Thursday, January 31, 2008

A pianist, parades and pandemonium

The madness has overtaken the city. The tension in the air is palpable. Yet, it's business as usual for those people lucky enough to be in New Orleans at Carnival time. Here in the "City that Care Forgot" it is normal, acceptable behavior to don a wig, glue on a moustache and beard, don tights, and wear a jewel-bedecked crown and mantle with huge ostich feathers that stands nearly ten feet tall. The same applies to men. (Hee hee. Sorry, but I couldn't resist that one.) In the French Quarter, especially along busy Bourbon Street, the crowds are beginning to thicken. After the rain passes tonight, there will be quite a lot of activity there revolving about beads and how to get them. For those of you who do not know what illegal activity I'm referring to, suffice it to say that it involves displaying parts of the female anatomy that normally are well-hidden in exchange for colorful strings of beads. I say it is illegal, but it is so widespread and rampant that in all but a few isolated cases (where the subject is so drunk that she does so in full view of the police standing next to her, for example), it is usually ignored by the members of the local constabulary. Of course, there are scantily-attired gentlemen who insist on displaying portions of their anatomy to interested parties too, but I think you get the picture of the wild, seemy underbelly of New Orleans that is Bourbon Street. When the crowds swell to capacity on Fat Tuesday, one can literally be carried away on a wave of moving people. For smaller individuals like myself it is terrifying; it is something akin to being lifted by a tsumani and carried aloft and deposited by an unseen force. The parade-going public never sees that part of the show. They get to see the more family-friendly fare along the parade routes that rarely gets above the slightly risqué or somewhat provocative. Two parades passed in review in front of the official stand at Gallier Hall last night. I acted as the announcer for the Krewe of Ancient Druids, celebrating its 10th anniversary. The identity of the masked Arch-Druid is always kept secret and he does not speak directly to the crowd. A spokesman for the krewe spoke on his behalf. This year's theme used the Roman numeral "X" (for "ten") to poke fun at such things as "X-Wives," "X-Otic," and "X-Men," the last being a float that depicted a busty female with a five o'clock shadow. Also in attendance at the reviewing stand was my guest Inon Barnatan, an Israeli pianist now living in New York, who performed as part of the Lincoln Center Pianists tour this past Monday. I was fortunate to meet him following the performance at a private reception. (He had played the Mendelssohn "Andante and Variations in B-flat major for Two Pianos" and Faure's "Dolly Suite for Piano, Four Hands," named for the young girl who would later marry Debusssy.) When he told me he was interested in seeing a Mardi Gras parade, I sprang into action, immediately promising him a seat at the Gallier Hall reviewing stand, which he eagerly accepted. After he arrived, I introduced him to Cynthia Willard-Lewis, the City Councilperson who officially represented the city. He watched the parades pass by in wonderment as I announced each float and marching unit. It was wonderful to see someone from outside the culture come to learn the peculiarities of the time-honored traditions held so high here. The second parade, the Krewe of Pygmalion, paraded last night following a rain-out last Friday. All of the krewes were especially generous with their throws. I had warned him in advance to bring a plastic bag to haul away his throws. As we walked to my car, I heard him refer to his "bling" as he pulled out the bag and deposited his goodies from around his neck. With the cancellation of tonight's parades due to inclement weather, Inon was fortunate to see a part of the Carnival celebration before he leaves tomorrow for the frigid weather in Detroit where he is slated to perform Friday evening. If his luck holds, he will perform brilliantly as he and the five other pianists continue their tour. Only Inon will be alone in having basked a bit more in the Mardi Gras mania.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards's and Rudy's Blues

Just a little over 13 months after he first announced his intention to run for the presidency here in New Orleans, John Edwards decided to return to the Crescent City and bow out gracefully as a candidate for the Democratic nomination. Edwards, who was counting on a major win in his home state of South Carolina, saw the writing on the wall and determined that the battle was not his to fight any longer...that the two figures who would likely do battle with one another were named Hillary and Barack. It is a shame because I really liked Edwards, but I could plainly see that the wind had been taken out of sails over the last weekend. I'm sure he wouldn't admit that it was a factor, but his wife's continuing fight against cancer had to figure in his decision, even if it was a minor consideration. I know of what a distraction it is to have one's wife fighting cancer. I lived through two bouts of cancer while my wife was pregnant with our son and some nine years later. Regardless as to the reasons, Edward tried to put his best political foot forward in the face of less than spectacular returns, but it was probably too much for him to continue. Meanwhile, in Simi Valley, California a continent across from New York City, the city that Rudy Giuliani has called home, there played out another soap opera. Once considered the front runner, the former New York mayor also bowed out of the Republican nomination process, yielding to the much more robust and wealthy forces in the McCain and Romney camps, following his third-place finish in Florida. It seems odd that Giuliani was once considered the Republican front runner, but such has been the case this volatile political year. With the exit of both Edwards and Giuliani, the remaining players seem somehow larger in scope now that two of their more remarkable rivals have exited the playing field. As of today, with the possible exception of Michael Bloomfield (and I really believe it's too late for him to make a run for the presidency as an independent), only four viable candidates remain: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and John McCain. If anyone looks like he has the inside track right now, it's probably McCain, but don't count out Romney just yet. The battle between Clinton and Obama will take a bit longer to sort out after Super Tuesday. I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by it all.
Vote: For those of you who haven't done so, please consider voting in our straw poll (at right). We only have a little over a week left. Btw, for those of you who voted for Edwards, Giuliani or Fred Thompson for that matter, you can change your vote. That's pretty cool.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bar Mitzvah in Heaven



Yesterday marked the thirteenth anniversary of the passing of my father, Dr. Arnold Smason. Out of deference to him, I did not post a blog yesterday. A remarkable self-made man, he had a steel-trap mind with an incredible recall. As a youth preparing for school, I saw him reading the paper each and every morning. More times than not, he was busy finishing the crosswords AND completing the Jumble word puzzle. He read the bridge column by Goren every day and on several instances corrected the bridge grandmaster when he happened to make a mistake that my dad spotted. Of course, he had many accomplishments in life. He graduated from L.S.U. with a chemical engineering degree, worked with uranium isotopes at Oak Ridge on the then-secret Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, found himself discriminated against in the petrochemcial industry, reacted to that with enrollment in optometry school, became one of the youngest heads of an optical department in the country, emerged as one of the earliest practioners of contact lens technology, and married my mother. His dedication to his career and to providing for his family was of paramount concern. It was very difficult to be my father's son because the bar was raised so high. Much was expected of me and, in truth, I am sure I did not live up those hoary expectations. C'est la vie. While it may be true that he worked very hard, there is also no doubt that he enjoyed his life. He had a wonderfully developed sense of humor. According to Jewish tradition, the thirteenth anniversary of one's passing is considered "the Bar Mitzvah in Heaven." That may be especially appropriate since my father never became a Bar Mitzvah as a thirteen-year-old. Regardless, he always felt it was essential that any Jewish man should belong to a synagogue, which is why he maintained his synagogue membership for over four decades. He was a Past Master and Treasurer for his Masonic lodge and for the Jerusalem Shrine Temple, which he served as both Potentate and Recorder. I could probably reel off several stories about my dad, some of which would be highly motivational and others that might serve as testaments to his eccentric nature. His epitath reads "A man of vision," which was absolutely true, figuratively and literally. For those of us who knew him and loved him, he is still missed to this very day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spirit of 76


