Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. It's been an interesting week. My back doctor suggested surgery, Anne's T-bird is in the "hospital" getting a new speedo, I got a "cat" scan of my heart, we attended a back-yard BBQ at "the principal's" house and Jason (our lawn specialist) graduated from high school! That just goes to show you... if it ain't one thing, it's another! Hahaha... Sure glad I had some poetry to read this week:



CPU Haiku


In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict

construction rules. Each poem has only three lines, 17 syllables: Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third. Haiku is used to communicate a timeless message often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity - the essence of Zen.


Your file was so big.

It might be very useful.

But now it is gone.


The Website you seek

Cannot be located, but

Countless more exist.


Chaos reigns within.

Reflect, repent, and reboot.

Order shall return.


Program aborting:

Close all that you have worked on.

You ask far too much.


Windows has crashed.

I am the Blue Screen of Death.

No one hears your screams.


Yesterday it worked.

Today it is not working.

Windows is like that.


First snow, then silence.

This thousand-dollar screen dies

So beautifully.


With searching comes loss

And the presence of absence:

"My Novel" not found.


The Tao that is seen

Is not the true Tao-until

You bring fresh toner.


Stay the patient course.

Of little worth is your ire.

The network is down.


A crash reduces

Your expensive computer

To a simple stone.


Three things are certain:

Death, taxes and lost data.

Guess which has occurred.


You step in the stream,

But the water has moved on.

This page is not here.


Out of memory.

We wish to hold the whole sky,

But we never will.


Having been erased,

The document you're seeking

Must now be retyped.


Serious error.

All shortcuts have disappeared.

Screen. Mind. Both are blank.



[thanks to Shana Chahidi for this one]




Blind Ballots: Web Sites of U.S.  Political Candidates Censored by Censorware


  "I just went back to my web site to re-read what I wrote nine months ago.  That will be gone.  I am incensed with what is going on here." - Jeffery Pollock, candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat in Oregon, after hearing his site was blocked by Cyber Patrol.


  Pollock's Web site stated until today: "We should demand that all public schools and libraries install and configure Internet Filters." (That sentence was removed after this report was published.)


  Two blocking software, or censorware, products were tested to see if they filter out political candidates. Settings typically used in a library or school were tested.  Numerous politicians were found to be censored by this software, which collectively is used in tens of thousands of schools and libraries across the country.


  Some of the Democratic candidates' sites blocked by Cyber Patrol include: Pat Casey, 10th District, Pennsylvania; Linda Chapin, 8th District, Florida; Llord Doggett, Texas; Mark Greene, 12th District, Texas; Joan Johnson, Colorado


  Some of the Republican candidates' sites blocked by Cyber Patrol include: Grant Garrett, 9th District, Michigan; Jeffery Pollock, 3rd District, Oregon; Jim Ryun, 2nd District, Kansas; Chris Vance, 9th District, Washington;


  Only one Libertarian candidate was found to be blocked by Cyber Patrol: Joe Whelan, West Virginia


Candidates' sites blocked by N2H2 Bess


  Take for example Robert Canales, "An Independent Minded Republican," who is running for the House in California Congressional District 34.  His site looks professional and is loaded with information, including online chat, news from the AP wire, and position papers.  His web site has been blocked from thirteen million U.S. students.


Republican web sites include:

  Bob Levy, 18th District, Houston, Texas; Stephen A.  Urban, 11th District, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Arneze Washington, 9th District, Oakland, California; Kathy Williamson, 32nd District, Los Angeles, California.


Only two Democratic candidates were blocked in our random sample:

  Brian Pedigo, 2nd District, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Ed Markey.  It should be noted that Ed Markey is the incumbent, having held office for over twenty years, and that his web site is blocked on the "minimal filtering" setting (i.e.  it is categorized as Hate, Illegal, Pornography, and/or Violence).


The Libertarian Party was especially hard-hit in Missouri.  Not only were their candidates from the 2nd, 4th, and

5th District blocked, but the Missouri Libertarian Party web site was itself blocked.


