Monday, May 31, 2004

In Memoriam - Warriors Remembered

Do you want to live forever? - Valeria to Conan

We went to see a movie today. (Obviously inside. ;->)

Troy - Back when war was up close and personal. When it involved various clever pointed sticks and metal meeted out in proximity.

Perhaps it should still be this way, but Pandora's Box is opened and the ability to precision bomb from 20k-ft. has changed the face of war. For now, the enemy doesn't have to have a face.

The movie depicts champions representing their king, fighting to determine the outcome without the bloody loss of the entire army. A novel concept in today's world, but not without merit.

Still it is also a depiction of massive armies arrayed against one another. The precursor of what ravaged Europe for centuries to come.

In this "retelling" of the Iliad Achilles wishes immortality through his exploits. Not only did he get it, he was off by a couple of millennia when he predicts how long men would remember the battles.

Memorial day was originally about remembering soldiers who gave their all for their country. And in the present situation, there will be many of those added to the list.

I heard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaking on Tony Snow's show about his new book. Brothers In Arms:The Epic Story of the 761St Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes was inspired by his Father's friend and partner. It was not until Abdul-Jabbar was an adult that he heard the story of the older man's WWII experiences. Sound familiar?

As I said last Thursday, The Greatest Generation. And we lose more and more of them every day.

God Bless and Keep them One and All.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

There are no coincidences...

A special devotional guide was prepared for the month of May, as there is a decision to be made about future church expansion. Fittingly, each day was written by individual members or couples and included their personal story and involvement with the church. In the process of reading these brief glimpses into the lives and efforts of these church members I have learned much church history. These were not only the builders and shapers of this church, but this community.

This morning's was typical. The verse was Matthew 7:7-8
7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The devotional writer, while noting the great promise in these verses, pointed out that we aren't always given what we ask for in the form we expect. She went on to state while the help is available, don't expect to have everything done for you.

So, I sought, expectantly.

CBS Sunday Morning re-broadcast a piece on Samuel Mockabee today.

I was struck by the statement that he:
"Became something of a legend for pursuing the notion that architecture students could learn a lot more about truth, beauty, and the morality of making a better world building a real house for Lucy Harris in a place like Mason's Bend than in a classroom making cardboard models."

What a powerful concept. That our interactions in the world are right and MORAL. There are many who would bristle at the very concept. That our very presence is everything that is WRONG with the world...

I believe these interatctions are, indeed, our moral duty.

At church, the assistant pastor's sermon was based on Matthew 26:1-13
(Mark. 14:3-9; John. 12:1-8)
6 Jesus was in Bethany. He was at the house of Simon the leper.
7 While Jesus was there, a woman came to him. She had an alabaster jar filled with very expensive perfume. The woman poured this perfume on Jesus' head while Jesus was eating.
8 The followers saw the woman do this and became upset at the woman. The followers asked, "Why waste that perfume?
9 That perfume could be sold for much money and the money could be given to poor people."
10 But Jesus knew what happened. Jesus said, "Why are you troubling this woman? She did a very good thing for me.
11 You will always have poor people with you, But you will not always have me.
12 This woman poured perfume on my body. She did this to prepare me for burial after I die.
13 I tell you the truth. The Good News, will be told to people in all the world. And in every place where the Good News is told, the story of what this woman did will also be told. And people will remember her."

And people will remember her.

The true longing of our hearts. That our lives have meaning. That we are not merely dust.

Bastiat states, "Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man.”

In other words, you are what you do.

Tomorrow is a holiday remembrance.

What will you be remembered for?

Saturday, May 29, 2004

What your government can REALLY DO to help you!
By Lowering Gas Prices
Part2:Mid Term

I have had this in mind ever since I wrote Part1.

The latest news from Florida and Louisiana was a clear sign that this is the opportune moment.

According to the story, "Just before the heavy-driving Memorial Day weekend, more than 500 Shell and Texaco stations in the South have stopped selling gasoline because of high levels of sulfur that can ruin vehicle fuel gauges and make an empty tank appear full."

It goes on to state, "The tainted gasoline originated at the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Norco, La., according to Shell. Motiva is the refining arm of Shell in the East and South. Motiva supplied the gasoline to both Shell and Texaco."

"The company said it is investigating how the high sulfur levels occurred. Sulfur is naturally present in crude oil; some of it is supposed to be removed during refining."

"New low-sulfur standards for gasoline established by the Environmental Protection Agency went into effect at the beginning of 2004, but analysts said it is not clear whether this played any part in the problem."

I heard this news via my primary source, the radio. One O&G executive that was quoted stated that refineries in the US (and I assume this on to be no exception) are running at 96% capacity, and have been for years. The other 4% is the bare minimum of down-time for maintenance.

Now, I am an electronics man, not a petro-chemical engineer, but I this is very troubling. I have relatives that work in the industry. My Father-In-Law retired from a career building a trans-state pipeline that bi-sects the Great Plains. Refineries are big complex places. They deal with turning a moderately volatile fluid into a highly volatile fluid, with LOTS of by-products, many of whom are toxic.

This does NOT seem like the kind of situation that calls for minimal down-time for maintenance. Why then, you ask, are they running on the knife edge of safety?

Simple, we aren't building any new ones.

And low and behold, we have played the odds, and not even good odds at that, for years and now, the piper wants to be paid. Why should ANYONE be surprised?

Now, this will be a hey-day for the trial-lawyers. I can see it now. And there will be class-action suits, I should expect. And those call for DEEP pockets.

Sooooooo, if there are any young ambitious (like there are any who aren't) Doctors of Juris-prudence out there reading this, I have a suggestion.

Of course, you can't sue the EPA, as they are the Government.
But like any toady bureaucrats, they are prone to react to whomever is Yelling the LOUDEST.

And those people rake in MILLIONS in contributions every year from the faithful.

So why not go after the LUDDITES that got us here in the first place?

And in doing so, maybe a little sanity can prevail and we can actually BUILD SOME NEW REFINING CAPACITY!!

Never happen, but I can dream, can't I?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime - Time for a Blockbuster!

Today on the drive into work the radio newscast mentioned that today was the anniversary of the Boulevard Drive-In here in KC.

Ah, the drive-in, the quintessential Baby-Boomer experience. Drive-in popularity began, peaked and waned during the ‘youth’ of the Boomer generation. By the time I was in High School in the early ‘70s, they were already becoming blase’. The first of the week-end Swap-N-Shops were already starting, the operators desperate for any income-stream. The 63rd Street Drive-In, the Raytown iteration of this cultural icon, is now exclusivly used for Nate’s Swap on weekends. I think this is the longest running Swap Meet in the KC Area. Many is the Saturday morning I spent wnadering the by-ways, looking for stereo and camera equipment. (I still own and can put my hands on a miniature tri-pod I purchased at Nate’s little micro-chosm of the free-market.)

KC has much history connected with movies in general and drive-ins in particular. There is an electronics firm here named: DIT-MCO Drive In Teater Manufacturing Company

DIT-MCO started it’s life producing screens, projection equipment and especially the speakers used in drive-in installations. According to friends who have worked there, they continued making replacement units for the errant movie-goer who drives off with the virtually indestructible metal-encased transducers still attached to the window.

Two theater chains are headquartered here:

Kansas City was the location of the first multi-plex, a two-screen theater at the Ward Parkway Shopping Center built in 1963. A true reflection of the company name AMC (American Multi-Cinema)Theaters This was later replaced by AMC Parkway 14.

