Empty Space

I've been to lots of desolate places -- eastern Montana, central OR, the state of Pennsylvania -- but if you really want your elbow room, change planes in Cincinnati.

CVG is one of Delta's three major hubs, along with ATL (Atlanta) and SLC (Salt Lake City). Most hubs I travel through are packed with people and the near chaos that naturally accompanies any airline's critical infrastructure.

This is my first trip to this airport, though. I expected an old, run down terminal bursting at the Jetways. Instead, I got a clean, modern, and airy facility with plenty of light. There are some decent dinning options, shopping and a reasonable number of electrical outlets.

There's just one problem -- there's no one here. It's downright spooky. There are plenty of planes here, but instead of looking like a major airport, at a major hub, on a major holiday weekend, it seems more like the Helena, MT airport at 2:00 AM.

According to the staff at the Wolfgang Puck Express Airport Cafe, the dust devils at gate 16 are normal on a Saturday. This just the typical traffic they've gotten use to.

While this can't be good news for Delta, it does mean this is a great place to change planes and focus on your own Manifest Destiny.

Cincinnati Airport Concourse B

CVG Cincinnati Airport Concourse B

How do you Take a few Good Pictures?

Take a lot of bad ones.

I got my current digital camera sometime in February. I have taken more than 1,300 pictures since then. A lot of them are on my Flickr site. Most of them are on a hard drive in my apartment. And the rest I was smart enought to delete at the earliest opportunity.

In the year prior, I probably took only 300 digital pictures.

Having a smaller camera made the difference. My other digital camera was a Toshiba M500. It's a 2 Megapixel camera with a 10x optical zoom. It was great camera, and it's now sitting on my shelf.

The problem I had with it was the size. It's a few years old and that kind of zoom required a big chasis. So I only brought it with me if I was planning specifically to take pictures. Most of the time it stayed home.

My current digital camera is a Nikon Coolpix 7600. It's a 7 Megapixel camera with only a 3X optical zoom. And it is small. It fits in the palm of my hand. More importantly, it fits in a small camera pouch I hang from me belt.

The zoom obviously isn't as good, and I think the M500 worked better in low light situations, but I use the Nikon more than I ever used the M500.

The reason is simple -- I have it with me. Nearly everytime I leave the apartment, the camera goes with me. I may not look "cool" with a camera on my right and an iPod on my left, but the "cool ship" sailed long ago for other reasons.

The best pictures aren't always planned -- often they're found.

The way to become a better writer is to write more.
The way to become a better athlete is to play more.
The way to become a better presenter is to present more.
The way to become a better photographer is to photograph more.


Ich bin ein Brooklyner

Well, not quite, but I found this story entertaining.

Off-the-wall divorce
Hubby's barrier goes up in house


Brooklyn's real-life version of "The War of the Roses" culminated yesterday as a wall was built to literally split a marital house in two.

Workers contracted by millionaire Simon Taub constructed the wall in the center of the Borough Park home that the sweater baron shares with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Chana Taub, capping a bitter dispute that began last year.


Putting up a wall like that seems like good practice if you ever need to hide a body.


The TSA in Training on Saturday Night Live (SNL)

I thought for sure I posted this back in October, but it looks like it's been sitting in my drafts folder for a couple months instead. Enjoy.

This is SNL in one of their finer moments this season. It actaully features some legitimate satire, instead of just the usual Bush is Dumb jokes.

It's almost five minutes but is worth watching.

Now I want a turkey sandwhich.


Shatner-Palooza: Christmas

Jon and I were discussing lately how William Shatner doesn't seem to turn down anything. Here he is on a Dennis Leary show talking about Christmas.


Cell Phones on Airplanes

SprintPCS Samsung A900 Cell Phone

International airline to allow cell phone chatter on planes

By Grace Wong
Special to CNN

Adjust font size:
NEW YORK (CNN) -- From cell phone use to high-speed Internet access, the connected life is spreading to the skies.

