~ A bit of joie de vivre, a comprehensive joy of life, with an occasional edge.

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007's Most Memorable Quotes

Envelope please...

The Yale Book of Quotations is an annual list of memorable quotes that is compiled by editor Fred Shapiro, who relies on suggestions from quote-watchers, along with his own choices, and then searches databases and the 'Net to determine the popularity of the quotes. 

The ten most memorable quotes of 2007 according to Shapiro are, in order, and the #1 Memorable Quote of the Year is: 

  1. The #1 quote of the year: "Don't tase me, bro!"Don't tase me, bro!
    ~ Andrew Meyer, a senior at the University of Florida, while being hauled away by campus police during a speech by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. It was the plea heard round the world as officers removed him from a speech by Senator Kerry. 
    Yale Book of Quotations editor Fred Shapiro said that the quote by Meyer just before he got zapped by campus police while protesting at Senator Kerry's speech was "a symbol of pop culture success," thanks to how many times it was searched for on Google and how many T-shirts it showed up on.
  2. I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us.
    ~ Lauren Upton, South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen USA contest, when asked why one-fifth of Americans cannot find the United States on a map. 
  3. In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country
    ~ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at Columbia University in New York.  
  4. That's some nappy-headed hos there
    ~ CBS radio personality Don Imus, referring to the Rutgers University women's basketball team. 
  5. I don't recall
    ~ Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to congressional questions about the firing of U.S. attorneys. 
  6. There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11
    ~ Senator Joseph Biden, referring to Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, speaking during a Democratic presidential debate.  
  7. I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a nine percent approval rating
    ~ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney. 
  8. (I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom
    ~ Senator Larry Craig, explaining why his foot touched the foot of an undercover police officer in the men's rest room of an airport. 
  9. I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man
    ~ Senator Joseph Biden, referring to Senator Barack Obama, a rival Democratic presidential candidate. 
  10. I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.
    ~ Former President Jimmy Carter, referring to the Bush administration. 

Bonus 'Perfected' Quote:

There was one truly memorable quote that was made in 2007 that I was disappointed to find had not been included in this year's edition of the book. This one came from the October 8th television broadcast of The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch on CNBC, and included a lively dialogue between the host and his guest, a well-known conservative commentator, columnist and best-selling author: 

We just want Jews to be 'perfected,' as they say.
~ Ann Coulter, who went on to explain her viewpoint that Jews ought to become Christians. 

Deutsch, a practicing Jew, said he was personally offended by Coulter's remark, and she tried to defend herself. 

"I don't want you being offended by this. This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean, [Rev. Jerry] Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is 'Christ died for our sins,'" Coulter said. "We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all." 

Ahh... her hero, the late Jerry Falwell, perfected as you can see here...

See the YouTube video of Ann Coulter's interview here.  After seeing that, you might enjoy this video where Philadelphia's own Leah Kauffman, the voice behind "I Got a Crush on Obama", performs in the music video "Perfected" on Buzznet, which is probably the best jab in Ann Coulter's ribs that I've yet seen. 

So there you have it, the Most Memorable Quotes of 2007, plus a bonus.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Solstice Day is coming...

Christmas is coming... but that's not all.

We know that in most places around the world, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th. Less known is that the Winter Solstice is coming to all who reside in the Northern hemisphere on December 22, at 06:08 Universal Time (GMT), and is celebrated by various cultures, both ancient and modern.

Double Big-O!But that's not all that's coming...

On Wednesday, Fox News reported that at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice, the world is advised to "get busy at the second annual Global Orgasm for World Peace," and further stating:

"Oui! Si! Da! Ja! Yes! Any way you scream it, one group hopes you'll be having an orgasm in the name of world peace this Friday at 6:08 GMT."

Their link showed that the Annual Global Orgasm for Peace will occur on December 22nd... just click on the link for all of the details, and you can follow their online countdown clock for the exact time as to when this will take place. They list their 3 reasons for the big Global-O as: 

  • Peace - works for me.  
  • Gender & Social Justice - would be glad share for that reason.  
  • Global Warming - wouldn't this contribute to global warming? They explain it all better than I'm willing to here, so check it out for yourselves. 

Second Annual Global Orgasm Day Global Orgasm was started by Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, co-founders of the anti-war organization Baring Witness, a group of activists who get naked to make public peace displays with their usually nude bodies.

