Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You know, after reading the news over the past few days, I feel nauseous. We've had three Philly cops shot between the wee hours of Sunday morning and now. The first shooting happened when a night club was letting out. Some nutjob started firing a gun. A police officer who was on hand, due to previous disturbances connected to this particular club, was shot in the leg. One suspect in this case was fatally shot, and another was arrested.

Last night, someone shot three people in an SUV, and the police officer who pursued the suspect was shot in the shoulder. This particular suspect tried to flee by jumping into the Schuylkill river; a body was recovered from the river so this suspect might not be at large anymore.

This morning, a cop walked into a robbery at a Dunkin Donuts, and was shot in the head. The most recent headline I saw said that the officer is out of surgery. The gunman is at large. I hope he's caught and put away forever.

The entire city is NOT a war zone. The neighborhoods vary, sometimes block by block. Around here, the biggest issue was last year when some stupid kids tipped over birdbaths on several people's front lawns. But we have a large, very active civic association in this neighborhood, residents here show up en masse when there is something afoot that impacts the neighborhood (ie, the Vet Stadium implosion), and we have access to numbers to call for the police liaison if there's any kind of problem. Unfortunately, EVERY neighborhood is not so well organized, or we wouldn't see a lot of the hideous headlines that appear in the local papers on a regular basis.

However, if you don't "know" the city, and you don't recognize just what localities a lot of the hideous headlines are occurring in, you won't realize that the entire city is not a disaster area. Hence, the reason why my (suburban resident) father-in-law repeatedly asks Mark about the crime rate in the city.

Personally, I am sick of the hideous headlines, and I don't care WHAT neighborhood(s) the worst episodes are concentrated in. It ALL needs to stop. The GOOD people of the city are in *every* neighborhood, and none of us deserves to put up with the vermin anymore. Mayoral candidate Nutter wants to institute a "stop and frisk" policy. GOOD. If it gets a few more thugs off the streets, stop-and-frisk away. And I don't know who the new police commissioner will be, as our current one will be retiring... but I hope it's someone who's hard-nosed on crime. It's time to take out the trash so the decent people in EVERY neighborhood can live in peace.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I saw Meerkat Manor's next-to-last episode of Season 3. All I can say is that I knew this was coming, from having read the "Spoilers" discussion forum on Animal Planet's site, but it was still a tough episode. We've lost several "main characters" already this season, and tonight we saw the passing of yet another meerkat whom we've followed for all three seasons. Poor little Mozart. :o( She was part of a small splinter group of meerkats that had left other, larger neighboring families. Unfortunately, drought, food shortage, and illness took its toll on their little mob of seven. By the end of last week's episode, Mozart was the last survivor of the Starsky group. By the end of tonight's episode, battling the desert solo had proven to be too much for her. According to the program, she was most likely killed by a jackal. However, the fact that her little body was lying in the sand :o(, not injured in any obvious way, makes me think that illness and/or starvation were more likely explanations. Either way, although I knew in advance that we were going to lose Mozart before the season was over, it still saddened me to see that she's gone.

Mother Nature is one tough cookie and she doesn't cut her charges any slack whatsoever. Which is why the nature programs that actually follow real-life happenings in the wild don't always have happy endings to every plotline. They can't. The real world doesn't work that way.

But just because I understand that this is the way the world works doesn't mean I have to LIKE it. I wish I could send some happily-ever-after Disney-like endings over to the little furball critters living in the Kalahari Desert. It's been a rough year for a lot of them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to prove that there's no IQ in FEMA. They scheduled a news conference in such haste, no reporters showed up. Apparently the concept of rescheduling the news conference to a date/time/place when reporters could actually attend, or just issuing a news release, crossed no one's mind. Here's what they did instead.

US agency apologizes for news conference on fires

Fri Oct 26, 2007 3:35pm EDT By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. government's main disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a hastily called news conference on California's wildfires that no news organizations attended.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.

"We can and must do better, and apologize for this error in judgment," FEMA deputy administrator Harvey Johnson, who conducted the briefing, said in a statement. "Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received."

No actual reporter attended the news conference in person, agency spokesman Aaron Walker said.

A spokeswoman for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has authority over FEMA, called the incident "inexcusable and offensive to the secretary."

"We have made it clear that stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated," spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. She said the department was looking at the possibility of reprimanding those responsible.

