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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
We started in Albany on a Saturday, to NJ to south central PA, where we stopped overnight to see Carol's brother, his wife and their daughter. Then the next day did the rest of the trip through MD to VA. Thursday, we returned to the brother-in-law's abode, then back home.
On each leg of the trip (south and north), we managed to see all the states and places (like DC) from ME to FL, plus three Canadian provinces: Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. We also spied, both ways, OH, MI, WI, KY, TN, AL, TX, OR, CA, and plates for US Government. We caught OK both ways, but they were trucks in both cases. We saw cars from AK (ALASKA!) and MN on the way down, and a truck from those states - and I mean one truck, with one plate on the cab and another on the trailer, on the return trip. There was a MS truck on the return trip.
But I was most excited to see, on the way down, a HI car! Someone transported a car from Hawai'i to, presumably, California, and has been driving around the country, I'd guess.
The states I didn't see at all were primarily in the mountain region: WA, ID, MT, CO, WY, UT, AZ, NM, NV, ND, SD. I was surprised not to see Colorado, which I usually catch every trip, and slightly surprised not to see the southwest states. I'm now thinking that finding a Wyoming plate on an East Coast trip is the gold standard.
I must say that it's getting harder to identify some plates when you're going 55 or 65 MPH. There are so many variations. The site here addresses some of them.
A standard Maryland plate looks like this:
But I saw this plate
and initially thought it was from AZ or NM.
Likewise, the PA plate:
This variation I'd recognize:
This variation, not so much:
Anyway, the first day back to work, in downtown Albany, what do I see? Something I didn't see in almost 1300 miles of traveling: a Colorado license plate.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Her perspective: She was either kidding OR she was assuring me that she didn't have some skin-borne disease.
My perspective: Assuming she wasn't kidding, and she didn't appear to be, just what diseases was she talking about? I wasn't worried about her, since she had self-certified her cleanliness, but should I be worried about others? I do wash the fruit in case there are pesticides or the like, but is that enough? As Paul Simon said, "Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland."
Item: On Saturday, Carol went to a retreat, so I took Lydia to the state museum. On the fourth floor was a carousel, which we rode twice. There's also, of all things, a Subway sandwich stand. We got a "meal deal" which we split, that included a couple cookies. I asked, "Is there any peanut butter..." The sales clerk said, "I'm sorry we don't carry any."
Her perspective: She thinks I'm disappointed that there are no peanut butter cookies.
My perspective: I wanted to make sure that there weren't any peanut butter cookies because Lydia is allergic to peanut butter.
Item: Drivers are driving less on the Thruway, the Interstate system that runs from New York City to Kingston to Albany (I-87) then Albany to Utica to Syracuse to Rochester to Buffalo (I-90).
My perspective: Ah, less wear and tear on the roads. Good for them.
The Thruway Authority's perspective: we'd better raise the rates 5% in January 2009, and another 5% in 2010. And while we're at it, we'll lower the E-Z Pass discount from 10% to 5% starting in June 2008.
The governor's, the legislature's and the public's perspective: Outrage.
Item: John McCain goes to Selma, Alabama where on March 7, 1965, peaceful civil rights demonstrators were attacked by state and local lawmen.
McCain's stated perspective: "I'm aware of the fact that there will be many people who will not vote for me. But I'm going to be the president of all the people and I will work for all of the people and I will listen to all of the people, whether they decide to vote for me or not."
My perspective: I remember Selma '65 quite well, since it occurred on my 12th birthday. As the Democrats continue to fight, my sense that McCain will win the general election, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, grows stronger by the day.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Every year, I go to Free Comic Book Day, and every year, I get assaulted by some superfolks. This year, FCBD is this Saturday, May 3rd. Hope I survive.
BTW, to prepare for FCBD, I went to this show this past weekend and saw my old compatriots Rocco Nigro, Bill Anderson and John Hebert. AND I finally ran into ADD; he DOES exist! He's written a nice account of our meeting here.
And I even won a drawing for a copy of Iron Man #97, "The Return of the Guardsman". Almost certainly, I owned this comic book once upon a time - all those Marvels with the 30-cent cover price I would have been buying perforce - but without looking inside, I just don't remember The Guardsman at all.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I found Jeremiah Wright to be far more thoughtful and less vitriolic than the snippets would suggest. In fact, of those snippets, Reverend Wright said, "When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public, that's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they wanna do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic..."
I was intrigued to find that Reverend Wright's "infamous" sermon of September 16, 2001 was based on Psalm 137. You may know the first six verses of that psalm from the reggae song "By the Rivers of Babylon". But I recall a former pastor of mine, last time this scripture came up in the lectionary, talk about what a difficult scripture it was to preach on:
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill .
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
I hope you take the time to watch the video and/or read the transcript of Bill Moyers' interview of Jeremiah Wright, rather than have the soundbites dictate your opinion of him.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
For her birthday, we had a little party for her with her maternal grandparents, one of her uncles and aunts and two of her cousins. She was uncharacteristically cranky; I mean she can be cranky, but usually only to her parents at bedtime (and not that often). Actually, she was sobbing uncontrollably for reasons I didn't understand, other than fatigue. So I got one or two of her stuffed animals, they talked to her, and she was fine. My wife said, "You've got skills." I said, "You seem surprised."
One of the things Lydia got for her birthday was a ball and bat. It's not a Wiffle ball, but an OBall, with a bunch of the letter O glued together in a spheroid. BTW, Fred Hembeck will be pleased to know the colors of the ball are orange and blue, the Mets' colors. She likes to hit. While I tried to rig up some T-ball-like arrangement, she prefers me to pitch to her. And though she writes and throws right-handed, she seems to prefer to hit left-handed. She likes the pitches low and inside, though she does OK low and a little outside as well. Perhaps she's got skills.
Friday, April 25, 2008
For Barack Obama, he picked Will Smith , deeming Denzel Washington too old. Smith's movies are often inspirational, he suggested.
For Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, who he said played a similar role in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
For John McCain, Richard Dreyfus, who played an old senator in another movie.
I think Denzel could still do it, but Will's good. Streep's Streep, but aren't their a number of other actresses of a certain age who could do it? Joan Allen once played the Vice-President, e.g.; the first person to come to mind (as an actress of a certain age, not anything more sinister) was Linda Blair. And while Dreyfus could play McCain, I'd prefer him to play Dick Cheney.
Who would you pick? Also, who should play the "stars" of the Bush administration: W., Cheney, Condi Rice (Debbie Allen came to mind), Colin Powell (John Amos played a general on "West Wing"), Alberto Gonzales? Also Laura and the twins.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Bob and Ray's Old Time Radio.
Sports Illustrated Vault.
Stuff I've been thinking about:
The 2008 TIME 100 Finalists. Tyler Perry went from the middle of the pack to #4 after he sent out e-mails to his fans. Meanwhile, at #73, Britney Spears is ahead of Condi Rice, David Petraeus and George W. Bush,, among many others.
The BBB Offers Free Document Shredding During National "Secure Your ID" Day - May 3, 2008; not one community in New York State is participating!
Who is the patriot? One who served or one who deferred and continued to defer and never served?
Bill Moyers: Journalists As Truth-Tellers. Were it more so.
Why it's so tough to unseat incumbent politicians
Power to the people vs give peace a chance. Ah, Mike Gravel, you rock.
What your money looks like, if you're using US currency.
Having To Say You Work For A Bimbo.
The Global Tribute Fund is "an initiative to pay tribute to the inspiring women in our lives."
Please DO NOT buy this book.
Garrison Keillor gets nostalgic over Northwest Airlines. Obviously, the OLD Northwest Orient, because the conglomerate that's threatening to merge with Delta is the one airline I absolutely have refused to fly for years.
There's a comic book show in Albany this Sunday; might go. I thought to go to the NYCC last weekend, but it didn't work out; Fred Hembeck tells all about it. Ron Marz and my friend Bill Anderson will have been at both shows.
How to Slap a Hamburger Together -- in 156 Steps.
Sexy Trips to the Library Stacks. But would you expect otherwise?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
In the wake of Barack's "bitter" battle, which probably hurt him in yesterday's Pennsylvania primary, a number of folks have actually come to his defense, including the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel; in fact, Robert Reich, a superdelegate who served in Bill Clinton's cabinet, recently came out for Obama, primarily because of Hillary Clinton's campaign going negative over this.
But are people bitter? I mean, even GayProf is losing his Zen.
I must say that the Iraq war and loss of basic human rights in the US has made me annoyed; no, "annoyed" doesn't begin to cover it. Torture in my name has really ticked me off. If you don't know the name John Yoo, you should. He was the government official who "publicly argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles." More recently, A Torture Victim’s Records Were Lost at Guantánamo, Admits the Camp General; oops! And Amnesty International has unveiled a ‘Waterboarding’ film.
But, am I bitter?
Let's find the dictionary.net definition:
2) Causing pain or smart; piercing; painful; sharp; severe.
3) Causing, or fitted to cause, pain or distress to the mind; calamitous; poignant.
5) Mournful; sad; distressing; painful; pitiable.
I'd say definitions 2 and 3 apply to me, but not so much #5, for more than pitiable, there are times when I'm just furious. So, it depends on your take of the word.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
(Picture from http://drunkcyclist.com/.)
Bike to Work in Albany, New York is Friday, May 16th 2008. Plan now.
Learn How To Fix Your Own Bike.
The Puma Glow-in-the dark Folding Bicycle for safe commutes.
What a Fred is.
'Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery' cartoon strip.
Your typical bike commute:
Monday, April 21, 2008
Post 10 random things about yourself.
