June 2008 Archives

From Dayton Daily News: Telling it as (like) it is

Ken Griffey Jr. was not in Monday's lineup and he saw 9-year-old Darren Baker standing in the clubhouse.

"Why am I not playing tonight, Darren?" asked Griffey.

"Because you can't hit lefthanders," said Darren, son of manager Dusty Baker. "And you're old."
Ha ha.  At least one Baker isn't afraid of saying how it is.

New York Times- No Babies?

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From NYTimes.com: No Babies?

In Germany, where the births-to-deaths ratio now results in an annual population loss of roughly 100,000, Ursula von der Leyen, Chancellor Angela Merkel's family minister (and a mother of seven), declared two years ago that if her country didn't reverse its plummeting birthrate, "We will have to turn out the light."
Incredibly fascinating story.  I always tend to think of the planet is getting overcrowded, but in Europe, a shrinking population is a real problem.

What is a marketplace?

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From NYTimes.com: EBay to Pay Damages in Sale of Fakes

A French court on Monday ordered the online auction giant eBay to pay 38.6 million euros, or $61 million, in damages to the French luxury goods company LVMH, in the latest round in a long-running legal battle over the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet.

LVMH, a maker of high-end leather goods, perfumes and other fashion and luxury products, successfully challenged eBay for a second time in the French court, arguing that 90 percent of the Louis Vuitton bags and Dior perfumes sold on eBay are fakes.

The court ruled that eBay, which earns a commission on the sales, was not doing enough to stamp out counterfeit sales.
How can EBay as a marketplace be responsible for the products that its vendor sell?  It seems like LVMH is trying to take the easy way out and pin the responsibility on eBay when they should be the ones going after the vendors.

Just do your job!

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From WBZtv.com: Manny Shoves Traveling Secretary

Just weeks after getting into a scuffle with Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez shoved the team's traveling secretary to the ground in Houston over the weekend, according to a published report.

McCormick told Ramirez that he might not be able to get all 16, and according to McAdam, Ramirez responded by shouting: "Just do your job!" They started arguing and Ramirez pushed McCormick.
If doing your job means getting thrown to the ground by Manny Ramierz, then it's time for a new job.  What an ass.

Change is good

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Milkjug.jpgFrom NYTimes.com: Solution, or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth

I never understand why it's so hard for people to change habits or preferences when there's tremendous benefits in doing so.  The milk jug above is much friendlier to the environment because it can be stacked for cheaper and more efficient transportation saving 20 to 30 cents/gallon. But, people complain that it's harder to pour if you don't know how.
From NYTimes.com: 'It's Over, Lady!'

The woman in this article has to be the head nut job of Hillary Clinton's "cult of personality". 

"But I have a gut feeling," she said with macabre faith, "that something's going to happen so that she becomes the nominee."
From CNN.com: North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say

"There's supposed to be ice at the North Pole. The fact that we may not have any by the end of this summer could be quite a symbolic change."
From NYTimes.com: Delta Adds Fuel Fee to Frequent-Flier Tickets

In the latest fee to hit the airline industry, Delta Air Lines said Friday that it planned to begin charging a fuel surcharge of up to $50 for booking frequent-flier tickets under its awards program.
"We hope this is temporary," Mr. Robertson said, "and should fuel prices subside from current levels, we will re-evaluate this surcharge."

Mr. Robertson also said Delta would introduce a "new, multi-tiered award program" in the next 60 days but gave no details. Industry analysts have predicted that airlines may increase the number of miles required for a frequent-flier ticket.
This is more good news from Delta.  I think the only way this could get better is if they could cram 4 people into every three seats.

Battlestar Galactica in Legos

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From Darth Mojo: legostar galactica - updated!
lv-nakota.jpgThis diorama is too cool.  It's Lee Adama climbing into his Mark VII Viper with Tigh, Adama, and Starbuck watching.

John McCain is aware of the internet

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From Yahoo News: McCain & The Internets

John McCain, one of the the oldest candidates in presidential history, doesn't know how to use a computer, let alone the Internet. "I'm an illiterate who has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get," McCain responded when asked if he used a Mac or PC.

"John McCain is aware of the Internet," says Soohoo.

"You don't actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country," Soohoo says.
But, John McCain can start a fire with two rocks. So, take that, you computer users.

Where the hell is Matt?

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Amazing video.  Love the song.  Wish I could travel like this.

Click on the video to go to YouTube to watch in high quality. It's worth it!  Especially the dog dancing with him in Kuwait.

Read about Matt at wherethehellismatt.com

Thanks to Chris for sending me this.

