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Friday, August 28, 2009

No Facebook or Twitter for me

I’ve had several people tell me I should have a page on Facebook or Twitter. A while back someone suggested MySpace. That was a funny one as I am probably forty years older than the average MySpace customer which means they would disapprove of my preaching to them the mistakes they are making getting their body parts pierced and tattooed. I can hear them now: "You are so OLD and out of it. Tattoos are cool." OK kid, see if you feel the same next year.

As far as Facebook and Twitter, I guess they are all right if you have enough friends that care enough about you to tune in to your page. Facebook can keep your biography up to date and you can post what you consider meaningful information and photos of yourself, your family, or whoever or whatever you think your friends or some guy in Scotland or Zaire may care about. That’s all right but I read recently that Facebook’s supposedly private information is available to many parties that could cause a member some embarrassment.

Last year reader CJ set up a Facebook page and invited some of us to view it. I checked it out but, much to my surprise, suddenly they had ME on Facebook. I must have hit the wrong button along the way because I had no desire for that to happen. Fortunately, I was able to delete it; not because I disliked Facebook, but because I have enough going without having to update it all the time.

The same applies to Twitter. The main point of it is to allow people to follow you. I can’t understand why anyone would want to follow me to the store for some booze or to the bathroom to read the sports page. Lately, pro athletes are getting into the Twitter rage and feel they have to tell everyone their business. Their coaches obviously don’t like it. Twitter has also had some transmission problems from the millions who use it. If you go online and see a big whale, you’ll know what I mean.

I prefer to be a blog and column writer. I enjoy coming up with thoughts that I think may be of interest to readers, then waiting for responses. I’m proud of the nice following I have since we cranked up azcentral in 2006 and, although you won’t find me on Facebook or Twitter, I’m always glad to see your comments on azcentral.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Regional and 60's cuisine

My wife’s cousin sent an email from her home in Cincinnati recently and talked about her boyfriend’s birthday dinner coming up. It will include bean soup and cornbread, two of his favorites. Bean soup and cornbread? Sounds OK but probably not everyone’s favorite.

We all have our favorite foods and those of you who have been around a while can remember when food choices and tastes were a lot different from what we have now. There are also regional tastes from around the USA that make some mouths water while making others wonder how anyone could eat that stuff.

Each region of the country has its particular cuisine. Here are a few samples: In Cincy, we had Skyline Chili which I considered outstanding and "goetta," which my wife loves but I have no interest. It is a weird combination of oatmeal, sausage, spices, and I don’t know what else. Cincy also has Graeter’s ice cream which is the best in the world. I’ve tried them all and no brand I have ever tried can compare and that includes Ben and Jerry’s.

If you are from the New Jersey-Pennsylvania area, you probably like cheese steak sandwiches, pizza, subs, and hot dogs. There is also a strange item called "scrapple" which looks like some kind of meat loaf. DG can tell us about that.

The South has brains and eggs with grits on the side, the Mid-West has meat and potatoes and Bar-B-Que, California is the home of burgers with chains like McDonald’s, Fat Burger, Bob’s Big Boy, Carl’s Jr., and In-‘n-Out originating there along with some Mexican chains. In Arizona, Mexican food rules with some regional items from other areas.

If you grew up in the 1960s you may remember the introduction of these items during that decade: Gatorade, Sprite, and Tab became popular drinks. It was also the time when Bugles, Cool Whip, and Doritos came along. McDonald’s Big Mac, Spaghetti O’s, and Taco Bell Restaurants also evolved in the 1960s. How lucky we were to enjoy those treats!

More 60s favorites: Fondue (I never saw the point of dipping a piece of bread in chocolate or cheese) Steak Diane (That was excellent and my wife still makes it), and salad bars (no, thanks!). The 60s was also the era of the 3 for 1 happy hour. You had to be tough to make it through those.

Any additions from your areas?

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time for some Arizona summer golf

It’s summertime in Scottsdale which means one thing to me. It’s time to play a lot of low priced golf and if you are a golfer, you know what I mean. All those beautiful courses that we like to play in the winter are now available for a fraction of the winter cost. However, most of us weren’t born yesterday so we realize there is always a reason for a sale on any product. Usually it is because of adherence to the law of supply and demand.

Courses that would normally fill their daily tee times during the winter for $150-$175 a head will lower their rates to $25-$35 in the summer. It’s all about the weather as not many want to play in the 100 degree heat of a Scottsdale summer. Fortunately for me, I love the heat and take advantage of the deals every year.

Many say that we summer golfers are crazy and will drop dead in the heat. I suppose that has happened to some who didn’t arrive at the course prepared but I have never had a problem. I always have access to plenty of drinking water, wear light colored clothes and a white hat, and slather on plenty of sun block with a rating of 50 or higher. I also wear sunglasses and use a "Frogg Togg" which is like a chamois soaked in the ice water provided at most courses on the golf carts. When you put that around your neck, it is quite a nice cooling experience.

Since it means playing a faster round, I always tell the starter I want to go out as a single or a twosome, if I can sell my wife on the idea of playing with me. She is not as enthusiastic about Arizona summer golf as I am because of the heat and the occasional buzzards who circle us. However, I tell her that with their wingspan they provide precious shade and you can use all of that you can get. Usually telling her we will go to the casino and dinner afterwards has some influence too.

I enjoy playing the local courses, especially the north course at Talking Stick on the Salt River Reservation on Indian Bend Road. It’s a bit long but is mostly flat, wide, and in great condition. There is a lot of wildlife there including wild horses that still roam the reservation along with the requisite coyotes and roadrunners. My wife gave a roadrunner a cracker recently and he asked for a bottle of water too since he was too dry to swallow it.

Now that I have told you of the joys of summer golf, are you ready to play a round? The courses are wide open and waiting for you. Just be sure to stay hydrated, get a Frogg Togg, and use your sun block. Maybe I’ll see you out there; I just bought a new driver I am anxious to show off.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Remembering 1970's songs

What do The Shocking Blue, C. W. McCall, Stories, MFSB featuring The Three Degrees, Carl Douglas, Van McCoy and The Soul City Symphony, Wild Cherry, Rick Dees (and his cast of idiots), Walter Murphy and The Big Apple Band, and Anita Ward have in common?

Need a clue? If you know your pop music, you will recognize the names as groups or individual music acts from the 1970s. But, do you know what they had in common? Zzzzzzzzz!! Sorry, there is the buzzer, you’re too slow although I think I know one person who probably knows the answer: Gloria. Are you out there Glo?

The answer is: All those acts had a number one hit song on Billboard’s charts during the 1970s, then disappeared back to their jobs at the car wash, Denny’s, Circle K, or wherever. They all captured lightning in a bottle for a few weeks between those great music years of 1970-79 before the dream of being stars disappeared like an Arizona dust devil. They joined a large group from before them and after them as one hit wonders.

You have to give them credit. They squeezed in ahead of top acts like The Doobie Brothers, Boston, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, and many other stars of the 70s for their moment of stardom. However, they only had enough gas in the tank for their one number one before it was time to board the bus home to Palookaville.

There was some good music here: The Shocking Blue did "Venus," C. W. McCall did "Convoy" to exploit the CB radio craze of the mid 70s, Stories had a good tune with "Brother Louie," MFSB did "TSOP" (The Sound of Philadelphia) and who can forget Carl Douglas with "Kung Fu Fighting" in 1974. Van McCoy did "The Hustle" in 1975 as disco started to rear its head, Wild Cherry had a biggie in ‘76 with "Play That Funky Music" (white boy), also in ‘76 was the regrettable "Disco Duck" by L.A. disc jockey Rick Dees. Walter Murphy did a semi disco "A Fifth of Beethoven" and in June of ‘79 Anita Ward hit number 1 for two weeks with "Ring My Bell."

It’s the nature of the pop music business to have one hit wonders. There are no more Bing Crosbys, Frank Sinatras, or Peggy Lees, artists who had staying power. But, the guys above were a lot of fun for their 15 minutes and bring back nice memories of the days we danced to their tunes with our girlfriends or boyfriends. Don’t mention them to your kids though. You may receive a quizzical look and a "Huh?"

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Careful with computer curiosity

Calculators and computers have come a long way. I grew up in the era when we would add and subtract by writing on the back of a brown paper bag. Most kids can’t do that today. Then, Texas Instrument calculators came out in the 1970s, and they cost about $1,000. A couple years later companies stamped their names on them and gave them to customers as free premiums.

I can usually find my way around a computer and have learned to not indiscriminately open every off the wall email I receive or go to strange web sites; plus I always have my Norton Antivirus system on. That’s why it surprised me a few weeks ago that I got nailed with my first ever virus. Reader Don was also hit as were many others by the same virus that I hear was from Russia. Somehow, it got through Norton and cost me $140 to get rid of it. Don paid a couple hundred bucks

AARP reports that last September an email was circulating with a subject line that exclaimed "We have hijacked your baby. You must pay us $50,000. The details we will send later." The bait was to get people to click on to the final line of "We have attached photo of your family."

Those curiosity seekers who logged on were hit with a virus designed to steal vital information like passwords and ways to access bank accounts and other personal information.

Other examples used to con users are attachments to jokes, online greeting cards, and supposed news alerts claiming to be from CNN or other sources. Your best bet is to ignore any unsolicited attachments, however tempting they appear, and delete them immediately.

In 2007, malicious spam cost U.S. consumers about $7 billion and forced 850,000 people to have to replace their computers. From July to September 2007, one in every 416 emails sent had an attachment designed to infect the recipient’s computer.

Most of us know, or should know, you will be better off if you ignore the temptation to check out something that seems to good to be true; it usually is. Also, get in the habit of running some sort of antivirus program at least once a week.

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