Monday, August 31, 2009

A Simple Explanation Of A Simple Truth

Putting aside all the wingnut rhetoric and shrillness of those protesting, here is a simple explanation of WHY our country and citizens need a National Health Care program.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Atheist Pet Sitters

Here's a subject appropriate for Sunday. Let's say you're a Christian. A born-again, washed in the blood of Jesus, child of God, citizen of heaven Christian. You know, because the Bible tells you, that there is a chance that you will be alive when the rapture occurs; when Jesus appears in the clouds and calls all his believers home. We'll skip over all that complicated stuff as to whether the rapture is pre, mid or post-tribulation and just agree that no matter when, it is going to happen. No matter how silly, how far-fetched or how ridiculous the whole thing sounds. Right?

Maybe you haven't thought of this yet, but surely the question will occur to you, as you are levitating through the air like a Criss Angel subject; "What about my pet I'm leaving behind? Who will take care of my beloved pet?"

Well, you might just be surprised to find out who has the answer for you.

A group of animal-loving atheists have banded together to provide a service known as Eternal Earth-Bound Pets to take that burden off your heart, mind and soul. Here's how they describe themselves and their service:

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you've received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

We are currently active in 20 states [Sadly, my fellow Floridians, they have no such service yet for the Sunshine State] and growing. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life.

You can find out more details at their official website. I gotta tell you, it is a real deal to ensure your peace of mind when you leave your pet behind for the streets of gold.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend With Heather

Our 3-year-old granddaughter Heather came over Friday afternoon to spend the night and Saturday with us. Here are some of the best shots of her weekend.

First up is Friday afternoon playing on the living room floor with her building blocks. She finally sweet-talked Granddad into building a castle for her.

Next up is from Saturday morning right after breakfast with Granny, Grampy, Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Wendy, Aunt Amber and cousins Rhyan and Townsend; Heather is holding the huge lollipop/all-day-sucker that Uncle Jeremy bought for her.

After breakfast we went to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here is Heather holding the stuffed panda bear toy that Grandma and Granddad bought her.

Here's a photo of Heather taking a rest on a stone bench before we left Animal Kingdom.

After we left Disney's Animal Kingdom we went to visit our friends George and Caroline so Heather could enjoy a pool party with their daughter Rowan. Here's Heather after some fun swimming.

I'll be uploading more photos of our Weekend With Heather to my Flickr page in the next few days.

Friday, August 28, 2009

9/11 - National Day Of Service And Remembrance

Two weeks from today will mark the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I don't imagine that I will ever forget that morning as I sat in my home office working with the TV on and seeing those first horrifying images and the even more horrific scenes that played out later that morning.

Back in April President Obama signed into law a measure that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, urging everyone who is able to volunteer some type of service, perform some type of good deed or engage in some type of charitable activity as a tangible, visible and meaningful way of remembering that infamous day. Speaking for myself, I can't think of a better way to make my observance of that day have a more solid meaning in my life and heart. And in the lives of others.

The 9/11 Day of Service website gives some good suggestions for acts that can be performed. It also asks you "to post your personal plan to perform a good deed, volunteer or engage in another charitable activity in observance of the newly established September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance." And you can search by your location and type of volunteering interest for available needs in your city or town. In anticipation of the upcoming 10 year anniversary and planned nationwide observance, the organization is also accepting donations of $9.11 (or more) to help fund those activities around the country.

I've started giving some thought to where I might be of some service if I am still at home in 2 weeks or what good deed I might do if I'm not and I'm posting this now to give you some time as well to contemplate how you might be able to observe the 9/11 - National Day Of Service And Remembrance, should you choose to do so.

A moment of silence is a reverent observation, a few hours of service is a real observance.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's What You See

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

Henry David Thoreau 1817 - 1862

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy 1932 - 2009

Awoke this morning to the expected yet still sad news of Senator Kennedy's passing last night as he lost his final battle with brain cancer. Like all of us, he was a flawed human being. But he was also one who strove to rise above those flaws and accomplish something that would have a lasting impact for good for all Americans.

