Saturday, May 9, 2009

Doctor Parton, Doctor Fine, Doctor Parton!

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Award-winning entertainer, businesswoman and education advocate Dolly Parton has a new title. "Just think, I am Dr. Dolly!" she said Friday after receiving an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
I think these honorary doctorates are insulting to people who have achieved real doctorates, and if I had one and heard someone call her Doctor Parton I'd have a fit. Besides, what does a person with a trillion dollars need with a doctorate anyway? The whole thing is ridiculous.
Another new study...
LONDON (Reuters) – Too much sunlight in places like Greenland where long summer days often cause insomnia appears more likely to drive a person to suicide, Swedish researchers said Friday. Despite a belief that suicides tend to rise in late autumn and early winter months because of darkness, the new findings suggest that places where constant sunlight in summer seasons is a fact of life may be just as dangerous.
"During the long periods of constant light, it is crucial to keep some circadian rhythm to get enough sleep and sustain mental health," Karin Sparring Bjorksten of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and colleagues reported in the BioMed Central journal BMC Psychiatry.
Jeebus ... maybe it's because they're living in fucking Greenland. I'm ready to shoot myself in the head and I live in a temperate zone with 12 hours of darkness. If I thought sunlight had anything to do with it, I'd tape-up the windows.
Meanwhile...
There is another story about distracted drivers on ABC News. Lawmakers are fighting a losing battle against automakers who seem Hellbent on putting as many creature comforts in automobiles as possible. Why? Because we want them. But as the video shows, it isn't enough to talk and text on the phone. We'll read, paint our nails and do just about anything but drive. I'm not sure who is more distracted, the drivers or the person shooting the video.
Speaking of performance-enhancing drugs ... weren't we? Are you tired of being tired? Of course you are. Trudging back and forth to school in the dark while texting your buddies is exhausting (didn't think I could tie it in, did you?)
Well, whomever this FRS outfit is has just the thing. It's a drink mix, apparently, and the ads are on Yahoo with this Nora Tobin, who we're supposed to know. They have Lance Armstrong ads too, but we all know he's juiced-up, so what's the point? The ad sells better if there's a buff babe.
The part I like is the "Try it free" plus shipping part. I see that little mark to the right of the FREE, which I suppose is the ad's disclaimer that is supposed to tell us that free isn't free exactly. There's another little mark to the right of the shipping that I suppose ties-into the one above the FREE. I'm not a lawyer - or a doctor, but my first guess is that it's full of caffeine and sugar, packed in a nice bottle that is recyclable.
I'm guessing that the shipping is more than it would cost you to actually buy it at a store - if they even sell it in stores.
I'm also guessing that FRS stands for For Real Suckers.
Get some sleep.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some things are just too random to explain.

I dreamed I met George Harrison last night.
I was in some town somewhere (dreams are like that) and somebody told me that George was across the street signing autographs and in general, meeting and greeting. Well, me being a Beatle fan and a fan of George in general, it was a natural match.
I gathered up something for him to sign (I don't know what it was - dreams are like that) and sought out the line, which was long, but I was sleeping so how long could it have been? I stood there for a while, conversing with other line-standers over what, I have no idea. I was asleep.
Once I got to the front, there was George at a table, handling items passed to him with great aplomb and greeting people with that George-like smile and casual friendliness that we all assumed he had - because he did. It was the long-haired and bearded George, not the one we had come to see over the last years of his life. The Bangladesh George - the good one.
I handed him whatever it was that I had - I think it was sheet music to one of his songs, probably My Sweet Lord because it's here in the files somewhere - and he signed it. But it wasn't the customary signature, like "Best Wishes - George." It was a sentence. Some sort of random sentence that you would say in conversation, like "The prawns at dinner were especially tasty, and I hope to visit you again." Something like that. I can't remember exactly what it was, but dreams are like that - we can't always remember exactly what anything was like. I wish I had written it down, since it would make this story more appealing, but you'll have to trust me on the random nature of the signature.
He looked at it for a second and read it aloud, as though he was proud of what he had written. Meanwhile, there I was with my hand out thinking that I would receive a "Best wishes, George" while I was instead getting a personalized greeting of some non-sequitur that he had conjured up in his mind from one of the great minds of the century.
Once I heard him read it, I realized that I was getting something special from one of my musical heroes, and I quickly pulled my hand back and thanked him for writing something so personal directed toward me. The sentence was followed by his signature, which I imagine was nothing like his actual signature - but dreams are like that. It was like a GH, with the combination of the letters turned into a face with a beard and two eyes that somehow conveyed that it was indeed George Harrison's signature. I was still asleep.
For some reason, it seemed exactly like something George would do - but then, dreams are like that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny being Manny

