Wednesday, December 31, 2008

@ugusta: The Augusta Chronicle Online: Celebrate 2000New Year's song remains ingrained in public mind 12/31/99

"New Year's song remains ingrained in public mind

Depending on where you celebrate New Year's Eve tonight, the turntables will spin Prince's 1999, Barry Manilow's It's Just Another New Year's Eve, or even, heaven forbid, Will Smith's Will 2K.

But at midnight, in almost every nightclub and home, on every television and radio, the song will be the same: Auld Lang Syne.

``It just fits the moment,'' says Tyrone Traher, who has studied the origins of the song. ``It's traditional. Kind of like how Amazing Grace is always played at a funeral.''

Except that most people can make it past the first line of Amazing Grace.

``Yes,'' Mr. Traher agrees with a chuckle. ``No one seems to know all the words.''

He pauses for a moment.

``Come to think of it, I've honestly never read all the words to the song,'' he concedes.

So there you have it: a Gaelic-riddled song with an old-fashioned melody that many Americans sing as ``should auld acquaintance be forgot ...'' and then trail off into a hum."

READ MORE At The Augusta Chronicle Online

Monday, December 29, 2008

As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and if I had known then what I know now I would have definitely done things differently. I went to work for the company I am employed at which I currently refer to as my "day job" over 19 years ago. I was fairly fresh out of school having graduated High School then taking courses in Electronic Engineering at I.T.T. and working for Dominoes Pizza while putting in applications and doing interviews in the hopes of landing a "real job". I finally did get a job with a company that offered a great benefits package and a future of better pay although the starting pay was actually a step down from what I was making delivering pizzas if you include the tips. I literally began at the bottom sweeping floors and later upgraded into a higher position in the same department operating powered equipment.

I actually had a chance to take several other positions along the way but I chose the "safe" route of staying where I was at because I had built up some seniority which gave me a buffer in case of layoffs and it was guaranteed 40 hours per week whereas one of the other jobs, fleet service, starts off part time until you can build up enough time to bid for a full time position. Then in 1996 a new contract started that had been voted in during the 1995 negotiations. The department I was working in was to be contracted out but all of the people in the department would be transferred to a new position of cabin cleaning. The trouble was, they were also telling everyone that all future pay raises were to be frozen. Well, obviously that wasn't going to work so I started looking for a new place to go. A lot of my friends took positions as fleet service clerks, stock clerks, overhaul support mechanics and other assorted positions throughout the company. I, again going the safe route, decided on a Plant Maintenance Man position and passed the test initially for the Automotive Department where I remained for another 5 1/2 years until September 11th, 2001 put the industry into a tailspin and caused massive layoffs which sent me to a different work location and into the Facilities Maintenance department. After coming to Facilities I became interested in the equipment we worked on and started learning more about it, especially the electrical end of things and eventually got a Maintenance Electrician's License from the state.

The trouble is, after making all these "safe" moves over the years I find myself in a position that hasn't panned out for me. I make an average of $2 less per hour than all of my former co-workers who went on to other positions within the company, I have fewer options for working extra shifts (called CSing in company lingo) and very rarely see opportunities for overtime (which is often more plentiful for other positions. I made the "safe" move to the Plant Maintenance Man (PMM for short) thinking it would be a temporary position for a few years maybe and I would later be able to upgrade into a full Mechanic position (a position that pays $9 per hour more than I make now). But due primarily to politics (under a shoddy facade of policy and experience credit review procedures) I have been shut out time and again from getting such an upgrade but at the same time I have seen others with less experience (in one particular case an 18 year old kid fresh out of High School) who were deemed to be "qualified" which usually boils down to knowing the right people, being related to the right people or filling the agenda of "diversification of the work force". The PMM position requires three years previous maintenance experience to get into in the first place. The fleet service clerk position requires only a High School diploma or equivalent and a driver's license to start then training is provided. PMM is classified in the union contract as a semi-skilled position. Fleet Service Clerk is classified as non-skilled. So, 18 years ago if I had gone into the so called "non-skilled" Fleet Service Clerk position I would be making $2 more per hour now than I do by going into the "semi-skilled" position. But it goes beyond that because with 18 years I could easily have pulled a Crew Chief position by now giving me another $1.70 per hour on top of that. Plus more opportunities for CSing and overtime due to it being a MUCH larger department.

