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Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the Hurricane Katrina victims.
Some 35 years ago, my family used to live in Metairie, Louisiana. I was only in kindergarten but I still remember our address: 4605 Senac Drive, it had a nice rhyme to it. Just last week, I had mentioned to my better half how, someday, I wanted to go back and see the house. I don't know if that will be possible now.
If you are considering making a donation, here are links to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Red Cross can also be reached at 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669 and the Salvation Army at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
The AIM Blog Change Bot service provided by Ben Hoskins is no more. I noticed it hadn't been working for a while and emailed and asked Ben if it was still running. Ben provided the following response:
Hi, Not anymore. Once the numbers became high enough, AOL weren't happy with the service and I could not get it 'authorized' by anyone at AOL. Sorry, Ben
I have added MSN Alerts service for messenger, mobile or hotmail accounts. (Public info, Blog sing-up.) Of course, Microsoft couldn't see fit to provide a standard rectangular 80x15 button, so I had to alter their 71x17 oval default button. After signing up to provide the MSN Alert service on my blog, I noticed there was no way to go back into the system and make any changes to the information I had provided. I responded back to the "Getting Started" email I received from Microsoft and got a same-day response which stated:
Hello Don, In the near future we will implement a Microsoft Passport login to the administration page. Access to the administration page will not be granted until the implementation of the Passport authentication is complete. In the meantime please feel free to contact either myself or email@example.com for any modification requests you may have. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks. - Jim
As far as I can tell, the Passport login hasn't yet been implemented, so just be careful to not to make any mistakes if you sign up.
This week's liberal media fixation was Pat Robertson's statement about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Robertson said:
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
Oh the horrors of a private citizen mulling about the notion of giving a paranoid dictator a taste of what he doles out to his own people on a daily basis. Pat Robertson is a conservative evangelical preacher and so, predictably, the frothing liberal media has trumpeted Robertson's comment as a major news story because: (a) they care about Americans calling for the assassination of a foreign leader, or (b) they will take any opportunity to attack a conservative?
George Stephanopoulos is currently the host of ABC's Sunday morning news show, "This Week." Stephanopoulos was previously Bill Clinton's Press Secretary, Communications Director and Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategy. After leaving the Clinton White House, the former senior government advisor wrote an article which appeared in the December 1, 1997, issue of Newsweek magazine entitled: "Why We Should Kill Saddam." In it Stephanopoulos wrote:
If we can kill Saddam, we should.
What's unlawful - and unpopular with the allies - is not necessarily immoral.
First, we could offer to provide money and materiel to Iraqi exiles willing to lead an effort to overthrow Saddam...The second option is a targeted airstrike against the homes or bunkers where Saddam is most likely to be hiding.
Stephanopoulos had previously called for Saddam Hussein's assassination on ABC'S "This Week," on November 9, 1997: "This is probably one of those rare cases where assassination is the more moral course...we should kill him." The discussion of which was probably the genesis of Stephanopoulos' Newsweek column.
Now everyone remembers the uproar over Stephanopoulos' comments, right? You don't? Well, that's because there was none. In fact, the liberal talking heads themselves were calling for the assassination of Saddam Hussein around the same time:
Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist, New York Times, November 6, 1997: "Saddam Hussein is the reason God created cruise missiles. ...So if and when Saddam pushes beyond the brink, and we get that one good shot, let's make sure it's a head shot."
Sam Donaldson, co-host of ABC's "This Week," November 9, 1997: We should kill Saddam "under cover of law.... We can do business with his successor."
Bill Kristol, ABC News analyst, for ABC's "This Week," November 9, 1997: "It sounds good to me."
Cokie Roberts, co-host of ABC's "This Week," November 9, 1997: "Well, now that we've come out for murder on this broadcast, let us move on to fast-track..."
Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, November 17, 1997: "It won't be easy to take him out. ...But we need to try, because the only language Saddam has ever understood is force."