Dickinson Theaters also founded here has recently built the EastGlen 16 theater in my home town of Lee’s Summit.

Before the EastGlen was announced there was a two-screen operation in town. It had the unique distinction , as far as I know, of being the only theater that started out as first-run, became a $1 house and then, as the population boom of the '80s occurred, changed BACK to first-run. Towards the end, the place was really going to seed. They stopped fixing things once they heard about EastGlen. Rather than attempting the re-transition, they sold the prime spot along M-291, which was re-developed to the present site of OfficeMax and Hollywood at Home. (I guess it still is a movie location when you think about it… ;->)

As far as the ‘movie location’ idea, the best example I am aware of is Sedalia, MO. (Most famous now for the State Fair, but also the one-time home of Scott Joplin and still the site of a yearly Ragtime Festival.) For years, the drive-in in Sedalia was located on US 50 on the West side of town. At some point during the ‘80s, if memory serves, the site was plowed under and a new multi-plex was erected in it's place. The Pavlovian drive to the ‘movies’ was maintained…

Movies changed when I was in my college years. My oldest friend has posted an excellent piece on how a single movie changed the entertainment industry forever in regards to artistic risks, but there were some heady days. The first example of this I can cite personally is Jaws. It is the first movie I ever actively paid full first-run price to view multiple times. Keep in mind children, this is pre-VCR AND pre-cable. Oh, sure, I would pay to go see old favorites when they were infrequently screened. (Eric P. Kantor and I once talked Pam Robinson into staying for a SECOND showing of Singing in the Rain at Watt’s Mill. Later, I attended a showing of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers there with Q&A following with one of the actors who played a Pontipee brother. Guess what? They didn't sing! Only the recognizable pipes of Jane Powell and the in-estimable Howard Keel were deemed important enough for seperate voice time. Shades of Milli Vanilli!)

Jaws was different. Spielberg had me hooked. I saw it first in the venerable Empire Theater at 14th and Main in downtown KC. By then the old girl had been sub-divided into a multi-plex of sorts. The balcony had been walled off with a separate screen. The lower level was where the ‘fish movie’ was showing. Remember it like it was yesterday. Saw it with Perry R. Cook. I remember it was the first functioning version of ‘smell-o-vision’. (Anybody remember those? One was Polyester starring Devine. As I remember it, there was a scratch card you were supposed to use at certain times during the flick. The only thing I remember is there were frequent scenes involving a dog doing his business. Kept everyone dreading the next smell on the card.) With Jaws there was no card, and the smells had nothing to do with the plot. You could, however, smell the result of the first big scare…

Speaking of scares, there were two small kids sitting in front of us. When the face comes out of the whole in the first abandoned boat, scaring the be-jesus out of one and all, the sister turns to her brother and says, totally deadpan: “He got his eye out…” Later, when Scheider is chumming the water during the fishing expedition, the boy turns to her and says: “They like that red stuff.”

We quoted those kids for years afterward…

Anyway, movies became big. Really big. Many were from the creative mind of Spielberg, but there were many others. And the rest is history.

By the time the Boomers were having kids of there own, there was a booklet in drive-in attendance. I remember one summer both my girls had the chicken-pox simultaneously. My wife was totally stir-crazy, so to battle the cabin-fever we loaded up the car and trundled over to the drive-in. One of the Alien franchise, the third one I think.

The owner of the Boulevard cited the digital sound that was installed in 1988 as being a milestone. We are a far cry from the old DIT-MCO metal boxes…

So, as you consider your Summertime entertainment, the movie block-buster will, of course, be on the bill-of-fare.

While you are at it, consider visiting the local drive-in for a blast from the past.

Besides, maybe this time you’ll actually SEE the movie… ;-)

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Trail Travails #2 - Cash Calamity Creates Chaos

The second item reported in Tuesday’s traffic report was much harder to fix than a pot-hole.

Apparently, as was made clear in subsequent reports, someone driving West on I70 had stopped and was madly trying to gather a sum of cash that had somehow escaped a container in the back of their pick-up truck…

Now, there was pandemonium, with Police attempting to aid the rightful owner in gathering his capital. There were several OTHER motorists who were happily joining in the recovery. As you might guess, they were not as well-intentioned as the city’s finest. Apparently, there was serious consideration given to closing down the Interstate during rush-hour, it was so crazy.

There were several discussions on talk-radio regarding the incident. I am not going to go into the moral aspects of this sorry affair. I have stated clearly what I believe about peoples property and their right to defend it.

I am more interested in the fact that the cash was ‘stashed’ ;-) in the back of the truck in the first place.

On the face of it, this seems like, at best, unwise and, arguably, lunacy. I, for one, think there should have been SOME way of fitting it within the confines of the cab, but who knows how bulky it was, amounts were not mentioned.

Many would claim that carrying a large amount of cash is lunacy in and of itself.

But for some of us, this is not unheard-of behavior. The reports did not mention the age of the pick-up driver, but I have at least one theory.

If you are a fellow baby-boomer, you may already be ahead of me. I have, on my Father’s side, an extended family. All of his brother’s and sister’s (he is the youngest of eight siblings that survived child-birth) lived through, to some extent, two defining events: The Great Depression and World War 2.

My Father was a youngster during the depressed years of the 30’s, and never exhibited (that I am aware) the behavior I am about to describe. I also only have anecdotal evidence of this behavior in the males in my family.

One of my Father’s older sisters (the four girls came along first) was married to a man who never left the house without several hundred (for all I know thousands) of dollars in cash in his pocket. Having lived through years being flat broke; he vowed to never be short of cash again.

(There’s poor and there’s broke. Broke is fixable, poor is a mind-set.)

Another of my paternal Uncles, who never married after returning from the European theater, carried a satchel with him on his infrequent visits. This bag was stuffed with cash. Once, when I was about four (so the story goes) I was discovered with the bag opened, gleefully stuffing green-backs into the hollow base of our B&W television set.

Logically, you could argue this was the miss-guided reaction to pre-FDIC bank runs, but I think it is much more profound than that.

That B&W TV was replaced with a newer model in a few years. (I still remember this, I wanted to stay and watch the rest of the Twilight Zone. My parents actually LEFT the store and drove around the Grandview shopping center. Upon their return, I unfazed, was found in rapt attention of the airwaves. I hadn’t even noticed…) That new TV was also B&W. We did not have a color TV until I was well into high-school. Use it, wear it out. That was the lesson learned during the lean times. Put into use to marshal resources for the war effort. Those lessons were not cast aside.

I suppose I was just a naïve kid, but this was also the only Uncle I thought had served in WWII. Never heard stories of another Uncle’s service until his funeral. It was not a big deal. It was what they did.

We of the baby-boom generation have our own two events. Vietnam and Watergate.

For the alphabet-soup generations that have followed, I frankly don’t know.

None of us have the mettle of our Parents/Grand-Parents/Great-Grand-Parents.

“It was tough on the guy’s who died.” Tim (Big Russ) Russert Sr., when asked about his difficulties during his WWII military service.

Is it any wonder they have been called The Greatest Generation?


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Trail Travails #1.5 - Mis-Managed MoDot Monopoly - Mangles Missouri Motorways - Mistreats Motorists

It should be noted, for those not aware, that Missouri roads are notoriously bad.
I suppose there is some relationship with the Missouri's lower gas tax rate and this situation. We are presently paying about a nickel less than our ‘Red Legs' neighbors to the West.

