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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Curse of Cable

I have to admit that I've begun to watch almost no television. I get just about everything I know from the five or six newspapers I read daily. Of them, I conclude that the BBC is the most reliable since it is supported by tax dollars not Rupert Murdock or any of the other Hearst-like demons in our society with a personal angle that doesn't always correspond so closely to the truth. But even that doesn't bother me as much as the constant, mind-numbing repetition of stories...weeks of repeating the same thing over and over from any ludicrous angle one can find "on-the-scene." And if my house had just been blown/washed away in a disaster, you'd better not run the footage over and over or come along asking me how I feel. Ghoulish.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to see ESPN covering Brett Favre stories for three straight days with live reports from Wendi Nix on the hour every hour. And that's just one example.
How about the "birther" controversy. That has raged every day of the last year courtesy of Donald Trump. And now that it's been produced, we'll hear another six months about how it might not be accurate or have to listen to more talking heads asking, "Does this put an end to the birther controversy?"
And every time Ozzie Guillen does something patently stupid, the viewing public has to hear THAT dissected over and over, ad infinitum and definitely ad nauseam.
Of course, when something dramatic causes a twist in the plot such as the latest government flap in Madison, telling me one time is enough. I don't need to be bombarded with repeats of the same story.
How many Royal Wedding features have you been subjected to? It's almost as if I expect the new Duke and Duchess to spin off into a reality show called "This Old Castle" or something akin to that.
or Donald Trump...he has made noise about running for president for the last three elections and has yet to do it. Really...hasn't his fifteen minutes run out? I could go on and on, but then I would be a pale image of just what I hate.
So you do it.
Think of how much you hate the constant repetition of inanity that television gives you.
Then go read a newspaper...
but keep an open eye peeled for the real story and not the publisher's spin.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

See, Esther? Siesta!

Drool is bad for a keyboard!

The coach in the next office came by yesterday and gave me one of those 5-hour energy things for some reason. Despite the fact that I was wide awake, alert, and actually working, he felt the need to present me with the little bottle of pick-me-up. I'm not opposed to artificially jump-starting myself on those mornings when I have a 7 a.m. appointment and have to get to the gym by 6 to get my workout done, but that means a cup of coffee about 8 a.m. I've always been leery of other substances that might be loaded with things I don't really need. But I can understand how the air-traffic controllers get the sleepys overnight. Usually, on the really early work days, I DO get a bit droopy mid-afternoon (I need a windowed office!), but then, again, I'm not trying to keep hundreds of people alive, so a feet-on-the-desk-pretending-to-read posture is no big deal. While a nap is not under consideration, I've always wondered whether the folks in places that take siestas every afternoon actually had the right idea.
In 1995, Mark Rosekind, a sleep expert associated with the NTSB completed a study that found that a nap of approximately 26 minutes upped performance by 34% and alertness by a whopping 54%. That was then, and this is now. Currently, "experts" think 26 minutes is too long.
Jim Horne, Director of Sleep Research in England figures that after 20 minutes, we drift off into deep sleep that leaves us drowsy when we awaken. He posits that 15 minutes is just about right, but he combines that with caffeine in the form of coffee which will activate the nervous system after 20 minutes...something like an internal alarm clock, I guess. The timing of the nap is also important.
Researchers in New Mexico figure that if one tries to nap too early in the day, the body refuses to nod off, and if the would-be Sleeping Beauty waits too long, the night's sleep is disrupted. Sounds about right to me. So what's the optimal time frame for this quick catnap?
Best guess is sometime between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. which would mean that all those folks that take a siesta early in the afternoon are much smarter than those of us who slog through an entire day telling ourselves that we are still productive even as our heads smack into the keyboard or our chins bruise the xyphoid process.
Hasta manana...I'm off to nap just before bedtime!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