Referring to last year's event, Adrants noted that they had wondered where all of the long-lost hippies from the '60s had gone, but now they know.

Those in the Southern hemisphere have no reason to feel any jealousy, for according to Australia's Sidney Morning Herald, the Summer Solstice occurs Down Under on Friday at 5:08pm.

"More-gasm, not Wargasm!"
Their motto of the day? "More-gasm, not Wargasm!"

Wonder if a unified effort among the members of such social networking sites as Buzznet, Facebook and MySpace would help the cause...  


Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis the season...

The holiday season approaches again, so now we have to all consider what's the best gift for those special people in our lives. But there are so many different gift lists and guides out there already that some may already have a good idea what to get. Instead, this year the focus here is going to be on a special group of individual: the geeks...

Top Holiday Gifts for Geeks

Monty Python Killer Bunny Slippers make a fine gift and are available from ThinkGeek... click for more info!
The Monty Python Killer Bunny slippers are a great gift for any geek. 

Right now we're out there scouring the Web to find those perfect holiday gifts for the geek in your life, and if you think that the above suggestion is too geeky or not geeky enough, never fear, for in a few days you'll find a few different geek gift lists right here on these pages to help with those critical decisions.

In the meantime, here is a list of items that you should perhaps avoid getting for a geek:

  • Swiss Army Knife - chances are that your geek already has a number of these received in previous years. The exceptions here would be if the knife has at least 50 tools or is one of those special models with 1GB or greater of USB memory.
  • Computer games - unless your geek has a special request, it's best to avoid these. Computer games are a very personal thing.
  • Geek Squad gift certificate - just don't. Enough said.
  • A CD with 1001 screen savers - cute, but your geek already knows how to download these same screen savers for free.
  • Socks - do you want to remind your geek of his great aunt Matilda, who's probably still giving him the same argyle socks each year?
  • Dress shirts - he or she has them already, and they're probably still new in the package because they aren't being worn. Better to stick to work shirts or humorous t-shirts.
  • An biography of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs - he or she probably tell you more about them than would fit in most books. Save your money.
  • A gift card for cell phone ringtones - only if it's a joke.
  • An atlas - come on, if the geek you know doesn't already own the latest GPS, he or she has been using the 'Net for years to find and print out directions.

OK, if you absolutely, positively have to get that gift immediately and can't wait a few more days for our lists, there is one thing that always works:

  • Caffeine!
    Can't think of a true geek whom it's not a major food group. It just comes with the territory If all else fails, buy 'em a pound or two of their favorite coffee. Gift cards from Starbuck's usually work, too.

For those that are still looking, check back here in a few days and you find the first of a few of holiday gift lists specifically for geek, things in all price ranges, and some that are purely for fun!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Few. The Proud.

November 10th, 2007 marks the 232nd birthday of the US Marine Corps.

The Marines can be a mystery to those who weren’t raised in the military culture. History books state that they are an elite group, something different from other military branches, but what really makes them different?

It's simple... a Marine earns the title. One can join the Army, the Air Force, or the Navy -- one earns the title of a United States Marine.

Once a Marine, always a Marine... the few, the proud.


10 November 2007

Since the birth of our Nation, our liberty has been purchased by valiant men and women of deep conviction, great courage, and bold action; the cost has often been in blood and tremendous sacrifice. As America's sentinels of freedom, United States Maries are counted among the finest legions in the chronicles of war. Since 1775, Marines have marched boldly to the sounds of guns and have fought fiercely and honorably to defeat the scourge of tyranny and terror. We are Marines—that is what we do.

In the words of President John F. Kennedy: "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger." Magnificent heroes fought in the wheat fields of Belleau Wood, in the snows of the Chosin, and on the streets of Hue City. Your generation bears this obligation now, and it is borne on mighty and capable shoulders, Just like the Marines at Belleau Wood—we are once again engaged in sustained operations ashore. Just like Belleau Wood—Marines have been given the toughest sector and have prevailed over a resilient and determined enemy—who has made us pay for our gains. Once again, as in any struggle, the road ahead is far from certain, but as Marines, we are not dissuaded by the challenges of war or the tough conditions of a warrior's life. Indeed, we don't just accept our destiny—we shape it.

