Thursday, December 31, 2009

A true look at Estonia?

I have been to Estonia.  Back in the 90s I spent a bunch of days there working in Tallinn, the capital.  Beautiful city, very modern yet at the same time very old.  It was nothing like this, an Estonian version of the Simpsons' intro.  Gotta love it when people make fun of themselves.

The other left thumb

Evidently left thumbs are in constant peril in my household.  First I managed to cut mine just a short time ago.  Not to worry though --- he is healing just fine.

Now, just the other night, my son managed to almost become permanently attached to my Mom's stool.

At around 5 p.m. I got a slightly-frantic-but-managing-to-keep-everything-calm-sounding phone call from my Mom.  Turns out that Li'l D, her visitor for the day, had been sitting at her computer on her stool, a very old stool, one that we had when I was just a small kid, one that no doubt would not make it past today's Federal Trade Commission child safety standards (I'll get to that shortly), one that was evidently designed to capture kids.  Said stool consists of a seat (duh) and some tube legs.  The upper ends of the tubes stop short of the underside of the seat, and are not capped.  As it turns out, and unbeknownst to any of us, a 5 year old can easily slip his left thumb into the top of this tube and, uh, get it stuck there.

I made my way over to her house, but in the meantime she ended up calling 911 and three very friendly firepeople came into her house and extricated said left thumb from the stool, keeping it well-connected to my son, gave him a sticker, and left.

And then I took him home, getting him to stop crying by simple distractions within just about one minute.

As for the whole FTC thing, which is my rant here, and mine alone ... I am positive that had this happened to some other kid in someone else's family, the lawsuits would have begun immediately, and Da Gubment would have stepped in to suddenly determine that this stool is not, indeed, safe for kids and therefore must be immediately taken off the market (though it hasn't been sold for decades), modified and changed in accordance with some genius's impression of what is truly safe for kids, and spent millions of dollars to alert any and all owners of this particular 40+-year-old stool that it is ... DANGEROUS!!!

Me?  Naah ... so long as I see no blood or really bad pain or broken limbs or anything like that, I actually like it when these sorts of episodes happen.  Why?  Am I a cruel parent?  No.  It's called a learning experience.  Let's repeat that together:
A  l-e-a-r-n-i-n-g  e-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-c-e
When my kids do this sort of dumb thing, they tend to learn to not do it again.  Very simple.  Not cruel, but natural.  Keep an eye out for them doing the really bad things and keep those in check.  But the little stuff?  Naah ... no big deal.

How should politicians vote?

Marion Barry is one of the most embarrassing people on the face of the planet.  The guy was mayor of Washington, D.C., for I-don't-know-how-long.  OK, the Wikipedia article says 1979-1991.  Then he was busted for cocaine use and possession.  Then he was, believe it or not, re-elected as mayor for another term.  He has pled guilty to tax evasion.  He has been guilty of numerous traffic offenses.  He was, not too long ago, accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend.  The list goes on.  I know, because I have lived in the D.C. area my entire life and I have therefore had to listen to the on-going adventures of this so-called Man of the People as he went from one idiocy to another.

But that is all irrelevant for this posting, as I often do.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Air travel security stupidity

So some jackass tried to blow up a plane during the last hour of flight as it was in-bound to Detroit from Amsterdam on Jesus' birthday.  And what did da Gubment do in response?  What it does best: It overreacted.

This time the TSA has decided that air security will be "unpredictable".  That is, there will be different restrictions in place at different airports.  Several of these "unpredictabilities" (if that is a word? ... another wordicle!) include only allowing each passenger a single carry-on bag (therefore more moola for the airlines in the form of additional checked bags that we get to pay for), not allowing anyone out of their seat during the last hour of flight (i.e. no potty breaks --- Clamp it off!  CLAMP IT OFF!!!!), not allowing any passengers to have anything on their laps during the last hour of flight (oh for those of us with kids --- that'll be fun), and leaving the cabin lights on during take off and landing (uh ... just not sure what sort of sarcasm to inject for this one since it kinda stands on its own in the land of the stupid).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chinese restaurants

We are Jewish.

So what?

We don't do very much Jew stuff.  As a matter of fact, we really don't do any Jew stuff.  As Jews in America, we do do the Jewish-y thing each year and go to a Chinese restaurant every Christman Eve.  Well, every year beginning last year.  So we are batting 2-for-2 since 2008!!

Our favorite Chinese restaurant lives just far enough away that they won't delivery to us, so we often order ahead and pick it up ourselves.  We do very seldom eat in the restaurant itself, simply because the overwhelming smell of the bathroom urinal breath mints permeated the entire restaurant.  Try eating good tasting Crispy Beef or Szechuan Pork while being constantly reminded of your last pee because of tons of urinal breath mint pheromones floating around you.  Mmmmm ...

I won't recount our entire Christmas Eve 2009 dining experience, however this year our adventure began, quite memorably, as soon as we walked in the restaurant door.  There stood three or perhaps four restaurant employees, doing Chinese restaurant employee things.  Things such as speaking on the phone.  Things such as running people's credit cards through the credit card machines.  Things such as yelling at the television.  You know ... things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So Thomas is a Republican ...

