Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here you go!

I wrote a post on the wearing of the American Flag a while back and another on OJ Simpson and Smithers left a comment on the Flag Post with a link to a certain other Simpson.

Now, I can't believe how many people around the world are finding my blog via Google looking for the picture below.

So...due to popular demand guys, and as a public service, here you go! Peace to you too, Jessica.

Jessica Simpson

Mon meilleur ami


Mon meilleur ami (known in the US as My Best Friend) is a quaint French film that tells the story of curmudgeon François Coste who at a dinner party one night belittles a client who had recently died and had in attendance at his funeral all of six people, including the deceased.

Coste's acquaintances summarily inform him that in fact if he died there would be one at his, and that would also include the deceased.

He didn't have a friend in the world.

His impassioned protests result in a challenge from his business partner Catherine who wagers that he can not produce a "best friend" by the deadline.

Coste finds himself surprisingly alone as he pulls out all the stops to find someone who will present themself as his best friend and sinks ever lower as he ingratiates himself to old classmates and aquaintances alike. In a series of gut-wrenchingly embarassing scenes he discovers that he has in fact been a pompous boor his entire life and he is hard-pressed to find someone not willing to inform of just that.

Ultimately, it is Coste's neighborhood taxi driver who is drafted to save the day. Not unlike Reign Over Me it is the story of two men who complete each other through a newfound friendship.

My Best Friend is a charming, well made if not terribly engrossing French-language film that we stumbled upon which is quite endearing in the English-subtitled version as the French language and the urban Parisian scenery are a rare treat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Snoopy and the Red Baron

I'm watching the Charles Schulz documentary on Public TV tonight. Very cool; great memories. And now, for your viewing enjoyment...

Romney v. Clinton

Very little attention has been given to the fact that Hillary, as a presidential candidate, is a Senator. This is probably by design.

Senators have historically had a very difficult time winning the Presidency. This was rather skillfully used against John Kerry. The issue is, a Senator hasn't "run" anything. Furthermore, his or her votes on issues are clear. As a Governor, or even Mayor of a large city, you can answer the challenge having "run" something and your stand on certain polarizing issues isn't quite as evident.

While the polls show Hillary with a commanding lead, I think it wise on the part of the DNC to keep their options open as there is at least one skeleton in Hillary's family closet that is no doubt going to come out soon...

My friend and periodic contributor John H chimes in...

"Could this be the first shot off the bow in the 2008 Presidential Election :Romney vs Clinton :"

M. ROMNEY: I think they’re going to look at what their vision is for the future of the country, where they would take it, and whether they had the experience and skills to actually lead a nation of our scale in such a critical time.And I think the greatest drawback beyond the direction she’d [H. Clinton] take us is that she’s never run anything. She’s never had the occasion of being in the private sector, running a business, or, for that matter, running a state or a city. She hasn’t run anything, and the government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern. You need to have experience actually leading and running things.


HANNITY: She says her experience makes her uniquely qualified to be president at this time.

M. ROMNEY: I’d suggest it makes her uniquely unqualified in that she is one of the few that really has not had experience in leading in a significant way an enterprise…………..

http://thepage.time.com/excerpts-from-romneys-hannity-colmes-interview/

"Yes, she’s my least favorite candidate, and Mitt tells the reason ! Too bad it is not Margaret Thatcher vs Romney , now that would be fun !"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Plug it


Electric cars are certainly an option that should be explored to reduce emissions and to potentially reduce our dependence on politically sensitive and non-renewable energy sources.

One barrier that still has to be addressed and that is rarely accounted for is how and where the electricity is generated.

The electric power grid in America is running at or near it's capacity, is thought to be in a state of disrepair and is not particularly efficient as it relates to transmission across distances. Furthermore, it relies heavily on power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas to generate power. I don't think power plants are currently as clean as modern automobiles either.
As such, a move to fully-electric cars, assuming the technology can overcome its own inherent drawbacks, at this point will just move the air quality issues and energy dependence upstream.

A viable plan to introduce fully-electric automobiles on a large scale must also include a plan to develop new or existing power-generation processes like solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear that are based on sustainability and independence from foreign sources.

Otherwise, like hybrids, it will be mostly for show.

Shai Agassi, a Silicon Valley technologist who was in competition to become chief executive of SAP, one of the world’s largest software companies, has re-emerged with a grand plan to reinvent the world’s automobile industry around battery-powered all-electric cars.

Others are developing green cars, like the Tesla and Chevrolet Volt. However, Mr. Agassi is not planning to make cars, but instead wants to deploy an infrastructure of battery-charging stations in the United States, Europe and the developing world.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Agassi said tests of prototype vehicles would start in early 2008 and the company would begin commercial sales and service in two years. He said he was working to obtain commitments from both governments and carmakers.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Its Ugly when Government gets involved

Saint Louis Park is on the government-subsidized wireless Internet bandwagon. It's not enough that government is jumping into a business it has no business being in but isn't it ironic that the city cleans and maintains the streets and sidewalks to enhance the safety and beauty of the neighborhoods but then puts up these eyesores?

The photo doesn't quite convey this, but as you look down the street, you can see these big scary things lined up conspicuously on street corners about every other block. Lets just say they don't blend.

Meanwhile other systems across the country are besieged with service issues and (yes, you guessed it) cost overruns. It turns out that it takes more access points than originally planned to provide adequate in-building coverage. In other cases, subscribers are required to obtain signal boosters at their own expense, presumably offsetting the cost savings for the consumer.

