Saturday, October 31, 2009

Source Code: Jason - Part 2

Jason took a deep breath and regained his composure. The missing icons on his toolbar, the strange e-mail he received the night before warning something was afoot, it was all coming together now. But who could have sent it ? And why would they want to warn him? Was it a ruse to help ferret him out of his web hole? All these questions needed answers, but right now Jason had more immediate concerns. His cock was throbbing furiously and it was pointed right at his monitor, like a Polaris missile primed for launch.
He desperately wanted to come with his favorite lady of late, Cindy. All along, Cindy thought she was banging her boyfriend Don, while Jason was really the one enjoying her tele- caresses and broadband moans. Don, a Geologist on a long assignment overseas for BP wasn’t any the wiser, so Jason thought. One thing was for sure, Jason couldn’t think clearly in his current state, and he didn’t want to make a rash decision when everything was on the line. He decided to go manual and with a few swift strokes relieved the pressure that had been building between his legs. After a few minutes, the old Jason returned. The cool, confident, calculating one. Not the panicky freaked out one that only recently emerged. His reassessment of the situation suggested that things might not be as bad as he thought. After all, he was the original master hacker and it would only be a matter of time till he figured out a way to cover his tracks. He began to doze and realized he needed to forego any action till morning. In sleep mode his computer was safe. Everything was frozen, suspended in a deep memory bank somewhere. Only Jason could access it. It was just a temporary solution, but it would buy him some time. A solid night’s sleep always recharged his batteries and he was in need of a good crash.
The ring tones Jason downloaded to his cell phone were like Nine Inch Nails’ old stuff, and the volume had been left on high. It succeeded in waking him. His boss was on the line and was he ever pissed. Being consumed by his current conundrum, Jason forgot all about covering for a co-worker’s vacation. He was ordered to " get your lazy ass down here lickety split or get canned". Jason chose option A. It was a lame job, but one he needed nonetheless. Being an Internet stud as he was (at least in his own mind) had become an expensive proposition. The sensors, the software, the whole shebang was adding up to a tidy little sum and he couldn’t afford to tell his boss to fuck off just yet. He mumbled the obligatory apologies and promised to be on his way. Throwing his jeans on, he tapped his mouse to see where he was at. While his pride and glory rebooted, Jason found a shirt and managed to brush his teeth. He re-entered the room with anticipation. Glancing at the screen quickly he could see that nothing appeared to have changed overnight. He stepped closer for a better look and after a few moments determined that he’d be better off leaving things alone. The sleep mode strategy worked last night, why shouldn’t it work again? He put his machine back to bed and scurried off to work like the loyal employee he wasn’t. At the store , the usual bullshit was ensuing. Some bitch was complaining about a bad color mix while an old fart was trying to buy drywall tape for his son’s contracting business. Such was his lot in life, but he really didn’t give a shit anymore. As long as he could get his rocks off at night, he didn’t care about the rest of the world. He put in his eight and punched out. Not getting lunch, he stopped at a local grease pit for a burger and fries. Nothing unusual, or so it seemed, until Jason noticed this fine chick across the lot checking him out. He approached her but she didn’t stick around long enough to say hello. Damn ! It was a long time since any woman had given Jason the eye, even if it was a mystery gal. Things were definitely getting weird he thought, especially with this latest encounter. He couldn’t chalk all this up to coincidence, he didn’t believe in that kind of stuff anyway. This was Jason, the poster boy for the new generation of cyber pervert who had created an entire virtual domain to fulfill his sexual fantasies. And now, someone was trying to look into that private little world of his. He had to find out who,and quickly. Rushing home to see if the sleep mode was still working, he clicked his PC to life.His luck was holding, and it was still frozen in it’s exact state after discovering the missing toolbar icons. Now time was on his side. He had the night ahead of him to think of a solution, and all the next day if needed. Tomorrow was Sunday,and the store was closed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Source Code: JASON

