Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Remembering the December 2008 ice storm

Remembering the December 2008 ice storm

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adobe, thanks for your useless help

It seemed like a simple question. Will I be able to run Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 on the 64 bit version of Windows 7. My support question was withdrawn. Here is my "answer".

  Hello John, Thank you for contacting Adobe® Technical Support for assistance, My name is Nishant and I am
 responding to you in reference to your Web Request posted on 11/24/2009 regarding "Adobe Photoshop
 Elements 6", John, I would inform you that Photosh

That is the answer! That is the COMPLETE answer. The question is now marked "withdrawn". Thanks Nishant, you have been most helpful. Thanks Adobe for outsourcing support, my confidence is overflowing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dalai Lama met with First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo

 I'm still angry with Obama for not meeting with the Dalai Lama. I was happy to see that the Canadian First Nation did not make the same mistake:

Ha-Shilth-Sa paper "Interesting News" (page 5)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spammers wall of shame

I usually count on the spam filters to rid myself of junk email. Gmail filters are pretty good but some knuckleheads found a workaround. I get messages to the group that I moderate with business opportunities like:

“Legitimate home business. Make your own hours,No sales, No MLM. No surveys.No tricks, No scams.”

Gee, thanks for that interesting tidbit. Some of these clowns want to join the group so they can share the good news. I report the email addresses to Google Abuse, but so far have only blocked one spammer. The sites referenced claim they are against spam, how ironic.

I’ve decided to post the email addresses of the offenders (these addresses are real, but may be generated by bots) in this posting with the hope that someone knowledgeable in Spamtrap technology can suggest a solution to blocking them.

My wall of shame:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who is Sol Fogerson and why won’t he leave me alone?

One of the downsides of running a online forum is that the spammers and other internet pests can avoid the spam filters that are built into email. Each day I get a business “opportunity” from this email address:

Sol Fogerson [tanekahuntington4vfz@gmail.com]

I have reported this address to Google Abuse, but everyday I face another message:

Earn up to $20.00+ per hour - Working On Line.No Personal selling, or contact required.Easy, flexible work available to you.

http://processemailonline.com

The irony is that this site claims to be against spam:

By following the system we provide and our free submission tools, these emails will be sent to you on a daily basis. Our program requires only basic computer skills and can be done wherever you have access to the internet. With our program we DO NOT use SPAM to make money; it is illegal and, frankly, not very effective in the first place.

So why am I posting this email address and the URL? I certainly don’t want anyone to send $25 to these bandwidth hogs. I’m hoping someone has the technical expertise to either blacklist them or shut them down. I suspect that other Google Group administrators have the same issue.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Water Features Tour

New Boston Water Features tour was a delightful neighbor experience to admire an assortment of lovely home "accessorizing" with water!. The weather was totally cooperative. From professionally installed systems to creative home designs and modest fountains each was a delight to see. Thank you to all who shared with the visitors! Wonderful day.

Republicans & Democrats advised to see "Capitalism: A Love Story"

If you hate him, it may be hard to take the advice to see the film.. fun that he chose a Dylan song on Jay Leno.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My money problems are over!

Today I received an email offer that seems too good to be true. My only dilemma is deciding how much of the $25 million to take for my efforts:

Attention.
Business Proposal,Please contact me on my private email { sgtjames0101@hotmail.com }
My name is Sergeant James Regan I am an American soldier with Swiss background,serving in the military with the army's 3rd infantry division based in Iraq/Baghdad. With a very desperate need for assistance, I have summed up courage to contact you. I found your contact particulars in an address   journal. I am seeking your kind assistance to move the sum of($ 25 Million U.S. Dollars ) Twenty Five Million United State Dollars to you, as far  as I can be assured that my share will be safe in your care until I complete my service here, this is no stolen money, and there are no danger involved. Source Of Money:
Some money in various currencies was discovered in barrels at a farmhouse near one of Saddam's old palaces in Ticket-Iraq during a rescue operation, and it  was agreed by staff Sgt Kenneth buff and I that some part of this money be shared among both of us before informing anybody about it since  both of us saw  the money first. No Compensation can make up for the risk we have taken with our lives in this hell hole. Of which my share will be  safe in your care until I complete my service here, this is no stolen money, and there are no danger involved. kindly indicate your interest in  assisting me as well as Providing the following information to facilitate the smooth conclusion of the consignment fund delivery to your door step.
1) Your Full Name:
2) Your Address:
3) Your Age And Occupation:
4) Your Mobile Telephone Number:
5) Your Direct Email Address:
6) Your Fax Number:
7) The Name of the Closest Airport to your City of Residence:
8) Your country and your present location:
One passionate appeal I will make to you is not to discuss this misinformation to facilitate the smooth conclusion of the consignment fund delivery  to your  door step. One passionate appeal I will make to you is not to discuss this matter with anybody, should you have reasons to reject this  offer, please and  please destroy this message as any leakage of this information will be too bad for us soldier? here in Iraq. I do not know how  long we will remain here, and I have been shot, wounded and survived two suicide bomb attacks by the special grace of God, this and other reasons I  will mention later has prompted  me to reach out for help, I honestly want this matter to be resolved immediately, please contact me as soon as  possible my only way of communication email.  I Also want you to tell me how much you will take from this money for the assistance you will give to  me. I wait for your reply via my private email  address as soon as possible { sgtjames0101@hotmail.com }regarding to my email if you are interested in this transaction please kindly reply to me as soon as you get this mail,and if you are not position to help me kindly delete this email from your email box for security reasons thanks for your time and have a nice day.
God Bless You As You Help Out In This Transaction.
Sergeant James Regan.
Send Your Detail To My Private Email { sgtjames0101@hotmail.com }
helmkram-kraemer@arcor.de