On our 232nd birthday, to every Marine—those still in uniform and those who have served honorable in the past—be proud of who you are and what you do. Know that your citizenship dues have been paid in full; you are part of this Nation's elite warrior class. Cherish our families who offer marvelous support, abiding resolve, and steadfast patience. Remember those who have served and those who have fallen—their names are chiseled on the roll call of America's heroes. Those who have carried the battle colors of our Corps have forged our heritage, and today's generation of leathernecks chart our future. Carry the colors with pride; carry them with honor.

Happy Birthday Marines!

Semper Fidelis,
James T. Conway
General, U.S. Marine Corps

You might want to see the following as well:

Semper Fi...

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Those Are Beautiful Breasts!

Got your attention?
Good, because...

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month around the world.

Pink Ribbon CampaignBreast cancer is a serious issue, for all women are at risk for getting breast cancer. As you get older, your risk increases. Assuming you live to age 90, your risk of getting breast cancer over your lifetime is about 14%. That might sound scary, because it means that an average of about one out of every seven women will get breast cancer over a 90-year life span.

You can also look at it another way: A 14% risk means there's an 86% chance that you won't get breast cancer.

Why am I, as a man, posting this information? Simply put, because I care, and because I know first hand how breast cancer can effect a woman, both physically and emotionally.

This is serious enough that I'm sure the you get the point, so let's just lighten up for a bit. A couple of years ago, the Breast Cancer Society of Canada contracted Zig Inc. to come up with a way to convince young women to perform their own regular breast examination. They chose to use humor to reinforce self-testing as a 'normal' task that everyone does.

So the classic Cam’s Breast Exam public service announcement was born. The founding partners of Zig Inc, believed that women value offers of help when they feel overwhelmed and unable to help themselves. When they’re offered help for something they should be doing they protest and happily play their own part.

If you can't see the video above, click here for the alternate copy.

Cam, played by then 20-year-old Noah Plener, opens the 30-second spot speaking to the camera:

"Are you too busy to do your monthly breast self exam? Unsure of the right technique? The phone volunteers from Cam's Breast Exam are always eager to help!My name is Cam. I’d like to help. Let me examine your breasts for you, absolutely free! I’m highly trained and highly motivated so call the number on the number on the screen. Call takers are standing by."

The camera switches to three teenage boys sitting on a couch, phone ready.

Cam continues, "So put your breasts in my hands. Let Cam do your breast exam."

The PSA concludes with "They’re your breasts. You do it. Examine yourself monthly."

And that's the point: you need to do the exam, and don't put it off, as it's more important that you may realize. As I said before, I care, and I know first hand how breast cancer can effect a woman, both physically and emotionally. I also know what can happen if you put it off, and don't start with that self-exam. It becomes easy to forget, then to put off that critical mammogram, figuring that it won't happen to you, only to that 14%, right?

Let me be up front: Been there - done that. I lost someone to breast cancer, so I know. I know the alternatives, the treatment, and that in most cases it can be stopped if caught in the beginning.

According to the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), young women can and do get breast cancer. While breast cancer in young women accounts for a small percentage of all breast cancer cases, the impact of this disease is widespread: There are more than 250,000 women 40 and under in the U.S. living with breast cancer, and over 11,100 young women will be diagnosed in the next year. And these figures are just for the United States. The YSC is an international, non-profit network of breast cancer survivors and supporters dedicated to the concerns and issues that are unique to young women and breast cancer. It's a favorite of mine because they're so proactive, and offer some great free resources.

Another very proactive group worth noting is the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, whose mission is to ensure, through information, empowerment and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. They offer such things as a 24-hour hotline, an amazing wig & prosthesis bank. And they offer their resources in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean and Chinese. Because they're so uniquely proactive, this one is another favorite.

So I'm going to make this simple, from one human being who cares enough to post this, to any woman of any age who may be reading this. It's just a simple appeal: just do that Breast Self-Exam (BSE). It only takes a couple of minutes. And if you haven't had one in the last couple of years, please pick up the phone and try to schedule a mammogram. In some areas, they're free if you look around.

And here you can follow Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Valient Thorr, and members of MxPx as they walk you through the steps of just how to do a breast self exam in this Warped Tour video from Keep-A-Breast.org, a unique non-profit organization that has been very proactive in increasing breast cancer awareness among young people.

Finally, there's a completely updated list of resources below that you can check out. This should be very global, but if you know of other such resources, please just add them in the comments or send me a message. 


