Showing posts from 2009

Whirled Peas or a Really Cool Tablet?

Warner Crocker just posted his annual wishlist at

I am an inveterate wisher, so I made a comment to his post that I liked so much, I decided to just post it here too. Click the link above and see if anyone else added to the discussion.

Here it is:

Best wishes with your wishes. My grandfather used to say "Wish in one hand and %$#^ in the other and see which gets filled the quickest."For all of the absolutely horrible, unwanted products released into the wild, why can’t one company just give us what we have all been wishing for for over a decade? I read a statistic that 99% of all products released in Japan in a given year fail. What are these designers thinking? Do they test anything with real people? Do they read blogs? Do they even read their own support forums after they release a turkey?I think not…My perfect tablet would be big enough to simulate a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, maybe fold in the middle for carrying and protection and be pretty thin.…

Rage against no machine

Where I am from, you don't send out Christmas cards with plain ol' stamps. You have to have Christmas stamps (or at least holiday stamps or something festive.) So, I bought some surplus Christmas stamps from my office and brought them home to put on our Christmas cards. But, wouldn't you know, we had 46 cards, and I only had 40 stamps, so we had to get more stamps.

The reason that we didn't have any stamps in the first place is that the post office that my wife went to earlier did not have any stamp machines and the lines were too long to wait in. All of the stamp machines had all been pulled. This was the post office for our ZIP code, and it is not a particularly big post office, but I thought that was still kind of strange. In fact, this particular shopping center where the post office is located had one of the first stamp machine kiosks way back in the early 1960's, when you had to feed it a bunch of coins and then pull that big lever out and hope that the glassi…

Medicare, OxyContin and other addictions

Yesterday, during the steady rain that we endured while everyone else on the East Coast was getting buried with snow, I was sitting at my keyboard catching up on 'stuff'. The TV was on and I clicked away from Fox News just after the post-mortems on the Senate Health Care Reform cloture vote. Two channels down from FNC on DirecTV is Current, Al Gore's channel. There was a piece playing about Hillbilly Heroin, or OxyContin and the drug trade between Florida and middle America to supply this wildly addicting drug.

This situation with 'OC' is very sad. Most of the people caught up with the addiction (and the illegal trade to feed it), by their own admission, did not want to get involved. But, like many things in life, crap occurs. In fact, the sherrif of the Kentucky county where the report was shot, said that everyone in his county was touched by OC in some way. No one was immune from the influence.

Today, I watched Meet the Press and Fox News Sunday. As the questions f…

The Biggest -ism of All

I am having a difficult time reconciling something...

For the past several months, I have been following Tom Peters' blog at I even post a few comments from time to time (if you can imagine that.)

A recurring theme lately has been about health care in the US. Tom has a number of readers and posters from the UK. Many like the system that they have and they have posted anecdotes to support their feelings. Another recurring theme is that something needs to be done about health coverage in the US, that we are the only developed country in the world without some sort of full coverage and that we as a country are slackers for not doing so.

The word socialism keeps cropping up. Tom made the following comment following a recent posting "The "horror of socialism" is a uniquely (?) American thing. We do allow a socialist military--though with our second ammendment, many of us are mini-militias. (I personally think that any Congressman who votes against some form o…

No Skin in the Game

I just received a nice logo watch as a gift. I opened up the tiny, little booklet that came with it to see how to set it (nothing is easy anymore...)

The little booklet turned out to be the 10 Year Warranty certificate. Here is what it says in a 2 pt font:

"All timepieces carry a 10 year limited warranty against any original defect in materials and workmanship. (Warranty excludes: batteries, wear to crystal, strap, bracelet, crown or damages resulting from accident or abnormal use or from repairs made by others.)"

Later on it continues: "Should your watch require servicing covered by the warranty, send to the following address... a check for $12.50 to cover handling, postage and insurance charges."

Now, what are the odds that anyone would use this warranty? Or be able to find the postage stamp-sized 'brochure' in 2019 which will instruct them how to make it all happen?

If your warranty is unusable, why even have one?

I sure hope they don't require a proof of…

Watch your back, Audible!

I was moving around my collection of 'stuff'' during the recent nor'easter after I discovered that a leak in one of the rooms in my house had saturated the carpet with water.

