Confessions of a Verbivore

February 26, 2012

Cold-call Scammers… they’re at it again

Filed under: 'Net Scams,Verbivore — jargontalk @ 7:27 am

Sometimes even the best anti-virus and anti-spam solutions don’t help.

It happened a few days ago, in the early afternoon. Who is this A friend and I were both working on separate computers in different rooms, each busy trying to get our work done.  The phone rang and I was oblivious to it, as I usually only answer my own cell phone.

I was barely aware of what was going on as I had a deadline to meet on a product review, and continued my work.  My friend came into the room carrying her cordless phone with a puzzled look on her face.  She asked me to take the call as she couldn’t understand what the party on the other end was saying.  I asked who was on the line and she told me that the person on the phone was calling from India and had told her, “You’re in front of your computer and we’re getting error messages.”

Scumbag Cold-callerThis had baffled her and she asked who it was.  He replied with a name that she couldn’t understand, said that he “worked for Microsoft” and repeated that she was in front of her computer and that they were “getting error messages.”

When she asked him how he could see what was on her computer, he replied, “We can see all the computers in the world.”

That’s when she decided to let me deal with him.  It was unnerving in that she doesn’t have a Webcam, and then after a couple seconds of brief conversation, I took the call, and asked to whom I was speaking.  He fumbled, answered in some unintelligible fashion and finally the third time I got it: his name was “Handel Baker”… or so he claimed.  From his accent it was clear that he was not from Louisiana or from the Bronx.  He then ordered me to go to the computer and told me that the computer was getting error messages and that they were seeing them. 

I asked him who he worked for, and Handel Baker replied, stumbling with his words as if reading from a script, “I work for Microsoft.  We are a Microsoft Solution Provider.  I am a Microsoft Certified Professional.  Go look at your computer screen and I help you with your errors.  Maybe you have a virus.”

I replied, “I’m on a Mac, not on a PC.”

Phone scammerI didn’t tell him that my friend was on a Windows PC and that it was behind a pretty heavy firewall on a secure network, but he seemed confused.  I further stated, “I’m using a MacBook Pro, and there is nothing strange on my screen.”

Poor Handel Baker was very confused now, and was getting irritated, and his already-poor English skills were rapidly breaking down as he tried to respond.  I interrupted and again asked him who he worked for, who was his employer, and he replied something to the effect of “PC Outpour” or “PC Output”… maybe it was “PC Outhouse” for all that I could understand.  I asked where his company was located.  He replied, “We in California… California.  Look at your screen!”

SCAM AlertHe was obviously getting upset, as he was not even responding in understandable English at this point.  Repeatedly I asked him to slow down and talk so that I could understand him, and again I asked him the name of his company.  I couldn’t even begin to understand his broken response, so I asked to speak to his supervisor.  This really upset him, and I had to repeat my request four or five times… and finally I got through to him.  He said, “You wait. I get my supervisor.”

There was a pause as he put me on hold, then I waited.  After about a minute, all I heard was the dial tone.  Handel Baker had hung up.

I could have left it with that, but my security-conscious side had been roused, so I immediately checked the phone number on the phone handset, and it came up as 855-791-1191.  Did a quick Google search on that number and it came up with quite a few results, actually thousands of them, and this is just one of them.  There were many more, such as this one where the same phone number is mentioned, along with a company name in one case.  It was amazing how many others had gone through similar events with calls from this number, and not just in the U.S.

PC OutHouse bannerIt didn’t take long perusing these messages, such as the detailed one here to discover that the phone number matched one particular company, PC Output, with support starting at $169.99 per year as of this writing. Further, checking their About Us page and found that PC Output is owned by Innate Global Solutions, which is located in Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, and known to many as Calcutta, where they have other business. That’s a long way from California.

And as far as Handel Baker being a “Microsoft Certified Professional” there is no indication on their site that they have any of these on their staff.  Microsoft has issued an advisory about scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently.

The first call of defense against scammers such as this outfit is to get your phone registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched the National Do Not Call Registry to give Americans a choice about getting telemarketing calls at home. FTC Fines are now $16,000.00 per violation, which is enough to make some of these scammers think twice.

India Call CenterThis isn’t a new phenomenon, and it’s not just confined to the US, either. In July 2012, The Guardian (UK) wrote an in-depth article about these calls from India, with the same scenario mentioned above, and there were quite a number of reader comments on this issue. A Canadian blogger wrote of a call that went, "Sir, we have reason to believe that your computer has been hacked," explaining his experience with a cold-call from India. This virus scam has grown to epidemic proportions in Canada, now accounting for over 70% of frauds reported daily to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC), and causing them to post this alert and remedy.

In the US, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a co-sponsored by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and if you’re a victim, complaints may be filed here. Complaints filed at their website are processed and may be referred to federal, state, local or international law enforcement agencies. And sometimes there are winners in these complaints, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does go after them, and won a judgment of more than $8 million against one of these scareware scammers that was operating under a variety of names.  In this case, 300,000 of those who were stung in this scam are getting refunds. And it looks like the FTC is cracking down hard on some of the other Indian call centers as well.

One a related topic, it’s been reported that India has emerged as the world’s top source of junk mail as spammers make use of lax laws and absent enforcement to turn the country into a center of unsolicited email.  As it was reported, an average of 79.8 percent of email traffic in the three months to the end of September was junk, and of that, 14.8 percent originated in India, 10.6 percent came from Indonesia, and 9.7 percent from Brazil.  Some of these figures vary, as can be seen here, but India’s call centers are in the lead.  Spammers run the gamut from legitimate marketing firms and advertisers who have adapted telephone cold-calling techniques to the computer age to "phishers", who solicit personal data from naive recipients to defraud them, as previously described in my first hand experience.