Please feel free to comment... and don't forget that BSE!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Student Tasered at Kerry Speech

UF Student Tasered

And John Kerry just keeps talking...

A University of Florida student was tasered and arrested during a forum for John Kerry on Monday afternoon, September 17th.

The student who was tasered by campus police is Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old telecommunication senior and former columnist for the Independent Florida Alligator.  He's been charged with a third-degree felony for resisting arrest with violence, according to a University Police Department report, which could mean up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. 

At about 1 PM, Kerry was at the end of a forum at University Auditorium, and audience members were allowed to ask questions at a microphone, but they had one minute and only one question was allowed, out of deference to the others present. The person in front of Meyer was told he would be the last person to speak. Meyer spoke out and said he was upset with that, so Kerry gave him the OK.

Andrew Meyer asking Kerry if he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society while at Yale University.

When he took the mike, Meyer asked Kerry several questions, including why Kerry had conceded in the 2004 presidential election, why not impeach President George W. Bush now, asking “President Clinton was impeached because of a blowjob, why not Bush?” He went on to ask whether Kerry was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale University. At certain points he seemed to be addressing his fellow students more than Sen. Kerry, as can be seen in this NBC news video. When reminded that he was only supposed to ask one question, not three, Meyer responded, "He's talked for two hours. I think I can have two minutes." 

Let's not even get into the comment about Clinton, but being rude, talking beyond his allocated time and not accepting the one question rule was his first mistake

At that point members of ACCENT, the student group sponsoring the event, asked campus police to escort Meyer out, and at first, students could be heard cheering as he is asked to leave. but Meyer refused, and when officers tried escorting him, he resisted. That was his second mistake.

Andrew Meyer being subdued by campus police after refusing to leave the forum.

Officers only partially got handcuffs on him. At least four police officers at a time tried to remove Meyer from the forum, and he yelled for help and asked "What did I do? What have I done? What I have I done? Get away from me. Get off of me! What did I do? ... Help me! Help! " The campus police repeatedly threatened to user a Taser on Meyer if he did not comply, but he continued to resist being handcuffed. He was then tased, which prompted him to scream and writhe in pain on the floor of the auditorium.

Resisting the officers after they were trying to handcuff him was his third mistake.

He A Taser such as this delivers a jolt of 50,000 volts.now faces two charges: resisting an officer with violence and disrupting a school assembly, and is scheduled to appear in court at 9 AM Tuesday. Within hours of the arrest, articles about it and video of the entire incident were posted by friends on Meyer's Website, The Andrew Meyer. His site also has what is referred to as a "disorganized diatribe" attributed to Meyer that criticizes the Iraq war, the news media for not covering the conflict enough and the American public for paying too much attention to celebrity news.

As officers escorted Meyer from the auditorium into the lobby, Sen. Kerry went on to explain that he did not think there was sufficient evidence of voter suppression to justify contesting the 2004 election. Kerry looked on, but did not offer to intervene, just urging the audience to "cool down." And before you make any judgment calls, watch this video posted by the Gainesville Sun. You can also hear Kerry make what sounds like a joke about Meyer: "...unfortunately he's not available to come up here and swear me in as President..."

Please also note that the University of Florida campus police were well aware that numerous people were videotaping and shooting photos of the incident, yet not once tried to interfere. A number of photos of Sen. Kerry's visit and the incident can be seen here on the slideshow posted by the Independent Florida Alligator. along with their coverage of the story.

University police have stated that they are going to investigate the incident to make sure the use of the Taser gun was legitimate. "The police department does have a standard procedure for when they use force, including when they use a Taser. That is what the internal investigation would address -- whether the proper procedures were followed, whether the officers acted appropriately." said university spokesman Steve Orlando.


Don't even like to imagine the thought of a Taser firing 50,000 Volts up anywhere near my body, and can truly empathize with Andrew Meyer for having been on the receiving end of such a jolt. 

But... had Mr. Meyer truly wanted answers, he might have chosen the best of his three questions and asked them of Sen. Kerry instead of choosing to embarrass himself (and the University) by mocking the Senator with a profane and childish diatribe that was completely self serving. 

When it became clear to the organizers of the event that this individual had no intention of asking a question in a civil, respectful manner, and only intended on making an insulting, rambling speech, they did what they had to. ACCENT, the people responsible for bringing Kerry to the University of Florida, turned off his microphone. stating they cut it off because he used profanity, most likely the blowjob comment. 

