Thoughts Gallery July 2001
July 1
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Adilya, one of the three so-called cybergirls, aims her web
camera installed on her helmet at products in Moscow's GUM superstore.  The videos taken by cybergirls are sent online to the internet site of GUM where they can be watched by customers who have purchased the service. A one hour guided tour of GUM via the internet costs $10 and is available only on order.  The service is aimed to provide extensive information about the store to customers worldwide and help them make easy online purchases or to locate specific products or places within the shop. 
July 2
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Here's an image that scientists call the sharpest image ever made from Earth of Mars made by the
Hubble Space Telescope.  Now's where's my modern image of the moon.  What ever happened to pursuing a moon base.  Oh wait we landed on the moon a few times, now we'll just just out to the next planet... Mars.   I don't see how we can expect to visit mars long-term, when we haven't been able to setup any mining or base setup on the moon.
July 3 
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How long does it take to build a sand castle??  I wish I had the time to sit at the beach all day and sculpt sand.

A world record attempt to construct a 20 metre-high
sand sculpture at the Holland Sand Sculpture Park
2001 with this year's theme Fairy tale beach.  Some 60 international sand sculpture builders are working at their Guiness world-record attempt to complete the world's tallest sand sculpture at Almere in the Netherlands.

July 4 
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There's nothing like sleeping in to start a holiday.  I found a fireworks warehouse that had fireworks 50% off, so I bought 50 artillery shells and assorted other fireworks to play with after nightfall. I won a game of monopoly and several rounds of uno.  Now if I could only win the lottery.  Guess I need to scrape up some change and buy my first ticket...
July 5
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Ahh the joy of returning home from a long day of work to discover that you sewage line is blocked and leaking all over your new tile floor and back flowing into your shower.  Several phone calls later and $140 and the sewage is flowing into the city lines and not my house.  I planted the green and white airline plants I brought back from my parents house.  But only after changing out the exterior faucets which have been dripping non-stop since I moved in, accounting for part of the 16,000 gallons of water I used last month@!?
July 6
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It's FRIDAY!!!  Need I say more...

Do you believe in the right to bear arms?  Here's some arms you can buy for a bag of rice in some places in Africa.

July 7
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I saw the movie Baby Boy today.  It's nice to see a non-traditional movie every now and then.  Overall I liked the movie and the plot line.  At times though I was surprised at how studios are pushing the Rated R rating on movies these days. 

I was shocked to see my parents house is finally getting cleaned up.  For the first time in over 10 years my mom was actually letting my sisters clean up and throw out garbage that has filled up several rooms in the house.

July 8
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Why haven't any of the US moguls ever built some nice "public" castles like this one yet.  We have to be given our unique buildings like the Statue of Liberty
July 9
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There's nothing like searching for a cat for 2 hours in you pile of boxes to make you realize how stupid some animals are sometimes.  Where's my GPS-enabled cat collar?

So how much longer until war breaks out in the middle east, any guesses?

July 10
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I was swindled out of winning a game of monopoly tonight.  Although I was able to buy a property for agreeing to let someone change the radio station.
July 11
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L.A. May Be Shot Down in Bid to Tax Satellites
By Dan Whitcomb

Los Angeles officials seeking to impose property taxes on space satellites were brought back down to Earth on Tuesday when a state board moved toward declaring satellites beyond the reach of even the tax collector.  But Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach said he was not yet ready to scrap the proposed tax and would consider a court challenge if he finds that the California State Board of Equalization has circumvented state or federal law.

It was Auerbach who determined that eight communications satellites owned by Hughes Electronics Corp. and currently in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over Earth's equator were taxable as movable property that was currently out of state, similar to construction equipment.
That decision prompted county officials to consider an assessment on the communications satellites,  which are each worth up to $100 million new.  But State Board of Equalization members appeared to short circuit that plan on Tuesday when they voted 5-0 to ``fast track'' a rule that satellites cannot be taxed, even though Hughes, a unit of GM , is based in Los Angeles.  The decision came after presentations by Hughes and Auerbach and directs the board's staff to draft a rule declaring the satellites nontaxable. Board members would vote on that proposed rule in the coming months.

