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188abc2020.jpg

In case you missed ABC's 20/20 program titled "The Price of Fame," I can sum it up for you very simply:

white* trash + lots of money = white trash

Of course, there's the ever popular corollary:

lousy parents + lots of money = messed up kids

There...now you pretty much have seen the show and you've saved 59 minutes and 45 seconds of your time.

[*Appropriate substitutions may be made.]

Posted by Don | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 28 2005

Vaja iPod Mini Case

179vajaproduct.jpgFor my birthday, my sister got me a Vaja case for my Apple iPod Mini (2nd generation, 6GB). Vaja cases take about 30 days to be delivered because they are handmade to order in Argentina. We ordered mine online over Easter and it just arrived today.

Vaja makes cases for cell phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, notebook computers, pdas, and a variety of accessories. Reviews of Vaja cases are always extremely complimentary and now I can see why. I simply cannot imagine a higher quality case or leather good in general. It looks, feels, fits and even smells great.

180vajabox.png

The first thing you notice when you open the package is the incredible leather smell. It was like opening a box of brand new leather shoes.

181vajaopenbox.png

Click to see a half-dozen more close up photos of the Vaja iPod Mini case.

182sidebyside.png

The Vaja case color I chose is "Caterina Dark Blue" and my iPod Mini is officially "Blue" but is really more of a teal. While Apple is currently only offering the iPod Mini in four colors, the Vaja iPod Mini case comes in twenty-five different colors. The color and texture of the leather of my case is perfectly consistent and has just the right suppleness you would expect of fine leather. There is no mistaking it for some kind of vinyl or leatherette.

183vajafront.png

The iPod Mini fits perfectly snug inside the case. There is no chance of it accidentally sliding out. I suspect this will remain so since the iPod required just about the maximum force I was comfortable using to get it into the case--exactly what you want the first time.

The Vaja case has a clear plastic/vinyl window which protects iPod Mini's screen. It is completely unnoticeable when the iPod is in the case, whether the power is on or off. There is no cover over the click-wheel. However, the Vaja case for the larger non-mini iPods does have a click-wheel cover.

184vajasidebyside.png

You can see how nicely the case wraps around the bottom edges and extends above the top edges of the iPod while leaving all the connectors fully accessible. Note, however, that you cannot use the cradle while using the iPod is in the case. Also, because the iPod passively cools itself through its aluminum skin, it should not be charged while it is in the case which could result in overheating.

185vajatopbottom.png

Note the quality of the edging and stitching. I have never seen finer. [I don't know why the color is distorted on the close-up.]

186vajacloseup.png

The Vaja case without a belt clip ($4), without personalization ($10), without an embossed logo ($30) was $60 plus $17 shipping for a total of $77.00. I've got to say...it was worth every penny.

187vajalogo.png

Thanks Donelda!

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

178desertone.jpgTwenty-five years ago today eight of our nation's finest died during Operation Eagle Claw, an aborted attempt to rescue American hostages held captive in Iran. Three Marines died aboard a modified CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter which collided with a C-130 Hercules aircraft killing five airmen aboard it. The staging area inside Iran where the collision took place was Desert one.

Capt. Richard L. Bakke, 34, Long Beach, CA. Air Force.
Sgt. John D. Harvey, 21, Roanoke, VA. Marine Corps.
Cpl. George N. Holmes, Jr., 22, Pine Bluff, AR. Marine Corps.
Staff Sgt. Dewey L. Johnson, 32, Jacksonville, NC. Marine Corps.
Capt. Harold L. Lewis, 35, Mansfield, CT. Air Force.
Tech. Sgt. Joel C. Mayo, 34, Bonifay, FL. Air Force.
Capt. Lynn D. McIntosh, 33, Valdosta, GA. Air Force.
Capt. Charles T. McMillan II, 28, Corrytown, TN. Air Force.

I believe it was one of the lowest points in modern American military history and no small contributor to President Carter's subsequent defeat. After 444 days in captivity, the hostages were released immediately after President Reagan took the oath of office.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

"Watch my back dad, I'm going in."

177drewfridge.jpg


Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

This past week I completed what might have been the most difficult computer related task I've ever accomplished. I added a range expander to our wireless network. Since I didn't have much trouble installing the wireless network in the first place, I figured adding a simple range expander, essentially just a repeater, wouldn't be that difficult. I was wrong.

173WRT54GS.pngLast year, I installed a Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router with SpeedBooster (model number WRT54GS). After the initial thrill of being able to surf and compute wirelessly from our laptop, it became frustrating that the signal wouldn't reach everywhere in the house. The router was upstairs and if you weren't directly under it downstairs the signal was often too weak to work.