In January, Emirates airline plans to launch mobile phone usage in its planes, making it the first airline to allow passengers to make cell phone calls on its flights.


A majority of business travelers (61 percent) oppose the idea of being able to use their phones in the sky, according to a global survey conducted by travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel early this year.

But if the technology is there, the service will eventually make its way to the skies, said Chris McGinnis, editor of Expedia Travel Trendwatch.

"Whether people like it or not, in-flight cell phone use is going to become a reality," he said.

I'm not thrilled with this, but there are a lot issues related to the cell phones on airplanes.

First, I'm not convinced modern cell phones pose any danger to aircraft safety on a properly maintained aircraft. The equipment is too well shielded. The ban for "safety" reasons seems more related to a better-safe-than-sorry approach. It still seems like overkill, though.

On any giver aircraft in flight, there are already multiple cell phones running on any given airplane. People stick them in their carry-on and forget to turn them off. And planes don't drop out of the sky as a result.

Granted, they are not running at full power when not engaged in a call. And if I'm sitting near one of those turned-on phones, I will hear the interference in my headphones right before it rings so there are definitely some strong radio wave running around. But none of those planes have gone down.

Second, the common conspiracy theory about the cell phone ban suggests the reason has more to do with profits than safety. The theory says that since the airlines typically offer the Verizon Airfon, which can cost upwards of $10/mintue to use, the airlines simply don't want the competition.

The problem with this theory is that most aircraft actually do not have the Airfon. Airlines have began removing these from aircraft during the 2001 economic crunch. They are dropping anything from the aircraft that adds extra weight, like magazines, blankets, and phones. Which it too bad, since the Verizon Airfon played a critical role in the story of UA 93.

Third, TSA will probably not allow it. They will see cell phone use as a serious security threat, similar to a gun, a knife or a bottle of orange juice. The imagined threat of in air cell phone use won't make any sense, but that's not usually a requirement.

Fourth, one early reason for the ban on cell phones in flight came not from the FAA but from the FCC. Normally a cell phone can see a few towers. The tower with the best signal manages the call. When a caller travels outside that tower's range, it passes the call to a different tower.

In flight, though, a cell phone can see dozens or hundreds of cell towers. Since the caller is traveling so high and fast, the signal handoffs become a nightmare for the system, significantly increasing traffic volume on the network and causing all sorts of billing hassles.

That may no longer be an issue due to improvements in cell (now wireless) technology. And, there are ways around that by installing equipment on the aircraft to manage the signals.

Fifth, airlines are already experimenting with wireless internet access. This will come before cell phone use. It may be nice to send email or surf the web on your notebook, but if they don't allow cell phone use soon, people will just use the Internet for their voice calls, too. Through services like Skype and Vonage, people can hook a headset up to their computer and make/receive voice calls anytime they are connected to the Internet. So the person next to you will start having conversations anyway.

Sixth, this brings us to the question of air rage. Once the ban is lifted, too many people will make calls. Many cell phone users are already under the illusion they need to speak loudly into their phones to be heard because, unlike regular phones, they can't hear their own voice back through the earpiece. This is going to be even worse on an airplane with the engine noise.

I already try to spend much of my time in coach trying to not touch the person sitting next to me. The last thing they want to be doing is yelling about the minutia of their lives 3" from my ear. I am likely to do something to them with their own cell phone that will get me added to the No-Fly list.

Merry Christmas to All

Adeste fideles, laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Natum videte,
Regem angelorum
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus Venite adoremus,


One Way out of Traffic

One-way streets for Bellevue?

The city of Bellevue is considering converting 106th and 108th avenues northeast to one-way streets to accommodate increasing traffic.

According to the city's traffic modeling, one-way streets would help the flow of vehicles through downtown. The two avenues would change to one-way from Main Street to Northeast 12th Street, with 108th Northeast flowing southbound and 106th northeast northbound.

