Monthly Archives: December 2011

Santa Political Joke

Taken from Carolyn Leff’s Facebook post, not sure where she got it:

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People Have Nothing Better to Do than Crash My System with a Virus

There are millions of computer viruses out there, and for each one there is a jerk who created.  In most cases, for no other reason than to bring torment to others.  I don’t understand the thrill of bringing mass strife to your fellow computer users.  If they were changing their school grades, doing corporate espionage or embezzling money I could understand.  But to just do random pain to others?  The latest two days of personal anger came from the dreaded Win 7 2012 Virus Checker.  It looks like your own Windows 7 system is telling you that you can’t get into programs like Internet Explorer, your email, etc. because it is protecting you from viruses.  It won’t let you in to anything, except a screen where it asks you to purchase the Win 7 2012 Virus Checker for $59.99 for one year, more for two, or for a lifetime fee.  I am sure many people put in their credit card numbers, etc.  However, this is a virus, not a real virus checker.  Unfortunately, it buries itself quite well.  I was able to finally get into Safe Mode and reactivate my Kaspersky Pure.  That was six hours of work on Christmas night.  Then, the next day, I spent another six hours seeking out and destroying all the code it had messed up.  It came in through a normally “safe” website through the Adobe Flash reader.  (no, I do not surf porn, it was a comedy site,

It bothers me that twice now, my top of the line Kaspersky Pure was shut down by a virus in as many weeks.  Both times, I was able to get it going again and then Kaspersky got rid of it, but why didn’t it stop it BEFORE it got on?  My computer science degree is from 1987, when I was learning COBOL, FORTRAN, Assembly language, and a new and magical second gen language called BASIC.  I am the modern dinosaur, and despite an overall grasp of technology, trojans, worms, spyware, malware, etc. still are a challenge for me.  I just wish all the jerks would stop making viruses, but I guess that is like wishing for world peace…


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A New Website for Christmas, to go Along with This One

My son Alex created a companion website for me at  It is very cool and I will be updating that one as well as this one.  It will have more general presskit information and I will continue to blog at this location.  Santa brought my wife a new Kindle Fire, which is now officially her favorite present ever, surpassing even the big fluffy robe I got for her many years ago that she wore until it was threadbare.  My son and his girlfriend Ryan got a horseback riding tour and my daughter got a two tickets to Wicked.  Everyone seemed very happy.  We had the family over of course, but also our best friends Linda, Scott and Matt.  Scott supplied the cigars and we had a nice game of Scrabble out in the crisp Arizona 55 degree air.  (Freezing weather for us in the Southwest…)  For Christmas Andrew kept us company for some intense games involving words, timers and buzzers;  Catch phrase and Taboo to be exact.

I hope all of you had an equally enjoyable Christmas!

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How Do Others Describe You to a Stranger?

When pointing out even a close friend to others I have observed that people are in general cruelly concise.  What sets you out from the crowd?  The skinny one with the acne?  The black person, the white woman, the asian with the spiky hair?  In school my classmates called me The Brain or the Smartass.  Both of which I earned and felt comfortable with.  Being described as bright or with a sharp sense of sarcasm still is ok with me.  However, after years of sedentary lifestyle, losing my eyesight and taking steroids for 15 years, six times a day due to asthma, I gained considerable weight and wear glasses.  I have always thought that my new moniker is The Fat Guy with the Glasses.  I would prefer, The Funny Guy, or the Guy Who Usually Always Wears Black Clothing.

Luckily, even our closest friends are too kind to tell you how you are really described when they need to point you out to a stranger.  The other night, we had our best friends over for dinner, who we have known for 22 years now.  The wife of the couple points out that I have always reminded her of Peter Griffin from the Family Guy…  Sigh…  I know she meant it as the overweight funny guy, but one could also obviously interpret it as the fat stupid buffoon cartoon character.  Even more remarkable is that her husband and I are often mistaken as brothers.  So, by inference, she thinks of him as Peter Griffin’s brother.  She seemed oblivious to this, but he was not according to the look on his face.  Of the Family Guy cast, I would prefer to think of myself as Brian the Dog, or even Stewie, but there you have it.