As I posted the first Highway entry, I was reminded of a situation during the last election for Governor in the land of JayHawks. BOTH candidates made derogatory comments about Missouri in the same week. The present Governor Democrat Kathleen Sebelius make a comment that she was more scared driving Missouri's highways than by the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The roads in Missouri were much more terrifying to me than the attacks on the World Trade Center, because I really did think my life was far more at risk."

Hmmmm, guess that job as Insurance Commissioner wasn't exactly the perfect experience for the scrutiny of a campaign.

I wrote new lyrics for a commercial spot, but, of course, neither side wanted to use it. Here is a snippet I remember:
(Sung to the tune of "Gonna Build a Mountain")

Gonna build a Roadway,
Gonna build it wide...
All the way from the Archway,
To the Kansas side...
And though we built that Roadway,
To transport guns and missiles...
We must rebuild them now 'cause they're scarin' Kansas Officials!

MoDOT, everybody loves to hate them. Everybody has this, that or the other Monday Morning Quarterback 'fix' for it's many problems.

Never once have I ever heard ANYONE propose that the way to build infrastructure might just be better served by Private Enterprise.

MoDot is a perfect example of what you get when bureaucrats hire bureaucrats to do something with plenty of bureaucratic oversight to make sure everything is working ok.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Trail Travails #1 - The Dimensions of the Problem

Two items of interest in the traffic news this morning.
It's late so I will only mention one right now.

M291 which is Megan's route up to Liberty had a pot-hole. It was on the Southbound side, so I was mostly concerned with her commute North. (She is taking a intensive class during May.) I figured they would have addressed the situation in some way on her way home, once rush-hour was over.

I noted with interest the dimensions of the hole. I was a BIG hole.
3 ft. wide and 10 in. deep.
Ouch. Not good.

I got to thinking, it's not just knowing the dimensions of your problem, it's assessing their impact.

10 in. wide and 3 ft. deep would have been almost as bad.

If the hole had been 10 ft. deep and 3 in. wide? No problem. (Aside from the possibility of water getting beneath the pavement, causing further erosion.)

If it had been 10 ft. wide and 3 in. deep, we wouldn't even call it a pot-hole.

It's not just that you have a hole. What kind of hole? How deep? How wide? How serious an impact? Some you can ignore, for now. Some need immediate attention.

It's up to you to figure it out.

The Robin Williams Peace Plan

No one would be more surprised than I if this really originated with Robin Willians.  Who cares?  Who can't say they don't feel like this?
(Hint, they support the little wooden boy...)


This may very well be the best thought out item we have read since 9/11/01.
Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan ... what we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.

I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.

1. The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega, Milosovich and the rest of those 'good ole boys, 'We will never "interfere" again.

2.  We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes in the fence.

3.  All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.

4.  All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.

5.  No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" (for "deport") and it's back home baby.

6.  The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.

7.  Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)

8.  If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.

9.  Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10.  All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...

Now, ain't that a winner of a plan.
"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses." She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, "You want a piece of me?"

If you agree with the above forward it to friends

Monday, May 24, 2004

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

Flook - EB Reels

Flook the hottest flute band in the Known Universe.

Don't believe me?
Try some.

Sligo Reel is another favorite.

Listen and purchase additional tracks.

The ultimate Car Radio for the latter-day Boomer

For anyone like me who spent the '70s haunting used stereo shelves this is Da'Bomb!
Real knobs!, real METERS!, a TUBE!
f_panasonic_cqtx5500d.jpg image
Panasonic CQ-TX5500D Vacuum Tube CD Reciever

Sorry, no sub-titles. ;-) (Requires Flash)

Does the tube actually DO anything?
Is it just a dim lightbulb?


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Who will win the next election?

This came to me clearly while listening to a Sunday Morning news show on KMBZ after dropping Brittany off to ride the Orchestra bus to graduation:

2008 Clinton vs. McCain

Now won't THAT be fun?!?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

TremendousTomes: You are what you read. - Read something New! - What's Mr. Gadget reading?

Visited the ever-dangerous Half-Price Books, this one in Olathe, KS and found some tomes by my favorite authors.

I have found, with great regret, that Dr. Robert L. Forward passed away two years ago.

I am so hopelessly behind on good reading sitting on the shelf, I had not been actively searching for new items. Bob was not the most prolific, but he was one of the best Hard SF writers I have ever read. He will be missed.

There are several links to his works plus others on his final words.

I found Martian Rainbow.

With his wife, Martha Dodson Forward he wrote Ocean Under the Ice.

Forward is flat-out amazing in his imagination, always well-grounded in hard science, but oh! the possibilities. To give you a hint, in Dragon's Egg and the sequel StarQuake he hypothesizes life on a neutron star. The basis of this life is not chemical reactions, but nuclear. As Keanu Reeves said in his early career, "Whoa!"

Here is another Geeks view of Forward's aliens.

I recommend you find some of his stuff and enjoy.

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

On Mother's Day, we took my lovely other half out to her choice for Breakfast.
Not anything fancy, her favorite local plate-special provider.

There was another couple waiting, the young man was wearing a T-Shirt with the words:
Listen to Miles Davis.

Not a bad idea. And not just Miles. (I recommend some early stuff.)

So, here is some of what I am listening to with my Sennheiser PXC250 headphones:

Sean Watkins - Let It Fall

The guitar virtuoso from Nickel Creek goes solo. Acoustic Guitar taken to nearly in-human heights.


Who am I: My Heritage -


So, as usual, my oldest friend provided the impetus to get off my butt and create a new posting. In this case I have had in mind a semi-regular musical try-something-new post. I will start out with the lists of what I have loaded on a MemStik in the TH-55.

When you read them please keep in mind the following:

I envision my heritage as follows:

I come from a long line of Celts and Jutes. Your basic barbarous, uncouth brute that, before being conquered, subjugated or otherwise ‘dealt-with’, made themselves a general pain-N-da-ass of the average invading Legion. They then continued to be a thorn in the side of the ‘civilized’ Romans until the heathens precipitated the great fall. Then, they proceeded to undermine, subvert, smuggle and otherwise live their lives in spite of, rather than at the leave of the ‘Devine Rulers” that were the hereditary inheritors of the Egyptian-Grecco-Roman notion that they, by birthright, were smarter, wiser and otherwise entitled to make decisions for the poor slobs unlucky enough to be born in the fiefdoms under their 'benevolent' rule. Ardent Pagans, my ancestors instantly recognized the truth and beauty in the message delivered by the first Christian missionary that ventured that far a-field of the Holy Land. On-the-spot they became the keepers of the true faith, untainted by the Roman cult ideologues. Sometimes this true worship was hidden as a cabal deep within the very church whose nature they recognized as a bureaucratic nightmare of political materialism. After years of persecution, they leapt at the opportunity to overthrow the church’s choke-hold on the masses and reformed and purified as fiercely as their heathen forebears had battled the first invaders. Ever the keepers of true faith and freedom, they took the first opportunity to strike out to the new world and remove themselves from the boot-heel of fickle tyrants that, when they had paid any attention at all during the succession of wars and strife, some periods thirty years or even a century long, only sent their toadies to collect ever-increasing confiscatory taxes. And so my people proceeded to the new land, moving from one area of high-lands to the next, until they landed in the Ozark hills. Artists, craftsmen and warrior-poets all.

And that’s it. I especially like the reference to the Jutes, as they are a new addition. Previous geneology searches had traced some of the roots back to Central Germany. This has been refined as new information has been uncovered. My oldest friend's Da informed me of this revelation in the vale as we walked the headstones of my Father's people in a cemetary whose name was also my Mother's until she was wed.

