May 31, 2007

More Jobs Leaving the Country

Article here:

Hershey plant to kiss Oakdale goodbye

Globalization hits Oakdale, Calif., as Hershey moves its factory to Mexico.
Protesters ask, 'Who's next?'

By Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer
May 31, 2007

OAKDALE, CALIF. On a warm May weekend in this Central Valley town, the irony was as thick as melting fudge.

As usual, the annual Chocolate Festival was drawing hordes of fun-seekers. However, they were streaming in by the thousands just two weeks after Hershey Co. Oakdale's biggest employer and the nation's biggest candy company announced its plan to close its sprawling plant, eliminate all 575 jobs and open a new factory in Monterrey, Mexico.

On one side of busy Yosemite Avenue, the festival drew children to games where they slathered their heads in syrup as their parents patiently stood in line to buy bookend-size chunks of toffee.

Across the street, to frequent, approving honks from motorists, protesters waved signs denouncing the company whose philanthropic, long-dead founder is still reverently referred to by some local employees as Mr. Hershey. One man wore a T-shirt that said on the front: "Where did 'the great American candy bar' go?" Asked for the answer, he whirled around to display the back: "Mexico!"

For Hershey workers in Oakdale, globalization is no longer just an abstraction. Like legions of other Americans, they suddenly face questions as immediate as how to make a living and as far-reaching as whether their 20th century manufacturing skills will count for much anywhere else. Production at the plant is to be phased out by the end of the year.

When she heard the news, Mabel McNaught, a school custodian, wondered how her family would recover. Her husband, Philip, 50, is a forklift driver at the plant, and she figures that finding another job nearby with similar pay and benefits won't be easy.

"I was devastated," she said. "I just started crying."

The sign she held as traffic snaked past the protest was cautionary: "Who's next?"

The 113-year-old company has described the plant shutdown as part of a "global supply-chain transformation." Some 3,000 of Hershey's 13,000 workers will lose their jobs, including as many as 900 in the company's hometown of Hershey, Pa., where the streetlights are shaped like Kisses. By 2010, Hershey says, the moves will save shareholders as much as $190 million annually.

"The financials are compelling," Chief Executive Richard H. Lenny told a meeting of market analysts in February, saying labor costs in Mexico are 10% of those in the United States. Asked about the negative publicity that would come with the plant closures, he said the decisions were "gut-wrenchingly difficult but in the best interests of the business."

In a picturesque region dotted with dairy farms and almond groves, Hershey has been an Oakdale fixture since 1965. Over the years, the plant on the edge of town has churned out nut-studded chocolate bars and uncounted millions of chocolate Kisses.

Until 2001, thousands of tourists were shuttled to the low-slung factory to gaze upon immense, gently rocking vats of liquid chocolate and conveyor belts laden with Kisses. Hershey said the tours were discontinued because of security concerns after 9/11, but skeptics contended that the company simply wanted to save money.

At times, the community of 18,000 the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World is infused with the scent of chocolate, although it competes with the aroma of tomato sauce from the ConAgra processing plant down the road.

"Ah, if fumes could fill the belly," said 58-year-old Larry Hendrix, a lifelong Oakdale resident, dropping in at Oakdale Shoe Repair, where his friend Javier Melgoza uses vintage equipment to repair finely tooled cowboy boots.

Like many residents, the shoemaker, who once bartered his services for candy, questioned the company's motives.

"It has to come down to greed," Melgoza said. "I mean, Hershey's has it made, coast to coast, right?"

Not quite, according to industry observers. Earlier this month, the company lowered its projected 2007 earnings, citing high dairy prices. And, like other domestic candy companies, Hershey complains about government agricultural supports keeping the price of sugar at least double the level in foreign markets.

"The candy business has been laboring under this burden for a number of years," said Ray Jones, a director at Dechert-Hampe, a marketing consultant specializing in candy and confections.

