Mr. Steve Ballmer


Microsoft Corp.

One Microsoft Way

Redmond, WA 98052-6399


Dear Sir:



How did I end up here? I write to you on a Mac, since my PC (IBM/Lenovo T60) is inoperable using Window’s Vista Business software.

The computer is just a year old and has been productively in use about 1 month during that time. By way of Lenovo’s warranty, it has had nearly all parts replaced, HDD, planar card, DIMM, and yet still no joy when trying to use Vista OS, the computer is completely unstable, plagued by BSOD’s, cryptic messages from Windows—Message, Shadow, Host, etc., that render the computer useless. No online solutions are available from Microsoft, even after Vista’s SP1 was installed. I think you get the picture.

I would offer the following observations as a longtime (since 1987) Microsoft OS user:

·       I have switched over to Mac for personal and business computer requirements and solely due to the lack of reliable financial software for Mac, continue to run any PC with Windows at all

·       Amazingly, I am DOWNGRADING Vista OS to XP, hoping to make use of a $2000 laptop PC

·       My sister, and soon her kids, and my business partner have all switched to Macs; the implications of viral marketing are not lost on you

·       Current TV ads by Apple illuminate frustration of Vista’s shortcomings and blogs and forums are replete with examples of its failure as a reliable operating system

·       Lenovo’s  Web site offers new laptops with  an XP downgrade DVD!

·       Olympics’ staff in China will use Windows XP for all mission-critical operations

I reiterate; how did I end up here?  More to the point, how did storied Microsoft end up here?





I’ve  not enjoyed drop-dead gorgeous weather this Labor Day weekend; why I embarked on setting up my new Thinkpad laptop and  its configuration of Windows Vista will forever remain a mystery to me. Better off I would have been preparing for an IRS audit; there exists a sorry state of affair among  Windows OS,  3rd party hardware, and 3rd party software. The three are like Jews, Arabs and Indians trying to get along. They don’t, by and large. But such is the nature of the personal computer business.


Setting up this Thinkpad has cost me about 12 hours, time spent, downloading Windows updates, Lenovo updates, new printer drivers, more Lenovo updates, and Microsoft Office updates; activation and registration of much more software. And the irony is that from time I turned on the computer until being ready to type my first letter was 5 minutes, tops. That honeymoon did not last ; the lag between the time the computer is setup by Lenovo until it reaches the consumer,  means many updates are needed. From the minute your computer connects to the Internet, look out, because in rolls a tidal wave of updates, all trying to out do the other and most all requiring “restart your computer.”   So I watched the dreaded blue screen of death appear shortly after the first boot-up. “System halted for memory parody, er, parity.” Killed the computer like I would have a hurt animal, but in this case, CPR meant hitting the power button to see if it would spring back to life. It did and more downloads of updates came steaming downstream.


I’ve long since lost the joy of setting up a new computer, having been at this since the mid-‘80s. The fun of exploring new and improved software is largely gone.  The experience is more a yawn or occasional, well, that’s better or, okay that’s neat, but there’s no passion, except reserved for hurling expletives at Windows and Lenovo. And, of course, there’s almost always an, “oh, s*&t” moment. I had several.


Miraculously, I did not (thus far) have to call tech support, so the computer is healing itself and the various patches, updates, and new drivers seem to co-exist in peace, so far. The hard drive was already 13% fragmented  by day two. God knows if there are bad registry entries or any corrupted files  what with at least a dozen restarts, some of them with errors.


I do have two Apple computers and I dearly love them. I keep a PC to remain in the loop and relevant to most of other computer users. I think the day draws closer when Apple will be “fully integrated” into the realm of the PC. It’s very close to that state of being now, as one is able to install Windows software on Intel-based Apples. But, sadly, I hope this does not happen, since Apple, long ago, figured out a better way—production of both software and hardware nicely and tightly integrated under one roof, under one brand, in magnificently designed computers. This has made all the difference.


Gee, IBM once tried this (oops, fumbled the software away to Bill Gates); maybe with its well-engineered Thinkpad (oops, sold it to the Chinese), it would do well to try again, and  then PC’s and Mac’s would more fairly compete. Oh, heck, just call 1-800-Apple(full disclosure: fake no.)

Jason Watts

August 30, 2007

A very nice tradition in a lakeside village, where I’ve summered since I was two, is its annual outdoor art show. The setting is charming amidst centenarian pines, creating cooling canopy under which artists show off their talents. The show is juried, so the selection of competing artists is both excellent and diverse.


Even so, usually only one or two artists will stand out, as I normally tire of Wyeth knock-offs, too touched-up photographs, or yet another tired floral or still-life.