To make matters worse, three times, yes THREE times in the prior week, all from different people in different settings, I was told I remind them of John Hodgman, the PC guy from the PC and Mac guy commercials.  I hate to admit it, but I really do look and act like the guy.  I am a PC guy, I have always thought he was better than the actor that portrays the MAC guy, who lets face it is a hipster who probably never works hard.  I have seen the MAC actor in other shows, like the New Girl and the last Die Hard Bruce Willis film, and he always has the same whiny hipster act.  I am ok with the John Hodgman comparison, even though it was not meant as a compliment, because it probably is pretty close to who I am to a stranger.  Not only do we look alike, but he is also an author, humorist and financial commentator, so we share similar interests and professions as well.

So how do people describe you?  Are you the hot blonde with nice legs?  The frumpy dressed woman with the big hair?  The hunky muscular guy?  The nerd?  The obnoxious person who laughs too loud?  Think about it…but don’t let it get you down.

You decide… Me, John Hodgman with moustache, Peter Griffin..

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Lost at Poker…Sigh

I have played poker for over 40 years now and have to say I am decent at the game.  My favorite is dealer’s choice with a table of friends, or seven card stud.  About ten years ago the game of Texas Hold’em ruined poker for most of the other variations.  Its popularity has most people thinking it’s the only game around now.  I started off hosting poker tournaments every week in Hawaii, then when I moved to Arizona I started having one once every three months or so, with a rotating trophy.  Joe Holcombe and Tom Elliott have continued the tradition, with Joe having one each year and Tom hosting one during the Kentucky Derby.  Yesterday was at Joe’s and my luck was not with me.

In poker you want a bad hand that you know to fold, or a great hand you know that will win.  The worst is to have the second best hand.  I had pocket nines and hit a third nine on the flop.  So, I think my set is a winner.  My opponent paired up aces and stayed to the river, and we were all in.  We turn over our cards and Skip, a great guy, says, you’ve got me.  I no sooner rake the chips over than people at the table point out that he hit a flush on the river, unbeknownst to him or I.  So, since board rules, I slide all those chips back.  I had him covered, so I was still in, but weakened.  I build back up my chips, once again get a set, and once again someone rivers a flush on me.  Almost out again.

Now, I am nursing my chips, trying to find the right moment to double up.  I have Q9 offsuit, but I limp in as the big blind.  The flop hits, rainbow flop, with another Q and 9.  Two pair, Q’s and 9’s, I push all in as my moment had arrived.  Vicky Boone calls me.  And…she hits her flush on the turn and river.  I am gone.  My best friend Scott and my fellow writer Andrew were also early casualties.

Still, three things made the day very enjoyable.  First, Vicki was very happy to take me out of the tournament, as I had done the same to her before.  You can’t help but enjoy someone being that happy.  Second, the winner was a young kid named Robert, who sat with his face bright red and his hands quivering for the last thirty minutes because it meant so much to him.  I was glad to see him win.  Lastly, it was a great time.  We probably had fifty or more people, thirty-one players, and lots of great food, cigars, and socializing.  Thanks Joe for another great time!

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The Greatest Mysteries of All Time – Butter and Cheese!

I grew up on a dairy and milked cows growing up.  Unfortunately, I was also allergic to milk.  Even now the smell, taste and even look of milk disgusts me.  I never have butter on my bread and I was sixteen before I had my first piece of cheese.  Despite that, the two greatest mysteries to me is where butter and cheese originated.  This might sound silly at first, but who came up with the idea to take cream, shake it or churn it for 20 to 30 minutes, and add salt?  The thing is, they did this 10,000 years ago, and the first written reference to butter is on a 4,500 year old sandstone tablet.  Hunter-gatherers unable to write were making butter.  Here are some more facts about butter from the Dairy Goodness site:

Butter’s origins go back about 10,000 years to the time when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. Today, butter in its many flavourful forms is the world’s most popular fat. As a versatile spread, a delicious enhancer for so many foods, and the essential ingredient for baking, butter’s simple goodness has no equal…

