Thursday, 30 June 2011

This Week's Vote

Let's bring the stakes up to something just a wee bit more personal that almost anyone anywhere can have an opinion. This should be quite a bit easier, since many people do have kids and really would do anything to see them protected and raised right. So this new poll, for the next fourteen days, is:

"Do you think people like Kate Gosselin and the Duggars should parade their children on television to make a buck?"

(That sounds like I'm skewed in my opinion, but those of you who read my blog already know that.)

Answers:

Yes, they are just living the American dream.
No, I think it is wrong and potentially damaging to the kids.
I'd do it in a minute if I thought I could get rich!
I don't know.

(I figured there should be one token answer that was not so tongue-in-cheek.)

So there you go. Hopefully everyone will come out to vote and give their opinion, too!

Last Week's Vote

There are some things that Blogger lets one do that is fun, and one of them is to create a voting poll for people to throw in their opinion. For the last two weeks or so I had one up. The question was, "Who do you think will be left for the Primaries?" This might be a loaded question, especially since I have the feeling that most of my 26 regulars are from other countries and the primaries are getting into a specific kind of voting - and I hate to admit it, but most of the voting structure is confusing to me...

The answers I had were:

President Obama
Sarah Palin
Mitt Romney
Mike Huckabee
Rudy Guiliani
Donald Trump

I don't think The Donald has plans to run any longer, and I have long since changed my mind about him, but one of the four voters did select him. Two selected the current President and one selected Mitt Romney.

I personally still have no idea. I don't care for any of the Republican runners. This will sound terrible, but the idea of having "President Huckabee" is so repugnant, I just can't believe it. Let's further the notion that Americans are hillbillies with this as the name of our president...

Of course, Sarah Palin is too stupid to run but the only one who hasn't figured that out is Sarah. Even if we give her the benefit of the doubt and go with the idea that she isn't really that stupid but a nervous and abysmally poor speaker, well, do we want to be represented by another W. - someone who sounds stupid? (I think W. was stupid, but some have said he just isn't a good speaker. Well, there's a ringing indictment. I think this job, much like being King in England, is one where public speaking IS a key part of the job.)

Mitt Romney was unsuccessful last election year... maybe this will be his year, maybe not. It remains to be seen. Clearly last election's John McCain likely realised he is too old at this point and Ron Paul seems to have dropped off the planet but he's also a little long in the tooth for the job.

Rudy Guiliani... now, here is an interesting candidate! I might actually feel good about voting for him.

I just now made the mistake of looking up the current list of Republican candidates for the 2012 primaries... ye gods. Thirteen people have announced that they are running and wow - you should see some of them. The last guy looks like he stepped out of the asylum for this. You can go here to see the contestants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29_presidential_primaries,_2012.

This list is:
Mitt Romney
Ron Paul (my bad - I guess he is still going for this)
Michelle Bachmann
Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich
John Huntsman, Jr.
Gary Johnson
Fred Karger
Andy Martin
Jimmy McMillan
Tim Pawlenty
Rick Santorum
Jonathon Sharkey

My goodness. I certainly hope most of these folks disappear, but usually they do anyway. And Sharkey... with that fresh from a job serial killer look, he'll be first off the list. Let's see what the Democratic Party has. I can't imagine it isn't a free-for-all right now...

Apparently there is only one other serious (or maybe "current" is the better word) candidate running for the Democratic Party, a pro-lifer named Randall Terry from New York. I certainly hope he crawls back under whatever rock he crawled out of - Roe v. Wade is precious to me and millions of others and I hate to see someone like this get anywhere near the oval office. It said under his name that he planned to show aborted fetuses (feti?) during the 2012 Super Bowl. (Something tells me that the telly advertising folks wouldn't allow that, but quite frankly, pro-life or pro-choice, that kind of thing would prove to be a turn-off.)

There are two additions to the ungodly large Republican pool of shark-- candidates: Roy Moore and Buddy Roemer. My, my, they are just coming out of the woodwork.

