Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It"s Not You...

Like most people, I have a highly-specialized body of knowledge. I know a lot about a few things like using subordination to join two sentences together for a smoother-flowing essay and rock and roll history, but I will be the first (or fifth, if you count the rest of my immediate family) to admit I know very little about fashion. I think horizontal stripes make one look fat and vertical stripes make on look tall, but I'm not really even sure about that since I usually wear solid colors except when I have my Yankees jacket or jersey on. Thus, if I were to offer suggestions about how one might look slimmer, you'd be tempted to move to another blog. Fortunately, there's Charla Krupp.
Ms Krupp is the author of a very revealing (in more ways than one) book entitled IHow To Never Look Fat Again, and she dishes about everything from fabrics to where to part your hair, even including a chapter entitled Don't You Dare! She also introduces some vocabulary which puzzled me, like "cankles." I get the general direction but not the meaning. I'd hate to have them and not know it, but I suspect that, like so many other maladies, they are a "woman thing."
Needless to say, this tome might not be for the faint of heart since Ms Krupp writes things that even your best friend might not tell you. Her mantra? "It's not you, it's your clothes." Krupp indicates that there are four things to consider when choosing the appropriate attire: fabric, fit, styles and colors.In addition, she divides clothes choices into two categories: high fat and low fat.
Curious? OK, here's the basic idea.
HIGH-FAT CLOTHES: anything that is shiny, metallic and/or has sequins that is either too loose or too tight and is displayed in bright, neon colors over the body. Admit it, you've seen people dressed like this, haven't you?
LOW-FAST CLOTHES: probably what you'd imaging--darker hues of silk, cotton or wool gabardine.
I would imagine this book is a best-seller, but if you are willing to wait several weeks, you can probably pick it up at the public library.
Covered in brown paper with no distinguishing words.
As for parting your hair, that information is secreted in the text somewhere.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Faux Life in 3D

Entertainment in red and green

It all started in 1915 with suckers paying money at the Astor Theater in New York to put on cardboard glasses with red and green lenses designed to give them the ultimate thrill: a movie in 3 dimensions. It didn't catch on. Oh, it was tried several times before Bwana Devil caught our attention in 1952, followed by House of Wax in '53 which also featured stereophonic sound! Imagine that! Actually, the year 1953 proved to be the halcyon days for 3D pictures when a total of 27 were made. By 1955, though, only a single movie tried to recreate the amazing (?) view. Of course, at this time, sunglasses made everything look green, too, if you remember that! Now, though, things have swung again.
it seems like every movie coming out in animation features 3D technology. Now, the glasses have plastic frames and look like REAL glasses! Of course, with the added price of the movie, we begin to resemble those folks in New York back in 1915.
I saw Avatar in 3D a few weeks ago because my son wanted to see it (and didn't have any money, I suspect). During the course of the movie, I didn't see anyone in the audience duck when the flying things came our way, and I didn't notice anything really "gee whiz" about it. In fact, I took the glasses off midway through and had some difficulty noticing the difference...except that I didn't have money for treats because I'd spent it on the movie ticket! Now, of course, all the latest and greatest are hitting the theaters in 3D...and in video games as well. Seriously.
Nintendo intends to release the 3DS Handheld gaming system sometime in the next year. The big selling point? You won't have to wear the stupid glasses! Of course, there are purported to be some shortcomings such as the viewer cannot change his or her position while playing the game or the effect is lost.
All of these entertainment advances, and I still cannot program my TiVo. Sad that I'm being left further behind. But I still ahve my 8-track player.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Paranoid or Prepared?

This will be our little secret

I make fruit jams in the summertime, mostly the freezer variety which requires no sealing with paraffin and checking for mold every month or so. You know, the Sure-Jel easy way. We usually have enough to get through most of the winter before yielding to the Smuckers folks and buying their topping for the peanut butter. It's a great way to save the summer fruits, but I hardly think of it in terms of staving off Armageddon. That's where I differ from the "preppers."
There is a growing movement in this country that includes all sorts of people who are preparing for the end of times, as it were, at least as far as normal services are concerned. These people are preparing to live "off the grid" as it were for however long they have to...and I'm not talking about the Amish or the Mennonites, either, though they stand the best chance of surviving anything that comes along.
There is an organized network, the American Preppers Network, through which one can discuss a variety of topics from growing and preserving food to the pros and cons of gun ownership to advice on working the ham radio. These people are serious when they discuss topics like whether to "bug in" or "bug out" when the next natural disaster threatens our very existence. The network itself gets more than 5,000 hits a day, and there is even a Prepper Podcast every day. Who knew?
Lest you think otherwise, these people do NOT consider themselves survivalists, so you don't have to worry about them skulking about in camouflage brandishing weapons. They simply want to be prepared with stored food, water and power in the event that things go kerflooey in a hurry. This, of course, matches perfectly the idea that on December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar turns over and the Four Horsemen ride.
Having lived for 30 years in the shadows of two nuclear power plants, I can feel a little trepidation now and then about what would happen if...On the other hand, any stores of secret food, water and fuel would have to be VERY secret, or my neighbors would all demand to share. You know you've seen movies like that. It could happen.
Me? I'll just keep making fruit jam in the summer and hope my neighbors are prepared in 2012.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Born Every Year

