Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Good Day

This week I'm on vacation from work, but not on 'a vacation'. That is to say that I am not going into the office, nor doing any work from home for my employer, but I haven't gone anywhere and haven't planned any special activities. I'm simply taking a few days off from work. I AM trying to get as much accomplished as possible during this unusual free time.

Today was a very nice day. I planned on waking up early this morning and going to the fitness center to work out, and then going to the mall to get new glasses. At the end of the year I sometimes get new glasses to use up remaining money in my flexible spending account (FSA). As for the fitness center, I've been working out every few days for the last month or so, and it's not nearly as bad as I expected. Today, however, I overslept and didn't work out after all.

First thing in the morning I tried to determine if the optical store I usually use was in my current insurance plan. They weren't. I then called some people, searched the internet, and found an eye doctor to use that was in my plan. Her office was closed until January 5, however. Next, I called the administrator of the FSA, and learned my FSA year doesn't end until May 31, so there is no urgency as far as getting new glasses and spending the money. One task knocked out already!

At this point it was about 10:30am. I checked moviewatcher.com, and saw Bedtime Stories was playing nearby at 11:45am. Nate and I got ready, and took off for the theatre with a couple of PB&Js stuffed under my jacket. We both liked the movie a lot. It felt to me like the traditional Disney flicks I'd see when I was a kid.

After the movie, we got my car a Deluxe car wash. The car came out looking great. Unfortunately every once in a while the car wash folks break the ashtray door on my console. I don't know how they do this, but it happens occasionally, so when we got home I spent about 15 minutes in the driveway fixing the ashtray. (This isn't really a huge deal, but is annoying. I need to remove the center console and re-attach a spring to the side of the lid, and then put everything back together.)

Once I'd fixed the ashtray and put the car back together, I went in to the house, and proceeded to help Nate build his brand-new Legos set that grandma gave him for Chanukah. -- Lego Racers - Ring of Fire! Everything came out great, and Nate had a blast playing with the car. I'll try to remember tomorrow to take some pics of his latest creation and add the pictures to his page.

Once we finished with the Legos I made dinner for Jess, Nate, and I. I'd picked up some wonton soup, and we had a Cashew Chicken kit that I simply needed to add chicken to and prepare.

After we ate dinner it was just about time to get Maren from her Nana's, where she'd been having a party with Nana all day long. One of my favorite movies is High Fidelity. One of my Chanukah presents from Jess was her taking me to see the High Fidelity stage production, performed at our local Jewish Community Center. I had no idea how the movie could be transformed in to a musical, but it was great. During Chanukah Jessica gave me the Original Cast Recording from the play, and I popped it in to the car stereo on the trip to get Maren. It was great too.

As alluded to in a previous post, I'd been searching for the Logitech S510 keyboard/mouse combo all year. This item has been discontinued, and given that, given the state of the economy, and given that we are in the time period immediately after a terrible Christmas shopping season, I've been hoping to find the product heavily discounted somewhere. Microcenter is only a little farther than my in-laws' apartment, so before heading out to pick up Maren I thought I'd check Microcenter's website for the S510 and see if they had any left, and what the price was.

Once I loaded up my web browser, though, I thought to check Target first, as Target is closer. Target had the S510 on sale for $37, much cheaper than their usual price of $61. So I swung by Target and bought the keyboard/mouse bundle for myself before picking Maren up.

Next I picked Maren up, and she was unusually happy. She was just in an unbelievably great mood, and she spent the drive home telling me about everything she and Nana had done all day long.

Finally we arrived home and Jess put Nate and Maren to bed while I ripped my new CD and copied the files to my music repository.

Distilling my day to the core, I:
* Took Nate to a movie
* Got a new toy I'd been wanting for a year, on sale
* Built a lego set with Nate
* spent some quality car-time with Maren
* had a nice dinner at home
* got to listen to a good new CD

It's been an excellent day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ruminating on the 'death' of Windows XP

Yesterday I read that Microsoft has extended the cutoff date for sales of Windows XP, again. I've seen countless articles discussing this, read a few, and had coworkers discuss the topic with me. The consensus seems to be that this is evidence of the failure of Windows Vista.

This has me wondering why Microsoft (or really, any publisher) needs to kill old versions of software at all.

Ever since I was a teenager I wished car companies could continue producing certain classics, even years later. I'd love it if it was possible to still buy a 1976 Delta 88 convertible, or a 240Z, or a first-generation RX-7, new. But as recent events show, car manufacturers incur large expenses, and it would be untenably costly for them to produce extra models. It would also run afoul of various safety regulations, certainly - a 1976 automobile won't meet 2009 auto safety regulations.

Software is different. There aren't any safety regulations concerning Windows. And the cost of producing and reproducing the software is inconsequential.

I'd think Microsoft could simply produce any version of any software they've ever produced and sold, and keep them all avaialble pretty much eternally. If for some reason a person wants to buy a copy of DOS 5, where's the harm in that? If somebody sees a compelling reason to want Vista, they can buy it and install it in place of XP, Ubuntu, or whatever they had previously.

If a person or company wanted to use XP, they still could. If Microsoft felt that XP was no longer competitive in the marketplace, they could produce a newer OS, such as Vista, to comepete with the other OSes available. If Vista, Windows 7, or whatever else bested the competing systems, then MS would make money from it. If people decided to NOT buy the newer system, they could either buy XP, or something from a different publisher. In that case, Microsoft still has a shot at collecting money.

Instead, we have a situation where Microsoft will ONLY offer Vista, and if a buyer doesn't like that, they need to either try to find some 'sneaky' way to procure XP, or legitimately buy some other OS from somebody other than Microsoft. Microsoft also has to deal with the PR and marketing hurdles in their way as they try to extend the sales-life of XP without looking like Vista was a failure.

I don't see the sense in this. If Microsoft instead sold anything they've ever sold, to anyone at anytime, they wouldn't be in this situation. I don't see a downside.

Of course, I'm not a sales/marketing person, and my brain simply doesn't work the way theirs do. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and Sales/Mktg are from some planet in the Alpha Centauri system.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm no math expert, but this is interesting...

Was 'window-shoppping' online today, and glanced at a product I've wanted for about a year - the Logitech S510 wireless keyboard and mouse combo. Last spring Target had this for about $50, this past weekend they had it priced at $61. Now, that's not the direction I've been waiting for, but today I found the item online:

The image is a bit small, but clicking on it shows it full-size. In a nutshell, the item is described as ' (*regular $51 - $11 mwave instant discount = $45, while supplies last!) '. Now I'm no whiz, but how does $51 - $11 = $45? And then, for our further amusement, the price is listed as $36.76!

Unrelated - I realize it's been over two months since my last update, and I have plenty to write about now. I'll hopefully get this thing updated soon with other news. I should really learn about RSS. Maybe this blog can notify any interested readers when there is a new post, and you won't have to just check occasionally. Wouldn't surprise me if it can do that....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Lots of catching up to do here

Originally tried to write this last November, and never finished it:
Wow. It's been a month since my last post. I may talk a lot, but those occasions are certainly infrequent here.

A few weeks ago I loaded my brood into the car for a weekend trip to Pennsylvania. On Saturday, October 18, 2008, we drove to Reading to attend the Too Many Games videogame festival/exhibition. We didn't get our act together and pull out of our driveway until much later than I'd have preferred, and arrived at the show maybe an hour or hour-and-a-half before closing. When we arrived, there were only 2 stand-up arcade games, the LAN-gaming section was deserted and being disassembled, and the hall was mostly empty. I was disappointed, but I did get myself a copy of Katamari Damacy, new, for $15, so that was some consolation.

While Nate & I checked out Too Many Games, Jessica took Maren to a nearby outlet mall. Once the TMG show was over, Jessica returned to pick Nathan & I up, and then the 4 of us drove to Philadelphia to meet my extended family, where we were celebrating my cousin Chaim's son, Shmoel's, Bar Mitzvah on Sunday morning.

We met everybody for a late dinner in Philadelphia. My cousin Lisa (Chaim's younger sister), whom I hadn't seen in many years, was there, and greeted me with the question "So you just turned 40?" Aaaiggghhh! But it was still fun to see her. Also there was my cousin Jeff, Chaim's older brother. I think I hadn't seen Jeff since my wedding almost ten years ago. We had a lot of catching up to do, and do it we did - The dinner ended at about midnight. We returned to the hotel, and hung out in the lobby talking until 4am!

I went to bed, and at about 8am we drove to the synagogue for the Bar Mitzvah. Once the Bar Mitzvah and ensuing luncheon and photos were finished, we piled back in the car to return home, and possibly arrive only somewhat late for Nate's soccer match.

On the trip out of town, we'd stopped at a McDonald's so Maren could use the facilities, and while there we all grabbed a bite to eat. Once back on the highway, I realized I'd left my sunglasses at the McDonalds. I called them, and they said they'd put the sunglasses aside for me, and I could retrieve them the next day on my way back home. About 30 minutes into the car trip home, Jessica realized something problematic. We had left West Orange, driven to Reading, and from Reading gone to Philadelphia. Philadelphia to West Orange didn't take us anywhere near the sunglasses!

-- Picking up where I left off, three months ago. Will try to recall the events as best I'm able to. --

You can imagine the route from home (West Orange), to Reading, to Philly, as forming the top two lines of a diamond, and the direct route from Philly back home as forming the bottom two lines of the diamond.

