Monday: 31.July.2006

Updating Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio with LAME MP3 encoder & EAC

I've also been working on updating the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio. Just put my head down and started plowing thru that one. (Had an excellent cup of coffee this morning.) But it's a bear .. yet one I'm determined to tame. [So far I'm getting mauled.]

today's entry continues here

You can't imagine how many links go bad. Sometimes it seems the *only* links which remain valid are those which link to pages I host myself.

The problem is, I use a generous helping of external links, since this tends to show I've done my homework (I *have*), and that I present technically competent info.

And hyperlinks are what the web is all about. They're what makes the web so cool.

But when these links are changed by webmasters at target sites, .. without coding in a forwarding link that automatically takes the reader to the new location,.. or the site evaporates .. argh!, I get frustrated.

My head hurts. My eyes burn. Tendons in my right arm are sore (which lead to my click-crazy index finger).

Anyway, back to the HTML mines. What day is it? What's my name? Where am I? Is it really 6 o'clock already? No way! First days of August tomorrow.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: rip encode cd audio lame eac

Posted by Rad at Monday: 31July2006

Blended AdSense ads yield increased revenue via higher click-thru-rates (part II)

Regarding the use of new, blended Google AdSense ads,.. I'm still working on modifying the code (which sux, cuz I have so many web pages .. tedious work, involves no creativity) .. but...

...AdSense revenue jumped by ~50% on Wednesday & Thursday.

Friday's take was only slightly better than average, even tho the click-thru-rate (CTR) was significantly higher than normal. Today also looks to be a very good day, compared to the rest of the Saturdays this month. Maybe the best yet.

I realize a few days does not a representative sample make, but I'm pretty surprised that such a minor tweak could yield this kind of results so fast.

today's entry continues here

My eyes are starting to burn, and tendons in my right arm are getting sore from all the mouse-clicking (copy-n-paste, copy-n-paste... ad infinitum).

And while I have open the various web pages to the site's guides, I noticed places where updates and clarifications are needed...

...so it's taking much longer to complete than anticipated (as does everything it seems these days).

I also noticed that some of the pages in the guides are so big that they have long stretches of text where the reader can't see any ads.

So I'm considering breaking up some of these bigger pages into smaller, bite-sized ones, so I can display pages that have a higher concentration of ads.

Last time I did this, revenue jumped proportionately. But breaking up big pages into smaller ones ain't easy as it looks.

I also abandoned updating the black-background version of the Ghost guide. It's a shame, cuz I prefer pages with a black background, finding them easier on my eyes,.. but it's too much work to update and maintain two different copies of that particular guide.

Anyway, I keep plugging away .. would love to be able to put a dent in some of these lawyer bills I have.

BTW - If you'd like to try your hand at making a few buck$ by writing a guide (not as easy as it looks), I have a standing offer to share the wealth. You keep pretty much all the profit. I take barely enough to pay the taxes.

In other news, I didn't take the bug (Rad Jr.) for a ride down the Balboa peninsula this week, cuz it was too dang hot.

But I did take him to the Wedge, where they have a web cam mounted on the lifeguard tower there. Told friends when I'd be there, and they called (from the East coast), saying (excitedly) they could see me & the little guy playing in the surf.

They could both see & hear us (in real-time, I got closer to the camera), and I could talk to them. Pretty cool, being able to use those two different technologies in tandem like that.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 31July2006

Wednesday: 26.July.2006

Blended Borderless Google AdSense ads yield higher click thru rate (CTR)

Regarding yesterday's entry (see entry for 25.July.2006), about tweaking Google's AdSense ads to maximize revenue .. yesterday was the highest grossing day all month, with a corresponding higher click-thru-rate (CTR).
And today (so far) looks to do even better. So it appears the experts really know what they're talking about.

Regarding the use "blended" ads, where you "remove" the border (by making the border the same color as your web page), and change the ad's background color to the same as your web page...

... I've always felt this was a little dishonest .. which is why I always made the background color of my ads a slightly different shade than that of my web pages (see here for example)...

... so folks would be able to differentiate between my content and ads. I never wanted to trick anyone into clicking ads.

continued

Another 'problem' regarding ad-clicks .. is that .. if you read articles on how to maximize revenue (such as this one), you'll find people saying things like:

For our adsense ads to work best we need to have people landing on them who are looking for information about a specific subject. So our adsense page has to have lots of information about one specific subject, but not so much that they stay there.

