Now why didn't I think of this?
One of the greatest female sartorial dilemmas - does my bum look big in this? - is to be answered by a team of researchers.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I have several older peripherals that are connected using the older USB 1.1 technology. My sister gave me a Staples gift card and I purchased a USB 2.0 5-port PCI card and a 7-port USB 2.0 hub. I inserted the card rather painlessly and the computer recognized the new hardware without any problem. Same for the USB hub. I then reconnected all the peripherals (digital camera docking station, PDA holder, scanner and a printer) and everything worked fine.
After ensuring the connections were right, I ventured over to our local Best Buy and bought a Maxtor 100GB external hard drive that is currently on sale. I plugged it in and it was recognized by the PC. I then proceeded to back up my important files such as photos, music files, Word documents and the like. The increase in the transfer rate is very noticeable. Now I’m set if my hard drive crashes again like it did a couple of years ago. Plus if I ever buy myself a laptop, I’m set.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This post was created using the extension.
Friday, December 16, 2005
I heard somebody talk about this on the radio the other day. I honestly never thought about it before.
Why is it that men are always chastised by the women in their life for leaving the toilet seat up? Seems to me that we should demand the same respect. Why do they leave the toilet seat down?
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Monday, December 12, 2005
Here’s a little creativity that I came up with. This is a single photo of a sunflower that I took three years ago when I was visiting my family in southwest Nebraska. I passed a sunflower field and got out and took several pictures. This one of a single sunflower turned out to be the best picture. I then manipulated it using a filter in Paint Shop Pro. The filter (Red Prince Flip ‘n Rolls) basically takes the reds, greens and blues within a color picture and then flips them around.
Friday, December 9, 2005
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
In mid-April I began a subscription to Netflix. I opted for the 2-DVD rental plan. I have unlimited rentals, but can only have up to two discs out at any one time. My monthly cost is $14.99.
I checked my rental history recently and was surprised how many movies I have rented since April. The following is my list with the most recent at the top:
- Batman Begins
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- Surviving Christmas
- The Old Dark House
- The 39 Steps
- Out of the Past
- Christmas with the Kranks
- The War of the Worlds (1953)
- House of Wax
- The Interpreter
- Nosferatu: Original Version
- The Great Ziegfeld
- The Last Picture Show
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- They Drive by Night
- Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Claw
- Sunset Boulevard
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition
- L.A. Confidential
- My Man Godfrey
- The Bridge on the River Kwai
- Ed Wood
- Libeled Lady
- The Third Man
- Run Silent, Run Deep
- The Enemy Below
- The Forgotten
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
- The Pride of the Yankees
- Advise and Consent
- Sherlock Holmes: The Pearl of Death
- Sherlock Holmes in Washington
- Sherlock Holmes: In Pursuit to Algiers
- Film Noir Collection: Scarlet Street
- Call Northside 777
- Film Noir Collection: The Stranger
- The Alamo
- The Country Girl
- The Thin Man
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Brother, Where Art Thou?
- The Pianist
- Deadwood: Season 1: Disc 5 (5-Disc Series)
- Deadwood: Season 1: Disc 4 (5-Disc Series)
- Deadwood: Season 1: Disc 3 (5-Disc Series)
- Deadwood: Season 1: Disc 2 (5-Disc Series)
- Deadwood: Season 1: Disc 1 (5-Disc Series)
- The Aviator
- Ken Burns' Civil War: Disc 5 (5-Disc Series)
- Ken Burns' Civil War: Disc 4 (5-Disc Series)
- Ken Burns' Civil War: Disc 3 (5-Disc Series)
- Ken Burns' Civil War: Disc 2 (5-Disc Series)
- Ken Burns' Civil War: Disc 1 (5-Disc Series)
- National Treasure
- The Phantom of the Opera: Special Edition
- The Notebook
- The Bourne Supremacy
- The Bourne Identity
- After the Sunset
- Schindler's List: Disc 2
- Schindler's List
- Cold Mountain
- Ocean's Twelve
I currently have 40 movies in my queue with The Searchers and Collateral on their way.
Monday, December 5, 2005
"They found a fragment, big deal," Ballard said. "Am I surprised? No. When you go down there, there's stuff all over the place. It hit an iceberg and it sank. Get over it."Scientists unveil new discoveries from Titanic - Science - MSNBC.com
Saturday, December 3, 2005
A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, charged with regulating America's sports industry, announced Friday it will conduct a hearing on the BCS next week, after this season's bowl matchups are determined.
I was all for Congress stepping into the baseball steroids controversy. Steroids are very dangerous and the professional leagues were doing very little to control the problem. However, I think there are other problems in which Congress should involve itself -- the energy crisis, the Social Security system and that nasty situation in Iraq.
The "flawed" BCS system just doesn't compare to these other issues.
Friday, December 2, 2005
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Photo of my home with all of the outside lights illuminated. I took advantage of the Wal-Mart "Black Friday" frenzy and bought myself a new digital camera -- a Kodak Easy Share Z760. It has a night setting so the temperature was still warm enough to take it outside with my tripod.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Eerily similar to last year, overnight the Chicago area received its first measurable snowfall of the season. This photo of my backyard was taken Wednesday morning around 8:00 AM. I don't know if the snow will still be on the ground Thanksgiving morning.
