Sunday, May 31, 2009

G. Gordon Lunatic

Convicted Watergate criminal G. Gordon Liddy, who somehow got himself a radio talk show, has clearly revealed his hatred and disdain for females. This piece of garbage made the following comment on his radio show in regards to President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor:
"Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate," Liddy said. "That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."
So women are not capable of rational decision making, according to this felon, all because of their natural cycles. What a misogynist!

This is just more of what I have written about before...the fact that there is nothing too bizarre and off-limits for the right in their pathetic attempts to regain power. If someone wishes to discuss the pros and cons of a nominee, they should do that by talking about substantive issues. But this is basically an attack on all women based on their gender, and should be repudiated by those in the GOP. So far, all I have heard is dead silence. Do we have to wonder what the uproar would have been if a Democrat had made this comment about Sarah Palin?

Thank goodness that dinosaurs like Liddy are a dying species. We can only hope for their eventual fall into extinction.

To read more and hear the excerpt from Liddy's radio show, CLICK HERE. Thanks to John Walkenbach's J-Walk Blog, where I first saw this story.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Does This Make General Mills a Pusher?

The FDA has informed General Mills that given its claims of the cholesterol reducing properties of Cheerios, the breakfast cereal must be classified as a drug. The claims about heart health are okay though, since soluble fiber from whole grain oats has already been approved by the FDA as a heart healthy food. But the cholesterol claims must be abandoned or the cereal will be regulated like a new drug.

What in the world would the Cheerios Kid and Cheerios Sue think of this?

Friday, May 29, 2009

News Airchecks

I have been going through some more of my old tapes from the 1970s and 1980s, and found these newscasts. You can play these in the embedded media players below.

The first one is from AM 790, KULF, and adult-contemporary station at the time. It is now "The Sports Animal", KBME.

The following newscast is from News/Talk KTRH AM 740, a 50-kilowatt powerhouse. It remains a News/Talk station, but like KBME, is now owned by Clear Channel Communications.

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Then we have this one from the late 70s, broadcast on "All News" formatted KEYH AM 850. The station now broadcasts Spanish language programming.

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Lose Weight With AYDS

Why take diet pills, when you can enjoy Ayds?

Before the outbreak of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), there was a appetite suppresant candy on the market to help folks lose weight. It carried the unfortunate brand, AYDS. This was pronounced exactly like the deadly disease. Needless to say, you don’t see AYDS for sale anymore.

While going through some of my old tapes of my radio days, I came across a radio commercial from the 1970s for this product. Imagine someone telling you to get a date with AYDS today! You may hear this recording in the embedded player below.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One Giant Bong

I was recording some cartoons for my 5-year-old grandson to watch when he comes over to visit with grandma and grandpa. Today I decided to grab some Huckleberry Hound and Pink Panther shows for him. One of the Pink Panther cartoons had our favorite pink feline working as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. He presented a menu to the patrons, and it was quite amusing. I am not sure if the word "bong" did not carry its current meaning (a water pipe used by people to smoke marijuana) back in the 1960s; or if the writers were oblivious; or perhaps it was their little inside joke. In any case, I got a laugh out of the menu item of "1-Giant Bong, Serves Four Persons" on the menu.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poorly Written Headline #2

This time, from This gives the opposite meaning to the story, based upon the definition of a "Bronx Cheer".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #6

Time for yet another story from the front lines in the ridiculous world of business. This one is at the same company as the Stupid Corporate Tricks - #5, and involves the same two guys. Will had asked Doug about some research he had asked him to do a couple of months previous. Doug realized he had totally forgotten about the project, and had done absolutely nothing toward getting it done. So he says to Will, "Don't you remember, you sent me a memo telling me to forget about it?" Will looked puzzled and said, "No, I don't remember that." So Doug says he will try to find it.

