Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Little Something for Shawn

My son-in-law Shawn is a police officer on one of the local departments.  He's got an interest in history and all things law enforcement, so I figure he'll enjoy this:

LAPD Police Academy - 1955

These guys all look like cast extras from that great old TV show Adam-12.  Clean cut young American boys, white, black, hispanic.  This was back when LAPD was a force to be reckoned with and the officer was the physical manifestation of the power and authority the LAPD carried and carefully wielded.  Back when the police officer was someone you knew, trusted and looked up to (and I still do).

Good stuff!

Who Knew Bill Clinton Was Advising Venezuelan Politicians?

Politician holds breast implant raffle to fund campaign

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Genius and Beauty of J.S. Bach

In my troglodytic knuckle dragging opinion this is the best piece of
classical music.  Ever.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is This a Great Picture, or What?

Grayling fishing party on the River Trent

If I was working as a casting director for a movie about fishing I couldn't put together a better cast of characters than are seen here, and I could not have composed the picture any better.

Click on the photo to see it full resolution.

This is a picture of a real fishing party - a Grayling fishing party on the River Trent in England.  The picture was posted on the Classic Fly Rod Forum by Stuart Tod, who is fourth from the left in the picture.  The forum topic was 'Favorite Fishing Hats', and Stuart's comment was, "take your pick!"

This is a shot of English fishing tradition at it's finest - lots of tweed, waxed cotton, sweaters & mufflers, 'Wellies' (knee boots), salmon nets, two handed rods and even a bowler!

An absolute classic.  My thanks to Stuart for posting it and reminding us that tradition still lives on in the land of Issac Walton.

iPad vs. Kindle, Round 2

It has been a few weeks since my first posting - iPad vs. Kindle, Round 1. Today I'll focus on the Kindle. While there are no earth shattering revelations I do have some philosophical musings.

Both devices get used almost daily.  Roberta spends a lot of time, particularly around bed time, with the iPad in her lap playing Sudoku or Farmville, unwinding from a day of doing battle with 5th graders and school admin staff that act like 5th graders. Similarly, I'll find an hour or two at the end of the day to just grab the Kindle and go up and sit with her and read (I'm currently finishing up John Gierach's Sex, Death and Fly Fishing).  I will also toss the Kindle (clothed in it's protective neoprene case) into my briefcase and take it to work for lunchtime reading.

I think the best way to describe the Kindle is that it is a handy device, easy to carry, easy to hold and easy to use.  In form and function it does precisely what Amazon intended; it makes electronic reading a pleasurable experience by removing many of the barriers people experience with other electronic devices. Without getting ahead of myself with future comparisons, the Kindle is by far the better reading device. It is an elegantly designed and executed dedicated electronic reading platform, and for that I love it.

The Kindle has also has triggered a conflict in my soul.

You see, I love books. I love reading books. I love the feel of books, the smell of books. I love to collect books. I love hunting for books in used book stores and antique shops. I love building a library and having something physical that I can point to and refer to.  I love the book in its physical form and over the years have built up a respectable collection focused mainly on history, military and science topics.

A conflict came to light a few weeks ago when I was listening to an on-line review of Charles Hill's new book Grand Strategies. The reviewer gave it extremely high marks and called it a modern classic and a book that should be required reading for every employee in the US State Department.  I was fascinated by the book's premise that classic literature, and the lessons contained in the content and study of that literature, form the basis of modern statecraft.

I pulled up the website and was one or two mouse clicks away from buying the Kindle edition of Grand Strategies, but paused.  If this book is as important as the reviewer indicated then it deserves a place in my library.  Not as an ethereal digital file toted around on a perishable device like the Kindle, but in its original and intended form - the physical book.  I then went back through my account and took a look at all the books I either bought or put into my wish list over the years with a serious intent to buy 'sometime in the future'.  Virtually all of them, from history to science to military topics to classic literature, were books I selected specifically because they fit well into my physical library. They cover subjects I have a long and deep interest in, and I view their place in my library as an important contribution to my long term understanding of each particular topic.

So this describes the nature of my conflict with the Kindle.  It is a great device and certainly has a place in the modern world. However, when I buy the Kindle edition of a book I am getting nothing more than a digital file that can only be used on a Kindle device.  The history of technology teaches us that within a very short span of time the physical device and the digital format will be obsolete, and that book will effectively disappear from my library.

The physical book, however, is a relatively imperishable format.  Keep it away from flood and fire and it will last almost indefinitely.