The agency had called the briefing with about 15 minutes notice as federal officials headed for southern California to oversee and assist in firefighting and rescue efforts. Reporters were also given a telephone number to listen in on but could not ask questions.

But with no reporters on hand and an agency video camera providing a feed carried live by some television networks, FEMA press employees posed the questions for Johnson that included: "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"

According to Friday's Post account, which Walker confirmed, Johnson replied that he was "very happy with FEMA's response so far."

He also said the agency had the benefit of "good leadership" and other factors, "none of which were present at Katrina." Chertoff was head of the Homeland Security Department during Katrina.

FEMA's administrator during Katrina, Michael Brown, resigned amid widespread criticism over his handling of the disaster, despite U.S. President George W. Bush's initial declaration that he was doing a "heck of a job."

E-mails between Brown and his colleagues over the course of the storm revealed a preoccupation with his media image, including his declaration, "I am a fashion god."

FEMA is reviewing its press procedures and will make changes to ensure they are "straightforward and transparent," Johnson said on Friday.

© Reuters2007All rights reserved

As an ex of mine would say, "Our tax dollars at rest".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

File this under "People who should NEVER sit next to one another on the bench":

I have recently rediscovered how freaking addictive the game Bejeweled is. You'll love it. But don't say I didn't warn you. ;o)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It appears that I'm not the only person who has co-opted the phrase "Stupid Criminal Tricks" from David Letterman's "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment. Someone who recently accessed my blog actually did so upon performing a Google search for the phrase, in which a link to the blog appeared. Let me just say that if you ever need a good laugh, just put "Stupid Criminal Tricks" through your favorite search engine, and prepare to .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This just in: take a nap, it's good for your mental health.


There appears to be a connection between sleep deprivation and psychiatric disorders.

Boy, no more guilt trips for ME when I avail myself of a little shuteye in the middle of the afternoon. (Particularly after a night where shuteye was particularly hard to come by.)
The latest installment of Stupid Criminal Tricks:

Would-be identity thief finds himself stumped without printer drivers

By Jacqui Cheng | Published: October 23, 2007 - 11:35AM CT

There are a few things in this world that thieves need to keep in mind in order to run a successful criminal operation. For example, don't take the cash you just stole from one bank to another bank down the street to have it deposited into your account. Don't steal someone's MacBook and take it to the Apple Store Genius Bar the next day to get help with OS X. And finally, don't steal a drivers' license printer from the DMV, only to call up the manufacturer the next day looking for drivers. That's one tip that 33-year-old Missouri resident Timothy Scott Short apparently wasn't aware of when he stole some equipment from the Missouri Department of Revenue earlier this month, only to find himself facing jail time after outing himself to tech support.

Short stole the Digimarc printer, along with a PC containing names and birthdates, from the Department of Revenue's contract office in St. Charles. Unfortunately for Short, the PC was locked, and he was unable to access anything on it, department director Trish Vincent told IDG. But without the software installed on the PC, the printer was essentially useless. Think of the millions of fake IDs that could be created on that thing!

Short apparently couldn't stop thinking about it, as he broke down and called Digimarc for support—twice—a couple of days later asking whether he would be able to obtain printer drivers. Secret Service Special Agent John Bush told IDG that he recognized Short's voice on the recording from another, unrelated investigation and that the phone number that Short had provided matched up to another identity theft case. Here's another tip for thieves: don't use your regular phone number for all of your crimes. Get a business line or something.

Short was then tracked down a few days later and charged with possession of document-making implements with the intent to use them for fraud. He now faces a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

HA HA HA... serves him right. Throw the book at Mr. Identity Thief.
October 23, 1983. The day that a truck bomb killed 241 of our Marines in a barracks in Beirut. I can't believe that 24 years have passed already... I can remember the day like it was yesterday. However, my timeline of finding out what happened is probably way different from most people's.

There was a local conference that weekend of various prayer groups. It took place in two all-day events on Saturday and Sunday; I was one of the musicians that weekend. There was also a bass player named Lou, who was somewhat older than the rest of the music ministry (and, as I later learned, had a son a few years younger than I was).

Our Sunday event started bright and early, so I was out of the house and away from radio and TV long before the news of the bombing broke. We all were. None of us at the conference had the slightest idea that anything had happened.

After the conference, in the evening, the music ministry went back to the home of one of our guitarists. Again, as we turned on neither radio nor TV, we were still unaware of the day's tragic news story.

