Wednesday, November 29, 2006


OK, if you’re anything like me, the best part of the newspaper is the Editorial Page. I find it a very handy way to find out who’s naughty or nice on my Christmas list.

Yep, nothing like finding out you live in a county of total wackos who have nothing better to do than write to the editor about the pressing issues of the day – like squirrel murder. I’m not kidding, I recall a few years back someone writing an open letter to the red SUV at Fifth and Main who `refused to stop, although you must have known’ as they injured a squirrel who was trying to cross the intersection. Your callous indifference to the poor animal’s pain and suffering, at a time when school children could have been walking by, etc., etc. etc.
Now I’m an animal lover, but this letter was over the top.

But tonight’s was better! I reproduce it here with a
link to the paper and further comments:

To the Editor: Another deer ran into me-taking out my right front fender
and my lights. There I was, careening down the road with no lights. The
prospects for death and dismemberment were too good for my taste.This is the
second time a deer has attacked me in five years on Route 14. Once again, I have
joined the legion of victims of a happening that easily could be avoided.
Millions of dollars and too many deaths are the result of animals intent on
satisfying their reproductive needs.I know that suggesting we get rid of
alcohol, and the resulting 29,000 deaths and disfigurements on the highway each
year is blowing in the wind; there are just too many of us who depend upon it
for conviviality. But surely no one who has attended the funeral or the bedside
of someone in the emergency room because of a deer can object to killing them
all.By eradicating deer, the savings in money and life would be well worth it.
We kill mice and rats, and they aren’t nearly the terrorists that deer are.These
furry terrorists were not here first, I am told that Adam and Eve were.

Where to start? There’s as much here to object to as a Michael Richards outburst.

Let’s see:

First off, I don’t think the deer are attacking you, sir. Unless your car is a Pinto or a Mustang, and in heat…

Secondly, nothing wrong with reducing the population of deer, but why elimination? I think not. Whose fault is it that there are more deer in the area now than when it was first settled? Man’s. Man eradicated the deer’s natural enemies and then grew corn here, two great population boosters. Man encroached on deer territory, not the other way around.

Thirdly, I love the way this conservative Republican points out the deer are terrorists that must be eliminated. (Deer, Possum, Raccoons: Axis of Evil)

Any deer-huggers are just Commies that hate America. Sounds like a quick and easy fix. Look how easy it was to wipe out mice and rats. Cheap, too, I’m sure.

Just march into the woods with some big guns. The little fawns will be so happy they have been liberated; they will lick the hands of the hunters who just killed their lactating mothers (looking for nourishment, but it will make a great photo-op). A huge success will be declared. Meanwhile, insurgent forces in the form of elk will invade from the north…

As for the final line, “These furry terrorists were not here first, I am told that Adam and Eve were,” I find this laughable. Excuse me? Are you a fundamentalist? What copy of Genesis do you have? The one I just consulted says God made all kinds of wild animals, THEN said Let Us Make Man…

I really don’t recall the Bible story about how Bambi was exiled from the Woodlands of Eden due to development, but I’m sure it should be added.

(By the way, the paper’s website notes this is one of today’s most discussed stories. It’s not just me!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Doing a Little Heavy Reading?

As if you needed any further proof that being slight of frame is bad for your health, here's the story of a woman caught up in a few good books...*

- Proper safety attire for home library use -

*Thanks to the Freakonomics blog for pointing this out!

The Land That WiFi Forgot

Sorry I haven’t posted much, guess I haven’t been in the mood. The nice weather kept me away for the weekend, and now that a horrible cold front is moving in, I’ve been plagued with the most awful sinus headaches. Seems Indy isn’t the only one affected by barometric pressure. In fact, I was watching some of my previously recorded “Shark Week” episodes and saw a segment where they tagged a bunch of baby sharks and monitored them. Every day they would frequent certain feeding grounds until they all disappeared at once. Turns out that was right before a huge storm hit the coast. They concluded the sharks were responding to barometric pressure cues that told them to seek deeper waters for safety. So, see, I’m not hallucinating. Now if I could just get the turtles to tell time or something, I might get on Stupid Pet Tricks.

Went to Evil-Mart to get my holiday cards ordered, and it was a mess. They had this nice kiosk that you were to load your CD into and then create your order using a touch screen. (The germaphobe in me just LOVES touch-screens. And those little stylus pens for credit cards at the self-swipe checkouts. Am I the only one that sees the whole ‘swipe it yourself’ phenomena as this huge CYA by the retail industry to never touch your stolen credit card? Sorry, never saw the card, so I never noticed the 300 lb. white male using Ming-La’s missing ID…I must applaud the folks in Las Vegas, however, they frequently asked to see photo ID and that was just great with me)

Anyhoo… I couldn’t get the screen to progress and called the teenage boy over. He was very nice and explained they had massive problems with this Fuji machine, but that Cheap-Mart did not have a contract with them so they refused to provide training to the employees on how to use the machine and if it didn’t work, well, heck, Cheap-Mart wasn’t going to pay for a service call, now were they?

I give the kid ten points for honesty and courtesy. We decided the best thing to do was just put my CD in an envelope and send it in like a canister of film. Let’s see what happens! If you don’t get a Christmas card, you’ll know why. Once I have them in the mail, I will try and post the picture here on my website as well.

I have some things to do, like update this template, but I do want to let you know about a Libertarian website you should check out, The Libertarian Guy (tm). I’ll be adding him to the blog roll soon! Really.

It’s just so frustrating with my dinosaur dial up connection. I can’t get DSL or WiFi in my area, and it’s getting very discouraging. Downright daunting to do absolutely anything on line, even shopping. Don’t get me started on how much YouTube I’m missing in life. Must get faster life!

