Tuesday, November 25, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Scavenger

Hey let's face it guys, times are tough.

People are losing their jobs, NFL teams are going 1-20, auto company CEOs are forced to drive rather than fly private jets, I mean it's rough out there.

And desperate times call for resourcefulness. So here's a video tip on how to take advantage of one of Kansas City's most abundant and overlooked resources.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama calling

Okay, I get why these guys were fired.

A company can't have employees snooping around in the private files of their clients, especially high-profile, politically influential clients like, oh I don't know, the PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!

But still, as Johnny Sacramoni would say, it seems "funny, ironic, whatever" that these guys got fired for doing something with Obama's records that Obama himself voted in favor of allowing the telecom companies to do.

For those of you with a short memory, here's what happened just a few short months ago:
Sen. Barack Obama explained his support for a compromise on FISA legislation, saying that concerns over American security trumped, at this point in time, objections over immunity for telecommunications that participated in the previously illegal program.
The old Potomac Two-Step continues...

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Blogthing: Typealyzer

I ganked this from May at May's Machete. This kind of thing is very useful for those of us who like to separate everybody into nice neat little psychological categories.
The analysis indicates that the author of http://3oclockam.blogspot.com/ is of the type:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.


This shows what parts of the brain were dominant during writing.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Go Elf Yourself!

Just in time for the holidays, OfficeMax is teaming up with those knuckleheads at JibJab to sponsor the ElfYourself viral campaign.

And it's obviously working, since they got me to post this ridonkulous video ecard.

Still, with cameos from such local bloggy luminaries as Shane, Chimpotle, Xavier Onassis and The D, I think the entertainment value is worth the two minutes it takes to watch. However, it's definitely NOT as cool as last year's Handbell Hero viral staring Pensive Girl.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As seen in Kansas: Atomic Cannon

If you drive far enough west of Kansas City on 1-70, you eventually come to a bend where the highway cuts south with Fort Riley on the west side and a steep Flint Hills bluff to the east side.

If you're paying attention to the scenery instead of the traffic, you may notice at the top of the bluff just as the highway makes a westward turn, a rather large looking cannon.

And, if you've got some extra time, if you're feeling adventurous, if you need to stretch your legs and if the weather is nice, you can pull off the highway into Freedom Park and find out just what the dealio is with that rather large looking cannon anyway.

When you park, you'll see a park shelter with some historical information and a plaque describing one of the few US Army atomic cannons still in existence. You'll also see the beginning of a switch back trail that leads up to the top of the bluff for a close-up view of this nuclear titan.

As you make your way up the switch backs (which are currently riddled with washouts so watch your step), you'll see an artillery piece rise up out of the prairie grass in front of you.

This isn't the Atomic Cannon. It's a rather run of the mill (though still impressive) M1 155 mm Howitzer. There's another one up the hill, aimed roughly in the direction of south Junction City. The WWII-era gun was used widely by the U.S. through the Vietnam war and is still in use by some countries.

Anyhoo, follow the trail a few hundred yards to the top of the bluff, brace yourself against the ubiquitous Kansas gale and catch your breath.

You have arrived.

The M65 Atomic Cannon, affectionately called "Atomic Annie" by the grunts back in the day, stands guard against the Flint Hills prairie chickens and hawks.

Standing next to the impressive weapon you get a sense of scale that you simply can't appreciate when you drive by at 80 mph on I-70 a couple hundred feet below.

The engineers behind this beast had some serious damage in mind when they came up with the idea of building a cannon that could fire a nuclear-tipped shell over 20 miles.

Yes, 20 miles. In it's current position, that puts the recently tornado ravaged hamlet of Chapman, Kan, well within range. Or, you could point the barrel in the opposite direction and lob a radio active round right into downtown Manhattan, though I don't know why anyone would want to do that.

The M65 was conceived and built to defend Europe from those evil Soviet devils back in a time when people used the word "atomic" rather than "nuclear" (or "nookyoular" for that matter).