Choose five people to tag and a reason you chose them and make sure to tell them.
Don't tag the person who tagged you.
She's right that I've probably done this before; hope I haven't repeated these (and if so, not too often). These are in chronological order, from oldest to newest.
OK, here goes:
1. I fell down the flight of steps between my grandparents' apartment and ours when I was three. There's still a scar there under my lower lip where hair does not grow, giving me soul patch potential before the term was invented.
2. In high school, I was president of our Red Cross club.
3. In May of 1972, the US mined Haiphong harbor, thus, we believed, escalating the Viet Nam conflict. There was a demonstration at the draft board in Kingston, NY, and the board closed in anticipation of our arrival, though it was a peaceful protest. The next day, the front page of the newspaper, the Kingston Freeman, had a picture of me and a couple other people sitting in front of the building. The quality (or reproduction) of the photo was so poor, though, that I didn't even recognize myself.
4. My college friend Alice and I were hitchhiking from New Paltz to Hornell, NY to visit a friend of ours who had been injured in a fatal car crash. Some guy picked us up west of Binghamton and proceeded to give us a lecture about the sin of miscegenation; we weren't a couple. We wondered what his reaction would have been if he knew she was a lesbian.
5. As a direct result of the person who tagged me, I went through a brief period of wearing berets. But not red ones.
6. Six women and I went skinny-dipping.
7. I worked as a telemarketer. But in those days, we only called people who had had a relationship with the product; e.g., people whose TV Guide subscription had lapsed or the annual for those people owning encyclopedias.
8. I once drove a car from Schenectady to Albany, about 10 miles, without a license or even learner's permit. The owner of the car was too drunk to drive. (The statue of limitations on this has passed.)
9. I saw Anita Baker perform at the Palace Theatre in Albany in the late 1980s. Afterwards, my friend Karen introduced me to her - very pleasant woman - and we were allowed to go backstage, where boxing champ Mike Tyson and "Ironweed" star Jack Nicholson were hanging out. (The story of Ironweed by William Kennedy was based on Albany, and part of it was filmed in the city.)
10. I did not do it often in any case, but the last time I drank alcohol thinking that I might get inebriated was on my 39th birthday. My friend Marion, who was in the choir and a book club with me, died on March 4 of that year of cancer. Her husband asked me to be a pallbearer and the funeral was on March 7. Worst. Birthday. Ever.
OK, the dreaded who to tag:
Eddie, so he can get out of the rhythm of posting music videos;
Librarian 2008, because she needs to put more personal stuff on her blog;
Uthaclena, because I'm curious whether any of ours will intersect;
Kelly, because she seems always game for a game; and
Anthony, because it would give me an opportunity to know him better.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Unlike the Barney cassette, which I don't mind, the DVD is a game show with an audience of children...and adults. There's something really creepy about WATCHING grown-ups feign (I think it's feigning) the same enthusiasm as their kids. I mean, it's OK for them to BE that enthusiastic; I just don't want to see it.
Checked my e-mail. 524 new work e-mails. One was a link to this stupid internal Microsoft video for stupid Vista:
I also discovered that the search committee I'm on for the PR position in my office has four interviews on Wednesday and Thursday; so kind of them not to schedule them for Monday. I also found out, in an e-mail that only arrived Friday afternoon, that a presentation that a colleague and I offered to the Association of Small Business Development Centers was selected for us to present at the ASBDC 2008 Annual Conference: Blogging with the SBDC – Implementing Web 2.0 Technologies at Your Center. Which means I'll be going to Chicago in September. I've never actually been to Chicago; being at O'Hare does not count, so that's rather cool.
I've been trying to catch up on reading some blogs. Ken Levine wants people to vote on some komedy kontest. I learned from Mark Evanier that Kelly Bishop was in the original cast of A Chorus Line; she already looks like a younger version of Emily Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Evanier also has a cat named Lydia, darn those Marx Brothers. And I've discovered how Mike Sterling posts every day:
Sometimes, I just love spam. In addition to all those kind offers of getting me free money or increasing the size of...well, you know, there are these:
Dear Gmail Account Users,
We hereby inform you that our system has developed database error so we need to access all accounts in other to save and keep them active even till after a new database is introduced to Gmail .
Gmail Team advices you update your account details to verify and keep them valid and undeleted.
PLEASE PROVIDE US WITH THE FOLLOWING
ALTERNATE EMAIL ADRESS:..........
DATE OF BIRTH:..............................
After the details are given your account will be upgraded and safe for your use.
YOU WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE USING YOUR E-MAIL AS SOON AS THE MAIL IS RENEWED AND ACTIVE.
To reply just "CLICK" on the REPLY tab in your browser.
Please bear with us.