However, Nancy LaCombe, the project's manager, said those plans are under analysis and may change.

It sounds like a good idea to me. Converting Roads to One-Way in SimCity 4 significantly reduces congestion and increases the average speed of traffic. It also helps with air pollution. I don't see why it wouldn't have the same impact in Bellevue, WA.

Of course, it is the Puget Sound area, so nothing will happen until they have 3 public votes and resolve all the outstanding Salmon lawsuits.

Maxis SimCity 4 Box


How do you Survive a Tom Petty Song?

With a great deal of patience.

Or, perhaps, by following these instructions.

Unplanned Freefall? Some Survival Tips By David Carkeet

Admit it: You want to be the sole survivor of an airline disaster. You aren't looking for a disaster to happen, but if it does, you see yourself coming through it. I'm here to tell you that you're not out of touch with reality—you can do it.

Sure, you'll take a few hits, and I'm not saying there won't be some sweaty flashbacks later on, but you'll make it. You'll sit up in your hospital bed and meet the press. Refreshingly, you will keep God out of your public comments, knowing that it's unfair to sing His praises when all of your dead fellow-passengers have no platform from which to offer an alternative view.

Let's say your jet blows apart at 35,000 feet. You exit the aircraft, and you begin to descend independently. Now what?


I do not recomend testing these procedures unless you already find yourself in such a situation.

I originally saw this article at digg.com.


Nutcracker 03

Life can be hard when you're the Nutcracker of Death. Fortunately, he has an aide to help him collect those souls.

Standing out on 4th AVE in Downtown Seattle is the Arctic Ice Cracker:

Actic Ice Cracker, nutcrackermarch.org Seattle Front

Arctic Ice Cracker, nutcrackermarch.org Seattle Profile

He says nothing, and executes his assigned tasks with a frigid silence.



Someone Shoot this Christmas Special

Santa's labor force traditionally consists of weird short men in pointy shoe. They call them elves. We've all seen the specials -- claymated, animated, and live-actated. But you know what I want to see?

The Christmas special featuring Tolkein Elves.

Gladriel Legalos

I have no idea what the plot would be, but that would be an awesome movie.

Loyalty Programs Year in Review

Some people like to review their financials or personal accomplishments at the end of the year.

For me, though, it's time to look at my airlines and hotels.

Alaska Airlines has three levels in their mileage plan. They are Member, MVP Member, and MVP Gold Member. The Member status is what you get for signing up.

To get to MVP, you have to fly 20,000 Alaska/Horizon Miles, 25,000 Alaska/Partner Miles, or 30 Alaska/Partner Segments.

To get to MVP Gold, you have to fly 40,000 Alaska/Horizon Miles, 50,000 Alaska/Partner Miles, or 60 Alaska/Partner Segments. I think I did that by August.

For the year I ended up with 61,500 Alaska/Horizon Miles, 90,302 Alaska/Partner Miles, and 84 Alaska/Partner Segments.

Factor in a few random flights on United, Frontier, and US Air (Non-Alaska Partners) and I flew about 110,000 BIS (Butt-In-Seat) Miles.

As for Hotels, Hilton is my program of choice. They have four levels to the program. Blue is the level you get just for signing up.

To get Silver level, you have to stay 10 nights in any Hilton property (Hilton, Hampton Inn, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, etc.) or have 4 stays in one year.

To get Gold level, you have to stay 36 nights, or have 16 stays in a 12 month period.

To get to Diamond level, you may as well give up your apartment. You have to stay 60 nights, or have 28 stays in a 12 month period. You can also get there by spending more than $10,000.

During the last 12 months, I had 68 nights and 38 stays in Hilton properties. I'm Diamond until sometime in 2008.

Over the course of the year, I also managed to earn Silver status at Marriott on Accident, and I'm now apparently 5-Star President's Club with Hertz, though I'm still not sure what that means.

I may not have the cleanest apartment in the world, but at least I have pretty plastic cards in my wallet.


