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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Never Get Dumped OR Dump Coffee on Yourself


While Stella Liebeck was certainly not the first to discover it, she remains the most famous (or notorious, if you work for McDonald's). Back in 1992, Liebeck had the misfortune to dump a very hot cup of coffee in her lap at a McDonald's drive-thru, burning herself in places better left to the imagination. At any rate, a lawsuit followed, and now we have those tiny warning that tell us that this coffee, indeed, is very hot, though maybe not to the degree recommended by McDonald's in 1992 (between 180-190 degrees F). Of course, at that temperature, one can suffer a third degree burn in between 2-7 seconds; when it soaks into cotton sweatpants as it did in Liebeck's case, well, let's just say it was there for longer than it takes to be considered a successful bullrider. But that's not really my point. (yes, there IS one.)
Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by Dr. Ethan Kross, assistant professor of psychology, have just discovered a credible link between the brain activity that occurs in situations of physical pain and the kind of brain activity that occurs after an incident of intense emotional distress! Their basic theory, yet to be proven, was that intense emotional pain can be a precursor to physical pain. Here's what they did:
The researchers selected 21 women and 19 men, all of whom suffered no chronic pain or mental illness, and all of whom had been dumped by a significant other within the last six months. While examining brain reaction with an MRI, the subjects were confronted with two separate situations:
1. A heat source was strapped to an arm that gave off a similar amount of heat as holding a cup of coffee without a sleeve on the cup.
2. Being shown a picture of the ex and asked to remember things the two of them had done together. (are you kidding? Would YOU volunteer for such a thing? There had better have been some money changing hands for this one)

The reaction to both situations was the same: two separate brain areas were affected: the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula lit up like the Griswold's house at Christmas.
Voila! Something of a link has been established, and now the researchers are wondering whether treating physical pain will help ease emotional pain and vice versa.
Maybe, maybe not, but it won't get coffee stains out of sweatpants, and it won't "wash that man right out of my hair" anytime soon!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

And I Don't Even Smoke!

Sad, but true. went out of its way this week to enumerate for its readership fifteen ways that smoking was terrible for one's appearance. Note: the article was not about how smoking impacted one's life expectancy (that's a given, I suspect), but it merely detailed quite graphically what could happen to the various aspects that people consider when choosing a match on and in dimly-lit bars ( I guess).
I was horrified to read about the lesser-know liabilities of smoking...but then, I began to notice something of a trend: most everything mentioned in the article was related to what I see every day in the mirror. To wit:

1. Smoking causes a breakdown in the stuff that keeps one's skin firm, leading to bags under the eyes (and in other places as well, I suspect). I checked my picture...there are definite bags under my eyes.

2. As a result of this loss of tissue firmness, wrinkles begin to appear prematurely...and, sure enough, I have more wrinkles than an English bulldog.

3. Smoking is widely known to discolor teeth, taking away that superhero whiteness and replacing it with a dingy, yellow film and necessitating many hundreds of dollars in teeth whitening (probably at the expense of the enamel...heck, just drink a Coke if that's all you want.) And, yes, my teeth,too, are not Dudley Doorite white, that's for sure.

4.This I found strange: smokers have a much higher incidence of warts, specifically genital warts. Huh? I thought that came from sex...but apparently, while it does come from having sex with an infected person, one's resistance to the virus that causes warts is much reduced as a smoker. Right now, I have one wart on an index finger. Hmmm.

5. The hair of smokers is noticeably thinner. Note that the top of my head is not part of that picture...for a reason.

6. A smoker's appearance loses its natural, healthy be replaced by a gaunt, gray appearance. Wow! even I can't look at my photo any more, no matter how much I try to PhotoShop it.

7. Smokers have more pronounced scar tissue since it takes longer for them to heal due to a lack of oxygen. While you cannot see them in the picture, my SCARS have scars...worse and worse.

8. Smoker's have a 22% increase in the occurrence of cataracts. Since statistically more than half of us have cataracts by age 80 anyway, this number is a scary one. So far, I can still see more or less clearly with glasses/contacts...but I'm not betting the farm on my chances here.

9. You've heard of all the types of cancer that one can get as a result of smoking, but did you know that smokers are three times as likely to develop skin cancer than people who choose not to smoke? Wow!

