Saturday, November 10, 2007

The "Make Up Your Own Caption" contest

Paula Creamer is going into Sunday's final round with a six-stroke lead, which is nice, since I live in the Philadelphia market and there isn't any football to watch on Sunday. The Eagles are playing, but there isn't any football to watch.
Almost as good as that is the fact that I've found a box of my old Matchbox cars that will soon find a home on Ebola. It would be better if I had the boxes, but the cars are still in great shape. I'd get more for them if I had the boxes, but I can't do anything about that. Who saves the boxes?

Yesterday, Suzann Pettersen was penalized two strokes because the TV cameras caught her accidentally moving her ball to avoid an obstruction. From her angle, she couldn't see the ball move, but the camera caught it. After the round, LPGA officials watched the video replay and assessed the penalty. Just like those Funniest Home Videos where somebody's pants fall down at a wedding reception - twenty years ago, maybe ten people would have seen it, now it's on the World Wide Web and a national TV show. Nothing funny about that.

Cameras are everywhere, and just like the prison colony at French Guiana, there is no escape.

Remember gang, I don't take the pictures, I just post them.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What is it now?

I hear tell that one way to make money on the Internet is through something called Domain Flipping. What is Domain Flipping, you ask?
As with tangible real estate, you can buy virtual plots (URL addresses), flip them and make a buck. sells unused domain names for under $10 apiece. To attract buyers, run tests to determine how often certain key words are searched so that you can demonstrate the likelihood that your URL will show up in a Google or Yahoo! search.
Jumping Jesus, if I had a nickel for every stupid Jaime Pressly search that ended up here or some Paula Creamer jackass looking for "hairy arms" photos or whatever other demented fetish dream they had, I wouldn't have to work anymore. And how I missed out on that whole Alycia Lane fiasco is beyond me. I didn't make a nickel off it, and I'm pissed.
Speaking of which:
That's right America, they're still playing golf. In Alabama, of all places. And Paula's wiping the floor with them, but it's only Friday, so I'll keep from gloating until the final results are in.
She has a five-stroke lead, but somebody named Annika is lurking about, so we'll keep this whole thing in perspective until the 18th hole on Sunday.
Did you know there's a whole cable channel devoted to golf? It's called The Golf Channel. Go figure.
Imagine my surprise to find that I had Monday off from work. [Go ahead, imagine it] Honestly, I had no idea until about 10am on Friday. I can envisage my reaction when I sped to work on Monday morning, wondering where all the traffic was and wandered into the parking lot wondering where all the cars were. Like the Griswold's in Vacation - "First ones here." Idiots.
Now, at least, I get to sleep on Monday morning, which in the end, is the ultimate gift that all these holiday honorees bestow upon us working stiffs. Christopher Columbus, The Continental Congress, Our forefathers, the military, the Pilgrims, one of our Gods (the one on our money), the Romans (the alleged creators of the calendar) and modern holiday marketing (for those of us fortunate enough to have Black Friday off) - have all given us the gift of an extra couple hours of sleep and the added convenience of not having to put up with the dolts who run our chosen place of employment for one day.
Were it not for all of that, I would probably have either sawed off a shotgun and put it in my mouth or taken a handful of prescription drugs to bring a gracious (if not messy) end to my seemingly endless life of drudgery.
So, thanks.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Who needs an alarm clock when I have a cat?

Who indeed? This morning, my faithful furry friend, keenly aware that I had overslept, lept on the bed and pushed his furry face into mine, waking me from a sound, yet ill-timed sleepover and keeping me from being both late for work and well rested. Thanks buddy. Sadly, that was the most exciting thing that has happened to me over the past few days.

The Ebola business continues to hum along. So much so that I think I need a little break. I've never been to Staples so much in my life. Mostly, the Paypal thing works fairly well, although the associated fees are a bitch. Ebola takes their cut, then hits you on the back end with what they call an "added value fee" or something. Then, Paypal takes a cut for allowing buyers to send me "money" via the air. I try not to pay too much attention to all the fees, since mostly, I'm ahead on the deal because I'm ridding myself of mostly useless clutter and redistributing it to other parts of the world, including Australia, Canada and Croatia.
I've learned a few things about packing material and postage rates - including the fact that Canada has some strange requirement that my full name appear on the return address. Weirdos.
I have one particular buyer, who appears interested in some of my old baseball cards, who claims to be having "Paypal difficulties" and instead, insists on sending me cash through the mail. Today, I received nine dollars and twenty-five cents in an envelope. Thanks for lunch.
So far, I've been able to keep track of everything, but I'm starting to regret not buying one of those little postage meters. Fortunately, there's a Regional Distribution Center about 5 miles from home that's open until 7pm, and also has one of those neat machines that allow people to weigh and print out their postage and drop it in a box at all hours of the day or night. A 24/7 post office. The only difficulty comes in getting out of the place, since it's located in an odd confluence of state highways that jams up on Friday afternoon. I'm tempted to make a weekend run on the bicycle, but I'm having trouble figuring out a route that will neither get me killed by oncoming vehicles and avoid those same highways. Maybe I'll just keep using my car.
If I told you how much money I've made selling my nearly useless junk you probably wouldn't believe me, so I won't tell you. Plus, I don't want to have to do a lot of complicated mathematics for the Internal Revenue Service, so we're going to say it's been a break-even deal. Yeah, that's it.
Usually, when I have a few dollars saved something expensive breaks or requires maintenance. So far, so good, but the inevitable process of friction, combined with gravity and the deterioration of age will eventually catch up with just about everything. Mostly though, the big ticket items around the house are fairly new. This summer's air conditioning malfunction was the last one, and I'm still paying for it. Next, I suppose will be brakes for the car, but I suppose I have to be able to stop, so I'll wind up having to do that, too.
Added to my usual question of "can I blog about it" is the other new question, "Can I sell it?" Mostly, the answer is "Yes", since so many things around here are either sitting in a box, on a shelf or in my downstairs storage area far from my view. There's just so much clutter, which is where I came in.
When I stop blogging, you'll know I've finally sold the computer. I look at that a lot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who has the nuttiest mayor in America?