Jason attached the last of the micro thin bandages to his genitals and prepared to get off. Far superior to the early days of online love making which required a cumbersome body glove with gels and electrodes, the new system of tactile sensors and touch screen technology was as close to skin as you could get. Enabling people to have sex with their partners in virtual suites despite being miles or even continents away, the new software was a hit with couples who had the money and were so inclined. Jason didn’t have the money or a willing partner, but it didn’t stop him from fulfilling his overactive libido. And Jason was slick. So slick that nobody knew what he was up to. They didn’t have a clue that they were being violated in ways that seemed physically and technically impossible. He was a smooth operator all right and so far, his entire scam was untraceable to a fault, not a link in his memory. He even found a way around thumbprint recognition and was well on his way to becoming the web’s foremost cyber stalker. Entering the digitally encrypted bedrooms of others with relative ease, he enjoyed the pleasures of any woman he desired, all he had to do was be careful. But as Jason wiped down his 26-inch hi-res plasma screen to ensure maximum sensation, he noticed something for the first time. The icons in his toolbar that concealed his server and location were not displayed. He hesitated for a moment before running a debugging scan. Had his identity been compromised? Maybe it was an internal glitch? Jason didn’t know for sure but he suspected someone was onto him. Running the debugging scan would automatically reconfigure his file structure making him vulnerable to detection, but it was a risk he had to take. Despite his constant upgrades, even the best anti – spyware wasn’t fullproof. Jason was now getting into shades of gray where previously he had dealt in black and white. Either you had the code and the site was secure, or you didn’t and it wasn’t. Nice and clean, no guesswork. That’s what Jason liked about his scam so much. It avoided the messy entanglements of relationships, the time and money spent courting and the whole process of meeting and finding a mate. Of course he also liked the fact that he could have sex without a condom and never worry about the spread of disease or pregnancy. Not that he was all that concerned with the latter, but once society recognized its health advantages, the cyber-sex revolution was not only embraced, it was encouraged. Obviously, the architects of the movement didn’t pay enough attention to the downside potential of guys like Jason running loose online and cherry picking the girl of his dreams with a few clicks of his mouse. There were safeguards to be sure, but there’s always a weakness in any system. So far, the firewall and back-end security measures had not been breached. Even Jason’s activity went unnoticed until today, but a new program flagged the intruder and launched it’s own virus. Like a worm, it snaked through the web until its mission was complete. To find the sender. Jason learned of this new wrinkle and was preparing to write a wall of code to defend against it when it arrived ahead of schedule. He wasn’t expecting it for a day or two, and now he was in a bind. For the first time since his techno charade began, fear had reared its ugly head in the psyche of Jason Dunbar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hope: Still available in limited quantities

Last night I took a bike ride. I haven't been riding much this summer and have only hit the trail once or twice, but yesterday, the weather was too nice to pass up. I threw the bike in the trunk and headed for my favorite path. In less than ten minutes, I was heading down the entrance drive to the path when I was greeted cautiously by three deer. I was driving very slowly so as to not disturb them and they moved only a few feet away toward the brush to let me pass. I stopped and gazed for a minute, savoring the moment. Not that seeing deer is all that unusual in the forest preserves nearby, but there was something about this encounter that offered up an image of a few kind and gentle creatures just trying to make their way in the woods, and perhaps find safe shelter for the evening. So innocent, so reassuring, so beautiful, it was impossible for me to not think that things were somehow going to be OK. I continued on to the parking lot and got my bike out of the trunk. It was dusk now, and I was losing daylight fast. I pedaled quickly down the familiar trail, building up to a good pace. Further on down the path band just around a bend in the river, I spotted a Great White Heron. I had to pull over and check him out. Even though he was just sitting there in a quiet marsh with little activity, it was still amazing to see such an inspiring example of nature so close to home. Crossing a wide meadow on the last leg of my ride, the sun was as big and low in the sky as I have ever remembered it, a burnt orange globe glowing strongly as it set over the treetops. Hope: Still available in limited quantities.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Panno Family Mourns Loss of Youngest Son