... or whichever party is the equivalent in the United Kingdom.  Thomas the Tank Engine, that is.

And here is my proof:
Thomas the Tank Engine attacked for 'conservative political ideology'
This seems to be one of those 'whodathunkit' kinds of issues.  So Thomas, who we all thought was a relative political-neutral, is actually a lower-class fierce-right-wing downtrodden worker with regard for neither his superiors nor the status quo.



And what about all of those poor underpriviledged female trains? 

I particularly like a few of the comments:
"I can't believe she omitted to mention the episode where Harold the Helicopter leads a white supremacist rally and Gordon gets bullied for coming out as gay.  Oh no, wait..."
and my favorite comment by far:
"What a lot of tosh!!!"
(Being an American, I just love the Britishness of that saying.)

Now we certainly do not live in a conservative household by any means (quite the opposite actually).  But if this is true, even remotely true, and I shall put a lot of time and effort and energy toward this investigation to determine if it is indeed true, then we shall banish any semblance of Thomas-ness from our house forever more!

Now ... where was the Internet bookmark I had for the list of "pretend make-believe fake children's entertainment characters' hidden political agendas"???

Monday, December 21, 2009


I'm just not sure where to begin ... but I can say that I don't know whether the proper phrase for this is "just slightly over-the-top" or "ABSOLUTELY STUPID!!!"  I think the latter.

Yes, these are teeth.

You can have your teeth tattooed in Utah.  Oh, I am not shitting you.  It is real.  Wouldya like Elvis, or the Space Shuttle, or perhaps if you are a staunch Republican you might could go for a big ol' Dubya!  I have always thought that if I really wanted to be a rebel I would just have an earring tattooed on one of my earlobes, thereby killing two birds with one stone.  This, however, throws a wrench in that idea.  Perhaps I can save some money down the road by tattooing braces on my kids' teeth, rather than having real braces put on them when the time comes.  That must be cheaper ...

Credit to Dudecraft's blog for first bringing this all-important piece of idiotic Americana to my attention.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Left Thumb

I am right-handed.  Therefore I do most things with my right hand, and use my left hand to, sort of, help.  But there are many things for which two hands are necessary.  Like cutting the rest of the onions and chicken for the chicken salad.  I was in the midst of dicing the onion into teenie tiny pieces, being careful as always (uh huh ...) when OUCH!!! I managed to cut into my thumb.  My left thumb.  My "off"-handed thumb, the one I don't use as often as the one I do use.  The one that the pundits say is most likely to be injured because you tend to pay less attention to your "off" hand than you do your "on" hand (if that makes sense).  Details on the blood and gore and band-aids needed (not really that bad) are not important.  What is important is what happens when you lose the use of a thumb, say your "off" thumb.  It makes it very difficult to do small detailed hand-and-finger-intensive things.

Case in point: I had to finish dicing my onion and then move on to cutting up 2 1/4 pounds of chicken (already cooked, luckily) into small pieces.  That is very difficult to do with only nine working unharmed digits and one that is wrapped in a band-aid, the one that is most responsible for holding down the target meat.  Key to this endeavor were:

1) Not putting any pressure on said thumb so as to keep it from rebleeding ("rebleeding": to begin to bleed again ... OK, so I made that one up ... a wordicle!!), and

2) Keeping the injury away from the meat because:
        a. I didn't want food in my blood, and
        b. I didn't want my blood in the food.

Did I mention that this salad was to go to my kids' pot luck Back To School night dinner which was just a few hours away????

All in all, the salad was delicious as always (as evidenced by the fact that it was, very unfortunately, all gone, leaving me none to bring home to eat later on).  And I didn't bother to tell anyone at the dinner about this incident.  So let's just keep this as our little secret, eh?

Friday, December 18, 2009


"Shititism": The opposite of favoritism.

Thanks to "Men of a Certain Age" last Monday evening.  That was funny.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Distraction: The "Delicate" Art Of Child-Rearing, Part Deux

(Why is "Part Two" always in French??)

I did a wonderful thing tonight.  My wife left with my son to head off to their weekly piano lessons, leaving me with my daughter.  Oh how fun our few hours together began as she was crying just horribly with the mandatory "Mommy Mommy Mommy ..." tumbling out of her mouth.  Tears were everywhere.  Oh how terrible ... blah blah blah ...

So I did what I do best --- thinking on my feet and comforting her.  Hee hee ... I just have to laugh at having written that ...

In reality, I ended up with yet another follow-on to my (hopefully) endless list (I have three now!!!) of how to distract my kids, making them forget that they are upset and think that they are forever happy until the next big terrible event occurs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

God says "No"?????

