Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

For a lot of people, numbers are important. I'm not just talking about numbers in general, but those even sorts of numbers. Tenth anniversary, Twenty-fifth reunion, first annual ... junk like that. Usually, it has something to do with a celebration. Whatever the reason, the twelfth, third or forty-second anniversaries aren't as important. Turn 40 years old, and people start hanging black crosses on your desk. At 41, you're a forgotten man.

That's what makes it so odd that our president is just not figuring out that the war in Iraq is kind of a big deal, and maybe he needs to re-think his approach. One headline said, "Time to reflect as death toll reaches 3,000". Another told us that U.S. Peace Groups have begun to rally now that the toll has reached that milestone number.

"We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year," the group United for Peace and Justice said on its Web site.

A tragic milestone? Sure. A milestone is defined as a "significant event in your life". That it is, but what makes it more significant than death #2,874 or death #1,540? Some even number that our brain tells us is significant, when what it really is, is just as tragic as the first or twelfth death. Death is death, and wrong is wrong, numbers notwithstanding.
Tell the parents of the 1,326th soldier that died over there that his or her death was not a milestone compared to the 3,000th. It's just a number, folks. Even or odd, it's a number.
Just as we have not progressed far enough as a society to have abandoned the silly ideas of superstition, we have not advanced far enough to realize that something that is wrong now was wrong then, regardless of what the people at Fox News or their Washington bureau, the White House tell us.

Apparently, our president is just now waking up to the fact that the number is of some milestone proportion, while he continues to be a millstone around the neck of progress in this country.
Here's a milestone number for you: 749 days until we relieve ourselves of this living, breathing encumberance to progress that sits in his office at the Fox News Washington bureau.

God rest the 3,000 who have died over there, and God bless the 134,000 who are there now. May they celebrate New Year's 2008 here at home, where they belong.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mega What?

Oh ... 2007 looks like a Helluva year...

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Start using a condom.

Get your resolution here.


The final Mega Millions drawing of 2006 resulted in more than 585,000 winning tickets, but none of them hit the jackpot. That means the excitement continues to build, and the Mega Millions jackpot for January 2, 2007 grows to an estimated $84 million.
Here is a complete breakdown of all 587,301 winning tickets in Friday's drawing:

Jackpot Winners

0 tickets matched all 6 numbers for: jackpot Other Prize Winners Prize Amount*
5 tickets matched 5 numbers for $250,000
27 tickets matched 4 numbers + the Mega Ball for $10,000
1,355 tickets matched 4 numbers for $150
1,716 tickets matched 3 numbers + the Mega Ball for $150
105 tickets matched 2 numbers + the Mega Ball for $10
893 tickets matched 3 numbers for $7
169,768 tickets matched 1 number + the Mega Ball for $3
305,432 tickets matched the Mega Ball for $2

So, play the Mega Millions jackpot for a chance to win ... two dollars. The excitement builds, indeed.

Speaking of winning the lottery...and I don't mean her...

Comedian Jay Mohr exchanged wedding vows with 'Las Vegas' actress Nikki Cox in a ceremony in Los Angeles, People magazine reported. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)

And, there are all kinds of winners out there...

MADRID, Spain - A 67-year-old Spanish woman became the world's oldest mother after she gave birth to twins in the northern city of Barcelona on Saturday, a hospital official said. The woman, whose identity has not been revealed by Sant Pau hospital, gave birth by caesarian section on Saturday having previously undergone in vitro fertilization in the United States.

Let's see ... when the kids are 18 ... never mind.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Living Off the Fat of the Land

Here we go.
If you had just one wish for 2007, what would it be? One thing you really want to have happen to make all of our lives better? C'mon ... think. One thing. You know you want it. It's on the tip of your tongue ... give up? I thought so.

THURSDAY, Dec. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A large majority of Americans say they support changes in public policy to stem the rising tide of obesity among adults, a new survey shows.
THAT'S IT! Another law! You probably thought it was an end to the war or some infectious disease cure -- dumbass. It's a law. We need a law against fat people. Get with the program, peeps. But wait, there's more...

"There is a lot of support for employer and health policies aimed at preventing obesity," said lead researcher Bernard Fuemmeler, an assistant professor in the department of community and family medicine at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C.
"This study provides tangible evidence that people support wide-scale policy changes that can affect obesity in the U.S.," Fuemmeler added.
A lot of support? The survey talked to 1,139 adults. I know, I had statistics classes in college ... it's a representative sample, right?
And, what's better at fighting obesity than a forced-employer-sponsored-government-endorsed program? How about eating less and getting some exercise? Wait - that would take work, and we don't want to work - especially at our place of employment. We want the magic pill, magic program or "quick and easy" way to lose weight. News flash: There isn't one. Any government-sponsored anything will fail and cost us money. Our money. But why stop there? We're taking a survey:

The new telephone survey of 1,139 adults found that 85 percent supported tax breaks for employers who made exercise space available to employees.
In addition, 73 percent said they'd support government incentives for companies that reduced the cost of health insurance for employees who had healthy lifestyles and shed extra pounds. Seventy-two percent said they would support government policies requiring insurance companies to cover obesity treatment and prevention programs.

Now, we get to the real dumbass part. The dopes they surveyed forgot something. What did they forget? Exercise rooms, tax breaks and incentive programs cost money. Say "tax break" to the average obese American, and they start salivating like you're holding a donut over their head.
And, what do big corporations need more of? Tax breaks, which the survey people presented as Government Incentives. Nice one. I wonder which Republican organization they hired to do the survey? I was born during the day, but not yesterday.
And, let's see about the last part of the story - the government policies over insurance companies.
Oh God ... you finish this, I can't type anymore....







Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Twelfth-Favorite Legal Holiday

As we close in on another New Year's Day, a few things come to mind. The sick one, don't-cha know.
There's the thing that we say to each other around the holidays. "In case I don't see you, have a Happy New Year!" In case I don't see you? What's that mean? So, what happens if I do see you? Have a good new year, regardless. Call me.
And, what's the holiday anyway? It's the first day of a new calendar year, yet it's a legal holiday. Is it "National Hangover Day", or just an excuse for another day off? Part of me doesn't get all the fuss.

Here in the Philadelphia area, and specifically in the city, we have something called the Mummer's Parade. Being born and reared here, I'm supposed to embrace the parade as some sort of local ritual. For the record, I think it's ridiculous. There, I said it.
It's only recently that women were allowed to participate. Men would dress up like women and do that silly Mummers Strut - which appears to be a mix of St. Vitus Dance and a drunken wobble, replete with a paper umbrella and big purple parachute pants. Combine that with bad, out of tune banjo-saxophone-xylophone music, and you have a real celebration.
Not to mention (but I will, anyway) that the parade lasts about 13 hours. That's right. It starts sometime around 8am, and fizzles out after 9pm or so. It's some sort of marathon, and if you're a "real" Philadelphian, you're probably looking up my e-mail address right about now and sending me ONE OF THOSE ALL-CAPITAL LETTER E-MAIL'S WITH FIVE EXCLAMATION POINTS AT THE END OF EVERY SENTENCE TELLING ME WHAT AN ASSHOLE I AM FOR DISLIKING THE PARADE!!!!! Screw me, then. It's a stupid parade, but I do, however, love the city and it's charm. The parade, I can live without. Thankfully, I do.
But, it's New Year's. Time for the resolute among us to waddle into the local fitness facility, bound and determined to work-off ten years of fat and flab in less than three months, so you can fit into that little bathing suit you wore in college. For the next six weeks or so, the fat and flabby will do their best to wade into the gym, having paid for a full year, and generally make a nuisance out of themselves, as they confuse exercise equipment with lounge chairs, stare blankly at the TV and incessantly 'clang' the weights with each moderately strenuous movement.
The effort is well-intetntioned, but the money is wasted because they don't go, and as a result, they have to buy a new bathing suit. On the plus side, we have the paying non-participants to thank for keeping our dues low, so "Thanks for not participating".
If only the Mummers would do it, too.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Feeling a Little Gassy

As I have said here before, it is always the little things that get my sick mind working. While puttering around on the Internet before beginning my daily grind, I found a charming little story about the town of Novy Urengoi, in the Arctic, known as the "gas capital of Russia", which sits atop the second-largest natural gas field in the world.
The story went on to detail the struggles of the people who work there, in sub-zero temperatures and all, in the pursuit of a fossil fuel. Generally, it is the only business they have there, so it really isn't so much of a struggle as it is a way of life.

The last three paragraphs of the story got me going:

Nikolai Dubina, one of those early pioneers, admits that the main gas field's heyday is behind it, and now it produces half of what it did in the 1980s. Now, Gazprom is starting to turn its attention to elsewhere in Russia. But for the citizens of Novy Urengoi, 70 percent of whom depend on the gas giant, a future without gas is unthinkable; for the citizens of western Europe, who are on the receiving end of the pipeline, it's a similarly worrying prospect.

But that may be something for future generations to worry about. The Urengoi gas field may be 70 percent depleted. But that last 30 percent still holds several trillion cubic meters of the stuff. And other outlying sites may yet come through, keeping Novy Urengoi, the frontier town of the north, going for a few more decades.

"We have enough gas for our daughters and granddaughters," promises Mr. Dubina, "so stop worrying folks."

Sure, Nikolai, I'll stop worrying. After all, the world is only going to last another 100 years, right? As long as our grandchildren are taken care of, we can continue to use fossil fuels until our lungs fill with carbon monoxide and we are so warm that we have to cut the sleeves off our t-shirts.
As the article said, "let other generations worry about it". Meanwhile, we will keep buying giant vehicles to make next-door cigarette runs and build McMansion's that need two compressors to run the air-conditioning, and heater blowers the size of an SUV. That's great - it will be somebody else's problem.
People use the same thought pattern when they throw a cigarette butt out the window (of their giant SUV) or leave trash on the floor of a movie theater. "Let someone else clean it up." We are free to behave as we wish, so long as there is someone else around to pick up our trash. Why take responsibility for our actions when leaving them for someone else to clean up is so much easier?

What they are doing, in reality is condemning their grandchildren to a life of discontent and uncertainty. When their generation pumps that gas hole dry, the struggle will be theirs, because their ancestors did nothing to prepare them for life beyond anything that produces energy by burning something. As long as we don't have to worry about it now.

For all the fuss we make about educating our children and trying to make their lives better than ours, we do nothing to improve the bigger picture. You can say that the science behind global warming studies is fantasy, or that we are slowly becoming more energy efficient, but you cannot deny that we will eventually run out of natural gas and crude oil. It is inevitable.
Our grandchildren will have plenty of education and maybe even more money than us, but what they will be left with is a world where they will have to fight for space to move and air to breathe, while the animals with which they co-exist will similarly struggle to find a friendly environment.

I think we owe them more than that.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Our Decider in Chief

President Bush steps from Air Force One after landing Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006, in Waco, Texas. The president will spend the week at his nearby ranch in Crawford.

