Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Amazon vs. Blogspot

Today and tomorrow my organization will hold a large off-site meeting where we will discuss how we can enter the Web 2.0 world of user-created content. In preparation for that meeting, they've handed out some documents on Web 2.0 for us to read.

Having blogged for a while now, I found most of it to be self-evident. There was one significant exception. They described how Amazon has made it big while Barnes and Noble has not. The difference is in the user-created content. How is that different from what Blogspot does?

The reviews at Amazon have led me to make purchases. Posts on Blogspot blogs have led me to form opinions. The difference is that Amazon owns, collects and presents the reviews organized directly under the product being sold while Blogspot simply hosts random content. The content on any blog site is organized by the creator of that content. My web of links is created by me, not Blogger. If I choose to move my blog to another site, all I need to do is make my last post here a redirection one and nothing else changes. I can't do the same at Amazon. Their data is inextricably linked to the structure of their site.

Once the user-created content is tied into the site, then visitors have to go there to get it. Google's purchase of YouTube picked up just such an organizational structure in the form of "most viewed" and "favorite" videos. The votes and user reviews of the videos cannot be replicated elsewhere. People will go to YouTube because other people are going to YouTube.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ikebana Blogging

Yesterday was the annual Ikebana International flower arrangement show here in San Diego. I popped down to Balboa Park to get a few photos. There were many impressive arrangements on display. I'll share four of them here. Click on each for larger versions of the photos.

For those who aren't familiar with Ikebana, here's what it is.

IKEBANA is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. IKEBANA is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing in which nature and humanity are brought together. It is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature.
For more information, visit the Ikebana International home page. There are many more outstanding photos there.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Left will Respond to the Global Islamofascist Threat When...

...they realize that Exxon is making profits off of every Molotov cocktail thrown by the French "youths".

The Feline Theocracy's College of Cardinals has more. Lots more.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Could You Not Get a 4.0?

While watching the Florida - Georgia game today, they talked about a Georgia player who is majoring in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

You've got to be kidding me.

Let's go look up UGa and see what they've got.

Oh. My. God.

They actually have it as a major. Here are two of the classes.

RLST 2800. Programming in Leisure Services. 3 hours.
Prerequisite: Permission of major.
A comprehensive approach to leisure programming. Emphasis on elements of program planning and organization, leadership, and supervision.
Offered fall semester every year.

RLST 2800L. Laboratory in Recreation Leadership. 1 hour. 1 hour lab per week.
Prerequisite: Permission of major.
Corequisite: RLST 2800.
Techniques of leadership in recreation and leisure settings.
Offered fall semester every year.

Words fail me.

Militantly Lazy

I have a ton of things to do today after coming home from my business trip. I don't feel like doing anything. I really don't feel like doing anything. I mean, I'm actually agressive about the whole subject.

Call it militant laziness.

Jamestown Blogging

I just flew in from Virginia and boy are my arms tired!

No, I won't stop using that one.

I had a business side trip to Norfolk and my meetings there ended around 1PM. Once finished, I had to make the trek back up to Alexandria. I decided to stop by Jamestown on the way back as my daughter had studied it in third grade social studies last year.

Jamestown was an economic venture by some English adventurer / entrepreneurs started in 1607. Starved for certain raw materials, these gentlemen received dispensation from the king to take a party to America and start a colony that would harvest these materials and ship them back to England. The whole thing was a huge gamble. The history site linked above will give the background and facts. Here I will give observations.

When I studied the subject with my daughter, I just couldn't figure out how they managed to do so badly while surroundedd by so many natural resources.

The shore of the James River right at the settlement. Timber and fish were readily available.

The colonists decided early on to rely on trading with the Indians for food rather than farm extenisvely at the settlement. It was felt that farming would make the colony appear too permanent and would invite Indian attacks. Fortunately, when they arrived, the local Indians were fighting with the neighboring tribe who had been their source of copper goods and were willing to barter food for copper.

The plan was to focus on the high value items like tobacco (which must have required some farming), timber and metals. That worked out well until they got into a dispute with the Indians who essentially besieged the settlement over the winter of 1609. Cut off from food supplies and unable to leave their fort, they starved to death in huge numbers.

They also suffered from a lack of fresh water. That stunned me. It turns out that the James River is brackish (has a high salt content) at the settlement and was not a reliable source of drinking water. When they dug wells, they had to dig them to just the right depth to avoid their own waste in the water table and the brackish water from the river. I had always assumed that the James River was fresh and that wasn't a problem. That close to the Atlantic, enough salt is present to make the water undrinkable.

The whole thing was a high-wire act from beginning to end. If the Indians cooperated and if they could rely on supply and trade ships from England and if the Spanish didn't find them and if they didn't lose too many of one any particular profession to disease and if the weather wasn't too severe, then they might make a great deal of money.

The stars never quite aligned for the original colonists. Read more about it at the history site linked above.

The park itself was a big disappointment. It is being extensively renovated for the 400th anniversary of the founding in 2007. There is construction going on all over the place and photo opportunities are minimal. The park entrance fee is still the same despite the temporarily poor quality of the exhibit. I was able to get photos of a recreation of the fort walls that illustrated something I hadn't thought of before.

A replica of the walls used for the original fort.

Lacking nails, they augured holes in the wood and used wooden stakes as nails. As the wood decomposed over time, the walls must have become more and more flimsy.

I wish I had been able to take more photos, but everything else was marred by construction debris. I was also disappointed in the museum attached to the park. They did not allow photography. Oh well. The weather was wonderful and I'd still recommend seeing the place. Just wait until 2007 or later so the construction is finished when you go.

By the way, if I've erred in my analysis, please let me know in the comments section.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Airport Blogging from Reagan

I'm sitting here at the gate waiting to board my flight, blogging thanks to a connection from Cingular's wireless service. I love that part.

I am also being bathed in CNN. It permeates every nook and cranny of the terminal. Even if I can't see the monitor, I can't get away from the sound because it is piped through all the speakers in the place. No matter where you sit you're within range of one. The sound from CNN is so loud I can barely make out the conversation of the people sitting next to me. I wonder how they can hear each other.

So far I've been graced with stories about the Webb/Allen race, a worshipful piece about Hillary's birthday, Michael J. Fox firing back at Rush and now we're looking at the Southern California wildfires.

I'm in a very bad mood now. The trip has gone well and I even had a chance to stop by and visit Jamestown. I'll photoblog about that later, but right now I can barely think, thanks to CNN.

I hate it. We've got to get this audio/visual pollution out of our airports.

I Just Switched to Firefox

I have used Internet Explorer for a long time. The laptop I'm using right now, a Compaq nc8230, is buggier than ksquest's moth collection. IE in particular has issues. I just upgraded to IE 7 thinking it would solve my problems. In a manner of speaking, it did.

Now when I open IE and surf over here to The Scratching Post, IE closes itself after loading about 20% of the page. No warning, no error message, just poof! and it's gone.

I went out and installed Firefox and I love it. IE told me that it did not want to work on this machine so I won't force it to do so. Who am I to argue with Microsoft?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, Seed Racing Edition

Seed Racing. It has wrecked families, ruined marriages and destroyed careers. The obsession with this new and exciting sport where people plant different kinds of seeds in little pots and see which ones are ready to transplant into the ground first is sweeping the nation. Yes, this blog has been a part of that craze, but we’d like to think our interest has been a healthy one, born out of financial necessity. It’s not that way for everyone.