So I was watching the Graham Norton Show the other night and rapper/actor/whatever 50 Cent was one of his guests.  I was about turn turn it off (just my instinctive reaction to rappers) but I happened to hear Mr. Cent talking about his childhood.  His mom was 15 when he was born.  He was born in the midst of urban blight (my words, not his), and he somehow left the world of inner city drug dealing behind.  So he is actually a success story (not to mention that he evidently had bought into the Vitamin Water company (huh, there is a picture of Mr. Cent right on their homepage) pretty early and made a handy profit when it was bought by Pepsico, to the tune of $100M or so according to Mr. Norton).  I was evidently just a day late in being able to hear this conversation again on Mr. Norton's show's webpage, as they removed the video replay of it just today, unfortunately.  But at some point in the conversation the talk turned briefly to praying, or something like that.  Now I'm not much into praying ... pause while my wife laughs her head off ... OK ... but Mr. Cent said something that I thought was actually kinda profound.  He said (I can't quote it exactly, as I missed the on-line replay, but this is close enough):
"If you pray to God and he don't answer you, then his answer is No."
I thought, surprisingly, that this appeared to actually have some merit.  It seems reasonable.

So does anyone get an answer when they pray?  (There's something I'd like to see)  And, assuming not, why do all of these silly people keep praying?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama v. Bush, on wars and Nobel Prizes

On Politico: "Conservative praise for Nobel speech"

Some quotes from some really important people:

Sarah Palin: “I liked what he said," Palin told USA Today. "Of course, war is the last thing I believe any American wants to engage in, but it's necessary. We have to stop these terrorists."
But who gives a shit --- she's a non-entity.

Newt Gingrich: “I think having a liberal president who goes to Oslo on behalf of a peace prize and reminds the committee that they would not be free, they wouldn't be able to have a peace prize, without having [the ability to use] force,” Gingrich said. “I thought in some ways it's a very historic speech.
But who gives a shit --- he's a non-entity.

But here are the really telling, and ignorant, quotes:

The irony is that George W. Bush could have delivered the very same speech. It was a truly an American president's message to the world,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, a Republican strategist and CEO of Kent Strategies LLC who worked in the Bush White House.

Added Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations: “If Bush had said these things the world would be filled with violent denunciations. When Obama says them, people purr. That is fine by me.

"Perception is reality"

Oh my favorite quote comes back again and again ... Note that this is quite a long and unwieldy post, so be prepared for some forks in the road, some rants, some common sense (Warren-style), some tortuous moments, and even more wandering than normal.

Long ago, a few jobs and a few bosses ago, I had a boss's boss's boss who was an idiot.  I honestly don't think he meant to do poorly as a manager, however being a senior manager in charge of a couple hundred people means that you should have at least some semblance of managerial aptitude --- you, know, the ability to at least manage your way out of a cardboard box.  He didn't.  Said manager did virtually nothing right in the several years during which I worked in his organization.  He left on his own after a somewhat failed attempt to figure out what was really wrong with his reign by way of an employee "How is management doing?" survey, from which he learned that HE was the problem --- but that is another story.  I did, however, take away one single good thing from this guy, something that he preached but didn't do at all well for himself.  He'd tell us manager-types (I was at the lowest rung of the managerial ladder at the time --- lucky me ...) that "Perception is reality".

Perception is reality.

I think I'll say that again:
Perception is reality.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This guy is good

I just happened to fall into this guy's website, sort of a verbal blog site.  Ranting and raving --- one of my favorite pasttimes (DON'T GET MY WIFE STARTED!!!) --- and in a very intelligent way.  I am NOT a fan, in any way, shape or form, of hip-hop music or culture or anything related to hip-hop, but this guy, who is evidently a hip-hop DJ-type [from the site: creator of the hip hop music blog and founder of New York's longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI's Underground Railroad] is just plain good.  I love this crap!

In particular, I just have to say "Poor poor Michael Steele".  I love (at about the :30 second mark) that he is "well-meaning and sincere and charmingly oblivious to the reality that his party doesn't really respect him all that much and they only gave him his job as a cynical ploy to pretend they're down with black people."  Now THAT is a great quote.  And probably quite true.

A flock of seagulls

Wrote this on August 28, 2008, evidently the night after I wrote this blog about 80s music and my kids:

Tonight (August 28, 2008) after bath and puttin’-on-pajama time for both kids, I was on my computer.  I was looking for some of the 80s songs I had heard at the Regeneration Tour 2008 concert (again, note that this website is for this year's tour), free-streaming versions simply so I could listen to them.  On Amazon, I found a “Best of AFOS” (A Flock of Seagulls) CD or something like that.  Went through some of the song snippets from this album on Amazon and discovered that a song I could not remember at the time is called “Space Age Love Song”.  Then I began looking for a website through which I could listen to some of these 80s songs in their entirety (entireties??).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vindications on the dollar!!!

I am vindicated!!!

