Thursday, January 31, 2008

Help me find my friend's lost dog

My friend Elena lost her dog Cisco. He's been missing since Saturday. He's 16 years old, but has lots of energy.

If you live in Los Angeles, please take a moment to read the online equivalent of the fliers we've been posting around LA:

This breed of dog, from what I am told, tends to wander more than 20 miles from its home.

Tell your Angelino friends.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Konigsberg endorses Obama

There are currently four candidates among the two political parties that can be reasonably considered to have a chance to win the upcoming presidential election in November: the Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney and the Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.

In my opinion, the most important tasks our next president must tackle are, in no particular order, to disentangle us from Iraq, to begin to repair our credibility internationally, to restore and protect civil rights, to improve environmental protection, to provide health care for all Americans and to restore the middle class. (To be honest, I don't think any candidate is capable of restoring the middle class.)

I might have been willing to consider John McCain as a presidential candidate in the past, but now is not the time for another Republican presidency. If we are interested in sending a reasonable message that these past few years have destroyed American stability, we must not elect a Republican president. Some may say that there are almost no more real differences between the Democrats and the Republicans, and I would agree on some levels. At some time in the future, I hope we can see a contending third-party. Right now, however, these are our best choices.

In a fight between McCain and Clinton, McCain would be able marginalize Clinton's benefits. Frank Rich discusses this in his piece "The Billary Road to Republican Victory":
In a McCain vs. Billary race, the Democrats will sacrifice the most highly desired commodity by the entire electorate, change; the party will be mired in déjà 1990s all over again. Mrs. Clinton’s spiel about being “tested” by her “35 years of experience” won’t fly either. The moment she attempts it, Mr. McCain will run an ad about how he was being tested when those 35 years began, in 1973. It was that spring when he emerged from five-plus years of incarceration at the Hanoi Hilton while Billary was still bivouacked at Yale Law School. And can Mrs. Clinton presume to sell herself as best equipped to be commander in chief “on Day One” when opposing an actual commander and war hero? I don’t think so.
It is this promise of change that separates Obama from the other three candidates entirely. In contrast, McCain, no matter his current position, is going to be forced to continually shift to the right for much needed money and support.

In addition, the Clinton campaign has been shrewdly using smear tactics to attack Barak Obama in recent weeks, and have been resoundly criticized for it. Bob Herbert wrote in "Questions for the Clintons":

Still, it’s legitimate to ask, given the destructive developments of the last few weeks, whether the Clintons are capable of being anything but divisive. The electorate seems more polarized now than it was just a few weeks ago, and the Clintons have seemed positively gleeful in that atmosphere.

It makes one wonder whether they have any understanding or regard for the corrosive long-term effects — on their party and the nation — of pitting people bitterly and unnecessarily against one another.

What kind of people are the Clintons? What role will Bill Clinton play in a new Clinton White House? Can they look beyond winning to a wounded nation’s need for healing and unifying?

These types of questions underscore the impact of using divisiveness to achieve a goal, a quality we don't need in America 2009. Finally, the New York Times Op-Ed piece: "Primary Choices: Hillary Clinton" discusses the differences between Clinton and Obama:

On the major issues, there is no real gulf separating the two. They promise an end to the war in Iraq, more equitable taxation, more effective government spending, more concern for social issues, a restoration of civil liberties and an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

Mr. Obama has built an exciting campaign around the notion of change, but holds no monopoly on ideas that would repair the governing of America. Mrs. Clinton sometimes overstates the importance of résumé. Hearing her talk about the presidency, her policies and answers for America’s big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience.

I agree that Mrs. Clinton's experience would be invaluable, but that experience does not need to be seated at the helm. The New York Times endorsement of Hillary Clinton continues:
The sense of possibility, of a generational shift, rouses Mr. Obama’s audiences and not just through rhetorical flourishes. He shows voters that he understands how much they hunger for a break with the Bush years, for leadership and vision and true bipartisanship. We hunger for that, too. But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern.
I can understand the writer's concern here. Nobody has a clear idea of how an Obama presidency will unfold. Nonetheless, Obama is the only major candidate that smacks of the possibility of rejuvenation. There's plenty of evidence that a Clinton presidency will be less like a break from the status quo and more like a Third Clinton Presidency. In my mind, I keep thinking: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." I'm willing to take my chances with a uniting and motivating leader supported by a solid, well-chosen staff.

The American people don't need new ideas, they need proper execution of existing, good ideas. I believe that Barak Obama is our best chance at implementing ideas that help solve the problems I consider important.

It is my sincere hope that this November, the American people elect Barak Obama for President of the United States.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conversation at a Party Store

From late this morning.

I enter a party supply store.

Me: I'd like to buy some kazoos.

Store Manager: They should be in the back. (He starts walking back. I follow.)

Store Manager: Do you know how to use a kazoo?

Me: It's been a few years, but I think I might be able to do it.

Silence while we continue to walk to the back of the store.

Me: Oh, were you serious?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Charlie Brown's Pool Party

As a child, I wanted to be Linus. I even carried my blanket around just like Linus carried his security blanket. So that's a way of saying that things with Charlie Brown kind of get me going. So when I found a video of Pool Party by The Aquabats! using exclusively snippets of Charlie Brown cartoons, I fell in love.

I think this band is popular, and I am a little ashamed to use this phrase: with the kids.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Food Club Errata

Email sent somewhat past midnight on January 7, 2008
from: Robert Konigsberg
to: Bob Vesterman
subject: Food Club Errata

Dear Mr. Vesterman,

While doing a little ego surfing this evening (Yes, there! I start with a scandalous admission. Googling oneself seems to have become just as shameful as what was probably once known as "googling oneself". I can only hope you recover from the shock to read on.)

So like I said, I was ego surfing, Googling for "Rob Konigsberg". What did I find as the eighth result?

[ ]

I was, of course, amazed. Not only because Bob Vesterman would dare to honor mentioning my wretched name, and that mere honor (even as 'Lost in the Mists of Time') would rank as the eighth most important reference to Rob Konigsberg (why not first?) and not only because Bob Vesterman decided that referencing my name would help satisfy the world's Vesterman needs, but because something like that -- it really makes one reevaluate what's important in one's life.

Now, next to my title of "Lost in the Mists of Time" (how that title sings, sings like the spring birds!) is this phrase: "Rob Konigsberg has attended at least one Food Club, but hasn't been to any since the start of recorded Food Club history (July 29, 1999)." But you see, Mr. Vesterman, now comes the time where I must confess. And this is getting pretty difficult because I'm already emotionally empty from making one difficult confession. I don't think I ever actually attended a meeting of the Food Club. I very clearly remember meeting you at one of [friend]'s parties, and enjoying your company very much. Boy, [friend] and [his wife] sure could throw a party. [friend] had difficulty making it to the end of his parties, but he did a hell of a job through the preparation stage! Oh and didn't [other friend] also fail to make it to the end of that party? I see she's also Lost in the Mists of Time. Oh dear, I'm digressing, and I love to do that, but it's 12:45AM here, and I'm pretty tired. That makes it 3:45AM in New Jersey so you must be exhausted - I'll get back on track. So I remember being invited to join Food Club, and being offered to attend several times, but I never actually made it. Intent isn't quite the same as attendance. And that's too bad because I'm sure they were lots of good fun. And look now, here, it's 2008 and Food Club is still around. I'm a little jealous. The only thing I ever did consecutively for 9 years was elementary school.

So now I am afraid that since I've come clean, you'll wipe my name from your archive: what fate is worse than being forgotten by Bob Vesterman? But I'm a man of honor, and I can't reasonably be credentialed as "Lost in the Mists of Time" without being clear about the basis for such an honorific. After all, look at what happened to the Dean of Harvard University!

That said, I hope the Food Club can prevent this from becoming a scandal. If only I or the Food Club can survive, I choose Food Club.

You might say that this easy to fix: I could attend a meeting of the Food Club. That's a good idea, but I live in California now, so unless you plan to return to Island Burgers in Los Angeles, I'm afraid I'm out of luck. I must pick up the pieces that are the reality of my life, and move along.

In conclusion: Thank you. Thank you Bob Vesterman, for reminding me that it's important to be honest, and that it's OK to Google yourself every once in a while.

I am left with no doubt, my Vesterman needs are satisfied. You've done your job well.

As always, I remain, your faithful vassal,
Robert Konigsberg
[email address]

"... you know what they say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me
twice, shame on The Cheat."
I am awaiting a response.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hello AVG Free, Goodbye Symantec Anti-Virus

For the last month I have been using AVG Free instead of Norton Anti-Virus. I'm no longer paying $25/year for updates when there's software giving the same thing for nothing, and without bogging down the machine as much. So far so good. AVG scans my machine with a low priority process that seems to just stay out of the way.

Best of all, I no longer have any dollar costs for maintaining my computer, which makes it easier to consider switching to Mac.
I've used some version of Norton Utilities or other for over twenty years. The original Norton Utilities were really powerful command-line tools, including a fabulous disk sector editor for DOS which I used for endless investigation and mutation of floppy disks. It was a nice little tool for really understanding disk structure, recovering lost data and, every once in a while, unlocking nifty little secrets. Playing with computers just isn't the same without a powerful Norton utility.