A Nice Use of PowerPoint

This is presentation put together by an Army Captain in Iraq. He was recently killed in action.

This presentation (here in PDF format) gives his strategy for winning the war. And maybe it's not such a bad idea.

Captain Travis Patriquin points out the fundamental flaws of US policy in the country, and offers a solution.

Among the most glaring US flaws -- a serious lack of facial hair.


Presumed Missing

Two climbers are missing, but since the searchers aren't sure the missing climbers are missing, they will only list them as "presumed" missing.

Apparently they haven't ruled out random invisibility.

Climbing team believed missing
Seasoned pair didn't return from China trip

The owner of the Seattle-based guide service Mountain Madness Inc. and another elite climber are presumed missing after they failed to return from an expedition to a remote mountainous region of southwestern China near Tibet.
"The fact that no one knows where they are is consistent with climbing without a permit," said Eric Simonson, owner of International Mountain Guides.


No Pie For You!

When most people don't eat, they get cranky, tired, easily distracted, or just plain unhappy.

And that's what I look for in my air traffic controllers.

At the Denver airport, they are not allowed to leave the tower on their lunch break. Okay, that's annoying, but you can always deal with it by bringing your lunch, right?

Wrong. Because even though we trust these people to not order planes to run into one another, TSA doesn't think they can be trusted with food.

This is from the DenverPost.com:

Jim spencer staff columnist
TSA socks controllers in the gut
By Jim Spencer
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Article Last Updated:11/14/2006 09:37:45 PM MST

A can of Hormel chili. A piece of pumpkin pie. These are the kinds of deadly items Transportation Security Administration screeners have seized from air-traffic controllers at Denver International Airport.

Need a definition of bureaucratic insanity? First, the Federal Aviation Administration refuses to let controllers leave the DIA control tower to eat lunch. Then, because of rules restricting liquids and gels on airplanes, the TSA confiscates parts of lunches that some controllers try to bring through security checkpoints.

Not all lunch items are seized, a TSA spokeswoman assured me - just stuff like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cans of soup and yogurt.

And, the spokeswoman added, controllers can bring cereal through the TSA checkpoint, then buy milk from a restaurant inside the secure area.


Critical Advice for the Winter

Remember -- ANY water you encounter may be wet. Use caution.

Here are some more tips from the PI.

Tips for consumers when the power goes out

In the event of a power failure:

Never touch or approach a downed power wire or anything that is in contact with one. Always assume the wire is live and stay 10 feet away, including anything that you may be holding. Do not remove items caught in power lines. To report after-hours electrical emergencies in the Seattle area, call 206-706-0051.

If your power goes out, check your main switch for a blown fuse or an open breaker. Know where your main switch is. It can be either a circuit breaker or a fuse box. Learn how to reset the circuit breaker or safely change a fuse.

If a customer of Seattle City Light, call City Light's Power Outage Hotline at 206-684-7400 for a recording of all known outages or to report your own.

Customers on life-sustaining equipment should have emergency power backup. To certify it with City Light, call 206-684-3020.


And the list continues at the PI.


Stop the King!

Didn't we fight a couple wars so we wouldn't have to deal with this crap?

I've talked about Burger King ads before. They are one of the few companies whose ads have successfully kept me out of their store.

I'm afraid of the Creepy Burger King.

I thought things were getting better. They have that weird chicken who wants to be a french fry. And they have that weird family of burgers. And there's been other weird stuff. The Creepy Burger King was going away.

Then things really got better. They started showing commercials where he crashed his pocket bike. Or went through the wall and crashed in a bumper car. I though maybe the Creepy Burger King would die.

But he didn't. Instead we get this from the Creepy Burger King.

Ronald may be weird, but at least he's not some escapee from Camp Crystal Lake


Mildly Annoying Experience with HSBC

Today I got my HSBC Master Card Statement. In the "Important Information" section it says:

This is a notification that a change of address has been processed on your account. Please be advised that a confirmation letter has been sent to your previous address. If you have not authorized a recent change of address, please contact us immediately at the phone number indicated on your statement."
Of course I hadn't changed my address, and, strangely enough, the statement still came to my current address. So I called them and spent several minutes on hold.

