Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Clogging Up The Corporate Server

On average I receive about thirty to forty emails a day from various friends and family. Most of which are legitimate communication whether it be a humorous joke or short story I may enjoy, or an old friend catching up on things. Just for fun, I started checking the time stamp and email account information ( from the incoming mail and realized about 80% of it came from corporate accounts during business hours, Monday through Friday. Obviously, many companies rely on internet communication such as email to conduct business ... so why not just check your personal mail while you're there? Great point, and duly noted ... but how about the people that send you a novel whenever they write to you? How would they explain to the person who signs their checks that their own personal bulk mailings were taking up a considerable part of their work day? Don't get me wrong, keeping in touch is important and vital to the survival of any business ... but so is employee productivity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Stress Test

Today's unseasonably warm weather officially topped out at 93 degrees, normally for one could expected temperatures to be in the mid 70's during the day and 50's to 60's at night this time of year. I'm not really sure if the fantastic feats of vehicular manipulation I witnessed today were from the hot temperature or because most us were back to the daily grind today from a holiday weekend. It seems every car I came near was piloted by a driver just itching for a chance to boil over at anyone for any reason. Don't believe me? Give this a try ... I call it the stress test. When you are the first car in line at a red light, wait for the light to turn green ... and don't move. Just keep your foot on the brake pedal and look strait ahead ignoring any attempt from the person behind you to "remind" you the light is green. When the light turns yellow, proceed on your way. Honestly, it's a really mean thing to do ... but incredibly informative too. People, for some reason, will not offer the same patience they would normally afford someone in any other situation once they get behind the wheel. Why?

Monday, May 29, 2006

War Is Hell

Sometime during the course of your day today, between eating way too many hot dogs and possibly consuming too much alcohol, take the time to thank a vet. It was their service to their country that gives all of us the rights we enjoy today ... such as, getting together at the start of summer and eating too many hot dogs and drinking too much booze. To all the veterans who served in the armed forces defending this country and our beliefs and ideals, I would like to extend my personal gratitude and say thank you for your selfless service. All of you are truly heroes.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Eggsperts In Their Field

The age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg has possibly been solved by a team made up of a geneticist, philosopher and chicken farmer who claim to have found an answer. It was the egg. Thankfully, now that this one has finally been put to bed, we can now tackle the next burning issue: If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? And after we get that one under our belt, we'll conquer the timeless deliberation of: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? It's good to see such highly trained and scientifically educated people taking on such an enormously important project such as this, and finally solve these imponderable questions that has left even the best minds of the ages stumped one generation after the next.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Backwards Minded Exercise

To many runners and physical fitness gurus, it's no secret that running backwards is a great form of exercise that utilizes multiple muscle groups as well as strengthens the heart and lungs. Retro-running, as it's known to some, has also become a part of physical therapy as a way to incorporate other means of exercise to patients that have been injured, offering less impact and stress to affected injured areas. In a controlled environment, the benefits are obvious. But for those who opt to intentionally do this purely for sport out in public terrain, one can only imagine the hazards associated with such a pastime. Something as simple as a difference in sidewalk heights, or a trash can making a break for freedom in a gust of wind could be disastrous. It's one thing to trip as fall walking or running forward ... you're body is set up to go that direction. I would only think that any minor slip up going backwards would result in substantial injury. To put this into perspective ... my car is incredibly more maneuverable when I drive in reverse, but you don't see me tooling around town with my backup lights on. It's just not safe for myself or anyone else I come within proximity of.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Useless Trivia Fact #1

There are more telephones than people in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Personal Injury And Ailment Fruit Salad

Colin Smith, a 31 year old New Zealand man, appeared in court today to fight charges of "driving in a manner likely to be dangerous to the public". Mr. Smith was born without arms and when pulled over by police, he was found operating the vehicle by reclining the seat back and using one foot to manipulate the pedals, and the other foot placed upon the steering wheel to negotiate turns. Colin also went on to say to the court that he has never had a drivers license, but has been driving for years and never had an accident ... oddly enough he wasn't charged with operating a vehicle without a license (hmmm ... discrimination?) Whether he wins the case or not, I admire his tenacity. In a world where physical shortcomings and chronic medical conditions are worn like a badge of courage to attract pity, Colin has taken the bad hand he was dealt and made the most of it ... which is more than I can say for many others. Here's an idea, why don't we start issuing ribbons to be placed on shirts/coats so everyone can proudly display their previously sustained injuries and conditions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Life = Death .. No Matter How You Sugarcoat It

