Monthly Archives: May 2004

A Very Good Sunday

Today was Dianne’s 60th birthday, and there was an excellent birthday party aboard MDA’s dive boat, the Sun Chaser. The boat departed at 17:00 with about 20 people on board, bound for great weather, snorkeling, kayaking, a beautiful sunset, good food, live music, a sky full of stars, and wonderful conversation. It was an excellent evening out on Double Reef.

I brought my Sony digicam along and took some great shots. My only regret is that the batteries went kaput just as it got dark, so I didn’t get any photos of the Pago Bay Reefers playing bluegrass on the top deck.

But I thought I would give a great piece of software a try and create a web album of today’s fun party. I used the excellent and free Web Album Generator from ORNJ.NET, home of some excellent product for Microsoft Windows.

Again that URL for the web album of today’s fun party is

http://www.galaide.org/old_weblog/BoatPics/

So don’t forget it.

Snort – Chuckle

Has anybody else seen those United Healthcare tv spots that are running right now? The ones about people not thinking much about their healthcare, so fortunately United Healthcare does? Obviously the ad agency was thinking about the Darwin awards when they cooked up this campaign.

There’s one ad with a guy out on the African savanna in a cheesy lion suit, approaching a pride of lions while a wildlife documenter films it. “Begin agitation phase,” the film maker announces as the poor sap enters the circle of lions. That got a chuckle out of me.

I just saw another one this morning. Two suburban dads out in the backyard trying to get rid of an enormous swarm of bees by cutting the branch and dropping the swarm into a trash can. Of course dad #1 trips off the ladder and falls right onto the swarm, sending dad #2 skittering across the yard and into the lit bbq pit. I couldn’t stop laughing at that one.

I guess I’m just a sucker for physical comedy. But they are damn funny ads.

Tigers On Ice

There’s a little blurb in today’s Pacific Daily News about the Sandcastle opening a new show next week. Instead of the Las Vegas style dinner show, Fantastique, that the Sandcastle ran for the last decade, the new show will be Magic On Ice, featuring ice skating magicians and figure skaters.

My favorite quote from the story concerns the fate of the Sandcastle’s performing tigers, long a staple of the revue. “Saad said the tigers will be incorporated into ‘Magic on Ice’ though he wouldn’t say how because he doesn’t want to ruin the surprise. Saad does say that the tigers will not be ice skating.” Damn, I was really looking forward to figure skating felines.

Modus Operandi At Air America

I’d like to say I didn’t expect this, yet somehow I knew it was going to happen.

Evan Montvel-Cohen and Rex Sorenson resigned from Air America Radio this week according to a story originally reported by the Chicago Tribune (sorry, registration required). The AP picked up the story and several media outlets are carrying it now. But the original Chicago Tribune article is more in depth, revealing deep troubles at the fledgling network.

Chairman, partner leave Air America

By John Cook
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 7, 2004

In yet another sign of trouble for Air America Radio, the liberal talk network’s co-founder and chairman, Evan Cohen, resigned Thursday along with his investment partner and vice chairman, Rex Sorensen.

The company also failed to make its scheduled payroll Wednesday, leaving its staff of roughly 100 writers and producers unpaid until Thursday.

The radio network has been on the air for only five weeks. On April 30, it was pulled off Chicago’s airwaves because of a payment dispute.

“We’re on a wild ride,” said Jon Sinton, the network’s president, acknowledging that Air America has suffered “the typical bumps and bruises faced by any start-up.”

“But the bottom line,” he said, “is that we are on the air to stay.”

The departures of Cohen, a former Republican political operative from Guam who was among the network’s initial investors, and Sorensen, an investor, mark the second executive shake-up at the fledgling network in as many weeks.

Last week, co-founder and Chief Executive Mark Walsh resigned (he remains a senior adviser), and programming chief Dave Logan was forced out.

Replacements for Walsh and Cohen have yet to be named. Asked when those positions would be filled, Sinton replied: “I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

Sinton said Cohen was forced to resign by investors unhappy with the way he handled a clash with Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Inc., owner of Air America’s Chicago and Los Angeles stations.

After an acrimonious and public dispute, the two companies severed their relationship, leaving the network off the air in two of the nation’s top three markets. (Air America remains on the air in 16 markets, including New York City.)

“I think that other shareholders were upset with the way that escalated so quickly,” Sinton said. “I don’t think that needed to be handled in such an argumentative fashion.”

Cohen has previously said that Air America’s investors include former broadcasters Thomas Embrescia and Norman Wain, TV pioneer Norman Lear, and Sheldon Drobny, the Highland Park entrepreneur who originally founded the company before selling most of it to Walsh and Cohen in November.

Sinton said he was unaware whether Cohen and Sorensen will retain their ownership stakes in the company. Cohen did not return phone calls.

Last week, according to two sources familiar with the matter, paychecks to some of the network’s talent–a group that includes Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and Randi Rhodes–bounced, and Rhodes joked on the air about not being paid.

A scheduled payday for the staff on Wednesday came and went without checks, though the staff was paid on Thursday. Sinton chalked up both cases to “technical issues.”

Copyright &copy 2004, Chicago Tribune

I’d like to say I am surprised by this turn of events, but frankly I’m not. Hopefully Air America can survive and stay on the air.

A Stirling Idea

Solar Power for the futureStirling engines have been around for a long time. Almost two hundred years, in fact. Unlike internal combustion engines, Stirling engines are a closed cycle with no exhaust gases. The pistons are driven by gas that cycles between two cylinders as it is heated and then cools. Yet Stirling engines have never really caught on because of the power and low cost of internal combustion engines.

Now a Phoenix based firm is developing a solar power system that relies on a Stirling engine to produce electricity. Unlike photovoltaic cells which directly convert sunlight into electricity, Stirling Energy Systems’ Solar Dish Stirling concentrates sunlight across a 37 foot dish onto a single focal point, a specially designed Stirling engine. The focused sunlight provides the heat to power the gas exchange cylinders in the Stirling engine. A single dish is capable of producing 25 kilowatts. The company estimates that an 11 square mile solar farm in the American Southwest could produce as much electricity as Hoover Dam. A 100 square mile installation could solve the energy needs of the entire country. Wow.

This really caught my interest. The technology surrounding this system is decades old. Originally developed by McDonnell-Douglas, the concept stagnated in the 1980’s when oil prices were low. The idea languished for nearly a decade until Stirling Energy Systems started up and purchased the technology from Southern California Edison for $180,000.

Stirling was founded by David Slawson in 1996 to acquire and develop the technology behind the solar generator. So far the company has raised about $15 million from private investors and has received additional funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The array of mirrors that covers the dish concentrates sunlight on an 8-inch opening. There, heat from the sun’s rays runs a four-cycle engine that powers an electric generator. Stirling has acquired a license to manufacture the engines in the United States from Sweden’s Kockums AB. Kockums initially developed the engine for use in Swedish submarines.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., Kockums and the Department of Energy developed the technology for the solar generator in the mid-1980s. McDonnell Douglas eventually sold the technology to Southern California Edison, which sold it, along with six prototype dishes, to Stirling.

Robert Liden, Stirling’s chief financial and administrative officer, said the California utility lost interest in the dishes when the state limited the amount of research and development costs it could recover from ratepayers.

Liden noted that the technology was heralded in the 1980s as one of the most-efficient means to harness the sun’s energy. Unlike photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity through a chemical process, the dishes do not become less efficient in hot weather.

And the Stirling units use no water, in contrast to so-called solar trough generators that use the sun’s energy to produce steam to turn turbine generators.

But at a cost of $300,000 per unit, the Stirling generators are hardly cost-effective. They can produce electricity for about $1 per kilowatt, or 50 times more than power generated by the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, west of Phoenix, and 20 times more than that produced by a natural-gas generator.

But Liden notes that the first units, including the engines, are being built by hand. Stirling believes it can bring the cost down to about $25,000 per unit if they are mass-produced. That would make them competitive with conventional power plants, Liden said.

-From 2 Phoenix firms to build generators, The Arizona Republic, April 28 2004

I certainly hope this idea pans out. Renewable energy sources need to be developed if we ever want to cut fossil fuel emissions and stem global warming.

San Francisco From Orbit

Nothing major, just a nice photo of San Francisco taken yesterday by a ESA satellite, Proba.

I circled my friend Annie’s home, or at least the whereabouts of her house. The resolution isn’t fine enough to pick out the actual house, but the circle describes her block and immediate neighborhood.

San Francisco, California - June 15, 2002

Lunar Letdown

I got up bright and early this morning, excited to catch the lunar eclipse. Well, I could tell there was an eclipse going on but the clouds prevented me from seeing it. There was no silvery brightness to the sky, like there was when I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. but I couldn’t see anything on the western horizon due to heavy clouds. Alas, it was not to be. Guam was only going to catch the very beginning of the eclipse anyway, people in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa will have a much better view of the event.

Russian Museum Displays Mad Monk’s Monster Member

The first Russian museum of erotica is opening in St. Petersburg, and one of the exhibits on display is the pickled pecker of Grigory Rasputin. Apparently the evil monk was extremely well endowed (a man called horse indeed) and after his death the genitalia were preserved for future generations to gawk at. I was going to post the picture of this monstrous organ, but my mother reads this weblog. Go and check it out for yourself, I’ll wait…

The infamous holy man to the Tsarina was assassinated in 1916. I once read how they killed Rasputin in a book called The Grim Reaper’s Book Of Day. They lured him out to an isolated cabin with offers of sex with a young boy on December 31st. Once there, several nobles fed him cakes laced with cyanide, bound him in ropes, cut off the penis in question, wrapped him in a burlap sack, bound it with chains, shot the bag with a pistol several times and tossed the sack through the ice and into the frozen Neva River. When his body was recovered, his bonds were broken and his lungs filled with water, proving he wasn’t dead until he was tossed into the river. Crap, that was one hard motherfucker to kill.

And he had a really big schlong too.

GMH Suspects Fraud

Top story in today’s paper: GMH officials uncover evidence of a scam using public assistance to get health care at the hospital. A woman was admitted to the hospital’s maternity ward recently, the latest of several episodes of care for her at GMH under MIP, the medically indigent program. She presented her Social Security Card and name and was admitted.

That’s when hospital lab techs noticed a problem. During her previous confinement she had O- blood, but miraculously this time her blood type was A+. On top of that, her last hospital stay was for a tubal ligation, yet she was admitted to the maternity ward and delivered a baby.

“We think we may have uncovered a scam operation,” said Bill McMillian, hospital administrator. Ya think so, Sherlock? A brilliant deduction there.

Mmm Durkee’s Famous Sauce And Serendipity

The best sandwich spread in the universeI originally wrote this almost a month ago. I marked it as a draft and forgot all about posting it until this afternoon, when I cracked open that jar of Durkee’s pictured on the left.

This is the best sauce in the world. It tastes so good on sandwiches. The flavor is like mustard and mayonnaise combined with a touch of horseradish, and it goes great on a BLT. Mmm, I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, Durkee’s is not available on Guam. I’ve searched high and low, but not a single store carries this ambrosia. I brought a jar back with me from my last trip back to Missouri, but that was back in 2002. I’ve been jonesin’ for Durkee’s for quite some time.

Which made today’s events oddly serendipitous. Thinking about Durkee’s Famous Sauce this morning, I decided to try Googling around for a web site that might sell me some Durkee’s online and ship it out to me here. Curiously, I couldn’t even find a reference to this wonderful sauce on the company website. Instead I found a plethora of sites offering recipes for a faux Durkee’s I can create at home with common ingredients. Hooray!

Obviously my thoughts were projecting out into the neighborhood, because my next door neighbor came out of his house with a jar of the delicious and coveted sauce. Kismet I say. He just returned from a trip to Illinois over spring break (I never really thought about it, but I apparently college professors take off for spring break too), and he remembered a discussion we had about Durkee’s back in February. I was over at his house helping him out with his Gateway and I noticed the jar on a shelf in his kitchen. We started talking about how good Durkee’s Famous Sauce is on sandwiches and how we both smuggled jars of it back from the Midwest. When he was in Urbana-Champaign last week, he picked up a jar for himself and a jar for me too! I guess I will go ahead and install that extra RAM in his computer that he ordered a couple weeks ago. The lure of Durkee’s is a powerful thing.

While it is good to have a jar of Durkee’s back in my kitchen, I am also excited to try that recipe for the sauce I can make in my own kitchen. Then I will never be without this tasty sauce again. In case I forget the link, here is that recipe:

Try this smooth copycat with your next steak.

  • 1/2 c cold water
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp dark vinegar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 4 tbsp margarine, cut into tiny bits

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until very smooth.

Empty blender into top of double boiler and cook over gently boiling water, stirring often for 12 to 15 minutes, until thickened and smooth.

Return mixture to blender and blend at high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth.

Put sauce into a covered container and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

Stores up to 3 months, refrigerated.

Mmm-mmm good. I wonder how it tastes with steak? Sounds like a challenge, especially as I could go for a nice steak tomorrow night. Would it be as good as finadene on steak? That’s a tough combination to beat.

Max Havoc – Curse Of The Dragon

Image from Pacific Daily NewsThe month of May is finally here, and Guam’s moment to shine in the movies has arrived. Principal shooting for Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon begins next week, and already the positive effects are being felt in the community. Interest in the movie has sparked many local high school students to look into the film industry as a career. I don’t know if the stars of the movie (Carmen Electra, Mickey Hardt, Qi Shu) have arrived yet, but I suspect it won’t be long now. Photography is scheduled to begin on May 10th.

Locally hired production staff are hard at work on the film, and more hiring is expected as shooting gets under way. Over two dozen locals were hired as extras for the filming, and almost 300 jobs will be created overall by this movie. Guam can certainly use the extra income.

One interesting bit I learned is that virtually the entire movie is going to be filmed at the Outrigger Hotel in Tumon. That seems a little odd, but I guess it helps keeps production costs down. The newly redesigned Palm Cafe at the Outrigger will be converted into a lounge and a other sets.

This is the first film to be made on Guam since 1962’s No Man Is An Island, an adaptation of George Tweed’s odyssey on Guam during World War II.

Here’s a chance to visit the set of Max Havoc, Curse of the Dragon, and rub elbows with the cast and crew. Hurry! Contest winners will be announced on May 6th!