Come on, baby don't you want to go, To the same old place, sweet home Chicago

I've been in Chicago for meetings this week. I fly out on Thursday, and my flight will be delayed because I'm leaving from O'Hare. Flights are not allowed to leave at there scheduled time from O'Hare -- ever. I think it's Homeland Security thing.

We were lucky with the weather this week. It's been warm, but not hot and muggy like you would expect June to be. There was a little drizzle, but nothing too severe. The skies really opened up on Wednesday night when I was half a block from my hotel. I got back to my room, kept the lights off, and watched the lighting zap across the sky.

We did got to a Cubs game. And, as you would expect, the lost. They were doing well for most of the game, but just fell apart in last innings. Brewers 8, Cubs 5.

But Wrigley is a great park. It's right in the middle of a neighborhood. If you've seen it on TV, you may have noticed the apartment buildings across the street. People have actually set up bleachers on the roofs so they can watch the games live without going to the park. Over the last 10 years, the roof tops have changed from neighbors holding parties and watching the games to corporate events.

The local seagulls also seem to be Cubs fans.

We had a great sunset while were at the park, too.

wrigley sunset

While I don't follow baseball with tremendous intensity, I have always been a Yankees fan. And I know in my heart that the reason the Red Sox won when they did was because they cheated. The rigged the games. I'm not sure how they did it, but they did.

But I have never been to Yankee stadium. I've been to Shea (Mets), Safeco (Mariners), and now Wrigley (Cubs).

Wrigley has great hot dogs, but I couldn't quite get into the beer. The have Budweiser and Old Style at the park. Since I have some taste, I opted for the Old Style. Which was ok. It was definitely a beer. The kind of beer you might drink in a bar where you are likely to get into a fight. Or, in my case, duck under a table to avoid a fight. And to not spill my beer.

But living in Seattle has apparently turned me into a beer snob, in addition to a coffee snob.

Out side the stadium, they have a great statue of long time cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.

Harry Caray Statue Wrigley

harry Caray Statue Wrigley

While Tim and I were waiting for a table at Pizzeria Uno, we wandered down Michigan AVE to the Chicago River.

Chicago River

Chicago River
Dinner at Pizzeria Uno was good. The sausage, perperoni, and cheese pie was thick, dense, and tasty. But despite what they say on their menu, they had no Pizza here. Because there are very few places you can actually get pizza west of the Hudson River.


A truly heart warming tale of the internet



If you have seen this story already, some guy's friend lost her sidekick (fancy cell phone). The person who acquired it (allegedly bought of a subway platform for $50 and thought for some reason it might be legitimate) refused to return it.

Fortunately, there person who lost it still had access to the data and pictures. They posted the information on line, and now people around the world are responding.

This is a beautiful story of the internet and the power it gives to people to right a wrong.

It's also a powerful statement about how important our rapidly diminishing first amendment rights are. Even outside of protecting ourselves from excessive governmental interference, simply telling our stories is a right not to be taken for granted.


The last parade I marched in...

Two years ago, I was hungry and wanted some bagels. So I headed up to Broadway where Noah's Bagels had a shop. I walked across the crowd at Seattle Central Community College.

A wide assortment of wildly dressed and undressed people milled about. There were men in leather. People with bull horns. Women wearing nothing but panties, strategically places adhesive circles, and leashes held by other women. And of course we can't forget the drag queens, bikes, and assorted Village People cliches.

Since Noah's was closed I tried to go home, but the sidewalks were crowded. So I step into the street to walk around the crowd. Next thing I know the hundreds of people in the crowd are walking along with me.

At first I though I must be paranoid. Then I looked forward and saw that police had stopped traffic, and this was no mere Sunday crowd. It was organized. And the organizers began to move the crowd forward and across the street.

It was then I realized I was marching in a Gay Pride parade.

At this point, my hopes of getting bagels had been pretty much been dashed. And since I didn't happen to have any placards or appropriate talents for this group, I continued on with them for only a block, until I could break free and head home.

As I drove down Denny today, I saw a number of people on their way to the Seattle Center. A guy in a cowboy hat, short shorts, and boots. Another guy in a mini-toga with olive leaves in his hair. Women in matching outfits holding hand. And all sort of colors. That can only mean one thing in Seattle.

Once again, it's Gay Pride Weekend.

This year's celebrations were bigger than ever. The moved the parade from Capitol Hill and Broadway to down town and Belltown because it has grown so much.

This is a controversial move. On one hand, it's a recognition of how big and important the gay and lesbian community has become in Seattle. And not only big, but also mainstream. The parade moved from an alternative neighborhood to heart of the city's business and high-end residential neighborhoods. And the parade wraps up at the Seattle Center, home of Folklife, Bumbershoot, Bite of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Space Needle, Science Fiction Museum, and Experience Music Project.

But many long time supporters would rather see the parade and celebration back in Capitol Hill. It's home to a large gay, lesbian, and alternative population, with many gay owned businesses. And it's where the celebrations began years ago.

The Seattle Pi touches on the controversy fairly well.