OK...Now I'm Officially Freaked

We love to travel, and we're probably more experienced than most though foreign languages other than Spanish are difficult for us to understand. Generally, when we've been out of the country, we've been accompanied by someone who is fluent in the local language: Thai, Spanish, Swedish or Khmer. Not this time, though. We're heading out alone, and I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous, and reading articles like "10 Ways To Stay Safe Abroad" don't help. While I will admit that the advice was sound, the ominous tone has me a bit jittery about our upcoming trip to foreign shores where English is something of an afterthought.
All in all, some of these things should be easy, but others, well, perhaps we're just a bit too naive at times. Here are a few of the notable warnings:

1. Don't be drunk. Obvious...drunks get rolled here in Titletown so this should be an easy one, although the preferred alcohol in Greece is something like 40% pure intoxicant. Note to self: Don't drink that stuff.

2. Don't look rich. Easy enough. I'm not, though being an American in a foreign country sometimes translates that Nikon digital camera or bling in evidence. Note to self: Be sure to have the sweetie leave that diamond ring (now noticeable) at home.

3. Kids don't play. We're suckers for kids. We take bubbles and little toys like jump ropes and engage them in some fun. However, groups of youngsters mired in poverty have nothing to lose and can easily be hyena-like in their pack attack. Note to self: Learn how to look somewhat menacing and how to say "'Sup, dog?" in Greek and Turkish.

4. Watch people watching you. THIS one has me paranoid, to say the least. It's like everyone is waiting for the opening to beat, rob and otherwise molest every traveler. While I hope that's not the case, I don't even know how to say "Help!" in any language other than my own. Note to self: If I have to reach for a phrase book (or the translator on my iPad), it will be too late. Learn some basic stuff, doofus! And, of course, my iPad might already be gone if I carry it around with me just to take that cool video that shows me appearing to hold up the Parthenon.

5. Don't put expensive stuff where thieves expect it. Okay, so I won't leave the iPod or iPad plugged into a wall socket or money lying about when I leave the hotel...too easy. Note to self: Check the hotel for a safe and try to hide things in places that are not easily-accessible (on the theory that anyone who breaks in will be in a hurry to escape undetected).

There are five more items on the list that include calling a cab instead of just picking one that seems to be merely waiting outside and looking like I would not be an easy robbery target (hey, I've been working out!) as well as listening to locals concerning where to go and where NOT to go.
Maybe I'll just stay in the hotels.
Oh yeah, terrorists blow up places that they know foreigners frequent.
I wonder if they have these problems in Sheboygan?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First, Whack Yourself With A Hammer...

You do it...admit it. Don't pretend there aren't times when nothing but a good $#@!! will make you feel better. Hopefully, these times are relegated to events associated with serious pain and not just watching your favorite team mess up again. If that's the case, there is a bit of good news for you: swearing can actually relieve physical pain (not the kind caused when your team loses, however).
Researchers at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, just published a two-year study in NeuroReport which claims that physical pain can be reduced through use of swearing. I actually thought the study was interesting. Here's what researchers did.
First of all, one has to create a sensation of pain...I doubt many folks are going to volunteer to get their thumb whacked with a hammer, so something seemingly benign must be incorporated...this is what I found interesting: the "normal" way to cause pain for an experiment is to use icy cold water...really! The reason for ice water? It leaves no mark and does no physiological harm. (Tell that to my mom who used to toss ice water on me to get me out of bed during my rebellious and sleepy youth)
Anyway, subjects were asked to hold a hand in ice-cold water for as long as they could stand it. Upon retrieving the hand, the subjects were asked to repeat either a swear word or a neutral word. Those involved in swearing felt the pain dissipate faster than those who used neutral words.
The researchers posit that wearing induces the "fight or flight" response which "nullifies the link between fear and pain perception." Thus, it works with physical pain but not with the anguished caused by fumbles or double play ground balls (one of which caused me to throw a remote control down two flights of stairs...a long time ago when I was less mature).
So, the next time you do something clumsy and wish to mitigate the physical pain...feel free to go all George Carlin on us.
Just not in front of the kids.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cheaters Generally DO Prosper, Just Not This Time

