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AP Poll Finds Americans In A Hurry May 30, 2006

Posted by Michael in Personal Experiences.
3 comments

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer Sun May 28, 6:42 PM ET

WASHINGTON – We'll make this quick. We know you're busy.

Damn right.  I don't have all day. 

An Associated Press poll has found an impatient nation. To get to the point without further ado, it's a nation that gets antsy after five minutes on hold on the phone and 15 minutes max in a line. So say people in the survey.

That's me.  I'll pull up to a "convenience" store and look inside from my car.  If there is a line at the counter, I figure: "That does not really look convenient.  If I'm going to pay premium prices for convenience, I think I'll go to the next place." 

The Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. version of the old Soviet bread line, is among the top spots where Americans hate to wait. But grocery stores are the worst.

Almost one in four in the AP-Ipsos poll picked the grocery checkout as the line where their patience is most likely to melt like the ice cream turning to goo in their cart.

Grocery stores are getting better.  Have you noticed?  In my area, the lines are negligible.  A lot of this is due to technology like the quickie card swipe in the checkout line, and you can sign on a plasma screen.  Plus, they have self-service lines where you can just use the bar-code reader youself and pay whatever you owe, without dealing with a human being.  I guess they figure the pilferage is less costly than the employee they would otherwise have in that line. 

And it seems people don't mellow with age. The survey found older people to be more impatient than younger people.

Are you saying I'm old?  Screw you, Associated Press! 

One solution: Online ordering of routine purchases, which make up 80 percent of the shopping cart.

I hate shopping, so buying online works great for me.  Here's a tip if you're worried about security.  If you have a Citibank credit card, Citi has this great little program you can download to your computer that gives you a one-time credit card number linked to your account.  So, when you get to the checkout page of a web site, this screen pops up automatically (it can detect a checkout page). You then supply your regular Citibank UserID and password.  The program  generates a new random credit card number that is only good for one purchase.  Plus, it has an autofill function you can click that fills in all the information you would normally have to type in manually on the checkout page, so you actually save time.  Click, bam, you're done, and you don't have to worry about having sent your real credit card number online.  I love it.

AP poll finds Americans in a hurry – Yahoo! News

RSS Feeds May 30, 2006

Posted by Michael in Commenting Tips.
16 comments

Stansbury commented in a thread below about how he felt "omniscient" with all the RSS feeds he subscribes to.  It got me to thinking.  I've noticed that there is a growing group of people who follow Innocent Bystander with RSS feeds.  I also vaguely recalled that my ISP (AT&T Yahoo) offers RSS aggregator capability on my account home page.  I went to take a look (before my DSL service died this afternoon; see Bangalore post below), just to figure out how this worked.

Holy shit!  This is great!  It's easy to add these feeds to an RSS feed aggregator.  On one page I can see if chronic slackers like Wuzzadem, Sobek, Dave, Tim Blair or JackM are actually posting or just goofing off.  I don't have to keep checking their blogs.  Plus, I can check for new posts and comments here at IB. Plus, I can peruse news feeds from Reuters, AP, BBC, NYT, MSNBC, etc. to see if there is any breaking news that interests me.  Plus, I can get the most recent Snopes article about whether the most recent internet rumor is true or not, and Encyclopedia Brittanica on what happened fify years ago today, and what's up with Spurs basketball and Michigan football, and so forth. On one page.

The feeds generally lag on hour or so behind the actual websites, but that is a minor matter compared to the huge convenience of having it all in one place and not constantly clicking all over the web to see if anything new has been posted.

Long story short, if you have not yet investigated using an RSS feed aggregator, you should do so.  It's well worth the few hours you will invest.

Frijoles Juderia (Jewish Beans – a Spanish Recipe) May 29, 2006

Posted by Michael in Food.
4 comments

I just love to get my whole neighborhood smelling like mesquite smoke.  The smoke is produced by Mr. Lamm's Heavy Metal Texas Barbecue, which was welded for me by Charles Lamm in his barn outside of San Antonio, and subsequently imported into Ohio by me. Last night we had lamb chops.  Tonight it was a more conventional meal of burgers and chicken.  The side dishes tonight were beans and Insalata Caprese (tomatoes, mozarella cheese, fresh basil, balsamic vinagrette).