Last year we had a White Thanksgiving.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I can't imagine turning 80 years old!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I heard yesterday that the average first day of visible snow in the Chicago area is October 30th. Seems like the first snow comes too early, but it was really about three weeks later than average.
My mother spoke to Valerie and offered her memories of both her father and brother. I have also been in contact with Valerie to supply family photographs, including some from this humble family weblog. She has also been kind enough to provide me with some photos and newspaper clippings that she has accumulated.
I just received word that Valerie's book, Gold Stars and Purple Hearts: The War Dead of the Ravenna, Nebraska Area, is now available for order online. Here is the link in case someone from the Ravenna area would like to order a copy. When you get to the site, click on "Book Store," then the down arrow to see "ISBN" and then enter the ISBN number which is 1420876074.
We've already ordered our copy!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I'm looking forward to seeing this one in the theaters!
King Kong - Theatrical Trailer
King Kong for the new millenium, a group of explorers and documentary filmmakers travel to the mysterious Skull Island to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong.
Courtesy of IFILM
Monday, November 14, 2005
By clicking this link, you can also see all of the DVDs you have rented and returned.
I have several friends, colleagues and family members who read my humble blog. I either tell them about blog additions or they subscribe to the blog feed through Bloglines, My Yahoo! or some other RSS-enabled newsreader. (There are buttons on the right sidebar that let you easily subscribe to this blog.)
I have now added the ability to subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Look again on the right sidebar. Just enter your e-mail address and, once you confirm the subscription, you will receive blog updates by e-mail.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Owens's clash with the Eagles grips US - Yahoo! News
Sometimes I think that I care too much. I was in Lawrence on Saturday and I saw our guys go down in defeat at the hands of a team that we had beaten every year for almost four decades. I can’t tell you how hard it was to watch. Seeing Jayhawk fans yelling and jeering and storming the field made my stomach turn.
Always A Husker
I've been happy with my decision. I've seen many movies and TV shows that I had not seen before or would not have otherwise rented. Netflix offers a number of pricing plans and I chose the plan that allows me to rent two DVDs at a time for $17.99 a month.
As a customer of several months, I've discovered a couple of ways to speed up the return and delivery of DVDs. I was returning my movies using work mail and was experiencing odd delays in having Netflix receive the movies and then sending me new ones. I suspected that Netflix was "throttling" or otherwise delaying my send/receive cycle. I was not sure if the delay was with the mailroom at work or at Netflix. I experimented by sending the DVD back from home rather than from work. I did notice that Netflix was receiving the DVD sooner than before. I also discovered another trick. The Netflix return envelope contains a small slit in the back. When you place your DVD sleeve into the envelope, position the sleeve so the bar codes show through the slit. This makes the return process even faster as the bar codes are scanned at the Netflix distribution center and you get credit for returning your movie right away. Otherwise, the envelope has to be manually opened, the DVD removed and then scanned for you to get credit. The manual process adds time to the cycle.
I also found out that you can add movies currently in theaters to your Netflix queue. For example, today I added Derailed and Pride and Prejudice to my queue even though they are several months away from being available on DVD. Whenever they do become available on DVD, my queue will show the release date and I can move them to the top of my queue to receive them. As I see movie previews that seem interesting, I can add the movie to my queue. A number of times I'll see a preview...and then forget the name of the movie when it does come out on DVD.
Hacking Netflix and Netflix Fan are also great resources for Netflix users.
Saturday, November 5, 2005
I also find myself in that hollowness between seasons. The calendar says it's fall, but the high in Chicago will be near 70 today! Halloween has just ended and Thanksgiving is fast approaching meaning Christmas and New Year's Day will soon be here. I love this holiday season, but it seems to come (and go) so quickly. As a child I remember how slow it all seemed.
There have been several movie releases on DVD that we will be watching over the next night or two. Star Wars III was released on Tuesday. I never did see it in the theater, so I'm looking forward to watching it tonight. We also bought the "collector's edition" of The Wizard of Oz. It's a great movie, but, as a child, the flying monkeys always scared me. Lisa bought the new release of Titanic which contains an alternate ending. I'll probably pass on that one.
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I stayed up late (for me) Sunday night to watch the game and some of the postgame coverage. I had "threatened" my 10-year old son that I would wake him up and pour champagne over his head if the Sox won. I didn't do it, but I might do it if the Sox win the World Series.
I went on the Internet today at noon to see if I could get Series tickets. They sold out after 18 minutes and I never even got into the site. The cheapest seat has a $120 face value and I've seen tickets on StubHub and eBay go for thousands. Guess I'll watch it on TV.
I've already seen a World Series game anyway. I saw Game #7 of the 1985 World Series with the Kansas City Royals beating the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City.
The Sox have four more games to win in order to be world champions. I wonder what the Vegas odds were last March!
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Last night the Sox won 5-2 as pitcher John Garland (above) threw a magnificent complete game. The Sox now lead the series 2-1 with Game #4 scheduled for tonight. Game #5 will be played Sunday night with the series moving back to Chicago for games 6 and 7 if necessary.
