Saturday, December 9, 2006

Sunday Stuff

The space shuttle Discovery is shown as it streaks over a marina in Daytona Beach, Florida December 9, 2006 after liftoff from Kennedy Space Center.

NEWS FLASH: VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Religious symbols should be allowed in public places, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of Italian Catholic legal experts.
Sure. And a group of prostitutes in Atlantic City thinks that prostitution should be legalized. How does this even get to the news bureaus? I guess they figure they'll go to Hell if they don't report it. OK, fine. Let's move on to property tax relief. NEWS FLASH: A hundred percent of homeowners think their property taxes are too high. Maybe they should start praying.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Stargazers will get a rare triple planetary treat this weekend with Jupiter, Mercury and Mars appearing to nestle together in the predawn skies. About 45 minutes before dawn on Sunday those three planets will be so close that the average person's thumb can obscure all three from view. And it won't happen again until 2053.
I swear, isn't it like
every six months we hear about some astronomical phenomenon that "won't happen again until [fill in the year]? The biggest problem with this junk is that I have to get up at 3am to see it. Line up during the day, when we're awake, for Chrissakes. If there was a God, he'd let me get some friggin sleep.

A labourer works at a condom production line at the Human-Care Latex Corporation, which is one of China's largest producers of condoms, in Tianjin November 23, 2006. Condoms designed to meet international size specifications are too big for many Indian men as their penises fall short of what manufacturers had anticipated, an Indian study has found.
OK. Public apology to the men of India. If this is the standard for these condoms, then maybe measuring up isn't your biggest problem. Look at the size of that thing. Holy shit, Hannah.

NEW YORK - Forty years after it was made, The Velvet Underground's first recording has become a financial hit - in cyberspace. "The Velvet Underground & Nico," sold on eBay for a closing bid of $155,401. The buyer is a mystery, only identified by the eBay screen name: "jackass2006." Really -- the crap that people spend money on.

Or Won't...

Britney Spears' junior high school homework might have scored her a grade of 88 out of 100 points then, but now it isn"t worth what it used to be. The essay, based on Rex Warner"s translation of Sophocles' Antigone which Britney completed when she was a teenager, were expected to sell for between $500 and $700 when auctioned last Monday at Christie's in New York, but fell flat on the expectation when it fetched just $200.
The 24-year-old singer's paper reportedly had spelling errors, as it carried Spears' teacher comments such as "Nice cover" and "Watch out for spelling mistakes" on its back.

Nice cover and spelling mistakes. Geez ... that sounds like a literary version of Britney. Nice on the outside, but full of junk on the inside. I guess she didn't learn much in school, but it must have been lots of fun watching her get out of the school bus.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Random Musings

Frosty the Snowman. What a miserable holiday song that is. They tell us he's a "jolly, happy soul", then he dies in a horrible heat-related incident involving some kids and a corncob pipe. And why didn't that cop help him when he stopped them? I want answers! Either way, I think those kids are in for a horrible experience someday...
But he waved goodbye
Saying "Don't you cry
I'll be back again some day".
Watch your backs, kids. I think he's still carrying that broomstick around. Frosty bastard. I never trusted him. Stupid eyes made out of coal follow me around...

Actor Jamie Kennedy arrives at an awards ceremony in Burbank, California wearing a pair of women's panties on his head and holding up a sign that reads: "I found Brittney's Panties".

I'm only including this for the Google searches...

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Condoms designed to meet international size specifications are too big for many Indian men as their penises fall short of what manufacturers had anticipated, an Indian study has found. Initial findings from a two-year study showed 60 percent of men in the financial capital Mumbai had penises about 2.4 cm (one inch) shorter than those condoms catered for. For a further 30 percent, the difference was at least 5 cm (two inches).

Japanese pianist Maiko Ichiyanagi poses with the world's smallest grand piano produced by Japan's toy maker Sega Toys. It has 88 working keys and can automatically play 100 pre-installed music songs, will go on sale 01 April 2007 with a price of 47,000 yen ($400 US).

That would never sell in India.

To play it, you'd need a 10-inch pianist.

OK, now back to your business...

Last night on my favorite TV show, My Name is Earl, a doctor was played by William Schallert, who was the dad on The Patty Duke Show. It doesn't take much to get me to thinking about junk, and this is a prime example.

On the show, Patty plays identical cousins, Patty Lane and Cathy Lane. Patty is the Brooklyn kid and Cathy is from Great Britian. We are asked to buy into the premise that they are identical cousins, because their fathers are identical twins. I have a question. How does a person have an identical cousin? The show's explanation is full of holes, if you ask me (and you didn't).