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama Manju

Paul R brought a treat from Japan. A rice and flour confection with a sweet bean (Azuki) filling. These come from the town of Obama.

ObamaRiceCakes_4523_edited-1

I was lucky, most cakes only show the back of Obama’s head. I have one rare one with his face!

ObamaRiceCakes_4530

There was some kind of strange “oxygen absorber” packet inside that heated up when I opened the package. I tried dumping it in water to see if it would explode. Sadly it did not. Maybe I should try to microwave it.

ObamaRiceCakes_4534

Don’t think these are going to be a favorite with me. I prefer the Harvest cookies that we used to get from Trader Joes, but I ate one anyway (I did vote for the guy).

ObamaRiceCakes_4531

Thanks Paul for bringing these to me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paving America with your money

I was happy to see that our state was able to get the relatively cheap $500 signs for our local American Recovery and Reinvestment Act paving project, unlike some of the other states. On my ride to Peterborough, I was greeted with this.

AmericanRecovery_3806

At least half of my ride was smooth sailing.

AmericanRecovery_3810

The signs cost $500 apiece in Maryland and New Hampshire, $1,700 in Georgia, $2,000 in Pennsylvania and New York, and $3,000 per project in New Jersey.

Our Senator Judd Gregg railed on a bit about this on a ABC News Video spot in spite of getting bargain priced signage. Geez!

I love the smell of fresh asphalt in the morning… it smells like “Recovery”.

Hi, it’s John Poltrack for {insert product here}

How would you like to have your Facebook profile photos used to advertise a product to your friends? Isn’t that a fun way to sell products? You probably didn’t realize that you agreed to this chicanery, but you did (yes you did!). You can un-agree to this by going to your profile and ….

Settings -> Privacy -> News Feed and Wall -> Facebook Ads –> (Appearance in Facebook Ads) and click "no one."

FacebookUsingYourPhoto

Will they use your photo? Read this posting on Download Squad.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Health Care in America

I'm re-posting these comments of my sister in this blog because this is an important subject for discussion (has some dated references). The film in question is Michael Moore's "Sicko"


I have always been very interested in health care issues and am
wondering where the National proposals will go.. I found this movie
helpful to see the testimonies in front of congress, Americans living
abroad attitudes about health care in other places and other points
about the system.. The new surgeon general mentioned some of these
issues about access to health care this week...

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The Movie Channel, this evening, will be airing the Oscar-nominated
documentary, "Sicko," Michael Moore's film about a villain known as
the health insurance industry. With the debate raging in Washington,
D.C. -- Republicans trying to scuttle it, the President trying to hang
on to his public option, and nearly a hundred members of Congress
pushing for a single-payer system -- showing "Sicko" tonight is very
time......why private insurance companies are never going to side with
what's best for the American people.

"Sicko" airs on The Movie Channel tonight at 8:00 PM. It's also
scheduled to air on The Movie Channel on July 27th at 4:05 PM and on
TMC Xtra on August 2nd at 10:45 PM and August 5th at 2:15 AM and 7:30
AM. Click here for showtimes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Please no rain on July 15th, we’ve had enough!

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair (no more)

St. Swithin’s day is July 15th. I think it has already rained for 40 days and 40 nights. It is raining now. I understand the weather is quite nice in London and Seattle. Is this a result of global warming?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If you don’t like the weather just wait a few weeks!

For over two weeks it has been raining everyday. Last night was no exception but we woke this morning to the sight of blue skies and sunshine. I'm sure that the soaked earth will be fueling some interesting thunderstorms. At least thunder and lightning will be more exciting than a dull gray drizzle.

During yesterdays morning walk (in the rain) we discussed a Ray Bradbury story "The Long Rain" which was included in the 1969 film "The Illustrated Man".

Monday, June 22, 2009

Goodbye Kodachrome!

