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, September 27, 2011

Not Exactly Rock Lyrics

The nominations for this year's inductees into the Rock and Toll hall of fame are out, and it's gratifying to see that Justin Bieber didn't make it (restrictions will keep him off the ballot until 2034...when I will be dead) Anyway, Guns 'n' Roses is on the list, so they get a shout out from me. Great White didn't make it again, and I doubt they ever will, but that song Once Bitten Twice Shy suddenly surfaced this evening.
The Lonely Planet has published a list recently that converted some of the more common English idioms into similar phrases from other countries. Since I just used the old line, "It's raining cats and dogs, and I just stepped in a poodle" yesterday, this comes at a fortuitous moment. Now I can say things like, "It's raining old women with clubs." Not the same, really, and it's doubtful Great White (or GnR, for that matter) will be using any of these in a rock song anytime soon. Still...maybe there's a band somewhere in the world taking advantage of these very phrases even as we speak.
Have fun, and remember to use these phrases often to add spice to your everyday conversations!
In no time, you'll be talking only to yourself!

It’s raining cats and dogs
Afrikaans: Ou vrouens met knopkieries reen
It’s raining old women with clubs

Dutch: Het regent pijpenstelen
It’s raining pipestems

Persian: Baron mesleh dobeh asb mirized
It’s raining like the tail of the horse

Greek: Brékhei kareklopódara
It’s raining chair legs

German: Es regnet schusterbuben
It’s raining young cobblers

Taking coals to Newcastle/Selling ice to the eskimos

Russian: Yezdit’ b Tulu s svoim samovarom
He’s going to Tula, taking his own samovar

German: Eulen nach Athen tragen
Taking owls to Athens

Hungarian: Vizet hord a Dunába
He’s taking water to the Danube

Spanish: Es como llevar naranjas a Valencia
It’s like taking oranges to Valencia

A sledgehammer to crack a nut
Thai: Kee chang jahb thak-a-thaen
Ride an elephant to catch a grasshopper

Mandarin: Tuo kuzi fang pi
To take your trousers offto break wind

Turkish: Pire icin yorgan yakmak
To burn the duvet becauseof one flea

When pigs might fly
Croatian: Kad na vrbi rodi grožde
When willows bear grapes

Hungarian: Majd ha piros hó esik
When it’s snowing red snowflakes

Uzbek: Tuyaning dumi yerga tekkanda
When the camel’s tail reaches the ground

Russian: Kag-da rak svist-nyet
When the crayfish whistles

Like father like son
Portuguese: Filho de peixe sabe nadar
A fish’s child knows howto swim

Hausa, Nigeria: Barewa tayi gudu danta ya yi rarrafe
How can a gazelle’s offspring crawl when its mother is a fast runner?

Arabic: Ibn al bat’awwam
The son of a duck is a floater

Out of the frying pan, into the fire
Czech: Dostat se z bláta do louıe
Out of the mud, into the puddle

Hindi: Aasmaan se gire khajoor mein atke
Down from the skies, into the date tree

Indonesian: Takut akan lumpur lari ke duri
Afraid of mud, escape to thorns

Once bitten, twice shy
Russian: Puganaya vorona kusta
A spooked crow is afraid of a bush

Swahili: Mtafunwa na nyoka akiona unyasi hushtuka
One who has been bitten by a snake startles at a reed

Portuguese: Cão picado por cobra, tem medo de linguiça
A dog bitten by a snake fears sausages

To beat about the bush
Finnish: Kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa
To pace around hot porridgelike a cat

Italian: Menare il can per l’aia
To lead the dog around the yard

Spanish: Emborrachar la perdiz
To get the partridge drunk

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Affirmative Action? Negative!

Hash Brownies...or Just Brownies?