Already stories of Seed Racing hooliganism are finding their way onto the nightly news. Who can forget the tragic story of that one botanist who was trampled by a mob in Belgium when he suggested that a ficus benjamina could blow the doors off of a locust tree nine times out of ten?

It’s one thing to read stories of such chaos and mayhem in the newspapers, it’s another thing to confront it in your own life. Admit it. You’ve been spending time wondering whether you should have planted your mixed tall zinnias in Uncle Malcom’s potting soil instead of Miracle Grow mix. When your neighbor asked you to watch his cat for him while he was on vacation, you raided his compost heap and concealed your crime by replacing it with cheap fill dirt.

When your spouse talks to you, you’re daydreaming of the seed racks at Home Depot, aren’t you?

The madness has to stop. For today’s Thursday Thirteen, The Scratching Post offers you the thirteen ways to tell if you’ve got a Seed Racing addiction.

1. Photography. Your camera is filled with comparative photos of the plants you’re growing from seed. Like this.

2. You participate in the discussion board at Blossom Swap. From your PDA. Through a wireless connection. In the bathroom. At Starbucks. When you don’t really have to go. And your spouse is waiting for you outside.

3. You make little signs for your rows of seeds. You wish you had a home laminating machine so you could make them look better. You plan out national flags you would put on those signs as well.

4. Discussions of soil pH in your house sometimes take a nasty turn.

5. Late at night when everyone else in the family has gone to bed, you lock the door, close the blinds tightly and surf the Internet for videos like this.

6. You imagine your plants like tiny athletes, doing elaborate end zone dances when you finally plant them in the ground.

7. When you talk to your plants, you imagine their responses couched in sports phrases like, “Well, I just take things one day at a time. I don’t try to get too high when I have a good day growing. I really have to credit my teammates, water and fertilizer for this big growth spurt.”

8. Your seedling pots have more endorsement stickers than a NASCAR vehicle.

9. You show your seedlings photos of what they will look like as adults.

10. After showing them the photos, you tell them that they’ll look like this someday if only they apply themselves.

11. You invent quotes from the other seedlings and pin them on the walls around the pots like a locker room bulletin board. “The Painted Daisies say you could plant them in gravel and they’d still beat the tar out of the English Lavender.”

12. Your credit card company calls you to verify that you’ve bought potting soil at eleven different locations in the last three weeks.

13. You post photos of your seed experiments on your blog and ask your readers to vote for their favorites. Like this.

Which type of plant will be the first one to be transplantable?
English Daisies
Painted Daisies
English Lavender
Gold Dust Alyssum
I can't pick. This is too exciting! I need to go lie down for a while
Free polls from Pollhost.com

If too many of these signs apply to you, then I encourage you to stop what you’re doing and call the Seed Racing Addiction Hotline at 1-800-PLEASE, NO MORE SEEDS.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Little League Style

One of the principal tenets of this blog is that acts of kindness are far more common than we realize. This week's World of Good (WOG) is a great example of just that.

How many times have you driven past a kids' sporting event? Have you ever considered the amount of volunteer labor hours it represents? You can see the coaches, but you can't see all of the administration, financial donations, team parent meetings and so forth that make it possible for the kids to play ball. I have managed three little league baseball teams and one soccer team. I've coached on two more baseball and one more soccer team. In each case, I was surrounded by others who gave far more time to be team moms, league presidents, treasurers, secretaries, umpires, groundskeepers and so on. The game you drive by rests on the shoulders of many, many volunteers.

Coaching these guys is more fun than a grown up should be allowed to have.

I picked a state at random and in a few seconds found a Little League website that represents thousands upon thousands all across the country. Check out the Post Falls, Idaho Little League home page. Everyone you see listed on that page and the ones behind it, gives time and money they could have spent watching TV, fishing, hunting or doing other things for themselves so that the kids can play ball.

That is the reality of life in America today.

In the background, you see a volunteer coach, an umpire who is being paid nearly nothing if he is being paid at all and banners from many local businesses who donate the funds to make plays like this possible.

If you watch prime time TV, you see shows about self-absorbed young adults, grimly determined cops and lawyers and doctors or you see news programs about death and destruction. If you look out the window as you run errands in your neighborhood, you see real life.

They don't look anything like each other.

This coaching lessons represents several evenings spent at home with coaching books or videos learning how to teach baseball to children. You don't just wander out onto the field and coach.

In the end, doesn't the way we behave become a matter of expectations? That is, if we see the world as a cruel place or a giant playpen for a Roman orgy lifestyle, then we don't have too much to live up to. If we accept that normalcy is evidenced by the hundreds of children playing baseball in our neighborhood parks and the thousands of adults that made that possible after they came home from work or ran the last errand, then we look at our own lives and what we should give to others quite differently.


For more WOGgy goodness, visit this page. It's got links to all of our previous WOGs. Thanks to Supremacy Claus for a great turn of phrase and the WOG Squad for spreading the links to these posts. The images used in this post do not come from the Post Falls Little League.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Shame

I have no shame.

No shame at all.

For more fabulous felines, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

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King of Spain Shoots Drunk Bear

From today's San Diego Union:

A Russian region has ordered an inquiry into a report that hunt organizers, keen to make the king of Spain's chances of killing a bear easier, provided a tame one drunk on vodka, a regional spokesman said Thursday.
This followed efforts to allow the king to drop a piano from a tall building onto a wildebeest and blow up a termite mound with dynamite.

"I just love those old Warner Brothers cartoons," said the king. "I was happy to pay whatever it took to launch an anvil from a giant rubber band and smash that rascally rabbit to smithereens!"

The Russian news service has released this video of the king hunting.

Church and Sky

Last night's sky. Click on the image for a much better version.

Ode to Sprout

Boo over at BlossomSwap agreed to let me post this. I love it. Since it's a graphic rather than simple text, you'll probably need to click on it to read it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

America's Next Top Pundit is You

The Wall Street Journal had an article on Friday discussing how political talk shows are scouring the country for pundit talent to showcase on their stations. It completely misses what's happening on the way opinion is being distributed. Here's the key paragraph.

Every morning, Tammy Haddad, executive producer of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," hears from more than 100 aspiring commentators. They each explain why they'd be the perfect guest to spout off on the issues of the day. "We call them 'street meat,' " says Ms. Haddad. "They're always available, walking the streets, waiting for your call on their cellphones."
Chris Matthews is a ratings disaster. In an environment where dinosaurs like MSNBC are getting killed by the new media, it's illuminating to hear private content creators referred to so dismissively. It's the cow sneering at each inidividual piranha as he gets stripped to the bone.

The article focuses primarily on "B-List" commentator Debbie Schlussel. Who made the decision that Debbie is a B-List commentator? I would bet that Debbie's trend line is going up. Chris Matthews lines are most certainly going down. I read a little from Debbie's blog. Interesting stuff, that. It's certainly better than Chris Matthews' work, who's take on just about everything seems to have been made up during conversations with his make-up artist.

Between now and the time that MSNBC slips down into the noise of the Long Tail, bloggers and other content creators will use them to gain popularity and name recognition. It's not MSNBC exploiting the bloggers for ratings. It's the bloggers exploiting MSNBC.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thrill Seeker Redirection

If you're looking to participate in the wild new craze of Seed Racing, look here. This post will remain at the top all weekend to redirect those visitors who are looking to push excitement to the max!