I certainly understand the concept, but the Radified guides you find here are usually fairly comprehensive (see links to your left).

This obviously generates much traffic (from external links) to the site's guides, for people looking for helpful info on how to do techie things such as use Norton Ghost to back-up their hard drive .. or learn about the best way to partition a new hard drive .. but...

...once folks get here, they normally don't want to leave. So they have no reason to click ad-links, which would take them away from the site's guides. And Google only pays for 'clicks' (not mere 'page impressions').

So there's a 'negative' associated with doing a good job (regarding the writing of guides, which tend to generate the most traffic)...

... cuz folks won't be interested in clicking any links (including ads) which take them away from the site.

[As a side note, you should know that, if you hold down the SHIFT key while clicking a link (with Internet Explorer), the linked page will open in a NEW WINDOW, which you can close when done, and never lose the page you're currently reading.]

Anyway, the borderless ads blended into my web pages look (deceptively?) like links to articles I may have written myself. Sure all the ads are annotated with a small letters which say Ads by Goooooogle, but this is easily over-looked with 'blended' ads.

At first it was tough for me to put ads on the site, as I resisted the evil influences of capitalism. Then the money started rolling in, and I quickly got over it. [Radified serves up about 20,000 pages a day, last I looked.]

Now it's tough for me to blend ads, but the increa$ed revenue, I'm sure, will help me get over that, too. What's next? Casino gambling? =) Hey, I still have a lot of lawyer bills to pay.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: blended borderless google adsense ads

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 26July2006

Monday: 24.July.2006

Google's New Short Message Service (SMS) for your cell phone

Ever been away from your computer, and wished you had access to a search engine? Well, now you do .. that is, if you (or a friend) have a cell phone handy.

Google offers a free service called SMS (Short Message Service). See here:> Google SMS (still in beta).

Simply send your query as a text message to "46645" (GOOGL), and Google will respond by returning between one and three text messages containing the results of your search. (Normal cell charges & rates apply.)

continued

Gotta admit, it's pretty cool, and convenient. Useful .. for anything you might imagine, such as determining show times, theater locations, weather forecasts, driving directions, currency conversions, stock quotes, etc.

I have already programmed the number into my cell, so I'm ready for whatever. Thanks to Mr. Magoo (from Arizona, author of the popular Guide to Wireless Networking) for today's techno-indulgent tip.

For more info along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: google sms short message service for your cell phone

Posted by Rad at Monday: 24July2006

Sunday: 23.July.2006

Record-breaking heat-wave, and Rad-dad rides again (Surrey)

Been too dang hot to update the web site. It has been this hot here in SoCal before - plenty of times - but I can't remember it ever being this hot for this looong.

I mean, the heat is relentless, stifling, brutal .. even at night, even at the beach. And it's been humid, muggy, sticky, tropical. With no relief in sight. I think the word they use is oppressive.

Heard this is the warmest summer on record - since record keeping began. Maybe Al Gore is right. And from maps seen on TV of temperatures across the nation, it looks like you might be roasting even worse.

continued

The whole country is colored either dark-brown (90's) or hot-pink (100+) .. can't be good. Yesterday was the first time Weatherbug ever flashed a heat advisory for this area (from noon to 7PM).

The hottest temperature I've ever been in was 104 (40-C), in Borrego Springs. No breeze at all.

I remember stepping outside in the morning, and the heat took my breath away, like somebody had punched me in the chest. Hard to breathe air that hot. Later I stepped out of the swimming pool and was bone-dry in 5 minutes.

Reminds me of how it feels when you check the turkey on Thanksgiving, opening the oven door and that wave hits you.

Everything seemed perfectly still, kinda surreal .. almost spiritual. You could *die* in that kind of heat .. wouldn't take very long, either.

In more enjoyable news, I had a cool time playing Rad-dad with the little guy this week. Took him on a bike ride up & down the Balboa Peninsula, on a 4-wheeled bike called a Surrey.

Brought along his red Elmo doll .. and put Elmo in the other seat up front, right beside the bug, and peddled them both up & down the peninsula.

Received lots of attention from on-lookers. Elmo & the bug looked cute together, or at least that's what folks were saying ..