In life, bad things happen. There is no way around it, sooner or later everyone is going to be exposed to death and/or destruction ... and sometimes these situations don't play out in the most humane way. But honestly, most of these incidents are nothing more than normal everyday nature doing it's job. But for reason in our culture, many people cannot accept this for what it is, and seek the help of grief counselors. Obviously, tragic losses are not easy to deal with, and in some cases, require professional help. But the whole grief counselor thing is really getting out of control. For example: If a high school student unfortunately passes away, the entire student body is offered (and sometimes required) to meet with a grief counselor to help them process their feelings. C'mon ... really ... 80% of those kids barely even knew the kid who died. Another example: After September 11, child psychologists were pouring into every elementary school to help kids cope with what happened. What ... did the plane crash in their back yard or something? Give me a break ... the only reason why seven year old kids were upset, is because their Saturday morning cartoons weren't on for month.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Official VA Press Release: "Oops ... Sorry."

Years ago, 26.5 million personal records would have taken up several floors, if not an entire small building, to store. But thanks to modern technology, such information can easily be made so portable in any number of computerized devices ... it just walks away. Thanks to a careless VA employee, over 26 million veterans and veterans spouses personal information such as social security numbers, date of birth, and current address are more than likely compromised. Basically, enough information to create the biggest identity theft in history. But fear not, the VA is taking this situation very seriously. The wrath of the bureaucratic iron fist wrapped in red tape has ruthlessly come down on the employee that lost the records by mercilessly placing them on "administrative leave", and the VA really went to bat for the vets who so selflessly served this country by issuing a public statement informing them to monitor their credit for any possible fraudulent activity ... basically saying, "Yeah ... we screwed up ... hope everything works out o.k. for ya." Heads should roll for this one.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm Thinking LPS

Recently, a man was robbed of $50,000 cash outside his home in Houston, Texas. Joe Maldonado, the victim of the theft, said "When I got home, I saw three people in back of my car with hoods over their faces and guns in their hands. They threw me to the floor and they took the briefcase from the trunk of my car." The robbers fled the scene and got away. Now ... I know my neighbors pretty well, but I would be hard pressed to time my meeting them at the exact time the got home from work, let alone have the luck to be able to tell when they were carrying large sums of cash on them ... and those are people I know. So how could a complete stranger just happen to guess this man would have such a considerable amount of money ... in his briefcase ... located in the trunk ... at 2:30 am??? This entire story gets boiled down either one of three ways: (1) A really lousy attempt at insurance fraud. (2) He's really irresponsible enough to carry that kind of money on him, and can't resist bragging to everyone to let them know he transports large cash assets with him on a regular basis ... otherwise known as LPS. Or, (3)The thieves watch entirely too much Deal Or No Deal, and didn't want to stick around and see what the banker was going to offer them to buy the case back.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Our Odds Just Got Better

Last week in Pennsylvania, primary elections were conducted within the commonwealth. But this is the first year in which computerized touch screen were used, rather than the old, green, lever actuated dinosaurs that required five men and a small boy to move. It's nice to see that voting, such a crucial part of our governmental process, has finally crept (and meeting quite a bit of resistance I might add) into this century. Now, it's no secret that politicians cater to senior citizens ... why not, they consecutively make up the majority of the voter turn out year after year. So the rest of us working folk are forced to keep on paying our taxes, and only dream of someday reaping the benefits our hard work (... yeah ... right ... social security will be there for me when I retire). But I had the last laugh when I saw the "gray panthers" show up to vote, only to walk right back out the door because they didn't understand those "computer things". Honestly, between the ads in the paper, nightly informational newscasts, special locally made and broadcast infomercials, detailed user instructions prominently displayed at the entrance and also inside the voting area, and even a live person to hold voters hands in the event they became confused along any step of the way, the state really went above and beyond to make sure everyone would know how to use the new machines. I mean really, it's a touch screen ... I thought the whole thing was pretty much self explanatory. Maybe now the working class will stand a chance?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Power Of The Penny

Consumers Energy, a Michigan electric utility company, pulled the plug on a customer that had consecutive overdue bills that totaled a balance of $1,662.08. The consumer begged, borrowed and pleaded with multiple charitable organizations to raise the funds totaling the outstanding amount and pay off the debt, and managed to do it ... except for one red cent. Believe it or not, her electricity was actually shut off and the electric company told her the power would not be turned on until the penny was received. After seven hours without electrical service and a trip the company office to square up the bill (she did get a receipt), the issue was resolved and power restored. Boy ... this brings a whole new meaning to the term "power" company.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sorry ... This Ride Is Closed Today

Worked a double today ... catch you all tomorrow. Sorry, but I'm spent.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Are You Talking To Me?"

