Monday, December 29, 2008

Bonzer WebLink Monday (aka Measure Up Monday)

I'm still on holiday from rigorously monitoring my weight, but I can honestly say I have not veered too far and could reasonably be called maintaining.

I promised to try and have an interesting link here every Monday. It seems my idea of interesting may not match everyone else's. If you know of an interesting link with general appeal, email it to me. Otherwise, it's my blog so I get to pick.

Today's link is to Yesterland. While your grandchildren will probably be able to ride the flying Dumbo ride just like you did, there are dozens of other Disneyland attractions that have become outdated or removed to make room for something else. Yesterland documents what has disappeared from Disneyland over the years.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Music Video Friday - Blame It On The Rum

Back in May of 2004, we went on our first Caribbean cruise, which was a lot of fun. To get in the mood for the cruise, I made a compilation CD of about 20 tropical themed songs, and this is one of the songs that was on that CD. It sounds like a Jimmy Buffet song, but it's actually by 'Sunny' Jim White, and is from the Tom Cruise movie "The Firm".

Blame It On The Rum

Click here to comment and rate!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Measure Up Monday (aka Bonzer WebLink Monday)

The past week has included: Daily treats and snacks on colleagues' desks, an office holiday party, a birthday party, holiday drinks and dinner with friends, and home baked cakes and Christmas cookies. Therefore due to the plethora of consumed calories, the great Lose Weight by Blogging experiment has gone on holiday. I wish all the readers who have been following my progress a Merry Christmas, and promise that I won't completely abandon my efforts.

I'll still try to have something of interest to share here on Mondays in the interim. Today I have an interesting educational link from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game concerning certain subspecies of Reindeer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Music Video Friday - Wasted On The Way

We played several Crosby Stills & Nash songs during our 'Way Off Broadway' days. This one is from the 1982 "Daylight Again" album, the same as Nov 7th's video was. I didn't do any cloning of myself this time, although the vocals are recorded in 3 part harmony.

Wasted On The Way

Click here to comment and rate!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Measure Up Monday

No surprises here. If I come out of the Holiday Season within a few pounds of 211, I'll consider it a success. I don't expect to show any real progress again until after the CES in January.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music Video Friday - Teach Your Children

In 1970, Crosby Stills and Nash became Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Their first album after adding Neil was "Deja Vu", and it included this great song that I'm singing for you this Friday.

Teach Your Children

Click here to comment and rate!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Measure Up Monday

You may have noticed that since about July, my weight hasn't really changed much. I've been pretty much maintaining at 211, plus or minus about 3 pounds. While maintaining a 30 lb loss might be considered a success, I'd still like to get it down a little more. However, I will be happy to get through the holidays still maintaining at this level, and maybe make some exercise resolutions in January.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, December 5, 2008

Music Video Friday - All I Have to Do is Dream

This Friday I'm singing the Everly Brothers' hit single from 1958, "All I Have To Do Is Dream". This video took a lot of extra work because I actually made 2 videos and put them together. So I made up for it by using a recording of the song that I did a while back.

But pay no attention to the man behind the guitar. This video is all about the pretty lady in the cloud, who is still the girl of my dreams.

All I Have To Do Is Dream

Click here to comment and rate!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stellar Smiley

You may have noticed the 2 bright stars that have been appearing in the western sky shortly after sunset for the last month or so, and wondered just which stars or planets they were. I know I did. We first noticed them while watching sunsets in the clear skies of western Maui last month.

What you're actually looking at are the planets Venus and Jupiter. Sunday, the crescent moon appeared in the sky with them, forming an elongated smiley face captured above Los Angeles by photographer Dave Jurasevich.

click for a larger view

Unfortunately for us midwesterners, the snowy weather obscured this view from us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Measure Up Monday

It's been a food filled weekend. Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, birthday celebrations with pizza & cake on Friday, the American Girl dinner on Saturday, and a dinner outing with friends on Sunday. A mere two pound gain after four days of excess is almost good news. I've got about three weeks to make some progress before we hit the Christmas holidays.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Music Video Friday - Apache

Well, it'll be Saturday at the earliest by the time anybody sees this, but it was still Friday when I posted it. This week I have a guitar instrumental from 1960 called "Apache". It was originally recorded by The Shadows, but I first heard it on a Ventures LP. Thanks to Kyle for his help as a recording technician this afternoon.


Click here to comment and rate!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Funnies

I got these in an email and they gave me a chuckle so I thought I'd share them. Have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I put on some weight while on vacation, but I took some of it back off since we've been home, leaving a net gain of 3 pounds for the past 2 weeks. We're heading into Thanksgiving weekend so continuing to lose or even maintaining is going to be a challenge. I may have to cut back on the broccoli casserole. :)

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, November 21, 2008

Maui Pictures

If you're interested, here's a link to an annotated album with about 15% of our vacation pictures.

Music Video Friday - The Hukilau Song

This is just a low quality video taken with our digital still camera while I was participating in the ukulele classes at Ka'anapali beach. The class was a lot of fun, and we learned 3 chords and 2 songs. I am trying to watch the instructors hands to see the chord changes.

The Hukilau Song

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation Report

We are back from our much anticipated trip to Maui, and it was fabulous. Everything seemed to go right on this trip. Weather reports were looking a little uncertain before we left, but we arrived to sunny skies and warm temperatures that lasted through our entire stay. We enjoyed it so much that we didn't want to leave and extended our stay for 2 more days. Thanks to some of my recent business travel we were able to get confirmed upgrades to first class in both directions, even with the last minute return flight changes.

We repeated some things on this trip, and tried some new things. We stayed once again at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel and had a beautiful oceanfront view. We returned to some of our favorite restaurants like Leilani's, the Hula Grill, and Cheeseburger in Paradise. We also tried some different restaurants including the Black Rock Steak & Seafood at the Sheraton and the Sea House restaurant at the Napili Kai. Those who know me are familiar with my "if it swims, I don't eat it" attitude toward seafood. But Janet convinced me that the fish in Hawaii is delicious, and if I was ever going to try it I should try it there. So I had some Mahimahi at the Black Rock ( I hedged my bet by ordering the combination plate that included an equal sized piece of steak, just in case), and Ahi tuna at the Sea House. I have to admit, both were 'ono, and I just may be a convert.