I didn't need the REAL notice from Gmail - Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information. - to detect it as fraudulent. I'm guessing though that if they actually got native writers/speakers of English, they might fool a few more people. "our system has developed database error"? "we need to access all accounts in other"? "keep them active even till after"? Spammers, thank you for today's entertainment.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
It seemed that abortion is still THE issue when it comes to matters of faith, at least according to that broadcast. A related issue in the media also seems to be that the Dems are FINALLY talking about religion in 2008, when, in fact, John Kerry for one was, I thought, quite eloquent in speaking about his faith and how he acts on it in a 2004 debate; since he didn't talk about it often, and because he didn't oppose abortion, he was perceived as somehow inauthentic.
So my questions:
1) Did you see or hear any of the Clinton or Obama pieces on race? If so, what did you think?
2) Regardless of whether you actually saw them, what was your perception of how they did based on what you read in the newspaper or heard on radio or TV? I'm interested in sources of your info, too, if possible.
3) How SHOULD candidates be talking about faith and religion, if at all?
4) I also caught much of the ABC News debate on Wednesday, and I thought they both were fine. Mostly it reminded me that either of them is a better choice than John "not so straight talk" McCain, who had ducked the faith debate. Did you see the Wednesday debate, and what did you hear about it, whether you saw the debate or not?
Friday, April 18, 2008
So I went through my unpublished entries for the past few months and decided to post them this week, including thaty one on autism that I thought I had published. Why is that, you may ask? Because I was away on a trip to Williamsburg, VA. More about that anon.
Anyway, thanks to the masked blogger who posted for me these past four days.
The Annual Mensa Invitational was a couple months ago, for all of you wordies. I really do love this stuff:
Here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are the winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an a**hole.
3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the Person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really
bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido : All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its
yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for
common words. And the winners are:
1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade , v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph , v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon , n. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster , n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that,after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent , n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I just got word that this band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks for *each time* the video is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family. It is a great heart tugging video.
They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.
Link to the site.
In any case, I couldn't find any "40 cents" reference on the What Kind Of World Do You Want? website that hosts the video, but I did discover that Five for Fighting IS involved in hosting videos on the What Kind... site, where people can donate money by watching said videos to the end.
There are five entities, including Autism Speaks, that will benefit from this program, and I wanted to know if they were legit. Gordon found me some info on Autism Speaks from the Better Business Bureau and Guidestar. (Thanks, Gordon!)
Ultimately, though, I decided to take the plunge and join the American Institute of Philanthropy, the national charity watchdog cited by the newspaper article about the vets' charities.
For the five entities on What Kind, here are the AIP results:
Augie's Quest (www.augiesquest.org) Not listed. This is a group dealing with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) named for a friend of John from Five for Fighting. It may be too new to be listed in the AIP's December 2007 booklet.
Autism Speaks (www.autismspeaks.org) GRADE: B-. About 62-74% of monies go to services; a document Gordon provided said 75%, which would have pushed them into the solid B range.
Fisher House Foundation (www.fisherhouse.org) "Supporting America's military in their time of need, we provide 'a home away from home' that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury." GRADE: A+.
Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org). GRADE: A.
United Service Organization (www.uso.org). Yes, THAT USO. GRADE: C+.
As one of my friends writes, "'Overhead' costs are what bugs me a lot with many charities. It is nice to see $$ go to those in need, and not administrative costs."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
So, I was fascinated to find in my spring 1982 journal's back cover this short exhortation:
As we all know, most cartoonists (as well as other creative people) often consume mass quantities of dope.
This stimulates the free flow of ideas which would otherwise remain untapped in the subconscious -
Some of the ideas are even good.
Unfortunately, most drugs are illegal.
This seems petty, arbitrary, and unfair, particularly for the cartoonist, since he or she, unlike the business person at a 3 martini lunch, is unable to deduct this purchase as a business expense for income tax purposes.
Why such discrimination? we'd like to see it stopped!
Write to your Congressperson today.
Seriously, I have no recollection of writing it, but it's in my hand, complete with a correction - I changed the word expenditure to purchase because later in that sentence, I wrote expense.
I mention this as a defense for Barack Obama over this issue. Sometimes, you DO just forget.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Your Score: Wasabi
You scored 50% intoxication, 75% hotness, 75% complexity, and 75% craziness!
You are Wasabi!
You're pretty much insane. You're probably from another planet, even. When you're around people, you go straight for the crown chakra and get them all tingly. You're often imitated by those who want to be like you, but you're definitely one of a kind.
|Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch Monty Python...Monty Python Hilarious Brilliant
A "Best City" Customer Service Story! "Here is a video I made at my former place of employment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w85dSkbTTSsWe were poking fun of the horrible customer service that is so common with the big box."
The Answer - Retail Return. "I had to augment the living hell out of it. The on-stage actors were not projecting at all....retail return FFHS FFHStudios whispering"
Retail Hell or a Diffcult Life
Retail work sucks but you can get even! Watch and learn....Retail customers from hell getting even.
