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Friday, July 28, 2006

30 Days...

The wife and I are usually late to clue in on most of the really new hot T.V. shows that come out every year. There are so many choices that if the premise doesn’t immediately appeal, we usually don’t give it a try.

We didn’t get hooked on “24” until after the first season was over. The premise didn’t sound all that great (“A 24-hour day presented in real time”), but our daughter-in-law really recommended it so we took a chance.

We caught up by renting the first season DVD’s from NetFlix and just about couldn’t do anything else until we finished it in about four days. It was that good!

Then we dumped our cable company and were exposed to TIVO from DirectTv. I originally thought I was simply replacing the VCR with a tapeless substitute. How wrong I was. The DVR feature of recording two shows at the same time is a nice upgrade but the real surprise was how well the software in this thing functions.

Since I come from that software engineering background, I really appreciate how intuitive and reliable this machine is to operate. In addition, this machine has a feature called “Tivo Picks” that I initially didn’t think I’d come to like or appreciate.

The software analyzes the types of programs you record and watch. It then records other shows that it guesses you might also like. When we run out of “our” list, we check the machines suggestions.

To our surprise, there have been several “suggested” shows that we turned into “favorites”. This seasons “Tivo picks” have some real potential keepers in ("Eureka": Area 51 in small town Americana) along with some real early losers ("Dead Like Me": Slacker H.S. grad gets hit by a space junk toilet seat to become a Grim Reaper).

Fortunately, the keepers can be rated “thumbs up” while the losers can be rated “thumbs down” to fine tune the Tivo box on future picks. It works really well for us.

Because we’ve been “tuning” the Tivo box for a couple of years, it no longer suggests any reality shows like "30-Days". It was only a fluke that I saw the promo ad: “An unemployed American ventures to India for 30 days to observe the effects of job outsourcing on the Indian culture”.

I guess expecting Tivo to scan online blogs and resumes might be a bit too "Orwellian"

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Everyone’s talking about it so it isn’t really news but today something happened that’s never happened before. For the first time in thirty years our thermostat inside the house displayed a “9” in the left most digit.

Our house doesn’t have air conditioning (also known as “refrigeration” in some parts of the US) In the thirty years we’ve lived here, we’ve never had a reason to have it.

Until today...

We’re only 45mi over the mountain from the Pacific Ocean. San Jose usually has less than a dozen days a year that gets even near the triple digit range and fewer that actually reach it. Even on those days, we’ve managed to stay relatively cool by opening all the windows at night to trap the night coolness until just after dawn when we button down the hatches to coast the rest of the day. We’ve never reached much more than 85F inside.

Until today...

These last few days we’ve not only been getting to triple digit weather, we’ve been getting RECORD HIGH triple digits.

Last night I sat out on the back deck in swim shorts until well after midnight attempting to cool off. This morning I woke at 05:30 to take a cold shower, returned to bed only to repeat the cold shower at 08:00

With the windows open all night and four fans moving air, we accomplished reducing the inside temperature to only 82F. Usual for our summer would be about 68F.

Until today...

As the day progressed, a friend of mine with a high tech computerized weather station would call and give me outside temperature updates as the day progressed.

His gleeful call from inside his refrigerated house late this afternoon announced a daily high of 106.7F.

As I stood there in the kitchen with the phone to my ear, stripped to nothing but a pair of shorts, breathing a slow shallow breath, a drop of sweat dropped off the tip of my elbow.

That did it. I’m done!

I went and changed into the swim shorts from last night and went out the back door directly into the pool.

Hell! Who needs A/C!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sell the Property and Burn Down the School...

It seems that getting rid of a bad school principal can be just as complicated in China as it seems to be here.

"...tried to buy off colleagues by cooking dog meat for them after secretly selling off trees around the school, ended up setting fire to classrooms when the meal burst into flames...The local education bureau fined the headmaster 10,000 yuan ($1,252) and suggested he be fired, the newspaper said. "

"Suggested" he be fired? How about fined, fired, arrested and jailed?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

CLICK the movie...

I saw a promo for Adam Sandler's new movie CLICK.
Premise sounds vaguely similar: TIVO-Wife

Suppose SONY would send me a free ticket if I suggest they "borrowed" my idea? neither!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Prostitot Clothing Update...