While I do not smoke, I lived in a household for the first 15 or so years of my life surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke. Smoking eventually took the lives of both my parents.
I don't look so good, and I'm suddenly not feeling so hot, either.
Too much knowledge CAN be a dangerous thing, it seems.
Back to PhotoShop just to make myself feel better.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

OMG! I'm Definitely NOT LOL!

Too many calories for me!

It's that time again: time for the Oxford English Dictionary to revise and/or update its list of more than 600,000 words to include the most commonly-used verbiage in its attempt to retain some semblance of relevance. Of course, if I were 150 years old, I think I'd do whatever it took to stay in the public eye as well.
Every three months, this renowned publication tweaks its entries to stay with the times. It's so modern that it also has its own website, which you can access at And it's not just a dictionary, either; it features a historical thesaurus to show the development and changes that occur with words dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and including modern parlance as well. There's even a "word of the day" for those of you who wish to enhance your boundaries of language use. So, what's new? Plenty...but for my money, these are the more striking entries.

1. Tinfoil hat. I'll be honest: I had never heard this expression, but according to the dictionary, it is a term for headgear worn by conspiracy theorists who fear mind control rays. Really. Could I make something like that up?
Of a more common usage are
2. Muffin top. Naturally, there's the baked goods definition, but also included is the designation for the, uh, protuberance over the waist of tight-fitting pants, made famous by a Seinfeld episode.
3. The "heart" symbol, as in "I Heart N.Y." We're down to including symbols, are we?
Of course, the language of texting had to make an appearance, and included are
4. OMG and
5. LOL
Perhaps the company is just trying to save ink, but writing as a person who never abbreviates any word while texting, I'm aghast. So much so that I'll stay with for what I need to know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Picture Yourself Old...or Not

If you want an accurate assessment of the possibility you have for a long life, go to the insurance companies. They make their money betting on how long you'll live, and, of course, their rates are based on many factors...all of which are controlled by you. Northwestern Mutual Life has just provided an online calculator to help you assess your chances of living for a long time, or not. Of course, it doesn't take into account the random bus accident or tsunami...just your average daily lifestyle and activities.
I tried it, and was somewhat disappointed to find out that I am, theoretically, slated to live to be 96. There's no doubt that if I live that long, I'll be a drooling idiot (the addition of drool is the only difference from now).
Anyhow, feel daring? Give it a shot:

I think I'm going to have to give up exercise, drink more and develop some other nasty habits. I mean, 80 is about right, I think. If it was good enough for Maude, it's good enough for me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where Is J. Edgar When We Need Him?

Forget Cee Lo

It didn't start with The Kingsmen in 1963, but it might as well have. It was their big hit Louie, Louie that caused an uproar among the record-buying teens and the parents they were trying so hard to annoy...and annoy them it did. The lyrics, often thought to be incredibly salacious, caught the attention of the country"s moralist (pre-Tipper Gore, Moral Majority and Tea Party folks) leadership, and the F.B.I. got involved, Dillinger and Baby Face long having been apprehended. After countless hours of playing the song over and over at varying speeds, the feds came to the conclusion that the lyrics were "unrecognizable at any speed," ensuring that only parents would be upset while teens used their imaginations and The Kingsmen made money (though Richard Berry probably didn't). However, the censors weren't finished. The Rolling Stones were forced to change the lyrics to Let's Spend the Night Together in order to appear on Ed Sullivan...and if a band could appear on THAT program, it was immediately a hit. As a side note, at least Elvis Costello didn't cave in like that when he appeared on Saturday Night Live when they asked him NOT to perform Radio, Radio, a song that mocked the establishment.But now? Imagination is not a requisite if one want to hear "shocking" lyrics in pop music.
Prince used a word that was definitely NOT "funk" in his "Erotic City" back in the 90's, but lately, it's become blatant.
Cee Lo Green. nominated for a Grammy this year had a mega-hit with Forget You. However, if you went to a concert or watched the video on YouTube, he definitely did NOT say "Forget" you, and he did not say it, oh fifteen times or so. Pink has a song about empowerment in which she states that " don't have to be effing perfect," though she does not say "effing" in the song. Mumford and Son ( a band I happen to like) is currently getting a lot of play with a song that intones "I sure mumbled it up this time. The vide is far more explicit. "Enrique Iglesias may be the most cheeky (so to speak). The video for his song Tonight (I'm Loving You) was filmed in a strip club with topless women in a cage and did NOT use the term "loving" at all.
However, there are alternate versions for top 40 radio that either change the word slightly or have a mute button for that part...but we ALL know what is missing. Where do we go from here? Even Howard Stern is not the shock-jock that he used to be since we've all heard that schtick for so long that we just ignore it...maybe that's why radio airplay has gotten more risque.
It used to be all about love and romance. Now, it's all about sex...and not implied sex, either like Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsly sharing a bedroom with two beds, but real Jersey Shore-like sex.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Can You Afford To Wait Another 29 Years? I Can't.