Kodak Film had this message on their website:

They say all good things in life come to an end. Today we announced that Kodak will retire KODACHROME Film, concluding its 74-year run.
It was a difficult decision, given its rich history. At the end of the day, photographers have told us and showed us they've moved on to newer other Kodak films and/or digital. KODACHROME Film currently represents a fraction of one percent of our film sales. We at Kodak want to celebrate with you the rich history of this storied film. Feel free to share with us your fondest memories of Kodachrome.

I have had much better luck with the longevity of slides that were taken with Kodachrome over the ones taken with Ektachrome. Here is a scan of a slide taken by my uncle in 1949:

Image30-2

When I was in Singapore and Hong Kong in the Navy, I used what I consider the best film ever, ASA 25 Kodachrome. I figured at the time that these were colorful places that I would only see once in a lifetime and it made sense to use the finest grain film available.  The Nikkomat FTN I was using had a fast f1.4 lens and with the slow film the shallow depth of field is quite apparent.

SingaporeSpices

Turban

RubberPlantationDrip

When I was scanning slides, I liked the fact that you can get the proper alignment in the scanner. All you need to know is to have the emulsion side pointing down. You cannot do that when you don’t have a visible built up emulsion.

Greetings ETI, how are you doing?

I was listening to the podcast of "Go Ask your Father” on This American Life which featured a story about Allen Tough told by his son.  Professor Tough’s life’s work has be the search for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. In the podcast his son recalls how his father would listen repeatedly to the Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon”. I suppose this choice of music might prove inspirational. Personally I thought the whole “Hearts of Space” catalog would have been a better choice.

Previous contact attempts were made using  radio transmissions and the gold anodized plaques placed on the Pioneer spacecrafts. But let’s face it, everyone must know by now that the real communication medium is the internet. The aliens are probably not only reading blogs but uploading cat videos to YouTube.

If you are an alien or know one, you may sign into the site. The URL is http://www.ieti.org/. Give a listen to the SETI song on that site.

image

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beware of “free” Reversatrol Ultra

ReservatrolLiveAgent

I should have known better. After watching a compelling 60 minutes piece on the health benefits of Reversatrol, the magic ingredient in red wine I made the foolish mistake of signing up for a “free” sample. I figured I would give it a try and see if could do undo the ravages of age. I thought I was rather savvy about these things.

After almost a month I don’t feel any better but I don’t feel any worse, at least until today when my credit card statement arrived. There on the page was a charge for $83.18 for a company named EXPRESSBERRY. Those are some expensive berries and I can buy two cases of 2 buck chuck for under $80 and get all my Reversatrol and enjoy it more.

As an elder I am supposed to wise, but they got me in terms of the agreement which I have included for your amusement. I missed this and apparently thousands of other folks have also.

When you go to the site a timer starts and you informed that you only have a few minutes to sign up for the “free” sample. This feature makes it unlikely that you will read the terms of this agreement.  The site has a video of the 60 minute piece, pictures of Barbara Walters or Oprah or someone named Dr Oz (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain).

Maybe Barbara Walters or Oprah can pick up the tab for this since their names are attached to the site.

I won’t provide a link, instead I would encourage you to Google “Reversatrol Ultra Scam” instead. It’s not legally a scam, it’s just devious. I’m sure they have many products like Acai berries and something named Rez Q. But I’m  sure they all have the “free” offer.

I am returning the unopened bottle they sent with a proof of delivery notice and hoping I get a partial or full refund. This was the advice given by my Credit Card provider.

There is no such thing as a free lunch I guess.

Here is a copy of the “terms of agreement”

 

Free Trial Period

When Customer orders the free trial of Rez Q (the "Product") and agrees to pay the shipping and processing fee described on the order page, Company will ship Customer a 30-day supply of Product. Customer will have ten days from the date of order (the "Free Trial Period") to review the Product and decide whether Customer would like to keep it and begin Customer's subscription or contact Company to return the Product as described below. If Customer chooses to keep the Product beyond the Free Trial Period, Customer does nothing. Company will charge Customer's credit card $78.23 and Customer's subscription will begin automatically once the Free Trial Period has expired. As long as Customer's subscription is active, about every month Company will send Customer a new 30-day supply of Product and will charge Customer's credit card the same low monthly price plus $6.95 for shipping and processing. If at any time Customer wishes to end Customer's subscription and discontinue receiving additional 30-day supplies of Product, Customer must contact Company’s customer service department as outlined below. In order to avoid being charged for any subsequent Product, Customer must contact Company before shipment of Customer's next 30-day supply of Product. Company is NOT responsible for any overdraft fees or other fees resulting from customers using a credit card with an insufficient balance to cover the above costs. It is the sole responsibility of the Customer to ensure funds are available to cover all applicable fees and taxes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Air France 447 search for black boxes

It’s always sad to hear about an air disaster. One way to advance air safety is to review data recovered from the onboard flight and voice recorders. Unfortunately in this crash these devices may never be recovered. I was wondering if anyone has considered uploading a stream of data of each flight to a terrestrial server? Storage and bandwidth are cheap these days and current speeds should be sufficient to move significant data.  The idea would be to get a recording of each flight for analysis.  The data could even be analyzed for fuel efficiency and predicting component failure. My model is some of the more sophisticated servers that keep data of disk errors, temperature spikes and CPU utilization. When something goes or failure seems imminent they issue an alert that is sent to a monitoring program.

