Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Big cable changes in the works!

There's some interesting changes a-happening in regards to cable and the way franchises are handled at the local level. I'm generally against anything that takes away local control and started out completely against this. However, after reading some counter view points I'm completely undecided! I'll have to do some more reading.

If you read the first link to the blog, the author lays out a very good case for why we should watch out for this one. Be sure to read the responses to his blog, there's some good counter arguments. NACO, the National Association of Counties is dead set against the changers. Read on to see their press release and then click on the links to see some background info and other opinions.

Here's a great blog on the subject: YOUR CABLE TV RIGHTS ARE IN JEOPARDY

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/csgen.html

http://www.mediatank.org/resources/ownership/cable/

Communications, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006: http://www.benton.org/benton_files/bartonbillaprilupdate.doc

Best place I've found to keep up with the latest and greatest on the bill:

Summary (http://www.benton.org/index.php?q=node/1882)
This bill, now H.R. 5252, would create of national cable franchises, provides the FCC with authority to ensure Net Neutrality, set rules for emergency 911 services on Internet telephone (VoIP) services and govern municipal broadband networks.
House Report 109-470 includes this analysis of the bill
Read full summary from Benton Foundation.

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National Association of Counties says FCC oversteps legal authority with draft order on video franchising

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The National Association of Counties (NACo) today said that the Federal Communications Commission has overstepped its legal authority with today’s decision to change the way cable franchises are granted in communities across the country.

“The nation’s counties are disappointed and unhappy about this overreaching decision by the FCC,” said NACo Executive Director Larry E. Naake. “They have decided to limit the authority for video franchising such as cable services from local government and to oversee franchising by the FCC even though the FCC has no expressed legal authority to do so.

“The nation’s counties welcome video competition in their communities,” Naake said. “However, this decision undermines local franchising authority and enforcement, threatens local budgets, and limits the benefits of broadband video competition to a few well-to-do neighborhoods.”

NACo, along with the National League of Cites, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, had written to the FCC Chairman outlining their collective concerns about the draft order. The letter is available at http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=telecommunications_and_technology&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=22014

In addition, several members of Congress, including Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), have expressed similar concerns in recent days about the legal authority of the decision in letters to Chairman Martin.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Change the size of our bills?

I didn't catch the entire story on Fox News this morning, but I gather a judge has ruled that the size of our currency has to be changed to accomodate the blind. I don't know how far up the chain the case had gone so I'm not sure if the government will be refitting all of their money making machines any time soon.

I can understand why it's difficult for the blind to tell the difference between a one, five, ten or other denomination bill. They don't feel different and they are the same size. Not being blind, and not having taken any time to do any research, I can't begin to give an informed opinion as to whether this is a huge difficulty for the blind. The few friends I've known who were blind got along fine - they had a system so they'd know where the bills were in their wallets. I would imagine quite a few folks are now using debit cards, only go to places where the trust people, or they have friends who help.

However, IF it turns out the government is forced to change the size of our bills we are all in for a rough time. Just think about cash register drawers. The compartments are all uniform size, made for the standard bill. What about the machines that give change? What about all the new self-check out machines at grocery stores (and others now, too).

It seems to me that if the grocery store check-out machines can scan bills through a slot and identify the denomination, we ought to have the technology to make a hand-held scanner for the blind. Assuming such a scanner could be made (or is already available), it would be cheaper to give one to ever blind person who qualifies rather than re-tool every machine in the country!

I'm going to be following this one just to see how far it will go!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Immigration in Rural America

I found this report to be extremely thought provoking. I highly recommend flipping through it and pondering the findings. I haven't finished looking through it yet, will probably be compelled to share my thoughts when I finish (aren't blogs so much better than vanity plates or 'I love me' walls? We write and assume someone is reading our "profound" thoughts ;-)

11/27/2006 - New Immigrant Settlements in Rural America: Problems, Prospects and Policies A recent study by the Carsey Institute found that immigrant settlers may have a big impact on small, rural communities - sometimes straining resources, but more often than not, reinvigorating dying communities. The report explores policy and community recommendations to help rural America flourish.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tomato

A tomato is a fruit, but it is legally known as a vegetable. In 1893, there was a case before the United States Supreme Court about importing tomatoes from the West Indies. Fruits could be imported tax-free, vegetables couldn't. Since tomatoes were eaten with main dishes, and not as or with desserts, the Court ruled them to be a vegetable.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Schlotzsky's bought by Roark Capital Group

Here's the first part of the press release I rec'd:

ATLANTA, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, announced today the acquisition of Schlotzsky's, Ltd. Schlotzsky's is a quick casual restaurant chain offering made-to-order sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizza. Founded in 1971 as the home of the Original(TM) toasted sandwich and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Schlotzsky's has approximately 365 franchised and company-owned locations generating $210 million of system-wide revenues throughout the United States and six foreign countries.