Dear Family and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart and sadness that I have to unfortunately report the passing of my wife's brother, John J. Panno. The past few days have been extremely painful and difficult for the entire family, but especially for his beloved wife, Sue, and the three best sons any father could have asked for, Michael, Paul, and Mark. Over 1,500 people showed up to pay their respects this past Sunday, and we all know that it was a glowing tribute to John and the legacy he has left. John, may our prayers be with you and may you always know that you will be sorely missed by all of us who loved you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sam Aarons makes Honor Roll, Advances to 7th Grade

That's right, Sam made the Honor Roll. Woo Hoo! And because he did, he'll get to go motorcycle riding with his Dad this Summer. Not bad for a 12 year old, eh? OK, that's enough bragging, now let's get down to the business of enjoying Summer while it's here. Hope you all have a great one, and don't forget to post early and post often. I'd love to hear about your successes, failures, and plans for the future. I'M BEGGING FOR INPUT HERE!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Gristmill Features, Join the FUN!

Two new features have been added to the Gristmill for your fun and enjoyment, as well as a new direct mail sample piece from yours truly, (see column at left)but enough with the hype. First is Alliteration Alley, my spin on fun with lingo. If you don't like it or think it's clever enough, go ahead and make up your own. I DARE YA! All you have to do is click on the comments link at the bottom of this post and you're off and running. Your second chance at fun comes to you via a link my longtime friend and web designer extraordinaire Dave Borde at sent me, called the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. For the sake of convenience, I'll refer to it as the WEBG moving forward. So why not join in the fun and generate some Web BS of your very own? Just click
or roll over the picture of the generator in the left hand column to get started! You'll be glad you did. Once you've generated some Web BS, (it only takes a few seconds) you can cut and paste your BS into the comments box below and we could start weaving some unstoppable threads of Web BS. To get an idea of what I am talking about, take a quick look at the dialogue Dave and I started in the previous post, Streamlining Scalable Technologies. Just think of all the possibilities.

Streamlining scalable technologies

Today I am streamlining scalable technologies and Kristin is leveraging dynamic methodologies. I figured you must be whiteboarding granular paradigms.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Importance of Being Validated

In this age of hyper drive, it's easy to feel lost in the shuffle. Every day seems to add more to the seemingly insurmountable mass of tasks to address, yet there is something we can all do to help matters. Let's take the first step in restoring civility and dignity to our daily lives by displaying the same respect we demand of others. Sure it's hard to justify always playing by the rules when political and moral corruption abound, so we leave the shopping cart loose in the lot instead of walking it back to the cart corral. No big deal, right? Unless it's your car that gets dinged. Okay, it's a minor infraction, but it points toward a more pervasive attitude that seems to be on the rise. You know the one I'm talking about, it's called the "F" n' attitude. Notice how much road rage there is out there these days? And how come nobody ever says thank you anymore when I hold the door open for them? Maybe I'm being a little picky, but all I want is a little acknowledgement for my efforts, don't you? So listen up, here's the program. Whenever you have an opportunity to complement someone, do so. Don't look for reasons to put someone down, chances are someone has already done that. Use your turn signal: the driver behind you will really appreciate it and you may even avoid an accident. By the way, putting your headlights on in the fog and rain would be a good idea too, not to mention that it’s the law. Clerks and salespeople: we all know retail can be a drag, but try making the customer feel special instead of acting like you're doing him a favor by taking his money. I know your boss is a tightwad and your commissions are probably nil, but things haven't been exactly great for me in the employment arena either. As the economy continues to implode and the middle class rapidly dissolves into one huge socio-economic substrata, the rich and powerful will no doubt try to insulate them selves by whatever means possible. Let's not play into their hands by turning on each other at the slightest provocation.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thumperboy Go Home