As usual, the Dykes on Bikes started Seattle's annual Gay Pride Parade, revving their motorcycles. They were followed by the customary drag queens, and men dressed only in tight briefs who danced atop floats, and politicians in search of votes.
Organizers this year moved the parade from Broadway to a new route from Fourth Avenue and Union Street, through Belltown to the Seattle Center partly for the symbolism of having the party run through the heart of the city instead of in the city's historically gay neighborhood.
Kershner said the idea of the parade marching through downtown with little incident moved him to tears.
"To hear the disco music ricocheting off the 40-story buildings, I thought we finally brought the gay community out. Nobody can take that away."

Despite the symbolism of moving downtown, signs of the growing acceptance of gays in mainstream society have been visible for years in the pride parade. Sunday was no different, as buses with the logos for Jose Cuervo tequila and Jagermeister liqueur, as well as the Wells Fargo stagecoach, were intermixed with the drag queens and such Seattle politicians as Mayor Greg Nickels.
Nickels, as he walked down Fourth Avenue, was asked whether he thought the parade should be downtown or on Broadway. He laughed, "You're not going to get me to go there."
The ordinariness of all was a step forward for some and a loss for others.
"If it wasn't for the rainbow flags, I feel like I could be at any festival right now," said Chris Barnes, 55. "That uniqueness is gone."

And to this day, whenever I eat a bagel in Seattle, I'm reminded of the time I accidentally marched in a parade.


Cromely Joins a Cult

Ok. It happened. I joined the masses.

Today, I got my package from www.NewEgg.com. I ordered a pair of white earbuds. They were really expensive, but they came with a 60 GB iPod.

But just because everyone else already had an iPod doesn't mean anything. They may be trendy and fashionable, but that doesn't matter.

I'm still cool. I still alternative. You know how you can tell? My iPod is black.

The packaging is interesting.

It looks an awful lot like a multi-CD set, which is quite clever.

So what's the first thing you see when you open the packaging?

"Thank you for your purchase"


"Enjoy your new iPod"


"Welcome to Apple"


It says, "Don't steal Music."

But it's still a beautiful toy.


Amazon's Suggestion

I found this highly amusing:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased Has Been by William Shatner also purchased the work of Osaka Popstar. For this reason, you might like to know that
Osaka Popstar's Osaka Popstar & the american Legends of Punk (Bonus DVD)
is now available. You can order your copy at a savings of 18% by following
the link below.

Shatner-palooza: Shatner, Sinatra, Lucas, and a Chorus Line of Storm Troopers...

... and a Howard the Duck reference for good measure.

"May I call you George? You can call me Mr. Shatner"

A fish out of water tale of William Shater lauding and singing to George Lucas at the 2005 AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards. The expressions in the audience for the first 30 seconds are priceless.

Special thanks to Jon for sending me this link.


Passive Agressive Seattle at its best

Okay. The grocery cards are annoying - mainly becasue they take up too much space in my wallet. They can just as easily track sales by credit card number.

I had more of a rant here, but it was a little to rant-y and preach-y

As threats to privacy grow, many fight back
Consumers' weapons range from high tech to deception, denial and even pettiness


Brian Nguyen has a GPS tracker on his cell phone in case he needs help, but he lways turns it off. "If I want the government to know where I am, I'll let them know," he says.

When Dave Sampson shops online, he uses a disposable e-mail address he later tosses. "I prefer to have my life remain private, just like everybody else."

Keith Gormezano shows club cards from various grocery stores. By playing his cards right, he stays ahead in the privacy game.

Matthew Lange would rather piggyback on Wi-Fi and use an old cell number from Los Angeles, instead of hooking up with local services. "I really search for nonymity."
Paranoid survivalists, they're not.

Nguyen, an attorney, Sampson, a marketing director, and Lange, a Web designer, are part of a rising tide of average people peeved at the daily intrusions into their private lives.


The most jaw dropping thing I saw today

Connie Chung said good buy to her audience after the show she and husband Maury Povitch had on MSNBC got cancelled.

If this is a joke, it went on about a minute and a half too long.

If it's not a joke, well, why didn't someone stop her? I particularly enjoyed watching her climb off the piano.

I can't decide if this is worthy of mocking and derision, sadness and pity, or laughter and kudos for having the nerve to do it.

What does America stand for?

According to Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice, our chief diplomat:

We in America are blessed with lives of tremendous liberty: the freedom to govern ourselves and elect our leaders; the freedom to own property; the freedom to educate our children, our boys and our girls; and of course the freedom to think as we please and to worship as we wish. America embodies these liberties but America does not own these liberties. We stand for ideals that are greater than ourselves and we go into the world not to plunder but to protect, not to subjugate but to liberate, not as masters of others but as servants of freedom.


Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we must consider one further question which is this: If not for America, who would rally freedom-loving nations to defend liberty and democracy in our world? Nearly five years after the tragedy of September 11th, the United States is leading a great coalition of countries in a global war on terrorism. When possible, we are bringing terrorists to justice. And when necessary, we are bringing justice to the terrorists. (Applause.) This is the fate that our troops delivered last week to the terrorist Zarqawi and now he will never harm, he will never murder, he will never terrorize innocent people again. (Applause.) That is what America stands for.

