Palm Springs Swings

I was on Instant Messenger with my friend Farrell a moment ago. Though he works in Poland, tonight he’s home in Palm Springs.

(01:11:23) Farrell: earthquake

(01:11:25) Farrell: just now

(01:11:28) geoff: wow

(01:11:29) Farrell: house just shook

(01:11:31) geoff: in the Springs

(01:11:46) Farrell: just now

(01:12:10) geoff: wow

(01:12:25) Farrell: where can i go to see it on line

(01:12:34) Farrell: vered thought she felt something on the other side of the house

(01:12:37) Farrell: weird

(01:12:43) Farrell: the entire room shook in here

(01:12:49) geoff: small quake?

(01:12:55) Farrell: small maybe

(01:13:07) Farrell: but large enough for the 3rd bedroom to shake including my chair and the desk

(01:13:33) Farrell: vered was in the BR when she felt it

(01:13:37) geoff: looking for it now

It’s was freaky to be online, speaking with someone, as the quake let loose.

This was even more amazing. Within a few moments,the data was available online!

Version #1: This report supersedes any earlier reports of this event.

This is a computer-generated message. This event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.

A light earthquake occurred at 10:11:26 PM (PDT) on Friday, June 1, 2007.

The magnitude 4.2 event occurred 17 km (11 miles) ENE of Thousand Palms, CA.

The hypocentral depth is 5 km ( 3 miles).

According to all this, Farrell felt the quake and sent a message three seconds before it happened! Could be my clock. Could be a data error at USGS.

Farrell and Vered are OK. They’ve got no damage. I’d be changing underwear.

I’m Numberless

What’s your most organized time of the day? For me, it’s the thirty seconds that precede getting in the car for work.



Collar stays




Cell phone








Trust me – I’ve forgotten each of these at least once… some a lot more than once. The wallet and watch are the worst. If either of these are missing, I walk with a list!

Wow, this entry is just starting and I’m already off on a tangent.

Anyway, I left the house, turned on the phone, checked my messages and realized there was something I had to tell Helaine. She’s “9” on my speed dial.

Nothing. An error message told me slot 9 was unassigned.

Uh oh. Not good.

As I drove, I hit the button to see my phone numbers and… oh crap… nothing. All my entries are gone. It’s really not important how it happened, though I know it’s not my fault.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t dial most numbers anymore. I just find them in my phone book and hit send. My phone book has taken the place of my memory.

It’s possible there’s an old version somewhere on my computer at home. It’s certainly not a recent version, but it will get me started.

Meanwhile my friends Wendie, who got a new number with a job promotion and my friend Farrell, now in the Palm Springs area, are lost. I don’t even know his area code!

The awful thing about this kind of loss is that you don’t even know what you’re missing. If you’re leaving a message for me, please leave your number.

Blogger’s note: Somehow, I managed to find a month’s old backup on my backup PC. I now start the task of updating numbers that have changed.

Viruses – Never Say Never

Viruses are the scourge of the Internet.

Earlier this week, I told my friend Farrell (always searching for better, more vigorous virus protection) how I use none and had never been hit by a virus!

Oops. Somehow I got two at once!

I turned on my old laptop&#185 when I came home last night and there they were. I’d probably picked them up the night before, but they needed a reboot to activate. They didn’t come via email, because I don’t get mail on that machine. They must have come through Firefox or (more likely) Windows Media Player.

They were both sitting in the system toolbar at the lower right of my screen and one was popping up dialog boxes ever few seconds. The sentence structure hinted of slightly broken English. That was my cue it wasn’t what it claimed to be – a warning from Microsoft that I’d been infected and needed to download protection.

The first of the virii cleaned up with no trouble. In fact, it had an entry in the add/remove programs dialog, as if it were legit. The second wasn’t quite as easy.

I can’t tell you its name except to say its toolbar signature is a red circle with an “X” in the middle.

A little sleuthing turned up some older entries, but none seemed to exactly match my poison. What I caught was probably an adaptation of an earlier virus.