You Snooze, You Lose!

Anybody with a rudimentary science background knows the difference between "perigee" and "apogee." Sometimes, I do confuse the two, but I always know that one is close and one is far away. Well, I have no longer to wait for clarification than tomorrow night: when the moon is in perigee with regard to its orbit around the earth (it DOES orbit around the earth, doesn't it?)
So, what does this fact mean to the average person? It means the average person had better get his or her (though we know it to be a Chinese "he") rear end off the darn barstool and get outside to watch the moon rise tomorrow night. This will be the biggest moonrise in 29 years...bigger even that the "harvest moon" which always seems gargantuan to me. And it's all due to perigee.
The full moon rising tomorrow night will be 14% bigger than average and 30% brighter than average...due to the fact that it is closer to the earth. In fact, the moon will be a mere 31,000 miles CLOSER to the earth than it is when at its apogee.
Don't let that frighten you: we are in as much danger of the moon crashing into the earth as we are of radiation getting here from Japan. Fact is, though closer, the moon will still be more than 211,000 miles away so we should be safe enough!
The next perigee moon will take place in 2029. I, for one, do not plan to be here to see it at that time, so I'm going out tomorrow night.
"I see the moon, and the moon sees me..."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Looking To Be Average? Probably Not Going To Happen.

"Typical," "Ordinary," "Average:" does any of these words represent who you think you are? Of course, all our mothers swore that we were far above average in just about every category, mostly because few of us grew up in Lake Wobegon, a place where most people are average at best. However, if we were to be honest with ourselves, most of us would readily admit that Mom was just blowing smoke, and we're a LOT closer to average than we want to admit to her. Fortunately, National Geographic has proof that most of us are decidedly NOT average.
Among the roughly 7 billion people on earth, you'd agree that most of them don't look like you...but there's more. According to the latest article at, the average person possesses the following characteristics:

1. this person is a 28-year-old male
2. this person is right-handed
3. this person has an income of less than $12,000 per year
4. this person owns a cell phone
5. this person does NOT have a bank account
6. this person is Han Chinese

There you have it. You are probably not the "average" Joe or Jane. Whether or not that's a good thing, I am not prepared to say, but you can take solace in the fact that most of the other 7 billion folks aren't average, either.
Enjoy your superiority temporarily.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Supreme Minority

Just when a good thing going becomes something of a tradition, there always seems to be somebody or a group of somebodies who go and ruin the whole thing for everyone. Think about it: you're in high school, hanging out at LaSalle Park, drinking a few cold ones and talking some trash when some loonies decide the campfire isn't big enough so they pile on huge logs and pieces of somebody's fence. Of course, the cops get a call, and the next thing you know, you're all sprinting away knowing that now you'd need some other place to hang out. I could give you a dozen other examples, but you get the idea. So do the students at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
Tufts, established by some guy named, well, Tufts, back in 1852 has a long history of being the 'light on the hill" among other things. There are approximately 9200 students attending who will pay something close to $41,000 this year in tuition, excluding fees. As a result, they probably feel a LOT of pressure to study hard, do extra credit and generally prove that expenditure worthwhile. So, you can imagine that when the semester comes to an end, there is a decided need to release some pent-up anxiety...and they have done so annually since the 1970s with something called the Naked Quad Run (I'm sure no other details are necessary).
All of that is coming to an end, according to President Lawrence Bacow who called this year's event a "carnage" and vowed that the students had run their last. According to the president, the run was too dangerous due to "excessive alcohol consumption, slippery sidewalks and dangerously low temperatures." These were probably the major factors in doing the run in the first place, but then...
Following this year's run, two students were hospitalized with very high blood alcohol content issues. Imagine making THAT phone call to Mom or Dad paying the $41k!
According to one student," A drunken few ruined it for the majority."
So, it's not just in politics where that happens, it would seem.
Or at surreptitious high school parties.
But it ALWAYS happens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Over Before Age 5...Freud Was Right

