Tuesday, August 31, 2004

To those who may have noticed my connection anomalies the last few weeks, all is back, I believe.


Is back up, and mail sent to various addresses @mrgadgets.com seem to be arriving properly.

In addition, The Airport Singer is once again available.

Please re-send any messages you attempted recently.

I am not ignoring anyone on purpose.

Dang computers…



Saturday, August 28, 2004

McCain Opens Fire in Vietnam Debate

Sen. John McCain has been quoted "I'm sick and tired of re-fighting the Vietnam War"
Well and good, and reading the details of his full statements have a distinctively
different feel than the 'sound-bite' versions I heard being discussed.
Nevertheless, it is not the Republicans that brought the Vietnam Conflict to the
forefront of this political campaign. Having made it such a large part of his
campaign, Sen. Kerry bristles when certain 'anomalies' are exposed. The calls
for suppression of the Swifties, including McCain's implications that this is not
proper discourse is well within his rights. Likewise, the Swift Boat Veterans are
fully within THEIR rights as independent citizens and decorated veterans themselves.

What is UNQUESTIONABLE is that the Constitution of the United States protects
speech, and NEVER sanctions it's suppression. Even the present set of Supremes
would be hard-pressed to find in favor of censorship THIS blatant.

Then again, political speech does seem to be a malleable commodity in today's world.

One thing is certain. It is the party who fancy themselves as the CHAMPIONS
against censorship are the very ones calling for, nay, DEMANDING it's instigation
at the first sign of arguments against their position/candidate.

Is anyone SURPRISED?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

More Bostonian Musings and a stop in Chi on the way home...

Ate lunches and dinners on Newbury, do to convenient customer location.
I can recommend the restaurants in the concentrated two block area highly,
I have dined at all of them at one time or another. This trip, I noticed
one of the Italian eateries had added a Persian Menu to their bill of fare.
(I did not inquire as to whether this was through marriage or acquisition.)
Having already partaken in the excellent Italian 'side', I sampled the
Iranian fare and was rewarded with an sumptuous repast.

The OpenNet experience, however, did not repeat my initial success on Tues.
evening. Never managed to get a successful connection again. :-/

(I still like this idea, though I imagine it is a Spring/Summer/Fall outside
dining experience, even if I could determine my particular problems.)

I had a lovely trip, the clients were happy, I was able to spend enjoyable
time in my favorite section of a great destination city.

Of course, the flight home was delayed, but, is that any news?

I do think it interesting that one cannot purchase any of the well-known
deep-dish pizza Chicago is so famous for within the confines of the O'Hare

I did try Worfgang Puck's restaurant. It is presently still under construction,
but ignore the scaffold and have a sit-down. He has a amalgam of various meats that
he calls meat-loaf
, but is a step above anything your Mom made.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Favorite Destinations: Boston

I am in Boston again this week. Boston is always a personal favorite.
And this trip I get to stay in my favorite Bean-Town flop-house:
The Marriott Copley Place. Practically a second home, I have spent un-counted nights within
it's walls. (Well, Marriott DOES count them, in fact, a three-week stay there first put me over the top of Marriott Concierge-lever status...) I have spent at the least MONTHS in residence here, though not consecutively. (That same three-week trip turned
into that year's Summer vacation, as my wife and children joined me and we had evenings
and week-end adventures. We have done this twice in Boston, once for a week-end in December.)

The Summer in August can be brutal in the Bay-State, with humidity making for a New-
England version of New Orleans or Houston. (OK, not as bad, NOTHING is that bad, but
still a stifling heat.) This week, I have brought the pleasant and perfect
un-seasonably cool weather we have been enjoying in KC. Days in the 80s and
lovely evenings in the mid to high 70s.

Last night, Abe and Louie's had there large front window open, California-style
and the sidewalk tables were full.

After ending the day's session I first made a pilgrimage to Micro-Center in
Cambridge. This is the second Micro-Center I visited, Houston being the first.
(I took a nap in Houston back in the Summer of '98, so as to visit Micro-Center
when it re-opened it's doors at Mid-Night to purchase my copy of Windows.
You would think it was a Harry Potter or LOTR release or something... ;->)
Of all the Micro-Centers, Cambridge/Boston is still my favorite. (I once saw
a stretch limo waiting outside.) I have purchased more hardware/software there
than any other branch, and that is saying something, given we have one in
Overland Park, KS...

Having sated the needs of the techie sort, it was time to turn to other
hungers and thirsts. And this, my friends, is where Boston and especially
the Copley Square area, shines.

There are two reasons why Marriott Copley is my hotel of choice:
Boylston street and it's parallel sister, Newbury.

Mind you, there are ample choices, and excellent, even closer to the Marriott in the
adjoining Copley and Prudential (technically a Boylston address) shopping malls. (Notice the numbers associated with the entries on the two inks above. I had to press Next several times to even reach
the first Boylston reference.) I have sampled many of these closer-in emporiums, but
it is Boylston and especially Newbury.

I shall have to check to see if there are any new offerings, as I pride myself in having sampled every offering on the main two-block section where nearly every former
town-house contains a restaurant in it's lower levels.

Tonight's choice, a must-repeat experience, La Famillia Georgio's. A little bit
of the North-End (Little Italy here in Boston) but mere blocks from our hotel!

I have walked enough the last two days to somewhat justify the pasta and it is
excellent, as always.

Extra added bonus to patio seating: Free WiFi Access thru Newbury OpenNet!

Quite an excellent evening, all in all...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Food is Life - Life One Bite at a Time: Episode 2


I have an un-written rule while on the road.
I always try to find unique local eateries,
but if it is a chain, it must not be a chain
that has a KC location.

There are some corollaries, such I don't, by-and-large
go out for Steak anywhere east of the Mississippi (Chicago
excepted) or West of the Rockies. (Basically the area where
Cattlemen raise beef is the best at it's proper presentation.)
Besides, there are ample opportunities for Great Italian, as many
cities have a Little Italy. And there is also the excellent local
Sea-Food of the Upper-East-Coast cities that are my usual destination.

A direct corollary of the Steak-region rule is the you shouldn't have
pay $25+ for a decent cut of beef. Especially since there are plenty of
places where that is the Ala-Carte price...

Tonight, I have violated both the Steak-region and the over-priced
fancy-schmantzy rules.

I am no idiot(tm), (in spite of what some of the things you read hear may imply)
and would never pay this much of my OWN money for a Steak. But, as I am on
an expense account...

In this vein, I have violated the pricey-Steak rule and thus tried the two
Major chains most associated with this trend,
(originally a Chicago joint)
and \Ruth's Chris.

Now, a quick check on your part would verify that there are indeed locations for
both these culinary icon's in greater KC, though with the many other choices
available with more sane prices, I cannot fathom how they manage to stay afloat...
Besides, I did mention that I am no idiot(tm)... ;-)

And so, on my first night here in Boston, I have my entire daily meal-allotment
available and have treated myself to a personal favorite, Abe and Louie's.

All of these emporiums are not just about the cut of meat, or even the
preparation, though these are crucial. They are as much about panacea,
ambiance and service.

I have personally found Ruth's Chris service to be spotty, admittedly a
heretical statement to some.

The ala-Carte is even worse than you think, if you have never frequented one
the joints of this ilk. The side-dishes are in the $7-10 range. True, they
are sized to serve two to three, but that does me little good when dining solo.

And alas, the bone-in Fillet, a unique and excellent cut, has now shot up to
the $33+ range. That, and my over-indulgence in both a salad and a side placed
over my legal limit for a single day, without tip.

And to top it off, the usual excellent service as not up to par.

