I am such a sucker for dog movies.

June 25, 2008

My Top 10 Favorite Vegas/Gambling Web Sites

June 25, 2008

I Love This Place

Granted This isn’t in any particular order, I just think that these folks have the best sites for anyone going to Vegas.  I purposely haven’t listed any travel sites because I frankly don’t really have much of an opinion between the likes of http://www.vegas.com or any of the other sites out there.

  1. Michael Shackleford’s consumer advocacy sitehttp://www.sweatthemoney.com
    Michael bulletin boards the unethical activities of the casinos and puts them in a hall of shame.
  2. Vegas Today & Tomorrowhttp://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com
    This could easily be one of the most useful and interesting Vegas sites out there.  For example:  They have a map that shows “Which Hotels Sell Pepsi & Which Sell Coke”)
  3. Five Hundy By Midnight Podcasthttp://www.fivehundybymidnight.com
    Still the most entertaining and laid back Vegas podcast ever produced by a couple – Tim & Michelle – from Minnesota.
  4. Stanford Wong’s Blackjack 21http://www.bj21.com
    The ultimate Blackjack information web site.
  5. Las Vegas Advisorhttp://www.lasvegasadvisor.com
    The broadest most up-to-date monthly publication on Las Vegas.  I wish they were weekly.
  6. Vegas Trippinghttp://www.vegastripping.com
    An irreverent look at of of Las Vegas virtues & vices.  Great articles as well as being the home of the Trippies – the annual awards given to Las Vegas entities.
  7. Vegas Linkshttp://vegaslinks.blogspot.com/
    (No, seriously.  This dude from Vegas Links is psycho.  He’s got so much info, he seriously must be fanatical about Las Vegas and to that I salute him)
  8. LeaveMeAlone-NoTimeShares The Vegas Gang Podcasthttp://www.vegasgangpodcast.com/
    The other Vegas podcast I listen to these days.  Their more topical and quite a bit deeper than Five Hundy but I still like them. 
  9. Two Way Hard Threehttp://www.ratevegas.com/blog
    Hunter’s site – one of the Vegas Gang.  A good, long lived site on Vegas. 
  10. What Brian Thinks about Las Vegashttp://whatbrianthinksaboutlasvegas.com/
    I just like his format.  His content is frankly old, but I still like his humor and his drawings.  It’s creative in a really ‘I-don’t-give-a-@#$%” sort of way – not to mention he’s the maker of the t-shirt to the right.

These sites are rapidly becoming favorites of mine and could overtake someone in the top ten:


June 12, 2008


VIDEO: Jane Kim – Sr. Program Manager from the IE8 team on “New IE features”

June 12, 2008

image Why am I posting this?  Well, yeah sure, the IE8 details are interesting.  But on a more personal note, I found Jane Kim’s discussion about her college experience and her major to be strikingly familiar.  The parallels are frighteningly uncanny and I’m curious as to how common this pattern of experiences is amongst Computer Engineering majors.

You see, I graduated from UCLA with a Computer Engineering degree and when I arrived, the “weeder” classes in year 1 started off with 100 students and there were about 8 girls in the class – just like Jane did at Northwestern.  (I’m curious however as to how many were left at Northwestern by the end of her freshmen year though.  We had 5 left and I still remember all their names:  Lisa, Liz, Vivian, Maria, & Karen.)

Additionally, if I had to do it all over again, I’d drop the ‘electrical’ aspect of the major and just gone straight Computer Science because to be blunt – I loathed circuit design.  I’ve been programming since I was 10 years old, (Pilot on the Atari 400s,  BASIC on Apple II’s & Commodore PETs, & Pascal/Assembly on the original IBM PC!) and I never had a problem working 72 hour straight trying to code some little Star Trek game or my own Infocom adventure. 

But I once had two lab partners on a stupid circuit board that was wired with EEPROMs to play “pong” on a CRT and after 24hrs of work on the board, my partners… well… bailed!  Giving up on a lab = “F”, so I stuck around for the next 24 hours trying to figure out what was wrong – following every since single trace and every single wire, reprogramming every chip, and verifying every connection.  Sure enough it was a bad wire but in the end I decided that working on hardware was the equivalent of Hades for me.

Well, that and LISP.  Coding recursion is elegant but it still makes my brain hurt.


Jane Kim: From Inventing To Implementing IE Features

I think Ritzy, by the way, is wrong.  I don’t know how old Ritzy is, but I graduated about a full decade before Jane did and back then, full computer labs in schools and computers “in the curriculum” were NOT uncommon in major cities on the west coast.  I know that most of the cities along the Pacific Ocean had some form of computers in most of their high schools.  Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, and Portland – I had friends that I graduated with that came from all those cities and we all had Apple IIs/Macs/PCs in school.  So either Ritzy is 5-10 years older than I am or she grew up in a more rural town.

BTW:  It’s too bad Jane’s still stuck with a crappy office phone.  My Nortel & my Tanjay are more up-to-date than that thing she’s got sitting next to her.  Someone needs to bring Building 50 up to Unified Communications.