Today's "76th Edition of the Carnival of Education" is hosted this week by Mike over at the Education in Texas. He’s kindly included my rant about "Prostitot clothing" .

It could be coincident that today I received at least one company response to my open letter:

“Thank you for taking the time to write to The Hershey Company. We will take your comments into consideration. Your interest in our company is appreciated.

This email address is restricted for outgoing messages only. For that reason, please do not respond to this email as the inbox is not monitored.

Consumer Representative

Does this sound like positive response to really address the issue or….something less.

I’ll let it stand as stated.

At least Hershey DID respond with an acknowledgement even if it seems somewhat less than encouraging.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Senior Prom Cancelled...

Things have come a long way since I attended the Senior Prom. Evidentially too far for Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY.

The letter from the school's administrator about the reason to eliminate the Senior Prom is an eye opener as is the response to a parent who objects to the cancellation. Both are pretty long letters but worth the "education".

Just some of the highlights:

"...We have in hand a signed contract for the rental of a residential house in Southampton. The details of this lease are as follows:

#1) It is a residential house in a residential area. The owner is leasing it for sixty persons.

#2) The time of lease is from early Saturday morning to noon on Sunday, approximately thirty-six hours.

The cost is $300.00 per student plus $100.00 for “security,” a total of $400.00 per student.

No food or amenities are provided by the owner for the cost.

A down payment of $10,000.00 has already been made, with the following amount of $10,000.00 to be paid by April 1 st. It seems that the total amount of money for the rental of this house is $20,000.00.

There is no indication anywhere that there is any type of supervision. Nor is there any indication of responsibility for liability.

Forty-six Seniors have already paid their down payment for this one particular “house.” They have received no rules or guidelines for these thirty-six hours. We are informed that there are other houses in the Southampton area that are rented under similar conditions

"...Over the years parents have become more active in creating the “prom experience,” from personally signing for houses for a three day drug/sex/alcohol bash, to mothers making motel reservations for their sons and daughters for after prom get-togethers, to fathers signing the contract for Captain Jim’s booze-cruise out of Huntington for an after prom adventure. We have become convinced that some parents support this type of activity, some tolerate it, prefer not to see it, or dismiss it as part of growing up.

"...Then comes the rejoinder: yes, but why let a few spoil it for the rest! First of all, it is not just a few ..."

"...One could use the argument which insurance personnel would advise, namely, why attach your name to something which is so prone to problems and over which you have little effective control. Good logic (and financial policy)! This argument becomes even more cogent, given the rise of a sue-happy population and a cadre of unscrupulous lawyers looking for deep pockets (KMHS has experienced both). However, KMHS is not liability-shy. We are willing to take on the risks for programs that fulfill our educational mission. The culture and practice of the senior prom on Long Island can no longer justify its place in our mission, not just in our liability

"...Long Island, known in some circles as Wrong Island, is an alcohol culture. It starts early and never ends. Because of our affluence and arrogance everything has to be exaggerated - bigger, better, more, over the top. Our students do not learn how to drink socially. Their goal is to get roaring drunk as quickly as possible and boast about it the next day

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


No word back yet from Macy's or Hershey's to my open letter but there have been many emails and comments to my previous post .

While an estimated 5% minority feel:
  • "Offensive and inappropriate is in the eye of the beholder. I don't see it here"
  • "It's just a candy bar, for heavens sake!"
  • "Can't wait until the Mounds and Almond Joy tanks come out.."

I'd say that rest are more are in tune with:
  • "A shirt with sexual inuendos on a young girl is not appropriate...period"

I have also learned there is even a term for this trend: "Prostitots".

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Open Letter To Hershey's and Macy's...

Open Letter To:
Macy’s Federated Stores
-- AND --
The Hershey’s Chocolate Company

From: P.O’ed GrandPa
Subject: Inappropriate Children’s Clothes

Dear Sir(s) (because I’m sure a woman wouldn’t be responsible for this)

My wife and I recently visited a Macy’s store in one of the local Malls here in town. We were dismayed to see a T-Shirt (see attached photos) in the girls section of the children’s dept.

Let me repeat that…in the CHILDREN’S department.

