Friday, June 30, 2006
Oh, I guarantee fireworks this weekend! Just not the celebratory kind.
Well, let’s see now, it’s after 9 p.m. Friday and we still have only the vaguest plans on what to do with our week off. If the rest of the week looks anything like the past four hours it’ll be: Argue. Pout. Silence. Sarcasm. Meal Break. Snipe. Over react. Biting comments. Obvious overstatements. More Sarcasm. Sleep.
I shift into list-making mode. It certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t forget something hugely important, like my new camera, but it keeps me busy. By fostering the appearance of organization, I’ll look light years ahead of Mr. Don’t-Tell-Me-How-To-Pack. Who is always followed a few hundred miles down the road by the emergence of Mr.Where’s-My-Bathing-Suit-Do-You-Have-My-Toothbrush-I’ll-Buy-A-Bathing-Suit-Damnit, What’s-So-Funny?
Thanks to the poster who suggested throwing darts. I will! At Mr. Right.
Books. Must take books. Some people pact too many clothes, I pack too many books. (And return with more clothes than I left the house with, but hey, that’s a typical Tuesday for me.) So far: Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Little spiritual reading. Bucking the Sarge. Christopher Paul Curtis, good choice, most likely driving through Detroit. The Wright 3. Liked Chasing Vermeer. Rule of Four – Da Vinci Code done right? We’ll see. Finally, Man O’ War. Loved the horse, but as far as writing nothing on earth will ever hold a candle to Seabiscuit. Kind of makes you think a debilitating disease might improve your own writing…
Let’s face it; mine could use a mild case of mono…
To Be Continued
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Tomorrow at five p.m. is the official beginning of my yearly "vacation" with Mr. Right.
That's in quotes because nothing about the week that follows will in any way remotely resemble "relaxing" or "recreation". At least not for me.
Yep, it's the highest stress time of the whole year. You know the saying it's not over until the fat lady sings? Well, it's not over until I'm weeping into an atlas. Take my word for it.
In a spectacular feat of unprecedented procrastination (and we've had some pretty vague 'plans' in the past, some of which culminated in 'sleeping in car') we have NO plans. The arguments haven't even started in earnest.
Right now, if I had to pick, I'd put my money on "angry eleven mile drive to local courthouse for divorce".
Keep you posted...
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Whoo-Hoo! Bullet dodged.
I can still burn a flag at a gay wedding!!
Now, be honest. When was the last time you saw a U.S. Citizen burning a flag in protest? I thought so. Big issue. On the nightly news twice a week at least. Let's run out and make a constitutional amendment.
Want to pass a law banning flag burning? Be my guest. But make it hold for EVERY country every where. Automatically bomb or invade anyplace that burns a U.S. flag. Then I'll support your stupid amendment. Or should I say I'd salute that if you ran it up the flag pole?
And aren't most flags flame-retardant anyway?
Mighty suspicious how they want this flag-burning thing made illegal before bringing the troops home from Iraq, isn't it? Seems the last big breakout of flag-burning was during the Viet Nam War. Er, conflict. Wasn't it the veterans themselves burning the flag in some instances?
Hmmm. Coincidence? I think not.
Once again, words I never thought I'd utter: "I really agree with Jeb Bush on this one."
Jeb decriminalized dining with your dog in Florida as part of a three-year pilot program to 'see how it goes'.
I applaud the decision to allow your dog to eat at outdoor establishments with their owners, and hope to see this expanded nationwide.
Can't wait to see the look on Cyrus' face when I stick him with the check...
Monday, June 26, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
That’s what Peter Cordani proposes, if someone would just give him a few billion dollars’ “seed” money to find out. Click here to read the whole story, which I’ve excerpted below.
Seems weather modification is a field that comes in and out of vogue every few decades or so. Problem is, no one knows for sure if it works or if it’s just snake oil.
"It's like a religion. [Whether it works] depends on who you talk to and what
you believe," said Steve Schmitzer, the Denver Water Board's chief of water
Remember the good old days when you went to your local shaman or witch doctor for pesky problems like flood or drought? If he didn’t cure the problem, the villagers just stoned him to death. Eventually it would rain, someone else would take credit for it, and become the new rainmaker. Simple. Now it’s very costly.
Weather modification already operates at a staggering scope. Projects in some
three dozen countries seek to save wine crops, ease drought and kill fog. The
Chinese government spends $40 million a year to seed clouds for rain. Canadian
insurance companies pay to suppress hailstorms blamed for crop damage.