The University of California-Berkeley has always been something of a hotbed for political eyebrow-raising behavior. Students at UCLA and USC are busy with sorority/frat parties and getting cut-rate deals from agents...oh wait, that's just the sports guys. Anyway, Berkeley students have never been afraid to protest anything they find unseemly, and this week, a group of them are taking on a proposed legislative act by the State of California to include some affirmative action tenets to the admission process to universities in the state.
It would seem that the Young Republicans branch of the campus feels that white people are, once again, being hindered from achieving the American Dream of a college education in California as more and more minorities (including women, it seems) are on the cusp of being given a favorable look-see when it comes to who gets in and who goes to JuCo somewhere...and they are doing something to protest the inequity: they are having a bake sale!
Of course, this is not just ANY bake sale. In this one, the prices for cookies or brownies are adjusted based on ethnic origins so white people pay the most, and American Indians pay the least...with the "bonus" of getting a $.25 additional break if the buyer happens to be female!
The group claims to simply be calling attention to the "reverse discrimination" being felt by white people in this country...especially when it comes to higher education. Of course, this is not the first such outrage: the University of Michigan medical school faced similar complaints over the number of qualified white people who did not get admitted in favor of some "lesser-qualified" members of minority groups; thus, this is not a new story, but the approach to calling this miscarriage of justice to our attention is a radical one truly fitting to Cal-Berkeley's reputation.
Response has been vitriolic and vast. While the group expected SOME lashback, they did not expect threats of violence (which they got in ever-increasing volume). Undaunted, the Young Republicans plan to continue the bake sale with a sliding price scale, and I await the results.
USC and UCLA students are content to pay $5.75 for their brownies at Starbucks, and will not be affected by the goings-on at Berkeley.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Staying In the Basement Tomorrow

This Could Leave A Mark!

Granted, it's not the potential disaster that was Skylab back in the 70's: a 70-ton space station hurtling back toward earth, spewing refrigerator-sized pieces around like marbles from a wet bag. Then, the fear was palpable: where would it land? How many hundreds (or thousands) would die? Was this the end? As it turned out, the thing crashed somewhere in the middle of Western Australia without any hint of casualties to the wallaby population. We should be so lucky this time.
On Friday...that's tomorrow...the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite makes its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and will fall in about 26 pieces (how do they KNOW that?) toward some unsuspecting folks minding their own business. Mind you, this is not an unusual phenomenon: scientists reckon something falling from the earth's orbit happens at least once a year. Why haven't I been told?
Anyway, tomorrow's the day, and Mark Matney of NASA's Orbital Debris Team (really? There is a TEAM for this? Is it in a fantasy league?) figures that most chunks of bone-crushing debris will weigh somewhere between 10 pounds and hundreds of pounds. MUCH better than a 70-ton space station, even though the pieces will be falling hundreds (but not thousands) of miles per hour.
To recap: about 3 tons (roughly half) of this thing will come crashing down on our heads tomorrow, and there is no way to predict where it will land until it comes within 50 miles of us, say, ten minutes to get out of the way if it's traveling 600 miles per hour. Fortunately, the pilots who will be flying the nervous skies tomorrow are warned to be on the lookout for something big and mysterious falling toward their aircraft and are reminded to warn the rest of us if they see something like that.
Let's see: fly somewhere or cower in the basement?
Basement it is! Hope you survive!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time to Kill the Bird

Is NO Medium Safe For Me?

I have a cell phone because the students I tutor refuse to check email, citing it's "old-fashioned" format, preferring a medium that is at least from this century. So, I allow/encourage texting because I refuse to wait for an appointment. While I'm not a technophobe, I feel that a certain amount of privacy is good. I think it was Thoreau who noted that "Good fences make good neighbors." I can wall myself off by checking Facebook only on rare occasions (usually if someone I know sends me a message), and I generally screen my caller ID on my land line (now having a land line is old fashioned!) because I just do not want to waste my time with telemarketers who get through in spite of my signing up for a no-call list. And that's only part of it. In this age of 24/7, 365 political campaigning, I refuse to listen to any taped message from ANY candidate extolling his or her virtues ad nauseam. I just won't. And that's another reason that I avoid Twitter.
Oh, I have an account: one of my sons wanted me to read a comment that someone had made so I had to create an account. I didn't save my password, and I have not been tempted to return to Twitter since. I hear and read enough stupid things that people say every day without seeking out more...and now, it's about to get even MORE stupid and invasive: the politicians are on board.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, 85 senators have Twitter accounts, as do 360 members of the House of Representatives, 42 governors, and 35 world leaders. The fact that these people use this medium tells me one thing: all of them are trying to get re-elected. Why else would anyone think others care so much about their minute-to-minute activities? But, now it gets worse.
Starting today, Twitter is selling advertising space to politicians! OMG! Yet another reason to avoid Twitter, and yet another unwanted intrusion into our lives by people who don't really care about us but care only about getting re-elected....and I thought avoiding them on the phone was a pain (and it was)! For those addicted to Twitter, this will become the only way they get any political slant...unless Glenn Beck is also tweeting constantly.
Really, I am overcome with a desire to find a cave somewhere and survive on nuts and berries until the grid blows up, and we can return to some kind of sanity...and I won't be taking my phone (though the iPod is a to charge it without the grid?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get Out the Huge Foam Finger