[Emphasis mine]

When you see reports of this speech on the news in the coming days, it is like they will play only the last two sentences, because the sound bite is pretty striking. But before claiming Rice says that America is just about killing terrorists, I would encourage you to look at the context of those remarks and see just what she is saying.

Secretary Rice spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on 2006-06-14. The full transcript is available at the State Department Website.

There may be some frightening remarks in the speech, or some that seem to contradict current government policy regarding civil liberties, but those are not the ones the media will focus on. The issues are more complex, and focusing on killing terrorists makes for better headlines.

In other words, what's true of this speech is what's true of most stories today -- look past the headlines. Don't be distracted by them. Beyond the large fonts is where the real story lives.

Shatner-palooza rolls on

Would you buy a computer from this man?

Under $300 -- the wonder computer of the 1980s.


I'm sure you remember Brent Spiner from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He played the lovable, learning, and literate android Commander Data. He was a fan favorite through the 7 year run of the series, 2 bad movies, 1 decent one, and one great movie.

We followed him through great episodes, and truly terrible ones such as when his head turned up 19th century San Francisco. What? You don't think that was a bad episode? It featured Mark Twain lurking behind corners and spying on the Enterprise crew. In 19th century San Francisco.

Where Brent Spiner really got to cut loose was on episodes where he played his own evil twin brother, Lor.

His performances even inspired an organization of stalkers called the Spiner-Fems. They are featured in the movie "Trekies." The leader describes how she bought a house on the other side of a hill from where Brent Spiner lives. Now she can sit out on her porch and look at the hill and think about Brent on the other side.

But Brent, along with Patrick Stewart have both had great success post-Star Trek.

When Brent chooses his roles these days, he tries to choose roles that are as un-Data-like as possible. They're all just a little crazy, slightly creepy, and a tiny bit evil.

The reason I've een thinking about Brent's career is he popped up on an episode on "Mad About You" playing an animal agent who takes an interest in Murry's career after Paul uses him in a commercial. The tiny pony tail Brent sports puts the character over the top.


Internet Begging

It's back. Well, it probably never went away.

A few years ago, we had the story of Karyn who rant up more than $20,000 in credit card bills and had trouble paying it back. So she set up a website asking people to help pay her bills. And people did. Complete strangers gave her money over the internet to pay off her shoes, dinners, clothes, and other items. She even wrote a book about her experience.

You can learn more about her experience at www.savekaryn.com

And now, we have Dustin Diamond begging for help to save his house. Dustin Diamond is best know has Screech from Saved by the Bell.

Apparently, he got involved in a land contract, and the bank somehow want the house back. His website is thin on transaction details, but apparently, he has terrible credit, feels he was cheated by some sort of land expert in NY, and he has a little more than a month to come up with $250,000.

So he set up a site to sell t-shirts asking people to save his house.

It should be noted that while the Seattle PI has posted this story, www.Snopes.com has not weighed in yet, so it could still be a fake. Sadly, it seems real to me, though.

Google coughs up some hits on Land Contracts, including RealEstateABC.com

This may be what happened here. The guy couldn't qualify for a loan based on bad credit so he buys a house on a land contract. Then if that violates the seller's mortgage provision, the bank demands immediate payment.

In other words, someone with a histroy of not paying his bills, got into a real estate deal that violated terms of a contract, and, since he's not making enough as a comedian to qualify for his own mortgage, he turns to the net to ask for help.

The lesson, kids, is save your TV money.


I Married a Cream Puff

Today was Andy and Tricia’s wedding (www.andyandtricia.com). Congratulations to the happy couple.

At the rehearsal dinner last night, I learned two things. First, I was going to video tape the wedding. And second, I was on cream puff duty.

Let me explain.

Than Brothers is a local chain of awesome Pho shops. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, and is common throughout Seattle. It’s typically a hot beef broth with rice noodles, herbs, spices, and beef. Typically they add thin, raw slices of beef that actually cook in the broth on the way to the table.

Pho is great for several reasons. It’s simple. It’s easy to order – just choose your size and type of meet. It’s cheap. It’s filling. And it has an amazingly complex and rich flavor.

And few things could be better on a chilly and damp Autumn Seattle afternoon than a nice, warm bowl of soup. Add a Vietnamese coffee, and you can’t help but smile.

Than Brothers has multiple locations throughout the area. When customers sit down at a table, the waiter immediately brings over a plate of cream puffs to start the meal. Then he takes the order.

Since the soup is really coming from a giant pot in the back, it it on the table right when the customers a re licking the last bit of cream off their fingers.

This brings me to cream puff duty.

Instead of a wedding cake, Andy and Tricia opted to have creampuffs. There are a couple of advantages to this. Cream puffs are dirt cheap, unlike a wedding cake. And they’re original. Years from now, relatives will still talk about the tasty cream puffs. They would have forgotten all about the cake by the next day. The cream puffs are tasty. And did I mention they are cheap?

So the bride told me about cream puff duty at the rehearsal dinner Friday night. After I finished video taping the wedding in downtown Seattle, I needed to run out to the car, drive to Than Brothers in Ballard, pick up 300 cream puffs, and then take them over to the reception at Daybreak Star.

Later in the evening, she reminded me.

