Friday, February 20, 2009

Defending my life.

It's still cold and windy here, but the telltale signs of spring are in the air - somewhere. In Florida, pitchers and catchers (the baseball kind) have reported to spring training and the first exhibition games are only a week away. That's good news for those of us in these cooler climates who are sick and tired (and tired always follows sick) of cold, blustery weather. I don't know where This Mighty Wind comes from, but it rattles the windows and generally makes me wish for spring.
Among other things, I've been told that I need to "get a life" by a pithy commenter from Texas over the past couple of days. I've often heard that phrase used to describe people but I've never exactly deemed its meaning. Mostly, I think it's a defense mechanism for people who feel as though they have to build up their mundane existence with a ten-cent cliche designed to make themselves feel superior. In fact, as Lenny said, "We're all the same schmuck." Look around, if you don't believe it.
As you can tell from the profile photo (right) I'm a Phillies fan. Until last year, that meant defending a team that was a perennial loser. My friend and I (yes, I have a friend) have a 17-game ticket plan with the Phils and we've been going to games together for 5 years. He's more of a "fan" than I. He takes the games personally, while I view them as entertainment, like a film or TV show - which they are sometimes. We drew the lucky straw and got tickets to the home opener on April 5. I say lucky because I don't know yet whether it will be more comfortable to be at home watching on TV or at the ballpark. April is funny around here. Funny strange, not funny ha-ha.
On Saturday (today, if you're reading on Saturday) I'll be hitting a few choice Philadelphia beer joints with some bicycling friends on what we're calling "Bike Beer Tribute Night" or something like that. The first stop is the popular Monk's Tavern (photo above) and after that, it's anyone's guess as to where our wobbly asses will wind up.
On March 4, one of my favorite musicians, Hilary Hahn is playing the violin at our Kimmel Center. I haven't bought a ticket yet, and I'll need some prodding to make the effort. Chances are, if I don't go I'll regret it later. She's a hometown girl and a graduate of the Curtis School of Music, which places her above ninety percent of the musicians on the planet. I'll probably go.
There will be a few weeks of calm and quiet contemplation before a mystical visitor from the west comes eastward for a few short days. We'll go see Fleetwood Mac (me for the second time, her for the first) and Greg Fitzsimmons at Helium. I think we're also going to do one of those Handsome Cab rides. I've always wanted to, but it looks kind of queer to do it myself. There's a need to grasp this opportunity, methinks.
I think that's a little too much personal exposure.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Enough wasted energy to power a small town.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied to boycott the New York Post on Thursday, branding the newspaper as racist for publishing a cartoon that appeared to compare President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee. Demonstrators led by civil rights activist Al Sharpton chanted "End racism now!" outside the parent company's skyscraper in midtown Manhattan and called for the jailing of Rupert Murdoch, whose international media conglomerate News Corp owns the Post.

Boycotts are noble efforts, but you'll have to tell me the last one that succeeded in accomplishing anything, because I'm pretty sure there hasn't been one. A friend at work once boycotted a local Chinese restaurant because they wouldn't give him extra soy sauce with his General Tso's Chicken. "You want extra, you buy bottle!" they told him, so he boycotted the place. That had as much of an effect as other boycotts, which is to say none at all.

So, a bunch of people gathered around the building and chanted some slogans. What it does mostly is get the New York Post some free publicity and space on local news that they would otherwise have to pay for. The next time they publish a funny headline or show a half-naked woman, sales will be back up because we have short memories and even shorter attention spans.

All of a sudden, the New York Post is a racist publication. Where were these protesters when they ran a headline calling Alex Rodriguez "A-Hole?" They were buying extra copies to frame in their homes.

Meanwhile, the chimpanzee that was shot and killed was doing what chimpanzees do - acting like an animal. The video I saw of him showed the chimp wearing a diaper. Here's Rule Number 25 from "The Book of Anthony": Any animal that you keep in your house that has to wear a diaper is not an animal that should be a pet. Pets use litter pans and get walked outside when they need to defecate. They do not wear human waste underpants and walk on a leash, but they do randomly attack people. Maybe because you've made them wear a diaper and walk on a leash. That's called anthropomorphism, and it's a character flaw.

Then, in some fit of fury, we cry out and wonder how such a thing could happen. Circus elephants trample people, tigers maul visitors who fall into their cages and bears eat people sometimes. They don't all smoke cigars and roller skate. If you want to boycott something, boycott having jungle creatures as pets. That would be a good start.

Ending racism is a nice idea too, but you have about as much chance of that happening as you do of taming a chimp or asking the New York Post to stop printing offensive material.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The continuing saga.

After I moved the box adjacent to my neighbor's door, someone came home late last night (after 10:00pm) and went inside, having moved the box to the side so that they could open the door.
Undaunted (because I'm a relentless bitch) I went outside and moved the box back in front of the door. I was incredulous over the fact that someone would move the box to open the door and not take it inside. I asked myself why and couldn't come up with a credible answer, which is what incredulous means.
When I got up this morning, I rushed to the window (to see what was the matter) and saw that not only had the box been removed, but the salt container (barely visible in the corner of the photo) and the two snow shovels next to it had also been removed!
I win!
Perhaps. I'll see if my neighbor has some evil plan to hatch the next time I have a UPS delivery. The difference between me and her is that when I have a package on my doorstep, I take it in like a normal person. I don't leave it outside for five days.
I may have won the battle but may yet lose the war.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Boxes, cats and the fine art of deception.

There are two kinds of people in the world. (1) People who make their bed each morning and (2) People who do not. I am people 2. Partly because I see it as a futile exercise for someone who lives alone. I'm getting back in later. Partly because I live with an animal who enjoys the warm comfort of the comforter. Even if I did want to make the bed, I don't have the heart to move him. He's 18 and needs his sleep and deserves a nice place to rest. I'd be there with him if I didn't have to go to work.
I'm not sure which type my next door neighbor is, but I know that she is (a) hardly ever home and (b) likes to leave junk out on her (our) porch. This large box has been sitting in various locations on the porch since Friday. Friday. Tonight, I took the liberty of moving it directly in front of her door, making it impossible for her to get inside without at least acknowledging the presence of the box. My next step is to place a note on the box stating that THIS BOX HAS ONE DAY TO LIVE. AFTER WHICH IT WILL BECOME LANDFILL.
She is almost never home, and what I see most of the time is a cadre of young people walking up and down the stairs. I know that she was home at least once over the weekend, because I saw her vehicle in the lot. That's what steamed me about the continued presence of the box.
And yes, I think that's a Christmas wreath on her door, but I suppose it's multi-denominational. And, by the way, the arrows on the box are pointing at its owner, just so you know. This End Up, my ass.
Relative to yesterday's nerve-wracking essay on taxes and dental visits, I haven't completely ruled out cheating on my taxes. I have an accounting degree, for Christ's sake. What's the worst that could happen? I'll be audited and made to pay what I originally would have paid plus some interest. I wasn't going to be able to pay cash for my taxes anyway, so I see the cheating deal as a win-win-win situation.
I win, the government wins because I have more money to spend on junk and we both win.
That's a win-win-win.
And, I think I broke my temporary crown.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A taxing day off.

To celebrate President's Day, I parted with a few. Dead ones, that is.
The day started with a lovely trip to my 800th favorite place, the dentist's office. A while ago, I broke one of my filling-laden back teeth, so a crown was in order. I have dental insurance, but it's calculated on 1985 dollars, so the $1,000 benefit lasts long enough to get me into the chair. After that, it's on me. The crown and a small filling in the tooth next to it are going to cost me 700 Franklin's. I know Ben was never president - don't ruin the theme, OK?
Next, with a sore jaw that was losing ground to the rapidly fading numbness, I decided to do my taxes. After all, what follows a dental visit better than a tax form?
I use Turbo Tax, and up to today, it's been very reliable. When I got to the end of the line and it told me that I owed $4,200 I started to think that its reliability had run its course. I thought I had entered some numbers wrong or missed a deduction, so I went through it again and came out with the same horrible number. Last year, I paid $40, and with only a slight increase in my salary and some different deductions, I couldn't justify the extra 40 Franklin's.
I tried H & R Block's online prep service, and came up with a Federal tax bill of $741. Better, but still a little shocking for someone who isn't used to paying taxes or has a readily available stash of $741.
I was still shaking from the initial $4,200 and developing a headache on top of the now swollen jaw and sore mouth. The day was shaping up nicely and it was barely noon. I saved the tax return and I'll come back on April 14. With the accompanying $150 state refund (they call it a refund, but it's really an overpayment - but let's not mince words) I still owed a net of $588 - or five Franklin's, 8 Hamilton's and 8 Lincoln's. I know, Hamilton was never president either. He was Secretary of the Treasury. Give me a break, I'm in pain.
There aren't many days where I can say I'd have been happier to go to work, but this was certainly one of them. Next, I have to get my car inspected. I can hardly wait.
Get ready, Grover Cleveland. Here comes my car.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The blog is on autopilot too.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo was on autopilot until just before it went down in icy weather, indicating that the pilot may have violated federal safety recommendations and the airline's own policy for flying in such conditions, an investigator said Sunday. Federal guidelines and the airline's own instructions suggest a pilot should not engage the autopilot when flying through ice. If the ice is severe, the company that operated Continental Flight 3407 requires pilots to shut off the autopilot.
So, I guess that balances out the whole Chesley Sullenburger deal? They aren't all superheroes.
I've gotten into a minor debate over on a friend's Facebook page over my dislike for LPGA golfer Michelle Wie. Since there are about seven people who care enough to fire back over an "I don't like Michelle Wie" comment, I found it odd that I stumbled on one on Facebook. Anyway, most of the reason I don't like her very much is because she has achieved a level of fame without doing anything to deserve it. She came out of the crowd as the Wunderkind of golf (like Anna Kornikova in tennis) and in spite of not winning or even making a decent amount of cuts (like Anna), she has become a star. So much so, that I remember on my last trip to Bulle Rock, a horde of followers when she was 8-over par. I just don't get it, and I find myself enjoying watching her lose, as I did on Saturday when Angela Stanford whupped her ass in Hawaii.
Speaking of Facebook, I'm not altogether sure I get it. I get a lot of friend requests from people I don't know. "[insert name] thinks you should add [insert name] as a friend" or something like that, appears on my page every day. Most of the time I don't know the person that somebody thinks should be my friend. I don't want ten thousand friends. I can barely keep track of the 29 that I have. I don't like clicking on ignore, but life is tough sometimes.
The Daytona 500 became the Daytona 380 due to rain. Race organizers figured they wouldn't be able to re-start the race until after 11:00pm, and that wouldn't be fair to spectators. Imagine, there's a professional sport that thinks about the spectators. If baseball commissioner Bud Selig was running NASCAR, he would have suspended the race until Tuesday or declared it a tie.
Come to think of it, maybe Bud Selig should be running NASCAR.