Reviews of “21: The Movie” by people that actually live this life

June 9, 2008

image Here’s some reviews of “21” by people that are actually in this ‘business’ and thought the movie was utter crap.

Some seems surprised by the lack of adherence to the book version, which was an exaggeration to begin with.  But anyone that knows the movie industry (especially anyone that’s read the saga of Superman Returns), knows that the media industry is filled with egomaniacal morons that always “think they know better” than the screenwriter and the original author of a story when it comes to selling the movie. 

Ironically, these same studios have formed walled gardens of creativity like Miramax, Fox Searchlight, and other independent studios to get away from just that sort of meddling to create “Pulp Fiction”, “Juno”, “Napoleon Dynamite”, and other great independent flicks.

“You are not my mother!”

June 2, 2008


NEWS: Los Angeles Times – “Animal shelters are under scrutiny”

June 2, 2008

The LA Times did a article that cited some statistics for 2007 about how many animals are brought into county shelters and how many are killed:

"During the last fiscal year, which ended in June, the county system took in 85,975 animals, roughly a third more than the city of Los Angeles. That number includes cats, dogs, rabbits, snakes — even livestock. In the same year, the county euthanized 16,989 dogs, 26,384 cats and 9,429 other animals."

(So if you do the math, 16,989 dogs + 26,384 cats + 9,429 other animals = 52,802 animals killed.  52,802 killed out of 85,975 = 61.4% death rate)

Ignoring the accusations & counterpoints of the article, the bigger point of all of the stats is this:

More than half of all animals – 61.4% – brought into the LA county shelter system were killed in 2007.

I really don’t think the public knows this.  And you know what’s absolutely terrifying to me?  Los Angeles actually has one of the lower levels of euthanasia relative to the rest of the United States.  Other parts of the country kill 90% of the animals brought to shelters.

The animal activist community overuses this quote but I can think of no better time to apply it.  Albert Schweitzer once said, "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight."  Think about the pound, the next time you drive by… because with a 61% death rate, it’s like having an animal version of Auschwitz in our own backyard.

The Problem with the Los Angeles Times article:
It’s hard to read the article without some skepticism because I’ve read and seen a lot of things that go against the claims made by Director Marcia Mayeda.  Here’s an example:

Now here’s the full article from the Los Angeles Times:

From the Los Angeles Times

Animal shelters are under scrutiny

L.A. County supervisors examine sites after three civil suits, alleging poor conditions and mistreatment, are filed.

By Carla Hall
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 12, 2008

Friend wantedPublic animal shelters will never look like — or be run like — the Four Seasons. But according to animal welfare activists, volunteers and private rescuers, the shelters operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control sometimes resemble dog pounds of yore.

For months, animal advocates have made allegations of transgressions in the nation’s largest municipal shelter system, including overcrowded and filthy conditions, a failure to administer medications and the euthanasia of healthy animals before the mandatory minimum four-day waiting period was up.

The drumbeat of criticism peaked last year, with the death of a 10-month-old female Lab mix named Zephyr in the Carson shelter. A volunteer’s photo of the dog’s stiff, outstretched body lying on the concrete floor of its kennel ricocheted through blogs and e-mails of rescuers, volunteers and animal lovers.

Three civil lawsuits, alleging poor conditions and mistreatment, have been filed against the county by various rescue groups and a coalition of volunteers and animal advocates.

After the barrage of complaints, county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke sent deputies to review conditions at the Carson shelter and then ordered Marcia Mayeda, the director of the county’s animal care agency, to report to the board on the Carson facility and the death of the puppy. Mayeda is expected to appear before the board today.

Coming into a shelter system "like this and trying to make change is like trying to change direction of the Titanic — or an aircraft carrier," said Mayeda, who has been at the helm of the department for 6 1/2 years. "Change doesn’t happen overnight. I can put out great new policies — and that’s the first step — but then the next step is getting everyone to buy into them."

During the last fiscal year, which ended in June, the county system took in 85,975 animals, roughly a third more than the city of Los Angeles. That number includes cats, dogs, rabbits, snakes — even livestock. In the same year, the county euthanized 16,989 dogs, 26,384 cats and 9,429 other animals.

County shelters, which serve unincorporated areas of the county as well as contract cities, are located in Agoura, Castaic, Baldwin Park, Downey, Lancaster and Carson.

Mayeda would not speak about specific allegations in the lawsuits, but she talked about the shelter system in general, which, she says, struggles to cope with a huge population of unwanted animals that arrive at county shelters.

Shown pictures of animals crowded, sometimes as many as eight to a kennel, in a Lancaster shelter, she said, "I would like to see that cut in half." But she noted that some of the photos circulated on the Internet show animals curled up together. "If you look at them, they’re all cuddled up together. They’re not fighting." Mayeda said the county planned to build another animal shelter in the Antelope Valley, which will relieve some of the crowding at the Lancaster facility.

Stray animals are held at least four days, not counting the day they are impounded. If the animal is microchipped or tagged, it is held 10 days as the county tries to find the owner. Sick or injured animals whose suffering can’t be alleviated may be euthanized right away. After that time, animals can be put up for adoption — or euthanized.

