Saturday, March 20, 2004

Geez, Time for new Vacation Plans

Here I was going to go somewhere probably lame this summer, and then I stumble across this article The city of Berlin is moving quickly to decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis in what is called "bowing to reality", even as federal law in Germany still outlaws production or sale of the drug. The legislation to permit possession of up to 15 grams of pot or hashish "for personal use" is backed by the overwhelming majority of lawmakers in the city council chambers

- shades of the 70's. Seems like the ideal time to brush up on my German! I think the Berliners, who are pretty liberal when it comes to drinking,smoking,etc (like most Germans) are making sense with this idea. Better than running around through peoples' gardens wasting taxpayer money, in the hopes to gather up some kid growing a weed or two in the backyard. Actually, during my college years, I lived with a German family for 3 months, who had a garden and unbenownst to them, their son was growing the "evil weed" in the garden and then drying it in their attic. He used to tell them he was experimenting with a new tea leaf. Ho,ho,ho! Had some good times in that house! LOL

What is a more troubling problem for Germans is the very high percentage of kids smoking, something I noticed even back in the late 60's and early 70's. Wonder what their rate of lung cancer is over there?

And perhaps even more thought provoking - Beer is sold at fast-food outlets such as McDonald's and Burger King. Beer and wine are sold at cinema snack bars. Many autobahn service stations make more money selling beer than they do selling fuel. Boy, now that's comforting to know that somebody is tooling down the Autobahn at 150mph after quaffing down a few liters at the last rest area. Of course, it's not a whole lot different here in the States, except that in Germany, Beer is truly KING! (In fact a nice big Liter from the ol' Herbst Brauerei in the Marktstrasse in Krefeld would suit me just dandy, about now! :) Wonder if it's still there?

Computer Tip

Running XP but don't like the way it stacks up different windows in the task bar? A friend of mine who uses Win98 says that is one of her peeves about XP. Well, you can fix that if you don't like it that way. Right click on an empty area in your task bar and make sure "lock the taskbar" is unchecked. Then click on "Properties" and make sure "Group Similar Taskbar buttons" is unchecked. That's all there is to it. XP comes with the default set to "group them", but by using the above method, you can fix that. Of course, if you open tons of windows, you may see the reason for XP's default setting, particularly if you are still in the stone ages and are not using a browser with a "tabbed windows" interface such as MyIE2 or Mozilla. 

Friday, March 19, 2004


Just added a new link to in the blogroll on the right side - Palm Addicts. If you own a Palm, this is a cool site. You will definitely be in the KNOW!

Hiking the PCT
Just got a note from "Nocona" re: her new attempt to complete the PCT (as well as news of her recent wedding! - Note the picture to the left - this was on top of their cake - the summit of Katahdin on the Appalachian Trail and the completion of a Thru-Hike for both her and her husband "Bald Eagle" - hikers take their hiking seriously, as you can tell! :) . She started the Pacific Crest Trail once with her new husband (boyfriend back then) , but developed high altitude pulmonary edema and had to get off. Janet and I know Bald Eagle from our hike of the AT in '95 - we hiked with him off and on and I remember my Dad (who in his 80's came out to hike with us for a few days in the Shenandoahs), being quite impressed that Bald Eagle was a Texas Aggie (as was my Dad - Civil Engineer - class of '34). I am, of course, digressing as I usually do, but had to point out the pertinant facts! :) Anyway, check out Nocona's journal. She's a great journal writer and you can follow along with her as she hikes the PCT. I feel like I somewhat know the PCT from having transcribed "Simply Seekings" journal for her when she hiked the PCT, so it will be interesting to compare their experiences. (for those of you unfamiliar with the hiking world, a transcriber is someone who types up a hiker's notes from the trail. The hiker periodically mails them to the transcriber, who types them and then posts them on the Net).

Computer Tip
Want to compress your images (jpeg) before transmitting them over the Net so that they won't take up so much bandwidth? There used to be free programs for this, but now many places charge. I recently found an online one that you can bookmark. Simply upload your picture and in a few seconds, you'll have a much compressed picture file (actually they will give it you in a number of different compressions) and then you can save the one you like back to your hard drive and use it to send in your email or post to a web page if you have one. Quite slick and does a good job. Nice to see that you can still find a free one out there.