He goes over to his desk and writes a memo to himself, ostensibly from Will, and backdates it by a few weeks. He was pretty good at forging signatures too, so he printed the memo and put a reasonable facsimile of Will's initials on it. He then wrinkles it up a little and stuffs it into his file drawer in a bunch of other papers.

The next time Will came walking by Doug's cubicle, Doug shouts out, "Oh Will, let me see if I have that memo you sent me." He opens his file drawer and shuffles through the papers and says, "Oh, here it is!" He hands it over to Will who says, "Hmmm....I guess I forgot about this. Okay then."

HOLY SHIT! It worked!! I could not believe it, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I suppose Doug has had to update his repertoire of trickery now that email has largely supplanted printed memoranda.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Boldly Going Where Many Have Gone Before

I rarely go to watch movies at the theater. The cost has just gotten out of hand. I may average about one film a year at such a venue. The feature that got me out of the house this year is J.J. Abrams' reboot of Star Trek. The lovely spouse and I went to see it today, and got in for a fairly decent matinee price of $5.50 each.

I have to say, this movie is a refreshing change. Star Trek movies, while entertaining, had strayed too far from the roots of the original series which debuted on the NBC Television Network back in 1966. Filmed at Desilu Studios, Star Trek, pitched by creator Gene Roddenberry as "Wagon Train to the Stars", was not a big hit initially. It took on a cult following after its cancellation. Eventually the franchise spawned five spin off series in addition to the original; along with what is now 11 feature films. Now, in a mostly brilliantly done movie, Star Trek returns to the original crew of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura.

The actors who played the characters in the 1960s have long been past the age where it was believable to see then cavorting around the galaxy. The new cast did an outstanding job of paying homage to the history of the characters, while bringing their own talents to bear. Probably the most amazing of all was the performances of Zachary Quinto as Spock, and Karl Urban in the role of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

This film will be enjoyed by Trekkies (or is it Trekkers), as well as people who never got into the Star Trek series. While largely true to the original, this reboot of the franchise ends up creating an alternate timeline with some differences to the continuity established over the years. I won't share any spoilers here, but nothing that is changed detracted from the story.

In fact, my only complaint is the fact that science fiction films seem to require a silly alien character. In the Star Wars series, it was the worthless, floppy-eared Jar Jar Binks. In the new Star Trek, engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, has a silly alien pet of some sort. They could have dispensed with him.

There seems to be odd coincidences that sometimes crop up in Hollywood, and this film has one as well. For example, in the 1950s Superman television series, the actor portraying the Man of Steel was George Reeves. In the 1978 film Superman, The Movie, the actor was Christopher Reeve. One letter difference from the actor in the TV show. In this Star Trek film, the actor playing the role of Captain James Kirk is Chris Pine. That is one letter changed from the original Enterprise captain, Christopher Pike. It doesn't mean a thing, but I noticed it.

The bottom line? I give Star Trek a 4.5 out of 5. Highly entertaining for Trekkie and Non-Trekkie alike. Lots of action, good ties to the original, and a fresh start for a franchise whose mythos had begun to get too cluttered to follow. If you can, you should see this movie.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #5

Today, let us continue the series of stupid corporate tricks. For this tale of workplace merriment, we will go back to the early 1990s. This particular story is more of an employee tale than something done by the company itself. One of my coworkers (let's call him Doug here) was always at odds with our boss (we'll call him Will). This boss will play into several tales before we are done.

To the point of this story, you need to know two things about Will. His desk was always piled high with so many papers that he could never find anything. The other thing is that he had a beloved HP 12C calculator. These used to be very common in business, and used RPN, or Reverse Polish Notation. This allowed for complex calculations in the days before calculators could use pure algebraic order of computation. Will had this one since his business school days, and he was quite fond of it.

One particular morning, we came to work and found a lost and found poster taped to the wall at every elevator landing in our building. Will's calculator had gone missing, and he was quite distressed about it. Now Doug always enjoyed Will's distress, so as you might imagine, he was enjoying this immensely. But then things took a nasty turn.