174HGA7T.pngI did a little research on the internet and found that Linksys had some super-duper antennas which were three times the size of the standard antennas that came with the router, that supposedly provided 7 dBi of gain and which would be real simple to install. Jackpot!...I thought. The Linksys High Gain Antennas (model number HGA7T) were simple to install, just unscrew the old antennas and screw in the new ones. However, after testing the laptop's connection out in several places there was no discernable difference in coverage area, not even a little. Admittedly, I didn't know what "7 dBi of gain" meant, but I assumed it was an indication of measurably increased signal strength. I was wrong...again.

175WRE54G.pngMore internet research revealed that what I really needed was a range expander and Linksys had just the item; the Wireless-G Range Expander (model number WRE54G). Admittedly, in my research I did come across a number of warnings about the difficulty of installation particularly if you wanted to install it with encryption enabled which is the only real option unless for some reason you don't mind your neighbors hopping on your home network and taking a look around.

I figured I'd be able to install the range expander by carefully following the Linksys instructions step-by-step. I was wrong...yet again. Surprisingly, I found a lot of good advice and a number of pretty good installation walkthroughs in the comments section of the ranger expander on Amazon. I also found helpful installation instructions on Tom's Networking, a subsidiary site of the excellent Tom's Hardware Guide. Unfortunately, all the instructions Linksys, Amazon, Tom's Networking and misc. others around the internet suffer from one fatal flaw: at some point the instructions say to tweak some setting and it is unclear whether such is to be done with regard to the main desktop computer, the router, the range expander or the laptop. I was left at various points simply doing good old trial and error. Things were further complicated by the fact that, during set-up, sometimes things just don't work on the first try. Eventually, using my three main sources of advice, I was able to get everything up and running with full 128-bit WEP encryption (only because it won't support superior WAP encryption).

176surfingoutside.jpgMany people have reported that the Linksys Range Expander will not work with Dell notebooks. The possibility that this was true was particularly disheartening during the darkest moments of my trial and erroring. However, I am happy to report that we can now speedily access our home network with our Dell laptop from anywhere in our home and even outside on the patio.

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 21 2005

SmokeLong Quarterly

172smokelong.jpgOne of my best friends and father to the two greatest Godsons ever, is the Founding Editor of the SmokeLong Quarterly. SmokeLong is a collection of very short, very well written, fiction works which should naturally appeal to the goldfish-like attention spans of bloggers.






Their mission in their own words:

SmokeLong Quarterly is dedicated to bringing the best flash fiction to the web on a quarterly basis, whether written by widely published authors, or those new to the craft. The term "smoke-long" comes from the Chinese, who noted that reading a piece of flash takes about the same length of time as smoking a cigarette. All the work we publish is precisely that--about a smoke long.

I urge you to check it out...it won’t take much of your time.

Posted by Don | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 20 2005

Wewoka

I made a day trip to Wewoka, Oklahoma, for work last week. Population approximately 3500. It's a nice little town.

With regard to the topic I generally don't talk about here (i.e., work), lets just say that I was treated more fairly in Wewoka than I was in Oklahoma City last week or in one of Tulsa's neighboring cities this week.

171wewoka.jpg


Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

168murrahdamage.jpg

Ten years ago today at 9:02 am I was sitting in my office in Oklahoma City when I heard an explosion that literally shook my desk. I was on the twelfth floor of a twelve story building and my first thought was that a boiler had exploded on the roof or possibly a tanker truck had exploded at street level immediately in front of my building. I would have doubted the explosion could have come from a block away and thought it impossible that it had happened four blocks away.

I got up from my desk and walked out of my office where I met a coworker who had just left his office. I had been with the firm for just five weeks and asked my coworker jokingly, “Does this happen often here?” He smiled and responded that it did not.

A secretary whose station faced north alerted everyone to the cloud of smoke which appeared to be rising from the Federal Court House three blocks north of our building.

In the aerial photo, my building, the Robinson Renaissance is at the bottom with my office in yellow, the Federal Bankruptcy Court House is three blocks north with the red roof, the Federal Court House is attached to the north side of it and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is represented by the top red rectangle.

169okcmap.jpg

At this point it was apparent that this was a significant event and it appeared that the Federal Court House which I had just been in the previous week was the site of the explosion. My father, in Illinois, was always on top of the news often alerting me to Oklahoma weather conditions prior to my learning of them. I realized that sometime during the day he would hear about an explosion at a court house in Oklahoma City. I decided to call him to let him know that I was OK so that he and, more likely my mother, would not worry. I called home, my father answered and I relayed to him what little we knew or thought we knew at the time and assured him that I was alright. He was very thankful that I had called and said that he’d relay the information to my mom and sister.

