Friday, July 31, 2009


A big fat 0. That’s how many people visited this site according to Google Analytics during the period of July 13 to July 19, 2009.

I don’t think so.

I’ve never pulled in any tremendous amount of hits but to believe that NO ONE stopped by during that period is nonsense.

I set the tracking NOT to ignore when I stop by. I know I checked out the site during that period.

I think switching to a new template caused the problem. Goose egg reports started coming in after that. I deleted the old tracking code and re-installed it. The 0 visitors problem persists. Interesting when one considers that Google runs both Blogger and Anal-ytics. What’s the problem: one company has compatibility issues between its own services?

Fed up with Google’s bullshit, I’ve added another tracker. This indicates the normal amount of numbers so far – or it’s just lying to me to make me happy. Sure, part of it is ego. But also I’d like to know if anyone is out there or I’m just typing in unreadable nonsense.

Instead of blogging, I’ve been dealing with this tracking issue, screwing around with HTML code for each tracker.

Computers save time.

Sound Reasoning And The Lake Champlain Monster

Ever read an article that leaves a bit of confusion lingering in your mind?

I’m trying to get a handle on how bioacoustics researcher, Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, regards the existence of a lurking monster in Lake Champlain.

For those who aren’t familiar with this region, up here in the North Country Lake Champlain divides New York State from Vermont. I’ve live on the NY side in Plattsburgh; it’s just a ten-minute to the lake from my door. On the east side is Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is home to an alternative weekly, Seven Days, that recently profiled von Muggenthaler in an article entitled “Making Sound Waves” in its July 15-22, 2009 edition. (Online version here.)

Six years ago von Muggenthaler was hired by the Discovery Channel to do some bioacoustical research in Lake Champlain. She made recordings of an unknown critter or critters echolocating. She has ruled out sources such as beaver, otter, and other animals including man. The recordings are a puzzler.

But when it comes to the existence of a cryptid in the water that has appeared on occasion, creating sensational reports, Muggenthaler comes across as a skeptic in the article. Here’s one excerpt:

Let’s get something straight: Von Muggenthaler isn’t interested in “Champ,” the beast of Lake Champlain lore. She has no tolerance for the legends that have swirled over the years of a water-dwelling reptile/whale/dinosaur. She’s a serious scientist — a bioacoustician who studies animal communication and cognition — and serious scientists don’t trade in monsters or other figments of fanciful imaginations.

Later it’s stated she isn’t interested in a “monster quest.” But in the article she talks about the areas where her recordings were made, places thriving with salmon, the same spots where Champ had been spotted. (After all, a big lake monster has to eat.) Von Muggenthaler thinks that whatever was echolocating was hunting food.

Then there’s this statement:

While locals indulge the legend of the monster, [von Muggenthaler] points out few scientists and skeptics consider that there could be a less camera-ready undiscovered animal or completely new species living in the lake.

That sounds like something that hardly ever surfaces, an animal that stays hidden deep in the lake, implying that reports of Champ are cases of misidentification or even lies.

But go to a Website operated by von Muggenthaler and her partners, Fauna Communications Research Institute, and on the page devoted to the Lake Champlain research, you’ll find this item:

About the recent article in the Burlington Free Press

2 years ago we found echolocation in a fresh water lake. A very novel discovery. The research trip and all about the bi-sonar or echolocation we found is described below. Pete Bodette's video demonstrated much of what we found by listening, namely the size of it and the activity of the fish in the area. Because of Pete Bodette's video we felt it was vital for people to stop considering this a "monster", a "myth" or an intoxicated illusion of those that visit the lake. This creature is unique, possible severely endangered, and needs to be studied scientifically. Those that witness something strange on the lake, please don't be worried anymore about people thinking you are crazy, e-mail us.

The statement was unsigned, so I don’t know if it was by von Muggenthaler or one of her partners. But unlike what I’ve cited in the Seven Days article, this seems to be a very pro-Champ view, especially when considering an unknown creature that pops up to the surface and is spotted by the locals.