Other than his heartwarming and touching eulogy for his brother Robert, one of my favorite speeches of his is the one he gave in 1978 in which, while pounding the podium with his fist, he strongly declared:

"As long as I'm a vote and as long as I have a voice in the U.S. Senate, it's going to be for the democratic platform plan that provides decent quality health care north and south, east and west, for all Americans as a matter of right and not of privilege."

Here is the 8-minute tribute video to Senator Kennedy that was shown at the 2008 convention:

We are all the poorer for his absence.

Happy Belated Anniversary To Me

Last Saturday, August 22nd, marked the second anniversary of this blog. I completely let it slip by, so I thought I should correct that oversight. With the exception of one or two days during that time period, I have posted something at least once every day and I believe those non-post days were all the result of having no Internet connectivity.

If you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane, you can click here to read that first post.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sheepback Mountain Cabin Progress III

We're very fortunate to have our realtor, our contractor, Art who visits from Orlando and Rebecca in the Maggie Valley, North Carolina area to keep us updated with photos of the cabin on Sheepback Mountain as it's in the process of being built. The three of them have been kind enough to capture various stages of our dream as it becomes real and we are very grateful.

Just to update you a bit; after talking with the road-naming officials we discovered we could not have our little road named either Mountain Creek Trail or Enchanted Forest Drive (nor any variation of those) since there are already an abundance of streets and roads with similar names. We submitted several other possible names we would like and were told that Candlemaker Trail (in recognition of Cindy's business, Mountain Creek Candles) was acceptable and so the official petition has gone out to the other 5 owners whose land touches the road. We need three of them to sign off as having no objection and then the road will officially be named.

Here are some photos that Rebecca took this past Sunday. As you can see, the outer walls of the basement are up now and our little cabin is taking shape.

This first photo shows the view from the top of our property and what I call the "REAL" road (an already named, and graveled road that our property touches) looking down on the property. The road you see in front of the cabin basement walls (below the trees and nearest to you) is what we hope will be named Candlemaker Trail. We were happy to see how sunny the cabin area is (though sorry to lose the trees that had to be cleared for it) since we're hoping to use solar panels on the metal roof to cut our electrical costs.

This next photo is from the top of the road we hope will become Candlemaker Trail looking down on the basement walls. The area around the wall nearest you and to the right will be backfilled at some point in the construction, leaving only the driveway side on the left and the farthest side which faces the creek below open and visible. Inside the basement, the right half will be Cindy's candle and incense shop where she will create her wondrous wares. As you can see, she has a door leading out to the creek and, for when the weather is inhospitable, a window next to the door to look out to the creek. The left half will be our one-car garage and a utility room. Stairs from the first floor will come down right in the middle and there will be a wall dividing the candle shop from the garage.

The last 2 photos are taken from the driveway and garage entrance. On the right, out of frame, is what we hope will be Candlemaker Trail and on the left, out of view because of the steepness of the land, is the creek that flows through the property. The pile of wood on the left is most likely the framing for the ceiling of the basement and the floor of the first floor. The cabin will have 2 floors above the basement, so even though the footprint is small because we did not want to disturb any more of the land than necessary, the actual square footage of living space will be more than enough for the two of us and any family or friends that visit and stay for a while. As an added bonus, the view from our upper porch area facing the mountains to the south should be spectacular, especially in the fall and winter when the trees are bare of leaves.

Cindy and I are very excited to see the work being accomplished and thankful to our friends for making sure we have photos to look at since we can't be there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Here, This Is For You

"Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else."

Ivern Ball

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Art Of Life 2

Before I begin, Happy 30th birthday to my step-son.

I should catch up on my life here a bit over the past week or so. Part 1 is here and this is part 2.

This past Friday I took my friend Dave to lunch in honor of his birthday. Thankfully, he picked one of my favorite places, Gator's Dockside, (I love their Gator Chips!) in West Orlando to eat at AND as an added bonus asked if his brother Dan could join us. Like my own brother Mark, Dan seems to always be able to make me laugh so I welcomed his company. That's Dan on the left and Dave on the right, or as he said to me after he saw the photo, "We look like those prawns in the District 9 movie!" Sorry buddy, I can't do anything about your genes.