For this reason I can not bring myself to purchase Kindle edition books that have a place in my physical library. This excludes an enormous swath of books on the topics I mention above.

Am I over-reacting?  I don't think so.  I regularly refer to books that have been in my personal library for over 25 years. Will the Kindle or the electronic version of the book I buy to read on the Kindle be around in 25 years?  Probably not.

Am I chucking the Kindle?  Certainly not.  For 'perishable' publications - books I'd like to read but have no long-term interest in - this is the perfect device.  There are also a number of books I want to add to my physical library but can no longer be found in print.  Books like Teddy Roosevelt's writings on hunting in the Dakotas or his classic tale of his Amazon River adventure (that came damned close to killing him). For publications like this the Kindle makes a valid contribution to my personal library.

I see a possible solution to this conundrum.  I'd love to see Amazon develop a pricing structure whereby if you purchase one form of a book you can get a discount on the other format any time in the future.  For example, let's say I buy the Kindle edition of Grand Strategies and like it so much that I want to buy the book for inclusion in my library.  Amazon then sells me the physical book for 25% off of the regular Amazon price.  That seems like a good compromise.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Making Up For Saturday

Thursday nights have become golfing nights for our local Trout Unlimited chapter; golfing in the sense that we go fishing on the ponds of a local golf course that is closed for maintenance on Thursdays.  These ponds hold healthy populations of good sized bluegill and bass, and the occasional crappie.  Since these ponds don't get much fishing pressure the fish are not wary.  A perfect combination - big fish that are not scared to bite anything tossed at them!

Our fishing outing last Saturday was a bust and I was feeling a little off my game.  Did I still have my fishing mojo?  Could I still convince big, dumb bluegill to take something that vaguely looked - from the proper angle and in the right light - like a grasshopper with malformed legs and a misshapen head?

I was really hoping to get back in the groove on Thursday night.

I also wanted to try out a new-used fly rod I picked up from a fellow member of the Warm Fly fly fishing forum.

Lots of variables to work through!

I need not have worried.  The bluegill were waiting and willing and my new 4 wt Lamiglas rod built by Prairie Drifter rods worked wonderfully.  Here's the proof:

If you recognize the turtle you'll know the location!

The golf course (which shall remain nameless) is in the south metro Atlanta area in a very tony neighborhood.  The turtle is a signature landmark on one of the ponds.  Any guesses?

Does this shoreline look fishy?

This is a fiberglass rod made on a Lamiglas e-glass blank
by Prairie Drifter Rods
While all the ponds produce, this pond, the most upstream in the chain, so far has yielded the biggest bluegill

First fish of the night - on the first cast of the night!

The fly being used is a foam grasshopper pattern
known as a 'clodhopper'

Second fish of the night - on the second cast.  Folks, I ain't making this up!

The Clodhopper

My all time champ for catching large bluegill, and the one I was using Thursday, is the 'Clodhopper', a simple foam grasshopper pattern tied using 2mm craft foam, some rubber legs and a little deer hair to simulate wings.  Tied on to a #14  2x hook, it is irresistible (to bluegill, that is).

The biggest, and most colorful, fish of the night!

The biggest fish of the night.  Although this fly rod is a 4wt, this fellow put quite a bend in the somewhat soft fiberglass stick


Last fish of the night.

In an hour's time I landed 11 fish, and probably lost half as many to thrown hooks.

Yessiree, it was a good night!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It Was One Of Those Days

I should have figured that the "Swim at your own risk"
sign was a hint - big swimmin' hole here!
Fishing last Saturday (14 August) on the Flint River at Sprewell Bluff State Park.  Looking for smallmouth and shoal bass.  Never did find 'em, but I think I found the biggest hole.  My wallet is still drying out.

Sprewell Bluff State Park

Sprewell Bluff is the spot where the Flint River crosses the 'fall line' - it crosses from the Appalachian uplands and enters the Georgia piedmont.

Von with one of two smallies he got
I'm not sure what Von was throwing, but it worked better than anything anyone else was using.

Shawn working the pools
Shawn, beating the water to no avail...

Jim. Stylin'
If you are not catching anything at least you can look good while doing it.

You take your shelter where you can find it
Not long after lunch we heard a roar moving up the river from the south and realized it was rain!  Within moments a wall of water swept over us.

They say the worst day fishing is better than the best day at work.  I agree, but actually hooking a fish or two makes the experience a whole lot better.