Clearly, the liberal media does not have a problem calling for the assassination of a foreign leader. The only reason Pat Robertson's comments made the headlines this week is that they, one, came from a conservative and, two, the liberal media was either too stupid or just hoped no one would remember their own comments and/or lack of condemnation of their peer's comments. If you want to continue believing there is no liberal media bias, that's fine. Meanwhile, people with good memories or access to Lexis/Nexis or Westlaw will know otherwise.
I was finally able to put the little guy to work in the yard. He's starting to earn his keep!
Reverse angle after the jump.
Google introduced their Google Talk internet messaging/talk program today. I've tried it out and I like it...for what little...very little...messaging I do. If you are a Gmail user, it's a natural addition. It seamlessly integrates with Gmail and provides its own notifier program (with your permission it automatically uninstalls Gmail Notifer during installation.)
Now if my friends and family would just sign up!
Here is what Google says about their product:
They say talk is cheap. Google thinks it should be free. Google Talk enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free–anytime, anywhere in the world. Google Talk offers you:
* Choice: Get in touch over email, IM or a call
* Quality: Talk through your computer but hear your friends as if they were in the same room
* Convenience: Your Gmail contacts are pre-loaded into Google Talk so inviting or talking to your friends is just a click away
I started a new long-term project today. I don’t know to what extent I’ll make it public in the future. But, since this blog is mostly for my own and close family and friends’ amusement, I just wanted to mention it. Unfortunately, it will be another demand on my time which might affect blog posting. Time will tell.
Every day we hear, "Book, book, book." Like most any child, Drew has always loved to be read to and, just as much, he loves to read on his own...or, at least, look at books on his own.
Perhaps I'm spoiled dealing with very capable and professional people in my work. Because, when I leave the office, it seems like the majority of my interactions are with idiots...people who are rude, ignorant or who simply have grossly misplaced priorities. Here are three tales from this past week that started out on a poor note but ended with great customer service experiences.
(1) We recently acquired some Mega Bloks for Drew or, more accurately, some more Mega Bloks for Drew. He loves them! But, after reviewing the enclosed products brochure and then visiting their website, I noticed a discrepancy in what we had received and what they advertised. I called Mega Bloks on their well publicized toll-free number, expecting the typical automated system and was pleasantly surprised by the friendly live voice, "Hello, Bonjour." Their Canadian, eh.
I stated that I had a non-safety related complaint to make, expecting that I would begin an odyssey of transfers and please-holds. However, to my continued surprise the same person who had answered my phone call also assessed my problem and offered a generous solution. She was never defensive and genuinely appeared to want to help me and, in fact, remedied my complaint far beyond my expectation. We will continue to be a loyal customer of Mega Bloks and pass their praise on to others.
(2) While reviewing my website's logs earlier this week, I noticed one of my images that I host being used on number of eBay auctions. For those not familiar, it is somewhere between being rude and outright stealing to use an image, especially on a commercial site, without permission that someone else hosts. The image was being used by a company that sells a fair amount of stuff on eBay and was selling multiple instances of this particular product. So, my image and my bandwidth which I pay for were being used to support a half-dozen eBay auctions.
When one discovers this type of activity, there are several options that present themselves. Some just substitute an image that says something generic like, "Please stop stealing my bandwidth." Other times people will substitute something more humorous often insulting the user. And, other times the person hosting the image will substitute an inappropriate image in order to teach a lesson to or embarrass the image poacher. I thought I'd take the high road and sent an email to the company and called their customer service number to point out their transgression. After being transferred to their technical department, I was assured that using images hosted by other websites was not their normal practice and that the problem would be immediately corrected.
The next day, however, several of the company's auctions continued to use my image. Having given them every opportunity to correct their error, I switched images on my server and now all of their auctions using my image showed the image on the right. Being the good guy I am, I also called their customer service number again and informed them of the switch. Within an hour all of their auctions using my image had finally been pulled. I considered the matter closed. Then, I received the following email from the CEO of the company:
I wanted to apologize for the unauthorized use of one of your graphics for one of our ebay auctions. This action was one of pure laziness by one of my staff members. This employee is no longer with our organization. Ultimately, as the owner, I take full responsibility. Thank you for your understanding.
