2006-09-30

A short cut to my arrogant wisdom

The URL for this blog can be a mouthful. So I made it easier to get here.

Now, you can get to Cromely's World by going directly to www.cromely.net

It also works with www.cromely.org

The .com address was not available.

This Blog is still hosted on the Blogger (Blogspot) servers. In fact, the "true" address remains they same. There is no need to change your bookmarks. The new address simply redirects your browser to www.cromely.blogspot.com.

I registered the name through www.1and1.com , a web hosting service. They are the same folks who host www.playcole.com and the system have been fairly easy to use. The do personal and business hosting. If you want your own webspace or personal URL, they are worth checking out.

2006-09-29

Studio 60 Could be a hit




The first 10 minutes of the pilot for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip represent the best opening sequence for any new show ever.

If Aaron Sorkin can keep up the writing, this show will be on for years. It's tight. The performances are excellent. And the camera work in engaging.

The West Wing may be my favorite show of all time; but I'm not sure. When it was on the air, I would always forget how good it was. But then I would sit down in front of TiVo and watch all the accumulated episodes in a single sitting. I couldn't get away.

Studio 60 has a similar pacing, but a more claustrophobic feel. It features a similar writing style and defective characters. But the characters here are aware they are not saving the world; they're just trying to make good TV.

Matthew Perry is not Chandler in this show. Bradley Whitford is not...well, okay, he's still Josh Lyman, but it's a less forlorn Josh Lyman. And that's not so much Bradley's fault as it is Aaron Sorkin's style.

The wild card in this show is how NBC feels about the attack on Saturday Night Live. The speech that Judd Hirsch's character gives at the opening of the show is not only an attack on TV in general, but is an open assault of the quality of NBC icon Saturday Night Live. The speech is available on IMDB.

SNL used to be an edgier show. The jokes pushed the limits in a more intelligent way. The political commentary had depth. Now, even the venerable Weekend Update is little more than Bush is dumb jokes. This past season was better. I think we have the guys from The Lonely Island to thank for that. But it's been lagging for years. Perhaps the recent reshuffling of the cast will bring some growth to the show.

But Studio 60 is definitely poking SNL with a stick. Will SNL wake up and respond with actual smart humor? Or will it just whine to NBC execs to take away that stick?

Check out Jon's rave on Studio 60.

2006-09-28

Book Reviews: Index

Book Review 01: Some days you just can’t get rid of a demon

Practical Demon Keeping
Christopher Moore

Book Review 02: What do you do when the gods mess with your life?

Cayote Blue
Christopher Moore

Book Review 03: And my head didn't hurt too much

Dance Dance Dance
Haruki Murakami

Book Review 04: An Obsession in Soil

The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.
William Alexander

Book Review 05: Cue the Chase Music

All Families are Psychotic
Douglas Coupland

Book Review 06: You Mean That's It?

The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami

Book Review 07: Free Markets Gone Nuts

Jennifer Government
Max Barry


Book Review 08: What is Data?

Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson


Book Review 09: Want to See What I Wrote?

The Art of Creative Nonfiction
Lee Gutkind

Book Review 10: A Book on Books

Library: An Unquiet History
Matthew Battles


Book Review 11: Drugs and Existential Crises

A Scanner Darkly
Phillip K. Dick


Book Review 12: Short Stories on a Long Night

Tokyo Canceled
Rana Dasgupta


Book Review 13: Flow and Gel

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
Tom DeMarco
Timothy Lister

Book Review 14: A Great Character Study

Indecision
Benjamin Kunkel


Book Review 15: Two Books in One
Star Trek Memories
William Shatner

Book Review 16: What it means to Act

I am not Spock
Leonard Nimoy

Book Review 17: A story of recovery
The Longest Trek
Grace Lee Whitney

Book Review 18: About the movies

Star Trek Movie Memories
William Shatner

Book Review 19: Sorry about that
I am Spock
Leonard Nimoy

Book Review 20: New frontiers

Beyond Uhura
Nichelle Nichols

Book Review 21: A whale of a tale

Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
Christoper Moore


Book Review 22: A fun, absurd mystery
The Big Over Easy
Jasper Fforde


Book Review 23: Language like 20 year-old Balsamic Vinegar
Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami


Book Review 24: American Cinema, Andrew Jackson, and More
Take the Cannoli
Sarah Vowell


Book Review 25: What's the point?

Tokyo Suckerpunch: A Billy Chaka Adventure
Isaac Adamson


Book Review 26: An important idea
The Long Tail: Why the Future Is Selling Less of More
Chris Anderson

Book Review 27: Awesome Sci-Fi Thriller


Infected
Scott Sigler


Book Review 28: Surprisingly Deep

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Chuck Klosterman

Book Review 29: Seattle -- Demon Hunting Ground

The Iron Hunt
Marjorie M. Liu

Book Review 30: Compelling Hollywood mystery

Gone
Jonathan Kellerman

Book Review 31: How to become wealthy

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

Book Review 32: Bedtime Stories

Asleep
Banana Yoshimoto

Book Review 33: Omnes Mundum Facimus

Bad Monkeys
Matt Ruff

Book Review 34: Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson


Book Review 35: Up Till Now
Up Till Now
William Shatner

Book Review 36: Beam Me Up, Scotty

Beam Me Up, Scotty
James Doohan

Book Review 37: Warped Factors -- A Neurotic's Guide to the Universe

Warped Factors
Walter Koenig

Book Review 38: To The Stars

To The Stars
George Takei

Book Review 39: Just a Geek

Just a Geek
Wil Wheaton

Book Review 40: The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Christopher Moore