This isn't censorship, nor is it an infringement on ones rights. Freedom of speech certainly protects this guy from making a fool of himself by making degrading insulting remarks in front of a well known politician, but ACCENT and The University of Florida also have the right to remove the individual from their forum for being such a jackass in front of their guest, especially when the event was at an end. Every fall, fans at UF football games are removed from the stadium for being vulgar and unruly. This is exactly the same thing.

People make it seem like the police just went up to him and zapped him with the Taser for asking a legit question. Watch the videos carefully, as I have done. The guy was being a complete buffoon, and when the event sponsors decided he had embarrassed himself and the University enough in front of their guest, they asked him to leave. The police were simply doing their job when ACCENT made the decision to stop his ranting. He refused, shoved an officer who was escorting him out of the building (which is assault) then further resisted arrest. He was repeatedly asked to calm down and comply, and was warned of the consequences if he refused. He acted like a utter, belligerent fool, and was treated with appropriately. None of this would have happened had he asked his question like a mature adult. None of this would have happened if he would have sat down when the officers approached him, or quietly walked out of the venue. Freedom of Speech does not give him the right to act like a lunatic.

I can truly feel for Andrew Meyer for having been on the receiving end of such a jolt from that Taser, but if he has followed the examples of those who had preceded him to the microphone, it wouldn't have happened in the first place. 

And shame on John Kerry for not showing any leadership here, not making any attempt at stopping this fiasco. Just a word and he could have helped avoid all of this. 

It is a shame that so many people in this country refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.


Police announced this morning they will release Andrew Meyer. Andrew Meyer at his arraignment.Alachua County Judge Mary Day Coker had ordered the student released on his own recognizance because he has no prior history and because he is a student. Meyer has promised to appear for all his court dates. His parents and other supporters were in the courtroom during the arraignment, but didn't talk. Students are protesting the treatment of Meyer by police and had scheduled a noon rally on campus. 

Police are recommending charges of resisting arrest with violence, a felony, and disturbing the peace and interfering with school administrative functions, a misdemeanor, but prosecutors will make the call. Meantime, the University has said that it will review whether the officers used excessive force.

John Kerry issued a statement on Tuesday in which he stated that he regretted that a healthy discussion was interrupted and that he had never had a discourse end that way in 37 years of public appearances. He also said he hoped neither the student nor police officers was injured.

"I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention," the statement said.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Four Hours..."

A New Lie for the New Millennium

Was on the 'Net last Wednesday evening, viewing the news, checking some blogs, reading and sending email messages, all the normal things we do with about eight or nine windows open at the same time. The television was on as white noise in the background. The air conditioner was on as the temperature had hit 97 late that afternoon, and due to the high humidity the index was over 105. Had also been preparing another photo for my New Hope series being posted elsewhere.

Then suddenly the lights went out.

It was a mad scramble to try and shut things down, but I had been neglecting the fact for about six months that my UPS battery was very low, and only had about 30 seconds to try and shut down. Was exiting when the shutdown sound emitted a strange sound, and for some reason I remember thinking that it was like one would imagine an albatross in its death throes... then all went black.

Where was my flashlight? Found a candle that I had just relocated a couple of days before, but couldn't find any matches, then remembered that I had an old Bic lighter left over from my smoking days, and it still worked... success; there was light!

And suddenly the lights went out... where are those effing candles!

Went outside to the diminishing light of dusk to find a flashlight in my car, encountered a couple of neighbors who were wondering what happened as well. Nobody had a clue as to what was happening. A neighbor was just returning home from work, and she was surprised that our cul-de-sac was the only one in the area that was dark. Wandered down to the end, looked both ways and saw that she was right, everything else seemed to be well-lit.
The neighbors were beginning to congregate now, but I politely declined what seemed to be a growing social occasion, excused myself and went back inside. My project manager mentality kicked in and I shut off the central air to avert any problem when the power was restored. Then I started cursing myself for not having previously centralized flashlights, candles and such, which is unforgivable for a so-called disaster recovery expert who has written project plans for companies advising them how to prepare for such occurrences.

The term effing was to be used as an adjective quite a few times in the hours that followed.

Finally located candles, flashlights and batteries, and put them where they could all be accessed easily. Must admit here that I'm pretty obsessive about batteries, maybe even borderline OCD about them, and always seem to pick up extra at every visit to the store.

