11 March, 2006

Update - Family, Depression, Blogging

So this past week I've been pretty absent from blog -- at least, compared to my activity in the past. This is probably due to the fact that my double-depression has kicked in.

You see, this past week, I found out that my grandfather's melanoma has spread to his lymph nodes. He's scheduled to go in for surgery this coming Tuesday, March 14, 2006. That's the eve of the Ides of March, which typically is not considered to be a good day where luck is concerned (reference the assassination of Julius Caesar).

Apparently, this means that he now has Stage III malignant melanoma. The prognosis for Stage III malignant melanoma is mixed ... he has a 30-70% survival rate, based on 5-year survival rate studies for this stage. If the melanoma progresses to Stage IV, then the prognosis becomes very bleak. Since his melanoma has gone from Stage I to Stage III, all the negative energy in me converts this into thinking that he's going to reach Stage IV.

When my grandfather was first diagnosed with melanoma, they did all the testing and such and told him that it hadn't spread, and chances were good that it wouldn't spread. So take together the fact that we've gone from Stage I to Stage II to Stage III, plus his surgery being scheduled one the eve of the Ides of March, put that all together, and then maybe you can see why I'm thinking that he's going to end up in Stage IV at some point and this, essentially, is the beginning of the end.

Also this week, my father told me that he had a stroke last year, which has caused permanent damage, and mainly affects his memory (which, he surmises, is probably why he didn't tell me until now -- he forgot he hadn't told me yet). He hasn't told anyone else, other than his wife, about the stroke.

Additionally, my sister is now bitching to me about how our mother is refusing to see her daughter (my niece, my mother's first grandchild), because of a disagreement that she and my sister are having (which I won't even begin to get into here now). My sister and my mother, essentially, baiting me to take sides, which I'm refusing to do. I can see points to both of their opinions, and they're both being stubborn by refusing to make the first move to talk to the other about their feelings. But still, because they're family, I have to sit and listen to them.

Happy Happy, Joy Joy.

This is just typical of my life these days, though. Take, for instance, the year of my car accident:

I was involved in a fatal automobile accident in January, 2002. Apparently, there was a head-on collision between my car and another car. I was driving alone, as was the other drive. I had the misfortune of living, the other drive died. I don't remember a thing about the accident -- even of being involved in an accident. Apparently, this is typical for people who have gone through severely traumatic events such as very bad auto accidents. I spent bout four months in the Trauma Unit of Westchester Medical Center recovering from my injuries. Half of that time was spent in the hospital being treated for my injuries, the other half was spent in the rehab section of the hospital (that's physical rehabilitation). Here's a picture of the accident scene:

I got out of the hospital, and started treatment for my depression. A few weeks into it, I wound up in the psychiatric unit at United Hospital (which has gone out of business) for a few weeks. I came out, and then wound up in the psych unit of Westchester Medical Center -- they call it the Behavioral Health Center -- where I spent the next seven months.

During my stay there, my grandmother, who raised me and essentially acted as a surrogate mother to me, died. That was in July, 2002. In the beginning of September, another patient, with whom I had developed a deep friendship, hung herself -- in the bathroom right outside of my room. I saw her as I was coming out of my room, as the staff was opening the door to the bathroom at the same time. Later that month, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Around my birthday in October, my father told me that he had gotten remarried -- back in June. And then, when I was discharged a few days before Christmas, my grandfather went into the hospital with pneumonia.

Oh, and did I mention that the friend I had moved out to Phoenix, Arizona with back in 1999 had died the same year? In fact, I think he died the same day I wound up going into WCMC's Behavioral Health hospital. I loved him very much, and was probably even in love with him (he loved me, too, although the "in-love" part probably wasn't reciprocated). But he's another story.
R.I.P. Roscoe R. Loper, IV.

So you see, this kind of trauma has been my life, especially since my car accident. And this is probably why I keep lapsing into these double-depressions so often.

Note To Self: Add a link

In going through my blog, trying to get everything in order, I found another post that I saved in draft status but forgot to go back and publish....

This is a note to myself to add this blog to my "Blogs I'm Reading" list. I came across it from a site I was visiting, and I clicked on a link to another site, where I clicked on a link to another site, where I clicked on a link to another site, and I basically repeated that about 97 more times to arrive at this one.

I'm starting to love this gal. At first, before I read her bio, I thought it was a drag queen's site. I mean, she has the personality of a drag queen. Plus, just look at the name: Paper Napkin. That's a Drag Queen name if I ever heard one.

But she's pretty cool. She started this "delurking week" thing where she advocates for people to stop "just" reading other people's blogs and participate in them -- leave comments! She has a cool list of "100 things." She's won some blogging awards.

I just wish Blogger had an easier way of updating the sidebar. As it is now, I have to go into the template (which is a pretty big file to being with), find what the section I want to add a link to, and then manually add it to my list. I don't mind the entering it manually part -- it's the finding the code in the huge template form that is becoming quite a bit annoying ...

Speed Reading

I'm utterly amazed. I came across this post because someone e-mailed me about something, and I decided to check out their web site. I came across this little ditty, and I'm utterly amazed that I was able to read it at just about the same speed that I read other text. Maybe this is because I've gotten so used to people mis-typing words. Or maybe it's just that it's true.

Try reading it as you would any other news article. That is, not to analyze the contents, but to get a general idea of what the article is about. I think you'll be surprised at just how readable the text actually is.

What's perhaps even more amazing is that this, apparntly, has been around for a while. Just take a look at the search results I came up with on Google.

This "word recognition" that we perform is perhaps the reason behind our ability to perform "speed reading." Maybe the reason that I was able to read this passage without batting an eye, so to speak, is because, back in high school, I bought a computer program for my Commodore 128 computer, called the Evelyn Wood Dynamic Reader, which basically teaches you how to increase reading comprehension and how to "speed read" using the Evelyn Wood Dynamic Reading method.

So perhaps, when one possess "advanced" reading/comprehension skills, one is better able to process information of the sort descrbied in this "article"? What do you think?

Mambo - Newsflash 3

Site Tinkering

I originally wrote this post some time in February, and I've finally been able to finish it.

Some of you (any of you?) may have noticed that I've been tinkering with my blog a bit. It's been a long time since I've done any HTML coding, and I'm a bit rusty. Plus, now I have to make sure that the code works with Google's Blogger service, which hosts my blog. Blogger uses "blog tags" that are similar to HTML tags, but are a bit more involved and evolved.

In any event, most of the tinkering that I've done has to do with repositioning certain elements in my sidebar, and adding a footer to the blog (scroll down all the way to the end). Back in February, I had to do a bit of debugging, because adding the Creative Commons license totally messed things up for a while, completely oblierating some sections of my blog, and also made my Google Adsense ads stop appearing. That was fun. Of course, the ads have stopped appearing again, and now I have absolutely no idea why they're not showing up. I've asked my friend, Stacey, to look into it for me, because she's a web goddess.

