Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhile waiting for the Big Ball to drop, thought I'd include my favorite picks of the year, while I contemplate how the hell I ever made it through another year! It must have been all the strenuous exercise and Dr. Weill inspired cuisine (I think these delusional thoughts might have been actually inspired by some of those mushrooms he's always touting!)

Best Movie I Watched:
The Girl in the Cafe

Best Book I Read:
The Kite Runner

Best Web Site:

Best Place to Find Tech Bargains

Best Audiobook Web site

Best Browser

Please feel free to add yours in the comments section below!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Image hosted by Just finished listening to A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg Narration was excellent as Flagg does it herself. Perfect soft southern voice fit this story exactly. I had not read or listened to anything by Flagg before (many of you may know her by her Fried Green Tomatoes fame). You'll get a good chuckle out of this book and it is one of those books that tugs at the heart - good match for the Holidays.

Watched the Kennedy Center Awards last night - amongst the honorees- Robert Redford, Tony Bennett, and Tina Turner. Beyoncé knocked them out with a fabulous performance of Proud Mary. Think even Tina was impressed with that. Always interesting to see these awards and the people who honor the honorees.

Saw this article about Mitch Hedberg today. Sad to hear - as you know, he's one of my favorite one-liners and is often quoted here. A unique sense of humor - for some reason (probably cause I am a deranged love child of the late 60's/early 70's) his humor strikes a chord with me.

Quote of the Day
I find that ducks' opinions of me are very much influenced over whether or not I have bread. A duck loves bread, but he does not have the capability to buy a loaf. That's the biggest joke on a duck ever. Like, if I worked in a convenience store, and a duck walked in and took a loaf of bread in its beak, I would let him go. I would say, "Come back tomorrow, bring your friends." When I think of a duck's friends, I think of more ducks. But, they could have like, a beaver in tow. Cause if you're an animal, you want to have a beaver as a friend, cause they have some kick-ass houses. That shit is on the lake. Lakeside my ass, lake on! Mitch Hedberg (Mitch must have been smoking some good stuff when he made this one up. LOL)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Xmas to One and All! You know that I think is the best thing about Christmas? That our politicians are sitting at home getting besotted and sparing the world one day of destruction!

Hope everybody gets what they want for Xmas while at the same time sparing a thought and a dime for those less fortunate amongst us. If you need a lift, have these guys sing a song for you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I see that ol' Mr. Evil drug his self back into the Senate to fulfill his duty to rob those in need of some more benefits. I reckon he's saying tough to you losers on Medicare, Medicaid, and you Students trying to get loans. Yep, if your're one of those and a Republican to boot, it might be time to ask yourself, "what the hell am I doing voting for these idiots?" At least they managed to stop another idiot, our good ol' boy Stevens from the State of Alaska from trying to slip in the Anwar project into the bill. So far, that is .. these guys will never give that up. And for what? A couple of years worth of oil? Politics can really be disgusting after awhile. Cept, of course for the fat cats who gotta be loving these Bushies.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Nice Recognition
Had someone publishing a Canadian Atlas for Kids inquire about using one of my Novia Scotia pics in their new forthcoming book. Was happy to agree to that in exchange for a copy of the book and a photographer credit. My first step towards world fame! LOL You can view more of my pics by going to my Pbase site . And you can send me BIG, BIG bucks if you would like to have one!

I notice not too many folks have clicked on the free iPod link - what, you're so rich you don't need free gifts? Well, heck, I'm not ,so sign up so I can get a few free ones and give them to my friends - that's what you'd do, isn't it? hello?

Got around to finally watching "Million Dollar Baby". Good flick - sad ending. Lot of good lessons about loyalty in that flick. Eastwood is amazing - he directs, he produces, he acts, for crying out loud, he even writes the music! Swank is amazing as usual - really throws herself into the part - she would ride the subway everday to Brooklyn to train in Gleason's Gym , just like a real person might - no star treatment there. Janet and I stopped in there this last visit while we were in Brooklyn - just by accident - saw a sign that said "Boxing" and stepped inside, walked up a flight of steps and stumbled into Gleason's! It has been a while since I boxed, so to impress the little lady, I went a few rounds with a couple of the new up and coming studs - flattened their sorry asses after one or two punches and had the rest of the guys running like scared rabbits out of the gym. What can I say? And in this corner......

"Now whoever has courage, and a strong and collected spirit in his breast, let him come forth, lace up his gloves, and put up his hands."

Quote of the Day
I like cottage cheese. That is why I want to try other dwelling cheeses, too. How about studio apartment cheese? Tent cheese? Mobile home cheese? Do not eat mobile home cheese in a tornado. It would be devastating. Mitch Hedberg

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bob Dylan
Did you read that Dylan is going to do a weekly talk show on XM Radio starting in March? That should be a trip - he had better spin a lot of tunes, because nobody's gonna understand anything he's saying. Maybe he'll just fall asleep during the show and the record will just repeat over and over?

Quote of the Day
I have an underwater camera just in case I crash my car into a river, and at the last minute I see a photo opportunity of a fish that I have never seen. - Mitch Hedberg

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Well, I'm getting worn out trying to convince my friends (soon to be former friends, no doubt!) to sign up and get themselves a free iPod as well as one for myself. I'm gonna chuckle when I get this thing, cause I'm sure none of them believe it. It's not that big a thing to do and I easily completed the offer in a few minutes. Of course, they make you work at it a bit by dragging you through various offers you just say no to, until you come to the one you have to say yes to, but that's a small price to pay.

But, the wife is hollering about me cranking out an annual Xmas letter - my appointed task - something I would say I look forward to, but really don't. :) But inquiring minds want to know all about our exciting lives on top of the mountain, so I must bless them with a rendition! So my recent obsession with my iPod hunt will have to slow a bit. Although I should be getting my first 3 Blockbuster movies in the mailbox today, so that will suck up 6 hours of time from my Xmas letter writing task. :)

Cell Phones - no contract - anyone using Net10?
Anybody use Net10 out there? I'm thinking of getting an emergency cell phone for those times when I'm traveling and now that Net10 (.10/minute always) has increased the time they allow you per card (up to 60 days on a $30 dollar (300 minute) card) before you have to reactivate by buying another card, the expense isn't all that great. The cheapest phone they have with the deal is the Nokia 1100 for $50 - anybody use this service and can tell me if they like it or not? Supposedly includes roaming, long distance,etc - uses other carriers' towers to accomplish this. I like this deal because there are no contracts and I can quit anytime I want and if I decide to sign up again, I can, but I'll get a different number (no biggie, since nobody's going to call me on this anyway).

Anybody have thoughts on a car that has 4wd or AWD that has a lot of storage space that I could pick up new or used for less than 15K? Want something that gets good gas mileage yet has plenty of room (seats folding down in back to a flat floor) so that the wife can cram it full of art stuff and all the stuff she picks up down at the local flea market so she can create more stuff. Did I say stuff? Have contemplated Hyundai hatchbacks, Subaru Outbacks/Foresters (expensive), Chevy HRRs, PT Pacers - some of those don't have 4wd/AWD which I'd like in the mountains, but I'm not gonna pay a fortune to get it. Don't really want a pickup truck (might look like a local - can't have that! :) - might go for a van if I could find one used with AWD. If you have thoughts, post a comment. No spammers please - just normal folks who might pass on a tip.

Laptops are getting cheaper - saw a nice Toshiba with a Tru-bright screen down at Walmart the other day for $999. Pentium M processor, 80GB (5400rpm) HD, 512mb RAM, Dual-layer DVD burner - not bad. Send me one for Christmas, if you're feeling bored. :)

Free iPod !!
Image hosted by Would you like a free iPod ? I know this sounds crazy, but you really can get one of these if you don't mind jumping through a couple of hoops. What do you do? Click on the free iPod link or on the picture at the left and sign up at FreePay - you have to wade through a bunch of stupid questions and then finally you come to this page where you have to select an offer out of maybe 15 various offerings (Blockbuster movies, Music clubs,etc). Once you sign up for one of these (and yes, you can cancel before your 30 day trial period has elapsed), then you can start referring your own friends. Get 5 friends to sign up and complete an offer and kazaam! - A new Ipod! I'm shooting for the 30GB iPod - so far 3 folks have signed up, so I'm almost there. I signed up for a month's worth of Blockbuster movies delivered to the house - figured for $10, I could probably manage to get and return at least 10 movies within that first month and then I can cancel, should I so choose.