Will approached Doug and asked him if he had taken his calculator. Doug took great offense at the suggestion, and it didn't take long for him to find his response. As he was walking past Will's cubicle, he noticed the 12c was visible edgewise underneath a huge pile of papers on Will's desk. Doug said, "If I am accused of taking it, I will!" He took it from under the pile and hid it in his desk. He then proceded to create some ransom notes from an anonymous calculator kidnapper. leaving them where Will would find them. Will was going nuts trying to figure it out before Doug tired of the game and put the calculator back, where Will eventually found it.

The story doesn't end there however. A few years later Doug was working in another state for another firm. As fate would have it, I was again working for Will, but at a different company. During this time, Will again misplaced his calculator. I mentioned this to Doug, who immediately created another ransom note and faxed it to Will anonymously. Even though I was quite amused by it all, I also didn't have the heart to tell him what was going on. A couple of days later, Will found his a pile of papers on his desk!

King of the Hill

One of my favorite TV shows is Fox's King of the Hill. Sadly, the show has apparently reached the end of its run. There are unconfirmed reports that Fox has ordered a few more episodes, but these may appear on DVD rather than the network.

The program is the brain child of Mike Judge, who gave us Beavis and Butthead, and more importantly (in my estimation) the great movie that shows the inanity of working in corporate America, Office Space. While I didn't much care for B&B, both Office Space and King were strokes of genius.

So here is perhaps the final episode of King of the Hill, starring America's favorite salesman of "propane and propane accessories", Arlen, Texas' Hank Hill.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jesse Gets It!

Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura doesn't take crap from anybody. Here is a YouTube video of a clip where he takes on the mindless talking heads of Fox & Friends. True patriots do not condone our country torturing people. It is anti-American and puts us at risk. Governor Ventura get it. Fox does not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Estes Park, Colorado

Just another photo from last Saturday. This time it's the rock sign along US 36 as you begin the descent into the town of Estes Park.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sovereignty, Secession, and the Nutty Right Wing

Many right-wingers rightfully ridiculed some celebrities on the left who threatened to move out of the United States if George W. Bush was elected President in 2000. But now, many righty politicians are doing things that are even more bizarre. Upset with the Democratic administration's policies, these nutty politicians are threatening to take their ball and go home. Last month, Texas Governor Rick Perry threw support behind HCR 50, a resolution in the Texas House of Representatives that asserts the state's sovereignty. (He also uses the oft-used, but false analogy of how to boil a frog).

Now, last Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate has passed HCR 1028, a similar resolution to the one in Texas. How the Senate passes a resolution of the House seems odd to me. In any case, the verbiage of the resolution states that the Sooner State is "claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; providing that certain federal legislation be prohibited or repealed; and directing distribution.”

The resolution, also passed the Oklahoma House 73-22 on May 4th. It does not require a signature from the Governor.

Kurt Hochenauer, creator of the political blog Okie Funk: Notes From The Outback, has a good analysis on his site. He correctly notes that if Oklahoma were to secede from the United States, it would lead to military confrontation, widespread poverty, and a mass exodus from the state. I would add that if Oklahoma wants to leave the US, it had better make doggone sure that Texas goes with it, otherwise it will be a landlocked nation surrounded by the U.S.

Hochenauer also has posted an audio clip from Montel Williams' radio program where he interviews Charles Key, the Oklahoma City Republican Representative who introduced the resolution in the House. Williams calls Key on the fact that Oklahoma pays $19-Billion in federal taxes, but receives $28 billion in federal funding per year. So Oklahoma, good luck with that.

I don't think that either state will actually secede over this, any more than Alec Baldwin left the US over the Bush presidency. But it does demonstrate the lack of rational thinking within the minds of some elected officials in red-state America.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #4

The same boss that pulled the antics in my previous post, Stupid Corporate Tricks - #3, was well known around the office for another reason. It seems he had some kind of disorder that caused him to doze off at inappropriate times. For example, all of us who worked in the group would watch him when we were in meetings, because invariably the longer the meeting, the more likely it was that he would fall asleep. You would notice his eyes growing heavy. Then he would begin nodding off a bit, and finally, with eyes closed, his head would go down and he would be sound asleep.

