Sunday, July 1st, 2007

For the past year, I've lived near downtown Dayton on Grafton Hill. I like living downtown because there are lots of fun things to do within walking distance. I spent part of today with my mother, sister and brother-in-law. First we walked over to the CityFolk festival, where we got something to eat, watched some dancing and listened to some music. Then we went to the Victoria Theatre for the first of this summer's Cool Films, 1776, a film fitting for the holiday weekend but one about whom I agree with Roger Ebert.

Something I love about my place on Grafton Hill is being able to watch the sun set, and this evening I got to see another beautiful sunset. I finished the night by walking down to the river with a neighbor where we stood and watched the fireworks, after which most people had to walk through the crowds to get to their cars to fight the traffic to go home. Not us—just a few steps back up the hill and we were home.

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

1) At a gathering today in Republican-held territory outside Springfield, Ohio, I wore an Old Navy Fourth of July flag t-shirt and was told by another guest, "I can tell you're white."

"Oh?" I asked. (I'd thought my whiteness was rather obvious.)

"Yeah," he said. "You shop at Old Navy."

I didn't know what to say to that, but before I had time to say anything, this guy's wife chimed in — "Oh, honey. The blacks are starting to shop at Old Navy now. And the Gap too!"

Of course there is so much to be said to that, but given who said it and that I was at a family gathering, there was also so little to be said, too. These are the kind of people who voted for W.

2) This evening I went to see SiCKO at The Neon (back in Democratic-held territory). I'd been ambivalent about seeing SiCKO but friends called and said they were going so I went along, and I'm glad I did. Yes, Michael Moore takes things to extremes and isn't fair and balanced (though being fair and balanced is overrated), but he does document things that should really be unacceptable in the United States. Even if you believe that some terminally ill people (who have insurance) should be denied treatments because the treatments are experimental or because extending someone's life six months is a waste of resources, even if you believe it's okay that the United States is the only developed nation without universal health care, surely you can't believe that a hospital's arranging to have a confused old woman pushed out of a taxi onto the sidewalk wearing only a paper hospital gown and no shoes is right.

Thursday, July 5, 2007
Verizon Wireless logo Dealing with the airline cellphone industry

So a week or so ago Verizon Wireless sent me a postcard to tell me that if I renewed my contract with them, they'd give me a month's free service. I was already aware that my VZW contract was up, and with all the iPhone hype, I'd already been feeling a little nerdish technoenvy and looking at new phones for a possible upgrade.

My old phone
—not so cool
any more
I wasn't contemplating shelling out $600 for an iPhone and certainly not contemplating switching to AT&T, but my old LG VX-8100, which seemed so fancy in 2005, was feeling thick and old (plus I'd lost the back cover), so when I read the magic phrase "This will not affect your eligibility to upgrade phones" on the renewal postcard, I thought, sweet! let's go get a new phone.

Verizon takes a customer they already had in the bag (me, someone who was going to upgrade phones anyway) and makes him even happier (by giving me a month free). Good deal, right?

So I take myself out to Verizon's Beavercreek store. When I get there, I'm greeted by a friendly associate who asks me to register on one of their fancy kiosks. This system is supposedly an improvement on their old system, where there were separate lines for sales, customer service and technical support. With the new system, tech support associates, off on one end of the store, can help sales customers if there aren't any people waiting for tech support. Nonetheless, with it being the day after a holiday, there were tons of people in the store, and I had to wait, almost 30 minutes.

Still, not the end of the world, as it gives me a chance to take a look at the various phones that are available. I was already pretty sure which phone I wanted, but I did take another look at various Windows Mobile phones (my friend Jim has a Palm Treo) to confirm that they're much bigger (too wide) than I want to carry around. The LG VX-8500's are cute, especially in white or cherry chocolate, but I really prefer a flip phone to a slider, and I had my eye on a newer phone that has a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus, namely the MOTORAZR maxx Ve.

My new phone
—thinner
and more powerful


Now I'm either a tech sales person's dream customer or nightmare. Perhaps I'm a nightmare because I know what I want and thus he has little chance of selling me a bunch of extras. But I like to think I'm a dream because I know what I want and thus am an easy sale. Last year when I came to this same store to buy a Kyocera KPC650 broadband wireless card, I was in and out of the store in less than 20 minutes. So this time when my name is finally called, I figured, cool, this won't take long now.

I walk up to the counter, and an associate named Jon greets me and asks how he can help me. I tell him I want to renew my contract and upgrade to a new phone, and I hand him the promotional postcard VZW sent me. He looks at it for a minute and then tells me, sorry, I can't do both in the same billing cycle. If I upgrade my phone now and renew my contract now, I won't get the free month. I can renew my contract and come back next month to upgrade phones.

Not good! Why on earth should I have to drive out to Beavercreek and wait in line two times? I pointed out to Jon the phrasing on the card that said that renewing my contract would not affect my ability to upgrade phones and asked him where it said I couldn't do both at the same time. He admitted that it didn't say that but said that's how it was. I said if the card had said that I would have simply called to renew my contract and then come in the next month to upgrade, but it didn't say that and I was already there. Poor Jon acted utterly helpless as if there was not a thing he could do to help me, so I asked to see his manager.

Of course this entailed waiting for another 10-15 minutes, which gave me plenty of time to notice a big poster on the wall behind Jon's counter. That poster lists all the reasons why Verizon Wireless is better than its competition, and one of the reasons is that "If you ever have a problem, it becomes our problem the first time you call."
"If you ever have a problem, it becomes our problem the first time you call."
Jon apparently has never seen that poster. I had a problem, and Jon didn't make it his problem. If he'd has his way, it would still have been my problem. Fuck you very much, Jon, but it is in fact your problem, and if you don't want it to be your problem, get a job in another field.