We’re talking about crooks and thieves here. They’re not buying their software at CompUSA.

On the inside, my virus was programmed to hide in plain site, creating a new, randomly named, program each time it ran. Find the virus, stop the program – it creates another.

I found what I think is the ‘seed,’ a program called winstall.exe, as a new entry in my registry. It was scheduled to run each time the computer rebooted.

I did some manual pruning, removing a line from the registry, then allowed AOL’s new virus scanner&#178 (actually the very highly rated Kaspersky anti-virus) do its thing. As is my custom in these cases, I ran it in ‘safe mode,’ then ran it again.

I’ll keep an eye on the little laptop to make sure it hasn’t been permanently compromised. I’ve heard of cases where the virus goes dormant for a while only to return when your defenses are down.

I’d hate to have my computer responsible for sending out thousands of spam emails (as compromised computers often do) or interrupting my surfing with pop-up messages.

I’m upset I allowed this to happen to me! I’m supposed to be the guy who fixes other people’s computers and then, disapprovingly, shakes my head.

It wasn’t a virus as much as it was an injection of humility.

&#185 – This is a really old machine – a Dell PII 300 laptop with 256 mb RAM. It is ploddingly slow for many things, but easily handles web surfing and poker while I’m in the family room.

&#178 – AOL’s virus scanner is free, and you don’t have to join AOL to get it. I suppose its in their best interest to clean up the Internet as best they can.

Tech Support By Telephone

My sister called this morning. BIOS error message on her business PC! Should she reformat the drives?

Tonight my friend Farrell was on the phone. He’s moved to California. The cable installer made him remove his network before installing his service and now there’s nothing!

I’m not sure what’s happened with my sister’s problem, except to say the BIOS checks happen before the disk drives are in play. So, it’s unlikely her data was in jeopardy.

I’ll call her a little later to see.

Farrell just needed some hand holding. No – not in the Gayle/Oprah sense. He just needed someone to talk him through the problem.

Surprise – I read the manual while we spoke and fixed the problem.

However, in his defense, there are so many possible outcomes that manual reading probably doesn’t help those who don’t know what’s going on in the first place.

Here’s the real problem. In order to be versatile, computers have to be complex. I don’t think there’s a way to separate the two.

If all a computer did was run a spreadsheet… or play a game… or act as a word processor, life would be easier. But we want our computers to do all those things and often at the same time.

Last night I was transcoding video off a DVD, browsing the web and playing poker – all at once.

We don’t want PCs that are single task. We want robust machines that do whatever we want whenever we want it done. That means we need to step up and better understand how everything works.

Right. Even I don’t believe that’s likely, or even possible. By nature, people are unlikely to delve deeply into technical minutiae.

What we really all need is someone like me. Scary.

Amazing Technology

My friend Farrell is moving from Washington, DC to California. Currently, he’s somewhere close to nowhere – in New Mexico, just east of Gallup. There’s a lot of nothing in New Mexico. Some of it is beautiful nothing, but it’s nothing nonetheless.

Farrell and his wife, Vered, are driving cross country. Maybe I’m getting too old. I don’t hear of friends doing that anymore, as I did when I was in my twenties.

They left DC and headed to Memphis. From there it was off to Amarillo. Who knows how far they’ll get tonight before stopping and resting.

Here’s what makes this so interesting for me. We’ve been talking for much of the trip. Sometimes it’s on the phone. Mostly it’s on Instant Messenger.

Farrell has a Blackberry (aka – Crackberry) permanently affixed to his hip. So far, reception’s been good.

Between the Blackberry and satellite radio in the car, he has all the advantages of travel without the really awful parts – horrendous local radio and no communication.

He’s probably near one of the few places I was ever stopped for speeding. It was on I-40 in Quay County, NM. I was moving from Phoenix to Philadelphia, so 1975 sounds right.

I was stopped for doing 65 mph in a 55 mph zone. Of course, before the ‘gas crisis’ of the early 70s it was a 75 mph zone! Farrell tells me it’s a 75 mph zone again.