Perhaps each flight can be “recorded”. If an event or accident occurs the “tapes” can be reviewed. Just my idea.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I’ve got secrets

Yes, I suppose so, but would I share it with the entire internet? Apparently many people do. I listened to a podcast called Naming Secrets  that described confessional sites where people would bare their deepest secrets online. The site started as a community art project. It can be found here. Is it cathartic or voyeuristic? I don’t know.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

You have been been “tagged”… lucky you!

TaggedSpammer_edited-1

Isn’t this annoying? You get an email from someone you know suggesting that they have sent you some pictures. If you don’t respond the site suggests that your friend may have their feelings hurt as indicated by the sad face emoticon :(

If you spend the time to read the “terms of agreement” you will quickly discover that you are signing up for email from “commercial sites”. Isn’t that wonderful?

Think how happy the folks in your address book will be after they are “tagged”. Here is the “fine print” that none of us bother to read when we sign up for things like this:

E) Notice Regarding Commercial Email

MEMBERS CONSENT TO RECEIVE COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES FROM TAGGED, AND ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION MAY BE USED BY TAGGED FOR THE PURPOSE OF INITIATING COMMERCIAL E-MAIL MESSAGES.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Better get ready!


We have a few close calls in the last couple years. In mid August of 1987 we witnessed the Harmonic Convergence, a planetary alignment that was supposed be a global awakening of love and unity through divine transformation. I suspect that it didn’t quite happen that way.
Later we had the Y2K scare which was supposed to bring an end to civilization as we know it. I attended some neighborhood meetings and we discussed how we could help each other out when we lost power, food and fuel. We actually got a chance to implement our plans in December 2008 when an ice storm devastated our town.
These were merely preludes to the latest and greatest upcoming doomsday calendar event ever!
December 21 2012
I’ll leave it as a reader exercise to do some research including watching the History Channel videos which contain really ominous music, scary footage of natural disasters and stock footage of nuclear explosions.
More to come on this important topic as the day approaches. Don’t make plans for Christmas that year.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

December Ice Storm in May?

The leaves are out but there are a number of trees that will never recover from the ice storm of December 2008. I’m eyeing 2 severely damaged popular trees that I’m sure that will die. I’m trying to determine if I drop them I can avoid having them crash through the kitchen window. I’m assuming that if I look at the top at a 45 degree angle I can guess the height. I haven’t been too successful lately with my logging. I managed to drop a tree on my 30 year old chain saw. The good news is that I didn’t drop the tree on my body. The bad news is that I am now in the market for a chain saw.

The town has arranged a brush pile pickup that is behind schedule and underfunded. A short drive around town shows the extent of the downed limbs. My pile is sparse and unkempt.

BrushCleanup-5

Of course there is always someone that excels at everything, they have the best Christmas light display, the nicest lawn, the neatest wood stack and of course the neatest (and biggest) brush pile.

BrushPile-2

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Change the world, support Micro loans

Like so many others I am disgusted by the excesses of greed in the investment sector. However, this morning I saw a segment on the local New Hampshire business news that made me smile. It was a segment about a website that facilitates small loans to entrepreneurs throughout the world.  The idea is simple, make small loans to people so they can improve their business and their lives. These are loans and there are risks involved with repayment but the concept appeals to me, helping people better their lives through their own efforts.  I urge everyone to take a look at the site and at least read up a bit on the idea of microfinance

You can find a link right here at Kiva.org

Organize those tweets!

Warning! I’m going to be a little geeky here, so you may be excused if you are not interested.

I found myself overwhelmed by the number of “tweets” that appear from folks (and news sources) that I am “following”. The Twitter window is filled with “tweets” rolling in, many are just URL’s to articles from their syndication.

I was looking for a way to filter the tweets from family and friends which frankly is of more interest to me than the daily barrage of bad economic news and impending nuclear doom in Pakistan.

I was pretty happy with a free product called TweetDeck which allows one to create filters and groups based on search criteria, but it does not seem to archive the old “tweets”.