These are exciting times for White Sox fans. As I wrote last July, I'm a Chicago baseball fan with a leaning towards the White Sox. I was born in 1952 and don't really remember the last World Series played in Chicago in 1959. The Chicago Cubs were only 5 outs away from bringing the Series to Chicago in 2003 before the infamous "Bartman Game" which, ironically, was two years ago yesterday.
The Sox now are two games away, but they are playing a very good team at their home park and a lot of things can and will happen before this series has concluded. Hopefully the Chicago White Sox of Bridgeport will bring the series back to Bridgeport/Chicago for the first time in 46 years!
Saturday, October 8, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
Two Internet banks stood out -- ING Direct and EmigrantDirect.
ING Direct is an online bank that now pays 3.40% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account. Opening an online account is easy and takes just a few minutes. The website was organized very well and instructions were easy to follow. I opened an account on Thursday and the process was very easy.
The best deal that I found was with Emigrant Savings Bank in New York. Their online bank, EmigrantDirect, just raised their interest rate to 4.00% APY on a FDIC-insured savings account. I opened my account this week and the account-opening process was pretty simple, but a little more involved than ING's. Because of the government's requirement of "knowing your customer," EmigrantDirect asked me some simple personal questions to verify my identity.
The ING Direct and EmigrantDirect accounts both have no minimum deposit, but do require a checking account to be linked to the account. Make sure you have your Social Security Number handy along with your bank's routing number and your driver’s license or state ID. The account usually takes about ten days before you can access it. Both companies test the linking process by depositing small amounts (each under $1.00) into your checking account. Your responsibility is to view your checking account history online (or calling your bank's telephone banking department) and then verifying the amounts with ING or Emigrant. This is for your account safety and to make sure the checking account is linked properly. No, you can't keep the extra money!
Once you have completed the testing and the savings account is established, you simply go online, log into your account and indicate the amount you wish to transfer from your checking account into the savings account. Do the opposite to withdraw money from your savings account. The money is deposited into your checking account and is then available to withdraw by check or ATM withdrawal. The deposits and withdrawals take about two days to complete.
Note: I am not in any way affiliated with either financial institution nor am I being compensated to promote either bank.
Update #1: Now that my ING Direct account is set up, I can refer people to ING to open their own accounts. If you are interested in receiving a $25 credit into your account, please e-mail me. If you set up and fund your account (for whatever minimum amount you wish), I get $10 for the referral. You get $25; I get $10...not a bad deal for either of us.
Update #2: ING Direct now requires a $250 minimum deposit to receive the $25 bonus. Earning $25 for a $250 deposit is still a 10% return. E-mail me if you are interested.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Friday, September 16, 2005
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I got mine last evening.
Update (9/01/05): The free offer has expired!
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Here's how it's done in PSP according to a recent forum posting:
A very simple method is to make a duplicate image (layer) of your photo...In PSP 8, activate the top layer and go to ADJUST -> Hue and saturation -> Hue/Saturation/Lightness and move the left slider all the way down to make a B&W image. You now have a B&W image on top of the color image. Make the top image active and use the ERASE tool to remove the B&W data from the areas that you want to be colored.You can then save the file "as-is" in the PSP file format or flatten (merge) the layers and save it as a JPG file.
The above steps can also be followed in Photoshop. The wording is slightly different, but you go to Layer -> Duplicate layer (accept the default background layer name) and then IMAGE -> Adjust -> Hue/saturation and then follow the rest of the above steps. (Tip: use a small brush to "color" the outside edge and a larger brush for the inside.)
It sounds more complicated than it really is. I tried it out on this sunflower photo from a couple of years ago.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
It was a beautiful day. The kind of day that the chamber of commerce people like to crow about. The sky was blue with just a few feathery clouds. The temperature was in the mid-70s with a low humidity reading.
I went with a friend from work. We met a colleague from a company subsidiary and a prospective vendor who was our host. We had a nice lunch and then walked across Waveland Avenue to Wrigley. Our tickets were in the far right field corner, but we had an excellent view of the playing field and could see every play. An added bonus was we were out of earshot from the PA system so we missed all of the commercials between half-innings! The only problem with that is that we missed pitching changes and pinch hitters. It was still refreshing though.
There was a reminder that it is late summer because shadows caused by the 3rd base side of the grandstands started coming into play in the 8th and 9th innings. It's hard to believe that it's almost September.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The new Word add-in can be found here.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Like that's never happened before!
Happy birthday to: Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, George Hamilton, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Pat Metheny, Pete Sampras, Matt Clement, Antoine Walker, Plaxico Burress and Dominique Swain.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
This is my favorite shot taken when the shuttle was nearing the International Space Station. [The orientation of the picture is correct. A number of news organizations ran it top-side up.]
Here's another photo.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
I think I caught it at work. Our building is kept very cool, but last week I noticed that I was getting a chill. I normally like cooler temps, but when I start getting a chill, I know something's wrong. I probably should have worn long-sleeve shirts earlier.
I had to work a golf outing on Monday because my company was a sponsor. I was miserable! Fortunately there were enough volunteers there so I could leave early. I stayed home from work on Tuesday but am back at work today. I'm still not feeling great, but I am feeling better.
Did I mention how much I detest summer colds!?