Philadelphia has a new mayor. He’s Michael Nutter, whose surname should open up a Pandora’s Box of wordplay if he turns out to be a loser. He’s a Democrat, which means that in order to be elected, all he really had to do was put his name on the ballot. Mother Teresa could run Republican against Adolph Hitler and they’d still have a race on their hands.
As expected, the turnout was dismal. He was elected by 85 percent of the 30 percent of registered voters who voted. They call it a landslide, but in a city with 1.5 million people, the 225,000 votes that Nutter got don’t really amount to much. On the other hand, as a Democrat, he really didn't need much.
As of May 2007, there are 993,334 registered voters in Philadelphia.

Democrat: 750,829 (75.6%)

Republican: 150,450 (15.2%)

Other parties: 92,055 (9.2%)

As you can see, the only way a Democrat could lose the election in Philadelphia … well, a Democrat really couldn’t lose an election, which is why I’m in a "wait and see" mode on Nutter. That’s enough politics. It is fun to say Nutter, though. Go ahead. You know you want to. Nutter.

Did I mention politics? No? Well, this isn't really politics, it's more like stupid stuff he said.

WASHINGTON - President Bush, personally intervening in the political crisis in Pakistan, told President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday he must hold parliamentary elections soon and step down as army leader.
"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Bush said, describing a 20-minute telephone call with Musharraf. "I had a very frank discussion with him."

Really? You can't be president and head of the military too? How does that whole "Commander in Chief" thing work, George? [Just wondering]. It probably took twenty seconds to say that, and the rest of the twenty minutes to explain it to Musharraf.

I think it's fascinating that we have such a huge ego as a nation that we can tell other countries how we think they should run things. It might be nice once in a while for another country to walk in here and tell us that we might not want to run a $163 billion deficit, keep millions of people in poverty (or below), have huge numbers of people without adequate health care, fund a war that most Americans don't understand or want, turn children out of our education system without the basics and ... oh, I don't know ... generally allow corporate America and their affiliated lobbyists to ... oh, I don't know ... run the country.

Anyone? Bueller ... Or, maybe they tell us and we don't listen. That's possible.

On a lighter note, Hollywood is on strike. If you're curious as to what the issues are, watch this short video that was made by some of the writers of The Office. If not, then don't.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nothing that a little over-the-counter sleep aid can't cure.

I'm feeling a little strange. Not the normal kind of strange, that strange I feel when I think I'm about to be sick, but for whatever reason I'm staving it off just enough to make me feel rotten.
You know what I mean.
That dull headache that I can't quite pinpoint. The little sinus thing that feels just tight enough to be annoying. I'm a little tired, but not so much that I want to lie down. My throat is a little scratchy, but not sore. My ears are red. Red ears. I would take my temperature but I broke my thermometer last winter. I'm feeling a little warm. My neck hurts. I'm gonna punch this up and go to bed. Sleep always works, and part of the reason I'm not feeling right is because I haven't been sleeping well lately.
You know what I mean.
I feel tired, but when I go to bed I just roll around. I'll get up a couple of times, and it feels like I'm not sleeping at all, even though the time passes. At around 3:30 I'm wide awake, but it's too early to get up so I roll around some more. By 5:15 I'm asleep. At 5:45 the alarm goes off. Thirty quality minutes. I'd call in sick, but I haven't taken a sick day yet this year, and if I can make it another 50 days or so, I'll get a day's pay added to my check. It's really not that big a motivator. Mostly, I go in every day because I know they don't like me that much, and I figure it pisses them off a little to have to look at me every day, so why give them the satisfaction?

I voted today, although I really don't know why. Generally, New Jersey is a lousy place to live. Our property taxes are sky-high, car insurance is third highest in the nation, we have a 7% sales tax and it's so crowded that sometimes you can walk faster than you can drive. Yet, the same people get elected every 2 or 4 years, so we can count on more of the same. Maybe we like being miserable?
That's enough out of me. I'm going to take an Advil PM and hope that I can sleep past 3:30.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The best government money can buy.