UPDATE: Here's a video of the filming with the native tribe:

First look at The Banks

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From Cincinnati.com: First look at The Banks

Designers worked hard, said developer Bailey Pope, to build a new residential neighborhood for the city, yet one that still has the feel of a connection to downtown.

"They tried to make it look like an organic neighborhood that grew over time,'' he said.
I don't know what the developers are seeing when they look at the drawings, but to me it seems like they've accomplished neither.  The buildings are too uniform to have an organic neighborhood look and the style of the buildings pretty much don't look like anything else downtown.

I'd rather have totally innovative architecture like the Ascent or at least something classic.  This stuff is totally generic cookie cutter stuff.  They've been saying for years that The Banks development will be the front door of the city.  I wish they would treat it that way and develop a signature look for the project instead of importing some leftover concept from another city.

I totally envy the architecture that's going on in other parts of the world like Dubai where architects and designers compete to create the most unique structures on the planet.

While better than an empty lot, I'm sorely disappointed with these designs.
From SeattlePi.com: Full text: An epic Bill Gates e-mail rant via daringfireball.net

An actual email from Bill Gates to a Microsoft employee describing the trials and tribulations of trying to download and install Movie Maker.  A must read!

The email is an internal email that was turned over during the antitrust suits against Microsoft.

This cracks me up

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Another funny comic from Garfield minus Garfield.  That Jon Arbuckle is one strange and crazy guy.

What is this thing?

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I saw a car towing this motorcycle like contraption this morning on Liberty St. in Over the Rhine.  I couldn't get a picture of the car because the light had turned green, but it had environmental slogans on it.  Evidently, this is some kind of "green vehicle".
motorcycle.jpg I Googled it but didn't find anything in my quick search, so I have no idea what the function of it is.

Like usual when searching Google, I found something else related that's pretty cool.

From GreenUPGRADER.com: The Uno Electric Motorcycle, or MotorUnicycle
This amazing motorcycle prototype was built by a high school kid!  The motorcycle actually has two thin whees that are side by side with balance being controlled by Segway like technology.  It's an electric vehicle that was fueled by his desire to create a clean vehicle after seeing the thick smog during a trip to China.  More pictures.

Safin beats Djokovic- Wimbledon 2008

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From Guardian.co.uk: Wimbledon 2008: Novak Djokovic v Marat Safin (Link was a live blog of the match)

From Wimbledon.org: Super Safin destroys Djokovic

This is a stunner, because Djokovic was picked by some to win this tournament because of his strong all court game.  Marat Safin is an enigmatic player, a player with tremendous talent that never seems to play to his potential.  He is a two time Grand Slam tournament champion, but he hasn't done a whole lot since 2005.

Obama and Muslim voters

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From NYTimes.com: Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama

While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations -- unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts -- have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.
This is a no-win situation for Obama.  Courting the Muslim vote is political poison right now as the general public in the United States wrongly equates terrorism with Islam.  Obama is about change, but he still has to survive as a candidate in this political environment.  Obama has broken down many barriers in this run, but is it expected that he breaks down all of them?
From CNN.com: America's untapped oil

Oil companies and many lawmakers are pressing to open up more U.S. land for drilling. But the industry is drilling on just a fraction of offshore areas it already has access to.
But why would oil companies not drill in these areas?  Here's an answer:

But fearing oil prices will eventually fall, the industry is leery about making too many investments in the fields it has - many of which are in deepwater areas that can be pricey to develop.

Instead, they're holding out, hoping the government will open areas closer to shore that would be cheaper to work on.
The Oil Companies are waiting for something much more profitable to be handed to them by the government. 

Americans buying cheaper gas in Mexico

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From CNN.com: Americans save on gas in Mexico, but costs may hit later

But the savings might come at a cost: Mexican gas is made with a different formula -- containing more sulfur -- which could hurt your car in the long run, according to Stephen Mazor with AAA's Automotive Research Center.

That fuel mixture can ruin the emission control equipment on American cars and cause them to fail emissions tests.
Obviously, only something you might attempt to do when living close to the border.  A friend of mine has driven from NYC to NJ to get cheaper gas.  Even with the $8 toll, he still saves enough money to make it worthwhile.

Farmersonly.com dating site

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I saw this TV commercial over the weekend while I was watching a Cincinnati Reds baseball game on Fox Sports Ohio.