This October, Helaine and I will also be driving through New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. My chats with Farrell have further gotten me in the mood.

I’m hoping there’s a statute of limitations, because I’m not sure I paid that speeding ticket.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Were we the last people in America to see The 40 Year Old Virgin&#185? We’ve seen it now!

Other than getting the newspaper and picking up the mail, I didn’t leave the house on Saturday. Helaine wasn’t far behind. Tonight, with little going on and both of us in pajamas, I asked if she wanted to see a movie?

We had never ordered a pay-per-view film before. I hit the big ‘money button’ on the remote control and scrolled through the titles. There’s a lot of garbage available. In fact, the percentage of crap is astounding, especially when coupled with the fact – someone wants you to pay for it!

We got to the “T”s before there was one movie we’d even consider watching. Helaine said “The 40 Year Old Virgin” was supposed to be funny, so we gave it a shot. The $3.99 we paid seems reasonable versus what it would cost to rent a DVD.

It was certainly a lot more convenient.

There’s plenty to like about this movie. The cast was excellent, starting with Steve Carrell and working down. But let me start where the credit belongs – the writing.

On many occassions Carrell and Judd Apatow’s script could have easily turned Andy, the title character, into a stereotype. Instead, at each fork in the road, Andy establishes himself as multidimensional and human. It’s a neat trick, and though some of his personality traits are unexpected, it works.

Andy, a stock clerk at a Circuit City type store, reveals his lack of sexual experience while playing cards with the guys. The movie is his journey out of virginity.

This is a real ensemble cast with five or six solid performances by characters that aren’t written paper thin. I particularly like Seth Rogen (the tattoos were ‘special effects’), Romany Malco and Paul Rudd as his co-workers and Catherine Keener as Trish.

Until last week I had no idea who Catherin Keener was. Then I saw Death To Smoochy, where she had a large supporting role opposite Edward Norton. She was very good last week and just as good this week.

If you were watching TV any time around the release of the movie, you probably saw a clip of the scene where Steve Carrell has his chest waxed. The word is, his pained expression… his pain actually… was real.

It was hysterical, but I am such a wimp I had to look away.

I enjoyed Carrell on The Daily Show and in Anchorman. This was far better and he is a fine comedic actor. I haven’t seen The Office, his show on NBC. I guess I have to now.

My guess is, in time this movie will be considered a classic. Honest. Is that too much to predict?

There is some nudity and explicit sexual content. If my daughter has seen this movie, I’d rather not know.

&#185 – Actually, no more than two minutes ago, my friend Farrell said he hadn’t see it either. He is in England at the moment, so we very well may be the only people in America not to have seen it.

Gifts From New Orleans

I arrived at work yesterday and found a large box from Staples sitting next to my desk. It was from my friend Farrell’s mom, Ruth.

Ruth Meisel was a lifelong New Orleans resident. She’s in Connecticut now, permanently.

Ruth was among those who had heard dire warnings before and decided to stand her ground, in place, against Hurricane Katrina. I’d like to think I had some influence in getting her to change her mind before the storm hit.

Looking back, Ruth knows she made the right choice to leave. Though her house stands, a look inside only hints at what she would have experienced. It must have been an astoundingly hard decision at the time.

When I opened the box, I smiled.

I will get more elaborate and more expensive gifts this holiday season, but none more thoughtful or meaningful. What you see in the photo is a New Orleans care package.

The Meisels Go Home To New Orleans

Back when Hurricane Katrina was threatening the Gulf Coast, I did my best to get Ruth Meisel out. The day she drove to safety up north was the last time she saw her home, until yesterday.

With her two adult children in tow, Ruth Meisel returned to New Orleans to see what could be salvaged and tie up loose ends. She will be among the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands, who will leave their homes and move elsewhere.

New Orleans is being abandoned, wholesale.

I asked her son, my friend, Farrell to type some of his thoughts so I could put them here in the blog. I’ll sprinkle a few of his photos here, though the best way to see them is in this slideshow.