Wondering if there is a catch? Well, really there isn't - you just have to suffer through the various screens and complete the offer. Still dubious? Check out this Wired News Article .

Friday, December 09, 2005


Getting a bit of a hoot out of Plaxo . It's a neat tool to synch your address book with other Plaxo members, which are normally your address book contacts. If they move or update their address books, their updated entry is automatically updated in your address book. Very handy way to not lose touch of people. But in my first experiences with this tool and sending out requests for my contacts to update, they might update their info, but they won't join Plaxo, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. Makes me chuckle to think that everyone believes their address and phone number is some sort of sacrosanct item. I'm sure the Feds know where you are a hundred times over - if you've ever filed a tax return or applied for Social Security benefits, they know where you are. And I'm sure they have a million other ways to find you as well. If you're worried about spam, Plaxo has tight security controls in place, even if they close up shop or sell to someone else. You're not going to get spammed through Plaxo. You can read more about their Security policies .

It's been an interesting social experiment. Does show how paranoid everyone has become. It's a shame because this is a great tool. I've lost contact with a lot of folks over the years and no good way to find them other than through googling them, etc., which doesn't always work. This would eliminate that problem.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.comCheck out the whole new redesign of . New subscriber plans! The best place on the Net to get audiobooks with the added benefit that they play on hundreds of different devices, so if you're tired of only listening to music, this is the place to go. "Choose from more than 26,000 best-selling digital audiobooks, radio shows, audio versions of popular magazines, daily newspapers, and original programs. Download your audio in minutes and listen anywhere you go using your Apple® iPod®, Pocket PC, Palm OS handheld, Creative® MuVo®, AudibleReady® device, PC, Mac, or on burned CDs." For a complete list of devices you can listen to audiobooks on, head for the device center page .

Scroll down on the right side of this page and you'll see some of my favorite audio books. Highly recommended.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Three big football games highlight college football today - USC (1) vs UCLA (11) at 4:30 eastern and VA Tech (5) vs Florida State at 8 p.m. Should both be good games. Also Georgia (13) vs LSU (3) at 6 p.m.

Recommended Reading
Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Adventure of English This is the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. The Adventure of English is not only an enthralling story of power, religion, and trade, but also the story of people, and how their lives continue to change the extraordinary language that is English. This looks to be a very interesting book - listen to the sample on the Audible site. If you like languages, then this should be fascinating. Gets a 5/5 from readers with high praise for the narrator. Just another instance of where an audio book works better than a written book.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comRiver of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil's most famous explorer, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever. (5/5 at Audible - listen to the sample - Roosevelt is a fascinating fellow).

Digital Photography

Pbase Digital Photography Magazine Image hosted by Interested in Digital Photography but want to learn more? Check out these free informative magazines from, one of the biggest, most popular, yet unheralded digital photography sites on the web. When you're done reading the mag(s), you can check out my pics on Pbase .

Word of the Day
ineluctable - Not to be avoided or escaped; inevitable - Those war plans rested on a belief in the ineluctable superiority of the offense over the defense

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSnowing on the mountain this evening - ugh. Winter can stay away a bit longer as far as I'm concerned. Not looking forward to climbing up and down the mountain every time I go to town.

Cleaned out my '92 Honda Accord today of a few year's worth of accumulated junk. Totalled the ol' girl out day before yesterday, sliding into the backend of a 2005 mini-van - barely scraped the minivan bumper but caved in the entire front end of the Accord. Not a pretty picture. Damn airbag didn't even go off, but I suspect that is because my bumper on the Accord was below the bumper of the minivan. (Probably lucky it didn't go off!) Didn't even touch my bumper - just creamed the hood,fenders and engine. 182,000 miles on it - probably not going to get a whole bundle of fresh greenbacks out of this one. Neck and upper back don't feel so hot - of course they weren't doing so well before I jammed the car up against that nice new van, either. It figures that when your neck is bothering you , you crash into another vehicle.

Watched Duke and IU last night on ESPN - good game, albeit it a bit ragged but that goes with the territory early in the year. Thought for a moment IU was going to beat them, but no such luck. Nonetheless, Killingsworth (Sr. transfer student from Auburn kicked some Duke butt, scoring 34 points and dominating the game). When IU gets DJ White back from his broken thumb in a few weeks, they are going to be very tough.

Firefox 1.5 is now out. I can't tell all that much difference, but figured I might as well install it anyway. Botched up my Roboform extension for a bit, till I went to Roboform site and got the very latest version - pays to follow instructions closely to get Roboform to work correctly. Couldn't live without that program though. Waiting for them to update TinyURL extension, another one I use constantly.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIf you happen to be upgrading from Streets and Trips 2005 w/GPS locator and are wondering why your GPS unit doesn't seem to be working with 2006, it's because they forgot to tell you that you had to stick the setup disk back in after everything was said and done and then the program would find the GPS drivers and you would be good to go. Shame on Microsoft for leaving that important detail out. Haven't given it a run for the money yet, but should be nice with new added "voice commands" and a large section of the screen that tells you when and where to turn in large letters. Makes it more feasible to use the unit by yourself, rather than having to have a co-pilot.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Happened to see the Quill Awards on NBC today. Always interesting to see what books are selected as good choices to read. Of course, the latest Harry Potter won Book of the Year. I still haven't gotten around to reading one of those or watching one of the movies. Not sure why - one of these days. Probably because I listen to so many audiobooks through and they don't have a publisher agreement to carry the Harry Potter books (which is a shame, because the narrator is known for the remarkable job he does with all the different voices). I thought it was interesting that the Quill Awards were on during all the football games. Shows where our nation's priorities are - maybe why we are so far behind other countries?

The Johnstown Flood
hosted by In the meantime, finished reading The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, one of my favorite authors (John Adams, 1776, etc). Amazing description of the flood that wiped out this Pennsylvania town in the late 1800's. They didn't pay attention to the problems of the dam on a lake high in the mountains and it turns out that poor engineering led to the devestation of this town. Sound familiar? Thought so. Except that help arrived for them a lot faster than it did in New Orleans. (Brownie would still be looking around deciding which pinpoint oxford shirt he should put on).

The Lincoln Lawyer Image hosted by Also finished reading the Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. A good defense lawyer yarn - the first book I've read by him. Keeps you entertained - exellent narrator. I don't usually read these kinds of books, but when I do, I must admit they're pretty good. Gets a 4.75/5 at Audible which is very high for Audible. Will have to check out Janet Evanovich's book, "Eleven on Top" which was best Mystery/Suspense/Thriller at the Quill Awards - another good beach read, I suspect.

ComplicationsImage hosted by Now, it's time to get back to finishing another excellent book that I started and then put down - Complications by Atul Gawande, an outstanding book on medicine. Atul Gawande offers an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge, where science is ambiguous, information is limited, the stakes are high, yet decisions must be made. In dramatic and revealing stories of patients and doctors, he explores how deadly mistakes occur, why good surgeons go bad. He shows what happens when medicine comes up against the inexplicable: an architect with incapacitating back pain for which there is no physical cause; a young woman with nausea that won't go away; a television newscaster whose blushing is so severe that she cannot do her job. Gawande also ponders the human factor that makes saving lives possible. Garners a 4.5/5 on Audible, which is high praise.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Is this April Fool's Day or WHAT???? - Brown to start emergency planning consulting business - Nov 24, 2005
"Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job." The Rest of the Story (I wouldn't even hire this guy to stick a thumb in the dike, besides he probably couldn't get it out of his keester fast enough - you go Brownie!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Image hosted by Turkey Day coming! Are you ready? Looking for some last minute recipes? Check out Dizzy Girl's site . Still not finding what you are craving? Give these recipes for sweet potato pie, blueberry cobbler and dutch apple pie a try - I can vouch for them - they were my mom's specialities - especially that sweet potato pie!


