Just a Name 
Another letter to the editor today: [Link]

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Sports Talk 
1. In the latest AP Poll, Pitt is ranked 24. Pitt was a preseason #25 but lost to Bowling Green (ugh) in game one. The remaining schedule is tough - at Navy, Rutgers, at N.D., Louisville, at Cincinnati, WVU, and at UConn. Albeit none of them are ranked but they are viable opponents. I see a 4-3 run for an 8-4 season which is an improvement and will keep Wannstedt employed.

2. Wisconsin over PSU this weekend. (Yippie!)

3. Phillies over the Dodgers in six. Boston over T.B. in five. Phillies need to get those bats working again but I think they are the better team and will step it up notch to combat the hot Dodgers. Rays' dream season will end facing the team of the decade.

4. I predicted this in August but don't think I blogged it: Eagles 9-7 this year.

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Duplicity 
Ever notice that the same people who castigate ExxonMobil for making a profit are the same people who are making the most noise about all these firms losing insane amounts of money?

When big companies make money, the market does well. When ExxonMobil makes money, some people want to lynch them. Democrats have gotten their wish (just before a presidential election, coincidentally), big greedy American companies falling on hard times and now they gripe about it and pass a feckless pork-laden bill that will cause more problems than it solves; rewarding fecklessness and passing the bill onto us - well, at least the most responsible of us - those who live within our means.

I say put ExxonMobil in charge of everything, they seem to be able to do what the government can't do - make more money than they spend.

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Crickets Chirping 
Here's an interesting column today by Jack Kelly from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Funny Money

I am sure the neutral media [sic] is throughly investigating who Mr. Good Will, Doodad Pro, and three Palestinian refugees are who have nothing better to do with $33K are as I type. /sarc

I particularly like this line:
CNN recently sent a reporter to Little Diomede Island, the westernmost part of Alaska (2.4 miles from Russia) to determine whether Sarah Palin had ever been there actually to see Russia with her own eyes. But CNN -- and the rest of the media -- have been incurious about the Obama campaign's fundraising.


No MSM bias, right.

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Digital HF 
I bought a Rigblaster Nomic sound card interface so I can try digital HF on amateur radio. All the cables I needed were included and all I had to configure on the Nomic was the jumper settings that are specific to each radio.

In order to do digital (modes like RTTY, PSK31, Hellschreiber, Olivia, etc.) you need three basic items:

1. A computer with a software application that functions as your control. The software app I chose was Fldigi which has Linux and Windows versions.

2. A rig that that is capable of data modes, which is most nowadays.

3. A sound card interface. This is the device that allows the computer software to work with the radio.

In the digital modes, your rig is just transmitting and receiving data and the computer and software do all the encoding and decoding and use the sound card interface to control the radio. Digital is just data so you aren't using voice and with the software it basically looks like IRC or IM except that you are transmitting and receiving on a specified frequency instead of using the Internet. On the amateur bands, certain frequencies are restricted for data transmissions only.

Hooking everything up was easy and getting the software to work was easy, too. However, I was using the XP side of my laptop. The Linux side is Mandrake 9.2 and it didn't have what it needed to compile Fldigi and I forsaw a massive dependency problem if I updated that check that failed (gcc-cpp) during ./configure. Plus, my main Linux PC does not have an RS-232 port. A serial cable is used to transfer the data between the PC and the Nomic. I will need to buy a USB to DB9 adapter before I try digital HF on my Slackware machine.

I have 'listened' on both PSK31 and RTTY modes; PSK31 seems to have more activity but I haven't made any contacts yet. I can see the data and activity in the window so I am receiving without a problem. I've put out a few CQ's and answered a few but with no luck yet. I am pretty sure I have everything connected properly and the software configured properly so I'll play with it as I get time and update once I know it's working.

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Scary thing is, I might be right 
Last month, I made a post speculating what might happen to the world markets if ExxonMobil ever fails; (as many people in this land are hoping for, by the way). Judging how the market reacted today to a Congressional vote on a handout from the taxpayers, I might be right.

Additionally, after years of rooting for bad economic news and pumping up anything that was even remotely bad (and overlooking anything that was good - like when the DJIA topped 14K, the MSM made sure they didn't credit Bush, but he'll get a big chunk of blame for this current plunge), the MSM looks to have gotten their wish - crisis right before election day. Part of this is a manufactured problem designed to do just what it's doing - give people gloom and doom right before we go to the polls. The big part, of course, is the people themselves - spending, borrowing, and living beyond their means and lenders and the government doing their best to encourage it. It has now come time to pay for this foolishness and licentiousness that took root in the late 1990's; a prime example why the "if it can be done, it should be done" philosophy is nothing more than obtuse judgment and immaturity. But I digress, philosophical ideology is not entirely to blame, there's been plenty of malfeasance from everyone from the top down in both politics and business.

Just as children need their parents, even if they don't think they do, society needs the acute and mature who are the responsible citizens who manage their affairs properly and we seem to be a vanishing breed.

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Food Debauchery 
We went to Pittsburgh this past weekend and, as is the case when you travel, it's hard to eat right. So, chronicled what I ate and it isn't pretty. It's hard to believe that I used to eat like this all the time, sans the salads and fruit.

Roy Rogers on the turnpike:
Chicken sandwich, side salad, iced tea

McDonald's Friday night after we exited the turnpike in Cranberry:
BBQ chicken wrap

Hotel room:
two beers

Saturday morning at Eat 'n' Park:
veggie omelette, home fries, rye toast, orange juice, coffee

At the Pitt game:
split a nachos and personal-sized pizza, water

Saturday after the game:
a peach

Saturday evening dinner, Max's Allegheny Tavern in Pittsburgh:
garden salad, schnitzel, mashed potatoes, two Penn Pilsners

After Max's, we went into Oakland for some drinks at bar owned by a friend of mine.

Sunday morning:
coffee (my usual breakfast, for many, many years, except when we travel)

Sunday lunch, Wendy's in Carlisle:
99 cent hamburger and 99 cent chicken sandwich, side salad, iced tea

For dinner Sunday, we ordered Chinese as we never cook on Sundays when we come home from traveling.

Naturally, a binge like this just loads one up with salt and fat and all kinds of glop. The food was good and it's always a highlight when we travel but I'll be glad to get back into my normal diet and exercise routine this week.

The reason for the trip was to go to the Pitt-Iowa game. It was my first game in our new seats. We moved down from the 500-level endzone to the 140's, corner endzone. We are up enough so that we can see most of the action. Pitt won 21-20.

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Happy Constitution Day! 
From About.com:

On September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.


Of the 42 who attended, 39 signed and 3 did not; nine more facts.

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---- Hitting the Fan 
My wife and I been doing our part as responsible citizens. We save and we also invest. We don't buy things we can't afford. Excluding the mortgage, we have no debt, which, really isn't considered a debt but more of a loan. Yet, financially, things are a mess and I believe it's due to not enough invisible hands doing their part. Yes, the invisible hand can have negative effects too - if people continually live beyond their means and spend spend spend on things they don't need or can't afford. And, what worries me most, is that those of us today who save and invest and manage our finances wisely, will end up, in about 20 years, subsidizing those who aren't planning for their future. If it sounds like I am lecturing, it's because I am. I know that we are doing things right. Maybe people laugh at us when they see that we don't have a new car or maybe they laugh because our house isn't as big as theirs. But I sleep at night knowing that my bills are paid and that we'll have the house paid off in ten years and that we don't live paycheck to paycheck and, not to boast, an impressive credit score. Oh, we still are concerned with money, don't get me wrong, but we set limits and bounds and budgets and work within them.

My wife and I firmly believe that "it's not what you make, it's what you don't spend."

Is this current meltdown solely due to malfeasance of the consumer; no, but, maybe these failed companies should have had bounds and limits that were a little more strict. Nonetheless, if people don't pay what they promised to pay, no matter how established or big the lender is, things will go wrong.

Hopefully, those who manage such financial institutions will learn from these mistakes. Hopefully, those who've overextended themselves will learn, too. Of course, many people suffer foreclosure through no fault of their own; they just hit a bad stretch. Bad things do happen to good people too but that's life. I've had my share of financial hardship but I dug myself out without bankruptcy or government assistance and if I can do it, anyone can.

Yes, the economy has seen better times, but it also has seen worse times. Rising prices at the pump and grocery store affect us too. But with years of training and disciplined money management, we are dealing with it. Yes, I still worry that things may go wrong and we end up in dire straights but I feel with how we conditioned ourselves, we'll be able to handle it. Parsimony isn't hard if you try.

In every society, there are people who have hardship due to needs. However, it seems that in the U.S. there are way too many people whose wants are the primary reason for hardship. This more inimical to society than those whose needs are to due to legitimate hardship.

It also concerns me that those who manage our money seem to be incompetent and reckless - whether it's government or business - and, of course, it's the frugal and responsible citizen who gets the bill when things hit the fan.

Many businesses are really beginning to irk me with their carelessness - whether it's irresponsible lending practices or farming out their manufacturing with no regards to quality control or consumer safety or contracting out customer service with the sole intent to discourage anyone from ever calling customer service - often to complain about a shoddy product or an arcane fee on some service. But, this is a topic for another day. I am rather displeased with the many once proud businesses seem to have abandoned principles and practices that had made them strong.

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???????? 
On a scale of 1 to 5, five being zaniest, Joe Biden's recent comment that Hillary "might have been a better pick than me" for VP goes off the scale with an impressive eight question marks. Someone should start a competitive eating contest but instead of food, use shoes, because at the pace at which Biden puts his foot in his mouth, he'd win hands down each and every time.

Oh, and wouldn't it be interesting if Biden suddenly developed an "unspecified illness" or disclosed an "undisclosed extreme personal issue" and dropped out of the race? This, then, would pave the way for a woman veep for BHO. This is highly unlikely this late in the year but one never knows. Of course, this would send the bullcrap meter off the scale and even the MSM may not be able to cover for the Obama campaign on that one.


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Much Ado About Nothing 
I don't watch a lot of TV but I have seen (before the Eagles-Rams kickoff) the much publicized and criticized Microsoft commercial with Bill and Jerry. Awful. First of all, I had no idea what the commercial was for and, secondly, Jerry Seinfeld isn't funny at all; never was, and Bill Gates certainly isn't either. I never liked Seinfeld to begin with and that show wasn't very funny either. In fact, it's one of the shows that opened my eyes and led me to totally ditch, save Jeopardy! and sometimes the Simpsons (probably the best-written show ever), prime-time television viewing. From what I have seen, it's only gotten worse over the past 12 years. Newton N. Minow, how right you are.

Speaking of comedians, Obama's lipstick on a pig and stinky fish comments seem to be the talk of the town. The vast wasteland of the cable news channels is hyping this too much but not near at the level you'd see if McCain had said the same if Obama had a woman running mate. Plus, with McCain's bounce the MSM has gone into red alert damage control mode to cover for Obama once again. However, polls in September mean nothing, no matter who's leading. They'll sway many times over the next eight weeks.

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The Move 
I was in Western PA this weekend and away from the TV, Internet, and radio on Friday when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate. So I missed all the initial hype and really didn't get to catch much about it over the rest of the weekend.

I had commented a few months ago that a woman for VP would be a bold move for McCain and that's what he did. She's a newbie, like BHO, the political front. She's got executive experience as a governor but she didn't make a speech in 2002 like BHO did. It's hard to tell how this plays out. Democrats will attack her inexperience and, as expected, so will the media; even though the media will forget to tell you that BHO was in office 143 days before he formed a presidential exploratory committee and has spent most of his time since then visiting the 61 states of the Union.

We'll find out a lot about Gov. Palin in the coming months and anything negative about her will be front and center, unlike fellow VP candidate Biden's plagiarism or his frequent verbal gaffes as well as her limited experience with no mention of Obama's. Oh, and look for a myriad of Hillary supporters on the Obama News Networks who will be brought in to say how they will not support McCain-Palin.

I applaud the move, even if she is relatively unknown. Sometimes you need to push for change.

As an aside, Palin has a son who is being deployed to Iraq soon and McCain has a son in the Marines and another in the naval academy. If this ticket wins it's possible that both the Pres. and Veep could both have sons deployed in war zones. I wonder if that has ever happened before?

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