I fear this may be my last of many enjoyable A&L evenings... :-(

On a more positive note, having the laptop and brining out the TH-55
to check some data, all the while listening to talk-radio on FM, of all
things, brought the attention of the table to my left. Two gentleman,
perhaps 10 years my senior, dining together. I got the feeling it was
old friends and old money. Perhaps they were prep-school mates. One was
a Franko-phone and possessed more vin-knowledge than the Sommelier.
The other Italiano. Had a lively discussion on technology in general and
world-wide cell-phones in particular.

I bid them good-night and, on the way out, noticed a table celebrating a
birthday. I did the impromptu singing-telegram bit and received a lovely

All-in-all a pleasant evening.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Un-Reasonable Movie Adventures

I watched "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" one of marvelously creative and uproariously funny products of the incredibly fertile brain of Writer/Director/Filmaker Terry Gilliam.

I don't know why, but I guess I have never really watched this entire movie. I found it not only hilarious, but philosophically interesting. The most worthy Jonathan Pryce plays The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson, the ultimate Straight-Man, a man for pure REASON. This is (18th century) the Age of Reason. In the film, Reason is taken to the extreme. And as with all things taken to the extreme, the faults are made plain. To the point that in the initial scene where his character is first introduced to the audience, he orders a war-hero, known for deeds of great heroism and ferociousness, put to death, as his heroics would put 'normal hard working folk' ill-at-ease in attempting to live their "ordinary lives." He proceeds to demand, order, cajole, wheedle, whine and tantrum to accomplish his "reasonable" wishes. At one point he argues that the Turks holding the city under siege should surrender "because we surrendered last time..." Sounds reasonable, no?

The fascinating aspect of this is not just the imbecilic attitude of Horatio as quintessential bureaucratic statist. Though, for that alone it deserves more attention than the moniker "Fantasy" has brought this film.

It is in the attitude of Horatio and men of his "reasonable" ilk have toward the "fantastic" Baron.

In one way the Enlightenment was truly an Age of unbelievable promise and hope. That the world could be studied and measured and through these studies, understood.

And, indeed, we have accomplished more than the original "Natural Philosophers" could have imagined in their wildest dreams.

But in the process, we have lost our sense of wonder. We have seen below the very fabric of the material world, down to the Micro where Quarks react to our very observations. We have measured the very distance to the stars of the heavens, out to the Macro that allows us to discuss the expansion of space of entire Galaxies.

And yet we do not see pattern as evidence of Creator.

The originators of The Calculus saw in the movement of planets the very hand of God.

We see vectors and inverse-square relationships of Gravitational pulls.

It is as if knowing the dimensions of your television set and the ability to turn it on and navigate through the hundreds of channels offering nothing worth your viewing time is the same as understanding the underlying Engineering required to produce a working video-receiving apparatus. This if, of course, ridiculous. Realizing that there is obviously a pattern of intention, we realize that there is a creative force that conceived and built the electronic apparatus. We would scoff at anyone who indicated the process consisted of taking random components, placing them in a box, closing said box and shaking it until a fully formed cable-ready device was assembled by random movement.

Yet, when we are presented with what amounts to the same random event hypothesis to explain life itself, we accept it as SCIENTIFIC FACT.

Does this seem reasonable?

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Food is Life - Life One Bite at a Time: Episode 1

I am loath to risk the fire-storm that today’s topic may invoke. For unlike relatively benign discussions of Politics or Religion, this is a truly volatile subject.


Believe it or not, I have a standard introduction to KC Barbeque I have occasion to present of a fairly regular basis. I deal on a regular basis with clients and business partners who are visiting the area. One of the items they always have on there agenda is always Bar-B-Q. KC has a Huge variety of excellent culinary choices. In fact, one regular complaint we receive when artists come into town for the Month and a Half rehearsal/performance stint at the Lyric Opera of KC is the 10 pounds of so they add while sampling the ubiquitous eateries… ;-)

And so, a brief synopsis.

KC BBQ breaks down into two basic camps:

The tangy-er slightly more vinegary sauce camp, best represented by the Legendary Arthur Bryant’s, and the numerous emporiums entrepreneur Ollie Gates has spread across the metropolitan area.

The sauce of a more sweet variety, exemplified by various incarnations of Smoke-Stack BBQ, as well as the American Royal BBQ Contest-winning KC Masterpiece sauce. (KC Masterpiece has a unique history, in that it existed as a sauce with retail distribution on grocery-store shelves before any restaurants baring it’s name existed.)

Keep in mind we are talking tomato-based sauces here. (None of that, SHUDDER, mustard-based drivel one gets in the Carolinas…) We are also talking smoked-meat with sauce applied more or less sparingly, either sometime during preparation or the actual cooking process. Quite often it is strictly added post-smoker, or offered on the side at the diners discretion. If you want to boil the living daylights out of pork or beef smothered in sauce and call it Barbeque, you are most welcome. This, however is unacceptable practice in areas of the country that actually RAISE hogs and cattle and understand their proper preparation for consumption by persons of discernment…

Bryant’s is a KC landmark. It is not what it once was when Arthur was still with us, but remains unique and a pilgrimage well worth undertaking. They still paint the sauce on with a brush and drop a hand-full (literally!) of fries onto the plate. Portions are Immense and a single sandwich will require a huge appetite for a single person. (My oldest and dearest English friend was always wont to proceed to Bryant’s for his ‘side of Beef’.) Honestly, it could easily satiate three sane people, but we are talking BBQ here, so sanity has little to do with anything… ;-) Many of the Famous and Powerful have passed through the culinary portal and left more than full, including many a US President. When Arthur passed, the KC Star featured a cartoon of his arrival at the pearly gates. St. Peter inquires as to how much sauce he brought along. I whole-heartedly concur, Heaven has a better bill-of-fare now that Arthur is up there sitting on his stool and supervising the smoke-house.

The Gates experience starts literally AS you walk through the door and is more widely available, so is probably more familiar to the KC public-at-large.

In my case, the original Smoke-Stack BBQ was a main-stay of South KC dining during my youth. My Father’s territory included this area and many was the night he would b bring home sandwiches, fries and the scrumptious Pit-Beans. Upon first arriving in KC, Dad discovered this place early-on and was quite impressed with their 29ers. (Sliced beef, lettuce and tomato, their signature sweet sauce on a long French roll. (A BBQ Hero, if you will. ;->) They cost 29cents, hence the name. They then became 39ers, then the price was raised to $.49, but they were still called 39ers… (Didn’t want to pay for new signage and menus?) Then 59ers, 69ers, 79ers and 89ers. Finally, after they went to one cent less than a buck, they remained 89ers through several years. This was back in the day, when Ma Bell was still a TRUE monopoly. They owned it all, not just the wires and switches, but the equipment on EACH END. The Lord himself only knows how many times-over the venerable Western Electric dial-phones of that era were paid-for in the monthly fees. The very CONCEPT of the customers actually owning their own phone was so foreign; I doubt even the most dedicated bean-counter even considered it. I mention this, because there were apparently so many fires at the old 71 Highway location that Bell refused to install a phone off and on throughout the 1960s…

Later, Jack Fiorella, a brother, I think, split off and opened Fiorella’s Jack-Stack BBQ in sub-urban Martin City. They have expanded to other locations, including the Freight=House district near Downtown’s Union Station.

And that location brings me to what prompted this little foray in KC culinary choices in the smoked-meat category.

True, the new Fiorella’s location is within the ‘urban-core’, though it is an industrial/business district, not a residential area. Well, there are some loft condominiums being sold in nearby re-habbed buildings. (How come things are re-habilitated, when they were never habilitated in the first place?) At best, this is a gentrified neighborhood. Even The Plaza, the original location for KC Masterpiece’s, restaurant, is hardly typical inner-city KC. It is what in many other cities is referred to as the Galleria. Hardly the destination of choice of the ‘common-man’. (I am fairly comfortable, but rarely venture to this, the original shopping-center for their lofty-priced goods.)