I finally got home at about 10 PM. My mom and my grandfather were in the living room, talking about how terrible "it" was and how horrified and shocked they were by "it" all. I didn't know what they were referring to, but it sounded ominous. "From the sound of it, I suspect that I'm not going to like the answer, but I haven't heard any news reports today. What is the 'it' that you're talking about?"

My mom looked at me like I had two heads. "You don't KNOW?" At which point, I figured I was going to like "it" even less when I found out just how bad it was.

"Unfortunately, no. We had no access to the news during the conference, and at [the guitarist]'s house, we didn't turn on the TV or the radio. So I haven't heard a news report since early this morning."

So they told me about the bombing, and of course I was horrified and appalled by the news.

But not nearly as horrified and appalled as I was a few days later, when I realized that our bass player's son was one of the Marines that died. "My God, I spent that entire day with him, and none of us had any idea that he'd just lost his son!"

RIP, LCpl Louis Rotondo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I never met you, but if you were anything like your dad, you must have been a great guy.
Hallelujah! The NHL Network is now on our area's cable system! It's jolly well about time -- we've only been waiting for it for two years now. Yesterday, I read that the channel would go live at midnight, but after the lengthy delay in its appearance, I decided that I'd believe it when I saw it. Well, I see it, so I believe it.

If you're a Pennsylvania or New Jersey subscriber to the cable company whose HQ is in Philadelphia, check Channel 276. It seems to be on that channel in a large part of South NJ and SE PA.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I have discovered It's got all kinds of TV shows to watch online.

Including a personal favorite of mine: The Partridge Family. :o)
Upon reading about the wildfires in San Diego County, my thoughts turned to the location of the 2003 AADB convention, San Diego State University. So far, they're still up and running, although their website currently has this to say:

Monday, October 22, 2007
Campus Alert: San Diego Wildfires

Campus remains open; air quality being monitored.
Oct. 22, 2007 10:43 a.m.

San Diego State University remains open for classes today. Campus health and safety representatives are monitoring the situation -- specifically the air quality inside and outside campus buildings. Those on campus are encouraged to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed.

SDSU employees and students impacted by road closures and evacuations caused by the current wildfires need not report to work or class today.

Updates will be posted when new information is available on the SDSU Web site at and on the university's Emergency Information Hotline at [edited].

I hope everyone stays well over there. In particular, I hope that people, pets, and irreplacable belongings all get to a safe place until the fires are out.

Freaking wildfires. THIS is why I wouldn't want to live in any of those houses at the top of hills that we saw in California: the access to said houses is restricted because of the hills themselves, and if the road is blocked, no one can get in or out. No thanks. To me, it's just not worth the risk to live in a location like that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I just got back from the Phantoms Phan Club's bowling party. Thanks to Triston and Jussi, the players at our lane, and to Bev, my fellow fan, for not hurting themselves laughing at my bowling technique (or more precisely, the lack thereof).

I don't know whom to thank for the fact that when I arrived, all the Phan Club's lanes had their bumpers up (meaning that it's impossible to throw a gutterball). However, I notice that my hand hurt a lot less by the end of the game than usual, so I'm guessing that I benefited in more than one way from the fact that I didn't have to stress myself over keeping the ball out of the gutter. Well, that plus I actually hit at least one pin every time I threw the ball.

Well, every time except one: it was the turn after I bowled a STRIKE (yes, it's going to snow popcorn, I actually bowled a strike). To compensate for the karma of achieving the impossible (did I mention I got a STRIKE), the oddest thing I've ever seen happened to me when my next turn came around; as a result, I hit NO pins on my next throw.

After waiting a couple of minutes, to no avail, for the machine to reset itself from the previous player's throw, I clicked on the intercom that was at our table to notify the front desk that they needed to reset our lane. Moments later, a person from a neighboring lane came over and said, "See, here's the reset button", and pushed it. (I'd looked for that fargin' button, but I was darned if I could find it. Hence, my call to the front desk. I'm glad SHE knew where the darn thing was located -- that made one of us.) So, our lane was reset, and I proceeded to roll the bowling ball.

At that moment, I suspect that the person at the front desk got around to resetting our lane. That's the only reason I can think of for why the FREAKING BAR CAME DOWN right before my bowling ball reached the pins. WHOMP! Bowling ball hits bar and stops dead. FA NABLA! The bar then went back up and the bowling ball just kind of... SAT there for a few moments. But eventually, as I suspect the lanes are tilted ever so slightly downward toward the pins, the ball slo-o-o-o-o-owly rolled into the pin area and went away. I got credit for knocking down zero pins on that throw.

