Tuesday, September 30, 2003

September 2003 Blog

Presentation Tomorrow - I make my presentation tomorrow at my networking group. This presentation will tell the group in detail about my business.

The goal is not to sell the group on becoming customers. In fact, the rules of the organization are such that members are forbidden to solicit each other.

The thing to keep in mind is, I am training my sales people to sell for me. Although I have considered doing a demo of the software, I'm not sure it would be productive. Unless you know what you're looking at, I believe a demo would be completely over their heads.

That means I'm going to be doing a lot of hand waving. I'm going to attempt to speak in everyday folks terms.

I think I'll highlight several customers, how they use the software, and what it does for them. Then I'll talk about my ideal customer. I'll also talk about how to know if someone would be a good lead for me.

It's going to be interesting. I'm still not completely convinced this is the right venue for me. However, all I need is one good sale, and I'll pay for two years of networking sessions.
Posted 9/30/03

New Uniform Test Uneventful - After some consideration I have decided to test a new uniform for work. Previously I have always worn a two piece suit with long sleeve shirt, tie, suspenders, and wingtip shoes. I prefer suspenders as they are more comfortable than a belt and my shirt tail does not come out.

I have been testing a new uniform. It consists of khaki pants, long sleeve white shirt, tie, rather casual shoes, and blue sport coat. The only comment I have received from clients is, "What no suspenders?" And this was only from women at client sites.

It has almost been anticlimactic. The only problem with my new uniform is, I miss the suspenders, I'd like to get a little dressier shoe, and the khaki's lose their crease very quickly. I may yet find a way to have suspenders with my kaki's.
Posted 9/29/03

Another Sunday Another Church - Karol and I tried another church this morning. Although it was nice, the congregation was disturbingly small. The church can seat maybe 280 people. Yet there were less than 50 in the whole church. Worse there were less than five under that age of 40.

Our search for a church as be very disconcerting. The state of Christianity, at least in our area, does not seem good. The churches that seem to do well are the "evangelical" ones. Yet I find them to be lacking. They are full of enthusiasm, but shallow in content. Rarely do the evangelical churches challenge the congregations intellect. Evangelical churches have a formula type of service. Typically they have 30 to 40 minutes of singing so called "praise" music. This may be interspaced with one or two long prayers. Then they have a 30 to 45 minute sermon, usually ending with a long prayer.

I usually leave these types of services feeling like I've been drugged. I can hardly wait to take a nap. I don't know why this is. Karol seems to get the same reaction.

That said, the church this morning was very nice inside. When we sat down I saw they were prepared to have a bell choir. I was not particularly looking forward to that. However, when the ladies, there were not men in the bell choir, came out and played, I found it very nice. Almost mesmerizing. Bells can have a harsh sound. But these bells had been muted. They had either some kind of leather or hard rubber thing on their clangors. This softened the sound and made it more melodic. It was really quite pleasant to listen to. I appreciated the hard work it must have taken for the nine ladies to practice so they could do a nice job of it.

The pastor's sermon was about the right length, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. I was struck in that he said this was his fourth sermon from the book of James and it would complete their study of James. I often thought that a pastor should just go through the bible and preach from the bible to the congregation.

One of the problems is when you attend a congregation this small, you cannot hide. I think we were a bit of excitement for them. I don't think they get too many guests. I will tell you, it breaks my heart to see the state of today's churches. I don't know how they keep body and soul together.

Although I seem to have beaten back whatever pathogen was ravaging my body, I find I'm still weaker than I like. I seem to have very little aerobic or lung capacity. I went for a very slow run this morning for one measly mile. However, when I stood up in church, I had to catch my breath. I did not have the lung power to stand and sing at the same time. Perhaps I am still recovering from my morning jog. My distress was similar to last weeks only not as severe.

Two physical symptom that accompanied my malady, lack of thirst and lack of appetite, have disappeared. I no longer feel thirsty all the time and my appetite has returned. I could do without the later as I already eat more than is good for me.

A week or so ago Karol received a free crock pot for answering some survey. Today we put it to use. It is oval in shape and holds five quarts. We filled it with a good sized chunk of beef and then cut up some onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes into the pot and started it going before we left for church.

The only problem was - the smell. The house was filled with the aroma of cooking pot roast. When we took it out tonight, we were more than ready to eat it. I made gravy from the juices and the meal was delicious. Even better is, we have enough to last us for the next few days - yum.

Tonight I washed and waxed my car. On both cars, the wax was obviously disappearing. I have the Meguiars 3-step system, but do not have the time to do each car three times. However, when I was the cars in the near future, I may apply another coast of the Meguiars Carnauba wax. I comes away quite cleanly. I have an electric buffer and it really is a big help in waxing a car. It only takes about ten minutes to put the wax on the car and then maybe 20 minutes to take it off.

By the way, R. C. Sproul, in his six-part series I just finished listening to, said that only 4% of confessing evangelicals tithe. Only 4%! No wonder churches don't do well.
Posted 9/28/03

Elvis Has Returned - I have returned from my sojourn in North Jersey. I am also much recovered from whatever it was that was ailing me.

I left late Wednesday afternoon for the 2-1/4 hour drive to my hotel. It's not a bad drive. In that time I only encounter may 10 traffic lights. I go up route 55 to route 42 and then pick up the NJ Turnpike and get on at exit 3. If there is no construction or accidents, traffic usually flows well on the NJT. I can usually cruise between 75 and 85 mph.

At exit 11, I fire the main engines to adjust my orbit and transfer to the Garden Start Parkway. Then it's three toll booths before I deorbit from the Parkway. As soon as I go through the last tollbooth, I have to get in the far right lane and start going through my re-entry procedure. My exit is only about a mile from the last tollbooth.

I spent two days at the client site. This is always a pleasant trip. The hours are long, but the client is gracious and very hospitable. He also pays his bills in a very timely manner.