Well, At Least It's Something!

Sometimes, I get really, really tired of people around the world bashing the good ol' U.S. of A. It seems that this country takes hits from everybody about everything that's wrong with the world (O.K. I will admit we DID send Jersey Shore to Italy). Every year, the academic ratings of countries around the world come out, and we always fare abysmally. At last count, 15-yr.-olds in America ranked 19th in science knowledge and 24th in math knowledge among first and second world nations reporting in. It's no secret that we lag behind the heavy-handed, strict approach to education that is featured in many places around the world. We always seem to rank right up there in the category of self-confidence, though, and that should count for something.
We have world champions in football and baseball (though sometimes not in basketball or hockey), and we dominate in track and field, even though it's not generally thought of as a big-money career for aspiring athletes.
I will also admit that we have become something of an embarrassment in political and financial circles as we have developed a political system that will NEVER compromise but instead snipe at the opposition no matter what the position; we also have an economic system that is so skewed (and broke) that in the near future, there will be no such thing as a middle class: the class that made America a world leader. Instead, we'll have the haves and the have-nots...I wonder if anyone has read A Tale of Two Cities lately.
But all of that notwithstanding, we remain world leaders in one category, according to that is "cool." The social networking analysts surveyed 30,000 from 15 foreign countries to find out which country these individuals thought to be the most cool. Overwhelmingly, the respondents chose America.
Just so we're clear, "cool" can be defined as " admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment and style."
That's us, alright...and I would not be surprised if Snooki had something to do with the vote.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hiding From Hillbillies

They Only Come Out At Night

Imagine a frog as big as a baseball hopping from rock to rock in the dark before thumping into your leg or chest and scaring the beejesus out of you! I imagine something like that must have happened a time or two over the past year as biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju and his student researchers from the University of Delhi combed (or strained, maybe) the marshy areas of India nocturnally (did someone say "Snipe hunt?"), hoping to discover something important about frogs...which they did.
In fact, the researchers discovered 12 new species of frog in India as well as three species that were previously thought to be extinct! Such finds include the Meowing Night frog that makes a noise like, well, like a cat; also newly-discovered was the Jog night frog: unusual because both male and female watch over the eggs; and the Wayanad frog which grows to be the size of a baseball. That brings to 336 the total number of frog species!
All of this information was recently published in Zootaxa, an international taxonomy journal. Why is this important? Well, frog populations and species are great indicators of climate change and density of pollutants, according to Das Bijn. As a result of those two factors (as well as hillbilly hunting, one might surmise) more than 32% of all known amphibian species are threatened with extinction, according to the Global Wildlife Conservation.
So, for now, India seems to be a haven for amphibians, but it won't be long until there's a reality show featuring toothless guys with tridents and Little League bats stalking baseball-sized frogs through the noisy Indian night...and getting thumped in the chest in return.
One word of caution, though: there are tigers in India that come out at night, too.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How About Trying Grecian Formula?