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Can't wait to see what the current president is offered for the Bush twins!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
On a serious note, I'm old enough to remember when my mother would set up the trays in front of the TV in our rec room and we would eat Sunday dinner while watching the Ed Sullivan Show. That was actually a treat for us! I guess Mom felt "liberated" from setting up the dinner table and from washing dishes (we didn't have a dishwasher yet). Now it seems like eating at the dinner table is the exception rather than the rule.
Update (July 25, 10:39 AM): This from comedy writer Jim Barach: "Gerry Thomas, the man who invented the TV dinner has died. He had an open casket funeral. They just peeled back the foil cover."
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
I returned home Sunday and carried all of the boxes downstairs. I need to go to U-Haul soon to buy some more boxes to replace the ones that seem to be worn out. As I was going through the albums, I found the very first album that I bought. It was You Really Got Me by The Kinks. (The first single '45 that I bought, as I recall, was Tell Her No by The Zombies.) I also found an old Dave Clark Five album called Coast To Coast. When I first started collecting records, the British Invasion was in full throttle!
I also found Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors LP -- both the "flame" version and the "re-released" version. The "re-released" version came out after the plane crash that killed some of the band members and was minus the flame.
Of course, among these gems are a couple of Tom Jones albums and some disco music...but you can't be right all of the time!
I plan on selling my collection. I would like to find a buyer to buy the entire lot, but I will take several days and weeks to go through everything and then list the better albums on eBay and then hit the yard sale circuit!
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Monday, July 4, 2005
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Friday, July 1, 2005
Tomorrow begins the Tour De France with Lance Armstrong going for seven in a row. Why do we Americans admire Lance Armstrong so much? Is it because of his miraculous comeback from cancer? That’s a factor. Lance’s amazing toughness and athletic ability? That’s part of it. Is it because, when Lance wins the Tour de France, it infuriates the French? Bingo.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Many people, like myself, thought that Graham (played by Burt Lancaster in his last big-screen role) was a fictional character. However, he was a real person and the Minnesota Twins will honor him with "'Moonlight' Graham Day" today on the 100th anniversary of his lone baseball game.
Graham died in 1965 at the age of 88.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I recently rented the documentary from Netflix and watched it for probably the 4th or 5th time. He made the whole documentary more believable and more...human, if that's the right word.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
First of all, I'm a Chicago baseball fan, but you have to take sides when the two teams play each other. My wife is a die-hard (is there any other kind?) Cub fan and she wields influence over my 10-year old son who leans towards the Cubbies. I guess I'm on the "dark side of the Force" since my passion lies with the White Sox.
I can't explain my White Sox attraction. I was raised on the North Shore which is traditionally Cubs territory. All my friends in grade school and high school were Cubs fans. I was the "outcast." Growing up I would listen to Sox games at night, imitating the play-by-play announcer (Bob Elston). I probably became a Sox fan because my parents would take me to their games instead of to the Cubs games. For them, it was easier to drive to old Comiskey Park than it was to take public transportation to Wrigley Field. Who knows what factors into your decision.
As of this writing, the Sox have the best record in baseball so I'm enjoying the ride right now. The Sox haven't been to the World Series since 1959 (they last won in 1917 with Shoeless Joe Jackson!) so I'm hoping this is the year. I don't consider myself THAT old, but I don't want to wait forever!
Update: The White Sox won the first game of the series, but the Cubs came back to take the next two games. Thus the teams tied the season series at 3 games apiece.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
My wife loves flower gardening. I think she would do this full-time if she could. We built our house in 1994 and every year since she has added to the garden. Last year we made some substantial changes by moving her rose garden and then removed some bushes that were overgrown and were providing too much shade.
Check out this Flickr set that shows pictures of the garden taken "through the years."
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
One of my favorite movie lines was not on the list...nor would I expect it to be considered. It was Bluto Blutarsky's line from Animal House:
Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!Now that I think about it, a couple of lines from Caddyshack were not included either.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
What options? I last called them a couple of years ago and I swear that everything was the same.
I've heard this same type of message in the past with other companies and I wonder if this is just a way to make people think that a change has been made when, in fact, nothing has changed. They just don't want callers to press zero to get a human voice.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
They speculate that the stowaway was crushed while the landing gear was lowered as the jet made its final approach to JFK.
Hey, at least the leg didn't fall into anyone's chili!
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Despite the rain, my yard still looks real dry. It seems strange to be running the sprinkler this early in the season.
The weather has gotten much warmer and the high today (Tuesday) is to be near 90 degrees with humidity. I don't care for this kind of weather. I find it difficult to keep cool, especially at night. I prefer temps in the sixties or seventies, but that's just me. We have ceiling fans going to keep the air moving. I'm too cheap to run the air conditioner, but I run the AC an average of 5-7 days during the summer.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
The list is available here. This blog is listed under Hoffman Estates.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Here's a picture I took of old Comiskey Park, the home of the White Sox from 1910 through 1990. This photo was taken on July 11, 1990. I "Photoshopped" the photo to give it a more antique look.
The White Sox played the Milwaukee Brewers that day on "Turn Back the Clock Day." The Sox played in replica uniforms from the 1917 team, the last year the White Sox won the World Series. True to form, the Brewers beat the Sox that day.
1990 was a good year. Lisa and I began our relationship and we attended a lot of Cubs and Sox games. It was also the last year for Comiskey Park (the new park opened in 1991) so there were a lot of special games and promotions. The Sox even had a competitive team that season.