So, long story short, I messed up doing what I thought was the "safe" thing and I'm paying for it now every hour that I work. I can still transfer to one of these other positions and likely will as soon as the economy improves and there is more hiring taking place because I see now that the "few years" that I thought it might take to upgrade has become 12 1/2 years and counting. Transferring will mean throwing away all of my seniority and starting at the bottom of the list for bidding jobs and being among the first to be impacted by layoffs. But my pay will increase at least. It's just ironic that I find myself in the predicament that I have to transfer to a position which has lower initial qualification requirements in order to make more money. It all boils down to politics though. There are more of them than there are of us and our union doesn't care because A.) We don't represent enough votes to do them any good and B.) some of us have more seniority than the very union representatives who are supposed to represent us therefore they have a vested interest in keeping me and others like me right where we are at. The company has no interest in helping us upgrade because, hey, it's cheap labor, we have guys doing essentially the same work for $9 per hour less. What's not to love about that right?

I'm not getting any younger though and if I am going to start over in another department now is the time to do it because later it will be too late. But on the other hand, there is that nagging doubt of what if I transfer out and they finally do the right thing and implement a program to allow those of us trapped in this dead end to finally get an upgrade through training and testing? The current contract is in negotiations and there is talk of just such a program being a part of it but there has been talk before. There is talk at every contract negotiation. Talk is cheap. Talk won't pay my bills or support my family. I need more than talk.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pete the purple squirrel leaves animal lovers baffled | Mail Online

Here's something you don't see every day... -Troy

"We've all seen lots of grey squirrels and maybe the occasional red, but this chap is definitely going through a purple patch.

He was spotted at Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hampshire, where pupils, staff and parents have all tried to solve the mystery of his unusual hue.

One clue is that he frequently pops into a building where old printers are stored. TV wildlife expert Chris Packham said: 'It is possible he has been chewing on a purple ink cartridge and then groomed that colouring into his fur."

MORE with PICS At Mail Online

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"DALLAS, TX.- DFW International Airport welcomed the ancient Egyptian jackal-headed god Anubis, guide and protector of the dead, to the Airport's popular Founders' Plaza today, celebrating the successful conclusion of the 'Year of the International Traveler.' The 10-ton, 26-foot-tall statue, which will 'deck the skyways' with a giant candy cane staff, will be on display to celebrate the 'Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs' exhibit showing at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) through May of 2009. Santa and his helpful elves joined a crowd of well-wishers to greet Anubis at Founders' Plaza today, and air passengers will get a unique view of the statue from the north end of the Airport on thousands of upcoming holiday flights."


Sunday, December 21, 2008

LEDs And Smart Lighting Could Save Trillions Of Dollars, Spark Global Innovation

"ScienceDaily (Dec. 20, 2008) — A 'revolution' in the way we illuminate our world is imminent, according to a paper published this week by two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Innovations in photonics and solid state lighting will lead to trillions of dollars in cost savings, along with a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe, the researchers forecast.

A new generation of lighting devices based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will supplant the common light bulb in coming years, the paper suggests. In addition to the environmental and cost benefits of LEDs, the technology is expected to enable a wide range of advances in areas as diverse as healthcare, transportation systems, digital displays, and computer networking."

MORE AT Science Daily

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Head to to get Straight No Chaser's album 'Holiday Spirits'! The original members of Straight No Chaser perform their comedic version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What are you looking at? Japan scientists find out | Science | Reuters

"TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese researchers have reproduced images of things people were looking at by analyzing brain scans, opening the way for people to communicate directly from their mind.

They hope their study, published in the U.S. journal Neuron, will lead to helping people with speech problems or doctors studying mental disorders, although there are privacy issues if it gets to the stage where someone can read a sleeping person's dreams.

'When we want to convey a message, we need to move our body, for example by speaking or by tapping a keyboard,' said Yukiyasu Kamitani, the project's head researcher from the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, a private institute based in Kyoto, Japan."