In short, sweeter BBQ is White people’s food, while the spicier variety has it’s roots in the urban core.

And we served Jack Stack at yesterday’s political get-together.

I suppose it represents a microcosm of the overall race.

For all I know Jack may be a supporter. I know where my candidate lives, and it would be the closest choice for BBQ.

I don’t know that it really says anything.

But I noticed…

Friday, August 20, 2004

And a Star shall guide their Way...

Today, I heard one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever encountered.

Psalm 19
”The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament showeth His handywork
Day unto Day uttereth speech
And night unto night showeth knowledge
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard
Their line (ie, rule, direction) is gone out
Through all the earth, and their words to the
End of the world. In them He hath set a
Tabernacle for the sun.”

In a world of despair, This is a story of hope.

From a legacy of abandonment, A journey of Purpose.

As those all around deny any need of Redemption
ignore the emptiness of Soul in a Creator-less World,
this is the Strength and Resolve of a Life of Grace and Faith

Though none dare admit there is even a Compass, Let alone a Trail,
A lone pilgrim knows reveals a Path, a Direction,
a Way out of the Wilderness into the Light of True Freedom,

The New RailRoad to a Better Way.

The Voice calling in the Wilderness knows The Way.
She has broken the trail herself.
She returns to gather together others, and lead them out.
To lead the willing into a Better Place.

It is only for them to make a NEW Choice.
For there are help-mates along the way.
And we need everyone, to build the Better World.

And so, she holds out a Lamp to Light the Way.
It is but for them to Choose to Follow.

For what good is Choice,
if it doesn’t matter what you CHOOSE?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Starting Blocks

I am, for the first time in my life, actively involved in a political campaign.
I shall try not to boor you with specifics of this particular race, but expected that topics of a more general interest might occur as a result.

Lo-and-behold, it has already come to pass. (At least I HOPE it might be of interest… ;->)

Tomorrow, I will be attending the first foray into the urban core portion of the congressional district. This will be a particularily interesting contest. My former ‘representative’ (not once did I ever hear the woman espouse my particular political beliefs) opted out of running for re-election. Seems there was some problems of a financial nature… (big surprise, financial scandal and national politics…)

Thusly, there is no incumbent. The Democrats had two contenders of note in the recent primary. One, a young former aide in the Clinton administration. The other, the former Mayor of Kansas City who also happens to be a Methodist minister. They fought a bloody advertising battle wherein the young upstart made mighty dents in his Reverend Honor’s seemingly Teflon armor at the cost of very high negatives in polled perception of the upstarts ‘negative’ campaign.

(Negative campaigning has come to mean pointing out inconsistencies in your opponent’s positions. Especially if that candidate is the darling of the liberal party/press. As this is usually the purview of the challenger to any incumbent, the office-holder has a preternatural advantage in the ‘righteousness’ of his/her position in any political contest. (As if the very use of the word ‘righteousness’ does not turn any sentence on politics into an oxy-moron, Clerical status of one of the candidate not-withstanding…)

The result, his Rev.-Hon. Is still the 900lb. Canary in the middle of the room. He has name-recognition that is through the roof. He also has negatives that were only worsened by the fight within his own party. I was a bit careful with this particular metaphorical animal reference. His R-H is an African-American, and I wished no taint of racist innuendo that might be attributed to the more common simian reference when one finds a large creature in the middle of the space you currently occupy you find impossible to ignore. Besides, I like the what the Canary conjures up. They are pleasant to the eye. They sing sweetly. It is easy to ignore the nature of this particular bird. Like all their feathered cousins, they are carnivores. Always remember that. It is just easy to forget, since we out-mass them. Predatory nature masked by size alone...

My candidate breezed through the primary with more contestants, but no real challenge in the media markets. Thusly, she built name-recognition and positives from virtually nothing to a very respectable set of numbers in post-election polls.

She is a Wealthy White Woman. Hard-earned entrepreneurial wealth brought about with her husband, wherein she ran the marketing for one of the areas largest employer’s, a health-care industry technology firm. She is the classic American-Dream success-story. Believe me, I hold no illusions that the WWW label will be painted on in bold broad brush-strokes. To add to this, she has no governmental experience. Her opponent has these credentials in mammoth proportions. Personally, NOT being a career politician is a BIG positive, but the bulk of the electorate may not be as enlightened as I… ;-)

Still, given re-districting, I believe she/we have a legitimate chance. And given the nature of incumbency, even without the added advantage the politicos managed to sneak by in the guise of ‘campaign-finance reform’, this is the last chance for perhaps a very long time.

And too be honest, his Hon. the Rev. really ticked me off. (I suppose it is a case of beware the Old-Fat-Guy(tm) scorned... ;->)

And so, I will walk and talk and work phones. I will make my voice heard in whatever way will contribute, be it spoken word or song.

For if we cannot see the opportunity and seize the day, we have no right to lament it’s passing.

Actor’s have, in various countries, methods of wishing there fellow Thespians well without invoking the ill-will of fate. I hold little thought of the benefits in this case.

If I was truly lucky, I wouldn’t have to worry so much in the first place about the damn Federales and their long arm of influence on my life. Given that self-same electorate seems unwilling or unable to envision such a perfect world…

Wish me luck…

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Talk Radio Commentary

The subjects on one local Radio Talk outlet this morning were of interest, though I failed to make it on-the-air.

The first subject was the news that the Governor of the great state of Illinois has decided to defy federal authority and condone Illinois resident's orders for prescription drugs from various foreign sources.

(Now, don't get me wrong, I am as big a fan of defiance of Federal authority as the next guy. Probably bigger. I just doubt the altruism in his honor's motives. But then, isn't that the way with MOST forms of altrusim?)

The second subject was the final column written by Walter Cronkite for syndication. He apparently advocated free air-time for candidates and the banning of other forms of political advertizments.

Here is what I just e-mailed to the host:

Re: Illinois Gov. saying it's OK to buy drugs from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Waited on my cell, but the Pro-Leach callers were queued up ahead of me and I missed the segment.

I feel the same way about this as I did about the hub-bub surrounding the closing of the 'RX' outlets in KS a few months back. They (the 'RX' people) were ordering Canadian drugs for Kansas residents.
As I pointed out then about the Canadians, I am SURE the English and Scots will be THRILLED to hear that the confiscatory taxes they pay into their Government-Run Health-Care System is benefitting their American cousins... (I don't have the personal knowledge of Ireland, but it is probably the same.)

Sorry George, have to disagree with you. This is NOT being self-reliant. In fact, it is the first step on the path to Govt. controlled medicine. If you think that is a good idea, you should talk to the Hospital workers in Detroit and Buffalo about the many cross-overs they have in their surgical facilities.

I have an even better story, if you have the time, I will relate it in the future.

Re: Walter thinking that ads should be free and no paid advertizing.

Sorry Walter, and, for that matter, sorry Supreme Court of the United States, Money IS Political Speech. The fact that a Majority of the public feels uncomfortable with the results of some segement of the populace exercising this right and that the Supreme Court is willing to let this public sentiment influence their decision does not negate the basic truth of my statement. My buying a comercial on KCMO 710 to express my opinion is EXACTLY analogous to my carrying a soap-box into Hyde Park in 19th Century London and speaking my mind to passers-by. It is just that Hyde Park Corner had a much higher percentage of the London populace passing by in the 1800's and I could reach my 'target audiance' via my vocal-chords alone. Now-a-Days, I make use of the free-market driven media available to me. I, for one, think it is well within the rights of Susquehanna to attract an audiance with entertaining and informative programming and SELL access to said audience. State-Run Radio has traditionally been the tool of Communist and Socialist countries...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Exactly How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Or Rather, is it How STUPID ARE THEY?