When you're done with that, come on back and check out our favorite posts of the week from the Feline Theocracy.

Is Your Cat Suffering?

Adsense recently gave me an ad whose headline asks the question, "Is your cat suffering?"

I have to admit I panicked. I rushed off to find our Maximum Leader and ask her if she was suffering. She gave me the following reply.


For more feline frivolity, be sure to visit this week's Carnival of the Cats.

Blossom Swap Gets It Right

One of the hardest things to find as a blogger are images that you can use in your posts. If I'm writing about Starbucks, for example, I don't always have the time to drive to a Starbucks and take a few photos. It's nice to find a place that already has photos for you to use. Most photo sites make it clear that you cannot use theirs under any circumstances.

BlossomSwap gets it right. They have published a whole set of wonderful plant photos and have expressly allowed viewers to use them on their non-commercial sites. This is a godsend to me, since I wanted to post photos of the plants I have participating in my Seed Race.

BlossomSwap is much more than just a place where you can scrounge photos. To quote from their site, it's "the nook where backyard gardeners gather to trade secrets & treasures of the earth." If you're a gardener or want to learn more, I highly recommend it. I'm joining today.

Among the plants participating in Seed Racing are painted daisies. Here is an outstanding photo of what they will look like doing their victory dance when they win the race.

In your face, English Lavender!

Thanks, BlossomSwap.

Update: I seem to have run afoul of the discussion board moderator on BlossomSwap. I wrote an entry where I posted a link to my Seed Racing post and it got deleted. The only thing I can think is that they consider this to be a "commercial" site. I can assure you, it most certainly is not. I have yet to see a dime from AdSense.

Update 2: I was hasty. The moderator moved my post to a different subject heading. There have been several supportive and funny replies. Way cool! I'll be doing a Carnival of Marketing post on BlossomSwap in the near future.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Great Posts from the Feline Theocracy

Hi, Jacob the Syrian Hamster here, back to bring you more stellar posts from the blogs that make up the Feline Theocracy. As the loyal beadle for the Theocracy, it's my duty to round up links to my fellow theocraticians' best posts. I've been negligent lately, so I'm trying something new to see if I can keep up. I'll post a few now and keep adding to the list all weekend. Maybe if I don't try to do it all in one sitting it will be easier.

Here we go.

Our newest members, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and our Missionary to the Polytheistic have got some great stuff to share. Starling posts about Google's acquisition of YouTube in a very readable fashion and Zeus has a cake that has to be seen to be believed.

Our Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has more cop humor to share. No, officer, I was laughing with you, not at you.

The Theocracy's Official Artist posts a video that cuts right to heart of the matter. I love it!

Our Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses has a very thoughtful post for you to hear.

WOG Squad member Georgette is a Christian who lives among Muslims. She has an intriguing post about people who convert from Islam to Christianity. It takes on a special meaning when you realize that her posting of it is born of her deep understanding of these two cultures. It's rather long, but I recommend it.

Our Patriarch of the Airwaves is looking for help for a milblogger who is stationed in Afghanistan whose wife is ill with breast cancer. It's important to him so it's important to us. Please stop by and see what you can do for this worthy cause.

More to come as I get the time. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect

This is only a test.

Had this been an actual mouse, you would have been instructed were to find the head and guts as they were strewn about the house.

For more feline fun, be sure to visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Seed Racing - The New Gambling Craze

Have you heard of the latest craze sweeping the nation? It's Seed Racing. Thousands of people are flocking to this new and exciting sport!

Well, er, not really.

You plant seeds from a variety of species of plants in a flat and then see which ones are ready to transplant into your garden first. It's growing faster than NASCAR, Soccer and Skeleton combined!

What the @%^#&* is Skeleton, anyway?

Not wanting to be left out of this fad, The Scratching Post is jumping in with all four feet! Eight if you count the hamster. We're not only going to participate in Seed Racing, we're actually going to let our readers gamble on it!

Er, that's not entirely true. I just had to get my car repaired and I can no longer afford the plants I wanted. I'm having to grow them from seed. I wanted to chart their growth over time and decided to garden blog about it instead of keep the results to myself.

So without further ado, let's meet the contestants. We're growing four different types of seed. Gold Dust Alyssum, Mixed Painted Daisies, English Lavender and English Daisy Mix.

If you say "garden blogging" fast it sounds vaguely German. "Mein Gott! Ist eine gartenbloggen!"

The seeds were planted on Sunday, October 15. Our horoscope charts indicated that this was a propitious day for planting.

Actually, we never consulted any horoscopes. We just had some extra time that day.

Here's where the plants are coming out of the gate. Click on the pictures for much better images.

The Alyssums have two excellent competitors going already.

The English team has a small daisy coming up, but the lavender has yet to show.

The painted daisies are off and running!

And now it's your turn to put your money down. Just vote in our poll. Feel free to post your bets in the comments section of this post.

Which type of plant will be the first one to be transplantable?
English Daisies
Painted Daisies
English Lavender
Gold Dust Alyssum
I can't pick. This is too exciting! I need to go lie down for a while
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Not that you will. No one ever comments. No one loves me. I do all this work and no one cares. If it weren't for the thrills of Seed Racing, I'd end it all right now.

Gamble responsibly. Know when to quit. If you have a Seed Racing gambling problem, please put the mouse down and call 1-800-I-must-be-insane.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment!

Update: In order to stay ahead of all of the other sites that will soon be starting their own Seed Racing events, I'm making sure this gets maximum coverage. Look for links at the open trackback posts at StopTheACLU, Angel's blog, The Amboy Times and others.

Update 2: In support of Seed Racing, I just joined the marvellous site, BlossomSwap. I posted a thread about Seed Racing there. I'm obsessed with Seed Racing!

I think my coffee might be too strong.

Changing Holiday Decoration Themes is too Hard

'Tis the season...to decorate your house with a different theme every three weeks. First it's Halloween then it's Thanksgiving, then it's Christmas. Goblins and witches and pilgrims and turkeys and snowmen and Santa and reindeer and on and on and on.

What a chore!

This year I'm going to condense all of my decorations into just one diorama.

Santa in a hockey mask killing a pilgrim with a chainsaw. "You've been naughty this year, Mr. Mayflower!" RRRRROOOWWWWWRRRRRRR!!!! "Aiiieeeee!"

Holiday decorations done and valid for a full three month period, I'm going inside to watch football and drink beer.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday 13, Confession Edition

The guilt is too much for me. I can't keep living with the lies! I confess! I didn't blog yesterday. Instead, I wrote my normal Wednesday World of Good post this morning and backdated it to yesterday. I feel so dirty and ashamed. Now that I have admitted my sin to the world, I feel better. Perhaps that's what's been sapping me of my energy. Too much guilt. I can see things more clearly now that I told the truth. I need to do more. There's so very, very much to tell.

With that in mind, I give you this week's Thursday 13. 13 lies I must confess.

1. I used to drink instant coffee. Hideous stuff, that. But wait, it gets worse.

2. I once served it to my grandmother. My own grandmother! The woman who had been the embodyment of kindness and love to me. She even knitted me a marvellous green and gold afghan. And I served her instant coffee. She hated it. I hate myself for doing it.

3. Sometimes when I make spaghetti sauce, I grind up an onion very finely and add it to the sauce. My kids hate onions, but never know it's there.