In order to get back to the McDonald's, I essentially drove from the bottom point of the diamond, near Union, NJ, straight up the state, right through the middle, on two-lane state highways, to get back to the McDonald's, located at the last exit off of Rt. 80 before leaving NJ. The drive took most of the day, and was very scenic, travelling alongside the Delaware River for a while. We stopped for lunch in a neat little town along the way. It was small, had lots of antique shops and restaurants, and was near a railroad bridge and, I think, Rt. 31. I *THINK* the city was Phillipsburg, and I *THINK* we ate at Rocco's.

After a very nice drive, we made it to the McD's, I retrieved my sunglasses, and we headed home, arriving about an hour later.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Busy weekend, lots of fixing going on

This weekend I've been, and am still in the middle of, fixing several different things.

A client software installation went less than perfectly Friday, so I've been working on that from home. I've made progress, but it isn't complete yet.

Outlook Express on Jessica's PC suddenly stopped working properly 10 days ago, and I've been trying to figure that out since last night. So far, no dice there.

AND, the most fun has been our dryer. Late last week we noticed that the dryer produces no heat. Last night I took the dryer completely apart, ultimately determining the failed part was something I could have removed and changed by just removing a small panel on the front. (A thermal fuse. Also, it's advised to replace a thermostat along with the fuse, so I'll be changing the thermostat as well.) But, the work was already done. I took advantage of the situation and vacuumed out every nook and cranny of the machine. It's MUCH cleaner now, inside and out. I'll order the replacement fuse/thermostat tonight from RepairClinic.com, an outfit that gave me outstanding service a few years ago when I performed a different repair on the same dryer, and should receive the parts Wednesday.

Something tells me I won't be allowed to reassemble the dryer on Thurday during Yom Kippur, so the repair job is probably not happening before the end of the week.

Gotta go to soccer now - Nate's team, the Sharks!, will be taking on the Rams today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Visual Studio 2008 form-design tip for the inexperienced

I've just encountered a seemingly trivial hurdle, and thought I'd add the solution here in case others run into the same problem. Google searches turned up more complex solutions, to more complex problems than what I was running into.

When I dragged a label control on to a form, the label was not re-sizable. I could play with the size properties - height, width, Max/Min heights and widths, all I wanted, to no avail.

Turns out, there is an 'Autosize' property. Once I set that to False, I could adjust the size of the labels normally.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Making up for lost time.

I've gone a month since the last time I posted here, and this is the third post tonight. It's Feast or Famine!

Last June I decided I wanted to learn C++, in order to port a software app to my smartphone. As expected, I never really followed-through, and the project went nowhere.

For the last couple of weeks things have been frighteningly slow at my job, so instead of spending my days reading Slashdot and waiting for the phone to ring, I decided to try and learn C#. (Why C#? It's what my company is beginning to use for development, and they are in need of C# programmers.)

I started with a short, slick book called 'Microsoft® Visual C#® 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now!'. I'd purchased the book months ago, primarily because it was $5, so I had it handy. The book was useful to teach how to use the Visual Studio 2005 software, but it didn't really teach the C# language at all, so by the end of the book I'd written several neat little programs by following the steps in the book, but still didn't know C# at all.

After I'd finished that book last Friday, I went to Borders and bought 'Head First C#'. This book is excellent! It's actually fun to read. (Really!) The book is entertaining, interesting, and informative. It's well-suited to a beginner like me. I assume that an experienced programmer woould be frustrated by the lack of depth, but for anyone trying to learn programming from scratch, I can't recommend this book enough.

I'm on page 89, and several times so far I've found a bit that was so funny I had to recite the text to Jessica. And, she actually found the bits funny too!

The authors host an online forum for readers of the book as well. The discussions on the forum discuss exercises in the book and clarify things for confused readers. There are listings of corrections for early printings. People can post questions and get answers from other forum members. People can upload their own programs for others to download and review.

The whole thing is a lot of fun.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll pursue this to a conclusion, and actually learn something...

PS: There was nowhere above to really fit this in, but Visual Studio is a very neat program. It's always fun to bash Microsoft, but I've now played around with both Visual Studio 2005, and Visual Studio 2008, and VS is just an excellent program. The intelligence this program contains is remarkable. It just blows me away.

Coach Steve (No, I'm not kidding!)

A few weeks ago I received an email from a commissioner of the town soccer league. It seems Nate was on one of 4 teams that had no coaches, and the league was desperate. They were asking if anybody would volunteer to coach a team.

I replied that I was completely ignorant of soccer or coaching in general. Hell, my idea of being athletic or active in any way is walking across the den to retrieve the remote control. BUT, if they wanted me anyway, I'd do it.

So, I'm now the Coach of The Sharks, Sunday 1-2 Division, Mountain Top League In-House Soccer. (Check out that gut!)

Nate and I had to attend a family function the day of the first game, but I've got a fantastic assistant coach, and he took care of things far better than I could have. The picture above is from our second game (we won the 2nd game, fwiw). Nate had fun at the second game too.

Since becoming Coach, I've gone to a Coachs clinic and also a Parents clinic, and I've learned a bit about soccer. I'm still not really knowledgeable, but I'm not as ignorant as I was previously. And coaching the team is fun.

What's going on? (aka, I'm clueless)

The talk for the last week has been the impending meltdown of the United States financial system.

I'm a pretty smart person. I try to keep up with the news, more than most Americans I think, and probably to my emotional detriment. On the other hand, I was never a very interested student during school, and I tend to have little interest or aptitude for financial matters.

As far as the financial crisis goes, I have to admit, I just don't get it. I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, and this isn't a rhetorical device to make a point. I honestly don't understand the crisis.

As far as I can tell, on a huge scale, enormous banks made a lot of unwise loans, to people that were unlikely to be able to meet their obligations and pay off the loans for their houses. Then, a too-large number of those borrowers were unable to pay the loans, and those unfortunate people lost their homes when the banks foreclosed.

So at this point in the story, the banks now have a bunch of homes, when they'd prefer to have money. And a bunch of people have to find somewhere to live.

This scenario resulted in a bunch of banks facing bankruptcy, or needing to sell themselves to somebody with deeper pockets.

Question: I have no connection to the in-trouble bank. Why/how does this affect me? Other than a general sense of compassion for a failing business and the soon-to-be-out-of-work bank employees, why would I care? Bad stuff happens all the time; what makes this a special case?

OR: I do have dealings with the bank. I'm a borrower - undoubtedly somebody else will buy the loan, so I still need to make my payments - how am I affected?

OR: I do have dealings with the bank. I'm a depositor - the FDIC will cover me up to $100,000/account, right? And if I've somehow acquired that much moolah, surely I'm sensible enough to not keep more than $100,000 in any single account, I'd think. So, again, where's the problem?

Given the above, what's the rationale for the government to step in and give $700 Billion to the banks? The Daily Show last night played a clip from, I think CNN, stating that amount equates to 2000 McDonalds apple pies *per US citizen*. I think the apple pies run 2 for a dollar. If so, and if my off-the-cuff math is correct, that works out to $1000/person.

So, $1000/person?

Seems to me, IF Congress and the rodents at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave can give out $700B to help the economy, sending $1000 to every taxpayer in the country would probably stimulate the economy, and help substantially more than giving that amount to Lehman and JP Morgan.

Again, I really don't know what I'm talking about here, and to be fair I haven't taken any time at all to try and learn about the problem yet. I've been busy, and the idea of reading economics webpages sounds about as much fun as washing the paint out of a roller after painting my den.

But sooner or later I guess I'll have to read up on this, just so I'm not ignorant when I hear the economic disaster discussed in my presence.

In a more perfect world, the crisis discussed around the water cooler would be the failure of the Sega Dreamcast, or the inability of the Saints to put Denver away last week. Oh well...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Learn something new, Windows Mobile 6 Edition

I just noticed the below post in my list of blog entries, listed as a 'DRAFT'. I dont' know why it's a draft and wasn't posted. I can only state that the linked-to solution I write about didn't work for me, and until I factory-reset the phone several months later I still had the Windows Live email choice. Maybe that's why I never finished the original post...

FROM September 17, 2008:
Last June I bought a T-Mobile Dash smartphone, running Windows Mobile 5. Last September, the phone was stolen, and the replacement used Windows Mobile 6.

While setting up the replacement Dash, I clicked on the Windows Live icon out of curiosity. Partway through the Windows Live setup I decided I didn't want to use Windows Live.

Unfortunately, ever since then there was an entry in the Messaging application to check Windows Live messages. Once I tried to delete the entry, and couldn't figure out how to do so. This afternoon I decided to look online for a solution.

I found a few pages with instructions for removing the Windows Live entry. All provided this solution:

open Windows Live in Start - Programs on the device. In the Menu, select Account Options and select Switch Accounts. This will remove all emails from your device. When done, the EULA page will appear. On that screen, make sure you select REJECT. Windows Live setup will stop and you will be taken back to WL main page - The page with Live Search and the Sign-in to Windows Live link. Check in Messaging and Windows Live mailbox is gone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's good for the Pachyderm is good for the Donkey?

For several years now, I've been absolutely disgusted, discouraged, dismayed, and depressed as the crooks infesting our White House ignored, desecrated, and trashed the Constitution of the United States. It's become clear that the Constitution has become an historic relic, admired in museums, and ignored in reality.

I've railed about the above previously, and the above is not at all the point of this post. In fact, I've just watched President Clinton give his speech to this year's Democratic National Convention, and I'm in a pretty good mood. My thought at the conclusion of his speech was that if the GOP can ignore the Constitution, so should the Democrats. I want Bill to be Pres again! He's good! I consider him one of the country's greatest presidents ever, and would LOVE to vote for him again.