Schlotzsky's has become a wholly owned subsidiary of FOCUS Brands, Inc., a company owned by affiliates of Roark Capital Group. Also based in Atlanta, FOCUS Brands is the franchisor and operator of nearly 1,400 ice cream stores, bakeries, and cafes under the brand names Carvel, Cinnabon, and Seattle's Best Coffee. With its acquisition of Schlotzsky's, FOCUS Brands now has four franchise brands generating nearly $800 million in system-wide revenues through over 10,000 points of distribution in 50 states and 33 countries.

...we had one or two (?) Schlotzsky's in Fayette County. If I'm not mistaken both of them are now gone? I know the one in Fayetteville is closed. Along with the Wendy's in the middle of the city. Schlotzky's was a bit hard to see and find --- about the time you saw it you'd passed the entrance. It should have been a good location, right on Hwy. 85 going toward the Pavilion.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that they'd been bought out by a local group... and that the main company owned Carvel, which was my favorite of favorite ice creams when I lived in New York way back when.

Maybe someone will open up another Schlotzsky's in a better location (yes, lots more money involved in set up to get prime spots around here anymore!).

Anyone know what happened to Wendy's? That rather surprised me at first, but maybe it's another casualty of location. That's a tough place to leave if you're making a left out of the lot! We have so many choices any more that even the smallest problem can kill a good restaurant.

(I have to do a disclaimer after that last comment --- I am not a fast food type and rarely, if ever, go to Wendy's, Schlotzky's, McDonalds, etc. I'm more likely to go to Schlotzky's than any other type fast food restaurant as they have a few more healthy choices. Thus, my comments are more from an outsiders perspective. Those who frequented Wendy's & Schlotzky's may have a much better idea of why they bit the dust.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Question the validity of an email?

Seems like almost every day an email comes across with a plea for help of some sort, a warning about terroristic activities, etc. I'm sure many of you are aware of this site, but for those who haven't found it yet: www.Snopes.com. You can check most emails that are floating around to see if they are a hoax (or not). There are other sites that do the same, but Snopes is my personal favorite.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Preambles, states & God

My Mom sent me the following preambles. I found it interesting, and thought-provoking, that in every single one God was a focus. Does anyone know if any of these have been changed? Seems like there's a clear intent when our states were being formed and /or firmed up! It's obvious that God was not to be excluded from government when you start digging into our past.

Alabama 1901 , Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution.

Alaska 1956, Preamble . We, the people of Alaska , grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, gratef ul to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom.

Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.

Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii , Grateful for Divine Guidance ... Establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings.

Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil l, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana , grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa , grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana , grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... And imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Mary land , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts , acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe . In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction ..

Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Al mighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness . Establish this Constitution .

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution ...

Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom . Establish th is Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V . Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitt ed us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty

New York 1846, Preamble . We, the people of the State of New York , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble . We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of t hose

North Dakota 1889, Preamble . We , the people of North Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble . We the people of the state of Ohio , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble . Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this .

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble . We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas , acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man .

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Chris tian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other

Washington 1889, Preamble . We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution

West Virginia 1872, Preamble . Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ..

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble . We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility

Wyoming 1890, Preamble . We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties .. establish this Constitution.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Marine in Iraq responds to Senator Kerry

I don't know if this is another made up letter or the real thing... I received it via email, another forward. However, the sentiments cooincide with how I feel about what Kerry said, so I'm going to let this soldier speak for me.

{This was written by my husband, Aaron, who is currently deployed to Iraq, in defense of a recent comment made by Senator John Kerry. Pass it along, it might inspire someone else to speak up! ~ Michelle}

Yesterday John Kerry said, "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well, and if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq...