See, I told ya. He can walk, carry something and salute at the same time. Practice makes perfect.
That's George, carrying his chief advisor on Iraq. Once Barney gets some treats and has his afternoon nap, it's a full day for George at the ranch. I'm guessing that the dog spends most of his day saying, "Huh?" Then, he licks his balls and kisses George on the mouth. Fun at the ranch.

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush went to his ranch Tuesday to rethink U.S. involvement in Iraq as his spokesman hailed a Baghdad court's decision upholding the death sentence for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

God forbid he does any thinking in Washington. I suppose that would go against the District's charter. Who wants to bet that he comes out of his self-imposed bunker to announce that we're "staying the course", and that we have to be determined in our efforts against the evil-doers. No, I'm not a speechwriter.


The president spent the Christmas holiday with his family at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. Mrs. Bush gave the president a new blue suit, biking shoes and country singer Sam Moore's CD titled "Overnight Sensational." He gave her amber-colored citrine earrings to match the triple-strand citrine necklace he gave her for her birthday.

A new blue suit? What's that, like a hundred now? Good call, Laura. And, I've seen the president on a bike. She should have increased his health insurance and bought him a harder helmet. And, what do you get the woman who has everything? Citrine. I guess it beats the crap out of pearls.
Then, for people who have nothing, they gave ... well ...

As part of a family gift name drawing, the Bushes donated mosquito nets in the name of former President George H.W. Bush through, a mission set up to urge individuals, organizations and institutions to protect families from malaria.

Say it with netting.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

I have some web gifts for my Blogger Buddies. Of course, it's a little odd, since you can open each other's gifts, but Hell - the world is an imperfect place. That's why a Republican is in the White House. Anyway, these are just a little Internet 'thank you' for hanging with me for these last eight months.

to kara: a site that you may enjoy, and another that will make you feel a bit like jackson pollock.

To Carmen: Some neat pictures of cats in flight and a travel blog you might enjoy.

To Pam: This site that explores an interesting psychological phenomenon, and a new blog for you to visit.

To Hill: Here's a neat little site where you can fulfill your greatest fantasies and even use some of your creativity. No garden gnomes are involved.
To Kimmyk: One of my favorite sites.

To Firestarter5: A little homage to some of the weird things about Canada.

To Sparky Duck: What's better than a win in Dallas? I can't do any better than that.

To Katie: A little something to feed your addiction.

To Chaos: I like him, too.

To the rest of my readers, thanks for hanging in and making me feel slightly less "sick". Now that the holidays are gleefully behind us, it's on to the regular nonsense.

Check, please!

My weekly supermarket trip is generally odd enough to support a blog of its own, but God (and Bill O'Reilly) knows I don't need something else to do.
Last night, I'm standing in line with my usual assortment of odd items, when I see the woman in front of me hesitate for a moment. The cashier had told her that her order came to $124.25, and this caused the woman to ponder, "I want to make this check out so that I get cash back. What's the limit?"

That's right - the check.

Of course, the cashier didn't know, because ... c'mon, who writes checks to begin with? She turned to a co-worker and asked. The response came back that the limit was $30.
The woman was relieved, for some unknown reason. She said she needed more than $25. She looked at the total again, and then started to make out the check. "Is it OK if I make this out for $150 even? I need a little extra." Which, actually is a question and a statament, but I digress.

She proceeds to make out the check for $150, forcing the cashier to give her $25.75. While all this is going on, the little wheels that move around in my mind were trying to comprehend what was going on in her mind. I realize that not everyone has embraced my Utopian Cashless Society Concept (or UCSC, as it is known), but what's with the 75 cents? My inner voice wanted to ask (nicely), "Lady, what in Hell are you going to do with the extra 75 cents?" Or, "Why didn't you just write the check for $150.75, so the kid didn't have to get quarters out of the drawer?"

I remained quiet, until they were out of earshot, then I began giggling like a child. I looked quizzically at the cashier, and she just smiled and shook her head a little.

"I suppose that extra 75 cents is gonna turn her holidays around", I said.
She replied, "You have no idea what we see in here".

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bill O'Reilly is a Fucking Idiot ... and Other Talking Points

Merry Christmas

I think Bill O'Reilly is a Fucking Idiot would have made a great name for the blog, but I think Al Franken has a better grasp of it.
And I guess I wouldn't mind so much, if Bill was one of those nut-jobs standing on the street corner screaming about some war crimes or how God is gonna take us up to Heaven ... but he's a nut-job with major cable TV time, which really irritates me. Consider this exchange on that stupid TV show of his:

O'REILLY: Sixty-two percent of Americans will have a Christmas tree, but most of the trees will be artificial.

E.D. HILL (co-host): That surprises me. Only 62 percent have Christmas...

O'REILLY: Yeah. And here - and here's a very - here's something that Rasmussen didn't poll but I know, that most women who like artificial trees...

HILL: Yeah?

O'REILLY: ...have artificial breasts.

He went on to say that he saw a study done at UCLA that confirmed his stupid nonsense. I think the University should sue him for implicating their researchers. I could go for another scandal involving him. It's been a long time since the last one.

If you want, you can read the entire exchange here, and even listen to it, if you have a strong stomach.

And, here's something that I know, Bill. Most people who watch your show and believe the nonsense you spout have artificial intelligence. So, in a way, you're reaching your target audience. People that are just as stupid as you are. It's a match made in Heaven, except for the fact that I really don't want to have to pay for cable that includes Fox "News" or your ridiculous program. Where's a la carte programming when I need it?