In various press releases, including an August 6 "fact check," the Democrats have asserted that "John Kerry served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 6 years and is the former Vice Chairman of the Committee."

Now the Republican National Committee is pointing out -- correctly, I think, based on my quick search -- that Kerry never was the Vice Chairman of the Committee; that post was held by former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey.


By the way, did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam???

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Cyber-Axe/The Next Wave

I, am a Guitar Man. Specifically, an Acoustic Guitar Man.

Gibsons, even more specifically, though I do own a Martin Travel Stick.

The lure of the solid-body electric has never been the love affair that has enriched the lives of many. m\My oldest friend is one of these aficionados of the laudable classic rock-N-roll axes.

I admit, I have longed for a nice arch-top on which I could pretend to play Jazz bar-chords...

I do not play the guitars I own now nearly as much as they deserve, so these were but idle day-dreams. But always, acoustic dreams.

Until now.

Part of the time away from music-making is my other great love and pass-time, technology.

And now, comes the announcement of the ultimate convergent-technology.

And so, I give you the first solid-body I have truly lusted after:

The Gibson Digital Guitar.

In addition to the Ethernet port (as if that was not inherently cool enough to get me salivating...) the copy lists several features of the new technological marvel:

  • Gibson's patented HEX pickup, which senses up-and-down motion (like an acoustic guitar pickup) and side-to-side motion (like an electric guitar pickup) for each string.
Apparently I should have been PLUCKING instead of strumming all these years...

  • Gibson's BreakOut Box, with 8 outputs (1/4" jacks) - one for each string, plus classic humbucking pickup output and pass-through for microphone; 2 inputs carry audio back to guitar for monitoring; split mode assigns strings to different amps

In other words, you can then use split mode to assign each of the six strings to a different amplifier.

Why the hell would I want to do that?


So, on this, the day the King of Rock-N-Roll passed from this mortal-realm, I give you the future.

Should be one HELL of a ride...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Letter from Grandma

Today's Sermon (this month is a series entitled 'Hot Topics') was on Promiscuity.

To help ease the way into the very serious subject, Jim introduced a bit of levity.
The point was well made on the unfortunate message our modern society sends in so many ways. In this case, the latest fashion.

And so, I give you the 'Letter from Grandma':

A message from Grandma

I just spent several hours observing teenagers who were "hanging out"
at our local mall. I came to the conclusion that many teens in America are
now living in poverty. Most of the young men don't even own a belt; there was
not one among the lot of them. But that wasn't the sad part --- many of them
had to wear their daddy's jeans. Some of those jeans were so big and baggy
that they hung low on their hips, exposing their underwear.

I know some of 'em must have been ashamed their daddy was so short,
because his jeans hardly went below their knees. They weren't even their
daddies' good jeans! Most of them had holes ripped in the knees and had a dirty
look to them. It really grieves me that in a modern, affluent society like
America, there are people who can't afford a decent pair of jeans. I have been
thinking about asking my church to start a "jean drive" for those poor kids at
the mall. Then on Christmas Eve, we could go caroling and distribute jeans to
these poor teenagers.

Also, I don't think this group of boys had even had much to eat,
because as they were walking, their heads leaned to one side, as if they didn't
have enough strength to keep them up. Oh, they tried. With each step, they
tried to lift them up, but to no avail; they always dropped back to the side.
This group of guys must be from the same family, because they all walked with
their heads bobbing together in the same manner.

But that wasn't the saddest part. It was the girls they were hanging
out with that disturbed me the most. I have never in all of my life seen such
"poor" girls. These girls had the opposite problem from the guys --- they
all had to wear their little sister's clothes. Their jeans were about five
sizes too small. I don't know how they even got the jeans on, let alone buttoned
them up. Their jeans barely went over their hipbones. Most of them also had
on their little sister's top because it hardly covered their midsection. Oh,
they were trying to keep their heads up with pride, but it was a sad sight to
see these almost grown women wearing children's clothes.

However, it was their underwear that bothered me the most. They, like
the boys, ... because of the improper fit of their clothes, also had their
underwear exposed. I have never seen anything like it. It looked like their
underwear was only held together by a single piece of --- string!
String, mind you! I know that it must also sadden your heart too to
receive this report on the condition of our American teenagers. While
I go to bed every night with a closet full of clothes nearby, there are
million of "mall girls" who barely have enough material to keep it together.

I think their "poorness' is why these two groups hang out at the mall:
the boys with their short daddies' ripped jeans and the girls wearing
their younger sisters' clothes. The mall is one place where they can find
acceptance. So, the next time you are at the mall doing your shopping and you
pass by some of these poor teenagers, would you say a prayer for 'em?
And one more thing ... Will you PLEASE pray that the guys' pants won't
fall down and that the girls' strings won't break?

Oh, I forgot to tell you --- none of 'em own a hair comb.



Saturday, August 14, 2004

Mimic's Mid-Day March Memorializes Modern Music's Majesty

For the 17th year, downtown Kansas City hosted the annual Elvis Parade to commemorate the passing of the King of Rock-N-Roll. It was held yesterday, Friday 13th, at Barney Allis Plaza. I was not able to attend this year's festivities, which I would have especially enjoyed, as none other than Weird Al himself was Grand Marshal.

This is an especially notable year, in that, earlier this summer marked the first of the Sun sessions in Memphis. And thus, was Rock-N-Roll born.

Rock-N-Roll, 50 Years old. The music of the Baby-Boomer generation. It touched us all, to a greater, or even EVEN MORE THAN THAT extent.

And so, the KC Elvi came and marched to celebrate the King.
For Monday is not a day of Mourning, it is a day of celebration.
Of a life of music.
Of a Music of Life.

The King is Dead,
Long Live his Music.

Friday, August 13, 2004

What was that Noise? OH! Yeah! It's the Other Shoe Dropping...

So THIS is the real reason for the big confession spectacle...

So, anybody for up for some REAL corruption in the Jerzy Gov's Office?

Tony Soprano for Governor!!!!

What? What's you problem?

It's because he's an actor, isn't it?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

MelodiousMusik: You are what you listen to. - Listen to something New! - What's Mr. Gadgets listening to today?

Restoration - Phillips, Craig and Dean

We (actually just the guys) will be singing I Need You during our August 29th service.

I also quite enjoyed I've Got You Covered.

I suppose I have long-since offended any legit A-Theists, but will only quote the non-religious portion of one of the tracks:

Standing on a hillside
Where the river meets the sea
White crosses without number
Line the fields of peace

And each one a silent witness
Staring back at me
Every cross a story
Of another place in time
Where young men thought it worthy
To give their life for mine
And for the sake of honor
Left their dreams behind

And for the price they paid
I'm forever in their debt
Their memory will not die
'Cause I will not forget

I will stand and hold my head up high
I will dedicate my life
To the glory of the ones who had to die
I will live, live what I believe
If for no one else but me
I will remember
That freedom's never free

Lest we forget what is REALLY important, amidst the political Mumbo-Jumbo...

New Jerzy Politics


I didn't think there was anything the Jerzy Democrats could come up with to top the 2002 Senate race in terms of pure bald-faced political (to say nothing of illegal) election manipulation when faced with a scandal-ridden candidate.

Was I ever wrong...

The Governor's big confession

I heard the live press-conference. The story doesn't mention it, but the reason for the November 15th date was, according to McGreevey, "to facilitate a smooth transition". Yeah, and just happens to avoid a contest to replace him that co-incides with the National elections...