Oh, look at this... there is a Green Party, mounting two candidates (Kent Mesplay, Stewart Alexander) and a Libertarian Committee, with R. Lee Wrights. Wonder if he is lawyer, by any chance... Anyone else coming to the party? There is! A Prohibition Party guy - who obviously is a teetotaler, James Hedges. Good luck with that. Taking alcohol away from people will not get one elected to anything. Even me - I don't drink at all, but that is my personal choice, not one I would push onto others. And who else... two Independents, Robert "Naked Cowboy" Burck and Joe Shriner.

And there are prospective candidates. For the Democrats, Alvin Greene; for the Republicans, Sarah Palin, Rudy Guiliani, John Bolton, Thad McCotter, George Pataki and Rick Perry; and for the Constitutional Party, Virgil Goode.

I took a quick look at Jonathon Sharkey. He is representing both the Republican Party (sure to be an embarrassment to the rest of 'em) and the "Vampires, Witches & Pagans Party". Now, as much as I would love to see pagans represented here, this is not my first - or even last - choice. The guy admits to drinking women's blood! (There is a line that even I'm not interested in crossing for the job of President of the United States. Here it is!) I don't mind if he belongs to 50 different covens and wants to do the vampire thing with 50 different women - shiver - but what can I say? We as Americans go nuts when the leader of the free world is sleeping with someone other than his spouse, something that we should have long since gotten over. Imagine having a blood-sucking vampire in the office! That would be a wow-factor, wouldn't it?

[I have to wonder if drinking 50 women's blood is akin to sleeping with 50 women - and by proxy, sleeping with all of their other partners. There's a heartwarming thought, eh? He'll be dead before he reaches the Oval office from Hep C... not that he's got a prayer of any kind of reaching it, not even on a tour of the White House!]

That is one scary list of people.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sometimes a Miss, Sometimes a Hit!

Summer telly hits are tough to find, but the channels are slowly coming around to the fact that life in the twenty-first century doesn't involving being out of doors during the off-school weeks. Now those few are realising the cash cow in primo-advertising all year-round.

Where Franklin & Bash was a total failure, the new show Suits, on USA, is a hit. It has humour but it is serious, too. Instead of immersing itself in the gutter, it is witty without being crass. Quite frankly, how Franklin & Bash made it on the air is a mystery.

As usual, Drop Dead Diva is as great as its last two seasons and promises to get better. I'm looking forward to Eureka although with mixed feelings - last season was not its finest, going too far with one plot line and changing everything moving forward. A show in its third or fourth season should not need to resort to that - it's usually a bad sign when they do.

One show that I am enjoying thoroughly, however, is Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. The man has an incredibly mellifluous voice and speaks beautifully. He narrates this show which revolves around astronomy, time, black holes, etc. All the topics that make creationists go crazy! I live for this kind of show and while The Cosmos by Carl Sagan will always rate high, it was a show that was 30 years old and this is a science that has grown in leaps and bounds since his time.

There is another show coming up that I slated to record but I can't recall the name - it is on the HD Science channel an about space travel, so I'm sure I will love it. Education is never a waste.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Seven #295

How are drivers in your community? If there anything like the drivers where I live, you have this secret wish to be a cop for a day so that you can pull over all of the bad drivers and really make them pay!

If that’s how you feel, this week’s topic is for you. I found a list of the top 10 moving violations. You can use it to help you come up with ideas if you need them.

Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:
Name the seven most common moving violations you see committed by drivers with whom you’re forced to share the road.

Oh, my... where would I start?

1. Tailgating, always the biggest offender and the most offense unnoticed crime committed on the streets on a moment-to-moment basis. It makes me crazy that when I am driving at 70 miles an hour, some horse's patoot is right on my ass, so I can't even see the grill!

2. Musical lanes. This never ceases to amaze me. I tend to drive a little fast - comfortably at 85 miles an hour. But I only do that in the fast lane of major highways. I do NOT ever play musical lanes when moving at that speed. Too many dangerous variables are only one dangerous area of doing this. Usually people moving at high speeds cannot effectively know where all the other vehicles are.

