Alan S. Petrillo's Blog


School districts scramble to appease parents over Obama's speech to students
Here's an astonishing idea for those parents who dislike the idea of President Obama speaking to school children: Trust your children to think for themselves. Let them watch the speech, watch it yourselves, then discuss intelligently with your children what you disagree with. But I will warn you, this will require you yourselves to think about what you believe instead of just parroting what right wing pundits tell you to think.

Friday, September 4, 2009 06:42 p.m. Email

RamBox: A good idea poorly executed.
I like the _idea_ of Dodge's RamBox, but I don't like their execution.

I have a challenge for them: Put a capper or a tonneau cover on the bed and then try to open the RamBox. Good luck.

Sunday, January 4, 2009 03:03 p.m. Email

Why won't anyone give me what I want?
I mean really, how hard is this shit?

Hey, Palm. You're the people who invented the smart phone. Well, OK, in reality you _bought_ the people who invented the smart phone, but still. You dropped the ball. You need to stop resting on your Treo laurels and get with the program. Your Treo phones are OK, but they're all too small. Their screens are too small. Their keyboards are too small. And their too small screens are made too small by their too small keyboards. If you would build a Treo phone with a screen the same size as my old Lifedrive, with the same capabilities as the Lifedrive, then I'd buy one in a skinny minute. Give it a slide-out keyboard. Give it a touch screen keyboard. I don't care, just give it a nice, big screen! If you're going to compete with the iPhone and its knock-offs then COMPETE, damnit!

Now let's look at headsets.

Why the hell is it that every Bluetooth headset on the market is a plastic cockroach? I mean really, there is so much potential in Bluetooth that everyone who is interested in building wireless devices should use it. 2.4 GHz proprietary formats? Puh-lease. If you're going to use a data transportation format over 2.4 GHz then use Bluetooth.

And headset microphones? Is there one out there that doesn't suck? Give me a noise canceling microphone on a boom so that the mic is in front of my mouth instead of my earlobe.

I want a Bluetooth headset that is binaural, has decent audio, and a noise canceling microphone _on a boom_.

Logitech has 90% of this with the ClearChat Wireless headset. Unfortunately, instead of going with Bluetooth they went with some kind of proprietary format. Why? I don't know. I suppose someone at Logitech had a brain fart.

Proprietary connectors and wall-warts for charging? Puh-lease. Put a mini or micro USB connector on it and let it charge from that.

It's the same story for Plantronics, one of the best headset manufacturers in the world. They have a number of outstanding wireless headsets, none of which are Bluetooth. They have a number of Bluetooth headsets, none of which offer the features I want. WTF?

Finally, let's take a look at Apple.

How hard is it to put an analog microphone input on a laptop?

Can it be too difficult to make it switchable to line-in?

Apparently so.

Don't get me wrong. I really like my MacBook, mostly. But if there's one thing about it that gets under my skin and makes me itch it is Apple's decision not to put an analog microphone input on it.

The thing is, people like to use headsets with laptops. This is the preferred way of doing things when using VoIP applications like Skype. Those headsets have microphones. Those microphones need someplace to plug in. This is what microphone receptacles were invented for. Unfortunately, someone at Apple determined that their main customer base for the MacBook Pro was "professional musicians", and the "professional musicians" demanded an analog line-in.

I think this is hogwash.

You see, I know a few professional musicians and a few professional music producers. To a man their response was something along the lines of "Analog line-in? Heck no, I use a [digital capture box of some flavor] and connect it to the computer with USB or FireWire."

Besides, if they really intended it for the "professional" market then why did they make the line-in connection the consumer standard rather than the professional standard?

In practice, what this means to me is that I can't use my favorite headset with my new MacBook. If I'd known this before I bought it then it would have been a deal breaker.

I've tried using the headset with a USB dongle from Koss, which is widely regarded as very good equipment. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound anywhere nearly as good as the MacBook's onboard headphone amplifier. At least not through my Logitech headset. I can split the audio and use the onboard amp for headphones and the USB dongle for microphone, but this makes certain applications break. They want one or the other, and won't deal with both.

This leaves me in search of a new headset.

I looked at Logitech's current offering of USB headsets, and found a lightweight headset that looked interesting. So I took a closer look at it. It is virtually the same analog headset I'm wearing now with a matching USB dongle. IOW, no win over what I'm currently using.