Mrs. Michael always has great side dishes to go with barbecue.  A couple of weeks ago I posted her Cowboy Casserole.  Here's another one that we had about a week ago.  Mrs. Michael kind of made it up based on this dish we had several times in Spain.  It works fine as a main dish, especially for an impoverished student on a budget (Hi Gabriel). 

By Mrs. Michael in her own words:

Frijoles Juderia  (Jewish Beans) by Mrs. Michael  Back in the early 1990’s Michael and I trekked through Spain for about 3 weeks and enjoyed some wonderful, simple food in the little local restaurants.  The most memorable for me was Jewish Beans.  This simple food was served with fresh bread and local red wine for about $5.00 (U.S. equivalent) per person.  The wine was always served in a pottery pitcher, so we purchased a similar pottery pitcher just to help us remember this great culinary experience.  This recipe is adapted to meet our personal palettes while trying to capture the flavors I remember tasting.  The dish we were served usually had a variety of beans and sausages in it – but beans used were similar to white beans, navy beans, large Lima, or pinto.  I don’t really know what kind of beans or sausage they were using – but you can take your pick from your favorite kind of bean – just make sure that the bean will absorb the flavors of the rest of the ingredients. Black Eyed Peas are also a good choice! 

1-pound package of dry beans of your choice

2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2-3 small yellow onions, finely chopped

1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes, chopped

1 ham hock

Salt

Pepper

Comino

Chili Powder

Dry Basil 

Allow dry beans to soak in COLD WATER for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Beans will usually double or triple in volume during this time.  Rinse beans in fresh water and put in a pot on the stove submerging them with water.  DO NOT SALT THE WATER – since it can make the beans tough!  Add the chopped celery, carrots and onions to the water, making sure that you submerge all ingredients in water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 ½ to 2 hours until tender, with pot lid slightly ajar. Check and make sure that you add more water if necessary to keep beans from drying out. (If you have a slow cook pot this would be a good time to use it allowing the beans to continue cooking for a several hours.)  When beans are completely tender, add the stewed tomatoes, ham hock, salt, pepper, comino, chili powder and dry basil to taste and continue cooking until flavors are absorbed into beans – maybe another hour.  Remove entire ham hock from pot, so that the meat can be rendered from the bone, skin and fat.  Cut meat into small pieces and return to stew pot.

Serve with bread, wine, and grilled sausage if desired. 

Yum! 

Silicon Valley Fight Club May 29, 2006

Posted by Michael in Crime.
6 comments

Are you in the mood for a good old fashioned ass-whuppin'? 

Two men fight each other in Menlo Park

Gints Klimanis, left, attacks Milt Tinkoff with a knee while they fight with sticks at the Gentleman's Fighting Club in Menlo Park, Calif., last month. "You get to be a superhero for a night," Klimanis said of the club's appeal.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Maybe I'm just a wuss.  Some people seem to enjoy getting the crap beat out of them

 

By Jordan Robertson 

Updated: 2 hours, 57 minutes ago

MENLO PARK, Calif. – They may sport love handles and Ivy League degrees, but every two weeks some Silicon Valley techies turn into vicious street brawlers in a real-life, underground fight club.

Kicking, punching and swinging every household object imaginable — from frying pans and tennis rackets to pillowcases stuffed with soda cans — they beat each other mercilessly in a garage in this bedroom community south of San Francisco.

Then, bloodied and bruised, they limp back to their desks in the morning.

Can't they just be a D&D freak?

I guess not:

Men involved in fight clubs often carry bottled-up violent impulses learned in childhood from video games, cartoons and movies, said Michael Messner, a University of Southern California sociology and gender studies professor.

"Boys have these warrior fantasies picked up from popular culture, and schools sort of force that out of them," he said. In these fantasies, "The good guys always resort to violence, and they always get the glory and the women."

There is also a sadomasochistic thread running through underground fight clubs, said Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York.

"Real-life fight clubs are the male version of the girls who cut themselves," he said. "All day long these guys think they're the captains of the universe, technical wizards. They're brilliant but empty.