If you'd like to learn more about Google's Adsense, and start making money on your blog or web site, click on the button below:

01 March, 2006

The difference between Microsoft and Apple

If you're a tech geek or a gadget freak (or an ubergeek (define) like Chris Pirillo), you'll probably find this amusing, funny, or interesting. If you're not, you might not get it. But I think it goes a long way at describing the culture and climate of Microsoft. Would any of my ex-M$ employee friends like to comment about this? :)

(Clicking on the link will open a Flash movie with sound -- WS, unless you work for the evil conglomerate)

YouTube - microsoft ipod packaging parody

27 February, 2006

UAE Censorship in Private Schools

Our very good friend, the UAE, has seized all history textbooks from an American-operated private school, because it considers that the textbooks "smell of racism."

Just what did the UAE's Ministry of Education find to be offensive and racist? According to the Khaleej Times, the textbooks presented Islam and Muslim countries in the Middle East in a negative light and Israel in a positive light. To wit, "Israel is one of a few democracies in North Africa and the Middle East today. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco are all kingdoms; the country of Syria has sponsored terrorism by giving aid to radicals in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, known as the PLO."

Further, the article reports that "While there are clamour for change in the Middle East, one has to understand that these are the books coming from the so called 'free world'. This is a typical example of how textbooks are used to manipulate the thoughts of young minds," affirmed [Asst. Under Secretary to Foreign Private Education] Juma.

What's interesting is that the private school had been using the textbook, World Cultures, for a number of years without any problems. But now that the UAE is under closer world scrutiny, this comes up. Kind of makes one wonder just a bit more about the veracity of GW Bush's labelling of the UAE as a "good friend."

Can we now begin to expect that shipments coming into this country through UAE-operated ports will be seized if they are deemed to be offensive to the UAE?

Textbook of American school in capital seized over ‘smell of racism’

26 February, 2006

Depression and Chronic Pain

This is just an interesting example of how free-form thought on the Internet can produce surprising results. For instance, in my last post, I was trying to find a web site that spoke about suicidal ideation, and I came across this site:
Understanding Chronic Pain
I knew that there was some sort of a relationship between pain and depression. For instance, people who are depressed often experience headaches, back pain, joint pain, and abdominal pain. Of this list, I would say that the major symptom in my case is the back pain that I have -- nothing else can explain it. In fact, one study states
Up to two-thirds of those with unexplained pain meet the criteria for major depression
Now, take what they have to say about chronic pain and depression:

Consider some of the more devastating psychological effects of chronic pain:

1. Loss of mobility. Chronic pain and suicide ideation have been shown to be strongly related. However, recent research shows that chronic pain is usually a secondary cause of suicide ideation. One of the chief intermediary factors is the severe effect that chronic pain has on limiting mobility. Being unable to move around comfortably, constantly being constrained by pain, being unable to enjoy normal sexual relations with one's spouse or carrying one's children without fear of injury leaves a damaging mark on the sufferer's emotions.

2. Depression. Patients with depression are also heightened in their perception of pain, and will very often be reluctant to carry out treatment modules provided to them for fear of encountering more pain. The combination of immobility and depression leads to irritability, nervousness (or anxiety) and an unhealthy desire for isolation. Marital conflicts develop and escalate. As depression sets in, chronic pain patients tend to become more angry, easily frustrated, often moody, and plagued with feelings of hopelessness.

6. Anxiety. Pain may feature in anxiety disorders because of increased muscle tension or spasms. Tension headaches, post-infarct precordial pain and other pain syndromes affecting the musculoskeletal system may occur. Patients injured in motor-vehicle accidents often suffer from flashbacks of the accident, frequent nightmares, fear of driving or crossing the street, and extreme anxiety when returning to the site of the accident.

I was involved in a fatal automobile accident in January 2002. I don't remember anything about the accident, and have only one flashback: waking up and screaming uncontrollably due to the unbearable pain of being pulled out of my car by rescue workers. Apparently, the accident was a head-on collision on the Napeague stretch of Montauk Highway in Amagansett, New York. I was driving a 1999 Oldsmobile Alero, and I collided, head-on, with an Audi. I wound up in the emergency room; the driver of the Audi wound up in the morgue.

I realize that I have a lot of work to do in terms of dealing with this accident, and its outcome. Some people think that I merely fell asleep at the wheel, because the accident occurred around 8:30 at night. But those who knew me at the time would discount this; I worked nights and maintained a night schedule, even when not working. So 8:30pm was, to me, more like 8:30am to most.

My depression pre-dates my accident. Back in 1999, my friend Val, who is a Spiritual Counselor with a New York State Certification in School Psychology, suspected that I was suffering from chronic depression and a generalized anxiety disorder. She suspected that I've had the depression for quite some time -- probably dating back at least to my teenage years. I've been trying to get treatment for the depression ever since then, but without health insurance, it can be quite expensive, and difficult to obtain.

Currently, I'm not in treatment for my mental health issues, but I'm trying to get back into treatment. I know that my depression is a major cause of things not going right in my life. For instance, the reason I didn't finish law school was because I went into a double-depression while I was in law school, and that basically was the cause of my dismissal, although at the time, I didn't even know that I was depressed or had chronic depression.

So I have all of this chronic pain from the car accident, and that interacts with my depression, which makes the pain feel worse to me, which makes the depression worse, and it gets into this really vicious cycle. I used to be in pain management (after the accident, while my insurance was active for a time) but stopped going because of lack of insurance. Most of what they did was put me on painkillers, and let me tell you right now: the only painkiller I miss is the Celebrex. The side-effects of the other painkillers (mostly the opiates) were horrendous, and I really don't ever want to be put back on opiates for any length of time. Besides, the opiates didn't even fully take away the pain.

So, what should I do? Any suggestions for dealing with chronic pain and chronic depression?

More US Hypocrisy: UAE takeover of US shipping ports

Well, the good old George W. Bush-defended UAE has continued its policy of censoring web sites. This time, they've struck out against one of the sites I regularly visit: Boing Boing.

I've recently blogged about United States hypocrisy regarding its chastising of US search engine companies operating in China and adhereing to Chinese local laws governing censorship of the Internet. But now, the UAE, which censors the Internet for its citizens, has been granted control of perhaps the six largest US shipping ports. Where's the public outcry from the administration/government officials here? I certainly can't find any. Can you?