The FBI is investigating a lead in the 30 year old disappearance case of Jimmy Hoffa. The focus of the search is a 30 foot by 100 foot barn located on an 80 acre horse farm in Milford Township, Michigan (about 30 miles west of Detroit). According to a tip from an individual whose name is not yet known, on the night of Hoffa's disappearance he/she reportedly saw a backhoe digging a hole near a barn that the locals knew the mob used for meetings. The tipster also went on to say that after that night, the barn was never again the sight of any mobster activity. Why the informant waited 31 years to come forward, nobody is sure. Although I am hoping that the case finally does come to a close for the family, I was really quite taken back by the lack of creativity. I've always considered the mob to be a group that did a job with pizazz ... you know, cement shoes, Colombian neckties... that sort of thing. But, maybe I just watch too much t.v.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cashing In On Those Who Cashed Out

I read today that someone made an internet role playing game that is based on the Columbine massacre. The article went on to say that in the game, the player's primary objective is to shoot as many students as possible. The site's creator, who gave only an indirect email interview, claims that the game was invented to "promote a real dialogue on the subject of school shootings." But after visiting the site I can definitely say the intent is not to create dialogue, but rather to generate income. Yes, the game is free ... but there is a paypal donation box accompanied with a message that implies that the game will not be free of charge if nobody donates. The anonymous webmaster also went on to say "I was a bullied kid. I didn't fit in, and I was surrounded by a culture of elitism as espoused by our school's athletes." Wa wa wa ... next we'll have to pause for a pity party because your parents fought alot ... or because your dog only had three legs ... or because some guy in a coffee shoppe looked at you funny when you were 13 ... or any other countless reasons for immature adult behavior brought on by some preadolescence calamity that your shrink planted in your head. The point is, the game is really in poor taste. Normally I provide links in articles I write, but that's what the game designer is hoping for ... free back links. So you'll just have to Google Columbine RPG on your own.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stick It To The Man

Telecommunication giants Verizon and BellSouth recently issued their own independent public statements denying that they have been involved in any way with the turning over of phone records to the NSA. A spokesman for Verizon went on to say it would provide customer information to a government agency "only where authorized by law for appropriately-defined and focused purposes." BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher said, "We have provided no customer information whatsoever to the NSA." ... in other words both companies are telling the NSA; we know you're going to listen anyway, but we respect our customers enough to not make it that easy for you. GOOD FOR YOU VERIZON AND BELLSOUTH!!! I plan on switching my phone carrier in a show of support.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Did You Know ...

Napoleon's writing was so unreadable that many of his letters were mistaken for battlefield maps?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Armed Forces: Presidential Gofers?

Well as if our National Guard has been through enough in Iraq, the preliminary groundwork is being set forth for the possibility of returning troops to be sent to assist border patrol agents on the Mexico/U.S. border. Although the current administration is seeking other alternative ideas to secure the home front, sending our G.I.'s seems inevitable until a more permanent solution is found. I guess hiring and training more agents, as well as increasing the border patrol budget, would just be too far out the question because it just employs too much common sense. Perhaps we should take a lesson from the Chinese, and invest in a great wall of our own. Sure the initial investment is rather large, but once it's built it requires minimal maintenance and would give the overtaxed border patrol a fighting chance. Why not?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Killer Wind Farm: Coming Soon To A Mountain Top Near You

In the past twenty years or so, wind farms have popped up all over the country as an alternative means of environmentally safe electricity production. I agree, it is the responsibility of all of us to do our part to conserve natural resources and also be conscious of the long term ramifications the pollutants we create have on tomorrow. But, tree huggers across the country (that, by the way, pushed so hard for earth friendly electricity) have now found another axe to grind. Many of these same "conservationists" are claiming that the propellers of the wind turbines are posing a threat to wildlife because unsuspecting birds may fly into the path of the blade and be killed. Honestly, this theory lacks so much common sense ... it's laughable. An animal survives millions of years of existence on this planet, enduring all Mother Nature can dish out, eludes natural predators on a daily basis, and after all that gets wiped out by windmill blade ... laughable.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The "Big Bang" Theory

The government is offering shares of a ten million dollar reward (dubbed the "H-Prize") for scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs who can successfully find technological advances in the production, storage, distribution and utilization of hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Also up for grabs, is up to four million dollars for whoever can create and develop a working prototype vehicle that runs solely on hydrogen. Although many auto makers have already designed and built many duel fuel (gasoline/hydrogen) vehicles, not one them has been able to operate completely on hydrogen. Quite honestly, I think finding an viable alternative fuel source is long overdue. But what really scares me, is that we have to invent spill proof gas cans because people can't handle such a fuel responsibly ... now we're going to trust them with hydrogen?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vehicle Inspections ... How About Driver Inspections!

