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This and That

A wonking 734 pages of Harry Potter goodness arrived at our house Saturday in the hands of my younger daughter Rae. She wanted you to know this…

We had a glorious Fourth; Marlow, Rae and I played in America's only all-volunteer pickup marching band. The players range in age from 8 to 85. Like Brigadoon, it only appears once a year (on the Fourth). Marlow played alto sax, Rae played flute and I, as usual, played Tenor Sax. In the evening, Rae and I climbed up the hill and watched the fireworks from Donald Drive...

We also watched the Kenneth Brannagh version of Hamlet on videotape, and I saw the new Ethan Hawke version a second time with Rae, in preparation for Shakespeare Camp, which she is attending for six weeks this summer…

Vicki and I went to SF Sunday and saw Fully Committed a one-man play that started in NYC and is now playing at Theater in the Square in SF. It is very funny, deserving the five stars it got from the Chronicle. Highly recommended…

You probably already saw this as an e-mail, but in case you didn't…

You may recall me saying that because of my appearance on NPR's News Quiz, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" that Karl Kassel, the NPR newscaster, was going to do my answering machine message. The new message went live tonight at 925-254-4923. Call anytime, day or night. The phone doesn't ring, it flashes. If you call during business hours, I'm liable to answer, but that's OK, I'll hang up and you can hear the message

Marlow's Wonderful Day

Marlow sent me this on July 6th:

Today was really awesome. The Senator is on recess until Sunday and in California. Today she had a constituent lunch in her honor at the Oakland convention center given by the Mayor's office and the Chamber of Commerce. Over 700 people attended.
I was told about this lunch yesterday by Debbie who told me to keep it quiet because there weren't enough tickets for all of the interns. So when I came this morning everything was pretty frantic. I helped Debbie fax, copy, edit and write the Senator's talking points, guest list, and bio. Apparently she decided late last night she wasn't thrilled with how her speech looked so it was completely re-vamped this morning. And of course only one printer in the office was working. Everything got done though and Debbie called a meeting in the conference room for all of the interns. She gave a general talk about being ambassadors and walking people from the registration desk to the tables. I was kind of disappointed because I was being lumped in with the other interns, but then when she dismissed everyone she kept Michael Walker, Stella, Frank, and I behind and handed out real assignments. Michael and Stella are caseworkers. Michael was in charge of the senatorial seal (more on that later) and Stella had to make sure we got good audio of the Senator's speach. I was put in charge of the interns. If they had any questions she would send them to me. All of the other interns except Jenny took BART over immediately.
I helped Frank and Debbie get some prints (by the Senator) for gifts for the reverend who would be saying the prayer before lunch and the student from West Oakland she was honoring and finish printing things and putting them in official blue folders. The three of us drove over together. It was exciting representing someone important like at the San Francisco budget thing I went with Debbie to three weeks ago, but this was better because the whole event was geared around the Senator so, as staff, not an intern mind you, we got an especially warm greeting from the mayor's staff, the other organizations, and the employees. Debbie knew everyone, introduced us to everyone and started working the room. I ran around helping whoever needed it. I think the most entertaining mini crisis came when Michael had to put the seal on the Senator's podium, but there wasn't a nail to hang it on. So when I came to give him his ticket he was standing there with scotch tape, masking tape and duct tape with a janitor trying to decide what to do. Eventually, in a flash of brilliance, he used velcro. If you see a picture from this event, which those of you not in the bay area probably won't, look between the Marriott sign and the Seal and you can see it.
The Senator was on time, her speach went well and was well-received, she answered questions afterwards and then was quickly ushered out. I didn't actually get to meet her. I did wave as she pulled away though... She's supposed to come back in August for an "intern lunch" so I'm not so disappointed. She really did seem larger than life.
Afterwards Debbie was happy because her event was a success, and better yet it was over. I helped Michael and Stella pack up the information table and then everyone left but Frank, Debbie and I. Debbie was still pressing flesh and collecting business cards. She's really the best people person I've ever seen (including Lee). She is/seems genuinely happy to meet/see everyone/anyone. When everyone else was gone she started raving to the organizer of the event about how great it turned out. And considering this event was planned in under 2 weeks, I'd have to agree. The organizer ran off to get Debbie a business card and told us to go into the Atrium lounge which wasn't open yet and have anything we wanted on the house. She sent over a complimentary bottle of white wine. We hung around for over an hour just talking, comparing notes on the Senator's speech, and unwinding (this was mainly for Debbie's benefit). I always enjoy talking to staff about how they ended up working for Feinstein since they're all not that far out of college themselves, and the turn-over is pretty high so there are a lot of stories.
Around 3 we finally got our car to head back to the office (via McDonalds since Frank and Debbie hadn't actually eaten lunch). When we got back to the office Debbie had to go out with Jim to see Ms. Barzon's judicial appointment to the 9th circuit (I wrote her proclamation, but they didn't get it printed in time, because they let it fall between the cracks while I was in NY), but Frank and I found some chocolate covered strawberries in the fridge and wandered around the office chuckling at all the people who had been back for several hours and were doing real work. I solved a computer problem for Anh (my boss) who professed her undying love for me, and then came home. I ran into Jackie, Kizu and Grace (all just recently graduated from Miramonte) on BART and had a pleasant ride home catching up on Jackie's last year.
I don't know if this email came out half as happy and energetic as I wanted it to. But this really was a great day. I could definitely see myself doing this someday, um, for pay. It was just a nice, exciting, adrenaline-filled day. I don't know how the DC staff can do this on a regular basis and not break down. Maybe I'll find out.
Marlow Schindler
Office of Senator Feinstein

