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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Counting the Days

Nothing that we really want or want to happen ever comes quickly enough. Time seems to drag on and on, and we get increasingly impatient. The unfortunate part is that this great anticipation almost always ends in frustration. Whatever it is that we wait for never seems to fulfill the expectations. Really. Think about it: we look forward to our birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Christmas, summer vacation...the list is endless. None of them live up to what we imagine them to be, and this year, like every two years for the past several hundred years, the big disappointment awaits us. I for one, will refuse to be disappointed. I will rejoice and be glad knowing that I will not have to see, hear or read about one more political ad intimating how the opponent probably is a child molester, a drunkard and an overall ne-er-do-well who will rib senior citizens blind and take every single job in America and give it to the Chinese.
Seriously, I'm getting so irritated at the barrage of phone calls (recorded, of course), mailings taking all the room from the Christmas catalogs in my mailbox that I'm getting good and ready to if that would stop these would-be representatives from harassing me for the next two days. Because in the end, we will all be disappointed again no matter what the outcome is.
Oh sure, the Republicans might take over the House of Representatives, but their ranks could be filled with Tea Party candidates who have vowed to restructure the country (meaning the Republican Party as well), so the majority isn't really. And even if it is, the end result will be the filibuster by the Democrats on any meaningful legislation or a veto by the president if things get that far. The end result will be a stalemate, just like the one we've had for, oh, about 10 years now, and maybe even longer than that.Should the Democrats retain "control," the other side of the aisle will continue to stonewall any attempts at meaningful help for the American people just as they've done for almost two years because they're having a hissy since they lost so much ground in 2008. It's not about the American people anymore (if it ever was) matter what the party affiliation. It's about gaining power and thumbing collective noses at the losers.
"We'll reach across the aisle" means only that the winners will make such outrageous gestures that nobody will agree to, then act hurt when bipartisanship doesn't happen. BTW< I hear that even the word "bipartisanship" is about to be dropped from the dictionary from lack of be replaced by "nyah, nyah, nyah"
Maybe that's too cynical. But I defy you to think back to the last real piece of significant legislation on which everyone could agree that wasn't so watered down with addenda to please the right, the middle or the left that it actually made a difference to this country. Title IX? Civil Rights? think how long ago those happened. Roe v Wade? Still under the gun.
No, the "one man, one voice" has given way to the "One PAC, one vote" form of government, and if you think your party is exempt, just keep hoping for significant change after the mid-term elections. That two-day euphoria is just a mirage.
something to wish for and hope against hope that this time, it will be different, even if we don't vote for the person who claimed a vote for his opponent was a vote for "More taxes and less jobs."
Idiots everywhere.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Being Dead Is Cool

You say, "Bizarre," I say, "Cool!"

I love Mexico, at least the Mexico I've seen: far away from the tourist traps and all-inclusive resorts. We spent some time in San MIguel de Allende with friends and former teaching associates a few years ago, and I fell madly in love with a number of their customs. It seems that the Mexican people celebrate everything with gala events, fireworks, bands and cerveza. We happened to be there the day Dia los Locos was being celebrated. Everyone dresses in costume and joins a huge parade that makes the Rose Bowl look like shanty Days in Algoma. I jumped in among the revelers, got a few pictures, and had the greatest time. Someone commented that the Mexicans were generally so poor because they spent so much time, money and energy on celebrations. Maybe, but I can see it...celebrate the life you've been given and work tomorrow.
That brings me to my favorite Mexican tradition, one I'd never heard of until visiting the country: Dia de los Muertos...Day of the Dead. I first noticed it in shops where every little figure had, instead of a regular face, a skull. I mean these things were everywhere, and I couldn't figure out the point, no matter how much I tried. Finally, our hosts explained it to me.
In a custom that is at least 3,000 years old in Mexico (and older when the Aztecs are taken into consideration), on a given day, extended families come together in the cemetery to tells anecdotes about the ancestors buried in that place. It is far from a somber occasion: everyone brings something to put on the altars built just for that occasion. I mean these things are actual works of art in some cases. Especially favored ass tokens are these skull things, especially ones made of sugar. Others might bring favored mementos, food and, of course, something to drink. The family sits around eating, drinking and telling stories of their ancestors. How cool is that? I was certain to buy three or four refrigerator magnets to put up at home and in my office. Thus far, no one has commented about the faces, though I did notice the one at home got moved to the side of the refrigerator that is seldom seen!
We would all like nothing more than to be remembered after we die, and this tradition assures that one is never really gone as long as families gather every year to honor the life by telling stories of the past. It is definitely a radical departure from the traditions we have when in or near cemeteries, but I, for one, would love nothing more than to have my relatives gather 'round and laugh at what a dork I was or tell stories that each other didn't know about what a wonderful guy I was.
I can think of no better way to be immortal.
Viva Los Mexicanos! (or something like that...I can mostly say "cerveza" and "el bano" to take care of my basic needs.) case you want to start this cool tradition, the date is November 1st.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'd Rather Be Me

