Friday, January 28, 2005

...and you think YOU have problems! - Part 1

I found this article on I attended the University of Nebraska and I know where this small town is located.

The disposal of animal waste is becoming a serious problem in rural areas where ranching is the primary industry. Most of the drinking water comes from wells and some of these wells have become contaminated because of the animal waste.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson passed away Sunday at the age of 79.

Carson's Nebraska roots have been well documented. He was born in Iowa, moved with his family to Norfolk, Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Over the years, my mother claimed to have known Carson while in college. I called her on Monday and she gave me some additional information.

Mom lived in Raymond Hall which was the girls' dorm on 16th Street in Lincoln. Mom's roommate was a girl named Marian from Nebraska City. In 1947 Johnny Carson and Marian dated and Mom got to know him when he would stop by Raymond to meet Marian for their dates. Mom said that he would always wait for Marian in the sitting room on Raymond Hall's first floor. Over time, the relationship ended and Johnny began dating a "Pi Phi from North Platte" (according to Mom) named Jody Wolcott who would eventually become his first wife. Mom remembers Carson as being a lot of fun and "spontaneous."

After college ended, Marian and Mom remained friends and she was a bridesmaid at my parents' wedding. They kept in touch over the years, although they have not spoken for several years.

My college friend Henry contacted me today and recounted his Carson story:

Early Omaha local TV had a kiddie show hosted by Captain Dan the Sailor Man. I was about 8 or 9 years old and watched every day. One day I entered his contest to win a pony, but didn't win. Captain Dan called me at home to offer condolences, and asked me if I'd like more such contests on the Captain Dan Show. I remember I was thrilled to talk to Captain Dan. Last Saturday I learned, and have since confirmed, that Captain Dan was a young Johnny Carson working at his first television job. Now, a week after I learn I once talked to Johnny Carson, he passes away. I never had a chance to thank him for calling me.
Note: The show to which Henry refers was on Channel 6 (WOW) in Omaha.

While I was at the University of Nebraska in the early '70s, there was a restaurant on 16th Street a few blocks off campus called Here's Johnny's. It only lasted a few years, but it was a good place to go for a late-night snack. Carson returned to campus in 1972 for the homecoming game. Unfortunately, I could not get very near to him.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Picasa is mi casa!

I was playing around with Picasa 2 this morning and was experimenting with a feature that allows you to make contact sheets and collages. I chose to make a collage showing my four best friends.

Picasa can be downloaded free from

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Saturday afternoon

We're getting some lake-effect snow this afternoon so we occasionally have breaks of sun. This picture was taken Saturday afternoon around 4:30 and we have clear blue skies! I'm sure within an hour it will be snowing again. Ah...winter in Chicago!

January snowstorm

A quick snapshot of our snowstorm Friday night and Saturday morning. This picture was taken Saturday morning. The northwest suburbs of Chicago have received 6-8 inches of snow so far with more predicted.

Since the original picture is composed of white, brown and shades of grey, I applied a sepia tint using Picasa 2.

Friday, January 21, 2005


It's snowing in Chicago tonight (Friday) with 6 to 10 inches predicted by Saturday evening. I don't really mind the snow on weekends. We have no real plans and at least none of us are out on the streets. We have plenty of food on hand and I've stored away a couple bottles of wine!

I do dislike snow during weekdays -- especially during rush hour -- which is what we've had the past three weeks.

It seems like a nice gentle snow tonight so I'm hoping there will be some nice winter scenes to photograph on Saturday.

January 24th is the "most depressing" day of the year

British psychologists, with apparently nothing better to do, have calculated that January 24th is the most depressing day of the year. The combination of winter weather, holiday debt and other factors conspire to make the latter part of January the most depressing time of the year.

Ironically, people living in warmer climates don't suffer as much from this type of depression. Who knew?

So now we all have this to look forward to on Monday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Playing around with Picasa 2

I downloaded my free copy of Picasa 2 Tuesday evening and have been playing with it ever since. I highly recommend it. It has most of the photo editing tools that beginning or intermediate users will ever need. If you received a digital camera for Christmas, you want Picasa 2. Get it here. Did I mention it was free?

This is a picture I took last summer when my 9-year old son and I went to the Sears Tower in Chicago. It was a beautiful, clear summer afternoon. This picture faces northeast towards Lake Michigan. I used Picasa's graduated tint filter to add a tad more blue to the lake.

Blogger users will appreciate the way it seamlessly integrates with Blogger. I simply edited the picture, clicked the Blogger button, it called up Hello (another free download from Google) and uploaded to this blog. I had an earlier version of Picasa and downloaded Hello to add photos to my two Blogger blogs. I don't know if the newer version of Picasa requires Hello to upload to Blogger or if it uploads independently. Nevertheless, they both worked perfectly.

Did I mention that both programs are free?

JibJab's back!

They're back!

The jokesters at, who entertained us with a Bush-Kerry duet to This Land Is Your Land, are back with another funny animation. This one "celebrates" the Bush Inauguration.