LOS ANGELES – The illegal substance for which Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive and was banned 50 games was prescribed to address erectile dysfunction, not “an agent customarily used for performance enhancing” a source close Ramirez said Thursday. However, two sources said the substance Ramirez tested positive for was a gonadotropin. Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances includes the gonadotropins LH and HCG, which are most commonly used by women as fertility drugs. They also can be used to trigger testosterone production. Testosterone is depleted by steroid use, and low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction.
“Testosterone and similar drugs are effective for erectile dysfunction in that they jazz up your sex drive,” said Charles Yesalis, a professor at Penn State University who has testified before Congress on issues of performance-enhancing drugs.
“But far more clinicians accept that affect with Viagra and Cialis. It’s hard for me to understand if it was erectile dysfunction why they would use it.” Another physician with experience in international drug-testing said LH and HCG are occasionally prescribed for men “whose testicles have basically stopped functioning.”
I'm not surprised by these stories anymore. The thing that does surprise me is that players like Josh Hamilton who have battled drug abuse and come back are looked upon as heroes, but players like Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero and Alex Rodriguez who are accused of using steroids have become pariahs. It's hard to logically separate the two. Both drugs are illegal and banned by baseball's standards, yet one group is treated as having overcome an obstacle and the other group is banned from the game. What makes steroids more horrible than cocaine?
I suppose, over the next month and a half that Manny's testicles will resume their normal function and we can look forward to little Manny's running around once he gets his sex drive back.
We can thank your God for those small miracles.
Meanwhile, all baseball fans want is to see balls flying over their heads (make up your own jokes) and steroids and other so-called "Performance enhancing drugs" make that both possible and likely. We punish those who would seek to fulfill those wishes and have gone to great extremes to make baseball fans happy and give ESPN junk to show on TV.
I'm a little fuzzy on the definition of "performance enhancing drugs," however. If a guy's arm is sore and he takes Motrin to relieve the pain so he can play, has the drug enhanced his performance? Sure it has, and I'm also sure that Motrin isn't on the list of banned substances. How about if he's a little hungover and sleepy from being out the night before and takes a few caffeine tablets to keep him awake during those boring games? Has his performance been enhanced? You bet. Coffee isn't on the list either.
You can argue the legality of anabolic steroids until your face is as blue as Manny's balls, but you know damned well that your doctor will write you a note to excuse you from your mundane job because your shoulder hurts just as sure as he'll write a prescription for steroids for a professional athlete. What's the difference? The difference is that baseball players have random drug testing and you don't.
The whole ordeal is tiring and I'm just as likely to let them take drugs until their testicles shrink and they die sooner. For the money they're paid, I say let them do what they want. If a doctor prescribes it, prosecute the doctor. Physicians skate while the players pay.
They use the excuse that "I didn't know what I was taking." Bull. I know everything I put in my body regardless of whether it's 9-percent beer or a multi-vitamin, and I won't earn in my lifetime what these schmucks earn in a year. They know exactly what they're doing. If they don't, they're dumber than I think they are, and that's pretty dumb.
Baseball without Manny Ramirez for 50 games is worse than baseball with him. That's the bottom line, and I think this witch hunt is as big a sham as has been perpetrated on the American public since outlet shopping.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another rainy night in Jersey.

Kirstie Alley is fat again. Surprised?
When Kirstie Alley stepped on the scale for the first time in 15 months, it wasn't pretty. "I started screaming," Alley, sipping homemade fruit-infused water in her Hollywood kitchen, tells People in the cover story of its new issue. "It said 228 pounds, which is my highest weight ever. I was so much more disgusting than I thought!"
It turns out, she went off that Jennie Craig crap she was hawking for the past couple of years, and when she went back to the burgers and grape soda - Viola - the weight came back. That's why diets don't work and now it will be harder for her to lose the weight she lost the first time.
It's quite the racket, the diet foods. People desperate to change their shape sign up for those programs and "feel great" but forget that they can't eat like that forever, so when they lose the weight and go back to the junk they were eating before, the weight invariably comes back. Shocker. Jennie Craig, Weight Watchers - all that stuff is just a temporary fix.
Brett Favre is thinking about coming back to the NFL. This time, it's personal. He wants to play for the Minnesota Vikings so that he can exact revenge on the Green Bay Packers, or so he says:
One NFL source insists Favre can't peacefully retire until he finds a way to get revenge on the Packers. He wants back into the NFC North so he can face the Packers twice. The Bears traded for Jay Cutler and the Lions drafted Matthew Stafford. Hello, Minnesota.
"Favre can't stand Green Bay," the source said. "He wants to play Green Bay and say, 'I told you so.' His bitterness is creating this. I think he's calling Minnesota. I think Minnesota is talking about this as we speak. You haven't heard the end of Favre. No way. He is bionic. As long as somebody will let him in, he will play."
I think he's mentally ill. He can't retire in peace until he does what? Win two games against the Packers? The same Packers who rescued him from his pain-pill addiction in Atlanta and sent him to a Super Bowl title and endless praise from John Madden and his own FAVRE highlight category on ESPN's screen crawl. Can that story be accurate? I hope not.
OK, so I didn't buy that Kindle I was looking at last week, but as it turns out, the things I don't do are better than the things I do. Amazon just announced the Kindle DX, a larger version of the Kindle that has a 9.7" screen (2.5 times larger than the Kindle screen) that will be available this summer.
I'm sold on the technology, but the price is still prohibitive. It's $489. I'll have to do some math to see if I can save money by subscribing to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Kindle versus the paper version I get now. I think I can adjust to the electronics, but I will miss my paper newspaper.
I'd wonder if the $1.50 a week subscription will make the Kindle investment worthwhile, or if I'd just be buying into more technology hype. Do I like to read or am I just a gadget junkie? Maybe both.
Check out a video on Amazon's web site. Meanwhile, I still don't know anyone who has one that I can see.
I wonder if I can get my blog on Kindle?
They'd sell a million.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Do some damned thing.

Sometimes I think I'm the only one paying attention.
As the rain approached the area on Tuesday night and temperatures dropped, a small group (gaggle?) of bicyclists passed by the place on their way out to ... wherever ... a big circle, presumably. I'm guessing it was a small gaggle because at least a few others were paying attention.
By 6:45 the roads were soaked with the drizzling rain and the chilled air was made moreso by the feel of damp danskins.
It wasn't as if the rain suddenly appeared out of the blue sky. The skies were grey all day (dey) and it was just a matter of time (6:45) before the grey turned green (see photo above).
As for me, I had a ticket to the Blue Rocks game in Wilmington, and my sore knees were welcoming a seat at a ballpark, but ... no. I knew better than to drive the 40 minutes to the ballpark because ... I was paying attention. The 8 bucks wouldn't make up for sitting in the rain for two hours. It's simple logic.
I'm constantly amazed by bicyclists who feel as though they have to venture out because it's time, only to find that they have a lengthy clean-up ahead of them from the rain. Message to cyclists: It ain't that big a deal. Find something else to do. Relax, have a cream soda.

One thousand, two-hundred sixteen.

1,216 of these things, dating back to April 1, 2006. A few of you may have read all of them. I suspect that if you have, your eyesight isn't what it used to be. I'm not sure what happens to them - if they just stay here in perpetuity or if one day the link will say "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage."
Mostly, they're rants about something or other that's in the news or some topical issue that's probably irrelevant by now. That's how it is with rants. They seem important at the time, but looking back, we wonder what we were so twisted about. Like all that paperwork and junk that we "save, because you never know when we'll need it." We don't need it.
Today is Cinco de Mayo, which I think means that it's the fifth of May in Mexico. Actually, it translates to May five. The fifth of May would be Quinto de Mayo, but I digress.
In America, it's another excuse to go out and get drunk. This time, it isn't green beer, mint juleps or whatever people drink on New Year's Eve. This time, it's for Mexico, and we know how much we love Mexico and how much we owe them for being who they are and for helping us become who we are, which right now, is a nation of obsessive hand-washers.
It's a shame that all of our holidays can't be named after the day they fall. Vierde van Juli or quinto venti del mese di Dicembre. OK, that's a little wordy. The trouble is that almost all of our holidays roam around the calendar because we like them to fall on a Monday. Personally, I like a Wednesday holiday to break up the week. Pero estoy curioso de esa manera.
I'm pretty sure this Swine Flu thing is a big fizzle. A few thousand people die from the flu every year regardless, so I'm left to wonder how many more (if any more) will perish because of this. Pennsylvania recently confirmed their first case, which seems odd since it's been all over the newspaper and TV for a month. My first guess is that it's the news media stirring the pot over a bad head cold, but that's just experience talking.
It is May, you know (Mayo) and May is Sweeps month in TV-land. That translates to "Scare the Gringos shitless." They run stories about "How Your House is Killing You" or "Toys That Can Make Your Children Gay." Stuff like that drags in viewers, which drags in ratings which drags in ... anyone? ... Dinero, mi amigo.
Then, there are the Gypsy Moths. The Courier-Post ran an article on Sunday that told us that local municipalities are cutting the moth spraying efforts because of budget constraints. We went through similar gypsy moth scares in 1972, 1981 and 1990. Later, we found out that the trees were able to defend themselves without expensive chemicals. Besides, I'm guessing that gypsy moths won't destroy half as many trees as New Jersey's rampant development has destroyed over the past 37 years.
I wish they'd come up with a spray program for that.
Happy May fifth, bitches. Drink a shot of Tequila from a dirty glass just to show the Swine Flu who's the boss around here.
Su p├ęsimo cerdos no asustarme.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The things we pay for.

As a frame of reference (pun) here's that Weatherscan channel that I'm paying extra for on my digital cable.
At the bottom left is a 3-hour radar. The main screen rotates between a two-day forecast, current conditions and a bigger version of the 3-hour radar. Great, huh? Ten bucks a month for me to find out that it's 52 degrees in Lakehurst. Our local cable company obviously sees no shame in charging people for something as basic as the weather. I'm not sure if that's more shameful than my paying for it.
It's important for me to know that at 10:00pm the visibility is 10 miles. Plenty of advance warning for those air-to-ground missiles being launched out of Lakehurst in the dark.
But, I also get ESPN News. And I got the rose bushes. I definitely got the rose bushes.
Ten minutes to Wapner.
Meanwhile, over on Yahoo Sports, this little ad popped up. "Young women looking for older men." Something tells me that it wouldn't be necessary for young women to take out an ad saying that they're looking for older men. I think the older men would find them on their own.
In fact, the older men might pay the women, rather than the women having to take out an ad. That's just a guess. Of course, they do, indirectly.
And I'm also guessing that the "younger woman" pictured in the ad won't turn up under your Profile Search. Another guess. She appears to have suffered some sort of blunt-force head trauma.
Nobody ever lost money underestimating the desperation of men in search of women. The Internet provides tons of opportunities, so they say, for eligible men and women to hook up. I've seen the TV commercials, so it must be true.
It's kind of pathetic that some people need to resort to paying for such things. They're supposed to be able to find their "soul mate" by entering answers to questions and posting a photo. I'd have to think that it's more complicated than that, but for 30 bucks a month, I suppose you get what you pay for. They run ads with happy couples (for now) and tout the millions of members they have - presumably still searching. I think the ads should be balanced so that we hear from all the people that are still looking.
Charging people to find a date seems like they're taking advantage of one of our basic instincts, and just like wanting to know the weather, they'll pay for it because it's necessary.
Just as I'd like to see those junkers that the Pimp My Ride show fixes up, I'd like to see the couples a year after they've been fixed up. It's the same sort of thing: Irreparable social misfits dressed up and made to look attractive, even though the body rust and years of abuse have been masked-over by a fancy paint job. Can you window-dress a person and make them desirable?
After all this time, I'm guessing that some of us need to admit to being social misfits and deal with it rather than forcing ourselves on society. That's another guess.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Expert textbert.

Experts. They're everywhere. I'm not sure how one gets to be an expert. I think they just materialize somehow. Some people are experts on stuff that nobody else wants to spend the time researching, so we say, "Sure - whatever. Thanks for the help." Like the NFL draft and horse racing. We can't be bothered doing all that research and event viewing, so we leave it up to the experts. Mostly they're wrong, but we don't seem to mind since most of us don't know anything either.
Take yesterday's Kentucky Derby, for instance. Mine That Bird, a 50 to 1 (50.6 to 1 officially) underdog (horse) won the race and not one expert picked the horse to finish in the top 3, let alone win the damned thing. To my way of thinking, if you're really an expert on horse racing and you saw a long shot like this that actually had a chance to win the race (since he did win, I figure he had a chance) you'd have to say to yourself (and us), "Hey, wait a minute - this horse shouldn't be 50 to 1. I'm an expert and I think he (she) has a chance."
I didn't hear that, did you? The Inquirer ran 5 experts' picks in Saturday's paper.
Bob Fortus (New Orleans Times-Picayune) picked Friesan Fire to win, Dunkirk and Desert Party.
David Grening (Daily Racing Form) picked I Want Revenge, Dunkirk and Hold Me Back.
Ed McNamara (Newsday) picked Dunkirk, I Want Revenge and Freisan Fire.
Jason Shandler (BloodHorse) picked Friesan Fire, Desert Party and Papa Clem.
Gary West (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) picked Dunkirk, Friesan Fire and Pioneerof the Nile.
Nicely done, men. Friesan Fire finished 18th, I Want Revenge was scratched and Dunkirk finished 11th. Desert Party could have been timed with a calendar and Hold Me Back was held back to 12th. Of their picks, Pioneerof the Nile finished second and Papa Clem was 4th. I didn't see any mention of Musket Man (third) or Mine That Bird.
In his Inquirer story, Mike Jensen said, "Since nothing about this race played to form..." Pardon me Mike, but I would want to believe that experts should have been able to call that.
But, they're horses after all. Betting on an animal in a race against 19 other animals turns out to be a sucker's bet more times than not, and since I'm an expert on being a sucker, I'd advise you to spend your money elsewhere and stop listening to experts in general.