Sometimes it is hard to deal with the evil in the world

On my way home from work I saw the sign over the interstate flash “Amber Alert. For information call . . .” I thought “uh-oh.” Usually when I see these (and it breaks my heart that I see them so often that I can express it with the word “usually”) they give the name of the child or a description of the abductor. Last week, they even gave a license plate number.

The fact that there was none of this meant one of two things: no one saw what happened or it is a baby so young as to not have a name.

It turns out that the baby was a 4-day-old little boy named Yair Carillo. According to news accounts, the mother, Maria Gurrolla was approached by a heavyset white woman who claimed to be from immigration. The woman stabbed the mother nine times and stole the baby boy.

The police questioned a woman in New York about the case, but no longer believe she was involved. The Amber Alert is still active.

On to happier topics:

Took the family to visit my grandfather last week. He seems to be making his way all right. After catching me up on who in the family and community have died recently, he spent some time playing with the kids and feeding them ice cream and cookies. It was a good visit.

My buddy Chuck is recovering from a motorcycle accident. I’m sure he’ll blog all about it when he’s recovered. I learned about it via Facebook when his wife posted it to his account. Facebook has been an interesting experiment for me. I resisted for a long time, but I’ve grown to depend on it for communication, news and even my job.

More and more of our clients want to have a social media presence as part of their marketing strategy. Facebook is an easy sell. Twitter, not so much. Twitter is harder to explain. Some companies are using it well – for customer service, for product promotion or news. Some just aren’t. Twitter isn’t an automatic yes because not everyone can see the advantage.

Scored a major hit at work the other day. Our client is working on bringing a product to market called the Ripxx personal measurement device. It uses GPS tracking and a trio of accelerometers and gyroscopes to track your movements as you ski, snowboard, run, climb, or whatever.

When you’re done, you plug it into a computer and the custom software will extract your data and create several models, charts and graphs, showing nearly every aspect of your movements during the day.

I spent the better part of a week sending press releases to gadget blogs, trying to interest someone in breaking this story without any luck. Finally, my email pleadings were answered by the good people at Engadget. They wrote up the Ripxx the very day the web site went live.

Within 12 hours, it had been written up by Ubergizmo, My Digital Life and Softpedia. From there is spread like digital wildfire. I knew that these gadget blogs often fed on each other. I also knew that the Engadget write-up would trigger some extended coverage. What I didn’t realize is how many people simply mirror the Engadget feed on their blogs or retweet whatever Engadget tweets.

A prototype of the device (which is due to be shipped in time for Christmas) is currently being used by the US Bobsled Team as they prepare for the Olympic games.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the day when we have equal parts night and day. I love this time of year, not because of the mild weather (finally) or the changing of the leaves. It means it’s time for new TV shows to start showing up.

This has been premier week and I’m facing it head on. Now that I’m DVR-less and using my computer to record OTA transmissions, I’m having to prioritize my recordings like in the old days. First it was fumbling with rabbit ears, now I can only record one channel at a time like a chump.

Regardless, with Hulu and the like, I’m able to watch what I want for the most part. “The Big Bang Theory” premier last night was great. “The Office” was funny. As far as new programs, I’m keeping my powder dry on “Community” though I thought having a local community college advertise during it was a stroke of genius. I didn’t even finish “Accidentally On Purpose” or whatever the new Jenna Elfman vehicle is. Meh.

I’m interested in seeing how “The Cleveland Show” is going to work. Otherwise, I’m not all that excited about the new season. It doesn’t seem like we’re getting too many new comedies.

“Hank” and “The Middle” didn’t seem funny in previews, so I doubt I’ll pay much attention to them.

I read recently that The Destroyer is getting a TV revamp. That makes me happy if only because I wasted so much of my life reading the novels. The film (Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins) was terrible, but I saw it twice. The TV pilot was even worse. I didn’t read the comic books. I thought it was dumb to have Remo wear a t-shirt with a bullseye on it.

Here’s an interesting development on the home foreclosure front. I read where a Legal Aid attorney in Florida has started counseling clients to stay in their homes until the lender can produce the original signed mortgage note. It seems the law requires the lender prove the company owns the debt and in some cases, must show that the borrower was notified every time the loan traded hands. This is relevant because so many mortgages were bundled, chopped up and securitized that it is likely that your lender doesn’t actually have the paperwork.

This only works in states where foreclosures have to go through court. In other states, the borrower would have to take the lender to court to make the case (incurring legal fees). In some cases, the borrower has been able to remain in his or her house for five years or more.

One More Thing . . .

DragonCon was a little late this year because of the vagaries of the Gregorian Calendar. As it happens, I was there on Rozzy’s birthday. This did not please her at all. One way I was able to placate her was to tell her that Felicia Day was going to be there and I would get her autograph for Rozzy.

Rozzy has seen some of the first season of “The Guild” and all of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog” She adores Felicia, whom she always refers to as “Codex” which is her Guild character.I waited in line for about an hour to get the autograph.

Felicia was incredibly nice and took a lot of time with each person. In addition to the signed Guild cast photo, I got this video. Best. Dad. Ever.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “One More Thing . . .“, posted with vodpod

Glad that’s over . . .

I caught the DragonCon Crud in Atlanta and came home to a little girl who had caught the flu (most likely during a visit to the doctor’s office to get a check up). So, I spent most of the week after returning at home trying to scrub my skin and sterilize my son.