Despite being wrong about Pi Day since I thought yesterday was the 13th and it was, in fact, Pi Day (the 14th), I'm not sure I would even read anything I wrote myself with regard to numbers. However, if a woman in New York and several unnamed studies are to be believed, spending many hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education beginning at age two will recoup substantially more than that for your child. Face it, if your child isn't on the fast track by age two, he or she is doomed to a life of, probably, public servitude. Here''s the story:
I'm withholding the woman's name because it is humiliating enough for her to know that her daughter Lucia has lost what little chance she had to ever be a success. And for the kind of money that was being invested, I'd be seriously "p'ed o" as well. Seems Mom enrolled her daughter in a New York preschool at age two that guaranteed her daughter the opportunity to excel on the city's E.R.B. test that is given to four-year-olds as they jockey for position to be enrolled in the dog-eat-dog-and-I'm-wearing-MIlkbone-underwear world of entrance into the elite kindergartens of the Big Apple. It also appears that Mom was forking out $19,000 per year for the right to have her daughter educated to a degree not even Disney could have foreseen. But, according to the mother, "The school proved not to be a school at all, but just a big playroom." In fact, she freed her daughter earlier in the year when Mom discovered that her daughter had been "dumped in" with two-year-old students who were talking about shapes and colors. EEK! (of course, for 19k, the colors would have to be the 64-crayon box, not the crappy 8-crayon box).
Citing the aforementioned unnamed studies, Mom noted that preschool education was critical to a child's success in life, especially in terms of getting into an Ivy League school or achieving a guaranteed higher income later in life.
At the risk of making an egregious error (after all, I didn't even GO to preschool), I will attempt the math.
Two years at $19k for preschool= $38,000.
Private elementary school: 9 years @25k=$225,000
Four years of private high school (without tutors) @$30k=$120,000.
Five years at an Ivy League college @$60k/yr= $300,000
Total (if my math is anywhere close to right) $683,000.00
Outrageous, you say? Not really. Having matriculated through the system , emerging clutching a Princeton diploma, a grad will make that much up in seven years, providing Mom and Dad paid for everything and the middle-class idea of having a student loans or (gasp!) Pell Grants hasn't blemished the experience. has done an extremely interesting analysis of the NCAA 68-team basketball tournament: it has calculated a winner based on how much a graduate of each of the teams can be expected to earn right out of college. Not surprisingly, with that kind of calculation, Princeton will win it all, since its grads stand to make $102,000. for the first year after graduation. Though NOT Ivy League, Duke will be the runner-up (sorry, Coach K.) since its graduates will earn a paltry $99,000 per year. Georgetown would finish third if such a level existed by providing a diploma worth $94,000 per year.
If you want to pick an athletic dark horse, go ahead: a graduate of Alabama State University stands to pocket a cool $37,800. per year with diploma in hand.
You can see the list and marvel at what money can buy at
Emporia State was not mentioned...maybe that's why I'm still broke after 40 years.
Feel free to weep openly with me at this time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Much Pi(e) Can YOU Take?