In fact, all of the USB headsets I've seen use the same C-Media chipset, which I can only assume has the same trebley to the point of being tinny sound as the Koss version that I'm using now.

But, as has been pointed out to me several times, the MacBook has built-in Bluetooth. For this reason I decided to have a look at wireless headsets, and join the 21st Century. Bluetooth seems to be the standard, so I looked at Bluetooth headsets. After all, if I had a nice Bluetooth headset I could pair it not only with my MacBook but also with my phone. And maybe even my PDA.

Which brings us back to the beginning of this particular rant.

Monday, December 29, 2008 02:14 a.m. Email

Apple MacBook Pro Sucks
Again I say, MacBook Pro Sucks.

If you're expecting a real microphone connection to use with your wired headset then forget it. Apple's "line-in" connection is just that: Line-in only. Even though it's child's play to implement, Apple decided not to provide phantom power to the "line-in" jack to turn it into a microphone connection.

It's a small thing, yes, but this means that now after spending a lot of money on my spandy new MacBook Pro I'm going to have to go and spend more money on an adapter so I can use my headset. And now I'm going to have one more gadget that I'm going to have to carry around and keep track of.

Every time I turn around I find another unpleasant surprise about this MacBook.

And the worst part of this whole thing is that Apple doesn't seem to care.

Oh, well.

There's a Lenovo out there with my name on it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 02:51 p.m. Email

“I don't like science,” she said.
I thought about that a while.

My conclusion is that science is such a part of the human condition that you don't have a choice but do science every day of your life.

First, you have to define “science”.

Science may be defined as the study of an object such that the observer understands the properties of that object well enough to predict its behavior in the future with reasonable accuracy.

We do this every day.

Consider the relationship of parents and children.

You know that if little Johnny doesn't get a nap in the middle of the day then he will be insufferably cranky in the evening. You also know that if he gets his nap past 3:00 in the afternoon then it's going to be just about impossible to get him to go to bed that night. How do you know this? You have studied his past behavior and you understand his properties well enough to predict his behavior in the future. In other words, you have done science.

We even conduct experiments on our children. You know that if you make little Fiona eat mashed potatoes then she's likely to throw up all over the table. How do you know this? In the past you made her eat mashed potatoes, and the texture grossed her out so much that she threw up all over the table. You conducted an experiment, you got results, you now use those results to predict future behavior. In other words, you have done science.

Some would say that doing science requires constructing experiments to get results. Fine, we do that on a daily basis too. Say you want to find out if little Johnny likes snow peas. How do you find out? You cook him a meal he likes, and offer him snow peas with it. When you do that he will either like them, dislike them, or be ambivalent toward them. You have constructed an experiment, and gotten results that will allow you to predict little Johnny's behavior in the future. In other words, you have done science.

This works on the other side of the equation as well.

Little Johnny knows that if he puts on Daddy's dress shoes, and then runs around jumping in puddles and playing soccer in them that Daddy is likely to beat his ass when he finds out. How does little Johnny know this? He has observed Daddy's behavior, knows that Daddy likes to keep his dress shoes clean and shiny, and knows that if he messes them up then there will be hell to pay. How does he know this? He has observed Daddy, come to understand his behavior, and is able to predict his behavior in the future. In other words, he has done science.

None of this may be “Science” in the conventional sense, but it is science none the less.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007 02:13 a.m. Email

The Robert Heinlein Centennial
Best Convention EVER! I'm posting this by my Lifedrive, so I'm not going to make it too long, mostly because Grafiti 2 SUCKS! More later. AP

Monday, July 9, 2007 12:17 p.m. Email

Two Mommies Are One Too Many.
Or at least says Dr. James C. Dobson

Doctor Dobson has taken a quote out of context from one scientist's work, and quoted another scientist who is widely criticized within her field.

First, he quotes Dr. Kyle Pruett, of Yale Medical School, from a 1996 article saying why families with a father are best. He completely ignores the fact that Dr. Pruett in this interview also said this regarding same-sex couples:

"I think it's naïve to think this is a piece of cake for either the parents or the kids, but I also think it's inaccurate to think of it as a form of automatic trouble. But so far, the cautious read of the research would be that these kids who are growing up in these families are basically not at risk. They don't show increased rates of mental illness. They are not very much unlike the other kids that they are going to school with."