Jon finally did come back and was pleased to report that his supervisor thought that I could in fact renew my contract, getting the month's free service, and at the same time upgrade to a new phone. Jon explained that if, for some reason, I did not receive the credit, I could call his supervisor next month, and he'd fix it. Jon worked on his computer for a while, trying to achieve the impossible, and after another 5 minutes or so had to excuse himself to confer with his superior again. After yet another 10-15 minutes, Jon came back and was able to work the miracle. He gave me my new phone, thanked me for my business and was ready to send me on my merry way. Not so fast, Jon! What's your supervisor's name and number? Oh, yeah, he said as he wrote the info down to hand to me.

Perhaps poor Jon realized I'd be writing a letter to corporate about my experience (which I did) or even posting about this on my blog. I don't doubt that Jon's a decent person and normally does a good job, and this really isn't about him so much as it is about Verizon overall. Don't tell me I'm the only person who got that postcard who wanted both to upgrade phones and to get a free month for renewing. They knew there'd be people like that because they took the time to assure us that renewing wouldn't impact our ability to upgrade. What they didn't do was to fix their systems or train their associates to handle that. In other words they took an opportunity to make their customers happier and more loyal and turned into one to make their customers unhappy and less loyal, leaving them worse off than if they'd done nothing. Great job, Verizon!

One last whine before I close. Verizon and its colleagues in the cellphone industry remind me of another industry, the airlines. The cellphone companies and the airlines give a lot of lip service to wanting to make customers happy, but really they want to make life difficult for us. Here, have some frequent flier miles you can't ever use. Here, have a sweet new phone that does Mobile Web 2.0, but its features are crippled and you've got to pay an extra fee for web and for every application you want to use. Both cellphone companies and airlines know they've got captive audiences. If you want to use a cellphone, you've got your choice of corporate behemoths that don't care about your needs, and if you want to travel by air, you've got your choice of corporate behemoths that don't care about your needs. Yay, capitalism!


Update—7/9/2007: I did get a follow-up call from Jon's manager who apologized for the screw-up and said that they'd do better. He explained that normally the stores get a bit of notice about these promotions so they can prepare on how to deal with them but that this time Marketing sent out the promotion without any warning. Well I can understand that this wasn't Jon's manager's fault, but it certainly wasn't my fault either. I hope Jon's manager has some luck in dealing with his corporation's bureaucracy.
Friday, July 6th, 2007
Having just read Allen Drury's book, Advise and Consent, featuring a senator who kills himself after being blackmailed over his homosexual past, I checked out Otto Preminger's 1962 film version, and, for the most part, I like the movie better than the book. Although the film clocks in at 2 hours 20 minutes, it's faster paced than the book,

The fresh-faced Senator Anderson,
played by Don Murray
and the film gives a glimpse into pre-Stonewall gay life that the book does not.

In the book Senator Brigham Anderson's WWII lover is given no name and makes only two brief appearances, once calling the Senator to apologize for having sold the blackmailers material and a second time atoning for his sins by jumping off a bridge unnoticed. We get no details about what Anderson's lover has given his blackmailers, and though we hear a lot about the photograph that first set off Anderson's enemies gaydar, we get only a vague description that it's "innocent-appearing" but bears a suspect inscription.


Forever—Brig
The movie, while it cuts out all of the subplot of how Senator Anderson's keepsake photo got into the wrong hands (and cuts out entirely the Supreme Court Justice who in the book found the pic), lets us see the photo for ourselves, and, showing two soldiers wearing leis but fully dressed in uniform, posed together but not even touching, it does seem rather innocent, were it not for the "Forever, Brig" written across the bottom. (The photo in the book, being one Brig had kept, surely would have had "Forever, Ray" instead.)


Dear Ray
buzz off!
Another change the movie makes from the book is that we actually get to see some of the material the Senator's lover has sold off, specifically a letter the Senator has written his ex-lover asking him to stop contacting him. Brig's not really gay, you see, and the butt-fucking wouldn't have happened were it not "for the war and the exhaustion and the loneliness." I guess there weren't any women at all in Hawaii who wanted to sleep with lonely soldiers. Brig has "a good, normal life" now and "want[s] to forget there was ever anything else," though he knows "it won't be easy." Our Mormon Senator from Utah was bound and determined to be an ex-gay, and it seems he did a pretty good job of it.

 

Gay pimp

Gay club

Gay club
 
The most interesting difference between the book and the movie is that in the movie Anderson decides to confront in person the only man who could have the goods on him. Hopping on a flight (the ease with which people jumped on and off planes back then is amazing) to NYC, Brig tracks Ray down, going first to what he discovers is a campy kind of cat-filled male brothel where he actually pays the proprieter, he thinks for information but for use of Ray and the room thinks the proprieter ("You can come back here with Ray — I mean you've paid").


On display
Poor Brig, obviously not thinking clearly, heads on to Club 602, the outside of which is rather bleak but inside which is filled to the brim with all kinds of queers (this 1962 NYC gay bar is even racially integrated).

Oh yes, we know your type
The setup of the club isn't conducive to closeted married politicians wanting to sneak in for a hookup. No, instead patrons must first get past a trio of judgmental fairies and then find themselves under a spot light atop a flight of stairs in full view of everyone already in the club. Although the friendly bartender welcomes him,
Sinatra sidebar
During the Club 602 scene crooning on the jukebox is none other than Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, singing not any song ever actually released but snippets commissioned just for this film: (MP3)
Let me hear a voice, a secret voice, a voice that will say, come to me, and be what I need you to be. Long alone, I have sung the loser's song alone...
Brig loses his nerve, turns tail and runs.

But not before his ex-lover Ray (looking doable but aging quicky for a hustler) notices him. Seeing the look on Ray's face, you might think Ray still loves Brig and hopes to be reunited with him. Ray goes after Brig, which doesn't please Ray's current boyfriend (trick, whatever) — Ray, you're with me — but Ray wants to explain to Brig, and that explanation (I needed money and you wouldn't give me any) doesn't go over well. Brig escapes in a cab, pushing Ray to the curb and leaving him like the gutter tramp he is.

Darling, you've
come for me

Wait, I
can explain!

To the curb,
bitch!
 
There was one part of the book I admired which didn't really make it into the movie version. In the book the Senator's colleagues are aware that he's being blackmailed and also pretty much aware of exactly how before he's driven to suicide, and they offer him some support. Brig kills himself during the day, while some of his colleagues are also working, and one feels particularly guilty afterwards for having let Brig talk him out of coming down to talk, feeling, perhaps rightly so, that he could have done something. In the movie, the Senator's colleagues don't know what's up until, after his suicide, they go to talk to his wife, who, in the film, has been given copies of the goods on her husband.

And another aspect of the film I really didn't care for was the casting of Henry Fonda as Secretary of State nominee Robert Leffingwell or the addition (not in the book at all) of his wide-eyed Opie-esque son. Casting Fonda made Leffingwell much more sympathetic than Drury meant him to be, as did having Fonda explain things to OpieJohnny. The film also changes slightly the fate of Leffingwell's confirmation, although I'll grant in a fun way that makes the Vice President look good and that ends the film neatly and quickly.

All in all, a film worth watching, much easier to digest than the book.
Sunday, July 8th, 2007


I teach Sunday School at my church, and today my class (9 and 10 year olds) volunteered to help the older youth out with their car wash, so I got roped into moving cars. You'd think pulling cars up wouldn't be very strenuous, but we washed 35 cars during worship service, so we had to hustle!

Monday, July 9th, 2007
Dayton City Paper logo

Dayton City Paper lets
you see exactly how
each of their print
edition pages looks,
but good luck actually
being able to read them
Zoom in to try
Today's award for poor website design goes to none other than the Dayton City Paper, which underwent a major redesign (for the worse, in my opinion) in the past year. I've never been a frequent visitor to the site, although I do manage to pick up a hardcopy of the paper every week. Their previous online incarnation was at least usable, pretty much text only, but with a newspaper, the text of the articles is probably the most important part, right? Wrong, at least according to the Dayton City Paper, which has decided not to publish any text at all on its online site, only pictures.

So long as you don't use screen reader software (just one of many reasons websites should be mainly in text), you can read every page of the Dayton City Paper, provided that you don't find the font size too small. If you do find the text too small to read, tough shit, because it's not really text at all but a JPG of the page,

A sample paragraph at actual size
and thus increasing the font size in your browser does zilch. You could try something like the Image Zoom extension for Firefox, but a bit-mapped image of text zoomed to 200% is only marginally easier to read.

Perhaps the most important reason websites are text-based is that text is easy to search. Not on the Dayton City Paper's website though. They realize visitors to their website will want to search,
Dayton City Paper mocking search field
This is not a screen capture
—this is an actual image
I saved off their site!
and they mock us by putting a picture of a search field at the top of their site. Yes, literally a picture of a search field, not even a real field that does nothing. How insane is that?

Dayton City Paper miniscule calendar entry (actual size)
(actual size)
That the folks at Dayton City Paper even bother to save their calendar pages as images and upload them to their website is beyond my comprehension. Do they think that having those calendar pages online in that form is useful to anyone? Can you read the example calendar item to the left?

Now posting their pages as images does make life easier on the Dayton City Paper staff and might also make their advertisers happy (every ad is shown online exactly as it appears in the print edition), and they needn't worry about people plagiarizing one of their articles by cutting and pasting. I guess if the City Paper staff is happy, who cares whether the site's useful to readers?

One last whine about the Dayton City Paper before I move on, and that is that I find it incredibly annoying that they list contactus@daytoncitypaper.com as the e-mail address alongside the info about any of the authors of their articles, even if an author doesn't work for them. For example, last July they published an article by Dan Frosch (and misspelled his last name in the byline). Googling for the syndicated article, I found Dan Frosch's real e-mail address (and the real spelling of his name).

Dayton Daily News logo Now given that I sometimes like to make fun of the Dayton City Paper's larger rival, the Dayton Daily News, it's only fair that I point out that in comparison to daytoncitypaper.com, daytondailynews.com is a real pleasure. Actually Cox has really improved daytondailynews.com over the past year or so, by doing the following things:
  • No longer using Flash to display photos
  • No longer charging for access to the text of articles in their online archives
  • Publishing contact information (phone and e-mail) for the reporters who write DDN articles (and these reporters are willing to answer questions posed by e-mail—very helpful)
  • Making Dayton Daily News content available via RSS
  • Having content not available in the print editions available online (blogs such as Scott Elliott's on local education are a good local news source)
Now I realize the Dayton City Paper can't hope to compete with the resources the Dayton Daily News has (just as the DDN can't compete with the truly nice newspaper website the New York Times has), but that doesn't mean it has to shoot itself in the foot with a lame-ass image-only website. (An independent weekly that has a site I admire is Seattle's the Stranger, home of "Savage Love", a sex advice column by the paper's editor, Dan Savage, who once told me I was an idiot.)
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Aman Motwane,
a man who wants
to sell you a secret
At a small meeting of some community volunteers I went to yesterday evening, one attendee was excited to tell us about a man who's coming to his church in September, showing us a video about the man's program and passing around a book the man wrote. Some of the people attending were really excited by what they saw, but I was a bit skeptical.


From the opening of Aman Motwane's
promotional video
You can see the video for yourself online. It's all about how we each of us already have what we need to achieve lasting success, prosperity and happiness — we just lack one "Missing Piece" to unlock the Power of Wisdom, specifically a new way of looking at the world, one that Aman Motwane has discovered, and through which Yes, You Can Change the World.