While this was a bit amusing to witness, it was also kind of sad, because I am sure it must be some type of medical condition. But the thing that made it most annoying is when he would do this while with you in the office of a customer. The company required our managers to accompany us on the occasional sales call to evaluate and improve our selling skills. This man, who I shall call John, did this on several occasions while with me. One instance I distinctly recall, involved him not only falling asleep in the customer's office, but he began to snore loudly as I made my sales presentation. The customer looked at me and said, "I think John must not have gotten enough sleep last night."

Still, that isn't the worst part. On the way back to the office, John had the audacity to critique my performance, all of which he slept through. He had absolutely no idea what had transpired.

On another occasion, John walked into a customer's office with me. After we shook hands, John sat down in a chair and immediately let out a very loud blast of flatulence! He chuckled and told the customer, "Hey, it sounds like you have a frog problem out here."

Needless to say, when John indicated he wanted to go on a sales call with me, I was not happy, nor did I know what to expect.

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #3

In the early 1980s, I worked in outside sales for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, then an operating company of the original AT&T. I mention the company here because it is pertinent to the story I am about to relate.

My job at the time was selling commercial accounts on leasing large, corporate telephone systems, called Private Branch Exchanges, or PBXs. I also sold local exchange services, long distance, and what were called WATS lines. WATS stood for Wide Area Telephone Service, and was basically dedicated lines with prepaid blocks of discounted long distance.

There was one company that was located along the Houston Ship Channel that still had an old "cord board" PBX. These are the type where an operator used cords to patch through calls coming in to the appropriate person's telephone (see photo). These were rare at the time, as most companies had moved to more modern systems.

This was early in the era of interconnect equipment, or non-Bell System equipment being available for connection to the phone company's lines. We were proposing a Bell Dimension 400 electronic PBX to replace the old system. There was a competing bid in from a company selling a popular system of the time, the Rolm CBX. This particular business had a huge campus with buildings located over a large area, and trucks coming in and out from all over the facility.

My boss had worked for Southwestern Bell for his entire career, and would be best described by the term "Bell Head", a phrase used to describe someone who had been working at the phone company for so long that they couldn't see any perspective other than that of Ma Bell. During the course of the visit to attempt to finalize the deal, the customer asked us if we had any references he could call. My boss stood up, walked over to the customer's credenza, picked up his Houston telephone directory, opened the rather large book to a random page, tossed in on the customers desk in front of him, and said, "Here is a book with our customers listed. Pick some out and call them."

Surprisingly, we did not get tossed out at that point, but when the customer stated that the Rolm CBX quote was quite a bit less than ours, the boss told the customer, "I hope their quote includes tearing up your entire facility to lay new conduit and cables. You know all the underground cables here are telephone company property, and we will not allow them to use our cables for their system. If you go that way, we will come out and stretch the cables very tight, cut them off short, and then fill the conduit with concrete. So you need to go back to them and get a quote for that. Would that disrupt your business any?"

Wow! Talk about a heavy handed close! If I had not witnessed it myself, I would not have believed it. But to some degree it worked. We did not get the customer to lease the Dimension system, but the customer did not take the Rolm bid either. He ended up keeping the old switchboard system in place. He also got to continue paying Southwestern Bell for the privilege. No wonder Ma Bell had her reputation!

Rocky Mountains

There are many good things about Colorado, most of them being the natural beauty and generally agreeable climate of this state. The lovely spouse and I drove up to Estes Park today, about 100 miles to the northwest of of our home. It is a beautiful day, and I took this picture of the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park just to the west of the town. I never tire of the scenery there is to enjoy in the Centennial State.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #2

Today, let's continue with recounting some of the stupidity that rises to the top of the corporate heap. This particular episode took place at the same company involved in my previous post, Stupid Corporate Tricks - #1. This one was done by the branch manager for the Houston sales office.