If you're reading this on Tuesday, today is Election Day. If you're up late reading it on Monday night, tomorrow is Election Day. If you missed it, and you're reading this on Wednesday, skip ahead to the exciting conclusion. For now, here's a little blurb that appeared on Yahoo News Monday night:
WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, aided by an extraordinary outpouring of Internet support Monday, hauled in more than $3.5 million in 20 hours.
Then, there's this:
Freed from the constraints, the presidential candidates collected $377.5 million in donations through September 30, more than double the $176.1 million raised during the same period four years ago, Federal Election Commission figures show. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each raised around $79 million.
In Pennsylvania, judges are elected and not immune to a spending spree:
Democratic high court candidate Seamus McCaffrey, also a state Superior Court judge, spent nearly $600,000 of the more than $1.3 million available to him during the October 26 reporting period. Almost all of that spending, $541,585, was on media, records showed.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. They spend millions to get a job that pays thousands. The money is raised by contributors who can urge their clients ... err ... elected officials to support their favorite causes because they paid for it. Nothing in America speaks louder than money. If we're lucky, what is right will prevail, but only if right raised more money than the rest. Usually, we aren't lucky, which is why most Americans have soured on the election process. The good news is that the TV commercials will have stopped by 8pm on Tuesday - for another year.
Presidents are elected by a majority of 40 percent of registered voters, who represent a little less than half the population. The most powerful man in the world is elected by a minority of people. It's a measure of how most people have soured on the political process. In 2004, George W. Bush got 62,040,610 votes in a country of over 300 million people. Bush raised $367,227,801 at a cost of $5.92 per vote, and John Kerry spent $5.52 for each vote. I want my money back.
Today (tomorrow or yesterday) is one of those "off year" elections, where the most important things on the ballot are the questions. Questions worded such that the desired outcome will prevail. They're worded so oddly that they need an "Interpretive Statement" on the ballot so that we can understand the question. It's no wonder that most politicians are lawyers.
I'll be there, bright and early Tuesday morning doing my duty as a citizen, but the bigger part of me feels as though it doesn't matter much. The political machine, even the local ones, are so big and run so smoothly that we seldom know we're being screwed until they're pulling it out. I wish I wasn't so cynical, but I think the lessons of history will bear me out.
It's eerily similar to that essay I wrote last week on the foibles of religious tithing, only this alter is a municipal building, courthouse or legislature. The Gods are flesh and blood and don't require faith because they are all too real. Politicians don't collect as much money from ordinary citizens as religions do, but the money is supposed to go to a similar cause. A better life on Earth, rather than a better afterlife - but a better life nonetheless. Pity that both causes are lost.
Drug companies, tobacco companies, insurance, alcohol and firearms are big contributors because they have the most to lose from having someone elected who wants to do the right thing. Because he knows he wouldn't have been elected if it hadn't been for the money they gave, he is forced to do their bidding. Sadly, it will never change because it will take a majority of elected officials to turn their backs on corporate contributions, and that's a pipe dream at best.
Blue states. Red states. It all starts with green.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's Monday. Find a tall building and get ready.

Sunday was a big football day here in America. It's all designed to keep us glued to the TV for hours at a time so the networks can promote their upcoming shows. Of course, there are always the actual paid commercials to keep us entertained. One, for Bristol Myers-Squibb proclaimed, "Together we can prevail." That's supposed to make us feel like the drug companies are looking out for us. Us and them. We're together, as in Bristol Myers and Squibb. You, however, are an afterthought, and not included unless you want to be used as a pin cushion for the drug industry. Then, you're together. And, prevail against what, exactly? Made up diseases and bothersome minor ailments that you could live with, but with the aid of drugs, you won't be bothered with pesky trips to the rest room, dull aches in your fingers or the remote possibility that an erection could last longer than four hours.
During the Chargers/Vikings game, we actually watched a clock run for 39 seconds until the two-minute warning, which brought about another commercial. Thirty-nine seconds of nothing but a clock counting down, substituting as network TV time, and I'm staring at it. Doofus. Bristol Myers-Squibb would have paid a quarter of a million dollars for that, and NBC had us watching a ticking clock. Suckers.
Speaking of suckers, it's another week of sports-related sorrow around here, as the Eagles lost a heartbreaker to the Cowboys on Sunday night, 38 to 17. It wasn't as close as the score would indicate. It will be another week of teeth gnashing and name-calling around here for Eagles fans. They appear to be running out of energy, however, and I figure that by Thanksgiving they will have lost interest altogether. I'll know that it has reached a low ebb if (and when) I am offered free tickets to a game. That's the true gauge of reaching bottom.
I continue to be fascinated by the importance that people place on these sporting events. I guess spending 200 dollars to take in the game and its associated food and beverages will make give it a higher priority than it deserves, but who is at fault for spending that money?
On the bright side...

Winner of the 2007 World Backside Championships Kristina Dimitrova of Bulgaria, shows off her backside in Munich. A Bulgarian woman and a Romanian man have the world's best-looking bottoms, according to the jury of a backside beauty contest sponsored by a lingerie firm, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.(AFP/DDP/Joerg Koch)

So, happy Monday. I'm not showing the men's backside. Do your own web search.