The Column

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Alvin ... AL-vin ... ALVIN!

So formerly-unknown Senatorial candidate Alvin Greene wants to debate incumbent Jim DeMint?

This ought to be good. Or maybe not.

The Big Picture, whoever they are, spent a little time talking to Greene recently. To his credit, he sounds a little more together in this interview, but it still doesn't bode well for his debate chances:

This campaign isn't even going to be funny ...


Gamecocks take College World Series title

How 'bout those Gamecocks!

BELIEVE IT - The Gamecocks win:

BELIEVE IT - The Gamecocks win

OMAHA, Neb. - You can breathe again, South Carolina. Your Gamecocks are coming home. And they're bringing the national championship trophy with them. (from the Post & Courier)

Barnburner of a game. Tied 1-1 in the 11th inning, UCLA's closer Dan Klein pitching. Klein pitched well; four K's in three-plus innings -- a long stretch for a closer. But that one hit, well ... that one hit was by infielder-outfielder Whit Merrifield, who sprung Scott Wingo for the winning run.

For the record, although I've come to like the Gamecocks over the years, they're not exactly the team I grew up on. Shoot, in Southern California UCLA and the other USC were it. USC had Rod Dedeaux coaching them forever, and he had players like Ron Fairly, Don Buford, Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman, Roy Smalley, Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire, and Randy Johnson. And yeah, Cal State Fullerton always had some great teams. But UCLA? Basketball was their game, not baseball.

Good game. And closing out a great season for the 'Cocks.



Jam Session: Some bass commentary, Stanley Clarke style

On The Jam Session, Reloaded:

Stanley Clarke, now 59 years old, rips it up on upright and electric bass. His music served as a bridge between jazz and funk, and he hangs in with the young guys quite well.

Check out the sounds!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Geography lesson, or Where's Arizona?

This came from commentator Neal Boortz, and it is proof positive that intelligence and/or a knowledge of geography are not required for elected officials. 

But then, Wisconsin is a long way from Arizona. Almost a different country. Oh, wait ...


Boortz: "OK .. now that I have made my sermon. Watch this video. This is Democrat County Supervisor Peggy West of Milwaukee demonstrating her exceptional knowledge of geography during a meeting. Unbelievable. You people of Milwaukee should be ashamed."

Too bad the video ends right there, without showing West's reaction for being so badly shown up. So I offer another snippet of video that may capture the county supervisor's reaction:

Thank you, Gilda!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Airport security: A modest proposal

I'm not sure who originally wrote this, but I like the idea. It was one of those Fw: emails that crosses my transom, sent by my mom.

In all, it sounds like a good workable solution. Later with all these pat-downs at the airport security line and invading your carry-on luggage. This is quick, clean (well, sort of), and cheap in the long run.

Here it is:

Here's the solution to all the controversy over full-body scanners and racial profiling at the airports:

Have a booth that you can step into that will not x-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your body. It would be a win-win for everyone, and there would be none of this crap about racial profiling and this method would eliminate a long and expensive trial. Justice would be quick and swift.

This is so simple that it's brilliant. I can see it now. You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system, "Attention standby passengers. We now have a seat available on flight number 4665 .... Paging maintenance. Shop Vac needed in booth number 4."

See, it could work. Who's with me on this?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Technology takes a holiday: A trip up the mountain

As published in HubPages:

... I checked my own cell phone. It's a plain-vanilla model with no camera and no mp3 player, but I can still control much of my online life through text messages. Like the others, I'm showing no signal-strength bars. And for the first time since I've had that phone, the "no service" message was on the screen ... the hike up the mountain is rigorous enough that you need to pack light, so forget about bringing the laptop. Besides, that won't matter; there's no wireless connection available and no electricity in the cabins. You're roughing it. Tech takes a holiday on this trip ...

Now that we've sufficiently whetted your appetite, go on over and read the rest, OK?

Or just check out my entire HubPages site. That's where I hide my best writing.

Sullivan's Island moves to ban singing, whistling, and the like on public streets

I'm pretty sure these laws are not written by someone who is from around here. There's no way. 

From the Digitel:

Sullivan's Island moves to ban singing, whistling, and the like on public streets (update: CNN picks up): "Update, June 23: What was that? The sound of a national network picking up the local News 2 report? Yes, it is. Check out the video on CNN.First reporting: Yes, it seems very silly, but they're copying the wording of a North Charleston ordinance already..."

