Sunday, October 30, 2005

Show Me the Money

Something that has been bugging me for a while turned up on 60 Minutes tonight. They ran a story about people who were fired from their job because they wouldn't quit smoking. Not because they were smoking at their desks, or because a co-worker or a customer had complained, not even because they were smoking at work. Just because they wouldn't quit, period.

It turns out to have nothing to do with job performance and everything to do with the bottom line. Companies that provide health insurance for their employees pay a higher premium if they have employees who smoke.

The story went on to show several other companies that had put in place "wellness programs" designed to modify the behavior of employees toward the end of reducing health care costs. These programs were not just about smoking, but also about diet, exercise, and sexual behavior. The programs require participants to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire and then have follow up drug tests, polygraph tests, and even a "lifestyle nagger" who calls people up to ask them what they've been eating and whatnot.

The way things are going, it would seem inevitable that nearly every employer with a substantive number of employees will put such a program in place. My employer this year radically restructured our benefits. I wonder how long it will be until someone calls me to ask me when the last time I went to McDonald's was, or how long I am sleeping.

Never mind that my lifestyle is 90% a manifestation of my job and job stress. Perhaps they ought to ask that in their questionnaire.

One employer on the show was lamenting how much it sucks that he can't extend a mandatory smoking ban to spouses of people that work for him.

Here's the problem for me. I think these employers are within their purview to enforce such plans. Medical costs for employees are a business expense for them, and just like they would try to save money anyplace else, why should the benefits program be off limits if there are savings to be made.

Curiously, they are able to make a societal change here that doctors, schools, insurers, or government can't. They are able to say "you must change." All the other mentioned bodies can't drop someone for poor behavior in any kind of a final way. Public institutions can't do that. Private ones can.

Naturally, the terminations have been litigated. It turns out that in most states it is completely legal behavior to fire someone over completely legal behavior. So not only is it good business sense, but it is also within the law. For the moment.

Because of course now that politicians have seen the problem, and since this is a great case for the little guy, there is talk about trying to make this kind of practice illegal. I have a better idea.

Let's divorce health insurance from work.

Why it seemed like a good idea to have health benefits at your job is beyond me. It leads to all kinds of privacy breaches. It makes people hate their employers when they otherwise love their jobs. It makes people that hate their jobs stay with their employers long after the thrill is gone. It places an undo stress on small businesses to provide an insurance plan - even when the owner of the business feels like the plan is trash - just to say they have a plan.

I recently heard a statistic that said that basically GM loses money on each vehicle it sells because of the amount of money they spend in employee health benefits.

Why are our employers involved in this at all?

Supposedly there is an advantage to creating large networks of patients to spread the costs and minimize the risks. But all things being equal, most companies are really joining federations of federations. Why not just let individual people join groups on their own. You know, like for homeowner's insurance, auto insurance, renter's insurance... Why is health insurance so different that we approach it in a totally different way?

For that matter, why is you employer the only entity that can aggregate stakeholders? I play frisbee, and belong to the Ultimate Players Association. Why can't they run a health plan? I am a professional theatre artisan and belong to the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Why not have a plan there? We associate in many many ways that we could utilize for averaging health care costs (some might even say we could aggregate as a nation - perish the thought). Why are we passing this on to employers as a business expense?

Maybe it would make sense if the employer owned a hospital. When I worked at Yale, I was a member of the Yale Health Plan, and I went to a Yale Doctor at a Yale facility. Maybe that makes sense. But really, in situations where the employer is not in the doctor business, why do I want to count on them to make reasonable health decisions for me - especially within the context of their making reasonable business decisions for them (and by transference to me, because on at least some level what's good for the business ought to be good for the employees).

And really, what possible interest should my employer have in mucking around in my off the clock behavior? Do we want employers telling people they can skydive or scuba? How about getting fired for getting a speeding ticket?

This doesn't even begin to touch the idea that employers should do pre-hiring health screenings. Want to lose a chance at a job because your grandparents both had cancer?