Went back outside to see what was happening a bit after 9:00 PM, and found that the trucks from the power company were there, and two of the three employees were opening manhole covers to access the underground utilities and locate the source of the problem. There seemed to be a block party surrounding the other employee, who was trying to reassure my neighbors that power would be restored soon. When pinned down for an exact figure by one woman, he paused for a moment and replied, "Four hours."

That answer caused a number of vocal responses, ranging from expletives about food going bad in the refrigerator, one about how a man's date that evening was going to be ruined, and a woman exclaiming, "You're gonna make me miss 'CSI' on TV, and I never miss it!" But was not the last time that we would hear "Four hours."

Went back inside, pulled out my handy-dandy book light (just love such gadgets) and read a cool series of articles about Mayan culture in my son's August edition of National Geographic. Did you know that around the year 800 they had a king by the name of Kan Maax? Then I picked up his July issue, and discovered that malaria is rarely found in the United States. That was comforting to know, as I impulsively scratched the mosquito bite received earlier that evening when I had gone outside.

The power was still off. I went back outside to charge my cell phone in the car (another cool and essential power gadget) and encountered a couple of power company people in their white helmets fiddling around in a nearby manhole. I asked them how things were going. One just shrugged his shoulders and looked at the other, who replied "Four hours."

Saw another neighbor approaching them with a cell phone to his ear and a confrontational look on his face, and not wanting to hear any rants at this point, nodded and went to my car. I partially charged the cell phone battery, then went back inside. The house was still reasonably cool from having the a/c on earlier, but our two dogs were restless, sensing that something was different. I comforted them, and they were happy. My son had gone to a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game and a visit with his mother for the night, otherwise he would have been their constant companion. It was easy to see that they missed him.

Settled in for the rest of the dark evening with Carl Hiassen's Nature Girl, his 11th novel, and one which I had been meaning to start for months now. He's one of the funniest mystery writers there is, and a long-time favorite Florida author who has worked for years as a journalist for the Miami Herald, as has humorist Dave Barry. As I got into the book, the late night time slipped by, and I fell asleep in about the middle of the book's 300+ pages.

Woke at about 5:00 AM on Thursday, and the power was still off. Went to the refrigerator to get something cold to drink, then remembered that if the power was off, I needed to keep the door closed to preserve any food possible. The drink of tap water was unsatisfying, so I opened a warm Coke and walked outside. It was dark and silent, and there were no power company trucks in sight. Thought about a pre-dawn bike ride but had to rule it out as my bike light needed recharging, and I have no death wish on the streets at that hour.

Finished the warm Coke and went back inside, opening the back door as the temperature was now about the same as inside. Let the dogs outside, but the pampered critters wanted breakfast. Since It wasn't time, I settled them back down and got a bit of a restless snooze. Maybe there was more caffeine in the Coke than I had realized.

The dogs woke me again with big wet slurps to the face a couple of hours later, so I fed them and let them outside again. When I let them back in, I closed the back door as I could already feel it warming up, and remembered that the forecast for Thursday had been for record heat in the high-90s, along with high humidity. Went back out front and there were now power truck in sight. Two neighbors were there and motioned me over, so I joined them. One had lived on the street for over 25 years, and in the whole time she had never seen the power out for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Went back in and picked up my book again, picking up where I had left off. One of the characters claimed to his wife that he was suffering from Aphenphosmphobia, the fear of being touched, and his wife was skeptical, as she had surmised (correctly) that he was having a wild fling with another woman. Made a note to look this one up to see just how real it was. But the scene that author Hiaasen painted with this was hilarious.

Shortly after 9:15 I thought that I heard some trucks outside, so I went out front. There were two large power company trucks with cherry pickers there, and the neighborhood block party was already growing, like bees returning to their hive. One of the power company employees then said that they had been dispatched to the wrong location, they were equipped for pole wire problems, and not for underground repairs. They left, and now the friendly neighbor "bees" were beginning to resemble angry wasps.
Went back inside and got my bike, taking it out for an abbreviated ride as the heat was already climbing. Had not showered as I don't relish cold water, so I was feeling sticky already. As I pulled back into our street, paused to chat with a newly arrived power company man who had arrived with a smaller truck, and was already pulling up a manhole cover. You can by now guess what his response to my question was: "Four hours."
My son came back home shortly after 9:30 AM, spent some time with the dogs then went over to a friend's house on the next street. He wasn't stupid: they had power and air conditioning. Most of my day was pretty much the same: reading and trips outside to see what progress was being made.