Clean up goes on. 80% of the city was affected. Some parts of the city have begun to function, albeit at half speed. This area is still without electricity and is deemed unsafe. It’s expected that electricity won’t be restored in New Orleans East for six to nine months. My mother returned for the first time since the hurricane and subsequent floods, to survey the damage and see if anything could be saved. She’s suited up and ready to go inside. In the background, my sister, Cheri, ready to suit up, as well.

It’s nice… no, it’s amazing to see Ruth smiling.

Here’s my read. She could be distressed with what she’s about to see, or she could be happy to see she raised her children right, and they are accompanying and supporting her. She chose the latter.

My mother knew from earlier reports and a prior visit by my sister, that things didn’t look so good. She’s been very optimistic and hopeful, looking forward and giving us much encouragement. My mother’s house survived the storm on the outside, but the inside looked and smelled awful and was a total disaster. Entering the front door we were greeted by a living room chair that wasn’t there when my mother left in August. That gives you an idea of how we were greeted.

From the marks on the wall it looks like 4-5 feet of water made it into the house. From the ‘bunny suits’ the Meisel’s wore, you can assume it wasn’t spring water.

Nearly everything was ruined.

One of the things that struck Farrell when we spoke on the phone was the proliferation of signs advertising Katrina related services. There are also markings, scrawled on homes with spray paint.

This house has been FEMA’d. FEMA is not an acronym here. It’s a four-letter word. BTW, so is Bush.
One of the city’s synagogues, Beth Israel, an Orthodox house of worship…Also one of the city’s oldest, which used to be in the historic uptown area until the late 1960s. Also on Canal Blvd, note the watermarks. Reportedly, the head Rabbi fled town, leaving the Torah scrolls to flood and be rescued from religious volunteers. The Rabbi has since been fired. My sister spotted prayer books and prayer shawls on the ground in front of the now-deserted synagogue….a sin in the Jewish religion.

Here’s how Farrell ended his note, and I’ll leave it pretty much intact:

As I visit here, for the first time in several years, 3 months after the devastation that has been chronicled worldwide, I have now discovered: A Missing City. Parts of the city and neighboring parish (Jefferson) we have seen are beginning to function, but it’s slow and without spirit.

In our many conversations with New Orleanians and Jeffersonians, one hears a great deal of anger leveled at Government. I could only find one person with a nice thing to say about President Bush. I asked why? The waitress at the seafood restaurant said it was the Louisiana Governor’s fault for not letting Bush send FEMA and the troops in. I then asked, out of curiosity, did she know that Bush was on a fundraising trip in California for three days before he did a “fly-over”, VP Cheney was buying a vacation house and the Secretary of State was shopping in Manhattan, while her home state, Alabama, was flooded. The waitress hadn’t heard that.

A newspaper stand owner or manager clearly vented his anger towards Bush, but didn’t spare either the local, regional and state governments, but felt, the US Government let Louisiana down.

Most of the Greater New Orleans area, (Orleans and neighboring parishes), as it’s known, with some 1 million people once living there, don’t have electricity, a home, assistance from FEMA, insurance companies, and they feel forgotten just three months after the hurricane and floods.. As is the case with crises the world over, once the cameras leave, the sense of urgency goes with the camera crews.

The stores and shops that are open are operating for limited hours due to two factors: limited shoppers and limited staff.

It’s quite unusual to be driving in one part of the area, say neighboring Metairie, where the shops and malls have reopened, only to continue on Interstate 10 to downtown New Orleans, and pass through darkness because whole areas have no power.

There were some signs of life downtown and in the French Quarter. The beautiful St. Charles Avenue historic areas seemed to be untouched and lit, yet, just a few blocks away, one would have thought we could have been in a war zone.

Rumors of price gouging exist. Household stores are reportedly charging double for goods consumers can buy in the middle of the state or in Mississippi for less. Gasoline is 30 cents a gallon more expensive than in the center of Mississippi or Louisiana reportedly.