Obviously A Bigger Deal Than I Imagined

The cheerleading world was rocked today with a disclosure that a national championship-caliber team had to forfeit a recently-won title when it was discovered that the team cheated at a recent "national" championship.
Huh? I would actively deny there is a misogynistic bone in my body, but I have to admit surprise at this announcement. First of all, I was unaware of any such event, and secondly, I was dumbfounded at the cheating cheerleading. I must admit that I never, ever, under any circumstances (even while watching a Dallas Cowboys' game) pay attention to cheerleaders or dance teams. It's not that I consider them females in a male-dominated world, it's that I consider the idea of "entertaining" or leading cheers at an athletic event extraneous. I've paid (usually) to watch a game not anything else...well, there IS the snack bar as well...
As a result, I see the activity as something disconnected to the actual sporting event. What with the overdue passage of Title IX, women have ample opportunity to engage in any kind of sporting activity...and they should...I just see dance and cheer as separate entities from the others. So, anyway...
It appears that Cal State-Long Beach recently won an NCA national championship in the Small Co-Ed Division I National Cheerleading competition. Who knew? As one of the advisors for the activity at Long Beach watched the replay, a male student appeared in the routine who had graduated in December...making him ineligible since he was not attending graduate school or taking the requisite 9 hours of class. CSLB subsequently informed the NCA and relinquished its hard-won title. The team's coach of ten years was fired. Some thoughts:

This is NOT Florida State or big-time college football/basketball. (which begs the question: does it matter?)
The team is overseen by a group called The Associated Students, Inc. making it something of a club activity, not associated with varsity sports at CSLB.
The coach had won 30 national titles while working both as a high school coach and at various universities prior to his stint at CSLB.
Is competition THIS dog-eat-dog in cheerleading that a person feels the need to cheat? If so, what is WRONG with us?
Did something like this occur to the Greeks and Romans before their civilizations collapsed?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Take It or Leave It...or Spend It

That's My Laundry, Not Money

I will not pretend to be surprised. I could have predicted the same thing without surveying the 457 people nationwide. What else would one expect from Baby Boomers with money?
U.S. Trust, a unit of the Bank of America, recently completed a survey of those 457 people all of whom had at least $3 million in assets. Without much hesitation, many of those polled indicated that they would not feel it necessary to leave any money to their fact, 49% of them noted that leaving money was not at all important; instead of leaving it to their children, many of them expect to spend their money on travel and focusing on personal relationships (not sure what that means). None of them listed backing a U-Haul trailer up to the cemetery plot and dumping their wealth in with them, but I figure spending it might be the next thing to that. The survey DID provide some interesting facts about those surveyed and their reasons for hesitating to leaving it to heirs:

1. Most of the respondents were "self-made," and didn't trust that their heirs could "handle" the money.
2. Forty-five percent doubted the maturity of their children, even when were 35 years old.
3.Twenty-four percent figured that if they left money to the kids, they'd "just get lazy."
4. Another 20% decided that leaving money would lead to "making poor decisions" (like focusing on personal relationships?)
5. A final 20% just knew that their progeny would "squander" the money that the parents had worked so hard to make.

It all sounds about right to me. If I had assets of $3 million, it probably would mean that I had a nanny raise my kids...and I might not know them well enough to trust their judgment. In addition, I probably would have allowed them to live a sheltered life, surrounded by others in our economic circle...perhaps they WOULD expect to have it all without working, and they probably would NOT know how the majority of people live by attending private schools and Ivy League colleges.
All of this is conjecture, of course. As far as I know, nobody in my realm is worth anything close to $3 million dollars, even if they ARE in unions! Thus, my kids are relatively safe from being unable to handle anything that I might leave behind.
I wouldn't think of bringing a U-Haul to the cemetery just to load my grave with books and laundry.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

All Civility Has Been Lost In Our Country

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The New Silent Majority

As a matter of sanity and in search of a lower-than- through-the-roof blood pressure, I generally do not get involved with discussions about religion and/or politics (some believe these to be interchangeable). I have my beliefs and opinions, both hopefully based on something other than "I heard it on the radio," but I generally keep them to myself

a) because I'm not going to convince anyone else who has already made up his or her mind about something like the birthplace of an individual or the right to engage in deadly wars while decrying abortion...or worse yet, lying about the facts as an elected representative.
b) because I have real issues of my own to solve as well as a family and close friends to worry about.

