Social Media

This blog was originally started as a way to connect and reconnect with people by sharing my life out.  Since that time platforms like Facebook and Twitter have actually become very good and easy to keep up to date.  People I know and people I don’t know already “live” on those networks so keeping in touch that way is far easier.

That may change in the future but, for now, if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to feel free to stalk me on the social media sites listed in the link below.

Social Media Profiles

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C2E2 – 2012

This weekend brought to Chicago the C2E2 event (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo). I had never been to such an event prior to this weekend and I have to say, it was a lot of fun.  As can be expected there were a lot of people walking around in costume.  Some were hired actors and others were people just having fun.

C2E2
David Tennant lookalike
Godzilla
R2D2
Very Cool Tardis Costume

There were quite a few vendors selling their artwork, movies, games etc which was fun.  Quite a bit of things for sale there that you don’t see every day.  I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to see and purchase some DVDs from independent film makers.  I walked out with The Transient, The Window Into Time (which should come with a bonus feature Bedtime for Timmy), Aidan5, Terror From Beneath The Earth, The Monster Of Phantom Lake, and Destination Outer Space.  Looking forward to watching those.

There was also some big stars present.  I actually took the opportunity to get an autograph from John Barrowman while there.  Have to say, despite being an international star (He has quite a bit of TV under his belt including BBC’s Doctor Who, BBC’s Torchwood and ABC’s Desperate Housewives) he seemed to be a pretty nice guy.

John Barrowman signing Autographs John Barrowman signing Autographs

Beyond that I’d say the only undesirable part was how crowded it was.  This is definitely a popular event!

Click the link to check out the photo album with pictures we took during the event.  (C2E2 – 2012 Photo Album)

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Nostalgic Computing – MS DOS/Windows vs Apple Macintosh vs Commodore Amiga

WOW!  Odd that I should’ve been in a fit of Commodore nostalgia all week and find out that Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore, passed away yesterday at the age of 83.  You created great things Jack.  Rest in peace.

As I mentioned before, spring cleaning has triggered a fair amount of nostalgia for me with regards to old computer and video game systems.  Here’s one question that’s come up for me while surfing YouTube and Google on various vintage computer systems …  How could the Commodore Amiga have failed in the marketplace?

When we first started out with computers I remember stores in Waukegan‘s Lakehurst Mall  carrying software and hardware for all sorts of different platforms.  Service Merchandise was outside of the actual mall and you could generally find the computer hardware there as well as some software.  To find the most software though there was a Software Etc. inside of Lakehurst Mall.  In trying to figure out what the store was called (Thank you Lakehurst Mall History) I found that they first merged with Babbages and eventually, through an assortment of mergers, became GameStop)

Between those two stores we found everything we could’ve ever asked for on the Commodore 64/128 platform.  They regularly had systems on display to play with.  Software Etc used to set up games on the systems for customers to try out before purchase which was nice as well though they did carry productivity software as well.  Eventually though the Commodore 64/128 software and hardware (along with the Apple’s Apple ][) become harder and harder to find even at retailers like these giving way to more popular computer systems (Apple’s Macintosh and “IBM Clones” running Microsoft’s DOS) and game consoles.  (Primarily Nintendo’s Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo’s Game Boy)

Even though in the late 80s there was still a thriving software market for the Commodore 64/128 we had to turn to mail order solutions like Tennex (I believe, but cannot confirm, that they were eventually bought out by Egg Head Software) to obtain new software and accessories for these systems.

I remember at one point (I’d guess between 1987 and 1989) seeing a Commodore Amiga 500 on display at Software Etc. playing Shadow of the Beast. I was very impressed by it but we weren’t in much of a position to drop money on a new computer system when the ones we had were doing what we needed very well.

This was the only time I can recall ever seeing a Commodore Amiga system on display at any electronics or gaming store we went to.  Generally what we saw were IBM Clones running MS DOS.  Maybe a Macintosh every once in a while but not often.

Eventually in 1993 we reached the point where using the Commodore 64/128 for productivity was more of a hinderance than a help.  Aside from the speed, or lack thereof, the files generated in software like GEOS‘s GeoWrite were unreadable by anything other than a Commodore 64/128 running GEOS.