Found this today over on the Power Line blog.  John Hinderaker makes an excellent observation:

"The Republican Study Committee made this video, contrasting clips by Ronald Reagan with today's leaders of the Democratic Party. Suffice it to say that Reagan never sounded so timely. It's striking, too, how child-like the Democrats seem compared to him. They're pitiful, but what it really pathetic is that they are in power. As an email correspondent says, it's November or never."

Child-like.  Yup, that describes it.  Other words that come to mind include hubris, condescension, arrogance.

I don't like being talked down to, particularly by people who are supposed to be working for me.  Two things:

1. I miss Ronnie
2. I can't wait for November

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Words To Live By

My brother-in-law Bruce is an assistant scoutmaster with his son's troop up in Grand Haven, MI.  He emailed me today to let me know that as part of their 100th Anniversary the Boy Scouts have reactivated several historic merit badges that were discontinued years ago due to changes in culture and focus within Scouting.  These four reactivated merit badges are Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling and Tracking.  Signaling was discontinued in 1992, and the other three were all discontinued in 1952!

What is neat about this program is that Scouts will use the original merit badge pamphlets and qualify according to the original standards, and the badges themselves will be reproductions of the originals.

Scouting was a big part of my life.  I spent most of my pre-teen and teenage years in Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts and Explorers.  I never achieved any great rank, but the lessons I learned and the friends I made have stuck with me to this day.  I have a deep admiration for the Boy Scouts of America and what they do for America's young men.

So, let's all take a moment to recite the Scout Oath.  Raise your right hand in the traditional three finger Scout salute and repeat:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

And now the Scout Law:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, 
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

Those, ladies and gentlemen, are words to live by.

Impulse Purchase of the Week

"Hands in the air Black Bart!"
I was schlepping through the local WallyWorld today, looking for God-knows-what, when I decided to take a swing through the sporting goods section.  This is a pathetic WallyWorld so, as you'd expect, the sporting goods section is equally pathetic.  I think the automotive section personnel are responsible for it, and their lack of attention shows (and the automotive section isn't much better).

Anyway, it looks like they are 'getting ready' for fall and the coming hunting season.  By 'getting ready', I mean that they just unpack whatever WallyWorld Central ships them and half heartedly chuck it onto an open shelf and let schmucks like me pick through it to find what we are looking for.  Ya' know, at this store that's the way I like it - most of the retail staff are lazy and don't know what they have in stock anyway.

At the far back of the sporting goods section, waaaay back behind the basketball and weight lifting gear, past the golf stuff and just around the corner from the Denise Austin exercise DVDs is a small area designated for 'shooting supplies'.  Some cleaning gear, a few cheap scopes, some old paper targets.  I did note, however, that they just got a new stock of 70th Anniversary Daisy Red Ryder Carbine BB rifles in stock.  I paused for a moment and thought, "Heck son, you don't have one of those yet.  Every red blooded American boy needs one of those!"  Since Roberta reminds me daily that I'm just a big overgrown kid I figured what the heck, I'll get one!

I pulled a 70th Anniversary Daisy Red Ryder Carbine off the shelf, tossed it into the cart, went to the register, paid the gal ($29.95 plus tax) and walked out past Oscar the WallyWorld Greeter without either of us batting an eye.

Get it?  I walked in to a store and purchased what in many locales and states is considered a dangerous firearm, paid for it along with my toothpaste and Diet Coke, tossed it into the cart and walked out of the store without anyone screaming in horror about a "man with a gun!" or "please mister, don't shoot us!"

In places like Chicago, New York City and even the entire state of New Jersey what I did this morning is not only impossible, if I even attempted it I'd be prosecuted as a felon.

Instead, in places like Georgia, rational folks understand that BB guns are little more than toys.  Yes, toys that must be used under strict supervision, but toys none-the-less.  You see, in Georgia the government trusts the citizens.  It trusts them to make sure their kids don't do stupid things with BB guns.  In return those same citizens promise to exercise responsibility in the purchase and use of things like BB guns. Guess what?  This relationship works!  Has worked for a few hundred years now.  That's why I chose to live in Georgia and not in Chicago, New York City or New Jersey.

This 70th Anniversary Daisy Red Ryder Carbine will most likely just stay in it's packaging, stored in my gun safe for a future time when future grandkids are visiting and looking for something neat to do, like shooting at Necco wafers or pine cones.

And yes Roberta, I promise we won't shoot our eyes out...

The Ultimate Betrayal

Publix Supermarkets, in a naked act of betrayal, has stopped carrying Philly's Street Pretzels by America's Finest Soft Pretzels, Inc.