Are you scared at the thought of the Chinese (with their limitless budget for military uses and total disregard for human life) messing with the weather? I am. They would let their own people die of drought and famine if they thought pushing all their precipitation over our coasts would result in deadly hurricanes. Hmmm. I’ve long suspected Syria of stealing my sunny days…
"You're really playing with fire, because if you don't understand the
fundamentals of what you're doing, you have no ability to predict the
consequence of your actions," said Michael Garstang, a University of Virginia
atmospheric scientist involved in a 2003 report on weather modification for the
National Academy of Sciences. It called for fundamental study. "It's derelict
not to have funded research," he said.
Really? (Insert Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla here…)
After years of lobbying centered in her home state of Texas, Republican Sen. Kay
Bailey Hutchison proposed in March 2005 that a federal board be formed to draft
weather modification policies and devise ways to carry them out.
Uh, oh. Republican, Texan, Wanting to play God. What are the odds?
I’d feel so much better knowing the government was controlling my weather. Good days to plan a picnic: Fourth of July. Dick Cheney’s birthday…
North Dakota alone pays $650,000 to $700,000 a year in tax money for hail reduction, said state Atmospheric Resource Board Director Darin Langerud. Seven states in the Colorado River basin -- Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming--are seeking to formalize and expand cloud seeding.
How ticked would I be if my car incurred hail damage when my tax dollars were being spent on ‘hail reduction therapies’? Real ticked.
As for Cordani,
He has made overtures for funding from oil companies, insurance businesses
and the government. Figuring he might need to drop a lot of powder, he's working
with an Oregon company that modified a 747 to fight forest fires. His first
tests with it may come this summer.Taking on a hurricane might take a fleet of
four or five planes, Cordani guesses, perhaps flying more than once. Field tests
and computer models will determine how much powder and how many planes, he
Oh, there’s three entities I really trust. Love to be the pilot told to fly into a hurricane.
What’s that sound? Why it’s the sound of the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay saying, “Charges? What are these things you speak of called charges?” as they just found out the Sears Tower strike suspects were arrested when the FBI “had enough evidence to bring charges” against them.
(Love the part about photographing buildings. You know, I went on vacation and took a picture of the Pentagon and Washington Memorial once... and Mt. Rushmore, and the Sears Tower, and..)
Kidman, who's net worth is estimated around $150 million, has had Urban sign "a
lowball prenup that guarantees him a kiss-off of just over $600,000 a year for
every year they are together, according to press reports in Australia and
That's all fine and dandy, but I would have loved to see some other stipulations thrown in...
- Any mention of Scientology means instant divorce
- A clause that prohibits Urban from profiting on any 'she done me wrong' songs in the event of a split
- insistence that he appear on national television and jump on a couch proclaiming, "I love that woman!"
What part of Nestle's buying Jenny Craig seems right? Aren't there laws against monopolies? Seems they've got every consumer on earth sewed up with that one...
What next? Diet Chocolate? If only they could impart the seratonin effects of chocolate into their Jenny lo-cal prepared meals...
Can one help but think they are just secretly creating new loyal chocolate lovers?
According to a recent report,
While best known for its namesake chocolates, Nestle also makes baby
formulas, nutrition foods such as PowerBar, drinks to aid weight loss and the
Lean Cuisine line, and is the bottler of Perrier and San Pellegrino water.
The rate of obesity among Americans has doubled since the late 1970s to
about 31 percent of the population, and about 65 percent of the nation is
considered overweight, according to the federal government.
coincidence? I think not.
This all came to discussion due to the recent case of the Sears Tower Plot, as reported here by the Chicago Tribune:
The suspects had "aspirations" but "no means" to attack the Sears Tower or other buildings, a senior federal law-enforcement source said.
Hmmm. Said something silly on their blog, now did they?
Collect them All!
You can’t. It’s impossible, and it’s a conspiracy aimed at making me miserable.
First stop, Home of the Happy Meal, McDonald’s. Still staggering under the weight gain of ‘Win a New Corvette by Playing Monopoly’, I now again needed to visit the golden arches on a daily basis trying to get the Sally the Porsche plastic toy. After griping at work that already they were out, many parents helpfully noted their tykes had received Sally long ago, broke her and were now on to new things. Great.
I began scouring the local discount stores looking for the Hot Wheels collectable. I passed the automotive department where they offered one free in a five-quart box of oil for $11.87. Where were these prices coming from? Hot Wheels and oil both used to be 97 cents each. Undeterred, I pushed on to the toy department. I haven’t been in a toy department since many years ago when I worked at Evil Mart. They wanted to make me manager of the toy section at one point. Can I move every hook six feet in the air? I asked. Hmm. No thanks.
I found a young gal moving the little cars around. She gestured to the end of the aisle where a few lonely Hot Wheels hung. No Sally. Do you have more in back? I asked. Oh, no. That’s all we’re going to get, she replied. Gasp!! The movie premiered June 9th! And they're out?!
Again, I found no Sally Hot Wheels. Unfortunate, as they were 70 cents cheaper there. But they did have both the Smack & Yacks for $8.88 each. Too late to quibble about cost, I grabbed them both and left. Sally had blue eyes on the toy, and I swear they were green in the movie, but they were cute and look great on my Route 66 shelf. Now for a Sally Hot Wheels or Happy Meal….
The next day I tried some more outlets, to no avail. Has every Sally on earth been sold? Are they going faster as little girl presents? Did they make fewer, just to drive me nuts?? Will I be scouring eBay into my dotage, looking for that damn plastic car? And what exactly was in that popcorn that made me so obsessed to purchase Pixar/Disney licensed materials?
What if I see some tot sucking on one in a grocery cart? That’s not going to end well…
Rosie: Wuddu you here fer?
Me: Um, excuse me?
Rosie: Whatta ya do? Whya in?
Me: Oh, I um, um, took a toy from a child…But it was a really bourgeois tyke in a fancy pram, he was asking for it, you know…
Of course I went to see the movie cars, and thought it pretty cute. No Toy Story, but very good, and as a car nut and Route 66 fan, it was quite enjoyable. Except for the other patrons, of course. I have vowed never to attend a public movie theater again. Or at least not until they legalize spanking other people’s children.
Disney is spending billions promoting this movie and trying to get people in the theater. Want me there? Rate it X: “No one under 17 allowed.” Just like my offer to pay extra for ‘no kid Wednesdays’ at a museum, the “No Children Allowed” showing of a Disney film has its appeal.
But I digress.
One small complaint about the movie is the part where Lightening McQueen goes before a judge to be sentenced to community service. The judge? A Hudson Hornet, voiced by Paul Newman. Excuse me? No GTO? I am trying to find something online about them not being able to strike a promotional deal with Pontiac or something… but that doesn’t make much sense, does it? I see Chevrolet as a sponsor, yet no Corvette characters! Ferrari and Porsche allowed their logos and images to be used. Why not Pontiac?
Once I got past this travesty, I was able to enjoy the other fine points of the film, such as the accuracy with which the cars are displayed. Sally the Carrera had a spoiler that appeared when cruising, as is appropriate to that model (the little whale tale pops up at 50 m.p.h. on the real thing).
What’s not to love with a movie staring my favorite leading man, Owen Wilson? Well, at least his voice. Reminds me of how excited I became to see the name Alan Rickman in the credits beginning Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only to find to my great disappointment that he was only voicing the homely and depressing robot Melvin.
The CG scenery of desertscape is so beautiful, I wish there were such a place as Radiator Springs to visit. Well, before it gets all commercial at the end. I can’t even spend 117 minutes of escapist fantasy watching anthropomorphized cars without having the evil specter of development rear its ugly head.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Do you have a strong working knowledge of quantum mechanics? Do you debate string theory over lunch? Is Stephen Hawkings on your speed dial? If so, would you please, please explain the workings of my new Panasonic digital camera to me?? Knowledge of Japanese a plus.
I don’t consider myself technologically inept, but this puppy is complex. I bought it because it had some features I wanted: 10X optical zoom, fast shutter speed, very compact. Oh, and cheaper& more powerful than my first digital camera which cost more four years ago.
Now I’m the type that actually reads the directions. I know, silly me. Just pushing buttons randomly should get you going. And I’m sure it would, but some of the advanced features are so incredible, I’d really like to try them! The 125 page direction booklet is a bit daunting. Not to mention the 40 page supplement describing how to install and use the software needed to put the pictures on your computer. As a result, I have four test pictures and some hundred pages to go before I can even begin to try uploading them. So don’t expect any samples soon.
Seems a roomful of geeks competed to try and come up with the most arcane directions on how to access the 47 menus and define the 33 on-screen icons so they could laugh when most users gave up after ‘insert battery’. I will not grant them the satisfaction of knowing how miserable they have made me. I will pretend to know what an aspect ratio is if it kills me.
There’s a ♥ setting called the Simple Mode. That’s for the losers who just want to point and shoot, but paid for 693 other advanced features. I suppose this is supposed to stand for “it’s so easy I love it!”. It should be a little brain icon instead, to show how little brain power is exerted. I suppose it might be nice if you were handing the camera to a stranger saying, “Could you be a dear and take our picture in front of the Eiffel Tower?” What would be really cool is if a certain pass code were not entered in within an hour the thief who just ran off with your four hundred dollar camera would be left with a scrambled, worthless mess, just like some car stereos.
Let’s see… there’s the time and date stamp. Not to mention the advanced “Displaying the time at the travel destination (World Time)” menu so you can time stamp your photos to Kuala Lumpur Standard Daylight Savings time AND have it say DAY 1 of my vacation… Yep. I’ll use that for sure.
There’s the Optical Image Stabilizer feature with the cute shaky hand icon to help keep your shots focused. (Parkinson’s sufferer’s results may vary)
Zoom, Auto Bracket, Histogram. Back in the day, the Histogram was known as the light meter, and it was a little arrow showing either Light or Dark. Pretty straight forward. A Histogram is this jittery bar graph that goes crazy as you move the camera. Are the bars taller on the left? Under exposed. On the right? Over exposed. Does it look like a bell curve? Bingo! Shoot! Shoot now! Quick!! Before the Eiffel Tower blinks!
Got a real kick out of the Baby 1 and Baby 2 settings. Yep, they’re exactly what you think. You can start a time and date stamp for your newborn so that each photo will have the little tyke’s age on it. Won’t your co-workers be thrilled, Grandma?? (Yes, I’m kicking myself for having bought the camera after the new car…I’ll just have to save it for my next lizard.)
Stumbled across the Self-Portrait feature. Wait a minute, I thought. I just went over how to set the timer on page 43, I can use that to jump into a picture. No, the Self-Portrait setting is for those lonely souls that hold the camera out at arm’s length and snap themselves having great time wishing they had friends to be photographed with. However, Mr. Right noted that feature might just be for people like me who won’t let others touch their cameras. Good point.
Cybil Sheppard Mode. It’s not really called this, but it may as well have been. Technically, it’s known as the Soft Skin Mode. “The camera detects the face or skin area to achieve a smoother appearance of the skin than portrait mode.” Reminds me of the heavy filters used in the TV show Moonlighting. Loved that show! Couldn’t stand how fuzzy Cybil looked. She insisted on heavy camera filters to ‘make her look younger’. If blurry is younger, that is. It was overdone and stupid.
Fireworks Mode. Cool!!! I love fireworks! Can’t wait to try this out.
Snow Mode. Makes snow look its whitest. Yay. No more dingy yellow snow.
Night Scenery Mode. I thought this was called “Forgetting to take the lens cap off”.
Party Mode. Shields lens from puke?
Food Mode. “This mode allows you to take pictures of food with a natural hue without being affected by the ambient light in restaurants, etc.” I’m not making this stuff up!! How could I?? How many restaurant critics are there in Japan anyways? Oh, wait. If I was paying $100 for six ounces of beef, I’d make a scrapbook of it as well. Doesn’t promise to make your Sushi stand out or anything…
Starry Sky Mode. Makes everything look like a Van Gogh painting?
Aerial Photo Mode. Ok, now you’re pulling my leg. What’s the Spy Rating on this camera?
High Sensitivity Mode. Not as exciting as expected. Just a fast shutter speed. I thought perhaps it was for those people who throw their hands up and whine, no, no, don’t take my picture…
Underwater Mode. “Stops pictures from becoming blue underwater.” Finding Nemo’s Pigment! (Marine case not included)
Flip Animation. No. I do not need 20 seconds of stop-action animation from a moving object. That’s what video cams are for.
Now I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, I’ve seen her vacation photos. They do not include snowy mountaintops, deep sea diving, infinity landscapes or people. Her cars. That’s the only thing she has ever photographed. Since they don’t go out in inclement weather, there’s no need for anything other than ISO 200, and that can be obtained with any $6 disposable camera.
Well, you know what? One of my cars is black, and that can be really tricky to photograph properly, OK?
Hey it's time for bed. I’ll work on the camera some more tomorrow. Well, today, in Malaysia.
If it passes, will they make the condemned watch the Packers lose to the Bears? That would pretty much kill any cheese head I know!
But seriously folks, I must admit I support a death penalty. I do NOT support using it selectively, the way it has been practiced (at least in the state of Illinois – Oh, I’m sure Texas has it right) in the past. Just because someone is too poor to hire a lawyer should not mean they are automatically given no competent council and shipped off to die. Or what of the man convicted of burning his own children to death to collect insurance money? He professed innocence to the end, and not until later did it become obvious that he was convicted on faulty evidence. Arson investigators had been working with ‘conventional wisdom’ that wasn’t so wise. No, I’m talking about solid cases, with solid evidence. Yes, they exist.
I don’t care one bit that the death penalty is not a deterrent. It’s just too expensive to keep people incarcerated ‘for life’. If you should never walk free again, you should never breathe again. Case closed. How does it benefit the offender or society to have no hope of release? Oh, they’ll “think” about their crimes and have to live with it. Nice argument made by very intelligent people, but I disagree. You can’t make someone feel regret.
If we as a society say there is chance for your reform, then let’s give you the tools for that reform and help you along the way. We as a society must also say some things are unforgivable. Unfortunately we are not a tribe of cave dwellers any longer, and ostracization from the clan is not an option.
The argument that two wrongs don’t make a right is quite compelling, but what do we do with these people? Warehouse them at huge cost, that’s what. If you are committed to not having a death penalty, then please commit to creating a way to remove these people from our borders so they may never offend here again. Dropping them off in another country far, far, away sounds fine to me. If we can pre-emptive strike an oil-rich nation, we should be able to drop off a few hundred thousand undesirables in the mountains of Pakistan. There are lots of empty gulags in Siberia for rent, I’ll bet.
Being from Chicago, I’ve got another question for the fine people of the Badger State:
How many dead voters support the death penalty?
* Home of Jeffery Dahmer, Ed Gein, and I’ll bet John Wayne Gacy went to the Dells at least once…
According to the Associated Press:
The child's mother wants him circumcised to prevent recurring, painful
inflammation she says he's experienced during the past year.
But the father says the boy is healthy and circumcision, which removes the foreskin of the penis, is an unnecessary medical procedure that could cause him long-term physical and psychological harm. "The child is absolutely healthy," the father said during a break in a court hearing on the matter Wednesday. "I do not want any doctor to butcher my son."
The mother testified that her son has had five bouts of painful inflammation and has begged her to help him. Her son cannot wear underwear or jeans during the bouts and is comfortable only in loose-fitting pajamas, she said.
The couple's 2003 divorce decree gave the father the right to offer input on medical decisions. Earlier this year, he sued to block the surgery and Cook County Judge Jordan Kaplan ordered the mother not to have the boy circumcised until he could hear from both parents and the opinions of doctors who've examined the boy.
Now, I’m not advocating allowing eight-year-olds have the right to make all decisions about their welfare, but I really do think that judge should interview the child and determine how much he understands about his medical condition and what course of action he would like to take.
As for the rest of us, I think this should be a warning to anyone divorcing to get it in writing that they can make medical decisions without the input of the other parent. Otherwise, down the road a little, you may just find your ex getting, well,…snippy.
When you assign J.K. Rowling characters to your co-workers and say witty things like, “That was Professor Trelawny, and she wants you to call Snape because He Who Must Not Be Named needs that report right away.”
And your cube neighbor gets it totally.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
All dried up on your dining room table isn't any fun.
Good-Bye fishie. It was nice knowing you. I'm sorry your wild instincts led you to jump from your tiny bowl into the great (and very dry) unknown. I'll miss you.
I got a little misty during the 21 Flush Salute.
Sad to say I miss a little piece of colored thread, but I do. While in Key West the first week of February I got a hair wrap at one of the little open air shops in the downtown. The woman who wrapped it did such a fabulous job that it lasted until the first week of June! The design was intricate and very sturdy. The only reason I (reluctantly) cut it out was that the hair beneath had become tangly and as it grew it threatened to show as I had the surrounding hair cut and styled. DEFINITELY got my money's worth.
Really, how many times in life can you say that?
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Ok, so let me get this straight...
Canada can catch terrorists BEFORE they succeed. Hmmm. Once again, we could learn something from our neighbors to the north. I'll ask them about it the next time I'm up there buying prescription drugs. Doesn't this all seem a tailor-made excuse for the President to call for fortification of our northern border? A nice political move that would drain the National Guard from northern states, just to be fair.
The "This is Getting Ugly" Department:
An attack doe was killed on the SIU campus this week, bringing a new level of violence to the human-ungulate encounters in Carbondale.
A deer that threatened a jogger and injured a Southern Illinois University police officer was shot by the officer and later euthanized, marking the first deadly clash in a series of run-ins between the animals and humans on the campus.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Seems the lush who got her dog drunk claims the little puppy drank some wine spilled after leaving a glass in her car. Oh yeah. I always drink wine in the garage. Love the ambiance. That motor oil smell goes well with Merlot 89.
I wonder if a nice Chardonnay would take those rust stains off my wheels?