"Two-parent families, even when the two parents are of the same gender, do seem to provide a somewhat more supportive atmosphere for kids than single parents."

But Dr. Dobson conveniently ignores that.

Next, Dr. Dobson quotes educational psychologist Dr. Carol Gilligan. Dr. Gilligan is widely criticized in her field because, while she has published her findings, her methods have been called into question, and she refuses to publish her research for peer review. This is bad science.

When Dr. Dobson goes on to say we should "set aside the scientific findings for a moment" he is correct. We should indeed set aside bad science of the kind he is practicing.

Then Dr. Dobson goes on to ask "Isn't there something in our hearts that tells us, intuitively, that children need a mother and a father?" Yes, there is, but it's been intellectually proven more important for children to have TWO parents, regardless of their gender, and it's been proven by one of the very scientists that Dr. Dobson quoted to prove his point.

Dr. Dobson claims that in raising these issues about same-sex couples he does not desire to harm or insult them. No, he merely desires to declare them unfit parents and take their children away. Prefering, no doubt, to trust them to the tender mercies of state foster care systems, which have maintained such a wonderful record of raising undamaged children.

Dr. Dobson compares the impact of same-sex parents on society to the effects of no-fault divorce. This is a meaningless comparison in a time when more than half of all first marriages end in divorce, whereas the GLBT community is such a small fraction of the population as to be almost statistically insignificant. There are, simply, orders of magnitude difference in the effect on society.

Finally, Dr. Dobson says we should not enter into yet another untested social experiment by allowing same-sex couples to bear or adopt children. Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson completely misses the fact that well respected studies have shown time and time again that children of same sex couples are no more or less abnormal than the rest of us. Those are studies that Dr. Dobson, through intent or incompetence, fails to notice.

In closing, Dr. Dobson concludes that the "traditional family" is the foundation on which the wellbeing of future generations depends. No doubt he means his idea of the "traditional family". What constitutes the "traditional family" varies widely from culture to culture around the world, and not always to Dr. Dobson's liking. The current American "conservative" idea of the ideal family, breadwinner father, homemaker mother, and 2.1 children, is largely a product of the post WWII baby boom era, not "5000 years of human history".


Thursday, December 14, 2006 11:33 p.m. Email

NC spies on its citizens with aircraft
Again I ask, can I go back to America now? AP

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 04:56 p.m. Email

Meigs Field
AOPA takes over Meigs Field!

Read all about this startling twist in the Meigs Field saga.


Saturday, April 1, 2006 10:26 p.m. Email

The Genographic Project
Where did you come from? AP

Thursday, March 30, 2006 11:10 p.m. Email

$100 bumper sticker?
That's a "Tired of all the Bushit" bumper sticker. Anyone ever hear of the First Ammendment? AP

Thursday, March 30, 2006 06:03 p.m. Email

Christian Taliban
If there was any question as to what the current administration was up to.

If you still have any questions, then click here

Saturday, March 25, 2006 04:59 p.m. Email

I'm published again.
And now after stating my opinion on abortion in a very public forum I suppose I should start keeping my shotgun loaded again. AP

Thursday, March 23, 2006 10:33 p.m. Email

Like brandy?
Try Armagnac. AP

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 03:19 p.m. Email

Troubleshooting a printer.

Saturday, March 4, 2006 07:47 p.m. Email

Cathy Salustri
Did you ever look online and find someone you haven't seen in 20 years? This happened to my friend Jay the other day. She was his girlfriend for a while when he was 21. The problem was that she was 15 at the time. Her mother was OK with it, but Daddy had a fit. Don't 'cha just hate it when that happens?
She also has a blog.
She has turned from a very intelligent and precocious girl into an outstanding woman.


Friday, March 3, 2006 02:21 a.m. Email

Anyone want to go to "Vulgaria"?
You're already there.


Monday, November 28, 2005 10:26 a.m. Email

The wonderful world of "craft distilling"?

If you tasted 3 Vodka and said "Eyagh! I could make it better myself!" Well, now you can learn how and try.


Thursday, November 24, 2005 12:11 a.m. Email

There's another Alan Petrillo
Whoda thunk it?