God knows we need someone competent and well-meaning, to begin to recover from the worst disaster to hit the United States in history.

Of course, not being a Republican I can recognize reality, and understand the above is just wishful thinking. I WILL vote for Barack Obama in November, and God (& Diebold) willing, the election won't be stolen again, and President Obama will begin to repair what's been done to us.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Learn Something New, July 24 2008 Edition

Suppose you want to know who installed a program on a Windows server?

Enter the registry, and navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData. You'll find branches for each user that has installed anything on the server, identified by SID. Within the branches you'll see a 'Products' branch.

Expand the Products branch, and every product that user has installed is listed, by GUID.

You're probably reading this thinking to yourself that you don't care about the SIDs and GUIDs, those don't help you at all! True, but keep reading.

Now, if you expand the Product branches, and then click on 'InstallProperties' for each one, you'll see details of the installation. One of those details is the 'DisplayName'. The Display Name describes the program that was installed. You can now, obviously, go through the list and find a particular program you're interested in. Once you've found the program, you can look at the UserData branch that contains the installed program branch, and this will give you the SID of the user that did the install.

NOW, scoot over to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList. This branch lists SIDS for each user that has a profile on the system. (Effectively, any user that has ever logged on to that machine.)

Each SID contains details that describe it, including a key labelled 'ProfileImagePath'. This points to the Documents and Settings folder for that user. These are almost always named according to the user, so if the folder is called
jsmith, then that profile is likely JSmith's profile.

Be aware that if the user has a local profile as well as a domain profile, there
will likely be two similar paths in Documents and Settings - i.e. jsmith, and
also jsmith.domainname.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A symptom of Parent-itis

A couple of weeks ago our family made a trek to Chicago to visit Jessica's sister and her family. It gave us a chance to hang out with my sister/brother-in-law and their new son, Ian. While gas was costly, the total expenses were a fraction of what it would have cost the four of us to fly.

While in the area, we spent a day at Kiddieland, an amusement park. This amusement park paled when compared to Disney World, but standing on it's own it was fine, and we all had a fun time. I don't really remember Pontchartrain Beach, but I imagine Kiddieland must have been similar.

I've always been ambivalent about thrill rides like rollercoasters. On the one hand, I'm usually terrified of and by them. On the other hand, when I manage to force myself to ride one, I find them thrilling, and want to get right back in line to ride again.

The rides at KL were very tame, intended for the pre-teen set. But I was as scared as I've ever been on the rides. Even the Ferris Wheel was frightening. I wasn't scared so much for myself, as I was that something would happen to my kids. Mainly, I feared that they would fall through the safety bars, given their small size, and plummet to their deaths.

And this fear wasn't exhilirating, and I didn't want to go right back for another ride.

BUT, I suppressed my fear and let Nate ride some of the rides repeatedly, most notably the 'Galleon', a ride where a pirate-ship pivoted around a center beam like a swingset-swing, rising at each end of the arc until Nate was nearly horizontal, looking down at the ground from a couple of stories up in the air.

I suppose this either makes me a good parent, letting my little birdy fly, or it makes me a terrible parent, not protecting my kid adequately. Hmmmm......

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Cost of Gasoline

As is all the rage lately, I've been paying attention to the ever-rising cost of gas.

A couple of weeks ago the teaser on the nightly news mentioned something called 'hypermiling', and implied they would tell viewers how to dramatically increase your car's gas mileage by doing something simple. Of course, they didn't get to that story until the end of the broadcast, and by then I'd changed the channel.

So I took it upon myself to browse the internet and see what the series of tubes had to say about the topic. I found a couple of interesting articles online.

1) Hypermiling
2) Countering Traffic Waves

The first article basically talks about things we all already know, but most of us probably don't do in practice. Things like accellerating gradually, braking gently, etc, etc.... In other words, don't drive aggressively, and don't do quick starts and stops.

The second article examines in extreme detail thoroughness the formation of traffic patterns and behavior, and how you can prevent traffic build-ups, or defuse jams in progress.

Since March, 1992, I've calculated my gas mileage literally every single time I've filled my tank. Until a couple of weeks ago, my current car had attained 24mpg in city driving once or twice, but usually managed about 22 or 23 mpg. When I began trying out the techniques discussed in the two pages referenced above, I pulled in 24.1mpg. Two nights ago I filled my tank, and attained 27.1mpg.

I've made two changes in my driving behavior:

1) In the hypermiling article, a point I took to heart was this:
The points to take away from this page:
People who don't leave much space between their car and the car in front use their brakes more often.
Braking turns motion into heat via the friction of the brakes, slowing down your car.
Gas was used by your engine to achieve motion.

So when you apply your brakes, you are turning gasoline into heat instead of using the rest of the motion - by coasting through the space buffer between you and that car ahead, or that red light ahead - that you paid gas money to obtain in the first place.

2) The other change I've made was to flat-out reduce my speed when driving to and from work. I drive 30 miles each way between my home and my office, almost all of that on the highway, opposite rush-hour. When I began this commute, I consciously decided to set my cruise control to 70mph, as a means to save gas, and also avoid being ticketed. The traffic flow is somewhere between 75 & 80mph, and if I wasn't apying attention I'd easily hit 80mph on a regular basis. The cruise control allows me to go 70mph, and not carelessly speed up to traffic ticket land. Two weeks ago I knocked the cruise down to 65mph. One week ago I moved it down to 60mph, and began living in the right lane. But my miles-per-gallon jumped to 27.1mpg. I can now go over 400 miles on one tank of gas.

The hardest thing is staying alert and attentive. Driving this slowly, it's easy for my mind to wander.

On another topic, I've been seeing more and more businesses close their doors lately. I filled my tank at my regular gas station on my way home from work last Thursday. On my way home Monday evening, that gas station was closed, out of business. This evening on my way home, I saw another station that I don't usually pass, but it was also out of business, and looked like it had also closed very recently. I also saw an out of business diner, an out of business Italian restaurant, an out of business Ponderosa Steakhouse (also newly closed - it was open this past weekend), an out of business Blockbuster, and an out of business Hollywood Video, all just on my way home from work tonight. And that's just what I can recall right now.

Things are bleak out there.

Just watched Juno

Last night Jess & I watched Juno.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it was worth all the hype it seems to have generated. After all, my recollection is that popular media seemed to imply this was one of the greatest movies of all time.

However, I did enjoy it, and I think it was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable movies I've ever seen. One thing I found notable was the inclusion of clumsy, awkward moments that can occur in real life, but are seldom seen in movies or television. The movie felt 'real' to me, more so than most movies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In Hoboken

Just a quick note - I've just begun reading a new book that I heard about over the weekend on Vin Scelsa's Idiots Delight on WFUV.

The book is In Hoboken, by Christian Bauman. I'm only up to about page 40 so far, but it's a very funny, very clever book. It's worth checking out (and then renewing if you haven't finished it yet).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is the water warm enough?

My wife and I just celebrated our 9th Wedding Anniversary. Neither of us had gifts ready for the other (I suppose we're a good match for each other!). However, Jess presented me with a bag filled with gifts she had meant to give me for a few previous occasions, but hadn't ever wrapped. After all the time that had passed, she decided to give them to me on our Anniversary, giving up on her intention to wrap them eventually. Me, I don't care about wrapping paper, I got new toys!

The neatest gift was the Heroes Season One collection on DVD. I popped Disc 1 in the DVD player to begin checking it out. During the beginning credits of the first episode, I saw a credit to 'Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman' - Music Composers. I immediately paused the screen, and yelled for Jess to come take a look. She of course thought I was nuts, and asked who they were.

I ran downstairs and pulled out my Purple Rain soundtrack LP from 1984. (ASIDE: DId any of you remember the album included a fullsize poster of Prince and his band?) I scanned the credits on the album, and while Wendy's last name wasn't printed, Lisa's last name was, sure enough, Coleman. Turns out, the Wendy & Lisa that used to work with Prince are now doing music work for Crossing Jordan and Heroes, among other things.

Me, I just thought it was neat that I saw the pairing in the credits, and immediately remembered they were part of Prince's band 24 years ago.

Once I got over myself, we drove to dinner, listening to Purple Rain on the way there.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mr. Fix-it strikes again!

Monday morning I was at a client's office, helping them with a couple of computer-related issues. The man I work with at this particular client pulled a broken PS2 out of a drawer and gave it to me. He explained that one of his coworkers had left it there for me, as it was broken and he thought I might want it.

I was out of town for work Tuesday through Thursday, and began working on the PS2 Friday evening. On my way home from work I stopped at Toys R Us & bought a $5 PS2 game - Rayman Raving Rabbids, and a wireless PS2 controller. After we'd had dinner and put the kids to bed, I hooked up the machine and turned it on to begin testing it out.

I tested a music CD, a Playstation 1 game, the new PS2 game, a very old DVD with few special features, and a dual-layer DVD. Every different type of disc gave me a Disc Read Error, except for the Dual-layer DVD.

Somebody at Digital Press referred me to an excellent page on repairing 'Disc Read Error' problems (DREs) - http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/ps2.ars. I read the article, and then began following the steps on my own PS2, hoping to fix the problem. I was carefully adjusting the laser lens adjustment, and testing things, repeatedly until I realized I hadn't tried simply *cleaning* the lens.

I reset the lens adjustment back to where it had been before I changed anything, and then cleaned the lens. Once the lens was clean, I successfully played every different type of disc.