Friday night about 19:30, I left his office and called Karol to tell her I was coming home while going through my pre-launch countdown. Then I fired the main engines and I launched down the Parkway for the return trip.

Traffic on the Parkway was thick and slow between the first and third tollbooths. However, I had three hours of R. C. Sproul's series, "Chosen By God" to listen to during my journey up and back. This is six half hour lectures in which he lays out the "Reformed" case for predestination. He proceeds with the skill of a logician and a lawyer. He takes the listener step-by-step until at the end, you cannot come to any other conclusion except the same one he does. I may address this in future blogs, as I come to better understand it.

Once on the NJT and below exit 7, traffic thinned substantially and I was able to engage the auto-speed. I rather like the auto-speed control. It makes one feel like the car is driving itself. You can feel the power come on as the car climbs a hill - or for passes as a hill in New Jersey. You can also feel the power com off as the car descends a hill. It make driving just a little more relaxing.

I rather enjoy driving. I sit in the cockpit in my pilot-in-command attitude and pilot the vehicle. While part of my mind listens to R. C. Sproul, with other parts I am monitoring the vehicle like a computer. How does it sound? Are there any unusual sounds? The tires on my car are very noisy. They almost sound like truck tires going down the road, so there is a continuous low level whine from the tires on the pavement. Although they are noisy, they handle very well. So they give the car a quick response on the steering.

My car has power steering and the control forces are very light. I have added a leather cover to the steering wheel. It prevents the plastic from sweating against your palm and increases the diameter of the steering wheel. I rather like a thick steering wheel.

So as I'm piloting the vehicle I also monitor the feel of the car. My car pulls just a smidgeon to the left. I really need to get the wheels aligned and I think they also need rebalancing.

And then there is the traffic. I have the left and right rearview mirrors adjusted such than I have NO blind spots. As a car overtakes me on the left I first see him in the center mirror. As he leaves that mirror, he then appears in my left mirror. Actually for a brief period of time, depending on the overtaking velocity, he will appear in BOTH mirrors. He stays in the left mirror until his front bumper is abreast my shoulder. Then I can pick him up in my peripheral vision.

So as I drive, I have lots to occupy me. And I also practice my good posture. I sit with the feeling that a silken cord is attached to the top of my head and is applying enough pressure that I am very nearly lifted off the seat. Sitting in this rather bolt upright position seems to help prevent my wanting to sleep, even when I'm very tired.

I arrived home in good shape and went to bed.

Today we visited BJ's. It's a new discount club type store. Although we purchased a couple of replacement items, we not terribly impressed. Except for some specific types of purchases, I don't see a lot of reason to go back.

This afternoon, I cut and fertilized the grass. I was surprised how much effort it took. Although I feel fully recovered, it seems it'll be a while before I have complete warp speed back.

While we were at BJ's, someone scratched Karol's car. The scratches are on the left side, just aft and at the level of the rear tire. Karol and I were examining them, when a lady walked up to us and claimed responsibility. She apologized for doing it to our car. I was impressed that she waited until we came out to own up to the deed. Most people would simple have fled the scene of the crime. We took down her phone number and I decided to see if I can rub them out - the scratches that is. That part of the rear bumper is plastic, so I don't know how well I'll do.

Later in the day I used some Meguiars ScratchX. It seemed to help. But then I decided to wash and wax her car. It was starting to need a wax job. When I waxed that part of the car, the scratches became very clearly visible again. The white wax residue made them show up. I may take it to a body shop to see if anything can be done cheaply.

Tonight on TV they had a guy talking about detailing a car. He said, if you want to make your tires nice and shiny, just apply motor oil. He said, if you do this weekly, after about five weeks, all you need to do to bring the gloss back is to wipe the tires with a clean cloth. Apparently the tires only absorb so much and then become saturated.

He also said they put FIVE coats of wax on the cars they do! Five coats! You could also see they were using power buffers to apply the wax. He also recommended using diapers for wiping off the car. I have some small Turtle Wax towels I bought that seem to work fine for me.

Tomorrow, another church.
Posted 9/27/03

A Very Slow Recovery - I seem to be improving at a very slow rate. I rescheduled my appointment in MA yesterday. Today was my last does of Biaxin. I'm glad to be rid of that stuff. It makes a bitter taste in your mouth and messes with your sleep. You get some strange dreams.

Although my physical condition is moderating, the congestion seems to be making a slight comeback. Fortunately the doc prescribed cough medicine that really seems to help. I'd better improve from here on out. I'll be in North Jersey Thursday & Friday.

Received a call from a member of our Toastmasters club about another member that seems to be succumbing to cancer. Her current goal is to see if she can make it to Christmas. It sounds like that's going to be a challenge for her.

When you're an A type, you feel you can fix anything. This is something I cannot fix. In my work, I have padded myself on the back for having bailed myself out of a very difficult spot, a spot in which I felt trapped.

I know this sounds really corny, but hey, when people put words together with impact, I steal them and use them with credit due.

With Lynn dying, I feel the words from Star Trek are somewhat symbolize the situation. In the movie, "Wrath of Kahn," Captain Kirk's son, David, makes a startling discovery about his father. David says, "You never have faced death." Kirk responds, "No. Not like this. I haven't faced death. I've cheated death. I've tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing."

That's sort of how I feel about Lynn's situation. I'm such a clever guy. I know nothing.

Fortunately Lynn appears to be a genuine Christian. Should that be true, then her fate is better than our current existence.

I used to wonder why God permits such suffering in the world. Then a passage from the bible kind of clicked in my mind and made sense.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. - John 9:1

Hearing that, a light bulb went on in my mind. Suffering occurs so that the work of God might be displayed. What is that work of God? It is Christians helping the poor, the destitute, and the infirm. Not that this will get them into Heaven.

You see, unlike Islam and contrary to popular opinion, Christians cannot earn their way into Heaven. Because every single man, woman, and child are sinners every single one deserves an eternity in Hell. It is God's grace that permits Christians into Heaven. Who gets that grace is his decision. Just like, when the Governor commutes a condemned man's death sentence to life imprisonment, God commutes a Christian's spiritual death sentence. Who the governor "saves" and who he doesn't is his decision.