How to stop 'Active Scripting' in home PCs
"A supercritical zero-day IE flaw has been released in to the wild by a reckless British company. There are no patches available as of 11/22/2005. Here is what you can do now to protect yourself. You must disable "Active Scripting" on all Windows computers running Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6.0 even if you have Windows XP SP2 installed."

The latest version of Microsoft's free anti-spyware program has been released and can be downloaded from this site . Stay up to date with this excellent spyware program!

(Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000; Windows 2000 Advanced Server; Windows 2000 Professional Edition ; Windows 2000 Server; Windows 2000 Service Pack 2; Windows 2000 Service Pack 3; Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; Windows Server 2003; Windows XP; Windows XP Home Edition ; Windows XP Media Center Edition; Windows XP Professional Edition ; Windows XP Service Pack 1; Windows XP Service Pack 2; Windows XP Tablet PC Edition)

Word of the Day
copse - A thicket of small trees, bushes, shrubs, etc. especially one grown for periodic cutting. This small grove or "copse" of trees had little or no significance prior to the Battle of Gettysburg , but on July 3, 1863, it was the focal point around which swept vicious hand-to-hand combat during the climax of "Pickett's Charge". (Note* - it was only a few months ago that I was standing at this very "copse" of trees - an amazing site to look across that mile long length of field and to imagine the guts it took to march across it in the face of withering cannon fire)

Current YTD Stock Indexes
(how are you doing?)
Dow Jones -.93%
S&P 500 +3.63
Nasdaq +.34
S&P Midcap 400 +9.5%

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TV - Ted Koppel's final night
I was telling a group of friends the other night that there really is no right way to leave a great job like this. No matter how or when you go, it's either too early or too late. I thought for a while that there might be a happy middle ground; some occasion on which leaving would be exactly right. But when everyone is agreed that the time is just right, it's actually already too late.

In any event, too early or too late, tonight's the night.

We are returning to our old friend, Morrie Schwartz, who died of Lou Gehrig's disease, but who wanted the make the subject of his dying everyone's business. Morrie's theory was that birth and death are really the only universal experiences. Everyone, though, likes talking about birth; very few people are willing to talking about dying. I interviewed Morrie three times over a period of several months and those programs were among the most requested we have ever done. For tonight's program, I also interviewed Mitch Albom, the Detroit sportswriter who had been a student of Morrie. Mitch memorialized the conversations with his old professor in one of the most popular books of recent years: "Tuesdays With Morrie." It makes for a wonderful package, and my colleagues and I hope that you'll enjoy it.

At the end of the program I'll have a few thoughts on leaving. Actually, I have a ton of thoughts on the subject; but by tonight I'll have winnowed them down to a few.

It's been a joy and a privilege to occupy this chair for the past 26 years. I understand how many people grit their teeth on the way to work every morning. To have had more than 42 years now of almost always being able to go to work with a sense of excitement and anticipation makes me among the most fortunate of people.

Thank you for your criticism and your praise over the years. Most of all, thank you for your loyalty.

Ted Koppel
ABC News Washington Bureau

Friday, November 18, 2005

Enjoyed the day yesterday in Charlotte at a performance of Cirque du Soleil . Worth the price of admission - colorful, creative costuming and fantastic performances by some incredibly gifted athletes. Great choreography. These folks perform without a net either and some of these stunts could lead to serious injuries. Did see one person get a bit injured coming off some huge mid air triple twisting routine that landed on a slanted board - he disappeared discretely offstage and most folks wouldn't have noticed. Heck, they'd be still scraping me off the floor! This particular performance told the following story (they have different performances in different cities) (TV Schedule - If you'd like to catch this on TV, you can see it on the Bravo channel - TV Schedule


Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world—a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.

From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.

The word varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.

Speaking of Charlotte, if you are looking for a nice place to stay, use Priceline and put in $25 - you can net yourself a nice room for a total of $35 (taxes and fees included). We stayed in a very nice Suites Plus, which had a full kitchen, sofa, bed, writing desk, etc. Hard to beat that price - conveniently located, as well. Charlotte obviously has a surfeit of hotel rooms and they'd rather have that $25 than nothing.

If your're looking for a good place to eat, try out Kaffé Frappe - excellent place to grab breakfast - far beyond your normal Cracker Barrel, IHOP, Waffle House routine.

Word of the Day
hagiography (ha(g'e--o(g'r?-fe-, ha-'je--) - 1. Biography of saints. 2. A worshipful or idealizing biography. "My money's on Pincus, who was appropriately skeptical about the administration's WMD claims while Woodward was writing hagiography about the brave president and his fearless aides.""

Tuesday, November 15, 2005



I'm telling you, these emails look more and more authentic every day. I got one today from Amazon that looked absolutely like an Amazon confirmation statement. Of course the Panasonic 50" flat screen I ordered was a tip that I didn't order any such thing (although I wish someone would order it for me!). The kicker is that there is a link with https: before it (indicating it is a secure site supposedly) and advising you to click on it if you find this order is in error. You are told you can reactivate your account at Amazon by doing this.

I can only imagine how many folks click on that link. Don't do it. If you see something like this, type in yourself in the address bar of your browser and go to My Account and look at recent orders. That will tell you if something is amiss.

Pays to be careful these days.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Windows Installer Cleanup Utility

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe link above points to a very nice little program to have in your toolbox of Windows fixing solutions. I was having a problem with uninstalling a version of Desktop Sidebar (picture on left). Add / Remove Programs wouldn't uninstall it. Trying to install a new version over the old one wouldn't work. Finally at one of the Desktop Sidebar forums, a user tipped me off to Windows Installer Cleanup Utility (see link above), which worked like a champ. It quickly deleted the offending registry entries and allowed me to install the new version of Desktop Sidebar (which is a very slick tool, by the way). Takes up minimum resources.

As shown in the picture to the left, you can have many various panels - weather, stock quotes, quick launch of programs, media player of choice (currently playing Neil Young's Crazy Horse), Performance panel monitoring disk usage, memory, cpu,etc, Run command panel, slideshow of pictures on your HD and from other places, Newsroom which will bring you all kinds of feeds from news sources, as well as RSS feeds. There are also many other panels and ways of configuring it. This panel sits on the right side of your desktop and can sit topmost or float or auto hide. As you hover over items, a larger picture will spring out providing you with more details. For instance, in the slideshow panel, hovering over the picture will make the full sized picture pop into view. As I've said, you can customize to your choosing. Quite slick.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cats Need Wet Food!
Cats need to get water from their food

Cats are descended from feline desert dwellers. They couldn't stroll over to the watering hole for a drink, and cat tongues are not very well designed for drinking water.

Cats are adapted to obtain most of their water from their prey, which contains more than 75 percent water. Cats who eat dry food consume only half the water they need, compared to those that eat wet food, and live in a state of chronic dehydration."

Interesting - had heard the opposite actually. This article makes sense though, so maybe my big boy (Turbo) will have to be weaned off the ol' dry stuff (although he likes anything that looks like food, human or cat).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Judith Miller on Larry King
I was impressed with Judith Miller on Larry King's show last night. Cool, calm, composed - great smile - gave you the sense that she was a straight shooter. Perhaps was fooled like everyone else on WMD, but she wasn't the only one. You can learn a bit more about her at her web site at Judith I suspect her books on the Middle East and terroism would make for some good reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

At Center of a Clash, Rowdy Children in Coffee Shops - New York Times
"Children were climbing the cafe's poles. A couple were blithely reading the newspaper while their daughter lay on the floor blocking the line for coffee. When the family whose children were running across the room to throw themselves against the display cases left after his admonishment, Mr. McCauley recalled, the restaurant erupted in applause.

So he put up the sign. Then things really got ugly."