So what can you do? 

load-o-crapMicrosoft advises that you should just hang up on phone scams such as this. One could also respond with a carefully directed (in)appropriate phrase in the Bengali or Indian languages.  It might make you feel better, but then they’re likely to respond equally in English. 

When it comes to dealing with scumbags and scammers like this, remember to put your brain in motion before putting your mouth in gear or your fingers in motion on the keyboard.  As always, good old fashioned common sense is your best defense.



December 24, 2011

Have a Wonderful 2011 Holiday!

Filed under: Christmas — jargontalk @ 8:34 am


Wishing you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Afrikaans – Geseende Kerfees en ‘n gelukkige nuwe jaar
  • Albanian – Gëzuar Krishlindjet Vitin e Ri!
  • Aleut – Kamgan Ukudigaa
  • Alsatian – E gueti Wïnâchte & E glecklichs Nej Johr!
  • Andalusian – Felíce Pahjcua y Felí Año, or Felí Navidá y Próhjpero Año Nuevo
  • Apache (Western) – Gozhqq Keshmish
  • Arabic – I’D Miilad Said ous Sana Saida
  • Aramaic – Edo bri’cho o rish d’shato brich’to!
  • Arawak – Aba satho niw jari da’wisida bon
  • Armenian – Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Soorp Janunt
  • Bafut – Mboni Chrismen & Mboni Alooyefee
  • Bahasa/Malaysia – Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru
  • Bandang – Mbung Mbung Krismie & Mbung Mbung Ngouh Suiie
  • Basque – Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
  • Belorussian – Winshuyu sa Svyatkami i z Novym godam!
  • Bengali – Shuvo Baro Din – Shuvo Nabo Barsho
  • Blackfoot – I’Taamomohkatoyiiksistsikomi
  • Bohemian/Czech – Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a Stastny
    novy rok
  • Breton – Nedeleg laouen na bloav ezh mat
  • Bulgarian – Chestita Koleda i Shtastliva Nova Godina
  • Catalan – Bon Nadal i feliç any nou!
  • Cantonese – Seng Dan Fai Lok, Sang Nian Fai Lok
  • Carib – Sirito kypoton ra’a
  • Carolinian – Ameseighil ubwutiiwel Layi Luugh me raagh fee
  • Cebuano – Malipayong Pasko ug Bulahang Bag-ong Tuig!
  • Chavacano – Felices Pascua y Prospero Anyo Nuevo
  • Cherokee – Danistayohihv & Aliheli’sdi Itse Udetiyvsadisv
  • Cheyenne – Hoesenestotse & Aa’e Emona’e
  • Choctaw – Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
  • Cornish – Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
  • Corsican – Bon Natale e Bon capu d’ annu
  • Cree – Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
  • Creek – Afvcke Nettvcakorakko
  • Creole/Seychelles – Bonn e Erez Ane
  • Croatian – Sretan Bozic
  • Danish – Glædelig Jul og godt nytår
  • Dutch – Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
  • Egyptian – Colo sana wintom tiebeen      
  • English – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
  • Eritrean – Rehus-Beal-Ledeat
  • Esperanto – Gajan Kristnaskon & Bonan Novjaron
  • Estonian – Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi ja Head uut aastat
  • Ethiopian – enkuan le berhane ledtu adrswo
  • Éwé – Blunya na wo
  • Ewondo – Mbemde abog abyali nti! Mbembe Mbu!
  • Faroese – gleðilig jól og eydnuríkt nýggjár!
  • Farsi – Sal-e no mubarak
  • Fijian – Me Nomuni na marau ni siga ni sucu dei na yabaki vou
  • Finnish – Hyvää Joulua or Hauskaa Joulua – 0nnellista uutta vuotta
  • Filipino – Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon
  • Flemish – Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
  • French – Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!
  • Frisian – Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
  • Gaddang – Mangamgam Bawa a dawun sikua diaw amin
  • Galician – Bon Nadal e Bo Ani Novo
  • Georgian – Gilotsavt Krist’es Shobas & Gilosavt akhal ts’els
  • German – Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein glückliches Neues Jahr!
  • Greek – Kala Christougenna Ki’eftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos
  • Greenlandic – Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit
  • Guarani – Avyaitete ahi ko Tupa ray arape qyrai Yy Kapyryin rira
  • Han – Drin tsul zhit sho ahlay & Drin Cho zhit sho ahlay
  • Hausa – Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
  • Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou
  • Hebrew – Mo’adim Lesimkha. Shanah Tova
  • Hindi – Shubh Naya Baras
  • Hungarian – Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és Boldog újévet!
  • Icelandic – Gleðileg Jól og Farsaelt Komandi ár!
  • Indonesian – Selamat Hari Natal & Selamat Tahun Baru
  • Iraqi – Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
  • Irish – Nollaig Shona Dhuit
  • Iroquois – Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson homungradon nagwutut & Ojenyunyat osrasay
  • Italian – Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
  • Japanese – Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
  • Javanese – Sugeng Natal lan warsa enggal
  • Kashmiri – Christmas Id Mubarak
  • Kom – Isangle Krismen & Isangle beng i fue
  • Korean – Sung Tan Chuk Ha
  • Kurdish – Seva piroz sahibe u sersala te piroz be
  • Kwangali – Kerekemisa zongwa & Erago moMumvho gomupe
  • Ladin – Bon Nadel y Bon Ann Nuef
  • Lakota – Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskin & Omaka teca oiyokipi
  • Latin – Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis
  • Latvian – Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!
  • Lausitzian – Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
  • Lebanese – Milad Saeed wa Sanaa Mubarakah
  • Lithuanian – Linksmu Kaledu ir laimingu Nauju metu
  • Luxembourgeois – Schéi Krëschtdeeg an e Schéint Néi Joer
  • Macedonian – Srekan Bozik I Nova Godina
  • Malagasy – Arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
  • Malayan – Selamat Hari Natal
  • Maltese – Nixtieqlek Milied Tajjeb u Sena Tajba
  • Mandarin – Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
  • Manx – Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
  • Maya/Yucateco – Utzul mank’inal
  • Mongolian – Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye
  • Moro – Nidli pred naborete nano
  • Norweigan/Nynorsk – eg ynskjer hermed dykk alle ein god jul og godt nyttår
  • Norweigan/Bokmål -  God Jul og Godt Nyttår
  • Ojibwe (Chippewa) – Niibaa’ anami’egiizhigad & Aabita Biboon
  • Pompangan – Malugud Pascu at saca Masayang Bayung Banua!
  • Pennsylvania German – En frehlicher Grischtdaag unen hallich Nei Yaahr!
  • Polish – Wesolych Swiat i Szczesliwego Nowego Roku.
  • Portuguese – Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo
  • Punjabi – Nave sal di mubaraka
  • Q’anjob’al – chi woche swatx’ilal hak’ul yet yalji Komami’
  • Quiche’ – Dioa kkje’ awuk’
  • Romani – Bachtalo krecunu Thaj Bachtalo Nevo Bers
  • Romanian – Craciun fericit si un An Nou fericit!
  • Russian – Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom
  • Samoan – Ia manuia le Kilisimasi ma le tausaga fou
  • Sardinian -  Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
  • Scots Gaelic – Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur!
  • Serbian -  Sretan Bozic. Vesela Nova Godine
  • Sicilian – Bon Natali e Prosperu Annu Novu!
  • Sorbian – Wjesole hody a strowe Nowe leto.
  • Slovakian – Vesele Vianoce a stastny novy rok
  • Slovene – Vesele bozicne praznike in srecno novo leto
  • Spanish – Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
  • Sudanese – Wilujeng Natal Sareng Warsa Enggal
  • Swedish – God Jul och Gott Nytt År
  • Tahitian – Ia ora i te Noere e ia ora na i te matahiti ‘api
  • Tamil – Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
  • Thai – Suksan Wan Christmas lae Sawadee Pee Mai
  • Tlingit – Xristos Khuwdziti kax sh kaxtoolxetl
  • Tonga – Kristo abe anduwe muciindo ca Christmas
  • Turkish – Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
  • Ukrainian – Veseloho Vam Rizdva i Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku!
  • Urdu – Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
  • Valencian – Bon Nadal i millor any nou
  • Welsh – Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
  • Xhosa – Siniqwenelela Ikrisimesi EmnandI Nonyaka Omtsha Ozele Iintsikelelo Namathamsanqa
  • Yiddish – Gute Vaynakhtn un a Gut Nay Yor
  • Yoruba – E ku odun, e ku iye’ dun!
  • Zulu – Sinifesela Ukhisimusi Omuhle Nonyaka Omusha Onempumelelo