4. I don't even use olive oil to cook the onion in the first place. It's canola oil instead! On Italian food! The horror of it all!

5. I have the used the accounts and descriptions of Major League Baseball games without the express, written consent of Major League Baseball.

6. Some of those accounts were of Toronto Blue Jays games. I'm an international criminal.

7. If a book has boring patches, I skip them. The author went to all that trouble to write the whole book, but do I read the whole book? No, of course not, but I tell everyone I read the book. I'm a lying scumbag.

8. Sometimes, when I'm alone in the car, I sing along with a calypso CD, like ones from Lord Nelson or the Mighty Sparrow. There are songs about Trinidad and it's march to independence. I've never even been there, yet I warble along as if I had. Oh, the duplicity of it all!

9. Some people sneak about, removing the tags from their mattresses. Ha! The amateurs! I remove them from sofas.

10. There have been occasions when I have fallen asleep with the light on, wasting precious electricity. Global warming? It's on me.

11. If an aluminum can is in the trash and something icky is covering it, I don't remove it and put it in the recycling container. I just leave it there to be thrown into the dump. There needs to be a fourth component to the slogan, just for me. Reduce, reuse, recycle, rehabilitate.

12. The clocks in my house don't all agree with one another. There could be as much as a three minute difference between them. My children live in a world of dizzying confusion as they never know exactly what time it is. And I call myself a father!

13. And now, the worst confession of all. The pinnacle of evil. The apex of horror. I don't really care which part of the toothpaste tube I squeeze. Sometimes it's the bottom. Sometime's it's the middle. I've even squeezed the thing from the top! I don't deserve to participate in any event of oral cleansing.

Whew. There. I feel better now. I hope you've all learned from my life of sin and depravity. If there's anything you need to confess, leave it in the comments. Go ahead. It's good for the soul.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, New Orleans Saints Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post. On Sunday morning I was puttering about the house, listening to my beloved New Orleans Saints over the Internet. During the pregame show, the Saints announcer, Jim Henderson, mentioned that the Saints were hosting a terminally ill child whose wish was to participate in the pregame coin flip and then to spend part of the game in the broadcast booth. KATC, a local TV station, posted the story on their website. Here are a few excerpts.

NEW ORLEANS -- Cameron Steib, 8, has a rare disease that saps much of his strength and enthusiasm. He can't walk very far on his own, and can barely speak above a whisper.

But none of that mattered on Oct. 15, when Cameron was the guest of honor at the New Orleans Saints football game against the Philadelphia Eagles and served as the game's junior captain.

Cameron presided over the pre-game coin flip and was treated like a star by everyone from the Saints' head coach to the cheerleaders. The adventure was arranged by A Child's Wish, a New Orleans-based charity that grants wishes for Louisiana children with life-threatening illnesses...

On game day, the family walked out to field level below the stands where they were met by Gumbo, a dog-suited mascot with big floppy ears and a number "01" Saints jersey.

Moments later, Cameron became the envy of every male in the building when he found himself surrounded by the Saintsations, the team's dance troupe. Cameron had enough sense to milk the moment, showing the dancers a little hip-shake of his own and blowing them a kiss.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Saints, I thought I would point out what a Saintsation is. This is not an gratuitous insertion of a photo of a total hottie in an effort to increase readership here at The Scratching Post. This is citizen journalism at its finest.

Bethany, one of the Saintsations. The public has a right to know.

Normally, the junior captain does the coin flip; in this case, Cameron's dad carried him onto the field so Cameron could witness it. Still, it was quite a scene. Dad came away beaming, while Mom wiped away tears.

After the flip, Cameron went upstairs to watch from the radio booth, meeting New Orleans sportscaster Jim Henderson and former LSU and Saints running back Hokie Gajan...

When asked if he was having a good time, Cameron leaned forward slowly, eyelids drooping, before letting out a soft, drawling "yeah." But his enthusiasm showed. One minute, he was on Dad's lap, sipping Gatorade. The next, he was standing, stomping his tiny feet with the other 68,000 or so fans to the stadium standard "We Will Rock You."
This next quote is another illustration of just how common the World of Good really is.

When another young fan, Kaleb Joseph, 6, offered Cameron his giant inflatable Saints helmet, Cameron put it on with a smile.
I wish I had a picture of that 6-year-old to post. What a great thing to do.

The Saints won the game on a last-second field goal by John Carney. The SuperDome went wild.

Dubya, one of the key contributors at SaintsReport.com took this photo of the postgame celebrations on the field.

Cameron had a special view of the celebration at the end of the game.

The family waited by the locker room door, getting waves from many of the players. Bush approached Cameron and gave him a pat on the head. Near the end of the line was coach Payton, who picked up Cameron and carried him into the victory celebration.
Here's a little bit about A Child's Wish.

"A Child's Wish" is a Louisiana based non-profit organization fulfilling the dreams of children who must make plans one day at a time.

Our staff are all volunteers . . . making it possible that every dollar we receive is utilized directly for our children.

Our greatest ally is the universal love most of us share for children. Our most uncompromising enemy is time.
If they don't embody the World of Good, then no one does. Visit their site. You might be able to help.

The World of Good is this blog's most popular series by far. The whole set can be accessed from this post.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Young Stud Seeks Old Crone for Back Rubs and Walks on the Beach

One of the advertisers Adsense has given me is SugarDaddyForMe. If the ad is still there, please use that link to go check it out rather than the one I embedded in this post.

Sugar Daddy For Me wants to hook up sweet young things with wealthy old men already hooked up to IVs and oxygen tanks. Anyone who thinks that men and women are interchangeable will have a lot of explaining to do with this one. Search as you might, I doubt you'll find a site offering the inverse.

I did a quick search, looking for hotties between 18 and 25 and found 55 of them within 25 miles of me. I didn't bother to register to see their pictures and view their pathetic profiles. What could they possibly say?

21-year-old woman with no marketable skills looking for cash. Willing to deal with cold hands, snoring and meandering conversations. Skilled with fixodent denture adhesive. Drama major in junior college, able to convincingly act like I care about you. No photos necessary, please send portfolio description.
On the other side maybe we'd see one like this.

78-year-old-man uncomfortable with peer relationships. Worked as CEO for several major companies, likes bossing people around. Looking for fawning parasite to lord my wealth over. Must be gorgeous, you will be my only remaining status symbol.
If there's a need, there's a business to fill it.

Insomniac Photography

In past posts, I have shared photos of Mission Bay at sunset. This morning, early this morning, I had a chance to try some night photography of Mission Bay. Click on the photos for much larger images. The small images embedded in this post don't do the scene justice.

The first thing I discovered is that in automatic mode, my camera slows the shutter speed so much that my normally steady hand seems quite wiggly indeed. Here's Mount Soledad. I just wish it would stop moving so much!

I got out my tripod and mounted the camera on it. Unfortunately, the tripod doesn't quite clear the railing of my balcony, so I had to get a shot through the glass below the railing. I must keep the glass cleaner than I thought since none of the dirt seems to show up. With the tripod, Mount Soledad stopped jumping around enough for me to get a relatively clean picture.

Mission Bay, Mission Beach and the Pacific Ocean are a lovely sight at night. My photography is a poor substitute for the real thing.

The line of lights is the thin strip of Mission Beach that separates Mission Bay from the Pacific. At first I thought I was witnessing the reflected light of dawn off the clouds, but checking east I could see that wasn't the case. The clouds are reflecting the city lights. I thought that was a rather striking effect.