In addition, Hershey has old plants that are tough to overhaul "inefficient legacy infrastructure," in the words of Lenny, the chief executive. And it sees lucrative markets in places like China, where it has introduced green tea-flavored Kisses, and in Mexico, where it plans to feature "locally relevant nut flavors" in its Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

None of that is good news for Oakdale, Jones said. "Do you invest in revamping U.S. plants when you're faced with higher sugar prices, higher labor costs and a more global business? It's not a new story, but whenever it repeats itself, it's tragic."

Tom Baker, a 34-year employee who signed on at Hershey when he was 20, agreed.

"Now you're a commodity," he said. "Milton Hershey's ideal was stability for families, but there's none of that anymore. There's no more moral connection between business and working-class America."

Building what he viewed as a utopian company town, Hershey kept his employees working even during the Depression. Current Hershey workers point proudly to his school for orphans now educating 1,200 needy children and, through company profits, possessing an endowment larger than some Ivy League universities'.

"It used to be kind of cool to work for Hershey's," said John Wood, a former maintenance supervisor who found another job several months ago. "But not over the last few years."

In Oakdale, union officials described the workers' severance package up to 65 weeks of pay and benefits as generous. Even so, anger toward the company runs high.

In Modesto, 12 miles to the southwest, some readers of the Modesto Bee have urged a chocolate boycott. In a letter to the editor, one man said his wish for Hershey's chief executive was that "the ghost of Milton Hershey haunts you forever!"

And in Hershey, Pa., the granddaughter of H.B. Reese, creator of the Peanut Butter Cup, vowed that no Hershey's product, including the one named for her grandfather, would pass her lips again.

"Mr. Hershey was a warm, wonderful man who wanted his business to stay in America," Rosie Rippon-Prete said in an interview.

But for all his genuine community spirit, Milton Hershey also was known as a tough businessman, said a biographer. In fact, Hershey came close to selling off his company in 1929 and was thwarted only by the stock market crash.

In today's market, even the great philanthropist may have been willing to shift some production overseas, said Michael D'Antonio, author of "Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams."

"My guess is that the company waited until it couldn't pursue any other option," he said. "If it were possible to stay and remain competitive and thriving, they would."

In Oakdale, the shutdown will cost restaurants some lunch trade, bankers some mortgage business and Central Valley dairies a huge customer.

Unemployed Hershey workers may find jobs, but few at wages comparable to their average of $16.81 an hour, officials said. Unemployment hovers at more than 9% in the Central Valley, compared with 4.8% statewide. Some local residents even endure a three-hour commute to jobs in the Bay Area.

For all that, Baker, the displaced Hershey employee, says he has no animosity toward Lenny, the first executive from outside the company picked for the top job.

"It's a corporation," Baker said. "When you get bit by a dog and you know that he bites, you don't hate the dog."


Posted by Valkyre at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2007

This Should Be Standard on Every New Car


Cellphones can disable Nissans


May 26, 2007

Nissan North America has a warning for customers: Placing your electronic key too close to your cellphone could leave you stranded.

The automaker is asking customers driving new models of two of its flagship sedans to keep their car keys and cellphones at least an inch apart to avoid disabling the "intelligent keys."

Cellphones kept near Nissan's I-Keys wireless devices designed to allow drivers to enter and start their cars at the push of a button can erase the electronic code on the keys, rendering them unable to unlock or start the cars.

The problem has occurred on the 2007 Nissan Altima and Infiniti G35 sedans, two top-selling models, the company says.

"We discovered that if the I-Key touches a cellphone, outgoing or incoming calls have the potential to alter the electronic code inside the I-Key," Nissan spokesman Kyle Bazemore said.

"The car won't start and the I-Key cannot be reprogrammed."

Bazemore says current owners have been notified of the potential glitch via mail and can get new keys from dealers if they encounter the problem.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

If It Sounds to Good to Be True...

The latest Nigerian scam now involves puppies. Talk about preying on people's emotions. Again, it's buyer beware. A dog that can go for $1600 available for $300?

Article here:

Another doggone scam

Groups say to be wary of any ad or site that, for free or for a bargain, promises adorable puppies -- the new face of the old Nigerian money scheme.

By David Colker, Times Staff Writer
May 29, 2007

And now for the latest scam from Nigeria puppies.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc. and the American Kennel Club today plan to issue a warning about fraudulent websites, MySpace postings and print ads asking people to help save puppies who are in desperate straits.