Book Review 41: Spook Country

Spook Country
William Gibson

Book Review 42: Watchmen

Watchmen
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Book Review 43: Contagious

Contagious
Scott Sigler

Book Review 44: Prelude to Foundation

Prelude to Foundation
Isaac Asimov

Book Review 45: After Dark

After Dark
Haruki Murakami


Book Review 46: Lamb. The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore

Book Review 47: Dacing Barefoot

Dancing Barefoot
Wil Wheaton

Book Review 48: Get a Life

Get a Life
William Shatner

Book Review 49: Acting and Other Flying Lessons 
Acting and Other Flying Lessons
Gary Graham

Book Review 50: The Fourth Bear

The Fourth Bear
Jasper Fforde

Book Review 51: The Traveler

The Traveler
John Twelve Hawks

Book Review 52: The Stupidest Angel

The Stupidest Angel
Christopher Moore

Book Review 53: Darkness Calls
Darkness Call
Marjorie M. Liu

Book Review 54: The Eyre Affair
The Eyre Affair
Jasper Fforde

Book Review 55: Soon I Will Be Invincible
Soon I Will Be Invincible
Austin Grossman

Book Review 56: Blind Willow Sleeping Woman
Blind Willow Sleeping Woman
Haruki Murakami

Book Review 57: Only the Paranoid Survive
Only the Paranoid Survive
Andew Grove


Book Review 58: Count Zero
Count Zero
William Gibson


Book Review 59: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick


Book Review 60: Tales from the Captain's Table
Tales from the Captain's Table
Keith R. A. DeCandido


Book Review 61: The View from the Bridge
The View from the Bridge
Nicholas Meyer


Book Review 62: The Happiest Days of our Lives
The Happiest Days of our Lives
Wil Wheaton


Book Reveiew 63: Outliers
Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell


Book Review 64: The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman


Book Review 65: Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as told by Lisabeth Shatner
Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as told by Lisabeth Shatner
Lisabeth Shatner


Book Review 66: iWoz
iWoz: How I invented the personal computer, co-founded Apple, and had fun doing it
Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith

Book Review 67: The Dark River
The Dark River
John Twelve Hawkes

Book Review 68: Rapture of the Geeks
Rapture of the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ
Richard Dooling

Book Review 69: DIY U
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
Anya Kamenetz

Book Review 70: Blood Sucking Fiends
Blood Sucking Fiends
Christopher Moore

Book Review 71: A Dirty Job
A Dirty Job
Christopher Moore

Book Review 72: Ready Player One
Ready Player One
Ernie Cline

Book Review 73: Social Marketing to the Business Customer
Social Marketing to the Business Customer: Listen to you B2B Market, Generate Major Account Leads, and Build Client Relationships
Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman

I Haven't Been Everywhere -- Yet

I found the lyrics for the well know Johnny Cash song on Twin-Music.Com.

I haven't finished the list yet, but I've been to a distrubingly large number of these place.

The places in red are where I may have trod in Johnny's footsteps. Right now, I've got about 27 out of 90 (30%), though I may have missed a few. I think I've got a destination or two not on his list, as well.

Next week: The Comfort Inn version of the song.

Johnny Cash
I've Been Everywhere
Written by - Geoff Mack
From - Unchained


I was totin' my pack along the long dusty Winnamucka road
When along came a semi with a high canvas covered load
If your goin' to Winnamucka, Mack, with me you can ride
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand
And I said, 'Listen! I've traveled every road in this here land'

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel...I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to
Reno
Chicago
Fargo
Minnesota
Buffalo

Toronto
Winslow
Sarasota
Wichita
Tulsa
Ottawa
Oklahoma
Tampa
Panama
Mattua
La Paloma
Bangor
Baltimore
Salvador
Amarillo
Tocapillo
Pocotello
Amperdello
I'm a killer

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel...I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to:
Boston
Charleston
Dayton
Lousiana
Washington
Houston

Kingston
Texas County
Monterey
Fairaday
Santa Fe
Tollaperson
Glen Rock
Black Rock
Little Rock
Oskaloussa
Tennessee
Tinnesay
Chickapee
Spirit Lake
Grand Lake
Devil's Lake
Crater Lake
For Pete's sake

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel...I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to
Louisville
Nashville
Knoxville
Omerback
Shereville
Jacksonville
Waterville
Costa Rock
Richfield
Springfield
Bakersfield
Shreveport
Hackensack
Cadallac
Fond du Lac
Davenport
Idaho
Jellico
Argentina
Diamondtina
Pasadena
Catalina
See what I mean

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel...I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to
Pittsburgh
Parkersburg
Gravelburg
Colorado
Ellisburg
Rexburg

Vicksburg
El Dorado
Larimore
Adimore
Habastock
Chadanocka
Shasta
Nebraska
Alaska

Opalacka
Baraboo
Waterloo
Kalamazoo
Kansas City
Sioux City
Cedar City
Dodge City
What a pity

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel...I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

2006-09-27

Book Review 06: You mean that’s it?

A good book is like travel. Sometimes it's not the final destination that matters. It's the journey itself.

To really appreciate a Haruki Murakami novel it's important to adopt that perspective. I enjoy his writing, characters, and stories but often am frustrated at the end. They just stop. The main character comes to a certain growth point, and Murakami walks away from the plot and stops. He often doesn't tie up the loose ends or explain exactly what happened. Presumably it's not important.



The Elephant Vanishes is a collection of Murakami short stories. They all have his unmistakable tone and style.

Some of them have the same frustrating ending. A few are more traditional and wrap up nicely.

Despite the frustrations, I did enjoy the book immensely and have no problem recommending it. Just be prepared for more deliberate loose ends than pair of leather pants with fringe.

