Friday, December 31, 2004

New Years For The Dog

The salad, artichoke dip, and dessert are made, the beef is in the marinade, and the mashed potatoes are ready to bake. Better yet, a scrumptious 1991 Cain Five is decanting.

Betty the Beagle is beside herself with anticipation. I wonder if she knows she is stuck with Regis or worse yet Carson tonight.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Good To Be Back

Kristen, Sarah, and I spent the last five days at Emerald Isle. The time there was relaxing, although getting there was not.

The drive on Sunday included 40 miles of interstate packed in ice, which was further complicated by holiday traffic.

I will post later about our trip, the great house in which we stayed, my daring rescue of two family members in distress, and other tidbits. For now, there is unpacking, laundry to be washed, and food prep for our annual New Year's Eve wine tasting.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Soldier Prepares To Depart

My friend, the Soldier, departs for Iraq in two days. We had lunch last week, and I can only say that my respect and reverence for him continue to soar.

Read his latest post here.


Be Honest

Leonard Pitts poses an interesting question in his latest column: Do citizens form opinions about politicians based on facts or their own political bias? A recent, but unpublished, study indicates that bias wins hands down.

This is an interesting topic to me, and one that I have considered many times. As a moderate democrat, I asked myself if I would I have wanted a Ken Starr type to pursue Bush Sr as Clinton was pursued. Would I have wanted the dems to impeach Reagan simply because they could, as the GOP did to Clinton? Similarly, I have asked myself how I would feel if Clinton had initiated a war of choice in Iraq (under the guise of a war of necessity).

I think most people of moderate inclination are tired of the gotcha mentality of most politicians on both sides and some portions of the media. Still, we will face more of that approach as Bush cabinet and court appointees face confirmation hearings.

The real question is if the citizenry is ready to embrace a person running for office who gives honest analysis of facts, regardless of party affiliation. It is clear that the two major parties will not lead us in that direction. The dem machine squashed Dean as he picked up momentum, and the GOP derailed McCain in 2000 with vicious and untrue rumors.

Until most of can face ourselves in the mirror and honestly say that we will be guided by facts instead of party lines, we will get the politicians and government we deserve.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

That was not so bad - we hosted 22 for dinner tonight. Then we dealt with the dishes, vacuuming, mopping, etc.

Now we prepare to host 16 for brunch. Are we nuts?

I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and a peaceful, safe, loving day with those close to you.


The Not So Calm Before The Storm

We are expecting 22 people at the house starting at 4:30pm. You can probably imagine the fun of cooking, cleaning, and preparing for all those growling stomachs. It should be fun - film at 11.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Good Question

Over at Hogg's Blog, David Hoggard has initiated a conversation worth having. He lists his standards to be included at his blogroll, and notes that there might be an evolving need aggregators to have minimum standards, too.

I have tended to keep my blogroll relatively small, since I think that a really long list can become ineffective. What are your thoughts about standards for being included in a blogroll or an aggregator?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

You Might Be A Redneck

If you want to wear this to the prom.


Community Demonstration

Andy Wismar made a couple of ill-advised remarks at his blog on Sunday, and he received a swift rebuke from Greensboro bloggers. In today's News & Record, Margaret Moffet Banks reports on a new ranking of literacy in American cities. Toward the end of her story, she got in a nice shot on Andy.

While Andy may feel like we are piling on, he should take note that when you mess with one of us, you have messed with all of us. That's called community. And our community includes all types of folks, including those who are part of traditional media companies.

That should be encouraging to all of us in this community.


News Flash...Not

The worst-kept secret in many years is out. Dell picked Alliance Park in Forsyth County to build its new plant. Reminds of this old phrase.


Is It Live, Or Is It Memorex?

Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist whose column appears in the News & Record on Wednesdays, writes about using the term Merry Christmas, citing two prominent Jewish commentators who defend the phrase as one owned by American culture as much as Christianity.

Am I wrong, or did I already read that line of reasoning somewhere?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Little Perspective, Please

I am amazed at the amount of attention given to some NC State students yelling "Red" during the line "And the rockets' red glare," and singing the last line as "And the home of the Wolfpack" during the national anthem at sporting events. These antics hardly seem worthy of time on tv news or space in the newspaper.