Kind of fitting, tutelage on the family tree under the arbors.

And please, should any research reveal facts that could be used to dis-abuse me of these notions, pray don’t.

I like it my way.

Friday, May 21, 2004

TravelTips:More comments on yesterday's day-trip.

Flew out on the NorthWest (they hub in Detroit) 6:15AM flight. (Not my first choice, but plans change. What can I say, business would be so easy, if it weren’t for those pesky customers… ;->)

This is the same flight Brittany and I will take along with the rest of the LSN Theater students/sponsors who are going to NYC. (In just TWO WEEKS! YEA!)
Shayne Daniel, the theater teacher referred to it as the Butt Crack of Dawn™ flight…

Not that bad really. They do have Starbucks right in the terminals here in KC now. I find a Grande is most appropriate, as the more contentious stews will take it away before the take-off.

That was not a problem with NW. I don’t fly them that often, so I have no idea if this is indicative of the whole system, but both flight cabin crews were somewhat lacking. Both on the way out and the way back, I was uncertain I would get even the minimal soft-drink and snack. On the way back to KC, when I turned around to look at her after being passed, she told me she could not get my attention with my headphones and all. She then deigned to come back and take my request, but only after she went through the excuse AGAIN. I have worn noise-canceling headphones for years while flying.

Lately I wear the excellent Sennheiser PXC250 with NoiseGard active noise compensation, so, when I paused the DVD and waited my turn (which never came) I could hear her better than she could hear me. And they fold up nicely into the carrying pouch. Recommended

All in all, their slogan of "Some people just know how to fly." is technically correct, they did display the expertise to fly me there. Whatever the slogan is supposed to imply regarding customer service was lost on me. And according to this article, more than just I and NW know where I am going... :-/

Lack of a personal vehicle prevented me from trying some likely Coffee and WiFi opportunities, but that can wait for the anticipated return trips.

While back in the airport, I avoided the Online Cafe' as my on-site colleague had pronounced it exorbitant. I tried scanning for a WiFi connection and Viola'! Concourse with no WEP! Could it be true? Oh NO! It is fee-based! (Should have paid more attention though, in addition to some airport info., there was a free link to MSNBC News.

I hope to have more to report on Detroit/Ann Arbor later...

Just a reminder

A professor stood before her Philosophy 101 class and had some items in
front of her. When the class began, wordlessly, she picked up a very
large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
She then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into
the jar. She shooked the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled
into the open areas between the golf balls. She then asked the students
again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of
course, the sand filled up everything else. She then asked once more if
the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous - yes.

The professor then produced two cans of liquid chocolate from under the
table and proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar effectively
filing the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now", said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the
important things--your family, your spouse, your health, your children,
your friends, your favorite passions--things that if everything else was
lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles
are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff. If you put the sand into
the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The
same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the
small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important
to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play
with your children and grandchildren. Take time to get medical
checkups. Take your partner out dancing. Take riding lessons. There
will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party
and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set
your priorities. The rest is just sand." One of the students raised
her hand and inquired what the chocolate represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you
that no matter how full your life seems, there's always room for

Thursday, May 20, 2004

TekPhlPost:The Wonders of the Modern World - Day Trippin'

Today I went to Ann Arbor.

For the day.

I think we forget sometimes what a truely amazing technological world we live in…

Needed to be in Ann Arbor at a client site for a four-hour meeting. I could have been on-site six hours if needed.

I flew from KC to Detroit Metro (MCI to DTW round trip.) and was picked up and driven the twenty miles or so to the client.
(Ironically, within blocks of the Ann Arbor airport, but that is too small for commercial traffic.)

Finished up, got stuck in construction traffic (is there a highway ANYWHERE sans orange barrels?) and flew back.

I am now home and ready to sleep in my own bed.

In contrast, 100 years ago, the 1904 Missouri Pacific line that runs through Lee's Summit could make 60mph at some points. Even so, the trip to the Detroit area would have probably been a two day affair, one-way.

And 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark left St. Louis area on May 14th, and were just beyond the KC area near what is now Atchinson by the time they celebrated the 4th of July.

How far we have come in coming and going. ;-)

Now, where to next?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

TekPost: USB Gear 4 your Gadget Bag

I own a ZipLinq USB extension cord that is quite handy for pocket or bag. It was actually in the company's cell phone charger. A nice bonus for double-usage capabilities.

I have decided I want a similar expandable cord that has a 5-pin Mini-USB connector on one end and a full-size A connector on the other.

I have acquired several devices that use this connector including a USB hard-drive enclosure with 20GB laptop drive, the Sony Memory-Stick MagicGate reader/writer and the standard connector that comes with the Sony TH-55 for charging/syncing. This is not as portable or as user-friendly as the lovely charger/sync cable I bought on eBay, but would fit nicely in my pocket with a ZipLinq to allow syncing with a computer having a USB port but lacking IR. In addition, the Sony TH-55 will connect using this type setup and present it's MemoryStick slot as a USB drive, even if no sync software is installed on the computer. Even though I almost always have at least one USB drive in my pocket anyway, one can never have too many 'options' available at all times... ;-)

Another combination buy is the Zip-Linq Mini Optical Retractable Cable Mouse, which features a detachable cable with Mini-USB on the mouse side and standard A connector on the computer side.

I have gotten so used to using an Optical mouse at home and work that I'm thinking one for travel would be just the ticket...

In the process of researching these, I ran across the IOGEAR - 32MB USB Optical Mini Mouse which seems like the ultimate combo device, a Optical Mouse with extensible cable and USB-drive in one...

If the thing's cable was removable and was the Mini-USB I could not resist. As it is, none of these small mice have the forward/back buttons I enjoy so much on the full-size ones at home/work, but I still think one of these will soon be traveling with me.

(As the IOGear blurb pointed out, I would not have to carry my laptop with me tomorrow to Ann Arbor. I could walk into the room, pull this mouse out of my pocket, plug it into a colleague's borrowed laptop and voila' tekkie presentation heaven. Of course, I could do that with any of the various USB drive options I have available. Besides, if things had worked out better, I would be surfing my free WiFi at the local coffee house on the TH-55, not optimal for full relaxation, but that is the subject of tomorrows posting... ;-/)

Ain't Teknowlogy Grand? ;-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Fame vs. Repute

I was quite excited to note in a periodic Google (IBaNaaV):

I have been cited by another website!

(Scroll down to the Scot's Invented entry..)

It links to another entry that mentions the same post:

Wow! Someone actually found me! I wrote my oldest friend about my prospective fame and happy dance!

Then, I found yet another quote from Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) that put it in perspective.

Daniel Waterhouse, having been thrown into the Tower, is being visited by Hooke, who has just lamented his stature within the Royal Society and among Natural Philosophers in general relative to Newton. Daniel rightly points out that, while Newton delves into thoughts no man has ever thought relative to Geometry and Mathematics, Hooke has seen things no one else has ever observed. That he was Newton's equal, but in a different talent. He does observe that, though he (Waterhouse) will endeavor to proclaim this for all who will hear, he may not achieve the notoriety he deserves while either is alive. For:

"Fame is a weed, but Repute is a slow growing Oak, and all we can do during our time here is act like squirrels hopping around planting acorns."

In truth, the fact that someone completely independent has found this site and felt it worthy of mention is a source of great joy to me. I am attempting something here that is worthwhile.

I do not envision this leading to notoriety, but if others find it at all useful, it will have accomplished something.

As far as that goes, for me, it is a self-sufficient project.
This is just gravy.