What's your take on this? I'm with Mr. McCauley - take the rugrats outside if they get unruly
Firefox Extensions

I noticed a few new extensions that I hadn't tried out over at Ed Bott's blog . PDF Download is one that lets you see how big a pdf file is when you click on the link and offers options of how you want to open it (tab,as html, or dowload). That's handy - nothing worse than clicking on some monster pdf file and waiting forever (fellow dialup users will understand).

Copy URL+ is the other extension which is an ideal tool for blogging or sending snippets from a page via email - will capture the snippet as well as the Title of the Page and the URL. Saves a lot of steps - definitely one to download.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Postprandial Blood Glucose in Type 2 Diabetes
"Although fasting hyperglycemia is used commonly to diagnose type 2 diabetes, there is increasing interest in the role of postprandial blood glucose (PPG) for both the diagnosis and management of type 2 diabetes.[3] Postprandial hyperglycemia develops early in the course of type 2 diabetes and is often evident even before fasting plasma glucose (FPG) elevations are seen. In addition, PPG is a marker of glycemic burden and is as predictive or more predictive of the risk for complications of diabetes when compared with FPG.

A look at the new incretin mimetics and how they can help those postprandial swings - an interesting article for those of us who have type 2 Diabetes - something to discuss with your endocronologist at your next office visit. I don't have a serious problem with fasting blood sugars, but sure do with postprandial glucose values (after meal spikes). *Note - you may have to register at the Medscape site to read the article, but it's a free registration.
An Organic Cash Cow - New York Times
"But for purists, unpasteurized, or raw milk, is the only way to go. It can be delicious and more nutritious, but finding raw milk takes a lot of work. In most states it can be sold legally only on the farm or through clubs in which people buy shares of a cow and divide the milk. And raw milk can pose a health hazard, especially for people with weakened immune systems."
Is it really Organic?

Thought that last comment about compromised immune systems was interesting as I would be one of those. Something to be aware of if you are "going back to nature".
A vote for Evolution
"All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy."
Kansas should take a lesson from PA

I am glad to see my neighbor to the North has regained its senses

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Guess where I won't be retiring?

"TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution."
Kansas School Board Casts Doubts on Evolution

The only thing I remember about Kansas was driving through that hellhole when I was a kid with the window down in the car and had a tick fly in and nab me in the back. Thought that sucked, just like I think the idiocy above does. You Go Republicans! (I feel sorry for the moderates of the Republican party - maybe they will get sick enough of this crap and will spin off a 3rd party?) What is it with all this evangelizing? Get a life - I think God would be happier with you if you lived life instead of worshipping him all day long.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grenades Kill

"BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - A hand grenade being used instead of a ball in a game of catch exploded early on Saturday killing three youths in this Bosnian town, police and news agencies said.

Two youths aged 19 and 20, one of them from neighboring Croatia, were killed instantly while a 20-year-old woman died on her way to hospital, police said. Her sister was slightly injured but two other youths suffered serious injuries."

You couldn't find something better to play with?

WiFi for the Masses

"Wireless Philadelphia and its network supplier EarthLink have hammered out a subscription model that is tiered to handle the low-income areas in the city. As the network rolls out, most subscribers will pay $20 a month for the wireless service, but low-income families will get a 50 percent subsidy on their access. That takes the price right down into NetZero country, which is a pretty good deal for broadband wireless"

Men and Women
Dave Barry on the Man/Woman dilemma
"--The ''laundry refolding'' syndrome: This has been widely noted by both me and a friend of mine named Jeff. What happens is, the male will attempt to fold a piece of laundry, and when he is done, the female, with a look of disapproval, will immediately pick it up and re-fold it so that it is much neater and smaller. ''My wife can make an entire bed sheet virtually disappear,'' reports Jeff" (be sure to read the rest of the article - a true hoot!)

Oh boy, is this true or what? I am living proof of this, repeated some 10,000 times!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sports and More

Did you catch the NYC Marathon this morning? Great races, particularly the finish of the men's race. Closest race in history - always enjoy watching this race - amazing how you can crank out 4:40 miles, one after another for 26.2 miles. Heartbreak for last year's winner Henry Remaala of South Africa who lost by 1 step to Paul Tergat of Kenya, the world record holder. Can you imagine running 26.2 miles and losing by 1 step? Incredible. I probably couldn't run one (1) 8 minute mile at the moment. Good stuff. Now off to see if Tiger can close down on the front runner in the season ending Tour Championship.

TV shows
Tune in to West Wing tonite - Jimmy Smits and Allen Alda do a "live tv" debate for the presidency. Should be good. Smits and Alda have brought a lot to the show. And then of course there is Desperate Housewives, Gray's Anatomy, and the best "feel good" show on TV (and probably the best show period) - Extreme Makeover (starts at 7 Eastern tonite - 2 hour show). Whew - gonna have a sore butt after all that!

Link of the Day

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

A friend of mine mentioned to me that Lyrica is a new drug that appears to be quite effective in the relief of pain from fibromyalgia. So if you're suffering with that, you might want to read further about it at this site .
The benefit of Lyrica for fibromyalgia was demonstrated as early as the first week of treatment.

A significantly greater proportion of patients receiving Lyrica versus placebo (48% vs. 27%) exeprienced a clinically meaningful reduction in pain. What defines a clinically meaningful reduction in pain? It is defined as a 30% or greater improvement in pain.

Significantly more patients taking 450 mg per day Lyrica experienced a 50% or greater reduction in pain at the end of the study compared with placebo, (29% vs. 13%).

Monday, October 31, 2005

More Memory to the Rescue

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWell, I'm happy to say that 1GB of RAM is now residing in the ol' machine and it is actually working. Stumbling across the tip I mentioned below saved me a whole lot of headaches in diagnosing this sudden reboot problem. Do yourself a favor and download and test your own RAM - no harm in checking and might even catch a chip in early failure. Will be nice now to run Photoshop tasks without swapping to disk to gain more memory and now I can have more Konfabulator widgets running in the background! :)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Microsoft Anti-Spyware

I continue to be impressed with Microsoft's Anti-Spyware. Since installing, I have not had a single instance of spyware getting onto my computer (verified by running Search and Destroy as well). I am thinking that I may just uninstall Spyware Blaster and Search and Destroy as there doesn't seem to be much need for them now. You can learn more about this program and download it at Microsoft's Anti-Spyware site . It's free to try through the end of December - after that, I'm not sure what Microsoft plans to do with it - whether it will remain free or whether there will be a charge associated. I believe it is Microsoft's intention to include it in Vista, so hopefully it will remain free. (*Update - Windows AntiSpyware (Beta 2) and the final release version will each be available at no additional charge for currently licensed Windows customers. Customers will be required to validate that their version of Windows is genuine.) A further note - Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) supports Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server™ 2003.

If you are interested in joining or just looking at forums related to MS's Anti-Spyware, you can do so here .

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Handy tool to test your computer memory

Well, it looks like I solved my computer woes. I went searching on the Net for Memory Testing Tools since the ol' computer was crashing at random. Found in a tech forum a link to . Easy to follow instructions and the test results were simple to interpret. Discovered that one of my RAM chips was bad, so I'm now off to get a new one. Add this little program to your troubleshooting arsenal - saved me a whole lot of trouble and expense in getting this machine diagnosed.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Computer woes

Haven't been posting for a bit, as I've been suffering with the mysterious computer woes. Stupid thing just tosses up a black screen and reboots when it feels like it. I'm half suspecting some Firefox extension or theme I might have downloaded, so uninstalled most of them today (Firefox now loads a lot faster! :). Not sure if a bad piece of code could wreck so much havoc - we shall see. After about 10 sudden reboots the other day, my computer didn't like the copies of the registry so started hauling up old ones - now that's fun. Suddenly your desktop background is gone - your fonts look a bit strange - settings are lost in some programs - all quite strange.

Thought I had my stuff safe on an external HD and then when I plugged it back in today, discovered my computer wouldn't recognize, so I rebooted and chkdsk popped up checking the drive - found a bunch of corrupted stuff - fixed it and I'm back to normal (ha! - what's normal?). No idea how stuff got corrupted on there.