I'll Take Cherry a la Mode

I know this Daylight Savings Time thing has you all screwed up (internal clockwise), but you really need to get some extra sleep tonight since the biggest celebration since Mardi Gras happens tomorrow. Of course, the geeks among you know that tomorrow, March 14th is better known as Pi Day, a day set aside to glory in the wonders of pi, the ration of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. To math phobes like me, I merely round off to 3.14 when I'm doing basic calculations (as my teachers always told me I would in my adult life). There are a few more digits, but if you're a math geek, you already know them, and if you aren't, you stopped reading this when you realized that there was no real food involved.
The real math folks will be celebrating with pi(e) eating contests, pi-digit memorizing, and exchanging pi-greeting cards(seriously...Hallmark is reaching here a bit, I think). However, there IS a fly in the celebratory ointment, and his name is Michael Hartl, and he dismisses pi as unimportant. Really. HE says the really important figure is tau (roughly twice pi), which is a designation for the ratio of the circumference to the radius of a circle, and a MUCH more necessary part of any circular calculation, according to Hartl.
Hartl is SO enamored with tau that he has developed a website that sells (or at least has for sale) tau merchandise and also derides Pi Day as "Half Tau Day." Wow! That's cold. Truly interested at this point? I have included a URL for an essay that points out exactly WHY using pi is "stupid."

No word from Einstein on the matter...or, for that matter all the BabyEinsteins that Disney created.
I'll stick with my version of pi(e), thank you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Better Than Bacon?

Why Didn't I Think of This?

It's that time of year again: the snow lingers in the yard; March comes in like, well, whatever, and remains crappy until June; spring break dreams of beachfront living are just dreams; and the Easter season is upon us. That means the annual rite of purging our bodies and minds of sinful desires and erstwhile habits. It's time to purify our minds and bodies by giving something up for the 40-plus days or so of the Lenten season.
It was always an excruciating time for me when I was a kid, mostly because I didn't get to decide what to do sacrificially. Mom would say, "OK, we're giving up ice cream and candy for Lent," or something equally devastating. I mean, why not give up Brussels sprouts or walking five miles to school (uphill both ways) or having to wear that itchy wool suit to church every week? Those were sacrifices I could cheerfully have made; Mom pointed out, however, that the reason it was called "sacrifice" was that the act had to be something painful. Painful I knew! I figured since I had to share a bedroom AND a bed with my brother that I'd been purified beyond belief already. Sadly, Mom and the church didn't see things that way (actually, I think my brother had already called "dibs" on that form of sacrificial offering).
Now that I've grown old enough to make my own decisions concerning sacrifice, I think I might give a little thought to J. Wilson's latest idea for Lenten offering, even though it has a food angle which might initially make me recoil in horror (no Brussels sprouts mentioned)
Wilson, the editor of the Adams, Iowa, County Free Press newspaper and beer blogger has decided that this year he is going to emulate the holy monks of Germany of some 300 years ago and go without eating the entire Lenten season. Seriously. Imagine not eating from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. I mean someone I know gave up drinking Starbucks' Frappaccino for the entire Lenten observance once, but really, food deprivation? I would find that hard to swallow (sorry).
Anyway, Wilson is relying on the stories of the old monks who subsisted on something called "liquid bread" for those fasting days of Lent. That liquid is actually a doppelbock beer containing 300 calories that was originally brewed by the monks. So, that's Wilson's plan during Lent:
he has prepared for the task by bulking up since Thanksgiving from his normal 140 pounds to 160 in order to stave off some of the potential caloric effects. Wilson will imbibe four 12-ounce Illuminator Doppelbocks per day (brewed by an Iowa firm), each of which will contain 6.7% alcohol.
I must say I'm curious. I will definitely keep checking out this story as it unfolds. I'll have a whole year to decide if it's worth the effort, since Lent has already begun for this year. Still...
But really, no bacon for 40 days? I'll take a hair shirt and self-flagellation anytime.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Spider, Spider...In My Car?

V-6 Powered!

We were perched atop an elephant that didn't understand English in the middle of a trackless jungle in Thailand: nothing to worry about, right, despite the fact that our elephant handler (who also did not speak English) had leapt off and disappeared, for all intents and purposes? Well, as our pachyderm stopped momentarily to graze on a tasty green morsel, I happened to look to my immediate right...and noticed a spider, the size of my hand (with fingers extended), dangling not a foot away from me. Not an arachnophobe (particularly), I pointed it out to my wife, thinking it would be funny. The paroxysm of fear that ran through her almost dislodged us from the beast as she grabbed me and thrust me, first toward the spider as a shield, then pulled me away, threatening to drop us nine feet to the ground. Of course, I knew she didn't like spiders, but I didn't think she'd practically kill us while trying to escape one. Silly me.
It is for that reason that our choice of potential new cars has been slimmed by two recently.
Word emerged a few days ago that the yellow sac spider had a definite liking to build nests in the rubber hoses connected to the fuel line in 2009 and 2010 Mazda 6 autos. Sneaking in through the door that accessed the fuel tank for refilling,the resulting clog was significant enough that Mazda recalled 65,000 of the vehicles to check for said word if Orkin was called in on the job. The potential exists for blockages leading to fuel line ruptures and, of course, resulting fires. Not exactly what one would like to see, arachnophobe or not. I suppose the only good news is that the darned spider would die in the conflagration, but that's small comfort. I was amused until today's news that 2008 and 2009 Honda Accords are being found with the same issue (key the eerie music!). then it hit me that my dear drives a 2009 Honda Civic. If the spiders like the Accord so much, might the slower, less-evolved members of the species not favor the Civic? This is definitely cause for concern...though not for me: I bike or take the 1996 RAV4.
However, the allay any fears should my sweetie read the reports and leap to the same conclusions that I have, I decided to research the critter a bit.
For starters, it is indigenous to the entire United States, with the exception of the northern states (I'm hoping that includes us here in Titletown).
Additionally, the yellow sac spider is accredited with the most bites reported in the country...bites which are often misconstrued as recluse spider bites.
Worried? Most bites occur while the victim is out gardening or working outdoors, though when the weather gets cold, the eight-legged Draculae move indoors.
How to be prepared? Follow these precautions:

If you want to prevent you and your family from yellow sac spider bites you can take certain measures. First of all you can shake your clothes before getting dressed. Also you can wear pre inspected clothes when doing garden work or handling firewood etc. Also, by removing your bed from the wall you can minimize the risk of close encounters with the yellow sac spider while asleep.

To protect your house from yellow sac spiders you can install tight fitting screens on windows and doors. You can also seal any crack or crevice a spider can fit into or get access to your house through. Installing yellow light on your front and back porch might also attract fewer insects, which are food for most if not all spiders.

Sleep tight, and stay away from Mazda 6's and Honda Accords!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Awesome or Awful? It Depends

Just how sure are you that you're right?

It's not the's not Nostradamus...It's Family Radio, and they are traveling the world just to let folks know that life as we know it is about to undergo a radical change. Just how significant that change will be for each of us depends on what kind of life we have led.
In the most recent in a long line of Doomsdayers announcing the impending Apocalypse, this group has taken its avocation seriously. Members have arranged convoys to travel the country and eventually the world to let people know that May 21st will be of significant importance to all people. The "ambassadors" as they call themselves are not out to convert's not some traveling Jehovah Witness thing. They are simply given to letting people know that we had better get our lives together in the next few months.
"Project Caravan" folks have given their material possessions away, left their homes and joined caravans of motorhomes and RVs traveling around the country (30,000 miles so far), handing out informational literature and hoping to warn people before it's too late of the impending judgment. How sure are they that this day will be different from past days? "The Bible guarantees it," according to the huge banners adorning their vehicles. Of course, that means someone is interpreting the language of the Bible, and far be it from me to suggest human error creeps in when this happens, but...
So, what will happen on May 21st? It depends. If you are bound for the Pearly Gates, you will be "raptured," but if, on the other hand, your ticket is punched for the Nether Regions, you are in for 153 days of death and horror before the world finally ends on October 21st.
Interested in reading about the whole movement? check out the URL:
So, if you are still here on May 22nd...well, you really don't want to be.
As for me, I'll be just getting back from my long-overdue honeymoon.
What a time to go.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What's the big deal?

This story just shows how skewed the world of college athletics has become. I was hoping to let it die as the media got onto bigger stories, but it seems like it just won't go away: much ado about nothing, I say.
Brandon Davies, a starting player on Brigham Young's nationally-ranked basketball team, was dismissed from the team earlier this week because he violated the school's honor code by having sex with his girlfriend. It wasn't noted how the news became public, but it really doesn't matter. Davies 'fessed up and knew the punishment...see, BYU is a university associated with the Mormon's, and all students sign the honor code which indicates that they will not drink, smoke, drink tea or coffee (presumably for the caffeine), swear, or have sex while attending the university. Students know that going in and agree to, no big deal, right?
Well, pundits nationwide are calling into question how a university can reasonably expect a young person to avoid ALL the near occasions of sin, as they used to be called. I mean, that's what college students DO, and given the report this week that indicated a large number of football players at Division I schools had criminal records BEFORE entering school, one wonders if BYU isn't being a bit strict. Not me. Good for them...other schools like Virginia and the military academies to name a few have the same system, and students and student-athletes seem to be OK.
Wait a minute...did I say incoming freshmen had criminal records and were STILL recruited to play football? Yes, I did. Now THAT'S something to fill the sports pages...or the University of Oregon paying some guy $25,000 to "scout" a player who eventually enrolled in school at Eugene. The NCAA is currently investigating that incident, but the coach Chip Kelly says the action is perfectly legal, and that other schools do this all the time!
Add all of that to the fact that the graduation rate for football players, especially black athletes and elite basketball players is abysmal, and you really have a story.
Or a player who has someone else take the SAT for him (while nobody seemed to notice!) so he can play one year of college basketball, jump to the NBA and make millions.
Something is definitely wrong with this picture, and it's not the picture of Brandon Davies.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Diet Help From Continental

Just another service of the airlines!

Continental Airlines really wants to help folks like me lose some weight. Maybe it's so the planes use less fuel when they fly...or maybe the flight attendants are just too busy selling $5.00 beer...or maybe it's part of a concerted effort to make America thinner by eliminating the need to have a 35-calorie snack EVERY time folks board a plane ( a choice I happen to believe!...though I would be more convinced if Michelle Obama were touting the praises of the new plan).
Fact is, this week, Continental Airlines joined United, American and U.S. Airways in eliminating free pretzels on its domestic flights. According to a spokesperson, it was a matter of economics: a savings of about 2.5 million dollars per year.
The new plan calls for a more aggressive hawking of the snack packs, priced at $3.95 and up, a trend that seems to have taken over the industry.
Why am I concerned about Continental Airlines all of a sudden? I fly it a lot. since one of our children works for Continental, we get flight benefits which allow us to make short flights to either Chicago or Cleveland to visit grandchildren at little cost. Granted, short flights don't famish me to the point that I NEED pretzels, but sometimes on a less-than-full-flight, I get two packages! That's 70 calories that I really don't need.
Thanks, Continental, for thinking of my wandering waistline. I'm sticking with you, despite the fact that Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and Air Tran still give free snacks and Southwest takes two bags free. Of course, I never check bags any time so that part is a moot point.
However, now that I will drop a few pounds by avoiding plane snacks, I will have to be extra careful going through security without a belt!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Need A Boost? Log On!

Social Networking is Good for Us?

Every now and then, say the middle of February or when I'm thinking about what happens when blue turns to red, I get a little bit (oops--red) here in Titletown. Fortunately, there is a simple way to get a quick pick-me-up other than caffeine, comfort food, or digging the dog up and kicking him around: Facebook. At least that's what Jeffrey Hancock, and other researchers at Cornell University, tell me.
In a study presented in the February 24 issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking (yes, there is such a journal, and it is peer-reviewed as well!) Hancock details a study done with 63 student respondents which "proved" that Facebook can be a positive mood-altering experience. The reason, according to Hancock, that logging on to Facebook provides users a quick ego boost is that doing so provides a positive version of ourselves. After all, our "friends" are saying nice things, and the pictures we provide show us in a more flattering way than does, say, a mirror, which shows us as we really are: definitely not matching the ideal self that we have in our heads. Hancock claims this is merely a more positive version, not a deception. Maybe this is merely semantics...maybe not.
Anyway, the 63 subjects were placed in front of a computer featuring their Facebook page, a blank screen, or a mirror. After three minutes, the subjects were asked a series of questions that measured their mood. By far, the students with the highest positive mood change were the ones who spent the time on Facebook...and those who changed their profiles in the meantime scored even higher than the rest of the Facebook viewers.
Naysayers, and there will be some, will attest to the addictive nature of Facebook and social media in general, but so far, this is the only study that seems to indicate scientifically that some networking can be a good thing.
And you wondered what college professors did when they weren't teaching their five classes per week!