The aforementioned Commodore Amiga didn’t even factor in to this equation.  No one we knew used it.  The only spot we were finding it or any software for it was the mail order catalog Tennex.  Tennex did a great job, in their small blurbs of catalog marketing material, of talking up the Amiga and it’s capabilities but that didn’t help when no local stores carried the computer.  Why would someone purchase a computer they can’t touch, try out or see in action when there were hoards of IBM Clones running MS DOS available? They wouldn’t.

As much as we would’ve liked to go with another Commodore product to replace our Commodore 128 we didn’t want to deal with the scarcity of software and hardware vendors like we had been dealing with for a few years at that point.  A huge selling point of that platform originally was also several friends and relatives that used the same equipment.  If we needed help it wasn’t an issue to talk to someone else.  The Commodore Amiga platform would’ve put us on an island which wasn’t comfortable.

So in the summer of 1993 (I may be wrong on this year) we purchased a system by Leading Technology. It was a 386 SX-16 with VGA video output capabilities, a 100MB Hard Drive and 2MB of RAM.  It ran HyperDOS on top of MS DOS 4.01.  Eventually we removed HyperDOS as it was very unstable.  MS Windows 3.0 was also installed but at that time it wasn’t worth it to run.  In addition to the CPU we purchased a 14 inch VGA Monitor and a Panasonic KX-P1123 B&W Dot Matrix Printer.  The total came in around $2,000.

The software that got the most use, outside of games, was Word Perfect 5.1 and The New Print Shop.  The New Print Shop was more of the same that we had in the Commodore 64 version but much enhanced.  Word Perfect was a step forward from GeoWrite in terms of capability and compatibility but the ease of use was not there.  You interacted with a blue screen and had to code what you wanted the document to look like.  We had keyboard overlays to go with the program to keep track of what commands and key combinations did what.  There was a WYSIWIG view you could switch in and out of to see what the document would look like but, to my recollection, you could not edit within that mode until we upgraded to a Windows version of it years later.  Power users loved it but we weren’t to that level.

Beyond that the system was used for games with varying success.  Some games supported the VGA standard, others ran in EGA or CGA (less colors and … interesting choices on what colors were available)

That said, while what the VGA graphics chipset could produce for static images that didn’t always translate into anything great when it came time to animate them.  The Commodore 64/128 had no issues animating the images it could produce while the VGA graphics couldn’t handle it very well if there was a fair amount of things going on.  It wasn’t designed to be used for games primarily.

Also no game had sound beyond the beeps that the internal speaker of the computer could produce which was another big step down from what the Commodore 64/128 was capable of.  This was remedied when you added a sound card like the Sound Blaster at an additional cost.

In some ways the Leading Technology was a step forward from the Commodore 128.  The output we got from The New Print Shop (unavailable on the Commodore 64/128 platform) was much improved.  Word Perfect and it’s interoperability with the business world was very useful for a project my mom was working on (which subsequently paid for the computer) I wonder today if a plain ASCII text editor would’ve suited the purpose just as well as Word Perfect for what she was doing.  Not sure if she had to use any special features of Word Perfect or not.

I also learned quite a bit on system configuration and it served as the basis for my current career path.  I can’t complain about that!

As capable as this system was back in the day I’ve been looking through YouTube videos of what the Commodore Amiga platform was capable of.  It’s everything that the mail order advertisements claimed it was back in the day.  Some of these demos I look at in shock and say “This was 1987?  There were computers capable of this in 1987??”  Some of these animations would’ve choked our Leading Technology with an Intel 386 SX processor running at 16Mhz but were designed on an Amiga 500 with a Motorola 68000 processor running at 7.16Mhz.  The difference was the Amiga 500 started at $699 without a monitor (it could plug into a standard television) when it was released in 1987.

