Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amnesty InterLibrary

A local library had the following sign outside this morning: “Food for Fines” (I should send this to the folks at Unshelved)

I couldn’t help but envision the following scenario:

Harried Dad: Uh, I’d like to bring this book back. My wife was cleaning under our daughter’s bed and found it.

Librarian: It was due a month ago.

Dad: Yes, I’ve brought this can of corn and box of spaghetti…

Librarian: It’s a Newbery winner! Other patrons were not able to access it during that time, and I’m sure you agree it is of vital importance to share our resources as fairly as possible.

Dad: Of course, we’re very sorry…

Librarian: Did your daughter even read the book?

Dad: Um, I dunno…

Librarian: Here you go. One can of asparagus and a jar of pickled beets.

Dad: What? You’re giving me food?

Librarian. I’m sure your daughter will think again before tossing a book on the floor to be covered by laundry and cat hair.

Dad: I’m supposed to serve this to her?

Librarian: Don’t make me get the Spam…

Retro or Obsolete?

Well!

Seems the Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness includes a little dig at yours truly.

Do click on that link above to enjoy the whole article, but I would like to draw you attention to the final line:

Think these gendarmes of jargon should "get a life"? Watch it, kiddo. That phrase was banished in 1997.

Sorry, but over on this little synapse of the web the phrase is alive and well.

Free Strikes and You're Out

Me: It's Free again!

DDV : What?

Me: I have a coupon for a small Mocha - no purchase necessary!

DDV: Whole or Lo Fat?

Me: Lo Fat.

DDV: Will there be anything else?

Me: Nope.

DDV: Please drive up.

Me: MMMMM.... FREE!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let FREE-dom Ring

Or, "Will Lose Sleep for Free"


So at 7:03 Central Time I rolled up to the take-out speaker once again:


Me: It's after seven a.m. and I'd like my FREE coffee. What are my choices, please?


Disembodied, Disenchanted Voice: Um. Hang onna minnit.


Me: No problem.


DDV: Today is Vanilla Latte.


Me: Fine.


DDV: Regular or Skim?


Me: Regular. (more calories must cost more, right? Diet begins Jan. 4. Till then, who cares?)


DDV: Anything else?


Me: Oh, a sausage egg biscuit.


DDV: That'll be $2.42. Please pull up.


Now I know we suffer from tremendous portion distortion in this country, but there is no way the tiny shot glass I was handed could be a 'small'. It was a special 'sample size', filled with an eyedropper. I should have asked for a second free one for my imaginary baby in the car seat for goodness' sake. It was certainly infant-sized. The biscuit was really greasy, too.


Anyhoo... went to work and afterwards went $hopping to save the economy. Had a $5 off coupon at Famous Footwear and saw a nice pair of grey boots marked down to $30. Couldn't decide, so I went to Barnes and Nobel next door to spend my gift card on a Jen Lancaster book and a calendar for a friend.


Then I spent about two hours in TJ Maxx. They are really hit-or-miss, but I took my time as I hadn't been in there for a few months and wanted to see what was new. They have great jewelry but didn't see anything I liked. The cases were well-stocked, so I wonder if they didn't do so well for Christmas. I expected them to be half-empty or 'picked over' but that didn't seem to be the case.


Spent some time fondling the cheap Cashmere (you may recall I do this every year, and the employees just sigh when I come in because I unfold everything and rarely make a purchase). Saw a nice purple argyle, but it was just a vest, and no size small. There was a leopard-print V-Neck that I contemplated for $39 but ultimately decided I could live without. One cute red cardigan said 'large' but looked so tiny I wondered if it was a children's size of some sort. Didn't try it on, but it was cute.


Shoe department had a few maybes but ultimately I decided I didn't NEED the olive wedges for only $15, but I may be back. Wanted tights for my new brown sweater dress but apparently size small does not exist in brown. They had some nice Spanx ones too, but again, size was an issue. Is $20 good for Spanx tights? They also had knee high trouser socks. In Spanx? Not sure why, but they had them. Not one nice beige sock, though. Can't find what I'm seeking in a sock anywhere. Camel must not be an 'in' color this year. Didn't like anything at Target, Kohl's or Wal-Mart either, so the sock quest continues.


Did better in purses. I specifically wanted a silver metallic purse with a shoulder strap, on the bigger side. Found a nice one in genuine leather for $30 and decided to go for it. Checked out and felt that the grey boots WOULD look nice with them, so it was back across town to FF.


I grabbed the Connie "Too Stable for Me" boots and headed for the checkout. A big sign announcing Buy One, Get One Half Off greeted me. Oh. Well, back to the racks.


Found the coolest Avia 330 walking shoes for only $20!! They look like a running shoe and a hiking boot mated. Nice tan and Merlot color scheme, too.


So - the boots were $30, the shoes $20, then I got $10 off for the sale, had the $5 off coupon... and walked out with both for $37.70 after tax. Whew! Saving the U.S. economy is hard work.


By this time I'm starving and - you guessed it - only had a McDonald's coupon - so I ate there AGAIN (somebody please, send me a coupon for an angiogram, quick!) and got a free Hazlenut latte, which explains why I'm still up typing.


I'll have to post a picture of the boots another time, I couldn't find it online anywhere so I'll have to take one and import it.


Bottom Line: Shoe Love is True Love . And to all a good night!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cloning: a Game for the Whole (Replicated) Family!


Christmas can invoke fond remembrances of favorite toys from childhood, but there was one that had fallen off my radar screen completely until I read this article about Chinese Hamster ovaries.