So, I've been playing Rayman Raving Rabbids on the unit (even if it isn't very good), and can now watch DVDs in the basement, as an added bonus.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Feelings

A couple of months ago I wrote here about my venerable CD changer that I'd enjoyed for almost 20 years, but that had suddenly died. Having almost no time to try and figure out how to fix it, and almost no idea how to even begin to figure it out, I reluctantly bught a new CD changer and removed the old one from the stereo system.

I did spend a little bit of time one evening with the player, trying to identify what was wrong with it, but I made no headway and ended up putting the cover back on, and offering the CD changer up on the FreecycleNJ mailing list. In my posting, I even included a link to a promising-looking webpage I'd found with information on the likely defect and how to fix it.

I saw no responses from that post. I then posted the same message to Craigslist. A young (-er than me, anyway) guy responded with interest, and I gave the CD player to him, along with the spare cartridges, remote, original packaging & paperwork.

A few nights later I received an email from him:

> Hi Steve,
> I opened the CD player and found the laser pickup is missing its lens.
> It is round clear plastic piece that about a 1/4 inch in diameter. Do
> you know where is might be?
> Thanks,
> Steven

I replied that I didn't think the lens was anywhere in my house, but I'd look. I was disappointed, thinking the lens must have fallen out somewhere in my home, and by now had been vacuumed up and thrown away. It was sad to think that the whole device was rendered worthless over such a small thing.

Then, last Friday I received this msg:

> Steve,

> I found the lens. It was underneath some paper on the table where I
> disassembled the machine.It now works after I re-glued the lens back
> to the pickup assembly. It is a really nice machine. It sounds good
> and its disc changer mechanism is very fast. I think it should last
> another 10 or 20 years.

> Thank you very much.

> Steven

Now that just made me feel warm all over. I wish I'd put in the time and effort to salvage the machine myself, but I'm happy to know that this guy now has a good CD changer and saved it from the dump.

S.S.D.D. - Same Scandal, Different Day

In other news, I read an article a few minutes ago about NY Congressman Rep. Vito Fossella. It's yet another story about some politician that undertook actions that would be deemed 'scandalous' or 'immoral' by most people. I'm a live-and-let-live guy myself. In my opinion, anybody should be permitted to do anything they feel like, as long as it doesn't harm somebody else or interfere with that person also doing whatever he/she feels like doing. I think Rep Fossella should NOT have done what he did, because it was wrong to treat his wife and (first) family this way. Plus, how could he explain to the daughter with the second woman the assumed secrecy he'd need to exercise ?

As I've written before, it seems to me that the Democratic Party is often criticized for what's considered excessive meddling in commercial/business matters. BUT, I believe the Republican Party excessively meddles in personal and social matters.

IT ALSO SEEMS VERY MUCH to me that the Republican Party have an almost complete lock on the title of HYPOCRITE. With the admittedly huge exception of Bill C and Monica, everytime I hear or read of a scandal involving a politician, Democrats are always caught with their hands in the cookie jar (or freezer). Republicans, though, seem to always be caught in scandals related to sex - pedophilia, prostitutes, extra-marital affairs.

Truly, the only explanation I can find for the Republican Party managing to be known as the party of 'Family Values' all these years is that they run aaround rampantly producing more and more families!

Seriously, the only thing the Republicans seem to do well, and better than anyone else, is branding and marketing.

Are any Christians out there paying attention????

Monday, April 28, 2008

Request for Software

I want a software product that will intercept my incoming emails, and anywhere there are multiple exclamation points or question marks, convert the characters to one single exclamation point or question mark. THEN, at the bottom of the message, a note should be appeneded, inidicating the replacement took place.

Ideally the app could magically work with any email viewer I use (Outlook 2003, Ooutlook 2007, OWA, Windows Mobile 6, The Bat v3), but if it only worked within Outlook 2003 and 2007 I could tolerate that.

If the app lived on the Exchange 2003 server that might be tolerable, but it would have to only affect my mailbox as opposed to all mailboxes, and even then I doubt I'd have the courage, daring, or permission from above to install it to the production email server.

This could actually be an app that many people would find useful. I'm declaring here and now that I'd offer $15 for it.

I'm simply tired of receiving emails from specific individuals that ALWAYS use ??? or !!! or ??!, !?!, !!!! in every!! message !!! they send!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Feels like a Sunday Morning

I woke up this morning at 5:50am. For no reason at all; I just woke up. For about 10-15 minutes I tried to go back to sleep, and then gave up and decided to see if I could find anything interesting to watch on TV.

I started on channel 2, and had made my way through the program guide into the hundreds wothout finding anything. I was nearly ready to give up when I came across a Woody Allen movie I don't think I'd ever heard of. It was called 'Melinda and Melinda', from 2004.

Ordinarily I'd have passed this up, but as there was nothing else on, and nothing to do that early on a Saturday morning, I pulled up the Info page on the movie to investigate. I like some Woody Allen, and find other Woody Allen films boring, so the fact it was Woody Allen was only slightly intriguing. The summary of the plot didn't interest me, but the info page mentioned two actors in the movie. I'd never heard of the female lead, but Wallace Shawn was the other name mentioned, and I like him, so I decided to give the movie a shot.

As it turns out, having missed the first twenty or so minutes, I only saw Wallace Shawn for about 2 minutes in the rest of the movie. And the movie was really more like 2 different movies, spliced together. Piecing together the very last scene (that did have Wallace Shawn) and the summary description, I think the idea is there are two guys (directors, maybe?) that each describe the way they would approach a movie or play about a particular woman and her lovelife. One chooses a dramatic, intense, and ultimately sad portrayal, while the other goes for cute, funny, and whimsical.

The movie that I watched is the two different takes, showing some from one style, and then scenes from the other, switching among the two every few minutes. I found the dramatic story to be a little bit dull and cloying. I very much enjoyed the lighter story.

Sometime in the late-90's I registered at the Internet Movie Database and began rating movies on a scale of 1 to 10. A few years later, Jessica pointed out to me that I almost always assign a rating of 7 to every movie I see. After watching the movie this morning, I wanted to give it a 7.

Lying in bed I thought about this. I see two ways to look at this. It could be that I seldom rate movies a low score, because I have very good judgement, and successfully avoid rotten movies. OR, it could be that I'm too risk-averse, and only choose safe movies that I know I'll like, potentially preventing myself from seeing anything that would be adventurous and ultimately more rewarding.

For example, Melinda and Melinda starred Will Farrell. It also had a bit role by Steve Carrell. I never liked Will Farrell in SNL, and every movie I've ever seen him in has looked very, very stupid. (Except for one, where some fiction writer is writing his life. That looked good, but I haven't seen it yet.)

If this movie had been presented to me as a Will Farrell movie, I'd have never given it a chance. But as things worked out, I liked his character the best, and he had the only two really funny lines in the movie.

I noticed something else interesting to me as well. In the movie, there are two instances of interracial dating. In each case, a white woman dates a black man. I think I've seen this in other movies as well as TV. In nearly every filmed case of this I can think of, the couple is a white woman and a black man. I can only think of one instance of a white man dating a black woman (Firefly and the Firefly movie, Serenity). Curious.

Anyway, as I write this Jessica and Maren are still sleeping, Nate's dressing up in superhero costumes, the morning sunlight is streaming through the living room window, and I'm listening to a GRP Jazz Sampler CD I got years ago, on my new CD player. (Thanks Mom!) It feels very much like a Sunday morning, although it's really Saturday, hence the title of the post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another post, from another airport.

Last weekend I flew to South Florida to celebrate my Dad's 65th BDay. About this time last Friday evening, I received an email that my office had scheduled me to travel to Atlanta yesterday morning (on a 7:15am flight) through tonight. SO, I am now sitting on the floor at gate D22 in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. My 8:20pm flight from ATL to Newark, NJ, was delayed until 10:58pm, scheduled to arrive in NJ sometime around 1:45am.

Having nothing else to do after finishing my work at the client today, I explored Fry's Electronics for about an hour (we don't have those in NJ). I then drove to the airport, returned the rental car, and began puttering around the airport at about 6:30 or 7:00pm.

Around 8pm I went to Friday's for dinner. ( TIP: A Security Agent offered me the very nice tip that there are more dining options in terminals A & B, as opposed to C, D, and E. If you're ever in the Atlanta airport looking for a bite, maybe this will help you too. )

While waiting for my meal, I got a phone call from home. My 3-year-old daughter was crying hysterically because she missed me and wanted me to come home. She settled down when I assured her I'd be home when she woke up. (So, to whatever crew is flying my plane and working Air Traffic control, you better not make me a liar!)

I finished my dinner, and proceeded to walk to my gate at a very leisurely pace. While on a very, very long escalator, I overheard a conversation behind me. A lady was telling a man about her family, including 3 children. Her husband returned home from Iraq this morning, and she was on her way to reunite with him. She mentioned that this was his second tour of duty over there. The first tour was 18 months, and the once concluded today was 13.5 months.

Maren was distraught after I'd been gone for 2 days.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

(Typing this from Gate C3 at Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida.)

The Good
Pursuant to my CD Organization project, described earlier, I've been trying to track down another one or two large CD binders. I've got about 100 more CDs to be filed, and am out of space in the binders I already own. The last time I bought these binders was June, 2003. Since then, Case Logic has changed the construction of their large binder, and the current model (still carrying the same model name/number) seems to me to be of much lower quality, has fewer features, and is ugly. My other cases are from The CDLibrary.com. These don't appear to be in-stock anywhere, online or brick-and-mortar, and their website reports 'out-of-stock' for every product I checked. Also, I think the last time the website was updated was 2003. I don't believe that company is still operating. I've scoured the web for the old-stock model of the Case Logic case for two or three weeks and come up empty. I've checked every electronics or music retailer anywhere near me, and found no CD binders of decent quality. I almost traveled 90 minutes to South Jersey to see if I could find anything satisfactory.