Well it’s that time of year again, when the first rites of Spring seem to include annoying as many people as possible by cruising with the windows down and the box up. You know the guys I’m talking about. The ones that rattle the windows in your house and set off car alarms as they go by. The obnoxiously relentless thump, thump, thump that threatens not only our sanity but our safety as well. So if anybody else out there is as fed up as I am with the mobile mega-bass army, then you might want to read on. Think I’m kidding? Think again. Ordinance 784 in Ocean Shores, Washington concludes that; " WHEREAS the increased sounds emitted from said equipment can constitute a traffic hazard, a health hazard, and can cause a public disturbance;" Nicely done Ocean Shores City Council. If you’re ready to dismiss my cause as some self-serving diatribe, just hang in there with me for a little bit and I think you’ll agree that these souped up subwoofers on steroids are more of a menace than you might have imagined. Loud music itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and we all like to rock out every now and then. But when you exceed safe dB levels on our streets and sidewalks, you pose a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike. Here’s the scene: A busy intersection near a mall and everyone is sitting behind the wheel yakking away or texting on their cell phones. As they wait for the light to change, from the other direction Benny the Boombox comes rolling along in his 10,000 watt Chevy. An approaching ambulance’s siren gets lost in the shuffle, resulting in the tragic death of an innocent bystander. Can we pin the loss on Benny? Should we? Depends on how you see it. Either way, it’s not too hard to connect the dots. The excessive volume of a highly amplified kicker box not only inhibits the driver from hearing important traffic and safety signals, it also limits others nearby from hearing and reacting to what may ultimately be a life saving warning. While it may be a way for some macho young men to publicly express their over active libidos, the only thing they are accomplishing is making themselves look like a bunch of idiots while they are endangering the rest of us. Even if they strike out with the girls they don’t care, and they can still enjoy the fact that they’ve pissed us off in the process. In fact, they often crave the negative attention their obvious disrespect garners. Road rage being what it is, few citizens care to confront these roving bass junkies in their iron clad SUV’s with darkened glass. In the unfortunate circumstance that we get stuck next to thumperboy, most of us just roll up our windows, turn up our stereos, and hope for traffic to start moving. We just sit there and take it, even the cops don’t do anything. Why do we put up with this crap? Are we so afraid that if we say something they’ll blow our heads off? Perhaps we are. And if that’s the case, then things are pretty sad indeed. I’ve managed to confront a few of these morons and my efforts were usually met with a raised middle finger or some similar gesture of intimidation. One guy even followed me for a few blocks before he decided I wasn’t worth his time. After living in Chicago for a long time, I became accustomed to the rumbling of nearby "L" trains and the constant parade of police and firefighters. I let things slide and tried not to get myself worked up, but in search of better schools and quieter neighborhoods, I eventually moved my little family to the suburbs a few years ago. Even though we live on a main street, it’s still pretty quiet except for rush hour. A city friend of mine likes to call it Mt. Pilot because it’s small, homogeneous, and boring. (For those of you who are too young to know where Mt. Pilot is, ask your parents.) I mention this only because the thump-a-thump- thump that was predominantly an urban phenomenon seems to have found its way out to the boonies. It must be spreading like a virus and fueling some sort of uncontrollable aural mutation destined to ruin us all.
Okay, so now that I’ve had my say, where do we go from here? Well believe it or not folks, there is something we can do about this if we get enough people on board. Our wise friends in Ocean Shores, Washington decided they had had enough and passed a local ordinance banning excessive automobile stereo noise. They even use the words " constant thumping of loud base (sic)" For ideas on how your community can do something similar, the entire ordinance can be found at
So call your alderman, write your representative and e-mail your congressman. If there isn’t any existing legislation we can use to fight these booming bass bullies, let’s enact some. It’s either that or some really good earplugs.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Azzariti Posts First!

Mike Azziriti, longtime friend and fellow biker has done me a great service by being the first to make a post on The Gristmill. He has begun the necessary threads to begin other's interest in my new blog. You can learn more about Mike at
Thanks to Mike, signing up for the Gristmill blog is now a lot easier. All you need to do is scroll down to the comments link of the Free Fries story and click on it to open up Mike's comment. Another comment box where you can enter your text directly and post instantly should appear below. In fact, any comments link on this blog should open a text box for you. You could be a bonafide web author without hardly doing anything! There's also a quick subscribe link in the lower right corner to look for. Scroll down all the way to the bottom if you don't see it. I'm keeping this post short because I'm going to hit you with another one soon. Until then, happy blogging and welcome aboard to Anne, and everyone else as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to America - Free Fries with Every Sandwich!