[vindicated = "to uphold or justify by argument or evidence: to vindicate a claim"]

Coincidentally, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal front page was an article titled "Miles for Nothing: How the Government Helped Frequent Fliers Make a Mint".  The subject of the article is irrelevant for this blog (but interesting nonetheless).  What is important is the vindication of my blog/rant on pennies and dollars the other day, when I said that coin money lasts far longer in circulation than does paper money.  At the time (3 days ago) I didn't know how long either lasted, but I did know that metal outlasts paper by a longshot.  My vindication:
"Dollar coins save the country money because they can last 30 years or more and can be recycled, the Mint says. A paper dollar in circulation lasts only about 21 months, says the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing."

Um ... I guess that's all.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books: "Terrestrial Energy"

Just finished this one.  It's about nuclear energy, the minuses (very few) and pluses (pretty much nothing but) versus other forms of "renewable" energy and coal (BOO!!) and natural gas (much more quiet boo!).  "Terrestrial Energy" tells the history and current issues surrounding nuclear energy as what should be THE power source for this country.  (Well, he actually wants a joint situation involving solar power as well.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The penny (and the dollar too)

Long ago I remember hearing that da Gubment wanted to do away with both the penny and the paper dollar.  Why?  They are both a waste.  The penny is virtually worthless these days, and it costs a whole lot more to make each penny than each of those pennies is worth,  The paper dollar, after having gone through a cost-benefit analysis, turns out to also have a very low rating; studies have shown that paper dollars in circulation last only a small fraction of the time that metal coins last.  After that, the paper dollar must be taken out of circulation, having gotten too beaten up to even be recognized as a dollar.  Plus, I think I remember hearing that manufacturing metal coins is cheaper than printing paper currency.  So why are we still using these?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chick magnets

I am realizing more and more that the best chick magnet I have right now is the Harley.

At least once a month as I am in a parking lot getting off the bike, getting on the bike, stowing stuff, whatever, some cute chick says "Nice bike" as she walks by.  I usually respond with "Thank you."  Matter of fact, this happened today, just a couple of hours ago.  Of course, I am VERY happily married, so none of this really matters anyway.  But it is interesting nonetheless.

Now contrast this with my wife's response as I pulled into our driveway today.  She was on her way out to grab the kids, and I had just pulled up and was waiting for our garage door to open.  On the back I had tied (hogtied really) two large LEGO boxes, both just purchased, and they were riding high on top of the rear trunk, blue straps all over (to keep them from flying off at 70 MPH on the way home).  She saw it and smirked and gave me one of those boys with their toys looks.  No "Nice bike".  No "Hey you look hot in those leathers ... Wanna go inside and get jiggy with it?" [note that I don't really know what that means]  She does, in her defense, often tell me that she does like the way the bike looks.  But no jiggy ...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Books: "Vengeance"

I was in a course recently in which I learned that after the 1972 murder of the Israeli Olympic team (11 of the athletes were killed in cold blood by "Black September", a sort of PLO offshoot organization) in Munich, Germany, Israel sent out what was basically a hit squad to kill 11 high-level terrorists who were associated with the planning of this operation.  "Vengeance" tells this story in a novel-like fashion, with a third-person point of view.  The author extensively interviewed the leader of this 5-man team, along with others who were in-the-know, years later and wrote the story.  In 2005 Steven Spielberg retold the story in his film "Munich".  I haven't yet seen the movie but will soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Jesus Iron(y)

Saw this photo online today:

The accompanying text:
In this photo taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 residue is seen on the bottom of an electric iron at the home of Mary Jo Coady, in Methuen, Mass. Coady says an image of Jesus Christ that she sees in the pattern on the bottom of the iron, which she first noticed on Sunday, has reassured her that 'life is going to be good.'

All I can say is "People believe this crap.  Holy shit."

I'd be willing to bet that I can vomit and make a picture of just about anything I want, including Jesus.  Think people would like it if I advertised that I had vomited Jesus?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Philosophy 101: Respect v. Admiration

No, it's not a court battle ...

Dunno why, but a while back this dichotomy (if it is indeed a dichotomy) came to mind.  I was thinking about various people, and it occurred to me that some I respect, some I admire and some I both (great grammar there ...).  And it occurred to me that there definitely IS a difference between the two feelings.  But what is the difference?  Here comes some stream-of-consciousnesses ... I think I'll begin with their "official" definitions (those I like the best, anyway):

Respect = esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

Admiration = a feeling of wonder, pleasure, or approval

At first glance I thought I had it licked.  But with another look, esteem for vs. a feeling of wonder are not all that far apart from one another.  My impression has been that I would rather have respect for someone than an admiration for them.  To me, respect implies that there is something about that person that you really ... uh ... admire.  Hmmm ... I guess I'll have to be careful or else I'll find myself in one of those circular arguments.  A person I respect is someone that has some quality or qualities that I, sometimes, wished that I possessed myself.  Someone who acts just the right way at just the right time, handles situations correctly, says all of the right things.  Someone who has a great deal of knowledge, experience or insight (or a good combination of those) in various issues that are of interest to me.

Counter to this (or perhaps directly in line with it ... we'll see) is admiration.  Someone whom I look up to, perhaps would like to strive to be like in some ways.  AAHHH!  I think I just figured out the difference!