Dave is a big fan of the comic book character Hawkeye. For the past few years I have actively searched for an affordable statue of Hawkeye that Dave could place on his shelf. This year I finally found one at Coliseum of Comics in Fashion Square Mall. Much like my lunch on Monday with Denise, we spent our time catching up with each other's lives, though since Dave doesn't do much e-mail, doesn't read my blog and doesn't use Facebook or Twitter we had a lot more ground to cover. Dave's kind of a slow adopter. He didn't really start using e-mail until a couple of years ago and still only uses it sparingly. He'll probably get around to Facebook and Twitter in a few years, after they've been replaced by the next big thing.

Friday evening after she got off work, Cindy and I went to a quick dinner at The Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney, then to see "The Time Traveler's Wife" at the AMC theater in Pleasure Island. I read the book about 4 years ago and enjoyed it. In what is a very rare occurrence with me, I actually enjoyed the movie version more than the book version. The film handled the sometimes confusing time shifts in a very understandable manner and stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams truly made this movie and story have the emotional impact that touched the hearts of the audience. Cindy was crying, but as we were leaving one poor woman was sobbing.

While we're on the subject of leaving the theater, here's a mildly amusing story at my expense. It was raining Friday evening, so when we sat down in our seats I leaned our umbrella against the back of the seat in front of me. During the previews it fell and made a loud "thud" when it hit the floor. Cindy was watching the screen and didn't see that happen. She leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Was that your iPhone falling out of its holster?" and I told her, "No, it was the umbrella." When the movie ended I picked up the umbrella and when we reached the exit doors I, as is my habit whenever leaving someplace, reached to my hip to be sure my phone was there and found my holster empty. I turned to rush back into the theater as Cindy called out, "I TOLD you I heard your phone fall!"

Pushing against the flow of people still filing out of the theater, I made my way to our seats in the still-darkened room and first felt the seat itself, hoping the phone had not fallen through to what I knew would be a dirty, nasty floor. But no such luck; the phone was not in the seat or in the area between the seat and the armrest. That meant I had no choice but to get down on my hands and knees to feel around the area under the seats, which was not just dark but pitch black...the same color as my iPhone and its rubberized case. After blindly feeling every square inch of yucky floor under each of our seats and coming up, well not exactly empty-handed but with no phone, I expanded my hand-feeling to the floor on each side and behind our seats. Still no luck with the phone but I did find a wad of gum, a puddle of sticky coke (the drink, not the drug) and a quarter with some kind of crusty material on it as well as several other items of indistinguishable origin. It's just about this time, as I'm thinking, "I wish Cindy would call my phone so it would light up and I could see it" that my phone does indeed start ringing with her distinctive ringtone. I hear it and it's nearby, so very close judging by the volume, but still I cannot see the face lighting up in the darkness. I'm just about in the middle of asking myself, "Did it fall face down...?" when I suddenly realize why the ringing is so close. It's because the damn phone is in my shirt pocket where I ALWAYS put my phone during a movie so I can retrieve it quickly if a call or text message comes through. It's been in my shirt pocket the entire movie and, of course, during my entire frantic search through a darkened floor area that is almost too nasty to even walk across with shoes on.

This getting old and forgetting things stuff really sucks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Art Of Life

I should catch up on my life here a bit over the past week or so. Here's part 1.

Mikey came to spend Friday night with us last week. His dad dropped him off on the way to work and Mikey and I had a few hours to ourselves before Grandma got home from work. We went through some computer magazines I had on hand and I introduced him to the digital versions of some, plus I gave him some Photoshop lessons on certain procedures.

When Grandma got home we went to Mikey's favorite restaurant and my least-liked...McDonald's. Saturday morning we joined Granny, Grampy and Aunt Amber for breakfast at Cracker Barrel and had a very good time. We were going to go to the Science Center Saturday afternoon, but Mikey decided he would rather not do that activity, so we made trips to Barnes & Noble and to IKEA as we looked for some furnishing ideas for the cabin.

We had a good time looking at books and magazines at Barnes & Noble. We spent a lot of time persuing the computer magazines, heh heh. Here's an iPhone photo of Mikey and I with the books of the writing section on shelves behind us.

