Robot Journalists? Yes in USA, press stories are now produced automatically.
Tomi Ahonen writing in one of my favorite tech blogs Communities Dominate Brands reveals a fascinating little tidbit:
... a story entitled "Need for speed sees computers writing the news". The Financial Times discusses Thomson Financial of the USA, and since March the financial analysis company has been releasing news stories written completely by computer, based on the quarterly reports press releases from the various American corporations.
Of course, we bloggers have been wise to this method for a long time.
As anyone who has ever had one can tell you, the experience of running a popular blog/online journal is a double-edged sword.
While it may be gratifying to know your words are viewed by hundreds or even thousands of readers per day, the challenge of developing fresh content on a regular basis remains a constant struggle for even the most creative of souls.
In the cut throat world of online writing, every blogger is only as good as his last update.
You have a life. AutoBlogger helps you live it.
What is AutoBlogger?
AutoBlogger is a powerful content-authoring software tool designed for online columnists and bloggers. Upon installation, AutoBlogger uses a sophisticated Artificial Intelligence algorithm to 'read' the public entries of your journal/blog to triangulate a sense of your writing style. From that point forward, any time you hit a writer's block, want to take a vacation, or simply wish to step away from your computer for a few days, AutoBlogger can be set to take over, using what it has learned about your posting and writing patterns to author original content in a voice consistent with your existing prose.
AutoBlogger frees the busy blogger to a life outside computers, by giving your readers the impression you are constantly online.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Robot Journalists? Yes in USA, press stories are now produced automatically.
Last week, Katherine Coble asked the question: Why blog?
There have been a lot of questions raised in various parts of the blogosphere about why one should blog.
Malia jump started the conversation by sharing:
For the most part, with a few exceptions from time to time, what I write here, I write for me. Yes, it's cool to get comments but I try to not freak when a post goes by without anyone commenting on it. Yes, it's impossible to write any of this without an audience in mind but I try not to let that censor me (at least not too much).
She says a lot more, all of it very good. Why do you blog? What do you hope to accomplish? Fame? Fortune? Venting?
Me, personally, I just get tired of yelling at the TV...
I responded with my reasons: I started blogging as a way to pass away the long evening and weekend hours while commuting between Raleigh and Nashville. After viewing 186 Netflix movies to kill the time, blogging seem to be a better use of passing away the three week intervals between home in Nashville and work in NC than TV, working 80 hours at the cube farm or passing out from reading books.
The blogging community in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill met every Wednesday at a local bar, so I had some good influence to prod me along.
Other than that, I love the community of bloggers here in Nashville and will never give that up.
And now, I will add another reason - it's a blessing.
About two years ago, I worked professionally with a gentleman - David - in the Palm operating software space. Later as part of a sales incentive campaign where the company I worked for awarded a "decaffeinated" cruise to the Caribbean to the best of the best software developers, David's company was part of the trip.
David was a guest speaker on the cruise speaking on the compelling subject of the intricacies of (cue the sound of crickets) the Palm handheld operating system. However, he captured the attention of those present, in part by picking up the microphone, stepping in front of the podium and amazing effectiveness with his mastery of PowerPoint. Here's a guy that DID NOT READ his slides word for word! His secret? "If I have 20 slides with three bullet points each and twenty minutes to speak, then I figure I have a minute each to spend on each slide, so I just pick one bullet point and talk about that and then move on to the next slide. People can read faster than I can talk." From that insight, I myself have become a much better PowerPoint presenter.
My family spent some time together with David, his wife Katherine, their family and parents as well. If my memory serves me right, the last time I saw David and Katherine was at a conference in San Jose where they shared that they were moving to France. We prayed together and I shared a blessing over them for nothing but God's best. Of course, as life would have it, busyness sets in, time flies by and I lost touch with them for probably two years. Last week I get an email:
Surprise, Kerry! I didn't know you blogged until I stumbled upon one of your comments. Followed the link over here.
I thought this meme was quite cool, so you can find my link in the chain.
Katherine (of David, Katherine, Jason and Emily on the cruises)
Think about the process of reconnecting via a blog... from France to England to Shaun Groves's blog via a monitor meme at TNChick to reconnecting with some precious people is truly a blessing of blogging.
Reading through Katherine's blog - http://30seconds.blogs.com I'm catching up on their challenges of living in France, the beautiful pictures, the washing of God's Word and application of Scripture in her postings and the move from France to England. What a great way to reconnect! Technology is a wonderful thing - and as Katherine says, "Welcome to the party!"
Jade Pegler - Round the Double Bind
After reading Kat Coble's posting today, it struck a nerve with me as she addressed the "this constant attempt to establish "worth".
I'm recalling a lot of my mental notes when I use to spend a lot of time during my five years at Promise Keepers speaking to men's groups, leaders of men and pastors about building effective strategies of men's ministries in the context of the local church. How does a man change in the context of a conformity environment and a transformational environment? One will sustain a man; the other will spiritually sink him.
Here are some of those notes:
In my response (with my experience with ministry to men), I have come to understand as a general tendency, most men derive their value from (1) what they do for a living (2) what they own (3) and who they know. I understand that men are looking for meaningful relationships - but placing friendships in these compartments are more easily managed. Trying to establish relationships can be difficult as we are not generally bent that way to be relational as women are.
Many men tend to place highest value on rules and principles. Women tend to place highest value on relationships. The challenge is cultivating meaniful relationships.