While we enjoyed the Sea House restaurant, our reason for driving to the Napili Kai was to attend a concert where we were delighted by the talents of slack key guitar masters, George Kahumoku and Dennis Kamakahi. We were also impressed with the ukulele and vocal talent of the young Peter deAquino.

The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel is known for its preservation of Hawaiian culture. In the past we have participated in their free hula dance and lei making classes. On this trip I had the fun of taking ukulele lessons. I'm no Peter deAquino, but tomorrow I'll offer a small sample of my skills.

We returned to the top of Haleakala, this time driving the winding road that leads to the crater. It was cloudy most of the way up, but the clouds cleared enough at the top to give us some great views. The temperature was a chilly 50°F. We continued up to the 10,023 ft summit where we met some hardy Canadian bicyclists who had ridden the 36 miles from the ocean to the summit in about 6 hours. On the way down we stopped at the Maui Winery and sampled some pineapple wine. It's not bad, similar to a spätlese Riesling.

While we had enough activity to keep from being bored, the one thing we did a lot of on this trip was simply relax. We had time for walking on the beach, sitting on the lanai reading and listening to the surf, lounging in the sun (or shade) with tropical drinks, and watching the sun slowly set. It was peaceful, refreshing, and regenerating.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest Post from Jennifer

Jennifer started a new job a while back and has joined the ranks of train commuters into the city. She has a story to tell about that and has offered to present it as another guest post on my blog. Thanks Jennifer. Here's your story, and Happy Birthday too.

November 10, 2008
I have a monthly train pass. I always sit on the upper level of the train. There’s a clip near my feet for displaying the pass, so that interaction with the conductor is unnecessary should I be reading or listening to music or napping. I wouldn’t regularly use it because I was apprehensive about the possibility that I may forget it there. My fears were realized last week. It wasn’t until I was walking to the train from work that the thought passed through my brain, “Do I have my train pass? Oh sh__! Did I leave it on the train?!”

I immediately stopped and searched my bag for it even though I already knew it wasn’t going to be in there. I called Colleen just so I could think out loud. Before leaving the house that morning, I picked up some money from my dresser. Looking at it I said to myself, “You don’t need this, you never spend cash.” Then I foolishly tossed it back. I asked Colleen to confirm for me that I cannot buy a ticket with a credit card. I could get money from her, but I’d never be able to catch my train on time. I expressed my utter bewilderment as I recognized that I wouldn’t be home to pick up the boys from school and I just lost a hundred dollars.

But wait! I’ve noticed that the same conductors on my morning train are the same conductors that wait at the doors for the track of my afternoon train. If they found my pass, would they still have it, and would they give it back to me? There’s nothing written on it to indicate that it’s mine. It’s certainly worth a shot! I hung up with Colleen and soared down the steps to track number 14. As I approached the conductor I said, “Good morning. Well, it’s not morning. Uh, this morning my worst fear was realized…(deep breath)…I left my train pass on the train.”

The somewhat short and barely stout man called another, much taller guy over. This burly, 30-something man with a goatee and a hoop in each ear walked up to me and, after a brief explanation from the first guy, began to quiz me. “Which car were you in? Where were you sitting?” I was nervous at first because his height and stature were intimidating, but his tone was playful and he flashed a smile. “Where did you buy your ticket? When did you buy it?” He was holding the pass in his hand. After answering each question correctly, he turned it over and showed me the lines for writing my name and phone number and advised me to fill in those blanks. Astonished, I said, “You mean you can give this back to me?!” He replied with a grin, “For a Starbucks.”

I exhaled and exclaimed, “Of course I’ll buy you a Starbucks! What kind of coffee do you like?!” He handed me my train pass and discarded his request as a joke. I was so relieved and overwhelmed with gratitude that I told him I could hug him. Instead, I tried to insist on bringing him a drink the next morning. But, he pleasantly continued to refuse. I asked him his name, looked straight in his eyes and said, “Well, thank you Bill” as I shook his hand.

I understand that it wasn’t a big deal to him. He found a train pass; he gave it back to its owner, all in a day’s work. However, it meant so much to me. He saved me from missing the train and having to wait another 2 hours. He saved me from missing my boys at school. He saved me from having to spend another hundred dollars. I felt the need to do more to express my extreme appreciation. Therefore, since he mentioned it, I bought him a Starbucks… giftcard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vote Today!

I didn't have access to technology while on vacation, or I would have put this up sooner.

Holly Kirby is competing to be chosen to perform at a music festival. She's doing well in the competition, but can use your vote. The website say's voting ends Wednesday, Nov 18th. I don't know if that means Tuesday Nov 18th, or Wednesday Nov 19th, so VOTE TODAY!

Here's the link.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vacation Update

A quick trip report...

Sun, sea, sand, tropical drinks, warm breezes, ahhhhh.....

Details in a day or two.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Music Video Friday - Pirates of the Caribbean

With being on vacation, I didn't have a chance to make a video of my own for this week, so I'm sharing a video from one of the YouTube guitarists that I really enjoy. His name is Wolfgang, and he is from Austria. His YouTube channel is here.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I was enjoying the Pirates of the Caribbean online game. This video has Wolfgang playing his own arrangement of the POTC theme on guitar.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Go here to comment or rate Wolfgang's video.

You might also be interested in this young prodigy playing the same arrangement.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Measure Up Monday

This is the first real progress since 9/22. However, I'm putting weight watching on hold for the trip. It's unlikely I'll be reporting a loss next Monday.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, November 7, 2008

Music Video Friday - Daylight Again/Find the Cost of Freedom

In this week's video, I'm performing the title song from Crosby, Stills, and Nash's 1982 "Daylight Again" album. CSN (& sometimes Y) are a folk/rock group that originated in the late '60s. They were known for their intricate harmonies and anti-war, counterculture themes. This song has both.