George Jamison, a Hughes vice president, said the firm was relieved and pleased by what he called the ``good common sense'' of the board and said they considered the proposed tax a very bad idea from the start.  ``It's ludicrous, absolutely,'' Jamison said. ``It's the type of issue, quite frankly, that causes the company to consider relocating its base of operations to a more business-friendly environment.''

The satellites are not launched from California, do not pass over California while in orbit and will never return to the state, instead becoming space junk, he said.  ``We think the ruling is important,'' Jamison said. ``These spacecraft are not be in the state of California, have never been in the state of California during their useful lives and will never be in the state of California in the future.''

Auerbach conceded that the board members ``have made up their mind already that the property is not taxable,'' but said the issue was not necessarily dead because he had researched the case and found legal opinions supporting his position.  ``I'll have to see what basis they have for the rule,'' Auerbach said. ``If I believe it's improper (under the) U.S. Constitution and and state statutes my option is to go to Superior Court.''

``I have to keep an open mind,'' Auerbach said. ``Based on the opinions I have I think it still looks taxable.''  Auerbach insisted that he was not pushing for a tax on the satellites but was simply doing his job and trying to determine whether they should be taxed.  ``I'm neutral on the whole thing,'' he said. ``My job is to make sure all property that's taxable gets assessed and I'm going to follow the law. If the law says its not taxable it's not taxable. If it is taxable I will assess it.'' 


How much would you pay for a sketch like this?
Would it be over $10,000,000?
July 12
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I finished scraping paint in my living room today.  What a sigh of relief to only have my stairs left to do.  You can only scrap paint for so long before you just want to pay someone else to do the task.

How bad are you looking for a job?  Not hard enough if you have to do this to your body.

Enrique Aquilar Canchola, a 42-year-old Mexican national, hides in the seat of a vehicle, that according to government officials, was trying to smuggle him into the
United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Ysidro, Calif.,  June 7, 2001. According to Immigration and Naturalization officials, the incident is part of growing trend of illegal immigrants cramming themselves into intricate and potentially deadly compartments. 

July 13
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How generous are you with your money?  I wish I had that much money that I could go around giving genrous tips to people.  Looks at all these little ducks.  For $1 you get the chance to win $250,000 if your duck floats crosses the river finish line first.

QUINCY, Mass. (Reuters) - It was the tip of a lifetime for Chicago waitress and mother of two Colleen Gallagher.  Feeling blue in the midst of a dull shift at the Windy City's swank Excalibur Club, Gallagher's fortunes took a sudden turn for the better when John Boc, chief executive of Meridian Investments Inc., told her to give herself a $1,000 tip on the first round of drinks he bought for himself and some partners.

Boc made the offer after a chat with Gallagher in which she told about struggling to make ends meet and provide for her two sons with no help from their father, according to an account in the Boston Herald on Thursday that was confirmed by a Meridian official.

After drawing tears of gratitude from Gallagher with his four-figure tip, Boc pulled out a thick wad of credit cards and held them out toward Gallagher fanned like a hand of playing cards.  ``Pick a card,'' he told the stunned waitress.  `I reached in and picked one. It was a platinum Visa and he said, 'take that card and go give yourself $10,000''' she told the Herald.

``Life's too short to be feeling blue,'' Gallagher said the executive told her.  Boc, who co-founded Quincy, Massachusetts-based Meridian in 1983, is known for his charity donations and has given large tips before, but the $11,000 tip was uncommon even by his standards, the paper quoted his son as saying.

The exchange took place in April and the check from the credit card company was issued this week, Gallagher said.  Gallagher said she hopes to put the money toward the purchase of an apartment. 

