Saturday, August 30, 2008


I needed help.
Like the convenience store clerk who suddenly runs out of dollar bills and shouts, "I need ones!" as the guy pays for his small coffee with a twenty. It's that desperate around here, only I have plenty of ones. It's the twos that I'm looking for.
I know these blog things are supposed to be about our lives - hence the name - weblog - but I feel that if I let you too deeply into my life that you would click away and scope out someone that maybe doesn't have the same life problems. On the other hand, perhaps my issues would make you say, "I know where you are brother and I feel your pain." Here's hoping.
And you can't say, "Dude, it never happens to me," because I know you're lying - avoiding the logical joke there - and if you have never needed help then you must be some sort of freak.
Part one of the process (I know you're dying to know) is deciding which remedy would turn the trick (so to speak). I know one or the other works, but I forget. Back and forth I went. This one is "guaranteed" so how could I do better than that? Unlike so many other wonder drugs, there are actually different ingredients in each one, so the trust must be earned somehow.
I must have been tired or desperate, because when I went up to the counter the clerk said "Twenty one fifty." I swore that the price I saw on the shelf wasn't nearly that much, because I can't justify that kind of expense, so I asked if it was right. She looked at the register and verified that we were both seeing the same number. Fortunately for me, my eyes were far away from the problem at hand (so to speak) and I coughed up the money and waddled out the door.
I wasn't asking because I couldn't read. I was asking because I wanted her to check, but she must have sensed my desperation and merely confirmed what the register said. I should have asked for a supervisor, but I figured the fewer people I involved in this the better.
The dosage on the box is of no help. Adults: Take two tablets once a day OR two tablets four times a day. That's a huge swing. Since it was already 7PM, I figured I didn't have time to wolf down 8 pills, so I took the minimum dosage. I'm not that big a guy.
The box also says "gentle yet effective" which is also what they say at those Asian massage parlors - and we all know what happens there. In this case, I'm not sure that gentle and effective need to be in the same sentence, and I'm sure I won't use them that way if it works in the "6 to 12 hours" that they promise.
The whole thing sounds kind of hit or miss. It's the medical equivalent of the weather forecast. They'll tell you stuff, but you really have to wake up and see for yourself.
So, I have to get to bed now. I have a big surprise waiting for me in the morning.
It's like Christmas Eve around here, only you won't want to be under the tree opening any packages.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random thoughts about things and junk.

David Duchovny is addicted to sex.
"I have voluntarily entered a facility for the treatment of sex addiction," he said in a statement released through his lawyer, Stanton "Larry" Stein. "I ask for respect and privacy for my wife and children as we deal with this situation as a family."
Ugh. Another medically-created addiction designed to make people feel worse about the things they like. Sex addiction. Sure. I'm addicted to Tastykake apple pie and Wheaties. Can I enter a rehab facility? David, you'd get more respect and privacy if you didn't announce it to the world first. Who is all that interested in what Duchovny is doing unless he tells us first? I'm getting ready to use the toilet. Please, out of respect for me and my family, refrain from discussing it amongst yourselves. My poop is my business. Thank you.
Mobile phones work best when you stay in one place.
The bill came for the Phillies post-season tickets. Our bill for the potential 5 playoff and World Series games we could see came to just about a hundred dollars less than what we pay for 17 regular-season games. World Series tickets alone are $150 each. Fortunately I can get a refund for any games the Phillies don't play - like the World Series games. Unfortunately, they charge me for the whole thing at once.
Why do ice cream shops close in the winter?
While I was at the Phillies' 13 inning marathon on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I was reminded of that stupid baseball song that contains the line "I don't care if I ever get back." Well, I cared. My alarm clock goes off faithfully at 5:30am, and when it is after midnight I start computing my sleep time in minutes rather than hours. Something tells me that "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was written when people didn't have jobs.
Word is that John McCain has decided on his running mate. I'm all a-twitter. It's always nice to know who I'm voting against.
Here is an interesting perspective of life in America:
SAN FRANCISCO - A former San Francisco radio talk show host and former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to more than seven years in prison Thursday for distributing child pornography. Bernie Ward, 57, pleaded guilty in May to one count of distributing child pornography. Prosecutors said investigators found dozens of pornographic images of children as young as 3 on Ward's home computer, including masochistic images of children bound and gagged.
So the word comes back from Ward's attorney thusly:
Ward's attorney, Doron Weinberg, had argued for five years, the mandatory minimum prison sentence. He cited numerous letters of support Ward received after pleading guilty and Ward's volunteer work. Weinberg has said Ward downloaded the child porn for journalistic research.
"It's clear that it ended in a dark place," Weinberg said. "Bernie Ward is a good man."
Research. Right. I think we've lost track of what constitutes "nice" in society. When you have to have pictures of naked children on your computer you've broken the boundary of a nice person.
We live in a society where almost any form of sex is available for people with enough money to pay for it. Men who have to keep photos of naked children on their computer are the worst kind of people.
What we really need to ask is: Who is taking these photos?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unconventional wisdom