Imagine that. Government gets into what should remain a private enterprise and the result is less effective and more costly. Meanwhile, Chicago and San Francisco are dumping their systems. Good for them.

In Chicago's case "The cost of the implementation of the project and the estimated low number of citizens who would use it were the cited reasons driving this decision." In the case of San Francisco, Earthlink dropped out of the contract because they couldn't figure out how to make it profitable.

Broadband Internet access is not a right of citizenship and these municipal programs are most likely the manifestation of liberal officials with visions of grandeur attempting once again to extend the tentacles of government into yet another aspect of our lives.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Too Little Too Late...and what the...no roof?


The Twins are getting a new stadium which is being built in a bad location, funded with illegal tax revenues, and without a roof...in Minnesota.

This despite the the fact that we had an outdoor stadium here once and were told by Harvey Mackay and the rest of the stadium committee of the 70's that any viable stadium in Minnesota must have a roof.

...so we may be in a sports slump but at least we're in good company!


  1. Philly

  2. Atlanta

  3. Buffalo

  4. Cleveland

  5. Minneapolis

  6. New York City

  7. Washington DC

  8. LA

  9. Seattle

  10. Cincinnati
Think we're in a slump now? Just wait until after the novelty wears off the new, cold, wet stadium and we collectively realize how stupid it was to build it without a roof...and that we'll be stuck with it for twenty years.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reign Over Me

This is Adam Sandler's first (that I've seen at least) purely dramatic role and he nailed it.

Sandler plays Dr. Charlie Fineman a former dentist who lost his wife and three young girls in one of the hijacked planes of 9/11. He suffers from post-traumatic syndrome and if not for the life insurance and legal settlements, his character would likely be homeless.

Don Cheadle, also excellent in his role as Dr. Alan Johnson, plays a wealthy dentist and former college roommate of Charlie's. They bump into each other on the street and Charlie doesn't recognize Alan due to his protective blocking of all things past.

Alan persists having read of Charlie's loss years back and is compelled to reach out to Charlie and "fix" him. This is in no small part an expression of his need to break out his own mid-life crisis and stagnation in his marriage.

Of note: Liv Tyler is an apt choice as Charlie's therapist and Jada Pinkett Smith (married to Will Smith) plays Johnson's wife.

Reign Over Me is a longish but well-made and moving film. A tale of two men who reconnect and wind up fixing each other. A must-see for Adam Sandler fans and a great couples night movie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ameriprise Financial charged with fraud

The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation has accused Ameriprise Financial of breaking state securities laws by forging and tampering with documents.

The complaint, which was posted on the regulator's website, alleges that the brokerage company also failed to deliver nearly 500 financial plans, conducted unapproved sales contests and intentionally limited compliance oversight.

Additionally, the Minneapolis-based brokerage company was accused of failing to adequately release all fraudulent activities to the state of New Hampshire while it was under supervision by the state and by an independent consultant in 2005.

The regulator said that the company could face penalties and client restitution of up to $10 million.

In 2005 the company, formerly known as American Express Financial Advisors, settled with the state for $7.4 million on charges related to illegal incentives, conflicts of interest and lack of disclosure to clients.

As a result of the action, which was the largest in state history, the company has been under heightened supervision by the state and by an independent consultant.

Ameriprise maintains approximately 30 branch offices in New Hampshire.

The purpose of posting this is not to take a shot at Ameriprise. Rather, I believe that most people would benefit by working with a trustworthy, competent financial advisor. News like this undermines the profession's collective credibility, serves to disincent people that would otherwise seek advice, and ultimately hurts the consumer.

Investment News

When will I learn?

Without premeditation, I watched the Minnesota Vikings beat Chicago. I walked by a dark TV and decided to light it, if only for a moment, to see if anything of interest might appear.

Three hours later, I had my reward: a 34-31 victory and an amazing performance by Adrian Peterson.

Having been lured into a false sense of competence, I did same exactly one week and three hours later.

The result? I can't possibly put it any better than this.
Also related 1998

There is something fishy about Obama...

Go here and find out what it is.

Defective

If you bought a book and found it was missing 35 pages, you'd be disappointed and would take it back to the bookstore, wouldn't you?

If you took delivery on a new car and found it had 35 mechanical defects, you'd be very disappointed and would probably take it back, wouldn't you?

If you toured your new home before closing and found 35 structural issues the builder needs to correct, you'd be very disappointed and may even back out of the deal. Right?

If you went to the doctor and she found 35 serious health issues that you need to address, you'd probably get your affairs in order.

If you watched a documentary declaring that the planet is warming, man is to blame, and our planet is on the verge of disaster...but it had 35 factual errors....what would you do?

Name it Best Documentary? Give the guy a Nobel Peace Prize?

SPPI Reports 35 scientific errors in Gore’s climate movie: Vindicates UK High Court

“Each of Gore’s 35 errors distorts or exaggerates in one direction only – toward unjustifiable alarmism. The likelihood that all 35 would fall one way by inadvertence is less than 1 in 34 billion. Gore’s movie is not only inaccurate but prejudiced. The movie is unsuitable for children. It should not be shown in schools.”


For a great post on the 35 Inconvenient Untruths go here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What we call the news

Accidental Foot in Mouth


From CNN's home page today...oops. Click to enlarge.

Eddie Van Halen



Amazing.

Caution: Do not click unless you have ten minutes and fifty-six seconds!

"Home is where the heart is..."

"... on the Bus!"

Hey there my liberal hippy friends...your chariot has arrived! Remember this?


...do you remember anything from the sixties for that matter? Don't ask me. I wasn't born until '65.