I value traditions as much as anyone, so my annoyance over performances of the national anthem runs much deeper than some kids messing with the lyrics. Able musicians regularly change the musical score to an incorrect version so common that no one realizes it is wrong.

And when was the last time you heard the song sung straight? Whitney Houston completely bastardized the song in her super bowl lip-synch. There was only praise for her, not outrage.

So, let's not make too big a deal about the State students.


Greensboro, NC: Blog City

anonyMoses gives Greensboro bloggers some love today at the American Street. anonyMoses, aka Dave Beckwith, is a former Greensboro resident and current blogger in Charlotte. He may live in Charlotte, but he monitors and participates in the Greensboro blogging scene.

Earlier today, he gave a shout out to my post about the hot debate about the future of Triad blogging. Dave is one of us, so keep anonyMoses on your blog reading list.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Follow Up

"I'm moved to say that I believe the newspaper's web presence should be open and inclusive, should include lots of voices and commentary and news, should feature so many blogs on so many topics that everyone wants to be a part of the community and, better yet, everyone wants to visit here, should generate revenue that we can plow into the site to make it better, should be dynamic so that it takes its lead from the market, and should engender the civic-oriented discussion of ideas that makes Greensboro such an interesting place."

This from John Robinson, editor of the News & Record. Read his whole post.


This One Is Good For Picking

Go read jw's great story at How Do You Like Me Now? She tried to make a purchase at a retail store today, and the store had no facility to complete the transaction. Her response (go read it for yourself) reminded me of a similar episode several years ago.

My greater family - parents, sisters, girlfriend, boyfriends, etc. - decided to play par 3 golf while on vacation in Myrtle Beach. Our group included a few golfers and several non-golfers. All but my mom were willing to tee it up. She was willing to watch and make fun of us, so our group of nine attempted to pay for eight greens fees.

The clerk told us that no spectators were allowed on the course. We thought that maybe he was concerned that she would play without paying, so we tried to explain our situation. We got the same blank stare that jw describes. We then explained that our $80 would spend quite well at another course. Still a blank stare.

So, we all bit our tongues and walked out the door. Well, almost all of us. My sister's boyfriend could not resist the moment. He drew a tee from his pocket and presented it to the clerk with the suggestion that "he pick his brain out of his a%$hole" with it.

That boyfriend has been out of the picture for a decade, but at least he left us with a funny story to tell.


Hot Debate

There is a lively debate going on in threads at Greensboro Is Talking and Ed Cone's Word Up. Divergent views about the future of Triad blogging, potential revenue streams for bloggers, and interaction of bloggers and traditional print media are expressed there. My general take is this:

Most bloggers want an outlet for expression and opinion, and many enjoy the debates that blogs can help initiate. Some just want to see their names and words on a web site. Very few blogs (mine included) have the ability to generate revenue on their own.

TheShu and Ross Myers have made their case for protecting the interests of local bloggers by banding together. If I understand them correctly, they believe that bloggers should be prepared to negotiate with traditional media, so that their collective blog content and ability to drive ad traffic to those media are compensated, even if that is just a small amount. Both TheShu and Ross are smart guys and passionate about this subject, so I take their views seriously. I also recognize that the N&R is a for-profit business.

But I have not detected anything about the News & Record that makes me believe that they want to take advantage of local bloggers. My sense is that they have embraced blogging as an additional reporting outlet and a chance to connect with their community in a new way, and I enjoy all of their sanctioned blogs and the personal blogs by their employees.

Perhaps my skepticism that the N & R has onerous motives is a reflection of how lightly I regard my own writing, or maybe it is just naivete. In either case, I plan to take Ed's advice and blog today for the same reason I blogged yesterday. And if any revenue comes as a result, that will be icing on the cake.


Jinni Is The Woman

Jinni Hoggard continues sharing her battle against breast cancer in today's News & Record. I get the sense that she is not leaving much out of her journal.

"If you want to do something for me for Christmas, spread the wealth. Take time to visit that older neighbor, make cookies for the mailman, drop off food at the donation box in your grocery store or contact a charity and get the name of someone in true need. You can silently say 'I’m doing this for Jinni,' and I’ll feel it come my way."