One thing that is fairly common in Murakami's novels is that characters are very accepting of their situation. They don't question things, but drift with the current and do what they're supposed to do. This passage is the epitome of Murakami:

Stretched out in the back seat, long and stiff as a dead fish, was a Remington automatic shotgun. Its shells rustled dryly in the pocket of my wife's windbreaker. We had two black ski masks in the glove compartment. Why my wife owned a shotgun, I have no idea. Or ski masks. Neither of us had ever skied. But she didn't explain, and I didn't ask. Married life is weird, I felt.

Page 44

The book is filled with lines like that. And lines like that are why I keep reading Murakami books.

As I put this review together, and as I thought more about the stories, Murakami's main theme became clear. It became clear in a way that may not be evident from individual stories. The last story in the book, the one the title comes from, is the pure essence of Murakami. If you want to see what he writes about, you can start there. Or go to the end of this review and start reading backwards.

Murakami is writing about loneliness. His characters are alone, some through loss, some through poor choices, and most because that is the way they are. They can have a family, friends, and coworkers, and still be completely alone.

They characters throughout these stories are looking for a genuine heart-to-heart connection with someone or something in this world. And often, they can't quite find it.

The characters all exist apart from the rest of the world. Many of them seem normal enough, but they are all damaged in some way. And that makes them different.

Unlike many authors, though, Murakami doesn't seem to say that this happens to everyone. He's not telling the reader that everyone feels this way. His main characters all have this in common, and that makes them extraordinary and special. And rarely do they get to experience true happiness.

There's a great deal that could be written about this, and what he is trying to say about late 20 century society, but that will have to wait for another time. The Elephant Vanishes is a collection of short stories, and here they are:

01. The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women

The first story in the book is also a chapter from Murakami's best know novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. It sets the tone and fleshes out some important characters quickly. Nothing really happens here. Or at least nothing that gets resolved. But descriptions are vivid, and you want to know more about these people.

02. The Second Bakery Attack

In the second story of the book, a husband and wife fine themselves starving one night. The husband tells the story of when he and a friend in high school robbed a bakery.

"I don't get it." She looked hard at me. Her eyes could have been searching for a faded star in the morning sky. "Why didn't you get a job? You could have worked after school. That would have been easier than attacking bakeries."

"We didn't want to work. We were absolutely clear on that."

"Well you're working now, aren't you?"

I nodded and sucked some more beer. Then I rubbed my eyes. A kind of beery mud had oozed into my brain and was struggling with my hunger pangs.

Page 40

The wife decides it sounds like a good idea and the story unfolds. It turns a little strange toward the end, but wraps ups nicely. Like most stories, Murakami never explains how the circumstances came to be, and never really explains things in the end. But if you accept that the universe is a very strange one, and that odd things overcome people at random times, it's a fun tale.


03. The Kangaroo Communiqué



The narrator manages complaints to a department store, and one touches him deeply. He then reaches out to author of letter, because he needs to share his thoughts with someone. Something drives him to reach out and talk to another person. Not unlike the motive behind many bloggers

Ever want a definition of frustration?

It's like standing in the middle of the desert sprinkling water around with a cup.

Page 58


04. On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning



This is my favorite story in the book. Nothing really happens. It's one of the shortest stories in the book. And it's the most poignant. There's a wisp of sadness, lost opportunity, and acceptance that has the sad beauty of a comfortable blanket that will never be taken out of its packing material.

05. Sleep

I really enjoyed this story. It's the story of a woman who stops sleeping. She's not tired. She just no longer sleeps. While her family sleeps, she gets to live her life they way she likes. The ending, however, left too much up in the air. I'm glad I read it, but I wish there was another page to tell me what happened.

Here are some great lines from the story:

The odometer has over 150,000 kilometers on it. Sometimes – once or twice a month – the car is almost impossible to start. The engine simply won't catch. Still, it's not bad enough to have the thing fixed. If you baby it and let it rest for 10 minutes or so, the engine will start up with a nice, solid vroom. Oh, well, everything – everybody – gets out of whack once or twice a month. That's life.

Page 79

As I looked at the whitened flakes of chocolate from over a decade ago, I felt a tremendous urge to have the real thing. I wanted to eat chocolate while reading Anna Karenina, the way I did back then. I couldn't be denied it for another moment.

Page 90


06. The Fall of the Roman Empire, The 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds



The longest title in the book is for a story just 7 pages long. It's a story of wind, journaling, and short hand for the mind. I think there's something deeper in the story that I missed, but it's worth reading at face value.

07. Lederhosen


Lederhosen is a story of divorce and self discovery. Or, rather, the story of divorce is there to show us a number of characters.

Murakami's characters are often more interesting and important than the story itself. And he uses the structure of the story to tell us about these characters. The main characters in this story aren't even the main plot components. It's just one telling the story to another, and in the process we come to understand 4 or 5 different people.

From this story, consider:

How wonderful it was to travel by oneself, she thought as she walked along the cobblestones. In fact, this was the first time in her fifty-five years that she had traveled alone. During the whole trip, she had not once been lonely or afraid or bored. Every scene that met here eyes was fresh and new; everyone she met was friendly. Each experience called forth emotions that had been slumbering in her, untouched and unused. What she held near and dear until then – husband and home and daughter – was on the other side of the earth. She felt no need to trouble herself over them.

Page 126


08. Barn Burning

This story is a fun read. It's part relationship story and part detective story. It's fairly straightforward, except for a main character's affinity for arson. But he does have deep feelings about it so it fits in the Murakami universe.

