major headaches updating debbies and my MS XP(sp1) computers.... i'll skip the bloody details, but i've been on this for hours now and it's still only partly done on my PC. (see i-tunes below).

did lots of behind the scenes upgrade to SantaFe in the way it sets up HTML styles... learned a few new tricks about class's and id's and how to use them for formating, and how to fix an object on a page even when the user scrolls the page (neat trick).


now that i understand what i-tunes is (it's simply an incredibly bloated music file download program), let me say this .... don't use this POS software .... buy your MP3's from someone else (like Amazon) and save yourself much time and aggravation and money.

Regarding the Auto Industry Bailout

GM wants $4B immediately to prevent its collapse (later on of course they will ask for more in $XB lumps).

i say, let GM collapse and use the $4B to fund unemployment benefits for their laid off workers.

if the owners (stockholders) really think the company is worth saving and will thrive again, they can invest their own money back into it .... call this radically capitalistic idea "reinvesting in the company i own" !

ooops..... they want $18B not $4B

G.M. said Tuesday that it needed $12 billon in immediate federal assistance and a $6 billion line of credit from the government ....

Wait!... now it's $38B (see below)



i am the victim of recent facebook slurs, and i have no choice but to put my case before you, gentle, merciful readers.

the question is .... who is more handsome.

i have listed comments we have received over the internet below each picture.

jpg jpg

this face is a joke, right?

looks like he swallowed an ugly pill this morning.

i heard they're gonna kick his face off facebook

Total votes = 2 (him and his mommy)

wow.... he's hot.

yeh ... what a dude!

"dave, why don't you ever call me?" (Paris H.)

Total votes = still being counted by big computers.


puttered with mplayer and mencoder and dad's old movie files .... no real objective but to see what i could do.

i combined his 3 big *.vob files (about 1.7Gb) into one *.avi file (downscaled to 320x240) and it came out to 412Mb (still way too big for a webpage) and also slowed the frame rate down from 30 to 20 which makes it smoother. playing time is 1hr5min.

would like to add a soundtrack for no good reason.

mom sure was a cutie, huh?


Mplayer commands (a few of 100's)

to create a downscaled AVI file from a DVD (*.vob) file, using MENCODER:
mencoder vts_02_1.vob -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4 -vf scale=320:240 -oac copy -o dadsmovie_2.avi

to join movies(must have same codecs, format, aspectratio):
mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -idx -o dadsmainfeature.avi dadsmovie_1.avi dadsmovie_2.avi dadsmovie_3.avi

to slow the playback speed down:
mencoder dadsmainfeature.avi -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4 -fps 20 -oac copy -o slowspeed.avi

to add an audio stream (which is already encoded):
mencoder input.avi -o output.avi -ovc copy -oac copy -audiofile soundtrack.mp3

to create a 320x240 AVI motion picture from all (320x240) jpg files in a directory:
mencoder "mf://*.jpg" -mf fps=2 -o titlemovie.avi -vf scale=320:240 -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=msmpeg4v2:vbitrate=800

to convert to *.mov format:
ffmpeg -i godzillamovie1.avi -b 1200 testmovie.mov

Retail Sales Are Weakest in 35 Years


The nation's retailers turned in the worst sales figures in at least a generation on Thursday, starting the holiday shopping season with double-digit declines across a broad spectrum of stores.

For many chains, the precipitous sales drops that took hold in September and October got worse, not better, in November, despite relatively strong sales in the few days after Thanksgiving.

The International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry group, described November's figures as the weakest in more than 35 years.

Automakers Take Plea for Bailout to House Committee


U.S. auto executives seeking billions of dollars in federal aid ran into further skepticism -- and fresh proposals -- on Capitol Hill today, as members of a House committee considered the automakers' plans for surviving the nation's economic crisis and returning to profitability.

Appearing for a second consecutive day of hearings, executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler went before the House committee to make their case for at least $34 billion -- and possibly as much as $38 billion -- in government bridge loans and lines of credit to avert one or more bankruptcies that could further devastate the economy.

Itzhak Perlman


jpg Mr. Perlman is arguably the great violinist of my generation, some say of the 20th century. He got polio at an early age, and thereafter hobbled around in a wheelchair and on crutches.

It was, they say, an agonizing experience watching him work his way across the stage to his seat before a performance..... it took a long time and was a lesson in reality and humility for everyone in the concert hall.

So.... one concert, he hobbles across to his seat and the audience watches in respect and expectation..... tap tap.... the conductor strikes up the orchestra .... at a point, Mr. Perlman takes the lead and his hands work their magic ... they say he was smokin' that night.