July 14
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OKLAHOMA CITY (reuters) - It may not be the best thing since sliced bread, but pre-sliced peanut butter is on its way to U.S. store shelves in test markets, food researchers from Oklahoma State University said on Monday.

``It's all about convenience,'' said William McGlynn, a food science professor and part of the team that worked on the project for the past three years at the Stillwater, Oklahoma, school.  ``The kids can make their own peanut butter sandwiches without making a mess,'' McGlynn said.

The peanut butter comes individually wrapped in plastic sheets, like sliced cheese. A package of 16 one-ounce (28 gram) slices is expected to cost about $2.50 and start selling soon in Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT - news) stores in Oklahoma and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, McGlynn said.  Institutional customers, such as school cafeterias, also have expressed interest in uniform portions, he added.  Only creamy peanut butter will be available at first, but McGlynn said researchers were hard at work on crunchy slices. 

July 15
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So would you ever hold a knife up to someone you were kissing and ask them if they'd mind if you killed them?

I installed some doors today.  Yet another attempt to soften the noise of my washer and dryer machines.  I've started to add the door trimwork to the downstiars living area.  I need to finish painting them and then nail them up.  I got my "repaired" car back from my mom as she drove in from Houston today.

July 16
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July 17
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A Mexican woman holds up a placard during a protest that says ¨Made in Korea¨ that shows a photo of skinned dogs in front of the Korean Embassy in Mexico City.  The protesters claim that every year, one million dogs and hundreds of cats are tortured and killed in Korea. The protesters, from the Mexican branch of the Korean Animal Protection Society, claim that tortured dog or cat meat is considered an ¨aphrodisiac¨ in the Asian nation.
July 18
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Hindus Hound Bush Over America's First Cat
BOMBAY (Reuters) - A puppy on the outskirts of India's financial capital Bombay had his day at the weekend: he was placed in an elaborately decorated swing and officially named ''George Bush.''

Offended by the U.S. president's name for his pet cat, ''India,'' activists of the Hindu nationalist Bajrang Dal group have decided to get their own back.  ``Bush named his cat India so we are naming dogs George Bush,'' Shankar Gaikar, regional coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The name of America's first cat caused a furor in Bombay last week when a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has links with the Bajrang Dal, stumbled upon it on the Internet.  The party demonstrated outside the U.S. consulate to demand an apology. But Elizabeth Corwin, director of public affairs at the U.S. consulate, said Bush's cat name was actually called ''India Ink'' because of its dark blueish-black color.

``How can we tolerate this insult to India? Bush had no right to do this,'' said Gaikar, adding that Bajrang Dal workers had distributed sugar to hundreds of passers-by, a traditional practice during naming ceremonies in India. 

July 19
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I don't understand how designers come up with these outrageous designs with the intent to make money.  You would have to pay someone for them to wear something like this in public.
July 20
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Court Orders Hand Amputation for Boy
LAGOS (Reuters) - A Muslim sharia court has ordered that a 15-year-old boy's hand be amputated in Nigeria's northwestern Birmin-Kebbi state, newspapers reported on Wednesday.  The Birmin-Kebbi Upper Sharia Court convicted Abubakar Aliyu of stealing 32,000 naira ($286)
from a businessman's home, the independent Guardian newspaper reported.

His two accomplices, who confessed to helping plan the crime and holding the money for safekeeping, were sentenced to 50 lashes and 18 months in prison. The two were immediately given their lashes outside the court after they were sentenced on Friday.  Birmin-Kebbi's implementation of the strict Muslim legal code has been more moderate than neighboring Zamfara state, which was the first state to adopt sharia law in October 1999.

Zamfara attracted international outrage in January when it gave a pregnant 17-year-old girl 180 lashes for having pre-marital sex. The girl said she had been raped.   The boy has the right to appeal the judgement in the sharia appeals court, the newspaper said. If his appeal fails the boy will be the first to have his hand amputated in Birmin-Kebbi since the state introduced the strict Muslim code in December.  The boy's sentence must also be ratified by the state Sharia Implementation Committee and the state governor's cabinet before his hand is cut off, the newspaper said. 