So I wrote him a letter:

I am a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. I am currently on my second tour in Iraq, a tour in which I volunteered for. I speak Arabic and Spanish and I plan to tackle Persian Farsi soon. I have a Bachelors and an Associates Degree and between deployments I am pursuing an M.B.A. In college I was a member of several academic honor societies, including the Golden Key Honor Society.

I am not unique among the enlisted troops. Many of my enlisted colleagues include lawyers, teachers, mechanics, engineers, musicians and artists just to name a few.

You say that your comments were directed towards the President and not us. If we were stupid Senator Kerry, we might have believed you.

I am not a victim of President Bush. I proudly serve him because he is my Commander and Chief. If it was you who was President, I would serve you just as faithfully.

I serve America Senator Kerry, and I am also providing a service to the good people of Iraq. I have not terrorized them in the middle of the night, raped them or murdered them as you have accused me of before. I am doing my part to help them rebuild.

My role is a simple one, but important.

You see Senator Kerry, like it or not, we came here and removed a tyrant (who terrorized Iraqis in the middle of the night, and raped them and murdered them). And we have a responsibility to see to it that another one doesn't take his place.

The people of Iraq are recovering from an abusive relationship with a terrible government and its going to take some time to help them recover from that. We can't treat this conflict like a microwave dinner and throw a temper tantrum because we feel like its taking too long.

Senator Kerry, you don't have to agree with this war. You don't have to say nice things about those of us who choose to make sacrifices for the rights of every American rather than sit back and simply feel entitled to it. But please Senator Kerry, if you're going to call me a stupid murdering rapist, stick by what you say. Don't tell me that I misunderstood or that you would never insult a veteran because you are one too. Having been there and done that does not give you a free pass to insult me.

My suggestion for you, Senator Kerry, is to remember that your speeches are recorded, and broadcast to us simpletons over here. You may want to write down what you want to say before you say it, maybe have somebody look at it before you say it and tell you what others might hear. Remember that we can't read your mind, if there are any misinterpretations in what you say, it's because you didn't communicate clearly.

Good luck to you Senator Kerry, if nothing else it's always entertaining to watch you try and climb out of the holes that you constantly dig for yourself.

Sincerely,
Somebody who is watching his daughter grow up in photographs so that you can have the right to say whatever you want about him.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Charity?

Have you ever thought about the amount of money and things being collected for charity? There are walks and runs for causes, auctions, fund raisers, companies making splashy donations, employees raising money for causes or having money deducted from their checks for charity.

Samaritans, Heart Association, Cancer Society, Diabetes Association, youth homes, help for soldiers, help for soldiers children, events for seniors who can't afford to buy their medicine, companies donating or paying a portion of prescription medicines, you know the list of things we do in America and in other countries is longer than long.

We give and give and give. Giving is good, not knocking it. Just questioning whether we are giving smart.

There are entire industries that would go away if we ever found a cure for the disease they are trying to eradicate. Have you ever thought that just possibly it is not in their best interest to succeed?

Have you ever visited the home office mega-building of some of these organizations? Yes, they do need to look professional if they're going to attract big buck donations and support from the corporate world. However, wouldn't we be better served if they carried these prospective companies to lavish labs with doctors and researchers hard at work? Not saying they don't have them, just know that in Atlanta there is a gorgeous building that houses a very well supported charity. There are a number of folks in this world that would gladly have sold the rugs they walk on to pay for disease fighting drugs that may have eased their pain.

Oh well, another thing I can't do much about. The list is long.

I like to give and I work hard to help others. I spent many years working to raise money for some of the mega-organizations. I'm not so sure my efforts were channeled in the best direction. Now I prefer to keep it local and to know the folks who will be using any money I give or raise. I like seeing results.

Love/Hate relationship with computers...

Well, it's happened again... computers lost that have personal information on them. This time it's from Starbucks (someone snoozin' cause they didn't get enough caffeinne? someone taking one too many coffee breaks? this one lends itself to a Jay Leno or David Letterman type joke).

Have you ever thought about our dependence on computers? I love my computer. I love getting quick answers, being able to find out about things that used to require a trip to the library or bookstore, paying bills on-line, blogs and sharing information. For every good thing in life it seems there must be a negative balance (very Yin and Yang). With computers the spam, garbage, porn, mis-information and privacy issues fall into that black side.

The Internet is too big for the rules of one country to have any kind of affect. Rules are virtually impossible to enforce on computers under any circumstances. The law enforcers are often the law breakers.

I know that from a corporate standpoint, there must be better guardianship of our information. Companies learned in the old days to lock file cabinets and shred sensitive info. Our modern day companies are going to need to find modern day locks for sensitive information stored on hard drives and such. If they want our information, they need to protect our information.

Luckily I've never worked for Starbucks and thus far (should I knock on plastic instead of wood now?) I've not had my information with any of the other companies or organizations that have misplaced computers or been subjected to info-gathering hacking.

Starbucks Announces Identification of Missing Corporate Laptops

11-3-06 SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starbucks Corporation (Nasdaq: SBUX) announced today that four retired (no longer in regular use) laptops have been identified as missing from the Starbucks Corporate Support Center in Seattle. Two of the laptops contained the private information, including names and social security numbers, of nearly 60,000 United States partners (employees) and less than 80 Canadian partners and contractors at all levels employed across the organization prior to Dec. 31, 2003.

At this time, there is no indication that the private information in question has been misused or that the devices are in the hands of someone intending to misuse the information. These laptops may still be in the possession of Starbucks, however we cannot currently locate them. In accordance with Starbucks standards for information security, the laptops were password protected.

“We take our commitment to safeguarding the personal information and security of our partners very seriously, and we regret the inconvenience that this incident may cause,” said Valerie O’Neil, director of corporate communications. “We are currently reinforcing our corporate policies and updating procedures related to the protection of personal data in an effort to ensure that this type of incident does not occur in the future.”

Efforts are currently underway to notify partners whose information was believed to be on the missing laptops, and credit-protection services are being offered by the company at no cost to those potentially affected persons.

Partners with questions or concerns related to the incident or to the credit-protection services being offered are encouraged to contact the Starbucks Information Security Helpline at 1-800-453-1048 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. PST or to visit http://www.starbuckspartnerinformation.com/.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Splenda

Walmart has its own brand of Splenda, much cheaper, called Altern. The name stinks, but the taste is the same. I read the contents, there are some differences in the binders or fillers, but the basics are there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Have you ever thought about how little importance we put on lives other than our own or those close to us? Have you ever wondered at the fragility of life?

Last night I watched a PBS special on Yellow Fever (Yellow Jack as it was commonly called). In one city alone, Memphis, over 20,000 people died from the disease. Think about those numbers. That was just one city. The disease had been around for as long as people lived in mosquito-lovin' territory. How many lives were snuffed out from this one disease?

War. How many millions have been killed through the ages as a result of war? I know there are some who feel we can be better, that we can become a peace loving world, but I'm not in that camp. There are too many people with too many different beliefs they are willing to die and kill for. Take a small group of children, give them a few toys, stick them in a room and it won't be long before they're fighting. Take a small group of children and give them everything they could want, teach them to hug and love each other and sooner or later someone is going to want to be king and divisions will start.

When you travel down the paths of history one thing that stands out is death. Slavery, the Crusades, Black Death, plagues, children forced to work in factories, the list goes on and on. Death.

We all have loved ones orbiting within our own small universe. We care about those on the periphery. Some of us have a large periphery. We get upset when there is a tragedy and will dig into our pockets or even possibly go help. Most of us care to some degree but our natural inclination is to take care of our little universe and move on with our daily lives.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this or that there is anywhere I can go with this. I can't change the nature of the world.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dasani Spooge

I was at a meeting in Las Vegas with Gold's Gym where the coke folk were rolling out Dasani water. One of the questions they asked of themselves and answered ('cause they knew the question was coming) was what did Dasani mean. Turns out it means that a lot of people hanging around in a board room somewhere got real creative. It means nothing. It is a made-up word.

My favorite made-up word is "spooge." My friend Sharon made it up years ago to describe gooey yukky stuff. That glob of splat on the floor, that icky splotch of awful lookin' stuff on the wall, or anything that defies description using "regular" words.

I made up a little creature called a morgal. Unfortunately, I can't draw one in this blog so you'll have to wait until... well, you'll have to wait maybe for never to see a morgal.