I’ve settled on a free product called "OutTwit" which integrates Twitter and Microsoft Outlook (Microsoft’s full mail program). I was able to create an advanced search criteria for family tweeters based on their user names:

TweetSearches

The advanced search command is from: followed by the user name. After creating this filter I was able to collect the relevant tweets into a single folder under outlook. I chose the name Tweets - Family

TwitterWithOutlook

As you can see I also have a Tweets – Friends folder. This program will only work with Outlook not Outlook Express

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Facebook Manners

As an avid user of social networking sites, I thought I would share this video:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weird collection of Google ads

WeirdAdPlacement

As some of you know, Google places sponsored advertisement links based upon the text of search strings and email text. I usually give it a glance to see if the links are relevant or unintentionally funny. I got an email from someone who is following me on twitter. Apparently Google thinks I’m in great physical pain for the ad links are for:

  • Comprehensive eye care
  • Painless Bunion Surgery (I hope so!)
  • Avoid Hip Replacement Now! (hope forever!)
  • Kugel Hernia Mesh Lawsuit (I will look this up)
  • Adhesions Causing Pain? (They are now)
  • Rotator Cuff Surgery (I really want to avoid this)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

December Ice Storm in April

One weekend chore that is getting rather tedious is moving the enormous amounts of tree limbs and brush that the devastating ice storm of 2008 has left in our yards and forests.  In a few days the town is going to start chipping any brush that is placed along the road side, so a drive through town reveals a variety of brush sculptures. Some piles are orderly and refined and some are not.

BrushCleanup-4_edited-1 

I’ve also accumulated a pile of fire wood as a result of the storm, but stacking it in the unseasonably warm days of April is a challenge.

BrushCleanup-2

Saturday, April 25, 2009

UFO base and alien embassy

Don’t you just love the internet? Brad sent me a link for an article describing how the Republic of Kazakhstan is building the first alien embassy. You can read it here.

Obama has really let me down in respect to UFO’s and alien contact. I’m sure that all the newly elected presidents are handed a folder with ALL the secrets, Roswell, alien encounters and more. Why not share this with the public? It would take our mind off the sinking economy. As a leader of the free world, shouldn’t we be building the first alien embassy? Didn’t Klaatu visit Washington DC as his first stop? There was the incident with Gort, but military drew the first blood.

The only President that had a word to say on this was “Give Em Hell” Harry Truman. Step up to the plate Obama, I’m waiting.

GortAndJohnP

Friday, April 24, 2009

Peace comes to New Ipswich

Actually it is really peaceful here. There is always the sound of gunfire but that is because this is New Hampshire and these folks aren’t shooting at me. I was chatting with a neighbor who was walking her dog and she mentioned that she had seen white doves in my yard.  Sure enough, I saw these guys on a lovely warm black-fly free Friday.

Doves_2962_edited-1

However I discovered that they are owned by my neighbor. I’ve heard the cooing but assumed it was morning doves. He lets them fly around a bit when he’s out in the yard. What beautiful birds.

Doves_2964

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Launching another blog

PoltrackObserver_BlogHeader

Why another blog? I’m experimenting with the idea of location aggregation websites. I live in an interesting town, I noticed that some of my postings were not really musings but observations about the daily occurrences in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. The sign, the ice storm and more. Not much content yet, but I’m sure something will happen soon.

Map picture

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I forgot about that music!

Way back in the 1960’s there was a phenomena known as the “folk music revival”. Of course folk music never needed to be revived, but it managed to creep into the popular culture. My own introduction to this music goes back a lot longer, because I was fortunate enough to have a family that would sing old songs (it was folk music but I didn’t know it).

In those days, I would spend my lawn mowing money to purchase Kingston Trio Albums and later Tom Paxton, Ian and Sylvia, Bob Dylan et al. Now that I’ve become a big fan of online music I’ve started to revisit some of the early music from that era thanks to Lala. Instead of shelling out $3.98 for an album with 2 songs that I like (in 1960’s dollars) I’m creating playlists of songs that only cost a dime each (In recession dollars). One of my playlists is “Forgotten Music”. I’d like to share it with you:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is Gravity spanning the fifth dimension?

This is the type of scientific musings that captures my interest, however I can’t comprehend it. I was listening to a podcast which mentioned that gravity is a lot weaker than the electromagnetic forces. The physicist postulated that the perhaps the majority of gravitational force was being expressed in the 5th dimension. If we were 2 dimensional beings (flatlanders) then something moving along the third dimension would only appear to us when it intersected our x and y axis. We would see it as a flash. But I can’t get my head around a force that exists partly in our 4 dimension space (including time) and partly in the 5th dimension. If someone can help me out with this, add a comment.

PS – I think the dimension count is about 13 so we can cover UFO’s as inter-dimensional space in another posting.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hey Lula, Don’t Blame Me for this mess!

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown got an earful from the Brazilian President about the current financial crisis.

"This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by the irrational behavior of people who were white and blue-eyed, who before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, but now have demonstrated they know nothing about economics,"

-- President Lula da Silva of Brazil

I want to assure everyone that I had absolutely nothing to do with this crisis. I know nothing about economics except that my k401 is greatly diminished. My eyes have invoked comments before. In China a few children would call me Gweilo and seemed genuinely afraid of me. My eye color is listed as blue on my driver license, but over time I think it is changing to more of a grey to match my financial mood. It’s hard for me to judge because I’m on the inside looking out. You decide:

John_Eyes_edited-1

Lula, This is all genetically determined

Thanks Maureen for writing an Op-Ed about this:

Blue Eyed Greed

Monday, March 23, 2009

A mailbox for the ages

What are the rules for a mailbox?