3. Motorcyclists who don't follow the laws. I love riding on a motorcycle and completely understand why others do It is exhilarating. But there are too many who spoil it for those who do love it - and blatantly. Motorcyclists who drive in between lanes of cars in traffic is the thing that pushes other motor vehicle drivers bitterness about it and then they are not cautious about any of them.

4. People who try to take the shoulder to bypass traffic. There are too many who do this, too. It's one thing to take that emergency lane ten feet before you have reached the line where it is legal to get over to take it. It is quite another to try that when the exit is two miles away. I find that I will drive half in the slow lane and half in the shoulder so no one can pull that crap. I watch to make sure there is no one using the shoulder and keep a watchful eyes for cops (they are authorised to use that lane), but anyone else should just suck it up and enjoy the music.

5. Throwing the vehicle in reverse to come backwards down the exit you just took that wasn't the right one. When did THIS become okay?! I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen this - or, even worse - a motorist comes to a dead stop in the fast lane of Route 80 and then throws it in reverse to take the exit missed! How does this not just want to make you scream?! It makes me scream, usually out of naked fear!

6. Distracted drivers. I'm not saying we don't have moments where we distracted or a bit distant from the task at hand. I've had those days when I got into my car and then as if 25 minutes hadn't elapsed, got out of the car wondering how I got there. But then there is staggering amount of stupid things I see. The most common -and dangerous - are the women who apply their cosmetics in the rear-view mirror while driving but the more shocking was reading a newspaper, reading purchase orders, working a calculator and with one foot sticking out of the window.

7. People who don't use their turn signal. Even my father does this - he changes lanes without signaling. There are a lot who don't use it to turn, either, but my father is not one of those. But legally one who is changing lanes on the highway should signal - and not while making the change but before they move. It seems to be a pet peeve, though, because a lot of people don't agree with that one.

Bonus answer: I stop at intersections if the light is green but the lane is full and there is no room for me unless I sit in the intersection - it is illegal to block the intersection. If the light changes then I am in the right place. If it doesn't or the lane begins to clear before the light changes, then I will move up.

Secnd bonus answer: If a light turns yellow and I have space, I stop. I do NOT ever run red lights. But it blows me away when the light changes and the line wasn't moving very fast but four or five cars go through the ensuing red light. WHAT?!

There are not just seven answers - or top answers - for some questions!

A Sheer Screaming Week of Hell

I can't or won't speak about a lot of what happened this week. I lost a lot of things over this week, but it seems that between my making concessions to issues and talking to only the very closest to friends about it, I've managed to hold onto what was most important.

Luis has his needs and I have to be more cognizant. I tend to harp on things I need not, bitch and gripe about things that I shouldn't. So I have that to work on as well as bud... budg... budgeting. (See that - I have trouble just saying that word! I hate that word. I hate money and dealing with it - mostly because I don't know how to deal with it. I'm Houdini - I only know how to make it disappear!

And let's not get into my riding. I take a lot of solace in this and I will miss it. But I will be an associate member, so I can do parades, events, run for administration-type E-board positions, committees (I'm on the New Rig Committee, which will be very educational for me), etc.

The cats proved to be the most easily adaptable to severe change. They went from roaming an eleven-room house at will to being confined to two small rooms, one set of steps and a bathroom. And then after five days back to eleven rooms and the changes were totally seamless.

I did not make the change well at all. Fortunately it was brief.

And since I haven't much else to reveal, I will leave this post in its confusing state. I do think that you will see more posts again from me, especially now that I am kind of back to normal and this week is over in... three hours, ten minutes!

Saturday Six #376

This week’s topic is suggested by the random quiz that appears in one of the questions: fairy tales. Most of us had parents or siblings who either read or told us stories growing up.

So I hope this set of questions won’t be too difficult for you to answer!

Thanks for dropping by!

Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. Which childhood fairy tale or story was your favorite when you were little? That's a tough one. I'd have to say the Arabian nights tales were the best. I found "fairy tales" to be rather tepid and too happy an ending for me. I loved hearing Irish teaching tales about the Firbolg and the Dhoanie Shidhe - those are real fairy tales.