I discovered this little box in perfect condition. It is a set of two cassette tapes containing an abridged Audiobook of Tom Peters' Liberation Management - Necessary Disorganization for the Nanosecond Nineties. It was read by the author, ca 1992.

(I remember the nineties. They seemed to blow by in a nanosecond...)

Even then, I had discovered that the quickest way for me to get through a book was to have someone read it to me. I have bought other books by Tom, and most recently, I have listened to his Audible reading of Re-imagine!

Coming up from Tom in 2010 is his new book, The Little Big Things (163 Ways to Pursue Excellence.)
He writes interesting books, talking more about enterprise than small business, but great food for thought, never-the-less.

Lots to be Thankful For

And I mean lots!

In spite of the recession, wars and political malfeasance, the US (IMHO) is still a great country to live in and even the 'haters' who threaten to leave this country if X, Y or Z happens, never do. We have to put up fences and guard (except for the airport, I use that term loosely) our borders to keep people out.

So how can we be so FUBAR?

There are so many examples of dis-ingeniousness, that I had to pick just two for this special Thanksgiving edition of The-Asterisk. Food and Climate Change (nee, Global Warming.)

Food Insecurity. This is a term that is just getting its legs. No, it doesn't mean that tomatoes are dreading the frost or that carrots fear being yanked from the warm earth. It is a term to describe hunger, or the threat of hunger. If an individual is labeled food insecure, it is defined as being hungry or anticipating hunger within the past year. has well-written page that further defines this term. Don't get me wrong, I am sure there…

You can check out anytime you like...

...but you can never leave.

I just returned from a Don Henley concert. For those of you under 30 and don't know who he is (or if you are over 30 and clueless), Don Henley is a singer-songwriter and the predominant lead singer for The Eagles. It was a great night and the final stop on his autumn tour for 2009. The first song of the first encore was Hotel California. I have always liked that song and the lyric "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave" has always stuck with me.

On the drive home, I was thinking of the music that was played tonight and that line kept coming back into my mind. I couldn't help thinking about Nancy's 1,980 pages and Harry's 2,082. And once we are into this abortion of a bill (I can call it that since both sides desperately want the government to pay for abortions, and this law will be the biggest one ever) it will be like Hotel California. We will never be able to leave.

As the Senate prepares its Saturday Night Sp…

Jobs, jobs, my Kingdom for jobs (with apologies to Steve...)

This whole jobs thing has been bothering me for quite a while. Is the US a manufacturing giant? Are we a consumer-driven self-licking ice cream cone? Are we the breadbasket of the world? What exactly are we????

This question was driven home recently when International Paper announced the closing of the Franklin, VA paper mill, forcing 1100 people to lose their jobs by early 2010. IP cites "Too much capacity in the paper manufacturing sector" as the reason for closing the plant, while they have busily been opening new plants around the world. Are they creating plants where they are going to be selling the product, thereby lowering both shipping costs as well as labor costs? Or are they just greedy? IP will not sell the plant to another paper manufacturer since they want to reduce capacity (read competition). They supposedly will be removing all of the mill machines from the plant to further dissuade any comers from making paper again (and likely shipping the machines overseas …

Green Power to the People

Today President Obama is in Florida where he will speak at the new DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a division of Florida Power and Light. He will be touting the benefits of green energy as he helps kick off the official launch of this $150 Million facility that will provide power for up to 3000 homes.

What? 3000 homes? Do the math. That is $50,000 per home. Who is paying for it? This facility covers (literally) 180 acres as it provides 25 Megawatts of power throughout the daytime. It will save 277,000 barrels of oil (over what span of time?) and reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

I am very much in favor of reducing our energy imports to ZERO and if we don't have to pump anything into the atmosphere, that is OK with me, but to create a facility that serves 3000 people for that kind of money is a ruse.

Compare and contrast that with the run-up to the Iraq war. The Bush Administration has been excoriated about saying that there were no weapons of mas…

Shredded Accordian, anyone?

Check out this video. It amazes me that people can put this much effort into somthing like this. Moreover, that someone can have the talent to put this much effort into... Cuz, I could put the rest of my life into it and never hit the mark, know what I'm sayin'?

Now, if he could cover JerryC's rendition of Pachelbel's Canon in D like funtwo did...

And the winner is...