"I am not a patient person, and being a new faculty member at a brand new university, I did not immediately have the cleanroom facilities I am accustomed to," says Khine, "And desperation is the mother of invention (or something like that). So as I was brainstorming solutions, I remembered my favorite childhood toy and decided to try it in my kitchen one night."
Khine and her team designed complicated patterns in Auto CAD, printed them onto Shrinky Dinks, and then heated the plastic toys in an inexpensive oven. As the sheets became smaller, the lines of print would bulge out. Taller and more pronounced, the miniaturized pattern served as a perfect mould for forming rounded, narrow channels in PDMS -- a clear, synthetic rubber.
In addition to making some simpler devices, Khine and her team emblazoned a Christmas tree design into a piece of PDMS and showed how it can blend different types of food coloring to make a rainbow pattern. Since microfluidic devices are sometimes used for biological research, the young professor also showed that
Chinese Hamster Ovary cells can flow through through the narrow channels.

Yep. Shrinky-Dinks saving the world. Who knew? I just loved these totally useless bits of plastic. Oh, sure, you were supposed to make little jewelry and ornaments and stuff; but I just ended up with, well, stuff. Teeny tiny stuff. Lots and lots of teeny tiny stuff. Why was this so fascinating? I don't really know. Lord knows I never wanted to use an oven for anything edible. But shrunken little horse pictures? You bet.

Once again I am left to lament the fact I was born too soon - had I access to the Internet in Junior High, my life would have had a very different outcome (I'd be in an off-shore federal prison long ago). But to think that I could have achieved world domination with a shrinky dink kit and and easy-bake oven? Sad, just sad, to contemplate that lost potential.

Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home
By MARCUS WOHLSEN, Associated Press Writer Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press Writer Thu Dec 25, 6:49 pm ET


SAN FRANCISCO – The Apple computer was invented in a garage. Same with the Google search engine. Now, tinkerers are working at home with the basic building blocks of life itself.

Using homemade lab equipment and the wealth of scientific knowledge available online, these hobbyists are trying to create new life forms through genetic engineering — a field long dominated by Ph.D.s toiling in university and corporate laboratories. Like the UniBomber?

In her San Francisco dining room lab, for example, 31-year-old computer programmer Meredith L. Patterson is trying to develop genetically altered yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal the presence of melamine, the chemical that turned Chinese-made baby formula and pet food deadly.

"People can really work on projects for the good of humanity while learning about something they want to learn about in the process," she said.

So far, no major gene-splicing discoveries have come out anybody's kitchen or garage. (That we know of...)

But critics of the movement worry that these amateurs could one day unleash an environmental or medical disaster. Paging Michael Crichton, paging...

Defenders say the future Bill Gates of biotech could be developing a cure for cancer in the garage.

Many of these amateurs may have studied biology in college but have no advanced degrees and are not earning a living in the biotechnology field. Go on...

Some proudly call themselves "biohackers" — innovators who push technological boundaries and put the spread of knowledge before profits.

In Cambridge, Mass., a group called DIYbio is setting up a community lab where the public could use chemicals and lab equipment, including a used freezer, scored for free off Craigslist, that drops to 80 degrees below zero, the temperature needed to keep many kinds of bacteria alive.

Co-founder Mackenzie Cowell, a 24-year-old who majored in biology in college, said amateurs will probably pursue serious work such as new vaccines and super-efficient biofuels, but they might also try, for example, to use squid genes to create tattoos that glow.

Cowell said such unfettered creativity could produce important discoveries.
"We should try to make science more sexy and more fun and more like a game," he said.

Patterson, the computer programmer, wants to insert the gene for fluorescence into yogurt bacteria, applying techniques developed in the 1970s.

She learned about genetic engineering by reading scientific papers and getting tips from online forums. She ordered jellyfish DNA for a green fluorescent protein from a biological supply company for less than $100. And she built her own lab equipment, including a gel electrophoresis chamber, or DNA analyzer, which she constructed for less than $25, versus more than $200 for a low-end off-the-shelf model. I love entrepreneurship

Jim Thomas of ETC Group, a biotechnology watchdog organization, warned that synthetic organisms in the hands of amateurs could escape and cause outbreaks of incurable diseases or unpredictable environmental damage. Like the idiot that introduced rabbits or cane toads to Australia? Oh, wait, here's one: let's cross European honeybees with African bees... yeah, there's a great idea, and they didn't even need a microscope slide.

"Once you move to people working in their garage or other informal location, there's no safety process in place," he said. Like the ones our government has? Homer Simpson running the nuclear plant isn't far afield

Some also fear that terrorists might attempt do-it-yourself genetic engineering. But Patterson said: "A terrorist doesn't need to go to the DIYbio community. They can just enroll in their local community college." Or flight school

How Do I Love Free?

Let me count the ways...

I had to switch gas stations (again) recently as that sweet deal of 'pay cash and we'll give you ten cents off per gallon' suddenly evaporated faster than the gas fumes off my mittens over at the Citgo station I had just discovered. Seems they changed hands and were offering a special for cash-payers who were willing to walk through icy puddles into their creepy little vestibule and hand over the green stuff (read: Bargain Hunters Like Myself) but suddenly their per-gallon price jumped exponentially on the high octane my baby thrives on, so I had to move on.

Went to a grocery-store outpost and was frustrated by their pay-at-the-pump malfunction. Since I was inside anyway, might as well get some coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to find they refused my dollar, saying it was FREE with fill up! MMMMMM!!! Nothing tastes as good as free! Much like deep-frying or dipping in chocolate or cheese, there aren't many items that can't be improved by "free".

Had a bad experience with FREE just the other day, however. Went to McDonalds to get my Monday FREE small morning coffee, and told the kid behind the takeout speaker as much. Sorry, that doesn't start until seven a.m., I was told. What? Limits on FREE? Is nothing sacred? Just because I'm an early bird, I don't qualify? Roaming bands of old folks looking for senior discounts come by a moment ago, or what? Blinking in disbelief at my car clock that read 6:39 I roared off in a huff. Gave plenty of my hard-earned cash to Dunkin Donuts instead. They are famous for taking my coupon, and then handing it right back to me, and other little niceties.

Watch out, Ronald. Tomorrow is Monday, and I'm not leaving with out my FREE, even if I have to circle the block for twenty minutes. You will not win, large evil corporation. I have coupons, and I'm not afraid to use them.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wish I'd Said That!

Ford Motors is working on a brand new car called the Fusion. It's a hybrid and runs on a combination of gas and bailout money." --David Letterman

Too Much Sax and Violins for Children

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Christmas May Be Over...

But my birthday isn't far behind!

Here's an awesome gift idea...

From the Chicago Tribune:

Looking to honor a loved one by naming a new species of mammal after them this holiday season? Starting Monday, Purdue University researchers will be auctioning off the naming rights to seven recently discovered types of bats hailing from Mexico, South America, Central America and Africa. And if the bats seem too "last Christmas," there's also a pair of yet-to-be-named Amazonian turtles up for grabs.

Cheloniidae Getalifum, anyone?

Worth the Wait


Spent a butt-numbing four hours on the couch yesterday watching Ben Hur on our new 52" TV! (Note to Consumers: High Definition does nothing to improve the quality of bad acting, cliched script, crappy accents, or really awful make-up jobs designed to impart 'ethnicity' to mis-cast actors.)


Now of course the whole reason I watched this entire (commercial-free, thank God! Just an intermission) epic was to catch the eight-minute chariot race scene, and all these years later it did not disappoint. I recall loving it as a youngster, but back then I rooted for the black horses. Never did like white ones. This time, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the white Arabian team and the incredible training that must have taken place behind the scenes.


I also liked how the movie depicted Ben as thanking each horse for his efforts right after the race. Also fun were the galley slave scenes and Roman parade shots. Love those uniforms!


As an incredibly unexpected treat, after the movie they showed a publicity clip of some sort made at the time to show how the horses were trained. It was in black and white, and very much a phony propaganda short.


It opened with these two 'moguls' walking the countryside (Italian?) looking for horses to star in the film. They looked like Mafia don extras, complete with loud suits, fedoras, dark sunglasses, and huge cigars. A white horse pulling a farm cart approaches and these two talent scouts stop the driver to give the work horse the once-over. One glance can tell this horse has never done a day's work in it's pampered life and this scene is pure fantasy. This show Arabian is waved over to the studio lot where he is shod and brushed. I guess it was supposed to be the equivalent of being discovered Schwabb's drugstore and having your teeth straightened or something.


The clip turned a little more documentary-esqe at that point; they showed trainers lunging horses, teaching tricks, and ultimately hitching them in groups of four. They taught them to rear on command, both in harness and out. Some could also kneel and do other little routines on cue. Then came the main attraction - setting up a jump for an entire team of four to leap over while dragging an empty chariot! I guess I took that shot for fancy camera work, but these horses could really do it in an empty arena and the little cart bumped right along with them. If you get the chance to see this clip, it really is quite fascinating.


After Ben, they did a Humphrey Bogart film festival as it was Bogie's birthday and I was able to watch Casablanca on the big screen. Amazingly, it was in original black and white! Ted must be mellowing in his old age or something, and didn't colorize it just because he could.

Older is Better


Am I the only one who likes the old black Volkswagen Beetle in the commercials better than the new model they are actually intended to promote?

Auto Abuse!!




Mega-rich Paris Hilton has just bought herself a very pink Bentley car for Christmas! The car is worth an estimated $200,000. The singer-actress-party girl says she got the fully customised car because it fulfils her childhood fantasy of being just like her heroine, Barbie. As in Barbie doll — I. so. kid. you. not.
“I’ve just always wanted a pink car. I think when you’re a little girl and you have the Barbie corvette, you’re always like ‘Oh I wish I had a car like this one day’. So I think it just comes from being a fan of Barbie for so long.”
Hey, I’m a girly, girl myself and love the color pink but this is just waaayyy too much of the pepto-kind. But in fairness to Paris, she also added this:
“This is a car that I cannot drive every single day but I will be driving a lot. They put on protective tint on the windows so no paparazzi flashes can come through.”


Oh, Pul-eeze! My Barbie had a green 70s Vette, but you didn't see me buying one of those, did you?

Were Your Holidays This Lonely?

Knut's current quarters aren't even big enough for the 440-pound predator, let alone the addition of some guy. Officials recently announced that Knut will have to relocate if the zoo can't build a new enclosure for him, which appears virtually impossible due to lack of space.