There are so many ways to say it, but the meaning is still the same. This wonderful season also celebrates other holidays, such as Hanukkah, Al Hijra, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice.

So to everyone, regardless of your national, ethnic or religious affiliation, please accept sincere wishes that we may all experience peace and hope during this season and throughout the coming year.


December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas, My Friend

Filed under: Christmas — jargontalk @ 5:37 am

A poem by LCpl James M. Schmidt, USMC, 1986

‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.

x1-Marine-boots04aI had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

x1-Marine-medals-nam01He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
Thex1-Marine-nam01by all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
x1-ToysforTotsSanta-alt_smlSo I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”

One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

Merry Christmas, My Friend is an original poem composed by U.S. Marine Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt, who was stationed at Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986. It has been attributed to many others since then, but it originally appeared in print in the Marine magazine Leatherneck, and found in their archives. There have been other versions substituting the word ‘soldier’ or ‘sailor’ and even ‘airman’ over the years, but just to set the record straight, this has been verified as the original.  The author, James M. Schmidt, had been serving as the Battalion Counter Sniper at 8th & I. The publication in Leatherneck appeared in December 1991, a full two years before it was supposedly written by someone else on Christmas Eve 1993. It is reported that James Schmidt earned a law degree after leaving the Corps, and has served as an attorney in Los Angeles and is director of operations for a security consulting firm.

And if you’ve gotten this far, there’s another issue at hand: the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is having a very tough year in 2011, and hopefully you can help.

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.

Call it the economy or whatever, donations have been way down this year. The Toys for Tots program in Napa County, California, is having its worst year for gift donations, according to charity coordinator Robert Stevenson. In Philadelphia, donations to the city’s Toys for Tots campaign are down nearly 80 percent, and organizers say they fear thousands of needy children will go without presents on Christmas. Last year, the operation delivered 113,000 toys, but this year it has collected 25,000. With one week to go in Atlanta, their Toys for Tots annual campaign is falling way behind in its goal to collect new toys for needy kids.

The news reports are not good all over, and these are just a few of the stories that are showing up this season.

So how can you help?

It doesn’t take very much. The national website is the starting point to find one of the 730 local Toys for Tots campaign sites.  At the top of the Home Page (, there is a section noted Select a Local Campaign Office, and underneath a dropdown menu labeled “Select a State”.  From this menu, you can select the state, then the city/county in which you reside.  If the city/county is covered, clicking on that location will take you to a local Toys for Tots website.  At the local website, you’ll find information about local events, how to become a collection point for the local campaign, how to register for assistance, and how to donate directly to a local campaign.