Bill should realize that there's a place for humor and a place for reporting facts. Apparently, he doesn't know where that place is. I do. It's way over there ... near PBS or the New York Times or the Philadelphia Inquirer ... Fox isn't even in the same time zone as the truth. Leave the humor to Jon Stewart. Unlike you, he's actually funny.
And while we're at it, how do they get away with calling it "News"? More than half of their programs are opinion shows, and that stupid investing show they run on Sunday features five people yelling over each other with some dumb idea they just thought up, including Wayne Rogers, who somehow became an investment advisor all of a sudden. Of course, I really can't complain, if the dopes watching it are investing and losing their money, it just serves to even-out the wealth spectrum.
All it leaves is for Fox to even up its intellectual spectrum, but we know that isn't going to happen.

O'REILLY: We gotta take a break - we gotta take a break, and we'll be back with Reverend Barry Lynn to talk about why there's so much angst about Christmas in a moment.

Holy crap, Bill.
There's so much angst about Christmas because you won't let up! Give me a break, why don't-cha? People are getting worked up over saying "Merry Christmas", out of fear that they're either saying it to a Jewish person, or that the politically correct Happy Holidays is the catch-all for dumbasses. I've had more people say "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" to me that I want to puke. Make up your mind. If you want to say "Merry Christmas", then say it! Be a man (or woman) and make a statement, instead of kowtowing to every stupid special interest group that can't wait for a baby Jesus to show up on municipal property or have a "Holiday Party" at Christmas.

Leave it to a so-called religious holiday to create a division in people. What would Jesus do? He'd tell Bill to "shut the fuck up", have some egg nog and reign fire down on his stupid TV show, while overturning the cameras and making Bill's head explode and his eyeballs melt like that guy in the Indiana Jones movie. Stare at the Ark, Bill. It's OK, really.

It's artificial. Just like you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

One Man and a Baby

President George W. Bush hands back a crying baby that was handed to him from the crowd as he arrived for an outdoor dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Trinwillershagen, Germany, July 13, 2006.

Five Reasons Why the Kid is Crying:

George told the kid that he's gonna go to Iraq in 17 years.
It's Mary Cheney's kid.
George peed on him.
The baby found out that Rumsfeld was Mary's sperm donor.
Wouldn't you be crying if George was holding you?
Merry Christmas kid.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Perfect Holiday Gift

500 Billion Dollars and Nothing to Show for It

There is a mini shit storm going on over at Pam’s place. The comments box is all assed-up over the war and what President Dubya is doing. Here’s my two cents.

This is from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

WASHINGTON - The debate over sending more U.S. troops to Iraq intensified yesterday [Wednesday] as President Bush signaled that he will listen but not necessarily defer to balky military officers, and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, his top Middle East commander and a leading skeptic of a so-called surge, announced his retirement.
At an end-of-the-year news conference, Bush said he agreed with generals "that there's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished" before he decides to dispatch an additional 15,000 to 30,000 troops to the war zone. But he declined to repeat his usual formulation that he will heed his commanders when it comes to troop levels.


Bush has traditionally paid public deference to the generals. At a news conference in July, for instance, Bush said he would yield to Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Iraq commander. "Gen. Casey will make the decisions as to how many troops we have there," Bush said. "...I've told him this: I said, 'You decide, General.' "
By yesterday, however, Bush had indicated that he would not necessarily let military leaders decide, ducking a question about whether he would overrule them. "The opinion of my commanders is very important," he said, adding, "I agree with them that there's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before I agree on that strategy."

So, what have we learned today? We have learned that the president is clueless and that the people he is sending directly into the war zone are under the command of a man who does not listen to people who are better informed than he is.

Wait … did he use the words “mission” and “accomplished” in the same sentence? This time, he was careful not to use them together like he did on May 1, 2003 on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. Nice one, Shrub.

His top commander retired and the Iraq commander gives him advice that he doesn’t take after saying before that he would. Didn’t the Republicans get a lot of mileage out of calling John Kerry a flip-flopper during the 2004 election? Re-read that second Inquirer paragraph, and see if it looks like a flip-flop.

One would think that having top advisors and even his Secretary of Defense leave that he would get the point, but this guy is steadfast in his stupidity. In a strange way, you have to admire that about the guy. He is continually wrong, yet remains committed. It’s a shame that the people he is in charge of committing cannot say no.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Four Schlepping Days Till Christmas

So, my quick trip to the grocery store resulted in a bit longer visit than necessary. The "15 items or less" line should also be revised to include "3 children or less". The kids with the grabby hands who take candy and throw it onto the conveyor and the mom who says "That's stealing!" are little reminders that perhaps single-hood suits me. Although, while other people's children are often charming and beautiful, I also have the luxury of leaving and returning home to the cat, whose biggest issue is the occasional fur ball or whatever that brown thing is that he vomits at 3am. It scares the crap out of me when I hear it (whatever it is), and I never fail to step into precisely the spot of the vomit at 3:01am when my aging bladder requires the nightly visit to the household can. I believe his devious little cat-brain has positioned it precisely where he figured. But I digress.

It's Christmas, and around the office (my little Hell away from home), it's about time for the bosses to remind the rest of us why we aren't. The holidays, it seems, are the perfect time for them to let us all know that there is a caste system in place, and it isn't about to change. The countdown has begun. Five days till Christmas, and three days until the bossy-messenger arrives with his envelopes full of Christmas cheer for the girls and boys who are deemed more important than myself and the other office drones who made them what they are.
Sometime this week, I assume, the office messenger will arrive with gifts and big checks for the necessary, and apologies and tiny checks for the rest of us. Yes, last year, my boss actually apologized for my year-end bonus (the Christmas bonus, P.C. style) before he handed it to me. I was later to find out exactly why he apologized. The bosses got 3% of their yearly salary and a nice leather briefcase (which they interpreted as a thinly-veiled hint to take work home with them) while the rest of us got $350 and a nice -- card.
Before you dismiss this as Blog-whining, let it be known that those in my salary grade have not had a salary increase since 2001. I blame the Republicans.
I protested (as you could figure I would) to our Human Resources department (which has the Resources, but lacks the Humans) and was later told that my letter, while nicely written, was met with stares of incredulity and later dismissed as sour grapes. I can either take it or leave it, which is precisely why I fear the season and relent my position, even after fifteen years in Hell.
So, anyways, thanks for indulging me. I'll keep you posted - which is Blogger-speak for these silly things we write from time to time, but you already knew that.
A little bitter today. Venting.