While I’m fully aware that the Hershey Chocolate Company makes a fine product in Reese’s Milk Chocolate, the slogan “2 PEANUT BUTTER CUPS” is totally inappropriate to be displayed on a little girl’s shirt.

I am addressing this complaint to both companies in case I get the “It’s the other guy’s fault” excuse.

To Hershey’s Corp: You should know better. If you don’t then hire a “mom” to review your children sized appropriate promotional apparel to maybe veto certain age inappropriate products.

To Macy’s Corp: I thought you had better class than promote debasing children. When I went back to your store with my camera, I was questioned by the dept. manager about why I was taking photos of this particular product and cautioned that I’d need the store manager’s permission.

Instead, I asked her if she thought there was anything offensive about the shirt in question.

Her response was: “I wouldn’t let my little girl wear it…” and allowed me to leave without further comment. She even suggested I should swing by the “juniors” dept on the way out implying I’d find even worse examples of the same.

Since neither company lists a public email address, I’ll send you guys a link to this message (with photos) while awaiting, hopefully, a positive response result.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What's So Great About America?

During the week of the Fourth of July, TAE looks back to its April/May 2002 issue when Indian-born scholar Dinesh D’Souza shared his thoughts on his adopted country of America.

"...The immigrant cannot help noticing that America is a country where the poor live comparatively well. This fact was dramatized in the 1980s, when CBS television broadcast an anti-Reagan documentary, “People Like Us,” which was intended to show the miseries of the poor during an American recession. The Soviet Union also broadcast the documentary, with the intention of embarrassing the Reagan administration. But it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans had television sets and cars. They arrived at the same conclusion that I witnessed in a friend of mine from Bombay who has been trying unsuccessfully to move to the United States for nearly a decade. I asked him, “Why are you so eager to come to America?” He replied, “Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”...

What's So Great About America?

(Thanks to Darren on Right On The Left Coast for the orginal find)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday!...

My life, lately, seems to be imitating a bad parody of the runner in Logan's Run. The powers that be seem to be conspiring to end my “life clock” tomorrow at the age of fifty-plus.

It started earlier in the week with a call from my credit union.

CUguy: Is this Mr. KauiMark?

Me: Yes…

CUguy: Uh, the credit union is auditing its records and we don’t seem to have a membership card for you on file. We need you to come in and fill out a new membership application.

Me: I’ve been a member since the 1970’s. You have my checking and saving accounts. You financed several of our cars. You had our 2nd mortgage loan and currently have our home equity loan. How can there be no records?

CUguy: I really don’t know, but we really need you to submit a new one for our records.

Me: Ok, send a new application form.

CUguy: Before I can do that, I need you to verify your mailing address for me.

Me: (long pause of frustration before I “verify” my own mailing address)

I should have asked if I had to repay my loan if they didn’t have any records, but I didn’t.

So today, my lovely bride (aka: Trophy Wife) for the last 36 years, suggests we go shopping for some shorts for my birthday.

It’s off to the mall and the Macy’s Men’s store. We walk in, I locate the rack of men’s shorts. I pick my size, try them on once to see if I’m still “my size” and we’re good to go. TW makes a couple of comments about how much “not fun” it is to shop with me.

MacyClerk: Cash or credit?

TW: Credit (hands over the Macy card)

MacyClerk: Humm..Can I see your ID please?

TW: Sure! (hands over driver’s license)

MacyClerk: It doesn’t seem to want to take the credit card. Did you get a new card recently?

TW: No, I’ve used this card for more than 20 years. It should work.

MacyClerk: I notice the name on the card is your husband’s. Is this a joint account?

TW: Yes, it’s a joint account but it’s my card. He doesn’t even have a Macy card. It should be ok.

MacyClerk: (Calls manager) I’m sorry, we don’t seem to have you on file in our records. Would you like to open a new charge account now to get a new card?

I feel my life crystal blinking red and black as my life existence is beginning to be erased. We pay cash for the shorts and bail before an errant comet smacks the mall with us still inside.

Arriving safely home, I empty the van while TW retrieves the mail.

TW: Honey? Are you expecting anything from the I.R.S.?

Me: Siiiggghhh…..Ahhh Nooooo. What is it?

TW: A refund check for $702.00!!

Maybe I got a few more hours left on my life clock after all.

Happy Birthday U.S.A!!!