The next step is to figure out the manual setting for shutter speed so I can get crisper city lights photos. That and some way of making my tripod taller. Maybe it needs some special vitamins to make it grow...

Monday, October 16, 2006

YouTube as a Social Connector for Google?

Starling Hunter, our Chancellor of the Exchequer over at The Business of America is Business has a great post today analyzing the reasons why Google bought YouTube.

YouTube is a money loser. Google bought it because it ties user more tightly to Google.

Analyst Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research said...People don't have any emotional connection to a search engine, but according to Bernoff, it's far tougher to leave a company that creates social connections. "You'd be leaving your friends," he said. YouTube users post their own videos, pictures and music to share with their friends and family. They've built a community. That's what Google is buying.
ABC News' Mike Cudgell suggests that this isn't going to work since it is so easy to change search engines. If it's easy to change, then people will go to the best product available. Starling Hunter disagrees.

Theoretically it is true that there is little cost in switching search engines, at least little economic cost. Yahoo and MSN and Dogpile are just a click away. And yet, I almost never use them. The main reason being is that for me at least, Google has become the de facto standard. It is not only the market leader, it is widely perceived as performing searches extremely well. For me, and perhaps other web searchers, even if I use another service, I'd probably still do a Google search as well unless -and here's the important part- I was very certain that the other search was far, far superior.
I completely agree with this. I use a mix of Yahoo and Google for my searches. I don't see a need to even try anything else. They work and that's all I need. The switching cost may be low, but the marginal improvement in search if I switch to, say, Dogpile, can't be that great. The cost I pay to switch, like Starling says, is an emotional one. The cost is the anxiety that I might not find what I want.

This brings me to my take on the whole thing. If Google thinks that they're going to get a community out of YouTube that is somehow inextricably linked to their search engine, they're quite mistaken. The beauty of the the Internet is that the features are composable. That is, I can create content by drawing from a wide variety of sources and not care where those sources are hosted. I use YouTube for videos, TinyPic for images, Mr. Linky for my link lists, SiteMeter as my hit counter, Technorati for link counts and so on. It's all one to me where they come from. If Mr. Linky was associated with Yahoo instead of Google, I'd still use it since it does what I want.

As an example, I used to use the TTLB blog ecosystem to guage my links. I found I like Technorati better. I dont visit TTLB very much any more. If YouTube had been associated with TTLB, I'd still use Technorati. The connection isn't strong enough.

Maybe all of this business analysis is overthinking the problem. Maybe Google bought YouTube because YouTube is cool and Google can afford to buy anything they want. "It was shiny and I like shiny things so I bought it."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Proper Way for Dogs to Treat Cats

Is right here.

H/T: Our Archbishop of Texas.

You Know You're Listening to an Oakland Raiders Broadcast When...

...you hear an ad repeated over and over telling you that "You could have an exciting career as a correctional officer today! Just call..."

They missed out on the tagline, though. They could have ended with this.

"As long as there are Oakland Raiders fans, you'll never be out of a job!"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Garden Blogging from Google's Document Editor

Thanks to a link from the Feline Theocracy's Chancellor of the Exchequer , I have discovered Google Docs and Spreadsheets. It looks way cool. I know many of you have already seen this, but I thought I'd give it a try.

The real topic of this post is books vs. computers. I've decided to concentrate my free time on landscaping my yard. Right now I have nothing but barren dirt. I've got enough of the irrigation lines in to allow for planting. I spent some time on line this morning looking for plant finders that would help me select flowers suitable for my yard. Not much luck. Then I spent some time perusing gardening websites. While they were full of information, they just didn't feel right. I decided I wanted to read a book instead of surf the web.

Instead of Googling various search terms, I'm going to sit down with the Western Garden Book and then motor over to the local nursery and see what perennials I can start from seed. (Did I mention I have no budget?) After I work through that book, I'll wander up to the library and see what else I can find.

Despite the advances of technology, there is still a place for the old ways of sharing information.

And now, as a final test, let's see if we can insert an image. If we can do this, I might be able to get around the dreaded Blogger problem with uploading images and just use this to create my blog posts. Let's see here, what would be appropriate? How about a reprise of our Maximum Leader with an orchid?

Update: When published, the font sizes weren't the same and the blog post title was missing, so I had to go into Blogger and edit some of the HTML. In any case, the image upload worked like a champ. I like it a lot. My next test will be the use of tables.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This Paperwork is Killing Me

Sorting through these files is exhausting!

For more feline fun, be sure to visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mr. Noodles Has Escaped!

Please be sure you have your insulin shots ready before viewing this link.

Thursday 13, Daughter's Birthday Party Edition

I usually don't talk about my children, but this last week was so much fun that I wanted to share it with you. My daughter turned 10 on Saturday. What she wanted more than anything else was to take her friends to Build-a-Bear. Three of her friends came along and we had a wonderful time. Here are 13 reasons I will always treasure that day.

1. I got to watch young ladies shop. We didn't do the organized party at Build-a-Bear. Instead, I gave each a dollar limit and told them we had all the time in the world. I then let them do what they wanted. For an hour and fifteen minutes they shopped. I hadn't given them a huge budget, about enough for a bear, an outfit and maybe one accessory if they were thrifty.

2. They never got bored or argued with each other. They kept coming up to one another with delighted expressions, showing each other what they had found.

3. One girl needed an extra dollar to buy a shirt for her bear. She came and asked me for more money. I gently turned her down. My daughter put something back and gave her one of the dollars she was going to spend. I was so proud!

4. The three girls we had invited delicately told my daughter to go away for a minute. I saw them conspiring together at one of the accessory racks. They then motioned for me to come over. They had pooled their money together and wanted me to secretly buy a little stuffed cupcake with the words "Happy Birthday" written on it for my daughter. It was such a beautiful thing to see! We managed to buy the cupcake and my daughter never saw it at all.

5. The girls were all very different, but got along well. Two were glamor girls who talked about shopping at The Limited and Abercrombie, one was a soccer player and avid reader and my daughter is a bit of a tomboy.

6. I learned a lot about the kids in 4th grade. Because of the differences between the girls, as I listened to the conversation in the car I got a sense of what everyone in school was interested in. It was a great cross-section of the class.

7. I had not restricted my daughter from inviting anyone. She chose three very polite girls. It was a pleasure to be with them.

8. My daughter has fallen behind in her reading assignments, but is now catching up. In conversation, they discussed schoolwork and my daughter said that she wasn't very smart. All three immediately piped up and told her that wasn't true and that she was very smart indeed. I wanted to hug them.

9. When we opened presents, I got to see the girls excitedly give my daughter the cupcake. That was one of the biggest hits of the party.

10. The girls all slept over. I tried to give them no time limit, but at midnight I finally had to come in and get them to go to sleep. I had figured they would poop out on their own, but they were having too much fun.

11. I let the girls have their sleep over in the game room. That turned out to be a huge hit and my daughter has decided that all future sleep overs should be held there rather than her bedroom. This is fine with me since there is less mess to be made there.

12. In the morning, the girls were all still friends. That may not seem like much, but there are always those sleep overs where you discover that while 2 hours with a certain person is fun, at about 2 hours and 15 minutes they become totally obnoxious and you just want them to go home. These four did great the whole time.