Vis-a-vis that quote bringing me back down to earth, I know I keep mentioning this but:

And people say their is no God

Monday, May 17, 2004

Marriage 4 All

My oldest friend has posted a cogent discussion of the legal remifications of marriage in general and same-sex marriage in particular.

My take on this is more Libertarian than classicaly conservative.

I would venture I know more homosexuals than the average American. Or rather, I know that they are homosexuals. Still, my avocation has afforded me ample contact. I have had several good friends that happened to be homosexual.

Frankly, I DON'T CARE.

I don't wear my heterosexuality on my sleeve. I probably have dealt more with people assuming I am gay than than anyone else I know, based on that same avocation.

You want Insurance coverage? Good luck! Most of you work at your own profession, and you think insurance is tough now? Wait 'til you get into a nice jourisdictional battle.

You want to pay the marriage pentaly? Be my guest.

Given the all-to-stereotypical lifestyle I have observed many of you practicing, you would be fools to get hitched. Given the equal number of commited relationships I have observed, a piece of paper makes little difference.

Shut up. Leave me alone. I won't bother you, don't bother me.

Loud and Proud. Who cares?

Anything two CONSENTING ADULTS (hell ANY number of CONSENTING ADULTS)want to do to, for and with one another is none of my DAMN BUSINESS...

(Please note: I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!)

Really, this is what you want. I won't treat you any different than anybody else.

But that isn't really what this is about, now is it?

The Previous Post was brought to you via e-mail

I can see that there will be a bit of tweaking I will need to do @ home

Need to figure out how one includes HTML code in a way that the web browser will display the source instead of the link.


NetWarning! - "Phish-ing" Season is always open for un-suspecting "suckers". Don't "flounder" into these nets...

My wife forwarded this to me, accurately assessing it as a scam, but asking my opinion.

Here is the message as it would appear in your Inbox:

Dear U.S. Bank valued member,

Due to concerns, for the safety and integrity of the online banking community we have issued this warning message.

It has come to our attention that your account information needs to be updated due to inactive members, frauds and spoof reports. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and renew your records you will not run into any future problems with the online service. However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension. This notification expires on May 20, 2004.

Once you have updated your account records your internet banking service will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

Please follow the link below and renew your account information.

U.S. Bank Internet Banking

Let's take a look at the source for that link, shall we?

<a href=3D"">U.S. Bank Internet Banking</a>

Hmmmm. An IP address instead of an alias, not necessarily a problem, but always a 'red flag'. I did not bother to check the actual link. Assuming it still functions at all, I have little doubt it looks quite 'official'. I am equally sure that by the time you 'verify' your information, these jokers will have not only the info. they need to drain every last hard-earned shekel from your bank accounts, but also plenty of identity theft possibilities. Assuming they don't want to bother with the ID theft angle, they can easily 'e-fence' it to someone more inclined to such enterprises. That's the great thing about bits, they're so easy to squirt down the cable and across international borders.

BTW, hover over the link and you will see the destination address. These guys are not as sophisticated as some I have seen. They have a legitimate looking link that displays, while re-directing you to their site.

The other reason not to even try such links is the sites can contain all kinds of other nasties that might affect your system, even if you are smart enough not to fill in the blanks. Better off to just ignore the whole thing.

Other examples of what is called "Phishing" (Internet Scams - "Phish-ing" for your account information ) are requests for your PayPal, eBay and other Internet account information.

If we take a look as to where exactly we will be teleported when we connect to IP address we find this:

Search results for:

OrgName: Asia Pacific Network Information Centre

Address: PO Box 2131
City: Milton
StateProv: QLD
PostalCode: 4064
Country: AU

ReferralServer: whois://

Comment: This IP address range is not registered in the ARIN database.
Comment: For details, refer to the APNIC Whois Database via
Comment: ** IMPORTANT NOTE: APNIC is the Regional Internet Registry
Comment: for the Asia Pacific region. APNIC does not operate networks
Comment: using this IP address range and is not able to investigate
Comment: spam or abuse reports relating to these addresses. For more
Comment: help, refer to

OrgTechHandle: AWC12-ARIN

OrgTechName: APNIC Whois Contact
OrgTechPhone: +61 7 3858 3100

By the name, we are somewhere in the Far East. The 61 country code is for Australia. This is only the legitimate registrar. They point out in their comment that they are unable to address problems reported about this address. Not good.

Head here and type in the same address:

Country Code PH Country Philippines
Region Code PHMM Region Manila
City Code PHMMQCIT City Quezon City

Uh OH! Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!

For those not in the know, at least one major virus/worm outbreak comes to mind that originated in the Philippines. Active hacker nest.


If you feel it appropriate, feel free to forward this to whomever you feel would benefit from this analysis.

And, as Sarge used to say before every shift on Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there..."

Sunday, May 16, 2004

What I Shall Become - Something's coming, Don't know what it is, But it is, Gonna be great!

(Even if I had the ability, I would not be one of those annoying sites that play background music. In this case, go find West Side Story and listen to Somethings Coming. (Not a bad suggestion anyway, no matter what you think of "Musicals" everyone should have a listen to Lenny's American masterpiece. And the lyrics by Steven Sondheim are a pre-cusor to his future genius.)

"Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change."

I made no comment on the passing of another TV series this week: Frasier.
I always liked the show, but never followed it to it's alternate nights.
I will not ruin the ending, in case you still need to view your tape.

The overwhelming message for me was this:
Frasier dared to imagine himself living a different life.

And so it is with me.

I am soon to be "officially" seperated.

It seems the strangest of ironies that I the true believer in Personal Responsibility am a Union stooge. (Yes Virginia, there is an Opera singer's union.) And even more ironic, I the person distrusfull of anything govenment does will, in a month or so, be married to the newest government official from my State's Education department. So, I spent the day yesterday shopping for an apartment so my better half has a place to live starting in July. It was an exhasting day, but the Jefferson City (the Missouri state capital) real-estate market has much to offer the 'non-resident' market.

Working for DESI is, in retrospect, just the next logical step...

"It’s a dangerous thing, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you’ll be swept off to."

As for me, living on my own M-F with a (shudder) teen-ager, pray for me...

What do I really think? Ask me in six months. ;-)

One of Cathy's favorites put it best:
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
Mary Engelbreit

And so we move on. (As if there was any choice.)

So, there's going to be a merger and I own a house here in MO/KS... (Some not so random thoughts for the next few months)

Change has been much on my mind of late. In mining my e-mail archive, I ran across this message I sent to a friend that worked at a local tele-communications company.

Subject: So, there's going to be a merger and I own a house here in
MO/KS... (Some not so random thoughts for the next few months)

Hi Frank,

Forward this to Chuck if you think it is worthwhile. Heck, send it to anyone you want.

All comments based on actual experience (See disclaimer below), having survived a 'Merger' of a local company with a West Coast firm a few years back.

Having worked at the headquarters and not, I find it is better to be at the HQ MOST of the time...

It's good to be a techie, they always need you, at least for a while...

For once, it's great NOT to be in upper management, of course, their parachutes are already packed and have beautiful rainbow colours... ;-)

On this subject, the closer you are in the reporting structure to the VP, the LESS you can expect her/him to look out for you. They are too busy trying to find bedrock for their OWN fulcrum to have any time to give you leverage.

Side note: The same VP a year post merger, at a group lunch on College Blvd. when the subject of the upcoming merger of our two major US distributors. "Who's going to come out on top, we all know there's no such thing as a 'Merger'."

It may or may not be good to be in Middle Management (See above.)