In its article, Boing Boing points out that US President George W. Bush has recently defended a UAE takeover of control and administration of six of the United States's international shipping ports:
"I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's OK for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world can't manage the port," Bush said.
There's just one (well, at least one) problem with Bush's rationale, and I recently explained it to my fellow New York State Young Republicans:
[T]here is a major difference between Great Britain and the UAE administering our ports: Great Britain is a NATO ally with whom we have a long-standing treaty governing the mutual defense of our countries; the UAE is not a NATO ally and we have no such treaty with them. I would have a problem with any non-NATO ally having complete control over a portion of our internal infrastructure.
And speaking of allies, is the UAE even any sort of ally to the United States?

By the way, you might be interested to know that the track record of that "country with a good track record from another part of the world" to which Bush refers (the UAE) consists of the following:
  • The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
  • The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.
  • According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.
  • After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin LadenĂ‚’s bank accounts.
**UPDATE:** NPR has more information about the UAE's ties to terrorist groups. Even the US Department of Homeland (Stupidity) objected to the UAE takeover. Finally, UPI is reporting that the UAE company will be in control of 21 ports, not the six initially reported.

Police Intimidation / Misconduct

I used to be an ardent support of the police -- those uniformed women and men in blue whose jobs it is to protect our lives. But lately, and especially after some recent interactions I've had with them lately -- including one where a certain Town of Harrison Police Department Detective commanded patrol officers not to render any aid or assistance to me in my request to be taken to a psychiatric hospital because I was feeling suicidal (with the assistance of a patrolman who ignored the detective's orders, I was helped to a psychiatric facility where I was treated for my chronic depression/suicidal ideation on an inpatient basis for approximately two months) -- has both left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as shattered my faith in the police to be fair and honest.

This story is just one of what I'm certain are thousands of incidents that occur aross our country on an all-too-frequent basis.

CBS 4 - South Florida's Source for Breaking News, Weather, and Sports: Officer Takes Action Against CBS4 After Story Airs

Paying for Restrictions on Freedom & the QOTD

True or false: We live in a free society?

Sadly, the answer to that question, in my opinion, is becoming more false than true as time marches on, especially in today's day and age. And now, we're going to have to pay -- out of our own pockets, so to speak -- for some of the restrictions that are increasingly being placed upon us. Thanks to Nelson Minar, a Google employee, for the heads-up on this story:
College campuses in the US are being asked to foot the bill to allow law enforcement to eavesdrop on their students' online conversations.
What's that, you didn't know that law enforcement was eavesdropping on the online activities of the American higher education system? The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains it all.

Additional resources on this or related topics include Wikipedia's article about the current controversy of the United States spying on its citizens;the Foreign Policy In Focus think tank's wonderful article by a retired U.S. Army Colonel covering the subject of domestic spying activities, and Alex Jones's excellent analysis of the United States Patriot Act II, aka the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Also be sure to check out the analysis of the Patriot Act II by the ACLU.

With the severe erosion of personal liberties that have been occurring lately, I'm beginning to think that Al Qaeda has won their little war against us. And that reminds me of this famous little pearl of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | US comedy star Knotts dies at 81

My first entertainment-related post, and it has to be a downer.

The first time I saw Don Knotts on television was as his portrayal of landlord Ralph Furley in the 1980s hit sitcom, Three's Company.

Knotts was a prolific entertainer; he has 113 entries in the Internet Movie Database.

Thanks for all the laughs, Don. I'll certainly be one of those who will miss your slapstick wit.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | US comedy star Knotts dies at 81

Help Complete WWII History

This is kind of interesting. I've been participating in distributed computing projects for some time now. For instacen, I've been searching for signs of Extraterrestrial Intelligence using my home computer for some time now. In fact, I've been a member since 16 October, 1999, and I've even started a SETI@Home team.

But back to this interesting distributed computing project. This is what it's all about (taken from their web page):
The M4 Project is an effort to break 3 original Enigma messages with the help of distributed computing. The signals were intercepted in the North Atlantic in 1942 and are believed to be unbroken. Ralph Erskine has presented the intercepts in a letter to the journal Cryptologia. The signals were presumably enciphered with the four rotor Enigma M4 - hence the name of the project.
Neat, huh? I think I'll join in helping to crack an unsolved mystery.

M4 Message Breaking Project

24 February, 2006

Quick Guide to Internet Advertising

Trevor Clarkson dishes out the skinny on making money on the 'net with web sites. The long and short of it: Chances are, you shouldn't quit your day job, but you might be able to afford to go out once a month or so.

SKETCHi Studios » blog » Quick Guide to Internet Advertising

Look Who Has A Blog

OK, you know that blogging has gone mainstream when mainstream, major celebrities start blogging. I mean, we all know that lesser-known celebrities like Margaret Cho have blogs and have been blogging for a while. But when MC Hammer starts a blog? Look out, world!

By the way, I think Hammer's blog is a great example of what can be done with mobile blogging and photoblogging. I also think that they need to come up with new terms for mobile and photo blogging ... maybe m-phlogging? Moblogging? Mobbing? Phoblogs? Hrm ... it needs work, it definitely needs work ....

Blogging = Mainstream. What's your blog (leave a comment with your blog's address)?

More US Hypocrisy

Lately, the United States recently warned China that it needs to do more to open up its markets to US companies. (I'll leave the dicsussion over discussion over the United State's hypocritical actions regarding censorship where it stands now in my previous post.)

Now, the United States is being accused, by Venezuela, along similar lines:

Venezuela's National Aviation Institute said in a statement: "We have exhausted all avenues with the US aeronautical authority.

"We have been forced to reduce the frequency of flights of US airline companies from the US."

The institute accused the US aviation authorities of failing "to give Venezuelan airlines the rights they deserve under bilateral agreements".

BBC NEWS | Americas | Venezuela cuts US airline flights

22 February, 2006


We are Americans, but we also are human beings who live on a planet with hundreds of other nations, and myriad other life forms, all of whom we must get along with if we are to evolve and continue our existence.

-Peter C. Frank

(yes, that's a quote I came up with -- I should search the web to see if anyone else has published this before I have, though ...)

ESPA Grows A Set

Well, it seems that one of my favourite organizations, the Empire State Pride Agenda, has finally grown a set.

I was really dismayed when Matt Foreman (note: Matt, you need to add some more stuff to your Wiki bio), its former Executive Director, left ESPA to head the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). I mean, it's great for Matt -- I've had a few conversations with him (Matt, that is) at various lobbying events and I think he has a great mind, a level head, and is really committed to the cause. But I knew nothing of ESPA's replacement for Matt as its new ED, Alan Van Capelle, and very little about Joe Tarver, its spokesperson.

I have to admit that I haven't really been all that active in the gay rights struggle since my car accident, so I haven't been paying all too much attention. But from what I recall, nothing that ESPA has done -- until now -- has really stood out in my mind.