A loud twanging sound pops out of his violin ..... stop .... everyone knew what happened.... a string broke.

What now .... watch him hobble off and change strings and retune and hobble back...?

He tells the conductor to restart back at his entrance point and he finishes the entire piece on 3 strings, transposing the music on-the-fly in his head.

And legend has it that he was more magnificent on 3 strings than he was on 4.

After the explosion of applause dies down he says something to the effect that "sometimes you just go with what you got".

Blood everywhere

this is a true story and it says much about me.....

back in 1966 i roomed with 2 other guys in an apartment in california. we had 2 bathrooms so in the morning it got hectic getting ready for work.

one day i got into the downstairs bathroom after Joe G. got out and as i'm putting my stuff on the sink i notice blood spots. Joe had a reputation for cutting his face shaving and what the hell, i started wiping it up.

i cleaned a few spots then noticed more and cleaned them and noticed some on the floor and cleaned them and noticed even more back up on the sink and cleaned them and noticed a lot lot more on the floor again ..... and i got so overloaded i actually looked up at the ceiling to see if it was dripping through the floor and maybe Gene H. was bleeding to death in the upstairs bathroom.... no, there was no blood on the ceiling.

but now there was lots more blood on the floor ... WTF ? where is all this blood from?

well .... yeh ... i had cut myself putting my razor on the sink and it was all my blood and i then promptly got woozy and actually don't recall the end of this story.

and that's pretty much how the rest of my life went by.

No, this is not my brother Bob.

this is Chris Blom who is an ex-student of mine and a maniac fast car and aviation buddy and great sports photographer.

but he sure does look like Bobby, right?


Social Security


smiley i have been waiting anxiously for the SS people to get back to me regarding my disability (being legally deaf), thinking my 2008 income was too high.

smiley well the letter came today .... they are increasing my total payments (along with everyone else's) by 5.8% in 2009.

okay ... i can live with that.

what would mike would do ?

i had to close off drafts in the basement windows today. both are made-by-me windows, so i knew this wouldnt be easy.

the plan was to make a new wood frame with rabbet joints on both sides, get some lexan and a saw blade that would cut lexan without binding or burning or cracking it, then silicon the lexan panes into the new window and then rethink how to attach the new double-pane window to the existing frame.

on my way to Lowes i'm thinking .... what would mike do.?

i stopped the car, turned for home.... when i got there i pulled out the existing windows, glued felt insulation around the edges and screwed them back in place.

thanks mike

Driving Miss Debbie

its gettin close to Christmas so the panic builds .... Debbie (being the nicer person) needs to buy people gifts .... i (being the less nicer person) don't have this need.... i say Christmas is a religious experience and should not be tarnished with commercialism ..... dont you think?

so ... i loose .... we drive up to the mall, but we honestly do start off right and have breakfast at the Dream Diner (that's the name of the place) just south of the border .... it really is a down home, 1950's, simple, townfolk diner, and the food is good and the feeling is good and i finished way more food than i usually can finish..... i knew that would be the high point of my day.

then we hit the mall .... honestly it didnt suck as bad as mall trips can suck, but i took every opportunity to let D know what a sacrifice i was making to experience this.... she often replied "STFU, dave"... which is understandable.

on the way home i had to pick up some wine and D also wanted to get some gift bottles for people, and i saw the opportunity to get a bottle of SC, being that it is the holiday season and a time of good spirits and cold nights, but Miss Deborah said it would drive up my blood pressure and i wasnt going to get it and i said my blood pressure is already going up thinking that i am NOT going to get it so it would be better if i got it .... almost it would be a life-saving event.

yeh .... you're damn right i lost that argument.

gentlemen, i ask you .... where did we go wrong?


What's wrong with American Education Today....

i started this a few times and thought that my years of teaching would help get me beyond personal griping.

i was wrong .... i can't get passed my personal opinions about the utter irresponsibility of parents, the utter insecurity of teachers, the mind-killing nature of the system, and the cheap, shallow, money-driven mindlessness of our society.

kids today are so incredibly more capable than we ask them to be.... we have set the bar so low the kids are too bored to play our stupid game of classroom education.

George Carlin was right .... we sold out for "cheesesburgers and cheap sneakers."

i don't have a clue as to what the fix is, and neither do you.

G-sighting photo

found an old roll of film i had from our trip out to the canyons, although the airport x-ray damaged the film .... i forgot that we had a G-sighting out there .... glad i popped this shot for evidence.

watch G actually spit a fireball

these are my "little" ! nieces .... do you believe this?

jpg jpg

from the NYTimes ...