If ever there was a singular act that would cause me to stop shopping at Publix, this is it.

Unlike other frozen soft pretzels sold by Publix, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Ingles, etc., the Philly's Street Pretzel is as close to an original Philly street pretzel as you will find in the South, where real bakeries are a rarity (along with decent delis and butcher shops).

Real Philly street pretzels are one of those sublime culinary delights that are found only in the Philadelphia area. Baked fresh daily, they are soft, doughy, and coated in Kosher salt. A cardiologist's nightmare. They are sold all over Philly by pushcart vendors, hot dog stands and cheese steak sandwich stands (another Philly culinary masterpiece). Baked and sold in continuous strips, you go up to the vendor, tell him how many you want and he'll tear off your pretzels from one of the strips hanging from a peg. Usually using his dirty hands that he has just wiped on his greasy apron. That's called 'local flavor'.


I remember them costing a nickel each back in the 1960s. You could eat like a king, all day long, for less than a buck. When me and my buddies (Jim Simons, Bill Mound, Richard Ford, Mike Rauchwerk and Glen McClellan) got bored in the summer we would grab the bus and head over to Philly for a day of running around Independence Hall and shopping at Goldberg's Army/Navy Surplus Store. I'd make sure I always had $3.00 in reserve; a buck-fifty for bus fare back, two quarters for an emergency phone call and a buck for a bag of soft pretzels and a Coke or two. (This was back in the days when Frank Rizzo and his brother ran Philly, and it was safe for a bunch of kids from the South Jersey 'burbs to run around downtown unsupervised.)

Since leaving New Jersey in the mid-1970s my life has been consumed by finding the Perfect Pretzel (no kidding - just ask Roberta). Real Philly soft pretzels have been the standard against which all others have been judged. The Germans are about the only ones who make a decent pretzel these days, and I have fond memories of stuffing my face at the Ams Bretzel stand in the market square in Heidelberg. All others have fallen short. That is, until I found the Philly's Street Pretzels brand in the Publix frozen food aisle a few years back. You have to bake them (6 minutes at 350 degrees) and coat them with salt (real kosher salt is included in the package), and they don't stay fresh for more than an hour or two, but oh boy, they are good!

Now, I could take this move by Publix as just an isolated incident driven by market forces and competition for freezer display space. However, about five years back Publix stopped carrying the world's finest sourdough hard pretzels - Wege. One day they just disappeared from the snack food shelf in all Publix stores in the Atlanta area, their display space eaten up by the Snyder's Snack Food Borg ("You will be assimilated!"). Ever eaten a Snyder's sourdough hard pretzel? It's like eating styrofoam covered in table salt. Blech.

The Publix manager gave no explanation for the disappearance of the Wege pretzels, just that it was a 'management decision'.  At the time I accepted his justification, but no longer.  I can only interpret the disappearance of the Wege hard pretzels and the Philly's Street Pretzels as an unambiguous and coordinated attack on me personally, and on all true pretzel lovers in general.

All signs point to an anti-pretzel cabal at work here, probably a formed as a joint working committee out of the Council On Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group.  It is now my life's work to expose and topple this evil conspiracy and return quality soft pretzels to their rightful status in the world!

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Spit Out Your Coffee Time

A new report says 70% of US students don't understand what the '=' (equals) sign stands for!

Huh? Even for math idiots like me, getting a firm grasp on what the '=' sign stands for in math was Math 101 in the 1st grade. Sister Hermann Melville at Our Lady of Good Council School made damned sure we understood the concept on day one before we were allowed to go to recess and compare lunch boxes (I had a really cool Steve Canyon lunchbox, btw).

When I first read this article I was set to launch on a blistering rant on the state of American math education. Just how dumb do you have to be to not understand what the '=' sign stands for? Before ranting I mentioned it to Roberta (you know, the one with the Masters in Mathematics Education). She piped up, "Hell yeah, it's a problem! These kids just don't get that it is a balance symbol. Most think of it is a function or execution symbol."

I considered her response for a moment or two and thought, well, maybe the problem really isn't with the kids. Then it struck me - the problem is calculators!

Stay with me here.

Kids are introduced to calculators at a very early age. Most get introduced to calculators in the classroom as early as the first grade. Roberta says it is only so they can verify the accuracy of their computations. Still, the syntax of the algebraic calculator is 'numeral / function / numeral / execute' (i.e., '2 + 2 ='). These kids see the '=' key not as a balance key, but as a function execution key. The teacher says the '=' symbol is a balance symbol; things on one side of the symbol must balance with (or equal) things on the other. However, the algebraic calculator tells them "punch the '=' key to get the answer".