At IKEA we didn't come away with much that was helpful since IKEA seems to be geared more to furnishing college dorm rooms or starter apartments, but Mikey offered his thoughts and preferences on some of the beds and couches. After a lunch at Smokey Bones, we returned home for an hour or so until Daddy came to pick him up and take him back home.

Monday morning I had an appointment with my doctor. No good news there to share.

Monday afternoon I got to have lunch with Denise, a friend and co-worker (though we haven't seen each other in almost 2, I can't believe it's been that long) who I really enjoy spending time with and conversating with. We spent an hour and a half eating and catching up on what's been going on in our lives (at least the parts that don't appear in our e-mails, blogs, Facebook posts or Twitter tweets) on the road and at home. Truly, there are very few people I enjoy spending time with and Denise is among that small number.

Throughout the week I did a lot of reading, some writing and a bit of work around the house such as taking down our old window blinds and hanging new rods and curtains that Cindy had picked out. We bought some of those "Eclipse" curtains and, let me tell you, they live up to their name.

More in tomorrow's post.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It Really IS A Small World

Reading the May/June 2009 issue of Poets & Writers (yes, I AM behind on my reading, thank you) I was surprised to see in the article about Bright Lights, Big City author Jay McInerney, that his former girlfriend and inspiration for the character of Alison Poole was Rielle Hunter, mother of former presidential candidate John Edwards' love child.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Write In American English

Trolling the online postings for writing jobs I've noticed quite a few ads now contain wording that requests, in effect, the candidate be able to "...write in American English." I believe this is generally for two reasons; even though the entity may be located in lower Slobovia, they want it to appear that they are actually in the good ol' US of A OR the entity wants to be sure that no matter where YOU may be located in the world, you have the ability to write as if you're a red-blooded American. It's all about marketing, presentation and packaging.

That might be an area that e-mail spammers and scammers should consider giving a little extra attention to in order to be more successful in passing off their crap as the real deal. We've all received those "official" e-mail notices which purport to be from some government agency or private business (such as a bank) that contain such mangled "English" wording, goofy grammatical errors and strange syntax as to be immediately identified as fraudulent.

Here's an amusing example of an "official" e-mail supposedly from the FBI that is chock full of misspelled and misused words, twisted phrases, mangled verb tenses and just plain weird ideas about how America's top law enforcement agency ("a biggest security company here in Washington D.C") actually works. That doesn't even count the strange date format that makes it appear this missive has traveled from the future (either September 12, 2009 or December 9, 2009) and the fact that it originated from and refers the reader to a Gmail address.

[Washington Field Office Banner with FBI Seal linking to FBI Home]
Anti-Terrorist and Monitary Crimes Division.

ATTENTION: beneficiaries,

We received an email, Just to let you know that the said fund has been confirmed in your name, the funds are right now in our custody in your name waiting to be release to you, we have verified and investigated that you are the right beneficiary to claim the funds, all we need from you is verification and proof due to the amount involved.

As a biggest security company here in Washington D.C we are to serve and to protect our citizen. The only advice we can give to you as at this time is to try your best to comply with the required document so that your funds will be release to you in your favor, this funds are rightfully yours. You can obtain the document from our branch Office in New Jersey.

We have done our verification on your FBI Identification Record with our Social Security Number, the only document remaining now is the Diplomatic Immunity Seal Of Transfer(DIST) Which should be issued to you from our branch Office in New Jersey, you are to contact the Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) New Jersey to obtain the above required document, find bellow their contact email address: ( Contact this people immediately to obtain the document.
Furthermore, be advice that according to the United State Law and also the FBI rules and regulations, you are to obtain the document from the FBI in New Jersey where the fund was transferred to. Also Note that you are to take care of the Document to be issued to you right away, because due to how important and secured the document is, it is not issued just like that. You are to take care of the document by sending to the FBI New Jersey right away,That is the only way the FBI New Jersey will issue you the document, because they are going to issue you the Authentic/Original copy of the document.

You are here by advice to Contact them through the email address above to acquire from them on how you are going to send the fee to them. Note that you are to do this immediately if you really want your fund to be credited to your account and also if you don't want any action to be before you. We have already informed the New Jersey FBI about the present situation, so go ahead and contact them immediately. Your fund is now on our custody and will only be release to you with the confirmation of the required document. After that the fund will be release to you immediately without any delay.