It's actually 2 songs, "Daylight Again" which was new for the 1982 album, and "Find the Cost of Freedom" which originally appeared on the 1971 "Four Way Street" and as the B side of the "Ohio" single.

For this video, I recorded 2 guitar tracks and 3 vocal tracks, then used some tricky editing tools to make a fun to watch video.

Unless you've got a decent set of stereo computer speakers, it sounds best through headphones.

Click here for the YouTube page to comment and rate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pirates of the Caribbean

(How does one pronounce Caribbean anyway? Is it kah-RIB-ee-en or CARE-uh-BEE-en?)

My current computer compulsion is Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" online game. It's a 3D multi-user online role playing game, where you take on the role of a pirate and participate in various pirating activities that build your reputation and your treasure, or maybe just land you in virtual jail.

The game is free* to sign up and play. You start out by designing the appearance of your pirate. Then you are immediately thrown into the quest of helping Capt Jack Sparrow recover The Black Pearl. While this is your primary quest, you are given other minor quests that reward you with new skills and weapons, or build up your reputation as a pirate.

As a non-paying member your skill advancement and available quests are limited. That's where the asterisk on free comes in. If you want to continue to advance in the game and get new quests to complete then you'll want to sign up as a paying member. They never require paid membership to continue playing, but they make it very enticing. You can still run around plundering ships or brandishing your cutlass against navy swine and monstrous creatures. But wouldn't you like that big ship with 10 cannons, or a double barrel pistol? Want to increase your sailing skills? Then sign up for unlimited access today!

I played as a basic (free) member for a week or so before I reached the point where I had completed all the quests and gained all the weapons I was allowed. I still was enjoying the game, but I wanted more challenges so I signed up for the monthly subscription just like they hoped I would. There's a discounted 6 month or annual subscription rate, but honestly I think my obsession will burn out after a couple of months and I'll drop the subscription.

Until then I'll probably be plunderin' and buckling swashes almost nightly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Glasses

A bit of incidental news in my life is that I have new eyeglasses. After about 10 years of using the drugstore variety of magnifier reading glasses, I finally decided to go to an eye doctor and get fitted with a proper set of prescription lenses. When I first started to need reading glasses, the magnifiers worked fine. I didn't have to wear them all the time, just to read a menu or a book. But over time I found I was not only having trouble with near vision, but far vision as well.

The event that nudged me into getting real glasses was trying to drive in Australia. It was difficult enough trying to drive on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car, and reading a speedometer marked in kilometers. But I got really frustrated because the couple of times I got lost, I couldn't read the lettering on street signs, and I couldn't read the map sitting on the front seat either.

So a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment with an eye doctor and got a medical checkup of my eyes, which came out fine, and got a prescription for tri-focals that allow me to see while driving, see the computer screen, or read a pill bottle. I picked up the glasses Monday night, and I'm amazed at how well I can see now. It's going to take a little getting used to because I need to look through the right section of the lens for the right distance. And I need to learn to look at things by moving my head instead of my eyes. I'm hoping it becomes natural after a while. It's a little tricky right now.

'See' ya later.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I made it through the halloween party weekend with the house full of cookies and candy (I'm a pushover for halloween candy corn). I even posted a 2 lb loss for the week. Of course, all I've done is recover some of the ground I gave up a couple of weeks ago. I need to lose one more pound just to get back to the 'overweight' side of the BMI scale.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, October 31, 2008

Music Video Friday - Farewell Andromeda

This week's music video has me singing yet another John Denver song. It's apparent that a significant percentage of my repertoire is made up of John Denver tunes. Over the years that I played with Carl and Co. our playlist migrated across several genres, but for a long time we were a percussionless acoustic band of the 'unplugged' variety. During those days we almost invariably opened our first set with this song. I always liked playing it, partly because I love the sound of the drop D tuning used in this and several other JD songs.

The hat and shirt were part of our look back in those days too. I didn't own an embroidered western shirt, so I borrowed one from Carl. I don't know if he expected me to return it, but I've had it for about 25 years now, so I guess he didn't miss it. It probably doesn't fit him now, any better than it does me. :)

This is the title song from John Denver's "Farewell Andromeda" album, which also included "I'd Rather Be a Cowboy" and "Please, Daddy". "Farewell Andromeda" is it's official title, but it's better known by it's first line, "Welcome To My Morning".

I recorded a scratch audio track while filming the video, and later added another guitar and harmony track. I hope the video editing isn't too gimmicky. I'm still having fun playing with the Studio 12 features.

Farewell Andromeda (Welcome To My Morning)

You can click here to go to the YouTube page.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Media Day

Earlier this week the Innovation Center hosted writers from around the world for International Media Day. The visitors were given presentations from several key McDonald's officers, followed by lunch prepared in the IC kitchens. They were then taken on a four stop tour of the IC, with each stop featuring a couple of the innovations we have developed or are working on.

I was called on to help demonstrate the advantages of our new global point-of-sale system, and had the pleasure of presenting to visitors from Spain, Germany, Korea, and the UK, among others.

It's interesting to note that in the 21st century 'media' includes the internet, and bloggers were among the visitors invited to the Innovation Center. Click here to read the report from a blogger, not affiliated with McDonald's, that attended Media Day. You can (barely) see me along with a couple of colleagues if you click on the picture near the "Dedicated Professionals" paragraph.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I paid closer attention to calories this week, and even with some over indulgence at a Mexican restaurant Saturday night, I still managed to drop 3 of the recently gained pounds. A house full of Halloween goodies this week is going to make it difficult to keep them off though. I forgot to measure the inches this morning, so I'll assume they haven't changed significantly.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, October 24, 2008

Music Video Friday - Mother Nature's Son

This used to be Joke Friday, but I'm making a change. There's plenty of good jokes out there that are appropriate for a G rated blog, but it takes too much time reading through all the dumb or inappropriate ones to find a weekly gem. So instead, I'm going to try to post a weekly music video from YouTube. Hopefully most of them will be my own, but I don't know if I can crank out a video every week, so I'll probably fill in now and then with a favorite video from some of the YouTube musicians I follow.