When a Christian becomes "saved" they become like a new person. The bible says "born again." Let's just say they're changed. It's not that they have to do God's will, it's that they now want to do God's will. A big part of that will be helping the poor, the destitute, and the infirm. This work is not to impress God, but it's God's way of impressing non-Christians. It let's them see what true Christianity is about.

At least, that is my theology.

Now in America, throughout our history we have be primarily a Christian nation. It doesn't mean that, as a nation or a people, we have always followed Christ's teachings absolutely. We have fallen far short, but what do you expect from a nation of sinners? But we have tried anyway. Christians helping the poor, the destitute, and the infirm has become so pervasive in our culture that even non-Christians do it. But for them it is cultural, not religious.

For Karol and my part, we send Lynn a get well card almost every week. I know it's very small, but the caller tonight said the Lynn told her to tell us, she really appreciated it. I feel it let's her know we are praying for her. I hope that would make her feel a little less lonely.
Posted 9/23/03

Brought low - I went jogging this morning and found it a struggle. I felt like I had lost most of my aerobic capacity.

Came back to the house bathed, had breakfast and Karol and I tried another church. This was a good sized one. I estimated it could seat 250 people and was maybe 50% to 60% full. Good mix of ages too.

It's really quite a fancy church was a real pulpit and an organ that can really fill the room. The pastor seemed quite nice, although I didn't get the chance to speak to him directly. During his sermon he showed himself to be quite an eloquent speaker. He made good use of his hands to demonstrate his points.

Unfortunately two small children behind us kept making noise so, I wasn't able to really concentrate on his sermon very well. While in the church I found my aerobic capacity seemed to be going downhill. I could hardly sing. I just didn't have the breath for it. After a while my condition seemed to go downhill. My breathing became more rapid as I felt very short of breath. I also had a wicked thirst. Karol and I left a bit later - before the program was finished.

I felt terrible. I called my doctor's answering service and he called me back. I explained my condition and asked if it could be from the Biaxin. He felt it wasn't. He also didn't feel that I was having a heart attack. He suggested I go to the ER to be checked out.

After I hung up, I just sat for a while. I really didn't not want to go to the ER. As the day wore one, I slowly improved. I hope I feel better tomorrow morning. I've got an important trip to Massachusetts that I need to make.
Posted 9/21/03

Yard Work - It's Saturday - time for home chores. Woke up early and got the oil changed in my car. They have a PC that allows me to sure the net while I'm waiting. That's nice.

I used GoToMyPc to log in to my computer at the office. From there I used pcAnywhere to log onto my server to be sure the backup went OK. It did.

After getting back I raked the yard of some leaves and a lot of sticks. Karol and I put them out at the curb for the city to retrieve later. Then I cut the grass. I lowered the mower a notch. It really makes the grass look a lot nicer, when I clip it a little shorter.

August saw some very dry days and it really challenged my new grass. A lot of it seems to have died. This grass, Rebel III, I purchased and planted last fall. They told me it was drought resistant. So much for drought resistance.

I think I may have become slightly dehydrated. I was very thirsty all day today. I also sweated quite profusely. The problem is, plain water gets so boring to drink after a while.

It appears that one of the side-effects of the Biaxin XL is, it causes my pupils to dilate. When I look in the mirror I see these big black pupils. I look like I have devil eyes.
Posted 9/20/03

The Worst is Over - The Biaxin XL and aspirin seem to be doing their job. I went to bed early last night - about 20:30. Slept pretty well. Woke up this morning feeling better, but not completely out of the woods. Or as I like to say in Star Trek talk, I had partial impulse power, but the Warp drive will be out for a least another solar day.

All day long I had kind of metallic taste in my mouth and I felt, well, weird is the only way I can describe it.

The hurricane came and went. This morning dawned clear, warm, and humid. The yard is littered with small sticks about a foot or so long and pencil size in diameter. I dragged the two large branches onto the curb along with several small branches.

During the night I woke up, who knows when. I observed that the clock lights were out. We have two alarm clocks with glowing digital displays. I just presumed the power had gone out, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Tonight when I came home, I noticed the city had already come by and collected them. Now that's service.

According the rain gauge, we got about 1.5" of rain. Not a lot for a hurricane. A few weeks ago the Tulip tree in our back yard starting shedding leaves like Labrador Retriever sheds hair. I figure the lower leaf load on the tree helped in the high winds. It means the tree was not stressed as much as if it had all its leave.

Tomorrow I need to pick up most of those sticks and cut the grass. But first I need to refill my gas can. As I recall, I emptied it out last time I used it.
Posted 9/19/03

The Crud Got Me - I woke up yesterday morning with a slightly scratchy throat. Today I woke up with a full blown upper respiratory infection. I thought I would just tough it out.

About 13:30 I started to go downhill. I called the doctor's office and they gave me a 15:45 appointment. He listened to my chest and prescribed some medication called Biaxin XL. I take two at one time once a day for seven days. He said their pretty rough so I should take them on a full stomach.

He measured my temperature at 100.4. I didn't take my own temperature, but I figured it was likely about 100.5. I've gotten a pretty good internal calibration for temperature.

Now that I've had some aspirin, I'm feeling a little better. However, I plan to hit the hay early tonight.

So far the hurricane is just a wind storm. I checked our rain gauge when I got home and it only have about 1/2 inch of water in it. We've had two good sized (2" diameter) limbs come down out of our tulip tree. One was dead wood and the other was live.

We seem to have a house guest tonight. Apparently Karol invited her brother to stay with us tonight. Any way, he walked in about dinner time with suitcase in hand. I guess she figures the storm will be worse in PA, where he lives than in southern New Jersey.

I wonder what else she has planned that I don't know about. On well, I'm just sort of out of it anyway and all I really want to do is to go to bed.