It's for Farmersonly.com, a dating site for:
Farmers, Ranchers, Ag Students & all of Agriculture, Horse, Livestock Owners & all Animal Lovers, Cowboys, Cowgirls, Rodeo Fans and Country Wannabes
From the website:

Instead of asking what your astrological sign is, at FarmersOnly.com I ask if you raise or breed alpacas, horses, cattle, chickens, dogs, goats, rabbits, sheep, grow crops, or if you're an organic farmer, student farmer, cowboy, cowgirl, or just a farmer wanna be! How many singles sites do that?
So, for you lonely ranch hands, you don't have to do the Brokeback Mountain thing anymore.

It seems like you need to have a critical mass for a dating site to be effective.  I wonder how successful this site is with the size of the demographic that it's targeting.

From Cincinnati Enquirer: 'Bodies' breaks record

Or does it?

Morris Tsai, a Taiwanese-American and a Bodies protester since the show opened, says the attendance figures are misleading, pointing out that the Vatican drew its 186,000 in 120 days and it has taken 141 days for Bodies, so it's not a record-setter. "Clearly, Bodies' attendance is trailing the Vatican. It took three weeks longer to match the Vatican."
Yes, I did the research on this last night and am quoted in this article.  So, now I am quoting myself!  In any case, the Cincinnati Museum Center would have you believe that this exhibit is an overwhelming success, but a closer look at the numbers shows the possibility that this show is not doing as well they had hoped.

With unprecedented advertising constantly on tv, billboards, buses, and newspapers, this exhibit has drawn people much more slowly than the Vatican exhibit, Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes.

Compare the two:
Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes- 186,000
visitors- reached this number in 120 days.
December 20, 2003- April 18, 2004

Bodies the Exhibition- 186,000 visitors.  Reached this number in 140 days.
February 1, 2008- June 19, 2008

The article also provides with one more bit of information:
The Bodies controversy got the show off to a roaring start - its first month attracted 53,000 visitors, compared to 27,000 for the Vatican
So, if Bodies the Exhibition drew 53,000 in the first month, the attendance since then has dropped tremendously in recent months.

It's clear from all their statements before the show got here, that the Cincinnati Museum Center expected Bodies the Exhibition to be the blockbuster that ends all blockbusters.  While it's hard to classify a show that has reached 186,000 people as a failure, I believe that the show is under-performing their expectations by reaching this record, 3 weeks slower than their previous biggest show.  

The slowing pace does not bode well for this exhibit for the rest of its run, especially with the competition from other summer activities, rising fuel costs, and the slowing economy.  The continuing news of the ethical problems of this exhibit may also finally be gaining some traction.  Earlier this year, Bodies the Exhibition in Farmingham, MA closed a month early because of low attendance.

Cincinnati Museum Center CEO McDonald states that they are making money on the exhibit, but we won't know if this is true as the Cincinnati Museum Center does not divulge their finances or marketing budget even though they are partly financed by the public through taxes.  This is an extremely costly exhibit for the Cincinnati Museum Center.  They admit that much of the money will be going directly to pay Premier Exhibitions.  With the show costs, the carpet bombing of Cincinnati with its advertising, and declining attendance, is it possible that this exhibit doesn't end up profitable?

Milwaukee's Body Worlds 1 show did 338,500 in nearly the same time frame.  From January 1, 2008 through June 1, 2008 (152 days).  That's nearly twice the rate of the Bodies the Exhibition here at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  Body Worlds 1 is the original exhibition that Bodies the Exhibition knocked off.  The main difference is that Body Worlds 1 claims to use donor bodies, though there is some controversy swirling that exhibit too.  But, could using donated bodies with consent bodies make that big of a difference?  It seems like it may be so.

One quote that I noticed in McDonald's statements in the articles was this:

I can tell you we're working on bringing one in now that will be bigger than Bodies, but that's all I can say for the time being.
I've spent some time looking for traveling exhibits that would be bigger than Bodies, and so far all I have found is Body Worlds.  Could the Cincinnati Museum Center turn around and bring Body Worlds here next year after all this controversy?  It seems unbelievable to me, but I haven't seen any other exhibits that are bigger.

UPDATE 2: It's not the first time the Cincinnati Museum Center has missed projections for a show.

"Real Pirates," June 20, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008 (189 days), drew 105,900

The exhibit was developed by John Norman, who set a Museum Center attendance record by drawing 185,000 people to "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes," an exhibit of art and historical objects collected over centuries by the Roman Catholic church. Norman said today that he thinks the pirate exhibit will draw bigger crowds than the Vatican show.

"We wouldn't have come here if I didn't anticipate it doing at least 150,000," said Norman, president and CEO of a Cleveland-area company, Arts & Exhibition International. "I'm very comfortable debuting it here."
So, Real Pirates ended up drawing only 2/3 of their expectations.

