Monday, February 28, 2011

What I Learned At Phoenix Jury Duty Today

Do not show up early. Doors do not open until 745am. You will wait outside in the 40F air until precisely 745.

Do not sit in the waiting room next to anyone wearing strong perfume or aftershave... Strong enough to make you cough & nose run.  The juror waiting room is large, take advantage of it.

Bring a mobile Device - DDF gave me her I touch - Phoenix municipal court has wifi. It does NOT work outside in the cold but it does work well once inside.

Have patience.... Lots & lots of patience. The orientation video is targeted towards a sixth grade education level. Ugh.  It's nice, and sweet, and patriotic, but it doesn't have a great deal of substantial information in it, other than "thank you for coming, your jury duty service is essential to our democracy, and please do not be discouraged if you are dismissed for the day".
 
One cannot wear a hat when in court.

One of the recommendation on the orientation recording is "do not express emotion" - lol!!! - if you are selected to sit on an actual jury.

The coordinator people are very nice and friendly.

Coffee and tea are free, so that is nice.

Average age of the jurors around me in the waiting room is 45 or so. Supposedly every 18 months you can be summoned.

The I touch is fairly intuitive. Sucks that I cannot SIGN OUT of things like FB easily... Grrrrr.

Bring your laptop for work.  The Wifi is strong enough to support VPN up-and-downloads, and there's a very nice "reading room" that is very quiet.  I read Jon Stewart's Earth which is quite hilarious so far.  Even funnier that a nun was sitting 3 feet away from me as I tried not to snicker at it.

If you're interested in watching a movie for free, they play a movie on the ubiquitous large screen TVs (Blind Side and Night at the Smithsonian were played today)

When the juror reception orientation person tells you that "watching the people coming through security is a freak show you don't want to miss" ... take her word on it, and watch the completely unprepared fellow citizens trying to negotiate a simple security screening, on their way into court to see their friends and relatives who are appearing in civil or criminal hearings that day.  On my way out, I saw a variety of human dregs and carnies I've not seen since previously visiting rural, indigent South Carolina.

The jury duty system in Phoenix is based on the "one day, or one trial" premise.  "One day" is "One day, and if you are not picked for a jury, you've done your duty and you can go home". "One trail" is "One trial, that lasts in general, 2 to 3 days typically".  The 5 cases that I could have potentially been picked for, were all "misdemeanor criminal cases" in the words of the facilitator "minor possession, prostitution, shop lifting, things like that".

Parking is EXTREMELY convenient - right across the street from the court house.  Do Not park in a "dark corner" or you'll have to step over a puddle of urine to get into your car.  Park away from corners, and Get your Parking Validated by the juror facilitators.

All in all, it was a very positive experience.  I am glad I did not get selected as I have a HUGE amount of work do to this week for my job with a remarkably full schedule - and unexpected relatives visiting for the next 2 days as well - but I will not dread my next jury summons.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Namaskar Not Namaste

I mentor a large number of young Indian engineers in my work.  They come from all over India - Bangalore, Mangalore, Tamilnadu, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Gurjurat, Mumbai, Chennai, and elsewhere.  Most all of them speak Hindi and English - some better than others.  Several of my close mentees are fluent Tamil speakers.  To get to know them more, and to "put them at ease" in our discussions, I have always tried to adopt and embrace some of the local languages.  India has 29 different distinct dialects spoken by a million or more people each - sort of like how Oklahoma in the US has 21 entirely different Native American languages, but amplify that from 3.9 million out to 1.1 Billion people instead.

As I wanted to avoid doing a Michael Scott / Steve Carell linguistic and social blunder of greeting "every Indian" with "Namaste", I inquired, if "Namaste" was indeed a normal greeting, between co-workers and friends in India.  My closest mentees quickly assured me "No Joe, use 'Namaskaram' for Tamil speakers, and 'Namaskar' for Hindi speakers".  They nicely told me that "Namaste" translates literally to "I greet the God within you" or "the divine presence within you", whereas "Namaskar" or "Namaskaram" translates into a hello that equates to "I humble myself before you" or more loosely "neither of us is above the other".  It expresses an "Absence of Arrogance" and a "reduction of ego", which is very important in a culture used to many centuries of class distinctions.  This distinction is very important to me personally, as I don't want to go through a great deal of obsequious gestures and gyrations, being called "Sir" and such.  I'm "Just Joe" - you don't have to call me "Sir".  I've never been knighted, and my mentees don't work for me.  Yes, it's a sign of respect, but I want to break down those barriers and get them to open up to me, and to speak with me in a normal conversational level, the best they can, without all the pomp and circumstance malarkey.

This is not to say the "Namaskar" and "Namaskaram" have NO spiritual context whatsoever, and "Namaste" is completely spiritually oriented.  No, it's far more nuanced than that.  But I have seen where "Namaste" is over-used by every practitioner, partial practitioner, enthusiast, or fan of yoga, or of India, and such over-use cheapens and degrades the word and it's inherent meaning.  So I actively AVOID using "Namaste" with anyone I do not know very well, and use instead. "Namaskar" with most native Indians in greeting them on the phone, in work related Instant Messages, in emails, or on the occasion that they visit the US or I visit India.  I don't include the traditional "bow", but in electronic correspondence, it doesn't really matter or convey that well.  If I find out that the person with whom I am speaking is a native of Tamilnadu, I will switch over to "Namaskaram" the next time we speak. 

You can use whatever you like - I am not preaching or advocating the use of one over the other - explaining why I tend to "cringe" when I hear "Namaste" being over-used around the world, often by people who think that it is just some kind of greeting associated with practicing yoga, and who do not understand the deeper meaning therein.

If you'd like to read more about the differences and deeper meaning, you may find useful links herehere, here, and here.

Sweet Dreams

...Are Made of This.   Classic Annie.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ebonized 230

I was playing Scrabble online this afternoon, when I came up with the biggest (highest scoring) word I've ever placed on a Scrabble board.  "Ebonized" with two different triple word scores, was worth 230 points.
My opponent resigned, 5 seconds later. 

I've played double triple word scores before... but this was the first time I doubled my score and had a "Z" in it.  Lemme know if you want to play Scrabble online sometime =)  (Note: Facebook Scrabble sorta sucks, so I won't go there again).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Misguided Indian Marketers

This morning, I received what I thought was a SPAM comment to the "How To Clean Your Own Hayward Pump Cartridge Filte..." posting from earlier this month.  Some anonymous person called "sachin" commented:

"Buy slotted angles shopping-racks, we are leading slotted angles shopping-racks manufacturer and provider or supplier for "plastic baskets delhi" and "plastic baskets manufacturers delhi" (India)."

The "quoted" parts were hot linked to a (perhaps) poorly named website "adequate steel" dot com.  I am not going to hot link it here and send these misguided marketers any traffic.  "Adequate Steel" does NOT inspire confidence to me.  Did they reject the names "Marginal Steel", "P*ss Poor Steel", "Maybe It's Steel", "Won't Break Immediately Steel"?  Obviously, the nuance of the negative psychological impact of "Adequate" are lost on "sachin" and his company.  At "Adequate Steel" they showed that they manufacture shopping carts.  The pictures they showed were the smaller "custom" carts that you can find at places like Whole Paycheck, Auto Parts Stores, Trader Joes, etc.  They might have offered LARGE carts like Costco and Home Depot use, but I didn't dig deep enough, uninspired by the adjective "Adequate".