2. Who in your family told you the most fairy tales or stories? Come to think of it, my Pop-pop did. My mother read to me from books, but a lot of "old country" folklore came by oral tradition from my grandfather.

3. Were most of the those stories told from memory or read from a book? In my Pop-pop's case, memories. From my parents, books. Oral traditional always beats out books, though, I think.

4. What’s your favorite part of a fairy tale? The whole thing:beginning, middle an end.

5. What’s your least favorite part of a fairy tale? I guess the end, always the worst part of anything enjoyable.

6. Take the quiz: What Part of a Fairy Tale Are You?

  1. Which of these fairy tales do you like the best?
  2. At core, you consider yourself to be:
  3. What do you like best about fairy tales?
  4. Your ideal fairy tale is set:
  5. If you were a character in a fairy tale, you would be:
I am the Castle:
You are a bit of a homebody and even somewhat of a loner. You function best when you're all by yourself. Other people see you as mysterious and even a little scary. They don't understand how deep and complicated you are.

You have many layers to your personality, and there is always a surprise waiting around the corner with you. You aren't as scary as you seem, but you are intense. You require people to confront things about themselves that they rather not know.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

ARTICLE: Top Ten Dirtiest Foods

"I got this email from a colleague the Tuesday after Memorial Day: “Can’t come in today. Stomach bug.” I’m no detective but—with barbeque season officially starting the day before—a prime suspect immediately jumped to mind: the norovirus, the most common cause of food poisoning in the world.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 200,000 Americans contract food poisoning every day. But Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist at New York University medical center and author of The Secret Life of Germs, believes the actual number is closer to 800,000. And in 4 of 5 of food poisoning cases, the attack happens at home—right (on the plate) under your nose.

"Everyone in this country will have at least one incident of sickness this year attributable to a foodborne virus, bacteria, or toxin," Tierno told Men’s Health. Except that most of us won't know what hit us. Like my colleague, we'll chalk up the usually mild symptoms—nausea, diarrhea, cramping—to a stomach bug that's going around.

We asked Men's Health contributor Jim Gorman to help us identify the 10 dirtiest foods we put on our plates. His report is shocking, in that it reads like the average American’s grocery list. Read on for the dirt about your favorite foods—and how to protect yourself at the supermarket and your dinner table."

I'm noticing lately that the list is not part of the article lately and I'm wondering what the hell that is all about. However, this link with the list has thumbnails of the dirtiest foods, so I need not weed through all the slides.

1. Chicken
2. Ground beef
3. Ground turkey
4. Oysters
5. Eggs
6. Cantaloupe
7. Peaches
8. Lettuce
9. Cold Cuts
10. Scallions

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sunday Seven #294

Since it’s Father’s Day, I figured a father-themed question would be in order. If you didn’t grow up with a dad in your life, you can substitute your mom in the question.

Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:
Name seven cool or interesting things you’d tell people about your dad.

There are far more than seven interesting things about my father, but here are the top seven!

1. He's bald, but doesn't care. When he was younger he wore a really well-made wig (let's face it, the most criminal thing in the world aside from a comb-over is a crappy rug), but when he went white, he just stopped wearing it and looks great!

2. He can do almost anything household related, not just electrical work(he was an electrician for over 25 years). He avoids plumbing but otherwise can do it all.

3. He can do math in his head that in a month of Sundays with a calculator I could never manage.

4. He is a top-of- the-lne cook, all on his own - no courses, no studying, just does it.

5. He is a warm and fuzzy kind of guy that everyone likes.

6. He used to throw me in the air and tickle me and play kiddie games with me when I was a kid. (I remember we got an Atari console. We played Pong! for hours. How cool is that?)