I can admire someone for something that is not a personal quality.   I can admire someone for their position, their financial situation or perhaps something they own (i.e. a nice house or a sweet Harley).  These are tangibles, material items (mostly).  For these types of things, I can admire someone, but not necessarily respect them.  So that is it.  Very interesting, considering the fact that I have always looked at myself as an incredibly materialistic sumbitch (something with which my wife disagrees about me, or so she says).  And yet, here I am saying that I covet, at least at times, intangibles over tangibles.

Huh ... whodathunkit?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My son's theme song

I wrote this (edited and updated here) on August 27, 2008.  All about 80s music and my kids.  Huh ...

Last night [evidently this means on August 26, 2008] I went to Wolf Trap to see the Regeneration Tour 2008 (note that this website is for this year's tour).  Playing were some very 1980s bands, in this order:
  1. Naked Eyes [known for ‘Promises, Promises’ and ‘Always Something There To Remind Me’),
  2. A Flock of Seagulls [‘I Ran (So Far Away)’, among others]
  3. ABC [‘When Smokey Sings’ (a great tribute to Smokey Robinson) and ‘Shoot That Poison Arrow’]
  4. Belinda Carlisle [known for bunches of hits on her own, and that was AFTER several years’ worth of hits with the Go Gos]
  5. Human League [‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ and ‘Fascination’]
It was a really great retro-80s concert.  Five bands, and the total concert time was close to 4 hours.  To me, the ultimate 1980s song is and always has been ‘I Ran’ by AFOS.  That was during my freshman year in college, and just brings back memories of strolling around campus, tooling through the student union and lots of fraternity parties.  I have always loved that song.

Interestingly, as much as I enjoyed being there at the concert, several times I noted that I had ‘zoned out’ and was thinking back to last [the previous] Summer when I went to see Hootie and the Blowfish (now, unfortunately, basically defunct since Darius Rucker left to pursue a solo career).  They have a particular song, one of their hits, which contains a line that I love.  After seeing that concert last year, that CD was my go-to CD for weeks and weeks.  As I played that CD and paid more and more attention to the lyrics, one line, that one very short line in a single song, struck me as absolutely incredible.  The sixth song is ‘I’m Goin’ Home’, and the line is:
“He’s no little boy,
He’s my pride and joy”
That is my son.  That is Li'l D.

When I first heard that line last year driving to (or from) work, I got a lump in my throat when I realized what I was thinking.  I got home and immediately told Laura.  She understood.  To this day, every time I hear that line, I still get a small lump in my throat as I think of Li'l D.  The CD is playing now while I type [back in August 2008], and my “pride and joy” is busy whining that his little sister keeps bothering him and taking his toys, asking me if "THIS song is still part of it" (whatever “it” is --- little kid talk ...), interrupting me to tell me that the triceratops that he happens to be holding right now has a swishing tail, and on and on.  But he is MY pride and joy.

I kept zoning away from the concert that night, thinking back a year to the Hootie concert, and then to my pride and joy.  It was just, well, cool.  Made me smile as I enjoyed the retro music.

It is now getting late [in August 2008], and Laura is out getting her hair cut, or whatever fashion thingy that women do once a month to the tops of their heads.  Li'l A, my lovely daughter of 2 years, keeps saying “I want my Mommy.”  Nothing new there.  I am holding her off so far by saying that she will be home soon, followed by a distraction.  The distraction this time was “Go up and get your bottle.  You still have some milk left in it.”  “OK” says she.  Then I smile and say “Can I please have a kiss?”  Her reply?  The typical Li'l A reply: a HUGE pucker.  So I get a big kiss from my adorable 2 year old, she goes up and gets a drink of her milk and comes back downstairs to the basement.  Li'l D, my pride and joy, is quietly (for a few seconds at least) playing with ... whatever ... and all is right with the world for just another few minutes.

I unfortunately don’t yet have a ‘theme’ song or a line for Li'l A.  I may at some point.  I have a very strong feeling that she, too, will become my other pride and joy.  As soon as I understand more of what she is saying ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lesson of the Day - How to ID a cheetah

Took the kids to the National Zoo this morning for fun, but also got an inadvertent education.  We learnt a few things.  Most interesting: We saw 3 cheetahs, who were, we were told, brothers.  The FONZ volunteer who happened to be wandering around, educating people about cheetahs, told us that although cheetahs have spots around most of their bodies, their tails have rings around them.  And he told us that every cheetah's tail rings are unique, enabling us to identify each cheetah from every other cheetah.

I mentioned this to a coworker this afternoon.  He looked at me, smiled and said, "Great, they are barcoded!"

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I thought I was being really, really smart and intelligent and, mostly, creative.  I just created the term wordicle.  I even put it in the labels section for my last post on "-philes".  But then I Googled the term wordicle and out popped, first thing, (interesting that it is a secure site ...).  That sucks!  Someone else stole my creativity before I even had a chance to create it!!  That sucks!  Bastards!!!