So AS's "sachin" probably found my blog with a keyword search of "basket" or something...  and then quickly assumed that a specialized pump's filter basket equates to a shopping cart.  "sachin" never bothered to set up a Google profile, so that anyone who was actually interested in his company would know how to contact him, but who knows, maybe he's a non-Indian contractor who AS doesn't want customers contacting?  I dunno.

And "delhi (India)".  How many other cities called "delhi" are there, outside of India? And why would you not capitalize the name of your city "delhi"? 

The lack of an article "we are leading slotted angles shopping-racks manufacturer" implies that AS is somehow guiding, controlling, or drawing away, shopping-racks manufacturers some-place...  where exactly... who knows?  If they were "a leading manufacturer" or "the leading manufacturer" then that sentence would have made much more sense.  But they are not "the" or "a" they are simply "leading" manufacturers somewhere.  And the end of the 2nd half of the sentence implies they are only supplying people in "delhi" .. wherever that is.  Had it been capitalized, it might have been Delhi, locally pronounced as Dilli (Hindi: दिल्ली, Punjabi: ਦਿੱਲੀ, Urdu: دِلّی) or Dehli (Hindi: देहली, Punjabi: ਦੇਹਲੀ, Urdu: دهلی), officially National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT).  But no.

So "sachin" and the AS company he represents, have failed miserably.  They have drawn my ridicule and disdain.  I know there are millions of smarter, more fluent in English, more motivated Indians in India.  I've worked with many of them, extensively.  So Misguided Marketers BEWARE.  Do a poor job of approaching me in a language that is not your mother tongue, and you will be justifiably mocked.  There's others in your country and in the market place who are doing much better jobs at approaching potential customers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bittman on making Oatmeal Disgusting

Friends of JustJoeP already know that I'm a BIG Mark Bittman fan (link here).  His cook books, his philosophy towards food and eating, one could do alot worse.  So a Tip Of the Hat to my friend Jill for this link (here) to Bittman's article this week on McDonalds attempts to turn the wholesomeness of Oatmeal into yet another Frankenfood.  It's really worth the read. 
"A more accurate description ... would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”"
and
"The aspect one cannot argue is nutrition: Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)"

Ew ew ew!!!!!

So very gross.   As Jill put it "This article just kind of made me throw up in my mouth a little."  I Verped as well.  Disgusting.  This reinforces why I never go to McDonalds.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wanna Help The Wisconsin Union Protesters?

Buy them a Pizza.  PRI's "The World" ran a story on how Ian's Pizza in Madison has been getting pizza orders for delivery to the protesters, from every continent - including Antarctica!  Crooks and Liars has a nice story on it here: (link) from last Sunday.  "The World" doesn't update their website until 5pm Pacific Time... so I can't give you a link here.

Supposedly the "Macaroni & Cheese" pizza is the Most Popular flavor being ordered by concerned fellow world citizens, for the union members in Madison with whom the Governor and Republican Legislature refuse to have a dialogue.

If you want to help to feed fatigued, entrenched protesters, by ordering a pizza or two online, read on:
"Monday, February 21 (12:15pm)
Thank you all so much for visiting!
If you are here to learn how help feed the protesters in Madison, here's how you can do that:
Call us at 608-257-9248, then press 1. As we have just three phone lines it may take a while to get through, and we apologize in advance for that.
For online ordering we have partnered with both badgerbites.com and campusfood.com to process our online orders. If you would like to order online, please put 115 State Street as the delivery address, and add in the notes that you would like to help feed the protesters.
While we thought about it, we will not be setting up a Paypal account, even though we realize that would make it easier. Please understand it's not because we don't want to help you out; we really just don't want to over-promise & under-deliver. "

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

American Workforce Makeover Needed

The Daily Show excoriates the codependent relation between American Corporations and their labor forces, using rapier wit and poignant analogies, skewering the Republicans on their own words.  Link here.  I watched this twice last night, and twice again today.  Emmy worthy, at Camera 3.
"You don't understand why Corporations don't look at you the same way they did in the good ole days, before collective bargaining allowed you to limit, when and where they could look at you."
"You thought you were doing the things necessary, to raise a middle class, together, with the corporations, but when you were home on 'Weekends', or "Federally Mandated Holidays' or having your 'Dental Work', your Corporation was off banging Mexico, India, or China's industries."
"And now you wann'em back"
"Well it's not like he hasn't been telling you what turns him on"
- Cut to failed former CEO of HP Carly Fiorina who drove that company into the ground before the board threw her out, claiming that "35% tax on business when the world averages 18%" - REGARDLESS of the FACT that MOST of the RICHEST US Corporations pay NO FEDERAL TAX (in 2008, and again in 2009). GRRRRRRRR
"Who wants 35, when they can get 18??"

"In the old days, American worker, you were wild and exciting.  You'd do it all day, and all night, in every room, even the ones with no fire exits."
"But now, when he rolls over, and announces he wants to start drilling, you're all 'Oh no mister, not here, not without protection!' "
- Cut to Headline News covering the BP spill's idiotic and perfectly avoidable mistakes -
"But when I wear a blowout preventer, I barely feel like I am drilling"
"And the constant nagging!!!!"
- cut to MSNBC and Fox News commentators scolding big business for laissez-faire evil -
"India and China understand Corporations.  India and China let them be themselves"
"Corporation wants to come home late, wreaking of DDT and salmonella, and go wake the kids up, because it's time for their shift, that's cool! They just want them to be happy!"
Look, you knew!! ...they were sociopaths when you married them."
"Not that there haven't been hints, of what you might do, to create a more welcome corporate atmosphere"
- cut to Kneeling Cavuto and a corporate sycophantic berating unions, and another Fox fool berating  Wisconsin teachers for making $51K a year (yeah, with BAs or Masters degrees or PhDs, how despicable!) 
(whispered) "But-cha gotta want it"

"Pretty nice, Professor Trump"
 "So American workers, Slim Down! Work More! For Less! In Sh*tty Conditions!"
"And I'm not talking 1/2 pay Saturdays and partial Dental."
"Ohh the Corporations are saying you're looking good, and they really appreciate the effort, but the Truth is, if you want First World Corporations to think you're attractive, you're gonna need a Third World Makeover."
- cut to picture of Mexican family outside a double wide
"This family does your job for 70 pesos a week."

Monday, February 21, 2011

But The Administration Said It Was Gone...

Scientists, gathering actual data, find more large swaths of Gulf sea bed dead and polluted (link here). (older here, and related here [go to bottom of page])  Don't they know that most of the oil BP spilled is all gone?!?? The EPA & NOAA, on orders from the Obama Administration said it was all gone, last year before the November elections, remember? (links here and here).  Who do those pesky Scientists think they are anyway? Using actual method, data, facts... it's completely unacceptable.  Don't they know they should be leaving well enough alone and TRUSTING the environmental monitoring agencies who have already ruled on the matter??

This is just another example of how Obama's administration is losing more respectability and "Say / Do" quotient points.  Grrrrr.  We had bogus spouting liars in the executive previously.  I thought there was going to be actual change on this topic.

I knew it from the first time I heard that it was all 'magically gone' and 'microbes ate it' that it was bogus.  Despicable lies.

No worries though.. The Republicans will soon de-fund everything, except subsidies to Oil Companies and the super rich with un-needed tax breaks, so soon it will be irrelevant whatever the EPA or NOAA says.