I wrote about this some time ago, when Charleston approved an anti-smoking law (modeled after similar ones in New York City and the People's Republic of California):

... the smoking law came from elsewhere ... like it or not, Charleston is a town of transplants. A destination town. A lot of expatriate New Yorkers, people from Ohio looking for a warm place to sit, and a bunch of escapees from Atlanta's rat race. Mostly east coast people, though. I was once considered an oddity because of my California roots (although that's considered to be plenty odd anywhere). Now, there's a bunch more like me. Maybe I should apologize for kicking that door open; everybody wants to be the last person to move to a new area ... write this down. People who move to another area tend to want a couple of things: First, they're seeking a new life. And, once that's achieved (or not), they seek to make that new town Just Like Home ...  

Rick Huff, the late Bard of Folly Beach, wrote a song called "Come On Down," an open invitation for anyone to visit this area just so long as they remember to pack their manners. In his song he decried those folks who move in, feel the need to change things, and "get themselves appointed to Decidedly Ridiculous Boards:" 

Come on down.

You can tell us how to run our little town;

Yeah, come on down. 

Don't know how we made it this far without you around ...

Couldn't say that much better myself.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Haley, Scott make history with nominations in S.C. runoffs

Allegations of an extramarital affair didn't seem to hurt gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, as she easily beat Gresham Barrett for the Republican nomination for South Carolina Governor.

Meanwhile, Tim Scott beat out a "name" contender in his push to become the first black Republican to serve in Congress since Oklahoma's J.C. Watts left office in 2003.

Few knew who Haley was six months ago, and one month ago political blogger Will Folks claimed he had something going on with the candidate. But Haley easily won the nomination Tuesday, with 63 percent of the vote at last count. Her opponent in November is Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. If she wins, she becomes the state's first female governor.

Haley had some strong endorsements in the bag during her run for Governor, with Sarah Palin and current South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford -- who knows something about cheating spouses -- throwing their support behind her.

Scott, considered a long shot several months ago, beat Paul Thurmond -- son of Palmetto State legend Strom Thurmond -- for the nomination. He faces Democrat Ben Frasier in the general election.


Gov. Sanford gone again, but no AT this time

Deja Moo: the feeling you've heard that bull before.

This is from The State, the newspaper in South Carolina's capital city of Columbia:

Where’s Gov. Sanford?: "

Nearly one year to the day that Gov. Mark Sanford embarked on a secret trip to Argentina and turned S.C. politics on its ear, Sanford’s whereabouts are unknown to the press and the public ... Monday, Sanford’s spokesman Ben Fox told The State Sanford is on “personal time” but declined to say where the governor is ... Sanford is due back in the office this morning, Fox said ... he spent most of the Father’s Day weekend with his four sons, and the governor has been in communication with his staff over the weekend and Monday, Fox added ... State Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd said Sanford has security with him but would not elaborate ..."

He was back in his office Tuesday; no worries. According to the Huffington Post:

Mark Sanford Disappears AGAIN: South Carolina Gov Takes Vacation Without Alerting Lt. Gov. Of His Whereabouts

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is back in the office after again taking a vacation without telling the lieutenant governor where he was ... Sanford spokesman Ben Fox would not say Tuesday where the governor was, except to say he's been off ... last June, Sanford disappeared and then returned to the state to say he had been in Argentina visiting a woman he later called his 'soulmate.' Sanford and his wife, Jenny, divorced in March ... Fox says Sanford spent most of the Father's Day weekend with his four sons and just took Monday off ... Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said Monday no one told him where the governor was. Fox says the office doesn't do that because Sanford remains in contact with staff.

This time, no one seemed to be worried. He's already had his, uhh, hiking trip behind him. His political career and marriage are both over, so he doesn't need a cover story. No one raised an alarm this time.


SC runoff election: If you're clueless, don't vote

Got this from The State, 'cause the South Carolina runoff primary election (the what?) is today.


Runoffs on ballot: "Today is a big day for S.C. Republicans, who are choosing nominees for four statewide races and three congressional races. Most eyes will be on the race for governor, as Republicans will choose between U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, who is attempting to become the party’s first female and minority nominee.

1 story that will make national headlines

Republican diversity: If Republicans nominate Indian-American Nikki Haley for governor and African-American Tim Scott in the 1st Congressional District, South Carolina will have given the often diversity-challenged GOP two minorities who will likely be favorites in the fall.

2 things you should know

No party switching: Voters who cast ballots two weeks ago can’t switch parties. For example, if you voted in the Democratic primary then you can only vote in the Democratic runoff."