As with most of the stories, I would have preferred more detail in the end, but I'm okay with how it wrapped up. It didn't quite leave me screaming "What the hell just happened?!"

09. The Little Green Monster


In this 5 page story about the power of negative thinking, a little green monster crawls up through the dirt to profess his love for a woman. I can't really say much more without spoiling it, but it does resolve itself fairly well. It is a sad story, however.


10. Family Affair


This story is about the relationship between a brother and sister and the way that relationship changes when she gets engaged.

A recurring them in Murakami's stories is the name Noboru Watanabe. It's the name of the fiancée in this book. It's the name of the cat in the first story of this book. And it's the name of one of the bad guys in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. When Murakami creates a character the main character will disrespect, he names that character Noboru Watanabe.

I don't know if that's a generic name, or if it's the name of someone who taunted Murakami while he was young. It crops up in several stories and books, though.

11. A Window

This is a different type of story, but it is fairly straight forward. The main character works for "The Pen Society." Members (customers) of the society write letters to the company to improve their writing skills. Employees critique these letters and respond to the members.

In this story, one particular letter captures the attention of the employee, and, when he quits the job, he takes the woman up on her invitation for a dinner of hamburger steak.

The story is really about the connections people try to make with one another. The members are mainly housewives older than 30, looking more for companions and pen pals than they are writing tips.

It's a sweet and pleasant story, about two people trying to navigate an anonymizing world.

Once we have finished surprising each other, the usual tension of a first meeting was gone. We ate our hamburger steak and drank coffee, feeling much like two would-be passengers who had missed the same train.

Page 192


12. TV People



I don't know where to begin with this story. It's about reduced size people who bring a TV to the main character. He gradually feels like he is losing his grip on the situation, but accepts what is going around him. He makes little effort to fight it. Beyond that, I don't really know what to say about this one, so I'll leave it with this thought:

My world may be crumbling, out of balance, but is that a reason to ring up her [my wife's] office?

Page 208


13. A Slow Boat to China


The narrator tells this story about three Chinese people he met over the years. One was an exam proctor. One was a girl he met at work and went dancing with. And the third he talks to as an adult. It turns out he this person was a classmate in school and the narrator barely remembers him.

It's nice story about the characters. Nothing terribly unusual or supernatural happens.


14. The Dancing Dwarf



The main character works in an elephant factory. They make elephants. Not toys or statues, but actual elephants. They take one elephant, take it apart, and built 5 new elephants from the parts.

This isn't a normal tale.

The elephant factory seems to be some sort of metaphor for deconstructing and rebuilding society. It is juxtaposed against a fascist government that overturned a monarch. Throw into the mix a renegade supernatural dancing dwarf, and you've got a story.

There is a deeper meaning in this story, and it is just beyond my ken. After several more readings, I may "get it," but not quite today. I know it's there, just the way pets can sense thunder storms in clear skies.

But to give credit to Murakami, it's a great story even without quite grasping all the deeper levels of it. It's the fascinating a story of an elephant factory, and a classic deal with the devil, like Disney's The Little Mermaid.



15. The Last Lawn of the Afternoon

In a story about working and living deliberately, Murakami tells the tale of a landscaper who quits his job when he no longer needs the money.

The main character is slower and mows fewer lawns than his coworkers, but his attention to detail makes him popular with customers and with his boss. He does the work his way. And it's not that fastest way. But it is the right way. He relishes the joy of a job well done.

His last customer is a lonely woman who is mysteriously missing her daughter, or perhaps her own youth and potential. The main character mows her lawn, and then she invites him in to talk to him.


16. The Silence

Here is a story of junior high and high school battles that continue haunting people into their later years.

Two business colleagues are in an airport bar waiting for a flight and start talking about their youth. One of them tells the story of his relationship with Aoki. Aoki was a bully, but not in the classical sense for men. His bullying took on a decidedly more feminine approach, at least in the western context. He was popular and he manipulated people. He could cut off all of person's friends and companions. He would lie in wait for years, plotting the perfect revenge. He didn't need to beat anyone up. He could destroy them, or try to, in other ways. The story is about how easily people succumb to the manipulation

"No, what really scares me is how easily, how uncritically, people will believe the crap that slime like Aoki deal out. How these Aoki types produce nothing themselves, don't have an idea in the world, and talk so nice, how this slime can sway gullible types to any opinion and get them to perform on cue, as a group. And this group never entertains even a sliver of doubt that they could be wrong. They think nothing of hurting someone, senselessly, permanently. They don't take any responsibility for their actions. Them. They're the real monsters. They're the ones I have nightmares about. In those dreams, there's only the silence. And these faceless people. Their silence seeps into everything like ice water. And then it all goes murky. And I'm dissolving and I'm screaming, but no one hears."

Page 305


17. The Elephant Vanishes

A town adopts an elephant. And it disappears, along with its old handler. It doesn't appear to have run off, or even left its compound, but nevertheless, it is gone.

In this story the narrator tells about his obsession with the elephant story, and his own tale of how it vanished. Without going into detail, it, of course involved the supernatural.

This is the quintessential Murakami story. The narrator is a single man in his thirties. He is outsider and somewhat disconnected from normal life and society. He's a bit of a loner. He has a decent job (marketing appliances) that he is good at but has absolutely no passion for. He meets an attractive woman and they talk.

The story has the beautiful writing and phrasing I've come to expect from Murakami, and the characters just seem to accept what goes on around them.