As I noted, I try not to get in a stone-throwing contest, but I almost broke that vow the other fact, I think my tongue is still bleeding a bit from my biting down on it (more figuratively than literally).
A person who was a great friend 40 years ago just came back into my life, and he is as conservative as one might be. No problem: as an entrepreneur, I can see how anything that might be called "socialistic" would be bad for his bottom line. But, he stepped over the line the other day when he posted a comment on Facebook after a particular political turn in favor of his political view: "There's a win for the silent majority."
I really wanted to respond, "Why the hell don't you STAY silent then? I'm sick of listening to the crap you parrot from Glenn Beck."
The fact that he and others of his ilk are in no way silent when they spout idiocies...
For example:
In Texas, a government official proposed a LAW that would prohibit the courts from using Sharia Law in deciding cases.
His rationale? "Well, they allow it in Dearborn, Michigan, and I don't want that here."
When confronted by the mayor of Dearborn with the news that Sharia Law was in no way implemented within the court system there, the senator responded,
"Well, I heard it on the radio on my way in to work today, so it must be real, right?"
Be the majority for the time being.
Just shut up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"'I' Comes Before "I Love You'"

Quick, Pronounce My First Name

Part of my task this semester in my quest for educating young minds is to read 22 books of all sorts. I have thus far read books about the Hmong exodus to America under terrible conditions, Reconstruction horrors for then-freed slaves, Icelandic sagas, and a dystopian novel named Oryx and Crake (or Crake and Oryx...that's been seven books ago), among others, and currently I'm trying to finish Reading Lolita in Tehran and two others. Admittedly, reading three books at once is somewhat disconcerting, but that's the benefit of having multiple personalities. Looming, though, is a tome authored by Ayn Rand, and I have to admit a certain reluctance to get started...and I refuse to join The Atlasphere. What, you have not either? You don't have to be single to join, you know.
Lest you think this has veered off into the unknown, there is a dating site on the Web just for those who are ardent admirers of the famous novelist (and themselves, I would posit). Seriously...there are more than 12,000 dating profiles on this web site though, as I noted earlier, it is not just a place for RandFans to hook up; there are more than 22,000 RandoPhiles who have signed onto the social networking site since 2003 jus to add their take in the form of essays and articles concerning All-Things-Ayn Rand.
If you, like me have avoided this author because some of what you've heard or read makes you a bit uncomfortable, there's an opportunity starting today to rectify that with popcorn. The movie "Atlas Shrugged, Pt. 1" opened at select (my guess would be VERY select) theaters.
If you have never brushed up against Rand's basic philosophy, here it is, according to Claire Suddath, writer for Time magazine:
People have "the moral obligation to manifest in the world the best they have in themselves. We are charged to do whatever it is that will make us great...a greatness which has nothing to do with public opinion." In other words, we should do what's right for us individually not for someone else. In my mind, this calls into question how love can be possible, but Rand writes in The Fountainhead, "A person cannot say 'I love you' without first saying the 'I'"
Maybe I'm just dim."
Anyway, Suddath checked out the website for a typical" dating profile. I have copied her findings for you here:

About me:
I am my own standard of value.
I believe in self-esteem, integrity and self-improvement.
I do not have tolerance for the weak and pitiful.
I love America and its capitalist views.
I was born to an upper-class family.
I am perfect just the way I am.
I don't like Russia at all.
I have creepily long toes.
My virtues:
Sense of purpose.
Well, if we are going to be completely honest, I would say my boobs.
*One brave objectivist made this very unobjectivist admission: "I am currently another victim of the economy and looking for work."
(See how Ayn Rand would have tackled our current financial crisis.)
Favorite work of art:
Buildings represent what is possible of men.
Standing around looking at paintings doesn't do it for me.
The sound track to Vanilla Sky.
Looking to meet:
A libertarian gal who has a good attitude.
An egoist bastard with a loving heart.
A man who can stand alone against a tide of opposition.
An independent, rational, logical, ambitious, selfish, productive [woman who is] proud of her moral character [and] values maintaining physical attractiveness.
If I could "do lunch" with anyone, I'd choose:
Ayn Rand*.
*Rand is the overwhelming favorite among Atlasphere users, except for one person who picked George Carlin.
Ideal date:
We'd go watch the new Atlas Shrugged movie.
If these responses set your heart afire, you can join the Atlasphere for $29.85 (which buys you a three-month subscription). Or, for a cheaper, more old-fashioned alternative, you just might find plenty of objectivists looking for love at the movies this weekend.

Read more:,8599,2065348,00.html#ixzz1Jdyuv02g

Thursday, April 14, 2011

There's More Than "Angry Birds"?

Having owned a couple of laptops that went the way of a couple of cars I've owned (given to kids because they "needed" them while presumably I did not), I am always leery about jumping into the next hot thing. Eventually, One of the kids will weasel it out of me using some sort of "Reverse-Parent-Guilt-Because -You-Like-My-Siblings-Better" gambit, so it's generally simpler just to avoid getting too big for my technological britches. This time, though, I think I am covered.
We bought each of the kids who did not have one an iPhone for Christmas so they could keep up with each other and us via the FaceTime app...very much Apple's version of Skype. Having done that, I figured it was safe to go iPad2. Each of the kids has a laptop and an iPhone so an iPad is nothing they don't have already in another platform. I still have not had a great deal of time to sit and work with it, but so far, it's been all I thought it would be.
It's quick, easily portable when I travel, and can be linked to my home email, my office email and the cable television service I have. I could watch every game of the NCAA championships for free, and now I find there is a free app for a voice recorder so I can use it just as I not do to record lectures for students (no idea whether or not I can check Facebook while recording a class, though!)
I chose not to get the versions that demanded a monthly payment for internet service...too much connectedness is not a good thing. While most airports have Wi-Fi, they also have a fee for using obvious drawback. I can also upload photos from a memory card (via a special attachment sold separately) so on our upcoming honeymoon, I can send back day-by-day visuals to all my jealous friends who have to actually go to work on those days. Of course, it will store selections on iTunes, as one would expect, but the rear-facing camera can record video as well...though maybe a bit more clumsily than the iPhone that will accomplish the same thing.
And, if all that is not enough,
I can play "Angry Birds" for free all day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Who Can You Believe Anymore?

First John Kyl and now Kobe Bryant...well-known figures have come out recently with the important information that what we SAY does not ACTUALLY have to have anything to do with the truth or how we's just...stuff we say.
Kyl, a senator from Arizona claimed last week that "If you want an abortion, go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does." When PolitiFact questioned his number, saying that, in reality, the amount of input PP had on abortions was actually about 3%, Kyl's office responded that the senator's words were "...not intended to be a factual statement." I cannot even respond to that with anything other than rage. If that's the kind of person we have making laws for our country (and it IS)... I cannot do anything better than Jon Stewart so I'll give you his take on this:

Then, Last night, Kobe Bryant got a technical foul, stormed to the bench, distinctly mentioned the official's name, and then made a slur that involved sexual orientation. Even the game's announcers picked it up and indicated to the camera (and microphone) people that they should probably move away for the sake of the kids in TVland.
When questioned about the homophobic comment, Bryant offered this in his defense: "What I said is not to be taken literally."
How else would one take such a comment?
It's not bad enough that ordinary folks cannot avoid making ignorant statements on Facebook and in tweets, but making such outright prevarications in the face of facts to the contrary just makes me lose a little more hope for us. Maybe the Mayans knew this would happen all along.
Well, maybe not literally.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paraprosdokian Delight

Two days ago, I learned "badunkadunk." Yesterday, I learned "paraprosdokian." The latter is eminently more amusing than the former. Check out this link from The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. You'll be ROFL.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Better Than "Badunkadunk" Anyway

It's Not All Bad for Lolophobes

I've already chronicled the new inclusions to the Oxford English Dictionary, including all the texting acronyms that have become insanely LOL. While language purists have decried its inclusion, saying things like the inclusion of "words" like this signal "...the death of the dictionary" and "...a hallmark of creeping illiteracy," the fact is, these forms of communication are everywhere, and may have something of a purpose.
I mean, when I send a text message or an email, I want to make sure the recipient knows the emotion behind my words...a failure to make that clear can be quite problematic. For my money, nothing beats a good old-fashioned phone call, but I have to admit that texting is too easy...and when one has only so many seconds of life left (as I do), time is important.
In a development that I just don't get, people have begun to pronounce the letters "LOL" in speech as if they actually made up a word. "I wqs lolling at that joke" just doesn't get it, as far as I'm concerned, but there it is anyway. David Crystal, author of Language and the Internet takes issue with that since he feels that saying it as a word "doesn't sound anything like laughter." I agree.
Come to think of it, I doubt I've ever used it in an email or a text message...I'm not uncomfortable with it, I just think that as a composition instructor, I should be more precise (as if anyone notices). And I certainly do not fit into the category of grandparents ( I think this is ageism!) for whom "their first internet word is "LOL." Puuhhlllleeeze! Grandparents are far more tech savvy than that.
If you are duly chastened and looking for alternatives for your next text, there are a few. If you need explanation for any of them, go to for help.

the obvious emoticon :D :)
a host of other acronyms like ROFL, LMAO, and BWL.
of course, the more obvious possibilities like ha haha heheh.

...and I don't EVEN want to talk about "badunkadunk" which I heard yesterday for the first time. Thank God that is too long for texting!

Friday, April 08, 2011

16 Days To Go

The Ultimate Diet Prescription?

J. Wilson )on the right in the photo) has lost 18 pounds in 31 days, and even my feeble math skills say that's almost half a pound a day. If you've been following this story at all (instead of the really depressing political news), you know him as the guy who decided that for Lent, that he would try to emulate the Bavarian monks of 300 years ago and forego all food during that time, existing solely on a dark home-brewed beer that was referred to as "liquid bread." The story goes that this was the way pious monks used to go through Lent: completely abstaining from food, subsisting only on this robust liquid.
With 16 days to go, it looks as though Wilson will survive the Lenten season. To further embody the experience, this nominal Christian has even taken up scripture reading and meditation in seeking some kind of enlightenment...and he says it's been working.
Not only has he felt no hunger since the second day, he indicates that he's felt "tidbits of enlightenment" during his abstinence. Whether or not he will consume the entire 279 gallons brewed for him by the Rock Bottom Brewery in Des Moines, Iowa, has yet to be determined, but he does quaff three 12 ounce glasses every day: morning, noon, and evening. He continues to visit a doctor to make sure he's not doing any permanent damage to himself, but otherwise feels good.
The day his fast ends will be spent with smoothies, according to Wilson, edging toward a huge meal of Mexican food two or three days later. One might guess those 18 pounds will come back rather quickly.
The one thing he WON'T be having? Illuminator Dobbelbock beer. He's had enough to last him a lifetime.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Not Exactly "Three-Peat" Material

The "Rock Star From Mars"