Wal-Mart's Customer Service. For more information, visit www.walmartwatch.com.
Gateway Update - Still No Support . "For three weeks, Gateway is still telling me that they are unwilling to provide me with any customer support or service. BLAH! Still a Grade "F."
Bad Customer Service #1Very bad customer service
Retail 103: Customer Returns And Exchanges. "NOTE: this one has some foul language so I have a feeling it won’t suffice – but I include it nonetheless." Not THAT foul...
Funny Dell Customer Service CallA really funny Dell customer service call.
A Comcast Technician Sleeping on my Couch. "This is my tribute to Comcast, their low quality technology and their poor customer service. UPDATE: My service has been restored."
iPod Customer Service. "the Dirty secret have to watch this... (based on real life experience, no hoax)."
Customer Disservice "Have you ever received really bad customer service?"
How to Get a Customer Service Human. "With a human in customer service can be a godsend, especially after spending hours in 'automated phone menu' hell."
terrible customer service. Make fun of their customers...funny skit."
Customer Service Training Video
Optimus Maximus Keyboard: Horrible Customer Service. "Read that right. I've had it with this company. Their customer service is absolutely horrible."
Customer Service. "A reenactment of my experience with my DSL provider...Eyeopener Films Home Movies New Customer Service DSL."
Unboxing - not always on target, but a source.
Expo TV: video reviews of consumer products - "made by real people!" Some are actually positive.
David Pogue's Song spoofs. Some are over a decade old, but what the hey.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.
With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.
When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.
In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.
First off, the murder of Aqsa Parvez was a very disturbing story that I had somehow missed.
Beyond that, though, how does one "know the will of Allah"?
Any thoughts on this? Though, in fact, I suppose most believers pick and choose what part of scripture they accept and what they ignore, don't they?
Friday, April 11, 2008
This is about the fact that, 18 days ago, I lost my keys: my house keys, the car key, the key to my nifty lock that keeps my bike from being stolen, and half a dozen others. It also has on it all of those little swiper tags for the YMCA, the CVS pharmacy, the local grocery store, et al. It's your basic PITA, akin to losing one's wallet. (If you're in the area, there's a 2" white square with a green handprint on the key chain.) I thought I had perhaps lost them on a CDTA bus, but, alas, no. Then I figured that maybe someone found them and turned them into a police station, but the property unit, who handles such things, said nada as well.
Also, I have this retirement thing through something called TIAA-CREF. Every quarter, both my employer and I contribute a similar amount, based on my income. At this point, the job and I are each contributing about $1000 per quarter. Sometimes it makes money, sometimes it loses, but never before had I lost more than 50% of the total contribution for the period. I was dreading opening the new statement that arrived Wednesday, and rightly so. The fund lost $5000, or the entire contribution PLUS another $3000. My wife's retirement fund underwent a similar pounding. Brutal.
Someone asked me the other day if we were in a recession. I said that, definitionally, you can't say until after the fact. In that way, it's like a tornado, where meteorologists come around, look at the pattern of the wreckage and say, "Yup, it was a tornado." Since a recession is considered a decline in a country's real gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year, economists won't be able to say until we're in a recession now until the summer. I'm more a duck kind of guy; it sure LOOKS like a duck.
Meanwhile, I'm at a loss to know just who might buy this product. Oh, I guess there will be a couple Beach Boys and Beatles fans, but Nirvana?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
1. Go to www.photobucket.com (don’t sign in)
2. Type in your answer to the question in the "search" box
3. Use only the first page
4. Copy the html and paste for the answer.
What is your name?
What is your Relationship Status?
What is your favorite color?
What kind of car do you want?
What band/artist are you listening to?
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite Disney Princess?
What is your favorite TV show?
Where did/do you go to school?
Where is your dream vacation?
Name an alcoholic Beverage:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What is your favorite type of shoe?
What is your favorite song?
What is your favorite dessert?
What is your favorite letter?
What do you love most in life?
What are you most afraid of?
What annoys you the most? (What, no pictures of "theological arrogance"?)
What's your favorite animal?
How old are you?
What one word describes you?
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Tom Lehrer, who turns 80 today, is widely credited with inventing Jello shots; i.e., replacing half the water with distilled liquor.
Oh, yeah, he also did some nifty songs, from Poisoning Pigeons in the Park (1953), which I have on a Dr. Demento album:
To the exquisite Vatican Rag:
To 'Silent E' from "the Electric Company:
My suggestion: go to Evanier's page, type Tom Lehrer in the search mode. 15 of the 16 hits prior to today will be Tom Lehrer videos, and I'd be surprised if there weren't one or two more to celebrate the occasion. Then go here and check out the lyrics.
Here's an interview from 2007 from whence I stole the image above. To paraphrase the great Tom Lehrer, "When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 20 years."