Volkswagen is investigating whether it can design and build a more simple replacement for the historic Camper van.

It may seem like a strange alliance, but Volkswagen and British rock group The Who have joined forces. And the result could see the return of the firm’s much loved camper van.


According to VW, the new Camper will almost certainly be built in the US, and it’s equally likely that it will be badged Bulli – a name that the company has only recently registered to itself.

Dude, like don't get your hopes up. VW has promised this a couple times before.

Here's some VW Bus history!

1947 Ben Pon, a Dutch distributor of Volkswagens, sketches his ideas for the Transporter after seeing VW Beetle-based flatbed trucks used to carry components around the first Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg.

1948 Pon's idea for a commercial vehicle is officially accepted by Volkswagen. Many of the components, including the engine, transmission and running gear are borrowed directly from the Beetle.

1950 The Kombi is introduced. The seats are easily removed to facilitate loading of cargo, making it the first combination people/package hauler, hence the name "Kombi".

1951 The Samba Bus (also known as the Micro Bus DeLuxe) is introduced. It is essentially a Kombi bus with all the bells and whistles for passenger comfort included. These include more windows, a sunroof, updated interior, wet bar, surfboard racks, and a good deal of chrome on the exterior.

1952 The pickup version of the Transporter goes into production.

1959 Two performance improvements are introduced: engine power is increased to 34hp (that's not a typo)

1965 Engine is upgraded to an output of 44 horsepower at 4000 rpm. Transporters are still passed on the highway by everything except heavily-laiden ice cream trucks, but with some persistence, they eventually catch up later that night.

1966 Seat belts are introduced.

1972 The automatic transmission is made available on all models except the pickup.

1975 The 2 liter engine is introduced, providing 70 horsepower at 4200 rpm. Small engine size finally pays off as owners of large V-8 powered vans are stuck in around-the-block lines at filling stations during the gas crisis while bus owners cruise on by.

1979 The third generation Transporter or 'Vanagon' is introduced.

1982 While other Volkswagen vehicles were now water-cooled, the Transporter had hung on to its air-cooled heritage. No longer - the Transporter now features a water-cooled 1.9 liter flat-four engine, also known as a "waterboxer".

1986 The 2.1 liter waterboxer engine is introduced. Highway speeds approaching 100 mph can be attained, but are not recommended.

Peace out!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Perspective

Last night I found these lying on the kitchen floor and I realized as a father I can look at them two ways:

1) Dagnabit, Number One left his socks on the kitchen floor for someone else to pick up!

2) Look at those cute little socks. Someday I'm going to miss seeing these little things lying around the house.


I chose number two. Hence the photo.

Peaked



Check out the clouds reflected on the lake.

Click for High-Resoltion versions.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gimme a break.


Gimme a break., originally uploaded by jroosh.

Macy's...not even Halloween yet.

Evan Almighty

I love Steve Carell in The Office and he did not disappoint in Evan Almighty. The sequel to Bruce Almighty (in which Steve Carell also appeared as his character, TV newscaster Evan Baxter) may not have been as good as the first installment but it is definitely worth the trip to the rental store; probably not the theatre.



As for Steve Carell, Evan is not exactly a sweeping saga, but it did allow Carell to exhibit a little more range in performance than is required of his Office persona and it was fun to watch.

Evan was fairly funny, fairly well written, and the special effects were quite good. Too good in fact. I would say that just because you can do something with special effects, doesn't mean you should.

I am referring to the gathering of the animals, two by two, that occurs way too early in the story, well before the Ark was even close to being complete. While they did create opportunities for Carell to play off of them in and around the congressional office complex, a better and more dramatic approach would have been to have them either appear more more slowly or when the Ark was complete. I don't mean to nitpick, but if you watch the movie, I think you will find the middle of the film overdone, tiresome and annoying, and this is why.

Speaking of tiresome and annoying, when I saw Wanda Sykes, I thought she'd be the fly in the ointment. I'm not exactly a fan of the overused angry, vulgar, black woman routine but she was actually quite good and a useful addition to the cast.

Nonetheless, the movie seems to gather steam again and the ending is a tidal wave of special effects, pun intended. Don't miss the special features for that matter.

By no means is Evan a Christian message film but I took note of a line that I had never heard before and found to be a nice touch, as read by God, played again by Morgan Freeman:

If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives him patience, or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?

If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage or does he give him opportunity to be courageous?

If someone prayed family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

We watched Evan Almighty as a family and the kids loved it.

First of its Kind in Minnesota

A good friend and client of mine has a business that specializes in energy efficient lighting and is working on a really cool restaurant project right now.

While Al Gore runs hypocritically around the planet in his private jet extolling the end of the world, here is a local business that is truly putting forth a genuine effort to show that energy and environmental efficiency is not only a good idea but good business.

The Red Stag Supperclub will be the first LEED-certified restaurant in Minnesota.

What is LEED certification?

In the United States and in a number of other countries around the world, LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Achieving LEED certification is the best way for you to demonstrate that your building project is truly "green."

The LEED green building rating system -- developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington D.C.-based, nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders -- is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being.

LEED bases its rating on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED ratings can be applied to businesses as well as homes.

The goal for the project is to re-use or re-purpose as much of the construction materials as possible while also seeking the most energy-efficient appliances and machines available. For example, owner Kim Barton and her team are using reclaimed wood in their trays and reclaimed marble and restaurant booths from a hotel remodel, and solid wood doors that would have been thrown away, for table tops. The restaurant design also includes features that should result in a 70% savings in water consumption.