By the time we purchased the Leading Technology 386 SX-16, Commodore had released their Amiga 1200 machine with a Motorola 68EC020 processor running at 14 Mhz and 2MB of RAM for $599.   Likely we would’ve purchased that with a monitor and I believe that would’ve run about $300 back then and came bundled with an animation program as well as a word processor known as Final Copy (Word Perfect was available on the Amiga for a time too)  The Panasonic KX-P1123 printer (which should have worked fine on an Amiga) likely would’ve been $200.  So out of the box we would’ve had a usable system for $1,100.  It would not have had a hard drive or a 2nd floppy drive for that cost but those were apparently easily added later on.

Note how I mentioned that this came with a graphic animation program as well as a word processor.  Our Leading Technology came with what was needed to run the computer.  This was the days before PCs were loaded with bloatware.  We had to buy any useful software separately.

The Amiga did have a solution known as CrossDOS to read and write data into the MS DOS format so it’s possible, not sure, that my mom would’ve been able to work on the project she was assigned using this machine and provide the disks after it was complete.

There was also possibilities on the Amiga for video capture, editing and output.  Video Toaster was the big one that everyone knew about but that was for the more professional grade Amiga systems (and also carried a price tag of around $2,500 for the card and software itself) but it appears there were less expensive systems available to be used on the machines targeted for the home market …. All I can see of that is an expansion card for the Amiga 500 called the Imagen but I haven’t been able to find any information about it online as far as costs or software that supports it is concerned.  Being as how that machine was targeted at the home market I can’t imagine it being more than $400 for the expansion card, maybe less.  It likely would’ve come with at least basic software to make use of it as well.

My point with that is, we had wanted to do some semi-advanced video editing for a while.  During the late 90s we tried a couple of video capture solutions on Intel Pentium class machines which did not give us any results we were happy with.  We ended up going old school and just hooking the camera up to a VHS machine and clipping footage by pausing and starting the recording.  It wasn’t until I purchased an Apple iMac G4 800 Mhz machine in 2002 that we had a system that could do a good job of editing video.

I wish I had better information than the brief Amiga 500 promo video on how video capture could be done in the consumer line of Amiga systems …  All I can say is that I speculate that setup would’ve handled exactly what we wanted to produce some good quality home movies.

Another thought is a home user likely could’ve made a higher end Amiga pay for itself if they started a home based video editing business with an Amiga and a Video Toaster card.  That type of setup was just pricey and complex enough to be out of reach of the general consumer who had no ideas of using it for anything other than light productivity and general home use.  Even a low end solution for editing video like I’m thinking we could’ve gotten would’ve been a potential money maker.  Nowadays it’s built in to most every computer sold.

That all said you might be interested to see what the Amiga could do graphics-wise for it’s time.  Here’s some videos I found on YouTube.  Bear in mind, this isn’t overly impressive when you compare to today’s Mac OS, Linux and Windows platforms … Compare it to those same platforms that were available in the late 80s and early 90s.  All that can be said is it appears to be a comedy of bad business decisions leading to Commodore’s bankruptcy and the subsequent sale of the rights to the Amiga platform to various companies that had no idea what to do with it.

Amiga 500 Promo Video (You’ll need to click the gear icon towards the bottom right and select 240p if you don’t hear any sound.  It’s a flaw in the video)

Another Amiga 500 Promo Video – The ease of use and other functionality this video highlights may have people thinking the Apple Macintosh was at least a match for it back in this time.  From the ease of use standpoint I’d say they were a match based on what I know.  From a value standpoint however … By 1987 Apple had only just released the Macintosh II which included color capability …  For $5,500 (Costs surging upwards of $10,000 for full color capability if Wikipedia’s information is accurate).  It wasn’t until the Macintosh LC line of computers in 1992 before color Macintosh computers came within range of the home … And they started at around $2,500.  I’m not sure they had the animation, sound and video capture capability that the Amiga had either.

Video Toaster System 2.0 Demo by NewTek

Commodore Amiga Demo Scene (Another Version of This and Part 2)

Amiga Games vs DOS Games (Part 1Part 2) – Since there are no direct comparisons between office applications that I can see … Let’s take a look at a very interesting direct comparison between titles released for the Amiga and the same titles released for DOS.