The sites and ads usually show adorable puppies that somehow have become stuck in Nigeria or other countries, and are offered free to new owners. A variation is to offer the puppies, such as purebred English bulldogs a particularly expensive breed at vastly discounted prices.

But free or not, people who had responded to the ads eventually were asked to send hundreds of dollars to cover such costs as shipping, customs, taxes and inoculations on an ever-escalating scale.

Some reported paying fees totaling more than $1,500.

"It's like the Nigerian advance-fee scams we've been seeing for years, except with the face of a puppy," said Steve Cox, a council vice president.

No matter how much was paid, no puppies arrived. Even the pictures showing sad-eyed puppies with folds of skin so loose it looked as if they were wearing bunched-up sweaters probably were fraudulent, mostly lifted from legitimate websites of unwitting owners.

Which leads to the only good news about the situation. "When people hear about these scams involving pups they get so upset for the poor dogs," said Alison Preszler, a council spokeswoman. "But at least I can say to them, 'There are no real puppies involved. It's all a fake.' "

The problem is real and growing, however. In the last couple of months, local bureaus across the country increasingly have been getting complaints, Cox said.

In April, a New York woman was charged with grand larceny, accused of collecting payments for English bulldog puppies she was advertising for sale online and then failing to deliver. The woman allegedly told local investigators that she shared the proceeds with a Nigerian accomplice.

There are several variations of the scheme.

The fraudulent ad that had caught the attention of Tracy Braswell of Pittsburgh was in the "free" section of a local, online classifieds site. The ad told of a puppy that would bring "much love and joy" to a home, and featured four pictures.

She wrote to the contact e-mail address and received a long reply. The puppy was in excellent health, playful, wonderful with children and a registered pure breed, the e-mail said.

The contact claimed that she recently had moved from the United States to Cameroon, which is adjacent to Nigeria, and that the dog was suffering because of the climate. "I love her so much," the woman wrote, that she was willing to give her away for a $160 shipping fee.

Daisy Okas, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, which registers purebred dogs, said the ad and e-mail raised several red flags. "It's very unusual that someone would be giving away a purebred puppy," Okas said. "Maybe an older dog. But puppies are coveted."

English bulldog puppies commonly sell for $1,200 to $3,000.

Another problem was shipping over a long distance. "These dogs are not built like athletes," Okas said. "They were bred to be companions for the most part."

The shipping fee probably would have been only the starting point. The way this scam works is that once a fee is paid, another is quickly requested. And because the person vying for the dog already has money invested, it's often paid.

Braswell, 34, didn't get that far. She had become suspicious after asking for details about the puppy's health. The woman wrote back that the dog came with a "one-year shipping guarantee" that would provide a refund if there were health problems. Or Braswell could choose a puppy "from the next litter."

That's when Braswell cut off communication. "What was she doing breeding puppies if the climate was not good for this one?" she asked.

Elizabeth Burch of Marysville, Wash., did send money. She had been looking for an English bulldog puppy as a surprise gift for Father's Day. The one she spotted online was in a straightforward ad, but the price was a bargain $800.

After several e-mails, which included health certifications and copies of registration papers, she wired the money as instructed to Cameroon.

But her mother was suspicious. "She called a breeder in a nearby city and told her the story," Burch said. "The breeder told her, 'There is no dog. Call the AKC right away.' "

Burch, 26, rushed home on her lunch hour and called to cancel the wired money. She was in luck the funds had not been picked up in Cameroon and she got a full refund.

The seller sent her an angry e-mail, saying she had caused him great shame. "I wrote back, saying he should be ashamed of himself for using such a beautiful animal to scam people."

Kim McDonald of Gallipolis, Ohio, was not so fortunate. Her son wanted an English bulldog and together they looked over online ads, finally narrowing their choices to three.

McDonald, 41, sent e-mails and received similar messages. "They told me they were at a conference in Nigeria," she said.