  • The first reference to butter in our written history was found on a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet illustrating how butter was made.
  • It is generally believed the word butter originates from the bou-tyron, Greek for “cow cheese”, however it may have come from the language of cattle-herding Scythians.
  • Butter was used as food by ancient tribes of Asiatic India, as well as for burning in primitive lamps and smeared on skin to protect from the cold.
  • In early times, unlike today, butter was so costly it was used in religious ceremonies. It still is today in India and Tibet.
  • In ancient Rome, butter was valued cosmetically. Not only was it used as a cream to make skin smooth, but Greeks and Romans massaged it into their hair to make it shine.
  • Much esteemed for its perceived healing properties, butter was also used in poultices to fight skin infections and burns. The ancient Egyptians even valued it as a cure for eye problems.
  • During the T’ang Dynasty in China, clarified butter represented the ultimate development of the Buddha spirit.
  • The ancient Irish, Scots, Norsemen and Finns loved and valued butter so much they were buried with barrels of it.
  • Christian missionaries travelling in central Siberia in 1253 mentioned a traditional fermented drink, kumyss, which was served with generous lumps of butter floating in it.
  • In Northern Europe, in centuries past, butter was credited with helping to prevent kidney and bladder stones as well as eye maladies. (This was probably thanks to butter’s vitamin A content.)
  • Sailors in Elizabethan times were guaranteed 1/4 lb of butter a day in their rations, and it was an old English custom to present newlyweds with a pot of this creamy delight as a wish for fertility and prosperity.

Now for cheese, which is even harder to understand.  To make cheese, you take milk and add rennet.  For those that don’t know what rennet is, it is a stomach enzyme in mammals, usually taken from cows.  So, once again, who said for the first time, “Let’s take a bunch of milk and put it a big container.  Then, let’s take stomach juices from the inside of a cow and stick that in there.  When it starts to clump up, let’s take the clumps and press them together.  Then let those clumps sit there until they mold.  Then let’s eat it!”  I just don’t understand how that happened.  Again, cheese predates recorded history.  No one knows who made it first, but it started getting made all over the place.  Here is a brief origin from Wikipedia:

Cheese is an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history. There is no conclusive evidence indicating where cheesemaking originated, either in Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East, but the practice had spread within Europe prior to Roman times and, according to Pliny the Elder, had become a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire came into being.[3]

Proposed dates for the origin of cheesemaking range from around 8000 BCE (when sheep were first domesticated) to around 3000 BCE. The first cheese may have been made by people in the Middle East or by nomadic Turkic tribes in Central Asia. Since animal skins and inflated internal organs have, since ancient times, provided storage vessels for a range of foodstuffs, it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting in the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach. There is a legend with variations about the discovery of cheese by an Arab trader who used this method of storing milk.[4][5]

Cheesemaking may have begun independently of this by the pressing and salting of curdled milk to preserve it. Observation that the effect of making milk in an animal stomach gave more solid and better-textured curds, may have led to the deliberate addition of rennet.

The earliest archeological evidence of cheesemaking has been found in Egyptian tomb murals, dating to about 2000 BCE.[6] The earliest cheeses were likely to have been quite sour and salty, similar in texture to rustic cottage cheese or feta, a crumbly, flavorful Greek cheese.

Cheese produced in Europe, where climates are cooler than the Middle East, required less salt for preservation. With less salt and acidity, the cheese became a suitable environment for useful microbes and molds, giving aged cheeses their respective flavors.

So, now that you know more, I ask you – where did butter and cheese come from?  Other inventions are easy to trace, but butter and cheese seem to have always been with us.  Alcohol is also a long standing mystery.  That, I theorize was discovered when someone ate old grape juice or rotting grain and got buzzed.  Once someone gets a buzz, they figure out why, be it mushrooms, hemp, or licking a frog.  But butter and cheese?  The world may never know.  I personally believe it may be either divine inspiration and guidance, or alien visitation.

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Tres Amigos and Fantasy Football

Not to have too many dog posts, but I did manage to get all three to look up at the same time.  The pic of the Tres Amigos, who we also call the Hounds of Bradleyvilles, are shown on the couch, which they have claimed as their own.  It is good we humans are around to buy them furnishings of their own.  We put the blankets down so when guests come over of the two legged variety they don’t get covered in hair from sitting down.

Fantasy Football – My team, the Arizona Monsoon clinched its 20th winning season last week and won this week against its arch nemesis the Las Vegas Aces despite having been a pregame 44 point underdog.  One more win and I can clinch a playoff spot.  I know, pretty nerdy, but it’s a passion of mine.  This season has been rough, I lost Peyton Manning for the year, one day after the draft…sigh.  His trainer should have given me a heads up.  I also lost Cutler to a shattered thumb and Darren McFadden to a bad foot.  I had some good ones though.  I managed to draft Cam Newton way deep in the draft and I picked up Ron Gronkowski (The Gronk, who just set the all-time TD record for a Tight End in one season) undrafted a week or two into the season.  Cobbling together a team from throwaways and undrafted walk-ons is not easy, but we are 9-5 and tied for our Division lead right now against my daughter’s sadly named Fairyland Frogs team.  We have just one more game in our 15 game season before the playoffs.  Wish me luck.  I am up against my good friend and nemesis Earl Bray, of the New Canaan Nor’Easters.  His team sucks this year because he decided to golf on draft day and let the computer auto-pick.  A poor decision on his part, but he has been playing spoiler in recent weeks.