Amiga 500 Review by Lazy Game Reviews – This review was done in 2010.

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Nostalgic Computing – Commodore 64 Printing

This week has been devoted to spring cleaning.  Throwing away the old, organizing what I need to keep etc . . .   Since moving all my video game systems have been living in a box for lack of better places to put them (I’ll get a cabinet to keep them in here at some point)

While going through them I put YouTube on in the background playing some true retro video game fan channels.  (phreakindee & gamester81 have been occupying my YouTube feed mostly) This triggered some nostalgia of my own and I began to wonder what it would take to put together a decent working Commodore 64 system.

Classic Commodore 64 System (Breadbox Case Style)

Doesn’t appear to be too much as people are letting them go for cheap on eBay.  If I didn’t want to deal with the slow loading 1541 disc drive (odd that I didn’t see any with the 3rd party drives that used to be available come to think of it) along with the lack of 5.25 floppy discs available nowadays I could use software called 64hdd to store all programs on a hard drive for the C64 to read from (Obviously with a special cable)  Very cool.

So okay that’s all well and good but a big bit of the nostalgia for me was creating signs, cards, banners etc using Broderbund’s The Print Shop.

I remember setting up a banner to print and letting the machine go all night printing to a Star Gemini 10x printer (two or three lines per minute … The printer was much faster when printing plain ASCII text) During that time the computer was tied up, couldn’t do anything else.  All the screen showed was “PRINTING” with rainbow colors flying past.  That’s unheard of today.  Single tasking?  Pshaw.

Considering how many people and companies developed clip art libraries for this program (we bought a used C64 with quite a few of these and might have purchased some new as well) during that time I’m surprised there’s not a dedicated following of the old program.  It was basic but it was fun that can’t be duplicated today.

The New Print Shop was more of the same (we had the MS DOS version of that) which was good.  That even supported color printers.

The Print Shop Deluxe was moved even further and approaching high end.  I remember using The Print Shop Deluxe for school papers since the results I got out of that were much nicer than what I could easily get out of WordPerfect (Version 5.1 with the blue screen) at the time.

After that though they took it too far into the high end and it seemed to lose the fun.  There’s something to be said for a program that guides you through everything step by step with only a few options.

Anyway, where was I going with this?  Oh yeah.  The Print Shop brought back a lot of memories for me.  So if I were to purchase a C64 I should get a printer.  Problem with this is do the printers still work?  How easy is it to obtain tractor feed paper?  How easy is it to obtain the ribbons needed for these printers?  Commodore used a special interface for printing as well …  So there was a limited number of printers that worked with it.

I did some looking and found a forum post where an individual was able to get a Panasonic KX-P1124 printer working with his Commodore 64 using a Xetec Super Graphix Jr. he picked up on eBay.  Basically this just converted what the Commodore was sending on it’s serial interface to a parallel interface that most dot matrix printers of the era could utilize.

Since the Panasonix KX-P1124 was Epson compatible it was an ideal printer to use.  By the way, that B&W 24pin dot matrix printer lists for between $100 and $200 on eBay.  Wow.  We had a Panasonic KX-P1123 dot matrix printer with our first MS Dos/Windows machine.  That was a workhorse and is listing for a more reasonable $50 on eBay.  I doubt we sold it for close to that back in the day.  The ribbons seem to be readily available for these printers so between that and the usual Panasonic reliability that’s likely why they’re holding their value.

What sense would it make to invest in a printer like that, it’s ribbon and tractor feed paper to ultimately print probably two things?  “Cool!  I made an 80s greeting card and an 80s sign …  Now what?”  I’m going to need to do some more digging and see if I can find a solution that’ll take whatever the C64 would print and capture it to a PDF or something similar.

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Fun and Interesting Web Image Finds

A bit behind in posting these.  Each image can be clicked on for the full image & description.  Have a Good Friday!!!!!