I recently established an account at Flickr and have posted pictures from this game as well as other pictures I've recently taken. The plan is to move a lot of my photos over there. You can access my free site here. Please visit often.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
A long time ago, I lived in Scottsdale and delivered pizzas for Domino's Pizza. (I was between "career challenges.") Nothing that strange ever happened to me, but we did have a regular customer who lived in a home with an elaborate security system. We had to ring the doorbell, speak into the intercom and then stand in front of a camera before he would open his garage door to claim his pizza. He never tipped very well either. I often wondered if he was a criminal or simply paranoid.
Another time I delivered a pizza to an attractive young woman who answered the door dressed in a bikini (not that unusual in Scottsdale!). She asked me to stay with her because she didn't like to eat alone. As tempting as that offer might have been, there was something really strange about her and I suspect she was drunk or high. Oh, I was also married and didn't need the complication!
I delivered some pizzas to a couple of attractive woman who were drinking wine. They said they were going to party and asked if I wanted to join them. For the same reason as above, I declined their offer (but I did get a decent tip).
I also had a celebrity customer. For a brief time, former pro football player Mark Gastineau was married to film "star" Bridget Nielson and they lived in East Scottsdale. They ordered a pizza and when I drove up to their house, they were out by the driveway having one of their famous arguments! Gastineau told her to pay me and I ended up with a $20 tip. I think they wanted me to leave so they could resume their argument! I'm not sure how much longer they were married.
I did this for a couple of months before resurrecting my "real" career. I bet others have interesting stories as well. Leave a comment.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Now Microsoft has entered the fray with technology called MSN Virtual Earth. The link shows screenshots which picture satellite images taken at a 45-degree angle. Virtual Earth is set to debut during the summer.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Sunday, May 15, 2005
The fence was apparently replaced in 2000 and four sections of the fence were retrieved by Dallas tour guide Ronald D. Rice. Each section is approximately six feet long and 4 1/2 feet high. Rice put the sections in storage for a few years until he stopped making payments. The sections were then sold at public auction to Daniel Moses who is the apparent seller for this upcoming auction.
There is some dispute whether these fence sections were actually standing in Dealey Plaza in November 1963. In the years since the assassination, a number of the wooden pickets have been replaced due to vandalism, souvenir hunters and weather. Several of the pickets have graffiti on them including one with the message: "Oswald Was Framed."
Friday, May 13, 2005
Tiger still gets the last laugh. Instead of playing golf with the guys, he gets to spend the weekend with a beautiful Swedish model! (His wife is former model Elin Nordegren.)
Sunday, May 8, 2005
Not even close!
In early May, she received the following letter:
Dad would have appreciated the humor in this bureaucratic buffoonery.
This letter is to inform you that you have been excused from Jury Service on 05/17/2005 as a result of your request to participate in our Opt Out Program, which permits jurors who are 70 years of age and older to be excused from Jury Service on a specific court date. Your participation in the Opt Out Program applies only to the date for Jury Service noted above. Please be aware that your name will remain on the juror list and you may be summoned again for Jury Service at a later date. However, your ability to be excused from Jury Service under the Opt Out Program is always available to you, no matter how many jury summons you may receive.
Saturday, May 7, 2005
Friday, May 6, 2005
Thursday, May 5, 2005
I used to visit New York on a regular basis for business reasons in the mid '90s. My schedule would limit me to sightseeing and I never did visit the WTC or Lower Manhattan. I did get a chance to go up to the Empire State Building. I wish I could get my hands on the photos I took that day. It would be interesting to see them again.
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Monday, May 2, 2005
It's May 2, but there were snow flurries in Chicago today and there are freeze warnings tonight in the outlying areas where I live! It's certainly not baseball weather, but we have already completed one month of baseball. It's been a tale of two cities as far as our local baseball teams are doing. The White Sox at 18-7 currently have the best record in baseball and have had the lead in every game so far this season. The Cubs have suffered pitching woes and Kerry Wood is going on the disabled list with shoulder problems.
Baseball is my favorite sport. It's the perfect game because the clock is not involved. Here's my favorite line from one of my favorite baseball movies -- Field of Dreams:
...people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come. -- Terrence Mann [James Earl Jones] from Field of Dreams (Source: Internet Movie Database)
Maybe it will get warm soon so I can actually attend a game this season.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
While cleaning out some old plants in the garden this morning, I came across a bird's nest in one of our back bushes. The "tenant" is a Northern Cardinal and she's laid at least two eggs...maybe three. I glanced briefly at her nest, but she was letting me have it so I didn't want to upset her and have her abandon the nest.
I haven't come across last year's tenants: two small garden snakes that made their home next to our garage.
Organized baseball has already proven that there is no such thing as a "last chance" so it's not surprising that the 30-year old Rocker is trying a comeback with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
Since baseball also likes to make a buck or two, I have a couple of suggestions for the Ducks to capitalize on their new player's notoriety:
- "John Rocker Same-Sex Couple Night" -- Fans attending the game can bring their same-sex partner with them and he/she gets in free. A "lucky" couple drawn at random can take Rocker to a gay or lesbian nightclub at his expense. [Rocker hates homosexuals.]