Most of the day went pretty much the same, with occasional trips outside to hear the same platitude of "Four Hours." It hit 90+ degrees in the house today, but I napped through much of the heat. Finished the book, and can say it is highly recommended. It's witty, outrageous in parts, and it's many plots are pulled together quite well by author Carl Hiaasen. I'll be giving this one a five-star review rating on Amazon.com, without any doubt.

The morning dragged on to afternoon, and the heat was up into the high 90s. Went outside again shortly after 5:00 PM, and another power company truck had been added to the lineup. People had been calling the power company on their now-dying cell phones, and one neighbor was telling everyone how to get reimbursement forms from the power company for refrigerated food lost during the outage. My son came back home about 5:20 and went inside to feed the dogs on schedule. Suddenly one of the power company men got out of his truck and announced to the cluster of about a dozen sweating people that the power would be back on in ten minutes.

One of the women asked, "Not four more hours?" He just smiled and replied that he was going to turn it on down the street. And precisely at 5:35 PM we all saw our power come back on, amidst actual cheers from people who might as well have been Phillies fans at the ball game my son had attended the night before, when they downed the Florida Marlins, 6-4, in game two of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. I just smiled.

Went back inside, and turned that air conditioner on. Checked the refrigerator and found that a generous summer supply of ice cream sandwiches had melted, so out they went, and the rest could be dealt with later. Then it was time to check the computer, an all was fine there. All that remained was to wait for the water to heat so that I could take a long, hot shower.

And so ended almost 22 hours without power.

But there were things to be learned from this, the foremost being to update, consolidate and centralize my own Disaster Recovery Kit... and get more batteries, which I already did. The other will be to compose a letter to the power company suggesting politely that they equip each truck with one of those talking bird toys that can be trained to say "Four Hours! Four Hours!" over and over again.

Maybe "four hours" should be added to list of the 50 greatest lies of the new millennium.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Oh, No! Not Elmo!

Elmo and Friends Recalled!

Toy-maker Fisher-Price is recalling Elmo and many of his friends, including the Big Bird, Dora the Explorer and Diego - 83 types of toys in all. It turns out that their paint contains excessive amounts of lead.


Please note that the Elmo shown in the illustration here is a composite, and does not indicate that this particular mode is being recalled.

The worldwide recall was announced Thursday 8/2/2007, and involves 967,000 plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor and sold in the United States between May and August. It is the latest in a wave of recalls that has heightened global concern about the safety of Chinese-made products. This is the the first for Fisher-Price and its parent company Mattel Inc. involving lead paint. Children's products found to have more than .06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall under the current regulations.

It is the largest recall for Mattel since 1998 when Fisher-Price recalled and pulled about 10 million Power Wheels right from toy stores.

This was detected by a Fisher-Price internal probe and then reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Mattel is legendary for its strict quality controls, and this recall is particularly alarming since it is considered a role model in the toy industry for how it operates in China.

Statements were issued Wednesday by Fisher-Price (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stating that parents need to keep toys in question away from children and contact the company. The CPSC works with companies to issue recalls when it finds consumer goods that can be harmful.

According to Fisher-Price, this recall was troubling because Fisher-Price has had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese vendor, which had applied decorative paint to the toys in question. It was stated that the company would use this recall as an opportunity to put even better systems in place to monitor vendors whose conduct does not meet Mattel's tight standards.

This recall allowed the company to quarantine two-thirds of the toys before they even made it to store shelves. In negotiating details of the recall, Fisher-Price and the government sought to withhold details from the public until Thursday to give stores time to get suspect toys off shelves and Fisher-Price time to get its recall hot line up and running. However, some news organizations have prematurely posted an embargoed version of the story online, and some of there were stated to have been in the public interest.

Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Illinois) had introduced a bill last month that he contended would dramatically expand the product safety commission's ability to protect consumers. In a statement Wednesday night, Durbin also called for better safety standards for products imported from China. "Sadly, this is the most recent in a series of disturbing recalls of children's toys. While the toys may be different, they have one thing in common - they were manufactured in China," he said.

"With the current tools and resources the Consumer Product Safety Commission has, it cannot adequately protect American consumers."