Remember the Bookcrossing web site I talked about the other day? Well here's another good reason to join - a completely free book! Even the shipping! Take a look at this free book offer . You can thank me, once you get the book. :)

Related Links:

  • The karma of virtual libraries

  • Read and Release

  • Find This Book

  • A Global Book Club's Traveling Titles

  • A Novel Approach to a Circulating Library

  • Die ganze Welt als Leihbücherei For my German Readership!

  • Quote of the Day
    "I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good…Maybe you're not the best, so you should work a little harder."
    Jay Leno 

    Wednesday, March 17, 2004

    Audible Billboards

    As most of you know, I'm a big fan of and audio books (as you can see from the ad at the top of the page and the links in the right sidebar). It's a company that has taken off once Ipod included it on it's nifty little music player (you can get $100 off an Ipod by hitting the link that advertises that in the right column - with a 12 month membership to Audible). People on an Audible business forum I regularly read are always try to find a way to promote the company. Here's a neat idea that Audible uses out in San Francisco that I would think could be used in any major city. Sure could have been used on I-285 in Atlanta where I sat many an hour trying to get home at night for about 8 years. Check it out!

    Lots to keep your attention this week. NCAA Basketball Tournament starting Thursday - the ol' tube will get a workout. Should be a good tournament - don't think any of the top teams are unbeatable. On the golf front - Tiger goes for 5 straight wins at Bay Hill (Arnie's tournament). Something no golfer has done in history. Bet he'll be pumped for this one. If he has a good first round, look out.

    Would $5000 be enough if your wife and 3 kids were killed by bombs from an invader? Seems like a pittance to me and more so, an insult. You couldn't pay me to have this Capt. Tracy's job. What does one country owe another for the lives of civilians in a war? Read the story . Your thoughts on what should be done? Post in comment section below. (Did German civilians get any money after WWII? How about VietNam? Korea? - anybody know the answer to that? ) And finally - the Iraqis should appreciate this quote - ""And there is, I am certain, among the Iraqi people a respect for the care and the precision that went into the bombing campaign." - - Donald Rumsfeld,, 04-09-03

    Quote of the Day
    "We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel."
    -- Golda Meir (someone should remind Sharon of this quote?)

    Word of the Day
    perfidy \PUR-fuh-dee\, noun:
    The act of violating faith or allegiance; violation of a promise or vow; faithlessness; treachery. Usage: "To ordinary Algerians, the news that chemical tests did not end until 1978 was renewed proof of the hypocrisy and perfidy of the military who have misruled them since independence in 1962. "
    --"Bombshell that rocked generals in Algeria," Irish Times, October 25, 1997 (Perfidy comes from Latin perfidia, from perfidus, "faithless, treacherous, false," from per-, "through" (perhaps connoting deviation or infringement, or perhaps explicable by qui per fidem decipit, "who through faith or trust deceives") + fides, "faith.") 

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    What's new with XP Service Pack 2?

    Here's a lengthy and well written article on the changes that will be forthcoming this summer for XP. In my review for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), I noted that that release wasn't your average service pack. That description is even more apt for SP2, which is in effect a major update to Windows XP, one that will likely replace existing XP versions on store shelves when it ships in mid-2004. XP SP2 is laden with much-needed security features, and a must-have upgrade for all XP users. I recommend that all Windows XP users upgrade to this service pack as soon as possible.

    --Paul Thurrott

    Sure hope this is an easier install than SP1 (one I never have tried to do). For that service pack, you had to go through a lot of steps initially to make sure you had a clean upgrade. Maybe they'll improve on that with SP2? For those of us with modems, it's probably worth ordering the disk. I'm sure this thing will be huge.