OK. Here's the deal. If you'd rather watch American Idol, then do so and please sit this election out. If you totally lack any clue about government functions, stay home.

If you need someone to tell you who to vote for, don't waste space in the polling booth. And if you don't know why this runoff is even necessary, then don't vote. There are worse things than not voting.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spreading some Rahsaan, 'cause I can

Quick: Who's this guy? Besides a totally insane genius, that is ... 

There's more in The Jam Session Reloaded, which I hadn't maintained in some time. Good subject matter to restart it on.


Getting a handle on Alvin Greene

So who is this Alvin Greene character, and why is he an actual nominee for a U.A. Senate seat from South Carolina?

It's still a mystery. But he will run against Jim DeMint this year. That noise you hear is the sound of Democrats circling the wagons.

Understand, Demint is probably near the top of the Dems' take-em-out list. DeMint shows strong conservative chops, and he's become a favorite of red-state folks everywhere. He was considered vulnerable until last week's primary. 

Greene won the primary with slightly less than 60 percent of the vote, beating out former judge and legislator Vic Rawl in the process. No one is real sure why; Greene has no money. He has no name recognition. He has no job. He's a former military guy who was "involuntarily discharged" from the service six months before his hitch was to end. He faces obscenity charges; something about allegedly showing pornographic pictures to a college girl. None of this stuff came out until after the primaries.

And if you listen to this guy talk, well, you know he's out of his league. He can barely string a coherent thought together. First few sound clips I heard of him, I thought, man, that's some pretty strong medication he's on.

In the days following the primary election,  Rob Groce of The Examiner visited Greene at his Manning home in an attempt to get a handle on this guy. Groce, a rock-solid Democrat who was chosen as national delegate from his home district in 2008, came away with an uneasy feeling:

Meeting Alvin Greene

That eerie feeling of being stuck in a still shot from “The Last Picture Show” came upon me once again as I turned my head to look around.When I later saw the photos, I noticed that Greene’s appearance and expression seems unchanged in each one. Frozen. Blank. Distant.Lost.Before I walked into Greene’s home, I was still incensed from the dreadful results of the primary election.When I walked out, though, I felt despondent, and not because of the election results that somehow got him the nomination. I felt so sad because it was obvious that Greene … well … isn’t quite all there. In my layman’s opinion, and which might not mean much to some, I think there may be some medical reason.And I don’t think he was always like this, either. After all, media confirmed that he majored in political science at the Univ. of South Carolina, graduating in 2000. In the military, he worked in intelligence. But he wound being involuntarily discharged from service six months early, and while in a much lower role than his first field of military intelligence.That could indicate that something happened to Greene. An injury, maybe? A medical problem that’s affected his behavior and response? PTSD? I’ll never know the cause, I guess. And don’t really care to know, since it’s none of my business to begin with.As a voting citizen of South Carolina, though, the elections here are my business. And Alvin Greene is clearly unable to hold office ...  

I don't think this Greene drama is over yet. Rawl is challenging the results, and filed a formal protest earlier this week. The national media is laughing -- again -- at South Carolina, and voters in the Palmetto State are just plain bumfuddled. 

Although he is the party's nominee, Greene's probably not going to count on getting a lot of support from there. According to House Majority Whip James Clyburn:

No, I don't see myself getting behind Mr. Greene. The fact of the matter is, of course, I never said he was a Republican plant. I said he was someone's plant. And it turned up after the elections, we found out, as I said earlier, something untoward was going on ... now all of a sudden, we see that Congressman Joe Wilson -- his campaign manager, was, in fact, managing the campaign of my primary opponent. I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern, I know a Republican pattern, and I saw in the Democratic primary elephant dung all over the place ... and so I knew something was wrong in that primary. And this result tells us that. People intentionally circumvented the law, the rules and regulations, did not file any disclosures, did not file any of their campaign finances, yet they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars running this campaign and broke every law.

Don't you just love politics? Isn't it better than daytime TV?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery Senate nominee Alvin Greene swears he's serious; few agree

Just when you thought a little sanity had finally entered South Carolina politics, well, forget it!

Welcome to the political world, South Carolina style.

On Tuesday, some guy named Alvin Greene won the Democratic primary for United States Senate, to go against conservative Jim Demint.

Alvin who?

That's what the Democrats are wondering. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn called for an investigation into the campaign. Party leaders are calling for Greene to step aside and let a real candidate run. Some party officials have even questioned his mental state. Greene, however, is saying he'll continue his run.