As far as my experience, it is, at least for now, good to be a flunky. Everybody in management will be fighting it out and waiting for the dust to settle for MONTHS on this one. THEN things will start changing since we all know that 'streamlining' of the operation and associated 'cost savings' will be what the stockholders will be expecting after they get over the euphoria over the stock price increase. (This process will make the jump to light-speed if the stock price does NOT go up.)

Now, what to do as you hunker down and wait to see what happens to you particular job.

Do your Sgt. Schultz imitation. You know nothing, You see nothing. They keep paying you. You keep coming in to work. You answer you phone. You do your job.

I offer the following Real Life Example:

One day you come in and find out your function has been effectively moved to a new 'department' that a former colleague has managed to stake out @ HQ and 'unfortunately' he has no budget to continue your position. You do NOT force the issue. You do NOT go to local management and try do determine what to do. You do NOT go to HR and ask them any questions about your position. WHAT YOU DO IS NOTHING AT ALL - BECAUSE IF YOU JUST BIDE YOUR TIME WHAT WILL IS:

They keep paying you. You keep coming in to work. You answer you phone. You do your job.

End of personal RLE

Side note: Always MAKE THEM FIRE YOU. One young lady kept coming in to work for a full 6 months after everyone else in her group had been laid off. No one ever forced the issue with her nor did she.

Finally at the end of the process, she then got the SAME severance package as anyone else. (She spent most of the time job searching, I suppose, since no one knew what to do about assigning her anything official, since 'officially' she was laid-off...)

Having later observed the above mentioned young lady, I realized I had been a fool to force the issue mentioned in the RLE, which resulted in my having to scramble to find another department to transfer to (Thanks Suzanne) and ended up with my returning to the same job for the same VP six months later, allowing me to hear the above mentioned VP make the comment on mergers...

Sooooo, everybody repeat after me:

They keep paying you. You keep coming in to work. You answer you phone. You do your job.

One last thing, start developing your network now, if it does not already exist. Tap into the grapevine. Rumor travels FASTER THAN LIGHT and there is much chaff.

Learn to ignore the obvious BS: After this lay-off, all of our remaining are going to have our salaries brought into line with California...

Yeah Right.....

Some of it will be TRUE, learn to figure out which. (In our case, SOMEBODY in local HR was leaking info., almost EVERYTHING that passed muster was not only TRUE, but was EXACTLY almost WORD for WORD, dead on.)

For what it's worth, you can benefit from my experience of not, your choice. (See disclaimer below.)

Best of luck,


Friday, May 14, 2004

Flash! Learn2Type before you: Post to you Blog by Mail!

Or you post will make you look like an ungrammatical nin-com-poop...

Rogets II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition.  1995.

Nincompoop  NOUN:

One deficient in judgment and good sense: ass, fool, idiot, imbecile, jackass

, mooncalf, moron, ninny, nitwit, simple, simpleton, softhead, tomfool.

Informal : dope, gander, goose. Slang : cretin, ding-dong, dip, goof, jerk,

nerd, schmo, schmuck, turkey. See ABILITY.

Standard Disclaimer Applies

Ok, this is WAY to much fun!

Bruce Barr

Technological Philosopher

Flash! Post to you Blog by Mail!

Hello everyone!
I have e-mailed this to and, as you are reading this, it has been automatically posted!

No need for pesky web-browsers and proxy servers!
The bad news, I can now update from my wireless e-mail connection on the TH55.
For now, that will, ironically, be through the use of WebMail.
Now I have a real impetus to at least get outgoing e-mail configured!

Is this WAY-COOL (tm) or NOT?  ;-)

More later.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Standard Disclaimer:

All answers are given assuming that the person giving the answer understood the question, a dubious prospect at best. In addition to knowing what you thought you asked, you now have the responsibility of figuring out what you thought I said in response. Keep in mind, this may or may not be what I thought I said, which I only have a fairly good clue of on a good day anyway. Please don't try this at home, these are trained professionals. Not available in all states. Incorrect answers can cause side effects. Side effects can include nausea, shortness of breath, palpitations, extreme boredom, financial ruin due to work being routed to the wrong queue, loss of appetite and general malaise. Side effects occurred in 1% of test subjects. Answers can become habit forming and you should be under the care of a professional. Void where prohibited. *Batteries not included.

Life Imitates Art or How Hollywood Taught Me to Fight Terrorism

The ‘literature’ of several generations. Most average Americans could quote movies, but not recognize a snippet of Will Shakespeare.
Here, straight from the silver screen, these words of wisdom regarding another Terrorist attack on American soil. Men willing to do anything to achieve their goals. To use any form of terror and intimidation. They made free use of everything from semi-automatic weapons to bombings to keep the populace in a state of perpetual fear of their wrath.

And so I give you, quotes from The Untouchables:

On the EVIL intentions of the enemy:
Al Capone: I want this guy dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!

On why we are doing this:
Mrs. Blackmer: I came here to thank you. It was my little girl that got killed with that bomb.
Eliot Ness: I'm sorry, please. I'm so sorry.
Mrs. Blackmer: You see it's because I know that you have children too... and that this is real for you, that these men caused this tragedy. And I know that you will put a stop to them. I know you'll do that now.

On daily tactical goals:
Jim Malone: You just fulfilled the first rule of law enforcement: make sure when your shift is over you go home alive. Here endeth the lesson.

On the necessary resolve:
Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Eliot Ness: Anything and everything in my power.
Malone: And THEN what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way because they're not gonna give up the fight until one of you is dead.
Eliot Ness: How do you do it then?
Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?
Eliot Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well the Lord hates a coward. Do you know what a blood oath is Mr. Ness?
Eliot Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, cause you just took one.

After the battle:
Eliot Ness: I had to kill him.
Jim Malone: Oh, yeah. He's as dead as Julius Caesar... Would you rather it was you?
Eliot Ness: No, I would not.
Jim Malone: Well, then, you've done your job. Go home and sleep well tonight.

What to say to foreign critics:
Mountie: I do not approve of your methods!
Eliot Ness: Yeah, well... You're not from Chicago.

How to view conflict:
Malone: Don't wait for it to happen. Don't even want it to happen. Just see what does happen.

On how you want your attacks to be carried out:
Bodyguard: Me and the bookkeeper and walking out of here, getting into a car, and driving away. Or else he dies... and you got nothing!
Eliot Ness: You got him?
Stone: Yeah, I got him.
Bodyguard: I'm gonna count to three... one!
Eliot Ness: Take him!
[Stone shoots him]
Stone: Two!

Of course there a limits, be sure you can live with yourself:
Eliot Ness: I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold, I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right!

Always follow through:
Eliot Ness: Never stop, never stop fighting till the fight is done.
Al Capone: What'd you say? What're you saying?
Eliot Ness: I said, "Never stop fighting till the fight is done."
Al Capone: What?
Eliot Ness: You heard me, Capone. It's over.
Al Capone: [sneering] Get out, you're nothing but a lot of talk and a badge.
Eliot Ness: Here endeth the lesson.

And finally, it isn’t just what’s legal, it’s about what's RIGHT:
Reporter: Word is they're going to repeal Prohibition. What'll you do then?
Eliot Ness: I think I'll have a drink.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Epsode 1 of Life's Lessons:Vita ex Tempus et Facultas.

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see
the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour
drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday, " I
promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove
there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my
grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible
in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and
these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm
heading for home!" I assured her.

"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car."

"How far will we have to drive?" "Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll
drive. I'm used to this." After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we
going? This isn't the way to the garage!"

