Monday, June 30, 2008


In the world of social networking on the internet, there seems to be a fair amount of duplication.

I was amused to see that a Twitter competitor was bought up by Google.

And iLike seems like a weaker version of Last-FM or Pandora. (Though I have to say that Pandora is an easier way to discover new music that is similar to other stuff I like.)

Competition is a good thing, but the weaker guys will eventually die off. (That's not always true. Microsoft still makes the Zune, for some reason.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Traffic sources

I got a spike in viewership on Thursday June 26th: 287 views. I tracked it down to Their spiders found my story "Why Apple, part 3".

Kudos to those little robot spiders!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Environmental before it was hip

Geo MetroWe used to own a Geo Metro (made by Suzuki). 3 cylinders, 999cc. Great fuel economy, not so fast.

I loved that car. We ultimately had to sell it because it didn't have 3 seatbelts in the back. (We got a third kid in 2001.) Why couldn't we just have installed a third seatbelt? I think a non-factory installation wouldn't have been very safe. Plus, if I'm remembering right, it had no air conditioning.

We sold it to a friends, Matt and Leslie. They got it for their daughter to learn on. Apparently it served them well, for three or four more years.

A buddy told me that they're now going for good prices on eBay. Shoulda kept the thing. Sigh.

A different world

Go here.

Claire is a friend, living in Nairobi. She describes just how different lives there can be. We experienced exactly what she is talking about. It's a great post.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Apple, part 3

bottom of toshibabottom of macbook proTurn your laptop upside-down. It will reveal something about the philosophy of the manufacturer. My wife's Toshiba is at the top. My Mac is at the bottom.

This simpleness extends to much more than just the external design. The Mac software interface exhibits that same simplicity compared to the big other guy.

(Whenever I do these kinds of posts, I am too lazy to look up how many times I touched on the topic before; thus the title.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Somebody's got money

FerrariWe keep hearing about how the economy is in recession (or on its way there). That's not the case for some folks. Ferrari of Denver is expanding.

Bear in mind that a new Ferrari costs about $200,000. And it's not a fuel miser. The waiting list (if you want a new one) is about five years.

I'm not knocking Ferrari of Denver. They have a very clean showroom and some great deals, if you're in that bracket and want a used luxury performance automobile.

As I was taking the photos, the site construction manager ran up to me to basically chase me off. He escorted me to Bill, the kind gentleman that runs the place. Bill was very gentle, knowledgable and courteous. I learned a lot in the time we spent chatting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Take me out to the ball game

Last week, Jay (shown) and I joined my father-in-law and sister-in-law for a Rockies game. (Our team even won!)

We truly enjoyed the experience, because we don't get to go very often. If we were season ticket holders, the thrill might be lessened.

It was a perfect evening. We brought along jackets, but we didn't need them. In my childhood, seeing the Washington Senators or the Boston Redsox meant being surrounded by a cloud of tobacco smoke and old men (who were probably were younger than I am now) swearing at the refs. Both were absent from our evening, thankfully. Tobacco smoke is banished to outer regions beyond where most fans venture. The old men around me were quite mellow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer solstice and weird fertility

Lest you think I'm launching into some sermon on a strange seasonal cult, bear with me...

Saturday the 21st was the longest day of the year. When we lived in England, it was a big event for us. Since our English home was so much further north than Colorado is, the longest day was really long. (And the shortest day was really short.) Inevitably, though, it was a cloudy evening. When I got the video camera out to mark the event, dusk wasn't as impressive as it could have been.

So back to this life - summer has been fun. We've enjoyed sunny days and cookouts and our kids being able to play outside till much later than when school's in session.

Fertility? Somehow this summer has been marked by plants producing more spore than any other summer here in my memory. (See this post, too.) The photo? It's cottonwood fluff, along a neighbor's yard edge. It has been "fluffing" so much that some days, it's almost like a snowstorm.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get thee to a post office

eames stampsIf you live in the States, there's a great new series of postage stamps that was released on June 17th. The sheet is in honor of Charles & Ray Eames, designers who created some really cool chairs - and more. (If I could afford it, I'd get one used, anyhow.)

"There is no absolute truth!"

Are you absolutely sure?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pretty signs are not going to improve the neighborhood

farmers branch signFarmer's Branch is a neighborhood just north of Dallas. They have some relatively affordable housing.

So as I was driving along Josey Lane, I noticed the street signs. Nice.

But good signs are not enough to make everything nicer. I guess a little bit of niceness is better than none at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Martin Luther King stays in Waco

It's true, Martin Luther King lives in Waco. In the form of stained, glass, that is.

Our friends Eric and Linda both work at Baylor University. They kindly showed us around the Brooks College section of the university. It's a beautiful section of campus modeled after a college of Oxford University. The naming committee may not have know that there is an unrelated school in Oxford also called Oxford Brookes University. (Thanks to Journeyman.)

So the Brooks complex has a beautiful chapel with this stained glass depiction of Martin Luther King. Eric informed me that Martin is the newest figure depicted.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Zillionaire at 24

facebook on wikipediaI read in Rolling Stone that Facebook is worth as much as GM (as in General Motors). Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO is only 24.

All is not sweetness and light, though. Currently, several people who came up with the idea at about the same time he developed it are suing him (for zillions, I assume). And I must say that the R. Stone article painted a picture of him being a pretty nasty guy.

Amazing doll collections

dollstroll dollsWhile were in Dallas, we visited my Aunt Mary. She is an amazing collector. Two of her collections are troll dolls and these dolls I don't even now the name of.