Let’s just say top-level contamination protocols were in place. Of course it could have been worse, I could have been at PAX on the west coast. They had an H1N1 outbreak there that got 300 or more people grounded.

Side note, on Twitter, they were referring to it as the H1Nerd1 virus. Heh.

It could have been worse, part II: my buddy Chuck of “The Occasional Cacographer” ne “There’s Pie in the Lunchroom” ne “Chuck’s Take” was involved in a motorcycle accident. At the last report I saw on Facebook, he’s in ICU on a ventilator with a bruised and punctured lung, but is expected to pull through. We all wish him well.

One of the first lessons any public figure should lean is that you have to assume the microphone is live. The second is that you shouldn’t say anything off-camera with a mic in front of you that you wouldn’t say on-camera.

President Obama was going through the set up for a CNBC interview when a reporter asked him about Kanye West. By way of background, West made an ass of himself at the MTV Video Music Awards. Taylor Swift won an award that West thought should have gone to Beyonce. Rather than do what any other person with a human-sized ego would do – that is, kvetch about it at the afterparty – West stormed the stage, took the mic from Swift and announced his opinion to the audience.

The backlash has been swift.

Anyhoo, a reporter asked if President Obama’s daughters had any reaction to the incident and the president gave a candid assessment:

He’s a jackass.”

Now, Kanye West was a jackass, so you can’t fault Obama for the opinion. But there was no way that recording wasn’t going to get out no matter how much he tried to appeal to the crew at the time.

In this case, a reporter from rival ABC tweeted the remark to her more than 1 million followers. They, in turn retweeted it and by then you would have had better luck getting pee out of a pool than getting that remark back.

It has been a week of bad behavior in the news. During Obama’s address to a joint session of congress, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) heckled the president by shouting “You lie!” At the U.S. Open Serena Williams threatened to shove a tennis ball down the throat of a line judge (as part of an obscenity laced tirade). That was followed by Kanye West’s jackassery.

I recently purchased an antenna for my TV. Since dropping DirecTV, I’ve been without the ability to watch live TV in the living room. I wanted to buy an antenna that I could hook into the computer and record live TV.

I bought a cheap model and discovered that of the five local networks available to me, the antenna only picked up two. Oh sure, I could get all the religious and home-shopping channels, but NBC, CBS and PBS were out.

So I ran cable from the computer to the deck outside and futzed with the antenna there. I was struck by the blank unholy irony that here it was the 21st century and I have access to unheard of technology. Digital signals are whipping through the air bringing me all sorts of information and entertainment. But I’m still fumbling with rabbit ears trying to get a clear picture.

Wow.

But I got it set up and it seems to be working fine now.

DragonCon 09

It is almost time to head to Atlanta for DragonCon. It’s going to be great. I’ll post when I can and upload photos to my Facebook page as time allows. One thing I’m looking forward to is seeing an old high school friend who will be in town for the Alabama game.

There is an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer discovers that a fictional character on TV has his same name. It causes him to become extremely popular in Springfield. That night, he gets a phone call from Debbie Pinson, his high school homecoming queen. “Why yes, I am available,” we hear Homer say. Marge slams the phone down and says “No dating.” “But it’s Debbie Pinsooooon,” Homer replies.

Dollie and I have joked that Kathy is my Debbie Pinson. Not in any sort of swoony way, but in that she was a homecoming queen, cheerleader and student body president – the sort of high school student that guys would get swoony over.

Kathy was a good friend in school, if not a close one. You would be hard pressed to find a kinder, more friendly person to know.  It will be great to see her again and to meet her husband, who I assume is a giant among men.

There was an interesting exchange at the townhall meeting for Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS). Jenkins, as you can imagine, is against health insurance reform. A 27-year old single mom with a 2-year old boy stepped up to ask a question. She works as a waitress, she pays her bills, she is not a burden on the state. She can’t afford insurance and doesn’t qualify for medicaid or SCHIP. He son hasn’t been to a doctor in 21 months except to the emergency room for ear infections. Why can she not have an affordable healthcare option for her and her child? Why is Rep. Jenkins against this?

Jenkins laughed and said tax credits were a better option because it would give her the money to grow up and buy some insurance.

I caught a few sentences of a radio story this morning on my way out the door that made mention of a proposed compromise – tort reform in exchange for the public option. That is to say give the Republicans their win in the battle against frivolous law suits and give Dems their win for health care reform.

I wonder if that will fly? The thing is, many states have passed versions of tort reform to reduce frivolous law suits, but health care costs in those states did not come down. In fact, there is no mechanism in the private sector to cause costs to go down even if lawsuits were eliminated. Sure, you can squawk about how, in a free market, a competitor that can offer cheaper insurance will get lots of business and drive the price down, but that presumes that everything is equal and above board. That precludes price fixing and the cartel-like nature of private health insurance companies.

If I were in charge, I would end subsidies for congressional health insurance. Not their staff, not their employees, just congress. Let’s see how long it takes them to enact reform if they have to pay full price and cannot negotiate a better deal. Will they still be willing to kick that can down the road? Will they want a do-over?

While Dems are facing angry astroturf mobs, Sens. Mitch McConnell and John McCain are hosting invitation-only town halls, full of health care industry workers who sit quietly and applaud at the right times. It’s silly and a little cowardly. Meanwhile, the crowds across the country are becoming more mixed as pro-reform people are beginning to let their voices be heard.

President Obama will likely address the nation on health care reform soon, to lay out his requirements for the bill. I’m guessing a public option will not make the cut, which is disappointing.