Helping or something to that effect

Fold out a brown cardboard box.

Add five strips of tape - three long ways, two short ways - to the bottom.

Stack a layer of canned goods, maybe some baby food and toiletries, followed by a layer of clothes or towels or another random packing item.

Seal the box with five more pieces of tape, load it and be ready for another.

Crawfordsville residents weren't moving, but they were following a recipe for others who were. No one really knew who they were helping, but the cars of goods rarely stopped last weekend at the Hoosiers Helping the Heartland drive.

A crock of a column

Most people probably think Crock-Pots, stoneware slow cookers, are about as interesting as clothes hangers. They take up space, are decorated with small vegetable pictures and stand out like a drunk at a frat party.

But the real question concerning the cookware is — how come everything you put in a Crock-Pot always tastes like ... a Crock-Pot?

Brush, but not too hard

There's nothing worse than people complaining about a product because it works too well.

For instance, there's glue. Try using that stuff that holds elephants from a trapeze by their teeth. If you accidentally glue the elephant's ear to the swing, the immobile animal will be stuck forever.

Another example is plastic wrap. You try to wrap something in it, but the stuff just clings together. Being persistent, you try to unwrap it. But the static forces that bind the universe won't allow a simple tug to do the trick.

Buy now.. low price... lifetime guarantee

One big disadvantage working at night is the television quality when I arrive home. Sometimes there could be a "Perfect Strangers" rerun or two, and possibly an old game show, but most channels are overrun by infomercials.

Webster defines an infomercial as "a long television commercial, often made to resemble a talk show, educational demonstration, interview, etc." Kudos to Webster's assessment. The only words missing from the definition are "trash," "ridiculous" and "cheap."

Now's the time to become a pirate

There are a plenty of new careers and opportunities these days, yet you rarely see anyone entering the piracy field. Some people have invented their own versions of a shipwrecked pirate - stealing stereos, hacking into computer files, playing baseball in Pittsburgh - but few take their chances on the high seas.

On the other hand, the Assocated Press said pirates killed more people in 1998 than the year before. The International Maritime Bureau reported Malaysian pirates, who killed 67 crewmen last year, are "getting increasingly violent."

Pirates? Violent?

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Random News

Signing (and free books!) on Friday in Elizabethtown

I will be at the Elizabethtown, Ky., Waldenbooks in Towne Mall 5-7 p.m. Aug. 4 to discuss and sign my latest book, The Developers. The humor-fiction novel mixes the insane and obscene with technology, romance and pop culture. But while the book's web development group tries to make its mark on the virtual world, it encounters pre-eminent issues that will soon be shaping the Internet of the future: Are individuals losing their remaining privacy due to the World Wide Web? Will online social interaction eventually replace in-person gatherings as a necessary means?

Yahoo again blamed for Chinese citizen's jail time

If you're using Yahoo for email or any type of service and you want to criticize the Chinese government, you may want to think twice about it.

London-based Reporters Without Borders said recently that Yahoo gave key information to jail southwest China's Li Zhi for subversion in 2003, after he posted comments about official corruption.

The Developers featured in newspaper article

The Crawfordsville Journal Review recently featured my book, The Developers in its weekend ETC edition. The article is no longer available on the newspaper's website, so here's the full version.

'The Developers' compacts romance, humor with computer technology

By Mel Robertson | mel@jrpress.com | 05/27/05

A humorous, fictional novel of five "quasi-qeek" Web developers who attempt to link a small Michigan community together through the virtual world conveys a romantic-filled comedy mixed with computer technology.

Cookies are tasty, but bookmarks are del.icio.us

I have a computer at work and a computer at home. They have never met each other, yet they perform the same functions for me. I don't think they get jealous, but then again, I've never asked both of them.

If you're in the same dilemma as I am, you've probably thought at least 521,052 times about moving information from one to the other. For me, that's not as big of a problem as just linking to important websites that I may find at home or at work. Luckily, there are multiple websites that allow you to share bookmarks, and even share them with anyone online.

If you want it, it's for sale at eBay

You're probably getting sick of me telling you every thing, EVERY SINGLE THING, can be found on the Internet. Then again, you might be thinking, "Sure chief, everything is on the Internet, but what if I want it for myself?"

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