I think it's great that Mr. Van Capelle has called the Democratic Party's bluff -- especially our lackluster junior Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course, Mike Rodgers has been doing this for quite some time now, and he has a take-no-prisoners approach to it.

Now, some hard-lined Democrats came to Hillary's defense. But there's a very, very large hole in the logic that they use to defend her. Let's examine this for a moment, shall we? Take, for example, the following statements taken from the article:

"Certainly we have seen that Sen. Clinton is working on the forefront of LGBT issues, like immigration equality and HIV/AIDS funding that is critical to residents of New York," [John] Marble[, spokesman for the National Stonewall Democrats] said.

* * * * *

"I don't see gay marriage issue as the issue for the gay community," Kunst said, referring to Clinton's opposition to same-sex marriage. "It's basic civil rights that matters." [Bob Kunst, president of HillaryNow.com]

I have a serious problem with these lackluster attitudes towards our rights, especially with this last comment. Apparently, these distinguished gentlemen do not consider marriage to be a basic civil right. It's much more important to fight for basic civil rights, such as "immigration equality." Of course, if we were allowed to marry, immigration equality wouldn't be an issue anymore, would it?

Perhaps their view that marriage isn't a basic civil right has to do with the fact that it's a fundamental civil right. You see, back in 1967, nine people decided that marriage is, indeed, a fundamental civil right, and that any attempt to curb one's right to marry must be subject to strict scrutiny.

You see, back in the heyday of the civil rights movement, the opposition employed a great strategy: make them fight for their rights piecemeal, instead of giving them what they want all at once. As such, they were able to drag out the civil rights movement for well over a century and a half.

So we can be like Messrs. Kunst and Marble and fight for each and every one of our rights, piece by piece. Or, we can choose to go after marriage, and win a lot of those rights all in one fell swoop. You see, the United States General Accountability Office, way back in 1996, conducted an internal survey of how many rights and responsibilities are accorded to married couples: 1,049 (this is a link to a PDF file). Maybe it would be clearer if I wrote that out: There are more than one thousand and forty-nine rights and responsibilities accorded to married couples.

While winning the marriage equality struggle wouldn't end the gay rights struggle (think about it: has the civil rights movement ended?), it would be a giant leap forward, instead of taking all these tiny baby steps that people who hate us want us to struggle through it all. But no, we'll just continue kowtowing to the Democratic Party (I'd include my own Party, the GOP, but they're not doing anything for me to kowtow about) for the scraps of meat they throw our way -- just enough to keep our dollars flowing into their pockets.

Thank you, Alan Van Capelle, for having the chutzpah to stand up to disguised bigotry and complacency.

Gay leader slams Sen. Clinton on record -- Queer Lesbian Gay News -- Gay.com

21 February, 2006

United States = Hypocrisy

The United States is becoming one of the biggest hypocrisies of the modern era. Take its position on censorship, for instance:

Neither the congressional critics nor human rights activists were impressed.

They accused the tech firms of helping Chinese authorities spread disinformation and become more repressive.

. . . . .

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who chaired the House subcommittee hearing, compared the tech company's actions to IBM's collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. Smith, a New Jersey Republican, dismissed the claim by firms that they have to obey local laws.

"If the secret police a half century ago asked where Anne Frank was hiding, would the correct answer be to hand over the information in order to comply with local laws?" Smith asked. "We must stand with the oppressed, not the oppressors."

(Read more on CNN and Arstechnica.)

Contrast this with recent action taken by the United States Government:
US intelligence agencies have been removing thousands of historical documents from public access, the New York Times has reported.
. . . . .

The New York Times said the reclassification programme accelerated after President Bush took office and especially after the 9/11 attacks.

But because it runs in secrecy, it continued without being noticed until December 2005.

(Notice how I had to go to a news source
outside of the United States in order to find this story -- it's not on the New York Times web site that I can see. This just might provoke one's thoughts to consider whether or not the search results we within the United States receive from search engine companies are being censored without our knowledge.)

It is my personal opinion that, quite ironically, perhaps the Chinese Government (of all sources and institutions) has best expressed this hypocritical action:
"It is unfair and smacks of double standards when (foreigners) criticize China for deleting illegal and harmful messages, while it is legal for US websites to do so," [Mr Liu Zhengrong, deputy chief of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office] said.

Just one more thing I'd like to point out: I'd love to see how the United States Government reacts when foreign corporations who are operating within the borders of the United States begin ignoring United States federal and local laws:
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who chaired the House subcommittee hearing, compared the tech company's actions to IBM's collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. Smith, a New Jersey Republican, dismissed the claim by firms that they have to obey local laws.

Finally, take all of this in light with the fact that some members of Congress have been banned from participating in the editing of Wikipedia, the free, online, collaborative encyclopedia, due to misuse and abuse in an attempt to revise history.

**UPDATE** Here's more information about the censorship by the US government of previously declassified documents, from the Department of Homeland Stupidity web site.

Hard Disk Drive Noises

A useful article from the Hitachi company's Global Storage Technologies division, containing sound samples of noises made by hard drives that are defective, dying, and experiencing problems -- which could help you determine whether your hard disk drive (HDD) is on its way out and it's time to get a replacement.

20 February, 2006

Help Paul Dell Win

You know, I need a new computer. The one I'm currently using is about eight years old. I heard recently that Dell was going to start selling computers without an Operating System, so I wouldn't have to pay the Microsoft Tax. I thought this was a turning point for Dell, in trying to prove that they're being a a consumer-friendly, and technologist-friendly company.

I was wrong.

First, Dell's Chairman announced that they would consider using AMD processors in their computers, moving away from being an all-Intel shop. Apparently, this was just another rumor.

And now this: Dell is suing an individual over a web site, just because that individual -- who happens to be named Paul Dell -- is using his name in the web site.

That's two strikes against my purchasing a Dell computer. Unlike baseball, I think that's two strikes too many, and I think I'll be looking at other companies for my new computer -- perhaps even a white box where I won't have to pay the bloody Microsoft Tax.

Help Paul Dell Win

18 February, 2006

A skit for Kathy Griffin

OK, I've got what I think would be a good routine for Kathy Griffin. For those of you who are living in a cave and don't know about her, she's this ultra-cool, hip, gay-friendly actress/comedienne who doesn't mind taking people to task -- especially hoity-toity A-list celebrities. You can get a taste of what she's like from this AskMen.com article or this interview from Metroline. She's one of my favourite people.