- "Ride the Subway with John Rocker Night" -- Fans chosen at random can spend an evening riding a New York City subway with Rocker. [He slammed subway riders.]
- "John Rocker Bobblehead Night" -- The first 2,000 fans (regardless of their sexual orientation) get a bobblehead doll. [He probably hates bobblehead dolls too.]
- "Welcome to America Half-Price Night" -- Fans attending the game who show their foreign birth certificate get in for half price. [Rocker hates immigrants.]
Can anyone else come up with a good idea for the Ducks?
Friday, April 29, 2005
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Saturday, April 23, 2005
I hope Wendy's sues her for not only the financial loss suffered, but for the damage to their reputation.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
IE has long had security vulnerabilities which hackers and virus writers love to penetrate. Both Mozilla and Apple developers scoff at Microsoft saying their browser is much more safe to use and does not have these vulnerabilities. I've long assumed that IE is the target not because it's less secure than Firefox or Safari (Apple's browser), but because it has the largest installed base and a virus writer is more inclined to spend their time working with IE code than others.
Now that Firefox is making inroads into IE's installed base, it is also finding itself a target for hackers. Firefox just released a set of patches to fix some security vulnerabilities. This is on top of patches released several weeks ago. I'm not aware of any problems with Apple's Safari browser, but I also suspect that Mac's small customer base makes it a less attractive target than Windows-based browsers.
The point is that no browser is 100% secure. Companies stating that their browser is foolproof only serves to challenge hackers and virus writers who will eventually find a vulnerability.
Firefox, Apple...be careful what you wish for!
Monday, April 18, 2005
Thursday, April 14, 2005
In February I bought Dan Brown's prequel Angels and Demons. It's a prequel in the sense that the main character from Code, Robert Langdon, is introduced in Angels.
I actually enjoyed this book more than Code. It was more of a page-turner with an end result that I did not see coming. The setting for the book is Vatican City within the background of a papal conclave.
Ironically, I finished the book about ten days before the death of John Paul II. The pope's death has resulted in a flurry of interest in Angels and Demons. When I bought the paperback version of the book on eBay, I paid around three dollars. A quick eBay search reveals that prices have gotten higher. It's still a good book and highly recommended.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
During our August 2002 visit to Nebraska, my mother and I spent quite a bit of time commuting between Ogallala (where our motel was located) and Grant and Madrid. Grant is located 20 miles south of Ogallala and Madrid is 10 miles east of Grant.
There is literally nothing but farmland between Ogallala and Grant. Several farmers are growing sunflowers as a cash crop. Some of the fields were located along the highway. I stopped and snapped several photos of the flowers including this closeup.
The common belief was that Roosevelt (already in his fourth term as president) suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died at his home in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945.
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of his death, Newsweek Magazine has an article questioning the official cause of FDR's death. This is no conspiracy theory, but historians have always questioned the secrecy surrounding FDR's health. This report suggests that Roosevelt may have had cancer.
In this modern age of instant communication via the internet, 24-hour news channels and the Drudge Report, it would be difficult to cover up presidential health issues.
Saturday, April 9, 2005
Here's a picture I took of Lake McConaughey north of Ogallala, Nebraska in January 2002. It was a cold, raw, bright and windy day. I think the colors turned out great. For a comparison, this is how the same picture looks when converted to black and white using a red filter.
It's quite dramatic.
Friday, April 8, 2005
Update: (4/8/2005 1:38 PM) I originally posted this story on March 24. Since then, police have searched the home of Anna Ayala, the woman who claimed she found the finger in her food. I was interested in this quote from the article (emphasis is mine): "Wendy's maintains the finger did not enter the food chain in its ingredients. All the employees at the San Jose store were found to have all their fingers, and no suppliers of Wendy's ingredients have reported any hand or finger injuries, the company said."
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Sunday, April 3, 2005
The folks at Google have done it again. They've announced Google Ride Finder which is a neat way to find a cab. The service is limited to a few cities -- including Chicago -- but the premise is pretty simple: use your computer to locate a participating taxi cab. By clicking on the Chicago site, you can see if there is a cab near your location. You can then call the dispatcher for that cab to have it pick you up.
Saturday, April 2, 2005
So there! :-)
Friday, April 1, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The Chicago area is enjoying a respite from the cold March weather. I believe it got into the 70s today. The weather tonight is to turn stormy with thunderstorms predicted.
There was a brief storm late this afternoon and then the sun appeared for a short while creating a double rainbow. Here is a picture I hurriedly snapped out my back door. You can barely make out the second rainbow at the very left of the photo.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Of course, Easter is early this year as determined by the lunar calendar. The Council of Nice decreed in 325 A.D. that "Easter was to fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox."
Two days ago (Thursday), the Chicago area again had snow. Just a dusting that never really lasted, but it's hard to think of Spring when you see snow falling. The early forecasts for Easter Sunday had it being in the mid-forties at best. Now it appears it will be in the mid-fifties and sunny which will be a vast improvement. The rest of next week is suppose to be relatively warm, but I don't take much stock in long-term forecasts!
The baseball season opens in Chicago on Monday, April 4th when the White Sox host the Cleveland Indians. If we get our usual opening day weather, it will be cold and gray.
Baseball -- now that's a sign of Spring!