From Reuters UK: "Kung pao chicken" made official for Olympics

If officials have their way, local newspapers reported on Wednesday, English-speaking visitors will be able to order "beef and ox tripe in chili sauce", an appetiser, rather than "husband and wife's lung slice".

Other favourites have also received a linguistic makeover.

"Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman", as the Beijing Youth Daily rendered the spicy Sichuanese dish, is now "Mapo tofu." And "chicken without sexual life" becomes mere "steamed pullet".

Tiger Woods out for the year

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From ESPN.com: Woods set to have season-ending knee surgery
From ESPN.com: Haney: Tiger predicted U.S. Open victory despite two leg fractures

Tiger Woods is unreal.

Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open playing with a torn ACL and a double stress fracture of his left tibia.  So much for those that were saying that he was faking pain for dramatic effect!

I had a torn ACL and any type of pivoting and rotation, the type you see in a golf shot would give me near incapacitating pain.  I have no idea how Tiger Woods was able to even play the U.S. Open, much less win it. 

McCain- Invest in Victory?

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Who creates these banner ads for John McCain?  "Invest in Victory"?  That'll bring the dollars in!  Who cares about hope or making a better tomorrow?  The world is all about victory.  Just like our victory in Iraq.


From Cincinnati Enquirer: Museum dodges dialogue on 'Bodies'

I called five members of the Museum Center's advisory panel to ask: If you had known all this, would you still have approved this exhibit?

Only two responded. Rabbi Irv Wise said he did not attend any of the meetings.

Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens replied, "More has come out that was not told to us." He said the exhibit had been in many cities, so nobody questioned the bodies. "We weren't given clear enough information. The Museum Center assured us they had done the due diligence."

What he's heard since "casts doubt on that, but given the information we had at the time, we made the right call."
The Cincinnati Museum Center was never interested in having the advisory panel be anything more than a rubber stamp of acceptance for the Bodies the Exhibition.

I spoke to a member of the advisory panel, Rev. Calvin Harper shortly before the exhibit opened.  He told me that he was never told about issues regarding the origins of the bodies or the controversial nature of the exhibit.  There was no discussion, just a presentation.

If the Cincinnati Museum Center was truly interested in creating a working advisory panel to advise on an exhibit as controversial as this, wouldn't you think that they would have invited more people with differing viewpoints so they could see the complete picture?

And why weren't any members of the Chinese community on this advisory panel?  It's like having a discussion about the pros and cons of slavery without inviting any African-Americans.

The Cincinnati Museum Center has no desire for the truth and is looking for every excuse to continue to profit from this exhibit.

Tiger Woods on nervousness

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From ESPN.com: A Torrey Story: Woods' win was greatest U.S. Open ever

"It's pressure, there's no doubt," Woods said. "I was nervous, and that's a good thing. That means you care. You can try and use that energy as best you can to heighten your focus."
Tiger's greatness is his ability to overcome the pressures of the moment and not succumb to the nervousness that strikes everyone else.  Tiger, hit two critical putts two days in a row on the 18th hole.  If he misses either, he loses the tournament.  Tiger doesn't miss those.

Doh! Master criminals strike again.

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Doh!  Not again.  Master criminals once again break a window on my car.  This time, stealing absolutely nothing!  I didn't have anything visible except for some gym clothes sitting in my back seat, which they didn't even touch.

Add a check to your life's checklist

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From Match.com
paganpriestess.jpg If dating a pagan priestess is on your life's checklist, you're in luck.  I found one in a profile on Match.com

Goodbye, metabo

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From NYTimes.com: Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions
Those exceeding government limits -- 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks -- and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

"I don't think the campaign will have any positive effect. Now if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh more than 100 kilograms," or about 220 pounds, Mr. Ogushi said. "But the Japanese are so slender that they can't afford to lose weight."
Ok, two things.  One, I love that poster.  Two, if any country can pull off state mandated weight loss, it's Japan.  If anyone knows where I can get one of these posters, let me know, I'd love to get one.

Forget the John McCain soundboard...

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Forget the John McCain soundboard of the previous post.  This George W. Bush soundboard of quotes is classic!

John McCain soundboard

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I've been looking for a clip of John McCain's creepy laugh.  Haven't found one yet, but I did find this soundboard of John McCain quotes.  Check out the Pandering to Fallwell flip flop.

From Golf.com: Fans, not players, face first smoke-free Open

"Our concern was for the players," said USGA president Jim Vernon. "This is THE national championship and some of them smoke."