When people talk about the indomitable will, they usually are referring to my mother. Like a force of nature, my mother can be as full of blessing as a beautiful sunny day or as destructive as a tsunami. Most people only see the former, but there have been times when I have had to deal with the latter and I must tell you it isn't pleasant. Nevertheless, there isn't a day that doesn't go by that I don't truly love my mother. I have had the pleasure of being my mother's son for nearly 54 years (yikes!) and today she celebrates her 76th birthday. There are very few birthdays she hasn't celebrated with family and friends at her favorite haunt, New Orleans's oldest restaurant, Antoine's. The picture above was taken at her 75th bash with cocktails in the Rex Room, followed by a sumptuous feast served in the Hermes Room. You might notice the blunt references to Carnival krewes that figured in last year's banner celebration at Antoine's. Carnival has been a major part of my mother's life here. She has attended balls since a teenager and was in attendance at the Krewe of Moslem ball the night before she delivered me on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday in 1954. That Sunday on the Carnival calendar (the one just before Mardi Gras) figured very prominently for her as well in the years to come. The next year she began a run of almost 40 years of riding with the Krewe of Venus. When the krewe disbanded in 1992 in its 51st year, my mother was its senior officer. Also, that year my son and two of his first cousins -- Wallace and Lauren Title -- were three of the last four pages to the king and queen. The pinnacle of her parading experiences may have been in 1976 when my mother rode through the streets of New Orleans as the queen of Venus. Yet, even after the krewe had disbanded, she missed her parading so much that she contracted with the then males-only Krewe of Okeanos (who had taken over the Sunday before Mardi Gras route from Venus) to allow her to have two or three floats of women riders, many former Venus members. She did that for nearly ten years until just two years before Katrina. You can definitely say that Carnival is truly in her blood. Apparently, so is wanderlust. She enjoys traveling on board any of the Crystal luxury liners and does so frequently. I always tell friends that instead of frequent flier miles, my mom gets frequent oceans. Some of us have tried to convince her to stay in New Orleans a bit more, but there goes that indomitable will again. She will have none of that. It is her way or the highway. Like Molly Brown of Titanic fame, she is quite unsinkable! Happy birthday, mother.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

O Little Town of Carrollton





Today marks the first day of my duties as an announcer at Gallier Hall describing to the crowd there the theme of the Krewe of Carrollton parade. Ever since Carnival began in New Orleans, every single float has passed Gallier Hall, the former New Orleans City Hall designed by the noted architect James Gallier, Sr. Typically, city officials will greet each parade's monarch(s) and present each with a proclamation from the city and will offer a toast as the parade proceeds along its route. At one time there was a separate town of Carrollton, but it became absorbed by the much larger New Orleans in the 19th century. Yet, the neighborhood kept its name. The Krewe of Carrollton began as a neighborhood parade in 1924, but has over the course of 84 years become a crowd pleaser, always running two Sundays prior to Fat Tuesday. It has a family-oriented theme for its ball (held on Friday) and parade. This year's theme is "Name That Tune" and the floats will all reflect musical genres. This year's king is Ralph Romaguera, Sr., who is the father of two past queens of Carrollton and whose family has been very active in the organization in recent years. I will be working with city officials to have a City Council person or the Mayor (who rarely shows up before next weekend) to toast His Majesty. The Carrollton queen will be toasted separately at the nearby Intercontinental Hotel. Okay, time to put on the tux. I should be pelted with lots of throws today and may send some up to my friends in Cleveland for them to enjoy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One Degree of Separation

In New Orleans there is truly only one degree of separation. Last night, for example, the Queen of Carrollton was the daughter of a lovely lady who worked as my producer on radio 27 years ago. For those of you who remember Frasier, she was my Roz. She would answer the phone for callers who wanted to converse on the air and would make sure that the correct advertising would run at the appointed time. Over the course of the next several years, I would see her and her husband out to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House or other local haunts. Later, she became an actress in several local productions and her husband also started appearing in leading roles such as "Lend Me a Tenor." In the meantime he also became a well-known attorney who advertised regularly over television. His career took off, but he still found time to do several local productions prior to Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, he and his wife had divorced, but I would still see her in local productions from time to time. After she remarried, she lived in Alabama and tried to make a life for her and her husband there. I was surprised to learn at last year's Carrollton ball that her daughter would be queen this year, but very happy for her. In fact she was Queen of Carrollton herself 33 years ago, four years prior to becoming my producer. One of the the members of her daughter's court, a maid, is also the granddaughter of a former colleague (now deceased) on yet another radio station. And tonight I am seeing "Grease" at Rivertown Repertory Theatre in Kenner. Teen Angel is being played by the Queen of Carrollton's father (the attoryney). Like I said...one degree.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh Wad a Gift...