Right next to the meatball bush

I like to think in somewhat nontraditional ways. Just to be different. "Outside the box" doers not describe my way of cogitating simply because there are so many others who think like that. I look for something "Just a bit outside," as Bob Ueker intoned in one of his more famous cameo movie roles. Thus, the first of April really doesn't hold any special meaning for me.
The whole tradition of playing on folks' gullibility is said by Boston University professor Joseph Boskin to have been instituted during the reign of King constantine, he of the Roman Empire. It is said that his jesters made the comment that they could do as well at ruling as he could, so he made one of them king for a day (in addition to getting various Maytag appliances,,,if you don't get that, you're too young). And the tradition of April Fool's day continues throughout history with some notable big-time tricks being played.
In 1957, the stodgy BBC ran a story on April first claiming that the spaghetti crop in Switzerland would be in early that year. The corresponding photo at the top was more than enough to have hundreds of people calling to find out where they, too, could get such trees.
In 1976, a would-be astronomer predicted that on that date because of the alignment of Pluto and Jupiter, earth's gravity would be slightly lessened at 9:47 a.m. He posited that at that moment, if people were to leap into the air, they would float for a few seconds. There is no actual count of how many tried this, but supposedly a LOT did.
We can always count on the illustrators of comic strips to do their part, like the time the Mom from Family Circus had a pointy hairdo as if she were in Dilbert. Sadly, though, cartoonists switch every year so the novelty has worn off somewhat.
Then, of course, there's radio, a medium perfect for such hijinks. WOMA in Algoma, Wisconsin had a late-night DJ back in the 80s who pretended to be giving away fabulous prizes all over town for the first person to find the spot. Of course, there were no fabulous prizes, but a phone call from an adjoining studio always provided proof of an actual winner. All fun and games, of course, until someone in frustration drove to the station and demanded to know why he had just missed winning ALL evening! oops.
In 1998 WXRT in Chicago put out the announcement that it had been bought by Playboy and would soon have the call letters XXXRT and be known as "True Adult Radio." Remember, this is before HowardStern became available to all of us on a regular basis in ALL mediums. Needless to say, the phone banks at both the station and at Playboy blew fuses...and kept Hugh awake at night, probably.
Also that year on April first, Burger King introduced their newest taste sensation: the left-handed Whopper which featured the same ingredients rotated 180 degrees on the bun. Again. orders were numerous, and some customers even began ordering right-handed burgers. Go figure.
And finally, in 1976, Steves Wozniak and Jobs pioneered Apple Corp. Who knew?
As I said, I don't try to fool people on April 1st, but I have to admit, the ploy is incredibly successful on March Fool's Day, July Fool's Day and, well, you get the idea.
BTW: your shoelace is untied.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lots of Green No Matter What

I noticed it the other day and was mildly disconcerted. Not so much so that I actually commented about it, called the "Help" desk or voiced a complaint via email to the Chancellor, but it was something I had not expected. Perhaps it was just that week off during which I forgot...or maybe another senior moment. Whatever it was, I am happy to actually discover the backstory.
The font on my email is different: radically different. The first time I began formulating a message, my mind stopped in mid-word and did a mental double-take. since there was no way to change the font on an email message, I just let it ride, showing off my adaptability to change (something older people cannot usually display). And today, the folks at NPR have explained it to me in the form of an interview with Diane Blohowiak, the person who sends me emails all the time offering me the chance to learn something new on Excel or how to use functions heretofore stagnant on my office computer.
It seems, in an attempt to save money, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has switched the default font on email from Arial to Century Gothic. While I probably could not have told you which was which at any given time since everything on my word processor is Times New Roman 12-pt. font (professors preferred 4 to 1, I'm told), it is a decidedly different look. However, aesthetics be damned, this is about saving cash.
Apparently, the new font will save approximately 30% more ink when anyone prints out an email. Since I seldom do that but do print many word documents, I guess I should start changing the font on that ,too. Anyway, Blohowiak estimates that this effort to "go green" could save the university big bucks since a gallon of printer ink costs in the neighborhood of $10,000. ( I know, that seemed like a lot to me, too).
I think the effort to "go green" by saving money is all well and good, but printer ink is one thing, and saving money by taking 3% of my salary as "furlough" savings is a whole other thing. Pretty soon, they'll make me buy a parking pass for my bike.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Not That Bored Yet

We just returned from spring break a few days ago, and I must say it was something of a letdown. I mean, when the highlight of day 1 was getting a haircut and all the ironing done, you know the week was going to go downhill from there. Actually, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't basking in the sun on some south of the border beach (no doubt infiltrated by drug lords) either. There was the WNIT basketball game to watch and a leisurely walk down Michigan Ave. in day under falling snow! The newly discovered Beard Papa's cream puffs were astounding (try the strawberries and cream), but hardly the stuff to make the week memorable. But at least I didn't resort to watching Puppy Cam like so many others. How many others?
At last check, more than 7,342 people were followers on the internet of Puppy Cam, a site that has had more than 23 million hits. Seriously. It is simply a camera pointed at a group of puppies as they sleep, yawn and eat through their day. Really. Sure, they're cute, but visit them every day...or even more than once? Fageddaboutit. However, it could be worse, at least that's the impression I got when I happened on and found myself staring at an article listing weird webcams. How weird? Read on.
There are, of course, webcams all over the world that allow us to look at probably every known part of the world. Some go to extremes that I find, uh, interesting. Here's a list of the more "interesting" ones I've discovered.
1. Leprechaun cam. Faces a field in Ireland where the viewer can keep an eye peeled for leprechauns.
2. Watching grass grow cam. A must see for horticulturalists.
3. Stature of Liberty cam. Just to make sure she doesn't walk away, I guess.
4. Hissing cockroach cam. Self-explanatory and operated by the U of South Carolina.
5. Snowmen cam. I suspect it's probably offline by now, but there were two of them in various stages of decrepitude.
6. My favorite: peeling paint cam. 'nuf said.

So, while it is evident that I DID have a bit too much time on my hands, at least I wasn't bored.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food For Thought

It seems as if there are a plethora of exotic foods everywhere one looks. Heck, it was just a couple of years ago I thought sushi was about the most exotic dish I'd ever heard of...and it was available here in Titletown! Of course, I'd eaten caribou, but that was in Finland where one might expect some offbeat dishes. But there is something sacrosanct about foods considered our own. Nobody had better mess with Little Debbies, for example, or those chocolate Easter eggs that some group is always selling as a fundraiser...and potato chips.
There's something primitive and safe about chips...or crisps as other English-speaking folks (and the Geico lizard) call them. Branching out from the basic chip was timid at first: ridges instead of the flat, salty treat we grew to love. Then, of course, came flavors in the form of vinegar and salt, barbecue and jalapeno. Now, though, producers have simply gone too far, in my estimation...and not just newcomers into the market. I'm talking about Pringles and Lays as well as brands of which I've never heard like Walkers. It is in that vein, therefore, that I offer you a peek into the future of potato chips from three of the players I have already mentioned. Without further ado, here are (seriously) flavors that are now available for each of these brands of potato chips.

1. PRINGLES: now offers flavors such as barbecue chicken, bacon Caesar salad, Balsamic vinegar and feta cheese. Stunned? It gets more interesting.

2. LAYS: now brings us chips flavored as blueberry, mango, kiwi and curry (yes, curry!)

3. WALKERS: this company now features flavors such as cajun squirrel, chili and chocolate, lamb and mint, and pickled onion.

It amazes me that something like pickled onion as a flavor almost seems normal in this context. Strange days, indeed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Can You Guess Where You Are?

Really, This Says It All

it's spring break time, and I'm sitting in a beach chair, sipping a cool drink with a book in my hand, watching the snow melt away. That's right. I', spending my break this year in the comfort of my own yard. I did get up early today and perform literally dozens of interesting tasks that had been stored up for some time. Initially, I as going to regale the reading public with an entire list from hour to hour of my accomplishments today, but then, how exciting IS ironing all my sweetie's spring wardrobe or washing and conditioning the bikes?
However, on my way from my haircut to the library, I happened to notice the street sign above...'way above the road level. After some sleuthing, I found that the city workers installed it there because folks kept stealing the other ones! Really! A street that's just three intersections ling has the unfortunate luck to be given the same moniker as the hairstyle that is worn throughout the city by both men and women who fail to realize that glam rock and hair bands have long since been relegated to the cheap racks at The Exclusive Company here in town. AS a topper (so to speak), the street isn't even named after the hairstyle favored by hockey players everywhere: it was named in the 1800s after a surveyor named John Mullett. Now, a person would have to be a famous footballer (excluding Beckham who is down for the count) to get such an honor. Further sleuthing revealed that replacing each sign costs between $50 and $60, a cost that includes both the sign and the labor to install it. There must be something in (or lacking in) the water here.
Just a month ago, a city worker was apprehended for stealing a temporary Aaron Rodgers street sign prior to the Packers' playoff game...perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come! Now, Mullet St. is often bereft of it's direction notice? Amazing.
It's a good thing I have a GPS for getting around town!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Enjoy The Ides Of March!

Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay

The middle of March is always special. Of course, there's St. patrick's Day, given extra spice this year as researchers at the University of Wisconsin have released a report indicating that Guinness Beer is actually a HEALTHY choice! (Now we know that it hasn't been stem cell research going on there in Madison!). It also means that the Chicago River turns green, oh, wait, it's ALWAYS green, now that I think of's just a different shade during the celebration on the south side.
And, of course, there's the annual celebration of pi which is feted on, you guessed it March 14...TODAY! I had some in should, too.
As most of us know, the middle the month calls to mind the Ides of March, especially poignant since I'm currently reading a piece of historical fiction concerning the life and eventual death of one J. Caesar. But wait (as they say on TV), there's more.
The middle of March usually marks the introduction of new members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, it's ironic that the ceremony is in New York when the actual museum itself is located in Cleveland. BTW, if you EVER get the chance to go, please do, but don't take little kids or people not truly interested in rock history. It is truly an amazing slice of nostalgia for those of us who treasure rock in our childhoods and beyond. Anyway, this year's inductees comprise an eclectic group, as usual, and in their honor, I have reproduced the link to one of their performances for your enjoyment. This will be especially meaningful if you have no idea who the performers are. Teachers can't stop teaching, I guess. So, here they are, in alphabetical order:

Abba Mama Mia
Genesis I Can't Dance
Hollies Look Through Any Window
Jimmy Cliff The Harder They Come
The Stooges I Want To Be Your Dog

Rock on!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

...And Wackiness Ensues

Seriously, You don't want to know!

Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd parlayed wackiness into big laughs and big bucks on SNL some time ago, and it seems like America was taken prisoner. Every corner, nook and cranny of this country seems to have some claim to wacky fame, whether it be the huge beagle that serves as a hotel room somewhere in Idaho, the mustard factory located in Wisconsin, the world's biggest twine ball located...well, you get the idea. But nobody ever really tried to quantify this penchant for craziness until now. Sonmething on the web titled The Daily Beast (URL at the bottom) has taken it upon itself to categorize the top 57 (?) American urban areas for wackiness. Each contestant was ranked 1-57 in four categories: 1. the number of psychiatrists per capita 2. The stress level of living in each locale 3. The adjudged eccentricity of the inhabitants base don "local color" and 4. The number of males who had at least two drinks a day and females who had at least one drink per day.
Now, I'm not here to say this "study" was peer-reviewed, but in looking at the data, it's hard to argue. I mean when one city has an ordinance prohibiting the wearing of patent leather shoes by women to forestall men catching a peek (Cleveland) or when it is against the law to sleep outside overnight on top of a refrigerator (Pittsburgh), you get the basic idea. One city in Texas (not mentioning a name here) has as an official motto "Keep Austin Weird," and yet another features at 62ft. tall can containing 65,000 gallons of 7-Up, you just KNOW there's something in the water or in the atmosphere (I say its from all the pollution floating here from China).
Anyway, if you want to see the entire list, select the URL below and have fun. For now, here are the top 5 wackiest cities in this country.
1. Cincinnati, Ohio. top five in stress plus they just held the shopping cart Iditarod there tis week!
2. San Francisco, California. more shrinks per capita than any other city.
3. Providence, Rhode Island. really!top ten in both shrinks and drinking per capita
4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin top ten in psychiatrist, stress and drinking (where it tied for first!)
5. Las Vegas, Nevada. top ten in stress, eccentricity and drinking (tied with Milwaukee)
Again, the list is long and entertaining. As long as you're waiting until 2 m.n. to turn your clock ahead, check out the entire list at:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bon App├ętit...Burp!