Residents feel abandoned now. From the newspaper shop owner to restaurateur, residents don’t feel the city of N.O. census will approach even half of it’s close to 461,000 registered residents.

Employers are looking for employees. Potential employees are looking for housing, assistance from FEMA and the insurance companies, and those are the few, who have returned.

The Times-Picayune reported today that the New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, rumored to be in Washington on business, actually wasn’t there on business, but took his family on vacation to Jamaica. While I’m sure he’s deserving of a break, there are several hundred thousand to one million people, who’d love to take that break, if only they could get some help from the various government agencies so they could get on with their lives and rebuild. And I haven’t even begun to discuss the levee system.

As I write this at 2am Central Standard Time, I was trying to think, after only two days here, how could I best describe what I have seen and heard? The word that comes to mind is “abyss.”

New Orleans, which had once been described as the “city that care forgot,” from an old Mardi Gras tale, has become the bottomless gulf or pit. There are only a handful of truly unique cities in the U.S. with some history and character. When tourists think of those cities, New Orleans had always been in the same company with San Francisco, Boston, New York, Savannah, and perhaps one or two other cities or towns.

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest, if there is no sense of urgency, New Orleans could drop off that list in my lifetime.

Please, look at the pictures. It is so sad… so tragic.

I Didn’t Know I Was This Nice

My friend Farrell’s mom, Ruth, has been interviewed again about her escape from New Orleans.

Every time she tells the story, I become a bigger hero. It’s now the “Legend of Geoff Fox.”

Seriously, this was a call anyone with info would make to the parent of a close friend. I am glad Ruth escaped New Orleans unscathed. I’m glad she listened to her family and friends, because I know in her heart she very much wanted to stay.

The story from the Valley Gazette continues at the jump.

Continue reading “I Didn’t Know I Was This Nice”

Toys Will Be Toys

Friday must have been the second anniversary of Helaine and Steffie getting their phones. I know that, because Friday is listed on the Cingular website as their day for new phones.

You’ll notice I didn’t say it was my day for a new phone. That came over a month ago. My new phone allowance went to Steffie, whose phone had been beaten within an inch of its life over the last few years.

I’d looked around and considered lots of phones. Maybe I’d get a PDA type, like the Treo or BlackBerry?

I get email all the time from my friend Farrell’s phone. Each message is tagged:

A BlackBerry Wireless Handheld Message.

Then I thought about the size of those phones. That was the stopper. Too big.

Believe me, the thought of 24/7 connectivity is very appealing. I know a lot of people feel otherwise. Simply, they’re wrong.

I didn’t succumb. Size does matter.

I ended up with a Motorola RAZR V3. It is probably the slickest looking phone you can buy today. It’s very slim, though the form factor is actually larger in length and width than the LG I’m retiring.

When I told my boss I was getting the Motorola he looked at me slyly and asked if I knew there was a community of RAZR hackers? Yikes! No!

I started to read. Most of what they’ve accomplished is wasted on me. Remove the Cingular logo – big deal. Same thing with taking away the clock. I want the clock.

It would be nice if someone’s written utilities to better read signal strength or tell me which tower I’m on.

They have done one thing that’s very enticing. They’ve taken the camera on the phone and enabled it to take video! I have no idea how that’s even possible.

The video is small and very poor quality, but it’s video.

Unfortunately, in order to enable this, you have to hack into the programs that make the phone work. I’ll probably do it, but I’ll think long and hard before I do.

The integrated camera is way below state of the art. It is only 640×480 pixels with a really tiny lens. I intend on using the camera a lot on the blog. The pictures I mount here are even smaller!

On the left a sample, featuring the night crew at the Greek Olive in New Haven.

When Steffie got her phone, I went on eBay and found a cable and software to manipulate photos, video and sound. The cable came a few days after she left. Right now, it’s being used on my phone.

First to be changed was the stock wallpaper. I found a nice shot of Helaine, Steffie and me and pushed it across the cable to the phone.

