Archive for July, 2007


Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I want a Mac laptop to fiddle with for a few weeks.

Be very quiet.

I’m hunting a Macwabbit.

Won’t happen because I can’t afford it. But I am curious for the first time in two decades about Macs; I admit. Our whole company is Microsoft, I’m Microsoft, but I was in an Apple store and I got curious. I just need to save up enough money to play with one for a month or two on my own before I could possibly carry a torch.

But they keep catching my eye…

I am a geek and a journalist

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Today I was talking to someone about airports and that person asked: “Why do you know so much technical stuff about them?”

This is the beauty of my sports journalism background at bigtime dailies. I can watch something in realtime, read it, or experience it, and describe the salient points pretty damn fast.

But Boeing helped with that, too. Being around a bunch of engineers and asking questions, built on top of that.

They the architects…don’t get me started…I asked questions and absorbed.

And then people ask how I learned so much automobile history, so well, in such a short time.

So I thought I would lay out the rules I would teach anyone that are based on quotes from various editors over the years dealing in the newspaper world, in no particular order:

“Never watch a game cold; know the players”

A meeting or a sporting event, this is a good one. Think through what is going on before it all starts. Who are these people? It’s as simple as a mentor with a yappy mouth, a phone call or two, or just observing a lot of dumb meetings. This one came from an editor who was mad I didn’t go to a council meeting before I went to report.

“You didn’t know, or you didn’t ask?”

Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, oh, and ask. If a guy on the rim has a question, “I don’t know” is not a good answer. They are not trying to screw you, but it is generally stuff they want to keep notes of for legal reasons.

“FYI: Be careful.”

Connected to a sports story I wrote and I screwed up a narrative in it to 100,000+ people and 20 of them wrote letters complaining. This was the note from the editor attached to the bundle.

“You’d be surprised how many people read the fishing report.”

This was something for two years I got to play with and have fun with twice a week. Now that it has evolved from agate to the outdoor beat guy writing it…I have to admit something. It was only later that I realized that editor wasn’t pulling my leg. I’d sometimes get a little carried away and be too cute, but I was caught almost everytime…but in a make-everybody-laugh kind of way.

“Don’t stare.”

This actually came from a beat writer when I was looking at the body of a football play we all knew was on performance-enhancing drugs back in the late 80s, but no one would say it. I didn’t mean to stare, but I got nudged by the guy and snapped out of my thinking about it standing in a lockerroom.

“Not bad for an American.”

Still cracks me up that a Dutch editor said that. Like the Dutch have cornered the market. And he was very serious. *chuckle*

Finally, for now…

“Don’t think too much. Shove the right parts together and it will all work out when they talk.”

I may have to do this again, but I think this is one of my favorite quotes. I could write a book or teach a lesson about all of the above, and for this run, this is still my favorite.

I was standing in a telephone booth with a trash-80 and a coupler trying to get a major upset in college sports to an editor at a large daily. Pouring rain and trying to do code to get the damn thing to work and feeding batteries into it like it was a slot machine.

Now, if you don’t remember couplers and trash-80s (which were replaced by trash-100s)…it meant that you had to write the story, enter code, and use these rubber thingies to cover both parts of the phone long enough to send a 1200-baud signal to the right que at the office for someone to find and edit. God, I sound old.

The problem was that the guys on the other end on deadline really didn’t understand how it worked, either. So I am standing there, in a phone booth, calling a number, and trying to figure it all out on my own. And it’s wet and dark.

I called the rim (the defense against the black arts in the newspaper world), and I was about ready to just cry. I was two hours away, the story was written, and I couldn’t get the damn things to talk. I was in dictate mode.

Don’t think too much meant calm down and do not panic.

Shove the right parts together meant more don’t panic, but also that I had to double check my connections.

They’ll talk kind of meant let them go slow, which was more about not having a panic attack.

Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…it was just a super funny line by an editor to get me to smile while I panicked. That’s why it’s my favorite quote of this round. It’s why I loved the newsroom. And I still stay in touch with most of those guys/gals from all the dailies. They are funnier than hell and smarter than me.

I dictated. And some kid that was older than me took it all down on the other end. At least I had that little piece of dignity.

p.s. All those editors, well, they taught me more about English and writing and life than I ever learned in college, before college. That’s why I wasn’t a journalism major; I could not see how there could be anything better than those people. I don’t know if they will ever really know how much I owe to them. I have loved the golf and games, too.