READ MORE At Reuters
This guy went out with a BANG! - Troy

"The body of Wang Diange, from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, was found in the wreckage of a house where he had been overseeing the wake of a previous family funeral, after mourners felt a loud explosion which took off half the roof.

As it was raining and thundery, they decided that the house, and Mr Wang in particular, had been struck by lightning. The police came to the same conclusion.

Further inquiries were made a few days later after Mr Wang's own funeral. As his body was being put into the cremation chamber, it blew up spectacularly, bursting the doors off the oven."

READ MORE At The Telegraph:

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Newsletter for Arlingtonites

"At 6000 Bacara Lane, the Artisan at Rush Creek is more than an apartment home community for affordable living. It's a facility offering recreational programs for youth, after-school tutoring, and continuing education classes for adults. In a partnership with the YMCA and the City of Arlington, there's a strategic focus on youth in this south Arlington community of low to moderate income families and people are seeing the difference."

READ MORE At A Newsletter for Arlingtonites:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Harvesting Electricity From Moving Vehicles - HotHardware

'Parasitic energy harvesting' might sound like it is part of a Sci-Fi plot where alien beings feed off of the energy emanating from human bodies, but it is actually a means of reclaiming wasted energy. An Israeli company, Innowattech, says that it holds the patents to technologies that can harvest the mechanical energy from vehicles traveling on surfaces such as roadways, railways, and airport runways, and convert that energy to electricity. Not only does Innowattech have the technology, but it wants to implement it into our highway, rail, and airport infrastructures.

The technology 'is based on piezoelectric generators; the piezoelectric effect converts mechanical strain into electrical current or voltage.' In other words, when a piezoelectric material is deformed, the energy from the deformation of the material gets converted into electricity. Innowattech has created three different versions of what it calls the Innowattech Piezo Electric Generator (IPEG): a Roadway Generator, a Railroad Generator, and a Runway Generator. Innowattech claims that its IPEGs can 'harvest energy from weight, motion, vibration and temperature changes.

MORE At HotHardware: "

A Perfect Female Companion: Project Aiko

( -- Aiko is a humanoid robot with a built in Biometric Artificial Intelligence Neural System (Brain) designed by Le Trung in Canada. Aiko is slightly less than 5-feet high with 32.24-inch bust, 22.44-inch waist and 33.07-inch waist. Aiko which means 'love child' is the perfect companion. In fact, lovely Aiko speaks Japanese and English and can respond to annoyances and questions.

She has the ability to identify objects placed before her. She is equipped with a sensor which allows her to signal pain or annoyance. If you squeeze her cheeks or other parts of her anatomy she will tell you, 'That hurts or stop touching me.

MORE At PhysOrg Project Aiko: "

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Have you been dreaming of a white Christmas? Scientists could soon watch it on a screen | Mail Online

Have you been dreaming of a white Christmas? Scientists may soon be able to show your winter scene on a computer screen once you've drifted into a peaceful slumber.

A Japanese research team has successfully processed and displayed images directly from the human brain, they said in a study to be published in the US magazine Neuron.

While the researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have only reproduced simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to display dreams."

MORE at Daily Mail

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Green tomato pie, green tomato soup, green tomato bread and fried green tomatoes!

We ate them all around here this week. Our tomato plants which languished in the backyard for most of the season and didn't produce much exploded into a tomato frenzy in November and just wouldn't stop. We even tried to give some away but unfortunately no one came to get them but ever resourceful, my wife Eme went online and found tons of recipes for things you can make with green tomatoes. I wonder how a green tomato salsa would be? Maybe next year, but anyway, all of these creations were just awesome and not the usual fare you'll get at the store or from a restaurant for that matter. That's the beauty of growing your own stuff. Not only is the flavor better but you can create all kinds of great dishes that you wouldn't otherwise get to try. Next year we're planning to try out the plan used by some folks up in Chicago who used old, discarded kid's wading pools to make huge planters and grew vegetables on the roof of a building.