This really is a better idea. Lets let employers take that individual premium and turn it into salary, and lets let people work on their own to shop for the best insurance. Let's moot this problem rather than regulating it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rampant Consumerism

Went to the store today. After getting a couple of tracks from iTunes I decided that there were a few albums I wanted to have as CDs. Strangely it did not occur to me to buy the entire albums from iTunes and then burn them as audio CDs. I guess in my head once something is an mp3 it is somehow tainted. So buying it as an mp3 and then burning an audio disc feels wrong. The music should start as CD quality audio. Having it as an mp3 is simply a convenience.

So, while downloading "I Run for Life" from Melissa and "They Sure Don't Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore" from Kinky Friedman I suddenly found myself really needing to go to the store to pick up new CDs from Liz Phair and Sheryl Crow.

Normally when I go into a store it is in a circumstance where I have no intent of buying anything. For me, shopping is more like retail hiking. It must be a star wars generation thing, growing up with shopping malls. They are like consumer museums. I can go to Best Buy week after week and never buy anything. I go to PetSmart to visit the kittens. So the occasion of going to the store when I really do want to buy something is well, rare.

And apparently its a little dangerous. I bought the new Sheryl Crow and the new Liz Phair. I also bought an older Peter Gabriel that I lost ages ago and have wanted to replace ever since. Then there was a new REM album the missus wanted and she also picked out a disc by The Killers.

Keeping track?

Then, well, they had this song on the PA. Someone had covered Comfortably Numb from "The Wall." Who would cover that?

So I bought that too. We only narrowly escaped without also buying the new issue of "Jagged Little Pill"and the Melissa greatest hits album plus maybe the first season of Lost on DVD.

So, my advice, just like "don't go for groceries when you are hungry" well, don't go to the store when you are really ready to buy something.

By the way, the cover: Dar Williams.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Good news this morning on the High Court front... Maybe Tuesday wasn't all that bad... You shouldn't open the Halloween candy until Halloween... Sometimes putting a very complex process in place will only reveal that you've been doing it right all along... Trump fired four tonight, bet you weren't expecting that... I am going to have to rake the leaves sooner or later... I was meetinged out as of the end of the day Tuesday, that was 11 hours of meetings ago... The Air America people are certainly looking forward to indictments this week... I got some very nice birthday gifts this year... They let me keep my old license when I got my new one, what's up with that... As a lifelong Cub's fan, I just can't be excited for the White Sox... Just what are "sox" anyway... I am thinking of having a pledge drive for the blog... The oil companies are all reporting record profits, why can't political leaders connect that with prices at the pump as easily as things like weather, trading, and global demand... I wonder if Basketball will be worth watching this year... Audiences seem to be liking "In My Life" more than the reviewers have... Circ saws made to cut steel are kinda loud... Install starts Monday, I wonder if the set is finished... I threw away my post-its with potential blog topics, I wonder what I will write about...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Presents, woohoo!

Marisa powers up my birthday - cordless style!

Do you think she has home projects on her list for me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All Things Being Equal

I'd rather be in Cleveland.

That kind of day.

And it snowed. A little. Is it possible I did that?

Probably not.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mid-Fall Honor Roll

As of mid-semester fall of 2005, the semester is looking very positive for the interim All Dave Honor Roll listees:

Jake DeGroot
Joel Krause
Bob Moczydlowsky

Congrats. Keep up the good work.

All Together Now

The biggest problem with assigning work...

...Is that you then have to grade the work.

Mid semester grades are due tomorrow, so I finally had to ratchet down and grade the work that had been piling up on my desk. Hard to give people an idea of how they are doing in your class when really you have no idea of how they are doing in your class.

Well, now I know.

I had mid-term exams to grade along with homework projects. In an effort to make exam grading less gloomy I watch the scores in real time, sort of like a race. Reading 30 papers which ideally ought to have at least comparable if not identical answers gets to be a little mind numbing. I go 5 questions at a time, doing five from one test and then the same five from the next, working my way through the entire stack. It is chipping away at the mountain a little rather than trying to do the whole thing at once. Plus it, I think, helps me be more consistent with partial credit - doing all of one question in close proximity timewise. I think it makes for more consistent grading across all the papers.