On the bright side, there's good news -- here.
Just trying to make some of my Blogger buddies feel better. And me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Impulse Drive

What motivates you?

Fear is a pretty good motivator. Fear of unemployment makes us do a good job. Fear of having no money makes us keep our jobs – no matter how lousy they are - and around it goes.
Some folks are self-motivated. They can do things on their own with little help from others. Other people need to be constantly under supervision, sometimes to the point of annoying their supervisors. Personal trainers and people like Martha Stewart make decent livings off people like this. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

We all need something to motivate us. I hope that it is a little more than a little poster with a fancy phrase, or a big book full of fancy phrases – like The Bible. Some people read it every day, while others use it to keep their bathroom door from swinging open. It’s very heavy.

One thing that works for me is if I tell someone I’m going to do something. I really want to do it, but the inner lazy-boy would rather not. I tell someone, because I figure that soon enough, they will ask me, "So ... how's that [thing you told me about] going?" I don't want to look like a failure, so generally, I'll follow through.
So, I told someone, “I want to go to college.” Eight years ago, I went into our Human Resources department with a plan and a dream of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. That motivated me to fill out some forms and start the mission. I set a goal to finish in six years, going part-time, and made it with a month to spare.

Now, I need to tell someone, "I'm going to get a new job, because the one I have now stinks to high Heaven."

So, how do you motivate yourself? Do you get help or do you do it on your own?

As a slight distraction, this is for my readers who somehow don’t find enough time to waste in front of the TV, or are perhaps too motivated to do so, here's the latest Dunkin Donuts commercial:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fat Kids and Cable Guys

There I am, Sunday night. The venerable 60 Minutes TV show is running an interview with that Larry the Cable Guy. He's one of those examples of the old saying that "no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public". Doug Stanhope hates his guts. He can't get through a show without someone yelling "Git 'R' Done!" - even though it isn't Stanhope's line, and besides, what's the point?

Anyway ... I'm watching this interview with Bob Simon, and two things strike me. One is that his stage voice is a put-on. He's from Nebraska, born and reared, and while he speaks with a bit of a drawl, it isn't nearly as affected as the voice he uses on stage. Do you know anyone from Nebraska that talks like that? I suppose we could accept it as an "act", but I've never been one to buy into the act, whether it's that Yakov Smirnoff (who I figure is a total fraud, but his fifteen minutes were up a long time ago) or that Borat guy, who's just a pain in the ass, plain and simple. As you could imagine, Larry isn't even his real name. It's Dan Whitney. But I guess Dan the Cable Guy ... wait ... he's not a cable guy either? Right.
So, OK, I'll accept the fact that he's a midwesterner playing South and the whole deal is a put-on - get over it. Then, the interview gets around to discussing his management team, and what the guy makes for an appearance.
Sit down, unless you have a fully paid health care program.

The guy takes in between ... wait for it ... $250,000 and $300,000 per appearance. Per appearance. That's what he makes per appearance. Did I make it clear? Per appearance. Running his mouth for an hour and telling those dopey jokes. A quarter of a million per night. Now, I really don't get it. His agent was lamenting the fact that Larry used to earn a paltry $5,000 a night before he found the Cable Guy golden egg. That's a shame. It's nice to see he's finally made something out of himself.
Anyway, nice going Larry - er, umm - Dan. Whether or not I miss the point, I suppose millions of Americans can't be wrong - or can they?

Suburban Sprawl is working on your kids, too.

A view of a neighborhood in the town of Superior, Colorado, a Denver suburb. U.S. children who live in expansive suburbs may start to pay for it with expansive waistlines, new research suggests.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - U.S. children who live in expansive suburbs may start to pay for it with expansive waistlines, new research suggests. Using data from a national health survey, researchers found that teenagers living in sprawling suburbs were more than twice as likely to be overweight as teens in more compact urban areas.

Since they have to be driven everywhere, and find walking to be a bit of a chore, junior's ass is getting rounder, but Dr. Reid Ewing of the University of Maryland has a solution:

In communities where it's not possible for children to walk to school, or where they don't even have sidewalks to use, parents may need to make an effort to help their kids get active, according to Ewing. "Get them away from the TV and get them into sports or some organized activity," he suggested.

Good luck, doc. Where I live, the school bus stops every fifty feet to pick up another kid. Apparently, there's a law against making a kid walk a block to get the bus (let alone walk to school) so the bus stops at every house. Fix the rules before you fix the kids.
In other places, Physical Education programs are being trimmed or cut altogether, so even if the kids get to school, they aren't doing anything but sitting on their asses all day.
Then, they get home and tune in the iPod, Play Station 3, Internet or God forbid the TV for 10 hours a day. These aren't my numbers, folks.

You can blame trans fats, fast food or TV if you want, but maybe it's as simple as our declining lifestyle? After all, where were the fitness centers 30 years ago, when we were kids? A gym was a place where they played basketball and volleyball. Now, we go there for exercise classes - and we're still fat. Go figure.
Every new thing that comes along is designed to make our lives easier, and relegate our movements to pushing a button or watching something. Kids would rather play Fantasy Football than real football. Walk somewhere? You must be out of your mind. I watch cars circle parking lots for fifteen minutes looking for a parking spot, when they could just as easily use the first one they see and walk to the door.

