Charles L. Black on Louis Armstrong

I am in the middle of watching Ken Burns’ awesome Jazz DVD Set.  I never realized the importance of Louise Armstrong had in our music and culture:

Charlie Black, a freshman from University of Texas, happened to go see Louis Armstrong at a club in 1931.  He knew nothing of jazz and never heard of Louis Armstrong.

“He played mostly w/ his eyes closed.  Letting flow from that inner space of music things that had never existed.

He was the first genius I’d ever seen. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of a 16 year old southern boy seeing genius for the first time in a black person.

We literally never saw a black man in anything but a servants capacity.

Louis opened my eyes wide and put to me a choice:  Blacks, the saying went, were ‘all right in their place’, but what was the place of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung?'”

Charles L. Black
Excerpt from Ken Burns’ Jazz Documentary

Charles L. Black went on to become a distinguished teacher of Constitutional Law at Yale and in 1954 was on the team of lawyers to convince the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education that segregating school children on the basis of race and color was unconstitutional.


The Best Roasted Chicken Recipe

This chicken recipe consists of making a “compound butter” consisting of garlic, spices and butter and sticking it under the chicken skin while it cooks.

I have made this a half dozen times and each time people are completely blown away on how good it is.

The only problem I keep running into having to watch the video each time to figure out the recipe because for some reason, the I’m Cooked website is broken and won’t email it to me.

Here is the recipe followed by the video where I learned about it:

  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • Thyme / Rosemary to taste (I like a lot)
  • Lemon Zest
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tspn Salt
  • 1 tspn Black Pepper

Follow the directions in the video and cook it for about an hour at 400 degrees until the breast internal temperature is 160 degrees.

Save Money – Get DSL Without a Phone Line

Here is a great tip that could save you over $500 a year:  You no longer need to keep a home phone just for internet access.

Costs and Savings

Historically, DSL or “Digital Subscriber Line” worked over your home phone line, which forced us to have to pay for basic phone service in order to get DSL.

Not only is this no longer true, but you would be astounded how much money you could save by eliminating the phone cost.

For example, my wife and I never use our home phone – it was a number we gave out to people that we didn’t want to talk to.  For this ability we were paying the BARE MINIMUM $9 a month.  But after scrutinizing our bill each month, we were actually paying $22 with all the surcharges and taxes added in.  FOR BARE MINIMUM SERVICE AND NO PHONE PLAN.

If you add a phone plan and long distance, you can easily be paying $40 or $50 a month.  And most of you don’t realize that you are paying probably another $10 a month for Caller ID, *69 and other product.  My mother-in-law pays over $60 a month!

Here are the current published rates for AT&T DSL with Phone:

AT&T Normal Rates

and then for just DSL:

AT&T Naked DSL Rates

So although you will pay about $10 extra for the naked DSL, you should be saving $20 – $40 in phone charges.

My Experience

I found out about this last year when I saw a story about Naked DSL from Arstechnica, and then went about figuring out how to make it work.  I called my carrier, AT&T, and asked for “Naked DSL”.

The representative was surprised I knew of the term and proceeded to ask me how I knew of it and even told me of the savings.

At one point in the call, he tried to “do his job” by telling me that I could get basic phone service for “just” $9 a month.  I replied, “After all the fees it was more like $20”, and he laughed and agreed. (Pretty funny he said that.)

All in all it took a solid thirty minutes where I learned the following:

  1. Instead of a phone number, I would have a “Dry Loop Number”.  So when I call in and they ask for my phone number, this is what I give them.  DON’T EVER LOSE THIS NUMBER – TRUST ME.
  2. To switch over to my new “number”, I needed to schedule a day for it to happen where I can be without internet service for a bit.

I scheduled the switch-over to happen while I was out of town for Independence day, so when I would get back it would just be magically working.

But then we started getting bills from AT&T with my old phone number for 0 dollars two months in a row.

Then our internet just stopped working.

When I called AT&T, they asked for my phone number, and not knowing that I had to remember my Dry Loop Number, they couldn’t help me.  They told me to look at my bill, but it only showed my old number.

After about two hours of holding, screaming, and talking to supervisors, someone finally found my number.

Apparently my account was not transferred correctly over, so for the last month I was still using my old internet account, which just got shut off.

They fixed the problem, and then after I rebooted my modem, internet was back on.


I have found that the main way the carriers will scare you into keeping your phone is by telling you that you won’t have 911 access.  So be aware that if you really want this ability, you need to keep your phone.  We have several cell phones, so as long as one is always near us, it isn’t that important.

Secondly, if you have a home security system that relies on having a home phone, you will either have to upgrade it to to use a wireless module (which is safer anyway), use a service that can communicate over the internet, or turn it off.

In Conclusion

With people looking for many ways to save money, this could be a simple action, with minimal impact to do so.

While it is not for everyone, it is a no-brainer for those willing to try it.

Stevie Wonder’s Election Night Toast

Recounting the story of seeing Stevie Wonder at Mr. Chow’s in Beverly Hills on election night, Taylor Swift told this story to Ryan Seacrest this morning on his radio show:

“…Half way through the meal, they dim all the music in the restaurant and it was completely silent and one of the waiters said:

“Hey, somebody wants to make a toast.”

And Stevie Wonder stood up.

I will never forget this for as long as I live, and I was just like, ‘Remember his words, remember his words…’

He stood up and said:

‘This is for all the people who fought for this country and died so that we could vote today.

This is for the people who live their lives with love.

This is for the people who live their lives with hatred because they were only trying to be loved.