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Although denied by Yahoo, this announcement is an apparent reaction to the rumor that Google will begin offering its free Gmail service to the general public around April 1. The Gmail service is currently in Beta and was the first free service to come with 1 GB of storage. (In the interest of full disclosure, I use both the Yahoo and Google e-mail services.)
Hotmail, Microsoft's free e-mail service, recently upgraded its storage capacity to 250 MB.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Baseball player Barry Bonds says he might miss the upcoming baseball season due to his recent knee surgery. Bonds says he has a long way to go to rehabilitate himself and be ready to play baseball. He hints that mid-2005 would be the earliest he would return or even 2006.
Bonds, who has been linked to grand jury testimony in the BALCO investigation, is also the poster boy for critics who say that steroids has inflated baseball records.
You don't think his possibly missing the season has anything to do with the steroids issue, do you? And do you think he believes he can avoid it by sitting out this season?
Never entered my mind!
Update (7:13 PM CST): When this story first broke, I did not realize that Bonds went on to blame the media for hounding him and his family and for wanting him to fail. I guess it's convenient to blame the media, blame investigators and probably blame the general public for this mess. You left out the girlfriend, Barry. It's hard to believe, but he just made Sammy Sosa look good!
I hope he's through.
As far as I'm concerned, Hank Aaron and Roger Maris are still the recordholders for home runs hit in a career and home runs hit in a single season.
And Babe Ruth is still the king.
Monday, March 21, 2005
I've been following this sad case from a distance. However, I have to disagree with the president and Congress getting involved in this matter. This case has dragged on for many years with Mrs. Schiavo's husband getting permission to remove the feeding tube and her parents then getting a court order to reinsert the tube.
This poor woman will never return to a "normal" life. It's been clearly shown that the husband -- as her legal guardian -- does have the right to make this hard decision on her behalf. It's not like he hasn't given it time or exhausted all medical opinions.
The parents also need to face reality. They are only extending their daughter's suffering -- and their own suffering -- by continuing to battle their son-in-law in court.
I'm disappointed in the president and the Republicans in Congress for getting involved. Aren't the Republicans the ones that keep saying that government should not be involved in peoples' lives? I guess it depends on if they agree or disagree with the course of action that people take. I'm a moderate Republican and I disagree with what the party is doing.
Let her go.
Friday, March 18, 2005
I watched the evening testimony in front of the House Government Reform Committee. This is the committee looking into the baseball steroids issue. Normally these hearings are televised, if at all, on C-SPAN. Yesterday, they were also televised on ESPN and Comcast Sports Net (and perhaps other cable channels).
I was at work all day so I did not watch the first two sessions. The following is a synopsis of what I've read or heard.
The morning and afternoon sessions consisted of expert testimony regarding the danger of steroids. The Committee heard from parents of two teenage athletes who took steroids. Both teenagers committed suicide and the parents blame their deaths on steroids and, specifically, their childs' desire to emulate their baseball heroes. One parent laid the blame directly on the players.
Later in the afternoon, former players Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire and current players Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa testified. Canseco's "tell-all" book ignited controversy by naming names and revealing the whole steroid issue in professional baseball. He testified that baseball looked the other way and basically "promoted" the use of steroids by not cracking down on users. Interestingly, he backed away from some statements contained in his book. (This reminds me of Charles Barkley's assertion that he was misquoted in his own autobiography!) McGwire, named in Canseco's book as a steroid user, came across very bad in the testimony. He refused to answer questions regarding past use and wanted to look ahead to the future. His non-answers basically answered the question about using steroids. McGwire has taken a hit with several sportwriters' knee-jerk reaction to refuse to support his upcoming Hall of Fame candidacy. One of the representatives on the Committee also suggested his name should be removed from a stretch of Interstate 70 in Missouri.
Both Palmeiro and Sosa denied under oath that they ever used steroids. Palmeiro was adamant that he never used steroids while Sosa, through his attorney, denied taking steroids but nonetheless dodged direct questioning. Sosa conveniently forgot how to speak English and needed an interpreter with him to translate the Committee's questions!
Comic Alex Kaseberg had an interesting line about Palmeiro: "Rafael Palmeiro denied using steroids to Congress. Palmeiro, however, does commercials for Viagra but publicly denies that he takes Viagra. So why would we believe a guy we already know lies about using a performance enhancing drug?"
Thomas, who has never been associated with steroid use, said that baseball needs to clean up its act. Schilling, who has also never been associated with steroid use, came off looking bad as he backed off earlier statements regarding the prevalence of steroids in baseball and testified that he felt that stories of steroid use was overblown.
The real fun (and the real fireworks) came in the evening session which I watched. (My wife even missed The Apprentice to watch the testimony!) Executives from Major League Baseball and the players union appeared before the panel. To say they came off bad is an understatement. They were skewered and left hanging out to dry by the panel. I won't go into the details because there is too much good information to relate. Many news and sports sites have this information. In short, baseball's announced policy has not been completely written nor is it close to what was announced. At it stands right now, you can positively test for steroids five times before you are thrown out of baseball...and even that's not clear! Donald Fehr, the head of the players union, when pointedly asked several times if he would recommend that the players accept tougher standards, replied that he would consult with the players and relay the concerns of the Committee!
ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote an interesting piece on the hearing.