McDonald and her son finally chose a puppy named Emma that was being offered for free. McDonald sent $350 to cover all costs, including shipping. They were told that flight information would be forthcoming.

But instead came an e-mail asking for $200 more for customs fees to clear the puppy through London. McDonald had previously been told the puppy was coming from a breeder in Tennessee. Only the "agent" was in Nigeria.

She called the breeder, who told her that operation didn't handle English bulldogs at all. McDonald then e-mailed the "agent," asking for her money back. But there was no reply.

"We had gotten so excited about this little puppy that was coming," she said. "We were so sad."

So, with her ex-husband agreeing to split the bill, she went to a legitimate local breeder and got an English bulldog puppy. The cost $1,600.

"She is all white and has a little brown spot on her head," McDonald said. "She is adorable. I wouldn't give her up for anything."

Too cute to be true

This ad, which appeared on several online classifieds websites, is one of many that have been identified as fraudulent by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Lovely puppy needs loving home

Lovely English bulldog puppy needing a loving and caring home, full of wrinkles, she is up to date on all her shots. Fine with kids and other pets, AKC and will come along with all her papers and toys, she will make the best house pet, will bring much love and joy to your home or family. Contact for more if you want to add her to your family.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:51 AM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2007

Happy 30th Birthday Star Wars!

I was all of 13 years old when this first came out. I remember all the hype and hoopla around it. It was one of the first movies that I remember seeing several times in the theater. It also set the standard for blockbuster movies from that point on. And, the blue screen effects still hold their own against CGI.

Article here:

"Star Wars" party draws thousands

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - White-armoured storm troopers, robed Jedi knights and bun-haired Princess Leia look-alikes roamed the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the "Star Wars" film phenomenon.

The sprawling event, billed as the world's biggest "Star Wars" party, opened to the general public as thousands of fans young and old shopped for memorabilia, posed for photographs and generally immersed themselves in ways of "the Force."

"This can be one-stop shopping for fans to experience everything they would want in the 'Star Wars' world," said John Singh, a spokesman for "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' production company, Lucasfilm, a sponsor of the event.

Special activities included "Star Wars" laser tag, "Slave Leia" belly-dancing lessons, a storm trooper Olympics, R2-D2 android racing, a costume workshop and an appearance by Carrie Fisher, who starred as Princess Leia.

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday used the event to dedicate its first stamps commemorating the 30th anniversary of the movie that revolutionised special-effects filmmaking.

Promoters said 20,000 tickets were sold in advance, and they expected at least another 10,000 admissions over the Memorial Day weekend.

One of them, Rob Howes, 35, of Anaheim, California, said he was 6 years old when the original "Star Wars" film opened in 1977, and recalls being "blown away."

"I was a very impressionable young man when 'Star Wars' came out, and it just grabbed me and didn't let go," said Howes, dressed as a Rebel Hoth fighter pilot in an orange suit, as he gobbled down a tuna-fish sandwich.


From the other side of the Empire marched Evan Greenwood, 28, of Hugoton, Kansas, plying the halls in a helmeted, robot-like storm trooper uniform, complete with hydration pack and a 12-volt pump to circulate cooling water under the suit.

"It's probably 120 degrees (49 C) in here," he said, identifying himself as a member of a worldwide fan club known as the Storm Troopers 501st Legion, named for an actual unit of Darth Vader's forces in the original film.

"We marched up the steps with Darth as he slaughtered the Jedi," Greenwood said as he paused to remove his helmet.

Bob Gordon, 45, of Weeki Wachee, Florida, north of Tampa, was in more of a hurry, visibly perspiring in his brown Jedi robe as he rushed to enter his 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer, in the costume contest.

She was dressed as one of the more obscure "Star Wars" characters from the first movie, the bounty hunter Aurra Sing.

"You only see her on screen for about five seconds, but she's in about 10 ('Star Wars') books," he said.

Other young fans lined up at the convention's Jedi Training Academy, where they took turns engaging in one-on-one light sabre duels with a very authentic-looking Darth Vader, and received guidance from a Jedi master.

"Just keep smiling at him, it really upsets him," the instructor told one enthusiastic pupil.