    • The regulation height is 42" from the bottom of the mailbox to the ground.
    • Your house number should be clearly marked on the mailbox with painted numbers or stickers no less than 1" high.
    • The box should be on the right-hand side of the road as traveled by the mail carrier.
    • It should be located approximately 2' from the side of the road to ensure the carrier can get off the road enough to clear traffic.

In my town there is another unwritten “suggestion”. That is to make your mailbox vandal-proof. I have had my mailbox smashed numerous times with baseball bats. Once my attention was drawn to a small fire. Somebody had set the newspaper on fire and the plastic newspaper tube was burning in spectacular fashion. For me it was a moment of suspend belief, wondering what why I was seeing this orange glow from the road side.

My neighbor has constructed a mailbox that is truly awe-inspiring, only pictures can do it justice:

OdiornePoint_2797

OdiornePoint_2798

OdiornePoint_2799

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Does "Blackle" save energy?

In the "old" days when I worked at Digital, we used to use VT100 character cell terminals. I always chose white text on a black background (this was a setting) because I knew that the black parts of the screen meant that the electron gun of the CRT display was turned off, and as a result the only current expended was being used on the white characters. This was partly environmental but mostly because I wanted to avoid seeing the 60 Hz refresh of a totally white background. I'm very sensitive to screen flicker and would set the refresh rate at the highest setting possible. Perhaps this is a symptom of my Asperger's syndrome but that is a topic for another post.

My sister informed me of an alternative site to Google that had a black background. The name of the site is Blackle, and if you use a CRT there is a certain amount of truth to the premise that a black background will save energy. Of course most clever people have already embraced the more energy efficient LCD screens which rely on polarizing filters and a backlit screen which is "on" all the time. So I will give my sister a shout-out for discovering this but in reality it is mostly hype. Of course a quick search on Google produced a real life demonstration, Here is the video:




Friday, March 20, 2009

Webcam Time

'I’m not very good spokesman, but I am happy with my new WebCam. I’m not as excited as that ShamWow guy, but this thing has a Carl Zeiss lens and is MUCH better than the old Intel ones that used to come with Gateway machines. Of course, to be useful, both parties need to have one of these things. It even worked on my Vista machine, truly miraculous.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Capital One “Convenience Checks”

Stop with these checks already! What do I have to do to convince this company to stop sending me blank checks with MY NAME on them? I’ve canceled my account (after I noted the interest rate would be 29.7%), I’ve informed the 3 credit agencies, dma choice and anything else I could find to stop it.

Consider how these BLANK checks are sitting in our mail boxes with our names on them. The envelopes are not inconspicuous with the prominent “Capital One” logo screaming out to thieves “Take me, cash me and stick the bill to the name pre-printed on the check”.

Of course the company assures us that we have zero liability if they are stolen or misused. I wondered about that a bit until I came across a small comment on the last page:

$0 fraud liability claims are subject to verification and investigation.

Isn’t that special? Unwanted checks arrive with MY NAME on them and the crack CSI team at Capital One will investigate if someone steals them. Sure they will!

I was going to include an online link to abuses but after finding so many horror stories, I’ve decided to leave this to you. Simply Google “Convenience Check Fraud” and stand back.

If you know anyway to stop these, please leave a comment.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recycle Project – Satellite Dish

I know, you have spent a small fortune on a cat bed from Petco and the cat ignores it. I made a wonderful scratching post that the cats sneer at as they destroy speakers grills and door jams. All you need is an outdated satellite dish and a warm day:

BusterOnDish-6

Satellite dishes are also great launching pads for helicopter type fireworks. They need a bit of a spin before they become airborne and the slightly concave area manages to both contain and facilitate their successful launch

IceStormCleanup_2772

Other uses? I have been thinking of a bird bath, but I need to evaluate whether dish or DirectTV is the better choices.

Juvenile Bird … now in March?

I’m trying to understand why this young fearless bird is visiting my feeder. It’s behavior is very strange. It sits on the feeder but is not afraid of humans. It looks like a young bird, but I would expect that birds would be raising their young later in the spring.

JuvenileBird-1_edited-1

When I say fearless, I mean fearless:

JuvenileBird-6_edited-1

Let them eat cake

A.I.G. planning Huge Bonuses after $170 Billion Bailout

This was a headline story in the New York Times. I wonder what folks who have lost their jobs and savings feel about these clowns. I have a problem understanding how you can get a bonus for running your business into bankruptcy (why didn’t that happen?).

In my opinion the most ironic part of the article is the letter that Edward M. Liddy (the government appointed chairman of A.I.G.) wrote to Timothy F. Geithner:

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.