Then I replaced the ring sound. Most of the time my phone vibrates when a call comes in. A ringing phone in the studio isn’t appreciated. But, for those times when sound is called for, I found the old “ABC Contemporary Network” radio news sounder.

I am still on the prowl for the recently retired CBS Radio News on the Hour sounder. Write if you have it.

I’m still playing with putting video on the computer. I’ve made a few attempts but the audio and video are way out of sync.

Helaine has already accused me of buying a toy. Is she looking? Sure it is. I love my toys.

Still on order, a Bluetooth headset&#185, which was mailed from Taunton, MA on Friday and a Bluetooth USB adapter for this computer which ships directly from Hong Kong.

When I look at the phone, it’s tough to believe how far the technology has come in such a short period of time. Imagine where we’ll be ten years from now!

&#185 – Bluetooth is a very strange name for a short range wireless technology.

Diner Discussions

This was originally going to be called “Dinner Discussions,” but when I made the type to “Diner Discussions,” I realized it fit better.

I got a call this afternoon from my friend Farrell. He and his wife were in Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Casino. Actually, I think Farrell called out of a sense of boredom because casinos were not built for him!

I asked when they were driving back to New Jersey. When it seemed like a reasonable time, I asked if they’d like to stop for dinner in New Haven?

Farrell said he was in jeans and I didn’t feel like shaving&#185, so we decided to meet at the Greek Olive. The Greek Olive is a diner located right off I-95 at Long Wharf in New Haven. It’s about 15 minutes from here and under an hour from Mohegan Sun, but on the way home for them.

Tony and Anna who own it, used to own the luncheonette next to the TV station. I’ve known them and their daughters for years. I eat there two or three nights a week.

I drove to Long Wharf, getting there before Farrell, his wife and sister (who lives in Derby and was invited to join us). It was reasonably crowded, but someone was leaving a circular table tucked away in a corner of the dining room and Anna asked if we’d like it.

I know this blog is read all across the world (that continues to completely stun me), so I should explain the concept of a diner. They will make pretty much anything – from prime rib down to scrambled eggs and everything in between. The service is fast. The portions are generous. The coffee is never ending.

Though I’m not eating desserts at the moment, diners are known for their amazing baked goods – and this place is no exception. As you walk in, it’s tough to miss the huge cakes sitting in a refrigerated, glass walled case.

I have known Farrell for nearly 25 years. He was responsible for me getting my first TV job in Buffalo. I try not to hold that against him.

Everyone sat down, and the small talk began. It wasn’t long before we began to talk politics and the election. There is no doubt in my mind that the interest in this particular presidential election is just as great, maybe greater, than any in my lifetime.

I don’t think the country has been this divided Nixon – McGovern in 1972. By that I mean the supporters of either candidate find it difficult to understand how anyone could vote for the other guy. Back in 1972 the two side were also far apart in policy but very mismatched in strength. Nixon was a juggernaut in that election.

This time the lines are again well drawn, but the supporting camps are more evenly matched in size.

After a little while Tony walked by, pulled up a chair and sat down to join the discussion. It was great.

Really good discourse of any kind (but especially political) is a lot of fun. It is to your brain as exercise is to your muscles. It made a good meal with friends even better.

I watched Jon Stewart of the Daily Show on Crossfire on CNN a few days ago. He criticized the hosts (Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson) for using dogmatic arguments or quotes out of context or just plain spin to promote people they supported. Stewart claimed this ‘ends justifies the means’ method of political argument seen so often on cable TV does our country a disservice.

I agree.

That’s why this discussion, which was so free wheeling and open was so much fun.

I don’t agree with everything everyone said… in fact I disagree with lots of what I heard. I was just glad to have the workout and suspect everyone there was enjoying it too.

What I expected to be a terribly lonely night, in the house by myself, turned out better than anticipated.

&#185 – If Helaine found out that I shaved on a Saturday while she was away, she would call for an investigation – and be justified doing it.

Living on Hawaiian Time

I don’t know how I got into this. I don’t know how to get out of this… or even if I should. I live my life on Hawaiian time.