.. things like: "Oh my god, that's the cutest thing I've ever seen." Heard many such comments from folks riding/skating/walking the other way. Lots of folks were hangin' out at the beach, cuz it was so hot inland.

We took the same ride last week, but without Elmo. The only problem .. was that neither Elmo, nor the bug did any peddling .. which left me sweating like .. well, you know.

I like riding the Surrey cuz the bug gets an unimpeded view, sitting up front. Lots of visual stimulation for him there. They don't go very fast, tho. Riding into the wind yields a nice breeze, but requires extra peddling-effort (more sweat).

Riding down-wind is much easier, but you get very little breeze heading that direction (sweat starts dripping). I took the bug's shirt off, so he could experience the full effect. Yeah, that's right, he was diaper'ing his way down the peninsula, totally diggin' it.

I made friends with the guy who rents the Surreys, and he gave me a special di$count (normally $25/hr) cuz he sympathizes with my situation. No time limit, either. "Bring it back whenever you're want," he said with a wave.

Regarding the bug's age (18 months), the bike guy said, "These are the most important times, brother. You're doin' the right thing."

When the bug first saw the Surreys, all lined up, ready to go, he pointed and shouted, "On!" .. which is the same thing he says whenever he sees a carousel, or the Balboa Island Ferry, or ... anything ridable. His vocabulary is limited to a measly 100-or-so words, but he still manages to get his point across.

There's a chance you might see us on the webcam at the Wedge, some mornings, where we stop to watch the boogie-boarders ride the big waves.

Now, where'd I put that glass of iced-tea?

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 23July2006

Tuesday: 18.July.2006

RADIFIED approved for Yahoo! Publisher Network (beta)

Received a call today from a girl named Danni, who represents the Yahoo! Publisher Network (YPN), saying I was approved for their new beta program.

I applied for their program back on May 27th. YPN is similar to Google's AdSense program, which I've been using since March of last year.

They told me they haven't been accepting many people into the new program yet (still in beta), and that I'm one of the first.

continued

The guy I talked to (Aaron), who sent me the new-account authorization key, was located in Burbank. (Nobody likes Burbank.)

Both Google and Yahoo! let you control the size and style of the ads. They only request you don't host competing ads (both Google & Yahoo!) on the same page.

So on any given web page, I can host Google ads *or* Yahoo! ads, but not both.

Rumor has it Yahoo! pays more per click than Google. I guess we'll see. I'm curious to see if I notice a difference ($). I'm loyal to none, and will go with whoever pay$ more.

Okay, I completed the account sign-up and coded in some ads, but they are not displaying. Hmmm. Maybe it takes a while for them to get the wheels turning.

Okay, they sent me an email which says: After implementation, it may take one to two days before ads start appearing on your site. During that time, public service ads will be displayed as our engine reviews the content of your Web site.

But I am not even seeing public service ads. So I put the AdSense ads back, and will try again tomorrow or the next day.

Yahoo! offers phone support (nice) from 6AM to 7PM Monday thru Friday, 7-4 Saturday, and 24-hour online support.

I was surprised to speak with living, breathing people, which I've never done with Google .. altho I will admit that the folks at Google have provideme with timely, professional support, yet (as you know), there's nothing like talking to a real human being.

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: yahoo publisher network

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 18July2006

Monday: 17.July.2006

Upgrading your bootleg copy of Windows XP to a legit "Genuine Advantage" version

Some friends bought a used PC that did not have a genuine copy of Windows installed. They subsequently purchased a valid copy (WXP Pro), but could not figure out how to "validate" their copy of Windows.

After a little research, I found a special utility that does this, which you can find here, in case you know someone in the same boat. Microsoft calls it The Genuine Advantage Product Key Update Tool.

continued

It is for users attempting to change their current non-genuine Product Key to a genuine COA (Certificate of Authenticity) sticker or genuine Product Key all without a reinstall. (More help here.)

It worked fine. Didn't even have to open the plastic wrapper on the new Windows CD. Never touched the actual CD. Now they are now able to download Windows updates. Voila!

Background info: my friends had found themsleves in a digital catch-22 .. when they tried to do the upgrade themselves (for $149), they clicked the link to "upgrade now" (or whatever it says) .. but found themselves at a screen which informed them they needed to upgrade their version of Internet Explorer in order to complete the upgrade a legit copy of Windows.