I haven't read Full Moon, by Alan M. Petrillo yet, but it looks interesting.

So I've changed my blog's page name to include my middle initial.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005 10:52 p.m. Email

Think you can write a novel in a week?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 10:37 p.m. Email

Journeys Around Afghanistan
If you're thinking of traveling around Afghanistan. "This ain't no Baghdad!" AP

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 12:17 a.m. Email

Kabul, Kabul
For anyone wondering what it's like in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 12:15 a.m. Email

Engineers Without Borders
Like Doctors Without Borders (Medicines Sans Frontiers), but different. AP

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:32 a.m. Email

Mogomy's Law: Compulsory Monogamy and Polyamorous Existance
Elizabeth F. Emens did an overall good job on this paper. I think the only point she missed is that many polyamorous groups are performing the religious ceremonies, if any, associated with their union, and not bothering with legal ceremonies at all.

My only real criticism is stylistic. Emens has a problem which I find common among academic authors. I call it "footnoteosis". She has WAY too many footnotes. When more than half of the text on any given page consists of footnotes then there are too many footnotes. Many of her footnotes are so pertinent to her subject that they should be incorporated into the main text, and not in footnotes. In fact, many of her footnotes seem to be points pulled out of the main text just so she could have more footnotes. I will never understand this attitude among many academic authors that having lots and lots (and lots) of footnotes somehow makes their papers more worthy.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 01:22 a.m. Email

Anti Aging Group
If you don't want to get old and you have the money to pay for it then this is for you.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 01:08 a.m. Email

House of Bush, House of Saud
by Craig Unger

This is an exposee of the relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family. This is a relationship which goes all the way back to Prescott Bush, George H. W.’s father, and George W.’s grandfather. This book also details the way billions of dollars have found their way from the Saudi royal family to the coffers of the House of Bush. The book details the effects of the relationship on the conditions leading to the rise of militant Islamism, and the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11/01.

The research is good, the logic is good, and the idea that our own “royal family” may have had a hand in the attacks, even an unintentional one, is stupendous.

The only real criticism I can offer on the book is a stylistic one.

The author has a fetish for footnotes. He has such a fetish for footnotes that he seems to go out of his way to make sure he has at least one on every page. IMHO, most of his footnotes are unnecessary, and would be much better integrated into the main text. In fact, many of his footnotes look as if they were cut out of the main text just so the author could have a footnote. And so many of the footnotes are too big. If a footnote can’t be confined to the footer of one page then it isn’t a footnote, and should be integrated into the main text. If one is reading the book in electronic format on a PDA, as I did, then the presence of all of these footnotes is VERY annoying. For this reason I recommend that if you want to read this book, and you _should_ read this book, you should get it on dead trees, because it makes the footnotes much easier to deal with.

For me, this book cements my decision to run my diesel trucks on biodiesel at $2.40/gallon instead of petroleum diesel. I’d very much rather give my money to American agriculture and industry than to middle eastern sheiks who will then give much of that money to Al Qaida or groups like them. I simply don’t want my driving habit to support Islamist terrorism.


Monday, April 19, 2004 04:27 p.m. Email

Where Muslim Money Ends Up
When I read this a couple of things came to mind

My first question is how, precisely is one to know which Muslim charities "have ties to groups that sponsor violence" and which don't? How was Jesse Maali to know that he was contributing to charities which sponsor violence, directly or indirectly? At this point, with the situation in the middle east so polarized, are there _any_ Muslim charities that do not, directly or indirectly, have ties to terrorist organizations?

Obviously I don't have all the facts, but this case seems largely like a federal lynching of an uppity arab.

And in any event, if the charges filed against him are "a straightforward illegal labor crackdown" then why bring up his ties to any charities at all? This sounds like a Federal attempt at character assassination.

I find it interesting also that federal investigator John Thomas thinks it's unusual that someone who holds dual citizenship would choose to travel abroad on a non-American passport. That Mr. Thomas thinks this is unusual only shows his unfamiliarity with the situation. Many, if not most, dual citizens travel abroad on their non-American passports. This may be news to Mr. Thomas, but there are places in the world in which being "Proud To Be An American" is hazardous to one's health. In a time when Americans traveling abroad are recommended to disguise themselves as Canadians, a dual citizen traveling on his non-American passport is simply being prudent. That Mr. Thomas thinks this is "very unusual" only shows that he needs to spend more time out of his office.