I Shook My Family Tree and a Bunch of Nuts Fell Out
Choose to Move Beyond Adversity
Let the Lion in
May the Force Bewitch You
NDAA - Treason Brought to You by BOTH Republicans and Democrats
Political Bedtime Stories
Spacing is Everything
Vote Republican or Democrat
Anybody but <Fill in the Blank>!
Decisive Answer
Don't Let Other's Opinions of You Become Your Reality
Filthy Mudblood
Homosexual Agenda in the U.S. Constitution
Honk if you love Jesus.  Text while driving if you want to meet him
I'm hungry and want to eat ... but the food bowl is only half full
It's Spring!  We are so excited we wet our plants!
That's a Good Walker
WWF Pandas
Bedtime Story
Butter vs. Margarine -- Ants Can Believe It!
Church Alone Doesn't Make You Christian
Facebook is making changes ... AGAIN?!
Good Babysitter
Hipster Beethoven
Iran Wants War
It's About to be a Kitten Fight!
Karma Takes Too Long
Look Out!!!!
Mr T Mobile
North Face Adventures
Owlet ... Moist Owlet
Rain of Fire in Chicago
Rap Artists Against Criminal Behavior
Shut Up And Take My Money!
Stray Bar
Thelma and Louise in 8 Minutes
Wait Before Entering the Litter Box
Whatcha Makin?
Yoda says "Talk to the Hand"
ADD/ADHD
Checking your Phone . . .
Friends Don't Let Friends do Silly Things ... Alone
I May Not Be Perfect but at least I'm not Fake
Ice Cream? Sherbert
Kitty Breakfast
Maybe I'm Lonely Because I Hate Everyone
Optimist vs Pessimist vs Realist vs Opportunist
Take a Kitteh Leave a Kitteh
Wait Bitch ... I'm Still Talking
What Cats Do
What in the World?
Why Does The Little Mermaid Wear Seashells?
You Mean to Tell Me your Real Name isn't Mom?
You Need Coffee
How to Prank People via Text Message
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Fun and Interesting Web Image Finds of the Week

I take credit for none of these.  These are just random images that I happened across online these past few weeks and found amusing.  Enjoy!

Always Speak the Truth Even if your Voice Shakes
Angelina Jolie on the Red Carpet

Snape on the Black Carpet

Bat Vader
Cat Needs to Eat
Chicago Neighborhood Boundaries - South Andersonville Gardens
Dog & Cat Teamwork
Escalator to Gym
Found Nemo!
Gay Marriage vs Religion
Go After What You Want
Grammar
Herpes Pizza
I See You
I didn't Make it to the Gym Today ...
I'm Insincerely Thrilled by your Mundane News!
If All Else Fails Hug Your Dog or Kitty
Jesus Says Don't Judge
Mr Rogers says Thanks for being my Neighbor
National Sarcasm Society - Like We Need Your Support
Old People Taunting
Peanut Birth
Republican Primary Candidates
Saint Patrick's Blind Date with Medusa
Scary Easter Bunny

You're Everything I've Ever Wanted in a Friend!

Snooki's Due Date is 2012-12-21.  Well Played Mayans.
Sometimes When You Give Up On Someone ...
What Matters Most is how you see yourself

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Interesting Blog Entries and News Stories of the Week

How to Remove your Google Web History

If you have an account on Google and are worried about the upcoming privacy changes that Google is enacting this guide will help you remove your history.


Old Geezer’s Guide to Age Proofing Your Resume (YouTube Video)

Maria Dubov explains how someone out of the target age group for I/T can make themselves just as desirable to hiring managers as the youngins.  Perhaps more desirable when you consider the map rap millennials get about not staying interested in any one thing for ….  Oh look something shiny!


2012-02-22 Life Outside the Box (LOTB) Part I

2012-02-22 Life Outside the Box (LOTB) Part II

Listen as Ann Babiarz discusses Emotional Intelligence in this week’s Life Outside the Box podcast.


Wonder Woman Car Stolen

I hate to say it but they’re expecting it’s return because of unique paint (decal?) on the hood …  Don’t most cars that get stolen end up dismantled for parts?  I feel bad for this woman and I do hope that’s not the case but I’m not optimistic.


What to do if your Eyeball Falls out of it’s Socket

Can you read this without holding your eyes in psychosomatic pain?  I can’t.