By-the-way, I feel I must relate a conversation that happened yesterday at the office. The office manager has a male Collie puppy. She just had him neutered. She was describing how sad he seemed after the operation. I must tell you, being a male myself and hearing how another male creature has been neutered and the aftermath of his suffering, tends to strike just a little close to home. I sometimes suspect that given the opportunity, all women would like to neuter their men. But that's just a suspicion. The conversation about the poor pup's travails were so casual. Ouch!

I reading a book called "Nonstop Networking" by Andrea Nierenberg. I must say, I feel it is excellent. It is a small but weighty tome. Here's an interesting suggestion she makes. She calls this "Five-a-day."

"Look for positive attributes in the people you come in contact with during the course of your day, and compliment them. Make a goal to give "five-a-day." Put five pennies in your left-hand pocket a the beginning of a day. Each time you give a sincere compliment, take a penny and put it into your right-hand pocket. By the end of the day, you should have transferred all five pennies to make the goal."
Posted 9/18/03

Networking Day - At my networking meeting I had a one-on-one with a fellow that does landscaping. We explained our businesses to each other.

He recounted that he did a pond for one client that put only one fish in the pond - a $30,000 Coy! I can't imagine spending $30,000 on a single fish. She could come outside her house tomorrow and find the fish floating belly up on her pond.

I stumbled across this site on the web. It's a tribute to 9/11. Although I recommend you take a look, be warned. It's pretty wrenching. http://www.inlibertyandfreedom.com/Flash/heroes.swf

They also had this quote. I think it still applies today. "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." -- Daniel Webster
Posted 9/17/03

They're gone - We took my parents to the airport again and again dropped them off.

The day dawned clear with a virtually cloudless sky. I had thought we would not have time for breakfast, but they ate their shredded wheat while Karol and I drank my World Famous Breakfast Drink. I like to have breakfast, if I can and I rarely miss it.

We left the house about 07:00 and headed out on the highway, born to be wild again. I put the hammer down, punched in the cruise, and took my usual pilot-in-command demeanor.

I like to sit as if a silken cord is attached to the top of my head and is pulling me up. It is a very upright posture. I have both hands on the wheel and I concentrate on the road ahead while monitoring all three review mirrors.

I tuned to KYW to get a traffic report. It as not good. There were several accidents and resulting jams in many places throughout the area. They indicated there was an 11 mile backup on 295 North. They indicated this backed up down Route 42 and then back down to Route 55.

I discussed the situation with Karol as we neared the impending stoppage. We opted to de-orbit at exit 56, take 47 north, then 295 north for about one mile and then exit back on route 42 just before the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Just before Exit 56, I went through my re-entry count-down, fired the retro's, and glided onto Route 47 north. We basically taxied all the way up to the 295 exit. As expected from the radio warning, it was bumper to bumper and crawling.

I firmly, but politely made my way from the far right to the far left lane. One mile and five minutes later we were headed down the ramp to route 42, four miles short of the bridge.

Dicing through traffic we crossed the bridge and rolled through the EZ-Pass lane at the toll booths. Then on to 95 south and the pedal goes to the metal. Then its take the far right lane and we're on the exit to the airport. At the airport, it's again the right lane for departing flights. We slowed to high speed taxi as we went by Terminal A, B, C, D and slowed to a halt at the end of Terminal E right in front of the Northwest ticket counter. Time: 08:05.

Mother and father ejected from the vehicle. We wished them well, exited the airport, and climbed back up to 95 north to return to cruising altitude and speed. Traffic was light. We did, however, get a good chance to view the traffic we had avoided by rerouting our path on the way up. It appeared we exited route 55 about two miles before the backed started. If we'd have stayed on 55, I think we'd still be there in a holding pattern.

In spite of the confusion in their departure it was nice to have them visit us. No one knows how much time we have left, we should take advantage of the time we have.
Posted 9/16/03

They're baaaaack - We took my parents to the airport and dropped them off at about 10:30 this morning. Their plane was scheduled to depart at 10:45. My mother later called about 14:00 and told me their plane had not yet left and they were now scheduled to leave by 17:00. About 16:30 I received a call asking if we could come pick them up. All flights had been canceled.

So, we jumped back in the car and drove back to the Philly airport. As we were crossing the Walt Whitman bridge, we observed just how backed up the bridge looked going in the return direction. Karol and I discussed using the Commodore Barry bridge for the return trip. We figured that might be a better route, until we crossed 95 just going into the airport. I could see 95 south also bumper-to-bumper.

We figured, we might as well brave the Walt Whitman bridge. We picked my parents up at the door. They were sitting just inside the terminal and saw us drive up. Then we zipped up 95 and came to a halt at the bridge. We crawled across the bridge and down route 42 until we hit route 55.

Then I put the hammer down. We were making very good time, until the rains came. It started to rain hard, very hard. I turned the wipers on high speed and still it came down. It was a real frog strangler. Visibility was severely limited. My speed dropped below 60 mph.

Glad I was for having put new tires on the car in June. Last year we had driven through a real downpour in Karol's old Honda with rather worn tires. They weren't quite ready for replacement, but they were getting close. As the water came down, we slowed to about 35 mph. Then, rather abruptly, the car started to move to the right. I corrected, but to no effect. In fact, I now longer had any steerage control over the car. Both front wheels were hydroplaning. Fortunately, when we moved to the shoulder, the front wheels regained traction and we were back in business.

I decided, it was probably not a good idea to let ones tires get so worn down. I later read, that tires will hydroplane, long before the wear indicators show they need replacement.

That's why I put new tires on Karol's car this spring. They worked well today.

My parents are now scheduled to depart Philly International at 09:45 tomorrow morning. Bad time to drive to the airport, but there's not much alternative. It also looks like we'll skip breakfast.