It's a constant struggle for kids and adults, and the way things are going, it won't get any easier. The next time you drop your kids off someplace, try leaving them about a block from where they're going, and check the look you get when you ask them to walk.
The next voice you hear will be your local Child Abuse Prevention Hotline representative.

Nerd or Not Nerd?

I am nerdier than 23% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tag, I'm It

OK, so I'm sitting around, minding my own B. I. business, and this Pam character tags me.
Here are the rules :
Find the nearest book.
Name the book
The author
Turn to page 123
Go to the fifth sentence on the page
Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.

The book that is closest to me on the bookshelf:
The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman

This was the John Lennon who could have led the Beatles forward to become the first great hard rock band of the Sixties. They might have rocked with the tough working-class beligerence of The Who, becoming a group whose musical gestures, seconded by corresponding stage gestures, would have created a rock theater that could have enabled John Lennon to enact the psychodrama seething inside his soul. The machine-wrecking tactics of The Who would have suited Lennon right down to the ground, and eventually he might have written his own Tommy (as, in a way, he did with the Primal Scream Album).

Much more interesting than Pam's. I think it would make a great choice for your book club.

I'll have to think about whom to tag. Watch your comments boxes, Blogger buddies.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Little Sympathy, please...

I'm sitting here at work, listening to the instrumental MUZAK version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Is there any more pointless song to play without vocals?

What's next, the instrumental version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"?

Help me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Don't waste your time reading this.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans will spend nearly 10 hours a day watching television, surfing the Internet, reading books, newspapers and magazines and listening to music this year, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Friday.

In its "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007" released on Friday, the agency also noted that Americans drink about a gallon of soda a week, along with a half gallon each of milk, bottled water, coffee and beer.
All of which may help explain another figure in the pages of the 1,300-page book of tables and statistics: About two-thirds of Americans are overweight, including one-third of whom are obese.

I wonder where these numbers come from? Let's do a little mathematics - very little, since I know you want to get back to your Internet activities.

Six hours sleep. I know we're supposed to say eight, but...really... and 10 ... That's 16 hours, plus at least 8 hours at work leaves us zero. I realize that some of those activities can be done together, but sleep and work are separate, unless you work in our federal government or at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
Not everyone works, but it does say "Americans", so I have to believe it's some sort of composite.

What did we do with all that free time before we had the Internet to surf? Maybe we were out doing things like exercise or anything that doesn't involve sitting on our asses.
Over 90 million obese Americans. That's a lot of people, and since they're really fat, they take up almost twice as much space, too, so it's almost like 180 million.

I guess, we don't do much else. As for me, I've been sitting here for 3 hours, and now I have to get up to go watch the TV.

Of course, this is the same government who tells us the gas mileage that our cars get, so I suppose we should apply the phrase "for what it's worth" to the figures.

And, if you feel that 10 hours just isn't enough, here is a list of the Fifteen Best Places to Waste Time on the Web. My blog is not listed. Perhaps it's number 16?

Feeling a little stressed from holiday shopping?
Cocteau Twins
"Carolyn's Fingers"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Keep Your Bicycle Securely Locked at All Times

Our Federal Government is just now finding out that automobile drivers encounter traffic, run their air-conditioners and frequently drive faster than 60mph.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which only now - for model year 2008 - is changing the way it tests mileage for the first time since 1984. The new procedures announced this week will consider a variety of factors collectively known as reality.

These overdue improvements will reduce the average vehicle's estimated mileage - the one that appears on window stickers in the showroom - by 12% for city driving and 8% for highway driving. And, as you could guess, auto makers are not happy about the change. Why? Because it may mean that people will start buying less profitable small cars, instead of house-sized bohemoths; whose drivers actually brag about their car getting 15 miles per gallon.

The beautiful combination of bureaucratic sloth and special interest politics have finally given way to consumer complaints and fact. Geez -- it only took 22 years. Now we know why my 2005 Ford Focus, advertised at 27 city, 32 highway; gets 27.5 miles per gallon on my mostly-highway drive to and from work - without the air conditioning or traffic. I feel so used.

In other stupid news...

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen, out of concern the skater would be offended because she's Jewish.
A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday. Mayor Ron Loveridge called the incident "unfortunate." To her credit, Cohen did not request the singers to stop.

This is another case of over-sensitive zealots making life difficult for people. Every day, we see another news story about someone somewhere getting irritated that there's a Nativity scene, or a store employee saying "Merry Christmas" to shoppers. Why don't we just cancel Christmas altogether, if it's going to irritate people so much? If you love somebody, give them a gift. Who needs a phony religious holiday to justify the act? "Happy Holidays" and politically correct songs are a half-assed attempt to make everybody happy, and we know that it isn't possible. If people can't sing a song without aiming to piss off people in government, then what's the point?

The High School rests on tax-exempt property, the carolers were singing for free and the city employees are paid from tax dollars. Anybody see a problem here?

I wanna go...

An artist's rendering provided by Grand Canyon West shows the Hualapai Indian Tribe's Skywalk, a glass-bottom observation deck 4,000 feet above the Colorado River hanging over the western edge of the Grand Canyon. Hualapai Indian tribe is hoping to change its fortunes by building the Skywalk as a tourist attraction. But the $30 million Skywalk, set to open in March 2007, has also ignited a debate among Hualapai elders who question whether the prospect of riches is worth disturbing sacred ground.