The Red Stag will be the first restaurant ever to be lit solely with Light Emitting Diodes (LED's). They cost a lot more but last longer and use less energy than conventional lighting - and do not contain mercury by the way, like most fluorescent bulbs. This will result in at least a 50% energy savings on lighting alone.

You should start to hear more about this innovative project in the local and potentially national media as it nears completion.

Check out their blog here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Conversation"

Toxic Waste? On Al Gore's watch?

Steve, I'm disappointed in you. I guess Algore isn't supervising your adherence to environmentally sound business practices after all? Why is he on your board of directors then?


Environmentalists have threatened to sue Apple if it does not make its iPhone a “greener” product or tell consumers of the toxins allegedly used in the device’s manufacture.

The Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), a campaign group based in Oakland, California, said that it would launch legal action in 60 days unless Apple took action.

The threat comes after a report by Greenpeace, the environmental group, which alleged that the iPhone contained dangerous levels of bromine, chlorine and phthalates – chemicals used to increase the flexibility of plastic.

The level of phthalate esters, a chemical linked to birth defects, in plastic coating of iPhone headphone wires is greater than that allowed in toys or childcare items sold in Europe, Greenpeace alleged.

The campaigners’ action may prove embarrassing for Al Gore, a member of Apple’s board, who last week won the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work.

I think this supports my assertion that Al Gore doesn't give a rip about the environment. I offer as evidence:

1) His poor acting (attempting to be genuine) in his film

2) His lifestyle

3) The above

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Bro

There is some action over at Anti-Strib regarding the warrantless surveillance debate. The issue is non as far as I am concerned. I don't believe our government has the wherewithal nor the resources to surveil people that aren't doing something worth surveilling. Harry Reid is pursuing an issue that most Americans couldn't give a rip about....and don't tell me its a matter of principal because that guy doesn't have any...he just likes being pissed off about whatever the Republicans are doing.

The result? Law enforcement, already outnumbered and at a disadvantage domestically and abroad have their hands tied in such a way that prevents them from doing their job in a timely way as they wait for warrants while the bad guys get away or the opportunity is gone. I think most Americans understand that in order to be safe, or at least feel safe, we have to relinquish some of privacy. I think most Americans feel that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you probably don't have to worry about privacy too much.

The irony is, most Americans probably have no idea how much personal data is out there as it is, and by their own choices. Privacy is an illusion just like job security.

There are cameras and probably listening devices in many public places, and in this day and age of terrorism and as they become cheaper to deploy, they will become more ubiquitous. We all leave trails of images and data.

Case in point. I logged onto my MNPass account tonight. I have one of those windshield transponders so I can pay to play in the "sane lane". It beeps when you go under the entry point transmitters to acknowledge that I have been recognized. It beeps when there is a charge or not.



08/03/07 13:44 Highway 169 Interchange 0.00
08/08/07 08:39 Highway 169 Interchange -1.00
08/09/07 11:23 Hwy 169 0.00
08/09/07 12:55 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
08/14/07 11:19 Hwy 169 0.00
08/14/07 12:35 Ridgedale Drive 0.00
08/20/07 09:29 I-494 to Hwy 169 -0.25
08/29/07 11:29 Hwy 169 to Ridgedale Dr 0.00
08/29/07 12:50 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
09/06/07 09:27 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -0.25
09/14/07 13:45 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
09/18/07 14:38 Wirth Pkwy -0.25
09/21/07 09:59 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -0.25
09/28/07 14:17 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
10/02/07 14:20 Wirth Pkwy -0.25
10/03/07 12:31 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
10/07/07 13:31 Louisiana Avenue 0.00
10/07/07 14:30 Wirth Pkwy to Ridgedale -0.25
10/09/07 08:52 Wirth Parkway -0.75
10/10/07 08:12 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -1.75



What I didn't realize, but should have, is that even when there isn't a charge, the device logs my passage. Even more interesting is that it logs my location. If it weren't for the recent unwinding of the stoplight camera debacle, It wouldn't be hard to imagine the authorities logging my entry and exit to and from the sane lane, calculating my speed, and sending me a ticket.

Even the traffic management cameras have been used to solve crimes and deconstruct accidents. Soon they will have enough resolution to identify license plates and even drivers.

Did you know your car may have a black box in it? For some time now, many manufacturers have been putting devices in cars to record a set history of desired data streams like accelerator position, brake force, speed and yaw rate. Purportedly the purpose of these devices is to provide data useful for warranty issues and for product improvement but they already have been subject to subpoenas.

It won't be long before every car has a GPS device in it. Do you suppose that will somehow end up being connected to the black box?

We all want to have certain aspects of our life to remain private. In fact I wish some people desired it more. For example, what you do in your bedroom is your business, I don't need to see a bumper sticker telling me what your lifestyle choices are, thank you.

Nonetheless, If you really want to keep your life a secret, best stay home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do you think I'm Pretty?

While I love our new Suburban, SUV's are not going to save the Big Three. Ford, Chevy and Dodge have dominated the market for trucks and SUV's, their most profitable segment, since they invented it. Ostensibly with high gas prices and the prospect of even higher prices possible, the Big Three will need to find a way to make money selling cars again. Mainstream, efficient cars.

Detroit has been fending off the Japanese encroachment into the full size truck market but have long since ceded the family sedan segment.

I give you the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima. For years, the General has sent the homely and poorly equipped Malibu onto the field of battle and despite every rebate and financing gimmick in the book, the Malibu got its taillights handed to it.

Despite the disadvantage of a much larger per-unit allocation of future retirement and benefit obligations, the Big Three have shown serious commitment to winning back their fair share of the segment with higher-quality materials and improved design. I give you the 300C, the new Taurus, and now the new Chevy Malibu.


I haven't seen a Chevrolet look this good in...well...forever. And this time Chevy is serious, spending over $150 Million on the advertising campaign, which is as much as they spend on Chevy trucks...and we all see those ads everywhere we look.

The Malibu will come standard with a 169HP four cylinder and front-wheel drive, with an available 252HP V6, which matches up well with the Japanese V6 options. With the four cylinder the Malibu will get 30MPG Highway.

But that's not what caught my attention. Its the styling. General Motors appears to finally be committed to winning designs in the mainstream, as evidenced by this car as well as the Saturn Aura, also a very nicely penned shape.



I'm not saying that you'll see me driving one of these any time soon. I prefer the weight distribution and handling of a rear-driver but I will say that it bodes well to see General Motors getting serious about their bread-and-butter family sedans.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small..."

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

Dr. William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth.

"We're brainwashing our children," said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University.

"They're going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It's ridiculous."

"The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures," Dr Gray said.

"It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

"We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Dr Gray said.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Evening

Evening is a romantic drama that weaves its way through the life of a dying woman who in the fever of her last few days fades between three worlds. The present, the past and hallucinations in between.

As she travels back in her mind she revisits the path her life took and laments the path it might have taken had her choices been different. Mostly, she dreams of Harris, the one that got away.

This movie wants to be The Notebook or better yet, Titanic, only this one is nearly a shipwreck.

The cast is a female dream team: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, and Glen Close. Ironically, the casting is the problem with this film. Harris, and all the rest of the men were cast like a professional baseball team that is nearing it's salary cap. I’d name the male cast members, but you’d not know their names. As such, Harris, who is supposedly a dreamboat, fails to inspire.

Strike two is the direction. Poorly paced and confusing is the play calling. Just as you find yourself interested in a scene, you are yanked away. This movie seems longer than it is; starting slow and staying that way.

Thankfully, there is no strike three. A smattering of poignant scenes and good performances, most notably by Claire Danes, Toni Collette and Meryl Streep, redeem this film to the level of entertaining…but not nearly inspiring.

A curious but welcome addition to the soundtrack was a big band song playing in a flashback, presumably the 40’s. It's a contemporary remake of Frank Sinatra's "I've Got the World On a String" by Michael BublĂ©, who I happen to like...enjoy.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson-just became the single-game rushing yards record-holder for the Minnesota Vikings.

Mr. Jimmy

Many people in the Twin Cities know this but it is a little known fact that the Mr. Jimmy in the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is actually James Hutmaker of Excelsior, Minnesota.

...the entire town of Excelsior will be paying our last respects to Mr. Jimmy.

James Hutmaker was born 75 years ago, and died this past week. He was Excelsior. An odd fellow that some deemed crazy. He wasn't crazy. He was just a bit eccentric.

Definately not crazy.This cigar smoking man that talked to himself (or anybody) always had a smile on his face, loved life and people, and took life as it came, never complained, and as urban legend has it, gave Mick Jagger a piece of advice when the Rolling Stones played in Excelsior in 1964. "You can't always get what you want".

HT The Admiral/Anti-Strib.com

And now for your viewing enjoyment...

For Sale: Three Ipods - Real Cheap

Click picture to read the drivel

I just logged on to to apple.com to do some shopping. This is what I found, displayed prominently at the top of the site.

Apparently Steve Jobs is a big fan of Algore...but knows nothing of science or truth.

"A Typical Conversation With My Mom"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pants on Fire

This week The National Enquirer ran a story alleging that John Edwards, a well known but now insignificant candidate in the run for the Oval Office in 2008, that an affair had occurred between Edwards and a campaign worker.

Edwards denied it saying ''I've been in love with the same women for 30-plus years..."

Is this:

1) A Freudian Slip

2) A Typo on the part of the Associated Press

3) An admission in Code

No worries, Mate.

A week ago Friday, we went out to dinner with the kids to the Outback Steakhouse in Eden Prairie with our good friends and their two daughters. We hadn't been there in years but they go there all the time as one of their daughters suffers from Celiac disease. With a Type-1 Diabetic in our family, we can appreciate a menu with lots of options and nutritional information.

Outback has a great gluten-free menu.

A party of nine, we arrived 5:30, were seated at 5:45 and ordered at 6 PM. We were visiting and having fun for quite a while when we realized that it had been almost an hour and our food hadn't shown up.

When it did, the food was really good save my son's cold steak.

We asked to see a manager regarding the long wait and the cold steak. Our server only then realized how long we had waited, and that's job one. Quite a few minutes went by and the manager (in-training I think) presented herself. Actually, maybe she was the assistant to the regional manager...but I digress.

We calmly told her of our issues. She offered her apologies and one gift certificate (for us to fight over presumably) and some free deserts (of their choosing - remember the gluten free deal?).

Another several minutes went by, as we waited the deserts and our check. By now the kids are at 211 degrees.

Finally. The deserts. No check. We asked the server to take the deserts back - we were out of time and patience - and to have the manager bring our check.

The manager brought the check and reminded us that parties of nine include a 15% gratuity.

Wow. Good help is hard to find.

Our stayed calm as I began to bubble over. The manager offered nothing more than her repeated apologies, apparently the only tool in her bag.

Seriously, we all know that these things happen. An order gets lost. Someone takes the wrong plate. I grew up in the restaurant business. What customers want is not perfection, every time. What they want to see is how an organization, vendor or professional mitigates and rectifies an error, defect or bad experience. Do they show you that they sincerely want you to come back again.