Dire Forecast for Global Economy and Trade

WASHINGTON: The world economy is on the brink of a rare global recession, the World Bank said in a forecast released Tuesday, with world trade projected to fall next year for the first time since 1982 and capital flows to developing countries predicted to plunge 50 percent.

The projections are among the most dire in a litany of recent gloomy forecasts for the world economy ....

Even more troubling, several economists said, there is no obvious engine to drive a recovery.

"We know that the financial crisis now is likely to be the worst since the 1930s," said Justin Lin, the chief economist of the World Bank, summarizing the projections.

Unexpected Drop in China's Imports and Exports

BEIJING: China's exports fell for the first time in seven years, the government reported Wednesday, sliding 2.2 percent in November and providing stark evidence that the global financial crisis has arrived here in earnest.

....the trade figures will be bracing to those who had viewed China as a potential savior for the slumping economies of the Europe, Japan and the United States.

"We were expecting a slowdown but the magnitude is a bit shocking," Wang Tao, an analyst at UBS Securities, said.

The figures, together with further signs of a sagging economy in Japan, paint a picture of economic gloom spreading across Asia ....

an Irish Lullabye

years ago i saw a movie and one scene was this old priest meeting his mother for the first time in 40 years .... the background music was the sweetest melody you ever heard.... the song was


Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
Me Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And I'd give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby.


(i don't know who wrote the song, but Mike took the picture.)

Dec.12 to 15.2008


"Water is the Enemy"

jpg jpg


but we are safe and warm at home now and i have time to find my best picture of the storm (after a short trip through the GIMP).... which is below


See also →→Mike's storm pictures (and basement flood).


went to the italian consulate in boston today to go over citizenship papers (birth, marriage and death certs tracing back to italy) ..... some questions remain and need to be ironed out.

then M, C and i went to an italian (what else) deli in the north end for lunch.

found D on the sofa sleeping off her cold .... mine seems to be pretty much gone now, plus i am walking around without a cane as my back feels pretty good !!! (however i did order a new cane on-line for the next spinal event).


jpg Dec.19.2008

an e-mail that i got this morning:

...Michael called me last night (my Michael) and told me that Aunt Cobina had passed away in August, and cousin Gary passed away last month. He thinks both deaths are unrelated. He got the news by email ....

my mom and her sister Cobina had an on-off love-hate relationship over the years, due mostly to settling my grandparents' estate (stop me if you heard this one, okay?).

actually my aunt's name was Dominica. she got the nickname Cobina from a 1930's debutante (named Cobina something) who made headlines often (the Paris Hilton of her day, i guess).... her friends teased her about it and the name Cobina stuck.

not to bring up the issue of my mother's various names (Marianna Anna, aka Ann Louise, aka Fizzie)..... my generation knew them as Aunt Fizzie or Aunt Cobina.

well.... i am hoping that Dominica and Marianna have settled their earthly issues and are cutting up the next life as Fizzie and Cobina all over again.

jpg Dec.20.2008

new snowstorm last night dropped 8" (we expected 12"). George snowblowed our driveway last night and again this morning (best $25 i spend all year), but it's been flurrying down all day long and another storm is coming tomorrow (that runs my bill up to $75).
D is working to 5:30, it's 16F outside and 64F inside and not much is going on here.
i was determined to read all day today and hopefully finish the book i started 6 months ago .... won't happen.

J & P are coming over tonight to use our oven to cook cheesecakes (?) .... they are still on generator power (and will be for another month !!) and can't operate their oven (which is 220V). we'll go for chinese take-home tonight.

png Unmitigated England

I don't link to other websites much, but here is a nicely written personal weblog.

png Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner

Finally finished it, having read it 3 times simultaneously and was sorry it ended.

who threw those shoes?


a few days ago, an Iraqi journalist tossed his shoes at exiting US president Bush and became an instant hero throughout the middle east. in fact, people around the world have ordered (to date) 370,000 pairs of that style shoe from the Turkish company that makes them. normal sales are 15,000 pairs/year, so this month alone they racked up the equivalent of 23 years of sales.

they even have renamed the shoe style "Bush Shoes".

i am imagining what 370,000 pairs of shoes will look like flying through the air at some future speech given by an unpopular leader..... this could catch on! ..... i'll have a size 9 ½ ... in black, please.

jpg jpg

I started reading Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver, and immediately answered a question I have always wondered....