It's pretty obvious that South Carolina Democrats had a mass rectal-cranial inversion when they went to the voting booths this time around. 

By all accounts the 32-year-old Greene is an unemployed veteran, and no one is sure where he was able to pony up the $10,400 filing fee.

On top of that, Greene was arrested last November for felony obscenity, which he chooses not to comment on. But none of this stuff came up until after his nomination.

He beat out former legislator Victor Rawl for the nomination, with 59 percent of the vote. Besides his background, Rawl has a campaign war chest of $186,000 while Greene doesn't have a pot to pee in.

"60 percent (of the vote) is not luck," Greene told MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann. "It's a decisive win."

Interesting, considering he really didn't campaign. No one knew who he was. There was no indication he did any traveling. there is an "unofficial" website for him, which he says is not an authoritative campaign site. There was also a Twitter account for him, but he said that was not his either. It has since been taken down; a wise move considering he has far fewer followers than even my modest 635.

And Democrats are saying Greene is nothing but a Republican plant, a tomato can set up to run against top target DeMint. But Greene says that isn't so.

"I have always been a Democrat, and I will always be a Democrat."

His chief campaign pitch is the need for jobs. That's a natural one for Greene, as he also needs a job.

You absolutely must check out this interview with Olbermann. It's a real hoot. Folks on Twitter are calling it "the most WTF interview ever" (I'm not gonna explain what that means). Greene sounds out of it, uncomfortable, inarticulate in the interview, even with Olbermann's softball questions.

According to Mother Jones Magazine, Greene is on intimate terms with these WTF moments:

"Greene insists that he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses from his own personal funds. 'It was 100 percent out of my pocket. I'm self-managed. It's hard work, and just getting my message to supporters. I funded my campaign 100 percent out of my pocket and self-managed,' said Greene, who sounded anxious and unprepared to speak to the public. But despite his lack of election funds, Greene claims to have criss-crossed the state during his campaign—though he declined to specify any of the towns or places he visited or say how much money he spent while on the road. 'It wasn't much, I mean, just, it was—it wasn't much. Not much, I mean, it wasn't much, he said, when asked how much of his own money he spent in the primary. Greene frequently spoke in rapid-fire, fragmentary sentences, repeating certain phrases or interrupting himself multiple times during the same sentence while he searched for the right words. But he was emphatic about certain aspects of his candidacy, insisting that details about his campaign organization, for instance, weren't relevant. 'I'm not concentrating on how I was elected -- it's history. I'm the Democratic nominee -- we need to get talking about America back to work, what's going on, in America.' 

Has anybody figured out what he said yet? If so, please email me a translation.

Imagine how he'd do in a real debate, or in a conversation with a real reporter, providing there are any of those left. He'd be chopped up into cat food.

Not that this seems to make any difference with South Carolina Democrats. They voted for a name and a face, with no other information.

Shoot, if voters are that stupid, they deserve whatever candidate they get.

Meanwhile, it looks like it's gonna be fun times in good ol' South Kackilacky this November.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sort of a bear encounter: Hiking trip

As published in HubPages:

That's when the manager of the lodge announced that there was some recent bear activity on the property, and we should move all our baggage from our porches. Some folks moved right away to take care of their gear, but none of my group bothered. Recent bear activity usually means it could happen. So could being struck by lightning or winning the state lottery ... what the manager didn't say was that there was some bear activity going on right this very moment. Now, that's a whole 'nother thing ... we finished dinner and went back to our cabin, and all of our stuff was moved inside. And this ranger was still running around, with a dart gun in his hand ...

So? Don't just sit there. Read the story!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

If it's on the Internet, it must be true: Photoshop or not

Don't you love this Photoshop thing?

Pictures can't be considered real evidence anymore. Now, photos can be doctored so you can't tell what's real and what isn't. And about a zillion people can doctor photos right there on their computer and release them on the Internet.

And you know how it works from there. It's on the Internet so you know it's true, right? If you believe that, I know a Nigerian princess who is willing to share her vast fortune with you.

I knew where photo technology was headed in the early 1990s when I was working for the Mohave County (Arizona) Standard. Matt Wanner, the publisher there, had a brand new camera he was dying to show me.

It looked like one of those cameras you used to get for free when you renewed your subscription to Sports Illustrated, but there was a port on the side where you could plug it into your computer. I was looking at my first digital camera. The camera cost a short stack of hundred-dollar bills back then; such is the way with brand new technology.