Let’s file that statement under “Pay for Performance”

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sushi anyone? – TGIF’s diversion

You made it through another week, Congratulations! Take a break from the stream of bad economic news and watch something to make you smile.

smile_regular

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Say it with less than 140 characters


I'll admit that I'm intrigued with twitter. It might be a childlike fantasy that we can have super powers and read other peoples thoughts. Apparently people are only too willing to post their thoughts online as long as the thoughts are less than 140 characters. As a result I no longer have that fantasy. Most messages demonstrate that the majority of us live very mundane lives. I find this vaguely reassuring, being ordinary.
One bright spot in this world of under 140 characters is the opportunity to write Haiku and Poems (at least short poems). It's quite satisfying to conceive an idea and as you type it, watch a character counter tick to zero. It changes color just as it passes 10. Hit return and your pithy observation is born to the world (or as it is known the twitterverse). One person observed that many of the Haiku are written about cats. If you have a cat I don't need to explain this.
I don't see many poems or novels coming through, but it is just a matter of time. Haiku is big on twitter , really big. I have provided a link to a running feed of twitter haiku traffic (look in right column beneath the chickadee photo, scroll down).
In school we were always asked to write a 3 page essay or a 1000 word book report. Isn't it great to be constrained to less than 140 characters?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Get a free Laptop? not really

Twitter is fun, but some of the people who decide to “follow” you don’t really care about your “tweets”

Consider this:

Jewel (jordananda) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Not really, Jewel’s profile picture has the name “girl14”. That seems a strange name for a profile picture doesn’t it?

Jewel has a link to a web page to explain how to get a FREE MAC laptop… Wow, and she likes “free stuff”

Funny about the free part, you need to buy something.

Here is the legal part to peruse for your amusement:

I’ll highlight the gotcha parts:

 

† THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. SEE TERMS FOR COMPLETE DETAILS. Members are being accepted subject to the following Program Requirements: 1) Must be a legal US resident; 2) must be at least 18 years old or older; 3) must have a valid email and shipping address; 4) Eligible members can receive the incentive gift package by completing two reward offers from each of the Top, Prime and Premium reward offer page options. Various types of reward offers are available. Completion of reward offers most often requires a purchase or filing a credit application and being accepted for a financial product such as a credit card or consumer loan. The following link illustrates a Representative Sample of reward offers by group along with monetary and non-monetary obligations. Failure to submit accurate registration information will result in loss of eligibility. This promotion is administered solely by this website. The manufacturers and retailers of the gift items offered through our programs have not endorsed this promotion and are not affiliated with the promotion in anyway. All trademarks, service marks, logos, and/or domain names (including the names of products and retailers) are property of their respective owners. This promotion is not valid to residents of Washington state and is void where prohibited by law. Please read the Terms and Conditions for complete program details. Your information will be shared with our marketing partners. Please read the Privacy Policy for more details.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fannie Mae Eases Credit for home borrowers

I really wanted to blame George Bush for all our financial woes, but I was sent an article from 1999 that hints at the seeds of our current crisis:

Link is here!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Enthusiasm ?

What is it that you find enthusiasm for?

"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".


Henry David Thoreau

This is just so silly I needed to post it

So many distractions can be found on the internet. This one answers the question "What time is it anyway?










This came my way via Twitter, Send me a "tweet".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Twitter, Skype, TweetDeck Oh My!

Let’s face it, we don’t build stuff anymore. Our economy is in free fall but we are really only good at finding ways to be distracted. I’m as open to distractions as anyone else so I’m onboard with all the micro-blogging tools (as well as traditional blogs and forums).

I tweet, blog, set facebook status, chat, GTalk, Communicate with Communicator, but I no longer Jabber.

I’m LinkdIn, connected to my Facebook friends, EONS bound, but no Classmates for me… they ask for $$

So how does one deal with all this? Obviously you need a social aggregator program. I’m using Digsby.

The CEO of Twitter was on CSpan last night. He did not inspire awe. The audience looked comatose. I bet they were twittering each other. He mentioned that Twitter has a good search function but it is difficult to find. Can’t search for the search, amusing isn’t it?

So what does a techno-geek do? Add more software of course. I now have TweetDeck running besides Digsby and Skype. Tweetdeck has search, TwitPic and TwitScoop. Of course the big news today is the Oscars. Can you guess what the twitterers are tweeping about?

Take a look:

TweetDeck

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Business Reply Mail Project

BusinessReplyMailProject_Bl

We all get the pre-paid envelopes for Credit Card offers, Surveys, Car Insurance and more. It is not easy to opt out of these mailings and maybe not such a good idea. The post office depends on the income generated from these first class mailings and we should take steps to help our post office financially. I would suggest that instead of packing the envelope with the original filler material, you include recipes, magazine articles, pictures of your dog or cat. The people that open these mailings do not have the best job. Imagine how it would brighten their day to receive an nice recipe for a Kielbasa and sauerkraut dish, or a nice family photo of the 3 cats. Or perhaps a donation of  grocery coupons. These folks at the mail processing facility will appreciate the chance to save some money. Times are tough.