Today is a national holiday in Scotland, the birthday of poet Robert Burns. I think the Scots think of Burns as much like the Russians regard Pushkin. He is in a category all to himself. I must admit that the diehard attachment to figures like Burns is hard to understand. Here in the United States we have our own heroes to be sure, but we enjoy seeing them dragged through the mud much too often. I wonder who would be the closest to a national poet in this country? Walt Whitman? e e cummings? Theodor Geisel? For those of you who don't recognize the last name, you might recall his nom de plume, Dr. Seuss. My sister, an early grade educator, always regarded him as a lesser poet, despite the ubiquitous nature of his children's books ("The Cat in the Hat," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" or "Green Eggs and Ham" to mention just a few). She disliked the made up names he employed in his poems. She thought it was more important to teach the children reality rather than have them dwell in the twilight of their imaginations. I, of course, disagreed. I believe that using their imaginations makes them better prepared to deal with the reality of the grown-up world. Ah, well, that's perhaps why I enjoy writing poetry specifically intended for children. I know it won't be lost on them and there's very little they will object to. Perhaps I will share some of them in a future post. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend. To my Jewish friends, Shabbat Shalom. And to all of the rest of us, Happy Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PBS Series



When I was ever so much younger, the prospect of staying up late was a lure that drew me to it like bees to honey. These days, though, the prospect of getting to bed at a reasonable hour is so much more enticing than I could ever have imagined back then. It's just that nowadays something work-related (or not) has the inenviable effect of keeping me from dreamland and, weary as I am, I carry on as long as I can until slumber overtakes me from my appointed late-night tasks. What kept me up last night until I drifted off was the final segment of the PBS series "The Jews in America." Unfortunately, I had missed the first two episodes and was very intrigued with seeing whatever I could before it ended. The series has been shown since January 3 around the country over various local stations, scheduled whenever the member stations found it convenient. I know that Cleveland, for example, finished their run of the three-part series a week ago. Here in New Orleans, the last part aired last night and ran until 5 a.m. this morning in repetition. (I fell asleep with it on and woke up with it still running.) I was impressed with the quality of the program and amazed that I even knew one of the interview subjects, Rabbi Irwin Kula, who was just in New Orleans from New York a little over a month ago for a lecture. This last episode detailed the Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights era and the eventual schism between blacks and Jews that came out of that struggle. It also highlighted the Jewish-American connection to the State of Israel and how important that connection has been since the Six Day War. There even was room to discuss such widely-divergent topics such as Chasidism (a brand of ultra Orthodoxy), Jewish-reggae superstar Matisyahu, and the Dahli Lama. I decided after the series finished that it was worthy of addition to my collection and ordered it by phone along with a companion CD ROM and a 400-page book produced for the series. The total with shipping was (gasp!) nearly a C-note. So, it would appear that my nocturnal habits are now not only costing me sleep, but also a good deal of money. Oy veh!

Fred Thompson: Rack him, stack him and pack him


Well, Lenny Briscoe he wasn't. In a move, no doubt decided by the suits, Fred Dalton Thompson didn't disappoint us by going into reruns. After a late entry into the presidential merry-go-round, Thompson made the decision to cancel his series early in the season and sit around, waiting for a call from his agent for something else to do. In truth I liked his Southern down-to-earth qualities on the screen, although I thought he was a better actor than a senator. Nevertheless, I always thought he was out of his milieu on "Law and Order" as the D.A. To me he just seemed a bit out of place as a top dog in Manhattan. If the truth be told, my favorite role Thompson played was as the gruff Washington, D.C. airport manager in Bruce Willis's "Diehard 2: Die Harder." (His memorable line from that film was altered for the title of today's blog.) Even though he has exited the race, you still will be able to vote for Thompson in our poll (at right). The polling continues until February 12. Please consider voting for your favorite.

Hollywood Passings: I was drawn to some of the TV entertainment news shows following the unexpected death of Heath Ledger yesterday and discovered, to my dismay, that I had been so busy this past weekend that I hadn't been notified of the passing of film and TV icon Suzanne Pleshette. I must admit that she was a bit older than me and was, in fact, one of my father's favorite actressess. I always thought she was charming through and through. I had read of her husband Tom Poston's passing last April only a few days before and had thought to myself how odd that the two of them were married in 2001 after having known each other since 1959 and each been married and widowed before. As to the tragedy of Ledger, he may have been the victim of an accidental overdose, but it should be a lesson to all of us of the pressures of stardom and the stress associated with celebrity. Think Britney.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why me, Microsoft?

Whenever I get fairly complacent, it only takes one computer glitch I cannot fathom to knock me out of my reverie and create a sense of panic and uneasiness. A Windows 2003 Small Business Server did me in yesterday. I guess I can be thankful that for some unknown reason over the weekend the domain controller decided to stop reporting and the Directory Services that controls all of the rights and permissions of everything on the domain decided to take an early retirement. It allowed me to talk to Microsoft Technical Support for two and a half hours of scintillating conversation to a fellow in India. It also taught me that no matter what you know, there is always something out there that will knock you down a peg or two to remind you of what you don't know. The good news is it is now fixed and I also know how to correct the problem, should it ever rise its ugly head again. The bad news is that it cost a bunch of money for the Directory Services "specialist" from Microsoft to take care of the problem that was created by its own operating system. I feel the same way this morning as I do after an electrician or plumber has come by my house in this post-Katrina environment. Somehow I feel the cost associated with the fix is greater than it should be, but I know in my heart of hearts, it has to be done.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jieuxs, Mishigas, MLK and Trees

Mardi Gras: Congratulations to the Krewe du Vieux for a great parade on Saturday night through the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny and Bywater areas. The irreverant traditional krewe used mules to pull their small floats through the chilly night. Ronald Lewis, the founder of the Ninth Ward Social Aid and Pleasure Club, was honored as king. As part of his royal entourage, members of the Krewe du Jieux were allowed to take part in Krewe du Vieux for the first time in several year since a contentious split with the larger Krewe du Mishigas (now a regular sub-krewe within Krewe du Vieux). This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is very big news in this community.
Martin Luther King, Jr. : So much has happened since 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain. In many ways there is a lot that still needs to be improved in race-relations, but I am glad to note many historic changes that have been implemented in the four decades that have elapsed. I remember much of that era, particularly the assassination of both Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. I was with my housekeeper Victoria during the night of the King assassination and remember how powerful the sense of loss was then. I recall watching the flames of reaction lighting up the night skies in several cities and know that several people in Cleveland were also affected by the riots that ensued. Perhaps there are some of you who would like to share your thoughts.
Tu B'Shevat: At sundown tonight, the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat begins. This is also called "the New Year of the Trees." It could also be called Jewish Arbor Day. Regardless, it is a nice holiday that has a lot of "green" associated with it. With today's emphasis on environmental issues, it's nice that an old holiday can help us think about today's hot-button issues associated with global warming and being eco-friendly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Big Chiefs and Flag Boys