Sacred, schmacred. I just wanna drop a coyote off it and watch him open that little umbrella and wave goodbye before he crashes to the ground in a little cloud of dust.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Does This Blog Make Me Look Fat?

My teeth are clean. I just thought you might like to know. I had my six-month dental check-up (the official check-up-from-the-neck-up) and I was pronounced "Good for another six months." So, those of you who may be planning on doing something with me after June 13th ... I really can't commit to anything right now.
That really screws with the trip to Wakarusa I was planning this summer. One day at a time, I guess.
I made another appointment for June 27th, so I guess the joke is on them!

While I was in the dental chair, they allowed me to watch the TV. There was a minor earthquake just outside of Reading, PA; in Berks County. The local Action News reporter was there, on the scene. He chose to interview a guy who was in the area at the time.
REPORTER: So, you were here at the time of the earthqake?
GUY: Yes, I was working here from noon till now, today.
REPORTER: Did you feel the earthquake?
GUY: Nope. I didn't see or feel anything.

Breaking news, folks. Now, we're interviewing people who had no knowledge of the event and have no first-hand account to relay. Two minutes of prime local news time devoted to a guy who admittedly didn't see or hear anything. Nice job. Did you see it? Nope. Back to the studio.


In addition to (or perhaps in spite of) clean teeth, I also may be turning gay. Whatsthatyousay? Yes, gay. It seems my daily diet of soy milk and cereal is playing Hell with my testosterone level, and apparently, any day now, I will begin speaking with a lisp and develop an inate skill at home decorating. So, it may not be all bad, because my place could use some sprucing up.

This article says that those little beans are "tearing apart our culture", which flies in the face of all that "good for you" junk that scientists and health professionals say. The article goes on to say that
if you're a grownup, you're already developed, and you're able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. It's obvious that this guy knows nothing about how developed I am. I've got news for you pal, I'm growing new shit every day, but I ain't saying where it is.

He also says that
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. Sexual confusion? Tell me what I can eat that will convince me that sex isn't confusing, and I'm all in. Apparently this guy hasn't tried buying a condom lately. Latex, sensitive, lubricated, polyethelyne, spermicidal ... I'm confused, and I'm not even using them. Really, I'm not.

Then, in a fit of intellectual peak, he says...
Research in 2000 showed that a soy-based diet at any age can lead to a weak thyroid, which commonly produces heart problems and excess fat. Could this explain the dramatic increase in obesity today?
Well, let me think...obesity in America...yeah, it must be the soy. It can't possibly be the billions and billions of cheeseburgers that McDonald's sells to kids every day, or the Super Size everything, or the thousands of gallons of sweetwater (a.k.a. Coke or Pepsi) that we consume every day. It must be the soy beans.

So, if you suddenly find that my posts are leaning toward what color sunglasses go best with my skin tone, or I start asking if my hips are too wide, or I suddenly become obsessed with moving to San Francisco ... post a comment and tell me to lay off the soy until my penis returns to its normal size and my estrogen level decreases. After all, I don't want to miss Wakarusa or that new Rocky movie.

Because they are just too precious!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You Sure Ask a Lot of Questions for Someone from New Jersey

I ask myself many questions. I don’t get many answers, but that doesn’t keep me from asking. One I asked myself today was, “Would it be considered ‘justifiable homicide’ if I killed the guy who installed our MUZAK system at work?” I asked myself this after hearing Andy Williams sing “Happy Holidays” for the six-billionth time.

Maybe I don't want to kill him as much as I just want to smack him in the back of the head and tell him how he has contributed to the destruction of thousands of brain cells. Don’t turn your back on me, Mr. MUZAK installation guy.

How many different times can I hear “Jingle Bells” or “Frosty the Snowman” before it starts to work on my subconscious, and I am no longer responsible for my actions? Apparently, the music industry (and the MUZAK industry) feels as though we need one more version of “The Little Drummer Boy” – reggae mix, jazz mix, punk mix, pizzicato string mix or Bowie and Bing mix – but here it is, merely the 12th of December, and I’m all parum-pa-pum-pum’ed out.


There's a line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke" that goes, "What we have here is failure to communicate. Some folks, you just can't reach.” Some of my Blogger buddies have them, and I had one of those moments at the lunch table today.

A co-worker was bemoaning the fact that Christmas (the holiest of all holidays) falls on a Monday. The moaning came when he said that he'd like to have the day after Christmas off, in addition to the day itself.

I looked at him quizzically (as I often do) and replied with my own question.

"So, what do you do on July 5th, or the day after Memorial Day? Don't you have picnics and parties on the holidays? Why doesn't it bother you that you don't have the day after those days off?"

He failed to see my logic, and could only reply with, "Christmas is different", which isn't an argument, it's just a statement. Of course, it's different, but why is it different? He couldn't articulate his point or answer my question, so we moved on.

Maybe I’m just not a big Christmas guy, since I really don’t get it. I didn’t want to get into an argument with the guy, since it was just an opinion, but I failed to see the point. Tell me, dear readers … Is it different? If so, why? If not, why not?


You have one day left to make a bet with your friends that I am sure you will win. What’s the bet? I’m glad you asked. I get tired of asking all the questions around here.

The bet is that Rocky will die in the latest Rocky movie. What is it, Rocky Six Billion? Whatever. He’s going down, and he’s going down hard. He’ll die right in front of his kid in that fight that they’re showing on the TV commercials.
I’m not spoiling the ending because I don’t know the ending, I’m merely speculating. Maybe it’s a gut feeling or maybe it’s wishful thinking.

The movie premieres in Hollywood next Wednesday, so get your bets down.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Be Yourself. As Long as You're Like Me

All this talk about bliss and its consequences has stirred up quite a little firestorm in this little corner of the Blogosphere. A post here, another one there and even one over here someplace that may or may not be the spark of the whole thing. Whatever it is, it is free thinking, and nothing irritates the More-moral-than-thou bunch than individuality and free thinking. Deep down inside, they would like us all to be the same. The sames would stay with the sames, and the differents would ... well, they would be ostracized to some island where they couldn't influence the sames and make them realize that they were cheap imitations of themselves.

Ostracized is an interesting word. Without doing research (something I gave up after I graduated college) I would say that it has its roots in the Ostrich, who reacts to the different by sticking its head in the ground. The sames would probably do that, if they could get their head out of their ass long enough to put it in the ground.

Free thinking is the enemy of many things, religion among them. After all, if God had meant us to think for ourselves, he would have given us free will and a brain...

So, the sames go along, trying as hard as they can to be like themselves. It gets harder every day, because the differents are so interesting that the sames can't help but watch. Sort of like a rail crash or a really good movie sex scene. They are disgusted by it, yet they cannot turn away. The part of them that wants to watch is the part that they would like to ostracize. They do, by making the differents feel like they should be ashamed of their behavior. This empowers the sames and makes them do their little superior dance, where they spin in circles and spout their same-old tired blather about how God will punish the differents and make them burn in Hellfire until their eye sockets melt like that guy in the Indiana Jones movie who looked at the Ark of the Covenant.

It's an odd thing, though, to say that you preach peace and love while you go around making people feel like they are wrong for believing what they believe and acting in an independent fashion. It is contradictory, and I for one, have no time for anyone who wants to tell me how to feel, act or spin in a circle - if that's what I want to do.

The other thing they preach is that whole "turn the other cheek" jazz. It is supposed to be one of their main beliefs, but they cannot turn the other cheek when one of the differents is acting different. Instead, the differents turn a cheek to the sames and allow them to go about their little holier-than-thou ritual. Ironic, isn't it? The same people who are supposed to be forgiving and tolerant turn out to be the people who want to tell us how to live and what to think.

I choose to turn the other cheek.

50 Ways to Love Your Lever

Girls ... girls ... girls ... please.

A seemingly innocent post about a news story about some Indian men and their difficulties with prophylactics has started a mini-Bloggerstorm of comments, questions and concerns over the size of our junk. Katie asked a question in my comments box (no pun intended), Pam added Kerosene to the fire by answering her and Kimmyk put up an entire post asking about the average size. Penis this, penis that ... penis, penis, penis. Holy shit, Hannah.

Geez, girls - get a grip. Let's talk about shopping.

'Tis the season ... Or so it seems. I guess the season we think it is depends upon our upbringing.

Every time the Christmas (excuse me, the holiday) shopping season comes around, it makes me think about the variances in our lives and how those variances interact with those of us who get in the way.

The first thing that comes to mind is that we are all forced to drive someplace. Driving is one of those social skills that not all of us posses, but all of us must do. It puts the lesser skilled at a disadvantage when they are forced to interact with those who have a skill. Because everyone is forced to drive, they make it difficult on those of us who have the necessary skills. We deal with them because we have no choice. There are no alternatives, so we blow our car horns, point and gesture. It doesn't help them, but it makes us feel better. "Dumbass! Get off the road!" Now, I feel better.

Shopping at this time of year is a similar experience. Regardless of whether or not they want to be there, the shoppers are out. Many of them only venture to the shopping mall once or twice a year. The other time may be for a birthday gift or some special occasion, but holiday shopping is universal, and the unskilled are out and about, harassing us. They have no choice but to be there, and their cluelessness is our misery.

These are the same people who wait until the end of the checkout to start writing the check (please ... the ATM card!) or stand at the counter packing up the remaining belongings of their purse/wallet while the rest of us wait. Tedium. Buy your shit and get out of the way.

In case you don't know, I am a man (with a penis) who is well aware of the vagaries of shopping. So much so, that I am easily irritated by the clowns who venture out at the holiday season (got it right that time) to buy a gift, regardless of their institutional knowledge of the process.

And so, my trip to the local mall on Saturday was bound by the once-a-year shoppers, seemingly unaware of my existence. They were left to bump into me, brush against my arm and otherwise make my shopping experience miserable. I could see the blank looks on their faces and the clueless wander of their gait as they meandered around, unaware that there were other people or other stores available than the ones they had focused upon.

I tried to be understanding of their plight. They may spend three hours in a shopping mall in a year, and their clueless expression would bear that out. Part of me wanted to help them. "What are you looking for?" I would ask. The other, bigger part of me wanted them to get the Hell out of my way, and the obvious choice would be for them to get a computer and buy it on-line. Some of us are trying to get to the food court, and your aimless wandering in search of the Yankee Candle store is in no way helping me. I'm tired and hungry.

It's almost over, this annual clueless-man shopping trip. Soon, the mall will be mine again. Mine, and the rest of my mall brethren who are amply experienced in the ways of shopping that allow us no mercy for the clueless shoppers who step on our feet, bump into us and generally contribute to the mess that is the Christmas (holiday - damn!) shopping season.

As far as the size of their penises, I really have no clue nor interest. It's tough enough carrying this stuff around without the constant worry of whether or not my girth is adequate. First things first. Let me get a date and I'll have my girlfriend post a comment about how many girth units I am and where I stand in the vast realm of men and their peni.

In the meantime, I'll be at the mall, buying her an expensive gift that will make all discussion of penis size, girth or any other such units irrelevant.

Besides, I don't think I heard anybody mention anything about tongue size.