Players, he said, have enough on their hands trying to tame golf's toughest test without having to deal with a nicotine fit.
San Diego has banned smoking at its beaches, city parks and municipal golf courses, but has given an exemption to players and caddies that are on the course at the U.S. Open.
Saw this ad on ESPN.com.  The worst thing about is that it moves across the screen from left to right, making it very difficult to click the close button.  I've been seeing more and more of these ads and they drive me nuts.

This always brings up the question in my mind of whether or not internet banner advertising works.  As I've mentioned before, I don't see banner ads once I've identified the material on the page that I'm looking for.  It seems advertisers must be feeling this too and in more cases are interrupting our browsing experience with more intrusive banner ads.

Blackberry has a keyboard

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I'm running into this Blackberry Google Ad on a lot on sites that cater to Mac/iPhone users.

Seems as if RIM is making a big push to try to lure prospective iPhone buyers into getting a Blackberry because it has a keyboard.  If that's their main lure, I think RIM's in deep trouble.

Having a keyboard is only important if your "killer app" is based on text entry, like typing email.  Otherwise it's just taking space that could be used for a larger screen.  The iPhone's touchscreen is ideal for the what the iPhone is strongest in, browsing the internet, displaying video and music.

I think that there will always be some mobile devices that have a dedicated keyboard for those who need it, but for the rest of us, the touchscreen will win out.

The organ donor wasn't dead

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From ABCNews.com: French Near-Death Case Stirs Debate on Organ Donors

This is a frightening story about a man who's heart had stopped beating for 1 1/2 hours but revived as doctors were preparing to remove his organs for transplants.

It was at that point that the astonished surgeons noticed the man was beginning to breathe unaided again, his pupils were active, he was giving signs that he could feel pain -- and finally, his heart started beating again.

Several weeks later, the man can walk and talk.
This case has stirred debate in France about when a patient is actually dead in cardiac arrest situations.  Any impropriety in organ transplantation could lead to those not offering their organs for transplant if they feel like it could jeopardize their lives if they are in a critical but survivable condition. 
I just noticed this today that Google Street View is now active in Cincinnati.  It's a new function in Google Maps where you can now see a 360 degree photo image of many locations in Cincinnati.  Here's a shot of Music Hall.MusicHallstreetview.jpg This is a tremendously powerful tool.  I can see all sorts of uses for it, especially looking up property in real estate. But, is it an invasion of privacy?  It does make it easier for someone to look up and find your house, making it a stalker's new best friend.  I'm not so worried about that, but it is a little disconcerting to see details of your life on display.  In this picture of the back of my house, you can see my kick bag that I use when I work out.  There's a picture of my backyard because my house is in between two streets.

Cruisin for Christ

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Saw this car when I was stopped at light and captured it with my iPhone.  Not sure exactly how the faux bullet holes fit with "Crusin for Christ".

Cincinnati E.A.T.S. Lavomatic Cafe

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LavomaticDeck.jpg Cincinnati E.A.T.S. is a new group that supports independent restaurants by "taking over" a restaurant for a cocktails and a fixed price menu.  Last night was the first event at Lavomatic Cafe in the Gateway Quarter of Over the Rhine.

Last night's event was a sellout and the place was packed.  It wasn't as conducive to meeting people as I thought it might be, as people seemed to clump up in groups with people they already knew.  I ran into some acquaintances that I knew, but hadn't had an opportunity to really speak to, so that made for some ready made dinner companions.  We were joined by one of the organizers and ended up meeting some people in the tables surrounding us.

The conversation was good, but the dinner itself, not as good.  I know that judging the quality of a restaurant when food is mass-produced is not really fair, but I did pay for it.  I felt that the food was pretty mediocre.  The main entree was Amish chicken with zucchini, kalamata olives, and house-made harissa.  The "harissa" is to hard to describe, sort of like a Taro cake that you would get a dim sum.  That was excellent, but the chicken was bland.  We felt a little bad asking for some salt and pepper which was not on the table.  I was thankful that I didn't get the other entree, the Warm farro with carrot, asparagus, and citrus (Vegan).  Farro's a wheat.  Hopefully, a filling wheat since there was only a small portion of it with three or four asparagus on the side.  That's one of those entrees where the dessert needs to be a Big Mac.

I have previously been to Lavomatic once before, but the dish that I got that time was just fair also.  Nothing really special.   I really do want Lavomatic to succeed since it's the first restaurant in the Gateway Quarter.  If it succeeds, it'll lead to more restaurants opening in the area.  The restaurant is a beautiful place and a great environment for dinner so I will definitely try it again.  Hopefully, I'll find something there that I really like.  Any suggestions?