The REAL reason he made the big announcement?

Or, perhaps this is the reason?

We report, you decide.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

American Dream or Legalistic Nightmare?

"We are here from the government to help you..."
Anonymous Bureaucrat

Do you own your home?

Many of you may say yes. Some, might even quip, "Well, me and the bank..."
Others may aspire to someday stop paying a landlord.
Some of you may have completed your mortgage payments and own your home 'outright'.

Or do you?

Residents of Suffolk County, on New York's Long Island are beginning to discover the surprising answer to this question.

In summary, New York law allows the County Government to, after due-diligence in notifying the tax-payer, to attain title to homes where property-taxes are owed. Having attained said title, the County Government to sell the property at auction.

Here is the kicker: The County Government then keeps the ENTIRE proceeds from the sale. In the case of Mr. Charles Weber, whose wife, Patricia, was dying of cancer and whose business was failing, owed the county $22,995 by 1998, including unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. The County sold Mr. Weber's Fire Island home, which had been in his family over 50 years, for $615,000. The entire proceeds were, in full accordance with New York State statutes, were kept by the Suffolk County Treasury, a tidy $550,000 profit (in round figures).

Sarah Jones, 68, who had two strokes and has been living on Social Security disability since 1988, was another victim of Suffolk's auction process. Her house of nearly 40 years was taken by Suffolk County in 1997, because she owed the County $11,723 in taxes and penalties on her two-bedroom Patchogue home. Her home was sold at a June auction for $185,000 - with all of the money going to county coffers.

I have often quoted Bastiat in the past.

On this particular subject his discussion of 'Legal Plunder' is particularity presented.

How to Identify Legal Plunder

"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."

Now, it just so happens that I did a little search using Mr. Weber's name as my criteria. The first hit was John Beck's site about making big profits from Tax Auctions.

Whatever you may think of the methods detailed on the site, Mr. Beck seems to be advocating the very practice that the NewsDay article describes as SOP in Manhattan and Nassau Counties. (Did you know Manhattan is it's own county?) In the case of these local governments, the former resident of the tax-delinquent property do not lose their entire equity in the government-mandated process.

You may not think much of Mr. Beck and what he advocates, but one thing is sure. He could never dream of attaining the kind of profits that Suffolk County enjoys. If Mr. Beck, or one of his protege' were to attempt to foreclose on a tax-lien and pocket the entire proceeds of the sale, we would all cry with alarm at the violation of legal principles.

"See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."

What do Suffolk County officials say when questioned about this practice?

"John Cochrane, Suffolk treasurer, however, says the county goes to great lengths to notify delinquent taxpayers of their impending loss of property. After three years of nonpayment, the county lists the properties in an array of newspapers and sends out letters via certified mail to the owners, he said. Financial advice is also available, he said."

In other words, WE WARNED THEM.

I have heard the County Executive of Suffolk County attempting to justify this situation. His responses were basically the same as the head of the County Legislature:

Providing incentive

As for Suffolk's approach, Joseph Caracappa (R-Selden), presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said it may appear heavy-handed. "But we have given them every opportunity to pay. There needs to be a cut-off period - or there would not be much of an incentive to pay on a timely basis."

Now, it seem a good time to ask:

What is the procedure in your county? What is State Law?

I admit, I do not know the specifics here in Jackson, CO MO.

But I, for one, intend to find out.

Make no mistake, the sheer amounts of money and the very remote aspect of the Federal Government in DC bares huge scrutiny.

State and Local Government, being closer at hand are SUPPOSED to be more in tune with the electorate.

I suppose if you have been bored or otherwise annoyed by my droning on and on about politics, you would not be reading this now.


And so, I ask once more, Do you OWN YOUR HOME?

NewZ Alert - Interstate 35 Closed North-Bound Into Downtown KC - Traffic Snarled for Miles - Commuters Stranded


According to the latest radio reports, this Traffic Tragedy was caused by an errant semi-load of Water-Melons.

It is NOT, REPEAT NOT the result of a KERRY-EDWARDS campaign stop.

We now return you to your normal programming...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Kerry Takes Supporters for a Ride

Apparently there was a small SNAFU in the Kerry Campaign's whistle-stop in Lawrence Kansas late-Friday-Night/early-Saturday-Morning.

Admittedly, there are few counties in Kansas that have any significant amount of Democrats. Besides Douglas, best known as the home of the University of Kansas, Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS (now a unified City/County government) and Sedgwick County (Wichita) come to mind. And in Sedgwick it is probably only certain precincts.

So, the idea was to make a brief stop and talk to the faithful on the way out West.

According to the Kerry people, nobody told the conductor...

Personally, I can hardly blame the man, it is his job to keep the train on schedule, but more importantly, to minimize the train's interference with the railway's real bread-and-butter FREIGHT.

We know a lot about freight here in KC. Kansas City itself owes it's very existence to railroads and we are still one of the major freight hubs in the US. In fact, the company I work for has two major divisions. The financial-services arm that employs me and the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

In this case, the Kerry-Edwards Express, or whatever they are calling it, was the only passenger train traveling from Kansas City to Denver. I know this because there is no direct train West from here. I know, because I looked into a train passage back in October 2001 when I needed to travel to Denver to complete some work originally scheduled to occur September 13th. The only routing at that time was through Omaha. In fact, according to the Amtrak site, the only way I can travel from Kansas City to Denver riding exclusively on trains is via Galesburg, Illinois! I could take a bus up to Omaha, Nebraska and ride a train to Denver from there.

Given the circumstances, and given the apparent chronically late nature of the Kerry schedule, at least when her appears here in MO/KS, one can hardly blame the poor rail-man for pushing on.

The Kerry train had already caused other passenger service to be delayed, much to the chagrin of another conductor, who was chastised for pointing out the reason for the delay to his passengers.

They sent back the Breck-Girl to make amends. Too little, too late, if you can judge by the callers to the local talk-show stations on Monday. These people were pissed.

apparently, even when the train does stop, there is no actual mixing with the crowd. In addition, according to press reports, reporters here in KC were informed that any questioning of the candidate during his rail-stop rally would result in their expulsion from Union Station.

One begins to wonder exactly what DOES happen, when the stops do occur.

All I know is, the Vice President of the United States flies into the Downtown KC airport, his motorcade drives up the very street I work on and I never suffer the slightest inconvenience.

Kerry comes into town, makes no difference, train or plane, and downtown KC traffic is screwed-up something awful. According to the press reports, not a group given to giving Cheney any breaks, the crowds involved at there speeches are comparable. I guess all those drivers of Democrat vehicles I mentioned yesterday are incapable of navigating properly with there rear views obscured by Anti-Bush propaganda...

In the how-much-do-they-screw-up-my-commute-home index, Kerry just keeps pissing me off as badly as his proto-supporters in Lawrence were after the drive-by wave.

Between the traffic jams, the delays at previous KC rallies and alienating his base with mis-cues like Lawrence, one wonders if the man has any idea how to hire campaign consultants.

As to his qualifications for handling more complex matters...

Monday, August 09, 2004

Sighting:Typical KC Suburban Democrat's Transport

Nothing REALY rare, like a Wyandote County Kansas Republican, mind you, but note-worthy, none-the-less.

Instead of the usual economy model, usually 10+ years old, this guy was driving a late-model SUV! (What WOULD his Eco-bretheren think?)

How did I know this was a Democrat's Conveience?

Their were various and sundry Bumper-Stickers on the rear window.
(Does anybody actually put Bumper-Stickers on Bumpers anymore?)
AS this was, as mentioned a newer model, they were on glass only, not covering the entire rear-end of the vehicle. After all, even the most dedicated supporters have their limits.