7. (This is a little weird, but still cool.) He got me into jigsaw puzzles. This is the weird part: he ordered two jigsaw puzzles from Playboy. They were two different Playmates of the year (I think they were 1978). We worked on one then the other. These were not X-rated puzzles, this is Playboy - just models standing posed who happened to be nude. If I could look like one of them, that'd be just fine. We had a lot of fun putting them together, and it formed one of the biggest relaxing (and only mathematically challenging) things I can do - without even thinking about it (yes, I'm very good with jigsaw puzzles - usually 3,000 pieces).

Happy father's day to a really great Dad!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday Six #375

Welcome to the 375th edition of the Saturday Six! This week, the topic is about the news. Do you still have a newspaper subscription? Do you watch network news these days?

Whether you love it or hate it, I suspect you’ll be able to handle these questions with little difficulty!

Thanks for dropping by!

Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. Where do you get the majority of your news: from the newspaper, the radio, the television or online? From friends and online - when I'm logging into Yahoo! or other sites.

2. Do you currently have a newspaper subscription that includes an actual paper delivery? No.

3. What is usually the first website you visit in the morning? NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I like the weather forecasts they provide.

4. Who is your favorite network news anchor? I don't watch or read the news. I haven't the faintest idea who any anchor is. I remember Walter Cronkite, but that was way back when my parents watched the news. Back then, we knew the anchors and it seemed they knew us as well. Every night the mellifluous tones of Mr. Cronkite filled the living room. It was a very different age. But mostly, news is depressing and I like not knowing the sad state of affairs in the world.

5. Who is your least favorite network news anchor? See above, but add tho that anyone who is changing his name to "fit" the local demographic niche.

6. If newspapers converted to web-only sites, eliminating the physical paper, even at newsstands, would this bother you at all? Yes, but I still love books and media to be in print. Life is not the same online - it has its pleasures, but it is meant only to be part of life, not all of life.

WarGames and... I'm Old?!

I'm watching WarGames, which was made in 1983. I was fifteen when this came out. I saw it in the movies with my parents.

When they were watching the video of Dr. Stephen Falken, Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) asked if David (Matthew Broderick) could just write to the doctor. He said he couldn't because the doctor was dead. She said he was young, and David said no, he was old. When Jennifer asked how old he was, David said, "Forty-one."

Good gods. I'm forty-three. How did that get to be old?!

I always find it incensing when people say, "So-and-so was 72? He was young!" Now, let's not get carried away. The average life span of the male human is still 70. The average life span of the human female is still 77. This is NOT young. And it seems that rather than rising, the number is now beginning to drop. Unsurprisingly, a life of drinking alcohol and soda and eating processed foods is taking its toll on the human race. I'm not saying one has to suddenly throw away all their foodstuffs, but modifying one's diet might not be a bad idea.

I suppose when I was a sophomore in high school, I thought people in their 40s were old... but at age 15, my mother was 42 and Ray was 38... so maybe I didn't think that. Unlike most kids my age, my parents were not in their early to mid-30s. Ma didn't have me until she was 27. (My father, Harry, was 35 at the time - not as young as most new parents in 1968.)

That was the age (of Aquarius). In today's day and age, many people wait to have their kids. I happen to think that is wise - having kids when one is still a kid (and yes, I would say 20 is still a kid) seems rather hard. Why make it so difficult? It is not easy to have children. It has to be easier - not as difficult - when you have had a little more life experience. I don't think having them at age 50 and up is wise, but having them in one's early or mid-30s is not the end of the world.

And yet, at 43 I'm old! Damn!

My hero: Dr. Gerald "Jerry" Fishman

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - A NASA astronomer from Huntsville will split $1 million as one of this year's two winners of what has been called "Asia's Nobel Prize."

Dr. Gerald "Jerry" Fishman shares the 2011 Shaw Prize with Italian astronomer Enrico Costa for their discoveries about gamma ray bursts. The three annual Shaw prizes are named for Hong Kong media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw. They have been given since 2004 to living scientists for accomplishments in astronomy, life sciences and medicine.

"I was completely shocked," Fishman said Wednesday. "I didn't know I was nominated."

Gamma ray bursts were unknown until the 1960s, when they were first detected by satellites launched to search for evidence of nuclear test ban violations. Gamma rays are one signature product of a nuclear blast.