As I headed to the buffet, the groom asked, “Did Tricia tell you about the cream puffs?” I assured him I was on it.

Some one else mentioned it, too.

The morning of the wedding, another reminder about the cream puffs surfaced. I was well aware at this point that the day was all about the cream puffs. If I did nothing else this day, I had to get the cream puffs. Nothing was going to stand in my way.

No street fair, baseball game, open draw bridge, police activity, or a act of war would get between me and my cream puffs. If I needed to enlist the support of Captain Picard himself, I was going to get those cream puffs.

At some point I though maybe I should call the bride’s cell phone , say I was at Ikea but they had no record of her order for 300 Swedish meatballs. But then I realized no one would think that was funny except for me and that when I went home later in the evening it would likely be with my head in a box.

Have you ever wonders what 300 cream puffs looks like? I’ll show you.

When I picked up the cream puffs, the waiter commented that there were a lot. I said it was for a wedding.

At that point he congratulated me on my wedding and wished me and my new spouse well.

I was going to correct him, but given his limited English, and the fact that our entire relationship would last less than four minutes, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

My cream puffs and I have a quite a future to look forward to.


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

I’ve been reading Christopher Moore novels lately. Ok, I read two recently and one last year.

I started with “Bloodsucking Fiends” and followed that with “Island of the Sequined Love Nun”, both good books.

I just finished “Practical Demon Keeping,” his first novel. It’s an entertaining story about a demon that eats people, the demon keeper who tries to stop the demon from eating too many people, and assorted people from the town who don’t want to be eaten.

Of course it incorporates elements of the early Catholic Church and Jewish traditions, from which most demon stories eventually draw some inspiration or ideas. Moore develops a compelling mythology that surprisingly holds together despite, or perhaps because of how brief it is. The ending is satisfying, but perhaps a bit rushed. A lot happens very quickly, and Moore seemed to still be developing his action writing abilities.

The writing is a bit rough at times, with some characters seeming more contrived (and cut-able) than others. There are some chapters that could be dropped, and others that could be expanded. The pace is a little uneven, and sometimes characters seem to be more stereotypes of themselves than necessary. Despite that, the story is compelling and I find myself cheering on the heroes, and booing the bad guys. It’s a fun story.

The book is funny, but a dark sort of way. If you have trouble laughing at the idea of people being eaten while others struggle against these absurd events, then you might want to avoid this book. Or any of Moore’s books for that matter. But if you can see the humor in the darkest corner, the book may be for you.

It’s not Dostoyevsky, but I wasn’t looking for that; I wanted a book I could lose myself in while on the plane and a book I wouldn’t have to think too much about. I found just that in Moore’s 242 pages.

I recommend it.

In Christopher Moore’s ingenious debut novel, we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old ex-seminarian and "roads" scholar Travis O’Hearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets. Behind the fake Tudor fa├žade of Pine Cove, California, Catch sees a four-star buffet. Travis, on the other hand, thinks he sees a way of ridding himself of his toothy traveling companion. The winos, neo-pagans, and deadbeat Lotharios of Pine Cove, meanwhile, have other ideas. And none of them is quite prepared when all hell breaks loose.


The world is an tiny, tiny place

I made the journey fron Kansas City to Irvine, CA today with a co worker. Well, part way anyway.

In Denver, we each had to catch separate planes on separate airlines, in separate terminals for the final 1000 miles or so.

So I get to my new airline, and the flight is delayed by about 45 minutes. It's no surprise, really. Every flight I've been on this week has been delayed by an hour or more.

Eventually I get to Irvine, figure out where my hotel is, get my rental car, jump on the freeway, get caught in an obscene 11:00 PM traffic jam, and finally pull into my hotel parking lot an hour later.

My coworker pulled in 5 seconds later.


Hitler Cats

Apparently some people feel their cats look like Hitler.


I'm more worried about the plotting masquerading as naps.

In a similar vein, here is the classic Monty Python sktech featuring Hitler -- I mean Hilter -- hiding out in an English rooming house.

Watch it before the Cease and Desist letters hit YouTube.


Did you ever wake up in the wrong city?

And not really care?

I nodded off on my SEA-ATL flight today. I heard the pilot announce our initial approach into Atlanta and nodded off again. Next thing I know, they pilot is announcing that we are on final approach to Huntsville, AL.

Apparently, storms shut down the Atlanta airport for more than an hour and we didn't have enough fuel to circle forever, so we landed in Hunstville, fuel-ed up, and waited for the Atlanta airport to reopen so we could finish our flight.

We got into Atlanta about 2.5 hours late.

I woke up in the wrong city, shrugged my shoulders, and went back to sleep. I figured we'd get where we were going eventually.

I just hope I get an extra segment credit for the diversion.

Huh? What was that?

No, really. I can hear it. I swear. I'm not too old...

Oh. You weren't actually playing it.

Monday, June 12, 2006
Teens evade rules with a ring tone adults can't hear

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cell phone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

In settings where cell phone use is forbidden -- in class, for example -- it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.


Reason #257 I'm glad I'm a guy

My girlfriend's former roommate is getting married next weekend, and my girlfriend is in the wedding party.