"They want to feel differently. They want to get hit, they want to feel something real."

They need to feel something real?  Um, I'm guessing they don't have girlfriends.

The first rule of Silicon Valley fight club is … – Tech News & Reviews – MSNBC.com

One Helluva Deal! May 29, 2006

Posted by skinbad in Personal Experiences.
12 comments

Just got back from a Wal-Mart run for Walls of Water. We had snow yesterday and are  trying to salvage some tomato and pepper plants. Passing the chip aisle, I noticed a large sign:

Lays 2 for $4

My wife gave me the "don't even start" look. But I enjoyed the sign so much I had to share. So there. Watch out for falling prices.

We also have 16 baby ducks. Duck blogging to come!

Hello Bangalore . . . May 29, 2006

Posted by Michael in Personal Experiences.
5 comments

I know I have expressed a tolerant attitude about outsourcing in the past, but I'm having second thoughts. 

My DSL service went out today after a 1-second power outage, so I called customer support.  First I talked to a computer about who I was, and what my problem was, and whether I would wait for a line test (voice recognition technology is great these days).  Then I got routed to this nice guy in India. Long story short, this guy, and about 4 other of his Indian compadres that I subsequently tried, kept telling me that I needed to put a filter on my DSL line. 

I kept telling them that this was impossible.  With no filter, my DSL service has worked fine for five years.  My DSL line and all the phones in my house work off a new Nortel Norstar system in the basement.  The DSL line is a separate twisted pair coming off the Norstar.  All my inside wiring off that Norstar is new.  The DSL line can't be getting interference from the fax or phones in the house.  I went to the basement just to look at the spaghetti (fortunately the installer did a great job of labelling) in order to make sure that the DSL line was separate from the other dozen lines in my home (I have phones everywhere).  In short, the power outage must have caused a problem. 

None of this did any good.  Their script told them I should buy a line filter, and they were not going to change their story.

After a few hours I gave up and went to Best Buy and bought a filter.  I had to go out for cigarettes anyway.

Then I called India again (after again having my little conversation with the computer).  With some glee, I told the next Indian that I had a filter.  I told the guy it made things worse.  Finally, I was transferred to line maintenance. 

Donna! An American!!! Donna asked a few questions and listened to my description of the system.  She apologized about the frickin' filter and asked me to take it off the line ($15 down the toilet).  Donna then explained to me that a power outage sometimes causes my router to lose the username and password.  I happen to know my username and password for the router, so she walked me through how to reset the router, and I was back online.  All this took about 8 minutes.  Best of all, Donna gave me her phone number so I don't have to deal with India the next time I have a problem.

God bless you, Donna. 

Indonesia quake toll tops 5,000 May 29, 2006

Posted by Michael in News.
1 comment so far

Seriously, in the last couple of years how many of you have wondered if the end times are actually upon us?

By Achmad Sukarsono 1 hour, 7 minutes ago

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Aid trickled in on Monday for survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people on Indonesia's Java island, but tens of thousands of homeless foraged on their own in heavy rain for food and shelter.

Many survivors who were injured or whose homes were destroyed by the quake prepared to spend a third night in the open on the grounds of hospitals and mosques or in makeshift shelters beside the rubble of their houses.

The 6.3 magnitude quake's official death toll reached 5,136, according to the government's Social Affairs Department, though the governors of the two affected provinces, Central Java and Yogyakarta, put the figure at a lower 4,395.

Indonesia quake toll tops 5,000 – Yahoo! News

Teens Arrested in MySpace Extortion Scam May 28, 2006

Posted by Retired Geezer in Crime, Websites.
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Slashdot | Teens Arrested in MySpace Extortion Scam
Two New York teens have been arrested after trying to extort $150,000 from the makers of MySpace, the popular online community site.”

Pupster the Ohio Lurker Speaks Out May 28, 2006

Posted by Michael in Lurkers.
55 comments

First, a little background information.  The Sitemeter shows me IP addresses of the people who visit Innocent Bystanders, and it flags IP addresses that are geographically proximate to me with a red asterisk.  So I tend to notice.  There are only a few, and they are all lurkers.