I had thought about doing a post slamming the company so that anyone searching for it would know of their poor business practices. But, after receiving this email and others I've exchanged since with this individual, I no longer have a desire to badmouth the company. It is rare and very much appreciated when someone in charge steps up and takes responsibility especially over something that is relatively a small matter.
(3) A couple of weeks ago, I was exiting a parking lot waiting to make left-hand turn. While I was stopped, a Hummer coming down the street from the right was making a turn into the parking lot I was exiting and the driver was, apparently, focused solely on oncoming traffic which she was turning left in front of. She turned right square into me, swerved at the last second and scraped my front left fender. So, egregious were her actions that someone who had been behind her, pulled up to my car, said that the collision was 100% the other driver's fault and that they'd be a witness if I wanted.
The young girl was very apologetic. We exchanged information and I also got the witnesses' information...just in case. It turns out the girl's family is well off and had bought the girl and her four older brothers whatever car they wanted when they got their licenses and none of her brothers from high school, to college, and on until they were on their own insurance had ever had a single accident or claim. But, the girl had had so many accidents that her parents decided to pay for my bumper, trim and headlight themselves rather than submitting it to the insurance company. The girl, her family and their insurance agent were all very nice and forthcoming with payment in excess of all damages.
I got the car fixed at Fox Collision. The experience was so pleasant and they did such a fantastic job that I will not hesitate to return there in the future. The car came out as good as new. They detailed the car and did such a fine job as if I'd done it myself which is about the best compliment I can give them.
Click on the puzzle picture on the left to visit our puzzle page where there are four puzzles of increasing difficulty.
The first puzzle is a picture of Drew made up of 35 pieces (7x5) and is very simple. The next two puzzles, one of Drew and one of Drew and me, are both 70 pieces (10x7) and just the right difficulty level. The last puzzle is a very cool photo from a news event this past week consisting of 247 pieces (19x13) and will take you over an hour...trust me!
There are links for pictures of what each completed puzzle looks like and they open in a new window so as to not disturb the puzzle you are working on. Enjoy.
Nothing beats getting to lick the cake batter off of the mixer.
We went to a funeral today for a friend of ours, John McKay. He was just 47. He contracted meningitis two weeks ago, then suffered a massive stroke, and passed away Wednesday this week. He and his wife of twenty-two years, Paula, have one son, fifteen-year old Ross.
There are few people in this world that you can only say good things about and John was one of those few. From being a strong Christian to having an incredible sense of humor and running his own consulting business, John was a uniquely wonderful man. Rightly or wrongly, I often judge people by their children and while Ross is still just a teen, Paula and John have obviously been ideal parents.
During the services for John, they played a video montage of his life. I couldn't help but think that the video ended too soon and, indeed, it had. John will be greatly missed.
The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues. ... It's a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N. Source.
Wow..."abuse of power," "cloak of secrecy," "devious maneuver," "evades constitutional requirement," "darkens the cloud...over credibility." Clearly Mr. Kennedy doesn't like the Constitution's explicit grant of the power to U.S. Presidents to make recess appointments found in Article II, Section 2, Clause 3: "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate."
Just one question Sen. Kennedy, did you ever say one negative thing--just once--about any of President Clinton's 140 recess appointments? While I could be wrong, I spent a little time searching and couldn't find where Kennedy ever criticized Clinton's use of recess appointments in such manner. Either the 73 year old senator just discovered the horrors of recess appointments or he's intentionally making completely baseless accusations (also known as lying) which he knows a willing media will gladly trumpet to the masses.
Just an historical note, Senator Edward Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first black to serve on the United States Supreme Court, by using a recess appointment in order to overcome possible resistance in the Senate. So, you've got to either admit that Senator Kennedy is a lying horse's butt, or that he believed his brother abused his power in a devious maneuver improperly evading Constitutional requirements when Thurgood Marshall was appointed and that Marshall served on the Supreme Court for twenty-four years under a dark cloud of questionable credibility.