I turned back to my table, and of course everyone was hysterical laughing. I shrugged and said, "OK, even *I*, who have no luck at bowling, have never had THAT happen before. That's a new one on me." It *was* funny as heck, though. :o) But it just proves that I'm freakin' jinxed when it comes to bowling. And now I have the witnesses to prove it. ;o)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Aaaaah, *%$&#@... The cats have been bouncing off the walls tonight, and I couldn't figure out why. Finally, the sound of something crashing in the kitchen made me get up and check what in heck was going on.

I didn't see anything in the kitchen, but when I walked back into the living room, I noticed Stanley walking after me, kind of bouncing in the air as though he was jumping over an invisible obstacle.

Finally, I realized what the issue was. There's a freaking MOTH in here, and the cats are going nuts chasing it. As ill luck would have it, when I went to get the flyswatter, the cats lost track of the moth. So now they're looking all over for it, and I'm sitting here with the flyswatter on the floor at my feet.

And of course, with my bug phobia on full alert, I'm not even a LITTLE bit sleepy anymore. GRRRR.... oh, well. I never did get to watch Meerkat Manor earlier this evening. Looks like I'll be up for the 3 AM rebroadcast, waiting until the unwanted visitor resurfaces.

Update: it did make a brief apperance. I chased it around in a performance worthy of America's Funniest Home Videos for a few minutes. It finally took refuge in the central air/heat vent. Fa Nabla. Gosh knows when or if it'll come out.

Friday, October 19, 2007

OK, I'm a geek. I've never made any attempt to hide that fact. So the fact that I enjoyed trying a Zune feature, and sending a few pictures from my device to Joe M's Zune, should surprise no one. Hey, this kind of entertainment keeps nerds like me off the streets and out of trouble, so it's all good. ;o)

In other news, here's the Stupid Criminal Tricks installment for the day:

Thief Demands $185K Ransom for Cell Phone, Goes to Jail Instead

Baby Boy thiefOur thief didn't die, and therefore is not eligible for a Darwin award, but Randy-Jay Adolphos Jones is certainly someone who should be prevented from reproducing. The suspect indecently assaulted a Philadelphia woman as she exited her car in front of a friend's house in Lancaster County, PA around 1:00am. The woman squirmed free of her assailant's grasp but lost her purse -- with her cell phone in it -- to his grimy paws in the process.

Officer Jeff Gerhart arrived on the scene and got the woman to call her cell phone. Jones answered and demanded an absurd $185,000 ransom for the mobile phone. The woman quickly negotiated the ransom down to $200.

Jones agreed to meet the woman to collect his ransom and return the phone on a pedestrian walkway connected to Franklin and Marshall College. When Jones arrived on the scene, officers immediately surrounded him, guns drawn. The woman got her cell phone and her purse back and Jones is now in jail. During questioning Jones gave no explanation as to why he initially requested $185,000 for the return of the phone.

Bwahaha -- knucklehead! Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I love optical illusions!

For example, there's this one. Is the dancer spinning clockwise or counterclockwise

According to this site, "If you see her spinning clockwise, that means you're using the right side, or more creative side of your brain. If she appears to be moving counter-clockwise, then that means the left side, or more logical side of your think muscle is superior."

On first glance, I normally see her spinning clockwise. But for kicks, I figured out how to focus on her movements until I see her spinning the other way.

Have fun with this. I'm going to check out some of the other optical illusions on the site now.

Schoolhouse Rock.

File conversion from youtube to mp4, for my Zune, on

A combination made in heaven.
Good news! My laptop -- a refurbished computer with Windows XP that I couldn't pass up on, as it cost under $400 -- arrived today. It was the press credentials that set me thinking in this direction; if I actually plan to write, and I mean REALLY write, then it behooves me to get the necessary tools. So I went looking for an affordable device, and lo and behold, I got an email about this one that was on sale.

Long story short, after getting it set up with antivirus, firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-adware software, I'm good to go. Actually, there's one more bit thing I need to do, and that's install AOL. There are some things, like sending mass mailings for the Phan Club and changing my AOL password, that I have to actually log in to AOL program in order to do. So I'm downloading AOL now.