Quote of the day - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson
HBO link here.  (Dr Desert Flower and I saw DeGrasse Tyson speak passionately about Science on Real Time last week, that we'd DVR'ed)
Good Reads Quotes Link here.
HuffPo link here.

This quote is so good, it may be actually the quote of the year (after living in Red State America & having fundy relatives and co-workers who refuse to believe in basic scientific facts).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Scraggly Beard Must Go

I got busy with a surge of work this week, and didn't bother to shave for a few days. The calico cat multi colored bristles need to go today.  Itchy and unpleasant, and Dr Desert Flower doesn't like it either. Enough with the superfluous facial hair.

I don't think it looks "rugged" or "stylish", I think it looks lazy, un-kept, and unsightly.

Dos Gatos Negro Adicionales

Dos Gatos Negro Adicionales - or two additional Black Cats.  Last week, DFF and I stopped by Sprouts to pick up some fresh organic produce, and I noticed they had Gato Negro on sale for $3.99 a bottle.  The Malbec & Carménère that I'd enjoyed earlier (link here) were down to 2 each on the store shelf, so I picked up a Cabernet Merlot and a Merlot, to try them, rounding out the wine carrying bag to 6 - AND getting an additional 10% off in the process.  The helpful cashier reminded me, as I had only picked up the Cab, so I ran back and got another bottle - no one was waiting behind me, so I didn't "clog" the line.  Over the course of the week, I polished off both bottles, and I have to say, for $4 a bottle (or actually $3.61 with the discount) they were very good.  Floral notes, smooth finish, full flavored, hints of red berries but not overly fruity, very little oak.  Nice, drinkable, good table wine.

Keep up the good work Gato Negro!  And thank you Sprouts for carrying it.

Just My Imagination


Been going through my head all weekend.
The Rolling Stones does a version of this as well, but all I could find were live performances with low quality audio.  The Cranberries have a song of the same name, but radically different... the Vevo video does have nice slices of Dolores O'Riordan's slender stomach in it, for those who like that sort of subtle allure, but this morning I was opting for the 1971 Temptations classic.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wind, She's a Blowin

Today around noon, I pull up to my house after giving blood and running a few errands, to find this, in front of my garage!  Yes, I've seen tumble weeds before, they are no big deal.  Tumble weeds are ubiquitous in rural Arizona, along highways, stuck to cattle fences, in drainage ditches and canals, stuck to an occasional cholla.  But I live in the middle of a nautilus shaped sub division (the roads, when viewed from google maps, look like a spiraled nautilus).  The nearest open field, which is a large farm field that grows (alternately) sorghum, cotton, and corn is 6 city blocks away and separated by a raised 4 lane highway from my neighborhood. 
So yeeeeee haw! Alrighty there, young missy, you just giddy up and get along now, ya hear!  A nearly 3 foot diameter ball of tumbleweed, blowing across my driveway.  And here I thought I lived in the Big City, since Phoenix has nearly 5 million people in it (the 5th largest US metro area).

I checked my pool filter's skimmer, and it was JAMMED FULL of pin oak leaves, blown from adjacent yards over the wall and into my pool.  The hummingbirds are enjoying the one feeder that is covered, hanging in the patio, out of the rain. 

I've found Arizonians treat "rain" the same way South Carolinians treat "snow" (or the possibility that there MIGHT be snow).  Since it is often sunny, rarely cloudy (most years), and rains typically at most 2 weeks out of the year here, when a storm does come blowin' in, local residents are FASCINATED with looking out the window of their homes and businesses. "Didja see the lightening!?!" (yes, I've seen lightening many times in my life)  "Do you think it'll snow??" (it was 65F today, and we are at 1100ft elevation. Um, No, it won't snow).  Spend some time in the Midwest, and rain and snow and lightening and wind don't impress you much, unless a tornado is lifting your home or car.  But a tumbleweed, up against the garage door, in a suburban driveway?  That's funny.  =)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Flight, Near Collision, Again

Last week Monday, I was flying in the back of a Continental Airlines flight (CO369) Airbus 320, in window seat 31A (there were 34 rows on my flight).  My window faced north.  It was about an hour and a 1/2 into the flight, around 11am ground time, we were at or near 35,000 feet heading NE somewhere over the Texas or Oklahoma Pan Handles, when I happened to notice a RAPID SHADOW flash across the left wing I could clearly see outside my window, from right to left (fuselage to wing tip), in less than a second.  It was a cloudless day, so I thought... 'Is this a Twilight Zone episode?' or 'Are my old eyes deceiving me?'  So I leaned forward, looked out the window, and saw what made my heart sink, and put a lump in my throat.

A very similar view to what I saw out my window.
About 500 feet above us, and heading towards the NW at a clip of about 600 mph, was the distinctive red and blue colors and outline of a Southwest 737, probably SW5060 heading from Houston to Denver.

Now, if I didn't know that "Above 29,000 feet (8,800 m) no aircraft shall come closer than 600 m (or 2,000 feet)", I would have shrugged off the ~500 foot separation.  I know it wasn't 2,000 feet, since I could see nearly directly INTO the back of the 737-500's CFM56 engines, which would have been a very oblique view had the Southwest flight been 1/2 a mile or more above me.

I've been in my backyard swimming or working out when the landing pattern for Sky Harbor Airport has been from West-to-East, and had a plane's shadow pass over me as the commercial flight is slowing from about 250 to 170 mph as they decelerate to land, before banking to follow and parallel the I-10 to the airport. So it was not the first time a large flight's shadow as crossed my path.  But it was the first time over 29,000 feet I had a shadow cross, and the 6th time I've been on a commercial flight that nearly collided with another plane (over New Mexico 2010, Siberia 2000, China 2001, Belgium 2001, Southern Indiana 2010) of which I am aware.  I am quite certain there's been more aerial close calls, but like the pilot on CO369 a week ago, most of the time no evasive maneuver is made - Siberia 2000 was a near head-on at 7am as my Continental flight was heading due South and a Polar Express cargo flight was heading due north, in the same (but opposite) vectors, when the Continental 777 pilot made an extreme course correction that almost sent my just-served breakfast into the aisle and I watched the blue and white Polar cargo plane streak North at a relative speed of nearly Mach 2 about a 1000 feet to the West.of our starboard wing tip.  Maybe the CO369's flight computer had no "collision avoidance" alarm.  I don't know.

The most positive aspect of a potential in flight collision, is that the resulting cataclysmic fireball would probably instantly kill me, and make my wife a very rich widow.  If the fireball didn't get me, and the impact threw me and my buckled-in seat clear, suffocation (above 15,000 feet) due to oxygen deprivation would knock me unconscious and I wouldn't notice the inevitable impact with the Earth below.  And if the crash was below 15K altitude, and I didn't pass out, I'd have one heck of a rapid vertical fall (human terminal velocity is about 120 mph) for a minute or two.

As I laid on my yoga mat pool side this afternoon, admiring the beautiful blue sky with light wispy clouds soaring slowly above, the thought occurred to me "look up at the sky, not down at the ground, if you're ever thrown clear from the impact of a mid air collision".  I try to look on the bright side.  =)

The "R" Is Important

When working with many people from around the world who did not grow up speaking English, it is important to keep in mind how IMPORTANT the letter "R" is, and how difficult it is for non-native English speakers to sometimes get it right, and to not confound the use of "R" and "L" with each other.