"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the
daffodils." "Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."

"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you
miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a
small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign that
read, "Daffodil Garden."

We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn
down the path. Then, we turned a corner of ! the path, and I looked up and
gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone
had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and
slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns - great
ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink,
saffron, and butter yellow.

Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and
flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of

"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's
her home." Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house that looked small
and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are
Asking" was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.

The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet,
and very little brain."

The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

There it was, The Daffodil Principle.

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.

I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years
before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and
joy to an obscure mountaintop. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year
after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed
the world in which she lived. She had created something of indescribable
magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles
of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one
step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - and learning to love
the doing; learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort,
we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn.

"What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal
thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a
time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start
tomorrow," she said. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of
yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a
cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

So, stop waiting until ..

your car or home is paid off

you get a new car or home

your new job comes along

your kids leave the house

you go back to school

you finish school

you lose 10 lbs.

you gain 10 lbs.

you get married

you get a divorce

you have kids

you retire





you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey,
not a destination.

So work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, and
dance like no one's watching.

If you want to brighten someone's day, pass this on to someone special.

I just did!

What your government can REALLY DO to help you!
By Lowering Gas Prices
Part1:Near Term

Bless my soul and will wonders never cease: At least ONE state government seems to actually care about their constituency! Florida has passed a cut in the state gas tax.

I know there just HAD to be some who questioned this move, given the tight state budgets that are all the news these days. I have little doubt that the liberal mantra of “how will we pay for this tax cut?” MUST have been heard.
OK, time for a little review of Econ101:

Say I sell sprockets. I have just expanded my growing business into the new sector, creating new jobs in my office and warehouse space-station. My competitor, a division of GatesCo has previously enjoyed an exclusive position in this sector’s market. They distribute the technically inferior Cogswell Coggs, a company they acquired in a take-over to gain some market share after several abortive attempts in internal development of the MicroGears line. Cogswell had spent years spreading themselves throughout the known galaxy but suffering quality and production capacity problems that have led to the lowest customer satisfaction rating in the history of manufacturing.

I, having seen an obvious need, and having used Spacely Space Sprockets for years, have decided to quit working for someone else and strike out on my own. Spacely, a small start-up founded by an ex-GatesCo salesman and several professors at the University of Phobos, has a vastly superior production system making maximum use of automation and highly paid operators. They produce superior sprockets at lower cost, through maximizing capital investment and human expertise. (Well, actualy BEING expertise, given the new factory in JarGon Prime…) GatesCo, in contrast has bloated manufacturing costs based on old tech, a pitifull distribution network and a management structure that even the kindest observer would call draconian. In order to maintain Spacely’s quality, the company has ramped up production capacity on a very controlled basis. (Hence the new JarGonian venture. Having five arms and two brains makes multi-tasking seem an inadequate description.) From the very beginning, the founder has based his distribution channels on independent contractors, capable of individualized market expertise and personalized customer service.

I grew up in this sector, and worked for several decades in the area before getting married and moving to Sol System. Now, I am anxious to move back and start my new venture. I have a crack sales team, expert logistical experts and an IT staff that is unrivaled. The seven of us plan to take a big bite out of GatesCo’s local market.

How, you may ask? GatesCo has a total lock. 100% market share. They have the highest mark-up and thus profit-margin ever known in human history. They can out advertise us 8-to-1.

Simple, I have a superior product, unbelievable customer service, and I can under-cut the GatesCo price, in spite of the fact that my per-unit price is higher than the competition. Crazy? NO. As I gain customers with my lower price, I win them forever with my quality and customer support. And I make up the individual per-unit margin in VOLUME.

GatesCo sells 1000 units at 500credits/ea. = 500,000 credits
– cost of 400,000 (400credits ea.)
– 100,000 profit
MeCo sells 3000 units at 200credits/ea. = 600,000 credits
– cost of 450,000 (150credits ea.)
– 150,000 profit

I sell more product, for a lower price and a lower profit margin and derive more net revenue.

Ok, back here on Earth ;-)

The stated goal of the Greenies is to reduce gas consumption. They don’t like SUVs because they use too much fuel. They want everyone to drive a Geo Metro, or better yet a Honda Prius (God Bless America!), or EVEN BETTER ride a bike to work at the local CoOp…

This, of course, is diametrically opposed to the motivating factor of government officials. Be that as it may, higher gas prices are, just as the Greens wish, going to reduce gas consumption. I have already heard one acquaintance mention she only purchases $10 of gas at a time. The price fluctuates so wildly of late that she doesn’t want to miss any change in her favor. Sort of dollar-cost-averaging for commodities instead of investing. I myself am giving serious consideration to purchasing a bus-pass and riding a percentage of the days this summer. This because I feel that the pass will more than pay for itself in fuel-bill savings, given the price increases. My point is, peoples behavior is being affected, and it is going to cause usage to go South.

While I have my doubts about some legislators themselves, they at least should have aides that can do the math. This is the type of word question that I WISH was on elementary school tests. Give the kids a lesson in governmental fiat in addition (so to speak ;->) to their mathematics.

“How much of the price I pay at the pump is taxes?”, you ask.

Let’s say you live in Ohio. Unluckily for you, according to this article, your bureaucrats just don’t get it.

Scrolling down to the seventh paragraph we get the straight poop.

18.4cents goes to the Feds. 24cents to the state. That’s $.42.4 of every gallon to taxes. If you are paying $1.89.9 that’s 22.3%. At $2.00 it drops to about 21%, about the only good thing, it’s flat-rate, not “progressive”. According to the article, you Buckeyes are going to be paying $.26/gallon if the legislature has it’s way.

If you live in Cinci. Or my birthplace of Portsmouth, you can cross the river and pay only $16.4 a gallon in Ken-Tuk-Kee, but the next paragraph warns that may be on the rise. My acquaintances that live in Ohio and drive over to Fr. Wayne to work can fill up in Lincoln’s birth-state and only pay $.18 extra to the state coffers.

I won’t bother with the math, it’s a flat-tax. Reduced consumption results in less state ‘revenue’ no matter how you look at it. In that respect, it is worth mentioning, there is much I like about gas taxes. It is both a usage tax and a flat tax, two of my favorite things. The fact that I had to explain how much of the price at the pump is taxes points out what I don’t like. I have some ideas on the hidden aspect, but that will be the subject of a further discussion… ;-)

So, what to do if you are the state revenuer? Make it up in VOLUME (literally!). Lower the tax, maintain consumption and at least minimize your revenue issue. If you actually increased consumption…

As my my oldest friend discussed the entire idea of tax-cuts is something all politicians seem incapable of considering. Still despite all indications to the contrary it could happen.

But I’m not holding my breath.

As to actually INCREASING the tax burden at a time like this, that’s kind of hard to digest.

And you know the result of indigestion…


Who am I: What I believe – Part 1
My Rights, Your Rights, What’s Right in the World

Disclamer: Like any good Empiricist, I am not locked into these statements. This is the result of my observations. Not what I think SHOULD BE. What I think IS. Based on further data, these conclusions may be proved or dis-proved. Since most of these principals are interwoven into the very bowels of politics, I would go so far as to say this is the basis for my Political Science. Science in the classical sense, NOT Poli-Sci as taught and practiced in today’s world.

OK, here goes:

I believe, first and foremost in Life, Liberty and Property.
In Life, faculties and Production.