And then this afternoon I picked up the mail and standing at the table tilted my neck forward to look at the paper and that damn thing seized - thought I was gonna pass out - boy - talk about some pain. whew. Guess the ol' RA is gonna destroy my neck now. When you're on a roll, you're on a roll!

At least I have my wife's laptop to fall back on which is a good thing :)

Friday, October 21, 2005

No end in sight for Google?

Geez and here I thought $300/share for Google was expensive. Well it has climbed about $44/share today after record setting profits and analysts are even putting price targets of $450 on this baby. Crazy, huh? But he who doubts Google, is usually quickly proven wrong. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Let's see - how can we traumatize our child?

Saw this on IslandGirl's blog today: Would have to agree with her.

Yet another stupid baby name
I thought that Nicholas Cage might just win the prize for stupidest baby name ever with Kal-el Cage, but there is just so much competition, its hard to pick a winner. Celebrities are stupid.

Here are a few more:

Moxie Crimefighter, daughter of Penn Jillette
Rumer Glenn, Tallulah Belle and Scout LaRue, daughters of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore
Jett, son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Diezel and Denim, sons of Toni Braxton and Keri Lewis
Prince Michael, Prince Michael II (AKA Blanket), and Paris Michael, children of Michael Jackson
Speck Wildhorse and Hud, sons of John Mellencamp and Elaine Irwin
Pilot Inspektor, son of Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf
Tu Morrow, daughter of Rob Morrow and Debbon Ayre (seriously)
Audio Science, son of Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton
Zowie Bowie, son of David Bowie
Rolan Bolan, son of Marc Bolan
Banjo, son of Rachel Griffiths
Lyric and Zephyr, daughter and son of Robby Benson
Kyd, son of David Duchovny and Tea Leoni
Reignbeau and Freedom, daughter and son of Ving Rhames
Jermajesty, son of Jermaine Jackson

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

AvantGo RSS Feed

I noticed that AvantGo now has RSS feeds for your Palm Pilot or PocketPC, so if you use AvantGo (and I can't imagine someone having one of those devices and not having AvantGo), look on the right side of this page and click on the RSS AvantGo icon and it will add this blog to your list of downloadable AvantGo topics. Very cool. Once a member of AvantGo, you can add any RSS channels that you'd like to subscribe to. You can also put an AvantGo AutoChannel for RSS button in your browser's link bar which makes it very easy to add feeds to your AvantGo subscription service. I tried all this out on my own blog and it worked like a champ.
I am happy to say I am doing my small part in this endeavor. :)

- As of October 2005, Technorati is now tracking 19.6 Million weblogs
- The total number of weblogs tracked continues to double about
every 5 months
- The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of letup in growth
- About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day
- About a new weblog is created each second
- 2% - 8% of new weblogs per day are fake or spam weblogs
- Between 700,000 and 1.3 Million posts are made each day
- About 33,000 posts are created per hour, or 9.2 posts per second
- An additional 5.8% of posts (or about 50,000 posts/day) seen each day are from spam or fake blogs, on average

Monday, October 17, 2005

Google Blog Search Tool

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHere's a nice new tool I just stumbled upon - if you read blogs frequently (no, they're not just personal diaries), then Google Blog Search is a helpful new search tool that searches only blogs. Unlike the regular search engine, this will give you peoples' opinions which is especially helpful if you are searching for gadgets or such to purchase. Also handy for news items, health issues, you name it.

Wireless Audible

Boy, they just keep coming up with more and more ways to make listening to books easy. Now you can wireless download Audible books to your Treo 650. Check out David Pogue's article in the Times (but don't wait long to do it, as these articles are archived and then you have to pay).

He speaks about memory limitations with the Treo, but an Audible listener at makes the following comment
Though the point about the Treo's memory limitations even with a card is wrong. I have a Treo 650 with a 1GB memory card and can thus store about say 12 audio books of 6 hours each. I believe a 2 GB card can also be inserted into the Treo 650.

Wie disqualified - Sox Win!

Michelle Wie was disqualified from her 4th place finish in her first pro tournament on Sunday. Apparently during the 3rd round, she had an unplayable lie and upon dropping the ball, placed it inadvertently 3" (her estimate) to 12" (rules officials' estimates) closer to the hole - a no-no in golf. A Sports Illustrated reporter watching this mentioned it after the tournament to rules officials and upon going back to the hole and having Michelle and her caddy point out where the ball was originally and where she dropped it, the rules officials gave her the heave ho. What a way to start your pro career. Read more about it at the Sports Illustrated site . Needless to say, Michelle was less than happy about this. (The reporter could have reported it during the 3rd round when it happened and before she signed her scorecard and she wouldn't have been disqualifed - sounds like a reporter trying to make a name for himself, if you ask me - bunch of crap). However, you can read another opinion of the sportswriter's actions here

The Sox powered into the World Series behind fabulous pitching last night. First time since 1959 - too bad they couldn't win it on their home field - place would have gone crazy. Maybe they'll get that chance in the World Series. Looking like they will probably play Houston for the World Series.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Canon 20D or Panasonic FZ30?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHere's an interesting review of the differences and decision making when it comes to selecting a digital camera. I stumbled across this while looking at Photography Blog via my RSS newsreader . What's the solution? Buy both and hide the receipts from your wife. :)

Wie struggles, then finishes strong

Michelle Wie came back yesterday from some poorly played beginning holes to finish -1 for the day and -10 through the 3rd day, good enough to be only 5 shots back of Anika and in sole possession of 3rd place. It's possible if she shot a 64 or something tomorrow that she might win, but that would be a minor miracle. Still, not having a bad tournament for a 16 yr old, eh? For a recap, head here

White Sox meantime move to 3-1 in their league playoff vs the Angels. Suspect they will finish off the Angels soon, since they have outstanding pitching and I'll finally get to see my boys appear in the World Series - first time since I was 9 years old. (a few million years ago). Tune in tonite to see if they can make it happen.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Hot Start for Wie

Michelle Wie fired a 7 under 65 today in the 2nd round of the Samsung World Championship. As most of you know, MIchelle started her Pro career here at the ripe old age of 16. Her 65 netted her a tie for 2nd place, 2 strokes off the lead going into Saturday's round. NBC will have coverage for 1 hour (1-2pm) on Saturday and then will have 3 hours of coverage on Saturday( 1-4pm). (with Michelle around, I suspect TV coverage will begin to improve for women's golf) . Head to the LPGA site for an interview with Michelle and leader Grace Park after their rounds today.

Testing out a blog posting tool in the new photo sharing site called Zoto.  You can get 2 Gigs worth of free photo uploads there for sharing with others. That's quite a bit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Adobe 7.0 Reader and Firefox

Decided to download Adobe 7.0 Reader yesterday as I have found that 6.0 and Firefox don't behave well together (takes forever to close Adobe and slow to open as well.) Was happy to see that they have fixed those problems now - works like a champ - so, if you haven't upgraded and are using Firefox for your browser, do yourself a favor.

Friday, October 07, 2005

White Sox Moving Closer

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI've been waiting since 1959 to see the Sox move into the World Series - since the days of Al Smith, Louis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, Sherman Lollar, Jim Landis, , Early Wynn, Billy Pierce and Ted Kluzewski. Red Sox just tied up the 3rd game in the series with back to back home runs - but I'm counting on the Chisox. :) Of course, if they win the division, they'll probably still have to get by the Yankees, no easy task. My favorite ball player of all time didn't play that year for the Sox, but if he had, perhaps they would have won the World Series - yep, we're talking about the one and only Minnie Minoso (Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta - how's that for a name?). Turn here for a look at Minnie today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Big AppleMade it into the Big Apple today. Beginning to get the hang of this after 3 trips here in the past year. Park at Newark airport, catch a shuttle bus into Grand Central station and then either walk or catch a subway to where we stay. Piece of cake. Cost of 1 week subway/bus pass has climbed to $24, but still the best deal going in NYC. Ate lunch and dinner at Grand Central - food is good and prices are reasonable (for NYC).