Their little skulls full of mush are confused. Who can blame them? The only place they hear that the '=' symbol means balance is in the classroom, from a frustrated teacher who just wants to move on to an easier topic like lunch or PE. Outside of the classroom they see the '=' symbol used as a function execution key everywhere - computer keyboards, mobile phone keypads, ATMs, you name it.

So, the culprit here is the algebraic calculator (as pushed by the eeeevil Texas Instruments). What do we do to rescue millions of little skulls full of mush from their fundamental misunderstanding of the '=' symbol?

I say we give every kid in America an HP 35s calculator. That'll fix the problem.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Like Skype

So there I was, traipsing across the tee box on the 14th hole at the golf course, fly fishing rod in hand (obviously I wasn't there to golf) and on a whim I decide to check and see if Aileen is on-line. Since Aileen is in Costa Rica doing her student teaching we have started using Skype to keep in touch. I tap the Skype button on my iPhone and I'm surprised to see that she is, in fact, on line. Another tap on her Skype connect icon and a few moments later we're chatting - me on the tee box at the Planterra Golf Course in Fayette County, Georgia and she in her bedroom in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The best part? Our 15 minute conversation cost precisely $0.00. Yup, nada. Compare that to the $30 the blood suckers at AT&T would have charged for the same call if made on their system.

I like Skype.

The Best Movie You Will Probably Never See

My nomination for the category Best Movie You Will Probably Never See is "The Lost World of Mr. Hardy".

Released in 2008 and commonly considered a 'fishing movie', "The Lost World of Mr. Hardy" is really a tale of a lost time, when Britian had an empire, British manufacturing led the world and one small company, Hardy Brothers of Alnwick, England, produced the finest fishing tackle for kings, maharajahs, captains of industry and an expanding English middle class that had time and money on their hands and wanted to give this thing called 'fly fishing' a try.

It is a slow, almost languid movie that uses contemporary interviews and historical film footage to tell the tale of the rise, fall and resurrection of English manufacturing, and the corresponding changes in English society, as reflected in the story of Hardy's.

You won't find this movie on the shelf at Blockbuster and I don't think Netflix carries it. But if you do run across a copy take the time to watch it. It is a gem. Heck, you can always borrow my copy!

iPad vs. Kindle, Round 1

It's been a summer of technology upgrades here at Schloss Haren. First, in late spring the main desktop computer died a sudden death. The old Dell just wouldn't work anymore. After the usual resuscitation efforts and the unsettling realization that we still had big checks to write to UGA for both Roberta and Aileen, I headed over to Best Buy and told Mr. Junior Sales Drone that I needed the cheapest desktop computer he had in stock. After rejecting some really low end pieces of junk I settled on a fairly recent Compaq Presario model with an AMD processor and enough RAM and hard drive space to carry us for a few years without having to upgrade. Now, if you know anything about the computer biz you know that Compaq is Hewlett-Packard's low end line and it's clear where they cut some corners - the case. This computer case is nothing more than a simple stamped sheet metal box. It lacks the sleek design and unique engineering of many of the more upscale desktops, and it actually buzzes when the CD drive spins up. Heck, even the old Dell had a much better case. But that's OK with me. I work with computers all day, every day. I consider them nothing more than an appliance, like a toaster or blender. When one craps out I go looking for the cheapest replacement that has all the features I want or need. This Compaq fits the bill.

Next was Roberta's graduation gift. Roberta spends a lot of time with a laptop computer in her, well, lap! While much of that time is spent writing papers for grad school, grading student papers, writing lesson plans, etc., a good portion of her laptop laptop time (ha, ha) is spent doing less critical but still very important tasks like tending her garden in Farmville, playing Sudoku, checking with friends on Facebook, shopping on the web for my birthday present, etc. For those tasks you don't necessarily need a full-power laptop device. I thought an iPad would be just the ticket. We are both Apple fans and I figured she'd really like Steve Jobs' newest fanboy device. I tried to get her one before our trip up to Ohio in early July, but I didn't realize that Apple doesn't just keep these things on the shelf waiting for people to buy one. Noooo, here's how it works:

1. You call Apple, give them your credit card number.

2. Apple rings up their factory in China (Taiwan, actually) and tells them to schedule one for production with your name on it. Yes, this is the same iPad and iPod factory where workers have been hurling themselves off the roof in despair because they can't stand the pressure of the production line. The factory management fixed that problem by stringing circus nets around the building to catch the flying workers. Very Monty Pythonesque (I ain't makin' this up, folks!)