Oh well.
Posted 9/15/03

Another Sunday another church - Karol and I went to another church this Sunday. It was a small church, a very small church. I would guess there were less than 50 people in the church. The church could likely seat maybe 120. They started the service with a salute to the flag. I found that a bit uncomfortable. I feel that the church service should be about God. To do the pledge of allegiance to the flag at the start of the service is to say, this is as important as praising God.

I don't think so.

One other thing I found unnerving. There was a painting of Jesus on the wall behind the lectern. During the collection, the plates were brought to the pastor. He turned and then prayed, it seemed, to the picture of Jesus on the wall. Does the term graven image mean anything to you?

Locally, some people have erected a statue and small shine to someone called Padre Pio. I frequently drive by it on my way to a client. Every time I go by it, I shake my head. When I see that shrine I think of the story of Moses coming down off the mountain only to find the Israelites have made a statue of a golden calf. He finds them in the middle of worshipping the thing.

We took my parents to Wildwood this afternoon. The weather turned out to be nice. I'm afraid I walked them more than I should have.

When we arrived, I saw the trams were still running. I thought we might walk quite a ways down and then take the tram back. But when we were ready to start back, there were no trams in sight. We waited a bit, but still not trams. I told my parents to sit tight and I would retrieve the car, but they insisted they would hike back.

After bit, I got an opportunity to escape, when father went into a store to look at something. I marched as quickly as I could back to the car and the drove back and retrieved them. My mother has a heel spur and I think it was bothering her, but she suffered in silence.

When I went to pick them up, I remembered they were at Maple Ave. I was carefully watching the street signs. I came to Juniper Ave, then Pine, and other trees. Then I spotted Maple and turned in.

When I looked up at the boardwalk, they weren't there. I was completely puzzled as to where they could be. I decided, I guess, to turn around and looked in the review mirror as I started to back into a driveway. As I did, I saw them walking towards me from the street side. They had walked out to the street to catch me and I had been concentrating so much on the street signs, I hadn't even seen them.

However, I would seem that all's well that ends well.

By the way, one of the things I liked about the movie last night was it's view. Frequently movies give you a god like view of everything. Then you watch the characters discover things. This device is used to add drama to the play. Since we know more than the characters, we can feel the suspense waiting for the characters to make a wrong or right move. I always feel that cheats the audience. In last night's movie, we discovered events as the characters did.

There were a few exceptions during the shootout, where we see both sides and the characters have to discover what has transpired. I guess the director just couldn't help himself. But by and large, we are sitting on the characters' shoulders learning about what is going on as they do. In fact, the characters are smarter than we are. They sometimes explain to each other so we will know what and why they're doing something.

I like that.
Posted 9/14/03

Movie - Took my parents to see the movie "Open Range." Karol and I rarely go to the movies. But friends had seen it and liked it. Also, my parents are getting to where low activity events are more to their liking.

The movie is a western with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. I had gotten tired of Costner in the movie "Dances with Wolves." But he seemed a natural in this movie. Robert Duvall seems to always fit wherever he is.

The plot involves Costner and Duvall as the good guys who are set upon by a small town megalomaniac. The climax is pretty viscerally satisfying with enough love interest to give the chicks that come with their guys something to watch.

Speaking of chicks and guys, I received the following in an email and thought I'd pass it on. Warning: This is a guy thing and being a guy...

We always hear "the rules" from the female side.

Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules!

Please note - these are all numbered "1" on purpose.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

2. Sunday - SPORTS. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

3. Shopping is not a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

4. Crying is blackmail.

5. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work. Strong hints do not work. Obvious hints do not work. Just say it!

6. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost any question.

7. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

8. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

9. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in any argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

10. If you won't dress like the Victoria Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

11. If you think you are fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

12. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

13. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it.

14. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

15. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

16. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

17. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

18. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing", we will act like nothing is wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

19. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

20. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really!!

21. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such subjects as baseball, the shotgun formation or monster trucks.

22. You have enough clothes.

23. You have too many shoes.

24. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

25. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know men don't mind that. It's like camping.
Posted 9/13/03

Vacation - My parents came to visit yesterday. In spite of the 9/11 anniversary, they braved the terrorists and flew to Philly anyway. We picked them up at the airport.

There was a little confusion at first. We could not meet them at their gate. Only ticketed passengers were allowed there. After they arrived I realized they were likely waiting at the gate for us to arrive.

What to do? We asked the security guard and he directed us to Information. I explained the situation to Information, and she directed me to a courtesy phone to have them paged.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number indicated on the wall. It rang and rang and rang. Eventually someone answered. I explained our situation and she said she would page them.

Just as they were being paged, I think they saw Karol waving madly to get their attention. They could just barely see her through the exit isle. Eventually the emerged from the secure area, none the worse for wear.

Today we took them to Ocean City to visit the ocean and boardwalk. It wasn't really cold, but it was very windy. The surf was REALLY up. I offered to get them a wet suit and a surf board, but they declined.

We strolled up and down the boardwalk for a bit and stopped to sample some boardwalk burgers. They were good! Then it started to rain, so we called it a day and came home.

After supper we watched "My Fair Lady." One of the people I work with loaned us the tape. I have to admit I still have a crush on Audrey Hepburn. For me she is just wonderful in that picture. In fact, I feel the whole movie is wonderful. I was very saddened, when I learned of her death from colon cancer a few years ago.

It is great that we have the technology to have preserved her performance in movies like "My Fair Lady." My parents also enjoyed it. It was an enjoyable evening for all.
Posted 9/12/03

We Must Never Forget - As I look back at 9/11/01 and consider the current debate, I wonder where some people have been.

Two years ago we were attacked. Some say the world changed that day. It didn't, we did. The world had long ago changed. But we had grown introspective and were oblivious to those changes. The Cold War, some call it WW III, had ended and we had won. The new economy was in place and we would be prosperous forever.

On March 2000, the market alarm clock stirred us from our national slumber. We were not happy with this event. Much better to continue our dreams of living happily every after. So while it stirred us, we rolled over and hit the snooze alarm for another 18 months.