And finally, Kudos to Magistrate David A. Baker for his handling of the case. His refusal to hold Mr. Maali without bond, the bail he set, and his scolding of the prosecution show he is an even handed and fair Magistrate.

Tuesday, January 7, 2003 07:52 p.m. Email

No guns = higher crime rate.
From columnist Paul Craig Roberts at Townhall.com

Here's something I've been saying all along. With a book written by an ivy league professor to back it up.

Sunday, August 4, 2002 02:08 a.m. Email

Federal Law says you can't eat that.

Saturday, July 27, 2002 09:20 a.m. Email

So many mangoes, so little time.

Thursday, July 25, 2002 06:03 p.m. Email

Feminists vs. Animal Rights Activists
Don't you just love it when two sets of left wing extremists start shooting at each other.

Thursday, July 25, 2002 11:44 a.m. Email

The concert from hell
If you thought attending a concert with a rowdy crowd was hell, try producing one!

Monday, July 22, 2002 11:51 p.m. Email

Kennesaw, GA...
...Has an interesting law.

The head of every household, with certain exceptions, is _required_ to own a firearm!

The result?


Gun Grabbers, take THAT!

Sunday, July 14, 2002 09:48 a.m. Email


So you say you'd like to start your own country. What's stopping you? Talk to these folks to find out how.

Sunday, July 7, 2002 02:21 p.m. Email

...said I should post this. So here it is.

An Interesting Day

Marc The Flying Dutchman and I went flying this morning. He needed 4 approaches, VOR tracking, and holding to get instrument current.

I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I stepped out of my front door, and the air was so thick I practically had to swim to my truck. The cab of my truck was completely damp with condensation. I must have wiped at least a cup of water off of the _inside_ of my windshield. This kind of humidity in the morning always makes for an interesting afternoon.

At first the Clearance Delivery operator didn't know what kind of flight plan we wanted. We filed IFR, so we took IFR. Upon runup we found that the engine had one fouled spark plug, but a quick burnout cleared it. Then we took off and headed for Sarasota.

Upon getting aloft I found it was one of those mornings when the humidity is so thick you can see it. It's not quite a fog, but thicker than just a haze. There was a thin layer of goo at about 100 feet or so that made the whole area look like it had a film over it. It was thin and wavy, like the thinnest of fine sheer silk.

There wasn't any turbulence yet, to speak of, and the wind was light and variable.

There was an inversion layer at around 2000 feet that I knew would form the lid of the pressure cooker and stew us up a good batch of thunderstorms by the afternoon.

Usually on saturdays the sky is full of airplanes doing just about the same thing we were doing. Not today. The weather of the past couple of weeks had scared everybody off, and I only saw 2 other airplanes the entire flight.

We hit Tampa's Class B just before shift change. The first controller we got was grumpy. I recognized the voice, and he's _always_ grumpy.

The waters of Tampa Bay were flat calm, and even from 3000 feet I could see the grass flats and schools of fish. Boat channels stood out like dark streaks across the flats. Then the grass flats ended, and the waters darkened into the mouth of the Bay. I watched an Aerostar fly under us headed for Albert Whitted.

The landscape of northern Manatee county is beautiful. It's largely farmland that hasn't been built up _too_ much yet. There are even some wooded areas that I bet have game in them. I'll have to go recon the area on the ground sometime soon. Preferably on a motorcycle.

The comments section of our flight plan didn't make it through to the strip (there's a SHOCK!) and when we let the controller know that instead of a contact approach we wanted the ILS for 14 he wasn't at all happy with us. He gave us a quick couple of turns and put us on Sarasota's ILS. The short turn in combined with Marc's rustiness meant that the approach was a swordfight all the way down. Heck, with my own state of rustiness I couldn't have done any better. We went missed and came around for another one.

The missed approach procedure had us turning west out over the Gulf. _Way_ out over the Gulf, it turned out. We were far enough off shore that we were close to the ADIZ, and I was worried that we might be getting a grumpy call from either Customs or the Air Force when we got back. I was about to get on the radio and tell the controller that we didn't have any flotation geer on board, when he finally turned us back in toward the coast.