No Longer Appealing

There's just something about the word "spa" that conjures up vibrant, healthy skin and body tone for all of us as well as a more youthful appearance. Generally, however, the closest most people come to a real spa is the thing that turns on the jets in a whirlpool bathtub...and it's probably just as well. The aging process will get us eventually, despite botox and cosmetic surgeries and spa treatments, so it's best not to be too concerned. Even when people say, "you haven't changed," we know they're lying just so we have to say the same to them. So, people rush to have spa treatments designed to rid them of all that they find distasteful about themselves in hopes of attracting needed attention. But I'm drawing the line at calluses.
There was this fashion trend a year or so ago that featured little fish that sucked the calluses off one's feet to make them baby-bottom smooth (only to get callused again, of course). I thought the idea was entertaining, wrote about it, and even almost stepped into one while visiting in Greece not too long ago. The tickling sensation would have been rather cool, and God knows I have more than enough calluses after running all my life so that the fish would be in a Nirvana-like state. There was just something about it...
it seems, though, that this isn't even the most radical aquatic-based spa treatment, a fact that one man in China found out to his incredibly discomfort.
Zhang Nan, 56, of Hubei Province in China, went to a spa in hopes of ridding himself of all the weathered and worn skin so he would look younger, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times (noted for its Chinese news coverage). Anyway, Nan apparently wanted a full-body treatment so he allowed himself to be immersed in a tank filled with callus-sucking eels. Imagine his consternation when he felt a sharp pain and discovered a (this next part is NOT for the squeamish men in the audience) six-inch eel working its way into his penis! The darn thing being slippery and eel-like, Nan could not get a good grip, and the little devil slithered right into his bladder...removed only through surgery. That HAS to be worse that the little kid batting a wiffle ball into that same area on Dad. But there's more.
Apparently, there is a species of catfish that does this all the time! According to the parasitology department at Kansas State University, somewhere along the Amazon, there is a catfish that will get into a man's penis if said man stops to urinate into a body of water! I know! Incredible: standing there, minding to one's "business," and ZOOM just like that: a catfish has migrated upstream, as it were. Holy moly! Who knew fish could be such an invasive species?
I'm definitely checking every body of water into which I aim from now on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Now I Get It

What Would You Change?

While you and I are probably still pondering why on earth parents would allow three-year-olds to be exposed to sexual messages, the answer is supplied in the latest Miss Universe Pageant, held recently (who knew?).
I watch such displays as often as I watch the Westminster Dog Show (in spite of its being lampooned in the movie Best in Show) which is to say, never. But this one caught my attention with the headline "Dumbest Question Ever."
I'm usually accused of asking dumb questions (remember: there are no dumb questions, just dumb people asking questions), so I was naturally intrigued by someone who might be worse at question logic than I. It turned out that the question was one asked of a finalist by a judge in said contest. And once I read the question, I knew there WAS someone out there who asked even more insipid questions...and this person did it on an international stage!
While the aforementioned judge did not actually write the question, the poor woman had to ask it anyway then be bombarded with Twitter posts concerning how she could be such an idiot!
So...Leila Lopes of Angola (pictured above getting her tiara) was asked this question in the final round:
"If you could change one physical characteristic about yourself, what would it be and why?"
Are you kidding me? Here is the woman judged to be MISS FREAKING UNIVERSE, and we want to know how she thinks she's not perfect? If she's not good enough, what does that say about the rest of the women in the world? This is beyond stupid: it is demeaning to women everywhere, and that's what made me think of the hypersexualizing of preschool girls.
If they spend all the time and energy in this pageant crap and are STILL not good enough, the psyche is going to take a beating. None of them will ever be good enough (by that I mean physically and sexually attractive).
Wow. If parents don't put a stop to this, we are going to have more than half our population so insecure that there will be nobody to stop men from being idiots.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Is Learning?

Little Miss...What?