Space is at a premium in some shelters. Mayeda acknowledges that animals that stay for lengthy periods may become stressed by the time spent in kennels. Kennel cough and other respiratory ailments can spread quickly through the close quarters of a shelter.

"If we run animal shelters, we have to do it responsibly. And part of that means managing the population," said Mayeda, 43, who brings her own Great Pyrenees dog (a rescue) to work in Long Beach. "Nobody that works at animal shelters that I’ve ever met likes killing animals. It’s unfortunately a necessary part of the job for the greater health of the population at the shelter."

Part of what keeps animals moving out of the system is the network of private rescue organizations that take animals and place them in homes, often on the eve of their scheduled euthanasia. Volunteers help staff the shelters and alert private rescuers to animals they might want to take.

According to Mayeda, Zephyr entered the shelter Oct. 27 and was put on a "hold" by a volunteer Nov. 2. A hold means a volunteer will return within a few days to take the animal and arrange for an adoption or transport it to a rescue group. Mayeda said that while on hold, Zephyr became ill and was treated successfully. But the animal became sick again, and on Nov. 27, the shelter vet recommended that it be euthanized. The dog was found dead the morning of Dec. 1 by two volunteers.

Although some activists and rescuers said the cold contributed to the dog’s death, an independent necropsy found that Zephyr died of pneumonia. In addition, Mayeda said in her report, the Carson shelter’s heating system was working and the night temperature was in the low 50s.

In her report, Mayeda says the dog should have been moved out of the shelter sooner and notes that Zephyr was on hold for a month. "You can’t put a hold on an animal and keep it in limbo," Mayeda said in an interview.

Although Mayeda did not name the volunteer in the interview or her report to the board, the volunteer, who says she has been suspended by shelter officials from her volunteer work for unknown reasons, has a different story. Janet Taylor, who worked a little more than a year as a volunteer at Carson, denied she ever put an official hold on Zephyr. She did look at Zephyr and asked staff to call her if the dog was about to be put to sleep, or "PTS," as staffers call it.

"The actual note read ‘If to PTS, call Janet Taylor,’ " she said. "In other words, if she’s in any kind of danger, if the shelter is full, call Janet Taylor. I never got a call about her — ever."

Taylor said it was only by chance on a walk through the shelter on Nov. 30 that she saw how sick Zephyr was and then scrambled to line up a rescuer. The next morning, the dog was dead.

"I was a really good volunteer," Taylor said. "It’s unthinkable that they’ve done this to me. I didn’t kill that dog."

Taylor contends the Carson shelter was woefully understaffed, meaning animals sometimes didn’t get their prescribed medications.


Please ignore this post

June 2, 2008

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey – “The Puppy Mill Episode”

June 1, 2008

image The thing I noticed was missing from the Internet was a full copy of the Oprah Winfrey episode raising the awareness of the horror of puppy mills, the greed of pet stores that sell dogs, and the good that comes with dog adoption


If you haven’t seen this episode, it’s really worth seeing:  The animal world has been abuzz about this show that Oprah did because of the good that it did to raise awareness of the suffering that people shield their eyes from seeing every time they buy a dog from a pet store or the Internet. 

The Lessons To Be Learned are

  • 99% of all animals sold in pet stores or on the Internet are born in inhumane & abusive conditions. 
  • No legitimate breeder would sell their dogs in pet stores or over the Internet.
  • Don’t rationalize your purchase by thinking you’ve ‘saved’ a dog by buying one:  You do not save dogs by buying them from these people – you only perpetuate the problem and fund this terrible abuse.

Anyway, once I was able to record the episode on my own, I did some quick editing, and walla:  Piece of cake.  So here it is in all it’s glory in case you missed it.  Edited end-to-end, without commercial interruptions, into two trimmed videos – part 1 & part 2.  (The reason it’s not just one single video is because there’s a limit on how much you can upload to MSN Soapbox for playback, and the episode exceeds that limit so I had to split it into two parts)

Oprah Winfrey on Puppy Mills – Part 1


By the way, anyone that wants a copy of the entire edited video:  It’s 42 minutes & 37 seconds – approx. 170MB total in a multipart ZIP file.  (Get http://www.winzip.com to unpack it)


You need to download all 4 files into the same folder, then use WinZip to open it by double clicking on the OprahOnPuppyMills.zip file – this will extract the file OprahOnPuppyMills.wmv by stitching together the contents of all 4 50MB files and produce a single 170MB file.  (Let me repear:  Windows’ native ZIP functionality will NOT work – you must download and install WinZip from http://www.winzip.com.)

The resulting file requires Windows Media Player and is standard definition (i.e. TV broadcast) quality.  Mac users can download the software needed to play Windows Media HERE and Linux users can download MPlayer which will play Windows Media, HERE.

If you’re running another platform, or you can’t install the necessary Windows Media codecs, please leave me a comment and I’ll convert the file to another codec like MPEG4 or whatever it takes and repost it somewhere for you to download on a private site.