There are 3 Levels of Friendships:
1) Casual - The casual group represents your acquaintances.
2) Committed - The committed friend is one who cultivates your friendship.
3) Covenant - The covenant relationship represents those few people in your life who will always be there for you.
I recalled a book written by Rod Cooper: Double Bind: Escaping the Contradictory Demands of Manhood. Dr. Cooper was on staff at Promise Keepers in a Educational capacity, facilitating men's ministry currculum for the local church, notably two seminars: Building Men of Integrity and Foundations for Effective Men's Ministry.
Rather than spend the two hours rummaging through the boxes in my garage to locate my copy, I'm trying to find this apparently out of print book online - Amazon doesn't even carry it. Sigh.
Here's the editorial premise of the book:
"If you're like most men, cultural demands have turned you into an emotional chameleon. You're expected to be aggressive at work, yet nurturing at home; guarded in public, but sensitive in private.
Dr. Rodney Cooper calls such contradictory demands "double binds" - no-win situations men face every day, such as: A man's identity is reduced to the roles he plays rather than who he really is - but he can't adequately fulfill his roles without a firm sense of his true identity. The man who provides for his family hears complaints that his job keeps him from giving more of himself to his wife and children. The husband who spends all his spare time with his wife, as society expects, forfeits the benefits of friendships with other men. Men caught in double binds expend their energy trying to be everything to everyone. Consequently, they never dig deep into the heart of masculinity to discover for themselves their true identity and the freedom it brings.
Fortunately, there's a way to break free from the double binds in your life. Drawing on Dr. Cooper's experience as a professional counselor to men, Double Bind first explores the most prevalent double binds men face today - including the crucial Identity Double Bind - and points to a proven path for resolving each one. Then it reveals biblical principles for living the Abundant Life: a life characterized by peace and assurance, grounded in a clear understanding of who you are and Whose you are."
There are 14 binds that Dr. Cooper addresses - here are two:
The Breadwinner Bind
To be an acceptable husband and father the adult male is taught that he must provide his family with the best life possible. He will be admired and praised for being a good provider and a capable competitor. In the process of striving to make the "good life" a reality, he will be confronted by the complaints by his intimates that he is not involved enough with them, that he is always too busy or too tired. He will also accuse and question himself, as he succumbs to the compulsive, never-ending routines required for material survival, routines that make involvement with his family increasingly more difficult.
Either way he loses:
a. If he is a hard worker, he may be resented by his intimates for being a neglectful fmaily man and for having his values out of place.
b. On the other hand, if he withdraws from the rat race, he will compare himself and be compared by his family unfavorably with those who "make it."
The Health Bind
As a boy, the male is taught that it is non-masculine to complain about physical symptoms and illness. "Real men" do not give into their bodily ills and injuries unless the symptoms are severe. Being concerned with health and the body is considered weak, self-indulgent, or hypochondriac behavior. At the same time, he is bombarded about health and physical fitness.
Either way he loses:
a. If he is sensitive to body distress signals, takes good care of himself, goes to bed when fatigued or not feeling well, and refuses to work under those conditions his masculinity may be questioned.
b. On the other hand, if he ignores body signals, takes it "like a man", rises above his injuries, and pushes himself until he is forced to stop, he will be considered brave but he may thereby lay the foundations for chronic illness and early death.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
...now playing at the Radio Shack.
RadioShack Corp. notified about 400 workers by e-mail that they were being dismissed immediately as part of planned job cuts.
Employees at the Fort Worth headquarters got messages Tuesday morning saying: "The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately, your position is one that has been eliminated."
I don't know if songwriters have a issue when they finally hit the big time with having their song recorded only to be misunderstood by a mish mashed vocal.
It's all in the ear of the beholder - as long as the royalty checks roll in, it may come with the territory.
There's even a database - The Archive of Misheard Lyrics
Some of my favorites:
Kenny Rogers "Lucille" / "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille. 400 Children and a crop in the fields"
Steve Miller Band "Jet Airliner" / "Ego Jan and the Rhino"
Sir Douglas Quintet "She's About A Mover" / "She's a Bottom Mover"
Billy Joel "You May Be Right" / "You make the rice, I'll make the gravy"
Jimmy Buffett "Margaritaville" / "Stepped on a Pop-Tart"
Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" / "We got the Flintstone Microwave Ovens"
Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water" / "Slow talkin' Walter, the fire engine guy"
Elvis Presley "Suspicious Minds" / "Calling a trout"
Police "Message In A Bottle" / "I'll send an SOS to a squirrel"
Elton John "Tiny Dancer" / "Hold me closer, Tony Danza"
Paul Young "Everytime You Go Away" / "Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you"
Steppenwolf "Born to be Wild" / "I like smoking ice cream"
Maria Muldaur "Midnight At the Oasis" / "Midnight after you're wasted"
Creedence Clearwater Revival "Bad Moon Rising" / "There's a bathroom on the right"
Bachman Turner Overdrive "Takin' Care of Business" / "Baking carrot biscuits"
Temptations "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" / "And when he died, all he left us was a lawn"
Santana "Oye Como Va" / "I live on your block"
Merrilee Rush "Angel of the Morning" / "Just cross my feet before you leave me"
Merrilee Rush "Angel of the Morning" / "Just smash my jeep before you leave me"
Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight" / "Pineapples in Flight"
MC Hammer "Can't Touch This" / "King Tut Says"
Jimi Hendrix "Purple Haze" / "Excuse me while I kiss this guy"
Van McCoy "The Hustle" / "Use the hacksaw!"