An old boss of mine once asked me " Mike, what’s the most powerful word in the English language? " I thought it was an odd question to be asking a new salesperson so I wasn't sure how to reply. After thinking about it for a moment I decided to be straight with him and said " I don’t know " His response? "Free"
At the time, I dismissed it as the thoughts of a jaded businessman, but now I see the beauty of his logic. Because we are going through some very tough times right now and everybody is looking for ways to get the biggest bang for their buck, companies are constantly using words like "free" and "unlimited" in their advertising pitches. Whether it’s trips to the salad bar or cell phone minutes, they are trying to suck people in and make them think they are really getting something valuable, when in truth, they are giving away only the things that cost them little or nothing. And nothing illustrates this better than the idea of "Free Fries with Every Sandwich", hence the title of this post. For those of you who have been around the block a few times, you probably know where I’m going with this. For the rest of you, bear with me and I’ll explain. You see, as Americans, we have grown accustomed to getting something "thrown in" to close the sale or make a deal. Whether we want it or even need it is secondary at this point, in fact, we feel ripped off if we don’t get to take a doggie bag home from the restaurant. But back to the fries. When you take a moment to do the math, you’ll see what I’m talking about. OK, here we go. Let’s say you go to a fast food joint for lunch and want a burger. You’re really not that hungry and you could do just fine with only the burger and maybe a drink, but when you approach the counter or pull up to the drive thru, they pitch you the "value meal". Because it includes fries and a drink and has the word "value" attached to it, it seems like a good deal. A quick calculation of the meal if purchased a la Carte confirms your smart shopper instincts, so you go ahead and order the number four combo. Congratulations! You’ve just been had. In sales speak it’s called up selling. Here’s how it works: The burger costs them maybe a buck and a half to make. If they sell it to you for two bucks, they make only fifty cents profit, less operating expenses, wages, insurance and blah, blah, blah. Now their margin is down to maybe a quarter. Not acceptable. So they price the items in a way that makes ordering the drink separately cost you almost as much as the burger itself, same thing with the fries. They know that you will need something to wash down all that salty food with and that you probably don’t have the time or inclination to go elsewhere. The combo meal costs you four bucks, but the fries and drink only cost them maybe another fifty cents to deliver. They’ve just increased their profit margin by a whopping 700% and you just got fatter and poorer. Nice work if you can get it. The cable TV companies and cellular providers do the exact same thing and call it a "bundle". Five hundred channels of crap when all you really want is one or two good ones. Unlimited texting? What the hell do I need that for? All I want to do is make a call when I need help or tell my wife that I already picked up the milk. No can do my friend. The "basic" package is priced just like the drink at the fast food place. So, if you buy it ala Carte, you might as well get the "bundle" whether you need eight thousand minutes a month or not. And so it goes, so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes, and where it’s going nobody knows. Hey, aren’t those the lyrics to a song? But I digress. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my little rant today and hope you will log on for the next one. Until then, skip the fries and turn your cell phone off. Try talking with an old friend face to face if that’s still possible, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll all be a little happier, healthier, and have a little more coin left in our pockets.

