Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Doctor" must be an honorary title.

LOS ANGELES, January 3 (UPI) - An overdose of heroin and morphine caused the death of Andre Young Jr., son of U.S. rapper Dr. Dre, the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner says.
Coroner spokesman Larry Dietz confirmed to People magazine on Friday that the death of the 20-year-old Young has officially been ruled an accidental overdose
Sheesh. You'd think that a kid whose father was a doctor would have a better grasp on the use of drugs. Go figure.
Blogger rule number 1.
When all else fails, post a photo of your beloved pet doing something cute. In this case, Kitty has found a place in the sun in a not-all-that-cold day. Still, you can't blame the guy for wanting to sit someplace warm in January. I have no idea where the phrase "dumb animals" comes from. He's smarter than most people I know - which probably doesn't say much for most people I know.

WARNING: This may be offensive to people over the age of 75.

This is the way my local cable company is promoting next month's switch to digital TV. A smiling senior citizen.
I suppose it's because that is the demographic that is most frightened by new technology. That has to be the reason, because for everything else, they use kids, young adults or turtles.
Technology scares people of that generation. That's strange because they are the generation that has seen the greatest advances.
My mother was born in 1924. She has lived through 84 years of technological advances too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say, everything from television to air conditioning.
Whenever something changes or something new comes about, it's always old people who have the most difficult time with it. When the power went out, her VCR would blink 12:00 until I could get over there to set the time. Now, she has a DVD player that automatically re-sets, so she always knows what time it is.
They are the generation who has undergone the biggest hardships and seen the biggest improvements over their lifetime, so it can't be the technology. It has to be their age.
I can't help but wonder if I'll feel as out of touch when I'm 84.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Over and done with.

I enjoy going back and re-reading some of this crap. I enjoy it because I don’t remember from one day to the next what I’ve written, so going back a year or more is like reading something for the first time.
I wonder how long it will stay here. Is Blogger like a time capsule or will I log-on 20 years from now and **poof** No more crap.
The holidays are over, speaking of poof. As usual, it was a big build-up and prep (for some people) for what? The thing I remember about Christmas (when I used to “do” Christmas) was that thrashing and noise of the wrapping paper being torn open. It’s why I never spent a lot of time wrapping gifts. I’d find the cheapest paper I could and tape it together well enough to survive the trip.
In a rush of energy, a half-dozen people would open their gifts and the chaos began. It was always so much nicer when it was just two people giving each other something. Those living room family gift orgies never did it for me.

As you can imagine, I slept through the New Year’s Eve festivities. I heard that Dick Clark made an appearance on the TV which caused some people to wonder if he should have made an appearance on the TV. It’s still his show, right? People have strokes and live. If seeing it makes you uncomfortable, I think the problem is with you.
I never figured out the New Year’s Eve deal. Watching a clock and counting backward, then making a lot of noise because it’s January 1 in your time zone. Six billion Chinese couldn’t care less. But we’ll use any excuse to go out and get drunk, and changing a calendar is as good as any.

Now we’re done with stupid holidays until Valentine’s Day. We should start hearing the guilt-ridden advertising soon.
Go out and do some more shopping, because the more you spend, the more you love.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

As they sang "Auld Lang Syne" by the light of the moon.

In this life I've seen everything I can see woman,
I've seen lovers flying through the air hand in hand.
I've seen babies dancing in the midnight sun,
And I've seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above.
I've seen old men crying at their own grave site,
and I've seen pigs all sitting watching, picture slides.
But I never seen nothing like you.
OK, so it's just the moon and Venus.
It's still pretty nice.
Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty

Extra points if you know what that song lyric is.

A Shout-Out to Vikings Fans (in Minnesota)

Here in Philadelphia, the Eagles have a full-house for every game and a waiting list of over 60,000 people. So, figure that every season ticket holder would have to be eliminated in some bizarre Cowboy-related terrorist plot, and there would still be a couple thousand people who couldn't get tickets.
Now wonder how, in Minnesota there are still 11,000 tickets remaining for Sunday's playoff game between the Vikings and Eagles. In spite of the fact that it's 6 degrees in Minneapolis and going down to minus 6 later tonight (not including the wind chill), there are still so-called Vikings fans who hold season tickets and don't want to attend a playoff game. A playoff game that is likely to be the only home game they get.
As a frame of reference, I am a Phillies season ticket holder and would have considered myself for psychiatric evaluation had I declined the playoff tickets I was entitled to last season (or the season before). Isn't that part of the reason you hold season tickets? It's for dibs. I got dibs on (among other things) game 4 of the (fucking) World Series. Never mind the fact that the playoff tickets cost as much as the entire regular season, we got to go to 3 post-season games. I had the time of my life.
What's wrong with those Vikings fans? They aren't the Vikings fans of my youth. The ones who would sit in frigid Metropolitan Stadium and root for Bud Grant's "Purple People Eaters" in spite of the fact that they were perennial Super Bowl losers. It's the point of being a fan that matters.
This current crop of fans faces a potential TV blackout of their team's playoff game because they can't cough up $30 for a ticket.
Seriously, if you can't sell-out a playoff game, you should have your franchise revoked. I don't care about the history, you're out.
You should be ashamed of yourselves. They play in a dome. It's 70 degrees inside.

The post-holiday stress of the day before another holiday manifests itself.

Today is New Year's Eve. What are we going to do? We're going to leave work as soon as possible (if we went to work at all), run home, get changed into that outfit that says "I'm not at work now" and run as fast as we can to some bar or nightclub where we'll join a bunch of strangers and count backward to midnight, then collapse in a heap.
That's a holiday.
Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are the only two days we celebrate that are "eve's." There's no Independence Day Eve or Easter Eve - that would be silly, right? What would you do on Independence Day Eve? Light a firecracker and blow it out? Easter Eve - shove some eggs up a rabbit's ass? Get the crucifix ready?
Of course, tonight is amateur night. It's like Christmas shopping. People who have no business in malls are out bumping into people and pretend they're shoppers. They go to the mall once a year. People go out on New Year's Eve out of obligation, and most of them have no idea how to drink.
"What are you doing New Year's Eve?" If you answer "Nothing," you look like a loser - even though you may be - you don't want people thinking you have no plans to get drunk and count backward. That's a social anathema, so you go out.
You have to go out! Why aren't you going out? Mostly, it's because I enjoy my driving privilege, I can't afford a limousine and the busses stop running at 10:00 pm.
It's interesting to me that, in a society that supposedly condemns driving while intoxicated, we spend a lot of time promoting a holiday where the sole purpose is getting hammered. The newspaper is littered with ads for New Year's Eve parties that feature 6-hour open bar and top-shelf liquor. Meanwhile, states are continuing to lower their legal blood-alcohol limits to the point where 3 beers constitutes DUI. Try going out and having 3 beers in 6 hours.
Be careful out there, because the roads will be full of DUI checkpoints, and those are real buzz kills.
Happy New Year! Your court date is February 2.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oddly interesting life circumstances that lead to decisions.

Why is New Year's Day a legal holiday? It's the first day of the year - so what? Who says we're entitled to a day off work? I suppose it's because we'd be hung over or some such thing, so why bother opening the office at all? Wikipedia says it's been celebrated on the Gregorian calendar since 153 B.C., but that didn't answer my question. The explanation lacks sense:
New Year's Day celebrates the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to midnight (12:00 AM) on the preceding night, New Year's Eve. Traditional end of holiday season.
Those are some heavy festivities. Counting backward. They go on to tell us that when holidays fall on a weekend day, they are celebrated on the closest day. So, in two years when January 1 is Saturday, which day do we get off work? Friday, December 31? That doesn't make sense.
See the things I think about. Try being me for a couple of days. I don't think you could deal with it.
While I was in the grocery store tonight, I made a resolution. I don't make "New Year's Resolutions" because I don't believe in waiting until January to improve myself. I want to do it as soon as possible. The fact that this one occurred on the 30th of December is an awkward coincidence.
The store was crowded, and on more than one occasion (several, actually) there were situations where clueless individuals aimlessly walked toward me. I always feel funny when I'm walking toward someone and the path that the two of us are taking is bound to result in a collision - either an arm bump or some brushing of some sort. I'm always the one who moves to one side, to avoid the collision. Seemingly, if I didn't move, we would touch in some way. I always feel a little weaker for doing that, as though it's implied that I'm going to be the one who moves. I think people should be more in command of their personal space and the both of us should move, but that rarely happens. By the way, I always move to the right because that's what I'd do if I was driving.
The resolution was that I am no longer going to do that. I'm going to continue walking in my path and if I hit the other person, they'll have to deal with it. I'll come up with some crafty remark to make afterward, but for now I've decided that I'm going to be the man.
I'll let you know how that goes.

The puzzling nature of my on and off relationship with Rachael.

Yesterday, my Bluetooth headset freaked out on me for the third and final time, so it is spending New Year's Eve in the trash dumpster. I visited AT&T's web site to seek out a new one, and was hooked up with Rachael, a chat room assistant designed to help me find the product I need. Here, verbatim is the chat I had with Rachael, complete with my comments interspersed.
You are now chatting with Rachael S., an AT&T sales representative.
Rachael S.:
Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
Anthony: I need to know if the Plantronics Voyager 521 headset is compatible with my Pantech Slate.
Rachael S.: I will be more than happy to help you find the accessories that best fit your needs.
That little non-sequitor should have tipped me off as to the tone that our chat session would have. Who's "more than happy?" I don't understand. Is that like giving 110-percent?
Rachael S.: I will check up on that for you, may I have your zip code please?
Anthony: 08051
Why does she need my zip code? Am I at Radio Shack?
Rachael S.: The Pantech Slate does have bluetooth capability.
That wasn't my question. Non-sequitor number 2. I forged ahead...
Anthony: Will any Bluetooth work with it?
Rachael S.: Most of them should, however there is a chance that it might not be compatible.
Typically vague customer rep answer. Either it will or it won't - and you can't hold me responsible either way. Thanks for the tip. I think I knew that going in. Based on that answer, I could be a customer rep for AT&T.
Anthony: I guess I should visit the store and speak to someone to be sure.
Rachael S.: You are more than welcome to.
Even though I have to go out of my way to visit the store. It's obvious that this "representative" is clueless. I wondered if I was part of a fraternity prank.
Anthony: OK, Thank you.
I said thank you, even though I should have just closed the chat window. I'm too polite.
Rachael S.: Your welcome.
Now we have spelling issues to deal with. It's not "my welcome" it's you're welcome. Grammar cop.
Rachael S.: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year? Seriously. And an exclamation point.
Rachael S.: Thank you for choosing AT&T. Have a great day.
I really didn't have a choice, since my phone is AT&T, I figured the Bluetooth might stand a chance of working if I got it there. "However, there is a chance that it might not be compatible." Thanks. Those were my marriage vows.
Whether or not I was speaking to an actual person is up for debate. They told me I was, but judging from the conversation, I'd say the chances are pretty slim. They seemed like system responses based on my questions. Either they need sharper reps or a better system.
Either way, something over at AT&T needs sharpening.
Call me Rachael, we need to talk. Or chat. We might be compatible.

Monday, December 29, 2008

7 neighbors, no waiting.

I got shussed by my neighbors the other day. I'm making too much noise, apparently, and two out of my seven neighbors decided that I should be more quiet. Me. More quiet. That's like asking Louie Anderson to be fatter.
For those of you unaware, I am a condominium dweller. More so out of cost than preference. I'm intensely private, and there are times when the condo life is difficult for me - like when I have to socialize or deal with neighbors. I like suburban life, but I'd prefer it in a cave or some five-story building where the other 4 floors were used for storage.
It wasn't so much me as it was the music I was listening to. FYI, I listen to music through my fancy Bose computer speakers while I'm doing this. The walls of my condo are so paper-thin that the gigantic 2-inch speaker and it's little bass compartment rattled the walls at or near 1:00am on Saturday, keeping my downstairs and next door neighbors awake wondering what all the rumbling was.
Those must be some thin-ass walls, people.
Part of the charm of music is that it moves air. I've never enjoyed wearing headphones. I have good ones and I still don't enjoy it. They're uncomfortable, and I think they do more damage to your ears than listening to loud music moving air. I think I could find medical research to support me, but I don't have the energy to look it up.
My first clue should have been when I moved in, and my downstairs neighbor told me that when I'm at work, he can hear my cat walking around. He doesn't even wear shoes. I didn't tell him that Kitty moonlights as a dancer. Since I lost my ex's income, I'm putting him to work. My neighbors are nice people, but I think that maybe they need a noisy hobby to distract them from the racket he's making. Maybe chainsaw juggling or small engine repair?
Later, he told me that my recliner makes his TV jump. Honestly, I figure that one day the floor will just collapse under the considerable weight of my furniture, cat and various small appliances. Then, I'll have a nice duplex.
And one less neighbor.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The reason the newspaper business is dying.

I love my newspaper. I get it delivered to my home every day. In fact, I'd have a hard time doing without it. I love everything the newspaper represents: The sense of community, the local flavor and its connection with people who live in its delivery area.
Today's newspaper included the usual Parade magazine, which I'm surprised anyone reads. Does anyone read it? I'd be surprised.
They're doing the usual "Year-end wrap-up," which is the journalistic equivalent of phoning it in. Nevertheless, we're stuck with it. Newspapers are dying. Does anyone wonder why?
When I saw the cover, I threw up in my mouth. I thought we were through with this horrible woman and her ideals. I suppose not. There she was, pointing her finger at me and I could hear that voice, don'tcha know, as though I'm an idiot for not seeing what a regular gal she is. It's Palin redux. Or maybe it's Tina Fey?
Best or worst? You can answer the question on your own: I think it's "worst" because she represents everything that's wrong with this country and it's politics. Form over substance. We were supposed to fall for the "hot mom" - sorry - hot hockey mom, and her fashion-statement glasses and her Midwestern accent and her ... oh, I don't know ... we were supposed to fall for it. She's just like us. Sure, she is.
Fortunately for us and humanity in general, we were spared the McCain/Palin ticket, although it looked rather dicey for a while. After all, this is a country that elected George W. Bush twice. Can you blame me for being frightened?
Yet, there she was on the cover of my newspaper's magazine. Included with the Ask Marilyn column where Marilyn vos Savant, the fraud "genius" answer column. "Why isn't hypnosis used more as a weight loss tool?" (Actual question) Seriously, I'd like to be able to write a column in a national weekly magazine where I got to (a) choose which questions I answer and (b) make it appear as though I was a genius because the column said I was. Marilyn is a member of MENSA. Really? So is my cat, if I gave him a test. Where's his column? What's the next number in this sequence? 1 ... 3 ... 5 ... 7 ... ? Give me a break.
This is also the magazine that runs the Walter Scott's Personality Parade, which is mostly a shill for whichever celebrity has something to promote under the guise of real people asking real questions. "When will we see Clive Owen romancing again onscreen?" - was this week's question from a Karen Friese in Milwaukee. Hey, here's news: He has a new film opening in February and another in March! Wow, what a coincidence! Do you talk about Clive Owen around the coffee machine at work? I didn't think so. Spare me, Walt.
Then, on the back page we're treated to James Brady's In Step With, which is another shill for a celebrity with a project to hype. This week, it's Lisa Kudrow, who most people would have preferred to forget about, but she's "busy with three new films" so her agent called James and asked him to write 600 words about her failing career. He couldn't have been happier. He probably even got a nice lunch out of the deal.
Many years ago (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) the Philadelphia Inquirer had a Sunday magazine called Inquirer Magazine (go figure) that discussed issues relevant to the community and of interest to the readers. Imagine that. A Sunday magazine insert that discussed interesting issues that their readers may also find interesting.
The Sunday paper is $1.50 now, and the daily is 75 cents. It seems that the more it costs, the less "community" we get. We're getting more national news and more stories from Associated Press writers and more things that are bylined "For the Inquirer." I suppose that saves money, since they don't have to pay benefits for stringers or provide Blackberries, but there is something lost in the dilution of the product. The more that is lost, the more it costs us, in more ways than one.
Most, if not all of the country is wired for Internet access now, and the stories that are nationally run are accessible to everybody, so why do we have to read them in the newspaper? I want local news and the local angle. I like Inga Saffron's stories about the local architecture, Bob Ford's sports columns, Dan Rubin and Monica Yant-Kinney's columns about local issues and Tony Auth's political cartoons. I like reading the editorial page when it is written by local writers. If I want the national slant, I can watch CNN or Yahoo News.
Stop charging me for things I can get for free. Newspapers across the country are failing and they continue to look for ways to cut costs, but the cost-cutting is taking away from the things that make local newspapers unique.
The more homogeneous things become, the less interesting they are to the people they're targeting. It only makes sense. They are selling a Philadelphia newspaper to Philadelphians, yet they try to save money by nationalizing the content. We don't need Hollywood news or something that we're going to see on "Entertainment Tonight." It's the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I like the Philadelphia part.