Nailing down the cause of pain -- Update

As a follow-up to an earlier blog, the construction worker who discovered a 4-inch nail in his head is going to change careers. He is now going to make pizzas.

Patrick Lawler is also saddled with $100,000 in medical bills as he was uninsured. "I was self-employed on the job," he said. "I would have had to carry my own health insurance. But I didn't think I'd shoot myself with a nail, you know?"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

iPod to tackle NFL game broadcasts

Here's another reason to get an iPod (yeah, like you really need one!). Beginning next Monday, NFL game broadcasts will be available for download.

The National Football League has announced an agreement to allow its playoff game broadcasts to be downloaded (for a fee, of course) from Apple's iTunes Store. This Sunday's NFL conference championship games will be available on Monday. The Super Bowl broadcast will also be available following the game on February 6.

The NFL had previously announced a partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio where subscribers could receive live broadcasts of all NFL games.

Reflections on a cold winter night

It's another cold night in the Chicago area. We're suppose to get some snow later tonight with accumulation of 1-3 inches by the morning. It seems like the past two or three Tuesdays have brought snow or bitter cold winds. The reason I remember is because Tuesday is "garbage night." There I am fighting snow drifts and the wind to put our recycling bins out by the curb.

The positive thing I'm noticing is that the days are slowly getting longer. It's still light when I leave the office and even when I arrive home. Before it would be dark when I left the office. I guess it means that spring is creeping ever closer. Of course, springtime in Chicago is no bargain. We don't get warmer weather until May...even later some years!

The White Sox held their annual fan convention last weekend and the Cubs will do the same this weekend. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in about a month so I just need to get by the next four weeks to "survive" another winter.

It's nights like this that cause me to yearn for the hot, muggy days of summer. Of course, when those summer days are here, I'm complaining because it's too hot, too muggy and I'm uncomfortable. I guess I'm never satisfied!

Woman falls to death attempting balcony handstand

Here's a candidate for this year's Darwin Awards.

Tsunami animation

The Wikipedia site has a Tsunami animation.

Google updates Picasa photo software

Several months ago I downloaded a free photo-organizing software package. I already have Paint Shop Pro at home and have access to Photoshop at work, but I wanted to try out this software. The software is called Picasa and had recently been purchased by Google. I tried it out and also its companion software called Hello -- photo-sharing software and can be used to post pictures to something called a Blogger weblog!

Obviously, this was all before I learned about blogs and Blogger.

Anyway, I really like the way that Picasa organizes my digital photo collection. I can set it up to automatically scan my hard drive to find new pictures. It helps me organize old family photos that I've scanned and have posted on my family blog.

On Monday, Google announced that they updated Picasa to version 2. I plan to upgrade to version 2 this week. Picasa remains free software. A great value.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nailing down the cause of pain

A construction worker in Colorado, who had complained of a toothache, discovered that he had a 4-inch nail in his head! Patrick Lawler's nail gun backfired as he worked. One nail was shot into a nearby piece of wood, but he did not realize that a second nail had shot through his mouth. The nail ended up behind his right eye.

After complaining about a "toothache," he went to see his dentist where X-rays revealed the source of his pain. A six-hour operation removed the nail without any apparent complications.

Lawler is said to be contemplating a career change!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Where balloons come from

Photo originally uploaded by Green Destiny.
I have begun to post some photos on Flickr -- a new photo website. One of the benefits of belonging to Flickr is the ability to see and sample other members' photos. This one is really funny! (Click on the photo for an enlargement and for more information about the photo.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

It's a boy!

A Romanian couple who met online have named their first-born son "Yahoo" in honor of the Internet portal.

A few months ago, ESPN celebrated their 25th anniversary with a show highlighting their 25 years of history. One of the features showed children who were named Espn (or a variation of the spelling) by their parents!

Update: This story has now been called a hoax!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Danelectro electric guitar

This is a Danelectro electric guitar. The year and the model are unknown. According to a Danelectro website that I frequent, the headstock dates the guitar to somewhere in the '50s or '60s. I communicated with the website owner and he thinks this was a prototype guitar, not a stock guitar. Both Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page have played "Dano" guitars. In fact, Page plays a black 59-DC in the studio version of Kashmir from the Physical Grafitti album

It has the famous Danelectro lipstick pickup and has a raw "garage band" sound to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Chicago weather: just wait a day

Not that I'm complaining, but it's 61 degrees in Chicago (specifically O'Hare Field) right now. Ironically, it's warmer today that it's been for most opening day baseball games at either Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park I or Comiskey Park II (now U.S. Cellular Field).

I can live with this warm weather, but it's suppose to be zero degrees late Thursday night meaning that we will experience a temperature drop of 61 degrees in just over 24 hours! Brrrr.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It's a dog's world

On Tuesday, January 11th, a new law took effect in San Francisco that is intended to protect dogs. The "backyard dog" law states that dogs are entitled to perks such as fresh water and nutritious food daily and a dog house with a roof, floor and three sides. The law is intended for owners who keep their dogs outside.

The law is modeled after a similar city ordinance in Los Angeles.