Bee Gees "More Than A Woman" / "Bald-headed woman"
Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes" / "She's got 30 days to die"
Bob Seger "Night Moves" / "Working on a knife wound"
J Geils Band "Freeze Frame" / "Flea Spray"
Who "Pinball Wizard" / "A pinball wizard's got suction cups for wrists"
John Travolta "You're the One That I Want" / "I got shoes, they're made of plywood"
Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" / "Good, good, good, goodbye raisins"
Culture Club "Karma Chameleon" / "Become a comedian"
Bruce Springsteen "Hungry Heart" / "Everybody's got a hungry horse"
Our local station's moniker is First - Fast - Accurate
Today's CNN broadcast was the ultimate faux pas.
A broadcasting FIRST: CNN was showing footage of President Bush addressing the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina when audio was mixed in from anchor Kyra Phillips. She was talking to another CNN staff member in the CNN ladies restroom, and somebody was "zipping up".
Maybe ACCURATE: On the audio Kyra Phillips lays into her sister-in-law...
Could have been FASTER: Anchor Daryn Kagan jumps in to transistion the lowlight of Kyra Phillips career.
Kyra: That's how you figure it all out. Mom's got a good vibe?
Kyra: He's married, three kids, but his wife is just a control freak..
Kyra: Yeah baby...
Woman: Your mic is on...
Kagan: All right, we've been listening in to President Bush as he speaks...
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The Tennessee Titans are going to chase off quarterback Billy Volek in the same dishonoring fashion they did with Steve McNair with the signing of veteran Kerry Collins to compete at the QB position. Clearly Billy can't catch a break, having turn down an opportunity to back up Michael Vick in Atlanta years ago to eventually inherit the Titans starting position.
The Titans front office bring in Collins to provide veteran backup and to "coach" Vince Young. However, Collins has made it clear that he doesn't intend to be a backup. If he quickly grasps the offense, look for Collins to be the starter while Vince Young steps into that role next season.
Billy Volek according to Sports Illustrated's report:
The six-year veteran was given the starting job when Steve McNair was traded away in June. Now Volek doesn't sound very happy at the prospect that he hasn't done enough to earn the job despite throwing for more yards in his first 10 NFL starts than any other quarterback since 1970.
"I guess they want a quarterback who's perfect in every throw and every read, and that's going to be hard to find," he said. "I guess they're unhappy with my production. It's hard when you're only getting a quarter a game.
"And when you get two quarters in a game last Saturday against Atlanta and throw for 140 yards and they're still disappointed in you. I don't quite understand it. Like I said, it's out of my control. Everyone knows I like to push the ball down the field. That's what I'm good at."
I have always thought that Billy Volek would polish his stats with a one year audition to increase his appeal as a starting QB for a different team next year. Here's my assessment: Billy will be gone (along with the hefty salary) or ask to be traded very soon. Teams that he could land at?
Adam Schefter provides reports and commentaries via NFL.com and he writes about the state of quarterback needs / status around the National Football League:
"Now that the Jets have named Chad Pennington their starting quarterback for the regular-season opener at Tennessee, the questions shift to which will stick to the roster.
How about all? The Jets are so spooked from losing as many quarterbacks as they did last season that they now are expected to carry four quarterbacks on their roster -- Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger.
Maybe it's a smart decision, too. If the Jets were to cut Bollinger, chances are he could sign with a quarterback-needy team, such as San Diego, Indianapolis, Cleveland or San Francisco. But the Jets aren't going to give any other team that chance. They intend to carry four quarterbacks, even though it will cost them another player at another position.
SAN DIEGO'S FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
San Diego's roster is loaded with talent. But its quarterbacks are loaded with inexperience.
The Chargers top two quarterbacks, Philip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst, have thrown 30 combined NFL passes. With A.J. Feeley cut earlier this week, the Chargers will turn to Whitehurst as Rivers' backup.
San Diego intends to scour the waiver wire after the final cuts for a veteran quarterback, but even then, there are no assurances that the Chargers will sign one. They might, but they might not. For now, the plan is to have Rivers start and Whitehurst back him up.
TEAMS IN NEED
Clearly the Chargers aren't the only team seeking more quarterback help. On Aug. 29, the 49ers cut veteran Jesse "The Bachelor" Palmer and claimed Gibran Hamdan off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. Hamdan was an NFL Europe all star, and he's one of football's real good guys. But now the Niners need him to be a real good quarterback."
My prediction: Billy Volek will end up at Oakland or San Francisco as a starting QB. I just can't see him as a Titan anymore.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I photographed this Catholic Church outside of Sulphur, La - for me it serves as a memory of lives that could have been spared had leadership been present.
"Imagine that more than half of all the homes in your city were destroyed. Moldering, decaying. Imagine that all the friends and neighbors that lived in those homes were scattered across thousands of miles. Imagine all the history of your life, your family's life, the culture that you breathed in, muddied and torn.
You'd be depressed right? Sad? Stressed? Maybe even suicidal? I would be. I'm thousands of miles away, and I am."
- clayton james cubitt's Operation Eden
Hurricane Katrina: What went wrong
A perfect storm of factors contributed to the unprecedented U.S. disaster
Christy over in Chapel Hill, NC makes mention of newhope church, where I attended during my commute between Raleigh and Nashville:
On August 1st, demolition will begin on our church building. While it doesn't actually belong to us, we've been using it for 2 1/2 years now. Our church [newhope church] has grown by leaps and bounds since we moved there. And some of my friends have been married there.
