Things I Know

I know a lot of businesses were hurt very badly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. One company, however, is reaping lots of benefits: Pain-In-The-Ass Inc., makers of robocalls.

Some newspaper websites have links at the end of their articles. Some of the links are to other articles in their paper and some links are even sponsored. So that’s how I noticed that there is a lifestyle website called I suppose some people will find it interesting, but I didn’t. However, it did leave me wondering if there is a website called for people obsessed with their colons and GI tracts. Thankfully, no.

It should be obvious to any professional writer that I write this blog solo, with no independent editor. I make the occasional mistake and once in a while I repeat myself without realizing it. I also repeat myself deliberately. You try writing a blog for going on five years without ever quoting yourself. The reason I bring this up is if you use WordPress to produce a blog you can’t edit the entries forever. I don’t know how far back you can go, but I wasn’t able to correct a mistake I made in an entry from three or four years ago. An editor would have caught it when I wrote it, but it took me a while.

Hey, maybe if I hit a big lottery jackpot I’ll hire an editor for my blog.

In New York State, most village elections are pretty sedate. Some candidates run unopposed. I think I remember a story about a guy who won because he wrote his own name in and nobody else bothered to vote. I’m not sure that was in New York. However, the election on March 19th in New York’s second-largest Village, Freeport seems like it’s already contentious. It’s been in the newspapers and on TV already and nominating petitions don’t have to be submitted for another week or more.

Barrett-Jackson did sell that 1953 Willys Jeepster at their auction in Scottsdale AZ. They never responded to my email claiming there is no such thing and I didn’t hear what they said about it on TV because I didn’t see it sold on TV. I’m recording the auction so I can fast forward through the parts I don’t care about. It saves a lot of time over watching all the extensive coverage in real time. If you like cars, you have to go to that auction at least once in your life.

If you can’t fly around on a broomstick, but you play Quidditch anyway, you are definitely a nerd. Or, maybe not, if you’re too stupid to be a nerd.

Comment Policy

If you have your very own blog, here’s something to watch out for. It may take a while because I’ve had my very own blog for almost five years and this just happened to me.

I don’t do anything to publicize my blog because I pay for the bandwidth myself, I don’t want to pay more, and I write this more to entertain myself than for any other purpose. Nevertheless, the number of hits I get each month has continued to grow. It’s now around eight thousand. Also, the first time I ever Googled the phrase “Things I Want (Or Need) To Know,” I got 8 hits. Most recently, I got 899,000. I’ve even had one re-post that I’m aware of.

I am entertaining myself, I have a few readers and I’ve had three legit commenters (I’d like more). Two of them are friends who also blog. In the third instance, I stayed at a nice hotel in South San Francisco, not far from SFO, two or three years ago and while there, I lost the battery cover off a radio I travel with. I asked the nice people at the hotel to look for it and if they found it to return it to me. They looked for it, found it and returned it. I went into my blog, said thanks and said they were nice people. I got a comment from management thanking me (more proof that they are in fact nice). Oaf that I am, I managed to delete that one instead of posting it. Sorry about that.

It’s been a while since I last talked about how I handle comments. Recent developments dictate that I do it again. Last week, I got two complimentary comments from people who seemed to speak English as a second language. They seemed odd, because the comments were very general and came in response to something I wrote 14 months ago. Still, I published them. Who likes compliments? I do. Who knows the difference between compliment and complement? Not me, so I look it up each time I use either one. Now, I think that perhaps those two comments last week were from a spambot trying to see if the comments would be posted. If I’m wrong about that, I’m sorry and I will continue to publish comments similar to those.

The software I use to post this blog gives me a good idea where the hits come from and I’ve known for a while that some of my hits are from spambots. Why do I think that last week’s comments may be fake? Because after I posted them, I got another bunch of comments, all of which seemed like spam. So, I didn’t post those. If I should ever receive a comment that seems like Spam rather than spam, I won’t publish that either, but I reserve the right to eat it.

If you read my blog, enjoy it or hate it, agree with it or disagree with it, feel free to comment. I doubt that I’ll edit your comments although I won’t allow flaming. I know that spambots don’t actually read blogs, but just for the record, all comments on this blog are moderated. If a comment seems like spam to the panel of judges I use to vet these things, it won’t be posted. The panel of judges consists of me. Decisions of the judges are arbitrary and final: It is, after all, my blog.

Things I Know

You’re thinking Miss America shouldn’t be from New York; she should be from some southern state. But it’s okay. The new Miss America, formerly Miss New York, was raised in Alabama.

New York City may have the strictest handgun control laws in the entire USA, but cannon control is a different story.

I guess Barrett-Jackson isn’t going to change the listing on lot 849 for their auction that starts today in Scottsdale AZ. It’s for a 1953 Willys Jeepster and there isn’t any such thing. They do have a picture of it up now and they didn’t acknowledge my email about it. But on another auction site, the sellers explained that it was first sold and titled in 1953, hence the appellation. I don’t know when the car will go across the block, but I’d like to hear what they say about it on TV. Maybe I’ll try to record the entire auction. I can’t sit there and watch it all as it happens. I went once, a few years ago, and had a great time. It took me two days to see what I did see and I could have stayed another day, but just going was one of the many things Saint Karen puts up with in order to be married to me. Putting up with me so well and for so long is what qualifies her for sainthood in my book.

I won’t be hurried through my doctor’s appointment because you’re 15 minutes late for the first appointment of the day. I was on time and I didn’t overbook. So, don’t try to rush me through: I won’t stand for it.

So, I went to the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan the other day. Actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg narrates the sky show these days. I wondered why. She reads fine, but she’s not acting really and she’s not funny in it. Maybe, because I was once air talent, I found myself distracted by the fact that she has an accent and a slight sibilant s (but I suppose the sibilant could be caused by the microphone). As much as I like her in other roles, I thought a more experienced narrator would be better at narration. My wife suggested that perhaps she was chosen because she played a character named Guinan in the Star Trek Next Generation TV series. Maybe.

If you go to the sky show at the Hayden Planetarium, you will be impressed, but don’t sit in the front row unless you like having a crick in your neck. The visuals are spectacular, but I found the sound track too loud.

The planetarium is attached to the American Museum of Natural History. Mike, a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History is the most gregarious and friendly guy I’ve met in a long time. I enjoyed talking to him.

I have to imagine that when the Museum of Natural History was established museum exhibits were quite different. I say that because a different building would make it a lot easier to take pictures of the exhibits, especially the dinosaur skeletons.

I haven’t been there in a long time and the T-Rex skeleton is now a lot less imposing in stalking mode than it was when they had it reared up at full height.

I go to Manhattan maybe once or twice a year, so I don’t use the subway much. I expected that when I went up to street level at the 50th Street stop I’d be at 50th Street, but I wasn’t. I was at 48th St.

More and more of the websites I visit have autoplay videos on them these days, and I HATE autoplay videos.

I have a great idea for a new reality show on the Travel Channel. I don’t have a title for it, but the idea is you have a bunch of contestants cook for Andrew Zimmerman (the host of “Bizarre Foods”). Whichever contestant cooks food that Zimmerman eats the most of (or likes the best) gets eliminated, until the last contestant standing is the winner.

My blog received a nice comment from someone this week. I wasn’t certain what prompted it though because it was attached to a blog entry from over a year ago. If you have a comment, I’d like to hear from you too.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

When do you take down your Christmas decorations? Or do you leave them up all year?


This year, trying to look organized, I took ours down on January 7th. Yes, I am bragging.

Have you seen the TV commercial for Progressive Insurance where a guy is juggling three chain saws? Would it surprise you if Progressive doesn’t issue policies that cover chain-saw juggling?

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” So how come you start losing strength many years before you die?

Have you heard the radio commercial for ROKU, the inexpensive device to make your TV Internet enabled? My daughter has one and she likes it. I have nothing against the device, but I think the commercial is strange. It suggests you should sit around and watch TV while other people achieve important things. Is that a selling point? And anyway, some of the things they suggest others will achieve have already been achieved. Mars rover? Been there, done that. Battery-powered battery charger? The have those. I can even charge my cell phone from my laptop.

Veal, meatball and chicken Parmesan. Why are they called that when they have Mozzarella cheese melted all over them, not Parmesan cheese?

Speaking of cheese, since the people who make Cheez Whiz spell cheese the way they do, why do they spell whiz correctly?

Things I Know

I’ve already alerted Barrett-Jackson about an error on their website for their upcoming Scottsdale AZ auction, but I thought I should alert you as well. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no such thing as a 1953 Willys Jeepster. They have one listed as lot 849. That might explain why there’s no picture of the vehicle on the website. So far, Barrett-Jackson has neither changed its website nor acknowledged my email. This particular car was sold at the Silver Car Auction in Reno NV last August where they also listed it as a 1953, but in the text of the ad, they also called it a ’48 and said they were calling it a ’53 because thats when it was first sold. I still say fewer than 20,000 were made between 1949 and 1950 and the last ones were sold as ’51 models. I also still maintain there’s no such thing as a 1953 Willys Jeepster. I wonder if the owner is really selling this car at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale. There’s no picture on the Barrett-Jackson website and the car is also listed for sale in another company’s auction in Palm Springs in February.

Since I’ve ranted in this space before about strange choices in music used to produce commercials, let me say here and now, if I made Cheez Whiz, I’d hire Carla Thomas to sing in my ads.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. The light switch just inside the door to my den has always been hard to locate in the dark. Today, I installed a switch with a little light inside of it. It’s so easy now. Problem solved.

If I ran, I wouldn’t know what I’m doing, but in my opinion, whoever put together their search function doesn’t either. I searched the recommendations they made for me for computers. I got only 15 items, one of which was a netbook. None of the other recommendations were computers of any kind and the netbook was #6.

Another issue with’s search function. I looked for electric can openers. I sorted the results by average customer review. Only one item on the first page was an electric can opener. Two of the first three listings wouldn’t open cans at all.

On the other hand, some customer reviews are absolutely priceless. You’ve got to check these reviews out: hilarious!

Hormel, makers of Spam the meat (or is it meat byproduct?), has announced plans to buy Skippy peanut butter, not a jar, the whole company. That makes me afraid you’ll soon be able to buy pre-made peanut butter and Spam sandwiches in your local supermarket.

You’re not supposed to pay retail for camera equipment and hardly anybody ever does. Nevertheless, if you own even a semi-elaborate camera, you’ll never have any trouble coming up with ways to drop several hundred dollars.

There’s a running joke in my family about plot development. Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) likes soap operas and I don’t. Sometimes, we’ll sit in the living room and she’ll be watching a soap while I’m ignoring the TV and surfing the Internet. Someone on the soap will ask another character in what some would call a very dramatic manner (but I call over-acting) why they did something. I’ll look up from my computer screen and say, “Plot development.” Over the years, my whole family has come to give those two words as an answer to why lots of things are going on either in entertainment or in real life. One of the soaps did it again and I said, “Plot development,” again and then I said that just once I’d like a character on a soap opera to say, “Plot development,” too right there on the TV screen, during the show and without breaking character. We both think that would be funny.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

This isn’t a question, but since it’s my first blog post of 2013, the Sisyphus Project is copyright 2008-2013.

Is there a way to get a refund for unused credit from Google Voice? Most Google Voice services are free, but there’s a small charge for overseas calls. From where I live to Shanghai, for example, costs two cents a minute. When my son and daughter were in Shanghai in 2009, I paid ten dollars in advance for the charges I would incur. But I didn’t use it all up before they both came back. So Google Voice has had a small amount of my money for a year and a half. I’d like it back, but if there’s a way to get it, I couldn’t find it. I’d even be happy if I could transfer the credit to Google Music.

If someone wants a new car at Christmas time, can they get anything they want, or does it always have to be a Lexus?

Have you seen the new commercial for the Google Chrome web browser? As a music bed, it uses Louie Lymon & the Teenchords’ recording of “I’m So Happy.” If you were 15 when that recording was made, you’re 72 now. It makes me wonder again about the science of advertising, because I I’m guessing the music bed distracts at least some older people who might otherwise pay attention to the commercial and I also think it might make some younger people change the channel. So, I repeat a question I’ve asked before in similar circumstances: who exactly are they marketing to anyway?

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? The instructions for the elaborate flash unit my wife bought me are 39 pages long. I have some reading to do.

Around this time of years, the military sends video recordings to TV stations of soldiers from the station’s areas who are stationed in a war zone and sending holiday greetings back home. Some stations run them and some don’t, so you may never have seen them. All the ones I’ve seen this year address their families and wish them “happy holidays.” I have no objection to that phrase. I celebrate Christmas, but you can celebrate whatever you want and I hope you both celebrated and enjoyed. However, if you’re speaking directly to your family, shouldn’t you know what holidays they celebrate? If you do, why not be specific?