Restaurants live or die by word of mouth.

We left the Outback in disbelief. We felt like roadkill.

As a last effort, our friends emailed Outback regarding our experience. How they had invited their friends to come out with them to their favorite restaurant. How embarrassed they were.

Her phone rang fifteen minutes later with one of the owners on the line. He was livid. He was apologetic ad infinitum. He sent $150 worth of gift certificates with a letter and his cell phone number so that we could call him to tell him when we were going to Outback again so that he could call ahead to assure an excellent experience.

The next day, a large bouquet of flowers arrived: Love, Outback Steakhouse. Please come back!

Ripper, you little!

Do you think we'll go back there? You darn right mate!

Love Generation



This kid is like Forest Gump...only on a bike. I dare you to watch this video and listen to this song and stay in a bad mood.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 12, 2007

24% Consider Al Gore Global Warming Expert

However 100% of Americans did say that they consider Al Gore to be an expert on locating the nearest Baker's Square or White Castle anywhere in America.


Go here.

In fact, just 36% of Americans say that Gore knows what he is talking about when it comes to the environment and Global Warming. Thirty-one percent (31%) say he does not know what he is talking about while 33% are not sure. Women, by a 2-to-1 margin, say Gore knows what he is talking about. Men, by a similar margin, say he does not.

Appearing before a Congressional Committee, Gore said that Global Warming is “not a partisan issue; it’s a moral issue.” However, polling data suggests that among the general public it’s a very partisan issue. By a 65% to 9% margin, Democrats say that Gore knows what he’s talking about. By a 57% to 11%, Republicans say he does not. Those not affiliated with either party are evenly divided.

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is now Officially Irrelevant

Al Gore's whose "slide show" and the movie he produced from it is filled with inaccuracies, unsubstantiated scientific leaps of faith and outright lies. The UN, whose promotion of Man Made Global Warming is clearly a lightly veiled installment in its quest to consolidate world power.

And yet the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to them?

This clearly marks the end of any neutrality or credibility on the part of the Nobel committee.

"Awarding it to Al Gore cannot be seen as anything other than a political statement. Awarding it to the IPCC is well-founded," said Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

He criticized Gore's film as having "some very obvious mistakes, like the argument that we're going to see six meters of sea-level rise," he said.

"They (Nobel committee) have a unique platform in getting people's attention on this issue, and I regret they have used it to make a political statement."

Time to turn it on Fred

I didn't watch the Republican debate the other night.

Admittedly, it was due to apathy on my part combined with the fact that I think these early debates are a waste of time. Over half the candidates have less than half a chance so why should we care what they think?

Set up a debate between Hillary and Rudy or Fred (or Mitt for that matter if he ends up overtaking the others - not likely) and I'll be in front of the TV with a Tombstone and a Chill. That's what we used to call Football Food until the Vikes lost my vote forever in 98...but I digress.

As for Fred, he's not exactly wielding his screen skills thus far and what the Republicans need right now is some charisma. If Fred can't supply it, I don't know who will.

But don't count him out yet...

Why 'lazy' Fred Thompson may have a shot

Everything you've heard about his half-hearted campaigning is true. But don't count Thompson out yet, argues Fortune's David Whitford.

...Thompson is sitting next to a Hollywood insider who asks him, Why weren't you interested in being president of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)? Look, Thompson says. Dick Wolf (creator of "Law and Order") pays me a lot of money to work two days a week. Why would I work for less money and work six days a week? Okay, says the insider, I get that. Then a few weeks later comes the news that Thompson wants to be president of the United States.

But to conclude therefore that Thompson won't be a factor in the Republican primary race would be a foolish - maybe even grave - mistake. Thompson should be taken "very seriously," says veteran Democratic consultant Tad Devine. "I think the biggest thing he has going for him is there is tremendous disenchantment with the Republican field. You've got Romney who appears to be doing well in some of the early states but appears to be falling behind nationally. You've got Giuliani who enjoys some national standing but has tremendous problems with the base of the Republican party. You've got huge, deep disenchantment with the direction of the country under the president and you've got gigantic issues like the war in Iraq and a deteriorating economy on the front burner. When you create that kind of political brew, somebody like a Thompson can step into it and basically argue...that he can do the thing which they most desperately want done, which is to win the election."

... he's exuding a kind of weary paternalism that plays surprisingly well, and not just among Iowa caucus-goers. He's like a dad, a good dad - dependable, unflappable, familiar. A little detached, maybe, a little subdued, and there's that slight undercurrent of irritation he can't seem to shake. But that's to be expected of a man who knows what duty is, what responsibilities are. His indifference, oddly, is part of his charm.

Okay Fred, time to turn it on.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mercury Spill at Eagle Ridge Academy


Updated 10/13/07: Our school, Eagle Ridge Academy was the lead story on at least one local news channel (KSTP Video KARE Video) tonight. A considerable amount of liquid mercury (UPDATE: two teaspoons according the the StarTribune) was found to have spilled or was intentionally released into a cabinet in the science room.

Reportedly, one student was found to have been markedly more contaminated from the neck down and could potentially be the perpetrator (update: the school has since retracted this in an email to parents, citing conclusive evidence found by authorities).

(Update: A staff member's child, presumably who is not a student at ERA, was apparently the person responsible for the spill.)

While these as yet unfounded rumors as to the cause and the conditions that may have contributed to the mercury spill, the potential costs of such a spill could be devastating.