One read: Protect America - Dump Bush

I could not help but wonder how much solidarity he would find amongst his fellow liberals of the Auto-Workers-Union if he was to park the Toyota Rav4 in the parking-lot of the local Ford or GM plants...

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Blessed Bond

Yesterday evening we went out with our best friend's family to dinner. On the way we decided to divert to a different restaurant than originally planned then proceed on to visit their sister/sister-in-law and see the three-week old new-borns. Fraternal twins, Brother and Sister. They gave their Mother much difficulty, attempting to enter the world far too early. As it was they were still a bit pre-mature, but did not require a major hospital stay or the intensive care that modern medical science can bring to bear in such cases. So many will quibble over life's commencement. It is the major motivating factor for many of various political spectrums.

And how could it not be so?

For the first and most fundamental premise is Life itself.

Some put their faith in empirical science to come up with some definitive answer to this question.

I have no doubt that genetic research will result in discoveries that will drastically change the political landscape and will undoubtedly cause radically shifting loyalties.

Those self-same geneticists would have us believe that the production of progeny IS the be all and end all. That the passing down of one's genetic material is the only imprint humankind can make on eternity. That there is nothing but instinct.

And who can say, empirically speaking, that they are wrong?

It is, however, an unarguable fact that there are wonders that can be wrought when pre-mature births occur that are little short of miraculous.

My two daughters were never this small as the tiny Brother and Sister I had the pleasure of holding, even on their first day.

Who's heart does not melt, with a baby in their arms?

Jeff Duntemann wrote at length on the ravages of 14th Century Europe and at least one theory on their source. A tale of monsters begat by monsters worthy of Mary Shelley. To think that one could treat their own children, so tiny and helpless in such a way?

Who could treat an child not yet born in such a way?

To hold a tiny life, so pure, so full of promise. How could ANY human heart not melt?

The debate will roll on. No doubt it will be mentioned much in the next few months.

When exactly? What rights and belonging to whom?

The most fundamental of all principals.

Life. It's Protection. It's Nurturing.
It's Overwhelming Responsibility and correspondingly Tremendous Joy.

I, for one, know what I believe.

"Every time I hear a new born baby cry,
Or touch a leaf or see the sky.
Then I know why,
I believe.

Semantical Truism

Semantics, a much maligned term, as in:
"You;re only arguing Semantics..."
Of COURSE I'm arguing Semantics you idiot!
Arguing IS Semantics!

I have long pondered posts on this very subject and will return to Semantics in the future.
For now, a specific way of discerning meaning in rhetorical discourse.

I must confess that this is one of those little nuggets that is so self-evident that I honestly can't say with certainty that it had already occurred to me first and was just affirmed by outside sources or I acquired it form something I read or heard. I will readily admit that it is espoused by a well-known and highly-rated talk-show host.

Listen to what to anyone is saying with the following in mind:
They can never speak of what they have never conceived. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Witness the huge row over the latest 'Bushism' this past week:
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Oh! The hew and cry! If I heard it once, I heard it twenty times. (I know it was more, but I do not wish to be cited for the very hyperbole I am implying. Basically, it amounted to variations on this theme:


Now, at first blush, and with absolutely no analysis, I submit it still takes an agenda-driven mind to come to this conclusion. Those with less malice of forethought, i.e. almost everybody, simply laugh it off as another of those 'wacky witticisms' that seem to erupt on occasion. The self-same talk-show host was one of many who dismissed it in this manner. Those with the anti-Bush bent immediately pointed to this willingness to give the President the benefit of a doubt as further evidence of the 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy' and bellowed all the louder.

Now, allow me to expand slightly on the initial statement of the principal of discernment under discussion. I give you the following:

They can never speak of/react to/anticipate/defend against/protect us from what they have never conceived.

Take a moment to re-parse President Bush's statement with this new version of the truism in mind:

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Hmmmmm, not so stupid sounding now, is it?

The more common phrasing of this truism is more specific and biased toward a particular outcome:
They attribute to their opponent what they would do themselves.

I do not agree that this is a given. I would agree that they would, at minimum, have had to conceive of the idea, (duh!) and are certainly willing to believe their opponents would be callous enough to commit said heinous act on the poor unsuspecting populace. Were it not for the eternal vigilance of the speaker and his/her willingness to point out the venomous nature of their enemy.

At best they wish us to believe their adversary capable, nay anxious to commit the most despicable acts they can imagine. At worst they are describing the very acts they themselves would be more than willing to perpetrate, given half a chance, so the OTHER guy must be willing to do the same, right? (OK, OK, at least sub-consciously.)

So, in this case we are talking a range. A kind of plus or minus factor but more of a minus some to minus a LOT factor would be more accurate.

Keeping that in mind, I shall relate an interchange I heard on Fox yesterday afternoon. (Yes, I am one of THOSE people.)

The subject: The Nixon Resignation.

Yes fans, today, August 8th, 1974, tricky Dick left the office rather than face impeachment.
The pent-ultimate moment in one of two pivotal events of the Baby-Boomer generation.
Say what you will about the man, he did not sully the office by actually committing a crime personally (say perjury) and he left it in some of the most capable hands ever to sit in the big chair.

The Fox news-analysts were earnestly discussing the events back in the day and whether such glorious news reportage could still occur.

The token flaming liberal (he/she is SO easy to spot on Fox) stated the following:
"In today's world, with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and his Ilk, a Republican President could murder someone on National Television and get away with it."

Now, first of all, I think it very notable that he could make such a statement, including Fox in the 'conspiracy' while appearing on Fox. Is this not a First Amendment testimony? Would George Will be given the same liberty on ABC? (Of course Will is to sane to ever test this theory, but still...)

But consider, this is not an unusual statement nowadays. In fact, this is more the rule than the exception. Hell, the front-runner in the early primaries, the candidate that the majority of delegates to the recently held Democrat love-fest in Boston probably WISH WAS their final choice, spouts this kind of bilge all the time.

And once you start looking at the loonie's statement in light of the subject we have been discussing, what exactly does this say about the 'main-stream left'? The 'hard-line progressives' are want to make such statements and deem them as not only justified, but as TRUE.

What does this say about THEM?

That dear reader, I leave to you.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Do NOT Cross This MAN!

Apparently Mikey just won't take NO for an answer.

So much for artistic differences...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Adios Texas! - Headin' North