Hats off to Cincinnati E.A.T.S. for putting on an event like this.  It was a fun time and it definitely exposed a lot of people to Lavomatic.  Hopefully, the people will be back and try it again in a more normal dining situation.

Hillary's Campaign Debt

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From NYTimes.com: For Clinton, Millions in Debt and Few Options

An interesting story about Hillary and her campaign debt.

Otherwise, the most discussed option is for Mr. Obama, now the presumed nominee, to encourage his fund-raising team to help her with a series of joint events.

Campaign finance laws prohibit Mr. Obama from simply transferring money from his war chest to Mrs. Clinton's campaign. But Mr. Obama's fund-raisers could ask their donors to give to Mrs. Clinton.
This going to be a tough sell to a lot of Obama supporters.  If Hillary had gotten out of the race sooner, when it was pretty clear she wasn't going to win, she would not have as much debt as she has now.

And in one of the more memorable cases of debt, former Senator John Glenn of Ohio ended his 1984 Democratic presidential bid with nearly $3 million in debt. He struggled for more than 20 years to pay it off until the Federal Election Commission issued him a reprieve.
I didn't know this.  When you see debt associated with politicians, you just assume that they figure out some way to make it go away.

Some of Mrs. Clinton's largest outstanding bills are to some of her closest advisers, who might be willing to cut her a deal. Mrs. Clinton, for example, owes nearly $5 million to the firm of her former pollster and senior strategist, Mark Penn.
There's your problem!  5 Million dollars for that strategy?  He should certainly be offering some of that back.
From Dallasnews.com: Folks duped by 'Borat' creator Sacha Baron Cohen in Carrollton are really mad

Last week, at one of those big office parks on International Parkway, a whole bunch of people got really mad.

So mad, in fact, that dozens stormed out of a television taping - even though each had been paid $50 cash for agreeing to be an audience member of what promoters referred to vaguely as a new talk show.

The object of their anger? Well, that was the secret, and apparently few of them knew the identity of the character who got so deeply under their skin and wouldn't let go. His name is Sacha Baron Cohen, who, when it comes to comedy, is a mastermind of ambush humor.
Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius at creating humor mostly with unexpected participants by exposing their racism, homophobia, and just plain ignorance.  This time Cohen is creating havoc not as Borat, but as Bruno, the gay Austrian fashion model from his Ali G show.  Cohen has an incredible ability to stay in character and improvise no matter how funny or awkward the situation gets.

I'm amazed that Cohen can still pull this off, even as a new character without people realizing what is going on.

Apple announces MobileMe

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This is a replacement for .Mac and now provides push of mail, contacts, and calendars to the iPhone. 

When I first heard about MobileMe, I wondered if I'd be able to keep my mac.com email address.  For the first couple of years of .Mac, it was pretty much the only reason I subscribed to .Mac.  Later on, I did find the sync of calendars and address books to be pretty useful.

Apple answers the question of Mac.com email:

As a MobileMe subscriber, you can continue to use your mac.com address for email. You will also be issued a me.com address with the same user name that you can use if you prefer. The choice is yours.

UPDATE: The new 3G iPhones prices shown below are AT&T subsidized prices with a two year contract

UPDATE: New 3G iPhones with GPS.  Otherwise, no other major surprises.  A 16GB iPhone will now cost you only $299, an 8GB $199.  At these prices, the iPhone should attract a lot of new buyers.  But, the question that I have is whether or not the $299 16GB phone is worth the upgrade from my original iPhone.  The main new features are 3G, GPS, and twice the storage capacity.  I think this will be one of those wait and see situations.

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference begins today in SF with Steve Jobs' keynote address.  Big news expected is the announcement of the 3G iPhone and lots of new applications for the iPhone.  I'm excited for the applications, but I'm afraid that once I see the new iPhone with all its new features, I'm going to be wanting one of those too.

The keynote is 1:00pm EST and I'll be following it through a live blog at Macrumorslive.com.
Thanks to my friend Doug who's attending the conference and who sent me this photo from his iPhone.

UPDATE: Saw this WWDC T-shirt.  I love it!

wwdc swag

Nadal wins French Open

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From ESPN.com: Nadal's fire and emotion propel him to fourth French Open title

Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but Rafael Nadal thoroughly  dominated him at the French Open for his fourth straight French Open title.

It's amazing to watch the power and spin that Nadal gets on his forehand.  It's a freakish shot.  No one else in tennis can hit a ball like Nadal does with the amount of topsin that he has.  It seems almost impossible for one of his balls to go long because the ball just "dives" back down on to the court like it's attracted by a magnet.

