Dial the Phone

June 30, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Games, Web/Tech 

I found this today: Dial The Phone

After you get past the Matrix-like intro, it’s just a flash game. It took me just a few minutes to get all the way through, and all of it is work-safe. It does use sound – so you might want your headphones on.

Aren’t they Austrian?

June 29, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Film 

In the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp children live in Austria – just before the Nazis annex their country.

During the movie, the nun Maria teaches them to sing in a song called “Do Re Mi“.

If these kids (and Maria) are Austrian, why are they using English words for the notes?

Jury Duty

June 24, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

My wife has jury duty this week. In our county, the petit jury service time is one week or one trial. On Monday, she was excused by juror number on the court answering machine message.

On Tuesday, she was selected for a specific trial’s selection. This is a nasty case – one drug dealer was shot and killed by the defendants – two other drug dealers. On Tuesday, she didn’t make it into the box, but she reported that the defense was rejecting well-educated jurors.

On Wednesday she got the day off as she was assigned to the trial, but no proceedings were taking place.

Today, she went back. This time, she actually made it to the box but was then asked about her background. For education she listed 2 Bachelor’s degrees (engineering and economics), her Professional Engineering license, and her Project Management Professional certification. Then they asked about her hobbies. She included “photovoltaics”. (Don’t forget our home solar system.)

She was excused very quickly.

She got to leave for the day, as no other trials were choosing a jury. She’s probably excused tomorrow as well – there are no other trials in progress.

So, she managed to avoid service on a particular nasty trial. No lying involved – just the truth from an eclectic woman (who I’m happy to be married to, by the way).

Requiem for a Faithful Companion

June 23, 2004 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Miscellaneous 


One of my co-workers, Paul Lynch, lost his faithful companion Chelsea over the weekend. She was well into the later stages of her life at age 12 or 13.

From everything that Paul has told me she was a great dog. So great that he is in the process of moving to his first house from an apartment – a house that was intended to make the living arrangement more comfortable for both of them. She will be missed but not forgotten.

Please leave your condolences in the comments section – Paul will be able to see them there.


June 21, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Web/Tech 

I finally got a GMail invite today. I had posted on GMailSwap offering to write something nice about the person who invited me.

For most of the day (8:30am to 3pm) it said “GMail is temporarily unreachable. However, now it works.

My thanks go out to Kevin Yockey for his invitation. Clearly, Kevin is an individual of the highest caliber, with a keen understanding of the importance of increasing communication in our world today. Without Kevin, our world would be a quieter yet more spam-filled place.

You can now reach me at markrsmith@gmail.com.

Saudi Arabia – our enemy

June 18, 2004 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Today (at least it was announced today), US citizen contractor Paul Johnson Jr was beheaded by a group calling themselves “Al Qaeda in the Saudi Arabia”. (Story from Outside the Beltway)

It’s pretty clear to me now (and it always has been) that Saudi Arabia is NOT our ally. They’ve been funneling money to terrorists (Fox News article), and they seem incapable of asserting any control over terrorists in their own country.

Unless we see a crackdown on terrorism in Saudi Arabia itself, it’s time for action.


We need a list of oil and gas companies buying from Saudi Arabia, in order to boycott them. I’ve been seeing ads on CNN for months talking about the Saudi’s kingdom’s financing of multinational companies (apparently an attempt at “good” spin) – we should be boycotting them as well.

Military Action

After the hand-over of sovereignty to Iraq, it’s time for our military to execute a perfect turn to the south and carry out the invasion that the Saudis were so afraid of for the 90’s.

Also, it’s time to stop military aid to the Saudis – they’re not using it for anything other than joyrides in the desert for young members of the royal family.

President Bush – Time for Strong Action

Reports suggest that President Bush is personally close friends with members of the Saudi royal family. It’s time to set that aside and take strong action against a country that supports and finances terrorism. It’s a tough call – the British monarchy had to make the same decision against their German cousins at the beginning of the 20th century. However, that decision must be made. The guilty cannot hide behind their American friends.

I’m not worried about the loss of oil – it’s only 16% of US imports anyway. Besides, we’ll get it back later. If we survived the embargo in 1973, we can survive this.

Any Good News?

June 18, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Miscellaneous 

I need a little good news. Most of what I’m reading/hearing/experiencing seems to be bad news.

Work is, well, annoying. I’ve been given a project to re-invent a process that we have while ignoring the old rules AND building consensus with the people who invented the old rules. Add to that people who are making decisions in areas outside their expertise and declaring them the new rules. Not fun.

At home things are well, but I’m a bit overextended. I’m hoping to work my tail off at home doing the usual weekend stuff on Saturday to give me a full Sunday to do nothing but what I want to do. Wish me luck.

In the rest of the world, life is a bit depressing. We have the 9/11 hearings telling us that we made lots of mistakes avoiding the attacks, that we are likely to be attacked again, and that we aren’t ready for a new attack – all with political spin both ways. The economy is either improving or getting worse – depending on what statistic is published today. In the meantime, the economy at work is definately getting worse. Americans are being kidnapped or killed or kidnapped and then killed.

Do you have any good news? I’ll take anything – your kid hit a home run or got a permanent tooth. Your cat managed not to throw up on the rug once this week. You didn’t burn dinner last night.

Leave some good news in the comments, or better yet trackback to a post of your own. Please.

A Few Updates

June 16, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Admin 

It’s been a little quiet here. There are a few reasons.

1. My boss has assigned me a hot project, that is going to require a lot of thinking and take up my daytime.
2. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends a bit. Every weekend for the past few weeks I’ve had either work (data conversion on Sunday – a career hazard) or family on one of the two days. The other day, I’ve been doing my flying lessons and trying to get the chores (cut the lawn, pay the bills, etc) done. No rest time.

A few updates on milestones:

1. I’ve done my first 2 cross-country trips for my flight training – both to Cape May. I have a longer one to do, then the dual long cross country, plus my solo cross countries. This is going well.
2. The solar panels on the roof are complete and fully in use! See my other blog at Smith Electric Company for more info.

I’ll post more when I have something important to say, or I’m not in such a time-crunch.

Ray Charles 1930-2004

June 10, 2004 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Music 

Ray Charles 1930-2004

Ray Charles died earlier today at home, surrounded by friends and family. CBS has the best story/obituary.

My parents were about my age (or even younger) when Ray was most popular. I can remember listening to Ray Charles records (yes, those black 12-inch round things) when I was little. I also remember fairly vividly his appearances on Sesame Street.

My wife and I had the luck and honor of seeing him in what has to have been one of his last few tours a few years ago at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. His voice was a little shaky and raspy, but he could still play a mean piano! I was glad to have had the chance.

We’ll miss you, Ray. We’ll still be listening.

Outsourcing – Muppets?

June 8, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Web/Tech 

You thought outsourcing your tech job to a third world country was bad?

Take a look at Nokia! Now, they’re outsourcing your job to Muppets!

(Note the angry eyes on the CFO woman in the green dress, and the security guy with the black tie.)

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