Sunday, September 30, 2007

Offensive Showing

This weekend was rough. I started getting sick on Friday, and it carried through the weekend. I didn't watch any football on Saturday, but logged into a couple times to find that the College "Top 25" were doing their best rendition of the Iraqi Republican Army. Slogan: RETREAT!

Yes, half the top 10 lost this week. Parity in college football? Whooda thunkit?

USC, the top-ranked team, almost let Washington beat them, the same Washington team that OSU beat soundly two weeks ago.

Remember Florida, the team that killed OSU in the championship game last year? They scored 17 points against two-loss Auburn. West Virginia's high-flying offense scored a whole 13 points. Oklahoma's was averaging over 50 points,; they only scored 24...and lost. Clemson mustered a whole three points.

Some mighty offensive showings by the alleged "Top 25" teams in college.

Then, you had the pro games, like Bills vs. Jets at 0-0 by halftime. (It wasn't because either team is a defensive powerhouse, either.) The Rams, once billed "The Greatest Show on Turf", scored one touchdown. The Chargers, one of last year's overpowering teams, lost to the Chiefs after only scoring 16 points and committing four turnovers. The Eagles have scored three points, and there are only two minutes left in the game.

No problems for the Brownies, though. They won, 24-13, and scored 24 or more points for the third consecutive week. I told Marie before the start of the game that, if the Browns would score 20+ points, they'd win. The Ravens offense just isn't good enough to score that much, even against a much-maligned Browns defense.

Talking about offensive showings, here are this week's Idiots of the Week:

Win - Brian Billick, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Did he forget his team was playing the Browns this week? I was surprised he didn't have his quarterback run the no-huddle offense throughout the fourth quarter. It wasn't as though the Browns' defense was stopping the Ravens, they were stopping themselves.

Place - The Browns defense. Yes, the Browns won, but they still allowed another running back to gain more than 100 yards rushing. They haven't shut down an offense in three weeks.

Show - The Pittsburgh Steelers, for graciously losing to the Arizona Cardinals, who were led by Methuselah, er, Kurt Warner. The high-flying offense was shut down by Arizona, whose head coach and defensive coordinator were candidates for the Pittsburgh head coaching job after Bill Cowher left. Now the Browns are only one game out of first place, although I don't expect them to get there.

Honorable Mention - Me, for strongly recommending that people not pick the Browns this year. Looks like the team could actually be competitive in many of this year's games. (BUT...don't pick them next week; they are playing the Patriots.)

Maybe the Browns' offense is pretty good. Oakland and Baltimore are supposed to have two of the better defenses in the league. We'll see next week.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Green Investments

In July, I wrote this post, asking about investment opportunities in climate change industries. I have since done a little bit more of the due diligence that I expected to do. I was primarily motivated by this article that I saw on the Drudge Report. It talked about the "new millionaires" by way of environmentally friendly companies. I chose to investigate the three companies mentioned in the article to see what investment options they had for me, a U.S. investor.

Here's what I found:

  • EcoSecurities: based in Britian, sold only on one of the British stock exchanges, not registered for sale in the U.S.
  • Novera Energy: based in Australia or Britian, sold only on one of the British stock exchanges, not registered for sale in the U.S., Australia, Japan or South Africa.
  • Solar Integrated Technologies: Incorporated in Delaware, based in Los Angeles. Looks good, eh? Nope. Stocks are listed on one of the British stock exchanges, not registered for sale in the U.S.
What does this mean, "not registered for sale in the U.S."? It means that a U.S. citizen or someone in the U.S. can buy, sell, broker or trade these shares. Now I was getting confused. Why would a U.S. company, Solar Integrated Technologies, not make its shares available to U.S. citizens? I e-mailed the company:

Original request for info:

From: Rick ***
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 9:00 AM
To: Dona ***
Subject: US investor question


I was curious why your company, which I learned about from the internet,
does not permit investment to U.S. citizens, even though you are
incorporated in Delaware and based in Los Angeles. Can you please
provide more information so I can understand?

Thank you,
Rick ***

Round 2: Dona's response
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dona ***"
To: Rick ***
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 11:35 AM
Subject: FW: US investor question

Thank you for your interest in Solar Integrated. SIT shares are not
registered for sale in the US.

If I can be of further assistance please let me know.

