Sunday, May 28, 2006

'Cause this is my town

but love or hate it -- it don't matter
'cause this is my town

Michael Stanley Band's My Town

When Michael Stanley wrote that song, he of course was referring to Cleveland. Rumor has it that they recorded 200 or so different versions of the song, yelling various city names in place of the original Cleveland, including a version with Akron.

Today we went and put flowers on my grandfathers' graves, plus our mother and a couple of other non-veteran family members as is our tradition over the Memorial Day weekend. Maybe I was feeling a little nostalgic, maybe I just did not want to be around people (I had an invite to a neighbor's barbeque), but I spent a couple of hours driving around Akron today. This is not something I have done in many years, and boy have I missed a lot. I had heard about many of the projects around town - the new library (actually been in it), the new art museum (still in progress), and some other changes at the University of Akron, but to see some of the changes up close was something entirely different.

I drove by the big 4 rubber companies old plant ones: General (now an empty lot where they do cement recycling), Goodrich (Gojo and various other businesses), Firestone (no idea what they use it for now) and Goodyear (now their World Headquarters). So much has changed since the days when you got a good whiff of sulpher and knew another tire rolled off the lines.

As I drove around remembering the closed store that used to be a Lawsons, the chinese restaurant that used to be a Red Barn (where you could get burgers OR fried chicken) or the intersection that used to have 4 gas stations (now has 1, 2 empty lots and a car dealership) I got to wondering if I was not one of the people holding Akron back. Do I cling to tightly to the glory days? Maybe, like the phoenix of myth, we need to plow it all under to get something new to rise from the ashes, so to speak.

As much as I love Akron, it is never going to be a cool city. Sure, you might be able to pull the black-rimmed glasses off and dress her up in "cool" clothes, but at her core Akron is still in the AV club. If you get to know her, ignore the pocket protector and black socks, you find out she is a pretty interesting city. Maybe even cool it her own way. The rush to make Akron attractive to outsiders, I hope we do not loose what makes Akron, well, Akron.

There is one last bit that Michael Stanley left us with, which is a great reminder to all of us:

This town taught me...its never to late.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hayden Insists NSA Surveillance Is Legal - Yahoo! News

Hayden Insists NSA Surveillance Is Legal - Yahoo! News

One thing I seem to recall from 9/11 is that the President and various other people wanted to get the various alphabet agencies to work closer together. Share the info. So NSA may say "we are only looking for terrorists" however the FBI or DEA may have access to the same data and use it for their own data mining efforts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Watching Perfection

I was running a bit behind in my newspaper reading, but I came across an article in Monday's paper that brought back some wonderful memories.

On May 15, 1981 Len Barker pitched a perfect game. For those who do not follow baseball, that means Len Barker faced the minimum number of batters a pitcher can face in 9 innings - 27. 27 up, 27 down. No walks, no hits, no runs, no errors. No one reached base at all. This has only been done 15 times in the big leagues.

Slightly less thatn 7300 people were in the old Municipal Stadium (that held about 60,000 people for baseball) that night, however the game was on TV.

It was a Friday night. I remember because I used to wash dishes at a Friday night fish fry. As was usual, we would pop out from the kitchen to catch the score on the TV at the bar whenever we got a chance. About the fifth inning someone popped into the kitchen to let us know Lenny had a no-hitter going. We then popped out more frequently to see what was going on. We could pretty much see the TV from the door to the kitchen, so it was not hard. A couple of innings later someone popped in to let us know that Lenny had the perfect game going. All pretenses of work went out the door then as we stood around the bar, with just about everyone else, watching. Fingers crossed. Cheering each out. Completely freaking out when, as I recall, Rick Manning (now an annoucer for the Tribe on cable) caught the last fly out to center field.

For us Indian fans it was a touch with greatness. It had been 13 years since a perfect game had been done (1968 by Catfish Hunter), and the Indians were in, as one of the players put it, perpetual rebuild mode. For those who have seen the movie Major League, that is not too far off what those days were like. To see someone at the top of his game (it only took 104 pitches) was great. We never held much hope of a post-season - the American League East was the toughest division in those days. Many season the Indians' record would have kept them at least in the hunt for some post-season action, but the AL East they ended up in 5th or 6th.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gasoline Prices on Yahoo! News Photos

Gasoline Prices on Yahoo! News Photos

Gas - $3.91/gallon. For the cheap stuff. Maybe the high end, but still it will probably be there for all of us later this year. What will it actually take for the government to start an initiative like the Moon landing to get us off of oil?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why are Brits healthier? - Yahoo! News

Why are Brits healthier? - Yahoo! News:

An interesting study. No good, easy answers (and I would not expect any), but I thought this is probably the biggest answer (emphasis mine):

Is it health care? This is a popular theory because all British citizens have access to a government-run health care system that encourages preventive care. Despite that striking difference, however, researchers hesitate to cite it as the explanation. After all, Americans spend nearly twice as much as the British do on health care, and many of the wealthiest Americans in the study, who presumably have insurance, are sicker than are the poorest Brits.

One thing about the American health care system (and I use the term system lightly here) there is not a lot of emphasis on preventative care. Few, if any, insurance companies work out deals for discounted gym memberships, weight loss programs, stop smoking programs, etc. I think insurance companies are starting to wake up to it, but we still have a LONG way to go. I am not even asking for the insurance company to make the programs available for free, just work out some kind of discount.

The stress pointed to in the article is very real. Brits I believe get 3, maybe 4, weeks of government mandated vacation a year. In the USA we get 0, although most companies give 2 weeks after 1 or 2 years of service. Even then most people are encouraged (and in some cases ordered) to not take their allotted vacation time. Even for those who do take their vacation, the vacation is as stressful as their job. A different kind of stress is still stress.

As I understand vacation in Europe, people will just take a week (or more) and get a house in the country and just kind of do nothing. No forced marches through Disney World, no "are we there yet" road trips. Just some time to relax and unplug from the world.

N.Y. Lawmaker Sues Google Over Child Porn - Yahoo! News

N.Y. Lawmaker Sues Google Over Child Porn - Yahoo! News:

"The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, but wants Google to prohibit 'advertising relating to Web sites that display, market or otherwise provide illegal access to pornography.'"

Hmmm... no mention of CHILD pornography in that. That statement reeks of election year grandstanding.

As mentioned anywhere that does have child (or I can imagine a few other categories) porn they do not allow advertising, block it from the search engine, and notify the authorities.

If you were really worried about child porn you would also go after Microsoft (MSN search) and Yahoo. Both have ads in their search engine, or are adding them soon. Besides there a tons of sites & even books on how to boost your search ranking that bypass all advertising.

As an aside, I do not recall seeing any porn ads in my search results from Google. Adsense is pretty good at matching advertisors to your search terms.

If someone really wants to stop the spread of porn, maybe you should go after the spammers who send me a ton of 'naked h0rny t33n' emails. Who needs to search when it comes to my inbox daily?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

iTunes Songs to Stay 99 Cents Per Download - Yahoo! News

iTunes Songs to Stay 99 Cents Per Download - Yahoo! News:

"Apple's dominance of the download market means the Cupertino-based company does have the upper hand for now, but analysts predict its market share will pare down as rival services, including online music subscription services, gain traction."

That is an interesting statement. Music subscriptions are EXACTLY what the music industry wants - essentially always paying for the music. I do think they are wrong about Apple's dominance though. Even with cheap music subscriptions (as low as $60/year) people are still going to want to buy and own some music. Unless someone can come up with something cheaper (unlikely) or at a similar price but without the iTunes DRM it will remain the place to go for legal music purchases.