Spent about 4 days in Philly doing the history thing - the new Constitution exhibit (very nicely done - definitely worth a visit), Independence Hall (they make the visits too short - timed visits - 15 minutes - guess with so many people wanting to visit ......,) also checked out all the other historical homes around Independence Hall. Helps to have studied up on your late 1700's history before coming. Fortunately, I had prepared by reading Michael Shaara's revolutionary war books, the Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis, and Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer.

Also took in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (wonderful museum - where Rocky ran up the steps), ate Philly cheesesteaks and other bad things at the Reading Terminal Market near City Hall (took the elevator ride to the very top of the biggest city hall blgd in the country).

Plan to do some of our Soundwalks (walking tours with audio from locals - outstanding series of walks) - this time plan to do Wall Street, Brooklyn, and Little Italy. Hope to take in "Flightplan" at the Ziegfield with Jodie Foster and maybe a Broadway show, if we can find a cheap one we like .

Till then....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Day on the BattlefieldPooped out after 7 hours on the Battlefield! Was worth it though - driving tour and accompanying cassette tape were excellent. Having read the 1st half of the Killer Angels so far, gave us a big leg up on understanding the battle and the characters behind it. I'm telling you, these were some damn tough characters back then - hike 28 miles and then storm Little Round Top - ugh - man, I wouldn't have even made it 28 miles, let alone have the strength to charge a hill or load a weapon. And of course there was the minor little distraction of cannon balls exploding around your head.

Rounded off the day with an all you can eat buffett at Pickett's Buffett - I'm sure General Pickett stopped in here for a hearty meal before charging across that 1 mile expanse. If his boys had eaten as much as we did, I doubt they would have made it more than a few hundred yards. They probably hadn't eaten in some time and thus decided to charge across the field cause they knew Pickett's buffett was just around the corner. :) It was a hot, sticky day today, just like the days these guys fought in - can't imagine wearing those hot uniforms and running barefoot across some of those rocks. Somehow, I suspect them boys had a mite more fortitude than this ol' couch potato.

I'd post a pic of the day, but too pooped for that craziness.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Vacation Time!Haven't posted in a bit and am now off on a 2 week vacation to Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and NYC. Will hopefully find some time in the evening to post a few pics and give you a vacation update. Spent most of the day today driving from SW VA up to Gettysburg - about a 6-7 hour drive. Didn't seem like the drive took very long, because Janet and I were listening to the audio version of Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels", arguably one of the best historical novels ever written. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction back in 1973 and much later (in the 90's) was made into a film by Ted Turner, entitled "Gettysburg".

I had read it some 20 years ago and recently saw the film Gettysburg again, plus have read a ton of Civil War stuff, but it is a nice review before touring the battlefield. Excellently narrated.

We'll spend most of Wednesday touring the battlefield.

Time to go back to listening to the audio book!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Medicaid Cuts Postponed

From Reuters comes this bit of news.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers in Washington have shelved -- at least temporarily -- plans to reduce spending on the massive Medicaid health program by $10 billion. The cuts were to be part of broader budget deficit-reduction legislation due September 16.

But there is another reason for the delay besides the need to provide immediate relief to hurricane victims -- even some Republican lawmakers say it would be bad public relations to cut Medicaid when so many poor people were disproportionately -- and visibly on national television -- affected by the hurricane. "This is not the time to take on Medicaid or other entitlements for the poor," said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., a member of the Senate committee charged with making the cuts.

"At a time when millions are displaced and seeking federal and state assistance, we believe it is inappropriate to move forward on that portion of a legislative package that would cut programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps, WIC (a food program for pregnant women and children), housing and education," the letter said.

Other Republicans, however, said that while the federal government may well end up spending more on Medicaid to help the hurricane victims, it is important to proceed with the budget legislation as well. Said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, "we're not cutting Medicaid. We're reforming government." hmmm..... how so?

Katrina's Silver Lining?
David Brook's makes some sense in his NY Times column . "That's why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior." (click the link and read the entire article)

For all Things Katrina
Wikipedia has this page that will take you to everything you probably would want to know about Katrina. So, if you want to help, look here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Katrina Photos from a Flickr user.

The President announced he's sending Vice President Dick Cheney -- just returned from vacation in Wyoming -- to the Gulf Coast to look into the red tape tangling response efforts. Gee Dick, nice of you to take a break from your vacation and I'm sure you'll get to the root of the evildoing - LOL

Want the latest uptodate news on Katrina? You need to check out this blogger who is posting live updates with photos.

Do you have a bed or a room you can offer an evacuee? If so, head over to

Image hosted by

From Nicolas D. Kristoff of the NY Times, comes this article - The Larger Shame None of this is to suggest that there are easy solutions for American poverty. As Ronald Reagan once said, "We fought a war on poverty, and poverty won." But we don't need to be that pessimistic - in the late 1990's, we made real headway. A ray of hope is beautifully presented in one of the best books ever written on American poverty, "American Dream," by my Times colleague Jason DeParle.

So the best monument to the catastrophe in New Orleans would be a serious national effort to address the poverty that afflicts the entire country. And in our shock and guilt, that may be politically feasible.

Jason De Parle's book - American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare

If you're looking for a no-fee credit card that offers 5% back on gas, groceries, and drugstore purchases and 1% back on everything else, you might be interested in this card . If you read the fine print, max you will get back in a year is $300, although the article I found in Newsweek about this said there was no rebate limit. I think Newsweek was wrong, but if someone wants to check out the site and give me your take on the fine print, I'd appreciate it. Still I'll take $300 if someone is going to give it to me - I pay off my credit cards every month, so I don't care about the interest rate. For those of you who don't pay it off each month, my sympathies for your future well-being.

Buy a House - get a Pig! Check it out!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nature in More Peaceful Times - Photo of the Day

Sometimes we all need a break from Katrina, if just for a few moments. So here's nature when it isn't being disturbed. (although these fellas are cannibals, so I'm not sure that "peaceful" is the appropriate word here. :) These are one of the easier creatures to take macro shots of because they don't mind that the lens is only a few inches from their face. Canon 20D,EF100mm f2.8 USM Macro lens, 1/320th @ f5, ISO 400

Click on the picture to get a truly closeup view.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast

If you're looking for a meaningful book on the crisis in New Orleans and what needs to be done before rebuilding that city, then you should pick up a copy of Mike Tidwell's book Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast . I saw him on Meet the Press today and he was impressive. Gets 5 Star reviews at Amazon.

If you missed Meet the Press today , you can read the transcript of the show .

If you want to read an interesting article appearing in the Houston Chronicle about New Orleans written in 2001, then read Keeping Its Head Above Water - New Orleans Faces doomsday scenario

Places to Donate:

Red Cross

Habitat for Humanity

Noah's Wish - Helping the Animals

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Race Card? I don't think so

In all the emotions of the past week, it is understandable that incriminations are being hurled everywhere. One that I have been frequently hearing is that there would have been a quicker Federal response, had it been white people who were in this situation rather than black people. I guess I'm just not cynical enough to buy into that theory. I think it was more of a matter of poor leadership and mismanagement on the Federal level and bureaucracy getting in the way between the States and the Feds. There were poor white communities outside of New Orleans that received help no faster than the folks in New Orleans. I can certainly understand the blacks of New Orleans feeling this way as they look around and only see each other and few whites, but then New Orleans is 70% black as well, so that shouldn't be too big of a surprise. This was the first big test of how Homeland Security would operate now that they had incorporated FEMA under their wing. Obviously, they failed and have to now totally reevaluate how to improve their response. As horrible as New Orleans is, this may serve as a very big and much needed wakeup call.

I hate to say it, but I think much of the blame has to land at GW's doorstep - when you're the man in charge, you have to know the details of your operation - as any good CEO knows, "the devil is in the details". It's not enough to hire people and assume they know what they are doing - you have to be ever vigilant and make sure that those who are working for you have credible plans in place. Unfortunately, I just don't think this President has that mental capability - no slam on him as a person - we weren't all born geniuses. However, someone in charge of a country this large does need to have a great mind, be able to express himself well and be extraordinarily well versed in many areas. Bush is just not the right man at this time for all the crises this country is facing and will be facing in years to come. Who is that perfect person? Who knows, but they need to have the qualities mentioned above and then some.