It also lets me enter the scoring five questions at a time. I can also sort the columns by score after each group of five, so I can see who is "in the lead." "Will it be a grad or an undergrad? Will it be a dramat or an out of department student? Ooh, such and such started strong, but they are really fading at the end." It doesn't effect individual scores, because I don't look at the name until after I score the answers.

I know it must sound dorky, but it is kind of interesting. Watching someone put on a hard charge at the end to make an A, seeing someone get out of the gate quick only to fade, watching the top score in the class see-saw between a tiny group as their page scores dither from one to the other. It's like a little story to go with the grading.

Perhaps just to be filed under "whatever gets you through the day."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Who Cares What They Say - You Look Marvelous!

my new desktop...

and the rest...

Clipping Service

Review: 'In My Life' a bizzare love story...
...Jessica Boevers, sort of a younger version of Sarah Jessica Parker by way of Britney Spears, portrays his intended with equal assurance...

'Life' can't get much worse...
...Christopher J. Hanke and Jessica Boevers are fine as the central couple...

Lots of angels, but not quite heavenly...
...A twitchy Hanke and feisty Boevers are an endearing couple....

I like my review from yesterday better.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Family Post

I should probably be with the rest of my clan tonight, but I'm not, so consider this a somewhat less effective virtual effort. My sister has another Broadway opening tonight. I am ashamed to admit I have lost track of how many this is. It may be three, because she has had many more appearances than openings. I got struck on the train from New Haven to NYC and missed act one of A Funny Thing Happened of the way to the Forum, I did get to the show and the party for Oklahoma!, and this time I am sitting home in my office for the opening of In My Life.

I guess the Broadway credits make Jessica the successful thespian in the family. My mom is no slouch herself, and I get by - and even got some work on Broadway, but my work doesn't really have the polish of Jessica's resume. I have a former student on this show too, maybe that should count for something.

The pre-opening buzz hasn't been great. So here I am hoping that they all had it wrong and that this very unlikely piece of text actually turns out to be a very special theatre experience. Wouldn't that be great? I always think the pre-opening press isn't fair anyway, I mean, the show hasn't opened. So it would be nice for everyone, not just my sister if they were wrong.

Failing that, I guess I would accept something like...

BROADWAY - IN MY LIFE - The greatest single thing about this terrible exercise in American musical theatre is the EXCEPTIONAL performance of the woefully under-recognized Jessica Boevers. She is a beacon shining without peer in what is otherwise a dark, dismal, dismaying evening of theatre - and the second assistant lighting designer Kathleen Dobbins did very well too.

Would that be too much to ask?

So, Jessica, break a leg. I may not be there, but I am thinking of you and have my fingers and toes crossed for your production and your performance, and here's hoping that everyone will appreciate you the way that I do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Did I Learn in College?

So we're in the middle of this process to rebuild the School of Drama curriculum from the ground up. Its been a fascinating project and we've been at it, well we've been at it forever.

We started by doing strategic planning for the school. After that we identified learning objectives for the school. We vetted the learning objectives through the whole faculty, current students, and alumni. The we completed mastery grids, sort of a "where am I" for someone pursuing a career. With the mastery grids and the learning objectives we identified some school wide course priorities. At the same time we were doing that last bit, we also started to look at how doing shows fits with teaching.

All just fascinating.

Lately I have been comparing the various models we've been coming up with to my own educational experience. Being a product of this program gives me a little bit of special perspective into the process.

It seems like we have so much more to teach now. I pulled up my transcript (the SIO Computer thinks I am still a student) to look at the courses I took and it was so very different back in the day. Sometimes I think where I leaned most about carpentry was the Wilmette Park District and my Dad. I know most of what I know about welding I learned on the job at the Rep. Everything I know about calcs and machinery I learned in grad school. My directing exposure surely comes from my Mother.

Stage Management, Props, Electrics, Administration, Costumes, & Paints?

Debi, Eloise, Stevie, Heather, Kelly, & Hedge. Dating taught me more than any course ever could have.