The reason our return flight from Florida this weekend was scheduled for today instead of yesterday (Sunday) was that our birthday present to my Dad was a family portrait session including him. This morning we woke up early, and went with my Dad to Sears, where we visited the Portrait Studio and had a batch of professional photos taken.

The service was pretty slow, and N & M immediately got out of control. To short-circuit the sibling friction, I grabbed M and took her for a walk through the store while her Mom & her Zayde went through the tedious and slow process of reviewing the photos and selecting what to buy.

Naturally, my first stop (after letting Maren grab a rolling Dora suitcase to play with) was the Electronics department. I'd been unwilling to get my hopes up, but I looked at the aisle with the CD cases, and this Sears, located at the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, FL, had FOUR of the Case Logic case that is out of production and that I've been searching for. I snapped up two of them. Each case hold about 112 CDs, with their liner notes; I figure I'll fill one up with what I own now. It's taken me 22 years to accumulate the ~600 CDs I have now, including high school, college, time spent working at a Music Store, and time spent working at a radio station. That's an average of about 27 CDs/year. (Wow, I wouldn't have thought I'd purchased at nearly that high a rate!) I very much doubt I'll run out of capacity now, ever. (Although, having done the math I'm not so confident now.)

Finding these binders way down in South Florida has made my day. This was GOOD.

The BAD:
For a long time, I've thought there is nothing I can think of that I wouldn't rather do than yardwork. However, I've also despised air travel ever since puberty. Air travel is simply the most horrible experience that occurs in allegedly civilized life. Currently going through it again, with two young, cranky children and a wife short on patience, has me convinced that I prefer yardwork to commercial air travel.

: The opposite of the scenery in South Florida. Granted, I don't like South Florida. I especially displike Miami. I like New Orleans. I like the brief time I've spent in Tennessee, and I like the Orlando area, so I'm not anti-south. BUT, having spent a weekend in the Fort Lauderdale area at the beginning of spring, I can say with no doubt at all that UGLY is the opposite of South Florida. And, all decorum aside, (LOW CLASS ALERT!), South Florida must be the world capital of beautiful women and cleavage. The weekend was stressful, but it wasn't ugly!

Correction to the previous post.

In my previous post I stated that my observation, gleaned from overheard chatter, was that many of the guests at the reunion I attended over this past weekend that represented my parents' generation seemed to favor John McCain, then Hillary Clinton, and then Barak Obama, in the upcoming presidential election.

I've since learned that I was wrong in my observation. I was right that almost none of that generation like Obama at all, but I've learned that most of them prefer Hillary C to John M.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A generational thing?

This past weekend I had the pleasure to visit Boca Raton, FL, to celebrate my Dad's 65th birthday. The celebration included about 30 guests, at events spanning the weekend. Disappointingly, most of my cousins and their families did not attend. My brother was present with his wife and daughter, and one of my cousins attended, with one of his sons. Otherwise, all of the guests were of my father's generation - aunts, uncles, and friends.

Now, in my usual circles, it's pretty much a no-brainer that in the upcoming presidential campaign, of the remaining candidates, anybody would be better than McCain, and Barak Obama is the obvious choice.

Surprisingly to me, among the chatter I heard this past weekend in a crowd that was almost entirely of my parent's generation, the sense I got was that McCain was the obvious first choice, and anyone with half-a-brain could see that Obama was the worst thing that could ever happen.

I think the contrast is interesting.

The guests at this gathering weren't unintelligent, or uneducated people. They weren't evil. I simply can't reconcile these people's political opinions with my opinions of their intelligence and character, and my beliefs and opinions of the state of the world today and our present government and politicians.

One other thing I found notable is that it seemed to me that a prevailing belief among the group was that authoritative national and world news came from Fox, CNN, and maybe MSNBC. I don't trust the presentation of the news from any of those sources, least of all Fox, the network that habitually identifies Republicans as Democrats whenever reporting on a scandal involving a Republican Congresscritter.

I believe a more truthful and factual representation of the news can be obtained from Rolling Stone, The Daily Show/Colbert Report, Google News, and actually sitting, reading, and comprehending most newspapers. I've got biases just like anybody else, routinely reading Huffington Post, and occasionally Slate or Salon, but I like to think I can recognize bias in the articles I read, even if it supports my opinion. For example, a while ago I tried listening to Air America when it was carried by Sirius Satellite Radio. After a day or two I was completely turned off by the channel. Yes, it espoused the views and opinions I shared, and bashed the people and groups I oppose, but the tone and characterizations were juvenile aqnd hateful, just like the rantings of malevolent windbags like Rush Limbaugh or Hannity. The point is, I didn't like that sort of behavior even if it was 'on my side'.

Personally, I think any clear-thinking person with even a shred of intelligence or simple human compassion or empathy recognizes immediately that the current occupier of the White House is without a doubt the worst president our country has ever suffered through, and is also a contender for the most dangerous person alive today. I think the damage done to our Nation, if at all repairable, will take literally generations to repair.

I lost all respect for McCain after 2000, when he completely sold out his principals and became Bush's biggest boot-licker and yes-man. I think McCain becoming the next president would extend the current administrations practices and priorities for another term. I already have doubts our country can ever return to what used to be an America based on the rule of law and the US Constitution. If McCain becomes President, there's no way we'll ever get any of that back.

So he's out. Not at all an acceptable choice.

Hillary seems to be the type that will say or do anything to become President, and it seems to me she wants the job more so that she can be President than for any other reason. I don't like her, and I don't trust her. BUT, I think her agenda probably/hopefully aligns with mine, at least somewhat, so if she gets the nod against McCain I'd unenthusiastically vote for her.

That leaves Obama. I don't know much in-dpeth about him. BUT, I also haven't seen or heard anything substantive about him that I don't like. I think it's unfair to judge him because of some association with somebody else. I think it's ridiculously immature to judge him due to his NAME, and I think it's childish and bigoted to oppose him because of a suspicion that he's a Muslim. I don't believe he is, and even if he was indeed a Muslim, so what?

Listening to or reading his speeches gives me more of a feeling of hope than I've ever felt from any politician in my lifetime. After everything the Republicans have done to our country over the 30 years or so, I usually feel very despondent and discouraged when thinking about national and world politics. It's very, very refreshing to feel a sense of hope. I've never tried mood-altering drugs - no cocaine, no heroin, not even Tylenol with Codeine. BUT, I definitely felt uplifted when I heard Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic Convention, or when I read his speech on race relations last month.

Maybe Obama is just a better used-car salesman than the others, and he'll prove to be jsut as much of a lyinbg dirtbag as the others. But their generation has had it's chances to improve our world, and we're in worse shape than we've ever been. Continuing the status quo, as I believe either Hillary or McCain would do, is unacceptable. If Obama is taking a chance, I think there's no other choice but to take the chance.

For the record, among all of the candidates that were originally running, I'd have preferred:

* Dodd
* Richardson
* Edwards
* Kucinich

over any of those still running, but sadly they're no longer a choice.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Another Kids say the darndest things

Blog entry – April 3, 2008

A few quick things before I forget them entirely. I've had an unusually, hellishly busy time for the last two weeks, and haven't had a chance to update this here.

1)A couple of weeks ago I undertook an enormous project to organize and neatly store my large CD collection. As I wrote previously, as soon as the project was done, my CD player broke. Then something very nice happened – my Mom offered to buy me a new CD player to replace the old. Thank you Mom! Now, the old player performed well for 17 years. So far, the new player is 4 days old, but it's shown no problems yet! And Maren and I were able to listen to Magical Mystery Tour, Revolver, and also the newest Joe Jackson album. Unprompted, Maren told me she likes the new Joe Jackson song Rush Across the Road – looks like she's got uncommonly good taste.

2)Work has been busier than it's ever been, and very, very frustrating. Last Monday I visited a client for a 1-2 day project. Ideally it would have been one day, but there was a small possibility the job would run into a second day. Another client engagement was scheduled for Thursday. Then, yet another project was scheduled for this past Monday. All three projects ran into major problems – two due to a Microsoft software bug that I've been working on with Microsoft Support since Friday morning, with no solution found yet, and the thrid due to miscommunication between the client and the salesman. NOW, I've got 3 clients in bad situations, with systems not working, and I had to hop on a plane for a previously scheduled family trip. I wrote things up as well as I could and handed things off to a coworker, but I'm not happy about the situation.

3)Now for the good part, the episode that makes everything worthwhile. Sunday evening I needed to drive out to my office to pick something up. The drive to the office is about 40 minutes, so this wasn't a minot excursion. Nate went with me for the ride, and while we were out near my office we went to a restaurant out by the office. On the way home I had to stop for my weekly give-the-oil-barons-more-money event, and Nate asked me “what happens when the gas pump runs out of gas?” I explained that there are holes in the ground at the gas station, and a large gas truck routinely brings more gas to the station. When the truck arrives, a large hose is connected to the gas tanker at one end, and the other end is placed in the hole, and the gas then flows from the tanker truck into the underground tank at the gas station. This led to an explanation of oil drilling platforms, gasoline refiniries, other petroleum-based products, all the way back to dinosaurs. The conversation wasn't brief, but anyone that knows me can't find that surprising. A few minutes later, Nate said from the backseat “Dad, that's why I like you so much.” I asked him what he was talking about, and he replied that when he asks me a question, I don't just answer him, I give a whole story!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lights Out.