The CSR I spoke to verified my address, and said it was correct in the system. Then he attempted to sell me on a credit line increase and lower interest rate. I'm currently paying 0% so I declined.

I asked for more information about the change of address. He said there was nothing to worry about because my address is correct. He then tried to sell me on a credit monitoring service, which I declined. Several times.

I pressed him again about the change of address. He said there was no problem and they were just verifying that my address was correct. I explained how that didn't seem right, since there was nothing about verifying my current address -- the notice said there was a change.

He explained that they need to verify the address because several people can have the same name. I asked for more information about the address change. His suggestion that it was simply because multiple people can have the same name made me even less comfortable.

He then suggested that I clicked something online. I assured him that wasn't the case. He said there was nothing else he could do, but there was no problem.

I was still not comfortable with that so I asked to be transferred to someone in the security department. He put me on hold for a few minutes and said he couldn't do that.

Then I think he tried to get me off the phone -- judging by the conversation he couldn't initiate the end of the call.

He explained that there was noting he could do.

I said, "I see."

He asked if there was anything else he could do for me.

I said, "Apparently not."

He said he was sorry he couldn't help more.

I said, "I see."

He said everything was ok.

I said, "I see."

Then he offered to transfer me to a supervisor.

I accepted that.

I spoke to the supervisor for about 45 seconds. He looked up my account, and he told me that the last time I called HSBC about a month earlier, they updated my employment information. It's in the same system as the address information, and that generated the change of address notice. He apologized for the inconvenience.

I suggested that might be good information to have on the notice or for the CSR to have available.

I thanked him for his help and we ended the call.

27 minutes total.


Book Review 09: Want to See What I Wrote?

Cover or Creative Non-FictionI picked up Lee Gutkind’s The Art of Creative Non-Fiction” because I though it might help me write better here. I don’t think it will. It’s less focused on the personal essay, and more focused on the long-form quasi-journalistic essay.

The author is a college professor, and I wonder if he wrote this book to use it as the text for his classes. It may be more effective that way. As a stand alone text it’s lacking.

The book is 200 pages long. The first 67 pages is a basic introduction to creative non-fiction. The next 62 pages are about the process. The final 81 pages are the appendices, and are mainly samples.

To be fair, my view seems to be in the minortiy. The reviews on Amazon have been much more positive and it currently has a rating of 4.5 stars.

Section 1: The Creative Part

Traditional journalists learn early in their education that creativity or imagination in newspapers and magazines are basically disallowed. Reporters with any real literary talent will have it squeezed out of them by stubborn and insensitive editors. Disillusioned they will write secretly at night (becoming closet poets or novelists), or they leave the profession to chase their muse or some other dream.
Page 10

This is the most interesting phrase in the section. There is little value in most of the first third of the book. If you pick up the book, save yourself a couple hours and skip these pages.
The author includes an inordinate amount of his own samples. To make a point about creative non-fiction, he simply copies and pastes content he already published in other articles and books.

There are thousands of sources he could have drawn from for his examples, but he keeps going back to his own work. I’m not sure if it’s arrogance that keeps him using his own material, or if it’s a way to double-up on the royalties. It hurts his credibility.

Even if he sourced other content for the chapter, it would still be too much. There are too many samples, and they are too long. Rather than telling us more about creative non-fiction, or telling us how to do it, he just shows what he and other people have done.

And while there’s definitely value in that, if I wanted to just read examples of creative non-fiction, I’d actually pick up one of the 40 issues of the Atlantic Monthly that have been sitting on my floor for years waiting for a reader.

When not focusing on samples, he does include some practical advice for the writer. He covers ways to improve your writing.