13. There were lots and lots of smiles.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Time of the Rapture Draws Ever Closer

The Feline Theocracy's Prelate to the Primates notes liberal consternation over what they fear is the approach of a Christian Theocracy.

If the Christian base of the GOP gets its way, "All government employees - federal, state and local - would be required to participate in weekly Bible classes in the workplace, as well as compulsory daily prayer sessions." We would all have to carry religious identity cards that "would provide Christocrats with preferential treatment in many areas of life, including home ownership, student loans, employment and education."
The fools! They will know not when the hour draws nigh. They have put their faith in worthless things such as politics, money and pet lizards. None of that shall save them. I say unto you, great shall be the wailing and gnashing of teeth as they toil night and day in the tuna mines!

If you are to be saved, you must link to this blog, tithe us 10% of your blog traffic and study with pure heart and focused mind the tomes of Catymology. Indeed, when the End Time comes, anyone unable to produce the Justin's symbol of loyalty on their person or home shall suffer our wrath.

Best. Political. Ad. Ever.

Blogspot vs. MySpace

About a year and a half ago I created a MySpace profile and fiddled around with the thing for a while. I was curious about how it worked and wanted to see what it looked like. Unimpressed, I wandered off to do other things.

Recently, I have been interviewing people for a position as a blog, chat and widget technologist at our organization. I've asked the applicants if they have blogs, web sites or MySpace pages I could look at as an example of their work. One of them replied with his MySpace URL.

Memo to job applicants: Never give out your MySpace URL to prospective employers. I spent a half hour sewer diving through the fellow's social network and was appalled. The whole thing is one colossal soft-core porn site. Yes, I know this isn't news to most of you, but I had no idea of the pervasiveness of the problem. I had thought that the complaints were mostly from prudes and killjoys who had found some inappropriate material and had extrapolated from there. I couldn't find anything that wasn't salacious.

I wonder if blog hosts attract certain types of bloggers. If you visit Hugh Hewitt's townhall.com, you will find a bunch of very serious political junkies. I would suggest that Blogger is more mainstream America. MySpace is for swine.

I can assure you that the MySpace fellow will not get the job.

World of Good Blogburst, Starbucks Style

Last week I was fortunate enough to go to a conference on managing a corporate brand. It was exceptionally well done. One of the speakers at the conference was a marketing professional from Starbucks. She told a story that I thought was perfect for a very short World of Good (WOG) post.

It seems that a fellow in a pickup truck had pulled up to the window at a drive-through Starbucks. The barrista had gotten his order wrong, so they gave him his coffee for free. He had already paid and instead of asking for his money back he told the barrista to use that money to buy the coffee for the person behind him and then drove off.

The person behind him was delighted. Not to be outdone, she paid for the coffee of the person behind her. The third person did the same. It went on like this for eight cars until it came to a college student who had forgotten her wallet and sheepishly accepted the gift, unable to continue the chain.

I love the story. An act of kindness that echoes through a chain of strangers. A snowball of positive karma, if you will. I'll bet there'll be an opportunity for you to play a link in one just like it today.

For more World of Good stories, visit WOG Central.

For more good things, please visit this week's Catholic Carnival.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Airbus Crashing

The Wall Street Journal has a page one article by Daniel Michaels today about the resignation of Airbus' CEO. For those who haven't followed the struggles of Europe's giant aircraft manufacturer, the company has suffered significant setbacks lately in it's effort to produce a new line of jets. Design flaws, production problems and the business management problems endemic to Europe are dragging them down.

Their CEO of 3 months (!), Christian Streiff, resigned yesterday. Rather than the normal CEO resignation letter which keeps the company's skeletons firmly in the closet and mentions "time with family" and "exploring other opportunities" as the reason for leaving, Mr. Streiff says no one could handle that behemoth and structural changes need to be made.

In a letter to employees, Mr. Streiff pointedly blamed Airbus's complex structure for the tensions that have roiled the company over the past several days, writing: "I am leaving because I believe the position of Airbus CEO, in the current governance structure, has insufficient delegation to lead Airbus through the crisis successfully."
Whoa! There's a vote of confidence. If I was an Airbus investor, I'd be looking for the exits. The CEO just bailed out telling us we're all screwed, both now and in the future. Of course, the company could change it's structure, but this being ossified Europe that's about as likely as the board members becoming werewolves.

Mr. Streif was there for three months. That's about enough time to get a handle on the problems and find out where the executive washroom is. Resigning after three months indicates that he has so little confidence in the ability of the company to turn things around that he is willing to tar himself with a reputation of being a quitter rather than get dragged down with everyone else.


Of course, there will be ample reasons for the Europeans to hate us in all of this.

Not long ago, Airbus appeared to be on the upswing, churning out popular planes and snatching orders away from Boeing. The U.S. aircraft maker had faced its own production and management crises in recent years. But Boeing, unburdened by a cumbersome multinational management structure, was able to move aggressively to make the tough decisions necessary to right itself, completely overhauling its airplane-manufacturing operations.
In contrast to this free-market resturcturing, how do you handle a corporate crisis in statist Europe?

EADS's split management -- with dual French and German chairmen and CEOs -- was created to avoid tipping the balance of power inside EADS toward France or Germany. Maintaining that balance has saddled Airbus with a clumsy division of labor between French and German factories. The arrangement has helped preserve jobs in both countries over the years, but has proved costly in building planes.
No wonder he left.

Would the last person gainfully employed in Europe please turn out the lights as they leave?

The Feline Theocracy's College of Cardinals at No Pasaran have a take on this as well. They also found a cool graphic for their post.

Mission Bay Sunset

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Road to 0-16...

...is paved with games like yesterday's pathetic Oakland Raiders performance against the horrid San Francisco 49ers. Despite playing against a team with a holographic defense (it looks like it's there, but it's not) the Raiders managed to lay down like stinking dogs and get crushed, 34-20.

It wasn't even that close.

The 49ers managed to bungle two 4th and inches plays deep in Oakland territory when they had been running up the middle for 8-12 yards per carry. Had they made those first downs, the score might have been 48-20.

I've watched three of the four Raider games this year (via Tivo, never live) and this is the first time they just laid down and died on the field. They're already planning their January golfing vacations to Australia and it's only October. If they can just manage to get punked by the Texans later this season, they should be the first team to go 0-16.

We can only hope.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

K T Cat's Upset Picks of the Week

It's week 5 in the NFL and everyone is calling in to sports bookies and watching the NFL pregame shows trying to get the latest information so they can win the office pool this week.

Why call some $2.95 per minute hotline that will tell you it could be the week Dallas beats Philadelphia...or maybe not? Why spend all this time with ESPN's Sunday morning NFL show to find out that if the Chargers can stop the Steelers running game, it will be a long day for the Steelers' defense, whatever that means?

Instead, come to the source of information, the fountain of knowledge the temple of surety. (Yes, that's a word. I just looked it up.)

Come to the Maximum Leader of the Feline Theocracy to receive this week's Sacred Upsets. We have two to give out.

First, we like the Raiders (+3) over the 49ers. This is the Repus bowl for the year. Two terrible teams going nowhere. The Raiders actually scored against the Browns. 21 whole points! Then they let the Browns score 24. Their coaching staff comes from the Mesozoic and their offensive line comes from Ms. McGillicuddy's 4th grade class at PS89 in Yonkers. However, they're facing a team which we at The Scratching Post have discovered doesn't actually have any humans playing defense at all! It turns out all of those figures you see on the screen are holograms! Even the Raiders should be able to manage a few more field goals than the 49ers against that. I won't predict the score, but I do predict that well over 70% of the fans in attendance will be too hammered by the 3rd quarter to know just what the score is.