The linked page above has a good explanation of Earth Hour. For Earth Hour, people around the globe will turn their lights off tonight from 8pm to 9pm.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A definition of Irony

As described in earlier posts, I spent almost all waking minutes of last weekend organizing my music CD collection. The collection is approximately 600 CDs. For the last 5-6 years, I tended to not listen to my CDs as much as I'd have liked to, because it could take me 20-30 minutes to find a specific CD. If I was walking around and thought to myself, "Gee, I feel like listening to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road right now", I'd probably not bother, simply because it would take too long to find the CD among the unorganized stacks.

Now that nearly the entire collection is organized alphabetically, I can find almost any disc within a minute or two. This is GREAT.

So this evening Maren and I listened to the I Am Sam soundtrack. I haven't seen the movie, but the soundtrack is a collection of Beatles songs, performed by contemporary musicians. We had so much fun listening to it, we decided we wanted to hear a genuine Beatles album when it was finished. I was drilling through the A-B binder, making a beeline for Abbey Road, when Maren spotted the bright, vibrant colors of the Magical Mystery Tour booklet, and declared she wanted to listen to that one.

Accomodatingly, I pulled out Magical Mystery Tour and inserted it into the CD player. The player made a noise somewhere between a whirr and a squeal, and then decided to try the next disc in the cartridge. (It's a 6-disc changer.) Well, this wasn't the result I'd hoped for. I tried placing the disc in a different cartridge, and also in a different slot. I tried other discs. I tried putting I Am Sam back in.

No Joy. Literally one week after I organized all of my CDs, after letting them sit in a chaotic mess for over 5 years, my CD player bit the dust.

As the kid in the Schoolhouse Rock song says, "DRAT!".

(EDIT: I neglected to mention, I bought this CD Player, I think, in 1988. It's been wonderful, and heavily used during many periods of my life, for 20 years! It's a Pioneer PD-M435, and I'm inclined to get the current Pioneer replacement for it, but am hesitant, only because I don't think the current Pioneer can play MP3s. Of course, I never could play MP3s on the old model, so I might not worry about that.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

So Neat! Now what do I do with it?

Friday afternoon a coworker asked me to setup a server with Joomla!, a Content Management System. I'd never heard of Joomla!, and initially didn't even really know what a Content Management System (CMS) was.

I think a CMS is a system that manages all of the files that comprise a website, so no human needs to keep track of all of that stuff. For example, I may decide I want a specific color for the background, or a certain graphic at the top of every page on the site. Then, instead of having to go add code to every single page, I can just tell the CMS to do it, and it will make it happen. *I Think.* Really, I don't know what a CMS is. But whoever wrote this page seems to understand the concept.

Last night and today I took an old WinXP desktop PC that had 'gone flaky' a while ago, and had spent the last couple of years sitting against a wall in my office, unused. I installed OpenSUSE 10.3 on the machine, including PHP 5.x, Apache 2.2, and MySQL 5.x in the install. At about 10:55pm this evening I finally had Joomla! installed and seeming to be working fine. Of course, I've got no idea what to do with it or how to use it, so I can't really test it too thoroughly. It does seem very neat, though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Shiny Plastic Platters - an update

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits .....  Found
Elton John - Songs From The West Coast.....  Found
Paul Simon - Negotiations & Love Songs liner notes.....  Still missing

Spreadsheet listing of collection.....  Updated, and uploaded to Google!

Still to do:
Obtain another large binder for the remaining discs. Alphabetize, store, and document V-Z, and all soundtracks/compilations.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Overrun by shiny plastic platters

Growing up, I loved the ability to buy music, and replay songs I liked anytime I chose. I collected loads of records, and occasionally cassettes though I'd avoid them and buy LPs most of the time. (And then tape my LPs to listen to on my bike or, a few years later, in my car.)

As I was finishing high school CD players arrived. I wanted one as much as I'd ever wanted anything. One December weekend a 'big-box' discount electronics store in my area was having one of their frequent open-box sales, and I spent the night outside of the store, lined up on cold concrete with about a dozen other people, to purchase a display model Shar CD player for $29. At the time - 1986 - basic CD players were usually around $150-200, if I remember accurately.

I remember this occasion well. After buying the CD player, I drove to Mushroom Records and bought a used copy of Joe Jackson's Night & Day album (for $9.99, I think).

Let's jump to the late-1990's. My CD collection had grown to a difficult-to-manage size. I had a large wooden CD shelf, with a capacity of almost 600 discs. My not-yet-wife and roommate together badgered me to let them alphabetize the discs, so that they could find albums they were looking for. As things were, only I knew where the CDs belonged on the shelf, because I'd put them on the shelf as I purchased them, so they were arranged in approximately the order I'd purchased them. And I had the general location of every disc memorized. The system worked fine for me, but obviosuly it was inscrutable for anybody else. I finally relented and let the two of them arrange the discs alphabetically.

Now let's jump again, this time to the early-to-mid 2000's. My son Nathan was toddling around, and my daughter Maren hadn't been born yet. The just-under 600 CD capacity shelf was just about full, additional CDs were stacked around it, and the shelf wasn't entirely stable. My brother clued me in about a CD binder product that looked pretty neat. (http://www.the cdlibrary.com, if you're interested.) I bought 3 of the 204-CD capacity binders, and proceeded to remove every one of my CDs from it's jewel case, save the liner-notes and case inserts, and discard the jewel cases. I then began the task of organizing the discs and inserting them into the binders. After filling two of the binders, I got sidetracked, and never finished the job.

This weekend, over 5 years later, I returned to the task. I've now got three 204-disc binders, and two 232-disc binders (different brand). Half of the disc slots are consumed by the liner notes, so the binders really hold half as many CDs as they could contain. Nevertheless, all 5 binders are full, and I still have V-Z, and all of my compilations and soundtracks still un-stored. I'm estimating I've alphabetized close to 700 discs this weekend, and stored about 500 so far in the binders, along with finding and pairing the liner notes to each and every one.

I wish I'd taken a picture of my living room while I had every single CD lined up on the floor in alphabetized rows, completely covering the carpet, but at the time my back and knees ached and I didn't have the energy or motivation to try and get up and do the acrobatics necessary to tiptoe through the stacks of discs to try and get the camera.

Impressively to me, I've only discovered one missing CD so far -Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits, & one missing liner notes booklet - Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs. I'm hoping I'll find the liner notes booklet in Jessica's van. If the missing CD doesn't show up, I might just have to replace it; it's too good to lose.

Monday, March 03, 2008

So good it should be displayed twice!

For the last few weeks I've been repeatedly badgered by a family member, explaining that an Obama presidency is not in Israel's best interests, and as an Amercian Jew I should be aware of that.

Aside from vague accusations by Far-right-wingers, all of which essentailly boil down to guilt by association, I've found no factual basis for this concern. In fact, when I looked into the matter, I found an official statement by several Jewish leaders, under the banner of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that denounces the accusatory emails that attempt to slander Senator Obama.

I'm fed up with the BS. According to this article, John McCain was "proud" to receive the endorsement of a man on record as stating that God so loved the Jews he gave us Nazis.

Guilt by association can easily be used to slam anybody, and is a lousy way to decide who to support for the presidency.

Now, in reference to this post's title - my brother did far more and better research on this than I've got the patience for. He's written a post on this with more factual backing, but instead of copying it and re-posting it here, I'll just send you over to the original.

One last thought - not to get too dramatic, but I sincerely worry about the fate of our country. I don't find it inconceivable that the US, as we know it, could disappear by the end of the next presidential term. I find the possibility of destruction from an outside force, civil war, or a complete takeover of government by dictators or tyrants not completely unlikely. Should anything like that happen, I don't think that would be good for Israel, even if we did elect a strong 'PRO-Israel' President.

About a year ago I mentioned to somebody that I liked Bill Richardson as a presidential candidate. The person I was speaking with responded: "Richardson?? Do you know what his stance on gun control is?" I replied that things right now are pretty dire, and we can't afford the luxury of single-issue litmus tests that are used to flat-out disqualify otherwise good candidates. Honestly, I couldn't care less about his gun control position.

Maybe, in a time of a better foreign policy environment, a better economy, a more capable domestic disaster response team, a more stable geophysical environment, and generally happier times, we could focus on abstract policy positions that will affect a relatively few people. But this year is not one of those times. I don't mean to mischaracterize American Jews as a relatively few people - please don't read this that way. What I mean is that there are larger issues at stake. If America falls, how does that benefit Israel? And if America survives, but with a less Israel-friendly President, there might still be checks on the President that would help to insulate Israel from any anti-Israel tendencies. Of course, this gets us to the erosion of those very necessary checks that's been going on for the last 7 disastrous years, but if I keep going with this post much longer the Internet might run out of pages, so I'll leave that for another time.

And, in case I didn't make it clear up above - READ my brother's post!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Panasonic DMR-ES15 and a U61 error code.

January 5, 2007, I bought a brand-new Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD Recorder.

Sometime a few months ago it experienced a problem reading a disc, and displayed U61 on the display. After fiddling with a few buttons and probably unplugging it and plugging it back in (I don’t really remember what I did then), the device returned to normal and resumed working properly.

I promptly moved on with my life and forgot about it.

Yesterday afternoon, exactly 13 months and two weeks after the original purchase, the unit displayed the U61 error again, and nothing I could do would get the machine working again. After several attempts to reset it by pressing different buttons, holding various buttons down at power up, or by unplugging it and plugging it back in, I gave up and called Panasonic for help.