The thrill (er) is gone.

Without thinking too hard, try to figure out what the following people have in common;
J.R.R. Tolkien
Dr. Suess
Steig Larsson
Jimi Hendrix
Charles Schultz
Michael Jackson

Give up? Actually, you had three chances to connect these individuals, one or two more poignant than obvious:
1. They are all men
2. They are all dead
3. They are among to top ten money-makers among dead people.
Yes, that's right. According to Forbes magazine, those folks all rake in millions every year...some a LOT more than others. Because you are dying (sorry) to know, I will give you the list of the more prominent cadavers still raking in the dough. The list is in oder from 1-11 with the exception of #10 who I thought was not interesting enough to include.

1. Michael Jackson made $275 million last year
2. Elvis Presley made $60 million
3. J.R.R. tolkien made $50 million
4. Charles Schultz made $33 million
5. John Lennon made a mere $17 million
6. Steig Larsson made $15 million
7. Dr. Suess ( did you know it was a real guy? I didn't) made $11 million
8. Albert Einstein made $10 million (of course, in 1941 money that's a billion or so
9. George Steinbrenner made $8 million and didn't make the World he's spinning right now!
11. Jimi Hendrix still brought in $6 million dollars in and age when most people were not alive to hear his stuff.

All that being said, I don't imagine making that much cash really has much of an effect on the people listed.
That's why I'm taking it all with me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

150 Or So Places Not To See Before You Die


Fall was beautiful here in NE it usually is. Today, however, reminded me of the last few hours of the men's lives who worked the Edmund Fitzgerald: the wind literally howled,and rain drove horizontally with such force that I actually refused to bike to work! In fact, it was so windy that three slightly-built people blew in from Minnesota and left posthaste for Michigan...all without benefit of a vehicle of any kind. So I sat daydreaming about places to visit during the semester break when the weather is sure to be worse, and other than Australia, I found out that I'd be taking my chances anywhere! This rude awakening was called to my attention by the folks who put together the CPI.
Never heard of it? Well, frankly, neither had I, but the people who put together the Corruption Perception Index perform a valuable service by telling people which countries are least (and most) likely to suffer from governmental corruption: something important to know when I'm using a passport! So why did today's report bother me?
All the places that are least corrupt will be colder than, say, Wisconsin when I want to go there...with the exception of Australia which I would discount as being too far away.
In total, 178 countries were rated on the bases of the ease at which one could bribe public officials, be forced to pay kickbacks for public procurement, and see public funds embezzled. Governments and their agents who would do such things are best avoided, I would guess. God only knows (Beach Boys,1965) what devious things they might do to me. Anyway, each country was graded on a 10-point scale with Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore rating the highest at 9.3. Denmark? too cold when I'm free. New Zealand? too far. Singapore? Uh, wake up...they CANE people there for minor offenses, and I'm always committing some kind of minor offense. So, that's the top three. Perhaps there's some great locale left in the top ten? Let's look:
Finland and Sweden are next in line at 9.2. I've been to both, but not in the winter when the sun never makes it over the horizon: SAD, SAD, SAD (Beautiful in the summer, though).
Next at 8.9 is Canada...been there, but again, not in winter.
The Netherlands follows at 8.8 but with the ice caps melting, who knows how long it will still be above water?
Australia and Switzerland follow with a score of 8.7. I'm not a big Swiss cheese fan, and there are too many trees on the ski mountains for my taste. Australia? I can get Foster's down the street...but it WOULD be warmer (the country, not the beer).
Norway rounds out the top ten, coming in at 8.6 on the corruption scale. Like the other two Scandinavian countries: pretty in the summer, pretty dark during winter.
Want to consider the emerging powerhouses? China ranked 78th with a paltry score of 3.5 and India was even worse, scoring 3.3. Warmer, yes, but definitely not on my vacay list.
At the very bottom of the pile (and not a surprise, I might add) is Somalia, a country that hasn't even had a government in something like 15 years and which has lately given even piracy a less-than-romantic name.
Of course, I could stay home and go to Alberquerque (yes, originally, it had an extra "r"), but I'd have to keep in mind that the U.S. barely cracked the top 25, coming in 22nd with a score of 7.1, trailing both the U.K. (7.6) and Japan (7.8).
Ah well, if today's rain had been snow, I would have been stranded for six months anyway...
Too much knowledge can be a trail, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stacking the Z's

We were spending some time with friends in a small town in Mexico a few years ago, and I was surprised that at a predetermined time, shopkeepers shooed everyone out and closed the doors: it was siesta time. An hour later, the shops reopened, and it was back to business. In a nutshell, that's what I think is wrong with this's go, go, go until we fall over dead of heart attacks or strokes from all the crappy food we inhale and a lack of quality sleep in the form of power naps. Many others have this idea, but we seem to be missing out. Take spain, for example.
This country even has a recognized group in charge of keeping alive that nation's tradition of power napping during the day. The National Association of Friends of the Siesta even sponsored a national contest lately to showcase the benefits of the power nap. Held in a busy mall in Madrid, the contest was planned to find out how many minutes contestants could sleep in a 20-minute time span. Contestants were monitored electronically to determine how long each had slept as well as the decibel level of the snores.
Our winner, one Pedro Soria Lopez, slept for 17 minutes and recorded snores in excess of 70db. For his efforts, he won 1,000 euros, defeating more than 350 others.
My question remains, why wasn't I notified?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Eye of the Beholder

Is it, or isn't it?

To say the folks in the Sunflower State are a conservative lot is something akin to saying that bears DO, in fact, make a toilet of the wooded areas nearby. They are so conservative in that state that evolution was a forbidden subject in schools I(for a while in the last decade, anyway), and a university there had to borrow the logo of a Big Ten school because it could not afford to design one of its own! Saying "Democrat" in that vicinity is likely to be a call for psychiatric help...well, you get the picture.
Anyway, this statewide personality is so ingrained that I wqs totally surprised when I read about the controversy that had erupted over the new logo for a major building in one of its major three cities.
The Century II Performing arts and convention center has been standing for 41 years, and it's become an icon on the Plains...maybe because one can see it five miles away, rising above an otherwise level terrain. In keeping with the times, someone thought it would be great to come up with a catchy new logo to enhance the image of the venerable building and draw even more visitors from the Plains. The illustration above is the result.
Anyone would recognize the oval shape, but it's the addition at the top that has caused the controversy. Some wags have identified it as a frying pan while others note that it resembles nothing more than the lid of a barbecue grill...something everyone can see. But it's the third viewpoint that has caused the controversy as some say it resembles , um, a part of female anatomy?
Aghast, I would not have considered this to be coming from my home state.
Must have been a visitor from Oklahoma.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yet Another Untold Story

Would YOU hire this man?

Like everyone else, I cheered aloud to discover that the miners trapped in the San Jose mine in Chile had been rescued. Tired of reading about petulant, unrepentant movie stars and coddled athletes, it was refreshing to read about a country that cared enough to work all out for a group of men trapped in a cave far below the earth: a place that would have driven me nuts in about 20 minutes (not unlike watching an entire episode of Jersey Shore). Eventually, though, all eyes returned to sexting quarterbacks, feuding pre-election mud-slinging and the Dow Jones Industrial Average...not so Sergio Malebran.
Like 265 other mine workers and 200 subcontractors who were NOT on duty that fateful day, Malebran was employed by the San Jose mine. Thankful that he did not have to endure being buried alive, he nonetheless feels cheated. While the rescued miners are off to futbol matches and made-for-TV movie stardom, Malebran and 465 others are unemployed...with no money...and very little hope.
Chilean law indicates that a miner should get severance pay equal to one month for every year's employment, but that money has been delayed until at least December, and there is nowhere for people like Malebran to turn. Union money has run out, and in the small town of Copiapo where he lives, there is scant opportunity for employment of any kind. Hard times are coming, and his wife already suffers physically from the stress; it will get worse.
The government went so far as to provide a job fair for the unemployed, and this event meant jobs for 10-12 of the former miners...hardly enough.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned his age (52). It hardly seems to matter since not even the younger ex-miners are getting jobs. While the world looks elsewhere for its next captivating moment of glory, Sergio Malebran and his wife stare hopelessness in the face.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No "ping" or "pop" in the Home

"Whooping It Up"
Remember the crabby old lady on your block that went into launch mode if you rode your bike or skateboarded down "her" sidewalk? She (and it was invariably a woman) would stand on the porch and almost dare you to traverse "her" space. Playing ball in the street? That was certain to get a call off to the police, as was being loud after, say, 7:30 on a hot summer evening. In case you've wondered where those folks have gone today, the answer is simple: they have moved to "adults only" retirement communities, and they STILL have the same mindset of "This is mine,and I can make any rules I want to make."
Movement to these retirement communities began in Sun City, Arizona, quite a while ago, overtook Florida faster than the raping of the Everglades could take place, and has since become a nationwide phenomena. My uncle in Texas loves living in one, and so do ten or fifteen other retirees I know who've begun to use up all the water in florida for the 30 golf courses in The Villages. The life is simple:pickleball in the morning, golf in the afternoon, cocktails and dinner at 6, and in bed by 9 or so, but the rules are somewhat kids except visits which are strictly regulated, cars or walking since everyone has a golf cart, no painting your house the way you want inside or out, and no distractions like a bright blue planter outside your door. Oh yes, the driveway must be cleaned as well.
All of this has been chronicled in a book entitled Leisureville, written by a reporter for NPR in an attempt to understand what made such places so attractive. As a potential buyer, I checked it out and would rather slash my own throat before moving to such a conformist environment. And now, there is a widespread attempt to ban pickleball!
Our friend Lisa sent us an article from The Wall Street Journal (noted liberal media source) that exposed significant attempts to ban the hottest game for active seniors on the planet: a game that requires minimal athletic ability yet combines the competitiveness and skill of tennis and table tennis. People have gravitated to the game of pickleball for all of these reasons, and now, others in these gated, age-restricted communities are trying to ban this activity as too noisy. Would you believe that some adherents play after 7 p.m. at night! I mean really! And the noise: There's all this pinging and popping all the time as well as whooping it up and EVEN trash talking" among those on the court! How's a body supposed to sleep or get any peace and quiet with all that noise going on. In case you are interested, the
article describes the noise levels in decibels, and it is significantly lower than that created by vuvuzelas--something I would be blowing if I were living anywhere near those cranky people! Senior citizens being active, getting healthy, having fun...all day every day instead of hanging out at the bars or watching TV, trying not to die so soon. Horrors!~
I've got just the place for those not-so-active seniors who want solitude and a minimum of outside distractions.
It's called the nursing home. Go there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soon, China Will Be Ours

The Chinese Version of Ron Artest?

I've long argued that eventually, the whole world will evolve into mini-Americas, and it will happen through technology. I don't mean technological advances that we will make to humble other countries with our sheer amazing abilities: I mean television and the internet. I mean, we've all (mostly) read the story about the Pacific islanders who thought that the fatter a woman was, the more beautiful she was...until cable TV was introduced. Then, anorexia and bulimia became national crises. And you just KNOW that countries are banning music videos and other "cultural" phenomena because they don't want women (and teenage boys) to get ideas. Well, we finally have proof that even sports in foreign countries has come under the spell of American athletics (vuvuzelas notwithstanding)
It seems that a team from Brazil was playing a "friendly" (I thought that term was only used for soccer matches) with the Chinese team that was preparing for the Asian Games. Now, China, as we know, has a greater number of people over 7 feet tall than any other country...of course, they have far more people period, but still...
Anyway, a foul was called on a Chinese player (no evidence what nationality the official was), and protests were voiced by the players and coaches; protests which ultimately led to a brawl complete with punching and kicking. Not surprisingly, the Brazilians left the court vowing not to return, leaving the now-amped Chinese players with no real adversary, presuming the officials had long since vacated the premises.
Brawling? in a "friendly"? Really?
Just one more sign that the American way of life is out there, not elevating the lives and social fabric of less sophisticated countries, but bringing the rest of the world down to our level.
It's a plan that seems to be working.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Paul, Now Buddy


Unless you happen to be a bookie in Vegas where gambling is legal or a bookie or a bettor in places where gambling is NOT legal, you might want to follow some red hot tips. Oh sure, you can read the racing form or any of a hundred statistical sites willing to give you the skinny on which team to pick...even Vegas gives odds on just about everything from a flip of the Super Bowl coin to its final outcome. Rather than sifting through the morass of gobbledygook, I just check out what the folks in the animal kingdom have to say...sort of a Dr. Doolittle approach, you might say.
This first caught my attention during the 2010 World Cup in which this octopus from Germany had an amazing run (well, not RUN actually) of selecting the winner in matches played in South Africa. Paul the Psychic Octopus even predicted that the Germans would lose...and he lives in Germany! Wow!
Now we have Buddy the Beagle who predicts winners on Monday Night Football (3-2 so far this year). Interested parties can follow buddy on Facebook and a host of other sites. Just because I know you want to know ahead of time, here's where you can find Buddy's prediction on tonight's Jets/Vikings game:
Of course, these two animals are merely the latest in a long line of predictors. Remember the augurers from Roman times? They used animals to predict the future...unfortunately, each animal was good for only one prediction, but still...
Pigs and chickens have been used to prognosticate the outcomes of football games in this country, and there are two orangutans in an Oregon zoo who are 4-1 and 6-1 when it comes to predicting Super Bowl winners.
So, while talking to the animals is a good thing, listening to them might be even more profitable.

Friday, October 08, 2010

In Liu of A Prize...Jail Time

It's that time of year again...everybody gets all excited to see who the latest winners are and see what the international repercussions will be. Who gets the gold, and who gets the shaft? Yes, it's Nobel prize time again.
Many of us who were not among the finalists in any one of the six categories had forgotten all about it...something like a World Series matchup between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants. When I didn't see my name on any of the lists of finalists, frankly, I stopped paying attention. But the, the madcap Royal Swedish Society went and gave the peace prize for this year to Liu Xiaobo, and the response was thunderous. No, that's not applause you heard: it's the protests of the Chines government...see, Xiaobo is a dissident spending his days and nights in the crowbar hotel someplace in China. I guess the government feels that a guy wearing pajamas with horizontal stripes on them should not be so honored, but that's their problem. The bigger problem is how does he get the money, can he spend it in the prison canteen, and does this make him a target to become somebody' know.
As the story slowly became bigger than the Brett Favre sexting story, I wondered about all the past winners, indeed, the history of this award. Yes, I do have a bit of time on my hands at times. Because I have piqued your curiosity at this point, here's the skinny:
Named after Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor to give accord to a person every year who made "the greatest benefit to mankind," Nobel prizes have been awarded to more than 500 people over the last 109 years. The youngest recipient was 25, and the oldest was 90.
Five countries have garnered most of the awards given out in the categories of peace, medicine, chemistry, physics, economics and literature. Sweden is at number five, having been granted 28 such awards to individuals. France comes in at number four with a total of 57 prizes given. Germany holds the median spot in out=r countup with 103 of its citizens being so honored. The UK assumes the runner-up spot with 117 awards to its citizens/ credit, and the big numero uno...the big dog...with 323 awardees...the United States. A breakdown by category is impossible for me because a) I don't have a prize and, thus, don't much care beyond this point and b) the BBC report I read didn't go further than to list the top five countries and note that a paltry41 of those who won were women.
So...for whom does the Nobel toll? (sorry). not for me.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Hopefully, We'll Get What We Deserve

Enough , already! Even though it's almost Hallowe'en (or Christmas, if you go to the mall), this idea has been following me around lately like trick-or-treaters who realize I give out full-sized candy bars (or Marley's ghost). It slammed into my consciousness after I heard it trumpeted on radio commercials for the zillionth time, then did a flying mare on my frontal lobe when I had to consider the idea as I read a student's essay, and finally came to the screaming point when a student told me today that she thought I graded her first essay "too hard."
I'm talking about the feeling of entitlement that seems to pervade the small area of the planet where I reside.
First, the radio commercials that boast "You can cut your credit card debt or payments for back taxes to the IRS in half! Former IRS agents are standing by to tell you the secrets that the IRS or the credit card companies) don't want you to know!" Hold on a minute. You mean to tell me that if I owe more than $20,000 in back taxes, I can get out of paying most of it? On money that I earned and refused to pay taxes on? Legally? "Yes, that's right. Call now, and we'll show you how to stop the annoying phone calls relating to debt so you can get on with your life!" So, let me see if I get this should not HAVE to pay taxes on money you earned even though most of the rest of us (excepting folks like Mobil/Exxon) do so faithfully? I can rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and walk away? Dang...I never knew I was entitled to cheat other people like that...seems like it was covered in the "thou shalt nots." Face it, YOU used the credit cards, and YOU made the money that is being taxed...and I'm the sucker for paying what I owe.
Students have been getting the rap lately as expecting a grade of "B" or better simply for doing what they are supposed to do...and to all accounts, they deserve the bad rep. I recently handed back a set of 25 basic personal narrative essays that contained nothing so difficult as MLA style citations but did ask for a reflection concerning how the author felt the process went: what was difficult, what might be adjusted the next paragraph...and almost half did not bother to do it. Surprisingly enough, the grades plotted out to an almost perfect bell curve with only two students getting a grade of "A/B" while the rest scored lower. One of the "C/D" students comment on a subsequent reflection that I should have graded more leniently since it was their first college essay. this "I deserve it because it's me" shroud of self-delusion seems to be creeping acfross the landscape like the fog in The Hound of the Baskervilles (another Hallowe'en reference), and I must say that I'm not buying it. I'm no Glenn Beck, making fun of a rural Tennessee family whose house and possessions burned while the fire department watched (seemed the family hadn't paid the $75 fee for fire protection), but I'm no bleeding heart who feels sorry for those who feel more deserving of benefits they have not earned in some fashion.
Call me a moderate...moderately irritated, and hoping I get what I deserve.
(Being careful of what I hope for!)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Seriously? It's Come to This?


Stunned beyond belief I was (thanks to Yoda for the dialect) to discover that, gasp, the cast of Glee has charted more songs on the Billboard Hot 100 than The Beatles! That news came out this week, and made me do more than just pause a moment. C'mon now...a television program cast outselling the mega-band of all time? Well, not really. Let's back up a minute before I herniate a disc over this.
It seems that every week, the soundtrack for Glee, an admittedly great show, releases five or six tracks for download on iTunes. That is equivalent to releasing an album (you remember those, right?) every two weeks. Given the popularity of the show, it's easy to believe that folks might rush to the computer and download tracks. Thus it is that right now, the cast of Glee ranks #3 on the all-time list for most charted hits. Their most popular, of course, was "Don't Stop Believin'" which earns Fleetwood Mac a hefty chunk o' change, I suspect, especially since the song has been downloaded more than 992,000 times among the total download sales of 11.5 million.
Put into proper perspective, only James Brown at 91 chart hits and Elvis Presley with 108 chart hits remain to be conquered, and conquered they, obviously, will time. Do the math.
In copmparison, The Bestles charted 71 times, beginning in 1964 with Can't Buy Me Love and ending in 1996 with the catchy Real Love: 32 years for 71 chart hits. This latest phenomenon has taken only 16 months to eclipse the total of the Fab Four.
But wait...there's more.
During the Beatles' run, they placed 34 records (remember those?) in the top 100, with a staggering 20 of those reaching number one. The only top ten hit for the cast of Glee has been the cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, peaking at number four. Can the Glee Rock Band game be far behind?
I'm digging out my 45's right now on the long and winding road to recovering a semblance of sanity.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Tanning or Birth Control?

What NOT to do!

The medical field has provided us with zillions of improvements to our lives, making it easier for us to live a life of leisure and comfort on the cheap. Think about it. We older people used to have to get up to change the channels on our televisions, speak into a phone that was attached to the wall even if our parents were standing right there (POS), and fast food was something that happened when Mom said, "You can leave the table when you finish your broccoli." The internet? Digital music and players? not even close.
This also hearkens back to the days when the only way to get a tan was to lie outside under the broiling sun with aluminum foil surrounding the face (or, as people around here mistakenly say "Lay out"), and birth control was achieved by counting days or simply not "doing it." Ah, medical science.
It appears now that men can achieve both of those medical advances simply by using a laptop computer! In a research article presented in Pediatrics magazine, researchers discovered that by using a laptop placed, well, on top of the lap, a condition known as "toasted Skin Syndrome" might develop...a mottled, darkened skin condition resulting from exposure to the heat of a laptop that was remarkably similar to the effects of continued exposure to the sun's rays!
Swiss researchers noted several cases in which exposure of up to six hours a day over a period of time was likely to result in this skin condition: not necessarily leading to cancer. Sound familiar? You bet! It's surfing the internet AND catching some rays , even on cloudy days or on days where one cannot afford to "go tanning."
And for men leery of surgical procedures to limit procreation powers, this source of heat has also been linked to reduced sperm production. Hey, a win-win!
Sadly, though, there is no report of such an effect on women who used a laptop atop their laps.
Other than a tan, I mean...and without the waxing and all the other stuff that normally goes into the process.
Isn't science great?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Slow Day for News?

I'm generally a middle-of-the-road moderate kind of person. I'm only willing to take moderate risks with my minuscule portfolio, I never vote down the line with a political party but weigh the issues, I don't hate Muslims, Jews or any other minority (either religion, race or gender) because I figure everyone has a logical reason to be who and what he or she is...well, may with the exception of the political talking heads who shout at each other, convinced that the "other" side will be leading us to total annihilation very soon.
My extended family contains agnostics, deeply religious people, a Buddhist and so many ordained religious folks it's hard to keep track, and my personal background involves more time spent in a kneeling position than I care to recollect (especially the punishment kind of kneeling that predominated my grade school career). So this religion for pets thing has me scratching my head while dogs and cats scratch other places.
In today's paper, there was a lengthy article concerning a minister (the denomination will remain a secret) who organized a service designed to bless the assorted pets brought forward by owners, anxious for...what? redemption? a cure for fleas and hairballs? less expensive vet bills?
Of course, I could have read the entire article and discovered the real purpose behind the ministry for pets, but frankly, I thought the whole thing was so ridiculous that I moved right into Beetle Bailey.
This was only slightly more ridiculous that the service I attended during which the minister blessed weapons prior to hunting season.
No word whether or not he also blessed the ammunition...seems like that's what causes all the damage.
And publishers wonder why nobody reads the newspaper anymore!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Would You Question the Fashion Police?

OK, to start with, I am NOT considering myself to be Beau Brummel-ish (or GQ-ish) by any stretch of the imagination. If I find something I like, I'm apt to buy a couple more just like it in various colors...and I see nothing wrong with that. Since I've changed from teaching physical education attire to business casual wear for the current gig, I've had to update my wardrobe. But how many pair of Khaki pants and how many polos or button-down-collared shirts can one person have? Thus, I am nondescript, for the most part. I still draw the line at footwear, eschewing adult wing tips for outlandish running shoes. Does it all resemble an ensemble? don't know...don't care...but the fashion police DO care.
The officer in question uses the classroom right before my class begins three days a week. Lately, he's been emerging wearing a tie with dress slacks and the aforementioned oxford shirt. lately, I've been wearing khaki pants and a polo...with running shoes. On wEdnesday, while we were enjoying our passing time discussing habiliment, he mentioned that composition teachers had an unofficial "uniform": which included a tie (instrument of the Inquisition, in my mind). While I know he was something less than dead serious, I nonetheless donned a cravat, oxford shirt and dress slacks for class today...with running shoes, natch. As he emerges tieless (but wearing an argyle sweater and slacks) from the classroom, he glances at me and smirks, "Casual Friday." Casual THIS, buster.
However, that was not the only appearance by the fashionistas today...a loud discussion emanated from the offices of the women's soccer coaches, discussing the correctness of wearing both black and navy blue at the same time: one implied it was a crime against nature while the other allowed that he saw no problem with the combination; both were male, by the way. I had often been castigated for wearing those exact colors in combination, so I joined the fray, only to notice that one of them had a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket on while wearing shorts! Abuses were rampant, but we could all make allowances for individual foibles. Debbie, the office manager indicated a dissatisfaction with the color combination but added that her husband saw nothing amiss with it as he noted, "If the Marines can wear it, it's all right with me."
That shut us all up, especially since we were not quite sure what the dress uniform of the US Marines looked like.
I looked it up and found NO black anywhere: navy blue, royal blue, red, white and gold, but no black...I think.
But I'm not about to argue with either the fashion police OR a Marine.
Khakis and a polo will have to do (in shades of tan and brown, of course).