Japan Earthquake: Before and After

Impressive and sad.  I can only imagine what having your entire life turned upside down in a very short period of time must be like.


Myths, Lies and True Believers: Why Libertarians Should be Cautious

I disagree with the headline and premise of this story, that any one of a particular political affiliation, religious belief or personal conviction is any more or less susceptible to lies, rumors or urban legends . . .  Regardless of how it looks at times.  That said however this article is a very interesting read.


De-Occupy Your House Movement

A few problems with this for me . . .

First off our economic collapse this decade may have been far worse if everyone with an underwater mortgage (isn’t that a pretty high percentage of homeowners these days?)  Not sure.  There is something to be said for ripping the bandage off though.

Second most states have deficiency laws in place that allow the banks to come after you if you were to just simply walk away.  They could come after you for the difference between what they were able to actually sell the home for (which may be even less than the actual value)   So what would the point be of walking away from your home if you’re going to have to pay that back anyway?


Never Forget. Never Again – Allegiance – That Blog is so Takei

George Takei talks about what happened 70 years ago when the acting U.S. President signed a decree that forced all Americans of Japanese decent into internment camps.  A very sad point in our history.


Mingley Maintains your Personal and Professional Connections

I need to give this a shot!


Watch a Gas Station Change Prices During Live National TV Broadcast

Funny!  Very bad timing.


Car Accident Happens Behind Reporter (YouTube Video)

“We could see fewer people driving” *SMACK* . . .   I’d say that prophecy was fulfilled


Man Found Alive After Being Snowed in for Months

“The man had survived thanks to a sleeping bag and eating nothing but snow since December. He was immediately transferred to the hospital and has yet to give any official statement.”

Wow


Facebook Defriending Leads to Murder

Not really all that surprising.  I’ve seen a lot of people use “defriending” as a high insult towards another individual.  Stupid yes but there it is.


Notifications are Evil

Finally someone else validates my viewpoint!  We have too many immediate “HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS RIGHT NOW!” notifications reaching us on a daily basis.  It’s distracting and needless.


Animal Rights Activists Charged in Murder for Hire Plot

Taken a bit too far don’t you think?

 

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Fun and Interesting Web Image Finds of the Week

I take credit for none of these.  These are just random images that I happened across online this week and found amusing.  Enjoy!

All You Can Eat No Stay Four Hours!Darth Vader - Pull my FingerHow NOT to transport a ladderKitten Catches FlyLonely? Hold a Meeting!!No Spell to Reawaken the DeadR2D2 - The Most Vulgar Character of All TimeRandom Text MessagesThe World Doesn't End in 2012Vacation KittyYou Can't Start the Next Chapter of Your Life if You Keep Reading the Last OneRain as Seen from a PlaneNo No Mr. Princess No Es Here.  You Go to Other Castle

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Fun and Interesting Photos of the week

I take credit for none of these.  These are just random images that I happened across online this week and found amusing.  Enjoy!

Awesome Valentine!!Eat Less CRAP eat more FOODJust Can't Lose WeightLibertariansPoor TotoUNIX Team's HygeneWaldo & Carmen SanDiego

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Interesting Blog Entries and News Stories of the Week

As I mentioned in my last post I’m going to try to make a habit of compiling fun and interesting Blog Entries and News Stories that I come across on this site.  Let’s see how well I can keep up with it.  🙂

What Happens in your Body when you Eat Raman and Gatorade (YouTube Video)

This is an excellent article and video that show exactly what happens to many processed foods in your digestive tract … Or rather what doesn’t happen.

To put it quickly … The video shows the test subjects eating home-made noodles that broke down in the digestive tract almost immediately to something unrecognizable.  Then they show what happens with processed ramen … The noodles retained their form and appearance for quite a longer while in the digestive tract.  They also had the test subject injest Gatorade which retained it’s color for most of the time as well.

Yet another reason to avoid processed foods when possible!!!


Lies, Lawsuits and Performance Reviews: A Candid Q&A with Corporate HR Manager, Janet Godbey

Maria Dubov, founder of MMD Services, sits down with Janet Godbey to set the record straight on various HR issues that may occur during the application, on the job and after termination.  Those of us that work for someone else can benefit greatly from this information.