It shouldn't take too much longer to feel like I'm "set up" properly, as there are only a limited number of software items and websites that I use on a daily basis. I've got most of the software on here, and I'm bookmarking websites as I go along, so my "home-away-from-home computer" is pretty close to being fully functional.

So, look out! Now that I have a full-sized keyboard to use, at home, any time and from any room I please, there might be more posts en route. Don't say you weren't warned. ;o)

It's been a good gadget week. Yesterday, I worked with Joe M. setting up his Zune (I'm converting the world, one music fan at a time! hee hee), and today I'm setting up a new 'puter of my own. Toys are fun. :o)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sometimes, putting the music player on "shuffle all" can create odd juxtapositions of songs.

Just now, I had "Lovely Ladies" from Les Miserables, the song that describes Fantine's decision to resort, out of necessity, to prostitution.

So what was the next song? "He Shall Feed His Flock" from Messiah.

Talk about songs whose lyrics are polar opposites of each other!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LOL. Last night, we had our monthly Phan Club meeting. In honor of the event, I wore a "Free Downie!" T-Shirt, the likes of which Flyers/Phantoms fans have been sporting to protest an excessively long suspension (in our opinion) of one of our rookies.

Wouldn't you know it? We had a guest speaker from the Phantoms front office last night. Now our Director of Sales knows that the Phan Club's secretary is a radical. :o)

But if you think that's the most protesting I do, wait until the Flyers home game tonight. We're allowed to send text messages that show up on the Arenavision before the game and during intermissions, and they scroll across the bottom like the news crawl on CNN. I rounded up some people from, and we were texting "Free Downie!" to Arenavision during the preseason, but apparently the powers-that-be started filtering those messages out once the regular season started.

So tonight, I'll be posting "Free Steve Downie!" in Pig Latin, and see if THAT gets through the filter. I'll just need to line up someone who's actualy AT the game to let me know if the message gets through to the scoreboard or not.

The truth shall not be denied! The NHL front office is populated by pinheads! Eefray Evestay Ownieday!

Friday, October 12, 2007

I got an email from The Other Donna, letting me know that Google is honoring Luciano Pavarotti today:


My Frank Mills CD arrived today! I just finished ripping it and synching it to the Zune.

I'm sitting here listening to "Love Me, Love Me, Love", that old childhood favorite song that I haven't heard in years, even as I type.

I freakin' love the Internet. I'd never, ever have been able to find this song again without it. Heck, had it not been for the internet, I wouldn't even have heard the song since the early 1970s, when it was popular on the radio. As it is, as I posted before, I heard the song a grand total of one time since the 70s, and that was in 1998 when I was listening to a Canadian radio station on the internet.

BTW, as I discovered during my search for the song, Frank Mills is Canadian. This explains, at least in part, his appearance on that radio station at that particular time. Canadian stations have to air the work of at least a certain percentage of Canadian artists. So Frank Mills probably receives a bit more airtime in Canada than in the US. Of course, the freaking song is just good, IMO, which makes me wish it'd see some airplay once in a while down here, too.

But since most US radio stations seem to be locked into narrow formats these days, if you want to hear a song you really like, most of the time you have to play it yourself. Which I can do, now, since I OWN the song. :o)

I'm all happy now. :o)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Last weekend marked the start of the AHL season. The Phantoms opened their season at home on Friday night, plus they had a game on Sunday night -- both wins. :o) And though I didn't entirely avail myself of the new privileges I have after either game, I'm going to do my best to take advantage of the opportunity from here on out.

Long story short: I have co-moderated this Phantoms mailing list on Yahoo, which has existed nearly as long as the team itself, for several years now. The list owner, Tim, has had media passes for a long time. However, since his job situation has changed, and requires a lot of travel now, he won't be able to attend many home games this year. Therefore, he requested a full-season media pass for me, and the request was granted.

By the time this transpired, I already had purchased my season ticket and parking for the year. But I can also opt to sit in the press box, rather than the season ticket seat, and the option of receiving a full-season or per-game parking pass is available to media members, as well.

For the first two games, I availed myself of the copious printed information provided for media members -- stats and other information about players from both teams. I'm going to continue to do that, because I'm a stats junkie and I LOVE that kind of stuff. :o) But I sat in my regular seat, instead of in the press box, and I didn't go downstairs to interview any of the coaches or players following the game on either night.