Secondly, we like the Steelers (+3) over the Chargers. The Chargers are our hometown team and this pick is kind of covering all the bases. If the Chargers win we're happy and if they lose at least we won that game in the pool. The Chargers have yet to play a complete team. They've beaten a whole bunch of one- or zero-dimensional teams up to this point. The Steelers present problems for the Chargers on both sides of the ball. This will be the week that Cro-Magnon Schottenheimer's single-celled algae offense fails. Running it up the middle 41 times in the game will result in next to nothing.

These picks come with a copmplete money back guarantee. If they fail to perform for you, we will refund the price of reading this blog. Nothing.

That's all for this week. Tune in again next week where we'll post another set of picks if we feel like it. Until then, we just have this to say.

Geaux Saints!

Update: I am an idiot. Don't listen to my picks.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Great Posts from the Feline Theocracy

Hi! It's Jacob the Syrian Hamster here with another edition of This Week in the Feline Theocracy where we link to our favorite posts from fellow Theocraticians.

As the faithful beadle of the Feline Theocracy, it has been my job to round up the best posts and link to them with a short description. The Theocracy has grown so large that the job has become too big to do at a single sitting. That's led to me delaying the job in search of enough free time to do the whole thing. That hasn't worked out well at all.

Well, that's part of the problem. The other part is that you've taken on a second job as Marques Colston's Unofficial Publicist.

Oh, uh, hi, K T! Yeah, I know I've kind of been busy with my other project.

As your Maximum Leader, I can say I am quite displeased about this.

Mea Culpa, K T. That's why I'm changing the way I do this. I will be doing the links in groups as I get small segments of time. That way I can be sure to get at least some of it done with regularity.

Good idea. All is forgiven.

Your humble servant, K T.

Here's my first foray into this new strategy.

Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish Kukka Maria has one of the most consistently high quality blogs out there. Here is her reaction to a terrible insult directed at her from Iams Cat Food.

Lawman, our Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls recently brought me in for questioning. I'll have to say he was professional and thorough.

Our Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses talks about why she is proud to be a Virginian. It really is a beautiful post. That's characteristic of her blog, too.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring highlights a disturbing development close to my home in National City.

Lastly, our College of Cardinals has a great post describing polling trends in Iraq. I learned a lot from this one. As is typical for that blog, it was well-researched and linked to the source data.

That's all I have time for right now. More to come, I promise!

Friday, October 06, 2006

K T is Not Spoiled, She's Just Our Maximum Leader

Last night I got in from Chicago at about 11:00 PM. By the time K T came in from playing outside (we have a permanently-open cat door) it was 11:30 PM. She told me she missed me and we each had a snack. I went upstairs to get ready for bed and she followed and jumped up on the bathroom counter top. This is the signal she wants a drink from the faucet. No problem. The master bath has two sinks, so I turn on one for her and go to brush my teeth in the other. She follows me to the other. I move to the first and she follows me there. I know what this means.

What K T really wants is not just water from the faucet, but for me to cup my hand underneath the faucet to form a tiny bowl so she can drink water from my hand. I tell her I'm tired and don't want to do this. She just stares at me. I tell her the other faucet is running and she can have that one all to herself. She just stares at me. Finally, I sigh and cup my hand under the faucet and she has a long drink.

Afterwards, I go to get in bed and see that she's sitting in front of the balcony door, looking back at me. She wants to go check the balcony to make sure everything is OK. I tell her I need some sleep and don't have time for this. She just stares at me and then at the door. I sigh and get up and open the door for her. She proceeds to run out onto the balcony and then run back in and then run back out at high speeds.

Finally, I have to go outside (by now it's about midnight) and pick her up where she is sitting, excited with huge saucer eyes looking down off the balcony. I bring her in and somehow she manages to forgive me.

She's not spoiled, she's just our Maximum Leader. That's how you treat Maximum Leaders, you know.

A portrait of our Maximum Leader. Collect the whole set! Trade them with friends!

For more feline fun, please visit this week's Carnival of the Cats and Friday Ark.

No More CNN at the Airports

I've decided to start a campaign to try to get, at the very least, some CNN-free zones at airports.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why Do We Have to Watch CNN?

I just flew in from Chicago and boy, are my arms tired.

Hahahaha! I never get tired of that one.

In any case, I spent two hours in O'Hare airport and it was all I could do to get away from TV sets blasting CNN at inescapable volume. All I wanted to do was to sit and read my book, Lyn Macdonald's Somme. There was no way I could do that with Wolf Blitzer trumpeting transcripts of Mark Foley's lurid emails to little boys from every corner of the gate seating. I ended up finding a tiny kiosk bar in a remote corner of the airport that sold me a $6 Budweiser where I could read in peace.

Who set this up? Who made it that at Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington-Reagan and every other airport we have to be bathed in CNN? It's so grating on the nerves! If they have to have TVs on then I'd much rather they show tranquil aquatic scenes like the ones my dentist has going in his office to calm his patients. Like this one.

Update: What we're watching at the airport is CNN's Airport Network broadcast. It's described here. It also gives a list of the airports that host it so we can start a campaign to have the bloody thing turned off.

Update 2: I've decided to start such a campaign. More to follow. Drop me an email or comment if you'd like to join.

For more business travel tidbits, be sure to visit the Road Gladiator. Trip Hub also has a Carnival of Travel.

This is also being sent as a link to some open trackback posts like this one and this one.

Bare Minimum Requirement for a Hotel Room

I'm on the road in Chicago today. I stayed last night at a Red Roof Inn because all the hotels downtown are full. No in-room coffee maker.

This is totally unsatisfactory. That's a bare necessity for me. If I'm waking up at 4AM to my body, there had better be some joe lying around that I can drink. There weren't even any old coffee grounds to chew on. Nothing.

Now I've got to go wait in line for ten hours at Starbucks.

I did manage to walk across the street to a Marriot and they've let me use their business center, from which I am now blogging. I love Marriots.

Next time I'll try photoblogging from a Marriot. The computer I'm at right now has two USB ports, so I could have hooked up my camera and accessed photos that way. I've been experimenting with travelling sans laptop and I've really enjoyed the freedom. I just miss the blogging.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Taking No Prisoners in the Mark Foley Scandal

The Feline Theocracy's Vicar of Victory has posted an interesting piece about the Mark-Foley-likes-little-boys scandal. So has our Patriarch of the Airwaves, Hugh Hewitt.

For me, outside of putting Mark Foley behind bars, this is much ado about nothing. All the fussing about hypocrisy and the finger-pointing about improper investigations and the accusations of the news media leaking the details in dribs and drabs seems to be like a boxer complaining he's getting hit.

It's politics. Of course people are going to try and make hay out of this. The whole industry has nothing to sell but persuasion. It just shows the childishness of some in the political class that they think tattling and pointing and making faces will get us to buy their ideology.

President Clinton using the Justice Department as his own private Gestapo is one thing, but scandals like this and the old Barney Frank gay brothel one just don't rate all the press they get.