If you read this blog regularly, you might consider signing up for a YouTube account. It's as easy as signing up for Gmail or Blogger or other web service. Once you have an account you can rate and leave comments on the YouTube videos you watch. Speaking as a youtuber and blogger, it's always nice to get comments. It acknowledges that someone is actually paying attention to your efforts.

This week's video is me singing "Mother Nature's Son". I haven't ever performed this in the past, but recently it caught my interest and I decided to learn it. I always knew it as a John Denver song, but subsequently learned that it's actually from the Beatles 'white album'. John Denver does a raucous folk-country version. The Beatles' version sung by Paul is calmer. Mine is closer to the Beatles style, but different from both.

I recorded it directly into the camera microphone, so the sound isn't the greatest. I also tried using the chroma key effect from my new video software. It causes some flickery noise in the video that I don't know how to avoid. The background pictures are from our Colorado/Utah/Nevada road trip last August.

Click here to link directly to the YouTube page and rate!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Holly Hobby

As you may know I've made a hobby, if not obsession of following the musical endeavors of the young YouTube artist named Holly Kirby. Her music is heard around the house often enough that even our 3 yr old grandaughter knows some of the words and sings along.

I wrote about her last July when she posted her 50th video. At that time I recommended subscribing to her YouTube channel. She's continued to post new videos and I think she's getting better all the time. Over 1100 subscribers agree with me. Her videos are both pleasant to listen to and interesting to watch. Another eight have been added since July, some whimsical and some weighty.

A new one appeared this week that she categorized as 'simple', but I think she's under rated herself. While the video may have a simple look to it, it is cleverly put together. The song is a new original penned by Holly herself, and is performed in an entertaining way. The harmonies are sweet and the music is upbeat. I think this one has genuine pop appeal and could be a hit for her someday.

A Fool I Know
by Holly Kirby

Monday, October 20, 2008

Measure Up Monday

There's no denying it. I've been slacking and the proof is in the pudding, and the cake, and the bananas foster, etc. I stopped actually counting calories quite a while back because I felt I had reached the point where I knew how much I should and shouldn't eat, but lately I've been padding my estimates and my waistline, so as of today it's back to logging calories at The Daily Plate.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Monday, October 6, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I've been on a brief hiatus from weight watching and blogging about it. However the scale decided to continue working and enforcing Newton's laws of gravitational attraction, obliviously reporting that the attraction between the earth and me increased by nearly 14 Newtons. I guess it's time to get serious again.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Four Planets

In this picture you can see the Solar system's 4 major rocky planets in a single glance.  Can you name them?

Click image for a larger view

Click here for answer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I had set a target date of 9/23 to be under 200. I didn't make that but sub 200 is still my goal. We'll just have to hold off celebrating a while longer. On the bright side, at 208, my BMI is 29.8 which means I'm no longer obese, just overweight.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last Day of Summer

I learned to play Misirlou from my cousin Carl back when I was a teenager . In those days there were a lot of popular guitar instrumental songs. We played quite a few of them, but for some reason Misirlou never made it onto our list of songs. So while I knew how to play it, I never did play it in any of the musical groups I played in over the years.

Dick Dale is the original artist on this song though I think my first exposure to it was through a cover by the Beach Boys. The song was also used in the movie "Pulp Fiction" which I've never seen, and was heavily sampled for the Black Eyed Peas' song "Pump It".

Near the beginning of summer I started working on this song with the idea that being a surfing song, it would make a fun "Welcome to Summer" video. Well summer came, and work sent me a couple of places and life happened, and before I knew it September was here and I never got the video made. So on the last day of summer, here it is as a farewell to summer swan song.

(Yes, that is my 32 year old "vacation hat")

Friday, September 19, 2008


Drink up, me hearties!

Chain Letters

Does anybody remember when chain letters were actually letters that came in the mail? They used to arrive claiming either some good fortune if I made a dozen copies and sent them off or dire circumstance if I dared ignore it and toss it in the trash. Sometimes they would include a list of names and the promise that if I sent $1 to the top name on the list, I would receive 1000's of dollars by mail in a few weeks. (I was always tempted to send a dollar to the bottom name on the list with the message: "Here is the only dollar you are going to receive. Consider it payment for Not Sending Me Any More Chain Letters.)

Today, chain letters arrive by email and always include the demand to "Forward this to everyone you know"! I always delete them and usually ignore them, although I have been known to reply with a link debunking whatever the claim happened to be.

< rant>
Recently, I saw an email petition against providing social security benefits to non-citizens. I don't know about the right or wrongness of the issue, but an emailed petition is a pointless way to address it.

First, a true petition contains names, addresses, and actual signatures of the petitioners. The email is just a list of unverifiable names, sometimes with an associated state. It's not likely to have much influence on the government official who receives it. And 1 list of 1000 names doesn't carry much impact on a national issue.

But the petition is being forwarded to multiples of people all over the country right? There will be hundreds if not thousands of email petitions that will arrive in Washington right? Well lets look at some numbers.

The petition I received already had over 900 names on it, presumably because it had been forwarded over 900 times with a new person adding their name each time. I received my copy along with about 5 other recipients in the To: list, and it appeared to me that the sender received their copy along with about 5 others as well. So if we assume that the average person forwards the petition to about 5 other people, then the number of recipents is 5 raised to the power of the number of forwards. That means by the time the 13th person signed the petition, it would have been forwarded to (5)^13 or 1,220,703,125 recipients. That's more than the current population of the United States. Even if most recipients clicked the delete button when they received it, we would all have seen this email in our inboxes thousands of times for it to ever have gotten to over 900 names.