That latter detail is about to change, and here's why. For a few years now, I've been acquainted with some people who've grown from being "just fans" to writing pieces for sites like, doing hockey-related radio shows on XM (satellite) radio's NHL channels, etc. I've witnessed this happen and thought, "Lucky them. How do you get THAT gig?"

And then, out of the blue, a full-season media pass for the Phantoms pretty much literally came out of the clear blue sky. Surprise! It dawned on me yesterday that I guess THAT'S how you "get that gig". Get your foot in the door somehow, then prove through effort and intelligence that you know what you're talking about.

So, here goes. Today the mailing list, maybe tomorrow the world. Stay tuned. :o)
Did you know that it's easy and legal to send fake Caller ID information Neither did I.

It's illegal to use false Caller ID info to commit fraud. But stalkers can apparently transmit false ID info to get their target to pick up the phone, and pranksters and revenge-seekers can pretend to be whomever they like. Oh, lovely.

According to the article I linked to, the law that would make this illegal was passed by the House of Representatives, but is stuck in the Senate. IMO, they really need to pass this law. Tightening up the technology itself, to prevent anyone besides the phone companies from transmitting Caller ID information, is also a must, IMO.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More "One Laptop Per Child" information, here in the form of a video review by the NYT columnist whose article I quoted a few posts ago.

Monday, October 08, 2007

In Scotland, there's a court case alleging that playing the radio at work is a copyright violation. To wit:

Kwik-Fit sued over staff radios

A car repair firm has been taken to court accused of infringing musical copyright because its employees listen to radios at work.

The action against the Kwik-Fit Group has been brought by the Performing Rights Society which collects royalties for songwriters and performers.

At a procedural hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh a judge refused to dismiss the £200,000 damages claim.

Kwik-Fit wanted the case brought against it thrown out.

Lord Emslie ruled that the action can go ahead with evidence being heard.

The PRS claimed that Kwik-Fit mechanics routinely use personal radios while working at service centres across the UK and that music, protected by copyright, could be heard by colleagues and customers.

It is maintained that amounts to the "playing" or "performance" of the music in public and renders the firm guilty of infringing copyright.

The Edinburgh-based firm, founded by Sir Tom Farmer, is contesting the action and said it has a 10 year policy banning the use of personal radios in the workplace.

Playing music

The PRS lodged details of countrywide inspection data over the audible playing of music at Kwik-Fit on more than 250 occasions in and after 2005.

It claimed that its pleadings in the action were more than enough to allow a hearing of evidence in the case at which they would expect to establish everything allegedly found and recorded at inspection visits.

Lord Emslie said: "The key point to note, it was said, was that the findings on each occasion were the same with music audibly 'blaring' from employee's radios in such circumstances that the defenders' [Kwik-Fit] local and central management could not have failed to be aware of what was going on."

The judge said: "The allegations are of a widespread and consistent picture emerging over many years whereby routine copyright infringement in the workplace was, or inferentially must have been, known to and 'authorised' or 'permitted' by local and central management."

He said that if that was established after evidence it was "at least possible" that liability for copyright infringement would be brought home against Kwik-Fit.

But Lord Emslie said he should not be taken as accepting that the PRS would necessarily succeed in their claims.

Apparently, the US hasn't got a monopoly on screwed-up litigation that gets allowed to proceed in court (instead of being tossed out, as I'd have expected this to be).

Boy, don't let the Performing Rights Society come over to the US. They'll hear radios playing in a good 90% of the stores and mall concourses I visit.

Silly me, I kind of thought that the performers in question would WANT their music to be heard on the radio, by as many people as possible. Doesn't that amount to free publicity for their work? And doesn't that increase the possibility that someone will hear the song, and like it enough to PURCHASE it? Or that they'll like the artist enough to attend a concert? I guess that line of thinking is so 20th-Century, huh?

However, if the PRS wants to crack down on the unauthorized turning of music into a "public performance", I have some suggestions for them. Can they sue the ignoramuses who drive their cars with their stereos blaring loudly enough to be audible three blocks away? How about the dunderhead commuters whose personal music players are cranked up to such a volume, the auditory leakage from their earphones can be distinctly heard half-a-bus-length away... can someone issue them a summons, too? Now if they'd do THAT, most sane people would consider their actions to be a public service, and not unwarranted litigation.
Migraines need to vanish from the face of the earth. Especially when I'm down to the last dose of Imitrex in the freakin' box and the prescription label reads, "No refills. Authorization required".