The Gulf waters were a brilliant green. Almost a Malachite green. Out on the water the prevailing winds were out of the south, and there were brown streaks of seaweed on the surface perpendicular to the wind. The lines of grass flats paralell to the coast, and the lines of seaweed perpendicular to the coast made for an interesting scene. I should have brought my camera. But then I don't think film would have captured the depth of that green.

The second approach to Sarasota went well. The controller, a different controller, gave us plenty of maneuvering room, with a nice long turn in that let Marc get set up before the approach. Marc's rustiness was showing, but it wasn't anywhere nearly as much of a swordfight as the first one.

This time the missed approach procedure had us turning east, then back north over Tampa Bay. Why? I don't know. The approach procedure for St. Petersburg has us going back out over the Gulf and north of the airport to set up for the ILS to 17L. On the way back out to the Gulf we encountered another Cessna doing the same thing we were. He was the only other airplane we saw in the sky with us.

Looking down again at the brilliant green of the Gulf, I saw that there was some nutcase out there more than a mile offshore in a sea kayak. The guy has bigger balls than I do. Given the tempestuous nature of weather in the Gulf this time of year I certainly wouldn't take a kayak out that far. I admire his fitness, though.

The Pinellas County Beaches were almost devoid of bathers, which is really unusual for a Saturday morning. We could have landed on the beach and had the place to ourselves. Or close to it.

On the way back in I looked down at all of the development in Pinellas County. The thought struck me that if there is a piece of land in the county that isn't developed it means one of three conditions exists. Either somebody owns it and hasn't developed it yet, or it's part of some rich person's estate, or it's a swamp and isn't worth developing. Some parts of northern Pinellas County have a population of Osceola turkeys, I hear. It would be interesting to have a look and see.

The first approach to St. Pete sucked. It was a swordfight from beginning to end, and Marc was all over the place. We couldn't blame the controller on this one, it was all Marc. Well, part of it is the approach range itself. For some reason the localizer signal for 17L is "bent". I don't know what the mechanism is, but somehow the signal out past the outer marker is bent a couple of degrees to the east. You'll think you have the crosshairs right down the pipe, but you'll be off to the east of the centerline. I don't know how one would bend a signal like a localizer, but I guess there's something down there operating on a harmonic. It doesn't make the approach unsafe, just interesting.

We called for the full published missed approach procedure with holding at intersection Lafal, and got it. The controller put us at 2100 feet, which put us right in the inversion layer. By this time there were little scuds of cloud scattered all over the place right at the inversion. Except over Lafal. Over Lafal there was a solid layer of them. Oh goodie! Actual!! The layer was only about 100 feet thick, but it was cloud.

We flew through a couple of smaller scuds getting to Lafal, and I was reminded of something. Clouds have a certain smell to them. The only way I can describe it is that it's kind of like wet stone. A scent that I think cigar tasters describe as "flinty". Even if you're under the hood and can't see outside the airplane you can tell when you're in a cloud by the smell of it. And I'd forgotten that the most exhilarating part of flying through a cloud isn't flying into it, but flying back out of it. Particularly if you fly out into bright sunshine.

We punched in, hit Lafal, and Marc turned for a teardrop entry. I would have used a paralell entry myself, but either will work, and either will keep you in protected airspace. And we got to punch a bunch of holes in that particular cloud. Punch in, hit Lafal, turn, punch back out, fly the outbound leg, turn, punch in, hit Lafal, turn, punch back out... 3 times.

We called ready for the next approach, and the controller took us north again. A good ways north. He had us at 2600 feet, and took us over the Channel 10 Towers. Now these towers are the tallest antennas in Tampa Bay, and are affectionately known as "the steel mountains". Flying over them at 600 feet above the tops makes me a little nervous. He turned us onto base just as we got over the towers.

I looked down on the landscape of northern Pinellas County again. Some of it doesn't look too bad. I saw what looked like a couple of apartment complexes which were set back from main roads, and backed up onto some good size woods. I'll have to go recon them on the ground. Liz and I would like to get out of St. Petersburg, and those places looked like good places where we could let the cats out to play in the woods. They'd like that. Some of the woods up there are big enough they might even have game in them. I'd like that.