Thank you,
Dona ***

My next question:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rick ***"
To: "Dona ***"
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 9:30 PM
Subject: Re: US investor question

> Hi Dona,
> Thank you for responding. I was already aware that SIT shares were not
> registered for sale in the US. I would like to know why they were not
> registered, especially since the company is a legal entity of the United
> States.
> Thank you,
> Rick ***

Dona's next response: {crickets chirping}

Yep, no next response. First response only took them nine days to give a non-response. When I asked for more specifics, I received no response.

Why is it that they can't be forthright? Do I need to take this up a level - to the SEC - to find out what this company doesn't want U.S. investors to know? I mean, the company deals in industrial solar panels, not some freakish, space-cadet type of product. Why not let the U.S. investor - you know, the one whose government(s) allow them operate as a business in the first place - invest in your company and your product?

I am deciding what to do next. Any ideas besides going to the SEC? Has anyone else seen or experienced the same thing?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Big One, Elizabeth! part 2 (The Show)

The lineup for the Hi Fi concert highlighted three distinct musical styles: eclectic anti-establishment, hardcore punk, and rock.

The first band, Below Jupiter, was led by key-tickling front man Josh and drummer Chris. Yes, a two-piece band, and they pulled it off well. Josh’s piano playing is front and center for the band, and he is an outstanding performer. Chris’s drumming style fits perfectly with Josh’s performance abilities, making for a unique sound. The band’s style is hard to describe, even for the band, so they just go with “eclectic”.

Below Jupiter performed songs from their upcoming release, “Saul” as well as other concept-related pieces they have been performing for the last year. Their anti-establishment, anti-forced-religion themes came through loud and clear in their songs, especially “Political Robots”. The band and their sound were, at first, a curiosity to the crowd. However, as they continued to play, you could tell that interest in the band was growing, and the band morphed from “curiosity” into legitimate performers in the eyes of their audience. Keep an eye on these guys as they grow on the indie scene.

The second band rolled in from down the street, or so it seemed. No, wait, they really did! Dead Man’s Curve, from Lakewood, OH, came up to the stage, ready to take prisoners and name names with their no-holds-barred brand of hardcore punk. I was ready to put in my earplugs on the assumption that they would “turn it up to eleven”, but they didn’t. The sound was awesome, their music tight, and you could tell they were having a great time on stage.

This three-piece outfit – starring Jason on guitar and vocals, Mike on bass and vocals, and Dustin on drums – was “on” from the moment they hit the stage. They reminded me of 80s punk, when bands like the Misfits, Social Distortion and Suicidal Tendencies ruled the realm.

The band’s loyal audience was in full force, and showed their appreciation by whooping, hollering and singing along with the band. Dustin’s drumming was crisp, and Mike and Jason put on a great performance. Not just with their playing, but with their antics, gyrations and smirks on stage. They know what they’re doing, and they know how to do it. For all the new fans that bought DMC t-shirts at the gigs, DMC also threw in their demo CD. Awesome!

(Rumor has it a big-time punk band asked Dead Man’s Curve to open for them when they come into Cleveland. Let’s hope DMC gets the props they deserve and are able to do the show.)

As the witching hour approached, it was time for the headliners to take the stage. It had been three years since Pauly left Cleveland to pursue his dream in L.A., and he looks like a good fit with his band mates in Elegantly Wasted – Lenny J. on guitar and vocals, Queen D. (Diana) on guitar and vocals, and guest bassist/vocalist Fred. They have a good chemistry on and off stage, and have similar tastes in music. Can they find that label that understands their talents and sound, the one that would market them so the rest of the world would know what the folks in L.A., Cleveland and Europe already know? Let’s hope so.

EW did not disappoint. They started the night with “Sickhead”, the first song off their new CD, “Desolation Row”, and played most of the songs off that CD. They also threw in a three songs from their first release, “Greetings from a Strange Place”. (You can hear samples of all of their available songs at

The show sounded like their earlier rehearsal: crisp, fun, and engaging. Lenny J. had a great rapport with the audience. The gestures and facial expressions he makes while he’s singing help convey the emotion and meaning behind the songs, and draw you into the performance. Diana kicked butt on guitar; she is calm and cool on stage, a great compliment to Lenny’s performance style. Fred and Pauly not only keep the bass and beat going strong, but are two of the most energetic performers I’ve seen in a while. They exemplify chaos under control.

The band threw in a couple curve balls by playing their renditions of “Ring of Fire” and "Rockin’ in a Free World”. They also covered a Bob Dylan tune, but I hope someone comes to my rescue by telling me the name of it.