NOTE: We have asked for the above documents to make available the most complete and up-to date records possible for no criminal justice purposes.

WARNING: Do not fail to produce the above requirement in the next 72 hours, legal action will be taken immediately by arresting and detaining you, justificated and if found guilty, you will be jailed. As terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering is a serious problem in our community today. The F.B.I will not stop at any length in tracking down and persecuting any criminal who indulge in this criminal act.

Faithfully Yours,
FBI Director
Robert S. Mueller, III

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three Stages Of Truth

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

[Schopenhauer, German Philosopher, 1788-1860]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Am Going To Hell

I just received my September 2009 issue of Writer's Digest magazine and a quote attributed to Philip Roth back in 1979 caught my eye; "The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress."

I am SO damned to hell.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Laugh For The Day

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Breaking Your Toe In Your Sleep

How do you break your toe while you're sleeping? I don't know, but I've apparently managed to do just that. Went to bed Saturday night with all bones connected and whole, woke up Sunday morning with a broken big toe that has kept me in pain all day because I had no choice but to be on my feet most of the day.

Makes me wonder if I've been roaming the nighttime world in my sleep...

Note: That is NOT my toe in the photo, but only a graphical representation. My foot is too damn ugly to put on the Internet.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

SERIOUS Cyber Security Threat Reaction

Without a doubt, cyber security is a serious matter where you are. But in Boston, they take their reactions to online virus threats VERY seriously as evidenced by their website instructions about how to stay safe online.

In case you're having difficulty reading it in the screen capture above, here's an enlarged section. Pay particular attention to the next to the last instruction (highlighted), should you find yourself in a compromising position with an online virus, worm or Trojan horse program.

I mean...damn!

Friday, August 14, 2009

National Creamsicle Day

Today is National Creamsicle Day. Just looking at this graphic reminds me of hot and humid summers in my youth being made bearable by the cold creamy treat on a stick.

Enjoy a cold one today!

Sheepback Mountain Cabin Progress II

This past Monday morning they began pouring the foundation for our cabin on Sheepback Mountain. Below are some photos that our realtor and building contractor took for us of the activity.

In this photo from the south end of the access road; the gravel in the foreground will be our driveway. The red pickup truck and the cement mixer are on the access road that we get to name (still waiting to hear back on that) and where you see the stack of cement blocks is the foundation area. The blocks are for the basement portion of the log cabin.

This view is from the north end of the access road looking down onto the cabin site.

Down at the foundation level, you can see they use hoses to lay in the cement from the mixer truck up on the access road.

Close-up of the foundation area.

It is exciting to watch our dream begin to rise from the ground in our enchanted forest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hurricane Charley - 5 Years Ago

It was 5 years ago today that Hurricane Charley cut a path of destruction across the Florida peninsula, slicing through Orlando and reminding Central Floridians that we are not as immune from Mother Nature's ocean-spawned storms as we might have thought.

Back then I was writing a different blog, sort of a predecessor to The Word Of Jeff, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at what I had written about our experience with one of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the Orlando area. Since the posts span several days it would be way too long to post here on the main page, so I've created a separate page for the look back at Hurricane Charley - 5 Years Ago.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Time Travel

Yesterday was a very strange day for me most of the day. For some reason I kept thinking it was 9/11/09 instead of 8/11/09, so much so that I realized later in the day that I had even written 9/11/09 on the date line of the check I wrote to my doctor in the morning. All day I kept wondering why no one was observing the anniversary of 9/11/01.

Finally, later in the day, it sunk into my thick skull that I was a month ahead of myself. Unfortunately, I have no predictions as a result of my "trip" into the future. We're all still on our own as it relates to living day by day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If You "Friend" Your Boss On Facebook... should be a bit more circumspect and careful if you're going to post something about your job and said boss.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sheepback Mountain Cabin Progress

Our friend and soon-to-be mountain neighbor Art is in the process of building a cabin on Sheepback Mountain also, though he is building his himself and with his own hands. I greatly admire him and his ability, though he is quick to point out that he is only building a rough, one-room cabin. Still, he has cleared his own area, leveled it, put in a foundation and is now erecting wall frames made of the very tree trunks he cleared earlier.