As is generally the rule, I'm behind again. I've been out of the mainstream, it would seem, for almost three years; however, like so many times before when I have discovered this lapse, I am far less dismayed to be out of the loop than one might imagine. See, I still thought TLC stood for "The Learning Channel," and now I find that programming there has given MTV a run for the misnomer title.
In 2009, a program began called Toddlers and Tiaras that featured a closeup view of 3-year-olds engaged in the business of winning beauty pageants, complete with the whole stage mother bitchiness, temper tantrums and motherly dreams of Hollywood stardom. Really? At three? It seems that eventually, people got tired of the whole thing and watched Little Miss Sunshine a few more times, so the talking heads got together and came up with a brilliant promotional plan: dress toddlers like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or like Dolly Parton with...well, you get the idea.
Turns out adults blew a gasket. TLC even had to take down its Facebook page because it got so many comments blasting the idiocy of the whole promotion. Since I didn't read the comments, I don't know if the vitriol dealt with the slutty images or the idea that 3-yr-olds were being exploited for ratings. Either way, another blow fell on an already-harried generation of girls who are being led to believe that "sexy is wonderful and necessary." Are you kidding me?
And the most amazing thing is that all of this exploitation is taking place long after a study in 2007 by the American Psychological Association proving that the hypersexualizing of girls by the media resulted in negative cognitive and emotional development and was strongly associated with eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression (no surprises there); furthermore the emphasis on girls as visual objects reduced their desire to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Go figure.
And all of that just to beat out 50 other worthless, degrading reality shows in the ratings.
There is no shame left anymore.
Up next on the most stupid reality show that degrades people: Hillbilly Handfishing. really

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drunken Party Pirates? I'm In!

What's NOT to "Like"?

I swear people have too much time on their hands these days. Seriously. It seems like every week I get invitations to play some kind of simulation game on Facebook. I refuse every single time. I suppose The Sims was cool when it game out (like a Commodore 64), but now that even ESPN has gotten into the "build your own..." genre, it's just too much. I mean, if South Park does a parody of something, you just KNOW it's time to avoid it. This, however, just might change my mind.
Sometime in October, according to CNN, Jimmy Buffett's Facebook site will launch Margaritaville Online, and I can imagine it being a huge hit, mostly because Buffett himself is "liked" by more than 600,000 people (I have not joined that select company, though). The game will feature characters like Captain Tony and Joe Merchant, and players can hop from island to island having quest-like adventures. The graphics will remind us more of Wii than "Farmville" for what that's worth, and in addition to the quests, one will be able to play games with his or her Parrothead friends: games like limbo and "Drunken Party Pirates." Just the title makes me want to play.
Can I wait until sometime in October when this will debut? Do I have a choice?
The timing of all of this has a surreal quality since we just decided yesterday that we would travel to Key West after Christmas for a little bit of Margaritaville ourselves.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

These Had BETTER Be Anti-Gravity

PLUS Free Shipping!

The auction has begun! Nike will auction 150 pairs of these off every day until the 18th. I finally got to see what the price was going to be: since it is a bid-only with no "Buy It Now" option, the price is "market price" (as if I were eating shark fin soup at some fancy restaurant which had more utensils than I could name). With 44 minutes left on this pair in my size today, the price was $3,900, and there were 20 people bidding on them! There were ten other pairs in my size, but these were the cheapest. I would definitely be the only one on my block to have a pair, and I guarantee no "high-paid" teachers will be sporting these to school anytime soon.
Recession? What recession?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Tempting, But...Probably Not

Back to a future mortgage!

You really have to hand it to marketing on this one. Of course, the strategy is nothing new: make something impossible to buy , and everyone will want one. ..and so it is with the Nike McFly, going on sale now by bid only on EBay.
Nike has taken the iconic shoe which appeared in public once (as far as I know), and that was in the movie Back To The Future, Pt. II. Marty Mcfly, a.k.a. Michael J Fox, wore these shoes in the movie, and people wanted them immediately. What's not to like? LED displays that almost left a streak of light as one began to move almost faster than the speed of light? Gimme some!
Now, Nike has promised to release 1500 pairs through September 18th on an auction site on EBay. Since they are an auction item, one can only imagine what the ceiling on these babies is. While the auction was to begin tonight at 8:30, there were none up when I checked, but then I'm in Central time...maybe it's Mountain or Pacific time. (though I did stay up to get the first try at an iPad 2, I doubt I'll be awake for this one). The Nike site on EBay DID have a figurine of the shoe, and bids were around $300 already...for a figurine no bigger than, say, a silver dollar! Are you kidding me? The actual shoe will cost a fortune!
In defense of the [project, however, the proceeds are designated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation that supports research for Parkinson's Disease, the same malady that afflicts Fox himself. With matching funds from one of the Google founders and his wife of up to $50 million, one can easily see that I won't be getting the money together to purchase a pair.
Maybe I could sell my convertible: one sweet ride traded for another?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

NRK's...Chuck E. Cheese Wants You!