There was no secret to Nadal's approach to Federer.  Attack Federer's backhand. As the chart showed during the TV broadcast, Nadal hit 100% of his first serves to Federer's backhand.  Nadal didn't even bother changing direction once in a while to mix things up.  On clay, Nadal's shot bounces so high after it hits the ground that Federer had difficulty coming over the ball with his one handed backhand.

Now, this makes Wimbledon that much more interesting.  Federer has dominated Wimbledon like Nadal's done with the French Open.  But, after watching Nadal play, I think he has a strong shot at unseeding Federer if Nadal can get through to the final.
From CNN.com: 'Freakish' online searches inspire play

A new play in Philadelphia is based on the real life searches of an anonymous AOL subscriber, User 927.

The story's central clue is the real-life online search log of an AOL subscriber -- identified only as User 927 -- that was released to the public two years ago in a well-publicized privacy gaffe.

Alltop said he was astonished when AOL intentionally released some 19 million search requests made over three months by more than 650,000 subscribers.

The logs were meant to help academic researchers, but they were posted on a public site and quickly circulated once a blogger discovered them.

Although AOL had substituted numeric IDs for the subscribers' real user names, there were enough clues for The New York Times and The Washington Post to track down two of the users and identify them by name.

The identity of User 927 is still unknown. But Alltop was fascinated enough by that subscriber's freakish queries, including some disturbing sexual imagery, to commission a 90-minute play around the search log.
The searches of User 927, culled from the AOL search logs are pretty frightening and strange.  Definitely a hint of mystery and kind of makes you wonder what kind of person this is.

Woman living in man's closet

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From Yahoo News: Japanese woman caught living in man's closet

A homeless woman who sneaked into a man's house and lived undetected in his closet for a year was arrested in Japan after he became suspicious when food mysteriously began disappearing.
Stories like this just freak me out.  I can't believe the woman actually lived there for a whole year without being detected!  If it were my closets, I guess I could understand.  Hmmm, maybe it's time to be cleaning out the closets this weekend.

End of air fares as we know it?

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NYTimes.com: Continental Cuts 3,000 Jobs as It Grounds Planes

Continental Airlines said Thursday that it would cut 3,000 jobs and retire 67 Boeing aircraft from its fleet, becoming the latest airline to announce capacity reductions in the face of high prices for jet fuel.

Today, it's Continental.  Yesterday, United.  Other airlines have gone bankrupt.  Airlines are trying to curb losses by cutting back on employees and reducing size of their fleets.   Airline troubles are being blamed on rising fuel costs and a slowing economy.

Can the airline industry recover from this latest challenge?  It seems to me that this time things may be spiraling out of control.  Lower capacity and higher fuel costs means higher fares for passengers.  Higher fares cause a decrease in demand as passengers seek alternatives or reduce travel.  Lower demand means excess capacity.  Airlines cut capacity, causing the cycle to continue.

At some point an equilibrium will be reached with fewer airlines, fewer cities served, and higher costs.  With fuel costs high it may be prohibitively expensive for new startup airlines to emerge in the future to service routes that have been dropped by the existing airlines.  Perhaps this is the breaking point for the airline industry.

Findlay Market in Photos

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Took some more iPhone photos, this time of Findlay Market in Cincinnati.
FindlayMarket1a.pngFindlayMarketumbrella.png Findlay-Market1.png FindlayMarket2.png FindlayMarket3.png


Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard"

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Arstechnica is reporting that Mac OS X 10.6 is code-named "Snow Leopard" and is Intel Mac only.  Three of my computers in the office won't be able to make the upgrade, including two Dual Core PowerPC G5's.  These are still very nice machines.  In fact, one of these is my daily computer that I use at work.

If "Snow Leopard" is really the name, it's a little awkward since the current OS X is "Leopard".

I can hear the following conversation:
"What version of OS X are you running?"
"Do you mean Leopard or Snow Leopard?"

Have the run out of large cat names already?  It's still just a code name- it's possible the name could change when it is finally released.

From Wikipedia
Mac OS X 10.0 (Cheetah)
Mac OS X 10.1 (Puma)
Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar)
Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther)
Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger)
Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

UPDATE:  It seems that this update may not have many new features, but an optimization of the underpinnings of the system.  So, the name "Snow Leopard" may be apropos. 

I said Timber!