I joined the crowd at the elephant-house dedication ceremonies. Standing before the elephant, the mayor delivered a speech (on the town's development and the enrichment of its cultural facilities); one elementary-school pupil, representing the student body, stood up to read a composition ("Please live a long and healthy life, Mr. Elephant"); there was a sketch contest (sketching the elephant thereafter became an integral component of the pupils' artistic education); and each of two young women in swaying dresses (neither of whom was especially good-looking) fed the elephant a bunch of bananas. The elephant endured these virtually meaningless (for the elephant, entirely meaningless) formalities with hardly a twitch, and it chomped on the bananas with a vacant stare. When it finished eating the bananas, everyone applauded.

Page 312

And if there was any doubt that this story epitomizes Murakami's work – the elephant handler's name is Noboru Watanabe.

2006-09-25

If this is news to the PI, they have deeper problems than their financial issues

Apparently, the Seattle PI has just discovered the concpet of Emotional Intelligence.

I'm not a big fan of that name for the concept. The idea of redefining intelligence seems focused on telling peson they are as smart as anybody, just in a different way. But that's a rant for another time.

This article is on the main homepage for the Seattle PI. Not only is it on the home page, it's in the section with the major headlines for the day.

It's between "Walkout causes long delays at border" and "Coroner: Suspect says she drowned kids".

But here are some clips from the article. None of this seems new, though. Do companies really promote leadership solely because they did a good job as an indivdual performer without considering their other skills?

Empathy pays off at work
The faster business gets, the greater the need to read emotions in a snap

By ERICA NOONANTHE BOSTON GLOBE

In this job market, it's not just who you know, or even what skills you've mastered. It's how well you understand other people that will get you ahead.

This is the age of emotional intelligence, often called EQ, and today's hiring managers want proof you've got it.

...

EQ comprises a collection of so-called "soft" skills, including self-awareness, an understanding of how your mood and behavior affect others; impulse control, including how you manage stress on the job; initiative, whether you can be counted on to report to work on time, manage your own time and meet expectations; and the ability to motivate and lead others.
...
Job applicants, especially those for executive-level positions, should be prepared to be quizzed on their EQ. Typical subjects include behavioral-type questions about how they coped with a past workplace challenge, managed a personality conflict or helped a team project succeed.

Even someone fresh out of college should be ready to demonstrate these skills, perhaps by describing how they managed a fraternity fundraiser, met school newspaper deadlines or trained a group of summer lifeguards, Mobley said.
...
A 1997 study conducted by the Hay Research and Innovation Group, an EQ consulting and testing company, showed computer sales reps hired especially for their emotional skills were 90 percent more likely to complete training than those hired on other criteria.

Another Hay study from the same year showed insurance agents who scored weakly on empathy, self-confidence and initiative sold policy premiums worth 50 percent less than agents who scored better in those areas.

Let's stop right there for a moment. This news article is based on two studies from 9 years ago.

If the information is 9 years old, and was public at the time, it's not news.

And these are the hints for demonstrating your EQ:
  • Pay attention to buzzwords
  • Know yourself
  • Demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Never fib about anything.
  • Send a thank you note.


Do people even use the word "fib" anymore?

Maybe this belongs in an article for recent graduates, but I certianly don't consider it newsworthy enough to be fourth most important story of the morning in Seattle.

2006-09-24

More Phishing Scams

When you receive and email "from your bank" asking you to click on a link, the experts recomend you do not do it. It is probably a scam.

A few years ago, these fake emails were easy to spot. They often had apalling grammar. It was obvious they were not professionally done. However, they've gotten better. I'm including one below that I just received. Again, THIS IS A SCAM

FROM: Chase Online [service@chase.server1.com ]
SUBJECT: Alert: Account Locked!

Account Locked !

Dear Chase Member,

Due to the number of incorrect login attempts, your Chase Account has been locked for your security. This has been done to secure your accounts and to protect your private information in case the login attempts were not done by you.. At Chase Bank we care about your security so, for your protection we are proactively notifying you of this activity. If you did not trigger this lockout, follow this link to Log on to your Chase Online Account :
Click here to unlock your account
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you for using Chase!

There are a couple of red flags here. First, you financial institution will probably never ask you do do anything by clicking a link in the email. If get an email like this, and think it might be legit, open a new browser window and type the address for your financial institution. Do not follow the link.

If you click on the link above, it will take you to Google. In the original email, though, it would take you to this address:


ht_tp://_ww_w.chase.accountlocked.com_/colappmgr/colportal/prospect.php?_nfpb=change_form

I added some extra underscores so to break the link.

It looks like a chase link. But it doesn't take you to a chase site. Chase may operate at www.chase.com, but this takes you to a chase page on the site accountlocked.com. That is not chase.

You can see more information about this site by visitin www.whois.net

Here is the link to the registration information for the page:

http://whois.net/whois_new.cgi?d=accountlocked.com

It looks like some guy in Colorado registered this address on 2006-09-23. I do not know if the owner of the address is the one attempting this fraud, or if the owner himself has been hacked. Regardless, it's certainly not owned by chase.

The email address should send up a similar flag. It doesn't come from chase.com. It comes from server1.com, which, according to www.whois.net is registered to a company in the Cayman Islands.

The Internet is a powerful tool, but like the real world, it pays to be careful out there.

2006-09-23

Perfect Travelling Companions

I have't met these road warriors, but they appear to be an interesting lot.

Not all Frequent Flyers are human...

"I'm Sheep"





"World Wide Willard"





"journal of sheep and moocow and other stuffed animals"






"Mattis the toy lizard from New Zealand "






Are there others?

2006-09-22

The Beauty of the Internet

At a time of increasing world hostility and confict, where world leaders argue over name calling and back massages, it's nice to see people sharing their skills and talents across the internet.

Back in March, I commented on how the Nigerians had exported their unique technical skills to the Iraqis:

The Nigerians have become Iraqis

Now, they have taken their mission to Europe, and now the Nigerians have even become the British.