A monster pile of...?

Here's a question for you: what goes from two to better than 20 million in just three years? The worth of your stock portfolio? Not unless you are Warren Buffett. The temperature in Texas? maybe. No, the real answer is rats (eek). A pair of rats can have that many offspring in just three short years. If you can imagine what hundreds of pairs can do (rats do not ethically believe in family planning, apparently), well, then you will understand the need for the legion of NRK employees in places like Mumbai, India.
The Night Rat Killers are assigned specific areas of the rat-infested (some say the MOST infested city in the world) city with the task of killing as many of the 8-inch varmints as they can. Between January and July of this year, a total of 214, 848 rats went to the Great Cheese Hut in the Sky. Yes, that's a LOT of vermin. While it is true that poison and traps account for a portion of the DOAs, young men pad around at night either barefoot or in sandals and kill rats by the dozen by whacking them on the noggin with a pole.
In fact, there are quotas for the NRK's. Each must kill and bring in 90 rats in three days, or he does not get paid! Lest you think this potentially odious job goes begging for want to employees, it does not. Regularly, hundreds apply for the position, and the qualifications are more stringent than one might think.
1. Each prospective employee must have at least a 10-th grade education.
2. He (or she, I guess) must be between 18-30 years of age.
3. NRK's must be able to lift 110 pounds ( a bag o' rats?)
4. Each must pass a written test and undergo a videotaped examination of his or her skills as a rat killer.

Following all of that, qualified candidates are taken to a field and given 15 minutes to kill as many rats as possible. In one recent such contest, the winners each bagged 20 rodents to win a job skulking through the night in Mumbai, whacking rats over the head with a long, metal-tipped pole, after having transfixed the beast with the glare from a flashlight.
If all of this seems odd to you, think of the potential disaster rats could wreak in terms of diseases, especially in a port city like Mumbai where grain is a major import. Thus, it is necessary to keep the millions of rats at bay in order to maintain some degree of good health, especially in the poorer sections of the city near the harbor.
It's a long-standing tradition first begun by the British when they occupied India, and it will continue as long as there are rats to kill and money to be made doing it.
Sort of like a real-life whack-a-mole, I guess.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Not Everything's Big in Texas

My dad, born and raised in Texas, used to comment all the time about how things were not only bigger in the Lone Star state, but better as well...presumably for reasons other than their preposterous size. Then, of course, along came Alaska and made Texas the second-largest state in the Union, and Pop lost some of his bluster. Still, though, in spite of everything, he continued to believe that there was no place like Texas for just about anything. "Bigger is better...more is better" seems to be getting pushed into the background these days in least as far as higher education is concerned.
It seems that Gov. Perry has proposed to the state of Texas, its legislators and its educators of higher education, that Texas could be the first to offer a college education for $10,000. That's not per year; that's the proposed cost for a four-year program! This would be quite a downsizing, especially since last year in TExas, the average cost for a four-year degree averaged almost $26,000, not including books, which would probably push the figure nearer $30,000.
So, how can he even propose such a thing? It's really not as crazy as one might think. Here are parts of the proposal to reduce the cost:
1. Having more students attend community colleges for the first two can figure the savings there as easily as I can give them to you.
2. Utilize the internet for far more online courses. Since most universities offer these already, the only change would be to make sure there was a path toward graduation in some instances. What about the vast knowledge imparted by professors, you ask? Well, yes, that could be a factor, but then, not EVERY class would be taught online anyway.
3. Allow for self-paced, accelerated programs. This idea has merit in many aspects. Why should any student wait for another who has yet to get the point? Discussions might be problematic, but even I have discussion boards for my classes and ask students to read and respond to others' posts...not like a face-to-face discussion, to be sure, but definitely a place where today's students feel comfortable.
While I am suspicious of the PACS and Texas money supporting Perry's bid for president, I think this idea, at least, has some merit.
Oh, and Perry's proposal indicates that only a small portion of degrees might be conferred this way: as little as 10%; however, if one is in the unenviable position of having little money for an education, this could fit nicely into the plan.
And an education never hurt anyone...well, except for Socrates.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Pain Is Not Funny...Even on TV