This is for all the believers.

This is for all the non-believers.

This is for all the people who died in the past without ever getting the chance to vote that we got today.

And this is for the future generations and my future family who will get to vote.’

Then he toasted his mother who died two years ago.

And he ended it with:

‘…and this is for everyone here tonight who’s goal is to make this country and this world far better than it has ever been.

God bless you all.’

Ellen Degeneres said she was sobbing in the restaurant and my brother-in-law said he was crying in the car when she recounted it.

A Parent Must Have: Flip Video Camcorder

Every parent goes through a video phase where they want to document their kids life. Most realize pretty fast that their $1,000 HD video camera purchase was a waste since:

  1. It’s a pain carrying around the video camera
  2. Extemporanous moments don’t happen because to catch it you would be forced to shoot ALL the time.
  3. No one wants to watch two hours of videos
  4. Editing two hours of video takes a LONG time

So after the first video session, the video camera is forever left in the box.  And if it is ever used, the video it produces just sits on a disc never to be edited.

For these reasons, I vowed to never carry one until I ran across the the Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder.  I bought it two weeks ago and am loving every minute of it.

It handles every single complaint and makes it a joy to take videos:

  1. It is incredibly small – about the size of a large cell phone.
  2. It only holds 60 minutes, so it trains you to shoot shorts videos
  3. The USB dongle pops out the side, so all you do is plug it into your computer, edit the video (if you need to) and save it to your computer, then simply browse to YouTube or Flickr and upload your video.
  4. There is only like three buttons, so if an event is about to happen, you turn it on, then press the big red “record” button all in about 5 seconds.
  5. And best of all, it’s only $130!

It was so cheap in fact, I also bought the waterproof case so that I can use it during swimming lessons.

The funny thing is, after I tell people how awesome it is, they ask me, “Does it shoot in HD?”.

It’s like we are so ingrained as consumers to buy the most tricked out gadget, we forget about real-world-ease-of-use.

“NO it does not do HD. This camera is all about FAST, CHEAP & EASY.”

And after they use the camera and upload their first video in under a minute, they agree. HD would unnecessarily complicate a perfect device.

Here is an example from one hour ago.  Because it is so small, I just always have it on me so that when a funny moment is about to occur, we are ready (I can’t figure out how to embed from flickr):

A definite 5 out of 5 stars in my book, and is now a staple next to my cell phone on any outing – no matter how mundane.

Now playing: ElbowFriend Of Ours

Ebay’s Paypal Shipping Is Raping You

I just sold an old video camera on ebay for $203. The buyer paid via paypal, and normally my next step is to go into paypal to print the shipping information.

This time instead of presenting me with the buyers shipping information, Paypal prompted me to try to their new UPS Shipping solution.  Paypal said they had worked out a special deal for their users, so I decided to try it.

For my 5 lb, 10” x 10” x 8” box, Paypal told me it would cost $21.40.  I paid it, thinking I would just verify how much it should cost at the shipping place down the street.

I printed out the UPS label from, taped it to the box, and took it to the drop off.

I asked the guy there how much this *would* of cost if I had shipped it through him.

His answer?  $14.40!

I called my buddy who does a lot of UPS shipping and he let me know of UPS shipping calculator of that will tell you how much it *should* cost to ship.  This way, he told me, you can find the exact amount you should pay if you went straight to a UPS center with no middle men.

So I found my UPS account (I have a UPS account?) and created a shipment.

After all my configuring, UPS said it should cost $12.62!

To compare apples to appeles, I was able to save $2.70 because Paypal automatically declared $203 of the package, which wasn’t necessary when you are insured for $200 for free on every shipment.

But at least UPS tells me the breakdown of the payment, so I can intellegently figure it out.

But even still, the fact that paypal is raping me almost $7 on a $15 shipment makes me want to puke.

Now playing: Juliette and the LicksKiller

Google Reader Broken In Firefox

Google unveiled their new “Notes” feature yesterday, and ever since I can’t use it in Firefox 2 (even Safe Mode).

This is what I see:

Google Reader

The errors below it are:

in file 1104796821-en-scr… (line 205)
missing } after function body
var Zs=”entry-via-link”;Qs.prototype.gC=function(a,b){if(!a||a.length==0)return;…

in file reading-list (line 111)
_FR_scrollMain is not defined
var userId = “GR-” + parseInt(_USER_ID, 10).toString(16);

Now playing: Nine Inch NailsLetting You

Nasty IIS/ASP Querystring Cookie Case Bug

I just stumbled on a nasty, nasty ASP bug that took about 7 years for me to see.

The problem happens when using cookies and querystrings with the same name. A page on the site reads in a variable from the querystring and sets a cookie with the same name to its value, e.g.:

strSrc = Request.QueryString(“A”)
Response.Cookies(“A”) = strSource
Response.Cookies(“A”).Expires = Now + (2 * 30)

However, if the variable name in the query string is different from the capitalization of the cookie name (e.g page.asp?a=xxx) then a new cookie gets set with the name matching the captialization of the
QueryString variable.

So if you run the page multiple ways, a=123 and A=123, two different cookies are set EVEN THOUGH YOUR CODE SAYS Response.Cookies(“A”) = strSource!

Attempting to read the cookie value back then returns both values. Reading the cookie value via Request.ServerVariables(“HTTP_COOKIE”) shows both values.

If your code is looking for the “A” cookie later on and there are two cookes there, you will only see the “A” one, which may not be the one you want.

Since I ran into this, I did see other complain about this as far back as 2003: here, here, here.