Stealing Digital Goods

Check out Dave Strom's article on this subject, which begins:

Web Informant #204, 26 June 2000: Stealing digital goods
One of the interesting conflicts being played out these days is how to protect your assets in your digital storefront. The issue is especially acute for content publishers of such things as images, music, software, and other things that can be downloaded in a few moments with a high-speed net connection.

Apparently, one researcher has shown how almost all digital locks are trivial to pick. As a content provider, I find this chilling.

Too Dumb?

Long, but worth it. There are several variations on this one (and don't you believe for a minute that this is real), but this is one of the funniest ones I've seen in a while.

Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. Now I know why they record these conversations!

"Ridge Hall computer assistance; may I help you?"

"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."

"Went away?"

"They disappeared."

"Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"



"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

"How do I tell?"

"Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?"

"What's a sea-prompt?"

"Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?"

"There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

"What's a monitor?"

"It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

"Yes, it is."

"When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"


"Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."

"Okay, here it is."

"Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

"I can't reach."

"Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"


"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

"Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."


"Yes -the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in is from the window."

"Well, turn on the office light then."

"I can't."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there's a power failure."

"A power... A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"

"Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

"Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

"Really? Is it that bad?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it is."

"Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"

"Tell them you're too fucking stupid to own a computer."

Rocky and Bullwinkle

I loved the TV show Rocky and Bullwinkle, and I loved Seinfeld and I have enormous respect for Robert DeNiro, so when I saw the advertisements (De Niro, Russo, Alexander, Moose, Squirrel), I was really excited. The concept looked funny too: Rocky and Bullwinkle in 3D in the modern world. Of course the special effects are mind-boggling, that's what all special effects are now, and it was really a lot better than Roger Rabbit--technically. However, I found Who Killed Roger Rabbit to be very engaging as a movie; I cared what happened. For some reason, this film made me feel as though I was watching someone else watch it. Things would happen on the screen that, by all rights should have been very funny (De Niro mocking himself, for example, with an "are you talking to me" scene), but they weren't. There was just something off-putting about the whole exercise. This film was a real disappointment, but at least it was only 88 minutes long. Rated PG, although I can't imagine why. If your kids have heard of Rocky and Bullwinkle, take them. Otherwise, don't bother, they won't get it.