So what does the petition really represent? My guess is that someone with an opinion about the social security issue generated a bogus list of over 900 names from a mail merge or some other name database, and then sent the list out with instructions to send it to Washington when the name count gets to 1000. Even if several hundred copies of the list survive until they have 1000 names, many identical lists arriving in Washington would have no more impact than 1 unique list.

If you really want to impact legislation through email, then the right approach is to forward a message to your recipients asking them to send an email directly to their individual representatives in Washington. Messages from verifiable, voting constituents will have much more influence than a cobbled up list of fictional names.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Measure Up Monday

Slow progress, but in the right direction. I was surprised to have made any progress at all with this being a birthday party weekend, and the inclement weather giving me an excuse not to go out walking.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frogs and Zoos

Janet watches Emily while Ginette goes to class, and one of the ways she keeps her entertained is to let her watch Grampa singing on the computer. But she told me that Emily needs some new Grampa songs to listen to, so this weekend I put a couple of new songs up on YouTube that are geared towards entertaining a 2 year old.

I'm in Love
Big Blue Frog is a Peter Paul & Mary song that I learned while playing with Carl England & Co. during the Way Off Broadway days. We used to do a verse on kazoos, and I searched the house for my kazoo but couldn't find one. I even drove up to Rossi to buy one, but they didn't have them. I think the frog prop adds a nice touch though.

They All Aksed For You
The Audubon Zoo hasn't been part of my usual repertoire, but it's a fun song about animals, so I thought it might be a good one to do. I first heard this song done by my late cousin, Carl Glover. It was originally recorded by a New Orleans band called "The Meters", and you can hear their version here on YouTube. Note the Mardi Gras beads.

If any of you are members of my "Holly Kirby" fan club, you might be interested in her latest YT video, an over the top collaboration of Shania Twain's "Feel Like A Woman"

Happy Birthday Ginette!

Friday, September 12, 2008

LHC Webcam!

There was a funny
flash video here
that showed the LHC
getting swallowed up
by a black hole, but
It's no longer available.
Despite fears and warnings that it would cause a black hole that would swallow up the earth, the Large Hadron Collider was switched on this week. To allay such fears, the scientists set up a couple of webcams that show the collider's interior, and surrounding countryside.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I've recuperated from my illness and recovered the unnaturally lost weight as well, putting me exactly where I was before I left for Australia. Hopefully next week I'll be able to report some true weight loss.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, September 5, 2008

Joke Friday

Little Johnny had been bringing his drawings home from kindergarten every day since he started a month ago. Each day his mother admired the pictures and hung them on the refrigerator. One thing started bothering her. Little Johnny only used black and browns for his drawings. Fearing a problem and not wanting it to get worse, she decided to take him to a child psychologist.

The psychologist delicately went to work. He gave Little Johnny a battery of psychological tests. He chatted with Little Johnny. Everything seemed perfectly normal. Every day for two weeks, the tests continued. Yet everyday, Little Johnny continued to bring home drawings in only blacks and browns.

Frustrated at not being able to get to the root of the problem and fearful that something was terribly wrong, the child psychologist decided to give Little Johnny some paper and a box of crayons and observe what happened.

Little Johnny opened the box of crayons and said, "Oh, Boy! A new box of crayons! At school we only have old boxes. The only ones left in mine are black and brown!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Australia Epilog

One of the issues I had in Australia was getting used to driving a car with the controls on the right. It felt strange to have so much car sticking out to my left. It was like being a new driver and having to learn the 'feel' of the car all over again. New drivers as such, sometimes make some judgement errors and find themselves over steering into a right turn, cutting it too close and running over the curb on the corner. Or pulling in too far when parking and scraping the curb. I had to learn how to do both of those things all over again except on the left side, and have to admit that I hit my share of curbs. However, I didn't realize until the day I was returning the car just how badly I had warped and scraped up the hubcap. Hertz was pleasant about it. They simply added 60 AUD to my bill.

One of my Australian mates warned me that on my return to driving in the U.S., I might experience some after effects of driving on the left. As a 'yank' driving in Australia, you find yourself thinking about every right or left turn you make, wanting to be sure you don't unconsciously turn into the wrong lane. I was told that I might find myself doing the same thing after I got home. I'm happy to report that I slipped right back into right side driving without any conscious thought. I did signal a few turns with my windshield wipers however.

I seem to have brought a little Australian visitor back home with me. Thursday before I left I experienced chills and a fever, but it was gone by Friday. However, shortly after I started experiencing classic symptoms of salmonella poisoning although I kept thinking I had a little touch of flu. Last night I decided this was something worse and called the doctor today. I now have a prescription that will hopefully clear me up.

By the way, those that were at my house for barbecues this weekend can rest easy. I was very careful about hand washing :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I showed a 2 pound loss this morning, but it wasn't justified by my eating and activity levels last week. I think it is more due to a bit of flu that hit me Thursday night and still seems to be with me. I expect it might go up a little as I get back to normal.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Earworm Saturday

Give me a break,
Give me a break,
Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Joke Friday

An Aussie was sitting at a bar in Sydney when this huge, burly American guy walks in. As he passes the Aussie, he hits him on the neck knocking him to the floor.The big, burly Yank says,"That's a karate chop from Korea." Well, the Aussie gets back on his barstool and resumes drinking his beer.

The burly Yank then gets up to go to the bathroom and, as he walks by the Aussie, he hits him on the other side of the neck and knocks him to the floor."That's a judo chop from Japan", he says.