While driving home yesterday, I ended up behind a car that was all over the road and ranging in speed from 15-50 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. I looked at the time, and figured the driver was probably on the way home from happy hour. Although quite entertaining to watch, the reality that this vehicle operator may harm someone other than themselves set in. At the next traffic light I pulled up next to the car expecting to find a prime DUI candidate, but was shocked when I found out that this driver was completely sober ... just a really but driver. The man was about eighty-five years old, couldn't hear a thing, and from the look of the Coke bottle glasses couldn't see very well either. Everybody today is in such an uproar about drivers operating vehicles while intoxicated (and rightly so), but aren't drivers that cannot see or hear just as bad? After all, I don't know any machine operators that can successfully do their job without the fundamental criteria of visual and acoustical awareness. Almost all fifty states employ a mandatory annual vehicle road-worthiness/safety inspection, isn't it about time to make sure that people issued licenses to drive are in fact capable of safely doing so?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Daily Grind

While driving along the highway today, I passed a man sitting on the shoulder of the road atop a knapsack that at first glance I thought was Santa Claus or the guy from ZZ Top... on a bender! After realizing that no reindeer, sleighs, or guitars were anywhere in sight, I figured that this was just some guy hitchhiking through town. At first, I felt sort of sorry for the man that was using a guide-rail for a chair back patiently waiting for his next ride. I mean, to have all his possessions packed into a beat up backpack, wearing dirty clothes that he's (without a doubt) had on for quite a long time, not showered since who knows when, probably hasn't eaten a decent meal in days, and has no idea where or when the last time he saw his family was. But then ... it hit me. He goes wherever he wants, when he wants, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get there (wherever "there" is), has nobody to answer to, has no bills to pay, and can say without a doubt ... "I've seen all 50 states!" While I work two jobs to keep the bills paid, he works his thumb to continue on his national tour ... you tell me who's nuts?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Give Me Something To Believe In

A recent CNN poll found that President Bush's approval rating is only about 34%, although this number is actually slightly higher than last month when he hit his all time low of 32%. The poll results show that the majority (56%) of those questioned cite the ongoing, and in some cases, mishandling of the war in Iraq as the primary reason for such disapproval. But really ... I feel it's just been a long five years full of half truths, smoke and mirrors, and nominational whack-a-mole. I also have noticed that whenever President Bush is interviewed, he is immediately on the defensive ... before any questions are asked. And quite frankly, any speech or presentation given comes across as sloppy and unprofessional ... even he appears to not believe in what he is saying anymore. And honestly, how could any American believe in a president that doesn't believe in himself?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Respect Your Elders ... Pffft

For the last several months, you can't seem to go a day without hearing about, in some capacity, Medicare Part D. I understand that any changes in the Medicare system affect millions of people, but what really impresses me is that millions of people can't figure it out ... and the rest of us are forced to watch commercials about it over and over! For crying out loud senior citizens ... CAN'T YOU READ? You survived growing up in a depression by doing without and stretching a dollar further than it was meant to go, fought in two major conflicts, lived in constant fear of nuclear annihilation with "duck and cover" ... and a lousy government prescription plan change is enough to cause this state of panic? What happened, I thought you were "The Greatest Generation"? I can't believe that all it took was a governmental form full of double-talk and red tape to stump you. Is this what I have to look forward to in my golden years ... becoming a simpleton?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