Over the past few month, she has probably spent about 8-10 hours dealing with the requisite clothing. There's shopping for the dress, shopping for the shoes, having the dress hemmed, shopping for a mathcing handbag, and shopping for some sort of undergarment she tried to explain to me but I still have no idea about. And she is probably has several hundred dollars invested now.

When I was Jon's best man in April 2004, I spent 10 minutes at the Men's Warehouse in Seattle getting fitted for my tux. I then spent 20 mintues in Chicago picking up my tux. The reason that part was longer was I went there with Jon and his father, so the store had a little bit of a rush.

Grand tolal -- $70.21
-- 30 minutes

(That includes shoes)


A new Play Cole Short

Here's a nice quick one.

The Narcoleptic Comedian

Safe for work.

Hugs Abound North of Seattle

A somewhat interesting article about High Schoolers and how much they hug.


Teens approach hugging with open arms
By Lynn Thompson
Times Snohomish
County bureau

"Boys are hugging boys. Girls are hugging girls. Girls are hugging boys. They're a hugging generation," said Joyce Stewart, principal of Evergreen Middle School in Everett.

Grown men hugging each other can make the news, as when Chinese President Hu Jintao hugged a Boeing supervisor during his April visit, largely because Chinese officials are known more for formality than spontaneity.

King County Executive Ron Sims, who has made a career of hugging, sees a sort of global warming when it comes to the affectionate embrace. "Around the world, everybody hugs," Sims said.

But in the hallways of the region's schools, all that hugging makes some administrators nervous.

"We try to discourage it," Stewart said, citing concern that such a gesture, given to the wrong person, could be interpreted as harassment or an unwanted sexual advance. Stewart said teachers at Evergreen avoid hugging students and try to prevent students from hugging them for the same reason.

At Brier-Terrace Middle School, Principal Bill Fritz said student
hugs must be limited to three seconds. After three seconds, the gesture enters
the red zone of Public Display of Affection

I'm not going to mock the kids or offer commentary on all this hugging.

But there are a few interesting points.

This article appeared on the main homepage of www.seattletimes.com, right next to an article about al-Qaida. In many cities, it would be ridiculous to give such prominence to this human interest story. But here, well, it's Seattle. With all its touch-y feel-y goodness. So it makes sense.

The other interesting things is that the article is really long. The newspaper actually gave this story some pretty in depth coverage.

Who says investigative reporting his dead?


Wall Street Boring?

Most people have no idea who Jim Cramer is.


A lot of people know him as that screaming guy on CNBC who throws chairs and bites the heads off Styrofoam animals.


He’s also written several books.


If you can’t get enough Cramer, you may be thrilled or horrified to know you can listen to his daily radio show on line. Podcast it, Stream it, or just Download it.


If you think he’s funny but not really accountable, you may be interested in the audit.


Regardless, if you enjoy the stock market, or want to learn more from a screaming, out of control, and apparently smart maniac, then you should spend more time with Jim Cramer. It beats Judge Judy.

At the Intersection of Stupidity and Evil

So what’s the deal with pedophiles?

Ok, besides the abusing of children, how did they get so stupid? How are they not extinct?

Tonight I watched Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator”. I don’t know why; I turned the TV on for background noise and got caught up in it. Have you seen this show?

Basically, they have someone pretend to be 13 year old girl. This person then waits in online chat rooms for a pedophile to engage them. They chat on line back and forth, and it gets explicit. They pedophile asks to meet the child at their home for sex.

So the guys show up, goes into the house, and then they meet Chris Hansen, the Dateline Reporter, who then talks to them about what they’re doing. The guys usually apologize, claim they really weren’t there for sex, say it’s the first time they’ve ever done it, and promise never to do it again.

So let’s look at this. The pedophile shows up. The child isn’t in the room. They stay. A guy in a suit comes out of the kitchen. They stay. The guy starts talking about why they were there and reads the internet chat transcripts to them. They stay. The guy in the suit starts asking questions. THEY ANSWER THEM?!?!

Some of these guys even say they had the feeling it might be a set up. And they still stayed. And talked. With cameras recording everything.

Of course, they are arrested as soon as they leave.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, we get this story:

Police charged an Eastern Kentucky man Tuesday after workers at a Lexington computer store discovered more than 600 images of child pornography on two laptops the man had taken to the store for repair.

And this is actually a common story. I see these stories every couple months. I worked in a store where someone actually dropped off a desktop filled with illegal images for repair. Of course he went to jail. Did it occur to them to maybe, just let the broken machine stay broken? Do they think computer techs are bound by some privilege like doctors, priests, and lawyers?

I’m not making light of pedophiles; I’m simply amazed at how stupid some of these monsters can be.


Life in the Garden Part 01: Thinning

A few weeks ago I planted some Basil seeds. Lemon Basil, actually. And so far, they're doing well.

An important element of planting from seed, though, is thinning. And it's one of the less pleasant gardening tasks.

To have a healthy crop you start with a lot of seeds, because many won't grow. Once you've got some growth, though, and have 10 or 20 little plants, you have to decide who lives and who dies. If you don't thin, the plants will never grow up healthy. The plants will not have enough room to grow so they will be stunted or die.