Why do most flowers bloom only for a short period in the Spring?

Because in the forest, sunlight (and the energy it carries with it) reaches the ground (and the small flowering bushes) only for a short period in the Spring, before the trees leaf out. So the bushes have only a short window of opportunity to flower.

(I am not far enough into the book to decide if I will like it.)

The Speed of Light

one of the few mysteries in my life is the speed of light and why you cannot reach it.

i've read a few educated discussions on the topic, and i've seen a neat little equation that shows your true (absolute) velocity relative to the center of the universe (it includes a term for the ratio of your velocity to the speed of light). but the most clear (though philosophical) explanation is this: as you approach the speed of light, time slows down. (there is much evidence that shows this.) thus, to reach the speed of light .... time (for you) would have to come to a complete stop.... which (in the known universe) is not possible.

i kind of get it, almost.... based 50% on the physics, 40% on the math and 10% on blind faith.

however, one concept that i just don't get at all is why people wait in long lines in their cars blocking traffic everywhere around drive-up donut shops when the little shop down the street sells the same stuff with no wait (but you have to get out of your car and pour it yourself).

And, in the Giving Spirit of Christmas....

The Alfred Award
for a
Notable Achievement in Stupidity


goes to clueless assholes who
block intersections and driveways.


A better attitude toward people ....

obviously the holiday season has stretched my tolerance of people to its limit.

gif my 2009 resolution is going to be to have a more forgiving attitude towards other peoples' lack of common courtesy, overwhelming stupidity and utter cluelessness.

(but that's a long 8 days away)

.... Merry Christmas from Texas ...



gifChristmas eve dinner at UNO's was good, then we (Andrea, Elaine, Don and D and me) went home by the fire to discuss politics, other people, retirement envy, how everyone except me is in the same physical shape they were 25 years ago, and how being retired is really what hurt my back (it wasn't shoveling a ton of sludge into a pickup truck in 22F weather).

today we are off to R&K's for Christmas dinner (which was very nice because K set out many plates of treats instead of the usual sitdown holiday dinner). i got only one decent snapshot (of E lighted only by her camera's LCD).

jpg jpg
jpg jpg

Deb's district manager was pounding the employees on how they were "letting sales slip below targets" .... of course it had to be her and her co- workers' faults. umm... then again...

From Reuters... Holiday Sales $$$$

Sales at specialty apparel retailers like Gap Inc and Abercrombie & Fitch Co fell 19.7 percent this year, SpendingPulse said. When factoring in department store results, sales fell about 20 percent.

Women's apparel sales fell 22.7 percent; men's clothing sales were off 14.3 percent, and footwear sales fell 13.5 percent.


The Night After Christmas

'twas the night after Christmas and i couldn't sleep,
'cause i had a promise that i had to keep,
to pick Mike and Chris up at night after ten,
i worried about it again and again.

their plane was delayed (have you heard this before),
and stranded in Newark an hour or more.

promise is promise and nothing to break,
and i hoped the coffee would keep me awake.
i drove and i drove, and i drove even more.
my eyelids were heavy, i tried not to snore.

the traffic was light, few cars flashing by,
when a strange apparition appeared in the sky.
it looked like a plane but i just couldn't say.
and they i saw clearly.... it looked like a sleigh.

the sleigher was lively, his face was in fuzz,
and then i concluded i knew who he was.
both tired and weary we two travelled on,
then it got cloudy and then he was gone.

the airport was empty, except for a few
tired people and cleaning up crew.
they finally landed and i was relieved,
i told them of Santa.... they didn't believe.

we headed for home, the coffee wore off,
and all the way home the two of them coughed,
they said that they were both tired and sick,
i told them that i'd try to get them home quick.

we finally made it, they opened their door,
and i pushed my gas pedal down to the floor,
and got myself home, a buzz in my head,
and kissed Deb and slithered into my bed.



great personal drama against the backdrop of science fiction. some people can't get past the sci-fi ... so be it .... Serenity has the same magic that Star Trek had ... the ship's crew.

i have no idea who John Pryor is
.... was ...

Maj. John P. Pryor, 42, of Moorestown, N.J. died Dec. 25 in Mosul of wounds suffered when a mortar round impacted near his living quarters. He was assigned to the 1st Medical Detachment, Forward Surgical Team, Fort Totten, N.Y

but he was a US soldier who died in Iraq on Christmas day, 2008 .... and yes i think it's worse to die on somedays than to die on others.

and i think of John Donne's poem ....