Sound - clearly I learned sound in college, that and that I didn't want to be a physicist.

Add that thread to the "can't teach that" thread and I really begin to wonder if it matters what a school teaches at all. A colleague has a quote they use for parent functions "the job of a university is to put talented people together and then to duck." Is it really that simple? Are courses secondary?

Can you tell I have a severe case of navel gazing? Maybe we should replace the entire set of course requirements with liberal arts, do a bunch of shows, and schedule a rigorous program of speed dating. Seemed to work for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hey Carnival Cruises!

NO CHRISTMAS ADS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING!!! It's not even Halloween yet for goodness sake.

I apologize for the all caps, the fever makes the impulses more difficult to resist.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Too ill to blog

That just about tells the story. I am going to miss two days of work in a row for the first time since - since I don't know. Maybe since 1998 when I broke my wrist and had to have surgery.

Its nothing special, unless maybe it's bird flu, but I don't think so. Just fever, stuffy head, scratchy throat, runny nose, headache...

You know, all the things that make life worth living.

I of course blame a student. Must have been one of them that gave it too me.

Now, where did I put the Nyquil?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Wheel, Of, Fortune !!!

$800... $200... $1000... BANKRUPT! Well, we have some very nice parting gifts for you. Do you think that next week, in order to keep pace with the new federal guidelines for bankruptcy that the people at Merv Griffin entertainment will make the black "Bankrupt!!" spaces on the wheel smaller?

The news lately has been that right quick, new legislation effecting the thresholds for different bankruptcy procedures kicks in. The lobbyists all got together for the banks and the credit card companies and got our representatives to decide that it needed to be harder for us to find relief if we had a disaster and went broke.

Can I just say this is the worst possible kind of government? Everyone involved ought to be ashamed. Government is supposed to be there to protect the interest of the little guy. Something tells me that even if most people didn't pay, Citicorp is going to be ok.

I do think, in general, that bankruptcy is a bad thing. The utilitarian in me thinks that when people declare bankruptcy that they are in some way getting away with something. So on the surface, you would think I would agree with making it more difficult to get out of one's financial obligations.

Except, really that's not what has happened here. Really what this is, is a corporate bandage for poor business practices and failures of government. If that's what were protecting, well, then the laws are upside down.

Do you know the best way to keep people from welching on creditors? How's this? Pay attention to who you are lending money to. At several times in my life I have had more available credit on credit cards then I had grossed in income for the prior 3 or 4 years summed together. What kind of moronic company looks at a potential creditor, gets to see all their other creditors and all their assets, and then gives them a credit line of more than 5 or 10 times their net worth? I'll tell you what kind, the kind that then lobbies congress to make it harder to declare bankruptcy.

I have to wonder how many people that are somewhat less insane about debt get into the same credit place I did, and what they let themselves run up. When I graduated from grad school, I owed thousands of dollars on credit cards - and that was after not having a job for more than three years. All the while through school I kept getting card pitch after card pitch. I would open one account to transfer the balance from another card I couldn't pay. They have to know we do this, shouldn't offering credit to people in those circumstances be their risk. If people wash out of school with mountains of credit card debt - well, I mean I know they spent the money, but what in God's name were the card companies thinking when they authorized the loans?

Want to protect yourself from people declaring bankruptcy while you are holding their note?

Don't write the note.

It's only going to get worse too, and once again it is hard to blame the consumer when the financiers are coming up with such crazy schemes. I've been paying on my house for a year now. Not a day doesn't go by without my getting some hit up for a home equity loan. Most of the lines of credit are far beyond the amount of money I have into the place. Yet I am sure each and every one of these institutions would love to write me a check. In some ways I'd be a fool not to take it, the interest is so much lower than a credit card.

Except this is really a mortgage. Taking a home equity loan is borrowing against your house. For most people that real estate is their financial anchor. These loans are predatory.