Oh, the convention. I'm not watching. Partly because I already know for whom I'm voting and partly because I think they're a colossal waste of time and money.
They're a leftover tradition from a time when there were not many opportunities for delegates to get together and share ideas, what with horse-drawn transportation and dirt roads and all. Now, with the Internet and those new-fangled airplanes the delegates are never more than three hours away from each other. Plus, the parties have such deep pockets that it isn't as though they can't afford to fly places.
But we're stuck with them and it's nice that the networks aren't saturating us with coverage, leaving it to the cable outlets. There's some new-fangled technology at work, eh? Besides, the networks are busy with Greatest American Dog, Wife Swap and America's Got Talent; so you can excuse them for dissing the convention for such original prime time programs. The greatest American dog will be repeated when the Republican convention starts.
I know I'm missing out on some great orators and some fine political commentary, like Dennis Kucinich, who proclaimed "Wake up, America!" as his mantra and when Virginia governor Mark Warner (the keynote speaker on Tuesday) asked us to engage in the "race for the future." Really, he said that. Let's hurry and get to tomorrow. I'm sorry I missed that. Later, he drew a big response from the crowd when he urged us to get behind the idea of "100 mile-per-gallon, plug-in hybrid cars." Um, Mark - how are you measuring electric hybrid cars in terms of gallons? Weights and measures 101, dude.
I missed CNN's Gloria Borger's "prebuttal" 2 hours before Hillary Clinton's speech. That's right, she prebutted a rebuttal before Hillary had a chance to buttle. Talk about filling airtime. Way to go, CNN. I'm sorry I missed Hillary's butt-kissing performance. That's the beauty of conventions. A lot of former candidates now have to swallow hard and get behind the guy who just kicked their asses. It's all a little (a lot) hypocritical to me.
Lucky for me I can get everything I need from the newspaper. That is, everything or nothing at all.
NBC's political analyst Chuck Todd said that Tuesday was a "red meat night."
I guess that makes me a vegetarian.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's almost a good idea.

After the marketing success of Microsoft's Sync in Ford cars, Chrysler is adding WiFi access and wireless data to their automobiles, in addition to the back-seat TV.

What a great idea!
Now, you don’t have to use your cell phone to send e-mail – you can do it directly from the Internet. How are they going to restrict WiFi to the back seat? As far as I know, WiFi isn’t restricted to a 3-square foot area. I think that’s what the “Wi” part is.
There is a competition between auto makers and government. The auto makers want to make these little rolling houses with every modern convenience known to man while the government doesn’t want us driving around with every modern convenience known to man. They want us to wear seat belts and stop using our cell phones. The auto makers would rather have us in reclining seats with both hands and feet busy while watching the road with one eye and the GPS navigation device with the other. In your spare time, you could steer and apply the brake.
Just leave room on your passenger seat for your laptop computer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's the convention, damnit!

It's the Democrat convention. We're supposed to call it the Democratic Convention, but that implies that it's the democratic process and not merely the convention, so I'll call it the Democrat Convention. I hope you don't mind.
By the way, I also call them the Florida Marlin, since the plural of marlin is marlin, not marlins as the major leagues would have us believe, but I digress.
The convention is a big pep rally, and I was never one to fall for pep rallies when I was in high school. The game was on Saturday and the pep rally was on Friday afternoon. I can't concentrate that long. The election is in November, right? Between here and then the repugnicans will come up with something to divert our attention from the issues at hand. That's what advertising is all about and it is certainly what politics is about.
So far, I've heard some music and seen some people jiggling around (pretending that they are dancing) and making believe (for the TV cameras) that they couldn't imagine being in a happier place than Denver. It's better than Disney World.
We'll hear some speeches by people who want us to get excited about the process and the people they are foisting upon us. We will be told that they can make a difference and that we should vote for them because the "status quo" stinks and, after all, where have we gone under them? Nowhere, mon ami.
We are supposed to believe that a better life awaits us if we vote for the guy who "grew up like the rest of us" and who came from poor beginnings to rise to the level of statesmanhood so that he could one day be the president of the United States. I'm all teary-eyed.
The son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House - gosh. Am I cynical? Maybe. What else would I expect to hear from the wife of a man who could deliver her hopes and dreams - money, fame and a lifetime of excess - and give a speech where she could make it sound like we are going to be a different country under his leadership. My cynical side thinks that the world is bigger than any man and nothing I see on TV is going to make me believe otherwise.
"You can make it if you try", she said. All you have to do is go to law school and be a minority and find some high-powered supporters who will place you on the biggest pedestal in the country - the pep rally of a lifetime.
And I can't help but think that Joe Biden feels like the guy who saw a punk kid promoted over his head and now must swallow a portion of his pride while the flavor du jour makes his run. It's the American way.
Meanwhile, when they ask you if you're better off now than you were 8 years ago, ask yourself if you were ever better off than you were 8 years ago at any part of your life and you will begin to temper your enthusiasm for politics and measure the convention as nothing more than an advertising campaign.
The campaign that begins before the presidential campaign.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's your early morning call.

Every once in a while it dawns on me. The giant smack in the face that really isn't that much of a smack in the face as it is a mild wake-up call, like a phone ring at 5am telling us that maybe it's time to get up and address the day.
We devote more attention to drugs to "cure" erectile dysfunction than we do methods to get us to use less resources. Only when gasoline prices reach the four-dollar a gallon mark to we think about our wasteful lifestyles, and even then we prefer to complain than change.
An editorial by Rod Dreher that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday makes many cogent points that will surely be lost on a populace that is more concerned with the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and who is the Greatest American Dog. By comparison, why should we care who has the greatest dog when there are actual lives at stake? We care because it's easy to care. It's hard to care about the future of the planet.
We will continue to consume limited resources like oil until it is necessary to change. It will become necessary when we run out of oil, but the masses don't want to think about that. Face it, gang - dinosaurs aren't dying anymore and oil is limited.
Are we ready for the inevitable? The answer, I'm convinced, is no. And our unreadiness is not for lack of information; it's moral and philosophical. Put plainly, it's because we Americans do not recognize limits. We live in a fantasy land whose borders go far beyond the oil fields, whose psychological geography is critical to map out a future our nation is blindly headed for.
We live in a society that cherishes homes that sell for a half-million dollars and automobiles that are capable of transporting 10 people but usually transport one. We live in a society of wasteful entitlement - as though we are somehow entitled to throw things away.
Our way of life depends not only on cheap, abundant oil but also on a seemingly endless line of credit. Within a single lifetime, the United States has gone from creditor nation to debtor nation. The current crisis in the mortgage industry, which threatens to derail the entire economy, derives from the conviction that desire is its own justification. That is, if you want something, you are entitled to it, no matter its cost - and anybody who tells you different is a knave. Politicians of both parties depend on telling this lie.
Come November, we will hear the promises (lies) of the candidates who will tell us that they are interested in relieving us of our dependence on foreign oil and we will eat it up. What they won't tell us is that we need to radically alter our lifestyles. They won't tell us that because we don't want to hear it. We like to sit in bank drive-thru lanes with our engines idling. We want to take 5-minute drives to stores we could walk to and buy two items that are put into bags that we could easily carry out with our hands. We enjoy having things served to us that we could just as soon serve ourselves. We're a fat, lazy country of convenience.
But there are no guarantees. The thing is, we're living as if we are guaranteed to go onward and upward into a better and brighter future. Our nation's (relatively short) history encourages this fallacious thinking. Like spoiled children, we want freedom without responsibility. But that's impossible. You cannot defy the law of gravity forever.
All of those concerned citizens that had "Baby on Board" placards on their cars 20 years ago are now the same consumers that waste the valuable resources that their (so-called) babies could be using now. We are supposed to be concerned, but only for those issues to which it is convenient for us. We like a nice government-subsidised hard-on, but if they ask us to conserve resources, we get pissy. It's easy to put a sign on your window. It's difficult to think about why you're putting it there.
It's even easier when the end isn't in our limited sight. We are all going to die, and our mortality is what makes it easy for us to consume. We will leave it to future generations to decide. Throw a butt out the window, burn more gasoline, run your car and use more gas - it won't be my problem.
We are spoiled children. The trouble is that we may not be leaving enough for children of ours to be spoiled. If you think it's ecological left-wingers or tree huggers that are saying it, think again. It's coming from the very people who produce the resource...
Oil is a finite natural resource; sooner or later, the supply will peak. Jeroen van der Veer, chief of Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C., this year predicted the world would reach peak production in 2015. John Hess of Hess Corp. said: "An oil crisis is coming in the next 10 years. It's not a matter of demand. It's not a matter of supplies. It's both."
Whether peak oil is already here or on its way, we will have to deal with it
I don't have any children, so why do I give a fuck?