" ... Any man's death diminishes me, because I am mankind; and therefore never ask for whom the bell tolls ..... it tolls for thee."

Stay with me on this one (from /.)

Don't be the laughingstock of your friends when you shout 'Happy New Years' a second too early ... The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service has announced that a leap second will be added on December 31, 2008 at 23h 59m 60s, meaning that this year will be exactly one second longer. The last leap second occurred Dec 31, 2005, they are added due to fluctuations in the rotational speed of the earth. You can read all about leap seconds on Wikipedia."

...a "day", as measured by the rotation of the earth relative to the fixed stars, is not exactly 86400 seconds. It's generally a little more, around 86400.001 seconds at present

Leap seconds have nothing whatsoever to do with Earth's orbit around the Sun. They don't affect the calendar. That's what leap days are for. Leap days keep the calendar in sync with the seasons (by setting the average calendar year length to 365.2425 days, very close to the vernal equinox year which is currently 365.242374 days).

Hong Kong at Night


Walls Street B.S.

png we are besieged by accounts of billions and billions of investor dollars being "wiped out" by the financial crisis (aka, the 2nd Great Depression). what bullshytt! .... those billions never really existed beyond the imaginations of investment brokers and their suckers !!!

what is happening now is that the true values of things are coming to light ... the facade is falling away, the myths are being debunked, the stage lights are turned on the magician's smoke and mirror tricks.

the true value of all the material things in the world hasn't changed ... no material thing has left the planet .... it's all still here.

what has been lost .... and rightfully so ... is our belief in the magic money that never existed.

Peace on Earth

The US should step in and disarm Israel today (we won't of course, Israel is our little brother).

What never makes it into the US news media is this: Israel controls the roads and water supplies into Palestinian territory and has been limiting the amount of food, water and medical supplies that it lets through (been doing this for years) and Palestinians are effectively in an Israeli concentration camp. The US ignores these facts and does nothing.

Israel has become the Nazi Germany of the new century.

It should be considered an act of terrorism for any person, business or religion operating inside the US to financially support Israel.

Text Messages via Cell Phones

We have a Verizon 700 "free" minutes plan (of course they're not "free" .... we pay them $80 /month and are allotted a max usage of 700 minutes, but they call these "free" .... it's actually 11¢ /minute whether you use them or not). Last month we used only 270 minutes for our $80 (so we actually paid them 30¢ / minute ! ), and i also sent my first text message (one sentence to Debbie's cell phone) .... and got charged 20¢ extra for that one sentence (texting is not included in our $80/month package). Strangely enough, the 20¢ is billed to the phone that receives the message.

Google Analytics

i stripped the google analytics script from this page and it loads a lot faster .... turns out every time it loaded it had to connect with google (duh) which slowed it down, plus i never got any useful data out of it anyway.

George Bush's Presidential Record

i found this list somewhere .... trimmed it down and post it here ... it's long and tedious but makes the point well.

My Voting Record

i am notorious for mis-remembering shytt. however, let me list who i voted for throughout the years (noting that i often did not vote .... my attitude was that i will not vote for the better of two slimeballs).

Richard Nixon - whatever good deeds i accumulate in my life, this fact alone sends me to hell. Mr. Nixon sold his soul (and mine) to the devil.

Jimmy Carter - okay, i did well here .... he won the nobel peace prize !! I do recall incredible interest rates (17% mortgages), but cannot recall what caused them.

Ronald Reagan - greatest speaker i ever listened to .... deregulated the banking industry and f$%#^@$ a whole lot of common folk; destroyed the air traffic controllers union (why would anyone do that?).

George HW Bush - smarter than his kid, but then .... so is a snail shytt.

Bill Clinton - not a bad president, but an extremely bad model of leadership. Although, if i were in his position (sprawled backward over the oval office desk) it's hard to say what i would have done in his place. Well, maybe not all that hard.... but hey... i'm not the president.

Barack Obama - my expectations for this guy are incredibly high ... i'm thinking that no-one can meet my expectations for the next 4 years. I'm expecting the new Abe Lincoln.

Worst US President Ever

Harry Truman, for detonating an atomic weapon that killed 220,000+ civilians.

Don't argue any bullshytt with me. He could have simply denotated the bomb atop some desolate mountain peak in Japan and asked the Japanese government what their plans were for the future.

the year 2008 is checking out today with more snow.
D is working until 6PM (who shops on new years' eve in a snowstorm at 20F ??).
tonight we'll have dinner at slattery's with J&P and i plan to be in bed by 10.


Index of My Journal Pages