The answer I gave myself was that dad (William Schallert) had an affair with Cathy's mom (his brother's wife) while he was serving in the military overseas. Then, he comes back and has a child with his wife. Or, maybe Cathy's dad knocked up Patty's mom while he was here on vacation? Viola, Identical cousins. Whatever it is, I didn't buy into that stupid idea in 1965, and I'm not buying into it now. One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day. Yeah, sure ... that Lane family sounds a little odd to me...I never trusted them. I'll bet a hot dog made her mom lose control, too ... if you know what I mean...

And, for some real entertainment, there's always David Letterman:

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Thursday Thirteen v.11

I wasn't planning a Thirteen this week, but a post by Pam inspired this one, and even as I write this introduction, I'm hoping I can finish it.

Thirteen Sliding Doors

For those of you who don't know what that means, it's a reference to the movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. It's about a woman who is fired from her job at a PR company, and is forced to take stock of her life. When the doors of a tube car close on her, we see what happens if she had made the train, or if she had not. Here are my sliding doors, in no particular order:

1 - 1967, my father died. Leaving my mother widowed, it changed the way I see life. A child at the age of 9, forced to deal with the death of a beloved father and best friend. It wasn't a choice of mine, I know, but still, the elusive bliss began to evade me right then. It was the day I got fired from my PR company.

2 - Didn't try out for the Jazz band. A few high school buddies wanted me to audition as the bass player of the high school jazz band. I love jazz, and the band would go on to win state championships, but I played guitar, not bass - and didn't want to take a spot from a more deserving candidate. The bass player they picked was lousy. I would have been better, and the band would have had more fun with me in it.

3 - Didn't go to college after high school. I graduated at 17, and wasn't mature enough to go. And, because mom never re-married, I had to go to work, because we could not afford school.

4 - My drafting class. In high school, I took a 3-period block of drafting instead of the college prep courses I should have taken. If you can stand a little self-indulgence; I was too smart for the class. It turned out to be full of hoodlums, and I stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. The drafting was "easy", I was told, and it led to a life of...

5 - My drafting job. Right out of high school, another friend hooked me up with a job at an Engineering/Land Surveying office. I took it, because I had nothing else. I worked there 15 miserable years.

6 - The band broke up. My one and only band broke up in 1981, after 5 years. I never auditioned for another and never tried to re-form another band. That was the unceremonious end to my music career. I always regretted giving it up, and wonder what would have happened if I had continued.

7 - Never moved out. I lived "at home" until I was married at the age of 30. I never moved out, never took a chance at poverty, and never really tried what I wanted to do...

8 - The stand-up career. I have no fear of speaking in front of people, as long as I am prepared. At times, I can be very funny, and when I can't, I can hire someone to write for me so that I can be prepared. It would have been a hoot. I always wondered what would have happened if I had moved to New York, started waiting tables and doing 2am open-mic's. Even if I failed, at least I could have said I tried.

9 - Married late in life. Later than some, anyway. She was the only serious relationship I had, and several times we contemplated breaking up. Can't help but wonder what would have happened if I followed through. The marriage ended in divorce, and while I got a home out of the deal, the choices I made along the way contributed to where I am now...

10 - Finally attended college. I started at 40, and finished in August. Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. If I had gone to college when I was 18, I would most likely be teaching high school history or english now. Then, where would I be?

11 - The various girlfriends. Either I tried too hard, or not hard enough. Whatever, the choices are way too complicated and varied to disclose here. Suffice it to say, any one of them would have given me a different set of doors to slide through. And, perhaps any one of them would have been a better choice than the one I ended up marrying.

12 - Complacency. The catch-all for every decision I've made that did not require any effort to execute. Whatever is happening now is always more convenient than what could be happening later if we would let it.

13 - The Blog. After several months of careful consideration, I started this worthwhile project. Along the way, I have made many cyber-friends and even one very special one who is not so cyber. It will be another life-altering door that slides one way or the other, and as I continue, the door stays open.

Thank you, dear cyber friends, for keeping it open, and to the special one who is making it slide.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Rudy the Ridiculed

This is a little about teamwork, but it's mostly about hypocrisy.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Not because it's a great song (because it isn't), but because of the great life lesson it teaches. You say you don't really need a life lesson from a Christmas song? Too late, Chief. Here it goes:

The song starts out innocently enough. It's a cheery little tune about a horribly disfigured animal who probably landed his job because of some Equal Opportunity Law at the North Pole...

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You would even say it glows.

Then, it all starts to turn sour for our hero. Rudolph couldn't join the team. The other reindeer noticed his disfigurement and, much like the humans, they called attention to it and mocked him unmercifully, but if you saw it, you'd probably agree with his insensitive reindeer bretheren...

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names;
They wouldn't let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.

They wouldn't let him join them in their activities because he was different. His obvious differences left him an outcast in the reindeer community, and he was shunned by the others because he looked different than the "normal" reindeer...until they found out something interesting about the guy...