The dose I took about 24 hours ago did take care of the headache (yay, relief!) and the light sensitivity. But it does nothing to help one of the attending symptoms I tend to have when a migraine comes along: extreme fatigue. I hate feeling like I'm about 90% asleep on my feet -- it's a giant pain in the caboose to attempt to function in that condition.

At least one thing's good -- instead of being in the usual insomnia mode, where it's 4 AM and I haven't fallen asleep yet, THIS time around, I fell asleep from about 8:30PM-12:30AM. THEN I woke up and wasn't able to fall back to sleep. So that's four more hours of sleep than I've normally had by this time in the morning on an insomnia night. I'll take 'em.

Of course, if I could manage to make those hours of sleep happen at the same general timespan as the REST of the people who live in this time zone are making Zs, that would be nice. I'm working on that. It's like battling jet lag.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Man of La Mancha at the Walnut Street Theatre was outstanding!

So of course, the first thing I did when I got home was look for the soundtrack on Amazon MP3. :o) One 1-Click Purchase later, I own it. I love the internet. :o)

I'm going to run downstairs and try to catch the rest of the Phillies game now. We're playing in Colorado, and we apparently have a tie score in the 7th inning. That's outstanding! If we lose this game, our playoff run is over, so I hope we take this series to five games and advance.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

ROTFL... once again, I ask: why, in my billions of times taking the Broad Street Subway, do I never run into characters like this? :o)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Arrrrgh... so close, and yet, so far.

There's a song I remember, from when I was about 7 years old, that I really liked a lot. It was about an organ grinder who sang a sad song about his failed romance, and when it was on the charts, it was in heavy rotation on the radio. Unfortunately, when it dropped OFF the charts, I literally never heard it on the radio again from that day until this. I didn't know the artist's name, nor did I really know the correct title -- neither of those things was a big deal to me at age 7. Moreover, I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me that I wouldn't hear the song again for decades, so I'd better jot that info down somewhere. The only thing I could remember was what the song had been about, and a few bits and pieces of the lyrics.

In the intervening years, I heard the song exactly ONE (1) time. Uno. That's it. In June 1998, I was listening to an online broadcast of a Phantoms playoff road game -- the only game of the Calder Cup Finals that wasn't televised in Philadelphia. It was on a Canadian radio station out of Saint John, NB. After the game was over (we won ), I left the radio broadcast on, and lo and behold! The song I hadn't heard in 26 years was suddenly emanating from my computer! I was so taken aback, I nearly fell off the chair! But the Canadian DJ didn't mention the title or the artist, so I was no better informed than I'd been before. I was, however, all kinds of happy for having heard that old favorite song again.

So, let's fast-forward to the present day. I've got an MP3 player, I've been purchasing a bunch of oldies from the 60s and 70s, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could actually find that song after all these years?" So I looked on Google for ["organ grinder" lyrics], and what do you know? The information I needed came up.

It turns out that the song's title is Love Me, Love Me, Love and it's by Frank Mills. That detail threw me for a loop -- Frank Mills? Mr. Music Box Dancer? A guy whose music we performed when I was in the orchestra? Oh Em Gee! I played music written by the person who wrote that old favorite song of mine, and I didn't even know it!

Actually, I wouldn't have guessed in a billion years that he was the artist who recorded that song, because it's got lyrics and the majority of his work that I'm familiar with is instrumental. Here, for the curious, is a link to's 30-second sample of the song:

Love Me, Love Me, Love

To make a long story less long, I went looking around online and found said song, by said artist, on two different CDs. However, one of the albums it's included on was only available used. Therefore, I focused on the other album, which was available new, and placed the order.

The CD arrived yesterday. I just ripped it to my PC and played the coveted song back...

... and discovered that it's an instrumental version of the song. Oh, for gosh sakes!!! It sounds fine, don't get me wrong, but it's not the version I fell in love with in 1972. Son of a ratsin' fratsin' gun -- like I said earlier, "So close, and yet so far".

Back to Amazon I went, and headed over to those listings for the used Frank Mills CDs. Sure enough, the version with lyrics was on the album I'd originally skipped over because I couldn't buy it new. I embarked on "Childhood Memories, Take 2" and ordered a used CD.