Yesterday was an interesting day to say the least. The Chilantakoba Lodge # 397 of the Order of the Arrow held its annual lodge banquet and the theme was "Goin' to the Mardi Gras." Suffice it to say that I move easily between different cultures here in New Orleans. Through my many contacts I was able to bring two disparate groups together yesterday at the banquet. One is, of course, the Order of the Arrow, a fraternity of cheerful service that is an honor society within the Boy Scouts of America. The other is the Mardi Gras Indians culture that has existed here in New Orleans since the 1880s. Both groups embraced Native American culture and put their own stamps on it. The Order of the Arrow embraced the Lenni-Lenape (or Delaware Indians as Europeans referred to them) Native Americans. The Mardi Gras Indians probably identified with the local Choctaw, Creek, and Houmas Indians who frequented Southeast Louisiana and Mississippi, although their identity is very much African in scope. Regardless, the ability to see the Boy Scouts be exposed to the sub-culture of New Orleans was very interesting, especially since the Mardi Gras Indians have become much more respectable these days. Years ago they were, literally, a bunch of gangs who would frequent several haunts, habitually abuse alcohol and spark fights among themeselves. Above you can see one of the younger members of the Mardi Gras Indians, or the Mardi Gras maskers as they refer to themselves. They each make their own costumes, or suits and the headdress is called a "crown." The beadwork is very intricate as is the sewing very detailed. The presentation lasted over 20 minutes with Counsel Queen Cherice Harrison-Nelson of the Keepers of the Flame explaining the terms "spy boy," "flag," "flag boy," "big chief," "big queen" and others to the crowd. She and Irvin Bannister, Jr. played and sang several Mardi Gras Indians chants including the revered "Indian Red," commonly played at their funerals or other solemn events. What a day! By my being associated with the Boy Scouts and having the contacts to get the presentation made at the banquet, two very different cultures were able to meet and understand each other, at least for a while. In a post-Katrina environment, respect for each other is critical in moving towards recovery.

The Hayley Factor

I was chatting with one of the past kings of a Carnival krewe last night and he informed me that his daughter Hayley would be queen of that krewe next year. I remarked that she had been a lady-in-waiting, a junior maid twice, and a maid to my recollection. "Yes," he acknowledged I've gotten progressively poorer as she's gone on." People don't realize how much money it costs to be a king or queen for a day in Mardi Gras. For some of the bigger krewes, the cost can be tens of thousands and for smaller krewes the cost is at least $1,000- $5,000. His daughter is now 19 and she was named after Hayley Mills, according to the father. "Why would you pick Hayley Mills?" I questioned. "Alan," he looked at me knowingly, "how old are you?" I told him we both were approximately the same age. "Hayley Mills?" he continued. "She was my first girlfriend. Wasn't she yours?" "No," I responded. "My first girlfriend like that was Annette Funicello." "Oh," he said, "so you liked girls with 40 inch boobs." I didn't say much in response, but I answered. "Well, my mother's name was Annette, too, so I wasn't going to name any of my children after her (Funicello)." Again I pressed. "Why Hayley Mills?" Listen, he said, "I'm going to tell you a story: "When Hayley Mills was on her last American tour in "The King and I," my Hayley was nine years old. It was Easter Sunday and we flew to Houston." He went on to explain how, after attending services in the morning, they elected to go to the theater and see if they were fortunate enough to be able to see Hayley Mills as she was leaving the matinee performance. He was crestfallen when the guard at the stage exit informed him that Miss Mills had missed the matinee performance due to illness and that she might not make the final performance of her tour unless she recovered. Well, I won't drag this out any more than I have to. Hayley Mills did appear in the final performance on April 12, 1998 at the Jones Theatre in Houston. Following the performance, my friend and his daughter Hayley went back to the stage door exit to see if they could greet the famous actress. What my friend couldn't believe was that there were a lot of other little girls also there...at least 10 by his count, all with their dads, and all named Hayley! Apparently, the name meant a lot to the very post-adolescent fathers, but my friend confided to Miss Mills how much she had impressed him as a young man and how he treasured her name as a result. Her response: "I hate that name!" An interesting confession in a veritable sea of Hayleys.
Checkmate Bobby Fischer: I was sad to see that one of my earlier idols had passed away at age 64, apparently from kidney failure. When Bobby Fischer challenged Boris Spassky for the World Chess Championship at the height of the Cold War, it was followed in the newspapers and carried over television. When Spassky was defeated, it was considered a great American victory, not just a personal triumph for Fischer. Yet, in the years that followed Fischer became a pawn in other people's games. He was a member of Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God and eventually left it disillusioned. He got into some hot water with the U. S. State Department later and ended up a lonely recluse in Reykjavik, Iceland, the scene of his championship win over the Russian in 1972. Interestingly, he seemed to dip more into madness as his years went by. He became an avowed anti-Semite, although his mother and, possibly his father, were Jewish. He began spouting tirades over radio broadcasts, especially in the Phillipines against the International Chess Federation, the Jews, and the United States. His statement of "This is all wonderful news" in response to the attacks on America on September 11, 2001 is probably a testament of how far afield his mind had strayed. I think I would like to remember him at the height of his chess genius, before the temperamental antics against Antatoly Kasparov that cost him his championship, and even before the bout with Spassky. I would like to think of Fischer as the cerebral underdog who was going to challenge the Russians, like an American Edmund Hillary ready to scale the peak of Everest one chess move at a time. He was a brilliant player back then and only concerned with playing chess and proving himself the best in the world. He was arrogant, but rightly so. In turn he made chess a sport all of us could enjoy. That's the Bobby Fischer I want to mourn.

Friday, January 18, 2008

God Likes to Open Windows

Sorry about the short post, but I am pressed today for time. The old adage "When God shuts a door, he opens up a window" was never more on target than today. No, I am not talking about Microsoft Windows. I have been in the midst of reviewing job opportunities when, lo and behold, another position worthy of my consideration has just become available. I must admit it would be ill-advised for me to ignore this opening and I will advise you on details as they become available. Again, I do believe God must like opening those windows because it seems awful drafty in here now.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a wonderful weekend. To my Jewish friends, Shabbat Shalom. And to all of New Orleans, enjoy this weekend of Carnival shenanigans.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

HOT L Baltimore


Congratulations to my niece Nori on her selection as an intern in marketing with the hallowed Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball. Nori comes to the Orioles after a successful stint last summer with the Toledo Mudhens. Anybody who saw the movie "Major League" will remember the fictional Cleveland Indians coach's previous coaching job was as head coach of the Toledo Mudhens. Not much else to say about them publicly, other than to thank them for hiring my niece, as well as for Baltimore having the good foresight to hire her as well. I am relieved that she will be able to do her new job in Baltimore without any impediments that in past generations might have been imposed by other Major League Baseball organizations. She is a woman, after all, and many people in professional sports still have ideas that women shouldn't have the same rights and access as men have enjoyed since the inception of our National Pastime. She comes to the Orioles with a great resume and a burning desire to work in professional sports. I say good luck to her and I wish her all the best.