So we watched this video, lasting 5 minutes or so, and I kept thinking, great, we need to see the world in a new way, so what is that new way? What's the secret? Well, that's just it — it is a secret, and you're not going to find it out by watching that video. You're also not going to get it by reading the three free excerpts Motwane makes available online of his book. These excerpts each tell a "heartwarming parable," but strangely enough each also ends just before the point of revealing the "Missing Piece:"
"Let me tell you what my son told me about that day &mdash" oops, nope, to "Read the rest — Order the book."
"I'm so grateful I had that talk that afternoon with your father —" oops, nope, to see "What he learned — Order the book."
"Can you tell me about how my father influenced the lives of your employees?" oops, nope, to discover "What he learned — Order the book."
Aman's giving away no secrets unless you (yep, you guessed it) "Order the book."


If you want this book
you might want to buy
it used
Now the book's not all that expensive ($21.95 plus $5 shipping), so it wouldn't be that much of an investment to "Order the book" and discover the "Missing Piece." However, if you order the book from Aman's website, he omits one missing piece of information, namely that you can get the book for $17.12 on Amazon.com (with free shipping if you order something else with it), or that you can get it used on Amazon for $5.29 including shipping. One customer reviewer on Amazon was actually a bit annoyed he paid Aman's price for the book.

  However, I'm afraid that if I would actually order the book, I'd get to the end of it, only to discover I have to buy something else to get in on the secret. You see, Aman has a whole bunch of CDs, 8 of them so far, each at $25, that teach us about relationships, creativity, money and prosperity, among other things. Now Aman doesn't want us to have to shell out $243.90 plus shipping for all this wisdom; no, he's willing to cut us a deal and give us both of his books and all 8 CDs for only $191 (a savings of $52.90). Actually you really should order this special kit because it contains "special info" that is "only available as part of this kit." What? If I'd been a faithful Aman devotee from the beginning, buying each book or CD as they became available, I'd have missed out on something?

Well wouldn't it just be better if I waited until September, when Aman's coming to Dayton, and listen to him tell us the Missing Piece then? Well I looked at Aman's website, and on the dates I understood he was to be in Dayton he's instead listed as holding an "Extraordinary Life Weekend Experience" in Redondo Beach, CA. And if you're "one of the First 10 to Register" for this event, you pay only $345.

Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that Aman Motwane is less about helping us all to change the world and more about earning money from all of us? He's even willing to sell us his promotional video, the one I mentioned above that doesn't even tell us the Missing Piece — on his page for that video, he says that it "is even more amazing when viewed on a large screen TV" and that we can buy it for $4.95 plus $5 shipping. What a deal! We pay Aman $10 to be able to show our friends his commercial! [A missing piece Aman doesn't tell you is that if you want to watch his promotional video in a bigger window than the small one he gives you, you can open the Flash SWF file directly in a maximized Firefox, and it'll play the video using the whole window.]
It's not that I begrudge Aman a living, but if he's got this great secret that will really solve all the world's problems, why can't he just tell us what it is? Instead of having a bunch of websites (amanmotwane.com, powerofwisdom.com, spreadchange.com, yesyoucanchangetheworld.com) that are basically sales pitches to buy stuff, why couldn't he just share the earth-shattering secret for free? Why is it that people who can't afford the $191 kit or the $345 workshop are left out? If it is such a great secret with the power to change the world for the better, I'm sure Aman could let everyone in on the secret and still sell plenty of books and make enough money going around talking about his discovery to have a nice living.

However, I think I may have discovered Aman's secret without giving him any money at all. Perhaps the secret is that after you do give him money, you start to earn money by becoming an affiliate of his, and then you can get a commission on the books and CDs and workshop tickets you sell to all your family and friends, setting you up on the path to prosperity. (If you sign up as an affiliate, be sure to tell Aman the "size of e-mail data base" you have.)
Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

"2" movies
Something fun about the apartment building I live in is that they have movie nights and games nights (ever play Pokeno?). Tonight was a movie night, featuring, as you can see from the flyer to the right, "2" movies, Bridge to Terebithia and Daddy's Little Girls. All the announcements at Park Layne are in this style, with creative uses of quotation marks and punctuation.

I don't usually participate in these group activities, but I did want to see Bridge to Terebithia, since I'd become familiar with the book when I took Adolescent Literature a few years ago. The movie's not typical Disney, staying fairly true to the book including a tragic event that was the point of the book's being written. A great story for helping kids learn that tragedy's part of life and that they can deal with it. Also a great story for teaching about foreshadowing. Disney even leaves in (somewhat shortened) a little lesson about Jesus and Biblical literalism, which I think would make this a great film for a youth group to watch and discuss.

I can't tell you whether "2" movies were actually screened (or if that "2" meant something else) because I didn't stay for the second one. Sorry.

While I'm on the subject of fun things about Park Layne, here's another, namely that the basement garages flood whenever there's any rain outside. Usually I just see the aftermath, but yesterday there was a downpour outside as I was leaving, and so I got to see that my garage floods not just because of seepage from the walls but even more so because of a big leak in the ceiling. You can't see the leak so well in these photos, but you can see the effect of the drips hitting the pond below the leak:
Friday, July 20th, 2007
A rose by any other name?

Tony Glassman just sent out his weekly announcement that the new Gay People's Chronicle is out, and his lead item is that Club Cleveland is their feature advertiser this week:
Our feature advertiser this week is Club Cleveland—A private mens' club that offers many amenities including a custom-built facility, state-of-the-art gym, indoor lap pool, solarium, seasonal sundeck, whirlpool, steam room, dry sauna, media lounge, and private rooms.

Now I had occasion once to recommend one of Club Cleveland's sister facilities, namely Club Columbus, but it wasn't because of the club's many amenities but because it was a better place for men to have anonymous sex than a park shelter is.
Club Cleveland model
Is he selling you
fitness or sex?
I mean, come on, sure you can work out at The Clubs, but they're not competing with other fitness clubs. "A private mens' club" may be what the Chronicle calls Club Cleveland, but in plain English Club Cleveland is a bathhouse.