And speaking of mortgages, wait until some of these variable rate "interest only" or "fixed payment" loans really start to kick in. When I was shopping for a mortgage, I stumbled across someone that wanted to write me a loan at 1.5%. Luckily my "something for nothing" filter kicked in and I figured it out before jumping at what looked like a fantastic deal. You know how these work, yes? The monthly payment requirement is capped, but the interest rate is variable - and very volatile. So, if your rate goes up you don't have to make a higher payment... Wonderful, yes? No, because the difference between the new monthly payment and the capped payment gets added to the principal. Its like making a minimum payment on a credit card. You never catch up.

These products are all over media right now, and people must be using them. Why wouldn't you, rates are low, payments are capped, and you get twice the value for your money. As long as things stay peachy. Otherwise, you've sold your soul to the company store, so to speak.

If you will.

As it were.

I tell you what.

Oh, no you didn't.

Want another? (he says as the entry just gets longer and longer) Most bankruptcies in young people are due to lack of heath insurance. I broke my wrist playing ultimate fairly soon after grad school. I was lucky enough to have health insurance at the time. The care for that one injury was more than $15,000. How many 20-25 year olds do you know with $15,000 liquid? Trip on a stair... Poof! Broke. Bankruptcy?

The Federal government says "Not so fast!"

Here's an idea. Want to help financial institutions keep from losing money to bankruptcy? Two things:

1. When they are stupid with how they lend money, they ought to lose money. Some common sense would save them quite a bit of cash, and the people - although perhaps not being able to have that big screen they want - would be better for it.


2. Get off your collective asses and figure out how to make health care affordable.

Those things would help both the consumers and the lenders. What we'll have next week protects the lenders and screws consumers. That's not what good government is about.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Those of you that might be alums of my Technical Direction class, the purchasing project is coming up (Its still "Deano Approved"). If you've come across items or subcontracts in your professional life you think ought to be included in that exercise I'd love to have them.

Here's what I have so far:

  • Water-jet Cutter Fabricator
  • Large Format Inkjet Vendor
  • Powder Coater
  • Chrome Plate Applier
  • Neon Fabricator
  • Acrylic Fabricator
  • Cut Vinyl Graphic Vendor
  • Fiberglass Fabricator
  • Steel Fabricator
  • CNC Router Fabricator
for subs and then:
  • FR Muslin
  • Duvetyn
  • Flame Retardant Spray
  • Nicopress Sleeves
  • ¾" Manila Rope
  • 1" Diameter gold rope/cord
  • Bar Grating
  • Fog Fluid
  • Rope Light
  • SOSS Hinges
  • Plastic caps for 1" box steel tube
  • 27" Diameter Acrylic Tube
  • #50 Roller Chain
  • Cheseboroughs
  • Trammel Points
  • Nylon Cable Ties
  • Plastic Shipping Pallets
  • Fluorescent Lighting Fixture
  • Wire Management Grommets
  • Soft Good Hampers w/Lid
  • Flexible Baseboard
  • 10" Diameter Cardboard Tube
If you've got funny stuff, go ahead and post a comment. If you've got something you think is good send me an email so I can keep it a surprise.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Whatever the blahs are that nearly every other blog author I read currently has seems to have found me as well. I have a list of things that at one time or another struck me as blog worthy, but right now - less so.

I could bore you with pages and pages about the ins and outs of the top to bottom curricular revision and the wonderful political dynamics wherein - but really, its boring - even more boring than listening to me ramble about politics.

I could do another 5 flashearth targets, but alas, I become bored with that as well.

What about rambling about politics? ugh. Just read this: Zac Attack. That probably does as well as I would tonight.

Doesn't float your boat? Hit the Newsbeat. Plenty to read there, including how CMU didn't win $2 million.