PRESIDENTIAL POLL: Please continue to cast your vote (at right). I believe it will also allow you to change your vote, should the impulse occur to do so.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ROM vs. RAM vs. Flash



Yesterday I had to try to explain the differences between RAM and ROM to someone. I realized that it is a topic that few end-users understand. So, for those of you who already know much about computer memory, I hope you will allow me an opportunity to paint a large brush in relating to the topic for those who are not as well-informed. While the title of today's blog may sound like some sort of Japanese monster movie or wrestling tag team, it all refers to memory. "Memory" is not just for Cats anymore. I've seen several very interesting new products on TV from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show and it appears that flash memory is going to be making our lives much more interesting in the coming year. For those of you who have "jump" or flash drives, the future is already here. The fact is that flash, a non-volatile memory (which doesn't require an electrical source) that can be erased and reprogrammed in large blocks can now extend high definition home video recording time up to two hours. That is absolutely incredible when you think about it. Many of us already use similar SD memory chips in our digital cameras, but the video capabilities have always been limited. The fact is that great strides in improvement to rmemory have occurred since the early days of read only memory (ROM) still found on computer system boards (also called motherboards). In the last decade EPROM and EEPROM (programable ROM) have replaced the earlier non-modifiable varieties on system boards, which now allows this type of memory to be "flashed" and updated. But when it comes to memory in computers, most of us still refer to the volatile memory (requires an electrical source) called random access memory (or RAM). Beefed-up memory in the newer memory-hogging operating systems (Windows XP and Vista) is what helps many computers truly multi-task compared to the slow, plodding varieties of yesteryear (e.g. Windows 95, 98, Millennium Edition and Apple 9.x). When it comes to memory, though, more is better. Typically, one Gigabyte (1,000 Megabytes) is recommended by knowledgable people for Windows Vista, even though the minimum recommended by Microsoft is half that. Two Gigabytes of memory is probably the best bet even though it will cost a little bit more on the front end when assembling a system. Suffice it to say that RAM has improved immeasurably since the early days of single inline memory modules (SIMMs) and dual inline memory modules (DIMMs) at relatively slow bus speeds of 66 MHz to 100 MHz and 133 MHz. Static RAM (SRAM) has given way to dynamic RAM (DRAM) and it would seem that computer data storage will continue to increase in the years to come. Apple users will note that the OS X and the new Leopard OS all require a good deal of memory too, but the benefits of increasing RAM far outweigh the initial costs. If in doubt, spend the money and don't look back. Your computers will love you for it. And you in turn will love them back too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When the Lights Go Out



Okay, I will be the first to admit it. I suffer from height deficiency. Not my fault. Blame my parents, I guess. Although some have suggested that I suffer from a Napoleonic complex, I have done my very best to keep it in check for the last several decades. Every now and then, though, I must admit my overzealousness for one project or another tends to take on a life of its own and I am a man possessed. That's as close to a confession as you will get from me, mon amis. :^)
Since April, I have returned to my native New Orleans to pick up the pieces of my life left floating in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The house I own is a typical New Orleans home built in the 1930s with ten-foot tall ceilings. Even on my best day with a stepladder, the light bulbs are just out of my reach. That is why I believe it is God's wry sense of humor, his constant toying with me that causes brand new light bulbs to go out at the most inopportune times. It is those times, like today, when rooms are plunged in darkness that I get closer to God and pray for more light. Usually, it is my five-foot, ten-inch housekeeper, Laura, who is really the answer to my prayers. Today is her day to cut a swath through my mess and to bring true illumination to me. I thank you, Laura, for all that you do and especially for your long reach. And just in case there's any question about my faith: Thank you, Lord, for not taking out the other lights until she gets here. Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Politics and Oil

Despite the fact that President Bush has been in the Middle East for several days now, I have been holding off comments waiting to see what he planned on saying to the oil powers there. Remember those fellows in the long, flowing robes with 55% of the world's crude oil reserves? With the price of oil over $90 per barrel, they have seen profits rise a staggering 35% in the last two years. They have common interests in listening to what our lame duck chief executive had to say, even if it pains them to hear it. Iran is the common enemy to our quality of life and security. Only Iran is considerably closer to them than to us. What the President was essentially saying is without vigilance and work to overcome Iran's master plan of sponsoring terror across the world, we all face a bleak future. With 10% of the known oil reserves still in play in Iraq, it is vitally important that the message is received. The real question is what to do? Iran's strength is in its wholescale numbers of committed fanatics or religious zealots. The problem is that potentially there are hundreds of thousands of homicide bombers who believe in their cause so greatly that they could take out much of the region's infrastructure with a concerted effort and a lapse of security on our parts.
Don't forget to vote: Please take time to express your favorite presidential candidate selection (at right). We have several weeks to go, but with the Michigan and South Carolina primaries just ahead, the field may tighten in a bit.
Inauguration Day: Today is inauguration day in Baton Rouge. Bobby Jindal (R) is the first Indian American (as opposed to Native American) to be elected to a governorship. He lost four years ago in a tight race with then-Lt. Governor Kathleen Blanco, was elected to Congress and, following Hurricane Katrina, tossed his hat into the ring once again. He is the youngest governor in the country and may be entertaining national aspirations in the future. Hmmmm.....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"I'm from Microsoft and..."