Let me start by saying that this is not another one of those what-I-had-for-breakfast blog postings. Hear me out...

Do you ever use a product and while futzing with it, involuntarily mumble to yourself "What a piece of $#!+. If there was an award for the biggest piece of $#!+, this would be it"? I had one of those moments this morning.

Usually for breakfast I have non-fat yogurt and blueberries with a sprinkling of cereal on top. It hasn't helped me with my weight 'issue' but it makes me think that it does and breakfast is incredibly simple to throw together. But since Costco didn't have any blueberries available this week, I had to improvise. (Since I usually pay $8.49 for 18 oz., I certainly am not going to run to the local grocery store and pay $5.00 for 4 oz.)

We had a few strawberries left in the fridge, so I decided to mash them up and mix it with the yogurt. No problem. I cleaned the berries and decided to save myself a little time and use our faux Slap-C…

Living La Vida Doggie

I have always wondered about those people... you know, the ones with 87 cats, 12 dogs and a tanks of salamanders, who are discovered by the authorities. Chopper 12 and Live at 5-News 4 shows up at the house taking pictures of Animal Control personnel in Tyvek bunny suits carrying out animals in cages. They always find the one animal with the weeping eye and the mangy fur to do a tight shot of. (Sort of like that one picture that all of the animal rights people show of that chicken with the deformed face, looking like Bill the Cat. You know the picture, don't you?)

Most people love animals. It starts innocently enough. You have a dog or a cat. A stray shows up and you feed it on the back porch. It becomes friendly with your pet. Sooner or later it ends up inside. Then another shows up because you left the bowl on the back porch. Lather-rinse-repeat. Next thing you know, film of you with your pixelated face being escorted from your home is the tease for News Team 8 at 6. How did it h…

Living on the Edge

OK. This is my first attempt to embed a video into my blog. Let's see how well it works.

There, how was that? This was also my first posting to YouTube and my first HD video upload. So there... lotsa firsts in this one.

Do as I say, not as I do

The chutzpah of Democrats as a group never stops amazing me. It takes grande huevos to do some of the things that they do, but then to watch them either ignore the action or justify it is what truly stuns me.

Two days ago, I tried to Google-up some background information on the vacant Teddy Kennedy seat in Massachusetts. Actually, I had seen a report last week talking about how Sen. Olympia Snowe (RINO-ME) had decided not to back the Baucus-Senate Finance Committee 'Health' bill. The report said that the Democrats only had 59 votes and I thought "what happened to their bulletproof 60, now that the clown senator, Al Franken was swept into office in a landslide in MN?" I found out that Teddy Kennedy's vacant seat could not be filled by the governor because the Democrat legislature had, in 2004, passed a law requiring a 145-160 day waiting period followed by a general election for vacant senatorial seats, rather than the typical governor appointment. Why? Because in …

...And Raspberries for All!

Several years ago I planted a raspberry bush in my backyard. After a couple of years it started producing fruit. They were nice sized berries... between a nickel and a dime in diameter. I got a few berries last year, but this year the bush was loaded. Each cane had probably 50 or more blooms and then little raspberries began to grow. I would see them start to turn from green to a pink color, then I would go out in the morning to pick a few and they were all gone!

The same thing had happened to my blueberry bushes. I have four plants and I did not get one blueberry off it to eat this year, even though it had been loaded with fruit.

What was the culprit and why was I losing all of my freshly grown fruit? The better question is... what were the culprits? It seems that a local squirrel and a cardinal had been helping themselves to the fruits of my labor.

First, let me say that my wife and I are animal friendly. We have two spoiled golden retrievers, we have herons, ducks and Canada geese in …

Wholesome Prison Blues

Yes, I did it.

I got that phone call a month or so ago… “Would you be willing to go to ‘jail’ for an hour to raise ‘bail’ for the Chesapeake Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association?” Since I had done it several years ago and it didn’t kill me, I answered “Sure, why not.”

That was the easy part.

The hard part is actually getting cash for the cause. Those of you who know me well know that I tend to (how shall I say this?) procrastinate a bit on things that are out of my comfort zone. None of us… (well, very few of us) really like asking people for money no matter what the cause. Heck, if I could manage it, and my company and employees would work for free, I wouldn’t even ask my clients for money because I love doing what MERIT Solutions does.