Look at Club Cleveland's pricing page. "Gym Membership Pricing" is in smaller print underneath what they're really promoting, which are private "dressing" rooms. After all, as the Club's FAQ says, "You cannot walk into a locker and lie down whereas you can with a dressing room." If being able to lie down is what gyms are all about, NeoLimits better get with the program.

A Frequently Asked Question I found particularly interesting was, "Will The Club be busy on the day I plan to visit?" Having been a member of a gym, I know that is in fact a question prospective gym members do ask. However, that's usually because people want to know if they'll have to wait around to use the equipment. Somehow, I don't think that's what potential visitors to Club Cleveland are concerned about.

Now don't get me wrong—I don't think bathhouses are a bad thing. Earlier this week someone I know was in gay.com's Dayton 1 chat room complaining about how promiscuous gay men give us all a bad image and set back our quest for equal rights. I bet he disapproves of bathhouses. But he's not realistic, not in thinking that if all gay men were in monogamous relationships that the Christianists would be embracing same sex marriage nor in thinking that men are by nature monogamous creatures. So if men are going to have casual sex, why not have places that are out of the way of people who don't want to see men having casual sex and that at least take a stab at promoting safer sex practices (how many gyms have links to Safe Sex Guides on their front page?).

And I know Tony Glassman and the Chronicle as well as The Clubs are running businesses. Complete and utter honesty isn't necessarily a best business practice, even if that is a tad ironic for a newspaper if not a gymbathhouse.
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
An old punch bowl and 1969 television
Yesterday evening was the annual Dayton Gay Men's Chorus progressive dinner, of which I hosted the first course, hors d'oeuvres, which gave me an occasion to use my grandmother's 18-piece Williamsport Crystal Punch Service of polished Prescut crystal by HazelWare®,

My friend Bob
pouring punch
into my
grandmother's bowl
which came to me in its original box. As near as I can tell, the punch bowl and its accessories are worth $10 or $20 on eBay, but this one is of course more valuable than that to me because it was my grandmother's.

Unless you're a collector of HazelWare or Prescut crystal, the punch bowl may not be of much interest to you, but you might be interested what was used to cushion it inside its box, namely a couple sections of the Dayton Journal Herald newspaper of Tuesday, April 1, 1969. That date is less than a week after the birth of my sister, so I wonder what use my grandmother put the punch bowl to that week after which she'd have carefully packed it back up. She used a couple different sections of the paper as cushioning, but rather than share the whole trove with you at once, I'll follow my grandfather's tradition and save it for multiple blog entries (no, he didn't have a blog, but he could cut up a single Bun Bar and make it last for a week or longer).

Journal Herald TV logo What I saw when I lifted the punch bowl out of its box was the top half of page 35, the TV listings for April 1, 1969. This pre-dates my own TV viewing memories but only barely. These were the days when every city had only a handful of stations and when every house had an aerial on its roof. Our house (and probably many others) had an antenna that could be rotated by means of a control kept atop the TV console because different stations (particularly the distant Cincinnati ones) came in better with the antenna in different positions. The Dayton newspapers listed both Dayton and Cincinnati stations, although during prime time the choices on Dayton and Cincinnati affiliates of the same networks were duplicates.

So what were your prime time viewing choices in Dayton, Ohio, on April 1, 1969?
  2 WLW-D 5 WLW-T 7 WHIO-TV 9 WCPO-TV 12 WKRC-TV 22 WKEF
7:30 Mod Squad Jerry Lewis Lancer Klas. Family
Easter Special
Jerry Lewis
8:30 Julia Red Skelton It Takes a Thief
9:00 First Tuesday
Couldn't find this show
on imdb.com but the JH
had it marked as one of
the "Day's Best," featuring
an interview by
Sander Vanocur
with Clay Shaw
9:30 Doris Day N.Y.P.D.
10:00 Ironside 60 Minutes That's Life
11:00 News w/ Sports News News w/ Sports News News Trails West
11:30 Tonight Perry Mason Movie Joey Bishop
Basically you had three choices although sometimes Dayton and Cincinnati affiliates pre-empted or varied from network offerings, though you did get an extra half hour of prime time. No PBS (though it would be founded later that year) and of course no Fox or WB or UPN.

In addition, the newspaper also lists channel 16 WKTR-TV as having "movies" (but doesn't name them!), channel 26 WSWO as having Canadian hockey and channel 19 WXIX as carrying the Joan Rivers Show (I loved Joan Rivers when her Late Show helped launch the Fox network but had no idea she had an earlier show). All three of these channels were independent stations launched in 1968 and 1969. WKTR and WSWO I don't remember, and Wikipedia reports they were both off the air by 1970 (perhaps because all they showed were these untitled "movies"), but WXIX is what my sister and I tuned in after school to watch snowy repeats of shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie.

The idea of television being in color was still a novelty since the Jerry Lewis Show is noted in one of the previews as being "in color." It seems the Journal Herald didn't employ its own television writer, relying instead on the syndicated services of Richard K. Shull, an Indianapolis-based writer who died just this year. One obituary notes that Shull was noted for his acerbic wit, a wit that's apparent in his preview of the April 1, 1969 episode of the Doris Day Show; he says, "this episode isn't all that bad. Miss Day has some good, light comedy moments." Not quite what you'd call high praise, but I checked out the first season of Doris Day's show once from the library and I think Shull's analysis is accurate.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Ugh. Politics makes me tired, and here are two examples from yesterday as to how.

The first came after hearing Barack Obama respond on the CNN YouTube debates to a question about the difference between banning interracial marriage and banning gay marriage. Senator Obama say that he wants "to make sure everyone is equal under the law" and then proceeded to say that he thinks giving one set of people civil unions and another set marriage will accomplish that. Great, Obama's officially come out in favor of separate but equal.

So I took the time to look up Obama's campaign website and to send his campaign an e-mail in which I said that he'd never have accepted separate but equal in place of interracial marriages, so how can he think that's right for same sex couples?

And to Obama's campaign's credit, I got a response to my e-mail within 24 hours, but here's what makes me tired. Either their incredibly sophisticated e-mail response computer program or their incredibly stupid unpaid human campaign volunteer read my e-mail, saw "civil unions" and sent me back a lame response explaining all the rights for gay people that Obama supports (and explaining how great Obama is on AIDS issues — why is AIDS (including in Kenya?!) still just a gay issue?), completely ignoring my point that what Obama supports is separate but equal. I already knew Obama supports civil unions and did not need them to send me an automated e-mail telling me so. I might as well not have wasted my time.

The second political thing yesterday that made me tired was attending the Western Ohio regional meeting of Equaliy Ohio. One of the few political activities recently that did energize me somewhat was participating in Equality Ohio's Lobby Day earlier this year, not that it actually accomplished anything such as repeal of Issue 1 or passage of a state-level non-discrimination act, but it was a step. So when I saw that Equality Ohio was having a meeting, I figured I would go.

And what I saw when I got to the meeting, not counting the 2 Equality Ohio organizers who'd driven down from Columbus, was 14 people I already knew from Dayton-area LGBT groups and 1 new person I didn't already know. And what I heard, despite the Equality Ohio guy's asking us how many of us were already on Equality Ohio's mailing lists (all of us but the one new guy) and how many of us had participated in Lobby Day (almost all of us), was a repeat spiel of the history of Issue 1 and the formation of Equality Ohio and how Lobby Day works and how precinct analysis and voter identification helped us in the 2006 election (and how, in a state whose population is 11,353,140 and thus whose LGBT population is at least 113,531 [1%] and more like 1,135,314 [10%] we managed to get 6,500 [0.06%] postcards signed in support of ENDA). Brilliant. Way to reinvigorate the choir.

Finally after that spiel and another fairly brief spiel on the types of activities we could do (outreach, activism, education and visibility), we broke up into smaller groups to talk about specifics. Despite the loss of energy during these spiels, I did have a small energy boost at the idea of doing some local lobbying, similar to what we did on a state level in Columbus, so I headed over to the activism corner, to be joined by two friends from church and PFLAG and by the new guy. Most people, it seems, were more interested in the education-type activities, including, as it turned out, the new guy, who, when asked about what he wanted to do, kept talking about stuff like letting the public know about our issues. Goodbye, small energy boost.

We get back into the larger group, and to wrap things up the Equality Ohio guy wants to know what day next month would be good for us all to meet again. Wait, I said. Why do we need to schedule yet another monthly meeting for all of the same people (Diversity Dayton, Greater Dayton LGBT Center, Dayton PFLAG, Cross Creek Justice and Witness Committee) to come to? So we all came to our senses and did not schedule another Equality Ohio regional meeting, deciding instead that our working groups could stay in touch via phone and e-mail and meet separately if necessary.

If I can drum up some more energy, I might run the idea of a local lobbying effort past some of my friends and acquaintances and maybe something will come of it. Or maybe not.
Thursday, July 26th, 2007
There's this gay artist, Andy Darrling, from Richmond, Indiana, who hangs out online in the Dayton 1 room on gay.com, and he sent me an invitation to his art show which was to be held in the lobby of the Murray Theatre aka the Richmond Civic Theatre last weekend and this weekend, coinciding with a

big beautiful begoinas
(click to enlarge)

Later versions of this poster, no longer available online, tout begonias, but I like bogoinas better.
fabulously gay production of Grease. I couldn't go last weekend (what with Harry Potter book release parties and Dayton Gay Mens Chorus progressive dinners), so I called (I had to call — their stupid online ordering wasn't working) and got myself a ticket for this Saturday, figuring if I was going to drive all the way out to Richmond, I might as well have double the fun.

Alas, it was not to be. Last weekend Andy reported to the room that he was asked to remove his art from the Richmond Civic Theatre because they felt it wasn't appropriate for a family environment (unlike musicals involving pre-marital sex and pregnancy scares). Now I don't have anything against Grease, but it's not on the top of my list of things to see and I certainly would not have chosen to drive to Richmond only for it, so Monday I called the RCT's box office (765-962-1816) in the hopes of getting a refund.

The box office is supposed to be open until 5pm, but they must have had things to do Monday afternoon because it was a nice woman from their answering service who took a message from me. I didn't hear a thing from anyone on Tuesday, so I called again yesterday afternoon, only to get the answering service woman again, who, recognizing me, forwarded me on to RCT's voicemail, where I left a message myself. I still had not heard from anyone by this afternoon, so I called again and again got the friendly answering service lady, who this time managed to get someone from RCT's office on the line for me.

This woman wasn't so nice. They don't refund tickets, but she could offer me a ticket to another one of RCT's productions if I wanted. No, I didn't want. I don't live in Richmond and don't have occasion to go out there. I only bought a ticket to Grease because of the Andy Darrling show. She pointed out that I could have gone to that for free, and I said, yes, I was well aware of that but
Stupidity from the Richmond Civic Theatre's website
A bit of snarkiness about RCT's website: In addition to random capitalization and typos, RCT's webmaster advises you to "get you [sic] tickets online" without bothering to include a hyperlink there to help you to do so.

And for one more bit of snarkiness, look at the dreadful HTML page he made up for the cast list of Grease.
knowing I was going to drive out there I figured why not see the play too and it wasn't my fault they canceled his show. She said she'd have to talk to the board to get their permission to refund my ticket money. Yes, do that, I told her. She sounded thrilled to do so.

I don't have much hope of getting my $15 back, the loss of which same amount, coincidentally, was the subject of another post a couple months ago. This one's not all RCT's fault — I should never have purchased a ticket to see one of their Midwestern productions in the first place — but they do get a share of the blame for being idiotic about booking art shows (they should never have agreed to let an artist use their space without being clear beforehand about what kind of art they wanted shown).
Thursday, July 26th, 2007 (#2)
Kelsey Timmerman byline in Dayton City Paper The Dayton City Paper has done it again.
This is the actual size as posted on daytoncitypaper.com
The City Paper doesn't really
want you to know how
to contact Kelsey Timmerman
(and can anyone really
read their text at the
size they post it online?)
They've run an interesting article ("We Have It Made") by an interesting author (Kelsey Timmerman) and said that he can be reached at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com. Well, yes, Timmerman probably will eventually get any message you send via that address, but you'll probably get a faster response if you e-mail him at kelsey@travelin-light.com. So why couldn't the City Paper have just said that and, while they were at it, pointed out his fun blog, whereamiwearing.com?

So why did I want to know more about Kelsey Timmerman than the City Paper was telling me? Well, it's because he mentions in his article that he was a "crazy shirtless gringo" who'd just given the Honduran-made T-shirt off his back to a factory worker in San Pedor Sula, and so I wanted to know what this crazy shirtless gringo looked like. Thanks to Google and no thanks to the City Paper, I found the actual shirt-giving event documented via YouTube and got to see the crazy shirtless gringo for myself (note to Kelsey, work on your tan before taking off your shirt).

Oh, and despite my griping, I do think that Dayton's lucky to have an alternative weekly newspaper.
Friday, July 27th, 2007
Webserver log oddities

Okay, here's something strange that might interest any of you who have a website and peruse your webserver log files (the rest of you can skip down to popular search terms which you might find more interesting). I've been getting two kinds of weird hits, one that makes a kind of sense and one that doesn't make any.

The first is a bunch of POST hits to my books page, the only page on my site currently that has an interactive form on it, a form that's been discovered by some spammer's webcrawler and flagged for various infected computers around the world to hit with posts about the drugs tadalafil, sildenafil citrate and vardenafil. Google these generic drug names if you're curious about the brands I'm talking about; I refuse to post the brand names for fear of making this page a target of Google hits. You may laugh to hear me worry about hits on my site from Google searches, but a particular photo from October 2003 bearing the description --- eye (where --- = brown) attracted so many hits that I set up a redirect back to Google for people who landed on that page having queried on that phrase.

How I know it's a spammer's webcrawler and not a human being that discovered my book search form is that if a human had looked at it, he'd know that just because you post a URL or a drug's brand name in the form doesn't mean that what you type gets posted anywhere for anyone to click on. Actually I've got a special message for people who post one of those brand names as a search term on my book search form. Go try it if you're curious.

  The second strange pattern in my logs doesn't make any sense, at least to me, and that is that every other day I get four or five hits on my blog page for September 2006 all at the same time but from different IP addresses but from the same user agent. For example, at 1:19 a.m. on 7/20, I got hits on that page from IP addresses 76.31.146.46 (Comcast Cable, Mt. Laurel, NJ), 66.188.93.249 (Charter Communications, St. Louis, MO), 65.184.162.170 (Road Runner, Wilmington, NC) and 68.207.181.116 (Road Runner, Tampa, FL), all refered from the September 2006 blog page itself. My site's not popular enough to get more than one hit at the same time from multiple locations, certainly not early on a Friday morning, and certainly not from four different people who all happen to be using MultiZilla v1.5.0.2g on Linux i686 machines. Plus it's simply not possible to get to my September 2006 blog page from itself (i.e. with itself as the referer); in my blog links by month, whatever month you're currently on does not get a link.

No other page on my site gets hits with itself as the referer, and I've no idea what's special about the September 2006 page that would interest spammers or hackers.
Search terms

Now obviously I have too much time on my hands if I'm noticing such patterns, but one thing probably everyone who has access to his log files does is to see what search terms bring people to his site. Over the years I've had a blog over 600 different search phrases have directed people to my site.

You'd think that "David Lauri" would be the most common search phrase for people ending up on my site, but actually it's only the second most common term. Over twice as many people type in randyxboy, which is a site on my infrequent gay links page, a site belonging to a guy in Cincinnati who likes to post naked pics of himself. That randyxboy is a top hit shows the stupidity of many web users, people who don't know the difference between the address bar in their web browser and the Google search box; if they'd type randyxboy in the address bar and press CTRL+ENTER, they'd get straight to the site they want.

After randyxboy and my own name, people are searching for Wayne Delatte, a televangelist who sent me some bizarre instructions in December 2004 about how I could attain personal prosperity (in part, of course, by sending him money); for 954-970-0393, the phone number of an insurance company that engages in shady telemarketing practices and still, this month even, continues to call me sometimes (I never answer); for Archibald Leach, my great-great-great-grandfather; for Tiffini Dodson, an actress who played Mary Magdalene opposite the ancient Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar; for ConnectionPower, the ChMS software by a company that doesn't want gay-friendly churches' money; for William Linn Ireland, my great-great-great-great-grandfather; and for David Marantz, an actor I liked (just last month and lots of hits already) in the play Take Me Out.

Of course the vast majority of search terms which land people on my site are unique or result in only a few hits. One person wanted to know if Rhine McLin is gay. Several people were searching about Outlook 2007 or Word 2007 or Office 2007 being slow. Someone wanted to see boys passed out half naked (and to be fair, if you look at my drunkenness blog tag, you might find some). English and German students alike land on my books page looking for various titles. And one set of search terms I find very satisfying personally is presworsky or ypresworksy or nycomputerprofessor, which means that some people searching for information on him get to read my account of how he cheated me of $15.
Sunday, July 29th, 2007

No, not from Martha Stewart Living but by Cross Creek's very own Dan Carl!
Today was my church's annual summer picnic, and you can see lots of pictures in the galleries, but I wanted to point out one photo in particular, namely that of the delicious Watermelon Bowl O'Fruit, a creation of our pastor's wifepartner, Dan Carl. Doesn't it look just fabulous?