Those of you who know me personally know that I am a very big advocate for computing and allowing the computer to do things for the end user they could not do as well by themselves. But computing is a double-edged sword. Computing enables one to utilize the wealth of information on the Internet, for example, but it comes at a tremendous price. Without careful safeguards one can unknowingly become vulnerable to a variety of problems not the least of which are computer viruses and spyware. In recent years the creators of viruses and spyware have become increasingly clever, utilizing several well-known security breaches in Microsoft software to take over functionality and control of a victim's computer or to hack into the computer and steal account information that could, potentially, cost them thousands of dollars or more. In some cases keystrokes can be collected to determine passwords to online bank accounts or other private websites. It is a nightmare that has been dealt with by Microsoft by sending out copious "hot fixes" on their website to close up huge security holes as well as beefing up security in their latest releases (Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista as well as Internet Explorer 7.0). With known Microsoft security vulnerabilities exposed to the three biggest research teams at Norton's Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro companies, fewer and fewer viruses have been successful in taking advantage of these vulnerabilities. However, the same cannot be said for spyware, which has plagued computer end-users for some time now. My recommendation to everyone who uses Microsoft products is to download the latest updates from Microsoft.com and to consider allowing automatic updates on all products except for servers. Unless you are a computer expert, don't try to pick and choose what updates you need. It is probably not a bad idea to download the latest updates for your Microsoft Office product too, but that is a judgment call. As to spyware, there are several commercial products that are available. Some, like Symantec's Norton or McAfee will take over so many of the computer's CPU cycles that the computer's responsiveness is sluggish at best and pop ups asking whether to allow an executable or to access the Internet are constantly surfacing. Windows Vista is almost anal retentive in the way it questions the end user about everything. The good news is that there are alternative spyware software that are available for free or as shareware where you are asked to donate to the creator of the program if you find it of value. Grisoft's AVG Anti-virus 7.5 free edition and AVG Anti-Spyware's free edition are superior products that afford great protection with minimal invasion. And then there's that word "free." Also, for spyware protection, the newly-improved Spybot Search and Destroy 7.5 version is now out and offers good protection as well. While Spybot Search and Destroy is only launched manually, it can be executed and minimized while doing other work without any significant reduction in CPU cycling. As a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, I am not an employee of Microsoft and do not advocate for them. Nevertheless, I don't pull punches either. While the response to Bill Gates' dictum a few years ago about security has been good, one has to wonder why Apple has so few threats detected each year and why their operating systems have been significantly free from intrusion. Some would suggest that there are fewer Apples out there and they would be right about that. But I think there's more to it than just that.

Answer to pet peeve (from the other day): Yes, Mozilla's Firefox browser navigates through the Microsoft Office download site much better than Microsoft's own Internet Explorer 7.0. I found the same problem exists on Internet Explorer 6.0 too. So, if you need to download a trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 products, you should use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Do you think someone should be notifying Microsoft about this?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What the heck is a narrator?

It is fairly safe to say that the vast majority of this blog's readers have no concept of what a narrator is. With the New Orleans Carnival ball season in full swing, I am back on schedule as the narrator of several ball tableaux manuscripts, which I also write. The hard work that goes into planning and executing a Carnival ball requires a number of key figures including the krewe's captain and officers, an orchestra leader, the manuscript writer, and lighting and set designers. A manuscript's theme is decided upon by the krewe and then researched by the manuscript writer. Later, music and lighting cues are added to accompany the entrance of the dukes, maids, officers, king and queen and, possibly, krewe members. Once a manuscript is completed, it is copied and distributed to a host of committee men who are busy behind the scenes at the ball preparing the participants, the lighting and sound technicians and to the narrator who reads the tableaux before the crowd that is extended strictly personal invitations to attend. The narrator's duty is to work with the orchestra leader in determining when to cut or soften the music that accompanies all action. He introduces all of the action and announces the arrival of the royal court, the captain, the officers of the krewe or the krewe itself. The narrator is also responsible to start the ball with the blow of his whistle (for the captain), which is the symbol of authority over the krewe. Following the ball, a lavish supper dance is typically held and festivities go on until the wee hours of the morning. This is part of the culture of the city and is a tradition to which many long-time residents cleave. It is fun, but for those of us who take this Carnival foolishness seriously, it is also hard work. Remember that pronounciations are key. If a narrator mispronounces a name, he will never be forgiven by the participant or her relatives. You have one chance at getting it right and hundreds of opportunities to blow it. Last night I narrated the 81st annual Krewe of Iris Carnival ball, the oldest ladies krewe in New Orleans. The theme this year was "Give My Regards to Broadway" and krewe members and the royal court wore costumes designed to recall past and present Broadway smashes. After it ended, I was invited to the supper dance at another location across town, which lasted past 4:00 a.m. Tonight brings the Coronation Ball of the Krewe of Okeanos, where one of seven maids will have an opportunity to become queen. The process is an unusual one, because it is strictly by chance that the identity of the queen becomes known. In most Carnival krewes the identity of the king and queen for that year is known in advance and announced publicly at their coronation balls. At the Okeanos Coronation Ball, the maids each pick a closed box containing a bouquet of red roses inside. As narrator, I direct the maids with their dukes at their sides to open the box and hold the bouquet in front of them. In all the bouquets there is one rose covered by silk damask. In one bouquet the covered flower is not red, but is a yellow rose. Whoever has selected that bouquet is queen. It is, of course, very exciting and has often created some interesting outcomes. As an example, in one year a sister of the queen from the previous year selected the box containing the bouquet with the yellow rose. Since the queen from the previous year rides on a float the following year, both sisters were able to toast each other at the official reviewing stand at Gallier Hall. That's the stuff of Carnival lore and part of why the job of a narrator is interesting, to say the least. It's also why I am so tired today, but with a very short season (Mardi Gras is February 5), there is little time to breathe between now and then.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dunkin' Donuts Man



Weary as I am in the early morning hours, I find I must arise and get to the tasks of the day at hand. It is time to write the blog and I feel like the proverbial TV character who gets out of bed and keeps murmuring to himself "Time to make the donuts....time to make the donuts."

In my case, of course, it is "Time to write the blog...time to write the blog." In a way, we are very much alike. Whether anyone enjoys the sweet fried morsels is irrelevant to the Dunkin' Donuts Man. He must make those donuts or he will have a shop full of disappointed customers. Customers, I might add, who will find what they are looking for elsewhere. In my case, I am writing a blog that I have no insight as to whether it is good enough to pass muster along with the thousands of others doing the same simple task every day. But write I must or, like the bleary-eyed man who seeks to satisfy his donut-craving customers, I will certainly lose my readers and that would be the demise of this venture. Bloggers depend on readers, but the sweet rewards are found in the comments that are posted underneath each entry. Regardless if they are full of vitriol or a mere pat on the back for well-thought phrases, comments are the vindication that a blogger is engaging the cyber public. It is somewhat like the actor who plays the villain. If he is very good, he will be employed for a very long time. He doesn't much care if people love him, but that he strikes a chord in the producers and directors who see in him just what they are looking for. Sure, every now and then he might like a try at a hero's role, but he is content to turn in his best performance and continue until his final scene. Like the man in the fire tower keeping an eye out for a blaze along the horizon, I continue in my solitude of writing, never knowing if there is an audience out there, but looking for one. Should you find these posts of value, I welcome you to return and sample my wares. If you would be kind enough to send others here http://koshercomputing.blogspot.com/, that would be especially appreciated. And remember that comment button. It means you like my donuts or that you care enough to tell me they stink.
Biggest pet peeve of the day: Try going to the Microsoft site and downloading the latest version of Microsoft Office (doesn't matter which version). When I put in the country code (the choice is United States or Other), the screen flashes and all data is erased. Thus begins an endless loop with no progress measured and no hope of a download. I suspect it's a browser defect. Perhaps Mozilla's "Firefox" will work better on Microsoft's site than their own Internet Explorer 7.0. I'll let you know.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