I heard various commentators suggesting that the Feds would have been in there quicker had the governor of LA asked for it officially. Now that does sound ludicrous, but at the same time hardly surprising when one looks at how huge bureaucracies operate. It will be interesting to find out how much planning went on between the governor, the mayor and the Federal govt in regards to major disaster planning. It seems surprising that a black mayor wouldn't know that most of his constituency didn't have the means to get out of town and even if they could, didn't have the means to afford lodging anywhere. (I suspect he knew this very well). If his State didn't have the resources to go through these neighborhoods and gather up these people on buses and move them out, why didn't he plan with the Federal Govt ahead of time to have National Guard or whomever to get in there and have these buses, trucks, etc picking up these people 1-2 days prior to landfall? I would be most interested to hear that question answered. ( I heard this morning that FEMA just last year went through this very same scenario even to the point of having New Orleans completely flooded and with the understanding that these poor people didn't have the means to get out, but I also heard that they stopped there - they didn't ever go further and figure out exactly how to remove the people and where to put them - mindboggling It will be interesting to sort out the chaff from the wheat in this story in the coming days.

It has also been amazing to watch reporters on this beat - I've never seen such antipathy towards the govt expressed as has been seen here and it's across all the channels, even Fox. Tune in to this snippet on Fox to see what I mean. (It will take a while to download, so if you're on dialup, go eat breakfast or something and come back). It's total disgust for the talking heads in DC and their ineffectiveness - truly history in the making. It will be quite interesting to see how all this plays out in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

We should be embarrassed

From all apparent signs, the govt's response to the tragedy in New Orleans has been a total disaster in itself. Listening to Jack Cafferty on CNN this afternoon, he ripped the government big time (for those who believe the press is too easy on the govt, you haven't listened to Jack). Now people are in desperate condition at a large convention center in the city, with people starting to die in front of one's eyes. Come on now, you can't get food and water dropped in there? Mind you, I don't blame the heroic efforts the people on the ground are performing - they are truly heroes, but the govt is the driving force behind protecting it's citizens and it is just too damn slow here.

One thing about this tragedy that may in the very long haul bring some good - America is getting to see the Poor up front and slammed in their face. This is what our country turns a blind eye to so much of the time - well there's no escaping it now. Are these the conditions that a humanitarian country wants part of the population to live in? It's time for this country to step up and be proud of itself by providing worthwhile and meaningful jobs for these people who fervently wish to be productive citizens, just like you and I. Corporations could do wonderful things in this arena, but it takes guts on the parts of compassionate CEOs. Sometimes that means telling your stockholders that some of those dividend reimbursements may have to be curtailed so that others less fortunate than you and I can have a better life. Don't think the stockholders would accept that? You might be mistaken - Americans can be very compassionate when called upon. We don't like to see poverty, drugs and crime - well, let's do something that will effect it in a meaningful way - let's provide work for these people, even if it it is public works projects to begin with. Do we really want to send half our jobs overseas and exploit poor people in other countries while we sweep our disenfranchised brethren on the home front under the carpet? Is that what we want for our country? Maybe rather than writing one's congressman/woman, one should be writing the CEOs of companies asking them what they have done to help the disenfranchised of their communities?

Your comments are welcomed.

America's Great Divide

From the Bulldog Manifesto today comes these interesting blog remarks.
To put the 'Great American Divide' in context, assume there are 100 people who have $100 to split up amongst them. Although nobody expects the money to be shared evenly at $1.00 per person, everybody expects that some basic fairness may be applied in the process.

But suppose the $100 gets divided as follows:

1 person gets $38.10
4 people get $5.32 each
5 people get $2.30 each
10 people get $1.25 each
20 people get $.60 each
20 people get $.23 each
40 people get 1/2 cent each

That is how the money is divided in America. As the one person who now makes $38.10 begins to take even a greater share as time goes by, the divide gets wider. Eventually, you have a situation where the people become quite upset with the situation, perhaps feeling that the system is skewed a bit unfairly.
Kinda brings the true picture home when you look at it this way, doesn't it? Kinda depressing to realize i'm probably one of those folks who might be lucky enough to get .23. LOL :(

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wondering why everybody didn't just get out ?

"What breaks your heart is the city has so many poor people who live in old, deteriorated, substandard housing and they have so little — and what little they have they've lost," said Michael L. Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, who spent seven years in New Orleans as president of Dillard University. "These are people who stayed because they couldn't get out, because they didn't have a car." New Orleans' Tragic Paradox

Health Costs continue to Spiral Upwards

There's a good article in USA Today about spiraling health costs today. We can identify with that. We just got hit with our annual premium increase - 18% higher than last year. We don't have company paid health insurance, so this is just another nail in our coffin. With this latest premium increase, premiums for my wife and I will hit 10K per year. That's just the premiums! That doesn't cover meeting the deductible and the 20% copays after meeting the deductible. I won't say what we make, but let's just say that is a whopping part of our salary. Even if we increase deductibles from $300 to $5000, we're still looking at $6400/year in premiums alone (having diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes does yourself no favors either when it comes to insurance companies deciding where you fall on their risk ladder). Is this crazy or what? These have been our premium increases in recent years:
  • 2001 - 10.8%

  • 2002 - 16.2%

  • 2003 - 22.3%

  • 2004 - 16.3%

  • 2005 - 19.4%

  • 2006 - 18.2%

Now last time I looked, we weren't getting salary increases each year along those lines. Last time I looked inflation wasn't at those levels either. Seems to me I'd better start buying stock in insurance companies.

And when you start looking at alternative plans, it becomes a bewildering maze of figures and becomes very complicated forecasting what the next year might bring. And if you switch to the cheaper plan, then you can get burned by less coverage and there is the real possibility they won't let you switch back to the old plan. A conundrum to say the least. I'm currently investigating HSA plans (Health Savings Accounts) but they aren't all peaches and cream either.
An HSA (in which money contributed is tax-deductible, grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free for medical expenses) certainly can work for you. A worker who salts away $1,000 per year for 40 years in an HSA could accumulate $133,400 to pay for future health-care expenses, EBRI research shows. If the very same worker salts away $2,650 per year, the HSA nest egg could grow to a whopping $474,200.

But those sums, while tidy, are best case and assume a worker would not spend any money in an HSA on current health-care expenses. It assumes they would roll over 100% of their year-end account balances each year.

The more likely case is that a worker would spend some portion of the money in an HSA on current medical expenses. And once you factor the very real possibility that a worker rolls just a portion of their year-end account balances, the health-care nest egg starts to look meager, if not insignificant.

Consider, for instance, the worker who salts away $2,650 per year over 40 years but spends most of it for annual health costs and rolls over just 10% of the year-end account balance for 40 years. That worker would have only $10,000 in the HSA to pay for health care expenses in retirement. And that sum seems hardly enough to buy a box of cotton swabs four decades hence.

Doesn't sound so wonderful does it? Well there are suggestions to make it better and you can read about it in this article entitled Time to overhaul HSAs at Marketwatch.

Some will advise me to just find a doctor to declare myself totally disabled and then I can get on Medicaid. Well, that's fine, except I'm not disabled to that point, nor do I like the thought of not paying my own way and waiting on a government handout. I believe those should be reserved for the the truly needy, whose ranks we'll probably join pretty fast at this rate.

Looks like it's time to wing another letter off to the old congressmen/women in DC - fat lot of good that will do, but if you write a letter and your friend writes a letter, etc, etc - maybe somebody might just wake up. So help us out and sharpen that pencil.

Red Cross Needs your Help

I was hoping to see people clicking on the link to the Red Cross so that they could donate much needed funds. So far I haven't seen any indication of anyone clicking on that link, which is disappointing. I can only hope you've contributed through other sites or via other means. This is the best way to help these unfortunate people at the moment, so do everything you possibly can to loosen up those purse strings.