I actually stole the idea (or so I thought) from a buddy at work who earlier this year, before a bunch of us ended up moving to other offices all over the friggin' place, revelled in the times when several of us would get together and just brainstorm over whatever the topic du jour was.  He coined (or so I thought) the term "smarticles", for those teenie tiny microscopic invisible particles that would fling themselves imperceptibly around our work area, making us all think real good.  He was very disappointed, as was I, as we all took other jobs and moved offices (another story, for another day), and basically did the smarticles in.  In Googling the word "smarticle", I found that he did NOT, indeed, coin it.

While posting my last, I realized that there really does seem to be an abundance of smarticles in and around my brain still, and the term "wordicle" appeared to me, which would describe anything explaining anything related to anything to do with words.  My last, therefore, was a wordicle.

And I have labelled it as such, so's I can now easily link all future wordicle blog posts to each other.

Inconsistent connotations

con·no·ta·tion: An idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing
Evidently a word ending in "-phile" connotes a person who loves the thing described at the beginning of that word:
  • A bibliophile is a person who loves books
  • An Anglophile is a person who loves everything English
  • A cinephile loves movies
These are all good things, right?  So why does the word "pedophile" have such a bad connotation, the opposite of the above?  I'd think that all parents are pedophiles.  But no ... for whatever reason, in this case, "pedophile" doesn't mean someone who just loves children; it means a person having pedophilia, the sexual desire for children.  That is not so good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

So why does asparagus make your pee smell?

Having eaten some asparagus on several occasions recently, I finally just had to find out.  Googling "why does asparagus make your pee smell" finds us bunches of answers.  Three relatively random ones here:

So, the causes include none or one or several of:
  • methanethiol
  • several S-methyl thioesters, specifically S-methyl thioacrylate and S-methyl 3-(methylthio)thiopropionate
  • metabolites
  • six sulfur-containing compounds
  • methyl mercaptan
Let's forget for a moment the fact that I cannot pronounce several of these.  It appears that science has not yet caught up to this very important biological phenomenon.  There are numerous other supposed causes as well, I am sure.  It also appears that people individually must have the proper smeller set up; that is, not everyone can smell this.  Some people consider this to be lucky on behalf of those who cannot.  Personally I really don't give a crap either way; I am just curious ...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"... the big pot in the sky"

The other night over dinner my 3 year old daughter, Li'l A, looked at me and asked "Daddy, after dinner can we go outside and see the big pot in the sky?"

Several weeks earlier, we had all gone outside after dark and stared up through our binoculars at the moon, the stars, various aircraft, etc.  We discussed the constellations, those we could see at the time (not many), and other important world-changing issues.  We talked about the Big Dipper, which we in Earth's northern hemisphere can see pretty much year-round, except for certain times of the night, and this was one of those times.  So, several weeks later, my brilliant and cute daughter asks to see it again, in her own very bright 3 year old way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Great in Slate

I read this article a few weeks ago and found it to be hilarious:
This Case Is a Dog - The Supreme Court mauls the law banning animal-cruelty videos

Obviously my main take-away was different than some of those who commented on the article, as I was fully into the humor presented by the author (one Dalia Lithwick), whereas many others were more concerned with the specific legalities and such being discussed.  I am an animal lover, particularly dogs, and some of the ridiculous idiocy displayed by the people in question in the article is just plain disgusting.  But the way the author portrays the Supreme Court scene as a pack of animals (the Justices themselves) variously stalking their prey (the lead attorney for the defense) is brilliant.

Philosophy 101: Death

So this one too I wrote previously.  Evidently on July 15, 2009, so not too long ago.  I like this one.  Brings up some good questions.

    A question came to me today.  I have no idea why.  I think I was riding the Harley home from work, contemplating everything.  Was possibly thinking of sick friends, or perhaps I had heard something on the news about someone being sick or dying.  I just don’t know.  But then the question appeared:

Why do we get so upset about something that is inevitable?
    Death.  It is inevitable.  It WILL happen.  We cannot stop it.  Sometimes (only sometimes) can we delay it.  But this thought occurred to me that we get very attached to other people (in this case people; I won’t even go into pets and such) and we usually get pretty upset when they die.  And yet … we KNOW they will die.  Or we will.  Between you and your friend/partner/spouse/whoever, one of the two of you will go first.  We all know this will happen.  And yet, even with this foreknowledge, knowing that our love or attachment must be only temporary, we still get upset when the inevitable happens.

    This must be my logical side.  Of course, logic dictates that we don’t get attached to anyone (or anything) in that way in the first place.  But that is just logic.  We’re human.  We HAVE to get attached.  We HAVE to fall in love.  This is what Captain Kirk spent 3 seasons (wow … it was only 3 seasons????  I admit I had to just look that up …) trying to teach Mr. Spock about.  We HAVE to have that longing feeling (as opposed to “That Loving Feeling” as performed by The Righteous Brothers some time ago) for another person, animal or, perhaps sometimes, even something inanimate.

