she looked nervous, which endeared her to me even further. Especially after her recent losses, it had to be an emotional whirlwind. She SOARED. THIS WAS A MOMENT OF ABSOLUTE GREATNESS!

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - blew the house apart. I wouldn't have thought it could happen. The best half-time ever? It gets my vote. (And I own not one Springsteen CD, though that could change asap!)

The game was just a bit of a letdown until the end. I rooted for Kurt Warner because of his unlikely story. The Cards killed themselves with penalties. Larry Fitzgerald can FLY! Amazing! I wish he would have had another half dozen passes to him.

Maybe it's me - I felt the whole spectacle other than the halftime show seemed smaller, even on our 60 inch screen in HD. Or maybe the reality of HD makes it all a little too real.

As for the commercials: obviously moved some males to their site but it was sleazy, I thought. Liked: Hulu with Alec Baldwin. Land Of The Lost. Audi. Grease Monkeys. Pepsuber. Power of the Crunch: Doritos. Yeah there was cute and great production but in the 30 second end little really reached me. Worst: Ed McMahon.

I'll bet a lot of people will disagree with me.