Make no mistake about, though -- THIS IS A SCAM. Do not send them money or bank info. Do not click on their links. Do not visit their sites. Do not call them. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Again -- THIS IS A SCAM



From Johnny Powell Chambers
Johnny Powell & Associates

13 Dale House

LondonSE162PT

United Kingdom

Your kind Attention,

I am Johnny Powell an attorney to Christian Eicht Mason, a deceased Immigrant. property magnate who was based in the U.K., Also referred to as my client.On the 25th of July 2000, my client, his wife and their two Children died in the Air France concord plane crash bound for New York in their plan for a world cruise,http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/859479.stm

Since then I have been managing his properties here in the U.K. and some of his properties, which he put out for sale. Which I monitored the payment as his attorney, has been bought and paid for. Now the money paid was deposited into his Local account here. I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money and property left behind by my client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by his bank.

Particularly, the bank has issued me a notice to provide any of his next of kin or have the account confiscated within a short time.My late client has an account valued at 15.5 million dollars. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for some time now, and with the bank giving me deadline, I now seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased, so that the proceeds of this account valued at 15.5 million dollars can be paid to you and then you, and I can share the money. 50% to me and 40%for you and 10% for miscellaneous expenses that might arise. I have all necessary information that can be used to back up any Claim we may make.
All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us see this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

Trust me, as his attorney, this is a risk-free relationship.Please get in touch with me by alternative my email johnnypowell_147@yahoo.co.uk and send me your full names and address,telephone and fax numbers to enable us discuss further about this transaction.

Best regards,
Johnny Powell

2006-09-21

Shatner-Palooza: A Career in 1:41

This is the opening montage of the recent Comedy Central Shatner roast.

Be sure to see William Shatner as a Native American Warrior at 35 seconds.



2006-09-20

Why can't everything stay they same, except the things I want to see changed? Is that too much too ask?

Due to various scheduling items, I am in Helena, MT right now.

I lived here from 1989 to 1995 while I went to Carroll College. I stayed around a couple years after graduation. Since moving away, I've probably been back 4 or 5 times, but that last time was in August of 2000.

Since then, the town has gotten bigger. There are new buildings on the campus I don't recognize. But they houses I rented are still there, and my tree is still out there on Canyon Ferry Lake.

The Mini-Mart I sometimes went to at 3:00 AM while working at Blue Cross/Blue Shield is now a Starbucks.. The Taco Bell I wrote about in April has also become a Starbucks. I can deal with that.

But the bastards tore down the Country Kitchen I spent hours in with friends over the years.

Trips to Helena always make my head spin with nostalgia. They also tend to get me thinking about hundreds of different topics, and no good can come from that.

But I'm glad I'm here. I look forward to seeing it in the day light.

2006-09-19

So Many Bad Jokes begging to be let out of one headline

Blind inventor killed crossing Oregon highway
He created curb markers to help sight-impaired navigate streets

GLIDE, Ore. -- A blind man who invented curbside markers to help the sight-impaired was struck and killed while crossing a highway, the authorities said.

I should have stayed in bed

By no means the worst day I've had at work, but probably in the top 25.

This is kind of how most of the day went:

2006-09-18

To Improve Pedestrian Safety, Seattle removes crosswalks.


After a spate of pedestrian deaths at crosswalks in recent years, the city of Seattle has decided it is safer to remove cross walks.

Bumper to Bumper
Disappearing crosswalk A growing "rush hour"

By Charles E. Brown
Seattle Times staff reporter

Marked crosswalks can create a false sense of safety for pedestrians, and removing those crosswalks indicates that those places are not preferred places to cross, says department spokesman Gregg Hirakawa. When a driver stops for someone crossing a busy four-lane street, a second driver could roll by in the next lane and hit the pedestrian.

By state law, however, every intersection is an "unmarked" crosswalk. So, it's still OK — and legal — to cross there, Hirakawa says.

Basically, marked crosswalks will become unmarked crosswalks because it's safer that way. Why is it safer? Because pedestrians will not think it's safe.

I'm not sure if this is incredibly brilliant or incredibly stupid. But I don't see drivers stopping for pedestrians at unmarked crosswalks any more than they did at marked ones.

2006-09-17

Hours are about to disapper from my life

As technology has improved and computer processors have gotten faster and smaller one of two things happens to video games. You can either make them really complex with amazing life-like graphics. Or you can make them really small.

That's what Namco has done with some classic Atari games. Games used to require huge physical space. Now, those large arcade games of the past fit in the palm of your hand.

I just picked up this 5-in-1 classic game controller at Target today. The Namco Original Arcade TV Games Video Game System plugs right into the TV and has 5 arcade games built in. These games are the original arcade games with their original code, squeezed into a small space. In short, it is awesome for anyone who grew up playing these games.

This controller has the classic Ms Pac Man (much harder than Pac Man), Pole Position (it was great to play in the arcade in the sit down console), Galaxian (Space Invader on steroids), Mappy (what the hell is this?), and Xevious.

I bought it for Xevious alone.

Xevious is one of the original scroll and shoot video games. It was also the first arcade game that had it's own TV commercial. According to Wikipedia, it was a cult favorite in Japan. It was never quite as big in the US, but the game still popped up from time to time.

It has simple, yet compelling, game play and sucks the player right in. The graphics are amazing for the early 80s, and are not bad for today.