Back at the food court, in a real-life scene almost as bizarre as the memorable alien bar in the first "Star Wars," a non-costumed couple from suburban Dallas sat with their 9-year-old son and his friend, both dressed as Siths.

She dabbed their foreheads with black shoe polish as they finished lunch.

"They need a touch-up after eating," she said.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2007

Hitting Close to Home

He's from the next city over, so it's been taken hard around here. What's not mentioned is that he was tortured before they killed him. So young.....

Article here:

Boyhood friend remembers Torrance soldier

By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer

12:27 PM PDT, May 24, 2007

At 11 o'clock this morning, Richard Geraldo, 19, of Torrance added two candles to a memorial to his childhood friend Joe Anzack, which was created around midnight on the steps of the main entrance to South High School in Torrance.

"I set some candles down with a vow: 'I'm sorry I couldn't be there, Joe, but I'll make it up to you by going over there and doing your job,' " Geraldo said, referring to Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., the Army gunner found dead Wednesday in Iraq.

Geraldo, who was recently discharged from the Marine Corps because of a medical problem, said he was working with a recruiter to get back into the service as soon as possible.

"I'm trying to get back in. I'd go over there now if I could."

Like many of Anzack's childhood friends, Geraldo also endured false rumors a month ago that Anzack had died in action in Baghdad. And like them, he searched the Internet and studied news reports that eventually revealed it wasn't true.

Then reality struck with the news that Anzack had gone missing.

As recently as a few days ago, "I didn't think Joe would make it, but I hoped for a miracle," Geraldo said.

On Wednesday about 5 p.m., not long after military officials had delivered the somber news to Anzack's family, Geraldo was told by a friend that Anzack's body had been found.

"I called a few people about it and learned it was true. But it didn't hit home until this morning," he said, when he was at a grocery store and saw a front-page newspaper article and photograph.

"The headlines hit me hard," he said.

Geraldo stared at the photo of Iraqis pulling Anzack's body out of the Euphrates River for about 10 minutes, stock-still on the sidewalk, he said. He played back memories of the times he and Anzack, as junior high buddies, played weekend war games in Geraldo's backyard.

He said they would sometimes dress in camouflage, devising attack strategies against imaginary enemies armed with paintball guns and BB guns. Usually the mock exercises culminated with "me and Joe wrestling and fighting on the lawn."

Geraldo said that he and Anzack parted ways in ninth grade but that "I joined the military for the same reasons he did -- to keep us free."

The memorial of American flags, dozens of candles and bouquets of flowers surrounds a sign that reads: "We love and miss you, Joe Anzack. You're our hero."

The memorial, about four miles west of the modest second-story apartment where the soldier's father, mother, relatives and friends have been grieving, "has become a central place for kids to congregate," said South High Principal Scott McDowell.

"This is a huge tragedy for the family and the kids who knew him," McDowell said. "Joe was a strong and quiet kid, and he had a tight circle of friends who played football and wrestled like he did."

Anzack graduated from the 2,300-student campus in 2005.

McDowell said the mood at the school was generally "very quiet, very reserved."

Until Wednesday, Anzack's father, Joseph Sr., expressed hope to the media for his son's safe recovery. A family friend said today that Anzack's parents were not ready to make a statement to the public.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

Interesting Poll

I've always felt that if you sexually assault a young child, you should get the death penalty. It seems that quite a few people agree with me. Turns out a Louisiana inmate did get the death penalty and it has been upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Article here:

Court Upholds Death Penalty For Child Rapist

Man Sentenced To Die For Raping 8-Year-Old

POSTED: 11:34 am PDT May 23, 2007

NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a man may be executed for raping an 8-year-old girl, and lawyers say his case may become the test for whether the nation's highest court upholds the death penalty for someone who rapes a child.

Both sides say the sentence for Patrick Kennedy, 42, could expand a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the death penalty for rape violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The high court said then that its ruling applied only to adult victims.

Attorney Jelpi Picou, director of the New Orleans-based Capital Appeals Project, said he will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court for a rehearing and, if rejected, will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"As horrid as (rape) is and as harshly as we believe it should be condemned, death is inappropriate in this case," Picou said.