One artist did catch my eye and I wanted to share his work with you. Jason Watts resides in Chicago and he’s heavily influenced by the Ash Can School, known for artists Hopper and Bellows and their depiction of gritty, lonely urban scenes. Their influence is evident in his urban subject and he revealed to me that his apartment is near busy highways of Chicago and parking garages. He’s drawn to this setting and portrays it effectively and beautifully through vivid colors in stark contrast to the subject matter.


He works in several media, but is employing an age-old technique of egg tempera, which makes his reds and blues bold and possess his work. These pieces are done on 3-dimensional panels, interestingly allowing the continuation of highways, trains, cars, etc., around the edges of the panel. They’re very engaging, even if just for geometric intrigue, but they represent something deeper.



As reported by Roll Call, Aug. 27th:

By John McArdle
Roll Call Staff

Monday, Aug. 27, 2007; 7:17 pm

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport
by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints
in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by
Roll Call on Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St.
Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to
misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court.
He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence
was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court
that began on Aug. 8.

In a statement released Monday night, Craig denied any wrongdoing and
said he regrets his guilty plea.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport
Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct
incident, according to the police report. At one point during the
interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a
business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do
you think about that?” the report states.

Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed,
photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal
complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct.

According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a
plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints
regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig
was arrested.

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s
restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in
connection with sexual activity.

Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes
after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white
male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”

The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later
identified as Craig.

“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his
position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his
fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig
would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller
bag against the front of the stall door.

“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use
their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia
stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the
shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a
signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped
his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved
my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the
stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown
persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its
intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he
moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which
was within my stall area,” the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several
times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could … see Craig had
a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that
Craig could see it.

“With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig
responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the
stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. … Craig said
he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go,
and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with
me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and
that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also
told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to
pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the
bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper,” the arresting
officer said in the report.

In the statement he released Monday night, Craig said the police were
“misconstruing my actions.”

“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they
were misconstruing my actions,” he said. “I was not involved in any
inappropriate conduct.”

And although police documents show that Craig returned to the airport
11 days after the incident to inquire about a police contact so “his
lawyer can speak to someone,” Craig said Monday night that he decided
to enter a guilty plea without consulting a lawyer.

“I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter,” he
said. “In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to
handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”

On Aug. 8, the day he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the
Minnesota court, Craig appeared via satellite at a ceremony that took
place in Idaho in which former Idaho federal Judge Randy Smith was
invested into his new position as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals.

In October 2006, Craig’s office publicly denied allegations that he
was a homosexual made on a gay activist Web site —
Craig’s office told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the charge was
“completely ridiculous,” saying that the allegations had “no basis in


August 26, 2007

I woke this morning with only ONE thing on my mind and I really mean just one thing. I thought how neat it would be to empty my head and life of so many duplicate possessions and services. Stop and think about how stuff is taking over your life—call it the flotsam of middle age, or any age.

So I define a new concept: “ONE”

Imagine how your life might take on new purpose and clarity if you put the stuff in your life on the South Beach diet.

A quick inventory in my household reveals much room for simplification; I could pare down, for example:

One credit card
One bank account
One broker
One e-mail address
One blog !
One Web site
One pair of shoes (okay, now that’s drastic)
Ditto for undies
One set of dishes
One car
One bike
One girlfriend (don’t tell her)
One TV
One computer
One radio
One alarm clock
One book (improbable)
One photo of the family vacation
One hamburger

Call it editing life by carrying around in your head your ONE calculator and start slimming down, today. Well, I’m off to the store to buy one banana! Remember: “ONE”

I do enjoy enjoyable music and describe my music tastes as varied—ranging widely from classical to pop and from avant-garde to popular—in a word, eclectic.

WITF, the public radio station in Harrisburg, PA, (hey, don’t knock it, since this capital town makes annual lists for best place to retire; note to self, they don’t say a good place to live while working!) showcases new music and presented live, the world premier of Steven Stucky’s “Dialoghi.” The mp3 file is available on its Web site as is a clip from an interview with the composer, Mr. Stucky.

If you seek a new musical experience, click on the link and scroll down for the two audio files:


August 25, 2007

Are blogs, like, so yesterday, and yet here I am, tapping at the keyboard with more pearls of wisdom to share?

The other day ING Direct sparked interest with cash prizes awarded, soon, for essays on depositors’ attainment of savings’ goals, and pitfalls/ strategies in reaching these goals. I, of course, wrote an “essay” for submission and expect to hear by mid-September that I’m the grand-prize winner–or not. And so it goes.

I was blogging heavily in 2004, or so, with, but disliked its annual fees and found it too cumbersome to maneuver without a geek at the door. Thus far, so good with WordPress and the cost is just write, um, right.

I wish to stay more abreast of blogging with a quirky take on this thing we call life and will enjoy getting to know other WordPress folk.