I spent a good amount of time on the phone with the Panasonic Tech Support agent. I let him know the machine was exactly 1 month and 2 weeks out of warranty. I let him know I’d just purchased a nice new set of Panasonic phones a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, after he’d also concluded the machine was definitely broken and wouldn’t work again without being repaired, he informed me that he thought it would be unlikely the factory would make an exception and repair it for free, but that I could include a copy of the receipt and a letter asking them to consider it.

The flat-rate for a repair was $130. I paid $97 for the unit, new.

So I pulled out my trusty multi-bit screwdriver (and searched Google) and went to work. Looking at Google, it appears to me that this is an extremely common problem with this model. There are many, many other pages detailing people that have this exact same error, with this exact same DVD Recorder. It appears to me that the unit has a design deficiency, and I’m inclined to think Panasonic ought to cover these repairs for free or at a heavy discount, or at least make the relevant repair procedures and parts available to owners of the units. But I don’t know the percentages of problems vs. OK units, and for all I know this is just a case of a small but vocal minority, so I’m not anti-Panasonic yet.

If you’ve arrived here because you also have the U61 on your DMR-ES15, I can tell you what I’ve done to solve the problem on mine. I’m not a trained repairman, I have no electronics or mechanical education, and it’s highly possible I don’t know what I’m doing, so proceed at your own risk.

First, I unplugged the device. Next, using a Phillips-head screwdriver remove the two screws on the sides (1 on each side), and three screw on the back, of the case, and remove the cover.

There is one Phillips-head screw at each side of the DVD drive, and one at the back, attaching the DVD drive to the DVD Recorder chassis. Remove each of these screws, and you can remove the drive assembly. There are 4 delicate ribbon/flex cables running from the bottom of the drive, to sockets on the circuit board. Gently slide each of these out of their sockets on the board.

Once the screws have been removed and the flex circuits unplugged, you can remove the drive from the DVD Recorder.

On the top of the DVD drive there are four more small Phillips-head screws, one at each corner. These secure the top cover of the drive. Remove these screws, and then remove the cover by lifting the back edge up, and then pulling the cover backward and up.

NOW, I tinkered for a long time on the drive mechanism, reassembling and testing repeatedly, before resolving the error on my unit. Ultimately, the solution was to carefully slide the laser head to the back of the drive. The laser was originally forward (toward the tray door). Once I slid the laser all the way back, I put everything back together and everything worked properly again.

I won’t be surprised if the problem re-occurs as I never determined the original cause of the problem, but at least I now know how to quickly repair it.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Latest Happenings

1) I took Nate to a classmate's birthday party this afternoon. Before the party, he commented that birthday parties "are like school, but with fun cakes and stuff".

2) I've installed a new Logitech webcam on my laptop, and am looking to test out videochat with somebody.

3) So you didn't give the new Joe Jackson CD a try yet, even after my nagging in the previous post, huh? Well, in 2006 Lloyd Cole released another excellent CD, one I'm listening to as I type this. The album is titled "Antidepressant", and includes lyrics like:

I said I’m trying to write my novel
She said Neither am I
And either way I saw you reading No Depression
You’re doing nothing I’ll come over
We’ll watch 6 feet Under
And then we’ll maybe get around to your condition

4) I've been working on printers around my home lately. I've got enough printers to stock a small store, and none work perfectly. On the one hand it's pretty aggravating, but on the other hand I'm having a small amount of fun trying to get at least one working properly, so I can live with it. As I sleep tonight the printhead on a Canon Pixma iP4000 is going to be soaking in a bowl of rubbing alcohol. This particular printer was working perfectly, with only one minor issue - it refuses to print black, at all. I'm hoping the printhead is just clogged, and tomorrow AM whatever had been clogged up will be OK. Of course, while the printhead sits in the alcohol, about $75 worth of ink cartridges are drying out on my desk.

5) At my job I do a lot of work with Microsoft CRM. At the beginning of the year Microsoft released CRM version 4.0, and I've been doing a lot of testing with the new release. I'm testing many different scenarios - straight installs, upgrades, upgrades with 3rd party add-ins, etc... This past Friday I completed an upgrade on a test box, using a copy of a genuine, production database. Things went very well, which is always exciting.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Various tidbits

Tonight I installed a webcam that I picked up a few weeks ago at Radio Shack for about $8. One more reminder that you get what you pay for. It's lousy.


Yesterday I finally received my signed copy of Joe Jackson's new CD Rain in the mail. I listened to it continuously all day today at work. It's a great album. A DVD was included with the album, with interviews and behind-the-scenes type content. I haven't watched it yet, but am looking for time to do so.

Coinciding with last week's release of the new Joe Jackson album, there has been an increase in volume of messages on the Joe Jackson Yahoo Group. Following the various discussions, I've found something interesting - it seems to me that people's preferences of the songs on the new album, as well as preferences about which albums are better than others, are all over the map. What I think is the best song on the new album (or the worst) seems to vary a lot from person to person, and what I might consider a weak album is another fan's favorite.


Sometime in the early 90's I drove from New Orleans up to New Jersey for the first time. One of the standard highway signs that lists Gas Stations, Hotels, and Restaurants displayed a sign for the "New Orleans Steakhouse", about 20-30 miles away from any large city in New Jersey. Now, having grown up in the New Orleans area and loving good food, I laughed at the thought of a 'New Orleans' restaurant in NJ, especially in some backwoods nowheres-ville.

For the last 9 months or so I've been working in Sparta, NJ, and drive past the New Orleans Steakhouse nearly every day. I started thinking that if this restaurant has been in business for as long as it has been, how bad can it be?

Today was Mardi Gras, and the restaurant hosted a Mardi Gras party today. So I took Jessica out for dinner tonight and we decided to give the joint a try. The service seemed inconsistent. Everybody was friendly. The waiter didn't seem like the brightest bulb in the box, and we had to wait a little too long between my appetizer and our entrees, but everything came out right, and nobody had any attitude.

There were slices of King Cake at the hostess counter, and we each had a small slice. A live band, "The Noisy Neighbors", played fun Mardi Gras music, and the food, though not up to Al Copeland or Commanders Palace standards, was still pretty good. I had a cup of gumbo that was defintely good, and a plate of Bourbon Chicken over dirty rice that was far superior to the typical bourbon chicken available at every mall food court.

During the meal some of the waitstaff and customers from the bar paraded through the restaurant second-line style. The entire waitstaff were dressed up for Mardi Gras, some wearing masks, all wearing beads, one in a Jazz Fest shirt. Somebody gave us beads to wear, and a couple of Purple, Gold, and Green festooned noise-makers.

Dinner was good, and fun.


Over the weekend Jessica, Nate, Maren and I were walking past the YMCA in downtown Montclair. Nate asked what the building was, and in response I pointed to the flags hanging in front of the building emblazoned with "YMCA", and asked him what was on the flags. He answered, questioningly, "yumica ?". It sounded so similar to Yarmulke, Jessica and I couldn't help but laugh. I'd never noticed that the pronunciation of this well-known Christian organization sounded so similar to the skullcap worn by Jews.


Looks like Clinton and Obama are running neck and neck on the Dem side of things, and McCain is going to win the other side. Nothing to comment here, just recording this point in time.


Not at all related to the above tidbit, but our country Really, Really Needs something like Instant Runoff Voting or Approval Voting. I don't know what the best voting system may be, but our current system, wherein we avoid voting for a candidate unlikely to win because we don't want to waste our vote, is a truly bad system.


Did you already forget about the new Joe Jackon CD ? Go get it, now! At least listen to it!


That's all for now. Good night.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Voting Troubles, entirely unrelated to electronic vote stealers (aka voting machines)

Today was 'Super Tuesday', the day much of our country had the opportunity to vote in the Primary contests that help determine which candidates will be nominated to compete in the Presidential election in November. My polling place happens to be in the old gym at Nate's school, so this morning I took him to school, and after walking with him to the entrance he uses, I then walked around to the old gym to vote.

Considering my first choice refused to run, and my second through fourth choices had already dropped out of the race, I wasn't exactly eager to vote, but I did have a definite preference, and have proudly voted at every opportunity I've had since turning 18.

When I got to the front of the line I exchanged pleasantries with my neighbor, an older lady that lives across the street from me and has (wo)manned the polling table for at least the last 9 years, as long as I've lived in my current home.

She flipped to the proper page of the voter roll book, and while my wife was listed, my name was missing. This lady does recognize me, and she did speak up to the other workers there, explaining that my name should have been there and that I've been living in the area and voting there for years. She was not antagonistic, and did speak up for me, letting the other ladies there know this was a mistake. Unfortunately, nothing she could say could change the fact that my name was no longer listed.

I asked for a provisonal ballot, and not surprisingly saw that the poll workers had no idea how to handle this situation.

Now, this was only a primary, and while I do have a strong preference in the election, I don't quite fear the other candidate, as I do the candidates of the other party. I DO believe the real contest, in November, is absolutely critical, and I want to be 100% certain my vote will count in November. SO as soon as I got to my desk after the voting debacle, I wrote a letter to the New Jersey Elections Commisioner. I cc'd a half-dozen others: the Essex County Elections Board, NJ Governor Jon Corzine, West Orange Mayor John F. McKeon, NJ's two US Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, and the NJ Star Ledger Editors.

In the letter, I included all of the gory details of what happened, and made it clear that I don't want this to repeat in November.