I believe these are the fundamental principals that define me and my interactions in the world. They are not ‘granted’ me by some benevolent governmental entity. They exist because I exist. If you are a deist, as I am, you would say they are, as the Declaration of Independence so eloquently states: ‘endowed by the creator”. Even if you are an A-Theist, you have these rights, some times in spite of the government whose reign you endure. WE, the PEOPLE, have ceded certain of these rights to form a government that will promote the general welfare and provide for the common defense. Theist or A-Theist, Red-Yellow-Black-White-Brown-Pink-Green, Jew-Chirstian-Muslim-Hindo-Buddist-Taoist-Wiccan-SATANIST-whatever, our very existence in the material universe is defined and fulfilled in these principals.

Because of this I believe in Markets. I believe that markets are good for everyone, benefit everyone and are the only fair way for human-beings to interact in a civilized fashion.
I believe in civilization and the benefits it affords me through commerce, i.e. the trading of my Production for others Production in the form of items I need and want.

I believe that the virtually instantaneous communications, air travel and shipping available in the modern world make this planet make this entire planet more connected than New York city circa 1776. I can know, interact and am directly affected by events that occur on the other side of the globe in a more fundamental fashion than any Irish emigrant in five-corners was affected by the goings-on on the fashionable streets further North in Civil War era Manhattan. Because of this, I break with ‘classical liberal’ otherwise known as Libertarian thought. I believe we do have to take action to deal with events beyond our borders. We can no more ignore the ‘outside world’ than a principality in what is now known as central Germany could ignore the thirty-years war when Gustavus Adolphus’ forces marched over the horizon. We are, like it or not, living in that future postulated in Science Fiction.

The entirety of ‘civilization’ is embodied, for me, in a simple transaction. My oldest daughter, Megan, was diagnosed with Diabetes when she was in Kindergarten. She is type-1, insulin-dependant. I, lacking the capability to produce insulin on my own, am quite happy to interact in a transaction that trades my Production for the output of another’s application of their Faculties in the Production of Insulin. This usually takes place monthly at the local Medicine Shoppe.

This single simple act is, for me, the symbolic representation of civilization and my personal benefit by its existence. Any Objectivist will admonish you to avoid the reliance on Altruism. As long as I can be left alone and given the chance to freely interact with others in a free society, I could care less what happens on the other side of the street, much less the planet. As soon as I am affected, I feel fully justified in dealing with this anomaly and returning to the state of freedom. If you are willing to deprive me of my Life, Libery or Property by force, I am fully justified in using force to counter you.

Just as a serial killer preying on local residents, whatever their chosen occupation or an armed robbery justifies action in the collective force of society in the form of the justice system, so to, people ready and willing to take my life, merely for believing in these things justifies my/our action to stop such actions. The proximity of that person or group is a mitigating factor on the force possible and necessary, not the justification of the use of force. We do not wish the police to wait for a crime to take place, given evidence of its preparation. The fact that pre-emptive arrest based upon criminal intent is a function of man-power, not lack of justification. Note I am not speaking of sweeps or ‘thought-police’. I am referring to investigative action resulting with evidence that can be presented in a court of law.

Now, perception is everything. How I perceive the world is the only method I have of interacting with it. There are other interpretations. I listen to the opposing interpretation and evaluate its logic to descern any factual input as I do all input available. To many, I will be viewed as a Stupid White Man. So be it. I have, as stated here, reasoned conclusions based on the best evidence I have observed.

You want to debate these conclusions, fire away!

If you don’t like it, fine. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. But not their own facts.

Think what you want. Do what you want. Just leave me alone.

And don’t expect me to sit by and do nothing when you cross the line and disrupt the social order. Be you a petty criminal or a petty dictator.

You hurt my kid (/friend/neighbor/neighborhood/city/state/country/ally/another human being anywhere) you have to answer to me (/us/society as a whole).

Don’t say you weren’t warned…

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Who could make this stuff up?

At least one Senator on the committee seems to understand the same people that could do this,

would of course think that this,

justified this.

Meanwhile, making the most hardened prisoners go naked is Un-American, but blatant political opportunism is the All-American pastime.

N-da-NewZ: Beliegered Butterflies Benefited

Thanks to a PETA protest, there won't be a butterfly release at Saturday's conclusion of the Flight of the Butterfly Festival.

"A spokeswoman says butterflies have to struggle to get out of envelopes and boxes."


I think I’m done.

Auld Lang Syne

My oldest friend recently posted that he had never watched Friends.

I confess, I did.

Time for some Boolean logic.

Set T: People who can watch one minute of any episode of the original ST:TOS (Star Trek:The Original Series, but if I have to explain that you will never fully understand my true tek geekness.) and tell you what planet they are on, what the major characteristic of the all-to-human-looking ‘aliens’ that inhabit said planet, the name of Kirk’s love interest and exactly how she dies tragically, in the process saving Kirk, the entire Enterprise crew and the known universe. Extra-credit identifying that the episode includes crew members lost on away missions that are NOT security personnel. (OK, I know it really should be 10 seconds, but I’m rusty, OK?)

Set F: People who can instantly tell you what the phrase “Monica Bang” could never happen again and then detail subtle changes that have occurred related to this discussion. What it means you knock your fists together. What a sneeze-muffin is. Why Gunter has a shoe fetish. Who is Lola Falange? Who got married to whom, by whom and who made out with whose mom and/or each other.

I feel reasonably confident in stating that the intersection of these two sets yields an extremely small number. I, in fact, may be the only person on the face of the planet that for which the AND statement would result in TRUE.

Having gotten that heavy weight off my chest, I must first make a statement, after which I will offer a few comments on the finale.

(macro rant)
Pheobe & Ross, Pheobe & Ross, PHEOBE & ROSS!!!!!!

This, in my opinion, would have been the conclusion with perfect closure.
Monica & Chandler, Joey & Rachel, PHEOBE & ROSS!

I remain convinced that the only reason the writers veered from the obvious, cosmic completeness of this conclusion was the blatant craven profit-motive in wanting to spin-off Joey. (More on that later.)
Once again, both in and for conclusion: PHEOBE & ROSS!
(/macro rant)

What to say about Friends?
The titan of Thursday nights. The heavy-weight champion of episodic television.
It has propped up NBC revenues to an unbelievable extent. Even with the Law & Order franchise the peacock may be molting. The price for commercial time during the finale was topped only by the Super-Bowl. Is it really that surprising that you can buy the final episode on DVD today?

Overall, I think it was a fitting finish. It had several elemental aspects that tied things together nicely. The duck and chick. A sacrifice of the foosball table that was biblical in its symbolism. Leaving/listening to answering machine messages. The major aspect airplanes/airports integrated into the plot. The cab. Classic Joey double-takes. Pheobe’s prescience. Felange. Chandler freaking out.

Things I wish they had fit in:
Richard should have been at the hospital doing some doctor thing or another.


Things I am SO glad they left out:
Ugly Naked Guy.

Most unbelievable aspect of the ending:
Giving up Grandma’s rent-controlled apartment. ;-)
(Note, in multiple pleasant evenings spent in Greenwich Village I have seen many couples pushing around a stroller. I have yet to EVER see an older sibling toddling along beside…)

A few of the lessons in life we learned:
People THINKING you own a car in the city beats REALLY owning one, hands down.
Never climb out the window to the balcony with/for anything really important.
Always take dinner with you when you hide in the bedroom.
Never give up your dreams, but always speak naturally when you achieve them.
It’s only a sandwich.
Always order the Joey special.
Define BREAK…
And finally, there’s always time for one more cup of coffee…

Thanks for letting us in for awhile.

(We have GOT to start locking that door…)