Then the world brought us face-to-face with what it had become during our reverie. People that hated our nation enough that they were willing to die to kill as many innocent people as they could, put their plan into motion.

We staggered to realize just where we were. Unbeknownst to us, World War IV had commenced.

One might make the case that US foreign policy had made some people unhappy. One could argue this unhappiness motivated them to kill as many Americans as they could. But that does not justify their actions?

Would one say that a pretty girl that walks down the street in a sexy outfit is the one responsible if she is raped? I think not.

In the intervening two years the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan and Iraq has been liberated. That's quite an achievement.

Both war zones, however, continue to smolder. The good news in Afghanistan is the Taliban are making a counter offensive to our troops. That is great news. The more we can get them to mass against us, the better we can wipe them out. "Bring it on guys. Get your martyrdom here. Martyrdom special this month only. Three for the price of one!"

In Iraq, we won the war with a magnificent strategy that General George S. Patton would have applauded. We took a page from the German Blitzkrieg and made it our own.

There are those in the political spectrum that seem to want us to fail in both battle zones. Do they not remember 9/11/03?

Our strategy is to plant a democracy smack dab in the middle of the Arab world. Our theory is that a democracy economic prosperous Iraq would show what can be accomplished. Imagine an Iraq with a Home Depot in every large city. Arabs should be worrying about modernizing their home or planning their vacation than Jihad.

This would be a democracy surrounded on all sides with dictatorships. Should that experiment succeed all those governments will be threatened.

There is no guarantee we will succeed. It would appear there are many in our country that are doing their best to prevent our success - just because it is George Bush at the helm.

But look how far we have come. Iraqis today enjoy more civil rights than any one else in the Arab world. Over 150 newspapers are being printed with absolutely no one telling them what they can or cannot print. A people so long silenced seem to be finding their voice quickly.

Iraq is also a terrorist magnet. I loath every casualty we take in Iraq and Afghanistan and I hate memorizing the names of cities were American troops are fighting and dying. But I would much rather we fight this war on foreign soil than our own. If we are going to be attacked, is it better for us, as a nation, to have our troops attacked or our civilians? We don't have the choice of IF, but we can chose the terrain.

We are making that choice.
Posted 9/11/03

The Blender Wars: Epilogue - This morning Karol asked what I wanted to do with my Waring blender. You know, the one that threw a blade and I nearly swallowed it. I told her to give it the ol' heave-ho.

As is our custom on old appliances and such, she put it out on the curb. Putting something like that on the curb near our house is a little like putting fresh meat in a Piranha filled lake. It is usually gone within the hour.

It quickly disappeared into who knows who's hands. I didn't care

Now, previously, right after the blender threw a blade, I had emailed Waring about the incident. Well, Conair actually. It appears that the Waring company is owned by the Conair company. Here's what my email said:
Dear Waring,

I purchased a Waring blender on 2/26/02. It was a model 51BL23 (PBB**). I use it every day to make a breakfast drink as described at http://www.tedkarol.com/ted/nutrition.htm.

This morning I made my drink as usual. As I was drinking it, I felt something in my mouth that seemed abnormal. At first I think it was a piece of unpuréed fruit. But it felt smooth to my tongue. I extracted it and found it to be a piece of the blade from the blender.

Boy, was I thankful I didn't swallow it!

I examined my blender and found that one of the blades had broken off.

Guys, this is a real hazard.

I see there is a one year warranty and that has expired. I guess I'll buy a new blender, but not a Waring. I don't want to take that chance again.

Ted Armstrong
Vineland, NJ

Guess what? You guessed it! Tonight, when I downloaded my email, there was a letter from a lady at Conair. I never really expected them to reply, but here's her reply:
Hi Ted,
After reviewing your email about the blender, we would like to provide you with a new complete jar and pick up the old jar with the broken blade in it. We will need your name, complete mailing address and phone number. You may also contact me at 1-800-269-6640 x 3135.

Jeanne Merati

I thanked her for their offer and told her that I had already disposed of the Waring and replaced it with a Hamilton Beach blender. Which, by the way, I'm liking more each day.

A day late and a dollar short - again!
Posted 9/10/03

Iraq with be with us awhile - I worry about Iraq. Will the democrats prevent the president from doing what needs to be done? Can we overcome the terrorists now flocking to that country? I saw a fellow on the news tonight. He said it is critical that we get electricity back up. Electricity means water. Electricity mean industry to the country. Electricity it vital to the Iraqi economy.

I'm also tired of hearing we need more troops, when all the military people say we don't need them. I, for one, believe our military. I think we could use some help, but not more troops.

American troops are warriors, not peace-keepers or good for doing guard duty. They are the best warriors in the world. Train and pay the Iraqis to do the guard duty. It is, after all, their country. Then see if we can get some help getting electricity back up and running. You don't need troops for that. You need engineers.

As for the terrorists, bring them on. With the terrorist flocking to Iraq, they're not coming to the US. What is better, having the terrorists go after trained solders or innocent civilians?

I don't relish or want ANY American casualties. But the military people are a lot better trained to take on this task than any civilians.

Iraq will take years, not weeks or months. But I believe it is a battle we cannot afford to loose. Unfortunately, the terrorists realize it is their last stand as well. It's not going to be pretty.
Posted 9/9/03

Maybe I Can Learn to Speak Well - I transcribed a tape to CD that I had that I don't remember listening to before. It's called "Talk to Win" by Lillian Glass. I was able to listen to it today on my way to Philly. On this tape she lays out many voice exercises. I've got to go back through the tape and transcribe the exercises to paper. This way I can put together an exercise program to speak more clearly.

One thing I've gotten already from the tape. She says that one of the reasons people mumble (me) is that they try to speak with very little breath and thus speak very fast to get all the words out before they run out of breath.

After being away of that, I have observed just how right she is - at least in my case. She tells me to suck the air into my stomach and then use my stomach to push the air out to speak. I find that if I do that, when I speak, I speak more slowly and enunciate much better.