But the reality is that everything costs money and nothing is free. Nothing. Not health care, government bailouts, dates with your future spouse, 90 days same as cash, welfare, NOTHING! Somebody ultimately has to pay for it. And folks, that perso…

The Big Business Conundrum

I was on a Facebook page today and there was a discussion thread that was started commenting on an article in the LA Times that talks about rescission. Rescission is where an insurance company will cancel an individual's policy, usually for the lamest of reasons, if the person is really sick and is racking up serious medical bills.

As you can imagine, the theme of the thread was "screw the blood-sucking insurance companies and let the government take over health care. They will do such a good job and be much more compassionate than the insurance companies." I made a comment as follows:

The dirty little secret is that the insurance industry already IS a quasi-government business, like the auto industry was before it made the leap from quasi to fully controlled. As almost the only conservative that responds to Andrew, I cannot defend the insurance industry. ALL forms of insurance (auto, home, health, life, travel) exist to maximize profit and minimize loss. BUT, BUT, BUT do …

"It will be a 10 minute wait"

I just got back from a nice meal from Abuelo's a fairly new Mexican restaurant in our area. When we walked in we were greeted warmly and handed one of those flashing, vibrating hockey-puck pagers to let us know when a table would be ready, then we were informed that it would be about a 10 minute wait.

I know you guys do the same thing I do... immediately survey the landscape and see how many empty tables there are in the place. Yeah, you do it too, don't you? You sit there and wonder why are they making you wait. What is it? Not enough busboys (bus-persons?) Do they want you to wander into the bar and buy a beer? Are they trying to build up anticipation? Maybe they want you to think you are getting a commodity that is in short supply? Whatever their reason, it is a bit frustrating.

I have noticed that many restaurants always seem to have a wait (no, I am not concerned about Cracker Barrel, they really do have a queue.) I just wonder if it is a ploy.

So we sat there on that long b…

Collecting my soul

Wow, it has been a while since I blogged anything over 140 characters. As you can surmise, I have been hanging out a lot at Twitter over the past month or so. I do miss posting 'real' blog posts instead of micro-blogging, but most of my previous rants took well over 45 minutes each, since I take my rants seriously.

I created my Twitter account back in the dark days of January 2008. Can you believe that it was so long ago? I know! Me neither. But I didn't post anything else until a few months ago when I decided to dust off the old tweeter and get to it from a professional point of view, one where I put myself out there, talking about technology (my business) but also about thing that concerned me (a little bit of politics) and things that I really enjoy (like live rock concerts.)

The latter brings me to the subject of this post, which is a contest that Collective Soul ( is holding.

CS has been one of my favorite groups for a long time. I…

The Speech

Set aside petty differences. Let's see. Republicans tend to roll over, will the Dems drop the mantle?

Remaking America.

Restore science. Hopefully, we will lose junk science along the way.

Stale political arguments no longer apply.

Good things go forward, things that don't work are left behind. Obama's biggest impedement to what he has said so far will be his Democratic Congress. Mark my words!

We are strong through restraint. I hope Osama Bin Laden agrees. Group hug with Ahmadenijiad and the mullahs.

He is preaching to the looney left. They are the ones to be convinced. They are the ones with the bitter hatred. Let us see how cooperative they are as their oxes are gored for the common good.

Great, uplifting speech.

Odd poem. But I don't get poetry, anyway.

Interesting prayer, but nothing embarassing.

Now, off we go to govern.

Inaguration Day

It is a 'snow day' in our region. All of the schools are closed. Yes, it was supposed to snow this morning, but nary a flake is seen as we approach the noon hour. I suspect that the decision to call off school was prompted by the fact that probably half of the students and faculty would have stayed home anyway just to watch the show.

I am impressed by several things. First, the extreme graciousness exhibited by President Bush and his staff. I doubt that anyone removed the 'O' key from all of the keyboards in the White House. Total, seamless handover of the reins. Compare and contrast with Clinton handover.

Obama seems almost regal throughout this process because he has been allowed to take the reins, not seize them. Unity is easy to dish out if you agree with the premise. We have seen how well the left embraces unity when they hate the unifier. Now we get to see how well they receive unity from a newly disenfranchised right.

I hope it all works out for our country. If w…