"Watch this," Matt said as he took my picture. A minute later, my image showed up on the screen. Then he proceeded to alter that photo, using a new program called Photoshop.

"Wow," I said as I watched my nose grow on the screen. OK, there are times I may dump a whole load of Bravo Sierra in your lap, but I thought the nose-growing thing only happened with Gepetto's creation.

On screen, Matt proceeded to give me a haircut. I know there was some psychodrama involved there; back then a lot of my employers were after me to get my hair cut. I'd usually come back with two estimates, but that's another story.

"That's a pretty amazing thing," I said, although inside I had this chilly feeling. Nothing is safe anymore. The practice of journalism was history as of that day.

"You mean I can take part of one photo, part of another photo, and call it real?" I asked.

True, Matt said.

"You mean I can take a picture of the President and put him in bed with Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and create my own sex scandal?" Hey, I'm a journalist. You know that thought has crossed my mind at least once.

There's a joke there, by the way. The president then was Bill Clinton, the original "pants on the ground" guy when that expression meant something entirely different from what it does now. And Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations, was probably the only woman in history who could make Nancy Pelosi look hot. Not even Photoshop could help either one of them.

It's not just Photoshop. There are a few other graphics editors that can doctor your photos just as well. My computer has GIMP, which is pretty close and a whole lot cheaper (try free). But you don't GIMP a photo, but you can sure Photoshop it. That program is now part of the language.

OK. I promised. Some Photoshopped works:

This is PrezBo in the wake of the ever-growing BP oil spill.

And you mustn't forget George Bush, checking out the scene of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Suffice it to say, BP may become Obama's Katrina. But you already figured that.

Oh yeah. Here's me, playing the last set of a two-day bluegrass festival. I was in four different bands and each of those bands played at least one gig at the festival -- plus a Saturday night show elsewhere that ran into overtime.

If I can't get my coffee in the morning, there's always Photoshop. I might even look human.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

'Cause I deserve it -- next question?

I'll be taking off on a camping trip tomorrow morning, and I sure don't plan to work.

Part of this includes a hike up Mount Le Conte (up in the Great Smokies, Tennessee) with some friends, and a whole bunch of fun.

I also don't plan to do any work during this time. Don't ask.

Unless a bear eats me, I should be back Wednesday night.

Then I'll think about work.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Update: John Wooden dies at 99

Like the man said:

"Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books — especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day."

Other Woodenisms:

"Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow."

"Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you."

Those 10 NCAA basketball championships with UCLA seem to be a mere footnote to the man's life.

The sports scene needs more guys like this. Shoot, the whole world at large needs more guys like this.


John Wooden Hospitalized, In 'Grave' Condition: Report

Greatest coach of 'em all, and his life and teachings transcend college basketball.

This is according to the Huffington Post:

John Wooden Hospitalized, In 'Grave' Condition: Report: "

LOS ANGELES — Former UCLA basketball coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden was reportedly hospitalized in Los Angeles on Thursday night ... Los Angeles television station KCAL and the Los Angeles Times reported that the 99-year-old Wooden was in 'grave' condition at UCLA Medical Center.The Times cited an anonymous school source who said Wooden's health has been an issue in recent weeks and that he was briefly hospitalized about a month ago. UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins told The Associated Press that he spoke to a Wooden family member Thursday evening and that the family asked that no other information about Wooden be released ... UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said she couldn't confirm whether Wooden was there or not because it would be a 'violation of medical privacy laws' ... family members couldn't be reached for comment Thursday by the AP.

Some background:

Wooden led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships – at one time winning seven in a row – during a 27-year run that ended with his team cutting down the nets one last time in 1975 ... the Bruins won 88 consecutive games from 1971-74 and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games from 1964-74, both records ... NBA commissioner David Stern was asked about Wooden's contributions to the sport of basketball before Game 1 of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on Thursday night ... "We decided that we would not declare his obituary now, other than to say that he's the winningest coach in our history, four 30-0 seasons, and the ultimate aficionado of our game,' Stern said. 'We hope he's in peace right now, and we'll wait on events." Former UCLA great Bill Walton was at the finals and said he visited Wooden on Tuesday, but that he would "let his family do the talking."

How amazing is Wooden?

He coached a pair of troublesome young stars back in UCLA. One, an angry and isolated young black, known then as Lew Alcindor, who was incredibly gifted and incredibly tall. Later, Wooden coached a young white guy who was getting into political comment and late 1960s-early 1970s counterculture. But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton both had fine basketball careers, and both grew up under Wooden's eye.