One of them showed up today.  He visits here regularly, and has now identified himself as Pupster (he also gave me his real name).  He didn't show up in a comment thread, but in my email inbox.  I found this interesting, because he had a comment he wanted to share, but was reticent to post it on a thread because it's controversial, and probably because he couldn't find a relevant thread.  So he left it up to me to decide whether to post it.  I give him major points for courtesy.

Pupster addresses the topic that is the third rail of American politics:

Michael,

A few months ago on I-270, I passed a large panel truck with big color pictures of aborted fetuses and anti-abortion messages on it's back and sides.  The pictures made me ill.  Very gory, close up hands, faces, feet in piles of bloody meat with quarters in the picture to show the scale.  The more I thought about it, the madder I got.  What if my sons (8 & 10 yrs) were in the car with me?

I saw two trucks a few weeks ago, slowly driving around the North Market.  I was with a client having lunch, and there were children on the patio.  No one made a big deal.

Today, there is a FUCKING AIRPLANE flying around Westerville, towing a big picture of a quarter next to a bloody arm.  The text beneath it reads in big read letters "STOP THE WAR" and in smaller black letters "10 week Abortion" and a 1-877 number.

I found their website (main page has color pictures of an aborted baby, don't go there with a weak stomach) http://www.cbrinfo.org  "The Center for Bio-ethical Reform".  I left after a few clicks, they seem to be rather litigious, defending their tactics as free speech. 

I am pro-life, and strongly believe in free speech.  I lean pretty hard right politically, libertarian without the crazy.  How are these messages not "Fire in a crowded theater" unlawful?  You can't show certain adult nude body parts on trucks and billboards, but you can show dead mangled babies?  I do not want children exposed to these images.  Is there anything that can be done, in your opinion as an attorney? 

Feel free to post this, or use it in any way you wish, including ignoring it.  I don't want to generate any more publicity for this group, but it's your comments page.  IB is great fun for me, it's perfect as a "breather" between the political blogs I read.

Thanks,

Pupster

You asked a fair question, Pupster, and I'll give you an honest answer. No, I don't think there is anything that can be done.  Those images are not going to cause a stampede for the exits, nor are they pornographic.  They are protected by the First Amendment.

More to the point, I don't want anything to be done.  The traditional mass media is entirely aligned towards promoting a licentious and irresponsible sexuality in our culture that leads to the abomination of mass abortions in our midst, practiced as if it were just the removal of warts.  So, a few people are fighting back with graphic images on the sides of trucks or towed by planes.  God bless them.  If people are offended — they should be.  If kids are freaked out — they should be.

I understand your concern.  My kids are full grown, so I have the luxury of not having to deal with the specific situation that concerns you as a father.  But when I weigh the offense given against the issue at stake, I say, God bless them.

Thanks for sharing your perspective.

P.S.  Feel free to post a comment some time.  If you are not sure what to say, I have prepared a selection of IB-appropriate comments here to assist lurkers who want to get started.  And check out the thread, it's one of the funniest that has appeared on this site.

RSS Reader for Macs May 27, 2006

Posted by Retired Geezer in Commenting Tips, Websites.
9 comments

Since we are unable to show more than 5 Recent Comments, using our current template, I was missing some of the comments on the hot threads.

I found the solution (for Macs) at keeto.net/feed
It automatically lists All new comments. Now I don't miss any Wisdom. 

You PC users probably know how to use the RSS reader located in the right sidebar.

I think you just drag it to your bookmarks. 

Who here uses Macs? 

Where Art Thou, Jimmy? May 27, 2006

Posted by harrison in History, Humor, Politics.
3 comments

I loves me some tasteless humor.

Via Protein Wisdom.

Update: It would seem that The Boston Globe (owned by the NYT) has thrown up the registration wall. Bastiches!

Go read Jeff instead. He's much better. 

Jesse MacBeth: From War Criminal to Comedy Gold May 27, 2006

Posted by Michael in Humor.
3 comments

The fake Ranger and self-confessed perpetrator of mass murders that never occurred has completed his journey from outrageous to pathetic to hilarious.

WuzzaDem: Jesse MacBeth: On The Job

Iowahawk: Guest Commentary by Jesse MacBeth