It was the army's largest artillery gun, and the one at Ft. Riley is the largest of the twenty M65's made during the cold war. Only eight are still around. The one at Ft. Riley is on permanent loan from The Smithsonian.

Here are a few other fun facts about Atomic Annie:
  • At 47 tons, the gun was transported at a top speed of 35 mph by two tractors which brought the total weight to 83 tons. The army considered it "highly mobile" in comparison to the strategic atomic weapons of the day.
  • The drivers of the vehicles communicated with each other by means of a built-in telephone system.
  • The 11-inch projectile fired by the gun weighed in at 550 pounds.
  • The atomic cannon first went into service in 1952, and was deactivated in 1963.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Small change

This just in from The Guardian, Clinton to accept offer of secretary of state job:
Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.
Clinton, who still harbours hopes of a future presidential run, had to weigh up whether she would be better placed by staying in the Senate, which offers a platform for life, or making the more uncertain career move to the state department.
Obviously this won't happen until it happens, but let's just to make sure we're all on the same page here: Obama's definition of "change" is hiring a bunch of Clinton-era retreads (or, actual Clintons themselves).

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YouTube Tuesday: Peter Schiff and his Magical Time Machine

I was mildly blown away when I saw this clip posted by Nick Sloan.

Schiff is almost as prescient as El Borak. Almost.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

It's gotta be the shoes

This has been a really strange day.

It started this morning when I left the house without my wallet. So after dropping the kid off at school, I went a few blocks out of the way to stop by my house to pick it up so I'd have cash for hookers and blow this afternoon.

So then, 10 minutes later I parked in the garage at work and was making my way to the door of my building when I realized I'd forgotten my work ID/key card. So back in the car, 10 minute drive back home, up to my bedroom to get my key card, back in the car, another 10 minutes to the garage, park (I get the same parking place I had the first time), and finally up to my desk.

So I'm starting work late, my computer's acting all up and stuff and it just feels like thing the world in general is out of sync with me and I can't figure out why.

Then it hits me. I bought some new shoes Saturday.

I've been in need of new shoes for a while, and I'm kind of a picky shoe buyer, embracing as I do the importance of comfortable kicks. As Cliff Claven rightly pointed out, all great civilizations had, at their base, comfortable footwear.

Anyway, it takes me a lot of shopping before I can settle on a pair of shoes fit for my soles. But Saturday I stumble into a suitably comfy pair of shoes from Johnston & Murphy.

So today I'm wearing my new Sandro Moscolonis and, while they are indeed cozy (they were "hand made in Brazil" so of course they're comfortable), they just don't feel like my shoes yet.

So that's what I attribute the mild imbalance too. You gotta feel good from the feet up or your day will just seem a little off kilter.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Beet down in the OP Streets

From the Overland Park Public Works department comes this little green tidbit:
Starting this snow season, the Public Works Department is going to experiment with beet juice to treat streets. This organic agriculture by-product is created from desugared beets. It has a sweet smell but is not sticky.

The beet juice, which is mixed with liquid magnesium chloride, will be tested on thoroughfares south of 143rd Street and on residential streets between 119th and 135th streets, from Metcalf west to Antioch.

It is anticipated that use of the juice will reduce overall costs and benefit the environment.
At first, I thought this was some kind of cockamamie scheme cooked up by the powerful beet lobby. But it turns out many states and municipalities have been testing this new solution for the last couple of years.
It works by lowering the freezing temperature of the brine that's used to pretreat roads, experts say. And it's made from a waste product that was dumped down the drain before this new use was discovered.
I've also learned that Kansas City, Mo., will be trying something similar, except instead of beet juice they'll be putting giant steel plates on their roads.