Just as musicians practice their instruments every day, actors rehearse, basketball players shoot hoops, boxers do road work and spar – writers write.
Page 58

Of course, that’s a point that should also have been hammered home earlier on, along with:

Focus also dictates what not to write about.
Page 64
Section 2: The Non-Fiction Part

In the second section of the book (page 67 thru 129), he tells us some important things. If you start reading at about page 67, you’ll be in good shape. Gutkind gets to the essence of the genre here. Rather than talking vaguely about scenes and just throwing in samples of the genre, he should have just made this point earlier – and then explored it.

The creative aspect of the creative nonfiction experience should be utilized to make the teaching element – the nonfiction part of the product – more provocative.
Page 69

Gutkind also points out that writers need to subvert their egos to the needs of their editors, publishers, and audiences.

The second reason Creative Nonfiction and most other journals and magazines reject essays is their authors’ lack of attention to the mission of the genre, which is to gather and present information, to teach readers about a person, place, idea, or situation.
Page 70

If your work is regularly rejected with form letters, you may not necessarily judge yourself to be a poor writer, but it is fair to say that you may not yet be good enough to deserve the attention of a harried editor, pressed for time. It is a signal for you to heed.
Page 82

The strongest section of the book is Chapter 8 – Think Globally, Act Locally. It’s about choosing a topic. He covers both strategic ways to find new material, and tactical day-to-day ways authors can keep their creative pumps primed.

Suddenly I was struck by both the clarity and the irony of the situation: I had travelled halfway around the world to find a story that involved intense human drama and contained universal ideas and issues, when one of the most incredible stories in the history of medicine was evolving in my own back yard.
Page 77

Gutkind also offers the same lesson every English teacher I ever had offered – Good Writers are Good Readers.

Remember that the foundation of the writing life is reading: We read the best writers to understand how far we must reach toward excellence and how hard we must try. We read what is being written in our field today to keep up with our competition and to keep current on the subjects that appeal to us.
Page 92

To get the most out of this book, read:
  • Chapter 8
  • Rest of Section 2
  • Appendix 3
  • Appendix 1
  • Appendix 4
  • Section 1

Or just stop after Section 2.



Fruitcake Close up

Johnny Carson once counted all the fruitcakes in the world. The total he came up with? One. It keeps getting passed around.

Sadly, he didn't make it to Costco (COST)this year. If he did, he would have seen pallet after pallet of fruitcakes waiting for un-witting victims, like me. Here's a tip -- never go to Costco hungry.

But I saw these racks of reviled richness for just under $13 and thought, "Huh. I wonder why everyone hates these things. I should find out."

So this morning for breakfast, I had fruitcake and coffee. If not the breakfast of champions, it must at least be the breakfast of middle-managers.

I unwrapped the hermetically sealed package and let the cake drop onto my plate.

It's both crumbly and sticky. It didn't really hold "cake shape" on my plate, but sort of reconfigured itself into some sort of gloppy pile, presumably as a defense mechanism. When I picked up a piece it loaded some sort of crazy glue onto my figures. It took a few hours to clean off two fingers, but the neighbor's dog is still attached to the other two.

Costco Fruitcake

The important thing is taste. eartha at Chowhound really enjoyed it. I, too, found it really tasty. I don't think Costco used any alcohol in the manufacturing process, so it could have been better, but I still enjoyed it.

The bits of fruit were nice and sweet. The cake of the cake was moist and tasty. The nuts...well, I'm not a big fan of nuts in my desserts. I used to hate them. Now, though, as long as it's not coconut, I'm okay with them.

I don't know if this problem is indigenous to fruitcakes or is a trait specific to Costco. But there were just too many nuts. Walnuts, Pecans, TSA Policy wonks -- there's just too many nuts in the fruitcake.

It's still a hearty meal. One slice kept me going until the afternoon when I decided to microwave half a pound of bacon.

It's worth finishing and trying another type. I'll probably just have to find one that was made in a monastery some place. Those monks make tasty snacks.