Wal-Mart Security Cameras Catch Chunky Naked Guy Stealing Socks (YouTube Video)

I think the title says it all.  Will he be featured on People of Wal-Mart?


Football Coach Resigns After Posting Nude Facebook Photo

Keeping with the theme there was a football coach that accidentally posted a nude photo of himself on Facebook meaning to send it to that special someone.

I’ve seen plenty of people in similar situations on Facebook … Well not with nude photos but with posts they thought were direct messages to an individual but instead they turned into wall posts.  Oops!

Moral of the story is … If it’s something you don’t want the public to potentially see DO NOT pass it through Facebook.


State Inspectors Searching Children’s Lunch Boxes

There’s a school in North Carolina that’s been accused of taking the Michelle Obama healthy eating initiative a little too far . . .   To the point of actually inspecting lunches brought from home and, if it’s not meeting minimum standards, forcing them to take food from the school cafeteria.  In this case the lunch was lacking a vegetable so they gave the kid Chicken Nuggets, Milk, Fruit and a vegetable in addition to her lunch from home.

First of all . . .   As a child I wasn’t much for eating my vegetables (though my mom finally found I’d eat a ton of vegetables in the form of salsa) so that was never packed in a lunch for me.  Second . . .  How exactly is giving a child more food going to prevent obesity?

This is the only instance of this that I’m aware of so this is far from being widespread but you can’t deny that childhood obesity is a big problem.  (Widespread?  Big Problem?  Puns!!!)  The fix has to come from the parents however.  If parents decide to pack their kids a lunch to take to school then the parents are making the nutritional decisions for their children.  Let them do it.

I do agree that the schools have needed to revamp their menus for years but I shudder to think how some healthier items I love to eat as an adult would fare in a mass produced cafeteria environment.  At any rate though the schools are free to clean up their own act for the food that they provide in the vending machines and cafeterias.  Contrary to what some believe this can be done smartly without costing a lot of money.

Beyond that though, if there’s a demand for there to be more done, offer a nutritional class for students with informative handouts for parents.  Perhaps an evening seminar that parents can take if they choose to.  There’s no further responsibility the schools should have to take on for this.  Let’s make no mistake, children are not getting fat on school lunches alone.


Arizona’s Plan to Fire Teachers for Swearing

Because this story was met with skepticism by some ….  I’m going to link some further supporting articles about AZ Senate Bill (SB) 1467 from Fox News Philadelphia, Fox News Phoenix, MSNBC, Arizona Daily Wildcat and BangStyle (Take your pick which are valid news sources, they’re all reporting the same facts)  The actual proposed bill is a useful link as well.

The proposed bill reads as follows:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Title 15, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-108, to read:
15-108.  Public classrooms; compliance with federal standards for media broadcasts concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity; violations; definition
A.  IF A PERSON WHO PROVIDES CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL ENGAGES IN SPEECH OR CONDUCT THAT WOULD VIOLATE THE STANDARDS ADOPTED BY THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION CONCERNING OBSCENITY, INDECENCY AND PROFANITY IF THAT SPEECH OR CONDUCT WERE BROADCAST ON TELEVISION OR RADIO:
1.  FOR THE FIRST OCCURRENCE, THE SCHOOL SHALL SUSPEND THE PERSON, AT A MINIMUM, FOR ONE WEEK OF EMPLOYMENT, AND THE PERSON SHALL NOT RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION FOR THE DURATION OF THE SUSPENSION. THIS PARAGRAPH DOES NOT PROHIBIT A SCHOOL AFTER THE FIRST OCCURRENCE FROM SUSPENDING THE PERSON FOR A LONGER DURATION OR TERMINATING THE EMPLOYMENT OF THAT PERSON.
2.  FOR THE SECOND OCCURRENCE, THE SCHOOL SHALL SUSPEND THE PERSON, AT A MINIMUM, FOR TWO WEEKS OF EMPLOYMENT, AND THE PERSON SHALL NOT RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION FOR THE DURATION OF THE SUSPENSION. THIS PARAGRAPH DOES NOT PROHIBIT A SCHOOL AFTER THE SECOND OCCURRENCE FROM SUSPENDING THE PERSON FOR A LONGER DURATION OR TERMINATING THE EMPLOYMENT OF THAT PERSON.
3.  FOR THE THIRD OCCURRENCE, THE SCHOOL SHALL TERMINATE THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE PERSON. THIS PARAGRAPH DOES NOT PROHIBIT A SCHOOL AFTER THE FIRST OR SECOND OCCURRENCE FROM TERMINATING THE EMPLOYMENT OF THAT PERSON.
B.  FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, “PUBLIC SCHOOL” MEANS A PUBLIC PRESCHOOL PROGRAM, A PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, A PUBLIC JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, A PUBLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL, A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL, A PUBLIC VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, A PUBLIC COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN THIS STATE. 