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Saturday as a very busy one for us. First, we went to a pancake breakfast to benefit the FOCUS Churches food pantry, then to the school. We went to our credit union to put money into an IRA to mitigate our taxes, using some of the money we're going to get from the stimulus package. (Shhh! Don't tell President Bush!!) Then, that evening, we got a babysitter, went to the Troy Music Hall, and listened to an exquisite performance of the Brahms Requiem and other pieces by Albany Pro Musica; here is feedback from one of the singers.
My computer at work uses Microsoft Office for e-mail. Friday, and again yesterday morning, when I would click on a hyperlink within my e-mail, it would look as though I were trying to download an executable (.exe) file. Apparently, the problem was that when I downloaded an update to iTunes last week, I also downloaded Safari, and it did not play well with Microsoft Office. Eliminate Safari, reroute the e-mail - which someone else did, trust me - and I was good to go again.
The big news in the area is that Pat Riley, oh, and some other folks, got into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It's a huge local story because Riley was a high school star in Schenectady; the high school gym there is named in his honor.
Monday, April 07, 2008
When I heard Charlton Heston died this weekend, three quotes IMMEDIATELY jumped to mind:
"Take your stinking paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!" (66th on the AFI list of great movie quotes)
"Soylent green is..." (77th on the list)
and the one that my wife, of all people, actually parodied without having read Mark Evanier.
I really appreciated his sense of humor at his own expense when I saw him on Saturday Night Live. And I did see him in a LOT of movies, including:
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Town & Country (2001)
True Lies (1994)
Earthquake (1974) [the "shake" half of "the shake 'n bake movies"; "bake was "The Towering Inferno"]
The Four Musketeers (1974)
Airport 1975 (1974)
The Three Musketeers (1973)
the aforementioned Soylent Green (1973)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - I saw all five PotA movies in one day; not recommended
the aforementioned Planet of the Apes (1968) at least twice
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) multiple viewings on TV
El Cid (1961)
The Ten Commandments (1956) I saw him playing Moses on TV probably a half dozen times
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
While I chafed at his NRA position, I do remember that he was very active in the civil rights movement for a time. So, goodbye, Chuck; maybe you'll meet Moses and compare notes.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
It seems I discovered Jack Kirby at the worst possible time. I started reading comics in the early 1970s, but I was pretty much a Marvel zombie, thus missing New Gods and the other books from his "Fourth World" until about a decade later. So when the "Jack is back!" mantra came to Marvel in the mid-1970s, I was excited to see the work of the legendary KING of comics. Boy, was I disappointed. Captain America seemed to be a character from another time. The formerly sleek Black Panther seemed cartoony. And Devil Dinosaur?!
So it wasn't until I started working at a comic book store in Albany called FantaCo when I got to really get an understanding of Jack Kirby's significance, and more importantly, tremendous skills in developing the Marvel universe that I knew and loved. And digging further, I recognized his prolific output in the pre-Marvel days.
But it took the Mark Evanier book, Kirby: King of Comics, before I got the full measure of the man born Jacob Kurzberg on August 28, 1913 in New York City. More than just a narrative, this small coffee-table presented artwork from his days as a comic strip writer working under several pseudonyms and his work for several comic book companies.
A couple core narratives flow through the book: 1) Jack was creative and fast, 2) Jack obsessed with financial security, though largely did not know how to achieve this, long before the disputes over what parts of the classic Marvel universe Jack was responsible for and how much writer/editor Stan Lee created. Jack, not always glib of tongue, had a strong sense of justice and often thought that his hard work would get him the financial remuneration to which he was undoubtedly entitled. If Evanier, Kirby's assistant and friend for a number of years, tends to err on the side of his subject, it seems consistent with the throngs of Kirby fans who believe that Jack has gotten ripped off, not just monetarily but also in terms of credit.
This may not the definitive Kirby biography that some may have been seeking - at 219 pages, over half are full-page illustrations or pictures, and many other pages have accompanying art on them - but I'm happy to own it, perhaps BECAUSE of the many pictures from over the years. Incidentally, Amazon suggested that the book would take two to five weeks, but I ordered it on February 29, and it arrived on my birthday, March 7, a mere week later.
I spoke to Jack Kirby only a couple times, chronicled here. At that time, I was just beginning to get a sense of what a great contributor to comic-book art - no, scratch that, ART - he was.
One criticism of the book was that Evanier didn't take advantage of his long association to dig deeper inside the man, but I get the sense that Jack was who Jack was, with no psychobabble analysis needed. And the one story that Mark told about himself and Jack at the end of the book was both moving and a good representation of Jack's character.
So, thanks, Mark. And thank you, Jack.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
The first big crush, one which was de rigeur for boys of my generation and slightly older (I was watching repeats of the Mickey Mouse Club, I later learned) was Annette Funicello. Don't know why she became so iconic, exactly. If I ever saw her in her later movies with Frankie Avalon, it was quite by accident, but at the time, I would rush home from school to see her, quite probably on the one and only station we got at the time. There were two, but one was VHF (good reception) and one was UHF (not so hot. Isn't it strange how I can still remember Tuesday was guest star day on that show?
Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie on The Dick van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-1966). Must have been the dancing, and the perkiness. And the capri pants.
Inger Stevens was on a 1963-1966 ABC show called "The Farmer's Daughter". She had a Swedish accent, which I've only recently learned that she had to fake, because she had worked hard to lose it. The character Katy Holstrum was a governess to Congressman Glen Morley (William Windom), who was widowed with two sons. She also appeared in several movies, including Hang 'Em High with Clint Eastwood (1968). Inger Stevens died, a suicide by pills and booze, in 1970. I found that particularly depressing.
I knew Angela Cartwright from Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show (first of two Danny Thomas connections); she started in 1957. Also from The Sound of Music (1965). But for some reason, it was during her run on Lost in Space c. 1965, that I developed a crush on her. She was my youngest crush, being only six months older than I.
Marlo Thomas, daughter of Danny. I watched That Girl pretty much religiously, and really liked it for much of its run on ABC (1966-1971), though it sagged at the end, when it added dopey lyrics to the theme song. (Thanks to GayProf for that information.) Marlo is probably of a physical type, like the MTM/Laura Petrie, and likely a personality model for shows with "independent women", such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
In the early days of the Supremes, the group shared lead vocals more often than in later times, when Diana Ross dominated. One of my favorite songs on Meet the Supremes was Buttered Popcorn, with the lead vocal by Florence Ballard. But I really got a crush from the cover of The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland, with Flo looking particularly zaftig, in a good way. Of course, she died, broke, in 1976, which was wrong on so many levels, and was partially the inspiration for Dreamgirls.
I have no idea how I first became aware of Sophia Loren. I certainly never saw any of her movies until much later. But I thought she was the epitome of a beautiful woman when I was 16, and I'll stick with that.
O.K., people, I want responses, either here or in your own blogs.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Apparently, I am cliche, for it was the well-documented year 1968 that radically changed my perspective on life. And no single event had such a profound effect on me that year as the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, forty years ago. I remember it as though it were far more recent, in the way I remember the JFK and John Lennon assassinations and the Challenger disaster.
I'm pretty sure I heard the word of Martin's death from my father, who was involved in the civil rights movement in Binghamton, NY, my hometown. He went downtown to try to, as he put it, "keep it cool", and there was no notable violence in Binghamton that night.
The real effect on me came when I got hold of his speeches about why he opposed the war in Vietnam. If you had asked me in December 1967 how I felt about Vietnam, I probably would have blindly stated that I supported the war, based on the fact that it was an American war and I was an American, without much thought beyond that. Reading his April 1967 address - I'm not sure which version, for he gave similar addresses at least thrice that month - was profound in utterly changing my whole perception of not only the war, but government and my relationship to it. You can love your country yet opposed its policies. I had done that, going on civil rights marches, but that was, to some large degree, self-interest. This was something beyond my immediate surroundings.
Now, I had HEARD ABOUT the speech, and the backlash it caused, Comments such as: "Why are you talking about something other than civil rights? How can you betray Lyndon Johnson, who's been good on domestic civil rights? You're out of your element and are hurting the civil rights movement." And this came from black civil rights leaders, among others.
It wasn't until after his death, though, that I READ the speech. It was as though weights had been lifted from my eyes. Among other things, Martin HAD made the disproportionate number of drafted young black men a civil rights issue.
Read the April 4 address. Better still, listen to the April 30 address:
One sentence just jumped out at me - I think it was from the April 4 address: "The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition." I can't help but wonder what Martin would have made of more recent wars...
Conversely, I think MLK, Jr has been largely misunderstood, perhaps intentionally so. Nonviolence did not, and does not, mean passivity. And economic justice matters; remember, King died helping sanitation workers in Memphis get a living wage. What has long bothered me about the August 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech has its misrepresentation and misapplication by certain groups. We're not going to create a level playing field for the fiscally disadvantaged because we want to be "fair"; how is it that the wealthy getting wealthier is "fair"? I have no doubt that Martin would be as concerned about the economic disparity in this country as any issue based on ethnicity.
Several articles in the past week about Rod Serling's twice-censored script about Emmett Till being read at a conference at Ithaca College. Read about it here. I've mentioned before the profound effect that Emmett Till's death had on me; in fact, along with Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery bus boycott, I think it began of the modern civil rights movement.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I went in figuring I'd buy some new music, the new k.d. lang, the new Herbie Hancock that won a Grammy for best album(!) or maybe its predecessor which featured Paul Simon and Sting. I was also looking for the soundtrack of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, either the Julie Andrews or the Lesley Ann Warren version. NONE of them were there. O.K., now what?