Louisiana law allows the death penalty for the aggravated rape of someone less than 12 years old.

"He's the only person in the United States on death row for non-homicide rape," Picou said.

Kennedy was convicted in 2003 of raping a relative as she sorted Girl Scout cookies in the garage of her home in suburban New Orleans. He bragged to one man that the girl "became a lady today," deputies said.

His defense attorney at the time argued that blood testing was inconclusive and that the victim -- who didn't report that Kennedy was her rapist until 21 months later -- was pressured to change her story.

In Tuesday's opinion, Justice Jeffrey Victory wrote, "Our state Legislature and this court have determined this category of aggravated rapist to be among those deserving of the death penalty, and, short of a first-degree murderer, we can think of no other non-homicide crime more deserving."

Victory wrote that the Louisiana law meets the U.S. Supreme Court test requiring an aggravating circumstance -- in this case the age of the victim -- to justify the death penalty.

The governors of South Carolina and Oklahoma signed laws last year allowing the death penalty for people who repeatedly rape children. Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said he doesn't know of any successful prosecution under either of those laws.

A bill that would allow the death penalty for a second offense of child rape is awaiting the governor's decision in Texas. Georgia law allows death as a penalty for rape. Dieter said Florida and Montana also have such laws, but authorities have said the penalty would be invoked only for rape of a child.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2007

Ciao Beta!

I don't like throwing things away. No, I am not quite a hoarder. I just don't like things ending up in the landfill. If there is any wat to recycle things, I would rather choose that route. Way back in the dawn of time during the VHS vs. Beta wars, we took the Beta side. Over the course of several years, I recorded a ton of movies onto blank Beta tapes. Eventually, the Beta format died. But, I could still watch my Beta movies. Until the player died. You could no longer get replacement Beta units new in the store. Also, it was difficult to find people who could repair them. So, I was stuck with a ton of commercially recorded and the ones I recorded Beta tapes. Years passed, we got into Laser Discs and now DVD's. Most of the Beta movies that I really, really liked had eventually been replaced by either VHS, Laser Disc, or now DVD. I really didn't need these boxes full of Beta tapes anymore. So, what to do!? I could just toss them in the trash and let them clog the landfills. But, I can't bring myself to do that. So, I found a local place that will take them and recycle them. It's an art store called, Walser's and the have an award winning recycling program. So, I've loaded up my trunk with about 3 boxes and I'm going to take them down tomorrow. I've barely touched what I have so far. But, I didn't want to overwhelm them.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2007

She Kept it All These Years

When I was about 3 or 4 years old, I used to love watching a TV show called, Sheriff John. He had a segment where he would show pictures that kids had drawn of safety warnings. I so wanted to have a drawing on that show. But, all the good warnings had been taken. For example, "Don't play in the street!", "Don't play with matches!", etc. I needed to come up with a good one! One that hadn't been used before. So, I started to walk around to see what I could find. And there, in the backyard, were the wires strung between the "telephone" poles. They actually weren't just telephone wires, the electrical wires were run back there too. But, they were always referred to as "telephone poles" and "telephone wires". And, those wires were dangerous! Why if someone were to toss a ball and hit those wires, disaster would ensue. So, you can see the end result. A warning to all kids, Do Not Throw a Ball On a Telephone Wire, written as best as I could at the time. I gave it to my mom to send to Sheriff John. I seriously can't remember if she laughed at the time. She never did send it in. She would pull it out occasionally for a good laugh. She gave it to me, this past Mother's Day. We busted up laughing and I got to show it to my girls. They had a good laugh at my expense. I'm glad she never sent it in. It wouldn't have made it on the air. Who knows, maybe they would have tossed it on the trash. You never know. Now, it's been preserved. And, I can pull it out whenever I need a good laugh.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

I'm Proud To Say I Was a Part of This

Over where I work, they have a couple of radios playing classical music softly to soothe the dogs. I like classical music, so it's actually kind of nice. Anyway, the KMZT, a commercial station that played classical music, switched formats and started playing country. So, I started listening to KUSC. They had a pledge drive and I became a member for the first time. So did a ton of other people according to the following article in the LA Times:

KUSC pledge drive sets record

More than $1.1 million is raised and almost 5,000 new members join after the classical station's FM rival moves to AM.