The Big Ad

This may be an older ad.

The beer may or may not be any good.

But the ad is very big.

And brilliant.

The Comedian's Dream

Mike Drucker is one of the comedians Jon works with on a regular basis. He is the other guy on the Play Cole Podcast. Fortunately, he's funny.

Did you ever wonder what comedians dream about? Mike tells you.


A Sad Story From Oregon

James Kim (1971-2006) and Four-Year-Old daughter, Penelope Kim

Image from CNET.Com -- http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/fd/pg/120606/120606_james.jpg

James Kim--family man, technologist

By Greg SandovalStaff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: December 6, 2006, 6:04 PM PST

James Kim was a respected expert on bleeding-edge digital devices, an owner of a trendy clothing store, and a lover of the futuristic-sounding music known as electronica.

Yet most of Kim's life revolved around traditional values, according to friends: sacrifice, friendship and family. Those who knew him say they aren't surprised that Kim, in the last act of his life, demonstrated the ultimate expression of devotion to his wife and daughters.

A sad story unfolded in the Oregon woods over the past week. James Kim, an editor at CNET and TechTV personality, was found dead after a long and difficult search.

You've probably seen the basics of the story on the News, in the Nortwest newspapers, or in the raging forums at Digg.com, Fark.com, Fazed.net, and dozens of others. Here's the latest CNN coverage. There is a friends and family site, too. CNET also has a James Kim video tribute, highlighting a number of his appearances.

Kim, his wife, and two daughters were on their way back to San Fancisco after spending time with friends in Seattle and Portland over Thanksgiving. On their way from Portland to the Oregon coast, they ended up on a Forrest Service road that turned out to be impassable. They got stuck in the snow.

During the next seven days, the ran the car just enough to keep warm. When they ran out of fuel, they burned tires for warmth and to signal searchers. But after a week in the cold and with little food left, Kim left the car to go find help.

Two days later, a helicopter spotted the car and the mother waving an umbrella as a signal for help. A barely detectable cell phone ping led searchers to the general area. Rescuers airlifted Kim's wife and children out of the cold on Monday. They are doing fine.

Over the next two days, though, searcher continued to look for Kim. On Tuesday, they found a pair of pants he apparently left behind, possibly to mark his trail. They narrowed the search area and prepared to drop a bunch of emergency packages where Kim might find them.

This afternoon, they cancelled that plan when they found his body.

The computer technology industry is a small one -- and the marketing/PR side of it is smaller still. I doubt I ever met Kim, but it's possible I would have somewhere down the line. Geeks familiar with his work were all over the 'net expressing concern, frustration, and speculating about what happened. This incident seems to have touched the business in a way that general news and missing persons reports just don't.

I'm not sure why Kim's ordeal resonates with me the way it does. Perhaps it's his Geek cred. Perhaps it's that where the same age. Perhaps it's because I've spent some time on roads I probably shouldn't have been on.

People will say he was wrong to leave his car. In hindsight, that's clearly true. But when he made that choice, he was doing whatever he could to save his family, at great personal risk. That kind of life and death choice is one that very few of us are called upon to make. I hope I am never in such a situation. But if I am, I pray I will have to courage to make the tough choices and do whatever it is I have to do.


Paperless -- From the Archives

I found this on my hard drive tonight, and, while a bit dated,it still makes me smile. This is the short version. I'll post the long version another time.

Ten years ago, you might have found this document at www.cyberhighway.net/~cromely. That was the personal web page I had back in 1996, when those things were all the rage.

A Call To Arms

For years, pundits talked about the paperless office and how great it will be. Do you remember "Paper free by 83?" Neither do I, but it would have been a cool slogan.

Access toinformation in the paperless office and society would be easy and universal. Paper would gradually disappear on its own as the world gleefully embraced the digital age. Those pundits were wonderfully positive.

They were fools.

The early proponents of the paperless environment were just that - proponents. What my paperless crusade calls for is zealots.