So how skeptical is von Muggnethaler about Champ? Is what she detected something akin to Champ?

Like I said, a bit of confusion.

I did email von Muggenthaler and maybe she will have the time to respond and clear up this matter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Computer: Less Time

Computers save time.

Take wordprocessing. Instead of messing around with a typewriter and paper, you can correct and revise on the fly before printing out, producing an article in less time.

Computers eat up time.

Get a new computer and wordprocessing program and you’ll soon discover you have less time for writing. The learning curve cuts into your productivity.

I’ve been sidetracked lately with a new notebook computer. It was the least expensive way to upgrade from what I had with my aging desktop unit. The notebook’s system interface is different from my old desktop. For example, it has two different files called DOCS and Documents, just to make things confusing.

And then there’s learning to use a new software program. That cheap bastard Bill Gates installed on my notebook Windows Office 2007 for only 60 days. I just need a wordprocessing program, not all that other crap that comes with Office. Yes, I know about Open Office, but all I want to do is process words, not figure out my taxes.

So I downloaded a couple of different freeware programs, Jarte and Abiword. Unlike the latest incarnation of Word, they offer simpler layouts, they’re more user friendly. I hate Word 2007 with its cluttered, confusing array of buttons and bars. All wordprocessing programs can provide the same functions but you have to how and where to activate them. Anyway, Jarte and Abiword are OK but learning is still involved.

So my time saving computer consumes chunks of my spare time, meaning that I don’t post here as often as I would like.

But one thing is sure: 2 GB of RAM sure beats 200 MB.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You, Too, Can Be A Self-Help Guru

PBS is getting desperate.

In the past the public TV network prided itself on science programs like Nova. But over the years it’s grown so needy to raise money that it showcases all sorts of characters during its fundraising stretches like Wayne Dyer. I always thought Dwyer was a bit much. My suspicions were confirmed with I caught him on Whitley Steiber’s radio program, Dreamland, going on about all sorts of New Age malarkey.

When Dyer first appeared on the scene back in the 1970s, the original edition of his paperback bestseller, Your Erroneous Zones, featured a tightly cropped portrait of the author, mainly his face. This was obviously done to hide the fact he was bald as a cue ball, albeit a cue ball with some wispy long hair still attached to its sides.

Dyer started the modern era of self-help books. If his first book had all the answers, why did he or anyone else have to write more? Sorry, I don’t have much respect for these pop psychology types who appear with the Universal Truth for anyone. I can see thorough the whole scam.

Cash needy PBS needs emotionally needy people with too much money to feel lifted, enlightened, so happy that they’ll make that contribution. The strength – and weakness – of public television is that viewers have to chip in to keep it going. While for-profit mainstream networks pander to anyone, PBS at least has to keep up some sort of appearance of class.

Enter Wayne Dyer. He brings in the bucks for PBS (and, of course, he gets his cut.)

But there’s nothing magical about Dyer and his ilk. They just tell you want you want to hear but wrap it up in an entertaining presentation that seems to provide new insight into the human condition.

Like the title of this post says, even you can become one of these feel-good idols.

You need an angle, something simple that can be complex at the same time. Let’s take childhood. You can state the problem with adults is that they don’t embrace their inner child, that they become too sophisticated for a childlike view of the world that is better than the narrow POV of a close-minded adult.

Now you got the angle, back it up with an anecdote. It doesn’t matter if the story is truth or fiction, an amusing incident reported in the news or just an outright urban legend.

Try this one: A truck that was just one inch too high to pass under a bridge got stuck. People gathered, proposed all sorts of answers. Get a chain to pull it out. Maybe use heavy equipment to raise the bridge or just tear out the overpass to free the trapped truck.

A little boy on the scene said: “Why don’t you let some air out of the truck’s tires and back it out?”

At this point the suckers – I mean people – in the audience will be all smiles. To reinforce your pleasant persona, make sure the cameramen get lots of close-ups of audience members smiling and nodding in agreement.

If you become successful by using my tips, don’t forget my cut.