So you thin. By thinning, you choose which are the most likely to be healthy and grow well. I look at how healthy they are, how big they already are and where they are in the pot.

The rest, I pull and drop in the trash. It's a little frustrating, but it's part of what has to be done.

Oh, and Garden Gnomes make all the difference.

Apprentice Links

Commentary from Season 05


Paying Tolls in Massachusetts

I found this link on Flyertalk.



And the Winner is....

Donald Trump's new Apprentice is...
Congratulations, Sean!

Sean pulled out a major victory and demonstrated why he will be a great asset to the Trump organization.

Whey did Sean win?

  1. He wanted it more -- he had "The Eye of the Tiger"
  2. He focused on the most important customer -- Donald Trump
  3. His real world business experience gave him the ability to manage a large event. Lee crumbled, Sean excelled.
  4. Sean picked the right team.

When asked early on in interviews why they should be the next Apprentice, Sean cited his passion. Lee cited his loyalty.

In the interviews before they headed down to the boardroom for the last time, Sean said:

Now is the time. Don't even think about losing. Just go in there and win. Be as passionate as your want to be. I mean I think Mr. Trump appreciates passion. And if I get my point across and Lee starts attacking me, I'll start attacking back.
Lee, on the other hand, had this to say:

I'm very confident going head-to head with Sean. At age 33 I'm gonna be so far beyond what Sean is. I mean look -- we're both at the same place now.
But the real difference came in the boardroom when Trump asked the candidates why they should be the Apprentice.

Sean said that with his experience, he can hit the ground running. In a couple weeks he can have his real estate license, or be up to speed on a project and manage it for Trump. "I can make you millions," assured Sean. He focused on what he is prepared to do toady or in a couple weeks.

Lee on the other hand, focused on how he could learn. He said he epitomized the word Apprentice. He said he could do what Sean could, but focused on how quickly he would learn.

In other words, Lee made a critical job interview mistake (though he still interviewed better than this guy) -- he focused on what the employer could do for him.

Sean focused on what he could do for the employer.

That is a huge difference. And, ultimately, that's why Sean won.

Whether selling yourself to a potential employer, selling a product to a customer, or selling an idea to an unruly mob, you have to think about and focus on what's in it for your audience -- not you.

By the way, what was that hideous outfit Roxanne was wearing? It looked like the outfit she and Allie designed for the housekeeping staff at Embassy Suites.



Hampton Inn Bedhead Contest

I'm a Hilton Diamond member. Basically, it means I spend so much time in Hilton properties (Hampton Inn, Doubletree, Embassy Suite, Hiltons, Homewood, etc) that they give me extra points -- which I can then redeem to spend more nights in Hilton properties, only this time on my day off. And for some reason, I consider this a good deal.

Have you seen the Hampton Inn Commercials?

All I want is a room some where
A great escape from the ordinary
Is it wrong that I get that song stuck in my head at random intervals during the day?

To promote their new bedding, Hampton is running commercials and a contest celebrating bedhead. One commercial features a family running into some punk rockers at the beach.

You can go to http://www.hamptonbedheads.com/ and register for daily give aways of t-shirts and $150 prizes and the chance to win $5,000. And you don't have to travel to do it.

The Best Sushi in SoCal

I have a new favorite Sushi place in SoCal. Ok, I've only been to two Sushi places in SoCal, and the other one was great, too, but that's beside the point.


Sushi Wasabi
20651 Lake Forest Dr
Lake Forest, CA 92630-7745
(949) 454-0888

When I walked in, one person greeted me, and the entire stopped what they were doing and greeted me. I jumped a little.

The Miso had this amazing aroma and the soup had such rich flavor, I wanted to swim in it. The Sushi was fantastic. The flavors, textures, and presentation were amazing. I ate way too much, but it was worth it.

The service was great - prompt and friendly. I was reading my book (Island of the Sequined Love Nun, by Christopher Moore). The server stopped by to ask about it and to talk about books. She asked about the DaVinci Code.

When I left, the entire staff shouted a farewell.

The food, the people, and the atmosphere were all great. At about 1.2 miles from my hotel, I'll be walking there next trip.


Apprentice Week 14: The Eye of the Tiger

No real spoilers this week. Since we don’t know the winner until next week, I can get right into it.

And for some reason, no pictures this week. Due to some technical or user challenges, I have not been able to upload images. You'll have to quench your thirst for knowledge on my salty prose.

Okay, you can look disappointed; just don't groan audibly.

Table of Contents
  1. Lessons Learned
  2. Their Best Night Yet
  3. A New Day, New Teams
  4. Team Gold Rush
  5. Team Synergy
  6. Prediction

I don't know if this is new or not, but most candiates now have their own websites. Were these up all season and I just didn't know it? The cadidates names below will link to these new websites. I'm calling them new, because, well, it's better for my ego if they are brand spankin' new.

I came into this week expecting Lee to be Trump’s next Apprentice. Now I’m not so sure. He appears to be making strategic mistakes, rather than tactical one. And he seems scared. He looks overwhelmed and seems afraid to lose.

Sean is handling the pressure better. He is letting his affection for Tammy interfere with his work, however. Those interactions we’ve seen this week are why most companies have policies against supervisors dating their subordinates. Even if everyone has the best intentions, the emotions can muddy the water.