No! We're not going grow our garden on the roof of the house, we'll plant them in the back yard but we figure the pools will help us separate the plants somewhat from weeds that might invade and make them easier to maintain. Also, we shouldn't have to dig too deep to get to our potatoes, carrots, radishes and such. I also recently read up on growing spinach in pots indoors. Plus did you know about this neat planter that lets you grow small tomatoes indoors as a hanging basket?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pre-Columbian Tribes Had BBQs, Parties on Grave Sites

Alexis Okeowo
for National Geographic News
December 05, 2008

Some pre-Hispanic cultures in South America had elaborate celebrations at their cemeteries, complete with feasting and drinking grounds much like modern barbecue pits, according to a new archaeological study.

Excavations of 12th- and-13th-century burial mounds in the highlands of Brazil and Argentina revealed numerous earthen ovens. The finds suggest that the graves were also sites of regular festivals held to commemorate the death of the community's chief."

MORE at National Geographic
Can you believe this @#&*!?

8-year old Tallan 'T-Man' Latz is unable to play his guitar in clubs that serve liquor because of Wisconsin laws.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I used to own both of these books until an ex-wife took off with them several years ago. I bought them both when I was about 20 years old and living in an apartment in Grapevine, Texas. Among other things, these books inspired me to start at that early age to begin putting money into my company 401k account and to buy, not rent, a house as soon as possible. Both decisions I have never regretted. Even though the books are fairly old now the advice in them is timeless and I plan to re-quire copies of them soon so I can re-read them and refresh my memory. I can highly recommend them both to anyone who wants to get a handle on their personal finances and to be in control of their money not let it control you...

'Sylvia Porter's Money Book:'

Andrew Tobias' 'The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sci Fi Channel orders 'Battlestar' prequel 'Caprica' --The Live Feed

"Sci Fi Channel has given the long-gestating 'Battlestar Galactica' prequel 'Caprica' a series order.

The network has made a significant commitment to the project, ordering 20 hours, including a two-hour pilot. Cast members include Eric Stoltz ('Milk,' 'Chicago Hope'), Esai Morales ('Jericho,' 'NYPD Blue'), Paula Malcomson ('Deadwood,' 'ER') and Polly Walker ('Cane,' 'Rome').

' 'Caprica' will build on 'Battlestar Galactica's' acclaimed legacy of gripping drama and extraordinary characters,' said Sci Fi president Dave Howe. 'It's the beginning of a brand new epic saga that will appeal to both new viewers, totally unfamiliar with the 'Battlestar' franchise, as well as existing loyal and passionate 'Battlestar' fans.'"

MORE on The Live Feed by James Hibberd:
I just got this email from the Obama-Biden Transition Project

Transparency and engagement are priorities for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Our success depends on not only opening up a process that has historically been inaccessible to most Americans, but also encouraging citizen participation.

Last week, we took an important step towards these goals by asking the public to participate in a discussion about health care on our website.

The result was fantastic. Started by a question from our Health Policy Team, thousands of comments poured in over a few days. Some people answered the initial question, but others engaged with one another debating and developing new ideas and approaches to health care reform.

Members of our Health Policy Team, including former Senator Tom Daschle, read through these comments over Thanksgiving weekend.

Yesterday, they sat down to record a special video response. Watch it and join the discussion:

This is just the beginning. These discussions are a valuable resource for Transition staff and an important way to ensure that everyone has a voice in the process.

Thank you,


John D. Podesta


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Arlington Parade and Tree Lighting on December 6th

"Arrive early for the Holiday Lights Parade. More than 75 lighted floats, marching bands, vintage cars and Elvis clones on tiny motorcycles. New this year: Entertainment at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. Beginning at 4 p.m., enjoy holiday performances by the First Baptist Church Choir and the Arlington Community Band. The Star-Telegram-sponsored parade starts at 6 p.m. followed by the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of City Hall."

More at the Newsletter for Arlingtonites
Rip, Mix, and Govern: "Barack Obama's transition site,, is now under a Creative Commons license—specifically, the highly permissive Attribution 3.0 Unported license, which allows unfettered copying and remixing of content, subject only to an attribution requirement. Lest anyone worry that they're wild-eyed radicals, though, the copyright policy makes sure to assert the site's conformity with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act."