Cancer       becomes "Cancel"
Titration     becomes "Titillation"
Increment   becomes "Inclement"

The examples are endless, but these are a few that I've heard in the last several days from Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic native speakers.  I try very hard, when pronouncing non-native English words and names to get it right, the way the local native speaker would pronounce it.  In English, when there's an "R", use an "R" and not an "L" or a "W" or a silent letter.  When there's no "R" (like the word "India") please don't add an extra "R" in there.  =)

The Mechanic's 2011 Version

While I was stuck in Pennsylvania on business, I watched The Mechanic late one weekend night.  Jason Statham does his usual "professional, silent & deadly" personae.  I'd not seen the Charles Bronson 1972 original Mechanic (link here)... but I am curious how they compare.  Ben Foster plays an unlikeable character, counter balancing his previous role in The Messenger, which nearly had me in tears when I say it last year.  He was so unlikeable in the Mechanic, that he reminded me of the idiot Jesse in Breaking Bad. 

A high body count - most of them body guards or assassination targets - and a predictable ending, but not a terrible movie.  Not terrible that is, to see alone, or with guy friends - I know Dr Desert Flower had no interest in seeing it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc Reserve

Dr Desert Flower purchased a bottle of Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc Reserve, 2009, at Total Wine while I was traveling last week.  I enjoyed finishing it off this evening with a bowl of soup.  Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc is a Alsace Appellation Controlee wine, and actually the first Pinot Blanc I've ever tried.  It was wonderful.  Delicious fruit flavors without tasting like sweet grape juice.  Not too dry, Not At All grapefruit-like.  Really enjoyable and pleasant.  Highly recommended.

If you enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, and think most Chardonnays are too grassy, then try a Pinot Blanc.  You'll probably like it as well.

Links to it here, and here.

Bieber Fatigue, not Bieber Fever

I am getting tired of hearing about the Bieber kid.  I don't have "Bieber Fever", I have "Bieber Malaise" or "Bieber Fatigue".  It's bad enough that his petty and mean-spirited fans showed what sore losers and sad non-humans they are when they defaced the Wiki entry of the truly talented and lovely "best new solo artist" Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding earlier this month.   Bieber Fans don't "play hard ball", they're just petty little kids with a mis-guided sexual fixation.  Sort of like adult Republican men are, with Sarah Palin.

So I spent a few minutes of my life, listening to Justin Bieber's much bragged about drumming skills this afternoon.  Well, the kid is average for a 3rd or 4th grader.  He's not progressed much since his debut 9 year old premier video days.  He thinks he plays "fast" but he exhibits no stick control, no discipline, little understanding (or demonstration) of rudiments, sloppy technique, and a lack of a mature playing style.  "What do you mean??!!?!?!? Justin is awesome!!!!" - no, he's not awesome, as a drummer.  And as a performer, well, I give him to he reaches 21 before he implodes on his own overly inflated ego and image, due to a lack of a solid "Mozart Like" musical foundation.  Yeah, Mozart didn't make it much longer than that, but he had more talent in his pinky fingernail than Bieber has in his whole little boy body.

If you want to know what good stick control and drumming technique are, you can look here, here, and here, at DCI amazing talents Mike Bierek, Makana Sylva, and Ian Pacheco - though Ivan is somewhat of a show off, and that's not my preference.

"But Justin plays a WHOLE Drum Set!!!" .. yes, he does, in a very mediocre way.  I'm very unimpressed, and distressed that the sheep-like masses think he's so awesome when there's little-to-no substance there.  I watched as my own son passed Bieber's minimal level of play before he got to 8th grade.  Today, my son could teach Bieber and his irrationally devoted fans clinics on improving their drumming technique substantially. If you'd like to see (and hear) what good drum set technique is, listen to Moby Dick (link here minimalist, building, with supreme control) and the Professor on the drumkit, in a YYZ spliced montage (link here). 

Longer version (10 mins) of Moby Dick, here, including hand drumming, and video of Bonham's son playing drums with him =)

Examples of  Justin Bieber's lack luster drumming performances:
Justin Bieber Live Drum Solo at SIRIUS XM, link here
Stumbling, high sticks, no control, any 3rd or 4th grader could do, link here
Yawn, link here (start at 2:40 mark)

And these link above, are after this "younger" video done at age 9, here
As you can see, he hasn't progessed much at all.

If anyone has a differing opinion about young Justin, as to why he's the best thing since the debut of the double base drum pedal in regards to drumming, I welcome your comments, and look forward to discussing what aspects I may have missed - but I don't think I've over-looked anything.  I'm not a "hater", I just keep my facts in perspective.  =)

Studebaker Hawk

Billy The Mountain

Billy was a mountain.
Ethell was a tree, growing off of his shoulder!
Billy Had two big caves for eyes and a cliff for a jaw
that would go up and down when he coughed
let out dust, and hack up a boulder...  hack up a boulder....

Ethell, we're going on a vacation!

For part 2, click here.  Lyrics here.  Part 3, click here. (Part 3 is not child listening friendly).

Toto???   Auntie Em!?!?!?

Studebaker Hawk!  He's soooo mysterious!

Or if he has a son named Pinocchio, or what?  Maybe he sings like Neil Sedaka...

They said he could dance, and of course, they were right!

He might be a MARC or a lady marine...

A mountain is something you don't want to f*ck with....

The first time I ever heard this, was my Freshman year in college in Terre Haute.  Hilarious! =)   Anysley Dunbar, on the drum kit.

If you have never heard this before, and you make it all the way through all 3 parts, please let me know in the comment section what you thought about it. 

Mubaraked, verb

I've seen several interweb stories of how the verb "Mubarak" has entered the Egyptian Arabic lexicon (links here, and here) but they only concentrate on "over staying one's welcome", as in "Have your in-laws Mubaraked?"  What they do not mention, are the other definitions of "Mubarak" that have not yet entered Merriam-Websters, or Dictionary.com, or other places, but yet are intrinsically linked to the now deposed dictator's reputation.  So let me be the first one to present the other definitions:

Mubarak - verb  ( محمد حسني سيد مبارك‎)  slang
[moo-bahr-uhk]1) To fail to get the hint, regardless of how obvious it may be2) To farcically outstay one's welcome3) To brutally oppress one's people, using networks of corrupt police forces, informants, and torture, denying them open elections and basic human rights for a period of 30 years or longer.  Used in a sentence, for example: "Ahmadinejad ( محمود احمدی‌نژاد) and the Guardian Council ( شورای نگهبان قانون اساسی ) have Mubaraked the Iranian people".4) To make vain, desperate, futile attempts to look younger than you really are, while being a septuagenarian or  octogenarian, eg: dying one's hair. 
5) To have the goal your whole adult life of installing your first born son in the seat of national power (as every despotic dictator does) from which you've ruled as a billionaire, only to have it dashed away by millions of protesters from your unemployed, under-developed, secular country, deposing you and sending you into exile.

6)  To play Democratic and Republican American Presidents for the myopic fools they really are, from Reagan to Obama, to get Billions in military aid, while maintaining a posture of non-aggression towards your strong, well armed, but out-numbered, Jewish neighbor to the East. (also see "To Hoisni" as a synonym for "to hose").

