Saturday, July 30, 2005


I spent the afternoon in Fremont taking pictures and drinking Peet's coffee.

Montgomery, a couple of cards and a funky fresh air lady came home with me.

I think I'll name him Fremont or Mont for short.

Fremont standing on his head.

He's sleeping in this shot

Montgomery came from Portage Bay Goods, a really cool store in Fremont.


I'm having candy for supper. One of the four basic food groups for elves.

69 cents for these big packages of Black Crows at Bartell's.

Saturday In Fremont

Snapshots from Saturday In Fremont.

It was a beautiful day.

One of the nice things about taking a camera with you places is that you have an excuse to slow down and observe the things around you.

Time for a New TV?

One of the problems, if you could call it that, with TV's nowadays is they seem to last forever. Back in the good old days before solid state electronics, TV's were fairly unreliable. Even small towns had their own TV repairman and shop. He would come to your house to fix your TV, or if that wasn't possible, take it back to his shop. You could also take tubes from your TV and radio into the shop for testing. Tube testers were fairly common devices in stores, being in some large grocery stores , for example. You could check a tube, buy a new one if necessary and get a bottle of milk all in one trip.

I have kept four TV's over the last couple of decades. They all work fine and I don't know what I'd do with them if I wanted to get rid of them, so I put a four-way powered splitter in my basement, and have a TV on each floor of the house. One of the "keepers" is an RCA wooden console mode, another is an RCA 13 channel small TV we bought when we got a couple of other newer ones. I don't have one of the new fancy flat screens or high definition TV's yet.

Maybe someday I'll consolidate into a single HDTV set up (but I doubt it). I'll probably end up with five TV's, six, seven...twenty, depending on how long I'm around. I used to go into a cool bar/dance spot in Bozeman Montana that had a wall of old black and white TV's, with the sound turned down, going at all times. I'd kind of like a funky entertainment room like that with 10 or 12 channels all going at once, to serve as an "art" piece. Not sure if my significant other would be so inclined though.

I suppose I could be like Hootin Houghton I guess and shoot at my old TV's.

Hootin got his nickname because when he drank he liked to occasionally let out a super loud joyful whoop. It was something to behold. Not a single whoop, more of a barrage of whoops combined with arm flailing and jumping around. He'd do his whoop at random times in bars which would impress and sometimes startle (or scare) people who didn't know him.


Once before I was of legal age to drink, a friend and I visited Hootin at his ramshackle bachelor pad out in the Montana countryside. He was a generous man when it came to sharing his spirit(s) and we were hoping to have a nip or two with him. We had a few laughs and drinks. It was hard not to notice his TV screen had a single bullet hole in it. This was before the day of the Fox network, but apparently there was something annoying enough on the tube, even in those days, that Hootin had felt inclined to blow a hole in it.

Hoot's place was way out in the hills (good for stopping stray bullets), he didn't have anyone living with him or any neighbors near by...making indoor target shooting a safe, if not sane, activity.


Sony Official Online Store

FREE shipping on all Sony TVs. Plus, FREE Premier In-Home Delivery & Installation on TVs 30" or above.


No Interest until 2007 on all Sony products when you apply for Sony Financial Services. Valid July 15-August 15, 2005 only.


Save up to $1000 on select SONY TVs at the Official Sony Store

Friday, July 29, 2005


It's finally Friday (IFF)


IFF is also the acronym for a military transponder (receiver/transmitter) used to Identify Friend or Foe.

The non-military version of the IFF Transponder is called an ATC Transponder. ATC being the acronym for Air Traffic Control.

Transponders of this sort, can be used provide an aircraft's identification code, altitude, and various other types of information used to maintain safe airspace.

Simply put, a transponder is an electronic device that can listen and talk. For example, a transponder in an airplane can listen and talk to a transponder at an Air Traffic Control Center or in another airplane.

Merriam-Webster Online says the word transponder comes from transmit and responder.