But now it's been bought by a man living in the Gimghoul neighborhood and he's decided to demolish the church and use the land to build his retirement home.
Does anyone else think this is just plain wrong? Can you seriously tear down an active church to build a retirement home? I know that the church is not a building, it's the people. And we, the people, will move this week to our new home in Durham as we build our first building. But it just seems wrong.
Does it seem wrong to you? The building was owned by the Catholic Diocese and was offered to newhope for purchase. However the Gimghoul historic neighborhood went to the planning commission and opposed the sale, citing use of a portion of the property used for student parking as inappropriate. The church property is next door to the University of North Carolina (UNC TarHeels) Chapel Hill. By disallowing the use of the land for student parking, the lack of revenue stream for the growing congregation would put a damper on ongoing finances, thus discouraging the potential sale for any church to assume the property. (Love thy neighbor anyway...)
However, long story short - the church has been gifted with a great piece of property to build on for the future called Legacy of Hope.
Couldn''t happen to a greater bunch of folks.
Other links regarding:
Denver church condo
Churches for sale
WKRN this past Saturday conducted a four-hour Video Editing 101 course as part of their commitment to citizen journalism. I was there just to take pictures, as I didn't secure the necessary clearance to be gone the entire day. Always good to see some good friends and meet new folks as well.
I have the WKRN Class Flickr Set up here
Kathy T live blogged the class with additional photos, Kevin had some angst and of course, what would school be like without some pre class shenanigans courtesy of Blake Wiley!
... is my zero tolerance policy.
After a long eight hours of planting three plants... Why eight hours?
1) Gather the tools
2) Pull weeds
2) Dig the holes (avoid rock at all costs)
4) Fill with dirt
and repeat x number of plants.
1) Cut grass
2) Clean up mess
3) Dispose of trash and/or debris
4) Put back tools
5) Call it a day.
Eight hours later, I've gone from one end of the house to the other with a total lawn and weed removal makeover.
This planting cycle happens to me monthly. But the effort gives a good curb appeal, allows me to keep up with the Jones' next door and advances the cause of world peace, because when momma is happy, the whole world is happy.
However, I have zero tolerance for accidently walking into tree branches six feet off the ground. Makes the old noggin hurt and is embarassing when others start laughing. So off with those limbs!
My three goldfish in my MacAquarium died tonight, forever flushed to heaven.
One jumped out of the top sometime tonight and was found dead underneath the tank. The other two died from being relocated to clean water. I knew that something wasn't right seeing them swim sideways. The toxic shock from swimming in their own crud to cleanliness was too much I suppose.
Gee whiz, I feel so irresponsible. Should have gone with a beta fish.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Wasn't the opening introduction to the 58th Annual Emmy Awards hysterical tonight?
Seeing Host Conan O'Brien deadpan his way on the plane crash to the island in "Lost", jumping down the hatch to land on on Dwight's desk in "The Office", dealing with Chloe & Jack on "24", getting a medical exam from a cranky Dr. House, winding up in the closet with Tom Cruise via "South Park" and finally ending up on "NBC Dateline's To Catch A Predator" (conebone69) had me laughing in tears and glued to the set all night!
The musical number was great as well: "We got trouble, right here at NBC, with a capital T and that rhymes with G, as in 'Gee, we're screwed!'"
I really liked the suspense involving Bob Newhart to have me stay the full three hours. This will go down as one of the classic intros to an Awards show - simply brilliant writing!
Here's the full list of winners
My investment in TIVO finally paid off. I'm sure YouTube or iTunes will have this clip up soon -
Saturday, August 26, 2006
How would people react if they found themselves surrounded by people moving forward at a different rate or time (or not moving at all)?
Improv Everywhere, an improvisational acting troupe, invaded a Home Depot.
Here's the mission details. "We would sychronize our watches and then walk over to Home Depot and shop. At exactly 4:15 we would all begin moving in slow motion. We'd do that for five minutes, and then shop normally for five minutes as if nothing had happened. At exactly 4:25 we would all freeze in place for five minutes. When that was over we would go back to normal and eventually leave the store."
Amazingly, about thirty seconds before the freezing in place began, the Home Depot PA system started playing Jewel's 2001 hit, "Standing Still."
Funny stuff with videos and full documentation.
This to me is the perfect example of living (and loving) life with a community of folks for the sake of having fun! Cheers!
Aw-shucks! Ya'll go on!
Yours truly is the Featured Gadgeteer this month over at TheGadgeteer.com
Julie Strietelmeier and Judie Hughes have without question for a number of years done an excellent job of reviewing gadgets, Palm OS and Windows Mobile stuff, laptops, accessories and more. I always turn to The-Gadgeteer site to give me a base line of what to look for in a practical aspect and perpective for all things gadget related. You owe to yourself to bookmark their site www.the-gadgeteer.com if you have any interest in gadgets and even accessory related stuff like clothing and carrying bags.
Here's my story and I'm sticking to it:
"Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee where the weather is great and the people are friendly! I'm Kerry and yes, I am a gadgeteer. My friends think because of my Asian roots that it is my cultural duty to perpetuate the Asian stereotype with gadgets in hand, which I don't deny... just visit Las Vegas during a Consumer Electronics Show. For me it is almost like having a Roots experience. I've graduated from anything with a power cord attached to wireless and battery powered gadgets."