So yes... there is the failing to get the hint and over-staying one's welcome, but those tell only one part of the story.  Hosni was not an obstinate idiot his whole life.  He played the Israelis, Americans, Saudis, Hammas, and Europeans quite well.  Raking in billions in tourist dollars and foreign military aid, torturing thousands of people, and stashing away a Bill Gates sized fortune.    

Hopefully a Democratic Secular state will come into being, like Turkey, but better, now that Mubarak's autocratic rule has ended, and no military coup or Fundamentalist Islamic state will take hold.  Il faut voir:   يجب أن نرى 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh, Ah, Bella La

This song (Vassy - Desire) has been running through my head since lunch time today.  I certainly hope I don't have to climb a Ladder anytime soon.  Il faut voir.. in the coming weeks.

EarPlanes Failure

3 weeks ago, I'd just gotten off a flight with a crying child in the seat behind me.  I'd forgotten the ear plugs I normally keep in my laptop bag.  So I stopped into a shop in the Detroit Airport (formerly NW terminal, now Delta) and picked up a box of "EarPlanes".  Living in an age of bar codes, I did not look for a marked price on the package, approached the store clerk, and began to hand her $2.  SILLY Me!  The pair of ear plugs was $7.49. Ridiculous!

They have little pressure relief valves in them... ok.. maybe they'll help my ears form popping.  Nope.  The air passage provided by the pressure relief shuttle valve decreases the noise arresting ability to a paltry 30 dB.  I could easily hear all conversations around me in the next flight.  And the Rigidity of the hard plugs and internal valves makes for a painful ear canal insertion. Ouch.

If you want to throw away $8 on ear plugs that barely work, and hurt your ears, by all means, get EarPlanes (aka EarPains).  I'll be sticking with my 20 cent compressible plugs that I can get at manufacturing facilities, by the handful. 

Psychedelic Furs - Heartbeat


This has been running through my head for the last 2 days...  I don't know why.  I also could not find a "non live" version of it on the interwebs that had a substantial number of hits, so this'll have to have to do.

I think driving home in taxi cabs at midnight, combined with jet lag, has dredged out long term memory neurons  from 30 years ago...  I dunno.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Clean Your Own Hayward Pump Cartridge Filters

One of the chores of being a pool owner in dusty Arizona, is that you either have to pay a pool service to clean your filters at least annually, or save the $500 or $700 they'll charge, and do it yourself.  Hayward pumps and Shasta Pools recommend cleaning the filters every 6 months, in the Spring and Fall, if your pool is heavily used.  In 2007, 08, and 09, I followed that recommendation, and found that the main filter body experienced a 10 psi decrease in head pressure immediately after each cleaning.  This made sense, since with less contamination on each filter, the pump did not need to work as hard to push water through them.

Well last Fall, with the rescue mission to go get Nathan Jr, and the short stay we had with our son staying with us, I did not have a chance to do a Fall cleaning, so the weekend before I headed to PA and NY, I took out about 3 hours to do the annual filter maintenance.  I'll try to explain here, the process I use, and you can attempt the same at your home if you are mechanically adept.  If you're not adept, or don't want to spend the time, this is what your pool service professional might be doing - or they might be raping you and charging you exorbitant rates to change out each of the eight cartridge filters that go for $50 at Home Depot, or $60 at the Shasta store.
 You need the following: 
- ratchet and socket
- a good screw driver (I use Craftsman)
- something to sit on (I use a old kitty litter pail)
- something to rest the filters on, instead of gravel or grass (I use an old cookie sheet)
- a hose, with a nozzle
- a tube of silicone grease
- 2 or 3 small disposable rags, to wipe silicone off your fingers
- patience
- upper body strength and good lifting technique
- a day with ambient temperatures above freezing

Find a place in your yard that has a 6 to 8 foot "splash zone" where you won't be spraying your home, it's foundation, or pH sensitive shrubbery or desert plants, a few feet away from the curb (there will be over-flow of some water that will run into the street).  I used to clean the filters on the driveway,. but I moved to the easement between my property and the neighbor's this year for the cleaning. 

1. Make sure your pump is turned off.  Disconnect the power, and make sure it won't automatically turn on mid-way through cleaning.

2.  Valve your intake to draw from the bottom of the pool and not from the skimmer.  

3.  Relieve the pressure on the large filter body.  behind the pressure gauge on the top of the large filter body, you'll find a little relief valve that can bleed the air away safely.  Loosen it, and you'll hear hissing from the valve, and "glug glug glugging" as water bubbles up through the system.  Both of these are "normal" sounds.

4.  Remove the protective thread guard cap and don't lose it.  You'll need to put it back in place when you are done. 

5. When the large filter body pressure relief valve reads "zero" ("0"), you can loosen the spring loaded nut with a ratchet and socket.  Try to maintain the nut-thrust washer-spring-washer assembly stacking, after removing it from the T-bolt, so you can easily remember how it goes back on.

6.  Remove the T-bolt, and then give the filter body a large bear hug.  With a twisting and lifting motion, you can lift the upper filter body off, and set it aside close by in the shade (leave it in the sun, if you want to burn yourself when you reassemble on the heated plastic). Be careful as you lift the filter body, as there is silicone lubricant all along the mating o-ring seat, and you don't want to wipe that silicone onto the paper filters and contaminate them, or they'll turn brown over-time, as evidenced in the above photo.  The upper filter body weighs about 30 lbs - not so heavy - but it is cumbersome and somewhat unwieldy, if you don't have a 6 foot reach with which to embrace the large plastic cylindrical filter body.

7.  Remove the filters, one by one or two by two, whichever works best for you.  The 4-leaf-clover end caps are idiot-proofed, and cannot be incorrectly installed.  They need to be removed and cleaned as well.

8.  Carry the dirty filters away from your pool, to the cleaning area - I take them two by two, one in each hand.  Crowding your cleaning area with lots of dirty filters can cause the cleaned ones to get back-splashed, and since they are expensive, you don't want to leave them curbside for an enterprising entrepreneur to snatch up when you are traversing back to your back yard (ahhh, city life!).

9. Now the blasting can begin.  Make sure the pan you are using angles away from your feet, or you'll be soaked by the time you are done cleaning.  Place each filter on the pan, one at a time, and angle the filter so that gravity helps your sprayed water stream to encourage dirt particles to run Down the filter and onto the ground.  You'll find insect parts, hair, small seeds, disintegrated poly styrene cooler left over tiny balls, and a variety of small particles that have made it though the trash screens in the pump and pre-filters washing out onto the ground. Blast from the outside, at a downward angle.  See the photo, to illustrate my point.

The water and dirt particles that first come off the filters will be chlorinated, but they will decrease in ion content rapidly, as the hose water floods over the filter paper.  You'll be able to visibly see dirt, mud, thorax, wings, insect heads, hair, washing  down and off the filters over the pan (or driveway).  This is good and fine and shows that your blasting is having a positive effect.

10.  After blasting from top to bottom, flip the filter, and blast again from top to bottom, rotating in 10 to 15 degree increments.  This will help to dislodge large particles that have worked their way between the tight folded mesh paper.  Repeat this 7 more times, one flip on each of the 8 filters.

11.  Use your screw driver to gently loosen the drain plug on the filter body.  DO NOT over-tighten.  I over-tightened multiple times in 2007 when I first began doing my own filter maintenance.  It needs very little torque to remain in place.  Over tightening will cause the large white drain plug to BREAK and LEAK, and they cost $8 each to replace.  Don't use a pipe wrench to tighten this, unless you are very very delicate with a large pipe wrench.  About 20 gallons of water will come gushing out of the lower half of the filter body. 