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Friday Blogthing: King me

You Are Checkers

You are very logical and rational. You are able to understand what is and isn't a factor.
You're able to compartmentalize and focus on the essentials.
You appreciate simplicity. You can see the layers of complexity and beauty in anything.
You are also playful and good natured. You don't take life too seriously!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gadget Review: SBH700 Bluetooth Headset from Samsung

I was in the market for a new Bluetooth headset for quite some time. I'd had one before (this one, from Cardo) that I was really happy with. Unfortunately, it was so small and convenient, that I lost it (natch).

So in my quest for a replacement, I had a few requirements:
  • I'm not going to spend more than 80 bucks. I'm not made of money, and unfortunately I don't see Pelosi and Crew lining up to give me any kind of financial bailout anytime soon.
  • It had to be un-dorky looking. Actually, scratch that. They're all dorky looking.
  • I wanted a two-ear stereo version. I always had trouble hearing people with the one-ear Bluetooth headset.
So I spent some time on Amazon, read some reviews, checked some prices and finally decided on the SBH700 Headset from Samsung.

I felt pretty good with the decision, not the least because I've always had really good luck with Samsung electronics. My TV, VCR, phone, video camera, are all from Samsung and all have worked flawlessly with no complaints.

For the most part, I'm getting the same results with the SBH700. The audio quality is great. I can listen to music and video from my phone (mobile YouTube RULZ!) and I've had no complaints about my audio quality coming though the line to the other parties on the call.

The headset was easy to set up, it took about three minutes for me to pair it with my phone and start using it. It's also easy to use, which is important for numbskulls like me who don't like to read the instruction manual.

But there are some drawbacks that are serious enough to keep me from recommending this headset.

For one thing, this gadget is pretty heavy compared to other Bluetooth headsets. I'm not sure whether this is a function of the two-ear nature of the device or just the added electronics needed to make it stereo.

It's much heavier than the single ear Cardo and Motorola Bluetooth headsets I've used before, and you definitely know when you have it on.

It's also too small for my head. Now granted, I have a gigantic noggin. I mean, my dome has been known to generate its own weather patterns. This is why I don't wear sweaters, because my head stretches out the neck-hole so badly when I put them on.

It would probably be fine for someone with a normal sized head, but for me the wires connecting each ear piece are too short. The ear pieces themselves are too large (even for my humongous ears) and lack adequate padding.

All of this leads to the most serious problem with the device, it's very uncomfortable.

The added weight and the sheer gargantuan size of my melon combine with the design of the ear pieces make it difficult to wear this headset for more than a few minutes. Any conference call (or cell phone porn watching session) that lasts more than 10 minutes makes my ears begin to ache to the point where I'd rather just send smoke signals than talk on the phone.

It's a solid device, and would probably be great for the non-cranially challenged. But due to the lack of comfort, I'm going to have to give it a regretful thumbs down.

SBH700 Bluetooth Headset from Samsung
Pro: Great audio quality, easy to use and set up, Samsung reputation.
Con: Uncomfortable ear pieces, too small for my head.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Four out of five Alec Baldwins agree

A lot of my commenters, friends, family members, coworkers and casual acquaintances have been busting my chops pretty hard lately for being a little too hard on Obama since his historical election last week.

Seems I'm not being supportive enough of the new president. Evidently, according to many people, if you're not FOR Obama, you have to be FOR Bush.

I don't buy it, but I understand where this logical fallacy comes from. Both political parties in addition to the media have been conditioning the voting public to think this way for years.

But I don't see a problem with holding a candidate responsible for the promises they make (not that I'm under any illusion that the promises will actually be kept, or that the candidates actually know/care what they're promising).

Still, I was a little surprised to see that crazy, batty Alec Baldwin actually (says he) agrees with me in this regard:
The greatest thing we can do now, those of us who support Obama, is hold him to the same standards to which we held Bush.

Let's face it. We've worked Bush over pretty badly these past few years. It is time for us to face that reality from conservatives, especially with the Triple Crown in place.
Props to Baldwin for the "worked Bush over pretty badly" line.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama’s Public Service plan

Like 105% of the American population I've been in a constant state of euphoria for the past week or so, ever since CNN called the election for Barack H. Obama Superstar.