And his definition of success:

(Success) is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did the best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

So straightforward. It doesn't get much better than that, and that's something the great minds have been wrestling with for centuries.

Here's Wooden's philosophy in an easy-to-follow graphic:

If it's unreadable here, go to this site for a blown-up version. Or check out the John R. Wooden Course.




Thursday, June 3, 2010

Greetings from Arizona: New posters seen here and there

'Nuff said. Especially the second one.

This was originally published in Nealz Nuze by talk show host Neal Boortz.


Sent in by Winston.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Multitasking while driving? Survey shows how many people do what

Distracted driving? How distracted?

I found this in, which links to an article in Wired. The upshot is, folks will do just about everything under the sun when they should be driving and paying attention. 

Survey: 15% Of Drivers Getting Their Swerve On While Driving: "

From cell phones to stereos to billboards to those pesky other vehicles on the road, driving a car comes with a whole host of distractions. A new survey attempts to quantify just how many people are being distracted by the various and sundry things vying for drivers' attention.

The online survey, conducted by cell phone headset makers Jabra, came up with some interesting -- if not terribly scientific -- results.

Among the more lurid: 15% of respondents admitted to having "performed sex or other sexual acts” while driving, though what exactly "other sexual acts" means is left to the filthy part of your imagination. And, as the folks at pointed out, the survey required no proof of respondents' carnal car exploits.

Meanwhile, 35% of those surveyed said they had changed articles of clothing while in the driver's seat. One would have to guess that at least some of these people belong to the 15% mentioned above.

On the high end, 72% of respondents admitted to eating or drinking a beverage while behind the wheel.

Though just about everyone has used their cell phone in the car, only 1/3 of those in the survey use a headset of some sort. Also, despite being illegal in more than half the U.S., 28% say they have texted while driving; 12% confessed to reading and sending e-mails.

More frightening, at least to me, are the 5% who admitted to having played video games during a driving session. I just hope they weren't playing MarioKart.

Says a dude from Jabra's parent company:

It is truly unbelievable what people are doing while driving... The results of our survey show that so many people are distracted and doing other things while on the road — even though they know the consequences that can occur. We hope that people will soon understand the implications of these bad behaviors and will change their own behavior accordingly.

Of course, part of 'changing their behavior' would mean 'buying more Jabra headsets.'

Which of these risky behaviors do you exhibit? Do you do something dangerous that didn't make the list?

Surprising Number of People Get It On While Driving []

OK, boys and girls. Heavy confession time, and you can call this my own at-the-wheel bucket list. I have:

- Eaten while driving

- Trimmed my beard while driving.

- Consumed coffee at the wheel. Of course. I consume coffee any time, while doing anything, for any reason.

- Played harmonica while driving. Sometimes I've done this on my way to a gig, having a warmup set on some state highway.

- Talked on the phone while driving, both with and without a headset.

- Sent text messages while at the wheel. Once. It terrified me, so I gave up the practice immediately.

- Read newspapers, or more likely maps, while driving.

- Played CDs while driving, including changing out a disk. And, while riding a bicycle, cycled through song lists on an mp3 player.

- Fought drunk passengers while driving; one of the things I don't miss about my taxi driving days.

- Written while driving. With the clipboard on the console, steering with one hand, and without looking at what I was writing. I used to do that quite often in my newspaper days. Amazingly, I was able to read what I wrote.

- Made obscene gestures at a Presidential candidate while driving. Seriously. It was Walter Mondale in 1984. He was in a motorcade en route from San Bernardino to L.A., and his escorting officers had all freeway drivers pull to the right and stop. I did, I was ticked, and I gave the famous gesture when his limo blazed by at 90 mph. Since I was stopped, I had both hands free and I was able to use both for the double bird. I'm still amazed I wasn't arrested.

- Driven barefoot. It really is not illegal. I usually do this on long hauls; the better to feel the pedals. You actually get better gas mileage this way.

- Changed clothes while driving. Unfortunately, I always ended up looking like I dressed in the dark.

Did I ever, as the article suggests, "get my swerve on" at the wheel? None of your business. I ain't sayin' nothing. I'll take the Fifth.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So you think your day sucks?

These folks in Guatemala ... now they're having a real bad day.

This jumbo sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City after the area got drenched by Tropical Storm Agatha. OK, the area's cruddy drainage system didn't help much, but you get the idea.

This big hole is about 30 meters across, 60 meters deep, and reportedly ate a three-story building.