12.  As the waster gushes out, each inside and encourage gravel and heavy debris to flow out the drain.  You can do this carefully with your hand, making sure not to brush the silicone covered O-ring to your waist.  A hose can be used as well, to blast them out.  You want to get as much gravel out as you can, before you re-assemble.

 13. There's a wing nut equipped drain plug on most Hayward pump bodies as well.  Loosen it by hand and encourage any small gravel (pre-pump) out the small drain hole also.  DO NOT use a large tool to tighten this wing nut.  Designers put in wing nuts so that the "average human" can tighten and loosen by hand, not with a wrench or pliers.  You'll damage the expensive pump body if you over-tighten.

14.  Blast the plastic and wire mesh pre-filters baskets with hose water.  Do Not "thump" them against the ground or your hand or anything solid, as the baskets are not made to survive IMPACT.  They'll break, or dent, and then you'll be out dozens or hundreds of dollars in replacement costs.  I did not destroy one, but I DID crack one of the pump basket's plastic strands slightly, and treat them more gingerly now.



15.  Reassemble the 8 filters back into the cleaned filter body.  I try to place the darkened, contaminated parts, away from the intake where incoming chlorine concentrations are highest, especially after shocking the pool.  You can see the dark spots in the photo here, some of which were cause by silicone contamination, and some of which were caused by high concentrations of chlorine adjacent to the inlet.  By rotating the filters this way, you can extend their lives several years longer than Shasta would like (avoiding the $60 / each replacement costs).  [Follow the pipe from the pump to the filter body, to locate the filter body inlet]

16.  Reapply a thin coat of silicone to the main filter body o-ring and o-ring mating surfaces.  Apply a thin coat of silicone to the pump pre-filter body basket cover seals as well, using your finger to spread the new silicone around evenly.  Clean your hands on the rags after applying, and keep the seals clean as the silicone will attract debris readily if carelessly left on the ground.

17.  Carefully, gently, slowly, lower the large main filter body down over the newly cleaned and reassembled filters, making sure not to "drag" the silicone covered edge along the clean filters.  Seat the upper body onto the o-ring, and do a small "rotation" or 5 or 10 degrees, to fully "seat" the o-ring into its groove. 

18.  Reassemble the T-bolt, spring & washer assembly, and tighten the assembly using the socket and ratchet.  Continue until the spring is fully compressed.  It will be loud, as the tightening progresses, but that's good.  All that sound represents friction, and that friction (and the spring) will help prevent the assembly from loosening up on its own.  See the video below, to illustrate my point.  
video


19.  Get a bucket of water.  You can draw it out of the pool, quickly, or you can fill up a bucket with a garden hose,  it you want to waste more water - you just blasted several hundred gallons down your drive way, or into your water tolerant shrubs.  I use the same bucket I sat on while blasting the filters.  Dump the bucket of water into the pump pre-filter body, and QUICKLY put the lid on, before all the water "glug glugs" out of the pump into the rest of the system.

20. Do the same thing (#19) on the wire basket pre-filter "leaf vac" if your system is equipped with one.  Much of the water will rush out of the system and back into the pool, but using the bucket to "prime" each pre-filter body helps to reduce the strain on the pump.

21.  Check the integrity of all your seals, making sure you don't have any caps or plugs out of place.  Loosen the pressure relief valve on the top of the main filter body, to help the pump from fighting against excessive back pressure.  Some schools of thought say to leave the pressure relief valve closed until you see large sets of bubbles coming out of the nozzles in the pool, but I think the pump is working hard enough to draw in water.  Further loading it with more head pressure resistance doesn't make good fluid dynamic sense to me (blog visitors are encouraged to rebuttal in the comment section, if you disagree).

22.  When you have checked everything, you can re-energize your system, and start your pump.  You'll hear air rushing out of the filter body, and you'll see water rushing in through the sight glasses into the pre-filter chambers as the pump works to load up the system.  Out in the pool, you'll see large plumes of air jetting out of each pool floor nozzle, as the trapped air is driven through the system.  When the main filter body is FULL of water, it will begin spraying out of the pressure relief valve.  Close the valve with your fingers - do not use tools to torque it further.  The pump body and leaf vac sight glasses should fill up within a minute or two.  If they don't fill up, you've got a leaking seal somewhere.  You'll need to de-energize, disassemble, and see if you've flattened or rolled a seal somewhere.

Each filter takes me about 20 minutes to blast.  Each pre-filter basket takes 5 or 10 minutes, depending on how much hair and debris are lodged into the mesh.  Total start-to-stop time takes me 3 to 4 hours.  Kudos to you if you do it faster (again, comments are welcomed), or better.  A successful cleaning drops the differential pressure across the filters by approx 10 psi, as evidenced on the filter body gauge.  When dirty, I run 20 to 25 psi (13.8 to 17.2 MPa).  When clean, 10 to 15 psi (6.9 to 10.34 MPa), cycling up and down.

I hope this helps.  If you have any questions,  or suggestions, do not hesitate to make a comment here.  The "How To" postings get some of the most hits here on JustJoeP.


DenTek Doesn't Understand Customer Centricity

Recently, I had a run in with defective floss.  "Defective" in that when used normally, on my teeth, which are not insanely tightly spaced, nor are they unusually sharp, the floss broke.  I looked at the package, and found that this dental product was being manufactured in China - that very clean, never contaminated, highest-quality-possible, never-compromising-on-quality, third world country.  Why China?  DenTek thinks it'll make them more profitable.  Lose your customer base, get bad publicity, and you won't be in business forever, much less be profitable.

So I wrote the company, finding a "contact us" email address at their website:
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Hello Dentek and Elyse Bender-Segall,
I have been using Dentek Floss products for a long time and have been happy with the product.  Today I was closely looking at your packaging on the Floss Picks, and I noticed a "Made in China" label.  This raises some concerns and questions that I am hoping Dentek can answer straight forwardly.

As an experienced quality professional myself who has spent a great deal of time (3 years) in China trying to source complex, high quality machine components, I am well aware of the challenges that North American based companies experience in China regarding Quality control, consistently meeting exacting standards, and complying with FDA requirements for products destined for the US market.  As I've traveled extensively throughout Eastern, Western, Southern, Northern, and Central China, working with both small mom-and-pop shops as well as medium and large, 10,000+ employee companies, I found significant issues with contamination, hygiene, code compliance, corruption, consistency, and reliability with the various suppliers and products they tried to produce.  My experiences were not an anomaly, as reinforced by recent findings of lead contaminated toys, and tooth paste, melamine contaminated pet food and baby food, toxic dry wall, et al.  I also understand the perceived fiscal accounting pressure US Manufactures think they must acquiesce to in out sourcing their products internationally. But all the "savings" of out sourcing can easily be wiped out by a product recall, quality issues, or bad publicity.