BUT ... they could not upgrade their copy of I/E, cuz another screen told them they did not have a legit copy of Windows. Absurd, no? That's when they called me. I told them to buy a copy (OEM) of Windows XP Pro thru an online reseller (to save $$$) and call me when it arrived.

Summary: they did, I did, it did. Problem solved.

Related info.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 17July2006

Sunday: 16.July.2006

Sadness of relationship decay, more vivid dreams & kudos

In contrast to the Dog's note (see entry for the 14th), I received a note today from a buddy I used to work with back in New York. We worked 12-hour days (7-to-7) for several months, and would go for a burger after work (at Jeremiah's or Blueberry Hill) or for pizza .. always stimulating conversations. See his note here:

We're legally separated, in the process of divorce. Takes a year to process in NC, so we have a way to go. She just decided she didn't want to live with me anymore (after 13 years). It's tough, but I make it one day at a time.

We've been apart for 7 months. As you know, the feelings of abandonment and loss are the worst things to try to deal with. I miss the boys terribly.

Going from reading to them every night and tucking them in to seeing them every other weekend has been hard.

I was really drifting for a while, but met a girl who is helping right the ship. She's the greatest.

So good to hear from you. Miss our conversations.

continued

Breaks my heart. I know those feelings. Being separated from your kids is unnatural. It goes against every paternal instinct. It's likes cruel & unusual punishment.

And he's such a good guy, too (from the south): intelligent, educated, competent, hard-working, funny, easy to talk to, well-read. He'd read more books than anyone I'd ever met. Has two beautiful boys he adores.

That's the achilles heal of relationships, which makes them risky: it takes *two* people to participate (and you can only control one of them). If your partner wants out (for whatever reason), you can't make it work by yourself.

And (as you know) the emotional anguish can be quite debilitating. (He calls it drifting.) For me, a sure sign something is wrong in the relationship is the intentional infliction of emotional pain (key word: intentional).

If it ever looks like someone might be *trying* to hurt me (on purpose), that's a red flag something is amiss in the relationship, and that I should take a step back and re-evaluate.

Hurts (unintentional) are bound to come in *every* relationship, with even the most well-meaning of partners. But when the offense is intentional, that's a red flag: a sign they don't care as much as we thought they did, or hoped they did.

Cuz if somebody *cares* about you, they don't want to hurt you (intentionally). They don't want you to suffer emotional pain, especially not because of something they've done, or failed to do.

And if they *do* (want to inflict emotional pain), and it persists, you probably won't be very eager to spend time with them (unless you're a masochist). Now we have a name for people who *try* to hurt us (on purpose): enemies.

Update: One reader wrote in with a verse that says love pays no attention to a suffered wrong. That may be true, but I don't think that verse is talking about romantic relationships, cuz if your patner is trying to inflict emotional pain, they're obviously feeling "touchy or fretful or resentful", which makes it doubtful they love you, and most would agree you can't make a relationship work with your love alone.

Anyway, 'nuf of that. I had more vivid dreams last night (see previous entry below), involving the little guy. Not as bad as the previous night, but not very good either.

In my dreams, I never get to spend much time with him. Someone else always has him, and isn't caring for him very well. Last night, I dreamt someone had overdressed him and he was cooking, overheated, beet red. (It has been hot here lately.) He was much smaller, too.

On a more positive note, I was at the coffee shop last week, and a guy came up on his way out and said, "You're doing a great job, dad. Keep up the good work." Made my day. He obviously had been watching.

Then, later that same day, only a few hours later, at the park/playground where I take him, two moms approached (together) and said, "We want you to know we've been watching you and think you're doing a great job."

"Thanks," I said. "I appreciate the vote of confidence. But I know people who would beg to differ." =) [Wonder how long they'd been watching .. minutes? hours? days? weeks?]

I do things with the little guy I don't see other parents doing with their kids. I mean, I get involved, creatively, doing silly things, trying to make him laugh. I have plenty of experience playing (many years), and still have some kid left in me.

Other kids at the park sometimes ask me to play with them, too. Usually little boys. I think it's the male energy and attention they crave. Sometimes I'll push them on the swings if they persist, but normally I'm reluctant. I mean, what if I pushed them and they fell off?

Anyway, my heart goes out to my buddy.