Read the rest of my story here. I dare you.
You too can be a Gadgeteer! Read other featured gadgeteer stories, and send in YOUR story / pictures for posting! I'm honored to be associated with a great web site. Thanks very much Julie & Judie!
Friday, August 25, 2006
In the Nashville Blogosphere where everybody is talking and no one knows you by your real name, we all know this particular guy that me thinks is going though some melancholy times. Yep, behind that smile and engaging personality, our friend is longing for something more out of life. Some experts like Pat Morley that understand how men are wired say there are seven seasons of a man's life:
The Season of Reflection, Building, Crisis, Renewal, Rebuilding, Suffering and Success. But that sounds depressing even to me.
There are plenty of books out there on how men live out their lives. For example, I have well meaning friends that try to get me to read "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up" by James Hollis.
Author Hollis writes: "The second half of life presents a rich possibility for spiritual enlargement, for we are never going to have greater powers of choice, never have more lessons of history from which to learn, and never possess more emotional resilience, more insight into what works for us and what does not, or a deeper, sometimes more desperate, conviction of the importance of getting our life back.
What does it really mean to be a grown up in today's world? We generally recognize only three developmental periods of life -- childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. We assume that once we "get it together" with the right job, marry the right person, have children, and buy a home, all is settled and well. But adulthood itself presents varying levels of growth, and is rarely the respite of stability we expected. Turbulent emotional shifts can take place anywhere between the age of thirty-five and seventy when we question the choices we've made, realize our limitations, and feel stuck -- commonly known as the "midlife crisis."
Ok. Moving on...
In 1984 AD, the great poet and philosopher D. Byrne posed the tough question -- how did I get here?
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself - well... how did I get here?
I think it boils down to this: it is a search for significance after years of success. There has got to be more to life than being a successful businessman with a messy desk, shag carpet, having a beautiful soul mate, a big car... heck even riding a MTA bus to demonstrate salt-of-the-earth responsibility or passing a syphilis test; while meaningful, somehow is not lasting.
(Same as it ever was.. same as it ever was... same as it ever was... )
Our friend Smiley (you may know him as CeeElCee, The Amazing Adonis, Hay You, Art E. Choke, The Artful Idea Guy or the Paper Man depending on what day of the week you see him) writes:
"I think it's natural to wish for some sort of immortality to combat the transient nature of our time on earth. I've always wanted to have something named after me.
I donated some money to my old high school to get my name on a brick in the sidewalk, but you can't really find it or read it. When they built a new wing, I inquired as to how much one had to donate to get your name on something and figured out I could afford to get my monikor inscribed on the crank of a pencil sharpener. (Does anybody even use crank pencil sharpeners anymore? Or pencils, for that matter?)"
You can definitely see where this is going. Go there if you must.
The empathy for Smiley was overwhelming!
"That's so sad in a way."
"Oh now stop it."
There were numerous heartfelt offers from far and near ranging from:
"We can refer to all of our STD testing in the future as "Getting Ceeced"....how's that, honey?"
"If you come help me repoint the stone retaining wall in front of my house, I would name that after you!"
and an especially tempting offer that included:
"... undying gratitude, all the buttkissing you could handle for the rest of your life, and a very favorable coed to lunkhead ratio (75%/25%)..."
Well my friend, whatever your heart desires, you got it!
Thanks to some behind the scenes affirmation, investment out of Minneapolis and a devious yellow mind, all you have to do is drive across the Cumberland River and see for yourself.
Forget the MTA bus, let's go there now! Here's To You Mr. CeeElCee!
We were Chappified!
The rest of the story: Tonight, we were heading out for dinner because Mrs. WonderDawg's sister and husband were in town from Atlanta. We had a big evening planned to celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary and Mrs. WonderDawg's birthday! After having such a great experience with Chappy's on Church (previously reviewed here), it was the determined pick, thus reservations were made in advance.
Again, here's the bit of history: "The original Chappy's Seafood Restaurant opened its doors in December of 1984 and remained one of the premier restaurants on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina completely demolished Chappy's restaurant and his home. In June of 2006, Chappy's Seafood Restaurant re-opened as: Chappy's on Church in Nashville, TN."
Our party of five were all jazzed from the previous great dining experience, food and excellent service from our waiter David and the hype that the restaurant was "designed to exude New Orleans charm". My brother-in-law had never dined at Chappy's, so he was hyper to see what all the fuss was about.
We met up at the restaurant at 7:40 pm for our 8:00 reservation for drinks. One of the staff came out and said that we couldn't be seated until 8:15 because there was a big party of fifty being served in the back dining room and all of the waiters were tied up until then. The restaurant was sparse with seated guests, while the rest of other patrons waiting to be seated were waiting at the bar just like us. We noticed that the resources were being overwhelmed with one bartender and the staff scurrying in and out of the kitchen. No problem - we were just jovial being in a celebratory birthday and wedding anniversary mood.
Seated at 8:15, we started with double orders of appetizers - Fried Green Tomatoes and Grilled Barbecue Spice Shrimp, both delicious. Our assistant server made a big deal that whatever we needed - water, bread or drinks, she would be there Johnny-on-the-spot. We never saw her again!
Our waiter was new - and having never worked the floor before, was taking our orders (# 2 of 5) when another staff person came up behind and kept poking him. Without excusing himself, he took off! Ten minutes later, he comes back sweating and apologizing as someone else in the restaurant was either being arrested or having a feigned heart attack. We didn't quite understand what the story was.