BERLIN (AP) ―

A man jumped into the Berlin zoo enclosure of famed polar bear Knut on Monday, but officials were able to keep the animal away from the intruder by distracting him with a leg of beef, police said. The 37-year-old man jumped over a fence into a water-filled ditch at the edge of the bear's enclosure Monday morning, police said in a statement.Zoo keepers, who had just let Knut into his outdoor enclosure, were able to lure the bear back into his cage by producing a leg of beef.Police said the man, a German, was less cooperative, initially ignoring instructions to leave the enclosure. He was led away unharmed but, although he was soaked and cold, he refused to undergo a medical checkup.Police said that, before being let go, the man told them that he felt lonely and the bear appeared lonely, too.Knut, now age 2, was hand-raised after his mother rejected him at birth. He rose to stardom early last year as a cute white ball of fluff, but has since grown rapidly into a hulking 440-pound (200-kilogram) predator.

Santa Hits the No-Fly Zone


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Here's a Thought...

No guests? All winter?


Stephen King should tackle a frightfully contemporary subject - the economy!


Something about bankruptcy and foreclosure. I know! His own personal story of how he lost his millions:


"Maybe it was that island I bought. Or perhaps the Lamborghini I gave the paperboy for Christmas... at any rate, Christine was being repossessed* and Cujo was getting far too hungry."


*get it?

Things I am Not Above Trying

From the Chicago Tribune:

10 really bad Christmas songs
—James Oliphant

Ten Holiday Songs Guaranteed to Send Your Family Home Early:

10. "Last Christmas," Wham!"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart," George Michael sadly sings, "and the very next day, you gave it away." This is what the Seinfeld folks call "regifting," although it usually involves something like a label-maker.

9. "Santa Can't Stay," Dwight YoakamThis "Santa" apparently has child-custody issues: "Momma said Santa can't stay," Yoakam sings. "Said she told him that twice yesterday. Then a car just like Dad's pulled out and drove away."

8. "Silver and Gold," Burl IvesThis song from the holiday chestnut "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is nothing less a thinly veiled manifesto by libertarian radical Ives that calls for the U.S. to return to the gold standard.

7. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band AidYes, I know. Sacrilege. But tell me you don't flip this arch, guilt-inducing holiday downer off the moment it pops up on the radio, especially if you are on your way to the mall.

6. "Merry Christmas from the Family," Robert Earl KeenTroubadour Keen gives us a trailer-trash ode to the holidays. "Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go," he warbles. "We need some celery and a can of fake snow." Poetry.

5. "The Nutcracker Suite," TchaikovskySee this little number as a young boy, as I did, and it risks putting you off of ballet, fairies, soldiers, sugarplums, mice, and, well, nuts.

4. "Santa Baby," MadonnaRun, Santa, run! Before you know it, she'll have the sleigh and the workshop, and you'll be sleeping at the YMCA.

3. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," John Cougar MellencampHave you seen the diminutive Mellencamp's wife, former supermodel Elaine Irwin? Santa is the least of his worries.

2. "The Christmas Song," Alvin and the Chipmunks Nostalgic for the days when America found comedy in simply speeding up the recording of someone's voice? Ah, such innocence.

1. "Little Drummer Boy," Bing Crosby and David BowieIn the video, still available all over the Internet, Crosby invites a wandering Bowie into his "home." In real life, Crosby probably would have called the cops.

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Cavys Roasting on an Open Fire...

Before After

Times are Tough When...


LIMA, Peru - Are hard times threatening your Christmas dinner? Well then, Peru has the answer: guinea pig.
Officials in the coastal Peruvian province of Callao on Monday hailed the Andean rodent as a low-cost, low-fat alternative to a traditional turkey or roast pork Christmas dinner.
Guinea pigs can feed seven or eight for about $3.20, Callao official Mario Sanguinity told Associated Press Television.
"The idea is to give the people a tasty, economical option," he said.
The presentation included a live guinea pig dressed as Santa Claus and eight of its comrades laid out fried, broiled and roasted in traditional dishes from different regions of Peru.
Callao resident Silvia Carazas said she plans to make the switch to guinea pig at Christmas.
"The animal is rich in protein and has zero cholesterol as well, very important for those of us looking to watch our weight," she said.
The tiny cuts of white meat are often compared to rabbit and dark chicken. Called "cuy" in Peru, guinea pig is a stable source of income for farmers and holds an elevated place in Andean folklore.


I am so starting a a Guinea Pig farm....

Apocalypse (S)now


Missed work Friday, as the ten inches of snow showed up just as predicted.


Remember when Grandma's rheumatism was the only indication a big storm was on the way? No? OK, me neither. But I DO recall a time when winter wasn't so brutal. When there was a least two months out of the year that were 'poor sleddin'.


I don't just have SAD (Seasonal Affectation Disorder) I have full-blown MAD (Major Attitude Disorder) due to snowfall amounts. Characterized by a fear of driving into a snowdrift and looking fat in puffy coats, MAD can only be cured by uncharacteristically mild temperatures and an extended convertible season.

Why Suicides Go Up at Christmas


From the Must Suck to Be You File:


Beautiful Jennifer Anison made eight million dollars spending her time with Owen Wilson and a bunch of golden Labs. Meanwhile, I slave away in Blog-scuirty.

Yes, Virginia!

There is a Recession!
Now go get your Mommy to buy you something in the toy aisle. All I want for Christmas is a better economy!

Sure She Was


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snowmageddon!!

Gee, wonder why you haven't heard from me in weeks? Gosh, could it be like the worst fall EVER? (It's not even the first day of winter and we've broken all kinds of snow and ice records for December). Remember when you were a kid and you wished for a white Christmas? Well, I'm wishing to never see snow again, but that's not gonna happen, now is it Al Gore??

Tonight the weatherman pointed right at my house on his little map and said "up to ten inches of snow in the northern viewing area by this time Friday..."


I kept waiting for him to add, "But what do I care? I live in this nice warm box in your living room and won't be on the expressway for four hours like the rest of you idiots"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Too Green


So I decide to ramp up my planet-saving efforts to the next level by using cloth bags when shopping.


Now I have piles of newspapers and empty jars lying about that were previously sorted in to plastic baggies for easy transport to the recycling center.


There's just no winning.

Post 1000


Whoo Hoo! This is Post #999

Just thought you'd like to know.
You may now move on to Post 1000.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Triple-Bolting the Barn Door Shut After the Horse(less Carriage) has Left

Lesson for Big Three automakers:
Old way of doing business just won't fly
By JEFF KAROUB and TOM KRISHER AP Business Writers

DETROIT (AP)

If the Detroit Three automakers have learned anything since their last trip to Washington, it's that the old way of doing business just won't fly. So the decision by auto executives to travel in hybrid cars rather than corporate jets is just the start to overhauling their image as the industry pleads its case for $25 billion in federal loans. See: Too Little, Too Late Award

Ford CEO Alan Mulally left for the capital Tuesday afternoon in a small Ford Escape sport utility vehicle, which runs on gas and electricity. Rick Wagoner of GM departs Wednesday in a hybrid Chevrolet Malibu. Chrysler LLC said its chief executive, Robert Nardelli, would leave Tuesday night, driving a hybrid Dodge Durango or Chrysler Aspen SUV. Excuse Me? What is the point of being the CEO of Ford if not getting to drive the coolest Shelby Cobra Mustang ever? Or GM-Corvette ZR1?? Chrysler? Well, they're done for.

The move to travel more like regular Americans comes after the CEOs' last visit for hearings in November turned into a public relations disaster. Lawmakers learned that all three had flown in separate corporate jets to ask for the bailout dollars, and critics harangued the CEOs.Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said last month that it was "a delicious irony" to see the executives arrive on private jets "with tin cups in their hands." In response, the automakers said top executives needed to fly on corporate planes for security reasons. Like I said, perhaps if they weren't so hated, they wouldn't need security...

In an effort to curb bad publicity, Ford Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. said their CEOs would take the wheel for at least part of the roughly nine-hour trip. Do any have a valid Driver's Licence?

"Mulally drove part of the way and did business by telephone, but not while behind the wheel, he said.In keeping with the company's new no-frills approach, GM spokesman Greg Martin said Wagoner was expected to make the trip without any extended stops and arrive in Washington on Wednesday night. Wagoner is staying at a "moderately-priced hotel," though Martin would not disclose which one.He's traveling in a three-car caravan and will alternate riding in the Malibu, the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, the company's highest-mileage vehicle, and a Buick Lucerne sedan, which runs on fuel that's 85 percent ethanol. Whoopee.

Carmageddon is Coming! Carmageddon is Coming!


Gasp! Due to low sales in their number one market- the U.S.- Porsche announced it will cease production!


Volkswagen AG and Porsche said last week that they will temporarily suspend production at their largest plants. Porsche said sales of its trademark 911 sports car in the U.S., its largest market, "can hardly be reliably calculated."


What? That dealership in downtown Dubai not posting record sales? Oh, let me get this straight - the world's economy is depending on my buying a gas-guzzling supercar? I'm liking this scenario more and more by the minute. Hello, Ferrari? Would you like to make a bid for my business??


Supercars! Send your coupons to me c/o this website. May the best rebate win.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Windy City Trip

Eeek! This guy was huge!! Photo does not do it justice. Hard to see, but his liver is hanging below ribs.


Went to the Field Museum to see the Aztec exhibit. I think I financed Cortez' entire expedition to retrieve the treasures or something... Why is culture so expensive and the local bar so cheap? Is there a correlation here? I would think so. Museums should be free and it should cost $54 bucks to enter a tavern. That's what it cost for tickets for two (with audio tour). Sheesh! Should have seen an actual human sacrifice for that. The objects were on loan. Thank goodness we didn't buy them. Is there a Antiquities Unpackers 401 Union having a very merry Christmas out there somewhere? Of course, I had to be there on Bratty Kids Get in Free with a Screaming Sibling and Pushy Parent With a Stroller day.

Need to do a little research on my own, the exhibit left many more questions in my mind than were answered. I'll be having nightmares about that god of death for the next several months, too... The snakes were nice, though.

Evil Macy's had sent me plenty of coupons in advance, in the hopes of tempting me into their State Street store. Might have considered it, until I approached close enough to realize they broke with what, 100 years of tradition? and did not make a little holiday-themed story with their windows. Is nothing sacred???
From some blogs I found about the topic:
Mike Doyle reports -
In January 2008, Macy’s fired longtime window dresser Amy Meadows, the woman responsible for decorating 25 years worth of State Street holiday windows and Walnut Room Great Trees, as part of a particularly brutal wave of cost-cutting layoffs at the retailer’s Chicagoland stores.
When it happened, the Sun-Times quoted a Macy’s spokesperson saying, “We have a talented visual team who will decorate our store windows and continue the time-honored tradition.”
Given the former-Federated’s track record in Chicago, I doubted those words. And if this holiday season’s State Street windows and Great Tree, publicly unveiled on Saturday, November 8th, are any indication, I had good reason for pause.
I’ve said it, I’ve repeated it, and I’ve even ended up on the front page of the Chicago Tribune business section saying it: Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren will go to the grave–and take the former Marshall Fields with him–before he and his team get a clue about how to honor Chicagoans and their local retail traditions.
This is old, but so well-said, you really need to check out the trip to the Walnut Room for Cate Plys.
A visitor's disappointment at Dragonfly Soars!
I didn't do any shopping downtown (Hear that, Mr. Mayor? Your sales tax is too high!) nor did we spend the night (Yeah, your hotel tax is even more outrageous! Keep praying for the Olympics, Mr. Arrogant. You're not going to get them!). Skating looked like fun, but I don't have my own ice skates. Used the free trolley - but that's a thing of the past starting January first. All kinds of reasons to come back now, eh?
Just had dinner at the Webber Grill, where I had no idea my fantasy steak had a name: a Philadelphia or a Black and Blue. Next time, I'll just go with Medium Rare, something I can only do in a fine steakhouse. But It was nice to try a charbroiled, red and dripping cool slab of meat. Just because I could.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The China Syndrome

cute can kill you!


Do you feel sluggish after lunch?


Perhaps it's the lead content in your lunch box....


In an effort to promote healthy eating habits among children in California, the California State government distributed about 56,000 lunch boxes. Like everyone else, they wanted to save some money, and so they purchased the lunch boxes from China.

The lunch boxes contain unsafe levels of lead, which can cause brain damage if ingested by young children or over long-term exposure.


Wow, remember the good old days when only kids who ate US-made paint chips got lead poisoning?

Nurture Nature?

Warning! Your Results May Vary

This article is a stupendous example of the challenges surrounding wildlife preservation and the issues of custom vs. conservation.



I really recommend you read the whole article here:

Once Revered, Komodo Dragons Turn Nasty



Excerpts:



These locals have long viewed the dragons as a reincarnation of fellow kinsfolk, to be treated with reverence. (Awww!) But now, villagers say, the once-friendly dragons have turned into vicious man-eaters. Sad. And they blame policies drafted by American-funded environmentalists for this frightening turn of events.



“When I was growing up, I felt the dragons were my family,” says 55-year-old Hajji Faisal. “But today the dragons are angry with us, and see us as enemies.” The reason, he and many other villagers believe, is that environmentalists, in the name of preserving nature, have destroyed Komodo’s age-old symbiosis between dragon and man. (Sniff)



“We don’t want the Komodo dragon to be domesticated. It’s against natural balance,” said Widodo Ramono, policy director of the Nature Conservancy’s Indonesian branch and a former director of the country’s national park service. “We have to keep this conservation area for the purpose of wildlife. It is not for human beings.” Hmmm. Good point.



A year ago, a 9-year-old named Mansur was one such victim. The boy went to answer the call of nature behind a bush near his home in Kampung Komodo. In broad daylight, as terrified relatives looked on, a dragon lunged from his hideout, took a bite of the boy’s stomach and chest, and started crushing his skull.



Unlike in the U.S. and many other Western countries, park rangers here don’t routinely put down animals that develop a taste for human flesh. Good for them!



To the villagers in Komodo, the recent incidents provide clear evidence of an ominous change in reptile behavior. “I don’t blame the dragons for my boy’s death. I blame those who forbade us from following custom and feeding them,” said Jamain. “If it weren’t for them, my boy would still be alive.”



The boy “shouldn’t have crouched like a prey species in a place where dragons live,” said Marcus Matthews-Sawyer, tourism, marketing and communications director at Putri Naga Komodo. Oh come on!! Blame the victim, some more, would ya? I'm guessing there's no indoor plumbing alternative.



Dragon and man could coexist here in harmony in the past, Komodo park officials add, because at the time the area’s human population was a fraction of today’s size. So pass out birth control. Offer boat rides to another island. Play Survivor. Oh, wait, the lizards are...


Why Didn't I Think of That?!


I HATE it when somebody thinks up the perfect word or phrase, and that somebody is not me!

Thanks to Jalopnik, I will now steal the term "Carpocalypse Now"and pretend I made it up.

Personal examples of Carpocalypse?

The price of gas skyrocketing again before I can install a 50,000 gallon underground tank. Or cut a deal with some pirates.

The Illegality of selling human organs. Two Kidneys. One Corvette. There is so much wrong with this equation.

Watching an Aston Martin destroyed in a James Bond film. Why doesn't James just admit the car is the only love of his life that never let him down?

Automakers claiming 'corporate policy' dictates their executives must take private jets for 'security reasons'. Gee, wonder why they're so hated? Maybe they could walk out onto the production floor and ask that big burly guy with a wrench...

Hero on the Half Shell

These guys look huge, but the fossil was only sixteen inches in length




The Field Museum's own Olivier Rieppel, curator of fossil reptiles, co-wrote a paper introducing the oldest turtle fossil ever found: Odontochelys semitestacea. Discovered in China, the fossil dates to the Triassic and reveals a creature that had both top and bottom teeth ('modern' turtles only have a toothless beak) and only a plastron - bottom shell.
But wait! Colleague Robert Reisz thinks this creature once had a top shell - and lost it due to evolving environmental conditions. So this specimen may not be as primitive as Rieppel thinks...
At any rate, at an estimated 220 million years old, this is the least evolved turtle ever found.

Thanksgiving Toast


Memo to Uncle Myron:


I'm pretty sure the pilgrims did not land in Nantucket.

Welcome to Shove-Mart - Would You Like a Cart?

NEW YORK - A Wal-Mart worker has died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers shortly after the Long Island store opened Friday, police said. Unconfirmed reports said a pregnant woman also miscarried as the crowd rushed in.

Oh, yeah, I needed to be out in that...

Shopaholic Stays Home

Getalife Girl: The Later Years

Yeah, I'm home today. Doing absolutely nothing. Why the day off from Retail Madness? The same reason an alcoholic calles New Year's Eve 'amateurs night' and stays home. I'm not even going to buy anything online Cyber Monday either. So there, major retailers. Start cooking up some REAL deals to get my discretionary dollars.

The Right Stuffing


HOUSTON - The smoked turkey resembles sliced deli meat but stiffer, the candied yams are bland inside, the green beans taste like they've been microwaved to death and the corn bread stuffing has a broth-heavy, institutional flavor.


Thanksgiving at my house? My relatives wish it were that tasty! This is an article about how bad the space shuttle astronauts had it for the holiday. But, then again, after losing a $100K toolbox in space*, no one was exactly authorized to charge some takeout.
Note to self: be extra-cautious outside next June...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'll Pass on the Dish


One of my better efforts


The dreaded DTP : Bring a Dish to Pass

Now there's a phrase that strikes terror in the hearts of the cooking-impaired like myself!

Why is this some bizarre requirement for holiday gatherings? Why not just give $10 to the hostess and be done with it? Just mingling with a crowd is enough of a 'toll' in my book, but now we have to add an entry fee designed to expose my every inadequacy to experience this misery?

I've had quite a few failures over the years:

The time I brought a pretty (but empty) ceramic dish, figuring I was going to get sent home with a windfall of leftovers.

The time I tried to convince everyone that name-brand paper napkins with turkeys on them were a 'secret family recipe'.

The great Jello fiasco of '05

The not-so-hard boiled eggs of '97...

The list goes on. Why then, do the invites? Bottom Line: the only thing I'm thankful for is that Thanksgiving only comes once a year.

Paperless does not equal Tasteless

Just received an email asking if I would like to stop paper credit card statements from being mailed out in favor of an on-line notice. Great! I'd love to save a few trees and do something for the environment. We should all seek to reduce our carbon footprint.

However - the notice tried to further tempt me into good behavior by noting if I signed up for paperless statements, I'd be entered into a drawing for a Toyota Prius. Ug.

Sure, that's environmentally responsible. But would I be seen in one? Not likely. Life is too short to drive ugly, low-performance vehicles. Sure, free is good. And who cares what lingers in the parking lot at China-mart? Well, I do. So I'd like to decrease my carbon footprint by recycling, reducing, resusing... all so I can keep driving high performance gas-guzzling truly cool machines.

It's all about tradeoffs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Listen Up

Does anyone know of a widget site that would give me a shelf of album covers just like the Shelfari one for my books at left? I haven’t found one that will display and rate music the way that one is doing books, so let me know if you are aware of such an item.

Anyhoo

Here’s some of the music I’ve been buying and what I think of it.

Queen + Paul Rodgers = The Cosmos Rocks






Um. No. No it doesn’t. As a rabid Queen fan (OK, in Junior High) I was hoping one of my favorite singers of all times, Paul Rodgers would bring something cool to this Freddie-less landscape. Personally, I’d pay to hear Paul read from the phone book, that’s how much I like his voice.

Perhaps that would have been more melodious. I mean, there are a few mediocre tracks here, but that does not a Queen album make. Besides, how the hell are they calling this Queen? Just because you can do something legally, doesn’t mean you should. I think the absent John Deacon is getting the last laugh here.

This music just doesn’t rock. I can tell Brian wrote most of the lyrics, but there is no credit on the songs, so there’s no proof. If this is where Brian wants to go, fine, but it’s not rock, and it’s not Queen. Roger(s), slap him, wouldja?

Since I’m never going to see my $11.88 again all I can hope is that Paul Rodgers was paid handsomely and the check cleared. C’mon, guys. Everyone here can do better.

Grade:C- Below Average.

Def Leppard The Sparkle Lounge




So here’s what happened to Queen! Def Leppard locked themselves in their room and listened to all the classic Queen albums fifty thousand times – no, wait, that was me, circa 1977…

Actually, the Lep has listed Queen as a major influence for years and has included a nod or two to them in their lyrics over the years. Now it seems they have run out of their own ideas and decided to go all out and out Rhapsody the real McCoy.. and in spots here, they actually pull it off. This is no Hysteria, but that’s ok. They are trying to make new and inventive music and I can understand that.

Grade: B- More Pyromania, Less Copymania next time, OK?

Alanis Morissette Flavors of Entanglement





Guess who got a synthesizer for Christmas?

Sorry, but there was way too much techno-funk syntho-sound for my taste here. As usual, the lyrics are solid and the emotion real, it was just the musical arrangements and instrumentation that had me hung up. Oh, and I was hoping for way more dirt on her recent breakup ala You Oughta Know. Guess she went and got all mature on me.

Grade: B- But that’s only because her other albums were so incredibly strong.

AC/DC Black Ice





Now here’s a band that refuses to mature or evolve! They have sounded the same for thirty years. Thank God! At least I got what I paid for. Music to dance, er, drink to.

Grade: B

Coldplay Viva La Vida






I have never listened to Coldplay before, so I plead total ignorance of any other work they may have done. Why did I even show up to this party, let alone years late? Because the title track is so awesome. Love Violet Hill too. Maybe I’ll check out some other albums.

Grade B+

Whitesnake Good to Be Bad

Ah… the Dr. Seuss of Rock and Roll. Dr. Seuss, as you may recall, was challenged to write a children’s book using a vocabulary of only 100 words. Voila! The iconic Cat in the Hat was born.

Coverdale and crew have been using the same old tired lyrics in song after song for centuries. Yet somehow, I keep coming back for more. More Coverdale, that is… If you thought listening to the phone book was silly, I’d pay just to see this guy stand on stage and flip his hair back a few times. And that voice!! Who cares it has nothing profound to say? You want conversation? Call Henry Kissinger. You want sex? Call David Coverdale. (I’d like to.)
Most songs on this album are pretty blah, but there are a few good ones, including Call On Me and A Fool in Love. Suspiciously, they added a second CD of live greatest hits. Even they didn’t think this would sell on its own.

Grade: C Try harder! But tour anyway. Please!

Nickelback Dark Horse




Only the critics consider Nickleback a dark horse. I knew this pony had legs long ago. Of all reviewed today, this is the best effort for the band in question. It continued prior work and expanded on it in fresh ways. What’s not to love about lyrics like ‘you look better with something in your mouth’? Intriguing mix of ballads, ‘message songs’ and smutty rockers. You’ll see me front and center at their next concert!

Grade: A- Not quite as strong as their last effort, but good. Chad, do something with that hair. Wavy is better.

Are you a Feminist?




You Are 100% Feminist



You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).

You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Wish I'd Said That

Moral Certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority.

Henry Louis Mencken
1880-1956

Writers Way Wealthier Than You Will Ever Be

The World's Best Paid Authors according to Forbes

J.K. Rowling #1

Worth it, IMHO. But she has been getting drunk with power as of late: see her recent lawsuits and crazy demands for her upcoming title, Tales of Beedle the Bard.

James Patterson #2

Oh, Pul-eese. Further evidence of the dumbing down of America. Publishes more books in a year than I read. Often, with co-writers, so draw your own conclusions.

Stephen King #3

Worth it. You go, big guy. But feel free to cut the vacation with the grandkids short to surpass that Patterson hack.

Tom Clancy #4

Good. I don't begrudge him this slot, but not a top favorite of mine.

Danielle Steel #5

See Patterson, James.

So True!

Theft of the MagiFiction Rule of Thumb


Don't Panic!


Well, just a little. I mean, what's he going to do next? Add a few books onto the Bible?




In contrast, Douglas Adams is not writing the next HHGG book (entitled And Another Thing...) because he is, inconveniently, dead. Instead, the job is going to Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl books. I haven't read them, but no matter how good they may be, they cannot transform Colfer into Adams, and the Hitchhiker series was all about Adams' voice -- that absurdist logic, wild imagination, wicked eye for sci-fi conventions worthy of parody, and cosmic indifference toward mankind, an utterly unimportant species on a backwater planet his books referred to merely as "mostly harmless." Colfer is already celebrated for his own unique voice; how easy will it be for him to suppress that and channel someone else's?

Wish I'd Said That!

Don't you talk to me about progress. Progress just means bad things happen faster.

Terry Pratchett

Breaking News from the Well, Duh! Department

Like I couldn't have told you this for free? I recall seeing an article a few years back showing three mock-ups of the new Mustang that consumers were asked to vote on. Surprisingly, they picked a middle-of-the-road look, leaving the most evil in the dust. Who were they asking? Not car aficionados! I want my car to look mean and aggressive. Perhaps moms with mini-vans will park elsewhere.




People Prefer Cars That Look Angry, Dominant and Masculine

A new study suggests that people who find the Toyota Prius too friendly-looking are not alone, as most tend to prefer cars that look masculine, aggressive and dominating.
The research into pareidolia, or the tendency to see faces or human traits in inanimate objects, is being used to help automakers design better-selling cars. "If you get the wrong styling, you get problems," said a consultant.
A study that included 20 men and 20 women allowed participants to rate recent passenger car models on different trait scales. Study participants largely preferred models that ranked high in the "power" category, like the BMW 5 series.

Dear Mr. President


I'd like a cabinet post. I'm thinking Secretary of Sarcasm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2010 Mustang


I could perhaps be persuaded to bail out more than one manufacturer...

GM Begs for Bailout


But have they sent me a coupon for a new Corvette? Nooooooo..........


When I mentioned at work that I wanted to get a clearance Vette when GM declared bankruptcy, my lunch mates seemed to think that was a bad idea because I wouldn't be able to get parts. What? The aftermarket business is alive and well. Besides, if I'm that worried about it, I'll just buy two. Never hurts to have a parts car. There's a coupon they could send: Buy one, get the second for just a penny!

Happy Birthday, Owen!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

But Did You Sprout Wings?

I'm so busy scratching, I don't have time to eat!
Can't feel the formaldehyde through the silicone much anyway.



The secret is out for one of the world's most recognizable lingerie brands, according to a potential class action lawsuit in which consumers claim they've experienced very uncomfortable symptoms, like rashes, hives and permanent scarring from Victoria's Secret bras. (ABC News)

May I point out that like every other item on the planet these bras are made in China??? Need I mention I own a drawer full? Including a brand new one I've washed, but not worn yet??! Dare I?

Ritter complains that the bras started to itch her after a couple of days and soon after the itchy turned into a full-fledged rash which them turned into painful welts and burns on her breasts. Ritter states that "I knew it had to be the bra. I had perfectly shaped burns where the cups were." She checked out the labels on the bras looking for any clues and noticed that these two new Victoria's Secret bras were made in China when her other older Victoria's Secret bras were made in India.

Suspicious how China has the most poisons, yet the largest population...hmmm. Those that do survive are going to be much stronger than us wimpy westerners and will soon over run the earth. Any day now. Any day now.

Bottom Line: Will formaldehyde preserve youthful-looking breasts?