Our offices had moved to a new building and along the way, we also got a new branch manager. This position was over the entire sales organization in the city. The new guy was hired after having spent a few years at our major competitor. The rumor mill had it that when he was fired from the competitor, the people who were under him on the organization chart all stood up and cheered. Then when they learned our company had hired him, the did the same thing again. Of course, I cannot confirm that, but it would not surprise me.

This particular guy was definitely a few tortillas short of a full enchilada plate. For example, he came over to my desk, totally out of the blue, with a porn magazine and opened it up to a picture of a young black woman who was, shall we say, quite under dressed. He said to me, "Hey take a look at this! That'll drive any prejudiced bones out of you, wont it?" So you get the idea of the type of person we are talking about here.

In any case, this particular sales office had one fax machine to support the entire office. It was very heavily used as you might imagine. This was also before the prevalence of email, so faxes were much more important than they are today. This machine was used for various documents coming in and going out of the office. One of the most prevalent types of documents that would arrive on the fax were orders being sent in by customers that all of us sales people had been working with. After all, this was a sales office, and this was a very efficient way to get things done. Otherwise, we would spend several hours travelling across town just to pick up the orders.

The branch manager was getting tired of waiting on the fax machine when he wanted to send something. So rather than getting a second one, he issued an edict. No more orders would be permitted to be faxed in, because they were tying up the fax machine when he wanted to use it. Pardon me? This was a sales office, and he actually shut down a major way that orders came into the company. Oh the stupidity of it all!! Or as Bugs Bunny might say, "What a maroon! What a nincompoop!" Rather than being responsible for getting new customers, perhaps he should have been put in charge of the Sales Prevention Department!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #1

People in corporate America take themselves way too seriously. Greedy and inept CEOs drive their companies into the ground while raking in gazillions of dollars in pay, perks, stocks, and bonuses. Clueless managers mindlessly bob their heads in agreement with whatever ridiculous idea or business fad du jour is being touted by their bosses as the next great idea. Of course, the people actually doing the work have nothing to do with how well the companies perform. If the firm does well, it is the executives' doing. If not, well it must be the workers.

In the forty-plus years I have been in the workforce, I probably have enough material to write a book. Perhaps I will. Still, it seems appropriate to share a few stories from the front lines of life in the corporate world here. While I have adapted myself to conform to the culture of offices akin to Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip, I remain free spirited enough to see through the bullshit and recognize that the emperor indeed has no clothes.

So let's talk about a situation that happened when I worked at a telecommunications firm back in the late 1980s. I was in major account sales, and was doing rather well at it. During our annual meeting for the entire sales organization, it was announced that our “President's Club” for that year would be held at a resort in Hawaii. The top sales people in the company would be sent on an all expenses paid trip for two with awards and activities to reward overachievers. They showed us video of the resort, and all the terrific things that would be part of the trip for those whose sales qualified them to go.

During the course of the year, there was a change of plans announced. Instead of Hawaii, the trip was to be moved to Dana Point, California. Just as nice as Hawaii, we were told. Right! Well, as it turns out, when the time came for the President's Club trip, it was definitely not to Hawaii. Actually, it wasn't to Dana Point either. They ended up having the event at a resort in Scottsdale, Arizona on the outskirts of Phoenix. Nice, but definitely not Hawaii or Dana Point.

Now they did have some enjoyable activities lined up for us while in Scottsdale, but the highlight of the trip was an awards banquet to Pinnacle Peak Patio, a western themed steakhouse on top of a mountain. They put all of us top sales people and our spouses on buses to make the trip to Pinnacle Peak. Along the way, a staged hijacking by cowboy bad men occurred. They pulled the bus over, and a bunch of western hooligans came on board and “kidnapped” the executives. They went on ahead, and by the time we reached the venue, the execs all had on aprons and were serving up the chow. Nice enough.