I'm going to hear that old favorite song again if it's the last freakin' thing I do. Stay tuned.
There's a review of the XO "One Laptop Per Child" computer in the NY Times. It gives the device a thumbs-up, and also plugs, the site where people will be able to take part in the "Buy one, give one" program. I love this -- I hope the idea is a rousing success.

While I was writing the above paragraph, I was distracted by the sound of Captain vocalizing in the dining room. "Mrp. Mrrrp. MrrrrRRRrrrp. Mrp." These are noises he normally makes when he's talking to Mark, Stanley, or me; it made me wonder what was going on, because Captain was alone in the dining room.

Then I remembered that Captain was talking to the cricket in the computer room the other night. "Uh-oh, I hope it's not another bug!" Sneaker in hand, I went to investigate.

Captain was happily rubbing his face all over the cats' favorite catnip toy, telling it all about... well, all about something, at any rate. "Mrrrrrrrp, mrp mrrp!" I don't ever recall seeing him talking to his toys before. You learn something new every day, I guess. :o) I returned to the living room and left Captain to his monologue.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

4 AM and I'm not even a little bit sleepy. I hate insomnia.

In other news, I keep seeing this headline when I go to various favorite pages that include little blurbs from various segments of the news media: "Was Princess Diana pregnant?"

And every time I see it, I have the same reaction. "And this is my business WHY?" As if her family wasn't bereaved enough by her untimely passing, now this kind of speculation has to spring up ten years after the fact? Stupid media vampires. I guess it's a slow news day, so they throw headlines out like this to make sure people keep reading their site. Grrrrr...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phillies Phans have begun decorating their houses for the playoffs.

The "Meet the Phantoms" event will be at Chickie's and Pete's tonight, so I walked down. The crowd watching the Phillies playoff game is insane! It's as loud as being at the actual game. :o)
Yesterday afternoon, I went with my friends Joe J. and Jean J. (his mom) to a doctor's apppointment Joe had. He's been suffering with "new daily persistent headaches" of unknown origin since May. It's really frustrating for him, and for everyone who loves him, to see him going through this. It's hard enough that he lost his sight and hearing, and ability to walk, to a nervous-system disorder that no specialists have ever been able to identify. The various bouts of chronic pain he's had over the years (ankle, back, abdomen, and now headaches) are actually worse than the other things he's gone through, because the pain impacts his quality of life in a way that the other things didn't.

Long story less long: his body acclimated to the pain med he was injected with in June, and several times thereafter. It went from keeping him headache-free for ten days (the first time he had the injections) to not even lasting one day before the pain returned. So today, a different treatment was tried. He got injections of botox in various places in the forehead, sides of the head, and back of the head, since his headaches have manifested in any or all of those places over time. This treatment is supposed to take full effect in one or two weeks, but it's also supposed to last for three months. Here's hoping that it lasts that long (given his body's tendency to build up a tolerance to other pain treatments he's tried in the past). The good news is, his headache was reduced significantly by the time he left the doctor's office. It wasn't entirely gone, but hey -- improvement is always a good thing. Here's praying that the improvement continues.

In the "we like geek toys" category, there's this offering: Microsoft will be releasing new versions of Zune in November: a larger 80GB model, and two flash models of sizes 4GB and 8GB. However, not only will the original 30GB model continue to exist, but there will be a firmware update that will give it all the capabilities of the soon-to-be-released models. Accessories currently listed on will fit all the models of the device.

So, I'm all happy -- in a month, I'll get the equivalent of an upgraded device, without having to actually BUY a new device. Everything the new devices will be able to do, the original devices will do, as well. Tech-toy fans can find out what the new capabilities are by heading over to this writeup.

And now that I've waited until past midnight, specifically because the news release regarding the device upgrade was supposed to be made public at 12 AM, I'm going to try and get some shuteye.

Update: EEEEEK... the drawback of the weather being nice enough to keep the windows open is that critters that belong Outside sometimes sneak Inside. A little while ago, Captain and Stanley were awfully interested in the region between the open computer-room-door and the wall. And when I say "interested", I mean they were EXTREMELY fixated on that area, staring, pawing, mrrrrping and meowing at it. I've had cats long enough to know what that behavior means: we probably had a guest with six or more legs. Sure enough, there was a cricket hiding behind the door. I took my sneaker and made it an ex-cricket, disposed of it in the toilet, then thanked the kitties for finding it for me.

Of course, now my bug-phobia is belatedly kicking in and I'm WIDE awake. So much for that shuteye. Who needs sleep anyway?