If you can’t get out and buy a wrapped toy, you can donate money to the Toys for Tots Foundation from the comfort of your home or office. Their secure online donation is a simple one-step process to giving this season. And be aware that the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation enjoys one of the very best program to support ratios within the nonprofit world; 98:2.  This means that over 98% of your donation goes to their mission of providing toys, books and other gifts to less fortunate children.  The 2% spent on support principally covers fundraising expenses – not one donated dollar goes to pay for salaries or any other manpower costs.

For those who want to know more about this wonderful organization, there’s an excellent history detailing how Toys for Tots began in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks, USCR and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. There’s another excellent Toys for Tots history recently posted on the ‘Net by Beth Crumley, with some superb photos than cannot be found elsewhere.  And this Marine can tell you that there were a number of us who put our time and muscle into refurbishing toys (bicycles, wagons, and much more) for needy kids when such things were done in the ‘Nam Era… and my son and I were involved in an auction on the Web within the last decade.

Please see what you can do to make this Christmas good for a deserving child.

Merry Christmas… Semper Fi.

© 2011 J. Williamson

November 16, 2011


Filed under: Verbivore — jargontalk @ 8:53 pm

There are golfers in this world who enjoy the game. There are others who suffer through each swing, hoping that the next will be better. Then there are some to whom golf is a true lifetime dedication, who continue to hone their skills over the years, always striving for perfection.

Golf is not, on the whole, a game for realists.  By its exactitudes of measurements it invites the attention of perfectionists.
~ Heywood Hale Broun

On the first Wednesday of November, Dad played twelve holes of golf. It’s an odd number, but living on a golf course in Florida, he John T. Williamson PGA 01played his customary nine holes, and then worked his way back home in a freeform fashion. Not bad for a man of 89 years, but he’s always been an athlete.

Dad passed away in the morning on Thursday, November 3rd. He was not in pain nor did he suffer.

He tried to get up in the morning but was having a tough time, from what my stepmother Carol related to me when we talked that night. An emergency team came with their ambulance, but it was too late. It’s probably better that way, as in his living will he didn’t want to be hooked up to any devices to prolong his life.  Carol was right there by his side.

In our family tradition, he will be cremated, and his ashes will be spread both on the golf course that he loved and at sea, which was also one of his loves. He would have been 90 on his next birthday in February.

Dad was born on Long Island, New York, February 6, 1922, and raised in Brooklyn. A Lincoln High SchoolHis mother had been an opera singer, and had her own show in the early days of radio. He was an only child, and grew to be an all around athlete at Abraham Lincoln High School in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.

Built in 1929, Lincoln graduated a number of Nobel Prize winners, famous doctors, scientists, engineers, politicians, and other celebrities, such as international financier Bernard Cornfeld, film and television actor John Forsythe, basketball player & Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr., Nobel Prize winner (Chemistry) Jerome Karle, jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich, real-estate businesswoman (and “Queen of Mean”) Leona Helmsley, jazz flautist Herbie Mann, author and playwright Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, The Crucible), renowned federal district court judge Jack B. Weinstein, and author Joseph Heller (Catch-22), to name a few. During those days, Dad earned his early spending money as a guide at the 1939 Worlds Fair.

Columbia-columnsDad continued with sports while a student at Columbia University, playing football and baseball, when his education was interrupted by World War II. He had wanted to volunteer for the Marines, but his mother had objected most highly, as he was her only son and the reports that were coming in from the Pacific theater had a high number of casualties. He persisted with a number of arguments, and they settled on what she considered to be a safer military role for him; he served with distinction in the U.S. Navy as a “hardhat” salvage diver. In the course of his diver training at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he participated in the salvage of the SS Normandie. After the war was over, he completed his education and worked as a petroleum geologist for Creole Petroleum Corporation in Venezuela.

Dad was actually my stepfather. He married my mother in the ’50s, and never batted an eye when it came to accepting my two younger brothers and me as his own kids. He moved us all to Venezuela, where he was employed, and it was the adventure of a lifetime. While in Venezuela, Dad participated in the revitalization of the Quiriquire Golf Course in Estado Monagas, where we lived. This proved to be prophetic.

In 1955 we relocated back to the States, whereupon he had a chance to live a true dream: par3 daytonaDad built a golf course, carving it out of Florida pine trees in an undeveloped area west of Daytona Beach. He had foreseen that many would want to play a shorter golf course, and he was right. It was his design, and he did some of the manual labor himself to bring his dream to fruition, building the Daytona Par 3 Golf Club on US 92. Later he became a Class A golf professional, and he was a lifetime member of the PGA since 1960.

Dad taught my brothers and me to play golf, but it was probably a big disappointment to him that none of us ever shared the love of the sport to the degree that he did. Each of us pursued out own directions when it came to sports, but none of us are golfers except in a casual fashion. But Dad was a well-rounded man with a solid education, and from that we benefited. He was an avid reader of books, magazines, periodicals of many types, and of course newspapers.

NBC’s Victory At Sea | Target Suribachi, Episode 23

Television was generally a family affair, usually starting with the inevitable evening news program, often NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report, anchored by Chet Huntley in New York City, and David Brinkley in Washington. My father would sometimes throw in his own editorial comments during the commercials. There were shows such as Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Have Gun–Will Travel, Leave It To Beaver, 77 Sunset Strip, Peter Gunn, The Twilight Zone, Shock Theater, Walter Cronkite’s The Twentieth Century and more than I can mention here. But perhaps the most memorable television experiences that I shared with Dad were when he introduced me to the reruns of Victory at Sea, the documentary television series about naval warfare during World War II that was originally broadcast by NBC in 1952–1953. Richard Rodgers composed the musical score, and it was narrated by Leonard Graves, and we watched all 26 episodes together.

He had a quiet sense of humor… and sometimes it showed itself when we least expected it.

Among his accomplishments, Dad was a recruiter for the athletic teams of Columbia University. He was also the golf coach for Daytona Beach Junior College (now Daytona State College). He was a member of the Sugar Mill Country Club in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. An avid golfer for much of his life, he was able to shoot his age or below on several of his birthdays. He had been a long time member of the Quarterback Club.

Dad loved the water. He was an active boater and fisherman, and was a member and past Commodore of the Halifax River Yacht Club in Daytona Beach. During his tenure as Commodore in 1969, he oversaw major construction projects. He was a member of the United States Power Squadron, having completed all of their instructional programs, and also served as an instructor.

There was a period of time where Dad became a car nut of sorts. He went through a phase that ranged from a Thunderbird to a Buick Riviera and then onto a Corvette Stingray. Then came a larger Mercedes and a now-classic Ferrari_330gt_2 2Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, a truly unique automobile of which only 1088 were produced. It had a metallic silver Pininfarina-designed body and a V-12 engine that delivered 300 bhp, along with Koni adjustable shock absorbers for superb handling. It could do +152 mph (245 km/h) as my brothers and I could attest to, but we never told him. That car suffered the indignity of being the victim of a rear-end collision, and that ended it all for Dad’s expensive car toys. Everything after that was more sedate.

My father loved to travel, and later in life that interest prompted him to own and run Holiday Travel in Daytona Beach, along with my mother. They had a great time with their treks to various places around the globe, but it was to be short lived, as my mother was a victim of cancer. Without getting into the details, it was bad but went into remission, allowing us all a collective sigh of relief… for awhile. When it returned is was with a vengeance, and Mom passed on in the ‘70s, leaving all of us devastated, and especially Dad, who had stuck with her through thick and thin. He seemed to pull back a bit, then buried himself into his work at the travel agency that he and my mother had founded.

A couple of years later while I was living in South Florida, he called on the phone and seemed a bit nervous, saying that there was something he needed to tell me. He seemed to be skirting the issue, but finally he blurted it out: he had “found someone” while on one of the cruises that were offered to travel agents. Little did he know then that I had already been alerted by one of my brothers, but I played along.

Dad and Carol 01A few weeks later I met Carol, the woman who was to become my stepmother, and it didn’t take long to see that they were perfectly suited for each other. They married, and all of us “kids” were there at their wedding, and it was a truly memorable celebration for all of us. Carol became family, and was a joy to be around.

Dad and Carol shared a common love of travel, and later owned and were active with Coronado Travel in New Smyrna Beach. They traveled the globe together, extensively, allowing him to visit and play golf on every continent except Antarctica. As a result, Dad was a founding member of the Cariari Country Club, in San Jose, Costa Rica. In addition, he combined these trips with his lifetime love of the sea and became a member of Club Amateur De Pesca and the Costa Rica Yacht Club in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

I have attributed my love of books and words to my mother and a bit to my maternal grandmother, but it was Dad who taught me to really explore the classics when I was in junior high. I enjoyed reading and often escaped in a book, often as not some contemporary trashy novel that I had picked up in the local library. One day he came into my room when I was reading some contemporary best-seller, such as Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place, as I recall. He looked at it, and then asked me if I was getting anything out of it. I blushed as I recall, as I had been looking for the juicy parts, and he just walked out of the room. About an hour later he came back and asked me to take a ride with him. Without saying a word, he took me down the street to the local library, a cool stucco building that I regularly frequented, and there he introduced me to a better level of writing, first with Jack London’s The Sea Wolf, then with Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki. From those two books my reading expanded to Jules Verne, H.H. Wells, William Faulkner and many others. One author who was destined to become a lifetime favorite was Mark Twain… and I owe my Dad so much for that simple introduction.

As much as he loved golf and visiting new places, Dad enjoyed the challenge of crossword puzzles. As a lover of words, he was a truly voracious reader, and we had opportunities to share viewpoints and recommendations on new reads… but he always seemed to be one small step ahead of me. For example, when The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy’s first published novel came out in 1984, I had received a pre-publication copy, and called him after reading it to recommend it to him. He quietly listened to me, and then informed me that he had also received a pre-publication copy from the U.S. Naval Institute, and had already finished it before I had done so.

JTW with Hardhat 01

There were times that our relationship was strained, and other times that it was extremely close. That happens in any family… and he should be credited highly for never doling out advice when I was older and had left home on what I should do unless I asked him directly.  There’s one other thing that I have to give him credit for, and it’s an important one: during a conversation that we were having some years ago about work and a potential job that I was considering, he asked me if I would be truly happy in that line of work. When I told him that I wasn’t sure, he advised me to continue looking, as it was important to be happy with ones work. And he was right, as I never took a job that I didn’t like… I did it my way. There have been ups and downs at times, but his sage advice made me a happier person than so many that I’ve known in this world.

On the morning of November 3rd, 2011, Dad passed away at his home in New Smyrna Beach, at the age of 89. In his honor, a Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, November 20th, 2011. I’ll be there… wondering when he will tee off next.

The most important shot in golf is the next one.
~ Ben Hogan

September 11, 2011

A 9/11 Tribute to LTJG Darin H. Pontell, USN

Filed under: September 11th,Verbivore — jargontalk @ 11:03 am
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When Darin Pontell was 14, he decided that he would join the Navy. His older brother Steven was a Navy pilot, and he was killed in a crash on the USS Lexington off Pensacola, Florida in 1989.

Darin Pontell Annapolis Ring"When that happened, Darin mentioned that he’d like to pick up where his brother Steven left off, to complete the circle," his father, Gary Pontell, said.

pontell-dDarin Pontell, a native of Arlington Heights who moved with his family to Baltimore in 1985, graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1999. Upon graduation, he reported to the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Command in Dam Neck, VA. He was assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seven as the Collections Officer. He was later deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. He received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Naval Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Lt. Pontell married Devora Sue Wolk, a lawyer, in March 2001. He began working at the Pentagon in April and celebrated his 26th birthday that August. He and his new bride lived in Gaithersburg, MD.

"He was thoughtful and generous and wanted to make everyone around him happy," said Devora. " He would do whatever it took to make his family and friends smile."

Darin Pontell usnHe was completing his second night of training in a new position with the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. He and six colleagues were piecing together information about the attacks on the World Trade Center when American Airlines Flight 77, a highjacked Boeing 757, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 AM. The jet aircraft slammed into the west side of the Pentagon, where the CNO-IP office was located.

"When he returned to the Pentagon, we felt he was so safe," his father said. "Who would have thought of the Pentagon as a target?"

"He was a good kid. He liked athletics," his grandfather said, and described him as "a computer wizard. He was smart. He had an awful lot of friends."

"I had known my husband since we were about 11," stated his wife Devora. "All he wanted to do was go to the Naval Academy like his older brother, but it was a challenge for him to get in and make it through the four years and graduate with honors. And this is his Naval Academy ring that he wore every day, that marked his accomplishment; he accomplished something that he had set his mind to when he was so young. He was proud to be a Naval Academy graduate and an officer in the U.S. Navy.”

Before Darin Pontell went to the Naval Academy, he worked with his father, an architect, who was left with one son, Michael, now 38.

Devora Pontell"Darin and his brother Mike were my best friends," Gary Pontell said shortly after the attack on the Pentagon. "And being that both of them were such family people, we always spent a lot of time together. That’s what I’m going to miss. The Sunday afternoons and Sunday evenings. I’m going to miss the phone calls."

It can only be presumed that Lt. Pontell and his colleagues were killed immediately. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

Darin Pontell was buried next to his brother in the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery.

He is fondly remembered by former shipmates and many others.

The Pentagon Memorial, which consists of a 2-acre park with 184 benches, according to the victims’ ages, from 3 to 71, was opened to the public on September 11, 2008. 

After the Pentagon Memorial dedication ceremony, family and friends of the victims of the 9/11 attack were invited to visit the memorial. Here a visitor sits on the memorial unit for Lt. Darin H. Pontell, USNR. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/ Staff)   pentagon mem01

Darin Pontell is one of those 184 memorialized here.

November 20, 2010

Didn’t We…

Filed under: Verbivore — jargontalk @ 2:24 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A Tramp Shining was a Grammy-nominated album, released in 1968.


Richard Harris teamed with legendary singer-songwriter for this album. Although sang many numbers on the soundtrack album to the film musical Camelot in the previous year, A Tramp Shining became his first solo album.

Jimmy Webb wrote all the songs, arranged the musicians, and produced the entire album. “” was one of the biggest singles of that year, and it reached the #2 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The album as a whole was also highly successful, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” in 1969.

But there was one song from that album that always stuck in my mind, and has continued to do so throughout the years. As time has passed, with loves found and lost, it has always come back to me, and sometimes at the strangest time, particularly late at night. It is to me more than a song with great lyrics; it’s a sadly romantic poem.

Didn’t We

This time we almost made the pieces fit,
Didn’t we girl?
This time we almost made some sense of it,
Didn’t we girl?

This time I held the answer
Right here in my hand,
Then I touched it
And it had turned to sand!

This time we almost sang our songs in tune,
Didn’t we girl?
This time we almost made it to the moon,
Didn’t we girl?

This time we almost made
Our poem rhyme,
This time we almost made
That long, long climb

Didn’t we almost make it,
This time?
… didn’t we almost make it,
This time?

The lyrics set the tone of lovers who once were innocent, but who watched the pieces of the puzzle come apart, and now know better. It was not they who led the dance but who followed the choreographed steps that a greater power had already written for them. They almost made it to the moon…

If one could go back and change events, make some sense of them, maybe drop pride if just for a moment, could it, would it work? Is there such a thing as a second time around, or are the pieces to the puzzle lost and never to be put in place again?

Only time has those answers.

September 15, 2010

Black Hats vs White Hats

Filed under: Verbivore — jargontalk @ 2:15 pm
Tags: , ,

Who are the good guys and the bad guys these days?

There was a time not that many years ago in America when if you were watching cowboy shows or movies on television, you could always tell the difference between the bad guys and the good guys. Everyone knew that the bad guys always wore the black hats, and the guys wearing the white hats were good. It was like a rule, a Sacred Law of the Screen, if you want to call it that.

Roy Rogers James Arness, in Gunsmokewore a white hat, so did Gene Autry. John Wayne wouldn’t have been caught dead in a black hat, and even the puppet Howdy Doody’s hat was at least some light shade. Roy Rogers’ wife, Dale Evans wore a white hat, as did all of the Texas Rangers.  James Arness, playing Marshall Matt Dillon (of Gunsmoke) always wore a white hat.

You could add many others to this "white hat" list, actors such as: Hoot Gibson, Rex Allen, Tex Williams, Tex Ritter, Ray ‘Crash’ Corrigan, Jim Bannon (as Red Ryder), Clayton Moore (as the Lone Ranger) and others.

The guys in the white hats always kept their word, and they didn’t use bad words. As a kid, you would never get your mouth washed out with soap copying their language.

They always triumphed over evil, too.

Keeping things on a fairly liberal, broad perception, a white hat could be tan or light gray. It could be almost any light shade, and still be generally referred to as a white hat. A dark brown or blue hat wouldn’t qualify. And a black hat was just plan bad. Author Harold Rabinowitz used this concept in the title of his book Black Hats and White Hats: Heroes and Villains of the West (ISBN: 156799377X).

And yes, there were some exceptions. It’s true that Hopalong Cassidy, the cowboy hero of the early 1950s portrayed by actor William Boyd usually wore a black hat. There was also Richard Boone’s characterization of Paladin from Have Gun, Will Travel. He not was only a good guy with a black hat; his whole outfit was black.

The real point here is that the good guys and bad guys, the heroes and villains, were recognizable to all; generations were raised with that concept. Things changed with the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King in the 1960s, as perceptions became less focused. The advent of the Vietnam War changed our concepts further, but generally we still could identify good and bad.

But suddenly there is a new reality regarding good guys and bad guys that was brought forth by the tragic and criminal acts of September 11th, 2001. You know the details: supposed Muslim fundamentalists hijacked four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, and into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth airliner, which seemed to be headed for the White House, crashed in Western Pennsylvania.

And our world changed, possibly to never be the same as it was before.

We became suspicious of people in our midst that looked different from us. Within that first week following the terrorist attacks, violence had been done to a number of people in this country because they wore headgear that didn’t seem "100% American," as one individual stated it. There were disturbing reports of violence and threats against Muslims and Arab Americans. Sikhs were harassed because their turbans resembled Taliban headgear; whole other religious and ethnic minorities were subjected to slurs and profane comments right here on our streets. And many of these people were born and raised in this country.

Windows were broken, bricks were thrown and bullets were fired in incidents directed towards the some of the Islamic communities in America. Luckily law enforcement personnel responded quickly and decisively to stop most of these acts, even offering special security for some local mosques soon after the terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush repeatedly urged tolerance in his television broadcasts, as did New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who publicly appealed to New Yorkers to be tolerant.

But during all of this, children across the country were becoming more confused with each news story that was being broadcast on television and on the radio. They were trying to figure out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys, and they weren’t getting any clear answers.

My own son, five years old at the time, was caught up in all the confusion as well. He quietly watched the few news reports we let him see starting the day of the terrorist attacks, and we had to explain top him that this wasn’t like a cartoon or movie where everything seems to be right in the end. He asked questions, and we tried to answer them, carefully but honestly. He asked if they were going to "fix" the WTC towers, and we had to explain that they might not.

He suffered no bad dreams or nightmares, and we watched out for any signs that he was being effected adversely by what he had seen and heard. There seemed to be none.

We were watching a news broadcast on television a few days after the attacks, one of those describing the many diplomatic meetings that were taking place around the world. I had just gotten up to go to the kitchen for a drink when my son pointed towards the television and blurted out, "Look, Daddy! There’s one of the bad guys!"

I turned and looked, my mind expecting to see yet another news clip of Osama bin Laden holding his AK-47 assault rifle, but that’s not what was on the screen. The image that was there was that of a Sikh diplomat from India, in London discussing something with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. This stopped me cold, and I wondered if I might have said something that would have made him identify a turban with a terrorist. I muted the television, then sat down with my son and tried to discuss it with him, prepared for a difficult conversation.

I found it hard to begin, to find a way to constructively help him differentiate the good guys from the bad. That’s tough enough for adults these days, so how is a child expected to know. Still we moved on, and all the time I was thinking about the guys in white hats and black hats. The old rules wouldn’t work, because in a period of ten seconds on television, we saw two pictures that invalidated them. We saw a New York Police Department patrolman with a black cap helping a dust covered woman onto an ambulance at Ground Zero. Seconds later we saw Osama bin Laden talking with an upraised finger, and his Taliban headgear was white. White hats and black hats weren’t working, and then suddenly it hit me.

Osama bin LadenI muted the television and picked up a new magazine with a picture of a stern-looking bin Laden on the cover. I held it up and asked my son if that was a good guy or a bad guy. He responded quickly that it was a bad guy. I asked how he knew that the man in the picture was a bad guy, and he pointed to the photo and said that the man pictured there "… made people crash airplanes and kill people."

I wasn’t going to argue with that, and I moved on. I pointed to the bin Laden photo and asked him if he though that everyone who wore a turban was a bad guy. He looked confused, and with him being a five-year-old, I didn’t want to lose him on this. I pointed to the hair on bin Laden’s face and asked my son if everyone who had hair on his face was a bad guy. He thought for a second, then started laughing, naming an uncle of his who has a beard and stating that his uncle wasn’t a bad guy. He then looked at me and touched my moustache. He then pointed to the bin Laden picture and said to me, "That’s the bad guy, Daddy. You’re a good guy!"

Right now he sees only one bad guy in the media, and for the time being, that’s just fine. That’s all he needs.


The above article had the title Good vs. Evil #2: Black Hats & White Hats, and was first published in a now defunct site in October, 2001. It was a personal reflection of feeling at that time. My feelings haven’t changed much since then, and I’ve seen my son grow to be an honor roll student who doesn’t judge others by the color of their skin, their ethnicity, whom or what they worship or how they speak. In those respects he’s quite color blind… and for that I’m proud of him. But in our changing times, it’s becoming hard to determine just who is the good guy, and who isn’t.


August 18, 2009

Musings of a Verbivore

Filed under: Verbivore — jargontalk @ 7:33 am

I am a verbivore. I’m someone who metaphorically eats words. I am a word-struck, word-fixated, word-obsessed, totally shameless verbivore

Carnivores eat meat; herbivores chomp through vegetables and plants; verbivores devour words. I’m just such a creature. I indulge myself words, ogling over their enticing textures, shapes, and colors. I enjoy dialogs with other wordaholics, lexicomaniacs, and verbivores, people who also eat their words.

The term "verbivore" was coined by author and speaker Richard Lederer in the early 1980s, a man best known for his books on word play and the English language and his use of oxymorons. Dr. Lederer is known for uncovering word origins, pointing out common grammatical errors and fallacies, and exploring palindromes, anagrams, and other forms of recreational wordplay. He has been profiled in magazines as diverse as The New Yorker, People, and the National Enquirer (go figure), and has appeared on radio as a commentator on language. He has written hundreds of articles and more than thirty books, such as Anguished English, a book that spawned an entire best-selling series.

Amongst his other offerings were such titles as Get Thee to a Punnery, Crazy English, A Man of My Words, The Word Circus, The Miracle of Language, The Cunning Linguist, and Word Wizard. His most recent offering was Presidential Trivia. And kids haven’t been forgotten. His offerings have been The Circus of Words (letter play for kids 9-14, for whom hardly anyone writes language fun and skill), and Word Play Crosswords, 50 original crossword puzzles, each with a language theme.

An accomplished speaker, Lederer was the 2002 recipient of the Golden Gavel of Toastmasters International. He also served as the 2007 commencement speaker at Case Western Reserve University. He is a member of American Mensa, and is often a featured speaker at its gatherings.

Dr. Lederer was once asked which of his works was his favorite, and the answer was The Miracle of Language, in which the reader is treated to a collection of fascinating and enlightening essays. Lederer celebrates language as "incomparably the finest of our achievements" and passes along some eloquent testimony on the emancipating power of language in the lives of such people as Helen Keller, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, Anne Frank.

The author identifies William Shakespeare as the most prolific word-maker who ever lived, a man who Shakespeare is credited with the first use of over 1,700 words, nearly eight percent of the different words that he used in his writing. Next is Samuel Johnson who, with his breakthrough dictionary, captured the majesty of English and gave it a dignity long overdue. Others include writers such as Ambrose Bierce, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, and George Orwell. There’s a chapter on the beauty of using short words, that rounds out this a delightful and edifying collection.

A large vocabulary is a great predictor of success, according to the Johnson O’Connor studies and others. I believe that it is also one sign of certain kind of intelligences. It’s a matter of simple math. The more words you have, the better you can describe and live in this world. As Holmes said, ‘Language is the skin of living thought.’
~ Richard Lederer

But this is also no dry author, for there’s an amazing amount of humor in many if his works. His interests include uncovering word origins, pointing out common grammatical errors and fallacies, and exploring palindromes, anagrams, and other forms of recreational wordplay. On top of that, he has been elected International Punster of the Year. A few year ago he wrote The Cunning Linguist, a book in which he shows us the naughtier side of wordplay, revealing hundreds of hilarious, ingenious, unabashed, and adults-only puns, jokes, limericks, one-liners, and other adventures in sexual humor. As the author says, this book is "300 pages of good, clean, dirty word play for appreciative punographers." I had to fully agree in my review of this book.

Also worthy of consideration is the author’s newer book, Word Wizard, an anthology an anthology of his best and most popular essays, published by St. Martin’s Press. In the opening pages, he states:

Some people are bird-watchers. I watch word-botchers. Over the years I’ve cobbled together five anthologies of fluffs and flubs, goofs and gaffes, blunders, boo-boos, botches, boners, and bloopers. They’re the fuel that runs the motor of my career as a fly-by-the-roof-of-the-mouth, word-struck, word-besotted, word-bethumped language guy.

If you like words, if you are a fellow verbivore, then any of these books would probably appeal to you.

It’s about time!

Filed under: Verbivore — jargontalk @ 4:14 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been on WordPress for some months now, reading the posts and journals of others, just like a lurker, and haven’t posted a single thing here.

A monkey at a typewriter could do better, so maybe I should get moving and post something. It would be better to be typing the lyrics to a nonsense-verse song here than to just have a blank page that shows nothing. So what have I been doing?

  • I’ve been spending a lot of time here, reviewing a wide variety of books, music releases and assorted products.
  • Have been interacting socially on Facebook a lot more than previously.
  • Had been spending far too much time here and on other forums on that site. It’s all to easy to get involved in the back and forth discussions in on-line forums, but to what end?
  • I used to spend far too much time refuting very abusive comments made here by a very nasty troll who had it in for women who chose to breastfeed in public. One has to learn at some point that once cannot argue with a truly ignorant (or bigoted) mind.
  • Have been having fun watching my son grow from a boy to a young man in his early teens. It’s quite enjoyable to see him doing the things that give him pleasure in his world, from making faces at his Beta (fish) and getting responses, to seeing his enjoyment as he plays new games with his Nintendo DSi, to seeing the wonderful results that he gets with his new Fuji Finepix S700 digital camera… probably the best creative investment that I ever made.
  • Have been eyeing Amazon’s Kindle quite a bit, realizing that it may well be the future of books as we know them.
  • Have been enjoying the fact that fall is coming, and that I’ll be able to get in more time on my MTB (mountain bike) as the weather cools.

It’s amazing what one can come up with when one looks around and thinks for a few minutes.

Maybe it’s about time!

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