I think my record of rejoicing is well documented, so I won't go over all the reasons this is election is totally going to change the way policy and lawmaking are carried out in America.

In fact, I'm so eager to Change things that I've been spending a lot of time on the Obama website, just having hope and changing.

That's where I found this awesomely changing idea for compulsory Universal Voluntary Public Service. Here's one way we will create hope by integrating public service into learning:
Require 100 Hours of Service in College: Obama and Biden will establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.
I'm tellin' you. This is one of the best hope-creating ideas of the Obama administration so far. It's so easy, I can't believe we haven't done this already (well, we didn't have any hope or change before Obama, so I guess I can believe it).

Sure there will be naysayers who claim that you can't bribe people into giving a shit about their community, but I think those people underestimate the power of $4,000 a year.

And I did check the numbers. There are roughly 17.5 million college students in the U.S. So, at $4,000 per college student per year, this program would only cost seventy billion dollars a year, a small price to pay to force college students to volunteer.

Luckily, our national reserve of Hope has never been bigger. We have vast supplies of Hope stored up, more than enough to cover $70 Billion a year for college students.

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YouTube Tuesday: New National Anthem

At least the tune is already familiar to some people.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Okay, I admit it...

...I'm not as eloquent as Dave Barry (but then, I don't look like Stephen King's harmless, decidedly un-evil and less popular little brother either, so I've got that going for me)

Here's some spot on-election coverage from Barry's Miami Herald column:
• Barack Obama is our next president, which is very bad because he is a naive untested wealth-spreading terrorist-befriending ultraliberal socialist communist who will suddenly reveal his secret Muslim identity by riding to his inauguration on a camel shouting ''Death to Israel!'' (I mean Obama will be shouting this, not the camel) after which he will wreck the economy by sending Joe the Plumber to Guantánamo and taxing away all the income of anybody who makes over $137.50 per year and giving it to bloated government agencies that will deliberately set it on fire.

• Or, John McCain is our next president, which is very bad because he is a 287-year-old out-of-touch multiple-house-owning fascist who will rape the environment and build nuclear power plants inside elementary schools and reinstate slavery and create tax loopholes that benefit only people who own three or more personal helicopters, after which he will declare war on the entire United Nations and then keel over dead and leave us with commander-in-chief Sarah ''Flash Card'' Palin.
hat tip to Donna.

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Friday Blogthing: I have been analyzed

I'm reminded of the immortal words of Don Corleone who said:
"You can act like a man! [slap] What's the matter with you?"


We guess http://3oclockam.blogspot.com is written by a man (53%), however it's quite gender neutral.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The more things change

I have said I'm disappointed in the reactions of people to this week's election (and the years of campaigning leading up to it).

I think I should note that I'm not necessarily disappointed in the outcome of the election. It was expected, and I frankly gave up caring about presidential politicians years ago.

But I had been holding out hope that there were more people out there who can see what's happening and care enough to be as upset about it as I am.

In reality, the American people don't want change. They want more of the same.

More government programs to take care of the poor means they don't have to take responsibility for the poor in their own neighborhoods.

More government takeovers of failing industries mean they don't have to deal with the fallout of their own poor decision making.

If we make the government responsible for our health and education, we can go on eating Big Macs and playing Grand Theft Auto 4 until our hearts explode.

We're not responsible for our actions because we are all victims.

I've come to the conclusion, due to lack of evidence to the contrary, that as a society we've reached a tipping point, a critical mass where the number of people demanding that the government do more will continue exponentially to outnumber the people who just want to be left alone.

We will demand more and more from our government in exchange for giving up more and more of our personal freedoms and responsibilities.

And don't kid yourself into thinking this is a Republican/Democrat thing. Both parties are pushing for the erosion of personal freedom, from the constitutional abuses of the Bush administration to the support of domestic spying by congressional democrats (including our president-elect).

Yes. It's a depressing thought.