Anyway, Art left Orlando last week and spent a 4-day weekend in Maggie Valley working on his cabin. But he took time to go by our property and take photos of the progress. Below is one shot, showing a mailbox (even though we don't have an official address yet) and, as an extra added bonus, we found out that we get to suggest a name for the road that leads to our driveway. We have submitted Mountain Creek Trail or Road (since "Mountain Creek" will be the new name of Cindy's handmade candle enterprise) and Enchanted Forest Drive (since my first impression of our property when I initially laid eyes on it 2 years ago was that it seemed like an enchanted forest). Now we're waiting to hear if one of those can be used.

You can see more of Art's photos on his Flickr page.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Greeting Cards

You know how, when you need to get a birthday, anniversary, graduation or holiday card for someone, and you go to the Hallmark store, or the greeting card section of a Walgreen's or Publix? Sometimes you're lucky and you find that special card that says exactly how you feel on the first or second card, but sometimes you feel like you have looked at every friggin' card on the shelves and still can't find the one that seems appropriate.

I can't remember where I got this, but I found it in one of my files today and thought it might be humorous to some. So, for your laughter's sake, I present the greeting cards that say what you're really feeling.

1. I always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love. And now that you've come into my life...(Inside card) - I've changed my mind.

2. I must admit, you brought religion into my life...(Inside card) - I never believed in Hell until I met you.

3. As the days go by, I think how lucky I am...(Inside card) - That
you're not here to ruin it for me.

4. Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go....(Inside card) - Will you take the knife from my back? You'll probably need it again.

5. Someday I hope to marry...(Inside card) - Someone other than you.

6. Happy Birthday! You look great for your age....(Inside card) - Almost life-like!

7. When we were together, you said you'd die for me...(Inside card) - Now that we've broken up, I think it's time to keep your promise.

8. We've been friends for a very long time...(Inside card) - What do you say we stop?

9. I'm so miserable without you...(Inside card) - It's almost like you're still here

10. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy....(Inside card) - Did you ever find out who the father was?

11. You are such a good friend. If we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket...(Inside card) - I'd miss you terribly and think of you often.

12. Your friends and I wanted to do something special for your birthday...(Inside card) - So we're having you put to sleep.

13. Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad! (Available only in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas)

14. Looking back over the years we've been together, I can't help but wonder...(Inside card) - What was I thinking?

Congratulations on your wedding day!...(Inside card) - Too bad no one likes your husband.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twitter Abbreviations

This past Thursday was a difficult day for users of Twitter. The service went down early in the morning due to a Denial Of Service attack that left most of us wondering for the first few hours why tweets seemed so slow or even just non-existent.

Tweeting is fun, but sometimes that 140 character limit can make it difficult to get your message across. Sometimes you need to use a lot of abbreviations to fit everything in; but what if you don't know what abbreviations will make sense and which ones will leave people scratching their heads? Or what if you're reading a tweet with a lot of abbreviations that leave YOU scratching your head?

Thankfully, PR Cog's Gear Grinding blog has a post entitled PRCog's Basic Guide To Butchering English For 140 Chars... with all the helpful information you'll need to either use or understand abbreviations in tweets.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Art Of Penguin Science Fiction

One of my RSS feeds caused me to stumble across this really (if you read a lot of science fiction books in the mid-60's to mid-70's as I did) interesting site. The Art Of Penguin Science Fiction site is a collection of the covers of science fiction books published by Penguin Books over the years.

I recognize several of these covers. From the time I was 8 or so, I practically devoured any kind of science fiction book I could get my hands on. When I exhausted the available titles in my elementary school library, my mom took me to the public library to get my own library card. I think I've mentioned here before that when I walked into the brand new public library near our home that I thought I had stepped into the best place on earth; books and books and books.

This cover on the page really jumped out at me. I had this book at one point in my young life (and many of the others, either in the incarnation shown or with different covers), and enjoyed the story because it dealt with one of my favorite themes, time travel, and reminded me of stories by Heinlein or Huxley as it explored social and philosophical questions.