So, here's the routine that I could totally see her doing. The inspiration came when I was watching one of her shows and she started talking about some donut shop in Texas (Kathy Griffin likes donuts):

Speaking of Krispy Kreme, what the fuck is up with that name? I mean, you all know that I love donuts. But let's think about this. First of all, Krispy Kreme is a Southern corporation. They're located in North Carolina -- you know, home of organizations like "Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." Speaking of the KKK, think about how similar the initials of Krispy Kreme are to the KKK. Let's see ... Krispy, spelled with a "K," Kreme, spelled with a "K," Corporation. I'm surprised they didn't spell "Corporation" with a "K." So Krispy Kreme is essential the KKC of North Carolina, a state that has a proud history of Ku Klux Klan patronage. Take into consideration that they chose to mis-spell the name of their company, to make it as similar as possible to "KKK" without actually being "KKK," it kind of makes you think....

Now me, I'm more of a Dunkin Donuts gal ... I mean, just take a look and you'll see that I'm much more like the "Double-D" than the "KKC." ... Now let's talk about the donuts. Krispy Kreme donuts come in, well, basically, one flavor: creme. Their donuts are filled with creme. It's pretty much a heterogenious donut. As you'll all know, I'm in love with my gays, which is why Dunkin Donuts wins out over Krispy Kreme yet again. Dunkin Donuts takes to task the true meaning of being a diverse corporation. Double-D's donuts come in a plethora of varieties, offering myriad different types of fillings, from cremes, to puddings, to jellies, to chocolates. Well, you get the idea.

So this gal is dropping the KKC in favor of the Double-D.

So, maybe Kathy will incorporate this little skit into her act one day. It's offered under a Creative Commons license, so she basically has permission to use it. And just because I love her so much, I'll even waive the Non-Commercial and Share-Alike provisions of this license -- but just for her!

Brazil Sugar surpasses American Dollars

OK, the title might not be completely accurate, and perhaps misleading, but I've got to give a really big "hats off" to our Brazilian brethren.

You see, it seems that they've almost completely eliminated their reliance on foreign oil in the automotive market. How, you might ask, have they done this? The answer is simple: they use a byproduct of their sugar cane crop.

Score one for the environment, at least in Brazil. Now, in reading all about this eco-friendly phenomena, it makes one wonder why so-called "advanced" nations, like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and other leading first world nations? My guess is that these first-world nations hold the almighty dollar (Euro, Pound, or whatever currency they worship) in higher regard than the health and well-being of our beloved planet Earth.

But it is perhaps here, in the United States, that we have the poorest record on protecting mother earth. Simply put, the Big American Corporations (BAC) are the ones with most of the bucks: the ones lining the pockets of Congress to stop environmentally-friendly legislation from proceeding, the ones lining the pockets of lobbyists (who are lining the pockets of the United States House and Senate), the ones lining the pockets of the advertising industry, and ones who are lining the pockets of the media in general.

BBC NEWS | Business | Brazil's sugar crop fuels nation's cars

Other noteworthy sites related to this story:

16 February, 2006

Firefox MOVED the RSS button

OK, Firefox did something tricky when it rolled out version 1.5 that had me winding up with a bit of egg on my face.

One of my favourite features of Firefox is its ability to automatically find RSS feeds. When Firefox does find an RSS feed, it displays an icon typically used to represent an RSS feed () in the statusbar, at the bottom of the screen. This has been a feature of Firefox ever since about version 1.0, but instead of calling it by its rightful name, Firefox decided to call this "Live Bookmarks," and has decided, at least for the time being, to keep itself limited to using RSS as Live Bookmarks.

Now, when version 1.5 came out, Firefox did something sneaky, and this is what left me with egg on my face: they moved the RSS feed indicator icon from the statusbar to the URL bar (that's where you type in the URLs to access web pages). Now, noticing that my RSS feed icon was no longer being displayed on the statusbar, like a good little soldier, I went and filed a bug report with bugzilla, Mozilla's bug reporting software.

So why is there egg on my face? Well, like always, I tried to search for the bug before filing the report. I couldn't find anything. So I filed it. Now you have to understand, Mozilla never told anybody that they had moved the RSS indicator icon from the statusbar to the URL bar -- the Release Notes contain no mention of the move, nor could I find anything else indicating that Mozilla had told anyone about the move.

So, when I went to file another bug report -- this time requesting a new feature -- and when I was searching for terms so I wouldn't file a duplicate, I found a number of similar bug reports to the one I first filed, indicating that the missing icon wasn't a bug because it was moved. I immediately filed a comment to my original bug post, and closed it with the same notation as the ones I'd found indicating that there was no bug: INVALID.

I then went on to file my second bug report, the new feature request. About six hours later, one of the official bugzilla people closed my bug report as being a duplicate of another one, that already had been filed (but yet, which, again, I didn't uncover during my search before filing the bug report).

So, what's the point of my rambling for the past ten minutes or so? Two things, directed at the Mozilla folk:

1. When you guys change something, no matter how minor (like moving an icon from the statusbar to the URLbar), let people know about it!

2. Something appears to be b0rken in the search feature of bugzilla. In fact, I just tried searching on some bug reports that I knew I had filed, but the search couldn't find them (I went into some old, saved e-mails and pulled up the bug numbers, and sure enough, there they were). So see if you can look into that. Especially with respect to the two most recent bug reports I've filed, I know that I searched under terms that appeared in the bug report summary when I later discovered the other bugs.

But now the good news: A future version of Firefox will have the enhanced feature that I was going to request.

Ah, one more thing for the Mozilla folk: I think it's great that you're using Wiki to keep track of the development process of Mozilla applications. However, it would also be nice if you had a space within your own domain where you discussed such development, because not everyone is going to think of looking for a tracking bug or under Wiki for such programs/announcements.

Other than that, keep up the good work Mozilla folk. You've got some great products!

Homeland Stupidity

This is the web site/blog of one of my cyber-pals. Like me, he's kind of a technologist. He's intelligent, witty, on-point, and thought-provoking. A champion of personal liberty and exposer of governmental fraud. He's well-researched (but then, what geek isn't?) And, he's not conceited; in fact, he's probably humble (he describes himself as a "royal pain in the ass").

I bow to his royalty (being royal myself, that's probably one of the best compliments I can muster forth). We disagree at times but, on most of the important issues, we pretty much agree, especially with regards to personal freedom and civil liberties. He is a patriot who loves his country, and freely exercises his right to criticize the stupidity that exists at all levels of our government.

He is IO Error.

Here's a sampling:

If it hasn’t happened to you already, it will soon. Police will knock on your door, tell you they’re looking for a criminal who may be in the neighborhood, and ask you to voluntarily submit a DNA sample. If you hesitate even for a moment, they’ll become quite, er, persuasive. “You don’t have anything to hide, do you? You aren’t the person we’re looking for, are you? What’s the problem? It’s just a cotton swab from the inside of your cheek. It’ll prove your innocence.” Read more.

