January 2010 issue



I don’t usually dwell on bad news or tragedies in this venue. But what happened a few days ago in Haiti goes so far beyond “bad news” and “tragedy” that I wish somebody would come up with a new word to describe it… something worse than anything imaginable.

A nation that was already on it’s knees, the victim of everything from rapacious political powers to economic mistreatment to simple natural circumstance, was struck with one of nature’s most devastating disasters… an earthquake pegging 7+ on the Richter Scale, originating just a couple of miles from the largest population center on the island; Port-Au-Prince.
At least a third of the nation’s population needs emergency medical attention. Most of the city’s (and nation’s) infrastructure has been destroyed. Tens of thousands of people remain buried in the rubble of acres and acres of buildings, leveled without regard to social status or worthiness. The President’s Palace, The magnificent Catholic Cathedral, as well as thousands of shanties and mud huts. No banks. No water. No medicine. No resources to help victims help themselves.

The world is responding quickly and generously. But, simultaneously, the slime of humanity has slithered into the midst of this chaos to siphon off donations from global citizens who only want to help the desperate souls seen on their TV screens. Important, or official sounding names of pseudo-charities are advertsed by scam artists, skimming a fat percentage of aid and assistance from the outpouring of donations.

May the unfortunates of Haiti find their place in Heaven. And may the bottom feeders who attempt to profit from this horror find their place in eternal Hell! For the rest, who struggle to do the best they can, please do whatever you can! Just be sure you know the organization to whom you send your donation. When in doubt, the Red Cross is always a safe bet.

Hot News!

Being such a cold winter, Irene and I discovered that our coffee travel mugs were not quite up to the task! We are java junkies, and simply can’t survive a 20 minute ride to Irene’s school each morning without a good, hot cup of joe to sip on. Unfortunately, all of the travel mugs we’ve accumulated over the years from various caffeine cafés tend to either leak, lose heat, or both, very quickly.

So, taking on a mission, I searched the web for the best coffee mug in the world! What I found cost about $50 for two mugs (with shipping). They are made of layers of stainless steel with vacuum in between, and a lid with a full-width diaphragm controlled by a squeeze-trigger. It doesn’t leak. It doesn’t lose heat or cold. And it’s wonderful!

The mugs are by Contigo, and come in silver (shown), blue, red, green, purple, and black. Coffee stay’s hot for up to four hours, and cold drinks are still icy after twelve hours!

The only weird thing about them is that, on a freezing morning, the outside of the steel mug can get so cold that you’re afraid your tongue might stick to it, like a flag pole! My brain translated that into “cold coffee inside”, and when I took a big gulp I damn near scalded my throat all he way down to my toenails!

Hell Hath Frozen Over!

Ok… I left Philly a couple of years ago to come back to the Charlotte, NC area where I knew the weather would be more welcoming… especially in winter! So why is my brass monkey whimpering on the doorstep?

This winter in North Carolina has been colder than either of the winter’s I spent recently in PA! Daytime highs in the teens and twenties! Overnight lows down near single digits! Thankfully, there has been no huge snowstorms yet. But what happened to those winter days when I used to wander around outdoors in Bermuda shorts at Christmas?!

No offense, Al Gore, but I’m having some second thoughts about the “Global Warming Crisis”!

Charlotte's Beltway

As the projected completion date fades into the distant past, folks in our hometown have been asking why I-485, circling the city, isn't finished yet. Some say it's the governor failure to follow through on a promise. Others say local leaders are to blame. I say, step back and take a good look at the contractors... Do you think they might be playing games with the project?

The Right Tools...

When introducing a new line of lithium-powered cordless tools, the Milwaukee Tool Co. picked the right one for the job... Me!

Through ProComm Studio Services, I voiced more than a dozen spots for the Wisconsin based manufacturer.

If you plan to buy one of these rugged items soon, tell 'em Joe sent ya!

Happy New Year!

This year, I was more interested in the ending of 2009 than I was in the start of 2010. '09 was a rotten year, and I was happy to see it go. My view of the new year is a bit apprehensive, since the economy still doesn't seem to be out of the woods yet.

But I've made my resolution: No more New Year's resolutions!

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