Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rawhide Down

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving into work listening to the morning program on WMAL 630 here in the DC area.  One of the in studio guests on this particular program was Del Quintin Wilber, author of the book "Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan."  Since I consider Reagan to be the best president of my lifetime, I listened to the segment a little more closely that I usually do.

Wilber has been a reporter for various newspapers, most recently The Washington Post.  He described how he came to write the book.  If nothing else, Wilber is an excellent story teller.  As I drove to work, I was riveted by the way he described the events of the assassination attempt by John Hinkley.  He told how each split second decision helped to save Ronald Reagan's life.  I knew after listening to him speak, that "Rawhide Down" would be the next book that I would download on my Kindle.

I was not disappointed.  I was 20 years old when Reagan was shot.  My recollections of the incident were that his life was never in serious jeopardy.  However, "Rawhide Down" describes in tremendous detail how close Reagan came to dying on that day 30 years ago.  It also gives us some more insight of the personality and character of the man.  Reagan's presidency has been described as the most scripted in US history, but "Rawhide Down" shows us a great deal about Reagan in its descriptions of his words and actions in those unscripted moments.

As I said, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan and his presidency.  That respect and admiration is only enhanced by my reading of "Rawhide Down."  I highly recommend the book to anybody who admires Reagan or wants to know more of the history of our country.  It is an intense and exciting narrative on a par with the most intense thriller as opposed to a dry historical narrative.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Music Monday-Billy Ray Cyrus "Some Gave All"

Today is Memorial Day in the US.  For a lot of American it marks the beginning of summer and a long weekend.  However, the real purpose is to remember those that have served to keep us free and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.  In honor of those who served, on this Memorial Day Music Monday, Billy Ray Cyrus and "Some Gave All."

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffett 080128-N-3235P-221 MIDDLE EASTER...Image via WikipediaWhen I first signed up for Facebook, I really wasn't sure what I would use it for, if anything.  In fact, after I signed up, I probably let my account languish for a year or so.  I didn't really start using Facebook until one of my two best friends from high school sent me a friend request.  Then I started to try to find family and friends on Facebook.

As I got more involved in doing things on Facebook, I noticed that some of my family members had gotten involved in playing various games on there.  So, I started to play a few of those games as well.  Maybe I should say I got lured into playing them.  I started off with Mafia Wars and eventually added Farmville and others.

At one point, I think I was probably playing five or six games.  They were starting to take up a considerable amount of my precious free time in the evenings.  I eventually got to the point where I decided that I was going to cut back on the number of games I was playing.  At this point, there are probably two games that I play consistently, Farmville and Scrabble with my parents.  There are one or two that I occasionally play when I really have extra time.

While I was on my trip to Chicago last week and waiting in O'Hare for my flight home, someone near me was reading a copy of USA Today and a headline caught my eye.  The article announced that Jimmy Buffett was working with a game developer to bring a Margaritavile themed game to Facebook.

First and foremost, I am an avowed Parrothead.  I have been listening to Buffett music for over 30 years now.  I have read all of his books.  I have eaten at Margaritaville restaurants in Key West and the local Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant here in Maryland.  Needless to say, when this game launches on Facebook, I will be looking for my lost shaker of salt somewhere near the Port of Indecision.
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Solar Power: Cheap and Green?

Solar panel installation at an information cen...Image via WikipediaMy commute to and from work each day is at least an hour each way.  On Friday and Saturday nights, I deliver pizzas.  On average, I probably spend about 20 hours a week in my car with the radio on.  During that time, I get to hear a lot of radio commercials.

One commercial that I have heard frequently that caught my attention was one from a company called Solar City.  They are a company that offers to install solar panels to your home or business.  The commercial advertises that they will help you save on your electricity bill with as little as zero down with their solar lease.

Let me restate here my position on anthropomorphic global warming.  I believe that the vast majority of climate change occurs as a natural phenomenon.  Any man made contribution to that change is miniscule.  Attempts to try to reverse climate change would be unnecessarily expensive and essentially futile.

That being said, I do believe that conserving our natural resources is a good thing, providing that the effort to do so is not too expensive or overly inconvenient. Take for example CFL light bulbs. Due to the mercury in them they create a potential hazard if thrown in the garbage, however, I would guess that most people do just that.  Plus they are a lot more expensive than incandescent bulbs.

Anyway, back to Solar City.  On their website, they have a solar calculator so you can see how much money you could save on your electric bill by having one of their systems installed.  You input your address and info on your home, and they give you four different scenarios.  Since I am all for saving a little cash, and not averse to conservation, I decided to check them out.

If I went with their zero down option, my monthly bill (combined electric bill and lease) would go up $33 per month and my total expense over 20 years go up nearly $11000.  The next option would be to put a $3600 down payment on a system.  My total monthly bill would still go up in the near term.  Assuming that electricity rates rise according to the scenario of their calculator, I would not start saving on my electric bill five or six years.

They also offer a scenario of putting down $11000 or purchasing a system outright for $24000.  If I purchased a system outright, my electric bill would go down about $70 per month, but it would take nearly 30 years for me to recoup my initial investment.  Since I look at things from a cost vs value perspective, none of their programs would be for me.

Solar energy is often touted as being good for the environment.  Once the panels are installed, that would definitely be the case.  However, the manufacture and disposal of solar panels is another matter entirely.  They are manufactured with toxic heavy metals and gases, some of which are carcinogenic and poisonous.  Their lifespan is usually 20-30 years, and once they are no longer operable would need to be disposed of in special toxic waste dumps.  So much for green.

I actually used the Solar City calculator a couple months ago.  At that time, the calculator said that I would save about $15 per month under the zero down scenario.  I guess that since then, the various tax incentives that were available at that time had expired because the calculator did not show any savings for those incentives as it did the first time I checked them out. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Traveling Blues

I just got home from a business trip to attend a trade show in Chicago.  I guess you could say that I am an antsy traveler.  It isn't so much the actual flying that gets me so much as the anticipation of the flight.  You see, I am one of those who actually gets too the airport at least two hours before the flight.  I am absolutely paranoid about being late and missing my flight.  I think it stems from nearly missing a connecting flight in Denver. That day I did my best impersonation of O.J.Simpson running through an airport in a Hertz Rent-a-Car commercial.

Since I always get to the airport early, I usually have a couple hours to kill before I board my airplane.  For most of my travels, this hasn't been too much of a hardship because I have rarely had a flight delay or cancellation.  I usually spend that time reading and making frequent trips to the rest room.  As I said, I get a little antsy while waiting to board the plane and that, combined with BPH, leads to the trips to the toilet.

My trip was scheduled to begin on Monday evening with a 5pm flight out of BWI.  When I arrived at the airport shortly after 3pm, I discovered that my flight was to be delayed by a little more than two hours.  So, instead of my usual two hours of waiting in the airport, I now had a little more than four hours to kill.  In addition to my Kindle, I have recently gotten a new Samsung Galaxy tablet to help keep me occupied.  Still, four hours is an awful lot of reading, playing on the tablet, and trips to the bathroom.

Eventually, I made it to Chicago Monday night in time to attend my trade show on Tuesday.  I had two coworkers that I was going to meet at O'Hare on Monday night.  They both flew from different airports in the DC area and their flights were also delayed at least two hours.  We attended our show on Tuesday, and got an awful lot done that day.  We headed back to our hotel to unwind for a bit before dinner.  The hotel had a free happy hour with free beer and buffalo wings, so I had a couple drafts and some wings before we headed to dinner at Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse.

Originally, we were scheduled to attend the show on both Tuesday and Wednesday.  Since we were able to get everything done on Tuesday, we decided to head to the airport early to try to get an earlier flight home.   I arrived at the airport shortly after 10am.  My original flight was scheduled to leave O'Hare around 7:30pm.  When I checked in for my flight at the hotel, I booked a standby flight scheduled for 2pm.  Thankfully, I was able to get onto the 2pm flight and get home early enough to say goodnight to my son who came home yesterday for the weekend.  One of my coworkers not only could not get on an earlier flight, but had their flight cancelled and had to stay one more night.

With four hours to kill in BWI on Monday night, and another four hours to kill in O'Hare yesterday, I got to do a little bit of people watching in addition to my reading.  Now, I would not exactly consider myself to be a fashion expert, but I do know what colors go together.  In BWI, I saw one guy wearing a bright orange polo shirt with a pair of bright purple track pants.  You might expect that it was a young guy, but no, it was a middle aged guy around my age.  It was not a pretty combination.  Then in O'Hare, I was walking from one terminal to another to see if there was any way possible to get on an 11:30 flight when I saw a lady sitting on a bench just strumming away on her ukelele. 

Recently, I saw an article somewhere that said that some folks were calling for a ban on children on some flights.  At first I thought this to be a preposterous idea, until I had a baby sitting behind me on the first leg of my trip who did nothing but cry until the flight took off.  Fortunately, the child calmed down, or the plane was loud enough to drown out the cries as we flew to Chicago.  I think, however, that besides terrorists, there is one group of people that should definitely be banned from enclosed aircraft; those with terrible body odor like the slob that I happened to be sitting behind on my flight from Chicago.
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Music Monday-Blake Shelton "Honey Bee"

I don't usually watch shows like American Idol, but I have been watching "The Voice" on NBC.  The only reason that I have been watching it is because I am a fan of Blake Shelton.  I thought he was pretty funny in the previews leading up to the show.  His latest song, "Honey Bee" is my choice for Music Monday this week.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

No Rapture for You

Diagram of the major tribulation views in Chri...Image via WikipediaLike most Saturday nights I was scheduled to deliver pizza from 5pm until midnight or until it slows down enough that I can leave, usually around 11pm. I was kind of bummed that I was working seeing as how Harold Camping said the world would end at 6 pm. That really is something you would want to be with your family should it occur.

Technically, Camping predicted that the Rapture would occur which consists of Jesus returning to take his follower to heaven in the twinkling of an eye. Still, I have read enough of the Bible, end times theology, and Left Behind books to know you wouldn't want to be out driving around when the Rapture occurs. All of those suddenly unoccupied cars could cause some major traffic headaches.

The appointed time of 6pm came and went with a whimper. No apocalyptic earthquake, no out of control cars, nothing. I turned the radio on to WAVA, a Christian station I used to frequently listen to and not affiliated with Camping's Family Radio, and they were still broadcasting. So was the local Family Radio station. About the only sound I heard were two kids yelling they were still alive.

It is a good thing for Camping that we aren't living in biblical times. The biblical standard for prophets is perfection. So far Camping is 0 for 2 in his prophecies which wouldn't even qualify him for Minor Prophet status and would likely end with him being stoned, and I am not talking about the kind where you fire up a fat one.

Personally, I didn't put much stock in Camping's prediction. After all, I believed Jesus when he said no man would know the day or the hour of his return.  Unfortunately, not everybody was equally discerning in separating the wheat from the chaff and believed Camping's false prophecy.  There are a number of stories out there of folks who emptied their bank accounts to help promote Camping's falsehood.

I do not know the heart of Harold Camping.  I am sure that in his mind he was sincere and doing the right thing.  Much like he should have heeded the words of Jesus when Jesus said that no one but the father would know when Jesus would rapture the church, perhaps Camping should heed these words of Jesus from Matthew 7: 21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Just sayin'....

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Proud Medal Winner

Bronze medal from the 1980 Summer OlympicsImage via WikipediaIt does my heart good to get good news from school.  Over the past few weeks, the good news from school has been a lot less frequent.  It is not that he has been doing poorly, but he has been exhibiting more of his undesirable behaviors of late.  For the last couple weeks he has been doing a lot more dropping to the ground, throwing things, and hitting those that get near him.

Because he had been adjusting so well, I have cut back on my phone calls to the school to every other day rather than every day like when he first started at the school. With him exhibiting his undesirable and unacceptable behaviors more frequently of late, I have been a bit more hesitant when I call to check on him.

Last night, I called to check on him and got a very favorable report.  Over the past two days, he had not been dropping as often as he had been over the past two weeks.  In fact, the aide that I spoke with in the dorm informed me that the night before he had won a medal by finishing third in swimming.  He has proudly worn the medal ever since.

The mere fact that my son is swimming is a marked improvement in and of itself.  The school has a very nice indoor swimming pool.  When he first started going to the school, he refused to get into the water, instead preferring to watch the other kids.  Just to get in the water is improvement, to finish third in an event is just awesome.

During the Beijing Olympics when Michael Phelps won his 8 gold medals, my son watched intently.  He really enjoyed watching the swimming events.  In the school he attended at that time, they gave out some play medals during the Olympics.  He loved wearing those, so I know he is thrilled to be wearing a medal he earned at school.  I know I am. 
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Arnold Redux

I want to apologize in advance if anybody finds this post to be shallow, superficial, or in any way sexist. With that disclaimer, let me begin my thoughts.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the first, nor will he be the last, man to ever get caught having an adulterous affair.  Originally, I would have been content with my post from a couple of days ago and would have been happy to let the whole issue pass without another comment.  However, as is often the case, there have been more revelations that have lead me to want to comment further.

More has been learned about the woman who worked in the Schwarzenegger household and gave birth to Arnold's love child.  Her name and photos have been released and have appeared on various outlets, the first of which I believe was TMZ.com.  It has been the release of those photos that have led me to post on the subject matter, and which led to my disclaimer above.

Maria Shriver is a beautiful woman.  The "other" woman is, to put it tactfully, not quite as beautiful.  Now, I realize that relationships are a very complicated thing, and there are a lot of variables involved, physical beauty being just one.  When Arnold had his dalliance and impregnated the other woman,  he and Maria must have been getting along, because she herself was pregnant by The Sperminator.  Below is a side by side look at the two of them.

In looking at the two women, it made me think WTF was Arnold thinking.  He has a beautiful woman at home who is also an extremely intelligent woman.  What more could a man ask for?  Why fuck it up with somebody that really doesn't hold a candle to Maria?

I just do not understand the way some men think, and I am one myself.  It made me think of another famous male celebrity who was in a relationship with one of the world's most beautiful women, and got caught with a prostitute.  Remember Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley?  As Jay Leno asked Grant, "What the HELL were you thinking?"  Which would you choose?
I am sure there are other examples that we could site, but I would leave with one more comparison.  In this particular case, while I do not condone the actions of Brad Pitt, I do somewhat understand it.  While it was totally wrong the way he treated Jennifer Aniston by cheating on her with Angelina Jolie, at least it was more than a casual affair as Jolie and Pitt continue in a relationship, and Jolie and Aniston are in the same ballpark.  Besides I like this picture.
I have heard it said that it takes one pint of blood to allow the brain to function and one pint of blood to allow the penis to function.  Unfortunately, it is the same pint of blood.  It seems that would be an accurate statement. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

25000 Big Macs

A Big Mac combo meal with French fries and Coc...Image via WikipediaI admit that I am a fairly picky eater.  Like everybody, I have my share of foods that I would classify as "favorites."  My mother used to tell me that when I was a kid, I would only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Even today, I go through stretches where I will eat the same thing for lunch for several days in a row.

With all of that being said, I can not imagine that I would ever get to the point of eating the same thing nearly every day for 39 years like Don Gorske of Wisconsin.  Yesterday, Gorske bit into his 25000th McDonald's Big Mac on the 39th anniversary of the day he ate his first Big Mac.

As I said, I can not imagine eating the same thing every day for 39 years.  I also can not imagine eating 25000 of anything, with the possible exception of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Today, with the government trying to control more and more of what we eat, I would think that Mr. Gorske's record of 25000 Big Macs is safe.  Today I heard the story about how the USDA is trying to limit the amount of potatoes and other starchy vegetables like corn that can be served in school lunches during the week.  If the government is trying to limit the amount of staples like potatoes and corn, just imagine how they would feel about foodstuffs like the Big Mac.

Here is the ironic thing about the argument that fast food restaurants like McDonald's are making the country fat.  In pictures, Mr. Gorske looks to be a fairly trim individual, and it is reported that his cholesterol level is in healthy ranges.  I have a coworker who eats fast food at lunch, and he is a very slim man.  In reality, it is the totality of a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and excess calories that leads to obesity, not Big Macs and fries.  Let's not forget the man who lost 27 pounds on the Twinkie diet.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that they were separating after 25 years of marriage.  Sadly, this is not at all uncommon for famous couples, but at the time, it sounded like they were going to work out their differences.  Today, it was revealed that Arnold had an affair and a child with a staff member 10 years ago.

Well with that type of revelation, I can understand the reason behind the split.  I also would not expect any reconciliation any time soon.  I had already heard the news when I was getting ready to go to work this morning, but my wife called me at the office to tell me that Ah-nold was a pig.  I agreed with her that he was definitely a jerk.  He is quite fortunate that Maria didn't perform a Lorena Bobbitt on him.

After hearing the news about Ah-nold and his infidelity, it reminded me of this scene of The Terminator from the movie "Pumping Iron." More after the clip.

It is apparent from looking at the clip and recent photos of Arnold, that he doesn't spend us much time pumping iron as he did in his competitive bodybuilding and acting days.  That is to be somewhat expected as one ages and takes on other responsibilities.  Perhaps if he had spent more time in the gym that sensation of cumming from working out would have satisfied him enough to keep it in his pants.  Perhaps, but probably not.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Music Monday-Europe "The Final Countdown"

Today, the Space Shuttle Endeavour took off on its final mission as NASA’s space shuttle era is rapidly drawing to a close. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by pictures of outer space. I had my telescope and I would sit outside gazing at the moon and the solar system. I remember going out on a friend’s sailboat one time to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to have Europe's "The Final Countdown" as my pick for Music Monday.

On a slightly different note, a group of Christians, led by Harold Camping, have declared that Saturday, May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day when Jesus Christ returns to rapture his church.  Camping has made these proclamations before, and has obviously been wrong.  While I do believe that day will one day come, there are a number of reasons why I believe they are out to lunch.  Suffice to say that if they are correct, we would be in a "Final Countdown" of a totally different kind.     

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

2012 Presidential Debates

2012 Republican Presidential CandidatesImage by DonkeyHotey via Flickr
This post was originally posted the night of the Fox News Republican Debate.  It was started on the Blogger Android App and finished on my laptop and is the post that was deleted as mentioned in my Gone Mobile post.  I found a copy of the post on my Facebook Notes page.

We are currently 18 months away from the 2012 Presidential election. Since the night that Barack Obama defeated John McCain, Republicans and/or conservatives have been anxiously awaiting the 2012 campaign to try to make Obama a one term president. Since I acknowledge that I am not a fan of the current president's policies (the bin Laden affair notwithstanding) I count myself among those who have been looking forward to 2012.

I consider myself to be more of a Libertarian (more in the ilk of Neil Boortz as opposed to Ron Paul) but I am registered as a Republican. In Maryland, you can only vote in the primary of the party that you are registered. The Libertarian Party at this time just does not have what it takes in terms of numbers to put forth a viable Presidential nominee. For that reason, I take great interest in the campaign to become the Republican nominee.

As I said, we are 18 months away from the actual 2012 election. As far as the primaries are concerned, the Iowa caucuses will take place in January of next year, along with the first primary in New Hampshire. Since we are a full seven months ahead of any real contests, and not all potential candidates have declared, it strikes me as somewhat odd that Fox News will be broadcasting the first GOP Presidential debates tonight at 9pm Eastern from South Carolina.

For tonight's debate, the following potential candidates will be participating: Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, current Texas Congressman Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. I know a little about each of them, and want to learn more, but have to wonder if it is a little too soon for a Presidential debate, especially since not all potential candidates will be there.

Several big names will not be in attendance, such as former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and others. I have not yet decided whether or not I will watch the debate. It just seems too early for me. Of those that are participating, I do like aspects of each candidate, some more than others. Cain, Pawlenty, and Santorum are the three that I definitely would like to see do well. I am not sure whether Paul or Johnson could make strong national candidates.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Osama bin Laden-Porn Aficionado

Peep show window displaying pornographic enter...Image via WikipediaEver since the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound, more and more has been revealed each day about what was found during the raid.  We have heard about all of the computers and flash drives that were taken.  Then there was the news of bin Laden's handwritten journals.  Yesterday, we learned that they also found a stash of pornographic material.

Who knew?  I suppose their might be some that would be surprised that bin Laden would be an aficionado of pornography.  It doesn't surprise me in the least for a couple of reasons.  The first is my recollection of a news story of internet search trends and the second is from personal experience; both of which I will share below.

About a year or so ago, there were a few stories published about top search terms on the internet.  In one story, it was revealed that  according to Google trends, 7 of the top 10 countries that searched for sex on the internet were predominantly Muslim countries.  Leading the pack among countries looking for online pornography was Pakistan.  Those were just little nuggets of information that stick in the back of my mind because I find them amusing or titillating.

The second is from personal experience, so it amounts to a bit of a confession.  Several years ago, I had a collection of adult oriented DVDs that I wanted to try to sell because I was in need of some money.  They were just sitting in the basement collecting dust, so if I could get a few dollars for them it would be no loss.  I was searching the internet for a place to sell them.  I came across a site that would set you up with your own online store to sell adult toys and movies.  Since the online adult entertainment industry was a multi-million dollar industry, I took the plunge and bought a sight.  I lost my shirt.

When I had that site, I used Statcounter as my hit counter to see how many visitors I had, where they came from, and what keywords they were using.  At the time, I was surprised to see some of the locations that showed up as visiting my humble store.  Here are some of the predominantly Muslim locations that showed up in my stats; Tehran, Iran; Islamabad, Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Iraq; and Indonesia.  Just another of those little nuggets that stuck in my mind.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Close but No Cigar

A semi-airtight cigar storage tube and a doubl...Image via WikipediaI used to enjoy the occasional fine cigar, but it has been a while since I had a good stogie.  When I was partaking of fine cigars, I could only enjoy them outside of the house, usually if I was golfing or doing yard work.  Mrs. Dickster would not let me have them in the house.  One cold winter day she let me fire up a log in the basement but she quickly came down to tell me she could smell them up on the top floor of our townhouse.

For a variety of reasons, I gave up my vice of smoking fine cigars.  I still have some of my cigar paraphernalia around the house.  I still have a couple of humidors lying around the house along with some cigar cutters and a few of the cigar torches that I used to fire up my logs.  I am reminiscing about my former love affair with cigars because of an email that I received from one of the companies that I used to order cigars from.

I have long known that my home state of Maryland is a bastion of liberalism.  One of my blogging buddies, Harrison Price of Capitol Commentary has frequently called his home state of California the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia.  I think the same could be said of Maryland.  While the local news was flooded with potential laws like gay marriage, increasing the gasoline tax, increasing the alcohol sales tax, and Maryland's passage of their version of the Dream Act (the last two passed) they also managed to sneak in a new cigar law.

Even though I no longer smoke cigars, I still get emails from some of the companies that I used to buy cigars from.  Below is the text of an email that I recently received from one of them.  Apparently, it is now illegal to receive orders of cigars through the mail in the state of Maryland, which is how I used to get the bulk of my cigars back in the day.
ATTN: all cigar customers residing in Maryland

Effective May 1st, 2011, a new law (http://mlis.state.md.us/2010rs/fnotes/bil_0008/hb0088.pdf) has declared it illegal to ship cigars into the state of Maryland.

You heard that right. Unbelievable as it may seem, Maryland legislators took away your right to choose where you buy your cigars. We at Cigars International, like many others in the cigar industry, believe this to be an un-American affront to freedom – and will increase the cost of a cigar to you.

Here is the question for you as a resident of Maryland: is it the responsibility of the state to dictate from whom you can and cannot purchase? Bear in mind, handmade cigars are a legal product. Cigars are no different than sneakers, pencils, or books in terms of interstate commerce. A state cannot arbitrarily choose to close its borders to a legal product, for any reason.

We need you to help overturn this ill-conceived piece of legislation.

Sadly, Maryland legislators think they are protecting a small handful of retail cigar stores in Maryland who, rather than compete in the marketplace on service, selection and pricing, chose to persuade state legislators to approve an anti-choice, anti-freedom, and anti-American law at the 11th hour. Competition is good. Competition is American.

As a Maryland resident, you should be outraged. Today it's cigars. Tomorrow it will be something else. Enough is enough. It is time to fight back.

HERE IS WHAT I AM ASKING YOU TO DO TODAY: The Maryland state Comptroller is Peter Franchot. I urge you to contact him today. Tell him you're a voter, you enjoy cigars, and this law limits your choices and freedom. We must make our voices heard or who knows what will be illegal tomorrow.

You can reach Mr. Franchot by calling him at 1-800-552-3941 or emailing him at pfranchot@comp.state.md.us.

Or you can mail him at
Comptroller of Maryland
80 Calvert Street
P.O. Box 466
Annapolis, MD 21404-0466
It is definitely troublesome to have the government ban a legal substance.  While it is disturbing, I am more concerned about the state passing a law to give in state tuition breaks to illegal immigrants when the state budget is operating at a deficit.  I will be signing a petition to try to get an initiative on the ballot to repeal that particularly loathsome bit of legislation.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Electric Car

An electric Smart ED.Image via WikipediaI tend to be a big picture kind of guy. My thought processes often involve "if-then" scenarios. I like to think through the possible results or reactions to decisions or events. On performance reviews I have been told that I think in systemic terms.

Let's take for example the electric car. Proponents of the electric car tout it as a zero carbon dioxide emissions vehicle that will lessen our reliance on oil. That much is true, but I like to think of the whole and not the part.

The current President is a big advocate of electric cars.  He frequently espouses the potential benefits of the electric car, especially when he talks about the price of gasoline.  However, this is the same person who famously stated that under his plan electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.  How would you like to recharge everyday under that scenario?

The other thing that I like to think about is concept of unintended consequences.  The idea behind the electric car is that they have zero emissions for carbon dioxide. The thing about electric cars is that you have to recharge them regularly.  The majority of electricity in this country still comes from coal, and the Department of Energy expects that it will for the foreseeable future.  So, while driving an electric car would reduce CO2 emissions while driving, there would be an increase from increased use of electricity.

I am currently reading a book by Larry Bell called the Climate of Corruption that takes a look at the politics of climate change.  One of the things that he addresses in the book is the actual potential of some of the potential "renewable" energy sources out there.  Most hold precious little potential for being able to provide us with the majority of our electrical needs.  Bell makes the case for increased use of nuclear power for electricity.

I am not averse to the idea of an electric car.  I believe that eventually the technology of electric cars will get to the point where you will be able to travel as far on a single charge as on a tank of gas.  It just strikes me as ironic that the very benefit of the reduced emissions of the electric car are countered by the increased emissions of the electric power plant.
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Music Monday-Big & Rich "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy"

It has been about four years since Big & Rich released any new material.  Both have released solo projects in the interim.  It was recently announced that the two would rejoin for the 2011 Xtreme Muzik tour featuring their Muzik Mafia of Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy, and Two Foot Fred.  We first met the Muzik Mafia in Big & Rich's first video "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."  A rollicking good time was had by all.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Most Sundays I like to take it pretty easy.  Since I work Monday through Saturday, Sunday is the day that I try to get any errands that I have to do done as early in the day as possible.  Then I spend the rest of the day parked on the couch and relaxing.  After all, even the Good Lord took a day for rest at the end of a long week.

Today, however, is Mother's Day.  It is the first Mother's Day that has occurred since our son went away to his school.  As much as I would have liked to have spent the day vegging on the couch, I could not let the day pass without my wife seeing our son on Mother's Day.  After all he will always be her baby boy.  So, we left the house early this morning for the hour and a half drive to spend some time with him.

We walked into his dorm area and there was nobody around.  We headed out towards the main building to see if we could find them.  He was coming out from breakfast when we first saw him.  As soon as we saw him his eyes lit up and a big smile crossed his face.  He proceeded to tell us what he ate for breakfast and that 7pm tonight there was going to be a dance.

He did not want to go anywhere, so we spent a couple hours hanging out and walking around the facilities.  Personally, I can understand why he didn't want to hang out anywhere.  Personally, if I had a big screen television on the wall
and a pool table in the recreation area then I wouldn't want to go anywhere either.
It was a beautiful day today, sunny with temperatures in the 70's so we decided to take a walk around the grounds to get a little exercise.  While we were walking, we found the building where he does his jobs.
After we took our walk around the grounds, we headed back to the dorm area.  He once again demonstrated some of his new found independence by walking up to a cooler, grabbing a styrofoam cup, and poured himself a cup of water to drink.  At home, it would be drinking from the tap.  He has also started eating a few more foods, so long as it has BBQ sauce on it.

All in all, it was a very good Mother's Day, though we were out longer than I usually like on a Sunday, but it was well worth it.  So to my mother, my wife, her mother, and all of the mothers out there, I wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Gone Mobile

I am a little bit irked this morning, or at the very least frustrated.  There is no doubt that we ask our mobile phones to do more and we rely on them to do more every day.  I read and write emails from my phone, Tweet from my phone, and browse the web from my phone.

So as a blogger it would only make sense to blog from my phone.  I had tried one blogger app for my Android phone, but it wasn't very good.  I was thrilled the other day to find the official Blogger Android app in the market.

Yesterday I started to write a post on my phone using the Blogger app and saved the partial draft to finish when I got home from work.  I found the draft on my dashboard, finished writing it, and published it to my blog.  It worked exactly how I wanted it to.

Fast forward to this morning.  I opened up the app on my phone.  It still listed my post as a draft on the app.  I clicked the "view blog" button and saw the mobile version of my blog (more on that later) complete with a link to the finished post.  I clicked on the link and got a message saying the page could not be found.

I was distressed to say the least.  When I was able to open my dashboard I discovered that the post reverted back to my partially written draft.  I visited the Blogger forum and found somebody else had a similar issue but nobody had posted any kind of solution.

There are a number of reasons why I might start a post on my phone or on another computer with the intention of finishing on my laptop later.  For instance, I use Zemanta on my laptop and I like to add things from there before publishing my final post.  The mobile app is a nice thing to have but if I am unable to start a post on the phone and finish it later from home then I doubt I will use it much.

Oh, and speaking of going mobile, I recently found that Blogger has added mobile web templates to the blog functionality.  I went ahead and turned that on so a mobile version is now available.  If you have a QR code reader you can scan the QR code in this post to check the mobile version of this blog.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama bin Laden Death Photos

Bin ladenImage via WikipediaSince the news broke late Sunday night that US Special Ops forces had broken into a compound and killed Osama bin Laden, the speculation has been whether or not the Obama administration would release photos of the SOB's corpse to prove that bin Laden was dead.  Word came from the administration today that the photos will not be released.

Due to the military burying his body at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition, there are those that are apt to subscribe to conspiracy theories who will not believe that bin Laden is dead without seeing photos of the body.  Of course those that subscribe to conspiracy theories could also argue that any released photos were photoshopped.

The administration, for their part said that they do not want to release the photos because they are graphic and gruesome.  Their feeling is that by releasing the photos that it could inflame the passions of the Islamic extremists and lead to action on their part.  The counterargument to that would be that putting a bullet through his brain would also incite them.

I am an avowed conservative.  I listen to talk radio.  One of the programs that I usually listen to is Sean Hannity's because it is on during my commute home.  Most of the time, I find my self in agreement with his positions.  Today, during the hour I drove home, Hannity basically decried the decision by the President's decision to not release the photos, and the decision to bury bin Laden at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition.

It is not so much Hannity's position that the photos should be released that I disagree with, but rather my view that he is being somewhat hypocritical in regards to his position regarding "inciting the radical Islamists."  Previously, he had interviewed Pastor Terry Jones who held a Koran burning.  Hannity criticized Jones because he had burned the Koran despite the warnings from General David Petreaus that such actions would incite the extremists to vengeance.

Meanwhile, he criticizes the Obama administration because they are not releasing photos of bin Laden for that very same reason.  I understand that General Petreaus is a hero to conservatives like Hannity and to myself.  For the most part, there has been precious little that Barack Obama has done as President that I and most conservatives agree with.  For me it has been the killing of bin Laden, and the killing of a fly during an interview. It just seems inconsistent to me to support Pereaus in this case and not Obama.

I personally have no desire to see the photos.  I tend not to subscribe to conspiracies.  I understand the desire of some to see them.  There are high profile conservatives that do not think the photos should be released, and those that think they should.  Which side of the fence do you fall on in regards to the decision to not release the photos? Do you think that Sean Hannity's position is inconsistent, and is he just looking to find any fault with President Obama? 
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Evolution of Pizza

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FRESCHETTA® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am a pizza guy. It is probably my favorite food. As a pizza delivery guy, I get to eat my fair share of fresh pizzeria pizza. It is the perfect food.  With the right toppings, you can get all four food groups on your pizza.  You have your crust from the bread group, cheese from the dairy group, tomato sauce for your veggie group, and of course pepperoni and sausage from the meat group.  A completely well balanced meal.

Sometimes, though, finances make picking up a pizzeria pizza more of a treat than a staple.  That is why every now and then I like to pick up a frozen pizza. In a previous life, I was a frozen food category manager, and frozen pizza was one of my categories.  I got to see frozen pizza go from bland cardboard tasting pizza to the delicious rising crust style of pizzas.

Freschetta was one of my favorite brands of rising crust pizza, usually the three meat variety.  Now, I will eat just about any style crust of pizza, but my wife is partial to thin crust pizzas.  Thankfully, the folks at Freschetta were not content to rest on the laurels of their rising crust pizza and have now introduced FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™

The folks at Freschetta gave me the opportunity to try one of their new thin crust Simply Inspired pizzas by sending me a coupon for free pizza.  My wife and I tried the Classic Bruschetta variety which consists of four cheeses, real tomatoes, and a tomato and garlic pesto sauce.  It was very tasty.  I think I would also enjoy their Hawaiian Style or Southern BBQ Chicken.

One look at the package of the Freschetta Simply Inspired pizza and I knew right away that this was not your daddy's frozen pizza.  They use their unique FRESCH-TASTE-SEAL package to help seal in the unique flavor offerings.  For those of you who care about waste, the package uses 30% less material than a typical frozen pizza box.  That is a good thing.

The other good thing is that Freschetta is giving me the opportunity to let one of my readers try one of the eight delicious varieties of Freschetta Simply Inspired pizzas.  In addition to a coupon for a free pizza, they have given me a round bamboo cutting board as well. For the next two weeks, everybody who comments about which variety they would want to try will be entered into a drawing to win a free pizza and the cutting board.  You can follow them on Twitter @FreschettaSI or "Like" them on Facebook.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden Killed: Welcome to Hell

Outside of White House after death of Osama bi...Image by Chris.M.G. via FlickrI was sitting here on the couch watching the local evening news when they announced that President Barack Obama was going to address the evening shortly before 11:00pm Eastern Time.  Usually, I dread to hear him speak, however, I knew that if he was going to address the nation that late in the evening that it had to be big.  It was.

As the newscast continued they broke little pieces of the news of the evening, that US Special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, founder and leader of Al-Qaeda.  He was killed in a compound in Pakistan not far from a Pakistani military installation.  So much for his being holed up in a cave.  It also makes one wonder the veracity of the Pakistani claims that they had no idea where bin Laden was.

First, a hearty congratulations and thank you to the Special Ops forces that put their lives on the line to carry out this risky operation.  Even better is the fact that they got the SOB is that there were no injuries to our troops.  Thanks to our intelligence community for their diligence in pursuing him.  Finally, congratulations to the President for ordering the action.  I wasn't sure he had the stones to do it.

Normally, it would be inappropriate to rejoice in somebody's death, however, in this case I think it is warranted.  As Country music star Blake Shelton tweeted last night when the news broke "Sorry if this seems disrespectful but I'm so glad that piece absolute shit Osama is dead.."  While the death of bin Laden is welcome news to those of us who recall the tragedy of 9/11, we must remain vigilant.  There remain those who will replace bin Laden and want to avenge his death.

I have posted Trace Adkins song "Welcome to Hell" before.  Today it seems appropriate to post it again today.  It see,ms appropriate to post it again today in light of the news since Trace wrote the song for Osama bin Laden and his ilk.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wrong Number

Texting on a keyboard phoneImage via WikipediaOK, it is easy to dial a wrong number.  With the virtual keypad of my android powered phone, it is easy for me to hit the 7 key instead of the 4 key when dialing home.  There have also been times when I was scrolling through my contacts and accidentally dialed a number by mistake.  However, I usually am fairly quick at realizing my error.

I have had a couple of exchanges via text messaging with people who texted the wrong number and no matter what I did, I could not convince them that they were mistaken.  One such episode was so humorous to me that I had to blog about it nearly two years ago.  If you follow this link, you can read verbatim our text conversation. 

Eventually, my wrong number texters figured out their mistake and stopped texting me.  The question is, how many times do you have to dial a wrong number before you finally figure out that you are not reaching your intended recipient.  My wife has been having a very persistent problem caller for a couple weeks now on her cell phone.

The caller ID on her phone has been registering an odd number of digits that make us thing the call is originating from another country.  We have both answered the phone and could not understand the person on the other end, and he could not understand us.  I finally figured out that he was speaking Spanish when he told me "No entendiendo."

You would think that after reaching the number on more than a few occasions and not understanding the person you are speaking with that the realization would hit you are dialing a wrong number.  My wife went to the Verizon Wireless store and they helped her download a call blocking app for her phone.  So far today, it has blocked his calls three times.  I wish I new enough Spanish to tell him, "Dumbass, you have a wrong number."
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