The Aussie decides he's had enough and leaves.A half hour later he comes back and sees the burly Yank sitting at the bar. He walks up behind him and smacks him on the head, knocking him out. The Aussie says to the bartender, "When he wakes up mate, tell him that was a crowbar from Bunnings."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I can't find where the Vienna Boys Choir performs

I've been working a lot, so I haven't seen much of Sydney except for the road between the office and the hotel. At least I have a nice hotel room view. The hotel breakfast buffet is yummy, but I've stayed away from the Vegemite after that first trial. The coffee is good. It's served from an individual pot on your table. At first I was puzzled by the sediment that was always in the bottom of my cup, but then I realized that the coffee pot is not just a serving carafe, but a french press. That explains the sediment and the good strong flavor.

Here's a couple of pictures from the d10 lab setup if you're interested in what I've actually been doing.

12 KVS

Order Ready Boards
That's Malcolm on the left

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Play yer didgeridoo, Blue.

Not much new to say today. The work on the lab is coming along well. Most of the components are set up and configured. I've got the drive down now. I can get there and back without getting lost. I went out of the hotel on foot today to find a different restaurant for dinner. There are a lot of pub style places in this area, but it was late when I got out, and most places were not serving food any more. The bartender at one recommended a restaurant not too far from here that would still be serving food and I got some potato soup and a steak sandwich there. The steak sandwich was served with a slice of beet on it which I found unusual but tasty.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where's the Kangaroos?

I had dinner in one of the hotel restaurants last night. They had an extensive buffet available but I settled for some French onion soup and a club sandwich. The sandwich was interesting. It had a fried egg in it. Breakfast this morning was in the same restaurant and also offered a buffet. The buffet had all the usual breakfast choices plus some unusual ones as well. I remember the buffet breakfasts in Japan offered some things that we didn't think qualified as breakfast foods. There were some of those kind of items here too.

When I was talking with my colleague Dave, he suggested I try some Vegemite if I had the chance. Well sure enough, there was vegemite available from the buffet, so I spread some on my toast. Vegemite is a dark brown paste about the consistancy of Nutella, but the similarity ends there. It is made from yeast extract, and has a bitter taste. I suppose you acquire a taste for it, but I wont be trying to do that. I'm bringing some home for Dave.

I have a very nice view from my hotel room. Here's some pictures.

Night View

Sunrise View

Daytime View

Monday, August 25, 2008

Do The Drains Swirl Backwards?

Almost exactly 24 hours after leaving the house Saturday afternoon, I arrived here in Sydney on a crisp cool Monday morning. The flight was not too bad. I managed to get enough sleep on the SFO to SYD leg to get through the day today. I checked into my hotel and then drove to the company offices in a north suburb called Thornleigh. The only navigation system I have is a map, although it is a very detailed one. I managed to get lost going to the office, but a few stops to examine the map got me going the right direction.

We made a little progress today getting the d10 lab set up. There were still quite a few components that weren't even unboxed yet, so there was quite a bit to do just getting the lab up and running. There's still quite a bit of staging and configuring to be done. I stayed in the office till nearly 7:30pm.

I probably should have left the office a little earlier because I had to find my way back to the hotel after dark, and I ended up getting lost again. The office is on one side of the Harbor Bridge, and the hotel is on the other. It's easy to get confused and turned around, and I ended up crossing the bridge 3 times before I made it back to the hotel. I think I have it figured out now though.

Driving on the left side is challenging. I find myself concentrating intently on my driving much more than I had to driving in France or Germany. But more disconcerting than driving on the left is driving from the right side of the car. The cars all have the steering wheel where you expect the passenger seat to be. Twice I got in the car from the wrong door and had to embarrassedly get back out. Some of the controls are reversed also, so every time I try to signal a turn, I end up turning on the windshield wipers. I'm sure the Aussie's see me going around the corner with my wipers on and laugh about another 'Yank' driver. The sensation of having all that car to your left is unsettling also. You feel like a new driver trying to judge how to turn a corner without hitting the curb. I've done that one a few times too. At least I haven't hit any pedestrians yet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Measure Up Saturday

I wont be able to make any measurements on Monday, but I had a couple of things to say, so I'm posting today. I had a month of no progress so I decided I had to do something else to get my weight moving down again. So this week I took up walking in the morning. I only managed to get 2 days in this week, but I walked about 2.5 miles each day. It must have helped because I'm able to report a 3 lb drop to 210 as of Saturday morning. That may be unrealistically low considering I normally report my weight on Monday after a weekend of less careful eating. Hopefully I can keep up the walking and the weight drop while I'm away on business.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, August 22, 2008

No Joke Friday :)

Sorry, I didn't have time today to search for a Joke.

Today will be Bonzer Website Friday instead.

I heard about this interesting website recently. It's called DrawBall, and is an open canvas for anyone to place their art on. It's amazing how detailed and beautiful some of the art there is, condsidering that the artists have to know that it will eventually be vandalized, or overwritten by someone else's art.

If you're interested, you can check it out at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Measure Up Monday

Not too bad. Vacation only added 1 pound. I expected worse. Although it's been a month now with no progress. Next week's business trip could be a challenge.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 10

Hey, It's good to be back home again.
Last night we stayed at a very nice Marriott in Omaha. We had a good dinner in the hotel restaurant where they served Omaha steaks. Thank you Jennifer and Paul for enabling us to stay in such nice hotels for such great prices. We finished up our trip today with a drive through Iowa and Illinois. The weather was good the whole way. We took our time checking out of the hotel this morning, and drove home at an easy pace, stopping several times for gas, food, and rest stops.

We're home now and have to face the unpacking, laundry, and mail sorting tasks. And tomorrow I must face the scale and tape measure once again. In all we drove nearly 3600 miles, used about 129 gallons of gas at an average price per gallon of about 3.93, and stayed in 7 nice hotels (including the Mirage at Las Vegas). The total cost of driving was probably more than a flying trip, but the sights we saw along the way made the trip worth the extra cost. I'd do it again next year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 9

Navigating Nebraska
Last night we stayed at a very nice Marriott Renaissance near Boulder Colorado. It supposedly had a view of the Boulder Flatirons, but with the soupy weather, we could barely see the parking lot.