The troll craze hails from the era of my childhood, many years ago. I think this set was produced since then - an attempted revival of that craze. And the nameless dolls were interesting because of their unusual expressions.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Segways in a mall

Grapevine Mills Mall is so big that the people who work for the mall travel around the complex on Segways. They are faster than walking, are pretty quiet and don't pollute - at least in the mall. (The power-plants that produce the energy pollute.)

Sorry for the bad photo - the guy zoomed by so fast, I couldn't whip out my camera in time.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


This is the most interesting long blog post I have read in a while.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Whittle down

The 100 Thing ChallengeMy minimalist thoughts are not just mine. Other people are starting to feel like they're surrounded by too much stuff. The June 16th issue of Time has a great article called "The 100 Thing Challenge". It's based around the thoughts of a guy named Dave Bruno, who decided to whittle down his possessions to just 100. I don't know that I could do that, but it's great to at least head in that direction - as much as you can handle doing so.

And here's a smug footnote: I blogged about this 4 days before Jason Kottke did. (Don't you hate my pride?!)

Cool sneakers

nike sneakersI have begun a form of non-consumerism... enjoying a product without having to purchase it. Capturing it in pixels is enough. These pixels take up no space in my closet! And it uses just a tiny fraction of an external hard drive or data DVD.

Recently I went to a Nike Outlet store and saw these amazingly cool sneakers. They have treads with exposed fibers, kind of like a worn-through tire. I love the rough stitching. So my "purchase" was just this photo, which I share with you. And it may last longer than the actual shoes will, if anyone buys them. (With shelf after shelf of shoes there at all times, what happens to the percentage that gets cycled out when the new ones come in?)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

WAY western

resistol cowboy hatWhen in Texas, visit a western shop. That's what I did. The aisles were filled with some pretty amazing boots and hats. This particular Resistol model has a cowhide brim and a "branding iron" horseshoe. It was about $270.

If I were a cowboy, this might be the hat for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Electricity on the hoof

railroad carsWe recently made a (mostly) business trip as a family to Texas. So the next few posts are from that trip. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into that journey.

Coal comes from Wyoming to Texas. It's a constant pipeline on the rails. We see it go along the railroad not far from our house. And I saw the pipeline in action, maybe 400 miles from our house, not far from Texline, Texas. There were the empty versions, heading back to the motherlode.

Coal-fired power-plants are the main source of energy that Americans consume.

I am sad to report that I didn't get a photo of the alternative, which we also passed on our way from Lubbock to Dallas - beautiful hillsides covered with wind-powered turbines.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't ya wanna eat?

ruths chrisAnother in-flight magazine ad - I am always tantalized by the Ruth's Chris ads. I have never eaten one of their steaks, but I can imagine how it would melt in your mouth. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I am not a vegetarian.)

One thing the in-flight magazines do, without realizing it... they promote delayed gratification. (That goes against the grain of American culture.) There's no way you can enjoy a steak like that on any flight.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Don't try to be who you're not

This ad was from an in-flight magazine. I guess there must be a lot of frequent flyers who want to look younger than they really are. I know that's a normal cultural thing in America. But my take is this: if you're 74 - or 85 - (or 35) be proud of your age. It's perfectly normal to have a few wrinkles and not have the body of someone a fourth of your age.

True beauty comes from within, anyhow.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Consider changing that option

One of the hallmarks of the interactive age is commenting on blogs.

If you allow comments on your blog, I'd suggest that you disable the feature where you moderate comments. Why?

1. If a comment is made and can be seen right away, it gives the commenter immediate feedback that their comment is published.

2. Negative and harmful comments are few. (Out of the maybe 1,500 comments I have received over the years, probably only 3 were in that category.) You can always delete them. If you enable emails to be sent to your inbox whenever a comment is made, you can delete them right away.

3. Not getting a message saying you have a comment to approve means one less little annoying message you have to deal with.

A related thing you should do is comment spam prevention. (You know - it's where the commenter must type a word in a box for their comment to be accepted.)

Or, for a totally different perspective on comments, go here. Mark basically says he doesn't have the time or energy for comments.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Spam in my physical mailbox

publishers clearing houseSomehow my name got sold to a mailing list as "Merrill, Pauler". So if it weren't simple enough already to spot my junk mail, it's even easier now.

Publisher's Clearing House is the worst. Besides unnecessarily chopping down countless trees, their mailings are just plain visually offensive.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spam. Who buys anything from those messages?

email spamI've written about spam before. I have always been amazed at how spammers make any money.

And it's interesting how they subvert the filters. (However, all the messages shown here were caught by my email providers' filters.)

I picture some guys in some dark basement writing speedily on a clone PC and endlessly hitting "send". (Yes, I know they use programs that cull zillions of email addresses for them to send their jewels to.)

I guess it takes only .05% of the recipients to pay $20 a pop for spam creators to keep writing "bUy v1agra n0w" and other such creative phrases.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Culture shock at Wal-Mart

wal-mart receiptShortly after we returned from Kenya (about a year ago), we visited my sister, niece and mom - all who live near Dallas.

Heather and I had a heated discussion about what to buy for one of the meals we shared with the family in Dallas. It all boiled down to culture shock - we had different ways of dealing with the overwhelming choices at Wal-Mart. (I also wrote about that trip here. The photo with that post was taken on the actual day of the discussion mentioned here.)

So if you are just returning to your home culture - be easy on each other, as you deal with life now compared to life where you were.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Africa flashback, 4

Just sitting by the side of the road.

Yes, this baboon - and his buddies - were just sitting beside the road. We were driving down to Mombasa. That's about 8 hours of driving. It was time to stop for the needed break, if you know what I mean. No facilities were available, but an old broken-down service station did appear. The only residents were these little guys.

I just haven't seen anything like them on my drive from Denver to Dallas.