July 21
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I saw Jurassic Park III tonight.  It was a decent script, overall I would say much better than the second movie.

Shark Patting by Sightseers May Prompt Whale Ban
ADELAIDE (Reuters) - Authorities in Australia might ban people going near dead whales in the sea after sightseers climbed onto one and patted great white sharks as they tore chunks of flesh from the animal's carcass.

``These creatures are not toys,'' an angry South Australian Environment Minister Iain Evans said after television showed one man standing on a dead whale's back off the coast of Adelaide and other people patting the snouts of circling sharks.

Media reported another man had climbed onto the whale's back holding a young child as hundreds of people in boats flocked in a sightseeing frenzy to watch the sharks feed.

``In the case of the great white, they can be extremely dangerous and it is clear the state government will need to look at changing the law in order to protect people too stupid to protect themselves,'' Evans said.

The minister said people were banned under environmental protection laws from approaching within 330 feet of a live whale in the water.  ``I will now ask the department to...look at exclusion zones for dead whales,'' he said.  Marine officials said they believed the whale died from natural causes. 

July 22
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I made my typical weekend trips to HomeDepot this time getting 2x4's and wood picketts to create the rest of my fence.

Here's a aerial picture of my island.... Now if only there was a easy way to reach it that didn't involve a 6 day boat ride.

July 23
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I spent the evening nailingup more of my fence.  I somehow managed only to go to HomeDepot once today.  Do you know who this is to the right?? This is one of my favorite artists, he is the inspiration behind the music of Fat Boy Slim.
July  24
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I finished another 1/3 section of the fence that wanders around my backyard.  This upcoming weekend I'll have one more section to do and then I should have to touch my fence hopefully for at least another 10 years.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.

A video game controler which shocks the user if his character suffers damage on the screen is shown in this undated handout photo. The must-have gift for video game fanatics this Christmas could well be a gadget that momentarily paralyzes your hands when your character takes a hit in cyberspace. Mad Catz, the company devising "Bioforce," thinks it has a winner, and some people who tried it at a video game convention think it's great.

July 25
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It's interesting to see what companies try to get away with in this modern era.  How many people must have seen the reports, approved the spending for the budget to be printed and distributed, and yet only after there is a public outcry to they react and say "Oh, we're sorry that was bad".
 

Tobacco giant Philip Morris Cos. Inc. has apologized for a widely
criticized company-funded study that said the Czech Republic reaps a financial benefit when smokers die early, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

``We understand that this was not only a terrible mistake, but that it was wrong,'' Steven Parrish, a senior vice president, was quoted in the newspaper. ``To say it's totally inappropriate is an understatement.''

Company officials last month distributed an economic analysis in the
Czech Republic that concluded cigarettes are not a drain on the
country's budget, in part because the government saves money on
health care, pensions and housing when smokers die prematurely.

Anti-tobacco advocates and others roundly criticized the report when it
came to light in news accounts last week.  According to the Journal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Philip Morris chief executive Geoffrey Bible after reading about the report. Bible answered in a letter saying that the funding and release of the report ``exhibited terrible judgement as well as a complete and unacceptable disregard of basic human values.''

July 26
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July 27
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July 28
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July 39
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July 30
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Today I spent the day wondering how Southwestern Bell stays in business.  Very few of their techs seem to be trained well these days, and after being transferred around to 30 different numbers and not getting the problem solved I get to enjoy another evening in Houston.

Can you imaging living in the shadow of a live volcano?

July 31
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I spent yet another day in Houston.  I waited for an all-day tech call, who showed up at 7pm.  Three hours later I learned I knew more than the tech, and I photocopied the cayman configuration pages he had.  

How hungry would you have to be to eat a frog like this?