(Of course, he could have provided a link to the ACLU's take on the erosion of privacy, for greater effect.)

That’s an incredible amount of paperwork, expense and bureaucratic garbage to go through, at least for most Americans, just to go hunting. And when the Vice President’s staff can’t even keep up with all the requirements, one might start to think we have too many regulations. Read more.
Well, I think you get the picture....

Funny Stuff

U.S. Special Forces The Pentagon announced today the formation of a new 500-man elite fighting unit called the United States Redneck Special Forces. These Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas boys will be dropped off into Iraq and have been given only the following facts about terrorists:
  1. The season opened today.
  2. There is no limit.
  3. They taste just like chicken.
  4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music or Jesus.
  5. They are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the death of Dale Earnhardt.
We expect the problem in Iraq to be over by Friday.

Also check out the Top 10 Worst Games, Best Names.

15 February, 2006


There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
- Victor Hugo

I found this quote on Margaret Cho's Marriage Equality Resource Site.

She has a great commentary on gay marriage, taken from an NPR interview on November 19, 2003 (NPR clip).

Constitutional Amendment Banning Same Sex Marriage

There are two contradictory statements in this article, and I don't think anyone's had the chutzpah to point it out:

Statement #1: Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has announced that he expects to hold a vote in June on the measure, which would prevent states from allowing gay marriages. While the bill is unlikely to get the two-thirds majority needed to be approved, it will be an important test for lawmakers on gay rights before the midterm elections in November.

Statement #2: Gay rights groups criticized the Republican move, and suggested the timing was purely political.

Now, why do I think that these statements are contradictory? The reason is simple: gay rights groups don't want to know that the Democrudic Party really isn't that much better than the Republican't Party when it comes to gay rights, especially the right of same-sex couples to marry.

I think it's great the Senators will be forced to go on record as to whether or not they support same-sex marriage. I'm sure that people will be in for a surprise when they see just how many of the Senators do not support same-sex marriages.

Frist pledges marriage ban vote in Senate

Government Spends $363M on Gays and Lesbians

Anything that the government does with respect to the LGBT (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community is of interest to us, but this report should be of interest to a segment of the population that, unfortunately these days, probably doesn't get along all too well with the LGBT community: Republicans. (For the record, I firmly believe that Southern Conservative Democrats began a takeover of my party -- the Republican Party -- which they completed with the election of President George W. Bush; I am actively trying to wrest control from these hatemongers and bring the Republican Party back to its original owners, the Moderate Republicans.)

You see, a report has just been issued by an independent party that the federal government has spent approximately $363,000,000 over the past decade -- all in just one area: keeping gay men and lesbians out of the armed services.

As a Republican, to me, this is appalling. Spending what amounts to an average of $36million per year in order to keep people who want to be in the military out of it, when there really isn't a good reason as to why they shouldn't be allowed to enroll (like having a violent felony conviction) is a great example of wasteful government spending.

As a gay man, this also is appalling to me, because -- should I ever become crazy enough -- should I want to enlist in the armed services, I would not be able to do so because of blatant prejudice. And to think, at a time when the armed services needs more people in its ranks to help fight the War in Iraq because our young men and women who have enlisted in the military service are dying as time drums on.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is doing a fabulous job in helping those gay and lesbian servicemembers with legal difficulties that they encounter (or might encounter) while in the service. They have a petition that you can sign supporting a lift on the government's ban against gay and lesbians openly serving in the military.

Report: Military gay ban cost $363M

I survived!

Well, I did it. I survived! Another wretched day. But this one was supposed to be special: Valentine's Day. But I got through it, all by my lonesome. Alone. For the ninth year in a row.

I'm still seeing commercials on television that are advertising for VD (have you ever noticed that the initials for Valentine's Day -- the day of love -- are the same as for Venereal Disease? Kind of makes one wonder .... But I've digressed. So I'm still seeing comercials for VD on television. One, in particular, from WalMart of all stores, really got my ire. I don't remember the script verbatim, but it went something like this:

WalMart, fortunately we've got what you need in order to show your love. (or was it to show how much you love your loved one? -- can somebody who's seen this commercial post a comment with the verbatim wording. Thanks -Peter)

The gist of this advertising is that you need to purchase something in order to show your love to your loved one. This is exactly why America is going to hell. This kind of mentality -- commercialization of everything under the sun -- just makes me want to vomit.

If I wanted to show someone that I loved them, I do not need to purchase something in order to show my love. I can do quite a few different things. For instance, I can
  • cook them dinner
  • take them for a walk
  • make love to them
  • write a poem dedicated to them
  • make something artsy for them
  • propagate a plant for them
I think you get the idea. Share with me what you did for Valentine's Day. If you have someone special in your life, what did you do for them to show them your love (and in case you can't get the hint, I do not want to know what you bought for them).

The History of Valentine's Day

The Most Expensive Dessert

I want to indulge ... I really want to indulge ... chocolate ... ice cream ... and other fun stuff. Anybody out there want to treat me? You can make a donation to my Paypal account using your Visa, Mastercard, or Paypal Account (click the DONATE button below).

I know. It sounds crazy: $1,000 for an ice cream sundae? But, the sundae is The Grand Opulence Sundae from famed Serendipity of New York City and it's made up of the best of the best.

DailyOlive.com: Got $1,000? Why Not Try a Golden Opulence Sundae?

What kids are doing for drugs these days

Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head and wonder. I mean, the she went to he lying scumbag fucktwit cops to try and score????

US student tries to score dope at cop shop | The Register

13 February, 2006


"If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?"
- Laurence J. Peter

"You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers."
- John J. Plomp

Bill proposed to keep search engine servers out of China

OK, this really gets my goat up. First, we have the United States blocking the United Nation's acceptance into its Economic and Social Council of two international LGBT groups. Thankfully, not everyone in Congress was asleep when that happened, and Secretary of State Condoleezza-Rice has been asked to explain the United State's action in blocking these groups.

But now, we have this proposed legislation. From the article:
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., is drafting a bill that would force Internet companies including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to keep vital computer serversout of China and other nations the State Department deems repressive to human rights.
The emphasis is mine. See, here we have lawmakers in Washington trying to say that we're better than other countries because they are repressive to human rights. But just a few weeks prior to this wonderful act, we have the United States siding with countries such as Iran, Egypt, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe -- all of which have such stellar records on protecting human rights -- in blocking human rights groups' efforts from joining the United Nations!

What's even better is (again, from the article):
Moving servers would keep personal data they house from government reach.
Of course, the United States would never dream of demanding that a search engine company turn over users' personal data, right?

What the fuck are these people thinking????