Wait! It gets better and/or worse!
We ordered four Grilled Tuna Steaks, as last time it was sushi quality and tender as a filet mignon, a salad and baked potato. At 9:00, the salads came out with no bread, water refills or table cleared; one drink order went unfulfilled and our wine glasses were empty.
At 9:45 (remember we got seated at 8:15), no entrees in sight and the dishes still were not cleared. The table across from us got their food first though they came in later. Our two hours of birthday and wedding festive conversation was quickly running out of celebratory talk - especially when the topics turn to Hillary Clinton, illegal invaders and Ann Coulter. So my brother in law - a well-traveled CEO of a major German auto manufacturer got up and chased down our waiter. We saw him pacing the floor after talking to the rookie waiter - I thought he was blowing off steam before he came back to our table. Nope - he asked for Chappy - the bossman himself.
Apparently, the big party of fifty had a $50 per person tab going that included not only dinner, but also... BIG MISTAKE... a open bar! So they were getting soused on the company dime, running the staff ragged and another BIGGER MISTAKE... not servicing the other tables, i.e. potential repeat customers.
John "Chappy" Chapman, chef and owner stopped by...
"Hello, I'm Richard ______ and we drove up from Atlanta for our wedding anniversary ...."
"So, what's your problem ?!?!"
"Whoa, we just been here two hours..."
"So, what's your problem ?!?! Do you want your food or not ?!?!"
Richard was done when Chef and Owner Chappy walked off - the food came out - we refused it - and at that point (10:00 pm) we were over it. Now we were nice about it - we just got tired of waiting and were completely over it after we witnessed the exchange.
Ten minutes later, we had to hunt our credit card held from the bar. So we paid for what we had as we were not going to accept a free ride - total bill for five included wine, and appetizers - $117.00 plus a modest tip. Mr. Chappy lost out on an additional $100.00 in lost food; $50 for wine; respect from his staff in the way they saw how he treated his customers on the floor in front of other diners and gained a "I am not ever coming back anymore to this place" vibe from me and others. We were sufficently chafed or chapped in the booty by this experience.
So I don't know how Mr. Chappy talks to his customers in Mississippi and I'm sorry for what happened with Hurricane Katrina. But this is Nashville and we have a dining courtesy of "Howdy, good to have you here!" and "ya'll come back now, here?" attitude whether in our homes or a restaurant. Even Walmart says "Welcome!" and hands you a shopping cart.
"Oops, we screwed up - please, I am so sorry - how can we reconcile this?" works on this planet too. Pluto not being a planet must have wacked out the comos at Chappy's restaurant as nothing was working right all night or any bank deposit of karma got washed out to sea during Hurricane Katrina. And this has nothing to do with President Bush, so keep him out of this.
"So, what's your problem ?!?!" doesn't work here or anywhere else for that matter. I think Chappy's bigger problem is going to be figuring out how to get out of the lease with an empty restaurant. Church and 18th might be a good spot for a homegrown BBQ joint. The tragic thing is as we were leaving, the staff was embarrassed - and asking us to please come back and try the restaurant again.
Sorry, everything rises and falls on leadership. And good thing I forgot my camera - I'd been all over the smack down. Thank God the parking valet got it right!
Not the end of the world - we could have been canoeing down the Harpeth River!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Went to the Mothership BBQ for my weekly Thursday get out of the home office excursion. The joint was jumping! The parking lots were full and we had to eat quick so that we wouldn't dominate a table for customers in line.
I had lunch with Kevin Barbieux. Lots of laughs as we talked about journalism, church stuff, use of the seven words you can't say on TV (or medical news) or especially your blog!
Also discussed was the proper way of framing photographs, such as never having a BeeGees LP cover behind subject's head like above... although I personally like the concept of foreign hairdos and will never pass up a shot of someone standing in front of a hanging plant...
While leaving I met Jackson Miller - you run into the nicest people only at the Mothership BBQ.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
... means thumbs up!
Tonite at Chef Yang Restaurant which is a all you can eat crab legs / Chinese / Sushi buffet restaurant, my daughter overheard a party of four walking in as we were exiting, "This restaurant must be good, if Asians eat here!"
I'm so honored.
I just gutted another Macintosh and being somewhat restless, I'm going to NOT build another Mac Aquarium. Been there done that mode of thinking.
Rather, I'm going back to being Mr. Natural and enjoy the pleasures of my youth... all that to say, I'm building a Mac Ant Farm! Growing up I was memerized by these industrious little creatures. I remember having one of these kits.
I hope I'm not having a mid life crises by revisiting my youth, but if I am indeed, then this little project will be much more fun that scooting around town in a little red Miata.
More Ant Farm Kits.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The premise is simple: As the ad copy says: "NETGEAR's Wireless Digital Music Player connects your existing home stereo to your home computer network so you can listen to your MP3 and Windows Media format digital music files - with the great sound quality of your stereo speakers - wherever you like to relax and entertain."
It's a great concept, but not as easy as it seems -
I was the lucky recipient of this player sometime last year as part of a digital home makeover. All I was vying for was a black cap, so it was quite a surprise to win a RANGEMAX WIRELESS ACCESS POINT, a storage unit and other accessories.