Since this was Pauly’s homecoming, the band let him have a little fun with his family, friends and co-workers, and begrudgingly (I’m sure) let him own the mic while he rapped all the lines to Beastie Boys anthem “Fight for Your Right”. Before that, though, Pauly had a big surprise for a very important member of the audience. A friend of his and his brother joined the band onstage to play a special rendition of “Tonight, It’s You” by Cheap Trick. The song was dedicated to Pauly’s girlfriend, Brittany, who flew in with her sister, Erin, to see the show. Little did Brittany know the surprise waiting for her at the end of the tune: an engagement ring and a marriage proposal. She was probably the only surprised person in the club, but she said what we all expected her to say: yes. Good times all around!

After Pauly and Brittany had a couple minutes to collect themselves, the band played another cover tune with their friend, Trevor, playing bass, and finished the set with their smoking-hot song, “Too Much, Too Soon”. (A should-be classic, imho.) For an encore, they played “Rockin’ in a Free World”, with a great guitar call and response segment between Lenny and Diana that was a pleasure to watch and hear.

When the show ended, they were all spent, er, I mean “wasted”. They had given the audience their all, and were taking a well deserved break before taking down their equipment. They were readily available after the show, and talked freely to everyone who approached them. Rock stars? Yes, talent wise, but without any of the annoying attitude. It was great to see.

These guys are excellent performers. I could have watched any one of them all night. They all bring different styles to the table, and have different ways of showing off their talents. To watch them do it together, and blend they way they did, was a treat. I wish them all the best, and hope to see them perform again soon.

(cross-posted at my myspace blog)

Disclaimer: Show review does not indicate agreement with some song lyrics or themes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Big One, Elizabeth! part 1 (preview of Hi Fi show)

Friday night was the date that many of us have waited for, seemingly for eons. Fresh off its third European tour, the band Elegantly Wasted kicked off its first American tour right here, in greater Cleveland, OH.

If you haven't heard of Elegantly Wasted yet, you must have just crawled out from underneath a rock. This hard hitting quartet recently started its run towards stardom and is starting to get the accolades it deserves. The band rocks the house, the way rock should be played! Each band member is truly a master of their craft. The guitar parts and styles are complimentary, the vocals are on target, and the rhythms are infectious.

No emo crap, no whining and whimpering, no screaming unintelligible lyrics into the defenseless microphone. Their lyrics are easy to understand and tell a good story in each and every song. You will relate, I guarantee it. Why? Because EW is a group of down to earth people, relating experiences like those you and I would have.

At times you will hear influences from Guns and Roses, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and others. But your ultimate impression will be that EW carries a distinct sound, style, professionalism and performance ability that are missing from most of today's music.

I was privileged to first see the band two years ago in Hollywood, and again during their rehearsal on Friday afternoon. They were hanging loose, cracking jokes, and getting things ready for their first show with local bands Below Jupiter and Dead Man's Curve at the Hi Fi Club, a rockin' joint in Lakewood, just west of Cleveland. They were definitely ready to go; now, only a mere nine hours until showtime!

more coming soon, stay tuned....

(cross-posted at my myspace blog)

Roller Coaster Week

If you're expecting this post to include the Idiot of the Week Awards, I will sadly disappoint you. There had been so many things going on this last week, that the Awards were not near the top of my priority list. Needless to say, it was a roller coaster week.

It looked something like this:

And went something like this:
  • Ups! - asked to play piano accompaniment for a baptism in October.
  • Downs - didn't hear back about the baptism during the week. Getting concerned.
  • Downs (how low can you go?) - work situations, and their affect on my projects.
  • Ups! & Downs - running interference before the Elegantly Wasted gig last Friday night. (Everything went great, it was just time consuming.)
  • Ups! - Bought Tribe tickets for the last home game of the year - could they clinch then?
  • Downs - Saturday's Running in Circles gig canceled; the bar double-booked.
  • Ups! - baptism accompaniment is on! I will learn "Mother's Prayer" by Celine Dion.
  • Super Ups! - The Elegantly Wasted concert on Friday night! (separate post on the show coming soon, links to many of their songs here.)
  • Triple Super Ups!!! - Brother proposed to his girlfriend at the show, and she said yes!!!
  • Ups! - Relaxed on Saturday; watched "Back to the Future" with the family.
  • Ups! - Watched "Oh, Brother, Where Are Thou?" with Marie.
  • Downs - Browns defense. Bummer.
  • Super Ups!!! - We were at Jacobs Field to watch the Tribe clinch the Central Division Championship! It was awesome.
It was a whirlwind weekend. The gig was great, and I got to see many people I had not seen in years. All the bands did really well, and baby bro's girlfriend had no idea what was happening, when even her sister, best friends, and everyone else on planet earth knew. :-) The Tribe game was the clincher (sorry, had to say it).