But this cover stands out for a very different reason; one that has nothing to do with the story but instead with the design illustration. I don't remember if I found this book in the library, bookstore or yard sale, but I do remember that my first thought when I laid eyes on the cover was a rather crude one, before I took in the entirety of the illustration.

I'll re-word it for this post in order not to offend the sensibilities of some of my good readers.

"That guy is emitting flatulence!"

Yes, I did not immediately notice the contraption he was riding, like a mechanized witch's broom, but only noticed the gaseous exhaust that seemed to be originating from his backside. My young mind (awww, who am I kidding? It's the same today, lol) gravitated to the base (yet humorous, some would say) thought that this guy was, as my parents used to say, "pooting" on the cover of this book.

Take a look at this collection and see if you recognize the covers of any books you have read. And if you, like me, initially saw something different...well just chalk it up to youthful exuberance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old Photos Of Twins

Over at Mental Floss, someone posted scans of a cache of Victorian era photos of twins, like this one.

But look at the boy in the back and the girl on the right; they look absolutely evil, like they would crawl out of the photo and do horrible and despicable things to you if it were possible.

There are some other creepy ones in the collection, so take a look and feed your nightmare machine.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Apple Store Love

Our tale begins with an end; the end of a phone call with Cindy at 5:35pm on Monday when she called me to let me know she was on her way home from work. As I clicked "End Call" on my iPhone screen I noticed that the battery still had 71% power, so I laid the phone on my desk next to my laptop. Four and a half hours later after dinner, TV and doing some work on the laptop, I picked up my iPhone that had not been used all evening and plugged it into the charger. In the past, whenever I plugged in the cord the iPhone would vibrate and the screen would light up...but this time nothing happened. I tried pushing the "Home" button and swiping the screen, but it just sat cradled in my hand; still, dark and unmoving.

I left it plugged in overnight in the hopes that its lack of response was a glitch that would resolve itself while I slept, but when I leapt out of bed the next morning and checked it before even giving Cindy a good morning kiss, it was still just as dead as Rush Limbaugh's sense of humanity.

After trying some things in David Pogue's "iPhone-The Missing Manual" as well as some that were suggested by a Twitter friend to no avail, I decided I would need to make a trip to the AT&T store on East Colonial. That was something I dreaded because it has always been one of the worst experiences in customer service (or more appropriately LACK of customer service) Cindy and I have ever had, but I did not think I had any other choice.

However before I left for the store, Cindy sent me an e-mail from work. Turns out one of her co-workers had a similar problem and found out she HAD to take the iPhone to an Apple Store for any possible hope of repair because the AT&T store would not offer any help. I was thankful that I could avoid an unnecessary trip to the AT&T store, but also a little reluctant to step foot into an Apple Store. Not because I had heard anything bad, but because I did not want to be tempted to buy that new MacBook Pro I want, lol. However, I also wanted my iPhone fixed because I was already going through some feelings of withdrawal.

I arrived at the Apple Store in Millenia Mall around 10:40am. The place was packed with customers and in spite of that I was still almost mesmerized by the product displays bathed in blue and white lights. I had already told myself before arriving to turn a blind eye to the MacBooks and just concentrate on getting my iPhone fixed, but that was easier said than done. Of course you have to walk past all those beautiful products to get to the Genius Bar in the back, lol. That's just good marketing and product placement.

Having never been in an Apple Store (and not looking at anything else on their website other than the address), I was ignorant of the fact that you need an appointment for these kinds of things. The nice young lady at the concierge desk was visibly disappointed to tell me that they were completely booked with appointments until 7:20pm that night. As I was asking if she could check the appointments at their Florida Mall store a nice young man walked up and said, "While she's checking into that, let me try something real quick to see if I can help." (Do you get the feeling all the employees are young? Well, they actually do have some older employees as well whom I saw in action) He then tried to do the reset process that I had tried to do at home and I didn't say anything because, hey you never know, I might have been doing it wrong. But he had no luck with it either. The nice young lady then told me that there was an opening at the Florida Mall store at 11:30am, but also asked me to wait while she had one of their techs try to fit me in between their appointments.

I was then introduced to Cindy at the Genius bar who told me she would like to try and fit me in if I didn't mind waiting just a few minutes to see if she could help me. Of course, how could I say no when they were trying so hard to help me? She tried the same reset process and just about that time her appointment walked up. Cindy then proceeded to work on both our iPhones at once. After a minute or two she sent the other customer's Phone to the back for a simple soldering job on a connection (her multi-touch screen was locked) and then said to me, "Your phone is toast so I'm going to replace it with a new one, if that's ok."

"...if that's ok." I guess if you didn't have your iPhone backed up at home it might NOT be ok but, other than a couple of pictures I had recently taken that were not all that important, all my apps, contacts, podcasts, music, etc. were sitting safe on my laptop, so of course it was ok.

Cindy brought out a new iPhone, updated my bar codes, activated my iPhone and sent me on my way within 15 minutes of my walking in the door. Better yet, she sent me on my way as a happy first-time customer who was duly impressed with everything that each employee that I had contact with had done to make my experience a positive one. As I said to her before I left, "Thank you for making this so painless." When I made a comment about how difficult AT&T is to deal with, she even apologized for THEM, saying she was sorry my interactions with them have not been to my satisfaction.

I spent the next 5 minutes of my time in the Apple Store gazing lovingly at the 15" MacBook Pro. I was SO tempted to buy one...

One thing is for sure; my initial experience with the folks at the Millenia Mall Apple Store was an extremely positive one and gave me one more reason (if I needed one) to switch my PC laptop to a MacBook Pro. I hope that when that time comes it is as great as this one was. Thanks to the staff at the Apple Store Millenia Mall and especially Cindy the technician!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Visited Heaven Today

Circumstances beyond my control (more on that tomorrow) compelled me to visit the Apple Store today.

Now I know what heaven is like.

Monday, August 3, 2009

This And That

Is it really August already? Where has the year gone? Sitting here, typing on my Magic Box, it seems incredible that 2009 is two-thirds gone.

I've spent the bulk of my day nursing a bad back, sitting against a heating pad and taking pain meds, all to no avail. The bright side is that I've been able to make a slight dent in the mound of books and magazines that need to be read. I got to finish one of the four books Cindy's mom and dad gave me for my birthday and started on a second one.

Tomorrow I have an appointment for lab tests at 7:15am and then an eye doctor appointment at 2pm. The good thing about this back pain is that it only hurts when I move, so I should be able to get a full night's sleep like I did last night.

I have been trying for the past few years to simplify my life by removing some material things and paring down some other material parts of my life. One of the nice side effects of this planned move next Spring is that it has provided a further opportunity to look at something and decide if it should remain in my possession or not. It has felt good to scrape off some of the barnacles of belongings that have accumulated and declutter my life a bit.

Is anyone else in Central Florida with G-mail having an issue with Brighthouse failing to deliver e-mails to addresses? I first discovered this problem a couple of weeks ago when I thought my daughter (who has a address) was ignoring my e-mails when she didn't reply to an e-mail I sent her. Turns out neither she nor my son-in-law were receiving e-mails I sent from my G-mail account to either of their addresses. Then today I discovered a co-worker of mine who lives in Winter Park and also has a address was not receiving my G-mail e-mails either, even when I was replying to the e-mail she sent to me! Anyone know what's up with that?

Thinking about re-designing my site, but then again I may just wait and get the urge to play with design out of my system when I move to Maggie Valley and start a new, local blog. That would be in addition to this site and blog. Maybe "The Maggie Valley Masked Blogger" lol. Nah, that's just an inside joke; I've actually already decided on the name, but since I haven't bought the domain name yet I don't want to mention it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lake Eola Photowalk

Last Sunday I spent the day with Cindy at the Eola Market where she sells her handmade candles and incense. Early in the morning, before it got unbearably hot in the sun, I did a Photowalk around Lake Eola shooting about 250 photos of things that caught my eye.

You can see the best 46 of those on my Flickr page.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Birthday Breakfast

Last Saturday morning several, though not all due to scheduling problems, family members gathered for breakfast at Cracker Barrel restaurant to celebrate my father-in-law's 75th birthday. Everyone had a great time and here are a few pictures from the festivities.

A view from the opposite end of the table.


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