Long story short, I set up the software on my Windows XP box; it then pulls in all of the available MP3s creating a massive digital jukebox. So I plug this unit in, hook it up to my stereo in the living room and after countless tries and three weeks worth of tinkering, I could never get this unit to work as intended. Since the unit was trying to play songs wirelessly via the Windows PC unit, the playback would start out nice and then run into a series of digital "skipping" or "hiccups".
It was then I had a technical and yet practical, epiphany moment! Why go to all of this technical trouble to play songs from my PC when I can listen to them sitting at the PC! I mainly work now from the Apple iMac where there are 9600 items in the iTunes library so I have another music source to listen from. Since the Wireless Digital Music Player unit runs through the stereo, why bother? I have all of my CD collection there along with the DirecTV music channels to choose from.
Please don't get me started on the customer support! I talked to a guy in India for 90 minutes; after we frustrated each other, he decided to get rid of me by sending me a new replacement unit which explained the three weeks that I fooled around with this device.
So without sounding like an ungrateful IGMO for winning this nice prize worth $90.00, it now sits on top of the TV as a techno shrine to an idea that doesn't quite work. I really think it's the Media Server software as it has a hard time making a network connection, bloats the Windows XP computer, locks up and sucks up a lot of bandwidth, especially if other computers are on line via wifi.
I haven't given up on it - I could run CAT cable to the unit as a direct connection, but for the reasons above, why bother. I'm positive it will work, but if it does, I have to drill holes in the floor and route the cable in the crawl space. I've got all kinds of wires underneath the house already with phone lines, cable and electrical running all over the place.
For more info: NetGear Digital Music Players
Only in Texas comes the epic tale of the Giant Burger....
"Backyard cookouts are a deep-rooted tradition kept by the hard-working people of this country through the hot summer months when family and friends escape the hot kitchen and arrange chairs around a fire to partake in the cooking and eating of fire-grilled food. These events are not meek gatherings. There are no tea sets or linen cloths or martini glasses; these men and women carry the pride of a powerful nation in their hearts and when they turn their energy toward friends, food, and drink, the simple beauty of sharing food and fire is revealed. In celebration of our success as individuals and as a collective group we have brought the art of grilling to a new level. We have created the Giant Burger."
See (and taste) the thrilling conclusion of the Giant Burger story here with tons of photos.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Tennessee Titans held their last open to the public practice at Baptist Sports Park today with an emphasis on rebounding from Saturday's preseason 35 - 10 shellacking from the Denver Broncos.
I got to watch up close 11 on 11 drills with QB Billy Volek tossing two touchdown passes to tight end Ben Troupe and QB Vince Young getting a fair amount of snaps in.
Punter Craig Hentrich was booming the football as PacMan Jones was on the fielding end of the punts.
The turnout was large as many Titan fans turned out to get an autograph from rookie QB Vince Young. After practice, Vince stopped over and signed every last autograph request on both sides of the practice field.
After Vince signed my football, I saw him talk to every fan as he signed shirts, football cards, even a guitar and Texas helmet! He definately made an impact with the eager fans and will endear himself to the fan base for years to come by his demeanor and attitude.
Check out the Wonderdawg flickr set for more photos of today's practice. Go Titans!
After a period of busyness and multiple distractions, I have finally finished pimping my Macintosh Plus into a working aquarium with three goldfish.
Last night, I search around for some spare album covers to use for a background against the case... but went the lazy route and used three sheets of greenish stationary paper of a garden background. I'll have to search for some art that will give the background a more visual "pop".
I decided to go cheap on the budget by seeing how these .29 cents goldfish do before I go full tilt boogie with the pumps, filter and more exotic and expensive fish. I make the goldfish sound like they're the lower end of the food chain, so I'm sorry if any fish aficionados are offended. At the least, there are no cats present!
Once the tank was filled with rocks and water, the computer case was heavy to move! The front casing was hard to put back on because of the bowing on the bottom of the shell from the weight.
I'll probably build another one shortly since I have the glass, three more Macintoshs and the know how to assemble another one quickly.
Overall, it was fun and relatively easy to build. $25.00 for the glass, $10.00 for the silicon glue, recycling an old Macintosh and my time was all it took! I just knew that twenty two years later, these Macs would be useful!
technorati Mac Aquarium
World's First Training Video for Elvis Impersonators Released on DVD
"WELCOME TO ELVIS UNIVERSITY!
Sing LIke the King is jam-packed with proven vocal training exercises, secret techniques, and inside tips that will bring your Elvis illusion to a whole new level. Whether you're a professional Elvis tribute artist - or just want to be the king of karaoke ' this totally unique 'how-to' video is for you. Long Live the King!"
Next time you lose a bet or automatically signed up in your company's talent show, you can depend on a resource that will pay big dividends! To whet your appetite, download the Ten Commandments for Elvis Tribute Artists here!
Yup, many years ago, I worked for a record company where the ten newest employees were automatically signed up for the Christmas talent show. I confess that I did an lip synced impersonation of Elvis' "Blue Christmas" while eating KFC chicken during the instrumental break. I'm discouraged that I have been unable to secure a video clip of my performance. Some smarty pants hid my clothes so I was forced to work the afternoon in my tan Elvis costume. I did like the way the girls fawned over me, although all of them were thity years older than me.
The Tams sang "Be young, be foolish, but be happy" and I would add "go crazy" - I'm think that this Training Video for Elvis Impersonators would make a great gift for _____________ .
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Remember the little nursery rhyme:
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
"That's what you get for jumping on the bed!"