The point of this proposed Arizona bill appears to be trying to bring what is said in the classrooms by the teachers in line with FCC regulations.  For anyone who’s been to high school in the past 15 years (and I’d venture to say longer than that) can attest … The problem is not the teachers.  The problem is the students.

Another problem with this is the bill is written so vague that the school could technically go after a teacher for swearing outside of school (Don’t agree?  Reread paragraph A.  There is NOTHING that says “When Teaching in a Classroom” or “On School Grounds”).  Someone cut you off in traffic?  Working on your back deck and drive a nail through your finger?  Better not even think of uttering the S word and CERTAINLY not the F word.  Someone might hear you and report you to the school.  “Our children can’t be taught by someone who uses naughty language even if it is in the privacy of their own home!”

I would like to say that would never happen but some people are nuts.  If they have a reason not to like you some people will use every opportunity to make life difficult for you.

What is REALLY surprising about this bill to me is just who is putting their names on it.

Andy Biggs (R)

Al Melvin (R) — Al’s Web Page

Don Shooter (R) — Don’s Web Page

Steve Smith (R)

That’s right all four have the R after their name and at least two of them ran on the platform of less government.  This definitely doesn’t seem like less government to me.

With as much negative attention as this bill is receiving I would expect it to either not make it to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk and if it did to be met with a veto.  I would love to see something from one of the involved senators explaining why this bill is needed however because if they’re talking the media (Liberal or Conservative) isn’t reporting it.  Seems like a waste of time and taxpayer’s money (and what was this about government waste?) to even introduce such a thing, at least on the surface.


Alamo Drafthouse to Open New Theatre in San Francisco

I saw this and was reminded of a YouTube video Alamo Drafthouse posted last year with a woman that was clearly upset that she was kicked out of the theatre for texting.  This is after ignoring many warnings about not texting in the theatre.

A few weeks ago, at AMC in Skokie, I went to see Hugo with some friends and a woman’s phone rang.  She, of course, answered it and carried on a loud conversation. After everyone around her heckled her for a while to either hang it up or leave we went to get management that just decided it was better to listen to her rant on and on about having to take an important emergency call than to get her out of the room.  Please Alamo Drafthouse, open up a theatre in Chicago.  You would have ALL of my movie going business!!!!


Nevada Approves Self-Driving Cars for Use

As someone who used to commute by car 40 miles to work and 40 miles from work and dealing with many many drivers of varying skill all vying for space on crowded Chicago roads I say self driving cars can’t come soon enough.  So … If they’re approved in Nevada … Where do you buy them?  Are they actually on the market already?


Automate Your Most Annoying Errands with these Tools

A somewhat useful article by LifeHacker.   In it they suggest how to do things like set up recurring shipments of items you regularly would need (Filters, Dry Cleaning, Batteries, Groceries etc), have pharmacy refills ready and waiting for you when you arrive and other things.

I’m a huge fan of automating my life where possible and have made use of some of these suggestions.


Raw Beef Bouquet: How to Land a Meat-Lover Lover

“Oh ….  Wow …. You shouldn’t have.  You really really shouldn’t have …”

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


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