’Neath The Halo Of A Street Lamp

Yesterday, I stumbled across yet another testament of human stupidity. While on an out of town trip, I pulled over into the parking lot of a mini mall to stretch my legs. This particular series of four adjoining stores was about one hundred fifty feet in width and about forty feet deep. The parking lot for this establishment was roughly the same size, and was illuminated by one light pole in the center of the lot that contained two large lamps at the top. At a quick glance, the lighting fixture obviously had suffered a number of vehicle attacks because the battle scars and ill-shaped contour were quite noticeable ... even at night. At the base of the pole, the first three feet above the ground had been reinforced with a two foot thick pillar of concrete and painted yellow ... as to warn away any would-be attacking automobiles. But what really had me in stitches was the stenciled black painted lettering that wrapped around the entire circumference of the cement anchor that stated: "PLEASE DO NOT HIT THE POLE!" ... and the only way to read the message in its entirety, was to walk all the way around it. Apparently, the property owner has not only done extensive scientific research on how cars circle their prey before they attack, but also accounted for the direction of travel. I wonder if cars below the equator go the other way? Hmmmm ...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Flash In The Pan

Tom Cruise has been on a whirlwind tour spanning the globe to promote his new movie Mission: Impossible III, not to mention hitting every media outlet from talk shows to MTV. But at the end of the day, his new action packed multi-million dollar film will be talked about less than the ultra-sound machine he purchased for his home to see his unborn child. I guess that saving the world just doesn't hold a candle to celebrity babies ... let's just hope the kid doesn't get Dad's teeth, you know the ones that appeared in the eighties but then he miraculously "outgrew". Paramount Pictures is spending a fortune shuttling Cruise all over the world, when all they really needed to do was let him go back to Oprah, and stand on her couch again ... that stint was talked about for months, were as MI:III will be forgotten about faster than the Macarena. The people in the promotions departments of motion pictures just don't get it, reality t.v. (especially stars) sells ... not being handed a free popcorn and soda.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Sound Of Silence

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Grown Up Kid Games

At some point during the journey from toddler to young adult, all of us played the game telephone. What fun it was to come up with a story, whisper it into the next kid's ear, and see how erroneous the finish product was. But we have all outgrown that ... or have we? I really don't think we have, it's just been given a more grown up name called "urban legends". Yesterday, my friend called me because he had just purchased a new refrigerator and wanted to know: "How long does my refrigerator need to sit until I can turn it on?" "It needs to sit as many hours as your willing to wait for cold beer." I replied. "I thought I was supposed to wait 24 hours after moving a refrigerator before plugging it in" he stated. "Nope. Although futuristic technological advancements and frig multitasking are common in many households, the fact remains that all cooling appliances (yes, even their cousins the air conditioners) cannot comprehend time, nor can they understand modern transportation ... so plug 'er in" I said. How do these stories start? Somebody somewhere got at bad unit, an even worse service mechanic, and voilà ... yet another appliance horror story that has no credibility or truth and spreads through society like a wildfire.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Guess You Can Spot Them A Mile Away

A tourist in Rome, Italy got more than bargained for when he stopped by a bar for a beer near Rome's most famous street, Via Veneto. The unwary sightseer was charged 990 euros ($1,251 USD) by the bar owner for ONE beer, typically such a beverage would cost around 10 euros. Although obviously unfamiliar with the local currency exchange rate, the out of towner did realize that the cost was considerably out of proportion and haggled over the final price of the drink until both parties agreed on 490 euros. When he gave the bar owner his credit card to settle the bill, a charge of 990 euros was made to his account anyway. The tourist immediately sought the help of the police, but unfortunately not one officer spoke English and therefore were not able to help. Although he probably won't have that beer paid off until sometime next year (plus interest) ... he has just purchased one of the best bragging rights I have ever heard.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Two Thirds Is A Majority

After more than three years of war and almost 2,400 troops killed, a recent study says nearly two thirds of young adults ages 18-24 cannot find Iraq on a map. And, I wouldn't be surprised if out of those two thirds, two thirds of them couldn't even read a map ... and two thirds of that two thirds could only read English at an elementary school level. In today's world economy, what chance does our country have when graduating high school students can't even read a newspaper, or job application for that matter?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Smart Cars For Stupid People

Today I read an article about adaptive cruise control that amazed me ... not because of how smart automobiles have become, but rather how we as drivers have evolved into complete idiots. Some auto manufacturers are now testing a vehicle system the utilizes scanning lasers and radar waves to safely negotiate proper following distances as well as acceleration and braking capabilities no matter what kind of traffic or driving condition ... basically, you just steer. Auto makers claim that this computerized assisted driving has the potential of cutting heavy traffic rear end collisions by up to 75%. Idealistically, this could mean safer and more efficient traveling for all motorists by lessening the "human error" factor ... realistically, it's a machine and machines eventually and ultimately break. Hopefully, the car won't decide to drive itself off into other vehicles ... we all know what happens when you reverse direct current polarity.