We must be virulently anti-paper. It is time to attack paper with anger - hatred - even violence. Shredders must replace store rooms. Data files must replace file cabinets. Email must replace snail mail. When a single CD can replace an entire filing cabinet, it makes no sense to adhere to paper.

  • Paper is bulky.
  • Paper is heavy.
  • Paper is difficult to back up.
  • Paper fades.
  • Paper cuts.
  • Paper clutters.
  • Paper tears.
  • Paper gets lost in the mail.

Today we have the tools to fight the abomination of the printed page. Join me today. Star expunging paper from you life today.


A Play Cole Classic

What's Tommy without Dick?

What's Lou without Bud?

What's Tim without Harvey?

What's Gilligan without the Skipper?

What's Fozie without Kermit?

What's the entire population of a small town in Vermont without Bob?

Just a bunch of crazy people.

Presenting the new and improved:

"Adventures of Straight Man"


Down the Chute -- One Piece at a Time

I got it one piece at a time
And it didn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

I threw out my desk tonight. It went right down the trash chute.

I had a large O’sullivan L-shaped computer desk that I bought form Office Depot in winter of 2000. It survived from Mt Lake Terrace to Seattle in November of 2001 with minor injuries. One part broke in half, and another was weakened.

It should be noted, that it was a big, heavy piece of particle board furniture, and I moved it in a half-assembled state. I got great service from O’Sullivan. When I contacted them about the large, broken piece, I gave them the part number and they sent me a replacement with in a week, at no charge.

I used the desk for nearly 4 years until July, 2005, when I rearranged some furniture. I wasn’t sure it would survive another move, and I wanted something new, anyway. So I replaced it with a desk I build with Industrial Post Shelving.

But now I had this large desk to get rid of. I didn’t relish the thought of putting it in the car and hauling it to the dump. And since I live in an apartment building, I couldn’t really leave it at the curb or in the dumpster. Besides, it was heavy. So I disassembled it and put it in my closet.

Every couple of weeks after that, I would pull a piece out of the closet, stuff it in a bag, and throw it down the trash chute.

After a while, all the small pieces were gone and it was time to tackle the large panels. These I leaned on the steps and split by jumping on them. Then one piece went back in the closet, and the other went down the chute.

Finally, I was left with the big, extra thick pieces. They wouldn’t break no matter how much I jumped on them.

I don’t own an actual saw so I reverted back to a technique from childhood.

Have you ever tried to throw out dirt in a city? I don’t mean to scatter it, I mean to get rid of large quantities? It’s not easy.

When I was in grade school, my father decided to pave over the back yard with asphalt.

To do that, we had to remove 2-3” of dirt from the entire surface of the yard and get rid of it. Rather than try to get the Sanitation department to haul it away, we buried the dirt under the pantry. To do that, we had to cut a hole in the floor. How do you cut a whole in a surface when you are starting in the middle? You use a drill.

We drilled a series of holes in the floor in the shape of a square. Then we used a jigsaw in a game of power-tool connect-the-dots. The floor opened right up and over the next few days, we dumped dirt underneath the floor of the pantry.

Over the past few weeks, I took my drill to the large pieces, and made a line of holes across their width to weaken them. Then I jumped on the panels to split them.

And tonight -- 17 months after I began-- I dropped the last piece of the desk down the trash chute.

No one ever said I can’t complete a project.

So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin' for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn't laugh
'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.


FOPC Now Live

Last week, we launched the latest addition to the Play Cole site.

Now we are hosting content for FOPCs or Friends of Play Cole.

PilarToons has been on the Play Cole site for some time, and is now joined by French Fry Head.

If you are a Friend of Play Cole and have content you would like hosted, let us know.

In the mean time, visit http://www.playcole.com/FOPC.htm and check out the latest FOPC video -- Pee Shy:

A young man struggles to overcome the handicap of his illness. This is a story of hope, courage, and going in the potty.


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