If you want to learn how to make this yourself, look for the Cross Creek 10th Anniversary Decade of Daring Cookbook, to be published this fall!
Monday, July 30th, 2007
Kyocera KPC650 EVDO modem
A solution with a problem
You may know, because I've written about it before, that I have a Kyocera KPC650 card which I use on Verizon's EVDO network. Today I was reminded about something I don't like about it, so I figured I'd mention again the workaround I normally use.

At the office, of course, I don't have to bring my own Internet access, but I put my KPC650 in my computer bag whenever I leave the house just in case, and this morning, with the cable modem out at work, is such a case. I pop in my KPC650, start my dialup networking connection, and I have Internet when the rest of the office doesn't. I go to Microsoft Outlook to check e-mail, and then my computer freezes, for several minutes.

D-Link DIR-450 WiFi EVDO router
A solution for the problem
In the couple of months since I've been using my DIR-450 router, I'd forgotten this annoying and repeatable problem — random freeze-ups with Microsoft Office and Windows (Firefox works fine even when Office and the start menu are frozen solid) whenever I have my KPC650 plugged directly into my notebook. If I use the KPC650 in my DIR-450 router, I don't have these freeze-ups. So the workaround is, if you've had freeze-up problems with the KPC650 and you don't have a WiFi EVDO-capable router, get one.

Now if I were nice, I'd not only drop my KPC650 in my bag each morning, but I'd also pack my DIR-450 and share my Internet with the entire office, but it's not worth that much trouble given how infrequently Time Warner is out. I did bring the DIR-450 a month or so ago to New Orleans, where it was useful in avoiding excessive hotel Internet charges.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
If you've visited my books page or if you're a long-time reader of my blog, you know I'm a fan of Dayton's library. I'm still a fan but this summer construction on St. Clair Street downtown has made trips to the library a real aggravation!

Construction started in the spring, initially just a small area of St. Clair near Second Street, but now, almost August, instead of cleaning up their mess as they progress down the street, the construction crews have managed to block off all of St. Clair between Second and Third Streets as well as starting a mess on the next block.

Why is this a problem? The library's main entrance, which used to be on Third Street, was relocated to St. Clair a few years ago because there's a whole lot more parking on St. Clair. Or at least there was. Now they've managed to block all parking in the block in front of the library's main entrance as well as access to the library's drive through window and handicap parking spaces. Now to be fair, sometimes they do have a single lane open on St. Clair, so the drive through and handicap spaces are sometimes available, but not so you could count on them!

Another reason this construction mess is a problem is that St. Clair, one of Dayton's infamous one-way streets, is a major thoroughfare through downtown for people traveling south on Riverside Drive heading for Patterson Boulevard and points south. Patterson Boulevard passing the library and Fifth Third Field is one way north, meaning everyone coming south is directed onto Monument Avenue and then onto St. Clair. Which now, more often than not, is closed at the library.

Brilliant planning. No end in sight. Ugh.
  (click pics to enlarge)

There's parking on Third Street near the front entrance if you're lucky, but then you have to walk across the construction


I don't know if this is new or slated to be replaced


It makes for an interesting photo at least


Capitol Tunneling of Columbus seems to be one of the culprits


No parking and no passage!
 
Blog tools
<< July 2007 >>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031 
Books
Tags
AJ Wagner (2)
Amazon Kindle Fire (4)
Amazon.com (2)
American Express (2)
American Family Association (3)
Amy Grant (2)
Berlin (4)
Books (15)
Candi Cushman (1)
ChMS (3)
Christianists (16)
Christianity (21)
Christmas (2)
COM101 (4)
Computer tips (20)
Conservatives (6)
Cross Creek Community Church (28)
Cute actors (4)
Dan Savage (3)
David Esrati (9)
Dayton (52)
Dayton Art Institute (3)
Dayton Christian High School (2)
Dayton City Paper (5)
Dayton Daily News (15)
Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations (4)
Dayton Gay Mens Chorus (11)
Dean Lovelace (3)
Derek (9)
Dick Chema (2)
Diversity Dayton (2)
Driving (4)
Drunkenness (6)
English (2)
Epiphany Lutheran Church (3)
Exodus (2)
Facebook (13)
Fairborn High School (6)
False prophets (2)
Feeding Friends (2)
Firefox (2)
Flash (2)
Frankfurt (3)
French films (3)
Gary Leitzell (11)
Gay (85)
Gay bars (2)
Geekiness (5)
German (3)
Germany (34)
Good Friday (3)
Google (2)
Government forms (6)
Grafton Hill (4)
Greasemonkey (2)
Greek Orthodox Church (2)
Hamburg (2)
Hebrew (3)
Issue 1 (5)
Joey D. Williams (2)
Köln (3)
Ken Blackwell (2)
Kiva (1)
Lüneburg (20)
Library (2)
München (2)
Mark Luedtke (1)
Marriage (23)
Mary Cheney (2)
Mazer (4)
MeetFred (3)
Microsoft (10)
Mike Turner (3)
Movies (14)
MVFHC (3)
My stupidity (5)
Nan Whaley (1)
Natalie Barney (1)
Neon Movies (10)
Occupy Dayton (4)
Ohio (2)
Olive (2)
Oregon District (4)
Panera (7)
Park Layne (3)
Parking (5)
Parties (2)
Paul Noah (1)
Paul Pyle (4)
Photos (49)
Politics (36)
Proposition 8 (2)
Racism (3)
Remembering (34)
Republicans (4)
Reviews (9)
Scams (5)
Sean Harris (1)
Sirius (1)
Snow (6)
SPAM (5)
Stivers (2)
Teaching (6)
Telemarketing (3)
Tomatoes (2)
Travel (12)
TV Guide (2)
Typing (6)
Uncle Bill (10)
Verizon (5)
Web design (bad) (17)
Web hosts (4)
Whining (61)
Wright State University (6)
Writing (5)
Yellow Springs (2)
Other months
Email
david@davidlauri.com