BTW...for my New York readers, Elegantly Wasted is coming to Brooklyn, NY tomorrow night! They'll be at The Trash Bar:

256 Grand St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Cost : $5

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Selfish Desires

To: The Cleveland Indians
From: Quipper
Subject: Clinching the playoffs

Dear Cleveland Indians,

As a lifelong fan of you, my hometown team, I am excited that the team is ever-so-close to clinching the Central Division pennant. I have waited a decade for this to happen. I remember the Tribe-Mariners series in 2001, when Robbie Alomar didn't give his all and potentially caused us to lose the series to Seattle. I watched the 1995 and 1997 World Series, heartbroken but not crushed. I watched Mark Shapiro trade Bartolo Colon, but knew it was the right thing to do. Others complained, but I bought into the plan.

I strayed slightly last year, seeing that the whole package wasn't there. It was not hangover from the season ending meltdown in 2005; I liked the team, but something just didn't seem right.

This year is different. There have been points of frustration, but I kept on listening. The family even afforded to attend one game this year. Our 5-yo boy got to see Jacobs Field for the first time. We had fun watching our first baseman bat, having great call-response fun with "Garko!"..."Polo!" I eagerly await the reduction of the Magic Number from three to zero, and anticipate celebrating that success with my family.

However, I have an issue. You see, as much as I want you to clinch this weekend, my band, Running in Circles, has a gig on Saturday night. We are supposed to start at 10pm. The locale is a very popular watering hole, and has televisions set up all over the place so patrons can watch the home team play, no matter what the sport.

In these situations, the bars usually delay the start of the gig until the game is over. Knowing how this works, I imagine that, if you clinch on Saturday night, we won't start until 11:30, maybe midnight, because of all the celebrating. I won't be at home, and won't be able to celebrate with my family.

In conclusion, seeing how (mostly) loyal I have been to you, can you please do me a favor and not clinch until Sunday? Your consideration would be most appreciated.

Thank you. Go Tribe, but don't go too quickly.


Update: they got my memo. Ha ha! :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Definition Warp iii

Word: apolitical

Definition: not political; of no political significance: an apolitical organization. (

Warp: doesn't exist any more, at least in terms of describing principles and beliefs.

Over a decade ago, I started complaining to Marie that certain subjects and issues should not be of no significance to governments. Or, at least, government should be diligent not to legislate on either side of said issues.

Now, no subject has merit, per se, unless it is politicized.

What happened to our liberties again?

He's Right!

Yes! For the second time in a couple months, a Democrat got something right.

Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York, said the following:

I think the American people are getting tired of sending the money with no end in sight.
He is right; I am sick of sending the money with no end in sight, to:
  • The war on poverty
  • The war on drugs
  • The IRS (to enable that awful organization)
  • Corporate welfare programs
  • State entitlement programs
  • Pet projects for Congressmen and Senators
  • Political campaigns
Oh, but that is not what he is referencing. He is talking about funding the soldiers. (See article here.) We should all use his own statement against him, and against all those re-running for political office in 2008.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One Frye Short...

...and it's still not a happy meal. Nope, even with the possible addition by subtraction, the happy meal has not returned to Cleveland Browns Stadium.

In case you had not heard, but cared to know, the Cleveland Browns traded scapegoat quarterback Charlie Frye to the Seattle Seahawks. I'm not saying that he is a great quarterback, or that it was a bad move. It was just, well, convenient.

Last year, I frequently told Marie that the Browns had to replace their Offensive Coordinator, Maurice Carthon, and get a decent offensive system in place before they could truly evaluate their talent. They did that. However, I did not get the result I expected. Instead, the change confirmed more weaknesses.

  • The coaching staff has no idea how to prepare for a game
  • The coaching staff can't make decisions, which means...
  • The coaching staff has no idea how to make game time adjustments
The offense is often late in getting play calls into the huddle. They are often rushed, and out of place. A little birdie (i.e. an inside source of one of the local talk radio hosts) indicates that it's a good day if wide receiver Braylon Edwards runs 60% of his routes correctly. Did I mention that he attended That School Up North?