Questions will revolve around the care in securing the school's supply of mercury and if in fact a student is implicated, what responsibility that student and his or her parents will bear for the cost of decontamination and cleanup.

Costs can range from a couple thousand to tens of thousands of dollars to clean up a mercury spill in a school not to mention days or weeks that the school may need to remain closed for the cleanup.

Students witnessed multiple emergency vehicles and hazardous material personnel on hand while they sat in chartered buses in the parking lot for several hours.

School is cancelled tomorrow.

Does a school have insurance for this? Could an event like this cripple a young school financially and result in its closure?

Conversation at our dinner table tonight culminated in a valid question:

Why do schools need to have Mercury on hand in the first place?

Even a small amount of Mercury spilled in a room can evaporate slowly and contaminate the entire room. Exposure to Mercury can lead to hospitalization and long-term health effects. Heavy exposure to the vapor can lead to death.

The more I search the Internet and learn about mercury, the more utterly unbelievable it becomes that there is any valid or practical reason for a school to keep it on hand.

Can you ear me now?

Artist implants 'third ear' on his own arm

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yipee! I'm unemployed!

Why is this guy so happy? He has no paycheck, no other skills and will probably die of lung cancer.

"...but the Union will save my big a**!"

You best learn how to do something else, friend. You might get lucky and Cerberus will end the strike quickly like GM did but you could also end up like so many NWA mechanics who blindly followed their union...right over a cliff.

Only the StarTribune would publish a picture of a guy stupid enough to be celebrating a strike.

Hybrid cars unsafe!




Sighted people say they're ugly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Are you a total dork?

The Domino Effect



The subprime mortgage crisis promises to create ripples throughout the financial services and banking industry...not just because people are defaulting on their loans but because these mortgages, once closed, are often sold, grouped together in tranches and packaged as financial instruments for institutions.

Derivatives are another strata of financial instruments that are tied to these investments and create a leveraged effect on the increase or decrease in value of these instruments. They are employed by large institutions to hedge other positions or add exposure to certain sectors in their portfolios. And of course, to speculate.

Sometimes a small movement in a sector can create large movements in the derivatives tied to them. A large movement can be devastating. The fallout of this effect may be "packaged" by PR departments in way that minimizes the underlying mayhem that may be going on behind the scenes.

Here is an interesting tidbit from our friend and periodic contributor John H.:

MORE PROOF THAT “SUBPRIME” IS A CODEWORD FOR “DERIVATIVES LOSSES”

There isn’t a sentence in here about Merrill really financing home purchases for borderline home buyers.

Enjoy this coded derivatives synopsis, for which Ive added emphasis for shock value.

-John H.

October 6, 2007
A Big Loss at Merrill Stirs Unease
By JENNY ANDERSON

Since becoming chief executive of Merrill Lynch in 2002, E. Stanley O’Neal has been credited with making the investment bank leaner and more disciplined.

But analysts raised questions yesterday about the extent of that discipline after Merrill announced that it would take its first loss since the end of the technology boom and would write down $5 billion primarily in its fixed-income sector: subprime loans, complex debt instruments and leveraged, or risky, loans.

Merrill said it expected to lose up to 50 cents a share for the quarter, compared with a profit of $3.17 a share, or $3 billion, for the quarter a year ago. The size of the write-down was second only to one for $5.9 billion taken by Citigroup, which is three and a half times the size of Merrill.

“While market conditions were extremely difficult and the degree of sustained dislocation unprecedented, we are disappointed in our performance in structured finance and mortgages,” Mr. O’Neal said in a statement. “We can do a better job of managing this risk, as we have done with other asset classes.”

Richard X. Bove, a financial services analyst at Punk, Ziegel & Company, wrote that Merrill’s problems show that “the company doesn’t have a consistent path in fixed income like Lehman or Bear or JPMorgan.”

Two ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, quickly downgraded Merrill’s long-term debt outlook to negative from stable. Moody’s said the write-down, which had been forecast at about $4 billion, exceeded expectations. “As a result, Moody’s assessment of the quality of risk management at Merrill Lynch has diminished.”

In its report, Fitch said that the size of the loss and this week’s departure of crucial fixed-income executives raised questions about whether Merrill had adequate risk controls in place.

Yesterday’s warning was the latest among banks as they try to deal with the fallout from losses in the origination and packaging of subprime loans as well as lending to private equity firms. UBS has announced a $3.4 billion write-down, and Deutsche Bank, $3.1 billion. And Washington Mutual, the savings bank, warned that third-quarter income would decline 75 percent.

More bad news is expected. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company said yesterday that they expected JPMorgan Chase to write down about $2 billion, and the Bank of America Corporation about $1 billion.

Merrill, however, will be the first big bank to report a loss. Its closest rivals, including Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, all made money. (All had the benefit of June, which was a strong month. Merrill does not include June in the quarter but does include September.) “They lost more than others,” Mr. Bove said. “Merrill tended to focus its efforts in the highest-risk areas because that’s where the rate of return was the greatest.”….

When the credit business hit a wall in July, Merrill got caught with commitments to lenders that it could not resell and complex debt instruments, called collateralized debt obligations, that deteriorated sharply in value. It wrote down $4.5 billion worth of subprime loans and collateralized debt obligations and $463 million, net of hedges, in commitments to fund loans. As a result of the losses, Mr. Semerci, 39, and Dale M. Lattanzio, the head of structured credit products, were dismissed, and David Sobotka, 50, was made the head of fixed income.