It was probably overkill printing out 7 copies of this message and mailing it to so many folks who probably couldn't care less, but this is important to me, and hopefully at least one of those officials will at least pay a little attention to the issue. I also was sure to add the little "cc:" bit at the bottom, letting all of the recipients know that I sent copies to the other recipients.

You can view a copy of the letter here.

(And, Hell, I just noticed that I omitted Senators Lautenberg and Menedez from the cc; line. Damn.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Something a bit more eloquent than usual.

(Originally posted at http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/011008/commDefendingSeparation.html )

The below article was written by the rabbi at our synagogue, and was the sermon he presented last weekend. After services ended I spoke to Rabbi Silverstein and expressed my feeling that he was, pardon the pun, 'preaching to the choir', and the sermon should receive more exposure. The article has now been published in the New Jersey Jewish News, but I still believe the world would be better served if the article gains some secular exposure. I think the only people that read this blog are my brother and my Mom, but hopefully I'm wrong and somebody else might come across this.

Defending separation of religion and state

by Rabbi Alan Silverstein
religious leader of Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell and past president of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues.

January 11, 2008

The results of the Iowa caucuses revealed the prominent role religion is playing in the 2008 presidential campaign. Many caucus participants were reported as saying it was “important” that a presidential candidate “share their faith.” Their feelings notwithstanding, the Sixth Amendment prohibits a “religious test” for holding public office.

It should be a source of concern to Jews and members of other religious minorities that campaign ads promoted Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, as “the Christian candidate”; this evidently was catering to potential evangelical supporters in order primarily to contrast Huckabee with Mitt Romney, a Mormon. On the stump, candidate Huckabee has cited verses from Christian scripture to illustrate his civic policies and has delivered unabashedly theological sermons at churches. He also presented a holiday television message not simply extending wishes for a “Merry Christmas,” but encouraging viewers to celebrate “the birth of Christ.”

On the Dec. 30 edition of Meet the Press, the former Arkansas governor defended his 1998 charge to the Southern Baptist Convention: “I hope we…can take this nation back for Jesus.”

Widespread acceptance of this assumption — that our country was founded as a “Christian” country and must be restored to an alleged “original intent” — is harmful. It is untrue and needs to be addressed. The Founding Fathers shaped an American polity in which advocacy of policies in the name of a specific faith was to be avoided. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God….”

What led these masters of statecraft to pursue religious pluralism and tolerance?

First, they were acutely aware that, according to the American Jewish Committee, “this country had been settled, in large measure, by Christians — Puritans, Quakers, Mennonites, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Huguenots, and many others — feeling persecution at the hands of other Christians who controlled the machinery of state, and were absolutely certain that they were doing the Lord’s will in oppressing minority sects….” They structured a nation to protect all faith groups from tyranny by the majority. In James Madison’s words, the goal was to create a society “with the mantle of its protection [extended to]…the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu and the infidel [secularist] in every denomination.”

Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and other key founders were Deists, or adherents of the Enlightenment’s so-called “rational religion.” Having tired of doctrinal differences separating faith groups, they suggested that only affirmations that can be derived from a person’s rational faculties are essential: God exists, God is to be worshiped, the true worship of God is virtue/morality, man must resist and repent wrongdoing, there are rewards and punishments in the hereafter. Deists also asserted that while elites could arrive at necessary elements of religion via reason alone, society should provide a spectrum of organized religion to assist the religious tutelage of the masses.

In 1790, only 7 percent of American citizens were affiliated with any religious institution. The founders realized that no single church body was strong enough to prevail as an official American faith. Similarly impractical in the view of these visionaries was the option of “multiple establishment,” official support of several faiths. The only viable remaining choice in their eyes was to totally sever the government’s legal and financial support for any and all churches.

In addition, the Founding Fathers intuited that religion would thrive best amid a “free marketplace of souls,” a public square in which diverse faith adherents could persuade others to affiliate. By keeping faith groups apart from government, they would be spared the taint of political inefficiency, corruption, and bickering.

In the process, America emerged as the world’s most God-intoxicated democracy. As noted in a 1976 “Williamsburg charter” issued in honor of America’s bicentennial and signed by hundreds of dignitaries including Presidents Ford and Carter, Supreme Court Justices Rehnquist and Burger, and religious leaders Coretta Scott King and the Rev. James Dobson: “Far from denigrating religion…the separation of Church and State is…the saving of religion from the temptation of political power…. Far from weakening religion, disestablishment has, as an historical fact, enabled it to flourish.”

Thus motivated, America’s founders carefully crafted a separation between church and state. The Declaration of Independence makes no mention of God, Jesus, or Christianity. Similarly, the Constitution avoids any mention of Jesus and Christianity. The First Amendment to the Constitution further clarifies that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” The Sixth Amendment adds that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the United States.”

As we approach the selection of an American president, let us reaffirm the words of John F. Kennedy as a candidate in 1960: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute…where no man is denied public office because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

(Originally posted at http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/011008/commDefendingSeparation.html )

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Electronics developers, are you listening?

I've always got my cell phone on me. Whenever I'm in my car, I also have the remote to my satellite radio sitting next to me on the seat. If I'm at home, I have a cordless phone handset next to me.

I nearly always have some handheld device with a keypad. I think every single handheld device with a keypad should have an infrared emitter.

When I'm sitting on the couch, with both my cellphone and my cordless phone next to me, it's senseless that I should have to use the TV remote to change the channel on the TV, or grab the DVD remote to control it. If the cellphone had an IR emitter, it could be programmed to control the TV or DVD player.

If all of these various handheld devices could beam the infrared signals that TVs, DVD players, stereos, PDAs, etc... worked with, than users could use whatever device was at hand to operate the various devices. Seems very sensible to me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Learn Something New, January 8, 2008 Edition

I've got last.fm playing in the background. I heard a song I didn't know, but it was pleasant enough as background music, so I brought up the last.fm window to see who the singer was. The singer was Fiona Apple, an artist I'd heard of, but am unfamiliar with.

The brief artist biography on the page mentioned that Fiona Apple was born in 1977. A quick mental calculation told me that people born in 1977 are now 30 years old. Ouch.

Friday, January 04, 2008

My Response to The Democratic Party fundraising apparatus.

(The below is a copy of my email to the Democratic Party, in reply to a solicitation they emailed to me this morning. For the record, I have donated NOTHING to them since the Mukasey confirmation.)

For 7 years I've been dismayed and disgusted to watch the Bush misAdministration systematically destroy our country. At every opportunity, and even at the opportunities they go out of their way to create, the Constitution is ignored or violated outright.

Last November I was very excited to see the Democratic party achieve amazing victories, after I'd spent aboout 5 years donating what I could afford to various Democratic fundraising campaigns. Many of my donations were in response to pleas from you, Governor Dean.

Since the historic November 2006 election, however, I've seen nothing from Congressional Democrats but capitualtion to Bush, time & time again. I have seen NOTHING positive at all in the way of results, only a lot of talk that sounds good to me, until I examine the non-existent follow-through.

The confirmation of Mukasey was the last straw, as far as I'm concerned. Until I see meaningful results, not just talk, from Congress, I will donate nothing more to the Democratic Party. I sincerely believe that the active members of the various Democratic Party offices, as well as every Congressperson, can afford to maintain & support their lifestyles much more easily than I can afford to support them, for them.

Rest assured, against any of the flat-out insane candidates running on the Republican side of the contest you've got my vote in November. BUT, until I see something concrete come from the Democrats, you will no longer get my money.

As for the Presidential campaign, my first choice was Dodd. My second choice would be Richardson or Edwards, either of whom I'd be thrilled with as my President. How about throwing some support their way every once in a while?

Steve Jacobs

On Fri, 04 Jan 2008 12:45:03 -0500, Howard Dean wrote:

The Democratic Party
Keep the momentum from the Democrats' big night in Iowa going, and don't let the Republicans recover from last night's disastrous results. Make a donation to the Democratic Party now:


Dear Stephen,

The Republican Party is falling apart today - and we are in a place to take advantage of it.

Iowa caucus voters rejected the mainstream Republican frontrunners, and gave right-wing extremist Mike Huckabee a surprise victory in Iowa last night. He made a last minute surge - without money, and without staff - and has suddenly become a contender in the upcoming primaries.

Mike Huckabee had a big night, but the clear winner in last night's Republican caucus was President George W. Bush. All of the Republican leaders promised four more years of the Bush Administration's failed policies, from continuing the President's war in Iraq, to pursuing his efforts to privatize Social Security, to extending his budget-busting handouts for special interest friends.

Regardless of your personal candidate loyalties, there's one thing for certain: we can't let Mike Huckabee or any of the Republican candidates take over where George W. Bush leaves off.

We must win the White House and that hard work begins today. Will you help?


Seven years after taking office, President Bush's approval rating is stuck around 33 percent. Roughly two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.

But on issue after issue, while Democrats offer real solutions and new ideas to provide the American people with the change they want, the Republicans offer a third Bush term.

Keep the momentum from the Democrats' big night in Iowa going, and don't let the Republicans recover from last night's disastrous results. Make a donation to the Democratic Party now:


For three years I've asked you to help me build a party that could compete in every state and take back the White House from George W. Bush and his Republican cronies. The excitement we saw from Iowa Democrats, and the total lack of enthusiasm from Iowa Republicans, says a lot about how far we've come.

The wait is over. 2008 is here, and the elections are in full swing. Don't wait another minute to let Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain or any other Bush supporter get the upper hand on the next Democratic President of the United States.



Howard Dean

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