The blocked Libertarian Party web sites include:

  Fred Foldvary, 9th District, Berkeley, California.  When informed that his site was blocked, Foldvary commented: "That's what happens when you have a government policy that sounds good, blocking objectionable material: once they have that power, they can use it to block other kinds of material."

  Keith D.  Gann, 39th District, Orange County, California; Jim Higgins, 2nd District, Creve Coeur, Missouri; Thomas Knapp, 4th District, Lebanon, Missouri; Al Newberry, 5th District, Missouri; Wayne L.  Parker, 5th District, Saucier, Mississippi; and the Missouri Libertarian Party.


Other blocked political candidates include:

  Alan R.  Barreca, Natural Law Party, California; Clifton Byrd, Reform Party, Texas; Dennis Carriger, Reform Party, Missouri; Bruce Currivan, Natural Law Party, D.C.; Ellen Jefferds, Natural Law Party, D.C.; Edmon V.  Kaiser, American Independent Party, California; Jon Kurey, Natural Law Party; Martin Lindstedt, Reform Party, Missouri; Nikki Oldaker, Independent write-in, Florida (her web site design was praised by ABC news).

Nikki Oldaker released this statement to Peacefire regarding the blocking of her Web site (which we are reproducing here without taking a position for or against):

  "This type of software can be very useful in private organizations to keep employees from engaging in non-work related web surfing on company time.  The software is also useful in schools and public learning facilities (like libraries) to prevent children from accessing pornography.  The fact that it is being used to filter out a web site for legitimate candidates speaking about the issues and their candidacies is a disservice to the American voters and the FEC and Secretary of the Senate should be fully investigating the matter to find the responsible persons behind the censorship...The guilty party should be brought to trial and prosecuted under the FEC election laws for tampering." - Nikki Oldaker

  Rob Penningroth, Reform Party, Missouri; David J.  Schaffer, Natural Law Party, Ohio; Douglas Schell, Reform Party, North Carolina; Frank Taylor, Minnesota.




The Ultimate Bargaining Secrets at Flea Markets, Tag Sales, and Antique Shows

by Susan Dresner


Bringing home bargains from flea markets, antique shows and yard sales is very satisfying, but negotiating prices can be intimidating for many people.


Vendors, on the other hand, expect haggling.  It is a time-honored tradition in markets throughout the world.  Prices are padded for haggling.  I find bargaining a lot of fun -- a dance of wills and knowledge.


Using these strategies will help you feel more in control during the trading process.



·Make a quick circuit of the area to see if anything is of interest, no matter the price. If nothing tugs at your heart, leave.  There will always be another opportunity with a better payoff for your time and money.


·Calculate your price.  If you spot a must-have, mentally calculate the most that you would be willing to pay to acquire it. Consider the item's value in the real world... what you think the vendor will want for it... and its value to you.


  Scenarios: You spot a battered World War II medal.  In better shape, it might go for $50, but the way it has been just tossed in a pile of costume jewelry, the seller might accept $10.  You decide you would love it for your collection even if you had to spend $15.


If you do not know an object's worth: Compare prices around the market for similar pieces... or bid at another time, after you have done some research.


·Engage the vendor.  First, hang around the vendor's stall to watch how the vendor operates.  Does he/she set firm prices?  How far does he budge from his asking price?  Is he pleasant?  Knowledgeable?  Or scattered and careless?


Once you have sized up the situation, eye the object you want.  Pick it up.  Examine it carefully for defects.  Look for a manufacturer's mark, which makes it more desirable, etc.  The vendor will notice your interest, and the courtship game begins.



For those embarrassed or intimidated by the thought of bargaining, here's how a typical bargaining session progresses.  Use it as a basic script to guide you through the process:


You make eye contact with the vendor and eye the object to acknowledge you are interested in a deal.


"How much?" you ask casually.  He responds firmly with a dollar amount.  You examine the object again, taking your time.


If you decide to continue, make a counter-offer -- usually one-half to one-third lower than the initial price.  Say hesitantly, "I don't know.  I don't really need it.  How about $____?"


The vendor might communicate nothing doing by shaking his head or muttering something like, "It's worth more to me to just cart it away."