However, Sean still has the edge. Why? He’s hungry. He wants it more. He has the Eye of the Tiger. Lee does not. Sean is focused on winning. Lee is focused on not screwing up. Sean’s hunger will lead him to victory.

Lessons Learned

  • Think Big.
    Don’t limit your own success by limiting your imagination. Think about the best possible out come, bigger than what you are used to. Ask for it. Go for it. You might get it.

  • Listen to Tom LehrerBe Prepared.
    Before meeting with executives, be prepared for the meeting. You don’t have time not to be prepared. And neither do they.

  • You have to want it to win it.
    In a lot of tough competitions, victory depends on who wants it more. The person who is willing to put all their effort and emotional energy into winning has a definite edge. Then, combine competence, passion, and energy, you have a potent winning combination. Wanting not to lose isn’t enough. You have to truly want to win.

Their Best Night Yet

After firing what was left of Synergy last week, Trump called Lee and Sean back to the boardroom. Trump told them why he fired Allie and Roxanne. “Allie and Roxanne turned out to be very disloyal to one another. I didn’t like seeing what I saw.”

As Trump sent Lee and Sean back to the Suite, they profusely thanked Trump. Then Lee turned back to Trump, and said, “I’m up for the challenge Mr. Trump.” Trump responded, “Just get outta here. Frickin’ politician Lee.” But he said it with a smile on his face.

When they get back to the suite, all the fired candidates are waiting for them. Lee and Sean needed to choose three people for their final team. After a few drinks, toasts, and hugs, Sean gets right to it. Lee didn’t start until later in the evening, and that was only after Michael prompted him.

The difference between the candidates is striking in their interview. Sean describes how he plans to fight for the job. These next two days, “are going to be the most important days of my life.”

In Lee’s interview, he says of being in the final 2, “I’m excited, but not surprised.”

Sean immediately chose Tammy for his team. He then chose Andrea, which was a little unexpected. The three of them discussed that additional slot extensively, and finally settled on Tarek.

Before he settled on Tarek, though, several of the candidates stopped by to kiss his ring and try to get on his team. Allie even tried to manipulate him into choosing her. Allie sat across from Sean, gently, touched his wrist while saying, “Not that it matters, but I do want to be your lifelong friend. I do mean that.”

Sean had an appalled look in his eye and said, “Ok. Well I’m going to talk to a few other people in here tonight,” as he searched for an escape route. Did Allie really think she could flirt her way into Sean’s good graces? Especially after the vicious attack she and Roxanne launched against Tammy in week 12. Is she really that stupid?

So she next moves over to Lee and tries flirting with him, too. “Lee, that’s a nice tie,” she said as she caressed it. She didn’t have much luck with Lee either.

But she was flirting with the wrong person. It turns out she needed to flirt with Lenny. He actually picked Lee’s team for him.

Lee naturally picked Lenny for his team. They were tight allies throughout the competition. Lenny then suggested Pepi. Pepi?! He has an impressive background, but we haven’t seen him since week 2.

And now Lee is going to rely on this complete unknown to help him in the toughest and most important task yet? That’s just how much he trusted Lenny. He said of Lenny, “He might die to see me be the Apprentice.”

His third choice, again with Lenny’s strong endorsement, was Roxanne. What was he thinking? First, can Roxanne even function without her blond tumor? And why is Lee trusting her? There are much stronger people available, such as Bryce, Dan, Leslie, and Michael. He could even have chosen Brent who looked like a sad puppy begging for a scrap. But he chose Roxanne.

A New Day, New Teams

So now it’s Lee, Lenny, Pepi, and Roxanne against Sean, Tarek, Tammy, and Andrea. Who do you think has the stronger team?

When Sean found out who Lee chose he said, “I don’t know what the hell that’s about. I’m surprised Lee even knows Pepi’s name.”

“If all goes well, by the end of this task, I hope to have the job, the girl, and a brand new life ahead of me.”

The next day in the boardroom, Trump asked Lee why he chose the people he did. “They’re friends. They all feel very passionate about me being the Apprentice and that’s really important moving forward.”

Sean claimed he built his team around likely needs. “I think I’ve chosen the dream team. What I wanted to do was cover all the bases. Sales. Marketing. Operations. Planning. A little bit of everything. And I think all my colleagues here are multi-talented. Have many of those facets.”

Trump passed out the tasks, informed Sean his team is now Synergy, and waited until the candidates left the room to start laughing at them.

Actually, Trump didn’t laugh. Carolyn did. Hysterically. She couldn’t stop. She asked, “Who was that on the far left?”


Trump said, “What was that about?” Then Carolyn laughed some more.

George just kept saying, “Pepi? Pepi. Pepi. Pepi.” He really seemed to enjoy saying that.

Trump added, “Pepi, you’re fired. Did I actually say that?”

And then they laughed and tried to figure out who they hell Pepi was. “I sure hope Lee knows what he’s doing.” I kind of have my doubts.

Team Gold Rush

Lee’s task was to serve as Executive Director of the Pontiac Celebrity Hockey Game for America’s Bravest to benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation. The foundation was started by comedian Denis Leary to supply equipment to firefighters when they municipality can’t, and to help support the families of Firefighters killed on the job.