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

It was discovered that Rudolph was able to help the others, and they were able to use his deformity for their personal benefit...

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in history!"

Once it was found that his difference could be used to benefit the reindeer community, the others began to love him, and even though they started out hating his red-nosed guts, when they found out that he was able to help them, their attitude toward Rudolph changed.

And there's your life lesson, kids.
If you are different, we will mock and ridicule you until we find out that you can do something for our benefit, then you'll be our pal. Even though the original story was written in 1938, the idea is current and universal.
People who have "shiny noses" are scorned until society finds something that they can do that will benefit us. Otherwise, keep your nose to yourself and let us keep making fun of you. If you can help us, we'll let you in.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

You're In Trouble Now

It seems that a recurring theme of these recurring themes is that whatever the topic, the term "relative" can be applied. For instance, in the case of trouble, it certainly is relative.

If we never got out of grammar school, trouble would be limited to such life-altering events as forgetting to do our homework, hitting one of our siblings or (egad) breaking a lamp.

Since most of us have gotten out of grammar school, the degree of trouble in which we find ourselves increases with the level of responsibility we should have. For instance, missing a mortgage payment or getting a traffic ticket. I'm in trouble, now.

Most of us equate trouble with luck or fortune, but in the grim reality of life, we know that luck or fortune are merely excuses, not reasons, for the level of trouble we find ourselves in. For instance, if that cop hadn't been sitting in the trees, he wouldn't have caught me speeding. Forget the fact that I was speeding - I choose to blame my bad luck on my misfortune - forgetting the fact that I was speeding, and deserved to be caught. What I ask myself is, "Why didn't he catch the other hundred people behind or in front of me?" Because he caught me, I suppose.

Generally, we like to find someone or something to blame for our trouble. Success is easy to pin, because we are ultimately responsible for our success, or at least we tell ourselves we are. Trouble however, needs a scapegoat. It could be a vengeful God, a nasty neighbor or the cop in the trees. Whatever it is, blame and trouble go hand-in-hand.

Give a guy a traffic ticket, make him take those ugly garden gnomes off his lawn or give him a pimple on his penis, and there is trouble awaiting blame. Never mind that we made a poor choice or contracted a virus - we're in trouble and there's blame to be placed. We like to use the word luck, but it hardly ever applies, so we blame God for our troubles in life, and even credit God for our success.

Ask yourself, the next time you cry to God or thank him; why your trouble or success is his responsibility. Did your evil thoughts, actions or words anger Him and cause him to take vengence on you? Or did you kindness inspire His? Probably not. If that was the case, then so many rotten people wouldn't have success, because your vengeful God would make them incur his wrath.

It that is the case, then George W. Bush and his pals must be hiding a lot of penis pimples.

I'll bet even Condi has one.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Lose Weight Now - Ask Me How.

Nothing is so important that it cannot be put off until tomorrow. For some, January 1 marks their personal tomorrow. It's the procrastinator's favorite day. New Year's resolutions are made then, and presumably broken shortly afterward.
I've been a member of one gym or another for the past 25 years, and every one of those years I've seen new members wander in right after the first of the year. Generally, they wander out sometime around Easter, after making a minor effort at a life-altering decision.
I can see them now, sitting around the Christmas tree, bloated from Christmas ham, wine and candy; telling their spouse, "Honey, this year, I swear to God, I'm gonna get in shape!" Off the waddle to the local fitness facility to plunk down hundreds of dollars on something from which they may not get ten cents worth of value.
But, it's a noble gesture, albeit a hollow one. Fitness facilities around the country see their accounts fattened by the fattest of Americans, Hell bent on changing their lives, merely because they bought a new calendar. Never mind that they have been getting increasingly out of shape during the last 10 years or so, their lives will be inexorably changed by joining a fitness center. Hell, the word "fitness" is in the name, so it must be good for them.
When two or three months pass and they have made little or no progress, they abandon the project, figuring that they are either "big boned" or "big and beautiful". Either or neither of those may be the case. Their frustration comes in not being able to change ten years of lousy behavior in three months. Exercise is too much trouble.
One of my many fitness facilities had 3,200 members, yet I would only see forty or fifty of them at times. I asked the manager, "What if everybody decided to come in at once?" His reply, "Then, we'd be in a lot of trouble!" he knew they would never come, and in fact, he was counting on it.
In a few weeks, the usual jump in membership will take place once again. People, it seems, are slow to learn and even slower to act. They have put off getting themselves squared-away for so long that it has now become a personal mandate. But not so much that they are willing to work very hard at it. It's a shame, because the rewards are so great that the hard work is justified. But, don't pity them, rather, appreciate them. They are the very people keeping your local fitness facility in business, strange as it may seem.
How many other businesses can depend on people not coming to them and expect to earn a profit?