They say there are three stages of a skill. Unconscious incompetent, conscious incompetent, conscious competent, and unconscious competent. I'd say I've reached the conscious incompetent stage. Heard the phrase, "Dumb as a post?" Well, I currently feel that I'm just a little smarter that the post. Not much, but a little.

I'm more than a little disappointed in my progress in my networking group. I should be pulling in tons of leads for the other members and so far I've gotten none, nada, zippo. I cannot expect them to give me leads, if I don't first get some for them. I'm feeling very frustrated with myself.
Posted 9/8/03

Another Sunday Another Church - We visited another church today. Karol rather liked it. They don't have a band, which would appear to put them out of the mainstream in today's world. I estimated about 150 people in attendance. They had a choir of about 20 people. I would estimate the church can seat between 200 and 250 people.

The pastor gave a lively short sermon. I like short sermons. It's a lot more liturgical than the church we left. Both the pastor and his wife run the service. I guess you could say they are like a tag team.

The pastor puts his email address on the bulletin and he appears to be one that would answer emails. He seems to have a lot of energy and appeared to try to transfer that energy to the congregation.

They have an organ, that when they turn it up, really fills the church. I saw organ pipes in the wall, but don't know if they are functional. I'm pretty sure it's an old church and the pipes could easily be from a previous organ.

Yesterday's labors really took their toll on my body. I awoke feeling like I'd be run over by a truck. My back hurt, my whole body hurt, and my arms hurt. My experience is that the second day after is usually worse than the first one. So Monday morning may be a difficult one.

I think the GoldWave audio editing program I downloaded may be a keeper. It appears to do the few things that I currently want. I just want to be able to edit out dead space from the ends of the tape and to be able to accelerate the listening speed. I did four recordings, but they still totaled 82 minutes. I'm going to have to do a smidgeon more compression to get them down to the 75 minutes one can fit on to a CD.

It is a bit slow to use, however. When I compress an 30 minute recording to about 18 minutes, it takes my computer about 10 minutes to do the compression. I am surprised it takes so long as my new computer has a 2.4GHz Pentium Celeron processor. Maybe I need a special audio card to make it faster or maybe more RAM.
Posted 9/7/03

Saturday Work - My yard had not seen me there for a couple of weeks. It has been so dry, that I felt I could skip it. Today I had to work on it. The Tulip tree in our back yard has been dropping leaves like mad. It's been very dry of late and I think it was just under stress. That seems strange as last year it was MUCH dryer, but I don't recall the tree dropping its leaves so early.

Anywho, I had to get them up. I have an electric power blower so I tried that first. I quickly gave that up. I used to have a Black and Decker blower and it was pretty good. But the switch on it died. I bought a Weed Eater based on the reviews in Consumers Reports. Wrong! It is pretty good if you're blowing leaves off concrete, but it is ineffective for blowing leaves off grass. It makes a lot more noise that my old B&D but with a lot less effectiveness.

So I got out the rake. I know this is starting to sound like a saga, but my rake has also seen better days. Still I went to work on those leaves. We had about an 1-1/4 inches of rain last week and some of the leaves were pretty well plastered to the ground. They were not the usual brown color, but black. Every time I ran my rake over the ground remove the leaves, a cloud of mold spores would rise into the air.

I am not used to physical work. My daily one or two mile jog and 30 push-ups and 60 sit-ups are not enough to keep me in shape. After an hour I was beat, but the yard was far from done. I kept at it until I had two huge piles of leaves.

Then I broke for lunch as Karol had returned from the hair dresser. She gets that hair design that makes it look like the governor gave her a reprieve, 10 seconds after they threw the switch.

After lunch Karol helped me rake the leaves on to our tarp and we dumped them into the street along our curb. The city will be by some time in the next few weeks to collect them. In the process of all this, my rake gave up the ghost. Last fall Wal-Mart had a rake they claimed would not clog with leaves. The teeth in the rake were triangular shaped and it looked like leaves would not get stuck in it. I don't know how good a job of raking it would do, but it would make an interesting experiment. If they still have it this year, maybe I'll get one and give it a try.

Then I cut the grass - which really didn't need it that much. Last fall I planted some "drought resistant" grass. I dunno. It doesn't look very drought resistant to me. It looks brown with sparsely separated green grass leaves. I'll be watching to see if it returns. I was really liking it this spring. It had a beautiful green color and cut magnificently. Now it looks virtually dead.

I'm still playing with audio files. After looking on the net I found some audio editing software called GoldWave. I downloaded it and opened up one of my newly recorded MP3 files.

After a little experimentation, I got it to play my MP3 at a much faster speed than normal, but it adjusted the frequency so it didn't sound like the chipmunks. I don't know If I'd want to listen to that on a long term basis or not. It's kind of hard to describe. I guess the best description I can find is to say it sounds a little choppy. Maybe I'll burn a CD and see how it goes in the car. I'm going to Philly on Monday. That's an hour each way, so it would make a good test.

I continue to be pleased with my new Hamilton Beach blender. I had to be careful with my old Waring or the food would not circulate well and get evenly chopped. The new HB works much better. My advice, don't waste your money on the $100 plus Waring, get the cheap HB and be happy.
Posted 9/6/03

Audio Conversions Continue - I continue to convert tapes to MP3 using my little Sony Walkman. As a former engineer, however, I'm a little dissatisfied with the arrangement. The portable is small and doesn't sit well on my desk. I'm thinking of making a small stand for it. Something that would hold it securely and make it easy for me to pop tapes in and out of it.

I thought about purchasing a tape deck, but I don't really need that kind of fidelity for what I listen to. I did check some out on eBay and it looks like I could get a pretty decent one for under $20.

The tape I most recently transcribed is "Talk to Win" by Lillian Glass. It is only an hour long so it fits easily onto a single CD. It sounds like a just the sort of thing I'm looking for.

I'd like to find some audio editing software - cheap. On some of my, now, MP3's I'd like to double the speed of playback, but adjust the frequency so that instead of sounding like the chipmunks, it just sounds like someone talking very fast.