However, once we were into enjoying the meal, the real reason we were there became readily apparent. The awards presentations began. Since all of us present were the top sales people in the entire company, assembled from all over the country, surely they were going to present some awards to us for exceeding our quotas and making money for the company. You might think that, but you'd be wrong.

The executives began giving speeches about each other, and what a wonderful job they did to motivate all of us to overachieve the goals set for us. They would then present each other with nice fat bonus checks for doing such a fine job. Then we were expected to applaud each of them as they received their checks and made their acceptance speeches. Obviously, they needed an audience to react to their awards ceremony. Once that was complete, it was back on the buses for the trip back to the hotel. Makes you really proud to work for a company with such motivating management! Well, maybe not.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Parking Convention

Earlier today, I mentioned the convention that I worked over the past several days. Well, as it turns out, there is yet another one coming to Denver. This time it is a convention for the parking industry. Yes, that's right. People who run parking lots, meters, garages, and other places to leave your car have their very own convention coming to your favorite mile-high city. Who'da thunk it? I can guarantee you that there is one thing you won't find near the Colorado Convention Center...and that is free parking!

Oh My Aching Feet!!

The last few days have been spent either in preparation for, or participation in, the annual convention for retailers who sell the products of my employer. The convention is always a major undertaking by many people, and involves training sessions, a trade show, and of course, entertainment. Thursday night, 80s rockers REO Speedwagon entertained the crowd. Last night's headliner to close the show was Howie Mandel (please excuse the poor quality of this was taken with my cell phone's camera). I got the lovely spouse a guest ticket to last night's performance, so we got to have dinner together and enjoy Howie's comedy act. This was particularly nice, since she suddenly was put in the hospital the night before the convention started.

Each year, the convention is held in a different venue, and this year I really appreciated the fact that it was held in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. It was great to be able to go home to my own bed each night after a day of standing on my feet all day. Some days, I drove to Denver, and on others I took the light rail which stops at the Convention Center. The light rail is a good option, but on weekends it doesn't run from the station closest to my home to the venue.

Since my blogging is done in the evening, obviously this event caused me to not post for the last few days. I do have several ideas percolating in my head for future posts, so I look forward to fleshing those out in the next few days.

And speaking of days...Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Poorly Written Headline

The Curmudgeonly Old Party

Will somebody please buy the Republican Party a Garmin? Seriously, the GOP has lost its way. After eight years of the Bush presidency, the USA is known for torture (uh...I mean "enhanced interrogation techniques"), warrantless domestic spying, and holding prisoners without charges. Rational Americans are appalled that these things are even open to debate. The misguided policies of the Republicans have lead to a major implosion that has left their party in major disarray.

Senator John McCain's daughter Meghan, made a good point in a joint interview with her dad on Phoenix's KTAR, when she said, “I just wish that moderates like myself — more moderate Republicans and more socially liberal Republicans — weren’t looked at as, ‘Get rid of the dirty moderates. Get rid of them.”

Then there is former GOP US Senator, Bob Barr, who told CNN that the the GOP is in deep trouble and lacks "any coherent philosophy, vision or leadership.” Barr's comments are followed by those of former Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who called several members of the Republican National Committee "a small bunch of egomaniacs who need to be coddled by the party chairman".

Finally, we have a move by some leading Republicans to attempt a makeover of the party's image. Perhaps this is a project for the TV show Extreme Makeover. It is an awesome undertaking, no doubt! The GOP's "Big Tent" has become a small pup tent occupied by a bunch of angry old white men and fundamentalist loonies; or as I like to call them...the Irrelevant Right.

The Republicans may be down, but I wouldn't count them out. Still, as long as they are the party of obstructionism, torture, and general curmudgeonliness, they will have a hard time rebooting their damaged image. In the meantime, it's time for President Obama and a Democratic Congress to get things done that are long overdue...starting with universal healthcare for all Americans.