Note ** - The Red Cross said it had so far raised $21 million, a figure comparable to the response for tsunami victims following the devastation in Asia earlier this year. Nearly $15 million of that has come from individual donations through its Web site, with the rest representing corporate contributions. This is great news - keep it coming folks!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New 10X Olympus

Image hosted by Olympus has announced a new 10x (35mm-380mm) optical 6mp f2.8-3.7 camera using xD cards for a mere $399. That's a hard price to beat. Also will macro focus down to 3cm and has a 2.5" LCD. Only bummer - electronic viewfinder, but at that price you can't complain. Also noticed it doesn't have IS (image stabilization), which is not good when shooting at the 380 end of that zoom. Still the price is low.

Web site of the Day
Windows XP Free Downloads

Help out the Red Cross

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Red Cross Needs your help. Head over to the Red Cross Web Site where you can donate to help out. These folks down in LA, MS, AL are going to need a lot of help, so open up those pocketbooks and put the Lexus on the back burner for the moment.

No Flood Insurance?
This left me rather amazed - noticed this in the online edition of Newsweek . They were interviewing an economist with the Insurance Information Institute, who said,
Is it possible for homeowners in storm-prone places to get flood insurance?
In order to have flood-related coverage you have to have purchased a policy that's underwritten by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program. Unfortunately many people do not purchase that even though it's relatively inexpensive and ubiquitously available. It's through the same agent that sells your standard homeowner's policy, but it's the government that [provides] the insurance.

Don't people know about federal flood insurance?
Oh, people know about it. Many people because they're not obliged to do it, they say, “It won't happen to me,” or they hope to get some federal aid afterwards. But in the end they're going to wind up coming short. It's playing Russian roulette with your most valuable asset--your home. I would say that you would have to be insane to not buy flood coverage if you live anywhere along the Southeast coast of the United States.

People can afford to have a house but can't afford to protect it - what's up with that?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I've been away from blogging a few days, trying to get some printer issues worked out. I had recently bought a Canon i9900 printer which will print borderless 13x19 prints. It's a beauty and a speed demon as well. What was weird, is that I would print something and it would spit it out immediately, just like it should.. But if I then pressed Print again, it would take up to 4 minutes to print. Strange, eh? After many emails back and forth with Canon and prowling many a forum and uninstalling, reinstalling printer drivers, defragging, tuning up the registry, dumping temp files, still nothing worked.

Finally a techie in a printer forum suggested that perhaps my usb 2.0 printer port was underpowered. Since my computer is about 3 years old , it didn't come with 2.0 ports, only 1.1 . I had to purchase a Belkin hi-speed 2.0 PCI card with two usb 2.0 ports on it, in order to get hi-speed usb 2.0 components to work. I've had my external hard drive, my card reader, my scanner and my other Canon printer (an S300) printer plugged into that card and the hub that came with it, without a problem. But the i9900 was obviously presenting new challenges. When I decided to unplug this i9900 and plug it into one of my old 1.1 ports on the computer, it worked correctly. Therefore, perhaps the i9900 has bigger power requirements than my other devices did? I plugged my i9900 into my wife's laptop which has native hi-speed usb 2.0 ports and it worked fine on her machine. So perhaps there is a glitch with the Belkin PCI card. So an email to Belkin and now I await their answer. No doubt it will say that there couldn't be a problem and they will send me a replacement card - we shall see.

But that's where I've been - on an all-consuming effort to figure this out. Incredible how long it can take.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Photo of the Day

Not your ordinary front view, but rather a view from the back of the flower. I liked the color combo in this shot. Taken in the gardens of the Fox Hill Inn . Canon 20D, EF100mm f2.8 Macro USM lens; 1/640th@f4.5 iso200>

Indian Fry Bread debate? Seems like quite a controversy is raging out on the reservation, as Indians struggle with diabetes. Is this favorite staple killing them? Some interesting information here in this Miami Herald article (you may have to register to access article - free registration). Having had some Indian Fry bread myself and being a type 2 diabetic myself, I can understand the debate. I do admit - the stuff is addicting, but then my middle name should have been "pastry". If you want a try at it yourself, here's a recipe .

Quote of the Day
Mitch Hedberg - I once saw a forklift lift a crate of was too damn literal for me...That machine has been misunderstood for years.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Photo of the Day

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Virginia's State butterfly. The Eastern Tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, is a large (12 cm wingspan) Swallowtail Butterfly. It is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far West as extreme Eastern Colorado. It flies from spring through fall, and most of the year in the southern portions of its range, where it may produce 2 or 3 broods a year. Canon 20D, EF100mm F2.8 Macro USM ; 1/500th @ f4.5 iso 200 Click the photo to see full sized view.

The Turnaround

Did you catch CNN's TheTurnaround this morning? As I've mentioned before, if business appeals to you and in particular the thought of running your own business, you can't find a much better show for giving you lots of tips on how to make your business work. Today's show concentrated on helping a lady run a catering business out her house and to assist her in making her business profitable. Emma Tate had to be one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet , in fact she was so nice, she was practically giving her business away for free to charitable organizations. One of the biggest lessons she had to learn was the ability to say "NO". While it was hard for her to turn people away, she also learned that being profitable means you can create jobs for people, something she hadn't really thought about. (So for those who scorn business all the time for making profits, remember, that does create opportunities for jobs - it's only when the profits become excessive and end up in the fat cats' pockets, that trouble begins).

One of the other interesting bits of advise given to her by her mentor was to create an advisory board that would look at all aspects of her business, initially on a monthly basis and then quarterly. What a great idea! How many small business owners would think of creating an advisory board of people who could honestly evaluate the business and point out ways to improve? Think about how many small businesses fail today in the early years - far too many. Why? Because most try to go it alone and can't see the forest for the trees. Think if they could have the mentoring that is provided by this TV show - the success rate would definitely soar. It always comes back to education, doesn't it? And this is education done correctly - by applying principles to real situations, not idly theorizing in a classroom somewhere. These are the sorts of things that our teachers in our public schools could learn from.

If I were thinking of starting a new business, I'd tape every one of these shows and follow all of these tips. You're getting advice from people who are the very best in their industry - where can you get that for free?

P.S. Just learned that CNN is cancelling this show . Come on - how dumb can you be? And to top it off you dumped Dolan's Unscripted as well. You trashed it originally when you took it off daily programming and now you cancel it for good. How do you think the common man learns about wise investments and financial planning? And learning how to run a small business? Geez, CNN - don't you think America would like to be educated?

Financial Advice
When was the last time you checked out your credit report? Were you aware that you can now get them free? Yep, once every 12 months you can get your free report from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Head for . Eastern states have to wait till September 1st before this becomes available but for all the rest of you, you should definitely take advantage of this.

Mortgage Rates - I checked out the recent national averages - 5.8% for a 30 year fixed , 5.4% for a 15 year fixed. If you borrowed a 100K to buy a house, you'd be looking at $586/month payments on the 30 year fixed and $811 on the 15 year fixed. If you could figure out a way to come up with that extra $225/month for the 15 year fixed , you'd save $65,108 on buying that house. Of course you could take the difference ($225) and invest it, but then you have to do better than 5.8% and you have to calculate in taxes on the interest you earn on your investments, so in the end you'd have to be disciplined to invest that difference each month and you'd probably be shooting for at least a 10% return on your investment - something that isn't very easy to do in today's stock market. If it was me, I'd be searching awful hard for a way to come up with those extra bucks.

Quote of the Day
Mitch Hedberg - In England, Smokey the Bear is not the forest fire prevention representative. They have Smackey the Frog. It's just like a bear, but it's a frog. I think it's a better system, I think we should adopt it. Because bears can be mean, but frogs are always cool. Never has there been a frog hopping toward me, and I thought 'man, I'd better play dead. Here comes that frog ...' You never say here comes that frog in a nervous manner. It's always optimistic. Hey here comes that frog, all right. Maybe he will settle near me so I can pet him, and stick him in a mayonnaise jar, with a stick and a leaf, to recreate what he's used to. And I'm pretty sure I'd have to punch some holes in the lid, because he's damn sure used to air. Then I can observe him, and he won't be doing much in his 16-ounce world.