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Doggone It!

When we had one dog – a female Papillon, life was simple.  Then that dog, Heidi, developed liver failure.  My wife decided she could not bear the loss of the dog that we loved so much, so she got a second dog – Barclay.  Barclay is a male Shitzu.  Then we started to have accidents in the house and we were not always sure which dog to scold.  Then my son’s girlfriend needed a place for her dog while they are off at college.  So now we also have a male Pekingnese named Peanut.  Each of the dogs weighs between eight and fifteen pounds, most of it fur.  Suddenly, we had constant accidents, messes, and barking.  They started to exhibit pack behavior for the first time and have become a pain in the you know what.  Now we are the proud owners of child gates like you use for toddlers and we have to keep them contained to one area at a time.  If they hear a door open, a car go by, or anything on TV that sounds like a bell, they bark like a bunch of fuzzy idiots.

Our oldest, Heidi, decides to walk the perimeter of the backyard and bark at each corner when we let her outside to do her business.  This was not a problem until my wife’s work schedule changed and she started to let them out at 5:30 am.  Both sides of our neighbors placed little notes on our door expressing their dislike for being woke up at 5:30 each morning.  So now, we have to go out with them to watch them go so they won’t bark.  Of course the males are young and want to run all the time, so sometimes they go out alone and we leave old spooky inside.

Dogs are a strange thing.  All they do is eat, sleep and poop.  In exchange we fall in love with the little critters and play with them, provide them a life of ease and rub their ears every day.  Studies show I will live up to six years longer and have lower stress and blood pressure as a result of my little companions.  But after they have been barking or messing up the place it is hard to see how that is really true.

Heidi, Barclay and Peanut.  The Terrors of the neighborhood peace.

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December 7th, a Day that will Live in Infamy

During my service in the United States Air Force I was lucky enough to avoid being in the action.  I almost went to Lebanon, almost to Korea, almost to Grenada, almost to Panama, but never actually had to go to a shooting zone.  The closest was when I had my full green dufflebag – a 90lb field load,  on my back and was boarding the cargo plane when they called my unit back.  Among our unit, there was only one kid around 17 that looked forward to battle.  The rest of us were willing to go fight for our country, but preferred to stay home with our families on a stateside base.

I was stationed for most of my career at Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii.  I was in a hangar that was covered in pock marks from the machine gun fire of Japanese planes from December 7th.  If you see the movies and see a huge aircraft hanger explode, I worked in the one right next to that one.  All around me each day were reminders of that fateful day, when other airmen such as I were peacefully going about their duties when they were sneak attacked.

One day there was rain coming in to our ceiling.  The hangar had a modern drop ceiling with the ubiquitous white chalk squares.  Above that was another ceiling, the original one, forty feet higher and made of wire frame, clay and asbestos.  Above that was the inside of the roof, another thirty feet higher.  I was sent up rickety ladders to find the source of the leak.  What I aslo found was structural damage from the original attack.  Huge, multi-ton iron I-beams were dangling, waiting for the moment to fall through the weak plaster below and crush those working beneath.  I told my Commander and the whole place was evacuated and the beams secured.

In the process, the construction crews found old parachutes, manuals and other items stored in the attic of the hangar dating to pre-1941.  They are now on display at the museum on base.  My last impression was when my wife and I visited the Arizona Memorial, which we could see every day from our lanai, or patio of our apartment in Aiea.  It was sobering to see the names of the fallen and to look over the edge and see the sunken USS Arizona, which still entombs so many fallen sailors.  That day a tour of Japanese was there as well.  They were laughing and taking pictures.  I felt like beating some sense into them.  I would never laugh at the Hiroshima memorial, what was going through their minds?

That day still sticks with me for the outright disrespect for the fallen.  Please join with me and take a moment to remember all of those who have fallen to preserve our freedoms and for those who are still alive but would have answered the call had it rang out.

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