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 16July2006

Saturday: 15.July.2006

Nightmare on Rad street

Nightmare last night. Dreamt I gave the little guy to some lady to watch while I did something .. and she disappeared. What a horrible, helpless feeling.

Woke in a panic, freaked out. Feel exhausted now, like I didn't sleep a wink. Glad to wake and realize it was only a dream.

Seemed real, vivid. Remember praying, "God, if you bring him back, I'll never let him out of my sight again." That's when I woke, sweating, 5AM.

Ate pizza last night, with pepperoni, sausage, etc. Heard spicy foods can influence dreams.

continued

Also saw movie on TV, where a guy is watching his two kids riding merry-go-round (which we do often). When it stops however, the kids are nowhere to be found.

I changed the channel so fast. Can't watch that kind of stuff anymore. Freaks me out. Maybe it put an idea in my head.

Also, people have been telling me (regarding the little guy), "He's so beautiful that you have to watch out .. cuz he's the type of baby people try to steal."

I'm sure they meant well, but we've all seen the pictures of missing kids printed on milk cartons. I don't need any warnings. I mean, I never let him out of my sight (.. 'cept in my dreams, apparently).

I remember, back at the hospital, when he was born, the nurses telling us the FBI actually has a *profile* for people who steal babies (which they watch for, specific to Orange county. California leads the nation in infant abductions):

typically women, white, late-30's to mid-40's, overweight (more difficult for overweight women to conceive), married, recent miscarriage or similar loss, no kids of their own, dressed as nurse, during normal business hours, Monday thru Friday...

Anyway, enought of that krap. We had the best day yesterday, the little guy & I. Rented a type of bike called a Surrey, which has four wheels, one bench. Peddled the little guy up and down the Balboa peninsula in the afternoon.

Gorgeous day. He sat up front, unimpeded view. Great visual stimulation. Lots to look at, in all directions. Got a decent work-out myself, too. (He wasn't much help with the peddling.)

Lots of folks out riding & running on the path, greeting the little guy as they passed by. He was digging it. Little Mr. Friendly must've said, "Hi!" fifty times. That's one of the 50-or-so words he knows. (Girls aged 10 or 12 seemed most enamored with him.)

We also stopped along the way to jump in the ocean. Water was warm. I stripped him down and and let the waves wash over him. He dug that, too. Could hardly contain himself.

Anyway, might have to take a siesta later this afternoon. Still feeling exhausted, shaky. Think I'll pass on the pizza tonight.

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 15July2006

Sunday: 09.July.2006

Reminiscing about climbing Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Enjoying my first coffee in a week. What a great feeling! The hair on the back of my neck is standing. I can think again. The world makes sense again.

Had a touch of an intestinal bug yesterday, which sapped my energy. One of the worst feelings I know is that of having no energy. Really suks. I hate it.

I've always had an abundance of energy .. often too much so, especially when I was young(er) .. needing to find constructive outlets to channel it (which didn't always happen).

Lately I've come to associate lack-of-energy (after seeing what happened to my folks) with disease and death .. and associate things like climbing Half Dome with fullness of life. No sickly person is going to climb Half Dome (8 miles up, 8 miles down).

I remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt after arriving at the top. It seem to confirm the fact that I was still very much alive, and dispel any doubt. To this day, it's still one of the coolest things I've done (twice).

continued

Thought I was one of the few who felt this way. But then I saw an episode of Huell Howser's California's Gold, where he filmed a trip to the top of Half Dome (which you can buy), where I heard many climbers echo similar sentiments.

In church last week, the guest speaker asked how many people had climbed Half Dome. I raised my hand high. Only a few hands were raised. The degree of difficulty is what makes it so cool.

Yes, it's gnarly. Many climb all day, then see the cables, and refuse to go any further. I know that feeling (but went up anyway.) Was I scared? You betcha. Nearly pee'd my pants .. especially when I dropped a water bottle, and it fell a looong time before hitting anything. It got very small, very fast.

I would *love* to climb Half Dome with the little guy someday (Rad Jr.) .. when he gets big enough. Hope he enjoys it much as I do. Maybe you've heard the saying: "You meet the nicest people in the mountains." It's true.

