Friday, February 17, 2006

Animal Ethics

I'm a vegetarian one day a week. My girlfriend asked me to do so, in hopes I'd understand how hard it is for a vegetarian. Restaurant after restaurant has little or no choice for a vegetarian.

I certainly don't eat as much meat as I did when I was younger. What with Mad Cow and factory farming, it just doesn't taste as good. I eat fish a lot, but not farm-raised salmon. Farm-raised has more PCBs than any other fish. (Although salmon raised in the Shetland Islands [I think] is considered very safe, according to my local fishmonger.)

Really, if you ever listen to the folks that are concerned about animals, cut through the propaganda and ignore the occasional stupid terrorist trick, they have something to say. For example, making egglayers live in cages for the few weeks of their life, barely able to move, beaks cut off...what sort of chemicals does that impart to the egg? Then there are all the antibiotics they're dosed with.

Organic eggs are just ones where the feed given to the chickens doesn't have chemicals added. It doesn't necessarily means the chickens are happy.

So I was very pleased when I found a couple of brands in supermarkets where they proclaim the chickens are on nests, not in cages. They're a little more expensive, but it doesn't cost my conscience as much. And maybe they're healthier.

At my local co-op, eggs from free-range birds are a good alternative. At least the clucks get to chase an unwary grasshopper occasionally, and scratch around in the dirt. Hey, it's a living.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Research Guru

Writing is easy. It only requires three skills. 1. Gather information. 2. Organize information. 3. Write.


I've been writing for many years, and as a result I've learned to interview, research, photograph, file, and write. Then rewrite. Then rerewrite.

When interviewing, never ask a question that can be answered with a Yes or No. For instance, don't ask "Are your sales up this year?" Instead, ask "How much have your sales changed this year, and why?"

As a freelancer for business magazines for many years, in a small ledger book I picked up, I had a list of questions that could be used in every interview. I numbered these. When I interviewed using a tape recorder with a fresh tape and the counter set to zero, I would go through the questions in order. Sometimes a question would generate an interesting aside and I'd jump to a question out of order.

Upon transcribing the interview, I would scribble notes and put the question number next to the number on the tape counter. As a result, if the flow of the article called for information from a particular element of the interview, I could go right there because I had the tape counter number.

The internet is helpful, as well, and learning how to research on it is vital. Talking to my local librarian, he suggested I should write an e-book on how to do research, and said families are always coming into the library asking for help.

I proceeded to show him how second-generation search engines such as Clusty make research much easier. With an engine such as this, information is not just listed one link on top of another the way Google does it. Instead, Clusty makes clusters of sites that have the same attributes. It also can cut the number of listings to a third or less. For instance, I entered "investing" in Google and came up with 100 million sites; Clusty showed some 25 million, and brought 261 up in roughly 40 clusters, such as Funds, Mutual; Money; Socially Conscious Investing; and more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No Sweat

As long as I suffered only blood and tears from my eyelid slitting, I was fine. However, during the fast-paced game of volleyball last night, the sweat began to flow. After a while, it was too much for me, and I sat the rest of the night out so I didn't hurt the team.

Now, at least I have a little peripheral vision, even if it's blurry from the ointment I was given. For months I had almost none at all on the left, and phenomenal (almost to the ear) on the right. When I drive, my head goes back and forth like an ostrich's.

I finally talked Bob Koczor into publishing a blog again. He wrote once last year, but didn't maintain it. Now he's starting again, and I hope he can maintain the discipline. With all the golf trade shows in the new year, he always has a lot to talk about that wasn't suitable for Golf Today Magazine. Gossip, personality tidbits, tips...a lot.

As for me, in the midcontinent, there's no golf. It promises to dip down into the single digits this weekend, and perhaps even into minus temperatures. Ah, well, the weather keeps the soft riffraff out, anyway: we just enjoy the tough riffraff during winter here.

However, I am interested in learning about golf. I found a company that makes a golf swing game/machine for the home. You can use a wireless driver and putter, and play the course. However, I tried to check on them at some of the stores they list...and a searcj didn't show them at ToysRUs or Linen n Things. A search on eBay did turn up a few.

Then as an alternative I began to google "computer golf swing", and it turned up almost 2 million possibles. Of course, there weren't. When I used Clusty clustering software to narrow the selections down, it discovered 179 that met its criteria out of 1/3 as many sites as Google had. And it broke those down by category (clusters) to make searching easier.

As a result, I guess I'm stuck with the indoor driving ranges and indoor simulators here in the Midwest. But, hey, it's almost March. Isn't it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An Eyeopener
I came across OlderMusicGeek's Stupid Stuff: POLITICS: Natural Disaster and thought I'd put a link in here. I liked his jokes.
I still haven't run across any technical writing work, but I keep trying. So meanwhile I putter around with private projects, particularly some golftravel videos I'm interested in creating. I realize I've never made one, but when I started Computer User magazine I didn't have any experience either. I started that 24 years ago, and haven't worked there since about 21. Lot of fun, though.
Anyone interested, I have a book with articles and editorial from the early years. Drop me a note if you'd like one.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Real Eyeopener

Yuk, I just got back from the VA. I had a blocked tear duct in my left eye, which had been sewn shut to protect the cornea because of the Bell's Palsy. So...the doc gave me shots of painkiller in the eyelid (which hurt like crazy and lanced the duct as well), took a pair of scissors and--snipped half the lid open. Horizontally. Eyelashes on the correct lid? Yep, I guess so. He said in a month he'd probably finish the job.

So, I have a mix of tears and blood (no sweat) in my eye now, but tomorrow I can play volleyball. How's that for fast healing? Apparently the docs don't think anything of such a simple operation. I have to use hot compresses (rice in a sock) and baby shampoo to clean the eye three times a day for the next week, and use antibiotic ointment. But I'm getting closer to being normal (or what passes for it with me).

It was April 2005 when the first symptoms appeared, followed by a May craniotomy to relieve constriction of the facial nerve #7, then eyelid sewn shut in June. At first you could only see teeth on the right half of my face when I'd smile; now you can be dazzled by almost the full set.

Apparently the titanium enrichment (screws) they used to put my skull back together after the craniotomy work exceeding well. Two weeks ago a vball teammate charged into me from that side and we met skulls: he was out cold for a second or two, while I wondered why he was laying down on the floor.

Healing is a slow process, but I'm grateful to the VA. They take good care of all us grizzled--and young--veterans. I hope Bush doesn't try to privatize that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Will You Be My Valentine?
That's what I feel like asking my granddaughter. She'll be four on her next birthday, and she appears to have her grandpa's height (6'3" in my case), being at the 85th percentile for height, 50th for weight. I remember when I graduated from H.S. I weighed 142 pounds and stood 6'2". I joined the Navy, and when I graduated from boot camp nine weeks later I stood 6'3" and 165. 23 pounds in nine weeks?
Then I smoked for years, so my weight stayed at 165. When I quit, my taste buds returned, and so did my appetite: I went to 185.
I'm up around 193 now, many years later. I walk, golf, and play power volleyball, so that's not a bad weight. At one point, I ballooned to 215, but my lady friend and I went on the 10% solution and I dropped to 185, she lost about 40 pounds. Although you'll Google a lot of 10% solutions on the net, the one I used was from Raymond Kurzweil, inventor of the flatbed scanner and other interesting things.
Among those interesting things is a software way to keep track of information, even on the internet. Check this and this site out to see if you aren't fascinated.
Who knows, it may give you a new way to track information.
As for Valentine's Day, give your sweety a hug and a posy. And maybe a small piece of candy.