Back when Michael Jordan was winning successive championships with the Bulls, and various universities were doing the same, Pat Riley had a great idea. He trademarked the term "three-peat" that indicated a team had won three consecutive championships. Big deal? VERY! for every T-shirt, poster and other artifacts of such championships, Riley got (and continues to get, one would suspect) paid. "Marketing genius," you say. Exactly...and this is precisely what Charlie Sheen has in mind.
I will not go into details about the tawdry fall from network TV or the fact that he got booed off the stage in Detroit during his first one-man show tour a week ago or so. As he said to one heckler in the crowd paid upwards of $150 for the "performance," "Dude, I've already got your money."
Anyway, Charlie's next great idea is to imitate Pat Riley. Sheen intends to trademark 22 phrases that are inimitable Sheen. Phrases like "Duh, winning," "Vatican Assassin," "Tiger blood," and "I'm not bi-polar, I'm bi-winning" may soon be unavailable for common folks like us to us without paying royalties to Charlie. That would be bad.
Not as bad as the university where I work paying royalties every year to a pedophile (expelled from four countries and jailed in one for buying children under 10 for sex) just so we can play "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2 (The Hey Song) at basketball games, but bad enough that I don't want to be a part of it.
So, there you have it...use those catchy phrases now while you have the opportunity.
The "Rock Star from Mars" will be asking for your check soon enough.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes

Going Away Green(er)

One in five Americans would like the opportunity to get a green sendoff when they cash in their chips in the casino of life. Face it, even though the vault is cement, the casket is metal, and the mortician embalmed the heck out of you, you'll still end up in a rather sorry state. How long that will take is the only uncertainty. Me I can't see what all the fuss is about. The more cemeteries we construct, the less land there will be available to feed the world's ever-expanding population. Not that the latest idea proposes a way out of that problem, but the soap box was available for a moment.
Anyway, let's say you don't want to put a metal into the groundwater as you depart...or maybe you just want to get it over as soon as possible after you get planted. Varnished wood or metal doesn't fit the bill very well. The latest in cardboard coffins seems a bit tacky, perhaps. So... go with wool!
Hainsworth, a 225-year-old wool mill in West Yorkshire, England has designed the perfect, earth-friendly receptacle for you transportation into the Stygian darkness apres-life. Available in brown or white, each coffin is constructed from the wool of three sheep and is guaranteed to support a dead weight (so to speak) of 840 pounds. Six handles made of jute make this a portable, easily biodegradable item that will be the talk of your funeral as guests gather over the egg salad sandwiches. It's also available for far less than traditional funereal furniture, in case you want to take SOME of it with you. At between $960 and $1290, the wool coffin is far less expensive than metal caskets costing upwards of $10,000. Even traditional wooden caskets run $2,000 or more in the U.S.
Currently, these coffins are available in England as well as Finland, Holland, Germany and Australia, but you can bet they will be a hot item in this country in eco-places like Oregon, Colorado and California. They should be especially popular in places that get a lot of rain since wool is a well-known repellant for moisture (though quite sodden when saturated).
These will NOT be popular in the South where temperatures are known to be high and humidity unbearable.
Everyone knows that wool gets really itchy under such circumstances.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I'm Anti-Hypocrite

Book Burning: Wingnuts Arise!