If the vendor appears unwilling to play (he walks off or doesn't respond), move on.  If, on the other hand, he studies you and/or the item and maybe relates a tale about it, you might then ask, "What's your best price?"


For good measure, suggest that you may sell it to someone else.  Doing so drives home the point that you need a competitive price.  At this juncture, you can rejoin with, "My absolute ceiling figure is $____!" Choose a number that is just a bit lower than your real limit...  or wait for the vendor's final offer.



While the bargaining process might seem confrontational, closure should be a win-win situation.


Once you agree on a price, handshakes, a joke or two and smiles all around are in order.  As the vendor wraps your prize, tell him how much you love the object and what a treasure trove his stall is.  Along with your cash, this cements the deal and opens the door for future trading.



Not all outdoor markets are the same. Modify your tactics for where you are and what is being sold.


·Roadside flea market: A regularly held market where anybody can sell anything -- soap, household gadgets, handmade items, baked goods, old books, etc.


Prices are marked, but bargaining is expected.  If you buy two or more things from a dealer, always get a special deal.


Make sure you want what you buy and are not just swept up in the high of trading.  This year's prize can land in your garage sale next season.


·Outdoor antique show: For serious collectors of old postcards, quilts, antique furniture, etc.  Trade publications, which can often be found in antique stores, and Web sites, such as www.openair.org or www.collectors.org post details about these fairs.


Arrive before the show opens (admission fees may be higher at that time) when antique dealers are searching for finds.


·Estate sales: The contents of an upscale property must be disbanded.  The sales are often professionally run.  Find out about them from local newspapers or roadside signs.


Offerings can range from antiques and rugs to linens and kitchen items.  My best deals have come from these.


  Example: A green-painted armchair, for which I paid $25, turned out to be a 19th-century mahogany piece worth $800 once the finish had been restored and the seat re-covered.


Prices are marked, but negotiations are always in order.  At the end of the tag sale or flea market, things fly out at unbelievable bargains.


·Garage sales/yard sales: Basically offer other people's junk. Chances to mine diamonds in the rough improve when you confine yourself to nicer neighborhoods.


Heirlooms picked up for a song can be sought-after antiques...  and throw away doodads can be transformed into treasures for your home with some imagination.





EDUCATION CHANNEL: Vadodara, India, police superintendent Keshav Kumar has a new requirement for all the police officers in his district: they must watch the TV series "Medical Detectives" on the Discovery Channel every day.  "It's a fantastic series," Kumar said.  "There is a lot to learn and absorb from the series for policemen." The cops can see "how simple evidence or a clue leads to the detection of crime.  Somewhere they remember what is being shown and might use the method of style when a similar crime happens in their jurisdiction." (Times of India)

...Not so weird: a generation of American cops watched "Dragnet" for their educations.


OFFICIAL ACTION II: At least seven officers from a Japanese police academy face censure after 42 officers got drunk, took off their clothes and cavorted in the nude at a hot springs resort in the Kagawa Prefecture.  At least four of the academy instructors were at the party to celebrate the end of class.  It wasn't all bad, though.  "Neither the female officer or the women working at the hotel where the incident occurred complained of sexual harassment," a police spokesman said.  The officers were all members of the Kinki police department.  (PA)

...Finally, able successors to the Keystone Kops.


THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN INFLATED ALL OUT OF PROPORTION: "New Zealand Scientists Use Balloon to Measure Cattle Farts" -- AFP headline






YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!  It's a time waster, for sure, but it's one of those things you'll want to show your friends and co-workers.  Unlike many 'addictive' sites on the Web, this one is somewhat functional. You know, if you're into that kinda thing.  What kinda thing?  Take a look.  It blows the coolness meter out of the sky.







Becoming intimately familiar with the health care profession, I was most delighted to find Search Pointe. This site lets you check up on US doctors and chiropractors.  You can make sure that licensing boards haven’t taken action against a particular doctor...  or just find out his/her educational background and specialties.







If you need a quick test to see if your email works, send one to the  echo@psi.com  email address. It sends one back immediately like "ping" for your mailbox!







  Refuse to lower yourself to the level of your antagonist.