That Does Not Compute



So far we have covered a lot of diverse ground. We have touched on politics, Mardi Gras, and a bit of sports. However, the major reason I started this blog was to consider computing in its literal and figurative senses. So, I should state for the record that I hope to make the world of computing every bit as exciting and enthralling as the other fields we have covered. I understand that sounds bizarre, but I believe it can be done in an intelligent and entertaining fashion. Like life itself, knowledge is key. For example, the other day I ran into a partner of one of my mother's doctors. He was concerned that his server had stopped working. The practice had suffered a loss of power and when power was restored, the server was showing a black screen with an error message. Thinking that the entire office's records and other important data had been lost, he was naturally upset. He was prepared to have a computer consultant or network engineer come to his office and charge him a huge hourly rate to have it fixed forthwith. "It says NTLDR not found," he confided to me. "It sounds very serious." I could feel the smile starting to curl on my face. I wasn't sure if he thought "Oh, no! He's smiling because he sees dollar signs in front of his eyes" or something similar. My advice to him was simple. "Go back to the office and press the eject button on the the floppy disc. Remove the floppy and reboot the computer. It should work fine then," I said. He looked a little unsure about what I was saying, but he did as I suggested and called me back very excited a little while later to leave me a voice mail. "You were right," said the voice message. " There was a floppy disc in there. We took it out and it's working now. Thanks again." Like many things in life, computing revolves about what you know. In this particular case there were several key items he had revealed. First, everything was working until the power failure. That meant to me it wasn't a chronic situtation. Second, the computer seemed to be coming back up, so it wasn't a physical problem with the hardware. That left two solutions. Either a hardware device was blocking the software from engaging or the software was corrupted in some fashion. As to hardware, the boot sector of the hard drive could be the culprit or even the motherboard itself if a surge had somehow passed the surge protector and power supply, which was possible, but doubtful. What brought the smile to my face, however, was the error message. I've seen that error message hundreds of times before and it was always in a situation where I was rebooting a computer following an update to the motherboard BIOS or loading a driver to the operating system that was on a floppy. What the computer is saying is "Hey, I can't find the NT Loader file that I require to boot this computer. Therefore, I will wait until you give it to me." Unlike humans, computers are very patient in design. The motherboard's BIOS (basic input-output system) settings had been set to seek a floppy drive when booting and most likely had the hard drive in a lower priority on booting (typically following the CD ROM). Had the server been set to seek out the hard drive at a higher priority than the floppy or had the floppy seek function been disabled in the BIOS, the server probably would have come back up after the power was restored with no problem. But, then, the doctor would never have known what I knew right away from his description. He had a floppy disc in that drive and he needed to remove it immediately. It's a shame that all of life is not nearly as simple.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Comeback Kids

Is it deja vu or some kind of rerun from last year? Weren't Hillary Clinton and John McCain the "clear" frontrunners some time ago? Wasn't the Obama Express well on its way from Iowa just a few days ago? And what about Jerry Huckabee and Mitt Romney? Didn't McCain read the script that said he was finished? It is interesting that the polls and prognostiators seemed to have erred in not taking into consideration the power of the older women voters who sided with Clinton and McCain for the most part. I've always seen older women as the real power brokers in this country and they did not stand idly by and let the media direct their election this time around. The young voters that are the engine of change for Obama may not have been enough to counter the older women voters who didn't feel comfortable enough to proclaim Obama as their annointed candidate. However, it is safe to say that New Hampshire marches to a more independent drummer than other states, especially those found in the South. It will be interesting to see how Romney does in Michigan and Edwards fares in South Carolina, two states that each of those candidates have to win. According to our poll (at right), Obama is the apparent leader, but like in the real world, there is still plenty of time for the other candidates to overtake him. Please consider casting a vote for your candidate of choice. In the meantime we should all enjoy the ride and hold tight. As Bette Davis's character Margot Channing opined in "All About Eve," "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Undisputed Truth



There is no doubt this time. The LSU Tigers are undisputed national champions for the second time time since 1959, when they enjoyed an undefeated season under head coach Paul Dietzel. Yes, the Bayou Bengals are the first team to score two Bowl Championship Series titles since 1998 when the BCS began keeping standings.
But there was the other win back in 2004. The 21-14 win of the BCS's number-two ranked LSU over number-one ranked Oklahoma was spoiled when the Associated Press's final poll came out to reveal the University of Southern California as its choice as national champion for the 2003 season. That didn't go over well with LSU fans, who quite rightly called foul and pointed to LSU's 13-1 overall record as opposed to USC's 12-1 finish. The image of LSU head coach Nick Saban's lifting high the crystal Coaches Trophy inside the Superdome was bitter-sweet and that AP poll took some of the wind out of what should have been a well-deserved claim by LSU to the national championship. The LSU Tigers can claim they have three national championships under their belts -- and most people would agree with that -- but that damn AP poll keeps getting in the way. Perhaps, now, the sting of that earlier BCS victory can finally be eased. No one can take anything away from LSU this time. Regardless, whether one says three national championships, two undisputed national championships, or two BCS national championship titles, LSU can be extremely proud of its efforts in last night's game against a very good Ohio State team. Indeed, the way the game started with the Buckeyes jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, I wondered if LSU could ever buckle down and stick to their game plan under Coach Les Miles. It wasn't long before they proved my confidence in them was not ill-placed and 31 unanswered points later there was no doubt that LSU was a team of destiny. Playing like a team possessed, LSU blocked a field goal, picked off two Ohio State passes, converted plays on a lot of second effort, and received a lot of help from a number of ill-timed penalties by Buckeye players. Plagued by penalties throughout the season, LSU played with uncharacteristic discipline throughout the night and concentrated on the prize at hand. They also had a lot of help from local fans who cheered the Tigers on to victory. Following last year's loss to Florida for the BCS national championship, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel used the score 41-14 as the pass code for his players to enter the school's stadium for practice so they would not forget. Perhaps he forgot to note that LSU beat Notre Dame by the very same score in last year's Sugar Bowl.
Two other minor notes of interest: today is the 193rd anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans and what would have been the 73rd birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Elvis played many of his early gigs in New Orleans and filmed what many consider one of his best films, "King Creole," here in 1957 just prior to his being drafted. That's for those of you who may think I only have my head in the football clouds.

Monday, January 7, 2008

We Are the Champions

The streets of downtown New Orleans are awash in scarlet and gray and purple and gold. There's no place to park and pedestrians are flooding walkways and making driving hazardous at best or snarling traffic to a crawl. The French Quarter is filled to capacity. But nobody's complaining. It's the national championship in college football for goodness sakes. There's bragging rights up for grabs and a crystal trophy shaped like a football, the Coaches Trophy, that goes to the victor. The All State BCS National Championship Game, as it should properly be called, starts up in earnest later tonight, but the rivalry between the number one (Ohio State) and number two (LSU) teams in the country has never been more keen. One can smell it in the air. To fathom how big this event is, move along Poydras Street, home of several hotels including Ohio State's headquarters, the Hilton Riverside, The pedestrian traffic -- almost all wearing the colors of their favorite schools -- is at least double the regular rate and with the Baton Rouge delegations that arrived yesterday the number of automobiles traveling along the streets has also increased sharply. Near the Superdome, the site of tonight's battle, there are large satellite-link dishes that have sprung up overnight, massive television facilities housed in 18-wheelers, and various support vehicles. And there's a very visible police presence on the streets as well. So what does this all mean for New Orleans, a city still on the road to recovery in other areas not very far away from the busy CBD and French Quarter? Well, according to estimates the recent All State Sugar Bowl and tonight's BCS National Championship Game will bring in $400 million dollars into city coiffers. That's an economic shot in the arm that any city would welcome. However, this city more than most, depends on that revenue to speed the rate of recovery from the lingering effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita related floods. Yesterday also kicked off the first of the Carnival season's street parades in nearby Gretna and Slidell. Mardi Gras parades and balls will also energize the local ecomony leading up to Fat Tuesday on February 5. The real winner is not Georgia, Ohio State or LSU. It's New Orleans and Louisiana, shaking off the negativity associated with the past and moving towards a better, more progressive future. The game has yet to be played, but we have already won.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Twelfth Night Revelry

Today is considered the beginning of the Carnival season or at least tonight is. The tradition of beginning the first of the Carnival balls on the 12th night following Christmas is, of course, deep-seated in Christian practice. However, with Mardi Gras on February 5 this year, Carnival balls have been ongoing for at least the past two weeks, owing to a lack of available hotel space due to the Sugar and BCS Bowls. The quaint practice of the Phorty Phunny Phellows began several years back and has been revived by local journalist Erroll Laborde. The group would board a streetcar with musicians playing traditional jazz and travel along the St. Charles Avenue route promoting the start of the Carnival season. With no streetcars running the first year following Katrina, they had to change plans and last year's route was only between Canal Street and Lee Circle. However, the group has ambitious plans this year to begin the ride at City Park and continue for the Canal Street line onto the St. Charles Avenue tracks and move onto the uptown streets. That would make it the longest route for the Phunny Phorty Phellows ever! Regardless of the religious overtones to the beginning of the season, it is important to note that it is considered a cultural event these days and many diverse people of different faiths take part in the celebration that will this year only run for a month. Mardi Gras appears at the earliest it has been since 1913. That's a little bit of time to do a lot. Meanwhile, I am off to take part in two Carnival ball rehearsals this morning as the narrator and manuscript writer for the ball tableaux. Interesting times here in New Orleans. The Sugar Bowl just ended a few days ago. and now the BCS Bowl will determine whether the local LSU Tigers (Baton Rouge actually) or the Ohio State Buckeyes will reign supreme as the winner of the national championship. The Superdome is all awash in a purple, green and gold glow of lights as the French Quarter streets and hotels are filled to capacity. It's an exciting time of year and adding to it the mix of Carnival makes it even more thrilling. Perhaps, if Shakespeare were here tonight, he might write: "If Dixieland music be the food of love, play on!" Ah, yes. Nothing like the classics here!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Poll for Presidential Candidate Favorites

Nothing like alienating your potential public by engaging them in a political debate, right? Actually, I thought it might be a good leaping off place just to get a semblance of what kind of people are coming to this blog and where their political heads might be centered. There's nothng scientific about a poll of this sort and it's only intended to last for the next month or so. But with the big wins by Obama and Huckabee in Iowa, there may be some interest generated in healthy debate about who is best to serve and lead our nation in the coming decade. From a computing standpoint, I have been strangely drawn to Hillary Clinton ever since the website "Hillary's Hair" went up. (Don't look for it...it's been down for years and, I believe, has been taken over by a porn site.) I put up the usual suspects in terms of frontrunners and I believe they all have a legitimate shot at the presidency, although "Law and Order" and "Diehard II"'s Fred Thompson is looking like he probably needs a call into his agent about other roles. (If the late Jerry Orbach were running, I might have voted for him.) Even though Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are legitimate candidates, I left them off the poll as well as several others who are also in the race. Being from Cleveland, Kucinich is of interest to me personally and his admission that he has seen a UFO is refreshingly honest. Honesty is something to be treasured even if the answer might keep the Oval Office out of view. Paul has raised more money than anyone over the Internet with his viral campaigning technique. I wonder why his tactics are bringing in the big bucks from small individuals compared to the big bucks from large sponsors. He is fairly forthright, but is he so insightful that he will capture the hearts and minds of voters nationwide above the obvious frontrunners? Doubtful on my part. But I am willing to listen to others who disagree. In the meantime, cast your vote in our little poll and let's see if anything substantive comes of it. Or...for those of you who are difficult and hate politics, take me to task.

Welcome to the Kosher Computing blog

Okay. So, here goes. I have been planning on my becoming a blogmeister or something similar last year when I went ahead and grabbed the domains for Kosher Computing. I figure it's about time that I start generating some ACII characters to go with my own somewhat distrubing character. What will the point of this be? Well, I'm not sure that there should be a point to it at all other than that, like Edison knew there was something in this tungsten that needed to be explored, I'm readily aware that I need to learn, listen, expose, and write about as many things as I can. Hopefully, there will be others who will hop on the hayride with me and enjoy. Kosher Computing is meant to be several things. It is intended to bring the technical side of computers and media into focus in a manner than can be appreciated by interested parties. It is intended to have a good dose of humor and probably a dash of color. It is meant to be a two-way street and not just a stream-of-consciousness blathering from yours truly. I hope to encourage others to post questions about a lot of different topics and to expand the scope of what I am capable of doing at present. Remember, the biggest anthill begins with a single grain of earth and a crazy plan.

Alan