And the nickname.

A few days in the UK

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

So it looks like I’m going to ENgland for a few days in September. But I am completely frustrated by the fact if I stay less than a week, every airline and hotel wants to treat me as a business traveler. I’m just Hobbyist Joe Eric going to something like a Star T rek Convention for old cars.

I’ll know for sure Thursday.

But as I have been hawking over airfare and hotel/club stuff, they don’t even like a single Saturday night stay, anymore. Now, if I stay two Saturday nights, almost everything drops in half. Fiddle faddle, fiddle faddle.

OK, the new phones are cool

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I spy Big A!

So I went with the 6.0 gHz four-pack of cordless phones with a digital answering machine.

Having phones everywhere in the house, or at least in the four maint traffic areas, rocks. Not only can I listen to what’s going on, answer the phone from any of them, but I can listen in to what going on to spy on Big A and what’s on TV.

But I love the intercom feature. Love it. And my computers move faster wirelessly bumping up the gHz (es?). The airwaves no longer compete! And they are light and have 17 hours of battery life, so they claim.

But it was of moderate interest to figure out where the four phones went. Three of them are right next to TVs and the fourth is in the kitchen. And then we have three cell phones. The way of the world. When I’m at home I forward to the home phone, when I’m outside or away from home, I stick to the cell phone vibration.

Regardless of reasons, the new setup is pretty cool for the money.

I’m a big, giant dumbshit

Monday, July 30th, 2007

So we were debating restaurants tonight, and P mentioned three Thai places. Now, I know that MOST Asian resturants are closed on Monday. So I kind of played along, until we got to the first one that was closed.

P said it was closed and I said, in affect, “Thought that would teach you a lesson about Asian resturants on Monday.”


It was closed, you see, as she later calmed down enough to explain, because of a family emergency in Thailand.

If she had just said that at the beginning, no problem, foot directly inserted in mouth and I screwed up.

But then we got into a pissing match over it. That’s how stupid I am…she needed a fight/argument and I have no idea why, but I should have just shut up. But this is where I am a dumbshit…it got a little fun needling her over her arguments. She is pissed off over something that has nothing to do with me, I know. But I shouldn’t have used her logic against me as logic against her!

Oh, the bliss of 17 years together.

Home business facts of life

Monday, July 30th, 2007

I have no IT service I can dial and extension for when my computer pukes out.

No office manager to complain to about the ergonomics of my chair.

And no form to fill out for other people to take care of printing and copying.

That’s my whine for today.

Huh, go figure

Monday, July 30th, 2007

I have a 2.4 gHz phone in a 5.8 gHz world.

I couldn’t figure out what was sucking on my phone and my laptop at the same time and it turns out they were probably in the digital world of a 69 position.

They were both drawing juice at the same rate, on or off. And so was my cell phone.

Seriously, I need a 5.8 to get away from the 2.4 of the laptop wireless and the cell. They need to be pried apart into different bandwiths.

Not to brag, but…

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

For those of you that have computers who sleep around, get protection. I got hit 17 times in the last three hours.

I’m going to say this like Kelso from That’s 70′s Show…that’s enough action to get pregnant or catch something! But not him being pregnant, of course.

(And then they dance.)(You have to have seen the show a couple of times.)


I have become a big, huge, fat believer in paying per month to keep the computers checking. But it’s not perfect.

And some nights, especially weekends, I let it figure out all the little things that were passed the gates.

I keep tripping over my own two left feet

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I couldn’t figure out why I was having problems, and then it occurred to me that when I was looking at the details…I was posting it all on the same IP address and that was caught when I logged in originally. I’ll admit, it wears me down.

But this is stuff I have no book for or any experience with, so I keep just playing with it.

And here is the mistake. As much as I can kiss my own ass that I think I got this figured out, it’s like 10-percent, at most, of what the site’s problems are at the moment.

One simple example is that this program wants to use IP addresses to remember people. Now I know there is a way around that, because many of you use it every day. But then again, I could just be a dumbshit.

Fellow geeks that suck, here is my roar

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I think I figured it out for comments. I was flipping cards at it trying to figure out code, and then I just tried building a whole new site and figuring out the check marks.

I should be marketing director of this thing for how much that took. (I’m kidding.)

But, but Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, have you ever flipped a bunch of buttons on a breaker board and not known what REALLY worked? Hi. That would be me.

But I did figure this one out…on…a…Sat…urday…night…

And my wife might not even get it.