Finished up my one-day session and am winging my way back home to KC.
I quite enjoy Austin, though this was an abbreviated trip and the humidity this time of year can be even more punishing than back home. I only read USA Today while on the road, and while in Houston at least a year ago, I read about a study on perspiration of all things. Sponsored by one of the under-arm anti-perspiring companies (of course) it rated US cities. New Orleans was rated number 1 as WORST American city. Surprisingly, Dallas/Ft. Worth was rated second and either Austin or San Antonio (can't remember which but six of one and half-dozen of the other, given their geographical proximity) as third. Houston was rated fourth overall. I felt this was a travesty and that Houston was clearly number two and informed my class of my support for their cause when I arrived at the client site later that morning. Needless to say I as soaked, having walked more than a few feet from Lobby to rental car and rental car to lobby. ;-)
Arrived in plenty of time via the SupperShuttle service from the hotel, which was just down the block from the office I was visiting in Austin. I usually rent a car when coming anywhere in Texas, but I usually am staying longer than a single night. The Shuttle was efficient and cheap. Good idea if you don't need transportation during your stay. I have noticed their signs in other airports. If the occasion arises again I will give them another try.
When traveling to Austin for the first time a few years back,I was quite confused by my rental-car company map (ALWAYS take the map! It is your good-luck charm to keep you from getting lost. But THAT's another story... ;->) and the complete lack of correspondence to the surrounding road system. Eventually the map started making sense with roads I was encountering and I made my way to the hotel, but it was a bit dis-concerting. The next week (I was there a week and a half.) I discovered that I had flown into the newly minted airport, barely a month old. The rental-car map still had the old location! (I know this SEEMS to contradict my good-luck charm theory, but TRUST ME, TAKE the MAP...) Bergstrom airport is a sifty little place. Still has that 'new' feel. Not too large and you still walk directly across the street to pick up your rental of choice. (Always a favorite feature, though recent security measures have moved more and more rental operations off-site, requiring the schlepping of bags up and down the stairs of busses.)
Upon arriving yesterday, I noticed a statue of Barbara Jordan downstairs by the baggage pick-ups as I walked toward the Shuttle desk. I have no idea if it is new, as I can't remember ever having passed that way on previous trips. Today, I noticed the signs welcoming me to the Barbara Jordan Terminal. (BTW, what is it with Democrat women politicians down here? You would think some down-East state more known for Liberalism would have produced more memorable Politicos of the female persuasion. But no, it is Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards that come to my mind when I think of truly memorable, quotable Democrat Women. I guess you have to be flamboyant to get these Texas boys to pay you any heed... ;->)
As I mentioned yesterday, Austin is a Live-Music Mecca. This trip was no exception. The Radisson featured a young Jazz vocalist with a lovely voice, well suited to the standards se was performing, accompanied by an accomplished keyboardist. (Electric, but still those new-fangled things can sound pretty darn good.)
And let us not forget the inestimable SowPremes!!!!
(The Swine have LEFT the BUILDING!)
There was a duo playing live as I arrived through security for my flight home, and another duo playing alternative music on acoustic guitars in a BBQ joint down the way.
A quick trip but a good one, I think.
And now back home.
Up to Dallas and shift to another airship andcontinue to follow I-35 the rest of the way back up to the MO-KS border. (Co-incidentally, their is a MO-KS railway that runs No-So through Austin that also lends it's name to the highway on the West side of town that runs parallel to the right-of-way.
Below me, the cowboys took weeks to drive cattle North on the old trails. I will arrive late, but in a single evening.
"Up the Chisholm Trail, to the old cow-towns.
Through the canyons and the draws, on to Wichita.
They drove the cattle up to meet the trains.
Oh! The times were hard, on the rolling Kansas plains..."
Rolling Kansas Plains - The Prairie Rose Wranglers
Buenos Noches e Via con Dios...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Texas BBQ and a Movie - What more could you ask for?

As I post this and the last political musings, I am watching a documentary (a REAL one, not some Mooreish propaganda) BARBEQUE a TEXAS LOVE STORY while eating authentic Texas BBQ!

What more could you ask for?

The Alamo Draft House is a Texas experience, although their site mentions franchise opportunities. I wonder if they would reject an 'outa state proposal? Hmmmmmm...

I got the feeling I was one of the few attendees who were not IN or somehow related or friends with people who appear in the film. Each new scene seemed to elicit wild response from some group in the audience.

Austin, in addition to being the Live Music Capital has a large film making community.
This film was asked to return to Austin's South by Southwest Film Festival

It is a top-notch production, with life footage of Dan Rather discussing his Texas roots and Ex-Governor Ann Richards narrating. (Click here to see Ann Richards sitting on a hog.)

After the flik there is a meet the crew and Q&A.

Then, to top the event off, direct from the Sausage Festival in Elgin TX (the Sausage Capitol of Texas by the way) the SOWPREMES!

(I got to meet the lovely swinettes afterwards and was even dubbed an honorary BOAR!!!!)

See it if you get a chance!

The producers expressed an interest in getting it shown at the Whitehouse, if anybody out there has any connections, let me know!

Lots of fun. If you are in Austin, give the Draft House a try!

Dinner and a Movie AND free WIFI! All served up Texas Style!

Now THAT'S entertainment!

Politics as usual? Isn't that an Oxymoron?

“All Politics is Local”

Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil quoting an old political aphorism.

Well, the dust has settled and KC voters have actually passed bond initiative to re-vitalize downtown Kansas City by building a new arena. This will be a corner-stone to other development, including an entertainment district, performing-arts center and restraints.

My parents have related stories of how downtown was when they first arrived here in 1959. I can remember traveling to the downtown Macy’s for shopping trips. I can also remember going to the 31st and Troost area, where major department stores had retail outlets. The Plaza and Ward Parkway shopping centers existed near the MO-KS border and THE MALL (the Blue Ridge Mall) was available to us ‘Eastern Jackson County’ shoppers. That was it. Now-a-days, the shopping opportunities are multitudinous. Johnson County KS, just across the border, boasts the second-highest per-capita income in the US, or at least did until recently. The lack of infrastructure to support the traffic loads in recent years are one of many reasons I prefer to live where I do, but a quick trip in to partake in the preferred ‘retail opportunity’ of the day is quite satisfactory.

Meanwhile, and, to a certain extent because of, these ‘outlying’ outlets, the inner-city has suffered. Years ago, while in the market for a ‘new’ used car, I had occasion to test-drive a vehicle in the area adjacent to College Blvd. in Overland Park, KS where the new Corporate Woods office park was just beginning to take shape. I drove the car on the newly paved roads of these new offices. I remember thinking to myself, “Are these people crazy? Who in their right mind is going to drive out here to the middle of nowhere to go to work?” (Less than three years later I was a newlywed and applied for a job at the fledgling Innovative Software, located in one of those very buildings at the time…)

31st and Troost had declined long ago, to the point that today one has to know exactly what and where to look to even catch a trace of it’s former days.

Downtown KC has taken a slower decline. By the time I started working downtown full-time, the Macy’s had closed. Last of the full-line department stores was Jones. Across from it’s empty shell is the façade of the old Jenkins music store. Many is the hour during my college years I spent lusting in my heart for various guitars in it’s basement. There was one Alvarex model that was a particular favorite… (Ahhhhhhhh…. ;->)

Now, walking anywhere east of Main Street is just depressing. From afar, the city skyline is still impressive, but the old girl is suffering when you get up close. The area West of Main still has some activity, mostly due to my present employer. They have made a concerted effort to rehab buildings and remain downtown. New condominiums have been built and many loft-dwellers are beginning to move back into the downtown area.

Still, as the client’s I have arrive here in KC can attest, the side-walks are rolled-up at 5pm as we all go home to the sub-urbs.

Now, with the help of the new attractions, perhaps downtown will once again attract shoppers/diners from the outskirts into the core.

And OH! What a time it was during the campaign. Enterpriace Rental Car decided they had to take a stand somewhere to dissuade cities from the kind of tax-increase proposed by this measure. The tax-increase, (remember, we are talking government here) was levied on out-of-towners coming to use/visit the new attractions. In outer words, hotel and rental-car tax levies. Enterprise, who does the bulk of their business not at the airport, but out of neighborhood store-fronts, would see a direct increase in fees and a corresponding decrease in bottom-line. (As one observer pointed out, much of the Enterprise business is apparently fixed-cost contracts with insurance companies, so they would be unable to pass the expense on.) I, for one, never give Enterprise a first, let alone a second-thought when arriving in a destination airport. As for local rentals, I have used and attempted to use them on occasion, but their local operation is so small that the selection of cars is lacking. (One time too many waiting for an economy-size car when I ‘reserved’ a mid-size has put me out of the mood to try them again.) That said, one can understand their opposition from a purely financial perspective. They have, in my opinion, overlooked an un-intended by-product of this opposition. Lest it sound as if I am picking on Enterprise, I have NO opposition to a company looking out for their bottom-line. In fact, PROFIT is not just a good word, it is a GREAT word. Besides, I already stated, I am less then enamored with Enterprise. And, at least according to the representative of the California-based management-firm who will be part of the development and management of the new Arena (an admittedly biased source) Enterprise CHOSE KC as their battleground for this fight. They liked the proximity to their HQ and thought the market size in KC would make for an easier engagement than a Dallas or Denver. Assuming the truth in that statement, and this was purportedly openly admitted at an industry dinner just a day before the electon, I have no qualms about what the pro-arena forces did to combat the onslaught. Faced with literally millions of dollars of advertising and organizing money, they went on the offensive with their General at the forefront. Mayor Kaye Barnes, came out strong with ads criticizing the company for their ‘outside’ status. The real kicker was the very location of the HQ that was part of Enterprise’s very decision to oppose this measure at this time.