No? Well, I got nothing either. There's always Spider solitaire or sleeping.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Flash Earth Answers

Site #1: Carnegie Mellon University. Purnell Center, Chosky Theatre roof DSR if you are Captain Anal.
Site #2: Paris Hotel/Casino, Las Vegas. For the Captain: Eiffel Tower observation deck.
Site #3: Former Site of the World Trade Center, Manhattan.
Site #4: EPCOT Center, Florida. Showcase Plaza if you are some kind of freak.
Site #5: Cloudy day at Mount Rushmore
Site #6: This would be the house I grew up in.
Site #7: The Pentagon, Arlington
Site #6a: The cathedral at the USAF Academy, Colorado Springs - that was for my Dad
Site #7a: B'hai Temple, Wilmette IL
Site #8: This is the only one I am not sure about because I couldn't get the thing to behave. I believe this is the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico.
Site #9: Saint Peter's Square, The Vatican. It isn't square, is it?
Site #10: Sydney Opera House. Resolution very disappointing.

Ben Peoples got the closest. Everyone that got my childhood home I assume was guessing, unless that first anonymous post is someone from my past.

It's interesting what you can see and you can't, where there is no imagery and where there is. There even appears to be a disparity between Google and MSN. One of them has crystal clear views of all of Area 51 and the rest of Nellis - on the other its just blacked out. Although, a true conspiracy theorist would assume that the pics you can see are in some way false. I don't recommend flying over it yourself to check.

How did you do?

School Days

I haven't talked about a book in a while. Truthfully I haven't read a book in a while. I took one with me to Jamaica - took three - but only succeeded in getting it wet, which made it hard to read. Plus, thankfully, Jamaica provided more to do than read. Perhaps Val should not go there. There's been a new OSC book sitting on my shelf for forever, and the last two books I read before that are sitting in a "put something about this in the blog" pile.

So as far as "Shadow of the Giant" - the aforementioned OSC book - I will say that the entire Ender series continues to be strong. I also think that in many ways the "Shadow" books have been a more interesting series than the later Ender books. Sometimes I wonder if someone starting the series now should read them chronologically by release date or chronologically according to the plot. If you are one of these people I think I would suggest the latter, except that doing so in the former mode at least allows you to always know that eventually you go back to Battle School, which is the most endearing part of "Ender's Game."

The other book was a Doctor Who novellization "Superior Beings." What would say the most about this is that without looking at the synopsis on the back cover I couldn't have told you anything about the book. Not really high praise. Still, having had the refreshment of my recollection I do remember it being a satisfactory read, especially if you are a fan. I am a fan.

I don't know why I haven't been reading more. It bugs me a little, like one of those things that you know you should be doing, but never seem to get around to. Still, when Amazon sent me my advance email that there was a new Parker book I dutifully clicked on "order" and when it arrived I polished it off in one sitting. More like a positive review...

"School Days" is the latest from Robert Parker. He's returned to Spenser. As much as I have liked Jesse Stone and Sunny Randal I guess I will always be partial to Spenser. The book has everything one has become accustomed to as far as plot, an underdog and reluctant client, the requisite twists, he continues after being fired. This one even falls back on Spenser's last rule of crimefighting: "When stuck without a lead just follow anybody." That rule was better applied the first book it appeared in, but was nice to see it make a comeback.

The down side is what there isn't: no Susan to speak of, no Hawk, no Vinnie, no Quirk, no Henry, pretty much no Belson, no Healy, almost no cooking, almost no drinking... Many of the things that make a Spenser book a Spenser book are absent. There's a fair amount of Rita Fiore, and there's a local cop who is in the mold who helps some, and quite a bit of Pearl. People must like Pearl the Wonder Dog. I am not a dog person. I could do without.

Still, it is definitely a story in the mold of the others, and a very good read, well worth the couple of hours it takes.

Monday, October 10, 2005

To Kill an American

Posting is so much better than forwarding...

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is... so they would know when they found one. (Good on ya, mate!!!!)

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek.

An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.

In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan . The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.

The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence , which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need.

When the Soviet army overran Afghanistan 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

Americans welcome the best, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes, but they also welcome the least!

The national symbol of America , The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America .

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. I've been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must.

Hitler did.

So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.

But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. All who hold to that spirit anywhere, is an American!

Author unknown

Pass this around the World

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Round Two

People liked that so much, let's go again...

Again, no peeking. You may have to zoom in and out a little to get a picture - I don't know why.

Have the big fun!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Link of the Day

WOW! This is real *REAL* cool...