Lee’s job was to organize the logistics of the game, take care of the attendees, attend to the VIPs, take care of advance parties, and create a fund raiser, approved by the Leary Foundation. Details are available here. One he got into it, though, Lee quickly got overwhelmed.

As they started going through the tasks, Lee fell behind. After meeting with Lys, one of his charitable sponsors at the Leary Foundation, Lee was scared. He tried to spin the meeting positively, but the fear just leaked right out of his eye.

So how did Lee spin it?

“The meetings with the Foundation specifically did not run as smoothly as they possibly could. But they didn’t hire me to go into a meeting and be very, very prepared for the meeting. I don’t think they give a crap about the meeting. They care about the actual event and how it runs smoothly. You know what? If I don’t know every detail going into the meeting, I’m fine with that, as along as I learn. And right now, they know that I do not know every single detail. Let’s see if I can turn it around. That’s probably what they’re thinking.”
Yeah. Lee may be a politician, but those claims are as credible as the Bush administration’s WMD claims, or Clinton’s claims of monogamy.

And, by the way, Lee, the nervous eye darting doesn’t help.

Lee thought small. The charity was looking big ideas and major fundraising opportunities. Lee offered to auction a date with a firefighter.

Now that they were out of the confined environment of the regular tasks, Lee had no model to follow. He was in over his head. He didn’t have an existing model to follow. It looks like he’s never done anything on this scale before.

Lee had the opportunity to redeem himself later in the day when he met with Pontiac. He convinced them to donate two cars for an auction. That was a good start. But he didn’t ask for enough.

At the beginning of the meeting, he starting asking them about matching funds or similar programs, but he didn’t actually ask them to match contributions, which they might have been willing to do. Again, Lee didn’t think big enough.

In her interview after the meeting, the Pontiac lady said, “They missed a big opportunity. They started talking about matching but got away from it and settled for two cars.”

Lee is still trying to sell tourist brochures at Battery Park. The game has changed to a new level, and I don’t know that he can handle it. Maybe with a few more years experience…but not today.

Team Synergy

Sean’s task was to serve as the Executive Director of the Pontiac Bare Naked Ladies Concert to Benefit the World Wildlife Fund (that panda logo people). He had to take care of pre-concert parties, the band’s needs, a fund raising opportunity for Pontiac, various logistics, VIPS, etc. As usual, details are available at Yahoo!

Right away, Sean had a better handle on his event. He spent the first several hours with his team planning, working in schedules, and identifying tasks. Then he took all parties on a walkthrough and tour of the facilities.

Sean seemed more experienced with his project than Lee did. Sean appears to have managed large projects before and projected a lot of confidence. He had a plan and he worked the plan.

His extensive corporate experience is paying off.

Sean will face two problems with the rest of the project, though.

First, he blew off a meeting with the sponsors to watch Tammy chose appetizers with the hotel catering staff. He sat in on the food meeting with the catering department. He really did not need to be there. But he got to spend more time with Tammy, his crush.

To do that, he sent Andrea and Tarek to meet with the Pontiac executives. It may note be a major problem; they did a good job. Or at least as well as Lee did. They identified the key points Pontiac wanted to promote, and they also got Pontiac to donate two cars. But Sean absolutely should have been there. One of the key elements of his job is managing sponsor relationships. It’s a question respect.

And skipping the meeting just to hang with Tammy was wrong. Sean – you can wait another 48 hours for the date.

Fortunately, Sean has a good team that has a proven track record. Unlike Lee.

Pepi? Really? And Roxanne?

Sean’s second problem is a frustrating one. Andrea started coughing up blood. That’s never a good thing. So he sent her off to the doctor to get taken care of. He was sympathetic and didn’t try to lean on her. It looked like his main concern was her well being.

Sean handled it properly. But that’s still not going to help him get the job done.


Sean’s will be more successful with his event. While I doubt Lee’s event will flop, it won’t run nearly as smoothly. And Lee is unlikely to get the endorsement of the other parties at this event. Sean probably will.

Lee’s best shot at winning is to do something dramatic with the fund raising, significantly out raise Sean’s event, and have absolutely nothing go wrong.

Sean’s event is in good shape. If he can find some way to compensate for losing Andrea, he should be ok.

Going in to this week, the Apprenticeship was Lee’s to lose. No longer. Now it’s a dead heat. If Trump decides based on this task, Sean will win. If Trump makes his decision on overall performance, Lee still has an excellent chance.

We almost saw a double hiring last season. We might actually see it this year.

Bottom line is Sean wants this more. He’s hungry. And he is ready for the challenge.

It's the Eye of the Tiger
It's the Thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivorStalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all in the Eye
of the Tiger


Mistaken ID stuns crash victims' families

This is one of the saddest stories stories I've read lately.

Mistaken ID stuns crash victims' families

CALEDONIA, Mich. -- In one small Michigan town, they are talking excitedly about welcoming home a beloved friend they had thought they had buried. In another, the news is still sinking in that a young woman believed to have survived a horrific crash five weeks ago is dead.

Cue the lawyers in 5...4...3...2...