World of Good Blogburst, Art Museum Style

So I get up this morning, make a cup of coffee and on my way to the computer I literally trip over this World of Good (WOG) entry. No kidding. It was so easy to find that Google had found it for me already, spit it out and left it lying on the floor in front of my chair. That's how easy it is to find the acts of kindness that are all around you.

Well, not really, but it did take me only about 30 seconds to find a really cool example of good deeds for this week's WOG.

My father is an artist. He wasn't always an artist. First he was a soldier. Then he was an Air Force pilot. Then he helped design aircraft. Then he worked with the space program. Now he's an artist. Everything he sets out to do in his life he does with thoroughness and preparation. He has been studying art now for 25 years and still takes classes regularly. His cityscapes and seascapes are marvellous. He even painted a picture featuring our Maximum Leader. Dig this.

A scene from a French village where school children are on a field trip. Note who is leading the way.

It's our Maximum Leader!

The photo doesn't do justice to the painting. I just snapped some right now to support this post and didn't take the painting off the wall or light it properly. (Sorry about that, Chief.)

So this morning, when I sat down to WOG, I went looking for acts of kindness in the art world. I found Beaux Arts. Beaux Arts is a charitable organization attached to the University of Miami and their Lowe Art Museum. If we lived in the Miami area, I'm sure my dad would participate in this. Here's what Beaux Arts does.

The purpose of Beaux Arts, Inc. is exclusively educational and charitable:

-To continue community outreach programs at the Lowe Art Museum
and introduce handicapped and underserved children to the cultural arts,
-To provide improvements, equipment, and financial assistance for exhibitions,
-To promote interest in the Museum of the University of Miami and
-To encourage a more thorough understanding and appreciation of the Arts
The Lowe museum has many Rennaissance paintings like this one from Cozzarelli.

Beaux Arts is a thriving group of philanthropists.

Beaux Arts was founded in the spring of 1952 by fifty members under the direction of Ann Atkinson, the assistant Director of the newly built Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery. The organization has grown to 100 active members and over 200 active associate members.

The first Festival of Art (formerly “Clothesline Sale”) was held in the spring of 1952 in order to give young artists a chance to meet the buying public. The Festival became an annual project and is now recognized as one of the leading art shows in Florida. The 2003 Festival netted nearly $100,000, with over 250 artists from all over the country, drawing crowds in excess of 150,000.
A painting of Yosemite by Bierstatd hanging at the Lowe Art Museum.

They have an annual art festival that is rated in the top 200 in the country. The next one will be this coming January. You can read more about it at this website. Beautiful art. A charitable organization. Miami in January. Do we need any more reasons to go?

In addition to other programs, Beaux Arts offers free art instruction and education to children through their Hands on! program.

Hands on! is Beaux Arts community outreach program designed to introduce area youths to the world of art.

The Hands on! program enables fourth and fifth grade students from four to five different Title 1 elementary schools to visit the Lowe Art Museum during the school year free of charge. In addition, Beaux Arts pays for the cost of bus transportation from the schools to the museum.
Volunteers help children with their artwork as a part of Hands on!

One last note. As I looked through their information one more time, I noticed that there was no mention or photos of the members of Beaux Arts. There were no wealthy men in tuxedos nor lovely women in gowns attending glittering charity balls. Just all the information one needed to participate in the program and some of the work produced by the children. For the people in Beaux Arts, their acts of kindness do all the talking.

Now this is what I call art!

As Mark Shea says when he links to these posts, "There's a World of Good out there." It's waiting for you to join in.

Images from Beaux Arts and the Lowe Art Museum used without permission.

What's a World of Good post and why do we do them? The answer is here.

For more good deeds, visit this week's Catholic Carnival.

Protesting Gays at Military Funerals

There's a Baptist church in Topeka that's been sending protesters to the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq. They protest the acceptance of gays in the military. I despise them, but I've never put it into words. Justin does. His post can be admired from a variety of angles. It's a technically beautiful execution of HTML and it's wonderfully well-written. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Joyous Day for the Feline Theocracy!

Let the tuna be placed in the crystal goblets and let the catnip be strewn about the floor with great vigor! Today is a joyous day in the Feline Theocracy! Two new members join the ranks of the converted.

First, we have Starling Hunter from The Business of America is Business. He is hereby granted the title, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Feline Theocracy. His business blog has insightful commentary and links to fascinating posts from around the business world.

Secondly, we are proud to welcome Zeus the cat into our flock. His blog, The Zeus Excuse is among the finest cat-authored blogs on the Internet. Zeus is named our Holy Missionary to the Polytheistic.

The Official Artist of the Theocracy, Justin, produced this handsome graphic. Feel free to use it on your blog if you'd like.

Best wishes from The Scratching Post, both of you. Thanks for the links and kind words you've given us. We'll be including your blogs in our upcoming This Week in the Theocracy posts. It will be published as soon as its author, our loyal beadle Jacob the Syrian Hamster, stops writing posts about Marques Colston.

Three members of the Theocracy are being given emeriti status. When the rapture comes, they will still be given seats on comfy sofas with sunbeams and tuna in gratitude for their great service in the past. They are our Anchoress, our Grand Almoner of England and Heidi whose name remains on the protected list.

If you're curious, the nature and purpose of the Feline Theocracy is given here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jihadist Car Commercials

I usually don't post this much, but as a Syrian (hamster) I felt the need to comment on this one. Thanks to the splendid blog, The Business of America is Business, we have discovered a news article about a Columbus, Ohio auto dealership that is trying to run jihadist radio commercials. It's fabulous!

In the spot, Keith Dennis of Dennis Mitsubishi talks about "launching a jihad on the automotive market."

Sales representatives "will be wearing burqas all weekend long," the ad says. One of the vehicles on sale "can comfortably seat up to 12 jihadists in the back."

"Our prices are lower than the evildoers’ every day. Just ask the pope! " the ad says. "Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies."
I love it! I want a copy of the ad so I can host it here!

Calling the commercial aggressive, Masterson said, "This is one where we feel we’re taking a bull’s-eye on terrorists. After all the nonsense that the terrorists put the public through, they’re fair game."

Visit Dennis Mitsubishi on Morse Road in Columbus, Ohio! The savings are this big!

Dennis Mitsubishi rocks!

Marques Colston, Week 4

As I have volunteered to be the publicist for Marques Colston, the New Orleans Saints' rookie wide receiver, I think it my duty to inform you of yet another stellar game by this fine young man. Here are some of his highlights from the game yesterday against the very tough Carolina Panthers.

From beginning to end, Marques kept the Saints in the game. The Saints' first first down came on a Marques Colston 14 yard reception. The Saints' final play from scrimmage was an 86 yard touchdown reception by Marques. His stats for the game were impressive. Let's choose another receiver in the NFL at random and compare their stats to his. Hmmm. How about this one. Mr. Terrell "Is Everyone Talking About Me Yet?" Owens.

Marques Colston: 5 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD, long of 86 yards.

Terrell "There's a Whole Lot of ME in TEAM" Owens: 5 receptions, 88 yards, 0 TD, long of 46 yards.

Let's throw in one more. How about Mr. Randy "I Take Every Play Off These Days" Moss?

Randy "I Pout" Moss: 1 reception, 5 yards, 0 TD, long of 5 yards.

If you combined Moss and Owens, Marques Colston would still have more yards and TDs.

The Saints have a photo of Marques in action at the top of their story about yesterday's game. That's my man!