To see pictures of the recalled toys, visit http://www.service.mattel.com or their Mattel Customer Relations Answer Center. One of the links below may help to provide additional information as well. If you find that you own a recalled toy, it can be exchanged for a voucher for another product of the same value. For more information, call Mattel's recall hot line at 800-916-4498.

Again, please note that the Elmo shown in the illustration here is a composite, and does not indicate that this particular model is being recalled.

Official list from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Also see current CPSC Recent Recalls

Technorati Tags: elmo, big bird, dora the explorer, fisher-price, mattel, lexidiem, jargontalk, recall, chinese imports, consumer products safety, cspc, no pule zone

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monday Mornings

How many times have I said that that Monday mornings suck? How many have any of us said it? But do they really?

Monday mornings are beginning to take a slightly different meaning for me, a time to try and see if it can't be as the time to set the pace for the entire week. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to get up and out of bed on a Monday morning for some reason, probably because the weekend is over and work has to begin again. In my case I have the slight luxury of being a bit independent and answer to myself... and my clients, of course.

After dressing and the de rigueur coffee preparation, Monday morning usually starts off with a bike ride of anywhere from 6 to 15 miles, depending on the weather, and more often than not am joined by my son. Being fortunate to live in a reasonable Pennsylvania suburb in Bucks County, the terrain is varied and we can pick just how easy or strenuous a morning ride can be. Must note that for me these rides take place on the W.O.O.M.B., my Worn Out Old Mountain Bike. It's a GT Aggressor hard-tail mountain bike, vintage 1997, bought new back then, and I just can't let go of it.

The W.O.O.M.B. is my Worn Out Old Mountain Bike, a GT Aggressor hard-tail mountain bike, vintage 1997, bought new back then, and I just can't let go of it. My son doesn't want me to trade it in and has asked that I keep it for him, so I guess that I'll have to.

They say that we all have the need to go back to the womb, so to speak, to find our own inner peace and comfort, and this is my way. I find peace on this bike, and getting on it and riding clears my mind better than most things that I can think of.

It came with a pretty light CrMo frame, which is tough as nails, RST front shocks, Shimano Deore V-brakes, Deore rear derailleur, and Deore rapidfire shifters, which I've never had the need to replace. It's now on its third gel seat, the original being a bit too hard on my ancient ass. Broke the original (crappy) pedals the first month I had it, but the local dealer upgraded them at no charge. It's on its second set of nubby Tioga Psycho Edge tires, and though a bit of overkill on pavement, they've been great when it goes off-road, which happens frequently. Added handlebar extensions, a Blackburn rack and a few accessories over the years, and as you can see, the vertical bottle holder is perfect for a 24-ounce cup of morning coffee from the local Wawa convenience store.

This has been the most low-maintenance bike that I've ever owned, and lasted much longer than I ever expected. The rust is minor, and people still stop and ask me about it. Have looked at others many times over the years, but can't seem to find one that I like as much, though there have been a few that I've considered since (Gary Fisher, Trek, Specialized, etc.). My son doesn't want me to trade it in and has asked that I keep it for him, so I guess that I'll have to.

On the road with the bike is not some type of stopwatch and odometer controlled feel-the-burn exercise routine. It's usually keeping a steady pace, but being observant of the world as one cannot do with a car. Last week my son was away at camp and I happened to see a box tortoise crossing a side street, so I took a few extra minutes to get it into a wooded area by a creek. Today it was discovering a frog pond just off of one of my variable routes through a wooded path. Ands who know what tomorrow will being?

Towards the end of my run is a Wawa convenience store, part of a unique chain that exists mostly in the Delaware Valley region of this country. They have freshly-prepared hot breakfast sandwiches, and probably the best fresh coffee this side of the so-called "yuppie brands" that come from Seattle, and at a fraction of the cost. This morning it was a hot sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on an oversized biscuit, along with a 24-ounce cup of their real Kenya AA coffee. As they say, "gottahava Wawa"...

So after strapping the breakfast sandwich to the rack on the back of the bike and slipping the coffee cup into the vertical water bottle holder along with a bottle of Gatorade in the other, I was on my way back home, about a mile away. Once there I put the bike away as I checked emails while enjoying my tasty breakfast.

And with that, the week starts the right way. And even if Mondays don't go quite as hoped, there's always Tuesday morning to rewind and try to set the pace again.

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