USATODAY.com - Bill would keep servers out of China

First Computers

C|Net's news.com.com service ran this article, wherein they selected a bunch of random computer geeks and asked them what the first computer they ever used was. It's nice to be nostalgic once in a blue moon, isn't it? Of course, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't report that the reason C|Net ran this article is because of the recent 60th anniversary of ENIAC, the world's first computer.

Check out Wikipedia's page on ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.

So, what was your first computer? Leave a comment and let me know. I'd like to know both the first computer you ever used (if you can remember), and the first computer you've owned.

To answer my own question, the first computer that I ever used was a Commodore PET -- back in fourth grade, in elementary school. I don't remember if it was the CBM 3000 series (aka the Commodore PET) or the CBM 4000 series. But in any event, it was a Commodore PET, even if they tried to rename it a "CBM" computer, and everyone knew it by the PET name and called it thus. From the pictures in the Old Computers Online Museum, I'd have to say that it was probably a 4000 series.

The first computer that I ever owned was a Commodore 64. If memory serves, I owned a bunch of them, mostly because faulty power supplies (that I didn't know about at the time) caused the computer to short out, or I spilled something into the keyboard, which was the entire computer, and wound up shorting it out. Once, a spider shorted out my C-64, so I had to get another. Just goes to show you how delicate computer electronics really are. After going through a few C-64s, I upgraded to the Commodore 128-D. Then, after years of computer-envy, I bought a Commodore Amiga 1200 computer--one of the last Amiga models Commodore produced before going out of business. I really wanted an Amiga 4000 -- that was the computer of all computers, back in the day. But I couldn't afford it, so I went with what I could afford. I was actually practical and sensible with my money back then.....

Commodore Business Machines (aka Commodore International) went out of business in 1994 when it filed for bankruptcy.

What was your first computer? | CNET News.com

Be Afraid

Be Very Afraid

This could happen. It's quite possible. Especially given the erosion of our privacy rights. This is just one scenario of what life could be like in the future -- the very near future. So be afraid.

(WS, shockwave movie)

Future shock & 3G

So how many of you out there have are taking advantage of the broadband wireless service that your mobile provider is offering? What's that, you don't know what I'm talking about? Of course not, and if the mobile phone providers had their way, they'd keep it like that. But ah, enter BBC News -- that pesky little news service that likes to keep its readers well-informed (unlike the news services here in the US, with the possible exception of the NYTimes).

3G, or the next generation in wireless technology (it actually stands for "3rd Generation") allows broadband data transmission over a wireless network, for far cheaper than older (2G and 2.5G) technology would allow. That's why Sprint (one of the few carriers actually touting 3G technology) is hyping its video feeds on their new phones (although Sprint is charging and arm and a leg for the 3G service. Of course, Sprint is getting to provide better services at a reduced cost to them but, instead of lowering costs for their customers, they're charging more for it! In other words, they're conducting business The Old Fashioned American Way, by ripping off their customers -- gotta love America, folks!

BBC NEWS | Technology | Future shock awaits mobile firms

Hunting Down Humans

I'd like to take a moment to go on a brief sojourn to a web site I discovered, which I originally found out about from Uncensored BBS (which I've previously blogged about). It's a web site about hunting down humans.

Now before you PETA people get all bent out of shape, let me explain why hunting down humans is a good thing. You see, it all started quite some time ago. I can't remember exactly when; it's been at least a decade, maybe two. People would pick up the phone and dial a number, and a computerized menu system would great them. At first, I thought this was a great idea -- I no longer have to deal with a snotty human begin over the phone who hates their job, just to get information.

Over time (especially within the past decade), these computerized menu systems have gotten so convoluted and complex that it's become almost impossible to get the information you're seeking, and finding a human being seems almost preferable. But here's the catch: the computerized menu systems know that you don't want to deal with them anymore, and they've begun hiding the access points to the human beings!

So this is why hunting down humans is such a good idea. And this web site has begun the noble task of tracking them down and exposing the evil computerized menu systems' plots by letting us know how to bypass the system and reach a human -- and they do it quickly, too!

What's more, some people (a team of students at Boston's Emerson College) have created a video that portrays exactly how useful this service can be. (The video is WS, and quite funny).

So, the next time you're confronted with one of these evil automated computerized menu systems and you need to hunt down a human being, take a trip to gethuman.com.

Score one for gay rights (World of Warcraft)

I'm glad that Blizzard Entertainment woke up and smelled the coffee. Or maybe it was the potential loss of money from a boycott from the LGBT community that they were smelling. Whatever the case, I'm glad that LGBT characters can feel free to be who they are, just as in real life, in their World of Warcraft MMORPG (that's Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). I own a few Blizzard games (World of Warcraft is not one of them, at least, not yet).

Aside from issuing a formal apology to Ms. Andrews, I'm glad to see that Blizzard is taking the LGBT gaming community seriously, by announcing that their employees will be mandated to undergo sensitivity training. While I think it's important to stick with their guidelines, the Blizzard administrator who started this ruckus could have handled it in a less threatening manner, and I think that's really what this whole ruckus was all about.

Now I can purchase those Blizzard Entertainment games that are on my Amazon.com wish list (or maybe someone can purchase them for me ....) Of course, it would help if I could get a new computer -- the one I'm using now is over seven years old -- so I can play the latest and greatest in computer games. Oh well.

One final note: One of the things that I like about Blizzard Entertainment's software is that it's compatible with Linux. In other words, Blizzard is one of the few game production houses that makes software for the Linux OS, and as I've said in the past, in order for Linux to catch hold, you're going to need games that will run natively under Linux.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Gay rights win in Warcraft world

Bloggers' Rights

EFF Needs Your Support in the Fight for Bloggers' Rights!

EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit group of passionate people—lawyers, technologists, volunteers, and visionaries — who depend on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight —and win—more cases.

EFF: EFF Needs Your Support in the Fight for Blogger's Rights!

12 February, 2006

Even More Snow

I can't tell if it's still snowing outside -- it's dark out. And besides, I'm afraid to look out the window. But here's the clincher from this article: we set a new record. Wheeeee!
The National Weather Service said 26.9 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park, the most for a single storm since record-keeping started in 1869. The old record was 26.4 inches in December 1947.
What was that about global warming again???

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Record-Setting Snow Buries Northeast

Preview: Microsoft's IE7 browser

OK, although the author still comes out in favor of Firefox, I have to take issue with a few things that she's said in her article:
Tabbed browsing: This nifty feature lets you have multiple Web pages up in one window. IE 7 also will let you save a group of Web pages as a "favorite."
Firefox also lets you save a group of web pages that are opened in tabs -- add SHIFT to your CONTROL-D combination (or select "Bookmark all tabs" from the "Bookmarks menu" and you'll be able to bookmark all open tabs in the current window. This feature comes in very handy, especially for corporations in specific industries, when you consider the following:

Home Page

Here you are able to specify the page (or tab group) that Firefox will show when you launch it or press the Home button. Enter the address in the Location(s) field.