As a responsible dog owner (four times over), I question why such laws are even necessary. I do understand, however, that a small minority of dog owners are not responsible and don't provide the minimum comforts in caring for their dogs. It's unfortunate that local governments need to step in where irresponsible owners refuse to tread.

On a related note: Maggie, my sister's Springer Spaniel who went AWOL in Columbus, Ohio on December 19th, was found and returned after a 22-day "sabbatical." Both dog and owner are in great spirits!

Yahoo! enters desktop search

As speculated by many technie publications, Yahoo! has now joined Google and Microsoft in the desktop search battlefield.

I currently have the Google and Microsoft desktop search applications sitting side-by-side on my home computer. I've used the Google desktop search a couple of times, but have not yet tried the Microsoft product. I do like the way the Google search tool integrates desktop with web searches.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Gallery discovers Mozart portrait

The last known portrait of Mozart has been discovered. If you look at it long enough, it begins to look like actor Tom Hulce who portrayed Mozart in the 1984 movie Amadeus.

Before and after photos

Click on the link below to view some amazing before and after photos of the beach areas affected by the tsunami. These are quite startling.

Strange days indeed

Yesterday I made light of the bizarre warning labels that manufacturers sometimes put on their products. This is supposedly to "educate" people on the proper use of the product but, of course, is meant to keep idiots from misusing the product, injuring themselves and then blaming (by suing) the manufacturer for their own intellectual shortcomings.

On today, I read about a TV viewer who is suing NBC for $2.5 million over an episode of Fear Factor. In this episode, contestants were forced to consume rats as part of the "competition." Austin Aitken told the AP that he became so ill from watching the episode that his blood pressure rose, he became dizzy and ended up vomiting. When asked why he simply didn't turn off the show, he said he couldn't get to the TV fast enough!

Aitken said he really not interested in the money, he simply wants to send a message to NBC and the other TV networks. How nice of him!

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Wacky warning labels

In our lawsuit-happy society, it's not surprising that companies place warning labels on their products to save themselves from litigation brought by the less bright. Some companies, however, go overboard and CNN has an article about the more wacky warning labels. These are funny!

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Dangers of work blogs

It didn't take long, but there is a new word out there to describe employees disciplined or fired as a result of their blogging. The word is "dooced" which means "losing your job for something you wrote in your online blog, journal or website." This BBC News article explains the concept a little more. There's also a site called that carries the definition.

There have been several cases where employees have been "dooced" by their employers based upon opinions contained in their personal blogs or journals that, in the employers opinion, cast the employer in a bad light. There is a recent case where a Delta flight attendant posed for provocative pictures while wearing her Delta flight uniform. These pictures appeared in her blog and Delta eventually terminated her. She is now taking her case public via the blogosphere.

This weblog is for my own personal pleasure, contains my own opinions and is totally unrelated to my employer, its policies and practices. In fact, I have intentionally never mentioned the name of my employer. I don't want to add "dooce" to my resume!

Monday, January 3, 2005

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Comet Machholz

Another comet is out there for all to see. Comet Machholz is getting nearer to the earth and sun and is getting brighter as it nears our neighborhood. Four comets have now attained naked-eye brightness for 2005.

I remember all the excitement the recent Hale-Bopp and Kohoutek Comets created for amateur stargazers.

Saturday, January 1, 2005


Can't live with them, can't live without them. I got a jolting reminder of this very early this morning.

Our little New Years Eve tradition consists of my wife making her signature dish -- lasagna. She's not Italian (she's Austrian, actually), but her lasagna recipe is to die for. Anyway, some family members got together last evening and we ended up playing Trivial Pursuit. After a spirited contest (my son and I won), I opened a bottle of champagne and we watched as Chicago ushered in the new year. We then watched Van Helsing on DVD which ended around 2:30 AM. After cleaning up, I was looking forward to going on the computer for a few relaxing moments before retiring for the night. I went into the den and turned the computer and the monitor on.


The computer is working, but the monitor remains dark. I turned it on and off a couple more times and decide to fight this battle in the morning.

I got up around 8:00 AM and turned the monitor on.


I start unplugging the power cord and plugging it in again to see if that does something.

Still nothing.

Not being overly technical, my wife and I decided to drive over to Best Buy to purchase a replacement. We bought our current Sony monitor just over four years ago. It's an 19-inch CRT monitor that's big and heavy. When we first bought the monitor, flat panel displays were just coming out and were very expensive. To make a long story short, we found a 19-inch flat panel display monitor that's big and bright. Judging from my unscientific sample, flat panel monitors were everywhere and only a few of the "old" CRTs were available for sale. There were several nice CRT models available at very reasonable prices, but none were over 17 inches in size.

I brought it home and hooked it up. Now my desk seems larger because the new display takes up so little space. This particular model can even hang on the wall if I desired!

While at Best Buy, I checked out the laptops and I can't believe how nice they are getting. Maybe someday...

ABC News: People of the Year: Bloggers

This has been reported in a number of places. ABC News calls bloggers the 2004 People of the Year.