This time Marc did a little better. He had the needles in the donut most of the way down the approach, right up until we got close and then he started overcorrecting, and had the needles all over the place. It wasn't quite a swordfight, but it wasn't down the pipe either. Marc kept the needles on the scale until Decision Height, and then we went and landed.

It was just noon as we left, and there were already little puffs trying to shoot up through the inversion.

And then my Muse smacked me on the ass and told me to write something. So I did.

Now it's the afternoon, and sure enough, there are level 4 thunderstorms all over the place. Big, ugly ones. There are probably some level 5's around too. The weather service has thunderstorm warnings for the entire area. There are some wind advisories and tornado warnings too. It's going to be an interesting evening.

Ah, well. We need the rain.

Friday, July 5, 2002 11:57 a.m. Email

The Meatan Way
Take THAT, Vegans!

Tuesday, May 14, 2002 09:46 a.m. Email

Martha Stewart Resolution
Well, it took long enough.

The folks at Martha Stewart Living Media finally got back to me.

And I'm happy with the result.

It seems the first manufacturer they found for their stainless steel cookware didn't have a source for stainless steel rivets, so they used aluminum ones. Now MSL has found a manufacturer that has stainless steel rivets.

The result? They're going to replace my set.

That said, while I'm happy with the result, I'm still not happy with the process. It shouldn't have been a month since their last contact with me. I should have been kept informed of the process of the investigation. But, on the whole, since I'm getting a new set _with stainless steel rivets_ I'm happy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2002 11:08 a.m. Email

More K-Martha
Well, what do you know. While the K-Martha customer service drone that I talked to on the phone was clueless, aparently the people who handle the email aren't. I actually got a reply from them finally.

"We have forwarded your concern to our buying department, and they will contact you as soon as possible."

It isn't an answer yet, but it's certainly better than I got out of Martha Stewart Living Media.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002 01:57 a.m. Email

Well, a trip to my local K-Martha confirmed it. Martha Stewart effectively owns K-mart(ha). A quick perusal of the store verified that in all categories in which Martha Stewart markets her wares she is dominant inside K-Martha. In every case in which the Martha Stewart line was the high-line anything else was practically worthless.

Even the seeds in the garden shop. Burpee? No. Johnny's? No. Eons? No. Martha f'ing Stewart.

It's absolutely enough to make you sick.

Monday, April 15, 2002 12:13 a.m. Email

Martha Stewart
Don't click here. You really don't want to deal with Martha Stewart.

Why, you ask? Simple. Their customer service sucks rocks.

Oh, perhaps that's different if you want to spend a _lot_ of money on cookware, but most of us don't.

I not long ago bought a set of Martha Stewart Everyday stainless steel cookware. I bought it to get away from the aluminum cookware I've been using.

So what happens when I use my bright shiny new stainless steel 8 quart stock pot for the first time? I used it to heat a 6 pound jug of honey which had crystalized. I didn't want to cook the honey, so I left it at a fairly low temperature for a day or so.

And the heads of the rivets holding the handles on turned into little balls of corrosion.

So I asked the folks at K-Mart what the rivets were made of. Needless to say, they didn't know. And I can't blame them, after all they're the retailer not the manufacturer. They referred me to marthastewart.com

Now marthastewart.com, even though it's owned by Martha Stewart Living Media, and is in fact their corporate website of record, won't answer the question. They referred me back to K-Mart.

How hard a question is "What are the rivets made of?" to answer?

If you put _your_ name on a line of cookware wouldn't _you_ want to know what the stuff is made of? In writing? On a binding contract?

Repeated emails to marthastewart.com and their customer service drones have netted only the admonition that they have no access to information about the Everyday line, and I should contact K-Mart.

I guess the bottom line is that if you're willing to spend $500 for their Metalcrafters All-Clad set they'll be more than happy to talk to you. But if you're only willing to spend $80 for their Everyday set then go away and don't bother them.

In fact, at this point, after the bankruptcy and all, I'd say that Martha Stewart pretty much owns K-Mart. They might as well call it K-Martha. They even kowtow to her so much that when the tabloid paper The Globe printed an article bashing Martha they pulled it.

She doesn't care, she doesn't have to, she's MARTHA STEWART! And don't you forget it!


Saturday, April 13, 2002 10:20 p.m. Email

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