There are very few options. Either accept it, join the crowd and try to get as much as you can, or ignore it and hope you and your children die before the government goes bankrupt and is bought out by Brawndo - The Thirst Mutilator™.

Of course, on the other hand it might be kind of cool to vote for Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho for president. Now THAT'S change we can believe in.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Buddy can you spare some change

At first I thought it was very precious. So cute how everybody was all touchy-feely about what they had done.

It was kind of like being a parent watching the kids open presents on Christmas morning. They get so happy about some cheap plastic trinket that will be broken before the end of January.

You let them have their moment. It's so easy to please them and they don't know any better anyway.

But then I remembered that these aren't children. They're grown adults. They should know better.

I became increasingly disappointed as I read phrases like...
I don't think there was a dry eye in the room after Obama's speech.
I watched that speech with tears in my eyes. This is something that people will remember for a very long time. We’ll tell future generations about watching this election and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
This is the most important day in my over half a century on this planet..
This is something I don't understand. There are people out there who actually think "history has been made." Mature people, ostensibly rational people who should know better than to make decisions based on emotion. People who are old enough to have learned from the previous seven to 10 elections.

But aside from the fact that by definition history is made every day, the only thing remarkable about this election is that Obama is black.

For some people that's enough. Heck, for some people that's the only thing that matters.

As for history and the big "change" that everyone is expecting, I'm surprised that so many are so naïve to think that any real change will actually happen.

Politicians are still beholden to the money of special interests. With Obama, even more so.

They will promise the voters all kinds of new, expensive programs, inexplicably paid for by lower taxes. With Obama, even more so.

Sure, there has been a change in which party is in control of one of the branches of government. But to accept that as a real change, you have to convince yourself that there is a difference between the two parties, an accomplishment that takes a monumental act of self-deception and willful disregard of history.

It's like a Royals fan, believing each spring that their team will be in a pennant race at the end of the season despite years of evidence to the contrary. The difference is that despite the behavior of the vast majority of the electorate, politicians and news media, this isn't baseball.

If we want real improvement, we need to stop looking at national politics like it's a team sport or the latest season of Dancing with the Stars.

But we don't really want real improvement, do we.

My thoughts to be continued tomorrow...


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: A tree falls in the forest

Silly as it seems, I suspect this is how 90 percent of voters see their favorite candidates. This is about the level of analysis most people put into their decisions.

Ah well, at least I got a free burnt coffee out of my vote.

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Monday, November 03, 2008


Now that Halloween is over, it's time to shift our attention to the next task: Christmas shopping.

That's right. Retailers are already putting out Christmas merchandise. And it's a good idea to get as much gift buying out of the way as early as possible. With only 52 days You don't want to be one of those poor schleps doing last minute shopping at the convenience store on Christmas Eve.

Luckily, I learned today that I'll be able to complete a major portion of my Christmas shopping in the next week or so when I buy my Supermodel Wife one of the coolest gifts EVAR!

I just read that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's luxury yacht is now for sale.

I'm tellin' you, it's the perfect gift. Imagine sailing the Persian Gulf in the lap of the luxurious, 270-foot Ocean Breeze. It has too many swimming pools to count, numerous salons, mahogany furniture, big screen TVs, gold and marble accents and more.

There are ornate fountains, gold-tap bathrooms, whirl pools, steam rooms, and hi-tech bathrooms and enough opulent staterooms to sleep 28 people.

This little boat is replete with safety features as well. Cruising the Persian Gulf, for example, your likely to run into your share or pirates. That's where the built-in missile launcher and bullet-proof glass comes in handy

And, if worse comes to worst, you can always escape through the secret passageway to the on-board mini-submarine.

In your face, Dr. Evil!

Oh sure, maybe it does lack a helipad. But in this day and age, with the economy in the shape it's in, a helipad might seem a bit ostentatious. We're noting if not understated at the emawkc household.

And and at a paltry $35 million, this boat is a bargain!

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