This is a story that will not go away -- nor should it. I think that Congress will eventually pass legislation outlawing steroids and other human growth hormones. The cloud of suspicion will follow Sosa and, of course, Barry Bonds. Bonds and Jason Giambi, by the way, were not subpoenaed because of the ongoing litigation regarding BALCO.
Baseball gets a black eye and fans are left wondering who is in charge of this mess. I would like to see, as one of the Committee members suggested, that there should be a wholesale change at the top of both Major League Baseball and the players union. It's obvious nobody can be trusted.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I called Comcast and made an appointment to have the DVR installed. The service is an additional $10 per month and, oh, there's a $32 installation charge. I questioned the charge, but was told that's what they charged to install the box.
Now the DVR is really a combination cable tuner and digital recorder. I already have the box so the installer will come over unhook my old box, hook up the new one, turn on the TV to make sure it works and leaves. Where is the "value" in the $32 charge? Anyway, I reluctantly said OK and the appointment was set.
That evening, my wife mentioned that a work colleague also had a DVR installed, but was able to get the installation charge halved to $16. I figured if he could do it, so could I.
I called Comcast this morning and they were shocked -- shocked! -- that I would request a waiver. The customer service rep put me on hold a couple of times and each time she came back and said that the $32 fee is correct and that's what I would be charged.
I cancelled the installation.
As a loyal customer with a number of services, I'm offended that (a) they would even consider charging a ridiculous fee in the first place and (b) this employee was apparently not empowered to waive a fee or at least waive 50% of it (which I would have settled for). I know this isn't just a Comcast issue, but an issue with all companies. What if I would have talked to a different employee? Would I have gotten satisfaction? Why should there be a difference?
Employee empowerment is not only right, it's good business.
Update 9:47 AM CST: Maybe this is all for the best as Comcast and TiVo have just announced a partnership agreement where TiVo will make boxes for Comcast. Unfortunately, it won't go into effect until 2006.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Former baseball player Jose Canseco's tell-all book continues to cause problems for Major League Baseball. In his book, he admits to steroid use and says he injected former teammate Mark McGwire with steroids when they played together on the Oakland Athletics. He also calls out several other players regarding their own steroid use.
I don't know if he's telling the truth or not, but it's obvious that baseball players have gotten much bigger the past few years.
A number of players mentioned in the book, including Rafael Palmiero, have threatened legal action. What's interesting is that they've threatened, but have not actually sued. This tells me that there's fire under the smoke and legal action will bring out things that players don't want brought out.
These threats may become irrelevant as the House Reform Committee wants to hold hearings on steroid use and has "invited" (subpoenaed?) Canseco and several other ballplayers to testify. The other players include McGwire, Palmiero, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa and Jason Giambi. For some reason, Barry Bonds has not been included. The testimony is voluntary and the players cannot be forced to testify. Canseco so far is the only one willing to testify under oath.
Too bad these players can't be compelled to testify. Wouldn't it be great theater to watch them testify? Can't you just see Sosa squirm under the bright lights when explaining how the source of his power is the Flintstone's vitamins he says he takes? Just seeing Canseco in the same room with these other players would be fun to watch. C-SPAN could make it a pay-per-view event.
Update (6:29 PM CST): There is now some disagreement whether or not the "invitations" are really subpoenas and thus the appearance is mandatory rather than voluntary. It was earlier reported that the players could testify on their own volition. (Canseco being the only one agreeing to testify; Schilling is considering it.) Now there is a question if it's Contempt of Congress should they fail to appear.
This is getting "interestinger and interestinger." Stay tuned!
Update (March 9, 2005 12:29 PM CST): Of the players invited to the hearing, only Jose Canseco and Frank Thomas have agreed to voluntarily appear. It appears now that the Committee will subpoena the other players and baseball officials (including Commissioner Bud Selig) to appear at the hearing on March 17.
Monday, March 7, 2005
Cell phones and public restrooms, I mean. Are we that busy that we need to multitask by carrying on a phone conversation while, uh, attending to other matters?
When I worked in the city, I took a daily commuter train to and from work. One day before I boarded the train home, I went into the men's room at the Union Station to wash my hands. In this busy restroom were two guys talking on their cell phones...and, of course, they had to talk loud enough so everyone could hear they were talking business. Now a busy terminal men's room is not the ideal place to hold a business telephone conversation. Can you imagine what the person on the other end of the conversation must think! Is it our need to feel important -- or to make other people think we're important -- that requires us to carry on conversations in this most public of places?
As a male, my point of reference is limited to the guys' sanctuary. Is this just a "guy thing" or do women do this too?
Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Thursday, February 24, 2005
It's sad and eerie to see these pictures knowing it was the last thing they ever saw.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Now granted that the primary election was for village trustees only and whittles down the number of candidates to six for the regular election in April.
This is still disappointing. On Election Day in November, I showed up at the same time at the same polling place and waited in line for over an hour. I'm not complaining about that. I'm glad people take the electoral process seriously. I'm just a little disappointed that people appear to be uninterested in these local primaries. To me the local elections have a more direct effect on me than state or national elections. Local ordinances and local taxes have a greater impact on my daily life than national laws.
The polls close at 7:00 PM and I hope a greater number of people make the effort to turn out. I really doubt it. Too bad.