I suppose that’s not a bad thing to do if you’re living on Maui, but I’m somewhat removed to the right on most maps.

This time of year Hawaii is 6 hours behind Connecticut. So, when I go to bed at 4:30 AM EDT, it’s really 10:30 PM in Hawaii. When I get out of bed at 1:00 PM, that’s 7:00 AM in Hawaii.

Where this starts becoming a problem is in those pesky interpersonal relationships. Who exactly can I call at 3:00 AM if I’m looking for company? I have a few West Coast friends who are awake, but with my hours I’m often scared to call even them.

Things were great when my friend Farrell was in Singapore. It varies through the year, but they are mostly 12 hours ahead of us. When I would get on the computer at midnight, Farrell would be getting ready for lunch – the next day. I could even call (having found a calling card that made Singapore a few cents a minute).

When you think about it, I’m not really that far out of line. If the average person gets home at 6:00 PM and goes to sleep at 11:30 PM, that’s 5:30 awake at home. I get home around midnight and only stay up for 4-4:30.

People call during the day and are apologetic when they wake me. I can’t complain. You would think it’s safe to call someone at home around noon.

Stranger Than Fiction – Much Stranger

I got a call from my friend Farrell earlier this evening. “Do you still have today’s Times?” he asked.

He was calling from Washington, but I knew he wasn’t talking about the Washington Times. The New York Times was his concern and I still had my copy at home.

“Look at Page A6.”

So tonight, when I got home, I did just that. It was a typical inside page in the Times main section. Fully 75% of the page was ads. The lower half was a sedate graph touting the ratings for NBC’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention. It was that ad Farrell was referring to.

A first glance it looks perfectly normal… but read each word carefully.

I can’t believe this got by everyone at NBC and the Times!

Red Rock Canyon – It’s Tuesday

Considering this is Las Vegas, we got up early… before 9:00 am. Helaine had read about Red Rock Canyon and, since it would get close to 110f today, we figured that was an early outdoor trip (being that we’d leave Las Vegas and head to where it was a little warmer, with no shade).

There’s a coffee stand downstairs at The Mirage, and while I took a shower, Helaine got me coffee and a muffin large enough to have been baked at a nuclear storage facility… and the NY Times. It’s a shame about the reporter there who scammed the paper recently. In spite of that, access to the NY Times is a very good start to my day. It is the paper of record.

We went down to valet parking to get our vehicle, a small SUV. Helaine already had directions to go but she wanted me to double check with the valet, and he said we weren’t going the best way. He was wrong, but we followed his directions (and came home the right way). It should be noted, since we’re not on a schedule, and we like looking around, going out of our way is fine.

Driving down Las Vegas Blvd to Charleston allowed me to see “the cloud” going up in front of The Fashion Show Mall. Very, very weird to say the least.

It’s difficult to explain Red Rock Canyon except it’s a bit under 20 miles from the city, desolate and beautiful. From some of my classes at MSU I should have a better understanding of how it got to be the way it is. I’m pondering that.

You pass through all sorts of civilization and then… nothing. You’re in the desert. A few signs and you’re on BLM land. Past a cattle grate (an area of the road set up to prevent animals from getting out) and you’re ready to turn off onto the scenic loop.

It’s a one way road, through the canyon. It looks like it used to be two way and since it’s narrow and winds, I can imagine the accidents they must have had.

On the way back we stopped at The Palms. In a masterstroke of marketing, this off-Strip hotel allowed itself to be used as the setting for MTV’s Real World. The rest, as they say, is history. It is considered hip and cool. The daytime crowd was not young by any means. We stopped to get a little something (which I can’t mention here) for Steffie. I played slots and lost a few bucks.

Back to Mirage and while Helaine played, I tried to do tech support for my friend Farrell, who has just installed a cable modem. No go, yet.

Tonight, we see Carrott Top. If you’ve only seen his 1-800-DialATT commercials, you don’t know what he’s about.