One summer in the mid-eighties, we went to Florida for a week. On the last day, we had some time to kill. We stayed at the Days Inn in Orlando, and they had a small arcade on the first floor. And, of course, they had the full size arcade Xevious. I have no idea how long I actually played the game, or how many quarters I dropped in, but it seems like a lot. While I played all the major games, only four grapped my attention quite like this. Xevious, Dragon's Lair, Jump Bug, and the original line drawn Star Wars arcade game. That afternoon, though, it was all abut Xevious.

And, while I never knew the name of the game until today, I always remembered the game play and the zone I could slip into.

Tonight, playing it on the TV, I went right back into the zone, and 20 years just disappeared.

2006-09-16

World's Ugliest Airplane due in Seattle


This modified 747 is a key element in Boeing's new 787 program.

The idea is to outsource manufacturing of various component to factories in Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere. Then Boeing can fly the components to it's factory in Everett for final assembly.

The article raises some interesting points about globalization. But here's what I find interesting about this program.

  1. This freighter really is the ugliest plane in the world. Except for this one.
  2. Boeing outsourced the conversion of the 747. Apparently, Boeing did not feel that Boeing was the best company rebuild 4 Boeing jets and change them into special purpose Boeing freighters.
  3. Mitsubishi is one of the major suppliers for the 787. Mitsubishi has a long history as an airplane company. If I'm not mistaken, Mitsubishi built much of Japan's WWII airforce. And since then all major aircraft manufacturing has been in the US and Europe. Now, it's growing in Brasil (Embraer) and Canada (Bombardier). Is it really in Boeing's best interest to spread aircraft engineering expertise around the world?
  4. It's going to be awesome seeing this beast over the mountains of the Northwest.
  5. There's is something mildly creepy about this one aircraft disgoring parts for another aircraft.
  6. I hope they paint it pretty.

2006-09-13

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Unfortunately, neither I nor Play Cole had anything to do with this.

The creator has:

a) A brilliant sense of humor
b) An incredible amount of patience
c) Way too much time on his/her hands
d) All of the above



A Different Perspective 02: Gulf War Syndrome

The same story has two completely different headlines, though it seems the Time headline is more credible. This is the benefit of living in a two newspaper town.

From the Seattle PI:

No such thing as Gulf War syndrome, federal report says
By ANDREW BRIDGESTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- The unexplained symptoms that afflict thousands of Gulf War veterans don't constitute a single illness, a federally funded study concludes.

From the Seattle Times:


Panel finds there is no single "Gulf War syndrome"
By David Brown

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — An expert panel reviewing hundreds of studies has concluded there is no single "Gulf War syndrome" afflicting thousands of veterans of the first war in Iraq, although they have suffered vague symptoms at a much higher rate than other veterans.

2006-09-12

Shatner-Palooza: On Space Travel


We were basically one and the same, although Jim was just about perfect, and, of course, I am perfect.

William Shatner A.K.A Captain Kirk

I don't have a citation for that quote, other than the blog I link to, but it sounds right.

People often send me material for Shatner-palooza. This week's submission comes from mother and the New York Post.



SHATNER CAN'T FACE SPACE
By LUKAS I. ALPERT

September 8, 2006 -- On second thought, forget it, Scotty.


William Shatner has turned down a free trip to space aboard air-travel tycoon Richard Branson's inaugural Virgin Galactic flight in 2008 - because he's afraid of space travel.

The Virgin craft, Enterprise, is named after the starship that Shatner's character, Captain Kirk, helmed in the '60s TV show.

"I'm interested in man's march into the unknown, but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash," Shatner told London's Daily Mail.

"Alien" star Sigourney Weaver has booked a seat on the flight.



Okay, the man's got a point. It could be an unpleasant trip. But, come on. Is Shatner the great going to be outdone by Sigourney Weaver? That's just not right.

2006-09-11

No Tag Needed

I'm sitting in the Alaska Boardroom at SEA as I write this, waiting for a flight Denver. It's the first time I've flown on 9/11 since, well, 9/11. I never made an effort to stay on the ground on this day over the last 5 years, but haven't minded it either.

The lines at the ticket counters aren't too long, but security is backed up. They didn't open all the lines so there are major backups at the check points.

I don't really have a 9/11 story. Sure, I was annoyed wondering why my phone was ringing off the hook before 8:AM that morning; once I saw the news, I was no longer annoyed at the phone. And while I was trying to call into NYC, there was the error message from Verizon, indicating that all lines were busy because of a torndado. I suppose they have only so many busy messages. But I don't have a story.

My mother worked in the WTC area, though, and was one block away when the planes hit. Here is her story:


It was a beautifully clear September day, giving just a hint of fall. I don’t know why I accepted that the first plane crashing into the tower was an accident.

I was in the Easy Spirit store on John Street and Broadway. I heard a loud thump. It sounded to me like a car crash, or something was dropped from a truck. There was a lot of digging and road repair going on at the time. The salespeople in the store didn’t pay much attention either.

Then we saw people running from Broadway. It was like a scene from a Godzilla movie. One of the people opened the door, looked up and saw the tower ablaze. Someone outside said it looked like it was going to blow. They decided to close the store and get out of there. I took my credit card and left.

I walked quickly down John Street, not realizing the full impact. When I heard that a plane had crashed into the tower, I thought at first that it was just a rumor and that if it was true, it was not that serious since a plane had once crashed into the Empire State Building. Around Nassau Street I looked to my right and saw all the papers floating in the air around Maiden Lane. Later, people said it looked like a ticker tape parade.

Around Cliff Street I realized that I had a camera in my bag. I unwrapped it and took a few pictures. Again, I didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation. I went about my business in the usual way.