You see, Enterprise just happens to be located in St. Louis.

For those not from Missouri, the significance of this may be lost. For many, nay most states, there is one main city. One nexus of attention, at least in this modern world of rapid-transit. But in MO there are, and for the longest time, have been, two. Each with a unique commercial, cultural and political history. And ever since the railroad bridge crossed the Missouri at the point it turns North and KC began to form, they have been at logger-heads. St. Louis is an Eastern city. Kansas City, the true gateway to the West. (They just have a big concrete half-circle.) Given it’s peculiar political history and a larger population-base through time, they have exercised more political power and garnered more state funding.

And so, the her Honor’s television and radio spots explaining how the ‘St. Louis-based’ Enterprise is throwing millions of dollars (true) to keep KC down struck a deep-seated resentment. And the issue passed overwhelmingly.

In the process, I think Enterprise has managed to BUY more bad publicity than would have occurred if they had actually set out to do so. Their CEO could have been caught inflagranto with a city-councilwoman; nay councilMAN and it would have had less impact on public sentiment.

We shall see what measures they take to address this in the future.

On another note, I noticed with interest a sign in my local polling place:

“You must be a resident of this voting district to vote in this district.”


Given the history of politics, both here and elsewhere, I thought to myself, perhaps there should be a sign just below reading:

“You may only vote once in any given district.”

One thing still fresh in the minds of voters in KC that are Paying Attention(tm) is the voting ‘irregularities that took place in that self-same St. Louis during the 2000 election. So much attention was concentrated on Florida at the time that the Missouri issues were not pressed. There was a well-publicized legal manipulation to keep the polls in St. Louis city open well after the official 7:00pm closing. Less well known were the other efforts of the Democratic machine made to assure that every St. Louis voter got to the polls. This included the voters from East St. Louis, IL…

If he was not the gentleman that he is, incumbent Senator John Ashcroft could have and probably should have challenged the voting irregularities that sent Mel Caranahan’s widow to the Senate.

As it was, we gained a unique, though dubious distinction.

Other states, being mere slackers, have had incidents of dead people voting.

We, however, are the only one to actually ELECT a dead guy.

Of course, we did at least have a junior Senator that was a experienced as New York…

Ah, Politics!

If it weren’t so serious, I could die laughing.



Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Primary Day

Primary, meaning in this case first, ala Primary school.

How come the one in November isn't called the Secondary Election? ;-)

Voted early, went ahead and voted my party of choice, instead of crossing over to cast votes for weaker candidates on the other side. (Election results reveal that is just as well, would have done no good...)

Perused the other parties on the ballot. (Here in Jackson Co. MO we use the infamous 'hanging-chad' punch-card system. I could read through all the candidates names.)

Although my party of choice had some disappointing division and contention in various races, it is nothing to compare with the Democrats. The sitting governor, Mr. Personality, has been successfully challenged by another member of his own party. Unfortunately, she succeeded. (That was one of my cross-over temptations. I view her as a more formidable opponent in the Fall.)

I noticed there was a Reform Party ballot available, though there were no candidates listed on the ballot. Is this the last vestige of Ross Perot's personal vendetta against George H. W. Bush in the '90s?

BTW, what is with the State Treasurer's office? From the amount of entries in the two major parties, one would think there was Banana Republic-like income opportunities in handling all those tax funds... ;-)

As the evening draws to a close, I am surprised by some results and pleased with others.

I am still not sure about the situation with the open US House seat in my district. The candidate who won the Primary has ample funds, but little political experience. I, for one, think of that as a plus. We will see what happens.

Now, the real fun begins. See you there!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Enron and the Whitehouse

This was sent to me by a family friend in Utah.

Dang! I thought these little tricks were my original invention... ;-)

Hey, maybe the SAW one of my posts and COPIED ME, Yeah! Thats probably it!!!! ;-)

This is an interesting bit of information that you don't hear much about in the media

Enron's chairman did meet with the president and the vice president in the Oval Office.

Enron gave $420,000 to the president's party over three years.

It donated $100,000 to the president's inauguration festivities.

The Enron chairman stayed at the White House 11 times.

The corporation had access to the administration at its highest levels and even enlisted the Commerce and State Departments to grease deals for it.

The taxpayer-supported Export-Import Bank subsidized Enron for more than $600 million in just one transaction. Scandalous!!

BUT . . . the president under whom all this happened WASN'T George W. Bush.

SURPRISE . . . . . . . . . It was Bill Clinton!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

21st Century Clarke-a-Thon
Welcome to the Future!

Watched 2001 and 2010 back-to-back on cable this afternoon/evening.

The Kubrick/Clarke screenplay adaption has always struck me as disjunct.
That said, what an amazing creation. Unbelievable for the time.
The zero-G scenes. The orchestral music.
It is sometimes hard to remember this came out over 25 years ago, a time before computer effects.
This is all models and live action.

I lament having never gotten a chance to watch the spectacle in Cinerama with a modern sound system.

As I watched, I started taking notes on anachronisms of real-life compared to extrapolation.
Even the sequel is getting long in the tooth in Technology years, it is it's 20year anniversary.
I have commented before on how difficult near-term science-fiction can be. Reality quickly overtakes the authors vision with discrepancies, both large and small.

Here are a few I noticed:

This is Disney's World of Tomorrow and the Jetsons.
This is NASA of the '60s projected forward whole-cloth.
White, squeaky-clean and brightly lit.

Stewardi in SpaceBall hats. (All women, of course.)

Telephone home. No answering machine. No cell phone.

Russians, and, of course the Russian's have a moon-base.

The Space-meals on the trays that you apparently sip through straws. TANG to the extreme?

Man taking pictures and winding film of camera. (Reminds me of a Scuba enclosure.)

Based on two examples, space meals really suck. (Sometimes literally. ;->)

Hal has no zoom lens. (Fish-eye zooms are a computationally-intensive recent phenomenon.)

Hmmmm, come to think of it, HAL. A main-frame, controlling everything.

Russians again, still stealing secrets.

Jetson's-style house complete with dolphin tank!?!

That laptop is HUGE!

This is a more realistic world. Not cyber-punk but more 'industrial'. Perhaps it is a ding on the Russians. Mir with engines and a sifty rotating section so we don't have to spend too much on zero-G scenes...

Dave's brushing of his mother's hair looks phony as hell. (I suppose this is more of a complaint than an anachronism, but after all the amazing effects both in the original and this sequel, this stands out like the proverbial 'sore-thumb'...)

The cold-war, in Central America of all places.

In space, you are obsessed with REAL FOOD... (And mustard IS important.)

Overall, the sequel stands up better to the test of time. Perhaps because it was made during the time-period I associate with "real" spacecraft/spacefaring movies.

All-in-all a great time. Would do it again in a real theater setting.

And the story. Say whatever you want about the man personally, as an author, there are few who can compare.

Mere mortals dare to postulate mere Tara-forming.


"All These Worlds Are Yours Except Europa.
Attempt No Landing There.
Use Them Together.
Use Them in Peace."