By Lynn Smith, Times Staff Writer

Two months after its main rival switched dial positions, classical radio station KUSC-FM (91.5) has attracted the most donors in its history, reflecting a substantial jump in listeners.

In the most successful pledge drive in its 60-year history, the nonprofit station raised more than $1.1 million with 7,900 pledges, KUSC President Brenda Barnes announced Tuesday. New members accounted for 60% of the pledges, and most of those identified themselves as new listeners.

The former record pledge drive was $784,000 in February, 2003.

The fund-raising campaign, from April 26 to May 6, was the station's first since Feb. 26, when the Southland's only commercial classical station, KMZT (known as K-Mozart), moved from FM to 1260 on the AM dial, changing places with KKGO, a country station that is now on FM at 105.1. Both are owned by Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters.

KMZT's move to a frequency with a weaker signal and inferior sound quality left KUSC as the dominant classical music station in the area.

"We saw an increase immediately," said KUSC General Manager Eric DeWeese. Arbitron ratings for the winter quarter showed a 15% increase in listeners, representing an additional 50,000 each week, DeWeese said. Since KMZT's switch occurred about halfway through the ratings survey period, he said an even greater increase will likely be reflected in the next quarter's ratings.

As a result of the switch, the Pacific Symphony, once heard on KMZT, now broadcasts on KUSC and is hosted by Rich Capparela, who also moved to the public radio station.

KUSC Development Director Janet McIntyre said the recent drive drew an unprecedented 4,782 new members, pledging an average $142 a year.

McIntyre said new members came from 34 states besides California, thanks to the station's Internet transmissions. KUSC, based at USC, is the nation's largest nonprofit classical music station.

Posted by Valkyre at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2007


New tickets arrived today. I sent the e-mail and they called back the next day. Unfortunately, they called my home phone while I was at work. I tried calling her the next day, Wednesday, and got her voice mail. I left her my cell phone and didn't hear back from her on Wednesday. I didn't hear anything today. I was going to give her today and try again tomorrow. But, I didn't have to worry. Mike called me at work to tell me that a new envelope arrived from Wescom Credit Union with 4 tickets and 4 arm bands. I am going to call her tomorrow and thank her.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2007


Just what I wanted to come home to. Our credit union had discount tickets to Disney's California Adventure. It's a credit union members only deal. So, I bought four tickets for a total of $126.00. Imagine my surprise when I saw the above. Yes, an empty envelope. My tickets are gone. If you look at the envelope, you can see that it was never sealed properly. The glue to seal the flap was never moistened. Wescom screwed up. Any inside job, maybe? It's possible that someone is going to try to go to California Adventure on my dime. Fortunately, the credit union is open tomorrow, so I am going to call them. Either they refund my money, or I get another 4 tickets. I am hoping that the bar codes on the tickers were registered. That way, they could void those tickets. That way, if someone tries to use them at the park, it will come up that they were stolen.

Okay, I went to their website to look up their "1-800" number. While there, I noticed I could contact them via e-mail. So, I decided to send them an e-mail. That way, I could link to the images of the envelope. Can't really do that over the phone.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)

May 01, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Caught this one tonight. I really wasn't too sure what the plot was. I knew it had something to do with the future. It was a lot better than what I expected. I was even tearing up at some parts. It's about a little boy, named Lewis, whose mother left him on the doorstep of an orphanage when he was just a baby. He grows up at the orphanage and turns out to be an extremely smart little boy. He comes up with an idea to build a time machine so he can go back to the past to see his mother. But, he meets a boy from the future, named Wilbur Robinson, who has a time machine. Wilbur wants Lewis to travel back to the future with him. He promises Lewis that if he does this, they will then go back to the past so Lewis can see his mother. Lewis goes with Wilbur to the future, and this helps him to come to grips with his past. It is based on a book, and seeing this movie makes me want to read the book now.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)