I stopped in the lobby of my building, got the papers and went up to the office. I dropped my bag at my desk and was about to deliver the papers when I decided to look out the window on the other side of the floor where there was a crowd watching the fire. I got about halfway there when there was another thump (this one shook the building) and Rose said another plane went into the other tower. This was definitely a terrorist attack.

I decided to leave when Dave came around and told everyone to go home. We walked down 21 flights of stairs (I was afraid of a power failure that would stop the elevator). Of course, being New Yorkers, we all milled around outside the building. Some of the ladies had children working in the Trade Center and were understandably upset. Everything worked out well for them, their children ran right to our building. Seema came around that time and told us she had seen the second plane hit.

After a short while I decided to leave to go home. Actually I was afraid that the towers would fall, causing a domino effect, right across the island. I started walking uptown, not wanting to take the subway which might lose power. I thought of going to Cooking by the Book, or Joy’s, but I wanted off the island and thought if I stopped, I might not be able to move.

I guess I was around Chinatown or Little Italy when I turned around and saw people jumping from the first tower. Then a little further I heard a rumbling and just ran. It was there that I found someone’s cell phone which I picked up. After the rumbling, there was quiet, then someone said, “They’re gone”. That’s all.

I was convinced that I had to get home, even if I had to walk all the way. On the way to Grand Central I realized that I had to pass the Empire State Building, the UN. I realized the terrorists were aiming for symbols of NY and our country.

Along the way, people had car radios and store radios turned up so we could hear reports. I heard about the Pentagon and a rumor about the Washington Monument and White House. I hadn’t heard about the crash in Pennsylvania.

On my way up 42nd Street, passing the Hyatt Hotel next to Grand Central, I heard a doorman tell someone he was in the most dangerous place – midtown Manhattan.

Of course, there was a crowd outside Grand Central. I waited there for a while, then saw some F-14’s in the sky. Eventually they started running trains and I got one of the first ones out of the city. This was about 12:30. I got the first or second train out, went as far as White Plains North, then got another train. It was a local, but I didn’t care – I was going home. I got home about 3:30.

I remember seeing a cartoon in one of the papers that says it all. It pictures a woman hailing a taxi. She tells the driver to take her back to September 10. I wish it were possible.

2006-09-10

2006-09-09

The Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay

I saw this on Fark. Actually, I think I saw this same list in something like 1997, but it's still great.

My Favorites:

  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.

  • He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.


2006-09-08

Life in the Garden Part 02: The Basil Crop

Back in June, I wrote about thinning my basil crop.

Over the past few months, the plants came in stong. The Lemon Basil has a wonderful citrus fragrance and tender leaves. The Genovese Basil came in hardy and strong.

So far, I've harvested significant quantities 5 or 6 times, and the plants keep growing. Like thinning, harvesting crops keeps them healthy. By trimming (and eating) the basil, is helps the plants grow bushier and stronger. If I wasn't harvesting them regularly, they would have bolted, and gone "leggy".

When that happens, the plants grow tall. The end up with long stems between leaves. Eventually that sprout little flowers, stop growing, and die. Once they flower, the leaves often lose much of their flavor because most of the plants energy is now focused on reproducing by growing seeds. Regual trimming and plucking of flowers keeps the plants producing tasty leaves for as long as possible.



Here is the Lemon Basil







And here is the Genovese Basil




2006-09-06

Someone should do their laundry


Odor from UW dorm room prompts HazMat response

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- The smell from a University of Washington dorm room was so bad it prompted a hazardous material response by the Seattle Fire Department.

...

They cleared the odor by simply opening windows.

Potential Career: Wayfinder

There really is a job for everything.


Too many people getting lost in new downtown library
Professional is hired to create directional signs


By KERY MURAKAMI
P-I REPORTER

...
Faulk is a professional "wayfinder" -- which is a fancy way of saying she makes signs. The Seattle Public Library hired her this year to help book borrowers and tourists -- especially tourists -- navigate the $170 million library, which may have included fluorescent, chartreuse escalators, but not many signs.

2006-09-05

Remember those old Obsession Ads?

Force -- The Latest Play Cole Production



It runs 49 seconds, and is safe for work (SFW).

This is the first Play Cole film I directed and edited. So tell all your friends.

See Force and all Play Cole films at PlayCole.com.

2006-09-03

Bad News for educational TV. Good News for crocodiles.

Crikey.




Australian 'crocodile hunter' Steve Irwin killed by stingray


SYDNEY (AFP) - World-renowned "crocodile hunter" and television environmentalist Steve Irwin has been killed after being stung in the chest by a stingray off northeastern Australia, police said.

A sad one. I can't say I'm totally surprised. He made a living out of working with deadly animals.

No, let me correct that. He made a life out of working with deadly animals. He did it with commitment and passion - a passion he shared with the world.

And in the end, he died doing what he loves. Outside of a few more decades, you can't ask for more than that.

Elliott Bay

I've been organizing my digital pictures lately. On reason is that I've ended up with the same picture in multiple locations and wasting disk space. As I do so, I've posting some of them to my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cromely/.

Here are some shots I took from the Seattle waterfront in 1999. I haven't done any editing.

The digital camera I used at the time didn't even have a memory card. It stored pictures in the camera itself. To transfer pictures to a notebook (and it worked only with notebook computers) you opened the back panel of the camera and slid the panel into the PCMCIA slot.









2006-09-01

Problem with someone in OH? Call them a sex offender...

...and Megan's Law registry kicks in without any proof or conviction. Don't worry, though. They can get off the public sex offender list in six years.

Link found on www.fark.com

And in the best Fark tradition -- What could possibly go wrong?


SEX OFFENDERS
Plan gains to publicly identify accused
Ohio panel backs registry proposal


COLUMBUS - An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they've never been charged with a crime.