I then called my wife, fiancée at the time, in Tulsa to tell her the same information. Unlike my dad, her attitude was much more casual and she initially refused to relay the information to her parents. Within five minutes after the explosion I had notified those that mattered of the events and that I was not involved which was a good thing since ten minutes later the phone lines in and out of Oklahoma City were so jammed that no calls got through for the next day or so.

Everyone in the office was glued to the windows watching the smoke rise and emergency vehicles converge. Several radios were on but they offered little more information than what we could already observe. The father of a young associate in the office was a federal judge and at this point in time we still thought that the explosion had taken place in the Federal Court House. The associate was indecisive about what she should do as she was obviously very concerned about her father. She expressed a desire to go to the court house but was hesitant. I offered to go with her and she accepted. She and I made our way towards the Federal Court House but were intercepted by police who were already in the process of cordoning off the area. After wandering around the perimeter for a while we eventually ran into her father in the lobby of a building. He was in the process of looking for his two daughters who worked downtown. Remember, by then, there was no phone service.

I eventually went back to the office where after a while we were all told to go home. Even four blocks away there were many building with windows broken. The severity of the damage away from the federal building is one of the lesser known effects of the Oklahoma City bombing. People who toured the area shortly afterwards often commented how they didn’t realize the extent of the damage to other buildings. Several other buildings had collapsed or subsequently had to be torn down due to structural damage and over 300 buildings suffered some form of damage including ones as far as ten blocks away.

170okcdamage.jpg

The diagram shows the Murrah Building in the center with damaged buildings in brown.

Posted by Don | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (3) |
Apr 10 2005

Drew & Joey

A pat on the head...a little CPR...test it out...and, ahhhh, time for a nap. Now that's a good kitty.

167drewjoey.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 9 2005

Tulsa Driller

I was recently at the Tulsa Expo Center and snapped a few photos of the Tulsa Driller. Considering it was night, they came out much better than I thought they would. The one below is completely unretouched except for resizing it.

166tulsadriller.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0) |

165vote.jpgThis past Tuesday I voted in a local election on a city bond issue and a runoff for the school board. I have never missed an election since I first voted for President Reagan in 1984--the first year I was eligible to vote. Far too many of our nation's finest have died for this sacred right for me to take it for granted.

Perhaps surprisingly though, I'm perfectly alright with half the nation or more not regularly voting. This is because I don't believe one should vote if they are not knowledgeable about the issues. Nor should one vote if they have completely screwed up lives. Think about it; imagine someone who has, at every opportunity, made the wrong decision—-they are uneducated, unskilled, unemployed/underemployed, gone from one dysfunctional relationship to another and for unknown reasons the first intelligent thing they have ever done is register to vote. Do you really trust that person to make two brilliant decisions in a row?

So on to the point of this post. Here is the conversation that transpired at my local polling place this past Tuesday:

Me: Hi. (smiling)
Poll Worker 1: Last name? (smiling)
Me: Danz...Don Danz. (now with dead serious expression and tone) But, I'm not really him. And, you can't do anything about it because you can't ask for my ID. (I sign my name…or at least my alias for that precinct)
Poll Worker 2: We don’t care. (hands me my ballots)
Poll Worker 3: The state of Oklahoma doesn't care. (everyone exchanges knowing smiles and small chuckles as it's obvious I'm making a point with which the workers agree)
Me: (after having voted) We'll I'm off to go vote in a few more precincts.
Poll Worker 2: Good luck.

I can't imagine anything more asinine than not checking a photo ID before someone is allowed to vote. Who could possibly be against checking a person's ID before they vote? Well, Democrats are opposed to it. Why? Because they say it disproportionately frightens blacks and the elderly and would keep them from voting. This is not only untrue but, also, incredibly insulting to blacks and the elderly. I guess blacks and old people don’t use checks or credit cards either because they are too scared someone will want to see some ID. What a load of crap.

The only real reason to oppose checking identification is that in some places Democrats rely on widespread voter fraud in order to be elected. There simply is no other reason to oppose mandatory photo identification before voting.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (4) |
Apr 2 2005

Pope John Paul II

163johnpaulii1.jpg

Pope John Paul II

(1920-2005)

requiescat in pace

164johnpaulii2.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (0) |
Apr 1 2005

Perfect Rainbow

Given my prior post and the reported/retraction/impending death of the Pope, I thought this photo was somehow appropriate. After Tulsa's last rain storm a week ago there appeared the brightest rainbow I'd ever seen. Again, my camera phone pic can't do it justice. You could clearly and distinctly see every color of ROY-G-BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Even the almost always invisible violet was bright and easily apparent. More incredibly, for me at least, it was the first time I had ever seen a rainbow go continuously from the ground all the way up and back down again without a break. It was truly beautiful.

162bestrainbow.jpg

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |