Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dr. Frankenstein of computer repair

Hard learned lesson in avoiding PC repair rip-offs and what to do if it happens to you.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Remembering Grandma

I recently returned to the mountains where I was born and raised to remember a hell of a lady that I knew as Grandma. Grandma died in April at the age of 88, but requested that in lieu of a funeral, her family and friends gather on her birthday and remember her. It was a casual event and I was reunited with many people I have not seen for many years. Her six children are pictured to the left - twins Larry and Linda, Roxy, Ed (Ron), Chet and Bonnye.

Grandma's ashes were committed to Earth next to Grandpa in Paradise Valley, Montana. Afterwards, at a picnic in Sacajawea Park in Livingston, Montana, family and friends looked through a box of photos that Grandma had taken and collected throughout the years. The one below sums up my Grandmother in many ways.

More than a Grandma, Ruth DeYoung was a friend and adventurer to me. We were close, as I was her first grandson. She cheated at pool, built her own cabin and loved the color red so much that her entire kitchen and bathroom were filled with it. She gave me my first ride on a motorcycle, tied her toboggan onto the back of her Buick for rides through town, raised rabbits that we killed and ate and gave me the first issue of Playboy I ever saw with someone's permission.

Grandma was a unique spirit and made the World she travelled in a better place to be.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the troublemakers, the round pegs in
the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of
rules, and they have little use for the status quo.

You can quote them,
disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is
ignore them, because they change things – they push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy…because the people who are crazy enough to
think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

- Steve Jobs --1997

Saturday, July 07, 2007

OpEd News Article Addresses Propaganda

In a recent article on OpEd News, author Robert Raitz uses the 1936 movie Reefer Madness as an outstanding example of how propaganda was used to manipulate the actions of the American public.
"Tell Your Children, A Paradigm of Dope" gives a pretty good description of the movie that was instrumental in getting marijuana outlawed in The United States. Unfortunately, its outrageous claims of the effects of marijuana left anyone in the know swinging from the chandeliers. The movie has become a cult classic and has recently been turned into a Broadway musical.
The point of the article is to illustrate how the government and special interest groups still use similar types of propaganda to instill fear in the American public which results in knee-jerk reactions based on emotion. These reactions are as unwise now as they were then, and the article leaves me wondering if the masses will ever quit falling for it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Painting my World a Better Color.

For the last several months, as I've been exploring ways to use my experiences in life along with journalism, broadcasting and public relations to earn a living wage, I've been forced to work in the trade I went to college to get out of -- painting. Not the artistic kind of painting, but the kind where you wear white pants and improve the appearance of peoples residences.

Honestly, the work isn't that bad and I was always proud of the work I've done to beautify a persons surroundings. And painting a luxury home can earn a guy some pretty decent financial rewards. Most importantly, it always gave me a good feeling when I left a home in better shape than when I found it.

But I don't want to do that for the rest of my life. I want instead, to take my creative skills, education and experience, and use them to help make our world a better place than when I found it. I think the best way I can do that is by communicating with the masses, utilizing my writing, reporting and personal communication skills to bring people together.
Beautifying the world one house at a time is nice, but I think I am intended to beautify the world on a much larger scale. Now if I can figure out how to earn a living in the process, I can retire my paint brushes for good and start paying for that education...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scooter Libby's Get out of Jail Free Card Recieved

When the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, was convicted of committing several crimes against the American people, I wrote a blog entry comparing him to the other Republican scapegoat in the not too distant past, Ollie North. I predicted then that Scooter Libby would be awarded a get out of jail free card from Boy George for keeping his mouth shut about who else was involved in his criminal actions.

I'm not gloating, but writing this instead to explain the future prescription drug addiction that I'm now predicting I'll be afflicted with if someone doesn't stop this madman named Bush. He didn't even have the decency to wait until Libby started serving his time before commuting his sentence.

How long will the American public tolerate this administration thumbing their nose at the Constitutional laws that define precisely how this country should be run. Who is going to stop this crap? Maybe his mom, Barbara, or his brother, or anyone? Beuller.... Beuller....?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Transgender Wife Killer Wants Free Sex Change Operation

Some lunatic who's doing a life sentence in Massachusetts for killing his/her wife has the courts tied up trying to decide whether taxpayer's should pay for a sex change operation for the guy/gal. He/she filed the lawsuit claiming the state is violating his/her Eighth Amendment rights. Is this cruel and unusual punishment?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blogging for Bucks

Well, in my never ending quest to not only promote political reform and honest communication, but to somehow eat and maintain shelter, I decided to give blogging for bucks a try. Recommended by a friend that is admittedly full of hot (and aromatic air), www.payu2blog.com will pay me $5 to strategically place a link in whatever I write and post here. They haven't provided an assignment yet, but I'm going to give it a try nonetheless. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Writing to Fight Injustice

An absolutely brilliant article and a very good read. Enjoy!!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

2057: Predictions of Life in 50 Years

How do you think the people of this big blue marble will be communicating with one another in 50 years? Is there a possibility that it will become necessary to return to the basics? This Orwellian essay suggests yes.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

What to Do When Pulled Over on Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence (D.

There are right ways and wrong ways to behave when suspected by police of Driving Under the Influence. Do you know what you can do to avoid being convicted? This article offers some insight.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stuffed Monkey Lands Texas Couple in Jail on Drug Charges

What else is wrong with this story of a stuffed monkey causing the arrest of a couple from Texas on multiple drug charges? Could it be the incredibly low bond that was set? Will they return to Arkansas for the trial? We'll see.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Drunken Driving Laws Un-Constitutional

Are laws for Driving Under the Influence unreasonably harsh because of MADD's influence in the halls of Congress? Are your rights being violated? In many cases people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol are punished more harshly than sexual predators and murderers. Is this justice for all?

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Where Did We Go Wrong?

(Note: I initially wrote the linked article and mistakenly referred to Generation X instead of Y. Not surprisingly, I offended an entire generation of people because of the vague time frames each generation covers. I apologize and thank the many readers that quickly corrected me.)

Raising a generation of slackers may just be the legacy left behind by a retiring Baby Boomer population. No one really wants to say it out loud, but by giving them everthing they wanted except direction and parenting, Generation Y got a bad deal from their parents. I explore this edgy little phenomenon here.

Most parents aren't going to like what I've written, but if they look at them selves and their children honestly, society has a chance of recovering.

One thing is certain, denying there's a problem won't help anything.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Harley Davidson Threatens 25 Year Friendship

My best friend of 25 years, Courtney, was given a pearl white, 2006 Soft Tail Fatboy last week. Don't get me wrong, he has paid what over the past five or six years, I'm sure is a terrific price for it. He bought it on ebay, went to a town actually named Cumming in Georgia and picked it up last Tuesday, and rode it home. It's beautiful and I'm happy for him.
The problem is he won't let me ride it. I'm sure Cort would take a bullet for me, but he is not lettin' me on the bike. Since we're roommates, I get to hear it, look at it and watch as he takes of on another ride, leaving me standing in the yard in the wake of the Harley rumble.
I remember not too many years ago while Cort was staying at my house in Montana and I gave him the keys to my bike without reservation so he could get around while he was there. Granted, my bike was a Yamaha Virago 550 worth about $500, not a Fatboy worth $15,000, but it's the principle of the thing, isn't it? I'd be careful... Honest.
I'm happy for him and his dream bike, but can't help feeling a little envious and neglected. This too will pass. That selfish asshole.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scooter Libby and Ollie North Taking Bullets

Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff was convicted yesterday of lying to a federal grand jury and four counts of making false statements to the FBI. Libby is facing between 1 1/2 and three years in a federal camp for white-collar criminals, if he's not pardoned by the Bush Administration after his appeals are exhausted. The charges come from an investigation of who leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent to the press.

The CIA officer was Valerie Plame, who is married to one-time ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had accused the White House of using flawed intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, which makes him a hero in my book. He referred to a CIA mission he took to Niger in 2002, which found no merit to claims that Iraq was trying to buy weapons-grade uranium. Plame was outed eight days later.

Here's the clincher. Wilson told reporters after the verdict was announced that the conviction shows even a top White House official is subject to the American justice system. "We see this as a reaffirmation that we are a nation of laws, we live in a democracy. The verdict shows no man is above the law."

There you have it, folks. The husband of the victim doesn't seem to have a problem with the fact that Libby is the only person being held accountable. It is almost painfully obvious that Libby is the Bush Administration's Oliver North. I honestly believe a helluva lot more than one top White House official was involved with this massive breech of security.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Wilson, who with his wife has filed a civil lawsuit against Libby and several top administration officials alleging that they disclosed her identity. Why aren't more officials being charged?

Finally, what's the deal with the 1 1/2 to three year sentence if the guy isn't pardoned by his partners in crime? If you or I were convicted of four felonies involving national security, do you really think we'd get off that easy? There are people being held longer than that at GITMO who have never even been charged with a crime, let alone convicted. And I assure you, GITMO is not a summer camp for white collar criminals.

So Mr. Wilson, good luck with the law suits. I'm glad you think justice has been done and that this proves no man is above the law. If it were my wife whose life had been put in danger, I wouldn't have been satisfied quite as easily. Perhaps that's a flaw in my character.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Colin Powell: American Hero - Should he be President?

Some say Colin Powell is the only chance the Republicans have to hold on to the White House in 2008. Will America overlook his error in judgment before the United Nations in 2003? Can this veteran war hero overcome his history as Bush's Secretary of State? Might Colin Powell be the only man alive who can fix the damage that is done?

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Brilliant Rejection Rejection Letter

This seems not only appropriate but necessary for those of us seeking gainful employment.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Writing with Focus - Why I'm Nocturnal

For most of my life my words have been the bread and butter of my income. Whether spoken or written, the words that originate in my head have managed to keep food on my table most days of the week. I think that qualifies me as a writer.

Like many writers, I have certain rituals and habits that tend to make others think I’m a bit off. One of them is that I do most of my best work in the middle of the night. The reason I lean toward the nocturnal is that there are very seldom any interruptions at three in the morning and that allows me to get into a thought process and stay there.

Besides, during the day I exist to cater to Blue and Skye, a couple of dachshunds that live in my house. Blue and Skye don’t understand that this is my job. They are certain I stay home so they have someone to hang out with all day.

Skye, the female we obtained to one day be the mother of Blue’s children, thinks my lap is her recliner. She does seem to know when I’m at my desk that there’s a bunch of buttons in front of me that I keep pushing on and she wants to help. The problem is, she’s a lousy typist and doesn’t spell very well.

As soon as I politely explain she has no fingers for typing she cops an attitude. The next words out of her mouth are accusing me of not appreciating her. After I’ve offended her and she’s gone in the other room to tell Blue what a jerk I am, I start feeling kind of bad. After all, she was just trying to help. If nothing else, for such a funny looking little dog, Skye has a huge heart.

But Blue has corrupted her. Before I can even offer a cookie because I hurt her feelings, Blue has told her that what I’d really like is for them to both begin playing with their toys that squeak. “The louder the better,” Blue tells her as they take off into a symphony of their own making. There’s nothing that will take your focus away from writing more quickly than two wiener dogs playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on a rubber cheeseburger and a pink tennis ball. I feign appreciation and listen attentively. Having already told her she’s a lousy typist there’s not a chance in the world you can get me to tell her she’s a poor musician as well.

Following the recital, Skye excuses herself to use the powder room, which is right outside the French doors in my office. Of course Blue has to go out with her. He knows that she’ll need him to bark incessantly at the first sign of one of the hundreds of squirrels that reside in our back yard. Of course her being the helper she is, she’s got to do a lot of barking too.

I swing open the door and yell for their silence, but am ignored. The frantic barking intensifies. I’ve learned the only way to silence the beasts at a moment like this is to hit them with a stream from the super soaker squirt gun I keep next to the door for just this purpose.

It’s empty so I’m standing there yelling and pumping up the squirt gun and shooting out air. By this point the squirrels are not only sticking their tongues out at Blue and Skye, but they’re laughing at me as well. I retreat to the kitchen sink and replenish my ammo. Moments before I return to the door with my weapon fully loaded, the barking dogs and laughing squirrels become silent. Just as I get to the door, Skye leaps at it to let me know she wants in.

I open the door and she rushes past me in a flurry of fur. Blue sits nonchalantly out in the yard looking at me. I say, “Come on, boy!” and he continues to sit, staring blankly. No sooner do I shut the door and return to my desk to look at the blank page where words should be, does Blue start barking again. It’s not the squirrel or cat bark. It’s not the strangers in the yard bark. It’s not even the “I want to come in now” bark. No, it’s the one he uses for no apparent reason whatsoever. Again I command, “Come on, boy!” Again he ignores me.

I take aim with the super soaker and plan my trajectory to ensure I’ll make it over the Dogwoods and hit Blue with the full stream of cold water. If I don’t hit him on the first shot, he will take evasive action. I gently squeeze the trigger.

Bull’s eye! No sooner does the water hit him than he charges toward me. Dachshunds are remarkably quick critters, considering their legs are only two inches long. Blue covers the 25 to 30 feet between us in the blink of an eye! He flies between my legs and head butts Skye who was watching the whole situation unfold from right between my two feet. Now the real fight begins.

Blue has weight and experience on his side, but Skye is not at a disadvantage. She’s quick, she’s agile and she’s smart. Plus, she’s a female and they don’t always fight fair.

The ferocious growling, snarling and yelping as these two killers chase each other around in circles is deafening. Blue takes Skye to the ground only to be out-wiggled and then he suffers a swift counter-attack. Skye unexpectedly pulls a Tyson and has Blue’s ear clamped tightly in her jaws. This looks bad for Blue.

But wait. Blue tells Skye that the sun is shining through the window onto their doggie bed and she lets go of his ear, they walk to the bed, curl up and go to sleep. It’s 11 a.m.

Now what was I writing?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Drunks Against Mad Mothers (DAMM) Strike Back

It doesn’t matter if you’re a water buffalo, canary, house pet or person, chances are favorable that you are aware of the use of statistics in our lives. Whether you’re being born, voting, living, or dying you are personally involved with statistics. I was forced to take (and pass) a Statistics class prior to receiving my college diploma, even though I claimed to be a conscientious objector.

If you’re wondering what I could have possibly been conscientiously objecting to, it was the whole concept of statistical methods. You see, I’ve watched these little bits of information be used in ways that just are not right. With the correct wording, sentence structure and a little well placed inflection, the results of a study or survey can be, and usually are, manipulated to portray whatever you want them to.

I’m going to use drunken driving statistics to show how this is accomplished. Before everyone starts trying to lynch me let me state that I do not advocate drunk driving in any way, shape or form. I’ve done it hundreds of times and I have finally concluded it’s stupid. Without adequate research and personal knowledge, however, I would not be able to say with any authority how stupid it is. (Disclaimer: The author no longer drives drunk.)

In 1980 an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was created. Since then, MADD has grown from a small grass roots effort to a national phenomenon and they’ve done it by presenting data about drinking and driving in a manner that renders the population without a means of contesting their claims.

For instance, http://www.madd.org/ quotes information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that says in 2005, 39 percent of all traffic fatalities were killed in alcohol-related crashes. That’s 16,895 out of 43,443 people killed in accidents that involved alcohol. That is comparable to one person every half-hour.

This is true. What they don’t tell you though is what I have a problem with.

The term "alcohol-related" doesn’t say the fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol. If a drunk guy is walking down the street and a sober driver runs over him while swerving to miss a herd of penguins, that’s considered an alcohol-related fatality. If a drunk driver in a car gets hit by a sober guy on a bicycle, that’s reported as an alcohol-related fatality. An NHTSA Highway & Vehicle/Safety Report estimated 12 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve an intoxicated bicyclist or pedestrian and not a drunk behind the wheel of a car.

The NHTSA has also declared “a motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedal cyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.” A BAC of .01 is a long way from the .08 that is considered legally intoxicated in the United States.

So when MADD cites statistics saying 39 percent of traffic fatalities, or 16,885 people, were killed in alcohol-related crashes, we now know that 2,024 of those deaths weren’t the result of someone drinking and driving an automobile. Out of the remaining 14,859 fatalities, it’s estimated that 15 percent or 2,228 fatalities involved someone with a BAC less than .08 which is not even legally intoxicated. That leaves us with 12,631 out of 43,443 traffic fatalities actually caused by drunken drivers. That comes out to 29 percent and not the 39 percent being cited by MADD.

If we then consider that 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in this country are caused by drunk drivers, wouldn’t that indicate, statistically speaking of course, that 71 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by sober people? Who is causing more deaths on our nation’s roads, drunks or sober folks? Who should MADD really be mad at?

Another statistic I came across while researching for this article has left me scratching my head and asking, “Huh?”

According to a study released by Loyola University Health Systems, safety belts were found wrapped around 12.8 percent of fatally injured intoxicated drivers, while a whopping 33 percent of sober drivers killed in crashes were buckled in. These statistics tell me that 87.2 percent of drunks not wearing seat belts walked away from accidents while only 67 percent of sober people not buckled up were able to walk away.

And that’s why I despise the word statistics. Statistics tell me that sober folks cause more fatal accidents than drunks. So why aren’t the people not drinking and driving breaking the law, being arrested and sent to jail, followed by a treatment program that teaches them the basics of drinking and driving?

Why would there be such a huge push for people to buckle up when clearly the numbers tell us that more people die while wearing their seat belts and not drinking?

Based on this information, I suggest everyone get naked, open a beer and go for a ride without any protection…. from seatbelts I mean.