Very seldom am I tempted to venture into a controversial topic like religion or politics in this forum. Simply put, it would be either preaching to the choir or anything I might opine would be totally disavowed. It seems we have gotten to a point in this country where a mutual, respectful dialogue is impossible...and I blame the media and the nutjobs that seem to proliferate for no other reason than to inflame one segment of society against another through trash-talking and demeaning diatribes.
And they do it all without thinking how it might affect others.
Take Representative Peter King, the man who recently held hearings in Washington concerning the "radicalization of American Muslims." Like one Eugene McCarthy, King sees a terrorist behind every bush, and each one of them is a devout Muslim determined to bring us down.
Then, there's that wacko minister in Florida (another He Who Must Not Be Named) who finally managed to burn the Koran after giving it a trial! The judge and jury came from across this country (scary, isn't it) and was filmed by a television network that offered last September to publicize the act as it was originally planned. The mustachioed minister claimed that he "thought some people would be upset" by his actions: let's see: more than 20 killed and 80 injured in the resulting protests which have no end in sight. Yes, I would say he got that one right. Defending himself, he noted that it was his job to "stir the pot" because we'd become to complacent about the terrorist threat. even peaceful Muslims hate us worldwide. Defaming their holiest text and declaring their religious beliefs to be evil should just about ruin any chance we might have had of emerging from three war fronts with any friends left among the people we have been trying to "help."
Thanks for the help, guys.
And now, of course, the next election cycle is upon us in Wisconsin, and I've been beleaguered by persistent phone callers reminding me of my duty. Believe me, I know my duty, and it will not be criticizing Muslims and creating an atmosphere of fear and contentious "me vs you" climate that has surrounded us here lately.
I especially liked two things about things I've noticed recently:
1. a flyer touting one candidate as the only pro-life choice in this election.
2. A bumper sticker I saw the other day: "Pro-Life and Pro-War? Sorry, I'm Anti-Hypocrite"

No wonder the Muslims around the world, in addition to the Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and other Christians dislike America so much.
Too many wingnuts.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Graveyard for Dreams

Green Bay Is Just Not a Basketball Town

Really, I could hardly believe my eyes...but then, I could after all. Given free tickets to an Indoor Football League (semi-pro...sort of) game the other night, I was surprised to see more fans attending the game in which winning players received $225 while winning team members toted home a check of $260 than there were most of the season for a Division I college basketball team. So, I sat through most of the first half trying to decide why.
Was it the promotions? Well, tossing bagged cheese curds to a Green Bay crowd is like throwing a bloody steer to a school of Great Whites. Watching people try to chuck toilet paper rolls into a huge toilet...not so much. Watching two guys race to untangle and don a frozen T-Shirt...not exactly captivating...and maybe only slightly more so than watching youngsters in size gazillion shoes, huge shirts and shorts trying to run to make a layup...certainly not like the chicken launch at the hoops games. So...maybe a wash there.
Was it the proximity to the players? Maybe. I saw players three or four times catapult themselves over the padded retaining wall (similar in size to hockey boards), talk to fans on the sidelines and throw and kick footballs into the stands for fans to catch (or not and get booed). Those sorts of thing definitely do not happen at basketball games. One for the football game.
Action? Every possession lasted about three minutes and reminded me of the "go long" football we used to play at lunch in the gym. Action-packed, scores a'plenty, and more personal foul penalties in the first half than I've seen in pro football (NFL version) in three games.
Rabid fans? They were definitely more excitable than Green Bay's college basketball fans who wait for a helicopter slam dunk before getting up out of their chairs. I drew the line when the somewhat inebriated man in front of me turned and demanded a high-five. My response was, "It's baseball season." But even THAT would not deter him from smothering me with love that "our" Green Bay Blizzard was handing it to some unnamed team from somewhere else (you can see how much I was paying attention).
So, here's what I have determined based on what I witnessed for 90 minutes of Indoor Football League action:

1. Most fans came in on motorcycles wearing Bud Light shirts.
2. Most of them could not catch a football if their lives depended on it.
3. They love screaming at the referees event hough we could never hear what infraction the stripedshirts called on on whom they called it. In fact, the booing began as soon as the flag left the official's pocket.
4. The attention span was about 30 seconds, max.
5. They LOVE cheese curds...and Bud Light.
6. They love to see the personal fouls and the fights.
7. At approximately $250 per game for a 14-game season, the players are holding on to a dream that will never be realized. I hoped, without much conviction, that each had gotten his degree before leaving school.

In short, Green Bay is a football town. Basketball will remain a second-tier spectator sport...
and dreams die hard at $250 per game.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April fool?

This is better than anything I could make up today.: