The Columbus Connection

An office place anniversary has given the folks at CNN an excuse to trot out a photo of Rob Schneider and his very old SNL catch phrase.

Start of Something Big

It was 50 years ago this month that Haloid Xerox sent the first copying machine to a paying customer. There have been a lot of jammed copying machines since then.  Chester Carlson, a lawyer in New York, came up with the idea during the Depression, but it took him a heck of long time to get his idea off the ground. But after a failed marriage, a lot of hours put in by engineers and a pot-load of money, they got plain paper copying to work, dooming the mimeograph to the dustbin of history (which was a shame, ’cause I think you could get a buzz sniffing mimeo forms).

The first machines were so expensive, Xerox leased them to customers and took a fee for anything over 2,000 copies. Needless to say, the money started rolling in. The stories about the anniversary seem to be leaving a little something out. When I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, we’d always hear stories about research institute near the Ohio State campus and how it played a major role in the development of the workable copier.

Battelle's original building

Battelle Memorial Institute developed the first nuclear fuel rods, advances that helped lead to the compact disc and a couple of their engineers started working with Carlson in 1944. Their efforts led to the first commercial xerography. The fees they picked up from Xerox have made Battelle a very rich non-profit applied science and technology development company.

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Is This For Real?

Hello Sun

It’s been kinda nice over the last few days, although it got cold and wet going from Saturday to Sunday. And although the forecast suggests it’s going to be cool on Monday, the forecast from the Weather Channel folks also suggests it’s going to be sunny and warm (darn near hot) all week long. This might be one of those situations where I can put the top down. Almost makes keeping the convertible worth it.

I always know spring is supposed to begin. It’s usually within a day of my sister’s birthday, so it’s easy to keep track of. It’s been miserable enough this winter to really look forward to spring. I mean, we had two snow days at work – I don’t remember ever getting two days off work because of the weather! In a month or two, it’s going to be so hot, we’re all going to miss winter, but for now, I’m happy for the change.

You Can Stop Mocking Now

People seem hard-pressed to believe that I actually watch wrestling on TV. I watched when I was a kid. I can remember my dad trying to get it across to my grandmother that there’s a little bit of “made up” in wrestling. He’d holler, “it’s not real, Myrtle!” when she’d get concerned about the grandkids watching the bodies fly across the black and white TV in her living room on Hawthorne Avenue. I even went out for wrestling in high school. Didn’t make the team, and frankly, it was the hardest work I’ve ever done.

Sure, the results are predetermined. Yes, when a guy throws a punch, he also slams his foot down to create his own sound effect. Yes, there’s an absurd amount of baby oil and body shaving involved. And yes, there’s an obscene amount of silicone in use by the women in wrestling. But hey, isn’t that true about soap operas? Okay, maybe not, but notice this, the athletes in real major league sports are fans of wrestling too, so they can find the entertainment value. I think it’s more entertaining than MMA because you know that wrestlers will usually be able to walk away at the end of a match.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I see the latest installment of “The American Spirit” segment on the CBS Evening News. Here they are, profiling an athlete who uses his celebrity to support the National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program. Not only that, he’s a guy who served prison time (9 and a half years of an 18 and a half year sentence) before turning his life around. Anyway, Alvin Burke wrestles under the name Montel Vontavius Porter, or “MVP.” The made-up backstory was that he was courted and signed to a wrestling contact much the same way as a free agent in football.

Ballin'!!

So, here’s a guy in what’s considered a phony sport being recognized as someone who can motivate young people in a positive manner. In fact, he’s working with an organization connected to state and federal governments. The CBS News website even has video of Dale Earnhardt Jr. commenting on why MVP is a positive role model (this is where the snarkers come in noting that NASCAR isn’t a real sport either).

So yeah, since I’m at trivia on Mondays, I DVR Raw and watch it later. I also DVR Friday Night Smackdown (which for some reason, airs on Saturdays here). I occasionally watch TNA, the TV retirement home for former WWE personalities (Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, RVD, Brian Kendrick, Christy Hemme, Eric Bischoff, Jimmy Hart, Taz, the Dudleys, and a couple of others I’m probably missing). And yes, I’m watching the Wrestlemania pay-per-view as I write this.

“Civil” Discourse?

I was going to pass on this topic, mostly because Wendi Thomas covered it in Thursday’s Commercial Appeal, but I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, and I figured it would be better if I went ahead and wrote something.

Going My Way?

A current co-worker, who also used to be in the news business, made the point to me the other day that it’s sometimes difficult to have an opinion about politics because of the constant responsibility you have as a journalist not to take sides. ASIDE: Let’s remember here that a lot of the prime time boys on Fox News are commentators, not journalists, so they’re actually supposed to have opinions. If you think their news coverage is slanted, I can’t help you there. For those of you about to go apoplectic about how you’re sure CNN and the broadcast networks have a bias to the left, all I can say is that in seven years, no one at CNN ever told me to slant a story. And I know for a fact that a couple of the folks in the political unit were Republicans (and they didn’t slant the other way).

Whatta Mob!

Anyway, I have to wonder about the recent ugly outbursts from people protesting Congressional Democrats. Racial epithets? Homophobic slurs? Spitting? Bricks through office windows? Threats of violence? Calls to “reload” from a former governor and candidate for vice president? There’s nothing wrong with genuine disagreement with a government program, but when it gets ugly, it’s not about health care anymore. There’s something a lot deeper, much more insidious going on here. Where was all the righteous anger when Mr. Bush was blowing through the surplus left over from the Clinton years? When a GOP-controlled White House and Congress supervise a tremendous increase in the deficit over an 8-year period, it’s hard to take people seriously who ignored that, but are so concerned what offering basic health protection will mean to the deficit now. Oh, and it seems they’re completely willing to ignore the projections from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office showing the reform package would reduce the deficit.

Somebody Created a Monster

The GOP leadership in Congress is accusing the Democrats of trying to use the impoliteness for political gain. The opponents of reform have pushed so hard and so long to demonize the reforms and the people who back it that some people were bound to be overswayed. Don’t hook the electrodes to Frankenstein’s neck bolts during a lightning storm, then give us the “who, me?” look when the monster wakes up and terrorizes the village. There’s nothing wrong with opposing a policy. The GOP has a long history of being able to stymie meaningful health care reform in this country, and they came close to doing it again. When the president took office, a majority of Americans agreed that the health care system needed reform. Now, some polls claim a majority of Americans want the just-passed bill repealed. Still, if we truly have “the best health care system in the world,” why are some of us fighting so hard to keep it out of the hands of so many people? If they all end up in the emergency room, we’re going to pay for their care anyway, so why not find a why that gets some of these folks to pay for some of their coverage? And I’ve worked for major corporations that didn’t offer its lowest-paid employees any insurance. That’s just wrong. And if offering coverage is a price of doing business for smaller companies, it may be tougher to turn a profit, but it’s not unreasonable. People working at those businesses could lose everything they have if they get sick or hurt without health insurance, and if a small business doesn’t pay well enough for a worker to pay for their own coverage, do we just give them an apple and hope for the best?

Goodnight, Mr. Culp

Kelly & Scottie

I’m sorry to see reports of the death of Robert Culp. The 79-year old actor and writer died after a fall at his home. I wasn’t old enough to watch his 1950s western, “Trackdown,” or its spinoff show, Steve McQueen’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” I did however, spend a lot of time watching “I Spy.” Culp and Bill Cosby played a couple of really cool dudes who traveled the world, spying for the Defense Department. Unlike “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” which was shot pretty much on the MGM backlot (and looked it), Kelly and Scottie were actually in a lot of the international locations in their stories (sometimes shooting several stories in a country to cover the costs of travel). The show was historic, because it was the first time a black person was a lead character in a network TV show. Two years earlier, Cicely Tyson was a regular, but not a lead on “East Side, West Side,” with George C. Scott.

About a year ago, FamilyNet was replaying “I Spy,” which was cool, since I hadn’t seen an episode in years. I was a much bigger fan of Culp’s work there than on “Greatest American Hero.” Plus, “I Spy” had some really cool theme music, written by Earle Hagen, the same guy who wrote the themes to “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and the “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Resetting PRAM (I beg your pardon?)

Up in Smoke

Going with the new technology isn’t always the best idea. I was pretty young at the time, but I remember when my Dad went out to get a new car, and came home with an Edsel. I think it was the push-button transmission that attracted him. I was 4 or 5, so I don’t think I’m the best judge of whether it was a good car or not, but when we were driving cross-country from Ohio to New Mexico, the car did catch fire. It was in Oklahoma or Texas, but not a good thing to happen in either state.

Get to Work!

Well, I’ve been driving a Toyota for 11 years. Fortunately, it’s not one of the newer models with the automatic acceleration. No, my problem is with my Apple products. I’ve never owned a Windows-based PC. I’ve used a few of them on the job, but every computer I’ve owned since my first one, in 1994, have been Macs. Elegant design, simple, almost intuitive use. But every now and again, something will happen that doesn’t make a lick of sense. Try getting information on diagnosing and fixing a problem online, then having to restart the computer to do the fix. And then remembering you didn’t print out the information before you restarted. My MacBook has been running slow for a couple of days, and won’t stop trying to sync. I’ve probably down too much, trying to sync the laptop to my desktop to the desktop I use at work to my iPhone. I had to re-sync the phone after my downloaded ringtones disappeared. That’s a whole lotta syncing going on. And I started getting that syncing feeling tonight. Sorry.

Balky? Balki!

Restarting a balky computer is always a good way to fix a problem. Although, once I restarted tonight, my mouse wouldn’t work. I went to reconnect it, and found that according to the computer, which came with Bluetooth installed, didn’t have Bluetooth installed. After a quick Google search (thank goodness I’m not in China — although if you listen to opponents of health care reform — maybe this is China), I saw a fix that recommended restarting and then resetting PRAM (parameter random access memory) and nonvolatile RAM (NVRAM). I guess I held down the right keys, because my Bluetooth was back, connected to everything it had been connected to before, including a cell phone I haven’t used in 4 months.

Soon to be Mommy, Daddy & Baby

Ryan & Kate plus One

Sometime this week, my friends Ryan and Kate Parker are expecting to welcome a new addition to their family. It’s been them and their puppies so far, but as you can tell, Kate is a very expectant mom. I know Ryan from working together at my old job and my new job. And, if you saw the award-winning local short film, “Woke Up Ugly,” he directed that.

Ryan and the lovely Kate stopped by the Blue Monkey Downtown on Monday. They were semi-regulars at trivia when they lived downtown. We haven’t been lucky enough to see them regularly since they moved to the east side, but they wanted to get out a few times before Baby Parker shows up. As always, I was delighted to see them both and wish them the best on their new adventure — and I hope you wish them well too.

It’s All About Timing

I think the best job I had was when I was a maintenance man at a McDonald’s when I was in college. Sure it was janitorial, and yes, it took about 30 years for the callouses on my hands from swinging a broom or mop to go away. However, I didn’t have to show up until a half-hour before the restaurant closed at 11pm. I always liked the idea of working overnight. There are a lot fewer distractions at that time of the day.

I say that to say that I’d rather do just about anything than get up at the crack of dawn. Not for work, not for pleasure. But there isn’t a whole lot to do about it. My car registration is up for renewal this month, so I knew I’d have to brave the long lines at one of the city’s parking lots… sorry, inspection stations. I figured I’d go to the Washington Avenue station early on Saturday, since fewer people are actually downtown on the weekends.

In Line (or is it On Line?)

Set the alarm for 6am, knowing the station opened at 7am. Since I don’t always get up the first time the alarm goes off, I slept ’til 7.  I was in line at the station by about 7:25. It wasn’t nearly as busy as a weekday, but there were probably about 50 cars spread out among the several lanes. I give the staffers credit, because they were moving us through there at a pretty good clip, probably about 3 or 4 minutes per car. Because of that, and because my Toyota is in pretty good running condition for an 11 year old car, I was pulling out with my “passed” certificate by 7:55. Home again by 8 and got some chores done. I did eventually get back into bed for a few minutes, but was up again in time to watch Ohio State advance in the Big Ten Championship semifinals.

While the line wasn’t as long or as miserable as it could have been, it’s nice to see that the powers-that-be are at least thinking about exempting newer model cars from having to go through inspection. Funny that the manager of motor vehicle inspections and weights and measures for the city wants to do “modeling” to make sure that they’re not letting new cars slide by. Doesn’t this just mean the city would end up paying for the same type of modeling that every other city and state that have already done the same work to make their own decisions about exempting late model cars from emission inspections?

Thinking About Slowhand

Packed Forum

As I mentioned a week ago, I got to see the Eric Clapton / Roger Daltrey show at the FedEx Forum. The Who frontman was incredibly energetic and in fine voice, contrary to recent reports alleging that Daltrey had lost the best part of his voice after screaming non-stop since the early 1960s. While I enjoyed the Clapton portion of the show too, the reviewer for the Commercial Appeal did not, claiming that “Slowhand” was too slow, draining energy from the crowd.

Slowhand

Since the show, I’ve noticed a dichotomy. The older people who attended the show that I’ve spoken to seem to think that Clapton’s did a pretty good job, even though he wasn’t jumping up and down or racing back-and-forth across the stage. After all, isn’t the relaxed way he took the stage pretty much what he’s always done? Sure, you expect Roger Daltrey to start swinging that microphone – he’s probably got a guy on staff who’s been wrapping tape around those mics since the band was called the Detours. Younger people I’ve talked to who were there thought the Clapton segment was much less than expected.

Say What?

Looks like the same thing is going on at the city’s newspaper of record. CA editor Chris Peck used his Sunday column to take issue with Bob Mehr’s review of the show, saying he (Peck) thought more highly of the Clapton performance than his reviewer did. Just goes to show there’s a sliding value in the work of critics. There was a time when a poor review in the right paper could kill a show or film’s business. It could make you wonder when you saw something you thought was good but a reviewer hated. I feel fairly certain that they’re right about “Couples Retreat” being really bad. Same thing with anything Tyler Perry does.