Proverbs says: Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

Didn't intend to talk about Half Dome today. What a rambling post. Man, this coffee tastes good. =) Off to church. Hallelujah! Woohoo!

good ditty on hiking Half Dome is here. For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: half dome climb hike yosemite national park

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 09July2006

Saturday: 08.July.2006

Faith & Reason, with Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers has a new show called Faith & Reason .. two things difficult to reconcile, like Jews & Palestinians, good & evil .. which, I guess, is why he chose them.

I remember, while growing up, teachers telling us that we needed to use our brains to question things people told us, and not accept something as fact merely because somebody claimed it was true .. no matter *who* was doing the proclaiming.

"Anyone who accepts things blindly," we were told, "is wasting their mind." [Powers of reason]

Then, in Sunday school class, we were told that we needed to have faith, and that, "without faith, it is impossible to please God," and not to question things we were told.

continued

I found it difficult to reconcile the two (conflicting approaches). I even asked my folks about it. I forget their response, but it was, let's say, less than satisfying.

Of course, I spent five days a week in academic school, and only one hour a week in Sunday school, so my skeptical, analytical side won out.

But the religious teachers held a bigger threat over our heads: that of displeasing God, and perhaps even eternal damnation...

...while academic teachers would claim we were merely being unwise, foolish. So the scales are more balanced than they might otherwise seem. And consider that little kids don't yet possess the skills to deal with such weighty issues. Heck, many adults don't (which is why Bill has a stream of experts to help us analyze the issue).

I've seen a few episodes of Bill's new show. Found it interesting. He even interviews some atheists. Ironically, every atheist I know is a surprisingly ethical person .. far more ethical than many (certainly not all) church folk, such as Ken Lay.

I *will* say however, that the most loving people I have ever known (personally) are Christians, with strong religious beliefs. The point I'm trying to make is that atheists aren't the amoral monsters some would have you believe.

The there's that verse in Isaiah: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD..." So it sounds like God wants us to use our reason.

Anyway, I thought it rather bold of Bill to take on such a challenge, trying to reconcile two universes that couldn't be further apart.

Speaking of the Bill Moyers show, I noticed they feature an episode with (the writer) Salman Rushdie. My buddy, the Dog, mentioned how he recently did a little electrical contracting work at the home of Mr. Rushdie.

Dog said Salman was extraordinarily nice. "Normally a superintendent shows you around the property," the Dog said, "but Salman himself answered the door and showed me around. His wife is gorgeous."

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 08July2006

Friday: 07.July.2006

A Scanner Darkly, based on the novel by Philip K Dick

The show I'm *really* interested in seeing is .. A Scanner Darkly, based on the book of the same title.

continued

The author (Philip K Dick) used to live right up the road here in Orange county (which he referred to derisively as Plastictown). Several of his novels have already been made into movies, which include Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.

His novels often dealt with the illusory quality of reality, which I much enjoy. I like things that stretch my mind.

I also like the way PKD looks. Something about him looks familiar .. come to think of it, his eyes remind me of the look I sometimes see staring back at me in the mirror.

He seems straightforward and down-to-earth (maybe cuz he's sitting on the ground). Heard he experimented with drugs. The novel/movie is supposedly a "personal account of his punishing life".

The book derives its title (I think) from a verse of scripture found in 1st Corinthians chapter 13: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known .. which describes, I believe, how we don't see things as they really are .. while we're still alive.

Scanner, which also opens today, got better reviews than Pirates. But it's not playing at many theaters. It made the cover story of this week's OC Weekly. Interesting article. Thought it funny where they say, "Doctors told him he was several kinds of crazy." =) Trailers here.

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: a scanner darkly film movie philip dick

Posted by Rad at Friday: 07July2006

Thursday: 06.July.2006

Julio's Christmas cherries

I noticed in the grocery store that cherries are in season. Every summer, I buy a bunch and fill a mason jar with them, then add vod-ka and seal the lid tightly .. before stashing the jar away in a cool, dark place.

On Christmas (or sometimes New Years), I retrieve the jar, invite over some friends and pop the lid.

What you'll find is an *exchange* takes place: the potency of the alcohol somehow migrates into the cherries, and the sweetness of the cherries mellows the vod-ka. (It'll become dark red.)

Use a good quality (unflavored) vodka, and ensure the cherries still have their *stems* .. which is important, or they'll become mushy.

continued

It won't yield much volume .. barely enough for a shot for you and a few friends, but the cherries become potent. And the vod-ka is indescribably delicious.