3. In due time (a few weeks later) your name comes up in the queue and your iPad gets cranked out and sent to the shipping department.

4. The shipping department tosses your iPad onto a waiting FedEx airplane and sends Apple a shipping notice which Apple forwards on to you.

5. Through the magic of the World Wide Web you get to watch as your iPad hops from China to Alaska to Atlanta. That part of the trip is fairly straight forward. However, once the iPad gets to Atlanta the fun begins. You get to watch as it's onloaded and offloaded from one container and conveyance device after another, then sent out for a complimentary trip or two around the Atlanta perimeter roadways as FedEx determines it's final destination. Finally they figure out that the package has to head south from the airport and after an extra day or two it arrives in your carport.

6. You unbox and begin to enjoy the magic and awesomeness of the iPad!

Now, Roberta's iPad arrived a little bit after her birthday but before her graduation, so we called it a combined gift. It is the low end 16 gig wifi only model. So far she really likes it. I was afraid she'd play with it for a few days then quickly give it up for her more powerful laptop, but I'm pleased to see her using it almost every day. She says it is an awesome pig killing machine (if you've ever played the game 'Angry Birds' you know what I'm talking about).

Next up is the Amazon Kindle. I had been looking at one of these for months. I spend much of my morning and afternoon commute listening to talk show hosts like Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz and Hugh Hewett. All of them praise the Kindle as the way to receive and enjoy reading material. Both Bennett and Boortz have championed the Kindle as a way to distribute, upgrade and manage a student's textbooks and other required reading material, and being the father and husband of UGA students I find that idea compelling.

The basic Kindle used to be a fairly expensive device - about $400. This put it within $100 of the base price of an iPad. Amazon got smart and drastically cut the price of the basic (yet still very capable) Kindle to $189. Overnight the Kindle went from the status of expensive toy to somewhat affordable impulse purchase. That's when I jumped.

Unlike the iPad, ordering the Kindle is very straightforward and lacks the drama (and hopefully the flying Taiwanese) of the iPad purchase. Buy the Kindle on Amazon's website and for a small shipping fee it shows up in your car port the next day.

Of course, you can't really do anything with the Kindle until you buy something to read on it, and you can only buy things to read on it from Amazon. This reveals the genius of Jeff Bezos' business model (which has worked smashingly since the days of King Gillette) - sell the hardware cheap but make sure they stay tethered to your service. Unlike Apple, which makes a healthy profit on every iPad sold, Amazon loses money on every Kindle sale. What they expect to do is make up that loss through the sale of digital media - books, magazines & newspapers. So far it seems to be working.

That's it for now. In the weeks to come I'll be reviewing both devices, not in some fanboy lab where everything with an Apple logo on it is golden, but out here in the real world of middle aged techno-junkies who actually have jobs and responsibilities and (gasp!) really do expect their high tech devices to do something useful. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Of The Month - August

This month's Book Of The Month is a sleeper: Gutenberg - How One Man Remade the World With Words by John Man.

I picked this up on the sale pile at Banes & Noble a few years back and didn't get around to reading it for another year. This is one gem of a book. The author uses the book not so much to detail how Gutenberg 'invented' printing (he didn't invent the process per se, he just melded a number of existing technologies to make printing effective and efficient), but the book instead discusses the impact of printing on the immediate world. The printing press was the internet of it's day. Almost overnight the distribution of permanent information became quick and cheap. The printing press (used to print The Bible in local languages) spurred the expansion of the Reformation. Kings, princes and the Catholic Church tried mightily to stifle the development and expansion of the printing press, with no success. The future could not be denied, and the future was the printed word!


It is 0700 and I'm sitting here listening to the Police scanner, tracking all the calls in our county. I think more folks should take the time to listen to a scanner (you can actually do it on-line at places like to get an appreciation for just how busy our police stay throughout the day. They are not just sitting under trees eating donuts and listening to Rush Limbaugh (or, if they work the overnight shift, Art Bell).

Responding to alarms (a HUGE part of their job), vehicle accidents, doing welfare checks, checking on suspicious cars/people/dogs, intervening on domestic issues (i.e., fights), and lots, lots more. They truly are the force that keeps society from boiling over.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Off To Costa Rica!

No, not Roberta and me. Rather, we put Aileen on the plane yesterday for Costa Rica. For the next 85 days she'll be doing her student teaching at the Country Day School in San Jose.

Have fun kiddo, but not too much fun!