What does the average consumer or investor need to do about this? Nothing. Stay very diversified, and stay invested. And enjoy the drama as speculators realize the risk that was always there. And for God sakes, don't listen to Jim Cramer.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tactical Nuclear Road Rage

From the street, the GMC Yukons customized by Dillon Aero look like standard-issue SUVs. But behind the tinted windows lurks a fire-spitting dragon: a Dillon Aero M134D Gatling minigun. Designed for VIP escort, the Yukons are outfitted with a roll cage, steel-plate armor and puncture-proof fuel cells and tires. And though weighing around 9000 pounds, the vehicles can exceed speeds of 100 mph

(forthcoming supercharged models should be able to go even faster).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Why American Cars Suck II

That's what I'm saying...

HT Captain Capitalism

Hey Nick...

Hey Nick Coleman...put this in your (pipe) and (smoke) it...

Minnesotans are satisfied with their leaders' handling of the collapse and don't support a gas tax increase.

Minnesotans aren't clamoring for action from state leaders in the wake of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found, supporting neither a gas tax increase nor a new special session to fund bridge repairs.

The poll, which surveyed 802 Minnesota adults Sept. 18 through 23, also indicates that the public doesn't fault Gov. Tim Pawlenty or the DFL-led Legislature for not dealing with the bridge collapse in a recent special session.

Sixty-eight percent approved of the way Pawlenty handled the disaster, and 58 percent approved of the Legislature's handling of it.

The Revenge of James J. Hill


The revenge of James J. Hill, originally uploaded by jroosh.

Sitting here writing at the Caribou on Lake Street in Wayzata...a beautiful view to lake Minnetonka...punctuated every few minutes by the Revenge of James J. Hill.

I will try to find the full story of why there are train tracks going right through downtown Wayzata and post it later.

It's later...

from Wikipedia:

By 1890, the height of the resort era on Lake Minnetonka had been reached. A nationwide financial depression and the migration of tourists to newer resort territory gradually transformed Wayzata and a new era began when the tourists moved on. Summer cottages began appearing along the shores, even on the grounds of the grand hotels. The cottage builders needed building materials, and then provisions when they moved in. In 1881 Wayzata broke away from Minnetonka Township and became a separate governmental entity, mainly as a reaction to the roaring tourist-resorter lifestyle. Feeling their new power, the first act of the village council was to ban the saloons, and the second would have a more profound impact: they started a fight with James J. Hill to get the railroad tracks moved from downtown. An 1883 town law required the tracks be relocated 300 feet from the shoreline. Hill ignored the law, then in 1889 the council filed a lawsuit to force Hill to comply. Hill responded that he had state law on his side, and if they continued with their suit not only would he win, but he would make the town walk a mile for twenty years to catch a train. In 1891, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the legality of the law, and Hill, as promised, moved the station to flat land beneath today's Bushaway Road railroad bridge. Wayzata was literally taken off the map, and for the next fifteen years the town barely grew. In 1905, the village council voted a Reconciliation Ordinance, and Hill responded that he would have the finest railroad station on his entire line built in Wayzata.

Catching the Wind

Electric Cars will become more of a reality when battery technology allows the storage of enough energy to give electric cars suitable range for the average commuter while not taking up a disproportional share of the storage space or adding undue weight. Overcoming these hurdles will attract mainstream consumers.

The other challenge is developing means to generate and transport the electricity to the home and workplace for charging at a lower cost and with greater efficiency. Otherwise, you are just transferring the emissions and dependency on non-renewable energy sources upstream to the power plant, most of which currently burn coal, natural gas and oil, at least in the US. Then, much of the energy, up to 30%, is lost in transmission. As such, our dependence on fossil and foreign fuel sources, not to mention environmental concerns will not be resolved.

Generating electricity in a renewable way may hold the great promise for generating electricity on more cheaply. The Midwest, being a frontal climate, has no shortage of wind.

A group of Midwest utilities is building a plant that will store excess wind power underground The future is taking shape under the windswept corn and soybean fields outside Dallas Center, Iowa. At the Iowa Stored Energy Park, a coalition of local utilities is grappling with one of the thorniest challenges in the field of renewable power: how to store the excess energy windmills create when demand is low so it can be used later, when the need is greater.

The group is building a system that will steer surplus electricity generated by a nearby wind farm to a big air compressor (diagram). Connected to a deep well, the compressor pumps air into layers of sandstone. Some 3,000 feet down and sealed from above by dense shale, the porous sandstone acts like a giant balloon. Later, when demand for power rises, this flow is reversed.

Backed by funding from the Energy Dept., more than 100 municipal utilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas are ponying up a total of $200 million to build the 268-megawatt system. Begun in 2003, the project is on track to go online in 2011.

Despite being unpredictable, wind is the nation's fastest-growing form of renewable energy. In the past five years output from wind farms has grown tenfold, to more than 12,000 megawatts, or about 1% of total U.S. supply. Its fans predict that someday wind could supply 10% or more of the nation's electricity. That's already the case in Spain and Denmark.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Cars - Live in 1979



Don't Cha Stop/You're All I've Got Tonight

Two years after the band The Cars was founded by 1977.

Official Website

Gimme gimme more

...more doors that is!

Four doors!

BMW has seen the light and is once again fitting the M3 - one of the finest cars in the world - with four doors, so enthusiasts can have a driver's car and still take the kids to their soccer game.

The New M3 Coupe will have an all-aluminum 4.0-liter, 8,400-RPM (Max) 414 HP V8, which BMW claims is a first in a production car.

BMW last offered a 4-door version on the E36 M3, the generation before last.

E36 M3 4-Door