It was "a complete mystery" where they came from, Fishman said, and it was "their unknown nature" that interested him. Fishman's high-altitude balloon experiments in the early 1970s at Teledyne Brown Engineering and Marshall Space Flight Center led to a gamma ray monitor developed at Marshall and launched from the space shuttle Atlantis in 1991. The monitor launched by the shuttle was part of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, one of NASA's four "Great Observatories."

"(We) helped to show that gamma ray bursts are coming from the edges of the observable universe and are the brightest explosions in the sky," Fishman said of the work he and Costa did that led to the prize. "Because they're the brightest explosions in the sky, it means that we can study them from farther away than we can study anything else," Fishman said. "We can study some basic properties of our universe like the form, the shape, the age and the evolution as well or better (than) we can by any other means."

Astronomers call the science of studying the big questions about the universe "cosmology," and the Shaw Prize judges said Fishman and Costa demonstrated that gamma ray bursts do originate at the very edge of the measurable universe. Fishman, a NASA astrophysicist since 1974, is currently a co-investigator on the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, a key instrument aboard the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

"I am thrilled at the news of Dr. Fishman's award," said Dr. James Spann, manager of the Marshall Center's Science & Exploration Research Office. "The science we do at Marshall has a huge impact on our understanding of the universe in which we live, and Jerry Fishman is a crucial part of that success."

Fishman and his wife, Nancy, live in Hampton Cove. They will travel to Hong Kong in September for the award presentation. He would not comment on what he might do with his half of the $1 million prize money.

POST: Should Reporters Play the Name Game?

On Patrick's Place I found the following post:

"A friend and former colleague of mine recently asked his Facebook friends if they thought it was right for a reporter or anchor to use a different name on air when the new name is designed to make them sound like they’re part of an ethnic group they’re not really part of or to appeal to viewers in that ethnic group.

For example, anchor Jim Smith moves to a market with a large Hispanic population, and decides to change his name to Jim Sanchez.

My friend, incidentally, uses his real name. I checked.

But what about renaming yourself on-air to sound more ethnic than you are, or at least more ethnic than your name makes it sound like you are?

Is there anything wrong with that?

I’ll give my thoughts soon, but I wanted to get yours first."

My response:

"I'd have to say it is wrong to change one's name to appeal to a demographic. This only encourages the prejudice that colours Americans and other groups, instead of being yourself. I find this more common (as far as I know) in the outsourcing that has become so prevalent. When I worked at my last job, I had to call American Express to find out how to authorise gift cards so I could pass this info to employees. I got Cynthia in India, who helped me with this... Cynthia? Cynthia Patel? What are the odds?

The same thing happens with interns from China. The visa paperwork gives a true Chinese name, but they send their e-mails and correspondence with odd American (or English) names that I'm not sure where they find them. We had Stella, Shirley, Frank and Tristan (you see what I mean about three of the four names - it is as though they found names popular in the 1930s). But you know these are not their given names. I told them to be proud of their native heritage and be sure to pronounce their names carefully (let's face it, the name Xie (a real Chinese name but not one of theirs) does not roll off the American tongue easily. Even I had to have it re-pronounced several times.

I really hate that people from other cultures feel they need to change their names to "fit in" to the American one."

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Cheery Part of Tonight's Posts: 15 June Eclipse

Sadly, all of this year's eclipses are taking place in areas that are not visible to me. That's right. Not one single 2011 lunar eclipse is visible in the Northeastern United States this year. This makes me very sad. However, thanks to technology and the incredible cameras now available to the average Joe, the quality of pictures taken the world over (or I should say, over the world who could view the eclipse of last night) shared their images. Just to make me happy!

(That sounds nice, doesn't it?)

Here is my favourite:
A partial lunar eclipse is seen over the skies of Belgrade June 15, 2011.

ARTICLE: Josh & Anna Duggar Welcome Son Michael James!

JUST when you thought it was safe:

"The Duggar family continues to grow!