...Or, possibly I am just a real *REAL* geek.

I present to you the Flash Earth. It uses satellite images and engines run by MSN and Google to give you a map you can pan and zoom with. Makes you feel like you're at CIA headquarters or something.

This is so cool I think I must declare a contest. You will have to help by not cheating and lighting up the MSN w/labels though or it becomes way way way too easy.

Identify these sites...

Put your answers in as comments... no peeking at other peoples answers first - and no using the MSN labels before you guess.

Truth be told I am a little nervous that some of these sites are accessible. But I guess the resolution isn't really all that helpful if you were truly planning something bad.

Good luck with the contest!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Compassion or Extortion?

It's pledge week on WDUQ.

Guess I'll be hearing quite a bit more AirAmerica, KDKA, and WPGB this week. Although rumor has it that AirAmerica is in pretty dire straits and may start soliciting donations as well. I didn't hear that from a very good source, but I can't ignore the uptempo to the logo gear pitching on the Al Franken Show.

Still, even the worst right wing whackjob is easier to listen to than "we just need 5 more callers this hour to unlock a $1000 bonus." Kill me now.

Interestingly, this phenomenon is not lost on the management at NPR. And of course rather than react with compassion, well they reacted with extortion. I mean it sounds all nice and everything, but it also has a kind of a "pay up or we'll break your knees" kind of a ring to it. Over the past month, during regular weeks they've been talking up how the pledge drive was coming up,

"and if you donate now, we may be able to shave a day or two off the upcoming campaign"

What does that sound like to you? Compassion or Extortion? Sort of like "listen, you can pay me now or pay me later. It'll be much more pleasant for you if you pay me now."

I guess it worked some. From the time I spent listening today I did hear quite a few times how they were able to shorten the solicitation period due to advance pledges. Or maybe that's just setting us up to believe them the next time they make the offer.

Well, its not working on me, I tell you. I will not be intimidated by these gangland tactics. You'll get my money the same way you always get my money - when you guilt me into it. And not a moment sooner.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Don't Start Helping Me Now

I have to tell you, my surfing of the right-wing radio has been really annoying for the past two days. Have you noticed how unhappy they all are? Host after host bemoaning how W did them wrong by naming his White House counsel to the Supreme Court instead of the Radical Right ideologue he promised during the campaign. "This is not what we voted for Mr. President!"

Geez. Put a sock in it already.

Ever have a welcome to my world moment? Left and Right are finally together for a brief couple of days here. We're unhappy about the war, the economy, gas prices, the FEMA effort, the CIA leak from the White House senior staff, and the litany of lies told by the man they elected President.

And now he's lied to them. It was only a matter of time. Really it likely has been happening all along. It's just that this one was bald faced enough that it rung right through their fawning and woke them up.

And me? I feel like John McClane in Die Hard: "WELCOME TO THE PARTY PAL!!!"

If y'all had come home from the country club and put down your boilermaker a while ago you might have noticed that this behavior isn't new. The man and his people are devious, money-grubbing technocrats concerned with one mission only: To make themselves as rich as is possible. The governing is just a means, something they have to do to slant the board in their favor.

Who did you think he'd name? Someone that would give the constitution a strict reading and make a fair ruling regardless of the circumstances or someone that when in say 12 years USA vs. Halliburton comes before the Supreme court because it so happens that maybe even 1/10th of what alarmists say is happening actually happened will look at the case and then stand by her man? "Won't legislate from the bench" like he gives two poops over that. "Won't put Cheney in jail." or "Won't take all my money." That's where the man lives.

51% of us noticed that quite some time ago. Next election, just stay home. We'll take care of it. Don't start helping us now.

Quality Control

Here we see a graphic example of what happens when shop carpenters take shortcuts like not using a straightedge or a framing square.

This is the second unit in a row to come out like this. They only have four more tries to get it right.

Let's hope they keep getting it just as wrong.

Politics Test

You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(21% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Sunday may very well become ellipses day... I think we lost our fantasy football game today, well nobody thought we would be undefeated, did they?.. Is a question mark and two periods really an ellipse?.. We had our first successful use of the dining room, I owe some finished pictures some day... I am not going to get to the Lucky 7's tournament this year, that's too bad... Local #3 ratified their new contract, not many details in the paper, I wonder how each side made out... I am still pondering the whole "can't teach that" thing... I haven't gotten that far on my USITT project, or on my book, or the other book... Does it bother you that they say Ronnie Earl is partisan when actually he has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans?.. I think maybe the world would be a better place if we spent more time thinking about the issues than the backstory... Does it make sense that consumers ought to be protected as much as lenders when it comes to bankruptcy, its not like the credit cards have to give them the money... Longhair kittens apparently share a grooming problem with dairy cows... Months and months later and I still don't really know what an enemy combatant is, you think by now someone would have made it clear... The PTMNews page is humming along very nicely, it even looks like people occasionally read it... Its been more than a week since we've heard from the ECHO:system people, I wonder what's going on there... Lately I've been thinking a lot about the responsibility and accountability of theatre reviewers... LDI may be a bit of an extravagance this year... I still can't believe some of the things coming out of people's mouths passing as commentary... The crazy scheme has just about cleared the first production, I don't know if it is working or not but I think the first show would have been dead without it... Just when I was unconditionally in love with my phone, it seems the new version will have a much better camera... The NPR station here is trying a new tactic: extortion... Did you know that Karl Rove has been put in charge of gulf coast reconstruction?.. I never knew Skin of our Teeth and Fight Club had so much in common... The trusted traveler program is out of money, seems like the future will be wealthy trusted traveler, who didn't see that coming...


Sometime I am glad I learned how to use computers before the Mac took over, before windows ruled the roost, before WYSIWYG. I mean, I know that the GUI was a great innovation, and I do really love my WYSIWYG apps, but every now and then I am faced with a problem and I am really glad that ages ago I used to write things like this:

20 GOTO 10

or maybe things like

COPY A: *.* C:/MYSTUFF/*.*

Does that make me an irretrievable geek? I think not. I mean there is still a use for such things today. Occasionally (although less often now due to some Blogger innovations) I have to type things like

[img src=""]


[a href="" target=" blank"]The PTM Newsbeat[/a]

and really that's about the sum total of what I know of HTML. But it is very much like a word processor I used to have for my Radio Shack Color Computer, or like EMACS when I learned it on the TOPS system at CMU before Andrew swallowed all of campus computing. All systems that you have to kind of have the keys to in order to function, and systems where if you get maybe one thing out of place start to fail.

You know, at least in windows - even XP, that stuff is still there. Sometimes you notice it when you are working in word. You'll backspace through nothing and the font will change or some other change. You've backed over some invisible control code. Used to happen more than it does now, but I still feel like I am catching it from time to time.

The other day I was downloading a file onto my desktop. I got tired of waiting and so I quit the browser, but the file icon was still there. I tried to delete it but the computer insisted that an application was currently using the file and stubbornly refused to let me do away with it. Here's what happened next:

I tried to drag it to the trash - failed
I tried to delete it from the pop up - failed
I shut down every app from the task manager and repeated the prior attempts - failed
I found the icon in the c:\documents and settings\user\owner\desktop directory and tried to delete it - failed
I rebooted the machine and tried to delete it - failed
I went to the command line and tried to delete it manually - failed
I booted the computer into safe mode and retried everything above - failed

At this point I am getting to the end of my toolbox. Then, ah, DOS - the dark place. Being a stagehand at heart I guess I am comfortable in the dark place...

reboot to command line only
DEL (whateverthefilewas).(whatevertheextensionwas)

and then poof! It was gone. Ah, DOS, thank you DOS. I know I could have typed the whole directory string at one time, its an anti-typo behavior I can't shake.

Now, I don't think for a second I am any kind of computer programmer, or any kind of IT guy. But I am fairly sure I know people that would have lived with that icon on their desktop until they bought a new computer before they got even halfway though that troubleshooting procedure.

Do yourself a favor. Embrace some meaningless jargon now and then. Someday it might come in handy.