Well here's a web site that celebrates the monkey in most of us - especially jumping on Hotel Beds! Check out www.BedJump.com
"There is something completely intoxicating about today's hotel bed. Plush, deep, luscious, thick... and oh so bouncy. Don't deny yourself the indulgent luxury of taking a running start and launching up over that mattress and box-spring that will surely propel you back up into the stratosphere."
Too much fun! I can't wait until my next business trip to start jumping!
So as Van Halen (not Hagar) advises: You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real... You might as well Jump!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
I took my grand doggie "Diggy" to the micro chipping special at the Nashville Humane Association where for $20.00 a Avid MicroChip ID is injected deeply under the skin. The wait was a bit long - 90 minutes - but for the most part, all the forty plus dogs present were on their best behavior, although some owners made the conscious choice to allow their dogs to leave "souvenirs" on the premises.
So I just found a good place to park ourselves free from landmines in the shade and waited our turn. Once our name was called, it only took five minutes and we were on our way back home.
The lady in line next to me (with her dogs pictured above) told me the procedure is normally a $70.00 to $100.00 cost, so that made the wait worth our time.
If you wanted to make the trip out but didn't, there's another session October 14, at Centennial Park; 11:00am-1:00pm taking place during the Dog Day Festival and Music City Mutt Strutt Dog Walk.
By the way, here's Sam & Lynette's story how you can share the love by adopting an unwanted pet and bring home some much-wanted love. Also read Brittney's story of adopting Cooper here.
Hold your mouth !
A manager at the Burger King on Maryland Avenue in St. Paul says Randy Bailey pulled into the drive-thru lane and demanded an "F------" cheeseburger and a F------ order of fries."
According to criminal records, when employees refused to serve him, Bailey got out of his car and "using his hands, fists and feet as weapons," destroyed the drive-up window, causing more than $1,000 in damage.
Friday, August 18, 2006
In honor of National Homeless Animal Day, you can have your pet microchipped at Nashville Humane Association.
August 19, 2006
Cost is $20.00 including registration
213 Oceola Avenue in West Nashville 37205
(behind Sprintz Furniture on White Bridge Road towards the Charlotte Pike intersection)
Answers to some common questions:
The microchip is smaller than a grain of rice.
It is just like getting a shot and does not hurt your pet.
The chip is inserted between the shoulder blades.
It is administered by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
No appointment necessary.
Without a voice, without a tag, he may never find his way home.....
I adopted a stray dog while commuting in Raleigh, NC and it was a bit nerving to be unable to find the owner of this sweet dog:
I looked for any sign of her rightful owner at nearby apartment complex and grocery store bulletin boards, newspaper ads, neighborhood signs and Craigslist; even called local vets in a 25 mile radius and asked anyone I encountered while walking this dog. If only Bijou (given name) had identifying tags or a microchip! Fortunately, she has a loving family back in North Carolina.
I'm a big Skype user, especially when talking to peers and clients in Africa, Japan, London and even in the US to keep the Cingular cell phone minutes within reason.
Thanks to Mashby, I'm able to use my Treo Bluetooth headset when I'm on Skype. The built-in microphone on the iMac is good, but there is always a lot of ambiant noise plus it's a hassle to plug in the microphone/headset unit I have. Pretty slick actually and easy to set up - just go under the Skype preferences; click on the Blutooth icon in the upper right hand corner and set the menu to "discoverable".
I echo Michael's comments - "What's great about this is that the person I'm talking to can now hear me better without the room's ambient noise. At the same time, I can hear them better as well. My favorite part about doing this on the Mac is that only the Skype/iChat audio is routed to the headset. All other audio plays through the main speakers! Why is that cool? Well, any other sounds, such as music, system sounds, or chat popups and noises don't interfere with the conversation. It's a subtle thing, but it's just another small touch that illustrates why I'm so in love with my new Mac."
"The Concert Ticket Generator lets you create and customize your own authentic-ish concert tickets so that you can brag to your friends about all the great shows you've been to, you pathetic liar.
Actually, it's kind of a fun idea, and might make for a good joke, but don't go thinking you can print off tickets to future shows and get away with it - the TicketBastard watermark might look similar, but it seems unlikely to convince." Thanks Alex! -- Adam Pash
Thanks to LifeHacker
Generating bogus concert tickets is fun, but nothing like a peer of mine back in the record company days who would pay money to make gold records in his name. Sad back then. Still sad today.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Last week, I posted about this culinary delight called a Wedding Meat Cake.
Well today was the day to replicating this feat as I was craving a classic meat 'n' three homestyle dinner. I pick up 5 lbs of 93/7 hamburger meat and went at it -
I did photo the step by step process, but it seem rather boring to document the making of meatloaf and mashed potatoes into a birthday cake. Plus I could NEVER top the excellence set by Tim Morgan's Inspired by Funkenswine blog-u-mentary.
So here's the finished "cake". Mrs. WonderDawg's birthday is next week, so it was an early surprise... She thought that I was losing my mind as she termed the cake "bizarre."
I found it to be rather tasty and VERY filling.
I took a slice to my next door neighbor. His reaction? "Hey, can you change my outside porch lightbulb?"
Martha Stewart has the actual recipe, but in reality - for me - it was hard to make as I'm not a cake maker, so my dexterity on icing and decorating were not up to par. The icing was rather lumpy.
Martha and actress Rosie Perez bake a Birthday Meatloaf "Cake."