You Won't Get This at Chili's

For me and for many of you, food has always been a fun thing: good times with friends, comfort when you're down a bit and with something new (like chocolate bacon) right around the corner. The problem is, of course, that it's not really all that good for us in certain combination or in certain quantities. So, we have our guilty pleasures on occasion (or sneak them when we can) and try to at least keep up appearances of caring about our girth the rest of the time. In addition, there's a plethora of experts to help us via cooking shows, editorials, or our mothers saying "you're going to eat THAT?"
WE discovered a few days ago that a modicum of alcohol would help women stay somewhat more svelt into middle age. Today, we'll learn about the opposite: the absolute killer foods that you should never eat when in a restaurant. The list is supplied by Chef Eric Paul, the originator of AlterEat Go healthy meal service in Chicago, the destination for eaters throughout the Midwest. I did breathe a sigh of relief to find that Doug's Dogs were not part of the list So, here are a few things NOT to go out for:

1. Outback cheese fries Why not? 2900 cal. 182g. fat 240 g carbohydrate.
2. Chili's Awesome Blossom 2710 cal. 263g fat 194g carbohydrate
3. Macaroni Grill spaghetti 2430 cal. 128g fat 207 carbs AND 6360mg of sodium!
4. UNO Chicago Classic deep dish pizza 2310 cal 162g fat 123g carbs and 4470mg of sodium

Hungry for dessert? Don't try this one:
Chili's Chocolate chip paradise pie why not? 1600cal 78g fat 215 carbohydrates.

Of course, there's always the fruit plate and cottage cheese with some granola on your yogurt for dessert.
Now THAT would be comforting!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chore Hero the Hard Way

My pal Joseph texted me the other night, all agog over something he called "the greatest thing ever;" it took me three different messages to get him to explain that he'd simply gotten a new "gee whiz" phone that did everything but change the oil in his car. Yesterday, he taught me the intricacies of shooting dice (NOT "throwing" as I thought), and it didn't really cost me all that much money to learn, either. This was a phone app, apparently, which requires one to shake the phone to make the dice roll about, issuing realistic sounds all the while.
Of course, he has the internet and every other imaginable application. I can hear him chuckle in the office next door every time he discovers something new. It would seem that having a do-it-all phone has surpassed my reel-to-reel tape deck as a music source as well. Joseph was also much amused to demonstrate his new ring tone as well: the Subway commercial in which the number five is repeated about , well, five times. And now I find out that apps are all the rage.
Withdrawn from the Olympics? Apple has an app titled X2 Snowboarding which takes a lot of practice to does the same thing in real life for my money. It's $4.99
Like the idea of launching birds from a slingshot in an attempt to knock pigs off a tower? Then Angry Birds is for you.
Can't get enough Farmville on Facebook? Try Astro Ranch, an app that lets you try to raise crops and domesticate animals on another planet, and it's only $2.99!
The real money maker lately, though, has been Plants vs Zombies, and app in which animated plants attempt to save the world from zombies. Really! When this was released in February, it sold a million dollars' worth in just ten days, and when it's going for $2.99, that's a LOT of buyers.
But my favorite would have to be Chore Hero in which points are gained by completing household chores! Each chore gets a different score, and there is apparently a part of it that let's the player complain about having to do chores around the house! My advice is to save the $2.99 and try it for free at your house!

It's no wonder I feel like I'm being left behind. While I have a cell phone out of necessity because my students refuse to look at or answer email messages, my Razr will soon be on exhibit at the Smithsonian as an artifact of technology.
It doesn't have a qwerty keyboard...I can't take and send pictures because it's not connected to the does not play music...ringtones? buzzes when on vibrate and has a tinny ring otherwise.
In short, it is anachronistic.
And so am I.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Everyone has heard about the "freshman 15," that weight gain attributed to all incoming college students as they eat differently and, ostensibly, drink more than they have in the past. Many people put on more than that, and just as many people, women especially, try to shed those ungainly pounds for the rest of their lives. Now there's hope coming from an astonishing source: alcohol.
Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital studied more than 19,000 women over a 13-year period and found that women who imbibed alcohol in moderation gained far less weight in mid-life than those who abstained totally. The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, if you want to read the whole thing. Researchers concluded that between 15 and 30 grams of alcohol daily (equivalent to one or two drinks) was enough to slow weight gain! Who would have thought that, especially when we're all conscious of the calories offered in alcohol: roughly 125 calories in 5 ounces of wine and 150 calories in a 12-ounce bottle of beer (or three beers if you get the newest, lightest one out there). Anyway, those who tossed back a couple were 30% less likely to become overweight or obese, and the form of spirit thought to be the most successful at staving off poundage was red wine though all forms seemed to have a positive effect.
If you are as puzzled by all of this as I am, the researchers were no less mystified at the result. Numerous theories were advanced, but the "typical" woman in the survey who lost weight was
a. more likely to smoke
b. more physically active
c. had a less heathy diet
d. had a lower BMI at the beginning of the experiment.
All of this leaves us in dangerous, uncharted waters. Looking at the prototype, women may well die of a heart attack, a stroke or lung cancer...but they will be thinner and easier for the pallbearers to tote around.
Odd, to say the least.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Goodnight, John Boy

I'll bet THEY didn't sleep much!

Are you a trypical American? if so, stop that darned yawning, turn off the computer, and get some sleep! A recent poll noted on CNN indicated that 60% of us do not regularly get a good night's shuteye. and it doesn't seem to matter what your ethnicity is, either. No word in this survey about gender, however.
One thousand people in four ethnic groups betweent he ages of 25 and 60 were surveyed with regard to their bedtime routines, pre-sleep habits and the results of all of that. What resulted is that a great number of people have sleep issues. More than 25% in each group claimed to hae missed work or a family function because they were simply too tired from sleep deprivation. About the same number reported often being "too tired for sex." Here's where I might need more gender-based information, but it is not available.
Anyway, here is a breakdown of pre-sleep rituals:
75% of African-Americans surveyed said that they watched television before going to bed, while 64% of caucasians did and only 52% of Asians watched the tube. No word in this category, apparently, from the Hispanics. The Asian population was far more likely, however, to be using the computer prior to hitting the hay.
As far as using the bedroom for sex, 10% of the African-American and Hispanic respondents indicated that they engaged in sex almost every night (get the polygraph) while 4% of caucasians were so inclined and a mere 1% of Asians felt frisky on a regular basis prior to bedtime.
From the religious angle, African-Americans prayed prior to going to sleep far more than did any of the other groups.
With regard to cleeping arrangements, 75% of Hispanics who responded and 67% of Asians who responded reported that they did not sleep with their partners (those having one, at least) at night. Lest you think that odd, these are the two groups that most often sleep with children in the room or in the bed, called"co-sleeping."
While caucasians rarely do that, they are far more likely to sleep with pets than any of the other groups.
So, who gets the most and the least sleep? The least amount of quality sleep is recorded by the African-American respondents who got an average of 6.25 hours per night. Before you jump to conclusions about the sexual activity aspect, remember that Hispanics were in on that, too.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the caucasians got the most sleep, averaging almost 7 hours with the Hispanic and Asian population somewhere between the high and the low.
What to make of it? Not for me to say, but that pet iguana can't read, so he'll continue to stay in his cage at night and hiss at the gerbils running on their wheel.
I'm getting my seven hours.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Snow Business As Smut Business

Would you want this in your neighborhood?

I never really gave snow sculpting much thought with regard to the neighborhood opinion. It's a good thing I have never lived in Rahway, New Jersey, because apparently, people there DO have an opinion. Or maybe it really matter since I have no real artistic skill to speak of. Not so for Eliza Gonzalez, however.
Along with her children, Ms Gonzalez constructed a fairly lifelike (if a statue can be lifelike) replica of the Venus de Milo in her yard. Whether it was part of a home-school art project or what, I don't know. The fact is that it was something I would have recognized as a facsimile of a famous work of art. Apparently, at least one neighbor found it to be less art and more salacious than he or she cared to view.
With an eye on the public good, said citizen informed the local constabulary who informed the artist that she had two choices: clothes the masterpiece or knock it down. Imagine suggesting to Da Vinci or Michelangelo that their works were lewd and should be destroyed! In choosing the clothed option, Gonzalez indicated that she felt it made the depiction sexist and totally demeaning to women.
Maybe there just isn't anything to do in Rahway, or maybe the neighbor is the kind that calls the police on kids riding their bikes down the sidewalk.
Whatever the case, I'm glad I went with an Olympic theme this year instead of one suggestion I got from a woman passing by on her morning constitutional: Lady Godiva.
Perhaps next year.

Friday, March 05, 2010

What WERE They Thinking?

Cover Girl RuPaul

Every now and then each of us does something that, in retrospect, is SO dumb that we end up either asking or answering (over and over) the question, "What were you (was ) thinking?" Of course, everything at the time seems like the most logical thing to do, at least to those of us who stumble into Idiotland.
Sometimes, it's a simple as backing out of a parking spot directly into another automobile that was sitting there all the time or making a statement guaranteed to keep an argument going for, let's say, weeks. Some of those "open mouth, insert foot" moments are never forgotten. "Sure, I can help out" is a recipe for disaster every time because then everyone else simply walks away and leaves you holding the proverbial bag.
Of course, there are transgressions that literally leave us stupefied, and there are many of them:
"Hiking in the Adirondacks"
"Depends on what your definition of 'is' is."
NBC hiring then sacking Conan O'Brien.
Us believing that Brett Favre was really going to retire.
See what I mean?
Then, there are the seriously egregious acts that transfix a whole nation or at least a large part of it:
Sarah Palin as VP candidate.
Brittany Griner smacking Jordan Barcastlel in Baylor's most recent basketball game. What? You didn't see that? Here's the link:

Tiger Woods in general.
But this might be the biggest head scratcher of all: three teachers at Los Angeles' Wadsworth Avenue Elementary school were suspended recently for a most improbable lapse in judgment. In celebration of Black History Month in the mostly minority school, teachers were asking students to wear photos during the school day of influential black people throughout history. The choices from these men?
O.J. Simpson
Dennis Rodman
What WERE they thinking?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Keep That Little Finger Raised

Homer Simpson's In Love!

Our neighborhood association is at again, at least they are in the "Fashionable North End." As is no doubt obvious, I do not live there, preferring the blue-collar "Charming South End" to hang my hat, as it were. Fund raisers abound in any neighborhood, but in ours, the big one is the annual (this being the second) wine tasting event with snacks and silent auction as well as a "nice selection of whites and reds.". I might go for the snacks, but standing around checking out the legs in a wine glass while swishing it around in my mouth and discussing its various qualities is not for me. Then, there's the care one has to take while holding a container that was not part of a value meal at Sonic, not to mention things like holding the glassware properly and wearing cardigan sweaters. Definitely not for me. Give me a beer any day, plop me in the right-field bleachers with said brew and a hot dog, and it's nirvana for me.
That being said, we just past Beer Day on March first, unbeknownst to most of us, I suspect, and there are dozens of informational sites dealing with the brewer's art (BTW, speaking of Brewers, Prince Fielder got one in the back today on the first pitch he saw in Spring Training!). My eyes naturally alighted on an article about the most, uh, "interesting" beer flavors, and there are some I'm going to find. I mean if I can drink Jones soda flavored like gravy and dressing, I can search these babies out. These are actual beers from actual brewers though I was not always able to discern the actual brew company:

Mama Mia Pizza flavored beer: features oregano, basil, tomato and garlic. Eating Italian without all the fat!

Chili Beer: Want more spice? Here it is, made with actual peppers. The best part? It goes great with beer!

Wells Banana Bread Beer: features bananas and sorghum.

Bilk Beer; 30% of this concoction is milk. supposedly it tastes like beer with a slight dairy smell. How is it on my breakfast cereal?

Is that too much for breakfast? How about Creme Brulee Stout. Put THAT on your French toast!

DarkStar Brewery's Coffee Beer: At last! something acceptable for early morning after a night out!

And, for those who are in a hurry in the morning and cannot take the time to eat a bite and drink something healthy, there's...

Shenandoah Chocolate Donut Beer!!! Are you kidding me? I'm going right to the specialty store tomorrow and see if I can get some of that!

Maybe the neighborhood association would like to pay to taste that!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Spring Back This Year...and Every Year

If I get this right, it's "spring ahead, fall back" when it comes time to change for daylight savings time (except in some states like Arizona, I think, where they never change. Whatever the case, time moves either too quickly or too slowly, depending on the situation. On vacation? Just left, and it's time to go home. Monday afternoon about 2:30? The week stretches out endlessly in front of you.
Those teenage years? They seem to be interminable, and more so if you are a parent than if you're the teen in question, though it's long enough for you as well. Somehow, teenagers have a way to make ten minutes seem like an eternity while they themselves are oblivious to the passage of any time, especially if there is a curfew involved.
But just wait until middle age is fading away like your weeklong vacation of earlier days: the time seems to move at warp speed. There is no doubt that all of us will leave a million things undone by the time we hit the nursing home, and I'm not just talking about zippers here.
Thus it is that I was horrified to learn from NASA that the latest 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile has shortened my life span. I'm not kidding. WE all just lost some of what was the rest of our lives recently, and I'll bet we didn't even know it until NASA stuck it's nosy beak into the problem.
While I am not a geologist or a meteorologist or a seismologist or any other kind of o-ologist, I have to trust that the folks at the space agency are. I mean, they deal with naturally-occurring phenomena all the time. Anyway, here's what they came up with.
The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Chile along the so-called Pacific Belt was so powerful that, get this, it caused a shift of the earth on its axis. Really! You didn't notice it? I sense the disquiet in the room already as you begin to realize what this means for us.
Each day from now on, as a result of the axis shift, will be 1.26 millions of a second shorter! That's right: days will no longer be 24 hours exactly, and each day that we lose time, we, well, lose time. That means that if the Mayans were correct about the 2012 thing, we're that much closer every day! Think of all the things you meant to get done before the sub-6-foot slumber! You now have even less time to accomplish them.
I think the solution is to get NASA back on the ball and see how we can ADD time to our day.
I need all I can get. I still have to clean the garage.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You Can Fool Some of the People...Google Smart

I've always maintained that education is a simple matter. Once a person can read and write passably, it is all a matter of calling information together when you need it. Some things are probably instinctive, like turning off the key when your Toyota Camry suddenly accelerates to 100 m.p.h. and the brakes aren't working nor is shifting into reverse. Of course, by that time, any number of bad things can (and have) happen(ed). "Stop, drop and roll" is another example of the kind of thing that should be at our fingertips...or the Pythagorean Theorem...well, maybe not. But the point is that once a person can access a way to gain information not needed immediately, it's not that hard to appear smart. Take the following examples:

The roundest knight at king Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

He acquired his size from too much pi.

She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class

because it was a weapon of math disruption.

Someone sent these as well as others in an email to all her "smart" friends, asking if anyone knew what to call this type of humor. Words like "silly," "juvenile," and "unfunny" were not what she wanted. I, of course, was sent the email by mistake and recognized this fact by the inclusion of the word "smart" in the subject box. Undaunted, I turned to my vast reservoir of heretofore untapped knowledge (known as Google) and uncovered the mystery in a matter of moments. Using basic search techniques, I came up with three specifically-named types of puns: one for each of the items listed here.
Number one is a homophonic pun, one that uses a word that sounds like another word.
Number two is a homographic pun in which a word has more than one meaning
Number three is called a double sound pun in which a word (or in this case words) sounds close to but not exactly like the word (or words) it (they) are replacing.
Naturally, I was highly commended for my intricate knowledge of the English language (" I KNEW you would know!") and elevated even further into the stratosphere of the mensa-type people where I will be looking around sheepishly with the knowledge that I really do not belong there.
With leather patches on my corduroy jacket and a briar pipe in my mouth. (or is that "brier"?) I'll have to Google it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A New Olympic Record...of sorts

Festive Protection

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver set all kinds of records. I think the number of people who watched the USA/Canada hockey final had to be the largest ever. Certainly a record number of people now know about curling, and there HAD to be a record number of journalists covering the luge and bobsled runs, particularly after the fatal crash early in practice. I have not seen the numbers yet, but it might have been the most costly as well in terms of what Canada spent on its yearlong program to bring home the gold. But this is only marginally about athletes.
The committee who oversees such things have proclaimed this year's winter games to be the one which dispensed the most condoms at an Olympic contest! (not counting that a sponsor of the US curling team was a condom manufacturer). Claims that more than 100,000 condoms were distributed this year dwarf the previous record of 40,000 that was set in the Barcelona Summer Games in 1992, the first year such largesse was extended. So, let's see...6500 athletes would mean that each one got 15. Of course, remember that a good portion of those athletes were female, so...and they said it was the snow conditions or weather conditions that halted training and made for some poor performances...
However, so as not to cast too dim a light on the athletes, condoms were handed out everywhere during the 17 days, not just in the Olympic villages. Cruise ships docked nearby were supplied as well as concert venues and, well, anybody who wanted some got some. It was rumored that athletes from countries that had, uh, inferior protective devices were seen stuffing them in bags to take home.
Better safe than sorry, I guess, but they did not even come close to topping the number given out at Mardi Gras in Rio this year: more than 35 million were handed out there; and it's not like beads where you just toss them around your neck and hang them on the doorpost once you get home. Thirty-five million...lots of penance to do in Lent this year in Rio.
That would never happen in Green Bay!