Just Call Me Cesar Millan Junior The Third

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Stef drove down to Orange County last night. Roxie came too.

Over time Roxie and Doppler have become more tolerant of each other. They are not friends. They’ve learned to share space.

Doppler has learned a few tricks. She sits, shakes hands and stands on her back paws on command. Now it’s time to include Roxie.

I’ve been putting little training treats in front of them, telling them to “stay” until it’s OK to eat. Treats are tempting. They’re coming along well, jumping for the goodie as soon as they get the signal.

Stef was impressed. She called me “Cesar Millan, Jr. III.” I told her my real aim was placing the treat on Roxie’s snout. “Can you do that by this afternoon,” she asked?

Later Stef came into my office holding her laptop. I know that move. Something for me to see. It was video of a miniature dachshund chasing a ball launched from an “iFetch.” What made the video so cool was the puppy fed the ball into the launcher himself!

iFetch was a Kickstarter project. Their goal was to raise $20,000 and get into production. They raised almost $90,000!

Their videos show prototypes. The finished iFetch isn’t shipping yet. It’s still tempting to order.

Roxie would get this in a second. Doppler would need a lot more encouragement. She doesn’t know how to play.

How long until Christmukkah?

The New News Channels

Recently our cable lineup has expanded with One America News Network, Al Jazeera America, NHK, BBC World News and CCTV. That’s a lot of extra news channels. Each is sparsely watched, but worthy of checking out.

OANlogo1The most obscure is OANN, based in San Diego. It’s straight news 24/7 with a few political talk shows, all to the right of what Fox News considers mainstream.

The news is down the middle but suffers greatly with virtually no staff reporters. OANN relies on video services, which have a high percentage of foreign news and plain vanilla writing.

Most of the OANN anchors are young and virtually zombified on-the-air. Seemingly, they’ve been instructed to add no personality to what is already drab. Tough to watch.

OANN does not run cheesy 800 number TV offer commercials! Instead they’ve produced inspirational videos featuring patriotic scenes and unidentified voiceovers. They’re tracks from broadcasts by Edward R. Murrow, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Lots of Richard Nixon!

Without a doubt One America News Network spends less on news than any other network.

al jazeera logo blueAl Jazeera America is surprisingly good. Watch for familiar faces, once elsewhere. The coverage is smart and first rate. This is not a happy talk outfit.

Ratings say audiences aren’t buying it. Lots of people won’t watch because of the name or the owners. They start with that handicap.

I haven’t watched enough Israel/Hamas coverage to get a feel for AJA’s slant. Qatar supports Hamas and controls Al Jazeera. Can their broadcast be trusted?

nhk_series_0_1NHK is Japans national network. This is the country with the crazy game shows, TV screens full of blinking fonts and J-Pop. NHK is the opposite. NHK is the cure for insomnia.

Some of NHK’s non-news programs are dubbed in English. The voices are laid back and boring. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

You’re Japan. You’ve set the bar high with your toilets. You need to step it up.

I would love to visit Tokyo, but NHK makes me worry what Japan is really like.

I don’t even stop to sample NHK anymore. Always disappointing.

bbc-world-newsWe got the BBC months ago. I thought I’d watch it a lot. I don’t.

Their reporters and presenters are great, but I find the production cumbersome and intrusive. The gigantic news set is supposed to be part of the production, but gets in the way more often than not. It’s a distraction.

No one has more reporters than BBC. It makes a difference. I have watched them for breaking news, especially in the late evenings when America’s cable networks think everyone is asleep. Great reporters.

I’m a sporadic viewer.

cctv newsFinally, CCTV. It is on Channel 3602! CCTV is buried in a block of foreign language channels, specifically a section of Chinese language channels. All the other news stations are in the 1200s. There are no other English channels above 2000.

I discovered CCTV by accident while attempting to thumb through all my channels.

CCTV NEWS is the English language news channel of China Central Television (CCTV), the nation’s largest national broadcasting network.

It’s owned by the Chinese government. CCTV does feature many American and British, non-Chinese, anchors and reporters. That was a surprise.

I haven’t known about this long enough to have an opinion. It’s just weird that China has a TV station on my cable system.

Here Comes Bertha

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It takes a while for the Atlantic hurricane season to get going. The real action is still far ahead.

Meanwhile, out in the Tropical Atlantic a cluster of thunderstorms is being eyed by the National Hurricane Center. It is Atlantic Invest 93. It will become Bertha.

This “Invest” stuff is a recent addition to the hurricane info deluge. It’s a heads up more than anything.

The storm is probably headed to the northern islands of the Caribbean–possibly the Virgin Islands, then northwest into the open ocean. There’s a lot of wiggle room between now and the weekend.

Intensity forecasts say tropical storm, possibly low end hurricane. Intensity forecasts are notoriously awful.

Up the East Coast? There’s that potential, though the most common track would is well offshore.

It will be watched closely.

Graphics from the math geeks at UW Madison.

The Pot Editorial

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Even 19 year old Geoff is amazed. The New York Times came out for legalizing pot. This week they’re running a series of editorials on the subject.

Spoiler alert: I lived through the sixties and everything that implies.

The gist of the Times argument is, we do a lot of things that are worse and the penalties for pot are crazy.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

Many, many, many years ago I worked in Florida. I was very young, a disk jockey on an ‘underground’ station. One night a co-worker and I hit the Waffle House at 2:00 AM. We were stoned.

A sheriff’s deputy followed us as we left and before long was searching the car. Mike, my co-worker, was arrested for possession. I was released.

The bag wasn’t mine, though I certainly knew it was there.

I never saw Mike again. He made an arrangement with the prosecutor and enlisted in the Air Force.

Mike avoided a criminal record, but had to short circuit his professional career. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Here in California there is (wink, wink, nod, nod) medical marijuana. It is smoked by the world’s healthiest sick people!

In Colorado, Washington and soon in Alaska you can just got to the pot store.

It’s time to stop punishing guys like Mike for something most teens and young adults have tried. It can be done without encouraging consumption.

It’s Better To Give Than Receive

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Not only was yesterday my birthday, it was the ninth birthday for our next door neighbor Simon and 11th anniversary for his folks. Helaine, the more thoughtful of the Foxes, went and bought them cupcakes.

A few hours later there were two messages waiting at our front door. One from the birthday boy, the other from six year old brother Henry (with annotations by mom). Elise isn’t two yet, but Simon has her covered.

This was probably the coolest thing to happen on my birthday. Helaine, Stef and I were genuinely touched.

When I texted their dad he wrote the notes were unprompted!

Many aspects of a child’s behavior are out of a parent’s control. Thank you notes? That’s learned. That’s parenting.

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I’m Not Mark Cuban… But

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Lunch In Surf City

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Fixing My Computer Until It’s Broken

When I woke this morning everything was good–except no Internet! Hold on, I didn’t install anything for that.

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