So, I just systematically started looking through the albums. I was trying not to buy on CD the exact same albums I already own on vinyl, because a friend of mine told me about her recent experience converting vinyl to CD. That eliminated greatest hits by Bob Dylan, Queen, the Guess Who, Hall & Oates (yes, shut up), The Association (YES, shut up), and a couple others.
First album picked, much to my surprise: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John. I have all of the other "classic" period EJ albums on vinyl, save for the early Empty Sky, but never got this one. At some level, the garish cover, and the fact that the album went to #1 in its first week, turned me off at the time. But it was Elton's 61st birthday recently, and the only CDs I had to play were various greatest hits collections, plus the later Made in England. I'm sure I was affected also by Johnny B.'s recent discussions of all things early Elton. What sealed the deal was one of the additional tracks. Along with Lucy in the Sky and Philly Freedom was One Day at a Time, which I assumed was not the theme song of the Bonnie Franklin TV show that debuted in 1975, but rather the John Lennon cut, and it was.
Second album: The Ramones Greatest Hits. I have a couple LPs, but have massive holes in the collection. Probably influenced by Gordon.
The third album: The Very Best of Todd Rundgren. I have various Nazz, Utopia and solo LPs, but still wanted this.
The fourth album: OK, no recent Herbie Hancock? How about some classic Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters, featuring the classic cut Watermelon Man? All right then.
These were all $12.99 each list price, so $7.80 after the coupon, and I might have quit there, but I discovered The Millennium rack. If you've been in a record store lately, you'd recognize these. Black and white picture, gray top. And there were several to choose from: the Platters, Tom Jones, the Allman Brothers were all considered. The cool thing about these is that they were $9.99 each, but three for $20 if I used my MasterCard. I ended up picking Joan Baez, who my father admired as far back as 1959, when he brought home the oddly-named The Best of Joan Baez; and John Mellencamp, probably in part because of the love Tosy had given him after his recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The final album was also on the Millennium rack, but was not a Millennium album. It was Lucinda Williams' 2003 album World Without Tears. $16.99 list, but still with the 3 for $20 sticker. I might have gotten this one anyway, but Lefty Brown's affection for her did not hurt. Also the fact that, because I had the 40% off coupon, 3 for $20 became 3 for $12, or $4 apiece. (BTW, there's a second version of World Without Tears with three extra songs available out there. Oh, and the three for $20 continues through May 5.)
Total price, less than $47, under my $50 mental budget. So thanks, guys, for going shopping with me.
Elton Joe Performs "Dogs in the Kitchen" , the never-completed song, the lyrics of which appear in Captain Fantastic.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
A Toronto university student will not be expelled for running a Facebook study group that his school had argued constituted cheating. Ryerson University's Faculty Appeals Committee announced the decision to spare Chris Avenir on Tuesday afternoon, a week after his expulsion hearing.
The 18-year-old will be required to take a course on academic misconduct and will have a note on his transcript saying he was disciplined, said Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students Union. Avenir will also get a zero on one of his assignments, worth 10 per cent of his course grade, Loreto said."
Avenir's lawyer said Tuesday that Avenir has not yet decided if he will appeal the decision. "It's a finding he's not at all comfortable with. He doesn't believe that it's fair or appropriate," lawyer John Adair said.
I don't think it's fair or appropriate, either.
31 Days to Building a Better Blog. At one point I started doing this, but it fell apart.
An old friend is starting a grassroots effort to get Andrew Jackson off the twenty dollar bill. This is due to his heinous and illegal actions in the Indian Removal. I have found that most people I talk to about it really have no idea just what he did. They start off being amused at this nutty notion of mine and get serious very fast when hearing the facts. I believe that the time is ripe to get this mass murderer off the twenty. We need to stop offending and disrespecting our American Indian citizens by making them look at his face every time they see a twenty dollar bill. To that end, I am drawing Hitler moustaches on every twenty that passes through my hands, and also putting the address of my website, http://getjacksonoffthe20.net on the bills also. If people who feel as I do started doing the same, and started spreading the idea by word of mouth, I believe we can bring awareness to large numbers of people, and begin to move towards the process of actually getting him removed. It's a small thing in comparison to all the other injustices, and something I have been called to do.
Please visit my site, and consider joining me in my efforts. Also, pass this on to whomever you think might be interested.
I happen to think drawing Hitler mustaches on $20 bills is silly; using a rubber stamp would be far more effective.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Al Jaffee's fold-ins for Mad magazine, from the 1960s to the present, in interactive form, from the Noo Yawk Times.
China Celebrates Status As Number One Polluter
Pat Paulsen for President. "Resurrect and Elect!" "Think Inside the Box."
'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat'
We Are The World redux.
More news here.
And, of course, the big news story of last year: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash
Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash
Don't know if any of this is ha-ha funny, but it's certainly peculiar/funny. Rather like the date itself.