Anyway, a little preparation today .. can set you up for a special treat when Christmas rolls around. Ho ho ho.

Learned this trick from a buddy named Robert Apuzzo, from New Haven (Westville). He was Italian (still is, far as I know), but his skin was so dark (olive) that we called him Julio (Hoo-lee-oh), cuz he almost looked Puerto Rican.

Spent a few holidays with him (and his cousin Anna Banana), before I left for the military and lost touch. Never forgot his Christmas cherries, tho, and soon made it my own tasty tradition...

...which can now be yours. And when you do, make a toast "to Julio and Anna Banana".

When I was growing up (in Connecticut), gramps had *two* cherry trees in his backyard .. big ones, too. I learned how to climb pretty young, so I've eaten my fair share of cherries.

Here in California, they *pre-bag* the cherries, making you buy the not-so-good ones, in order to get the darker, sweeter fruit.

Here's a map (compliments of Biloxi Joe) of the cherry growing regions in the US. Looks like the main growing regions are east of the San Francisco Bay area, up in Washington state, northern Oregon, and a little in northern Michigan.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 06July2006

Wednesday: 05.July.2006

Conspiracy theory: ENRON's Ken Lay death faked

Ken Lay died last night. You remember: he's the maggot who made off with million$ while the company was headed down the tubes .. and all the while he was assuring employees and investors "There's nothing to wory about. Every thing looks beautiful. I promise. Buy more stock. Hurry ..." .. so he could sell off his worthless stock at an attractive price.

I don't think he's really dead. I think it's just another ENRON-esque hoax .. just like his entire company turned out to be (largest bankruptcy in corporate history). I mean, it would be par for the ENRON course.

He was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy, and supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison (where he belongs). So he had nothing to lose.

I saw the movie: ENRON: Smartest Guys in the Room last year. What an eye opener. Made me sick. Unbelievable greed. I mean, how many yachts can you water ski behind?

And come to think of it, what's a convicted felon doing in Aspen anyway? Shouldn't he be behind bars, where convicts belong?

continued

He's still got plenty of money. You really don't think he didn't stash away a small fortune in offshore accounts while he was running ENRON? If not, you underestimate him.

That would be easy. They were cooking the books like crazy. That's already been proved. Any time anyone wanted to scrutinize their business, they were told to get lost.

And he had major political connections, too, so it shouldn't be too difficult for him to pull off a disappearing act. I mean, what more do you need?

If nothing else, GWB is loyal to his supporters, and Ken Lay was one of George's biggest supporters. I think he would have his boys take care of "Kenny Boy".

If I were gonna fake my death, I'd head out to some remote place (like the mountains of Colorado, for example), and do it in the wee morning hours (such as 1 or 2 AM), when hospital staffs were at a minimum ...

... and of course, I'd have to do it *before* I arrived at prison, cuz then it would be too late (too much scrutiny). I'd bet dollars to donuts that he wants to be cremated.

In other words .. somebody needs to stick a fork in that fraudster's cadaver, and see if he's really done. (I volunteer.) Californians in particular, fell victim to ENRON's price manipulations. Just wanna make sure justice doesn't fall victim to the same shenanigans we did.

I know this sounds like another conspiracy theory, but remember, Lay & his cohorts have already been *convicted* of conspiracy. Sooo, homie obviously knows how to play that game.

Call me a Doubting Thomas, but I just don't buy the heart attack story. He doesn't seem like a heart-attack kind of guy, does he? I mean, if he were really gonna have a heart attack, he woulda had one long ago. Of course, I could be wrong.

Knowing how he was cooking the books, he obviously had plenty of opportunity to have a coronary. It just seems a little too convenient, wouldn't you agree?

I bet the family has a private memorial service at some undisclosed location (where no press is invited). Doesn't Lay own a private island somewhere? He's probably there now, drinking a Mai Tai, reading a newspaper.

Somebody on Wikipedia claimed he committed suicide. Now *that's* something I could actually believe. He was a big church guy, and that usually entails some degree of guilt. But the more likely motive would be despair.

Update: Seems I'm not the only one who thinks the he faked his death. See here: Reuters and Telegraph.

For more on this topic, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: enron ken lay death faked conspiracy theory

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 05July2006