Not much of interest to report on our drive from Broomfield to Omaha today. We had heavy rain a good part of the way through Colorado, but we drove out of it by the time we reached Nebraska.

One interesting anecdote is the fun we had following the Garmin's directions from the hotel to I-76. It took us on the E470 tollway from Broomfield to I-76 which made perfect sense. We didn't know that E470 only connects to I-76 East from the northbound lane, so imagine our confusion when Garmin had us get off the tollway at 120th street (paying a .75 toll), drive around the block, and then get back on the tollway at 120th street (paying another .75 toll).

Don't ask questions, just do it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 8

Unbelievable Utah
We drove I-70 through Utah and Colorado into Denver today. This drive really defies description. You have to experience it yourself sometime. This part of Utah is absolutely beautiful.

Driving Through Utah

I-70 Descending through the San Raphael canyon

Our weather was nice for most of the drive, allowing for some more top down time. When we got near Vail the temperature dropped and it started to rain. It rained all the way through the Rocky Mountains. We heard on the radio that there was a possibility of snow in the higher elevations and sure enough, as we came out of the tunnel spanning the continental divide there was snow falling. We tried to photograph it but it looks like a foggy blur. We arrived at our hotel in Broomfield Colorado sleeveless and in shorts but the temperature was in the low 50's.

Snowing in the Rockies

The hotel is a very nice Marriott and our room is spacious and comfortable. We finished the day with a nice meal in the hotel restaurant. Tomorrow we leave for Nebraska.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 7

Leaving Las Vegas
Today we checked out of the Mirage and started on the trip home. Overall, our stay at the Mirage was very nice. We had one of the newly remodeled rooms and an extra large one at that. We liked the outdoor cafe by the pool and had good food at several other restaurants in the Mirage.

The room had a few shortcomings though. I tried to iron one of my shirts one of the nights we were going out to a show, but the iron in the room didn't work. The water control in the shower didn't seem logical. When you first turn it, hot water comes out. The farther you turn it, the colder the water gets. That seems backwards to me. Our room was on the 24th floor. It seems that the rooms on the 25th floor were still undergoing reconstruction. Each morning we could hear hammering, drilling, and other construction noises from the floor above. But today as Janet was using the computer, we heard what sounded like water running in the bathroom. When we investigated, it appeared that a plumbing mishap from the floor above resulted in water pouring out of the exhaust fan in our bathroom ceiling, splashing all over the floor and toilet seat. It stopped shortly and was easily cleaned up with a couple of towels. We're just glad the toilet wasn't engaged at the time.

Our drive today was another scenic one. Our destination was Richfield Utah which was a short enough distance to allow us to revisit the canyons on the way. We drove through Zion National Park, starting at the main entrance and leaving through the east entrance, which includes driving through a narrow mile long tunnel. You begin to run out of adjectives to describe the views. Awsome, amazing, breathtaking, just don't seem to say enough. We took pictures but they just don't tell the story any more than 1000 words do.

Driving through Zion

Viewing the Checkerboard Mesa

From Zion we returned to Bryce Canyon for a few sights from view points we didn't have time to visit before. The views from the high "Inspiration Point", and the even higher "Bryce Point" were spectacular.

In Red Canyon on the way to Bryce

From Inspiration Point

From Bryce Point

We left Bryce as the sun was setting and had to drive the hundred or so miles to our hotel in the dark. However, we didn't have to cross a mountain this time and we had an almost full moon to help light the road. Tomorrow we're heading to Denver.

Road Trip Report - Day 6

Shuffle Up and Deal
After another breakfast by the pool, I spent the day in the poker room today. At first the poker room was pretty much empty, so I played some more unprofitable blackjack instead. Then I signed up for a sit-and-go and played in a 3/6 limit game until the tournament started. I only lost $3 in the live game before the sit-and-go began. I finished the sit-and-go in 3rd, but they pay 1st and 2nd. I signed up for another one, and played in a 1/2 no limit game until it started. I lost my stack in the no-limit live game when my kings were beaten by someone who called my raises with crap, and outdrew me with a straight.

I did a little better in the 2nd sit-and-go, finishing in the final 2. The two of us agreed to chop 60/40 with me taking the bigger amount instead of playing it out for a 70/30 finish.

Encouraged by my sit-and-go finish, I signed up for the 7pm big tournament, which in this case was about 34 players, and paid the top 5 finishers. I held out through the first hour and a half or so. Somewhere in about the 5th level, I caught KQs, and raised big. I got one caller. The flop came A x x, and the villian checked. So I pushed all in, thinking he missed the flop and I could push him off. Unfortunately, he had AK and insta-called my all-in. I didn't improve and was out of the tournament. Oh well, that's poker.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 5

No pictures today.
We had a day of relaxing today. We went to breakfast at the outdoor cafe by the Mirage pool. It was very warm outside and even the misters didn't offer much relief. After breakfast we walked around the pool area for a bit and then headed back to our room to plan our day. We needed to pick up our Jersey Boys tickets at the Venetian, so we walked over there to get them. The new Palazzo hotel is open now and we walked around there a little bit too. Then we crossed over to the Fashion Show mall, and I tagged along while Janet shopped.

Eventually we made it back to our room again, and since we needed a couple of things from our car, we decided to retrieve it from the valet and then drive over to the LV Hilton for the traditional drink in Quark's Bar. Janet had her obligatory Chocolate Obsession, and I wanted something with rum in it. The fellow next to me at the bar suggested a Mini Warp Core, which contains 5 different rums and bubbles with white smoke from the dry ice they put in it. It was delicious. We ended up striking up a conversation with the guy who recommended my drink and it turned out that he is from Sydney Australia. He was in Las Vegas for the Star Trek convention that just ended Monday. We learned from him that the 10 year old "Star Trek Experience" attraction is closing at the end of August. There will no longer be a Quark's Bar at the Hilton. That's the reason he and several "trekkie" friends decided to make the trip to this years convention. It seems a little sad that there will no longer be a place to get an official Chocolate Obsession.