Josh Duggar, 23, –- the eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle –- and wife Anna, 22, welcomed their second child, Michael James, on Wednesday, TLC announced. The couple is sticking with their "M" theme, for their children's names. Little Michael James will join big sister MacKynzie, 20 months, at home.

The couple's new son weighed 8 lbs., 5 oz., and arrived at 5:55 PM Tontitown, Ark., according to People, who was first to report the news. The newest Duggar is very close in age to his Aunt Josie (Jim Bob and Michelle's youngest child, who was born premature, but is now healthy), who is only 17 months old. "I think of Josie being born at only 25 weeks," Josh told the mag prior to the birth of his son, "and it makes us think about how precious life is and what a blessing each child is."

The Duggars are back on TLC."

And once again, the ball rolls downhill. This is not the original Duggar family who is on TLC that just had this baby, this is the eldest son. Apparently they are not too bright, either. They have a 20-month-old daughter and now they have another. Mom & Dad, of course, instilled their kids with this same over-the-top breeding program. And so the world can witness how one family can contribute mightily to overpopulating the planet, instead of many of us contributing to it. How delightful.

And then to think that these people are on television! Shame on you, America, for supporting these mental midgets! What are you doing but praising these people for turning this woman into nothing but a baby-making machine and helping the idiot father to keep from having to support this over-sized family!

As one woman commented, "Jesus Christ, it's a vagina, not a clown car!" Another posted, "If Michelle Duggar breastfeeds the babies, she has been lactating for 23 years." Some blessed them for their well-behaved kids (because you should believe everything you see on television), some lambasted them for this insanity. Others commented that they are amazing for not having debt. How crazy is that? The viewing public has done that, not this family (and suddenly it brings to mind the former TLC heavyweights of child abuse, Jon & Kate Plus Eight, the idiots who started all this).

And this is what religion has given us? I think not. I know of too many religious people doing the wrong thing and very few spiritual people doing the right thing. And the church is not helping. "Go forth and procreate" made sense when families had ten children in the hopes that two would survive to perpetuate the race, but in this day and age, it is incredibly outmoded thinking.

Let's not get me started on how many single-parent families I am supporting by paying my taxes. I've gone on about this ad nauseum and can still go on about it. So I should stop this minute, before I just repeat myself for the millionth time about this...

ARTICLE: Lady Gaga's Meat Dress Immortalized

Now, this is just disgusting:

"The item is part of a new Women Who Rock exhibit at the Cleveland museum. Gaga went from rocking a rack of meat to having it preserved for the ages. Literally. The hand-sewn meat dress is now more of a beef jerky dress. Let us explain.

The Argentinean slabs of tartare may have been barbeque-ready when Gaga put them on last September. The singer modeled the dress when she accepted the Best Video of the Year, "Bad Romance," wearing it to proclaim, as she put it, "I am not a piece of meat." But let's face it: The freshness date of the frock -- and matching meat boots -- have long since passed.

A post on NPR explains the process for preserving the meat dress: The edible fashion statement "was kept in a meat locker, placed in a vat of chemicals and then dried out by taxidermists in California before being transported to the museum." Just one problem. It looked like a bunch of beef jerky -- which doesn't exactly pack the same punch.

To create a raw beef look, the jerky was painted over to appear fresh. That process took several months. So now, hopefully, the dress seen round the world won't be smelled round the world. Delicious."

I never know how people will react to this stuff. I immediately found it disgusting, but often, people and their opinions shock me. So it was with no small amount of gratuity that I found all the visible comments reflected mine. It's not just me. Even Luis, who knew about it, said the same thing. For once, he did not try to defend the artist's appalling sense of... fashion? No. I think not.

Quite frankly, I could not have put this on. I know she has a layer under it - well, under the boots, at any rate - but even so, it would have given me the willies. Yes, I know, you're reading the comments of someone who steadfastly refuses to handle raw food and cook, but even if I did, this is not a use for raw meat. Ick. And this is in execrable taste. There are people who can't afford meat and this woman is wearing it as a dress! How does that work?! Talk about doing something for the not-so-well off. Here's your chance to make a difference, Gaga. Or should I say Stephanie?