    Now, that latter proposition could perhaps make some sense.  Having some strange human attachment for something inanimate (a rock?  A tchochke? (wow, did I spell that right?) a car or really cool motorcycle?) might make just a little sense if we know that the object will outlast us.  A car?  Usually not.  A rock or a tchochke?  Why not?  Unless it gets lost or broken, it can very well outlast us and our kids and our kids’ kids.  So, in some strange way, that kinda sorta does make some sense.

    But falling for someone who we KNOW has a limited time with us really is, when you get down to it, just plain silly.  It makes no sense.

So why do we get so upset about something we know is inevitable?
    I don’t know.  I’ve actually been mulling that over in my head all day since the thought occurred to me.  And I unfortunately have nothing to show for it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Distraction: The “Delicate” Art Of Child-Rearing

Welcome to my second post.

So yesterday I mentioned that I have already "blogged" on my wife's laptop.  Here is the first post from that document.  I wrote it back when ... well, I explain it all below.  It is a bit long, but there's a lot to explain.  Enjoy it, please feel free to try these methods at home with your own kids, and please do NOT sue me if anything goes horribly wrong in doing so.

(written on or about June 2006, back when I had just one kid)

    My son, Li'l D, is currently 2 years and 4 months old.  I’m not exactly sure when we Dads are supposed to stop counting months.  Someone recently told me that at around 3 or 4 we are supposed to switch to halves; that is, 3 and a half, 4 and a half, etc.  And when that stops, I don’t know.  I am currently 41 and a half myself, so perhaps that rule never officially ends.  But at least I now know the accepted rule during the early years on that subject, something that has worried me for a very long time.

    But anyway … on to “Distraction”.  I realized not too long ago, well, several things.  First, that I am evidently a very slow learner when it comes to my kids (I also have a daughter on the way, due about one month from this very moment in time when I am writing these words).  It took me a long time, long in terms of a kid’s lifetime, to finally realize that raising kids is all about one single simple concept: distraction.  Hence the title of this work.  And I guess I’ve already mentioned the second of these important things: distraction.  To cut to the chase, the bottom line and the end-all-be-all (and, yes, if I could think of any other clich├ęs, then I most certainly would include them in this sentence) of raising a child always gets back to the parents’ ability to distract them from whatever it is that is bothering them.  At almost 2 and a half years … oooops … he’s not there yet, and so I must say at 2 years and 4 months old, my son Li'l D, who is absolutely more bright than either my wife Laura or I ever imagined a 2+ year old would ever be, is still very easily distracted.  Let me begin with some examples.

    First, there is pain.  I don’t mean pain as in “He’s being a pain again, honey!”  Because, as much as I love him, he is a pain at times.  I am talking about pain as in physical pain.  One thing that my wife and I learned well before we had our own kids was a wonderful lesson from my sister-in-law Diana.  Diana has read every book ever written on child rearing.  And she practices what she has read, to the great advantage of her family.  This particular lesson involves those times, and there are many, when the child falls or stumbles or whatever inadvertent action they choose to do which causes them some undue distress.  And very shortly thereafter, they cry, or threaten to.  My attitude: If they aren’t actually hurt, and/or if they aren’t actually bleeding on my nice carpet and furniture, then let them cry and they will get over it quite quickly.  Diana uses this tack very well.  I remember very well one day when we were visiting their house for dinner (I think it was for dinner) and her son Li'l S (or was it her daughter Li'l J??  So I guess I don’t remember it all that well …) tripped and fell on the floor.  He (or she) looked up at the rest of us waiting for the sympathy.  Diana immediately, with the speed of a … well, something really, really fast, told us all not to react at all.  So we didn’t.  And Li'l S/J, after quickly realizing that they were not getting their desired sympathy from the rest of the room, went about their business of drooling or terrorizing their dog Mocha or whatever he/she was in the middle of doing when this horrible thing happened.

    This particular incident does not itself show the art of distraction, but it is a fantastic start.  And from this I can now show you my own version of the distraction method.  Li'l D often has his own mishaps … go figure.  He’s 2 (and a half), and he runs around our house at full speed, often not looking forward, which is also something that many local drivers do, but I won’t even begin my rant on that topic.  As a result of this and other 2 year old blunders, he occasionally “hurts himself”.  I am sure that many of these things do actually cause pain to him, but, as I said earlier, so long as my carpet and furniture are safe and there is no actual damage to my son, I have found it best to let it go.  The problem with this is that sometimes he cries anyway.  I hate that.  There is nothing worse than a child crying loudly right next to you when 1) you are trying to eat, 2) you are trying to watch a really cool woodworking show and Norm Abram (one of my son’s favorite TV personalities) just made some really unique cut on his table saw and you missed it, 3) you and your son just a moment ago were having a fantastically fun time building with blocks (usually his blocks) or playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains, or 4) you’re just tired.  So the letting-him-cry idea doesn’t always work.  Here’s where Dad’s magic, and some imagination, come into play.

