Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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October 2011
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From Yesterday - Armageddon?

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 2:27 pm
The view from my court yesterday afternoon, October 29th, 2011. Could it be the end of the world?
Ok, now I’m certain; the Wienermobile in a local grocery store parking lot.

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Google faces more government demands for user info

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 7:37 pm

From the Associated Press: Google faces more government demands for user info

From the article: “The highest volume of government demands for user data came from the U.S. (5,950 requests, a 29 percent increase from the previous six-month stretch); India (1,739 requests, up 2 percent); France (1,300 requests, up 27 percent); Britain (1,273 requests, up 10 percent); and Germany (1,060 requests, up 38 percent).”

Almost 6,000 requests in a quarter; you really think these are all terrorists? If you give your info to Google, or store it anywhere other than on your own computer for over 180-days, you lose all search-and-seizure rights, allowing the government to go on “fishing expeditions” any time it wants.

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Bob Edwards at Politics and Prose last week

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:12 pm
My travelling companion

Monday last I kicked off my bunny slippers, hopped in the ol’ jalopy, and headed down to our Nation’s Capital (”Taxation Without Representation”) to see Bob Edwards appear at my favorite inside-the-beltway bookstore, Politics and Prose discussing his book, A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio. Since I react…badly…to rush-hour traffic on either the Baltimore or Washington beltways, I left a bit early, arriving at the parking lot for the bookstore at around 3:00pm having hit no real traffic at all.

My first stop was, of course, the Modern Times Coffeehouse for a classic cappuccino (seriously, don’t order this if you don’t like the taste of coffee - this ain’t a Star-yucks 70% milk drink) and a little decompress. Then upstairs to spend…ok, a lot…on copies of Bob’s book, and then back downstairs for another coffee. I whiled away a few hours roaming the shelves at the bookstore, taking a walk around the neighborhood, taking this photo of P-Dog (my traveling companion and Katie’s friend) out front on one of the benches, and generally enjoying the warm sunny Autumn day. Seriously, could not have asked for better weather.

Bob in “the big chair,” listening to his introduction

Finally, though, the appointed hour arrived, and Bob appeared with Barbara Meade, founder and former owner of P&P, who promised to attempt to make her introduction using, “Bob-speak;” she tried, but failed. Her amusing suggestion that Bob, “hooked-up” with Susan Stamberg, quickly corrected to, “partnered-with,” raised quite a few eyebrows - including Bob’s!

He read a section from his book, he introduced his fiancĂ©e, Windsor Johnston (News Director of WRTI in Philadelphia), and his daughter Susannah who is responsible for the line-art that adorns his book (I admit I’m partial to the reel that appears before the first chapter, but then I’ve spliced my share of 1/4″ tape). He took questions from the appreciative audience, some about his removal from NPR’s Morning Edition (there are still a whole lot of us unhappy about that whole kerfuffle), others about his “second career” at XM Satellite Radio (now operated by our Sirius overlords). One poignantly commented that he finally canceled his radio, something I understood all too well, and most listened only to the Bob Edwards Weekend compilation program distributed by PRI, Public Radio International. The tone of the questions was considerably different than in 2004, when we were fresh off of his removal from NPR’s morning show; now we’ve had three-quarters of a decade with a different, more contemplative daily program. (I admit finding the irony of the guest at Politics and Prose the following night, though…Steve Inskeep. Poor guy must feel like he’s always following in Edwards’ shadow.)

Signing his latest book; now I have three signed by this author

It finally came time to sign some books, when I had a brief moment to say hello, and a few more photos taken in and around the room. Finally, it was time to leave. Another stop at the coffeeshop for one more classic cappuccino, this one to go, and I hopped into my car for the ride home carrying books purchased and signed, and making sure P-dog’s seat belt was properly buckeled (he has no opposing thumbs, so he can’t handle it himself).

Since I hadn’t the chance before, I hooked my cell phone up to the car radio via Bluetooth and played my recording of that morning’s The Bob Edwards Show. While seeing Bob with many of his other fans at the bookstore was a lot of fun, on the way home that visit was again as intimate as radio can make it…it was just me, Bob, and his guests, having a quiet thoughtful conversation as the miles slipped by. That’s the Bob Edwards with whom millions of people are each intimate, and the magic that radio can still deliver. Personally, I’m grateful he is one of the voices in the box.

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I am…maudlin

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 1:03 am

The 2011 Friends of Old Time Radio Convention is over…yes, there will be the informal panel tomorrow morning, but for all intents and purposes it is over. And since this is the final FOTR Convention, I am coming to grips with the possibility that I will never see some of these people that have become my friends again.

When I get back I need to spend some time catching up on all the stuff I need to post (starting with my “Monday with Bob” from last week and running through my thoughts about this convention), but for now, I’m just wallowing a bit in a little self-pity.

It’s been one hell of a ride, though…and Jay throws one hell of a party!

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Norman Corwin obituary: Radio’s ‘poet laureate’ dies at 101

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:59 pm

From the LA Times: Norman Corwin obituary: Radio’s ‘poet laureate’ dies at 101

From the article: “Norman Corwin, the legendary writer, director and producer of original radio plays for CBS during the golden age of radio in the 1930s and ’40s when he was revered as the ‘poet of the airwaves,’ has died. He was 101.”