We attended the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys tonight, and it was very good. The music of the Four Seasons was performed flawlessly, and the story of the group was interesting. After the show we had some good food at the Grand Lux Cafe, including their famous fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Road Trip Report - Day 4

Ups and Downs in canyons and Las Vegas
Last night we stayed in Cedar City Utah. We arrived late after our stop in Bryce Canyon, and after checking in and getting our keys we went to dinner at a nearby Applebee's without even stopping to bring our luggage up to the room. When we got back from dinner and went up to the room, we found an unmade bed, towels on the floor, and various other signs that the room had not been cleaned. After pointing this out to the desk clerk we had to wait while she called somebody because she couldn't figure out how to transfer us to a clean room. We did get a clean room eventually.

Monday morning we went to the Kolob canyons in Zion National Park. There is a 5 mile scenic drive that starts not too far from Cedar City. We took the drive and the views of the canyon were fantastic.

Kolob Canyons

Another view of the canyons

At the end of the drive was a trailhead for a 0.5 mile trail to the Timber Creek overlook. We decided to walk it and were treated to some really beautiful sights, including a view of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was quite sunny and hot however, and we were not very smart hikers. I was wearing a pair of deck shoes, and Janet had on thong flipflops. Neither of us put on sunscreen or carried any water. Even though the trail was short, it was a little steep and uneven, and by the time we got back to the car we were getting overheated and thirsty.

On the Timber Creek Overlook trail

View from the Timber Creek Overlook

We left Zion National Park and drove to Las Vegas. We are staying at the Mirage, which has recently remodeled their guest rooms. I used the $20 trick at check in and we were given a very nice large room on one of the floors that you must use a key in the elevator to access. Tonight we went to see Danny Gans. In all the times we've been to Vegas and the Mirage, we've never seen his show. Some parts of his show were very good, and other parts were just OK, but it was good entertainment overall. I played some blackjack, but not profitably. I think I'll switch to poker instead.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 3

A day of fabulous vistas
Last night we stayed at a nice Marriott resort in Vail Colorado. We had a very nice although pricey dinner in the hotel restaurant. It's an expensive resort even in off season, but we got a really nice room discount thanks to Jennifer and Paul.

Today we continued along I-70 west through Colorado and into Utah. A little way out from Vail I-70 runs through Glenwood Canyon. This is a beautiful drive. We stopped at a rest area in the canyon along the Colorado river to take some pictures.

Glenwood Canyon

River rafting on the Colorado River

The water's very cold

We had really nice weather today and got in some more top down time. The views along this part of the trip are awesome. We made several stops to take pictures.

Fooling around at a View Area

Black Dragon Canyon

We got to Bryce Canyon an hour or so before sunset so we visited the canyon for some more spectacular views and hiked down a short way into the canyon before leaving for our hotel in Cedar City. The drive from Bryce to Cedar city was along a 2 lane road that went through some mountains part of the way. We drove a good part of it after dark, but took it easy and safe.
View from Bryce rim

View from in Bryce canyon

Gas price survey: Nebraska - 3.79, Colorado - 4.29, Utah - 4.13

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 2

All about the weather
Due to our late arrival Friday night we slept in Saturday morning. After a good breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we started out on our next leg of the journey. It was raining as we left Lincoln, and continued to rain for the next hundred miles or so. After about 2 hours the rain stopped, and we had dry, but completely overcast skies. We chugged along through Nebraska, where there wasn't much interesting scenery. A few pretty fields of sunflowers brightened the view for a while. (picture from web, not Nebraska)

As we got close to Colorado, the skies cleared up and we had mostly sunny skies all the way into Denver. It gave us a chance to put the top down and soak up some sun.

I was watching for the Rocky Mountains to appear as we approached Denver. I expected to see them gradually rise up from the horizon. There was heavy cloud cover to the southwest as we headed that direction along I76, and perhaps that was the reason, but we couldn't see mountains until we were about 35 miles from Denver. Then almost suddenly their dark outline began to resolve itself against the clouds, and they were already looming tall against the horizon. It clouded over completely again by the time we reached Denver, and as we headed up I70 into the mountains it got much cooler. We stopped to put the top up, and just in time because it began raining shortly after. We had rain on and off almost the whole way to Vail.

Just before the Eisenhower Tunnel we heard a loud dull thud. We thought the car had been hit by a falling rock. When we got to Vail we checked the car but found no dents. Investigating further, we figured out that a plastic tub with a sealed lid inside the cooler had popped open from the reduced outside air pressure. It must have popped like a balloon.

Here are some pictures from Vail:

I-70 towards Grand Junction

The Marriott Vail Resort

Empty Ski Slopes

View from our hotel room window

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 1

Our first day out was pretty much uneventful. Janet picked me up at work a little after 2pm. As we were re-arranging the contents of the car, Jody from the Innovation Center came out and asked us to wait for a minute. When she returned, she had packed us a large bag of road trip snacks: chips, candy, granola bars, slim jims, etc. Thanks Jody! Before hitting the road we made one more stop at a Jewel for some ice and a couple of other road trip essentials: pretzel rods and twizzlers.

As I said, the drive through Illinois and Iowa was uneventful. We've all seen our share of cornfields, so I don't think pictures are necessary. We passed the highly acclaimed World's Largest Truck Stop, but we weren't hungry and didn't need gas, so we didn't stop. There was a pretty sunset that we got to watch for quite a while since we were driving west right into it.

A few hours later we were starting to run low on gas, so we started looking for a gas station. It was getting late and being unsure when the next exit with fuel would come up, we exited at a small Iowa town that advertised fuel and camping. It was about a 2 mile drive off the highway to the town. When we got there, we found 2 things open in the town: the gas station, and the American Legion hall. We laughed about going in for a drink, but continued on. We made it to Lincoln around 12:30 AM. The Cornhusker Marriott is very nice. Gas price survey: Illinois - 3.99, Iowa - 3.47