Friday, April 10, 2009

So Long Old Friend

They let Hank go yesterday, after nearly thirty years of service to the company. So what did he get for his efforts? Some Dunkin Donuts and coffee that he had to share with the few remaining employees. No severance pay, no retirement package, no gold watch. It’s a good thing I got him a happy retirement card because no-one else did. Still, I passed it around to them so they could all sign it. At least he could leave with a little dignity. I felt bad for Hank not only because he is a widower with bad legs and a weak ticker, but that after so many years of service to the company, they barely acknowledged his departure. But then, the management’s commitment to their employee’s well being at our company has never existed. In fact, after cutting back his hours and reducing his hourly rate, they finally laid him off after trying to force him to retire. You see, that’s what they do where I work. Because my boss is too cheap to pay the unemployment, he harasses people until they get so fed up that they quit. Often this works, but some people can tolerate a lot more BS than others, so those who can hang on to their jobs usually do.
Hank had a lot at stake, and he needed the unemployment benefits due him to help with the soaring costs of his medication and doctors bills. Medicare alone wouldn’t cover it, even with the supplemental insurance he had to get. I felt that it was shameful of the owners to do what they did to him, but he was able to hold them off long enough to cover his ass. In this economy, nobody is walking just because their boss treats them badly. So, so long old buddy, I will miss our time spent around the water cooler even though there wasn’t one.
It is Good Friday and the plant is now closed. In fact, it's now close every Friday. It is like a ghost town around here. Most of the lights are off, the factory is completely shut-down, and only a dozen or so office and key people are still here. I guess I’m one of the lucky few. When I started here 2 years ago, we had seventy five employees. We are on a 4 day week and as I sit here and ponder my future, I know that it’s only a matter of time before I get laid off or we go under. While I don’t relish the idea of joining the ranks of the unemployed, it does, at this point seem inevitable. Even though my boss is a totally incompetent megalomaniac, he has managed to keep things afloat. While I don’t want to go down with a sinking ship, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can hang on until the next rescue ship passes by, even a dinghy would work. If not, I guess I’ll just have to swim my way back into the mainstream. No problem, I’m comfortable in the water and I’ve still got a life jacket.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aarons Family Adopts Runaway Puppy
Weighing in at 13 pounds and chock full of energy and sweetness, the newest addition to the Aarons family comes in the form of an adorable Australian Cattle Dog and Brittany Spaniel mix. Either lost or abandoned by her owner, the dog was put up for adoption after a week when no-one came forward to claim her. Found running loose on the streets of Waukegan, IL, the dog was rescued by Orphans of the Storm, one of the nation’s oldest and largest animal shelters and pet adoption agencies. Check them out at . It only took one look for Sally to fall in love with this critter, and within a matter of days, we took her home with us. Although no pooch could ever replace our first dog, Jackson, who we had to put down last summer, this canine cutie is quickly wining us over with her spunk and playfulness. Deciding on a name was a family affair with Sam, Sally and myself all tossing around different names for consideration. Some of the names we thought of were; Betsy, Sydney, Daisy. Although any of those would have been fine, I was looking for something else. I suggested Rosie and Sally and Sam both liked that, so that’s what we went with. Apparently it was the right choice because after only a few days with us, she responds to her name when called. Just 4 months old, she isn’t house broken yet but does obey the "sit" command already. This makes us think that she probably wasn’t abused or abandoned, but somehow escaped from her previous owner and for some unknown reason was not recovered. The shelter puts out a notice and a description of the stray dogs they find and if no-one comes forward within a week, the dog is then put up for adoption by the agency. Since she is by nature a herding dog and needs to run a lot, we will probably have to make some kind of dog run for her so she can stay outside while we are at work or school. No problem, we have plenty of room between our house and our neighbors. I’d love to include a picture for you but unfortunately, my camera crapped out on me yesterday. Instead, I’ve downloaded the closet looking dog I could find on Google so you can get an idea of what she looks like. Well, at least the face is right. That’s all for now, check back soon for more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gristmill Blog Launched Despite Killer Virus Prediction

Despite predictions of a potentially devastating computer virus just waiting to be unleashed, I decided to go ahead and post The Gristmill anyway. With my previous attempts at blogging having been somewhat unsuccessful, I was a little hesitant to get involved again, but there's just too much going on right now to sit back and stay on the sidelines. Of course, the Economy is first and foremost on every one's mind, but let's not forget about all the other things out there that bear mentioning. I am hopeful that this long overdue project will not only serve as an electronic bully pulpit for me to rant n' rave about what's wrong with the world, but will also serve as a means for exploring ways to fix things. If it furthers my friendships and career in the process, that would be a welcome outcome indeed. And in speaking of friendships and careers, please take a moment to notice the Etiquette Tip of the Day. I included it not to imply that any of my friends or family need any help in this area, but because it seemed like a useful and entertaining tidbit to start off the blog with. It also works nicely with the theme of my template. So, for all of you who have been gracious enough to indulge me by reading this premier edition of The Gristmill, thanks for your interest, and look forward to more postings soon!