I was fortunate enough to have met him, thanks to the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention. Damn, I’m gonna miss this convention…

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Letter ‘G’ goes missing at Scrabble championship

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 12:24 pm

From the Associated Press: Letter ‘G’ goes missing at Scrabble championship

From the article: “Two competitors at the World Scrabble Championships were asked to turn out their pockets when a letter ‘G’ went missing.”

What’s next…an extra “X?”

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Bob Edwards and Politics and Prose

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 6:51 pm

Bob Edwards will be discussing and signing his book, A Voice in the Box; My Life in Radio Monday night 17 October at the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. - I’m going to kick off my bunny slippers and drive down to attend. ‘Natch, I’ll have my camera and post a few pics afterwards, but if you’re in the area of the Nation’s Capital, stop by. They have a great coffee shop.

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Court Order Seeks Email Data of WikiLeaks Volunteer

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 4:06 pm

From The Wall Street Journal Online: Court Order Seeks Email Data of WikiLeaks Volunteer Jacob Appelbaum

From the article: “The U.S. government has obtained a controversial type of secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

No matter what you think about WikiLeaks, the way the government can without warrant request and receive your personal information from on-line services, information they couldn’t receive that way if it was on your personal computer at home, is really terrifying. Until some protections are enacted by Congress, anyone who allows their email to sit on a server more than 180-days is subject to this information request, so make sure you download everything to your home machine and delete from your provider to avoid “fishing expeditions.”

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…but I really HATE Twitter.

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:15 am

Twitter is desperate to monetize its service, and in doing so is determined to track its users as much as possible - and on a social networking service, that’s a lot. It’s latest tracking system is the “shortened” link…they act as if they are doing you a favor, but in truth they are tracking 1) what URIs are clicked on a lot, and 2) which specific URIs you click on. There is simply no way to opt-out of this nonsense, and while before not adding a “real” URI but instead typing “” would bypass their “shortener,” no longer; even that becomes expanded (that’s right, expanded!) to a URI.

And frankly I’m sick to death of companies tracking every d*mned thing we all do on the Internet, so I’m removing the URIs from the blog’s auto-tweet. My interested followers will already have the blog bookmarked (and the smart ones will be using my RSS feed over on the sidebar to monitor the blog anyway), so this way I can at least prevent Twitter from monetizing my tweets by tracking my followers.

But then, I’m not trying to make money here on the blog, so I don’t need to monitor my visitors, or how they get here.

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I love technology…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 9:27 am

My daughter is going on a school trip this week, so my wife is busy getting things ready. In her copious spare time, she’s offered to sew luggage tags for both Katie and a friend. Naturally, her sewing machine decided to “play up,” and she can’t find the yellowed manual to fix it.

Enter me, search-engine guru extraordinaire.

I hit the web searching for the manual…oddly, unlike almost every other device or appliance, there are a buttload of places selling PDF copies of the manuals. Even bet these slimeballs don’t have rights to ‘em, but there it is. I found some manuals, but none for the cabinet-based White sewing machine the Mrs. uses.

Then I stumbled over this blog post, and success - went to Singer, entered the model number alone (no other information, as suggested by the blog post) and there was the manual to her sewing machine.

And I used technology a little more than most might - I transferred the downloaded PDF via WiFi to her 7″ tablet, which she took to the basement and the machine, referencing the manual on the tablet while she worked. So no trees were harmed by printing the manual out, she was able to work with the machine, and everyone was happy.

I love technology…

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Podcast - The First News Roundup, March 18 13 1938

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, News — Charlie Summers @ 8:39 pm

My recent renewed interest in OTR news programs has two separate yet convergent reasons. Back in August, Steve Wick was interviewed on The Bob Edwards Show about his book, “The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich;” in this interview, he briefly mentions the first CBS “roundup” of news put together by Edward R. Murrow and Shirer in March of 1938. Shortly after, an OTR Digest subscriber was looking for news programs…this got me off my duff and into the dusty archives here at “Chez Charlie,” searching for the many news programs I downloaded from the USENET newsgroups back in the days of 52-baud modem connections; those I found were gathered together in a folder on my hard drive. I combined the two incidents by asking on the Digest if the March 13, 1938 program existed.

The other day, I made a similar request and received a link to a program purporting to be this broadcast. I believe it is, mostly…that is, it is a piece of the broadcast, but it is not complete. There is an abrupt end to Labour Parliamentarian Ellen Wilkenson’s talk, switching directly to Edward R. Murrow - this completely skips Edgar Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News in Paris and the International News Service’s Pierre J. Huss in Berlin. The London correspondent who introduces Ms. Wilkenson is not identified, at least in this partial recording, but I’m confident based on other recordings it is indeed William L. Shirer.

So while I’m certain this is only a partial recording, it’s currently the only one I have - if you, dear listener, have a more complete copy of this historic broadcast, please contact me with the button on the sidebar and I will happily podcast the entire program. Also, a sincere “thank you” to everyone on the Internet OTR Digest who contacted me either publicly or privately with information or encouragement. The first release of news programs will be a little later this week and announced on the Digest. If you’re not a subscriber, just click that button on the sidebar for a web-based subscription form.

In the meantime, we take you now to the New York of 1938 and anchor Robert Trout for this first-of-its-kind broadcast, a “roundup” of news and opinion from across Europe, brought to American listeners via shortwave.

icon for podpress  The First News Roundup, March 13 1938 [25:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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