When I do my reply business mailings to these organizations I've decided to include a link to this blog posting to facilitate a means of feedback between the public and the mail processors. I think the donated material should be either entertaining or useful.

If you are employed at one of these facilities and spend 8 hours or more a day opening mail, and appreciate the effort that we take in selecting items for you, add a comment (or request). Thanks for all you do!

smile_wink

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Please let me do my job!

I received a typical telemarketer call today about a FREE GE wireless security system. I'm guessing the salesperson is located "offshore" because of his accent. I try to be somewhat polite with these calls even though I signed up for the DO_NOT_CALL registry.
He went on about insurance benefits and other features and I came up with a lame excuse about not having any money. Then he suprised me by stating "Please let me do my job!". Obviously he had mastered his script and was not going to be cut short by someone who wasn't paying close attention. I must add that I had music playing rather loud over my speakerphone setup. I decided to let him finish. He explained about the wireless features and the great savings with insurance. I even get a coupon to show to my insurance agent. After he was done he explained how his manager would be calling me.

While I waited for his manager, I re-registered on the DO NOT CALL registry which had apparently let me down. After a while I received a call from a guy in Rhode Island who wanted to talk to me. I'm not in the market for a home security system at this time but if you are, I would suggest giving them a call.

Or maybe just call them to chat

1-401-365-1129

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Al Gore to testify on Global Warming

Al Gore will be testifying before the Senate Foreign Committee on Wednesday. Apparently Mother Nature didn't get the agenda because the Northeast is expecting a major snow storm. Can this be any more ironic?

This has been one brutal winter, the ice storm, cold snaps, no January thaw. Bring on some local warming.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Heat? Blame the ice storm again!

We woke up to a rather chilly first floor. It was obvious that the baseboards were downright COLD. I measured 52 degrees F with my trusty and handy infrared thermometer. I suspected the check valve in the return line, so I went to the cellar and beat it with a hammer (right tool for the right job) I tried to listen to the circulating pump and it appeared to be operational.

We are using a programmable thermostat (Honeywell) that produces an audible click when it turns on. I tried cycling the heat and heard the click. I thought I had completed my troubleshooting. It was obvious to me that either the pipe was clogged or that the pump had failed.

After a call to our oil burner experts, they called me back and suggested I check the batteries in the thermostat. I explained that I dutifully change these when we switch back to standard time, but when fresh batteries were installed the heat came on and all is well.

What happened? Apparently the 11 days of no power had an effect on the batteries. They mentioned that they were seeing this problem. Interesting isn't it?

Monday, January 19, 2009

This land is your land

The highlight for me of the "We are one" concert at Lincoln Memorial was not musical but symbolic. It was the sight of Pete Seeger singing "This Land is Your Land" to the president elect and a gathering of thousands. This was a complete and welcome suprise.

Some bloggers have already jumped ugly with seeing the former blacklisted performer on stage, so I'll remind them of the inscription on Seeger's banjo:

"This little machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender"



Sunday, January 18, 2009

IMHO - Unflattering Photos of Obama's People

I spend a lot of time looking at photographs. The Times Magazine featured a series of photographs of "Obama's people" done by Nadav Kander who they described as "one of the more original and highly regarded portraitists at work just now".

I guess I'm missing something, but I want to add my own unflattering captions to each mugshot photo. I miss Richard Avedon .


Maybe I'm wrong, you be the judge:

2009 Inaugaration Gallery

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey, Al Gore - give it back!



 

 

 

 

 

Here is the inconvenient truth... IT IS COLD! At least today!

Academy award? Nobel Peace Prize?

Give em back, please! I'm burning as much wood as possible, and hyperventilating to get the maximum amount of CO2 outside where it can do it's climate warming magic. Brrrrr!
I even found that a Google search releases some CO2 according to Harvard Environmental Fellow Alex Wissner-Gross Ph. D. As a guy who is who us getting tired of winter and a stockholder in Google, I would like to encourage everyone to undertake a massive Google search of Alex Wissner-Gross, Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, Global Change, Carbon Credits, Polar Bears, Sun Spots, Potential Asteroid Impacts. Heat things up a little!

You have to do this, it keeps getting colder! This is the responsible thing to do.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Years - Gem├╝tlichkeit



We had no desire to stay awake till 12 midnight to ring in the New Year, so we opted for the convenient 6 PM German New Year time. John & Angelika prepared a delicious Tapas Menu for dinner. And for a festive drink naturally they chose Feuerzangenbowle. This does not seem to be an appropriate tradition for our household, I think the cats may interfere with disastrous consequences.

Thanks John & Anglika for this celebration.