With this experience in mind, I would really like to know the following:
1) When was the last time your supplier in China was visited by a Federal US auditing agency?
2) Were there major findings from the last Federal US governmental audit?  And if so, what were the nature of those findings?
3) Was the audit conducted unannounced, or was ample preparation time afforded to the supplier, to put on their "best face" prior to the inspection?
4) Does Dentek have a on site, Dentek Quality professional stationed at the supplier in China?  By "Dentek Quality Professional" I mean a direct employee of Dentek, not a contractor or an outside 'certifying agency' but someone who understands that their personal success and Dentek's success as a manufacturer of the highest quality dental products are intrinsically linked.
5) Where is the testing laboratory located that generates the quality reports on residual contamination on your floss products produced in China?  If it is in China, what international certifying agencies have qualified the lab?  If it is outside of China, please let me know which country if possible.
6)  What levels of residual lead, mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals, and other inorganic and organic contamination have random swabs of Dentek floss products, and Dentek floss product packaging produced?  I do understand that Dentek floss products are NOT designed or intended to be produced with any such contamination, but I also understand that the environment throughout China is unhealthy, and the cleanest, purest, most pristine consumer products can be quite difficult to make and export to the US in such an environment.

I know that for some of the questions above, Dentek may feel it is intrusive or proprietary and cannot directly answer, but I do hope that someone at Dentek will respond in a positive and cooperative manner, so that as a consumer who wants to use more of your products, as well as a blogger who gets 1000s of hits on my http://justjoep.blogspot.com blog each month, my concerns can be addressed.  I know it is possible to get high quality products from China, with fastidious supervision and a driving passion for excellence, but it is not easy.  If Dentek has a success story from China where they've conquered significant challenges and made tremendous inroads in quality improvements, I would love to hear about them. On the other hand, if Dentek has never sent their own Quality representatives to the China factory, or has no employees on sight, or simply purchases the floss products on a generic contract, sight-unseen, I will need to begin using dental hygiene products from other companies.

I would be happy to pay 50% more, or 100% more, for a safe product, rather than the lowest price for a product whose safety I am not assured.

Be Well
Just JoeP

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I asked 6 straight forward questions.  Yes, some of them might have been "proprietary" in nature, but each one was specifically asked to be able to gauge what DenTek's quality program was like, to help restore a "warm fuzzy" feeling that I had with their product before I found out it was made in China.  Did DenTek Consumer Affairs take any of my 6 questions seriously?  No.  They insulting sent me the following brief reply, 3 days later:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Joe,
Thank you for contacting DenTek.  As a provider of FDA class 1 and class 2 medical devices we are required to deliver safe and effective products to the consumer.  We do have in-house quality assurance and controls that adhere to set quality guidelines and our products are reviewed both in China and in our facility in the US.
Have a great day!

Best Regards,

Consumer Affairs
DenTek Oral Care, Inc.
307 Excellence Way
Maryville, TN 37801
Phone: 1-800-433-6835
Fax: 865-380-4133

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Now, this was not a true "form letter" response, but it did not address all 6 of my questions, concentrating on #4 and part of #5 only.  Not very assuring, no "warm fuzzy" and sadly, falling far short of what I expect as an experienced Quality professional.  No "if you have any other questions, please feel free to call us" or "if we have not addressed your concerns, do not hesitate to reach So-and-so at phone number 800-xxx-yyyy", or any such thing.  Just "we deliver FDA class 1 and 2" and "we have in-house quality assurance".  Well, the FDA is sorely lacking in inspectors, and the Republicans will not fund getting more of them,  And Dundar Mifflin, has a Quality representative, Creed, and that doesn't reassure anyone either. 


So I will no longer be purchasing DenTek products.  While I cannot recommend anyone else use or avoid this company's products directly, I can make my own decision, and the basis upon which I am making it, public, to the tunes of thousands of hits a month.  If DenTek has a change of heart, and would like to open up an honest dialogue with one of their concerned (former) customers, they certainly know how to reach me.

Ora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, F&E

Fresh & Easy had a $3.99 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo last month when I stopped in to pick a few things.  It's hard for me to pass up a d.o.c. wine for under $5, even if it is a screw top - and more and more, the screw top wines are doing very well, quality wise, as the premium cork has been depleted and more and more defective corks are popping up.  The Ora was wonderful.  Not too fruity, not too dry, not overly oaky.  It was very good.  I agree with the other reviewers who have highly recommended it (here, here, and here). 

If you see one in the wine shop, snatch it up before they raise prices!  It went great with spicy dishes, steak, pollo asada, and was easily drinkable all on it's own as well.  Salute!

Poolside Is Better Than Bedside

I got home late Friday night (almost Saturday morning) after discovering how Continental Airlines doesn't know how to run a fleet of ATR turbo prop commuter flights.  My flight out on February 7th gave me a feeling of foreboding, when my Cleveland to Upstate NY flight was the only one NOT delayed in the exiled "D" terminal in Cleveland.  When I got to the airport Friday afternoon on time, and found my return home flight's turbo prop was late in arriving, and then had indeterminate maintenance problems, I knew I was in for a long return trip. 

I'd just spent a week in Upstate NY hotels, doing yoga each day before work on a towel laid out on the floor next to the bed.  Couldn't take my mat, since it doesn't fit in carry-on size limited luggage, and Continental and United are both sticklers about "1 piece of luggage + 1 personal item", and a yoga mat would have been 2 personal items along with my laptop.  While doing yoga in the mornings DOES give one the pleasant virtual company of Mika Brzezinski on "Morning Joe", it lacks the vitamin D producing sunshine and lovely view of my back yard, poolside.  And besides, my girl friend Anna seems apparently fascinated by watching me do yoga beside the aloe from her Ocotillo or bare branched Mulberry perches whenever she is not busily drinking from the blossoms.  Mika doesn't even know I exist - LOL.

So all in all, after 2 weeks in rural Central PA, and one week in Upstate New York, followed by 3 afternoons at home, I'd much rather do yoga at home, poolside, in the sun, than on a towel or towel-and-yoga-mat while on a business trip in a hotel.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dutch Kinematic Study


I wonder what happens when this mechanism heads into the surf, or encounters a hill or post or other blockage.  Interesting kinematic study though.

Reeses Pieces

I was surfing the interwebs yesterday, and stumbled across this funny image.  The lovely Reese Witherspoon, and without it as well.  =P   I'd never seen this image before - I'm a little behind the curve.  I thought Ms. Witherspoon was great in Walk The Line. That wonderful film actually made me forget the wince and shudder causing reactions the Legally Blond films caused me. Not that I ever sought out the Legally Blond films, there was just a period of time several years ago where they were on ubiquitously in every hotel room I ever stayed in, but thank goodness that time has passed.

In the same spirit of language oriented juxtaposed fun, I also stumbled upon the work of Jason Bergsieker.  If you like the Arch drawing below, check out his Flicker page, here.  Enjoy =)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chevy HHR Failure

The last 2 taxi cab rides from the airport home, have been Chevy HHRs turned into cabs.  I'd never been in a HHR before.  Though Dr Desert Flower and I were given a Chrysler PT Cruiser for a rental car on our ill fated 2007 House Hunting trip to Arizona, I'd never driven GM's "competitor" to the PT Cruiser.  (ill fated, in that we foolishly decided to purchase a home at the peak of the housing bubble after being in the Phoenix Valley only 5 days, instead of renting for a year or two and waiting for the bubble to burst so we could have our pick of whatever home we wanted).  I had "high hopes" for the HHR, anticipating it would do better than the PT.  Sadly, it didn't live up to my expectations.

