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.