    I’m not sure where I came up with this, but it works, and it works wonders.  Li'l D is always concerned about fixing things (or, in his pronunciation, “fisking” them).  So when he is hurt, I assume that he assumes that something on him is broken, be it his knee, his elbow, his finger, whatever.  I quickly figure out what is hurting him and ask him if we should fix it.  He usually says “Yes.” When he does, and even when he doesn’t, I begin our healing process.  We count to three, and when three comes, we wave a hand and wiggle our fingers around the painful area, and at the same time we utter the magic sounds: “Bzzzvvzzzbzzzvzzzzzzz”.  No, it is not a word (at least not an English word that I have ever heard).  But it is enough to get him to giggle a little bit, which means that the distraction process has begun.  We then sometimes do it again: “1 – 2 – 3 – Bzzzvvvzbzzvzzzz.”  Almost always, by this time, Li'l D is so fixated at making that funny sound and waving his fingers at the pain that he has forgotten why we were doing this in the first place.  And voila, there is distraction at its utmost.

    I knew that this was a good idea when two things happened.  First, my wife Laura asked how I came up with this idea.  My reply?  A shrug.  I don’t know where I get these ideas.  They just come to me, which is a little unsettling at times.  But the other time that I knew that I was on to something was several days after Li'l D and I first went through this little ritual.  Laura and I were in the kitchen and Li'l D was playing in the family room (also known as Toy Central, as I am sure it is known in many American households).  Our family room is just off of our kitchen, so when Li'l D is playing by himself in there we are in bliss, and can monitor him from our kitchen by ear.  This one time he did something to hurt himself.  We both sat upright from whatever important things we were doing at the time, just to be sure that he didn’t actually hurt himself.  He hadn’t.  He was whimpering a little bit, and within a few seconds we heard just what we wanted to hear: “1 – 2 – 3 – Bzzvvvvzzbbbzzzzvvvvvvzzzz.”  Followed by “Better!”  It was great!  Li'l D had “fixed” himself.  What could be better?!?!?!?!

    Next example: The idea is always to try to get his attention off of the painful incident, or appendage, as soon as is humanly possible.  This, obviously, can be done in many ways.  Another method I have found simple, and somewhat fun (why not keep it fun for all??) is to ask about other possibilities.  When Li'l D comes a-runnin’ to me with a boo-boo, I sometimes ask him what it is that hurts.  But before he has a chance to answer (usually not too difficult, what with the whimpering and such), I ask him if it is something else specific that hurts.  If he hurt, say, his toe, I then quickly ask him if he hurt his nose.  Our short conversation might go something like this:
Li'l D: “Daddy, I hurt a foot.” (Remember, he’s only 2.)
Daddy: “What did you hurt?”
Li’l D: “I hurt my toe.”
Big D: (Ignoring his previous answer) “Did you hurt your nose?” (touching his nose)
Li’l D: “No.” (still whimpering)
Big D: “Did you hurt your ear?” (touching his ear)
Li’l D: “No.” (whimpering slightly less, because he knows how this conversation will continue)
Big D: “Did you hurt your … uhhh … knee?” (touching his knee)
Li’l D: “No.” (smiling just slightly by now)
Big D: “Did you hurt your tushy?” (because tushies are always fun topics for 2-year-olds)
Li’l D: “No.  [giggle] I hurt my toe.”
Big D: “So let’s fix it together.  1 – 2 – 3 – Bzzzzvvzzbbbbzzzvvzzz”
And there we are again, back to the magic touch.  And a happy kid once again, which also means a happy Daddy as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My first post ...

... and you never forget your first ...

Thanks to my wife, who has been nudging me ... or noodging me ... to begin writing or blogging or something ... ANYTHING!! ... because there is just so much stuff crammed into my head and I do need some way to get it all out.  Will people read this?  Who knows?  Will people LIKE it?  I just dunno ...

What I plan to chat about:

My kids -- nothing else matters as much
LEGO -- fun, just plain fun
Harley-Davidson -- my very large motorcycle, and a life's worth of waiting for it ...  well, a third of a life by the time I bought her ...
Investing -- a long-time hobby, but I'm just not good enough to quit my day job ... YET!!
Reading -- how else to learn about ... everything?
Disney -- my family's love of all things Disney
80s music -- yes, 80s music, because little music since then has not sucked
What I did or thought about today -- can't wait for these, can you????
Other fun and/or random stuff -- as things and ideas pop up

I do already have some words that I have "blogged", in a simple Word file on my wife's laptop, over the last year or two.  And I do plan to use much of this in the short term.  However:
1) Is it cheating?  If I have already written it, is it a log (OK, for precision, a current log)?
2) If it is not on the web, then is it a "blog"?  Remember that the "b" stands for Web (yeah, that sounds weird), as in Internet.  This is in a file, so it ain't a blog yet.  Soon ...

To be truthful, I found this blog just recently: The Erin O'Brien Owner's Manual for Human Beings.  It was a random find; actually I think she made's Blogs of Note recently, and I happened to see it, so I clicked.  Dunno who she is, aside from her self-descriptions as a mom in Ohio.  It is not so much what she says, but HOW she says it.  I really like her writing style.  More on her later.