Even in the toughest fight of her life, she is thinking of others. Jinni is one tough, candid, and inspiring lady. No wonder David is so clearly in love with her.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Moron Of The Year

Time Magazine has named its Person of the Year. For the second straight year, it is President Dubya.

I agree with the the editors' pick. Bush has continued to have a huge impact on our present and future with his economic and military policies.

I think that Moron or Idiot of the Year would be better suited titles, though.

Update: Gate is correct. This is Dubya's second award, but the other was in 2000.


A Bit Harsh

NC State, my alma mater, has shut down its chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Among other transgressions, the fraternities hazed pledges by requiring them to run naked through other fraternity and sorority houses.

This punishment seems a bit harsh to me. After all, running throuh Greek houses seems like a great way to meet people. Besides, I ran around campus naked without joining a fraternity.


Triangle Blogging

Andy Wismar writes about the blog scene in the Triangle today. He notes that the Triad is the leader in the NC blog scene and wonders why a more tech-centric area like the Triangle has not kept up.

Only, he did not say it that nicely.

"How can Greensboro, often described as 'Raleigh without the PhD's' be this onto the scene, while myself, 50K other geeks at RTP tech companies, and umpteen thousands of NCSU, UNC, and Duke college students sit by idly?....imagine what would happen if a real city got motivated? "

Andy thinks that having advanced degrees and an understanding of microelectronics is a prerequisite for having a successful blogging community. I have both of those things, and neither has ever helped me blog.

Andy, building a blogging community is about individual insights, useful dialogue, and listening to others. It is not about having a PhD, a post hole digger to us blue collars in Greensboro.

Friday, December 17, 2004

We Cannot Possibly Afford This

From Yahoo news, Bush Signs Intelligence Overhaul Bill.

If you thought putting a man on the moon was an achievement, try overhauling President Bush's intelligence.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Where Will You Be?

Where will you be tonight at 7pm? The cool kids (bloggers) will be here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

PR Management

The Business Journal reports that Dell called the mayors of the three largest cities in the Triad today for two quotes - one if his/her city is picked for the new plant, one if not.

Hello? Aren't these quotes sort of obvious?

"We are pleased that Dell has chosen to favor our fine city with their new plant. This is the perfect marriage of a cutting edge manufacturing company and a community with everything they need - a skilled workforce, exceptional infrastructure, and a charming mayor."


"Kiss my ass. We never wanted the damn plant anyway."


More Christmas Cheer

Dashing through the snow
in a stolen Chevrolet,
over the fields we go.
Cops are on the way.
Billy The Blogging Poet continues to spread cheer to all the good girls and boys...and the rest of us. Read the rest of his charming adaptation here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Bad Decision

NC State football player T.A. McLendon has decided to skip his senior year and make himself available to the NFL draft. He cites the need to take care of his family.

In three seasons with the Wolfpack, McLendon has shown flashes of brilliance, but just as often a tendency to fumble and to get injured. If he is lucky enough to get drafted and make an NFL roster, he will find it even more difficult to hold onto the ball and protect his body from injury.

I wish T.A. success in the NFL, but I doubt he will be playing three years from now. That is when his lack of degree will make it difficult to take care of his family.


If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say

Recently in his weekly column, News & Record Editor John Robinson addressed the newspaper's commitment to hire people of color, so their newsroom will look more like the communities it covers. I think it is a smart and brave move and said so at the time. I used the term brave, because I was sure that John would receive criticism for the policy.

John reports that he has received an unusually large response to his column, much of it warning against breaking employment laws. One such letter came from Jerry Bledsoe, a local novelist and former News & Record columnist.

I enjoyed much of Jerry's work for the newspaper. He showed good insight into people, and he used humor effectively. I recall one particularly touching column about his son's departure to college. However, I have noticed that his recent words are that of a curmudgeon.

Judging by everything I have read or heard first-hand from Jerry, he now uses his words to take pot shots. It is too bad that a world-class writer has become a world-class crank.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Training Days

"Since I've deployed numerous times before and have been there [Iraq] recently, I have a little different perspective on what my troops need to know. We just have to check this block and get on with the deployment."

See the rest of the latest update at Diary Of A Soldier.


New Blog

There is a new blog, Diary Of A Soldier, that you might want to visit. This soldier will be posting his journal from Fort Bragg, then Iraq, so it will provide a good look into life in combat.

The soldier will send me emails, and I will post them at his blog for him.


Not A Good Idea

Oh boy. Lynn Swann has announced he is considering running for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. There are two things you should know before making this mistake, Lynn.

First, you were terrible on Monday Night Football because you could not deliver five seconds coherently even with a half hour's notice. Second, Governors need to be able to talk for ten minutes about any subject with no notice.

Give it up, Lynn.


Asleep At The Wheel

A week ago, Bernard Kerik was nominated as Secretary of Homeland Defense. It took only a week for Kerik to withdraw his name from further consideration.

After a few Clinton nominees were derailed over relatively small issues, I would expected Bush's team to conduct a thorough vetting process, especially for the self-anointed party of morals. There were plenty of known problems with his Kerik's resume, in addition to a personal bankruptcy.

Since the Bush team obviously neglected a few questions, I have one for them.

What the hell were you thinking?


Rumsfeld Falls Flat

When addressing troops in Kuwait, Donald Rumsfeld invited tough questions from the soldiers. He got several, including pointed questions about a failure to equip vehicles with adequate armor.

Rumsfeld, who finds his answers to the press more cute than anyone else does, had no answer for the troops. His reply of "Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here" hardly sounds like he was prepared for tough questions, or that he had adequately considered the topic.

The war in Iraq was clearly one of choice, and Rumsfeld has soaked the American people for a huge financial and human toll. I don't think it is too much to ask to give adequate protection to the young people fighting his war.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Move Over, Chevy Chase

John McEnroe just helped Chevy move up a notch on the list of the most horrific tv talk shows ever. CNBC finally took Mac, and more importantly tv viewers, out of their collective misery.

Many nights his show's audience was too small to register in the Nielsen ratings. In other words, he could not even pull 0.1% of viewers in.

My wife got pissed off whenever I turned on his show. I have to admit watching his show was like staring at a car wreck. It was sooooooo bad, but hard to look away.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pivotal Case For Winos

On Tuesday the US Supreme Court will hear a case about interstate wine shipping. At issue are laws in about half of the states that make it illegal to ship wine across their borders. Many of these states allow wine to be shipped within their states. North Carolina and Virginia had laws like this in place until 14 months ago, when federal courts struck them down.

Advocates of the current restrictions include wine distributors and smaller wineries. The distributors do not want to lose profits to direct winery-to-consumer shipments. Some lesser wineries want the protection of shipping within their states without the same right extended to outside wineries.

Both groups frequently submit two canards. First, they claim that states will not get the sales tax from direct shipments. Second, the groups claim that underage drinkers will order and receive wine. Both arguments are bogus, as documented at Free the Grapes, a coalition of wineries and consumers advocating nationwide wine shipping.

Putting aside the fact that shippers are required to get age verification at delivery, the underage drinking argument is a joke. I drank plenty of alcohol when I was underage. Never did I consider ordering a case of wine (typical minimum cost of $100) a week and a half before I was going to drink. That is moronic.

Many small wineries cannot induce a distributor to carry their labels in North Carolina. As a result, the only way to get their wines is by direct shipment or visiting their winery. Approximately 100 of the 400 bottles in my cellar were accumulated by carrying the wine back from wineries on the west coast.

The specific case will not matter to many people, but the broader concept of interstate trading is important to all of us and guaranteed by the US Constitution. Let's hope that the Supremes come down on the correct side of this issue.


Behind The Blogfather

Blogfather Ed Cone has remarked before that his posts about his family and dog draw more participation that other posts. Today, his column in the News & Record reminds us why this is true.

Edit: Ed expands on his thoughts about personal columns at his blog. I think his personal columns not only give us insight into his life, but often into our own.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Stay In Your Car

Did anyone else find this story in the News & Record surprising? Greensboro is the seventh most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians?

I know that our city has a fair amount of sprawl, but I wound not have equated that with danger to walkers. Perhaps that is because I live in Adams Farm, with safe walking trails all over the place.

It makes me scratch my head.


I Can Never Find A Game

I like to play poker. I prefer standard games like Texas Hold 'Em, but I will play some of the other popular poker formats, too. Lately, I have not been able to get my regular partners together for a game.

Apparently, I have been looking in the wrong place. Lawndale Avenue seems to be the place to play poker. I know two of the charged poker players and the real estate agent, and I am betting that none of them was thrilled about making the news for this game.


More On Dell

I just returned from a birthday party in Winston-Salem. There were a lot of people and one pig on a grill there.

I tried to talk about Dell with a real estate developer, two contractors, an engineer, and others. Nobody had anything to say about Dell - I might as well have asked the pig.

I cannot tell if there is some secret pact in Forsyth County or if it a non-issue among the populace.


Billy Strikes Again

Billy the Blogging Poet has a jewel for us.

"Jingle Bells and taco shells, Jose` Santa’s on his way
with candy filled pin`atas and goodies on his sleigh.
He’s calling out to Rudolph, “Uno, dos, tres, quatro,
Deer you’ll be too fat to fly if you eat one more taco!”

For the rest, click here.


Dude, Your Getting A Dell

Local bloggers have commented on Dell's decision to locate in the Triad. Ed Cone rings in, as does the Gate Keeper here.

The entire Triad will derive benefits from Dell's location to the area. The new Dell plant, and its suppliers who relocate here, will employ workers who live in several area counties. The plants will also provide business opportunities for small businesses that supply everything from cleaning supplies to equipment maintenance.

The real issue is the incremental benefits for having Dell and most of its suppliers in a particular county. Those additional benefits are hard to quantify with certainty, even for economic experts. There are obvious benefits like reduction of local government expenses from reduced local unemployment, increased property values near the plant, and positive impact on charitable organizations and civic leadership. But , I suspect the real impact lies in Greensboro emerging as a high tech area.

With the decline of the furniture, textile, and tobacco industries, Greensboro has struggled to find a new identity. Adding Dell to RF Micro Devices would make Greensboro/Guilford a bigger player in the high tech game. That is the reason that G/G should aggressively pursue Dell.

Establishing Greensboro as a high tech area would outweigh any incentives paid by our local governments.


I Have Arrived

I got my first spam comment about an hour ago. What an inane piece of garbage. I guess this means I have arrived as a blogger, or maybe I simply lost the spammer lottery.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Chasing Dollars

I own a small metal manufacturing business in Greensboro. In addition to me, there are four full-time employees in our plant and one half-time employee in our office. We are a tight group, and I work hard to make our plant a good place to work. The atmosphere is fun, and everyone except me works a four-day week.

I handle the sales, estimating, and project management, more than enough work even in a small business. Preparing a proposal is often a complicated process. Since all our products are custom, my job is a little like being a waiter who gives prices for meals at a restaurant with no menu. I have to figure out the recipe before I can figure out the price.

Yesterday morning, I got a call from another metal fabricator who is a long-time customer. He wanted to subcontract a pressing job with a very tight delivery schedule. I dropped what I was doing and met with him. I worked until 9pm last night and the first half of today to prepare his proposal. Many of my coworkers had other plans for Friday, but I asked them to be prepared to work overtime that day.

When I called our customer with our prices, his immediate response was that we were way over his budget. He left little hope we would get the work and said there would be no decision before the end of Friday. When we hung up, I told my coworkers to keep their original plans for Friday - no work required. I was bummed, because I put several other customers on hold to pursue this work.

The customer called back at 3pm and placed the order with me. I refused to recall my coworkers to work on Friday and moved our completion date later to reflect the lost day of work due to his indecision. That ruffled his feathers a bit, but I think he understood I was stubborn on that point.

So, now I will get some sleep before going to the plant on Friday to do Wednesday's work. I wonder who will call me with an emergency tomorrow morning?


Cereal, Cereal Everywhere

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Cereal (in Homer Simpson's voice, of course).

© Copyright Patrick Eakes 2004-2010