Some studies have shown you learn better if the information is force through your brain more quickly. I understand that they actually do this in commercials. The speed up the audio some. We don't notice it, but it is supposed to stay in our brains longer. This would also allow me to put two hours on to a one hour CD.

Do you know of any audio editing software that would do what I'm looking for?
Posted 9/5/03

The Truth Hurts - Last night, when I gave me speech, I had it video taped. Ouch! I played it at lunch before some of the people in the office. Although I didn't seem quite as wild as I thought, I actually looked quite comfortable giving the speech. However - my enunciation leaves an awful lot to be desired. I mumble. I run my words together. I couldn't understand half the words I was saying.

This has motivated me to do better. I pulled out a tape set I purchased a couple of years ago on improving your voice. I am currently transposing it to MP3. Later, I'll write them to a CD.

This is going to be a slow painful path to get good. But what is my alternative? To continue to mumble? My career depends on my ability to communicate.

Why They Hate Us - A Yussuf al-Ayyeri wrote a book called, "The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad".

Yussuf al-Ayyeri was one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early '90s. A Saudi citizen also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad, he was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Riyadh last June.

In this book he says the goal of democracy is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad." If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

He says that it is vital to prevent any normalization and stabilization in Iraq. Muslim militants should make sure that the United States does not succeed in holding elections in Iraq and creating a democratic government. "If democracy comes to Iraq, the next target [for democratization] would be the whole of the Muslim world."

So why to they hate us, because we promote democracy and prosperity to everyone. It would be terrible if everyone was clothed, well-fed, and had good medical care. What kind of religion seeks to make its adherents suffer? Is this warped or what?

This shows just how vital the current struggle in Iraq is to the war on terror. Should we fail there, you can see what kind of people we face. Painful as every US casualty is, it is better to fit this war on foreign soil that on US soil.

This also shows that, should we prevail in Iraq, we could plant seeds that might spread throughout the Arab world. Imagine all the Arab countries as democracies. I ask you, what could do more to promote world peace.
Posted 9/4/03

Networking & Toastmasters - Attended Business Networking meeting this morning at restaurant. Meeting runs from 0730 to 0900. They are my kind of meetings. They run like clockwork. As I attend more meetings, small epiphanies occur. Every week each member stands and gives a 60-second commercial of his/her business. Also at each meeting, ONE member stands and gives a 20-minute presentation of his business.

It occurred to me this morning that, when one gives the 20-minute presentation, that is not a sales pitch. It is instead, a 20-minute training session with your sales staff. My goal, when I give my presentation the first week in October, will be to teach all members enough about my business that they know when they come across a good prospect for me.

Attended Toastmasters meeting tonight. We had a great time. I don't know why nearly everyone doesn't belong to Toastmasters. We had a writer and a photographer from a small local paper. They are going to do an article about our club.

I also gave my Ice Breaker. The Ice Breaker is the first speech new members give to the club. I'm a veteran Toastmaster. However, I've decided to go through the beginners manual again. By getting another CTM (Competent Toastmaster), the club will get a point in the scoring system.

If the club get five points, we get recognition as a Distinguished Club. Seven points gets us more recognition, and nine points, peaks us out. Each year this point count starts over. The Toastmaster year starts July 1.

I'm a little crazy, when I give my speeches. I think that's partly my nature, but also I tend to get a little nervous, when I do them. Instead of trying to control the nervousness, I just channel that energy into my speech. When I'm done, I'm nearly sweating. But I have fun and the audience also seems to enjoy it.

My one BIG drawback, it my enunciation. I seem to try to speak without moving my lips. I really need to work on that.
Posted 9/3/03

Back to Work - With Labor Day over, it's back to work. Went on-site to a client to do some training. They have a real nice business. I like clients with profitable growing businesses. They continue to need my services.

Microsoft has some new promotions this quarter. I'll see if I can convince some clients to take advantage of them. some of the promotions are pretty attractive. But we'll see just how attractive clients think they are.

Finished transferring six tapes to MP3 over the weekend. They are my Buying Facilitation tapes by Sharon Drew Morgen. I really wish I had an MP3 player in the car. Then I could put them on ONE CD instead of six.

Finished going through R. C. Sproul's six messages called, "Chosen By God." It's about predestination. I must say, he make a VERY powerful case for it. I need to go through it again to make sure I completely understand all his arguments.
Posted 9/2/03

New Blender Holding Up Well - The new Hamilton Beach blender is holding up well. I'm liking it more and more. It definitely is quieter and the carafe holds quite a bit more than the Waring. It also seems to circulate the ingredients in it better. My old Waring would occasionally need some stirring to get things moving. This one seems not need that. So far, I'm very pleased with the new blender.

Several months ago, my parents sent me an HP DeskJet 340c printer. I have never installed it as I've never had the need for a color printer - until now. I was running low on business cards and needed some to give out at the Business Networking group I have joined. I wanted to do some redesign work anyway, so I thought I'd give this printer a try. I found some Avery blank business cards that have very smooth perforations. I spent some time redesigning my card and then printed up about 40 cards. I also made a variation of my business card that I can use in the name time I wear to the meetings.

It took a little work getting the cables all correct. I used the USB port on the printer. My new computer has four USB ports. I had a little trouble getting the printer to allow me to insert the ink cartridges, but succeeded in the end.

We also set up the fish tank at the office. Someone gave us a 10-gallon fish tank. We have a Siamese fighting fish and he's out-growing his bowl. With the free tank, we cleaned it out and took it to the office today to install it. The person also gave us the gravel to go in the bottom. I soaked the gravel in bleach solution to sterilize it and then baked in the oven at 350 degrees. We filled the tank with water and installed the filter system and started it running. I figure we'll let it run for a day or so to make sure the tank is stable and then plop the fish into his new home.
Posted 9/1/03

Posted by Ted on 09/30/03 1:52 PM | Link