How does a Michigan football player introduce himself? "Hi, I'm ________, and I'm here to help you...lose."

We'll see if Braylon's route running increases to 100% precision now that a different quarterback - whomever it may be - is at the helm. Hard to judge your quarterback if your wide receivers can't run their routes correctly, but someone on the field was bound to take the fall. So Charlie became the scapegoat, wandering away from Cleveland, complete with the sins of the Browns hierarchy placed firmly on his back.

Again, I'm not saying that Frye was the answer. He had happy feet. He held onto the ball for too long. He made bad throws. I can't say he threw to the wrong spots on the field, because we do not know how many receivers are running the wrong routes or cutting their routes short.

To Charlie, I say: Good luck. I hope that the system in Seattle treats you kindly, and that you have a chance to learn from people with successful coaching experience.

To the Browns, I say: You are still many fries short of a happy meal. Your leaders are next on the chopping block.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Half Baked

Last night, the Artist went to bed, knowing that the next morning she would be making cinnamon rolls as part of a nutritious breakfast. She was so excited, she woke up at 3:00am, and couldn't go back to sleep. Finally, at 5:30am, she decided to get out of bed and make the rolls. Somehow, she managed to do it without waking up anyone.

The Artist presented the rolls to the family, and served them herself. I bit into mine, and realized they were a little underbaked. Poor girl, in trying her best not to wake up anyone, watched the oven instead of setting a timer. She misjudged a bit, but it was no big deal; we stuck the rolls back in the oven, and - Presto! - in ten minutes, we had fresh baked rolls.

Before that, they were half baked, and needed go back into the oven to finish....kind of like the Cleveland Browns.

There was a football game in Cleveland today, I think. The Steelers showed up, but I think the Browns should have been arrested for impersonating the Michigan Wolverines. :-(

And so it goes, here is our first installment of the Idiot of the Week awards for the 2007-08 football season. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Win - Charlie Frye - the winner of the quarterback derby managed to get himself demoted by the middle of the second quarter. He missed passes, threw an interception, and made several bad decisions. Not a good showing at all, may fall to third on the depth chart if he is not careful.

Place - Romeo Crennel - the team looked ill-prepared to play. No energy, no emotion. Looks like they never reviewed film of the Steelers defensive schemes. Bad, Romeo, very bad.

Show - Brady Quinn - why? Because he held out. If he must play due to quarterback injury or sheer ineptness, that missed time may become a factor in how much he picks up. I am not a proponent of starting Brady now. However, by week 6 (the Brown's bye week), they may give him the starting position if the season is a loss. That is a possibility.

Honorable Mention - That Stinky Team Up North. Any time Michigan can be embarrassed in two consecutive games, both occurring at their home stadium, the football weekend is not a total loss.

And the rolls turned out yummy. Good recovery, Artist!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Definition Warp B

Word: go-getter

Definition: an enterprising, aggressive person (

Warp: specifically, a person who gets results by cajoling, bruising egos, and throwing away common courtesies. To apologize would be a sign of failure. To give someone else credit would risk their own promotion. To be kind would risk looking weak.

Example: an aggressive person cannot get along with anyone, yet because this person gets results, he is noticed and respected by top tier management. He is the proverbial bull in a china shop on every project where he is involved, but management does not see his messes. On the other hand, a highly productive employee, who works on the same projects and makes everyone else on the team more effective, is ignored because he works quietly, courteously, and effectively. He cleans up the "go-getter's" messes, but doesn't look for accolades.

The term "go-getter" used to have a positive connotation to me, describing anyone who could get the job done and look forward to the next challenge. Now, I see it used as a politically correct term to describe a person who gets things done, but leaves a bunch of dead bodies in their wake.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Warning Signals

Every industry and work environment has them. You know, those little phrases, statements or questions that, when asked, let you know exactly how little someone knows about what you do.

In my line of work - system development - you hear these doozies:

  • "But it's just a one line coding change, isn't it?"
  • "Can't you just change a couple lines in a table?"
  • "Can't twice as many of you do it in half the time?"
  • "We can just do the same thing we did ...."
On one hand, you want to whack the people upside the head with a 2"x4". On the other hand, you want to pat them on the head and say, "Don't worry, one day you, too, will become smart."

What statements do you hear, in your profession or place of employment, that let you know someone knows not what you really do?