    Computer Tip
    Ever get frustrated when trying to print a web page in IE and the right side of the page gets cut off? (happens to me all the time). Well, you can go in and fiddle around with margins and all that, but an easier way is to just copy the URL and then open up Mozilla (that's an alternative browser to IE and can be downloaded at and paste the URL (that's the web site address) into Mozilla. That will open up the page and then you can print it and no more chopped off right margins! Why IE hasn't fixed this, is beyond me. I'd like to say MyIE2 (a browser that uses IE as it's core engine and my favorite browser) gets around this problem, but alas, it doesn't. So if you want to print web pages without disappearing right margins, download and install a copy of the Mozilla browser.

    Word of the Day

    adj. Tending to make or become worse. Disparaging; belittling.
    n. A disparaging or belittling word or expression.

    Usage: "The GOP spent millions of dollars and many years making the word "liberal" a wicked pejorative" and "The neighborhood is filled with dilapidated duplexes -- earning it the pejorative moniker "Duplex City" 

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    Seabiscuit and Iraqi Children

    Just when you think all you ever read is bad news (thanks to news services who think all we want are Gladiators and Lions ripping at each other), along comes a very nice story from the author of Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand) and actor Gary Sinese. Check it out and make a donation if you so desire. And if you haven't read Seabiscuit, do yourself the favor and do so (the book is much, much better than the movie).

    Quote of the Day
    "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
    Scott Adams  

    Sunday, March 14, 2004

    Back Again!

    Well, after a week's stint cleaning out my parent's house in preparation for a sale, I have returned to the mountain. If that isn't thrilling, I don't know what is! My only comment on cleaning - give some thought to your future heirs on what really has meaning or might have meaning in the future for others and toss the rest of the stuff. Does it make sense to save notecards for 50 years? I don't think so, unless there are good letters included inside of them. I've learned a lot from this little experience and it has renewed my resolve to dump all the useless stuff I have - Ebay, here I come! :)

    News Aggegrators
    I keep coming back to this topic, because I think for many readers they are still unaware of the merits of this type of news browsing for the Net. Here's a nice tutorial that explains it in simple fashion and allows you to register and have your own free web-based aggregator (seems like they could have come up with a more user-friendly word, other than "aggregator". That word would spook anyone). It also mentions pc-based aggregators so that you can take your news with you and read it offline like on a laptop or tablet pc. I use FeedDemon on my Desktop which I really like, but there are others as well. One other nice feature of news aggregators is that once you have your list of feeds, you can export them via an OPML file (who cares what it means?) to another user and then they have a nice set of ready made feeds. (OPML - Outline Processor Markup Language (XML-based format for exchange of outline-structured information - now aren't you sorry you asked?)

    Change for a Million?
    Did you hear about the woman in Covington, Georgia, who went into Walmart and purchased some $1600 worth of merchandise and then presented a forged million dollar bill to pay for it? Think someone should have told this poor soul that there is not such thing as a million dollar bill. Geez, I wonder if she contemplated how they were going to give her change for this large of a bill, anyway? Takes all kinds - but hey, if you want to make the news, not a bad way to do it. Will be interesting to see what her sentence is.

    Family Genealogy
    Have members of your family flung out across the country or globe? Trying to find a way for everyone to stay in touch? You might want to check out . I've been using this for about 3 years now and is an excellent site for sharing photos, news, family trees, files and much more. Of course, it may take some cajoling to get your family members to become active, especially if they are not Internet junkies, but if you can get them to become active, there's a lot of good that can come from it.

    Using AOL Instant Messenger? Be notified when this Site updates! If you use AOL's Instant Messenger, then a pop up message will notify you that this site has now been updated. To make this happen, just click on the Blog/Notify Me icon underneath the advertisement for Vital Choice seafood at the top of this page. It's that simple!

    Word of the Day
    Lagniappe n. Chiefly Southern Louisiana & Mississippi.
    A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase.
    An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. Also called boot. Broadly, something given or obtained gratuitously It could be an additional doughnut (as in baker's dozen), a free one for the road drink, an unanticipated tip for someone who provides a special service or possible a complimentary dessert for a regular customer. REGIONAL NOTE Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.” Pronounced like "len-yep". Usage example - "Two lagniappe seminars also are offered this spring, free to anyone enrolled in at least one of the other classes"