It seems like every television program that features "cute" videos for the audience's entertainment features a barrage of offerings in which serious injury could result. CMT has a show, hosted by a comedian, which highlights the dumbest (and potentially most dangerous) accidents folks can have. If you remember Jackass, the premise was basically the same: stupid guys doing dangerous things and, invariably, going down for the count. I'm not talking about the X Games, here: I'm referring to videotaped tomfoolery like hooking up a giant slide on the roof and trying to hit a small, inflatable pool a hundred feet away...stuff like that.
However, the one that always gets HUGE laughs and can, potentially, be the most painful is the footage of a dad pitching a ball to his four-year-old who proceeds to hit a line drive right back into the, uh, groin area of his father. This never fails to get major laughs, but we never see the aftermath. As a guy, I always cringed when this type of "humor" was televised, because it is hard to imagine how painful it is: think kidney stones; think sudden hot flashes of nausea exploding throughout the system; think about wanting to curl up and vomit get the picture...and this doesn't even speak to the diminished possibility of fatherhood at a later date.
I've always been somewhat jealous because women never seem to be involved in any of these pursuits (potentially due to a "smart" gene guys don't have) and, for all I know, don't seem to be in such imminent danger of excruciating pain (OK, there's childbirth, but that's at least agreed upon beforehand...more-so by men, I suspect, but still...) Now, I can stop being jealous because there IS something I just read about that seems at least as painful as the below-the-belt line drive and with potential serious health effects: high impact damage to silicone breast implants.
Recently, a woman in Britain had one explode after getting hit while paintballing: really. Getting hit with a projectile going 190 mph hurts at best, but this woman apparently got hit in the chest, and her implant exploded.
Now, I know most guys would laugh at that, but I would bet it's very painful, and I know there are serious health risks involved in such an instance. I even looked up the FDA warnings about hazards of such cosmetic alteration, and, trust me, you don't want to know...despite the FDA's clearance of such procedures as "safe."
As a result of this incident, paintball operations in the U.K. have changed their procedures to include "information concerning the dangers of paintballing," and "extra padding" for surgically-enhanced participants.
If it were a cartoon, maybe funny. In real life, not so much.
And I'm not pitching to grandkids from less than 20 feet away.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Watch What You Wear in Vancouver!

For the eleventh time in the last four years, a foot has turned up in the water outside of Vancouver, British Columbia...yes, a foot. In none of the occurrences did the foot show signs of trauma: being hacked off someone's leg or chewed off by a bear in Yellowstone (admittedly a long shot, anyway). Each appeared to be, simply, a normal foot with a running shoe attached.
The first such incident was recorded in 2007 near Vancouver, and the foot was eventually identified as having belonged to a then-deceased (you think?) man whose family released no other details to a more-than-curious RCMP.
Now, four years and 10 feet later, people are beginning to wonder whether or not something is afoot. Some hard questions are now rising to the surface (in conjunction with feet, I suppose). To wit:
1. Why has this been occurring only on the west coast of Canada near Vancouver?

2. Why has each foot been clad with a running shoe?

3. Where are the people who are, no doubt, looking for their appendage?

Experts have made few strides while weighing in on the subject, and Mark Mendelson, a Toronto /forensic consultant, strangely sees nothing strange at all in the continued floating foot saga. He opines that many people go missing in the waters off western Canada, and finding eleven feet in four years is not suspicious. Other experts did offer at least a reasonable explanation for why these feet have been found floating: running shoe soles are most likely made with polymers to make them lightweight...polymers apparently float...hence wearing running shoes while losing entire tarsal structures will result in highly buoyant feet. Still, that does not account for the other questions.
No word on whether there have been matching pairs word about anything else, for that matter.
Still, if I'm going to Vancouver, I will go nowhere near the water without a PFD and running shoes so ALL of me will float to the surface, or I will wear hiking boots, flannel shirts and carry coins in my pockets so if I go down, there will be NO chance of my feet or any other part of me coming back up
There's enough mystery in Canada without my being a part of it.