A typical transponder conversation might go,

Transponder 1 - "Who are you?"

Transponder 2 - "I'm Joe."

Transponder 1 - "How high are you?"

Transponder 2 - "I'm at 15,000 feet."

The conversations can be quite detailed depending on the ability of the transponder to communicate information. For example they may talk to each other about; speed, direction, mission type and the conversation may be encoded to prevent a foe from pretending to be a friend.

Transponders are not limited to aircraft use. Transponders may be found on ships, missiles, identity badges, that bracelet on your leg (if you have been naughty and are under house arrest) or hanging around the neck of your cow.

Small size transponders are sometimes called RFID, for Radio Frequency IDentification device. You can read up on those things, if you like, at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Never get lost again, or at least get something fun to play with in the car?

I see that enabling a laptop with GPS has fallen significantly. I'd looked into this a couple of years ago and it would have cost several hundred dollars for the software and GPS receiver. Now, you can search Ebay for "GPS Mouse" and find a slew of small GPS receivers to hook up to a laptop, some for 40 bucks or so, or get a GPS receiver and mapping software package for around 80 dollarinos.

Click here for your favorite eBay items


Wishing you a lovely summer weekend, my fine and fair reader.

May you always find your way home.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Left My Pants in a Public Restroom Today

I had an accident today and ended up leaving my pants in a public restroom.

Getting older is tough.

It all started early this morning while I was walking to work. It was a nice day and things were going fine as I approached two ladies I usually see taking a smoke break out by the loading dock. I felt so light and free I decided to do a little hop, skip and jump move from the street to the sidewalk.

I caught my toe on the curb and did a four point face first plant right on the concrete. I thought I could hear a "thud" as I hit the sidewalk. A few things happened immediately (a) I felt like a dope and (b) I sort of knocked the breath out of myself and (c) I did a quick mental review to see if anything felt broken (nope).

The smokin ladies asked if I was okay? "Oh yes I'm fine..fine..just had a few too many drinks on my way to work."

As I got up and walked away I heard them say to each other, "That's really a dangerous spot."

Yes curbs can be dangerous I suppose, although I have successfully negotiated them for quite a few years with no serious injuries. I think they were just trying to be nice to me (thank you smoking ladies).

After my falling entrance, I had to hurry off to a meeting, so I stopped in the bathroom and washed my hands and noticed I had ripped one knee of my pants and scraped up both knees, only one was bleeding, and not too bad.

During my lunch hour I stopped at a local department store to buy a replacement pair of pants. I decided that it would be easiest to change out of the ripped pair in the bathroom there. I don't really need another pair of play pants so I left the pair with the small rip in the knee hanging in the bathroom stall, thinking maybe someone could use them. They were pretty good pants except for that hole.


Switching away from the gutter and bathroom stories, and on to a higher plain please.

I haven't visited my cybermonk friends at Interlude Retreat lately, but today when I stopped by I noticed the Thought of The Day -

"One's first step in wisdom is to question everything--and one's last is to come to terms with everything."

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Tom Barrett the creator of that site does a great job of coming up with interesting thoughtful and useful pieces. Be sure to visit him at


Shop the National Geographic Summer Sale


I'm going to take "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" off my list of favorite movies. Not that I didn't like that movie, but I need to make a little room on my list. I'm adding "Elf".

I watched "Elf" for the first time last night and loved it. It's a sweet movie. I like Bob Newhart (Papa Elf in this movie) and Will Ferrell's comedic style.

There's a spot in the movie where Zooey Deschanel, with Will Ferrell joining in, sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside", that's really nice too.

My favorite line was when Will Ferrell (Buddy the Elf) describes the four basic Elf food groups as, "Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corn and Syrup." I also like the term "naughty list" as in ,

Santa: "That's another thing... Buddy you should know that your father... he's on the naughty list."

Buddy: "Nooooo!"

I have to admit I cried a little at the end when Santa showed up.

I liked the innocent, nice and sweet nature of Will Ferrell as an Elf. I think quite a few people can relate to feeling sort of out of place, and well as having a fairly constant smile on their faces. What can we say, us Elves are a pretty happy bunch ;-)

One other little tidbit about the movie. Amy Sedaris plays James Caan's office assistant in the movie. Her brother David Sedaris has some really really funny bits about working as a department store elf. He tells bad kids that Santa will break into their house and steal all their electronic devices and things. It's funny stuff and he has a great voice for telling the stories.

NPR : David Sedaris

I watched "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" the night before last. I'd give it one thumb up. Some funny parts, some crude stuff and some ripoffs (like the two guys singing girly girl songs in the car), taken from a better movie in my opinion "Tommy Boy".

No one could match Chris Farley for some of his gags. Fat guy in a little suit, or the dirty dancing scene, from Tommy Boy...or "I live in a van down by the river" from his motivational speaker bit on SNL. Great physical comedian, and just a naturally funny guy. Harold and Kumar on the other hand are neither physically or naturally funny, so they have to depend on the writing; which leaves a bit to be desired. Not to say you might not get a chuckle or two out of the flick.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Cowboy Books - The Home of Frontier Style Publishing

Cowboy Books is not your typical Cowboy Book site. It's fun to browse through, with lots of cool original drawings and esoteric writing.

I ran across it Serendip-like while doing a Google Search for LSD as part of my research for my recent blog entry "Why Not Get Dolled Up and Take a Trip".

Hint - If you click on the rabbit just to the right of Gloria Steinem in the white rabbit room it takes you to the "Secret-Squirrel Room".

Check out links on the contacts and links page if you are interested in some web art, cartoons and more cool spots on the web; such as one more monkey: Links v2.0


Postscript - Monday July 25, 2005

I imagine it is often difficult for a reader of a blog to understand the tone of a piece, not knowing who the author is, their background or basic mindset. Cafe Jack is probably quite difficult in that regard since I tend to mix humor, satire, trivial, important, technical, artistic, general and personal items into the soup without identifying where I'm coming from. I hope that keeps a reader semi-interested without getting them overly confused.

I feel obligated to explain the comment about LSD in regards to the post "Why Not Get Dolled Up and Take a Trip" for any younger, or otherwise impressionable, people who might happen across this blog.

The original post was not about tripping in the sense of taking hallucinogenic substances. I had posted some ads for makeup and beauty care items, airline and boat cruises, and titled it "Why Not Get Dolled Up and Take a Trip". I thought to myself it would be sort of funny to tie that concept of a trip into taking a trip ala LSD. It's only a joke and probably not too good a one at that.

I would never advocate the use of any illegal drug, particular to a young person. Life is beautiful, and although intoxicating oneself can be attractive for the sense of joy and adventure one may hope to feel, substance abuse can be very painful and more dangerous to a developing mind and personality, than you can understand at a young age. I say that from a very personal place.

I was reading a piece in the MIT Technology Review this morning titled Hypermotivational Syndrome. It is oddly edited, starting out talking about college student's using ADHD drugs because they think they help them study and then abruptly switching to a discussion of LSD experiments in the 1960's. I am linking to it because it has a little bit about the dangers of LSD.

I'm not the type to try and scare people straight or dare you to not take drugs. You have to do what you think is right, and live with the consequences. It's normal for high achievers to want to take risks. Please do take risks, but I recommend understanding the risk you are taking and controlling it in a way that is appropriate for you personally.

For some people that would mean not taking a drink, a drug, or a cigarette; because of the potential risk of addiction and abuse...or at least being very careful about understanding, and then making a decision, about taking those risks.

Finally I'd say the best risks are those that involve life events not ones that can be taken by swallowing or smoking something. Take a risk and get an education, adopt a child, get away from the PS2 and on a skateboard, ride a horse, jump on a snowboard, sail a boat, take dancing lessons, go to a new church, take a long hike, meet some people you normally wouldn't, fall in love, get married, have some kids...those are risks that are worth taking.

Wishing you true Joy and Peace


Pat Metheny Group

I caught part of Pat Metheny on Austin City Limits tonight.

Quite enjoyable.

I'd recommend the album "Still Life Talking" with it's best-known piece, "Last Train Home" as a good introduction to the Pat Matheny Group. I only say that because I own that album (or more accurately a cassette version) and love the "Last Train Home". If you were going to describe a train ride musically I can't think of a better way, not to say a good fiddle tune like Orange Blossom Special doesn't have it's own unique appeal. Pat Matheny's train is a different ride.

Reading the reviews of his other works makes me wish I owned some more of his music for listening pleasure.

Pat Matheny is classified as a jazz guitarist but he's in a league of his own. If I had to describe his music in one word it would be "dreamlike". Long beautiful riffs that come back on themselves and then go out somewhere new.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Laughing Atop The Sod Heap

I'm writing a new book.

So far all I have is the title "Laughing Atop The Sod Heap".

It's either going to be an incisive, delightfully clever and funny look at the human condition, or something about yard maintenance.


Monday, July 18, 2005


I like these Keds in black.

Ked's website describes them as "Authentic retro Slip-on inspired by the Men's Keds Collection of 1929. Constructed with breathable linen uppers and a rubber outsole for maximum traction."

My birthday is August 24th and 25th.

Blogging Well

For some reason my blogging well has run dry lately and I don't know why.

Perhaps my blogging muse has left me?

Could it be having a life is inversely proportional to time spent blogging? My life has been as boring, or as exciting depending on one's point of view, as usual. That makes me think my having-a-life index doesn't seem to be related to my blogging.

Is it something I have given up that was firing my creative urges? Possible some type of activity, food, spirit or pharmaceutical I have been abstaining from? Could it be that I, like 20,500 other souls I found using the Google machine, picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue

Maybe it's just the dog days of summer and I've entered the doldrums? Soon the wind will come to float my skirt, fly my kite, lift my kilt, billow my sail.

Ahoy! I feel a breeze abaft my bow as I write these words -

"I need to get this zipper fixed before I venture out in public."


What America's Reading

No Interest until 2007 on all SONY products!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fujitsu Computer Systems - Notebooks

I write this blog, and do a lot of other computer things using a Fujitsu C Series Lifebook laptop with a Netgear wireless card (I mention the wireless card because it makes using a lappy so much easier in that you can recline in your favorite easy chair while tapping on your computer keys). You could do the same thing if your recliner is close to a phone jack too, so I suppose the key point to comfortable computer use is the laptop.

We've had a lot of different computers around the house: Timex, Commodore, Generic, Dell laptops and desktops and the Fujitsu; plus a variety of computers I've used over the years at school and places I've worked.

My favorite is the Fujitsu. It has lots of i/o ports (4 USB, firewire, IR, S video output, etc.), it's well built, a cool silver color and has a really handy little scroll button. The one I'm using is getting a little old with a 1 Ghz processor, but it's still quite functional. It's not ultra portable being around 7 pounds, with a short battery life and a little thick (like me)...but I really like it.

I will probably get the DC power jack repaired again (2 to 3 hundred bucks), but when this one is no longer functional I have my eye on the N3500 model Fujitsu. It has a 15.4 inch screen, Intel Centrino (low power) processor and built in wireless.

Fujitsu Computer Systems - Notebooks



Prayer to Make Poverty History


Visual Design for the Web

Kelake : Visual Design for the Web is an 850K PDF presentation that makes me want to look at Kelake's work more closely. He's taken a topic that could be made boring and complex and presented in a simple easy to understand fashion.

Kelake describes some of his background,

"I am currently finishing a Masters in Applied Art from Chiao Tung University. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Music from St. Francis Xavier University and a Diploma in Jazz and Commercial Music performance from Humber College. I also had a year of study at both The University of Prince Edward Island and the Royal Conservatory of Music."

This makes me think how valuable a diverse background can be for creating good design, as well as how little we know about the paths our education and life will take us.

Very cool....

Zen and the art of Shockwave

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article about a site introducing some Zen concepts in a fun way.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Fourth of July!!!

I'm looking forward to the 4th of July, it has always been one of my favorite holidays.

When I was a little boy I had a small record player and loved to play the song It's a Grand Old Flag. I still remember marching around my room singing along with that song. I was a weird kid. I know a couple of Yankee Doodle Dandies who were lucky enough to be born on the 4th of July. Happy birthday Gary in Montana and Kathy in Minnesota.

"Fourth of July" by Zhen-Huan Lu

Like most boys, and some girls, I used to love firecrackers. When we were little, my cousin and I once used some genuine silver dollars (this was after they had quit minting them) to buy firecrackers. I imagine the fireworks man was happy to see us. I couldn't wait for the stands to open up so I could peer in and see all that great stuff in the Fireworks Stand.

When I was a wee lad of about 4 we liked to play with cracker balls (they were a little more powerful then the little white ones you get in the store now). You are supposed to throw them at the sidewalk and they pop. I'm not sure now exactly why, but I put a cracker ball in by mouth and popped it with my front teeth. I think I did that either on a dare, to show-off to someone, or just as an experiment. Probably all three. It turned one of my front teeth a nice shade of grey. Luckily it wasn't a permanent tooth.

We used to love to see what we could blow up with firecrackers. They weren't big ones; just the inch and a quarter; Black Cat type. You could have one go off in your hand and it would burn you a little but not do any serious damage. Not like some of the big dangerous ones available nowadays. I had some silver salutes or something years back and was having a few cocktails and made a few divots in my lawn with some of those bigger firecrackers. Another year a friend of mine and I stuck bottle rockets in our hats and were lighting them....shot some over the neighbors house because I thought they (the neighbors) were making too much noise....shot some into my own garage. Glad I'm off the sauce sometimes...most times.

In the city where I live, they used to have a heck of a lot of firecrackers going off in the neighborhood. I remember my father in law came to visit from Minnesota and was amazed at the firecrackers, bottle rockets and whiz bang things being lit off all over the neighborhood. You could literally have bottle rockets, fire crackers popping around your car for blocks as you drove up into my neighborhood. It's a working town and people like to celebrate the fourth.

Best Seat In The House

"""Best Seat In The House"" by William S. Phillips"

One year the fireworks committee made a huge production about setting off a big fire work rocket that was called "Big Bertha". They set off the public fireworks on a little deserted, brushy island, just out in the bay, called Jetty Island. Unfortunately Big Betha misfired; got a little ways off the ground, came down, blew up and set Jetty Island on fire. Brush and grass on the island continued to smolder for a week or so leaving a smokey haze over most of the city. That plus a number of house/garage fires and any number of fireworks related injuries eventually led to the complete outlawing of fireworks in our fair city.

You can however, drive up to "Boom City" on the Tulalip Indian Reservation about 10 miles north and get, and set off any number of fire crackers and fireworks. They have, I believe, over a hundred stands up there. Probably worth looking at if you are a fireworks afficianado.

I gave up fireworks when one of my daughters got burned with a stupid 10 cent rocket that misfired and hit her and then blew up. It burned her and she ended up going to the hospital. Luckily she was fine after a few days. It hurt and could of hit her in the I decided that fireworks were best left in the hands of the professionals. I enjoy the fireworks shows if I can stay up late enough.

Have a a safe and sane or insane if you prefer, 4th.

In any event have fun and be good to yourself and each other.


A bit of the Declaration of Independence from Indiana University School of Law -

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."


Here's a couple of pictures from a trip to Montana about 14 years ago for the 4th of July. We set up a stand in the city park and sold sno cones, hot dogs, pop corn and pop for a festival/parade. It was fun. The girls had a ball, they got to march in the parade, make and eat sno cones, and enjoy a bit of small town life.


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