This brings me to mention that I did my holiday shopping online, thank you very much, Not having to trek to the post office: Priceless.

They have this neat new feature where you can enter friend’s birthdays and what you have sent them so as not to repeat any gifts. Very nice. I can store names and addresses and send gifts across the country with only a click. Very convenient.

However, they really do need to work on the whole ‘gift suggestion’ area. What part of “I bought you a ten-dollar CD” says my next suggestion should be to buy you a $400 mix master? Or $250 iPod? Sorry kids, I’m not that wealthy! You’ll have to wait for the second season of Arrested Development to go on clearance before you get another gift.

Oh, and my personal best laugh? The $879 SLR digital camera they suggested as a great gift for my mom. Gee, I want that for myself, but can’t afford it; so if you think I’m giving it to the woman who returned last year’s gift of a cell phone as “Too Complicated to Figure Out”, you’re nuts.

Happy Clicking and May You Understand the Technology of the New Year

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Not only do we have to rent Pandas from China, but now we have to catch up in the global production of Panda Poop Products.
Chew faster! There's another tour bus due at three...

From USA Today:

Not to be outdone, Thailand has come up with yet another, seemingly
unlikely way to capitalize on this globally loved, bamboo-munching animal —
panda poop.

When keepers of the country's panda couple — Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui —
got tired of disposing the 55 pounds of feces daily produced by the duo,
Prasertsak Buntragulpoontawee came up with the idea of turning it all into
notebooks, fans, bookmarks and key chains.

"At first the Chinese were very skeptical," says the head of Chiang Mai
Zoo's panda unit, referring to the proprietary attitude China takes toward its
iconic animal.

But the multicolored paper products have proved hot selling-items at the
zoo, with the $8,200 earned to date helping balance the accounts of panda

The Thai government pays $250,000 a year to China's Wulong Panda Research
Institute to rent the pandas, who, depending on the weather, reside in either a
$1 million air-conditioned cage or an extensive, fan-cooled outdoor enclosure
ringed by a mini-replica of China's Great Wall.

Panda poop paper production involves a day-long process of cleaning the
feces, boiling it in a soda solution, bleaching it with chlorine and drying it
under the sun. Experimentation continues on how to reduce the chemicals now


Hey, am I the only one who thinks the Purina Friskies Prime Filets Chicken in Gravy looks good enough to eat right out of the can? Next time I'm squeezed for time, I'm serving it to Al over toast. Bet he'll never notice.

Dropped Like a Bad Hobbit

That sound you hear is the weeping of geeks...

From the AP:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Peter Jackson says he will not be directing a
movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit” or a planned prequel to “The
Lord of the Rings.”

In a letter posted on, Jackson and partner Fran Walsh said
an executive from New Line Cinema had called to tell them the studio was moving
ahead with “The Hobbit” without him.

Of course, it all comes down to money:

The announcement came amid an ongoing dispute between Wingnut Films and New
Line Cinema over the amount Jackson was paid for “The Fellowship of the Ring,”
including DVD payments.

While Jackson hasn’t said how much he believes he was underpaid, The New
York Times last year quoted his lawyers as saying it was as much as $100
million. He is suing New Line Cinema over the shortfall.

Ah, yes, my dream in life: Being able to whine about my 'underpayment' of $100 million. Some people have found the ring... Must be nice.
Never having to shave or bathe again...priceless

Leftover Time

Made Turkey Chili today, as it called for cumin, and I am so using that spice up! It was quite good. Tried going to the James Bond movie (TWO Aston Martins!) but it was sold out and I got mad and came home. Why on earth would I try to go to a movie on the busiest weekend of the year? I can’t stand people in movie theaters on a quiet night. What was I thinking? Very stupid.

Needed the oil changed in my Acura and Al decided to slap on the snow tires as well. Sheesh! I don’t even have the ambition to take down the Thanksgiving decorations yet, it’s so warm out. This weekend was perfect – everything a winter should be: highs in the low 60s upper 50s. Took Cyrus for a nice long walk and it was so warm I ended up tying my coat to him like a pack mule. About time he earned his kibble.

Took my Christmas photo today and will have them made into my traditional holiday card. Once again, the lizards displayed relatively good humor about getting dressed up by a nutty biped with a camera.

Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks. You know, the big to-do where people around a huge table each say what they are grateful for…health, family, food, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So why don’t we have a holiday for expressing outrage? A day to come together and complain that while the food is good, too bad we don’t have the money for surf and turf. Give grandma a five minute time limit and let her blather on about all her ailments. I’ll be happy to tell you a thing or two about development in my community, that’s for sure. And have it on a Monday, so there’s a 3 day weekend. We could call it Malcontent Monday. The theme would be: Things Aren’t Bad, but Here’s How They Could Be Better. Make it in February. There’s a do-nothing month with crappy weather. Fits perfectly. How about the first Monday after Valentine’s Day so people can bitch about their love lives while the hurt is fresh? Yeah, I think we need to work on this. Just need to convince the folks at Hallmark and we’re home free.

Hey, kids! There’s only 84 more shopping days until Malcontent Monday!
(Gift Suggestions include: Tru Tech products, Macy’s Gift Cards and well, any old thing for Aunt Edna, cause she hates everything you give her.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Feel Like a Turkey?

“I prefer Hostess fruit pies to pop-up toaster tarts because they don’t require as much cooking.”

Carrie Snow

That pretty much sums up my whole Thanksgiving experience. Let’s see now; I despise cooking, and hate company. Yep, I just LOVE the holidays and the ensuing pressure to participate in both cooking and entertaining, or even ‘visiting’.
Good waste of blogging time, I tell you.
(Artist's Rendition: My meal looked nothing like this)
Anyhoo, I decided to try this recipe I found in one of those newspaper magazines: “Turkey Mercedes”. Hey, it’s named after a car. Not many dishes you can say that about. Obviously, my interest was piqued. Uh, oh. It requires an ingredient I don’t have. Usually my cardinal rule is if it takes more than three ingredients, one of which I do not possess or am unable to pronounce, I don’t attempt the dish. Anything more complex than “Microwave on high turning once” is deemed beyond my skill set. When my mother asked what she could bring, I suggested a sack lunch, ok? My cooking skills are that bad.

Feeling feckless, I forged ahead. I’m sure cumin does something (like keep your blood from clotting, right?) and would be at my local grocery store. It was and it wasn’t. I mean, it was on the shelf, but only in a premium brand in a glass jar. I’m the type of person who buys my groceries at the dollar store as much as possible. Al keeps saying I’m trying to kill him because all the salad dressing is expired. Now I must admit, I didn’t check the expiration date in my excitement of seeing faux French dressing for only a dollar. Besides, nothing happened. (…Yet. Bet those prions are just getting stirred up…)

Bought the entire $3.79 bottle of spice and hoped I could find some anecdotal evidence it caused weight loss or an increase in horsepower when added to your gas tank – anything to get me to use the rest of it up in the next two years. Most of my spices are older than my pets. I keep the flour in the freezer to keep it from going wormy between “I feel like baking” intervals.

So as per instructions, I prepped the bird the night before by making the marinade that included orange juice concentrate, white wine and garlic. It took almost 40 minutes to peel all the garlic, poke little slits in the turkey, pour over the marinade and stuff the little slits with garlic slivers. WAY too much time and effort. This resembled real cooking much too much. And for what? Garlicky turkey? Could have shaken some garlic powder over the finished product for that. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Al raved about my stuffing, my dad loved my rice pudding and mom said I looked slim. Guess they’re all invited back for Christmas. Christmas Cold Cuts. That has a nice ring to it…

Best part of being a lousy cook? The day after Thanksgiving I was able to zip my ‘skinny jeans’. Priceless.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Well, if they can do it, so can I.
All I need is a small-business loan to pay for saliva screening at the local shelter,
and I’m on my way!

I love my little dander-kitty Croesus, but he can’t live inside the house as Al and I are allergic to cats. Al is deadly allergic, his eyes swell shut. (Which leads to my favorite threat during an argument: Don’t piss me off. I’ll let the cat sleep on you pillow while you’re at work) I just get puffy eyes and sneeze, which I’d put up with if possible. To the rescue comes Allerca, a San Diego company that breeds felines with less-than-average amounts of saliva proteins that trigger allergies in humans.

These cats are not genetically engineered and are tested before offered for sale. Worst part: you must agree to spay or neuter the pet. Oh, there’s a 15-month waiting list too. They even come with a one-year money back guarantee! This is really good; as a twelve-week-old kitty will set you back about four thousand dollars. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Price of My Integrity: Free

I tried sneaking up on the boots downwind, honey, I really did!

Went to Rockford briefly and got some Christmas shopping done. It’s so nice to have intellectual friends that READ. (Hint: don’t buy any first-run hard covers until after the holidays, folks.)

Ended up at Cherryvale and decided to go to Victoria’s Secret and use my panty coupon. Now the lines there are always horrendous, but this was holiday rush (already). There were grandmothers in their Christmas sweaters pawing through the thongs; it was awful. So I get my free cotton hi leg brief and stand in line. And stand. And stand. And wonder who might be available to chat should I make one those rude and annoying cell phone calls from the line. So some woman four places in front of me wants to open the VS charge account to get the points and coupons, but wants to pay it off right then in cash. So they ring her up to $64.37 and she gives them $70 cash. They put that towards her balance, but she wants change, not the extra credit. So…. We call a manager ( a girl one year older than the 17 year old who rung her up)… we void, we swipe, we sign in triplicate, we…watch nine people move through the line on my left while I’m standing like a sardine… I get my damn panty.

Fared much better at Macy’s, although I’m technically
not talking to them after they changed from the name Marshall Field’s. Got a free gift when I bought some perfume as a gift and also received a $10 off card to buy anything else! Took the card to another register and bought a weather station thing – it’s this indoor/outdoor humidity temperature gage that sits in your house but has an external probe for outdoor readings as well. Cool! This will be a great grab-bag gift, so another one down!

Went to Best Buy as well, and used my Best Buy Bucks from McDonalds. Once again, McDonalds did the Monopoly Game promotion. I was a mere 8 lbs. away from $500 and a triple bypass away from winning $5000 when the promo ended. Damn! Anyhoo…I had some of these Best Buy Bucks and thought I’d try to redeem them. Picked up the new Who album, Endless Wire. In the words of the best track, “It’s Not Enough”. I didn’t think it that great. There were a few good moments, but not enough. The included tracks of Live at Lyon were better, but I’m sure I was just responding to the classic and familiar that I love.

On the other hand, another work of genius has been issued by Meatloaf in the form of Bat Out of Hell III, The Monster is Loose. Not much written by Jim Steinman, but very good overall. Among the guest guitarists were Brian May and Steve Vai. Once again, the anthem lyrics take on a depth and meaning belied by their simplicity. Where else can you get a song called The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be?

Went to the Burlington Coat factory as I saw a newspaper ad with a nice olive green car coat. Place was a creepy, messy madhouse. When I got there, they actually had one (and only one) in Small. It looked really nice, but was thin wool. Not very heavy for winter. What is it with the wool coats? Fashionable, but not lined. Down is too poofy-looking. I want some hi-tech thinsulate in a nice fitted wool. Is that too much to ask? Well $109 for not-very-warm wasn’t going to cut it, so I took a pass. The odds of it still being there after January for markdown-time are long, but perhaps I’ll check back. While there, I saw these killer over-the-knee leopard-print stiletto boots for only $25.95! I frantically searched the boxes to no avail – they didn’t have my size!! I just know those monsters were watching on some closed-circuit camera and laughing at me.

Al was out hunting, but missed a doe. I told him all about the ‘coat that got away’. Hey, if I can listen to hunting stories, he can listen to gathering stories.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mobile Execution Vans?

Have some more yellow wine, she said.
Oh, no, I said. I don't want to wreck my liver.
Why didn't I listen?

What's a Mobile Execution Van? A soccer mom having a few Margaritas at her son's game and then driving home? No, it's latest fad from those crazy human-rights abusers the Chinese!

China in recent years has introduced mobile execution vans and lethal
injection, supplanting the traditional method of a bullet to the back of the head. While Beijing has touted these as more humane, critics say the changes facilitate rapid organ transfers.

Now far be it from me to defend a country that beats dogs to death in the streets, but I must say I applaud the recycling efforts of a country who takes the organs of death-penalty deadbeats (ok, political dissenters) and gives them to needy (ok, rich foreigners) by driving around in "Mobile Execution Vans".

-- After years of denial, China has acknowledged that many of the human organs used in transplants here are taken from executed prisoners and that many of the recipients are foreigners who pay hefty sums to avoid a long wait.Speaking at a conference of surgeons in the southern city of Guangzhou, Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu called for a strict code of conduct and better record keeping to stem China's thriving illegal-organ trade, state media reported.

Acknowledgment of what had been an open secret on the Internet, in local magazines and among people waiting for transplanted organs came weeks after China announced tighter oversight of death-penalty cases. Legal experts say requiring the country's highest court to approve death sentences could reduce the number by a third.

While China doesn't disclose the number of people executed each year,
Amnesty International reports that at least 1,770 people were put to death in 2005, based on a review of Chinese media reports. Some activists say the annual figure could be as high as 10,000.Even the lower estimate represents more than 80 percent of the 2,148 executions reported to have taken place worldwide last year. The United States executed 60 prisoners in 2005.

Sure, some crimes carrying the death penalty might be simply "having AB blood", but it takes bold pioneers like the Chinese to start a discourse on our own unfair system of organ donation registry. People here move to other states to get on different waiting lists. Can we blame them for surfing eBay in search of a kidney?

And don't you just love hearing Chinese officials announce all the things that are 'strictly forbidden'? I thought our lawmakers were hypocrites. Again, we could learn much from our neighbors to the East...

Press Button B to Jump (In Line)

So let me get this straight – all across the country there were people standing in parking lots for days to buy the season’s must-have gift item: the Sony PlayStation 3. Seems fights frequently broke out between consumers trying to butt in line or push and shove their way to the front. In one particularly ugly incident, a shooting occurred while armed gunmen robbed those waiting to buy the gadget. Gosh, aren’t those all skills you learn while playing violent video games? Jumping? Stealing treasure? Shooting? Killing?

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Two Indiana men fought off armed robbers early Friday after waiting in line for about 36 hours to buy the unit, police said.

Andrew Templeton, 20, and David Wiggins, 28, both of Sullivan, each bought
a console at a Wal-Mart about 30 miles north in Terre Haute. They were followed
home by two teenagers and assaulted when they began to unpack the car, Sullivan
Police Chief David Story said.

Police say Dylan Moss, 19, of West Terre Haute, and Dustin Fagg, 19, of
Terre Haute, were carrying a chain and tire iron as they approached Templeton
and Wiggins. Moss and Fagg told the pair to give them the consoles, Story

“The whole purpose of the robbery was to get the PlayStations,” Story

A fight broke out. Wiggins’ nose was broken, and Moss was stabbed, police
said. Moss was listed in critical condition after undergoing surgery at Union
Hospital in Terre Haute, officials said.

In Putnam, Conn., two gunmen tried to rob people lined up for the console
and shot one who refused to surrender his money. Michael Penkala, 21, of
Webster, Mass., was wounded in the chest and shoulder. He was in stable
condition Friday with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, according to
Connecticut State Police.

In Fresno, Calif., police arrested two people and threatened to use Tasers
to break up a crowd that rushed a store and trampled people in the parking

To get the attention of an unruly crowd of about 350, police fired a paint
ball at the ground outside a Target store in Henrico, Va.

I think they should just make a game called Grand Theft GameBoy and get it over with. Why be subtle?

Perhaps they could sign OJ to promote it: “IF I Had Cut In Line”.

Are there any video games that feature Tasers? Quite popular nowadays. I'm sure the right to bear Tasers was envisioned by our founding forefathers. "Give me Liberty or give me repeated shocks with a stun gun", has quite the ring to it.

Very few line-waiters were planning on using the toy themselves. Most planned to make a profit on eBay. Hard to believe gaming geeks can come up with the average resale price of $2,921 as reported by eBay Market Research. Must have hefty trust funds. Or perhaps be a former state senator? Seems John Edwards,
a vocal critic of Wal-Mart (I’ll march to that tune), had asked his local store for a little extra help in getting one. This version of events was refuted by Edwards, who quickly said:

"My wife, Elizabeth, wanted to get a PlayStation 3 for my young children.
She mentioned it in front of one of my staff people," said Edwards. "That staff
person mentioned it in front of a volunteer who said he would make an effort to
get one. He was making an effort to go get one for himself."

Yeah. Right. Do we need to comb through some Cabbage Patch Doll adoption certificates and Trivial Pursuit Genesis edition receipts to see how many were delivered to the Edwards household? Where the laughter of Tickle Me Elmo rings through the halls?

Sorry, but I’d much rather have something practical. Like a robo vacuum.

Amazingly enough, despite fostering this mania, it seems Sony is losing money on the whole deal:

Meanwhile, technology research company iSuppli Corp. reported taking apart
a $600 console, and finding that it probably costs Sony $840 to make.

ISuppli notes that it's common for manufacturers to take a loss on the
hardware, calculating that they'll make it up with game sales. Also, component
costs should come down in the future. "Still, the size of Sony's loss per unit
is remarkable, even for the video-game console business," iSuppli said.

The company called the console "an engineering masterpiece," more akin to
expensive corporate hardware than a consumer-level computer.

You put it in my trunk? Great, great.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one to notice the number one ingredient for a successful religion is 'perceived persecution'?*

Have you read any of the media reports of
Tom Cruise or Kirstie Alley whining about how they suffer from negative perception and discrimination as Scientologists? (Oh, and don't you love how a group dead-set against psychotherapy pays hundreds for... Psychotherapy?)

Gee, who does that sound like? Maybe...Mormons? Christians?

Did you know that far more 'other' malcontents and undesirables were eaten by lions in Rome, but only Christians were sly enough to market it?

Oh, boo-hoo, Christians thrown to lions. Mormons driven out of whole states. Sob!

Well, Kirstie, I just hope
Scientology treats women better than most monotheistic religions.

*Number Two? Nutcase Charismatic founder.

It's Like Speaking With a Psychic...

You Are Not a Cook

You know cooking isn't for you, and you wouldn't even consider trying to make a homecooked meal.
And this is a very good thing. You've saved all your friends and family from unintentional food poisoning!


Just bought my Nickelback tickets from Ticketmaster. What a scam. More bands should speak out and act out against this conglomerate of graft. Surprised there wasn’t a rebate involved. Or a free Tru-tech product give away. (Tru-Tech Sucks.) Told Al that I bought the tickets and I better not hear a peep out of him about parking costs. Those are his to deal with. Tough. The whole experience is so expensive we go to very few shows. We both love Nickelback and I think they will really rock. That leaves Audioslave as my next must-see.

I’ve Been Reading

Baghdad Burning II – nowhere as good as the original, or am I just numb to her suffering?

Spot of Bother – excellent! What a writer! Mark made me care about a British family and made me turn pages wondering if a suicidal man would do the deed. Excellent!

Welcome to the Monkey House – short stories of Kurt Vonnegut
Who knew he could be so mundane? Stories of romance? Run of the mill science fiction? In some strange way I identify or aspire to his writing – clear, yet not afraid to deviate from the norm. Many stories were creative writing 101, period pieces evoking a bygone era. Yet a few have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as when they were written: Report on the Barnhouse Effect and Welcome to the Monkey House. Still, boilerplate sci-fi. Perhaps the genius is in the simplicity.

Listening to:

Eric Burdon. What ever happened to him? Love him. Guess I need to buy My Secret Life.

Robert Plant: The Principle of Moments. I'd buy a copy of him singing Happy Birthday, that's how much I love his voice. Although I must admit I can't stand Walking Into Clarksdale. Wonder why?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Awesome Advertisement

Received a cool postcard in the mail last month. It has three atomic elements in chart format across the top: #89, Actinium 227.0, #92 Uranium, 238.0, #88 Radium, 226.0. The abbreviations spell out AcURa. Below is a picture of a car with the caption: It's time for your Acura's periodic checkup. Regular maintenance is a key element of performance. Is that cool, or what??

Did you hear they just discovered element 118? How long can this go on, exactly? Can we trust any of these "discoveries"? I mean, something that exists for 1,000 th of a second? Is that even 'real'? It's like when I clean the guest bathroom and 1,000th of a second later Mr. Right walks in there to mess it up. Did it really count? Were my efforts cosmically recognized?

From the New York Times:

A team of Russian and American scientists said yesterday that it had created the heaviest element ever seen in a laboratory, a dab of matter that lasted for less than one-thousandth of a second but would add an entry at the farthest reaches of the periodic table and suggest that strange new elements may lie beyond.

Start writing that paper about elements in the seventh dimension now! By the time somebody disproves it, you'll be dead anyhow.

Hydrogen, the lightest element, has one proton in its nucleus, and uranium, the heaviest naturally occurring element, has 92. Element 118 would fit comfortably just below radon in a column of the periodic table containing what are called noble gases for their inert chemical properties.

Are there negative elements? Ones lighter than hydrogen? The bullemics of the periodic table? They attract protons, but heave them up right away?

The results were met with praise but also caution from other scientists in the field, particularly given the fraught history of element 118. Another California lab, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, announced that it discovered the element in 1999 but retracted the claim two years later after an investigation found that one of its researchers, Dr. Victor Ninov, had fabricated data. Dr. Ninov was later fired.

Well I should hope so! Lying about seeing something for 1,000th of a second! Really now. I had no idea 'new elements' was such a competitive field. Getalifeium.

Dr. Gelbke said that there was one good reason that the Russian laboratory might be ahead of its competitors elsewhere in the world. Scientists at that lab, he said, are skilled in handling Californium, which is very radioactive and dangerous to the uninitiated.
“I wouldn’t want to do that myself,” Dr. Gelbke said, chucking. “It’s a fairly nasty substance for most people to handle.”

My guess is no one told the Russian scientists there might be any danger. Vomiting and glowing are common in the Chernobyl area. Nothing like a total lack of health and safety standards to abeit science.

The numbers 2, 8, 20, 28, 50 and 82 are magic for both protons and neutrons. The highest known magic number for neutrons alone is 126, meaning that common lead, with 82 protons and 126 neutrons, is the heaviest known “doubly magic,” or extremely stable, isotope in the periodic table.

Harry Potter and the Unknown Isotope


You Are a Pegasus

You are a perfectionist, with an eye for beauty.
You know how to live a good life - and you rarely deviate from your good taste.
While you aren't outgoing, you have excellent social skills.
People both admire you - and feel very comfortable around you.

Yeah, Sounds About Right

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"I dunno, press the button and find out."

Mercury World Rocks!

So Al was done with his conference early and we explored the strip a little. He wanted to see the Venetian and Wynn so we took a walk around to sight-see. The ceiling art in the Venetian was cool; there was this ‘coronation’ mural I particularly enjoyed. If it were my casino, I would have subtly had my portrait substituted for the queen. Since the Egypt theme and Rome theme have already been done, I can’t imagine what kind of casino I would create. The fish thing has been done at Mandalay Bay, so what’s left? Turtles? Slow slots? I don’t think so. Cars? Route 66 Casino? I suppose. Maybe ancient Greece?

Soon it was time to head to the farewell festivities held at the Palms Hotel. I couldn’t believe they wanted to do something off-site. It involved bussing the 3000 attendees over to another casino across town. Al had signed me up for the event, but the event planners had no record of this. They told him he could pay $75 for a guest. I told him that was out of the question; I’d just go and if I got kicked out, fine. No loss. So we stood forever in this huge line waiting for a bus while organizers strolled up and down making sure everyone had a conference badge. I just pulled my shawl over my neck as if I was cold, and no one ever said anything. We were issued fancy printed maps of the Palms that detailed where the party venues were: pool, Buddha bar, Rain Nightclub and the Ghost Bar.

Once inside, there was food everywhere. Waitresses walked by with crab cakes, buffet tables were set up with different themes through out, and all kinds of bars serving drinks were available. Bands played, acrobats and fire-eaters performed, showgirls posed for pictures, it was quite the party. I went to this one food station where you were issued a pointy wooden skewer and marshmallows. Right as I went to toast it, the sterno died out. Turning to leave, I practically walk into a man dressed all in black speaking into a little headphone. “Fuel to Smores Two”, he says. No lie. The service was fantastic. Every time I put a plate down, a waiter rushed over and took it away.

In the nightclub there were girls dancing in cages above the DJ and projection screens created a water fall effect-when they weren’t flashing the Mercury World company logo. Hostesses were passing out glow sticks and goofy hats. Grown adults were putting on cellophane wigs, silly hats, false eyelashes, Mardi gras beads, cheap sunglasses, you name it. We decided to see what the Ghost Bar was all about on the 53rd floor. This entailed another long boring wait to get on the elevator going up, but was well worth the effort. In the middle of the modern décor was a chocolate fountain! An even better use of the little skewers! We stabbed some strawberries and pineapple chunks and coated them with the flowing chocolate for a fun treat and enjoyed some drinks out on the balcony overlooking the neon street scape. Very cool! I now wanted to buy their software with all upgrades. These folks knew how to throw a party!

We left a little early so we could catch a show over at Treasure Island, Mystere. It was “Salvador Dali Goes to the Circus” or “Dr. Seuss Drops Acid”. Very surrealistic, and some characters or costumes were right out of Dali paintings or Seuss books. I liked the acrobats and feats of strength. My favorite part was the trapeze artists doing flips while suspended from the ceiling with bungee cords. They costumes made them look like birds or leafy dragons (seahorses). One little acrobat missed her pyramid and fell down. She was rushed from the stage. For all I know, they took her out back and shot her. It wasn’t mentioned again. Ever.

The next morning we hung out by the pool a little before checking out. We enjoyed the big buffet again before heading to the airport. The airport was a mess. How any airport that busy could be that inefficient, I haven’t a clue. The lines were long, slow and confusing. It took us the whole two hours just to get to our gate. Once there, we learned that due to ‘high winds and snow’ in Chicago, our flight would be delayed. Great. I left the pool for this? I don’t ever want to go back!!

After sitting on the plane for almost two hours, we were finally given clearance for takeoff. As way of small compensation, the free in-flight movie was “Cars”. I have since been fortunate enough to score the Sally Hot Wheels toy I was so desperately seeking only a few months before. Seems they produced truckloads more for the holiday season. I would like to note that the bedding set only comes in Twin. What about us Queen size bed owning fans? And why didn’t they feature Sally on the sheets more prominently? It’s all Lightening and Mater. Two guy buddies. Oh, playing with girls is uncool… call the Christian Right. I’m sure they can read something into the relationship between the tow truck and racecar…

One other thing – what’s with the DVD release of the movie Cars? I notice that all the ad papers (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City) do not advertise a price. What new little marketing ploy is this? How can I comparison shop? Just what I want – a flyer of unpriced merchandise. No thanks. (Although I would like to mention the movie makes a great gift idea for someone who really likes Route 66 and Owen Wilson, and little blue Porsches…Other great gift ideas include Corvette calendars and turtle calendars. Can you believe I didn’t get either last year???)

Words to Live By

“There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced
by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another that states that this has already happened.”
Douglas Adams

Growing Pains

Great. Our VCR just broke. I was really hoping to limp by, but there seems to be no hope. It’s about 8 or 9 years old at least. Maybe more. I wanted one with a really good freeze-frame picture quality so I paid quite a bit more than I needed to, but it’s very important to read what the little signs say during episodes of the Simpsons. I always tape the show and watch it a second time so I can catch any sight gags. So if anyone out there has a spare I can buy for $25, let me know. I have quite a few ‘unwatched’ TV shows recorded. If I buy a DVD burner, can that record off network TV or is that just for DVD to DVD transmission?

Saw an inspiring writer the other day, Judith Perlman, author of “Citizen’s Primer for Conservation Activism: How to Fight Development in Your Community”. One thing she mentioned right away was the fact that the book’s title had been selected for maximum hits on Google. Although she did not feel the book was about ‘fight development’, as she espouses ecologically responsible development, it was determined that anyone performing a keyword search would most likely use terms like ‘fight development’ before ‘conservation activism’. Her story was very inspiring, but as our local attendees discussed our unique problems, a depressing pall fell over the gathering. Our situation seems hopeless. There would be no fairy tale ending of defeating the evil developer and purchasing the property for a park as Ms. Perlman enjoyed. In a stage whisper I asked, “What is next week’s topic? Assisted Suicide? I could use something to cheer me up.” The guy in the seat ahead of me got a real kick out of it. What can I say? I’d be making lame jokes on my way to the gas chamber.

I’m sick of hearing local politicians say they are for ‘controlled growth’ or ‘intelligent growth’ or any of myriad euphemisms for “please don’t think I’m anti-growth”. Why not? Why can’t someone come right out and say NO? These are the same people who can’t train a dog or raise a child with any sense of boundaries. No is an unpleasant word. Let’s not use it. Or, to take a stand, they wouldn’t get elected. Perhaps they’ve already thrown in the towel. “You can’t stop growth”. Are you sure? Have you even tried? No, you let the developers and elected officials with self-serving interests make all your decisions for you. You don’t attack the root problems: the loss of the family farm to collectives. Um, hello, could you please take a look at say, China?

Speaking of China, the real problem is: too many people. What are you doing to decrease the birth rate? Control immigration? Sorry, but we have plenty of people and not enough spotted owls.

Words of Wisdom

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.
Emma Goldman

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reality Check

Then-National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who has been a critic of the younger Bush's policies, asked Gates to be his deputy in 1989 during the administration of Bush's father. The elder President Bush, a former CIA director himself, asked Gates to run the CIA two years later.
Gates won confirmation, but only after hearings in which he was accused by CIA officials of manipulating intelligence as a senior analyst in the 1980s.
Melvin Goodman, a former CIA division chief for Soviet affairs, testified that Gates politicized the intelligence on Iran, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. “Gates' role in this activity was to corrupt the process and the ethics of intelligence on all of these issues,” Goodman testified.
Gates is a close friend of the Bush family, and particularly the first President Bush. He became the president of Texas A&M University in August 2002. The university is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

I Must Be Dreaming

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Dutch transportation planner Hans Monderman has been pushing his innovative
plans for improving traffic, and several towns in the Netherlands and Germany
have already signed on, according to an August report by the German news
organization Deutsche Welle. His proposals include eliminating traffic signs and
street markings, which he believes will force drivers to be careful as they hunt
for their destinations, and building children's playgrounds in median strips of
roads, figuring that drivers would surely slow down. [DW- (Bonn,
Germany), 8-27-06]

Or, there will be fewer future drivers...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Drop Everything and Check Out This Site

This is just brilliant. This is the kind of opinion/research I aspire to, and it's a great way to waste some serious time. I mean really, what else is the internet for? Thanks to Kane Citizen for pointing it out!

But North Korea higher than Iceland? I don't think so.

Are Maseratis registered free in Barbados? Too bad it's too small to get one up to speed...

Spooky Savings!

Caramel Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – was $4.24, now $1.06
Indian Corn – was 1.68, now .42*
Fake Barbed Wire – was 1.94, now .42
Paper Lantern – was 1.00, now .25
Pumpkin that lights up, w/batteries – was 2.94, now .73
Spider Napkin Large – was 1.24, now .31
Smarties candy – was 2.00, now .50
Votive Holder w/Owls – was 1.00, now .25
M&M Fun Size bags – was $4.24, now $1.06
Snickers Fun Size – was $4.24, now $1.06
Spider Napkin small – was 1.24, now .31
Spider Plate– was 1.24, now .31
Tombstone that lights up, w/batteries – was 3.76, now .94
PLUS a gallon of milk $2.49
Equals being really popular at work, making Al happy (liked M&M’s), and all geared up for next Halloween for only $10.49 including tax!
Pretty good for “I just need a gallon of milk”! Score!!

*all they had was the brown. I like yellow better. But hey, forty-two cents.

Ok, so I like to seek out bargains and save a few bucks. But I will tell you one thing, I’ll never do the ‘doc in a box’ thing again.
Went to my local 24 hour super store and got an eye exam because it was $20 cheaper than any place else. First off, I didn’t like the fact that the only frames they had to pick from were also horribly cheap. Oh well, I wanted to try contacts, so no biggie. Now the whole theory behind going to the local MegloMart is to get extended convenient hours of operation and low, low prices. I just saw a cartoon recently where it shows people at a cocktail party. One couple and one woman are ‘normal size’, holding little martini glasses. Beside the woman is a giant man, head and shoulders out of the frame. Caption: I met him at Costco. I thought it funny.

So I was having problems with the right contact and called for an appointment. A woman whose first language wasn’t English answered. (Or second, or third… ) She asked if she could put me on hold. Sure. Minutes passed. I hung up.

Next day I get the same woman. She says she is with a customer, can she take a number and call back? Yes. Hours pass. I go home from work.

Next day I find the message. She did try to call back. I call again. She can’t find my chart. Who cares, I finally say, after spelling my name for the fourth time and waiting while she rifles note cards. (They’re too cheap for full-size file folders or computer entry) Insists I must see the same doctor. She continues to search as if I had just dropped my contact lens in a parking lot of broken glass. Wait! No, maybe… over here…

I thought the whole point of this was seeing Dr. Du Jour! So she uses the high-tech method of asking me when I last came in and starts flipping backwards through the desk calendar to see who was on duty that day.

Right before I’m about to scream,
Kane Citizen puts a posty note on my desk that says “The blind treating the blind”.

Thank God for friends!

Hate to admit it, but I’m going back there tomorrow night for a flu shot. I mean, if I’m optimistic enough to go vote…

After you lick my bad eye, perhaps we can go for a walk?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dear Santa

I've been really good, and look great in red...

Not even Rudolph could catch this!

No Wonder I'm Confused...

You Are: 40% Dog, 60% Cat

You and cats have a lot in common.
You're both smart and in charge - with a good amount of attitude.
However, you do have a very playful side that occasionally comes out!

Figured as much...

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

It was a Harpy Eagle!

...and it was South America, not Africa. Sorry.

Photo Appreciation

One of many variations of the emblem

Made my way to the Mirage where they had one white tiger on display to the public. Despite the distance, I was able to take some fantastic pictures of him, but for some reason they won’t post here, they are too big. Perhaps someone has some advice as to how to save them as a smaller file for posting? Anyhoo, the tiger was quite interested in what was going on beyond the ‘door’ to his enclosure. It was a little walk door where the keepers could enter. Perhaps this is where he was fed, or it could have even been the door they had him enter the public viewing area through, I’m not quite sure. After a few minutes of photo-taking, it was time for me to head out to the Polo Club for the free 3 p.m. showing of the Bird Man of Las Vegas. Once again, you get what you pay for.

A guy came out with a few trained parrots and cockatoos, and one rare eagle, whose name escapes me at the moment. It’s the type with the frilled feathers on the neck from Africa… brown… I’ll think of it at 2 a.m. and not be able to rest until I do an update! Right when he brings out the eagle, my camera battery decides to die, so I don’t have much in the way of photos. The whole show was about 20 minutes. Oh, well.

That evening we went to the art gallery in the Bellagio and saw an Ansel Adams exhibit. I was never a fan, but the exhibit was so educational I must say I’m a convert. It cost $15 and included an audio tour. Well worth it! I really appreciate his dedication to the preservation of nature and his conservation efforts.

The next morning I decided to hang out at the pool, as the Bellagio has a spectacular court yard with three swimming areas, fountains, and a poolside café. I intended to eat breakfast at the café, but the line for the nine a.m. opening was already a block long and it was cool in the shade at that time, so I didn’t want to wait 15 minutes as I didn’t bring a sweater. I headed to an inside restaurant whose theme was Siena’s Palio horse race.

A sign on the wall explained that around the 11th century A.D. the city state of Siena had 17 military companies that upheld the state’s independence from Florence. Each ward was very loyal to its regional traditions, and had its own coat of arms. A tradition of holding a horse race began, and there were few if any, rules enforced. Jockeys could beat each other, or other horses, and a horse did not need a rider to cross the finish line first and be declared a winner.

All around the seating area were porcelain plates and ceramic tiles depicting the coats of arms, and of course the one that caught my eye was the tortoise. If you think betting on a tortoise in a race is stupid, I must hasten to add there is also a snail. So I’m standing in line to place an order for extremely overpriced baked goods, I notice a bunch of banners hanging overhead. Below them is a rack of little black envelopes with each emblem peeking out. I pick up the only tortoise on the rack and turn it over to reveal a 12. Cool! A flag for $12. I’m getting this!

Then I select my egg and ham baked in a roll, turtle coffee drink and a biscotti type thingie and hand over the flag and my credit card. $37.95. What?!
Turns out the turtle was “number 12” and the cost of the flag was $22! Let’s not discuss the $15 breakfast, ok? Fortunately there were some little jars of marmalade and honey at the swanky condiment station that found their way into my purse (great stocking stuffers) but that really didn’t put a dent into the transaction. Upon opening the package, I discover it isn’t a banner at all – it was a square scarf. I love scarves, so I’m happy, but I must note it is not silk! Although made in Italy, it is 100% polyester. Whee.

Enjoyed people-watching at the pool: fake, fake, fake, real, that’s not her father, who is she kidding, fake, fake, had work done….
They had the swankiest changing area at this pool, decorated with chandeliers and opulent fixtures, mirrors, fancy shower stalls, every thing. Very nice, I totally recommend it. Especially if some one else is footing the bill, as in our case. No way could we have afforded this on our own.

Next Post: Where can I buy some of your software?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Three people have died from lack of platelets tonight, and it’s all my fault.

It’s been so bitterly cold here, and what with the time change and all, my hibernation instincts have kicked in. All I am doing is eating sugar and starch, and I can’t wait to leave work each day so I can go home and sleep on the couch. Not too conducive to blog posting, much less calorie-burning. I should have gone to the health club last night, but canceled due to a lack of ambition. Then this morning I realized I had signed up to participate in a blood drive at the health club, so I missed that too.

Great. I’m fat, pimply due to excessive chocolate, and murderer.

Oh well. Nothing a six-month sleep can’t cure.

Works for me! Where do I sign up?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Like a Freudian Case Study

Not-So Immaculate Adoption?

K, am I the only one who couldn’t figure out why a multi-billionaire like Madonna would adopt a child with a living parent who could speak out? Whether you believe Malawi orphan David’s father was mis-translated, mis-quoted, confused, or downright duplicitous, it seems a foolish move. Isn’t being rich all about NOT following the law to adopt? Making sure bio mom and dad are out of picture permanently so you can have this Walt Disney moment where you take in this poor little unfortunate was of great importance in years past. See Joan Crawford for a textbook case.

Not Madonna – she has to make a statement about her own sad upbringing. Like herself, she picks a child (albeit opposite sex, what would Freud say about that?) bereft a mother. On the one hand, she gets to be this mythic Mother figure she herself lacked. I’m sure she created quite a female fantasy figure growing up raised by a single father, and now she wants to play it out to heroic effect. But she takes the analogy one step further – by adopting a child with a living father, she is saying her own father should never been allowed to raise a child alone.

Legal adoption - $12,000
Helping an African village - $2 million dollars.
Getting to rewrite your personal history – priceless.