Click Use Current Page(s) to use the page you're currently visiting. You can also use multiple home pages. If more than one browser tab is currently opened, this button will set the whole tab group as a start page.

To specify the home page(s) using a bookmark, click Use Bookmark.... You can even select a whole bookmark folder to be used!
For instance, if one were working for a law firm, Firefox could be set to open the firm's intranet page, a search page (google, perhaps, or Findlaw), and a page relating to the employee's work area (such as the web site for a law journal, for instance), all in separate tabs, as the "home page." Does MSIE 7 offer this ability?
RSS support: This feature is for gathering news feeds or links to news stories based on your preferences. IE 7 lists those news feeds in the browser window.
Firefox has had RSS support for some time (it creates RSS feeds as a Bookmarks folder). However, I've found Thunderbird's RSS/Atom support more useful, and more user-friendly.
It has a zoom function that adjusts text and images, so the Web page is scaled. Opera has that. Firefox doesn't.
There are extensions for Firefox that accomplish the same feat. CTRL-clicking with a mousewheel zooms the text (although not the image) size, and extensions for Firefox allow images to be zoomed as well. In fact, there are entire extensions devoted to dealing with images, including the ability to hide images, reload images (that failed to load upon initially loading the page), printing images, editing images, zooming images, etc.

I think that, as another blogger comments, even if Firefox doesn't come with IE 7's "dazzling new innovations" from Microsoft (tm), you can find extensions, free of charge, that let you accomplish the same tasks, if not more. And these extensions are, in essence, Firefox's trump card over Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Microsoft's IE7 browser preview fails to impress | IndyStar.com


Blizzard vs. Nor'Easter

One of my pet peeves is the improper use of vocabulary, and bad grammar. Unfortunately, the reporters over at News 12 Westchester set both of these pet peeves off. I sent this e-mail to News 12 Westchester, Cablevision's Channel 12 news service, in response to their confusing and freely interchanging the terms "blizzard," "winter storm," and "Nor'Easter":

Dear News 12 Westchester:

Your reporters, throughout the day, are intermingling the terms "blizzard," "winter storm," and "Nor'Easter." It is my understanding that this storm meets the definition for a blizzard, and not a Nor'Easter.  According to weatherquests.com, a Nor'Easter is
A cyclonic storm occurring off the east coast of North America. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto Atlantic beaches, often causing beach erosion and structural damage. Wind gusts associated with these storms can exceed hurricane force in intensity. A nor'easter gets its name from the continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas. www.weatherquests.com/services/knowledge/glossary/
wikipedia defines a Nor'Easter as
  • Nor'easter is a colloquial term for a storm whose winds come from the northeast, especially in the coastal areas of the northeastern United States. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nor'easter
  • Since the current storm has come from the west and not from northeast winds, and we're not seeing the devastating erosion to the beaches that we would see with a typical Nor'Easter, I'd like to ask that your reporters use the correct terms in describing this storm. It's bad enough that the educational system in this country has gone to hell in a hand basket; it's even worse that the media perpetrates incorrect usage of vocabulary and grammar.

    Thank you for your time and kind cooperation.

    Yours truly,
    Peter C. Frank
    Rye Brook, NY

    The digout begins

    My sister and her boyfriend begin digging out from all the snow. Local news reports, for the first time, that pavement has been spotted. . . .

    More Snow

    Metro North Railroad is experiencing difficulties (from their web site):

    MTA Metro-North Railroad


    February 12, 2006 10:42 AM

    Because of weather-related problems, service has been temporarily suspended on the Harlem Line.

    Metro-North is running bi-hourly (every two hours) local diesel service on the New Haven Line. Next trains leave at 11:55 AM from New Haven and 11:40 AM from Grand Central.

    Hudson Line trains are running on a regular Sunday schedule.

    Weather related delays are possible.We will keep you updated on service throughout the day.

    To give you an idea of the types of problems that Metro North is experiencing, the New Haven line, where they're running bi-hourly diesel trains, is normally an electric train system, utilizing overhead catenary power line system.

    My neighbors across the street. The fuzziness of the image is actually being caused by all the snow that is still coming down, which my phone camera can't quite pick up because of its poor resolution.


    So, here's the current update on the blizzard we're having (they're calling it a Nor'Easter but ... it's really a blizzard, since this storm came from the west, not the ocean):

    All bus service in Westchester County is canceled for the day.

    School districts are already posting closings for tomorrow.

    News 12 Westchester has a listing of all worship/educational/business closings that have been posted to date.

    Front yard and across the street.

    A trip

    So I just got back from Mohegan Sun, a casino located on an Indian Reservation in Connecticut (this is the thing now in the Northeast -- open a casino on an Indian Reservation to get around the state's anti-gambling laws). But Mohegan Sun is more than just a casino -- it's an experience! They offer great shopping, great eats, great sleeps, events and entertainment, great pampering, meeting and convention space, socializing and, of course, gambling! Oh, and get this ... they also have a nightlife (cue Alicia Bridges -- I love the nightlife, I got to boogie, on the disco 'round oh yeah!)!

    Speaking of gambling, I swiped my player's club card through their promotion thingee setup and won $100 -- just for swiping my card through a machine! Not bad, right? I actually came out ahead this trip. The trip cost me $35 -- that $35 included round trip bus fare, a $10 gambling credit, and a $10 credit for food or merchandise, or entry into one of the four buffets that they have for free (tip not included, of course). I lost about $40 at the slots, so if you take away $40 plus the $35 it cost me for the trip, I still came out $25 ahead (if I did the math right), considering that I got the $100 from their promotions.

    But I think one of the best parts of this trip was the company. You see, the trip was organized by The LOFT, the Hudson Valley's LGBT community services center. The entire trip was LGBT oriented, from the fabulously sensational (and expert at her profession) bus driver, "ET," who managed to get us up there and back safely (and considering that we drove into what essentially was a blizzard on the way back, that's no small feat!), to the organizer, "Cynthia," who had us playing gay gaymes on the way up (like Gay Trivia) and watching gay-oriented cinema on the bus no the way back (Mr. & Mrs. Smith -- which had the lesbians salivating over Angelina Jolie, while the gay men were busy drooling over Brad Pitt). I met a few new people and made the beginnings of a friendship (hey L, M, and S!), and saw a few old friends, as well (hi J&J, Y&K!).

    So all in all I had a blast. My only regret was that I didn't bring my bottle of Aleve with me -- I was desperately needing it by the end of the evening!

    Oh, and for all those of you who can't get "I love the nightlife" out of your head, I do apologize. Maybe this will help you out....