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Cartoonist Jim Borgman's take on the almost end of the Hillary campaign

So true.  I can't think of a better representation than this.
Jones Fish Hatcheries Redlegs Run for Home 5K, Saturday, June 7, 2008

This a fun 5K that ends near home plate of Great American Ball Park.  I ran this race a few years ago and I really enjoyed it.  That year, they had Cincinnati Reds legend Joe Nuxhall pose for pictures with every runner!

Jones Fish Hatcheries is a the title sponsor for this race.  Kind of strange sponsor.  Usually, there's some kind of synergy between advertiser and event.  Does being a sponsor of this event bring greater market awareness to Jones's little fish hatchlings?  Don't all their customers already know who they are?

Jones Fish Hatcheries Redlegs Run for Home 5K

Steve Wozniak teaches Segway Polo

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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak teaches Segway Polo.

An even more exclusive sport than playing Polo with horses.  Leave it to Silcon Valley to have enough Segways in one spot to be even able to attempt this.
SegwayPolo1.jpg Steve Wozniak teaches Segway Polo in this video
UPDATE: It's been a while since I've been to the Segway site.  They have an off road version- the X2 Adventure.
segwayoffroad.jpg It looks kind of cool by itself.  But not so cool with you and your camping gear on it. 
Note, when going back to nature, leave your electric scooter at home.

P&G Sells Folgers coffee

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From Cincinnati Enquirer: It's official: Folgers sold

Jams and jellies company J.M. Smucker is moving to take over more for of the breakfast table, announcing this morning that it will buy Folgers coffee in an all-stock deal worth about $2.95 billion.

A Folgers sale would leave P&G with only Pringles snacks from its once struggling food and beverage unit. CEO A.G. Lafley has been divesting brands from the slow-growing food unit over the years and focusing more on its health and beauty industries.
I think it's pretty safe to say that P&G won't be keeping Pringles around as the sole member of the food and beverage unit. 

Chad Johnson reinvention?

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From ESPN.com: Johnson says he'll return to Bengals shortly

Johnson held out hope of a pre-draft trade or a deal with a team like Philadelphia, Dallas or Miami. When nothing materialized by mid-May, Johnson began to consider a different approach, according to his coach and mentor, Charles Collins, who was in Florida to oversee the All-Pro receiver's offseason workout regime.

"Look how well I've done while talking every week and calling people out and making things so hard on me with all this attention," Johnson said. "I've been thinking a lot lately about what I could do if I just played and didn't talk. Things would be a whole lot easier on me. And think of the numbers I could put up. Then what would people say about me?"

"It's the reinvention of Ocho Cinco," he says. "I'm dead serious. People need to take me as I am because I just don't give a [expletive] anymore. That's how I'd sum up my attitude for the next season."
Who is this guy?  And what did they do to Chad Johnson?

Seriously, if Chad Johnson came back, kept his mouth shut, and just played, Bengals fans would once again love him.  What the fans loved was his love for the game and the joy that he brought to it.

Can Chad Johnson learn to be a team first player?  That would be the biggest reinvention yet.
From SeattlePi.com: Consumer Smarts: The IRS check may not be in the mail

Miller said Turbo Tax users had two options to pay for tax-preparation fees -- using a credit card or having the fees deducted from their federal tax refund. If they chose the latter, Turbo Tax uses a third-party bank to process that transaction. That bank creates a temporary account, deposits the federal tax refund and deducts the tax-preparation fees before depositing the tax refund to the taxpayer.

The use of the third-party bank as a middleman "interrupts" the tax rebate process, Miller said, and that's why the IRS says it will send the tax rebate directly to taxpayers by mail.
I had been wondering what happened to my economic stimulus check, but it finally arrived yesterday by mail.  I had been expecting it to be electronically deposited several weeks ago, but as mentioned in the article above, I had the fees deducted from the tax refund.

Now, all I have to do is decide what country's economy I want to stimulate with my "stimulus".  Sweden (Ikea) or China (Apple).  I guess I could always buy food if I avoid imported fruit and vegetables.  Maybe, I'll just be totally unpatriotic and put the money in the bank.  Saving your money is unpatriotic these days!


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I ran the Over the Rhine 5K on Saturday morning.  It was quite hot, so the dark outfit probably wasn't good for me or Cincinnati's mayor, Mark Mallory.

Does Mark Mallory own anything besides a suit?  It's 10am on a Saturday morning!

The original of the picture above is from the Cincinnati Blog.

More OTR 5K Pictures
Jim Borgman has drawn another cartoon about the Bodies the Exhibition.

It's one of Borgman's weaker cartoons.  There's much more potential humor and insight than "it's kind of creepy".  One of the characters does carry a paper that says "Plastinated Bodies: were they executed prisoners?"

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