The HHR taxis, though only a few years old, were showing a great deal of wear.  Though not unusual for a taxi to degrade, the Caribbean drivers assured me they were disposing of their HHRs within the next year.  The HHRs felt like a small truck, with hard suspensions, transmitting the bumps and lane indicators to the base of my spine.  There's no "Oh sh*t!" handles in the back seat or front seat for that matter, hear the edge of the roof where ti meets to top of the door.  Essential for holding onto during cab driver maneuvers and helpful when getting in and out of the vehicle.  The acceleration was anemic.  The interior, Spartan.  The seats, less than comfortable.  Really, not an impressive car.  I have to disagree with the Chicago Tribune on this one (link here).  It's not a fine "under the radar" car, it's lack luster at best, and to be avoided, in my perspective. The PT Cruiser gave up it's last gasps in 2010 (link here). I think it's just a matter of time before the HHR follows the SS version to the grave (link here)  as well.

Delicious Crooked Sky Duck Eggs

After a third week traveling on business, eating mostly commercially available salads and airport franken-foods, it is nice to come home to my own kitchen, and make some high protein eggs from Crooked Sky Farms (link here).  The duck eggs they sell at the Central Phoenix Farmer's Market for $6 a dozen on Saturday are wonderful, nutritious, and tasty (link here, although what the duck is FED will largely dictate what the test results come out to be, so like anything else, take these test results with a grain of salt).

Crooked Sky Farm's duck eggs need no salt whatsoever (in my opinion) but I have taken to putting a pinch of anti-oxidant rich black pepper (NCBI link here) on my eggs - at least while eating them in the lobbies of hotels.  It never hurts to do some thorough radical scavenging  =)

I tried another farmer's duck eggs, Chile Acres (link here) and they were good too, but they are charging $7 a dozen, and appear to have a smaller operation that Crooked Sky.  It is nice to not have to single source, just in case there's a disruption in the supply chain. 

142 hits Tuesday?

Wow, usually JustJoeP gets 50 to 90 hits a day.  Tuesday's posting Truth In Advertising, drew 142 hits.  I'm surprised by this, since it was 2 days lagging after the Super Bowl, and I'd figured it would be "old news", but hey, I'm happy for the eye balls and traffic.  When I checked the Google Analytics the graph was all thrown off due to the Y axis going up 50% =P

With all that traffic though, it was strange that I did not get Any comments.... hmmm.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Truth In Advertising?

Is there Truth In Advertising?  If so, I learned some really new and valuable new things from watching the Super Bowl ads this year:
Pepsi Max - if your girl friend is a controlling b*tch, drink Pepsi Max

Doritos - has some very obsessed, creepy fans

Bud Light - mediocre American beer has tons of Advertising dollars

Chevy Silverado - the truck is sentient, and some ranchers can speak "horn language"

Vin Diesel + The Rock + Bikini clad babes in Rio = huge box office potential for the < 25 year old male segment

Pepsi Max - has no carbonation in it, since it does not fizz when shot out of a cooler

Doritos - can reincarnate  the dead (grandpa's ashes, fish, plants)

Kia Optima - Kia needs to spend less on advertising extremes, and more on car quality

Brisk Eninem - I am not the target audience, I ignored it

Bridgestone -  helps those who hit REPLY ALL

Ram Trucks - you need more than one, since there are "strength in numbers"

Budweiser Bar Cowboys love to sing Elton John songs

Michael Bay  cannot resist blowing things up, or Transformers, again

Coke - gives animated dragons terrible reflux

Career Builder - best used if you work with idiot monkeys

Carmax - Understand simile like my 8th grade English teacher Mrs Buxton did.

Go Daddy - Joan Rivers confuses young men

1/2 time show - if I was deaf, I would have appreciated the over-the-top light show & ninja drum majors.  Sound sucked.  Maybe they got the Beijing Olympics choreographer?

Cars.com - nice analogies

Homeaway.com - test baby is creepy & funny

Hyndai - has the same problem Kia has

Adrian Brody loves mediocre Euro Bud, Stella Artois

Chysler - indignant, but your product quality still is lacking

Beetle - Bam Ba Lam, Black Betty. Very cool commercial, I look forward to seeing the new Beetle.

Camero - inane and randomly misguided commercial.  Sad, because I might have actually been interested in seeing a Camero

Monday, February 7, 2011

Discount Cab? Never Again

It's  cheaper to take a cab to the air port, than it is to leave your car in long term parking for a week or more, in Phoenix.  So I have adopted a method of calling Discount Cab the night before to arrange a ride for the next morning, and not getting a more expensive car service.

Sunday morning I set up my cab for a 6am pick-up Monday morning.  Prime congestion ramping up and traffic bogging down time.  At  5:55am I wheel my bags to the driveway and wait.  And wait.  And wait.   At 6:05am I call Discount Cab, and I get a surly, attitude filled dispatcher, who tells me our pick up times are  not guaranteed, your cab just left the airport and will be there within 30 minutes.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
30 minutes? then 45 or 60 minutes Back In against traffic, and I miss my boarding time of 730am.   Not acceptable.

I begin calling other cab companies, but no one is answering their phone at 615am.  The Discount Cab driver dispatched (we'll call her "B") calls and asks for "Jose?"  Jose???  Who is Jose???  She says she just left the airport, and has just been given my call.   WTF.  At 6:35am she calls to say she's arrived..  No cab in sight.   She's stopped a 1/4 mile away, her GPS confused.  When B arrives, she didn't bother to hoist her large form out of the driver's seat, I throw my luggage in, hop in the cab, and tell her to DRIVE!

For the first 15 minutes, she ignores the existence HOV lane, languishing slowly in the right hand lanes as traffic congestion gets into full swing.  I recommend the HOV lane and it is like a Revelation to her. As we near dowtown, B hands me her cell phone (which she's been trying to ineptly and unsuccessfully dial while driving) and asks that I dial it for her, as she dictates the number. Huh??  WTF again.

We make it to the airport at 715, security lines are long, and I make it to my plane with 5 minutes to spare.  Sweaty, cortisol filled, aggravated, vowing to never use Discount Cab again.  I like to get to the airport 30 minutes or more ahead of time to not rush, to not be stressed, to take my time.  "When you have time to spare, go by air".  Surly dispatchers, incompetent and unsafe drivers, no thanks.  I'll get a car service next time.

It's All About Timing, With Wine Purchases

I am staying in upstate NY near the finger lakes, at a small hotel, that is next door to a "bottle shop".  It's a anti-French bottle shop actually, in that they carry bourbon, vodka, cordials, but no Cognac whatsoever.  The other evidence of anti-French sentiment is a $10.49 2002 Pomerol.
Chateau Trotanoy 2002 Pomerol, and a 99 cent cork screw, with tax, less than $13.  Wow.  What an unexpected and delicious delight!!!  They also had a  Margaux that I bought in France back in 2000 from the same Chateau for $10, selling  for $65.    The Pomerol bottles had YEARS of dust layered on them.  Well worth the 1/2 block walk in a blowing snow storm.  (though it was in the 70s all weekend in Phoenix and I did yoga poolside each day while there).

Since I had only carry on, I will likely be stripped of my cheap cork screw Friday at the Albany airport, but before I leave for Albany Wednesday night, I am stopping at the shop and buying the last 2 dusty Pomerol bottles they have, and give one as a gift to co-workers in Schenectady.  $10.49 for a Pomerol!  Wow.  Delicious.  Serendipitous.  It is all about timing.