While she clearly thrives on shock value, this is one shock and first-time stunt in the history of weird famous people that simply did not work out well. Although why the Hall of Fame wants to induct this... there is the real mystery. It can't possibly stay as it is. And jerky? Eeeeiiiiwwww.

ARTICLE: The World's Highest Paid Musicians

Two decades ago Jon Bon Jovi sat with the members of his eponymous band in a basement in New Jersey. Hoping to rekindle the group's desire to make music after two grueling years on the road, he'd hung vintage posters on the wall, illuminated only by candles and blacklights. But instead of feeling inspired, Bon Jovi found himself becoming cranky and short of breath.

"I'm thinking maybe this is an issue, maybe I just don't like them," Bon Jovi said in a recent interview for the FORBES Celeb 100 issue. "Until I realized that all the oxygen was sucked out of the room by the candles ... So I blew out the candles, cranked up the amplifiers, and said, 'We're going to be a rock band. If you believe in what I'm telling you, we can be the Rolling Stones.'"

Sure enough, Bon Jovi is still rocking. The group earned $125 million over the past 12 months, enough to claim the No. 2 spot on FORBES' annual list of the world's highest-paid musicians. U2 (pictured above) took home $195 million-and music's money crown-thanks to an international stadium tour that grossed some $700 million over two years, surpassing the Stones' A Bigger Bang tour as the most lucrative of all time.

Power ballad rockers aren't the only artists raking in the cash this year. Elton John ranks third with $100 million, fueled by a 102-show tour; Lady Gaga, godmother to Sir Elton's new son, clocks in at No. 4 with $90 million; Canadian crooner Michael Bublé rounds out the top five with $70 million, also on the strength of a lucrative tour.

Full List: The World's Highest-Paid Musicians

Our numbers encompass all pretax income earned from May 2010 to May 2011, before subtracting agent and manager fees. The totals were compiled with the help of data from Pollstar, RIAA and others, as well as extensive interviews with industry insiders including lawyers, managers, concert promoters, agents and, in some cases, the musicians themselves.

Full List: The World's 25 Highest-Paid Musicians

For most artists, touring was the largest source of income this past year-but some were more efficient than others. Lady Gaga grossed nearly as much in 12 months of touring ($168 million) as Elton John ($204 million), but the costs of her elaborate production (dozens of backup dancers, pyrotechnic undergarments, etc.) ate into her take significantly. Gaga did grab plenty of additional cash from recorded music, publishing and endorsements. And regardless of the margins on her tour, drawing some 2 million fans over the past 12 months is no small feat-for Gaga, or for any of the big touring acts.

"It's one thing to cut a song and get airplay, it's another thing to convert listeners into a loyal fan base that goes through the trials and tribulations of buying tickets, paying for dinner, hiring a baby sitter," says Randy Phillips, chief of concert promoter AEG. "To motivate a fan base to go through all those hurdles, there are very few artists who can do that consistently."

The musicians on our list run quite a gamut. Justin Bieber, who raked in $53 million, is the youngest at age 17. Paul McCartney, who took home $66 million, is the oldest at 68. One couple even made the list-Jay-Z and Beyoncé took home $37 million and $35 million, respectively, marking the first time since their nuptials that the hip-hop mogul earned more than his wife.

Beyoncé is one of only five female solo acts on the list, compared to 13 males. What the list lacks in gender equality, it makes up for in geographical diversity-over one-third of the artists hail from outside the U.S., from countries including the U.K., Barbados, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Australia.

As for the Rolling Stones, they're widely expected to hit the road again to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012. But don't expect a Bon Jovi reunion tour in 2030.

"I don't know if I want to be 68 years old and doing 140 shows in a year," admits Jon Bon Jovi. "Where I'm going, I don't know. And that's the beauty of it."

The Full List:

1. U2 - $195 million

2. Bon Jovi - $125 million

3. Elton John - $100 million

4. Lady Gaga - $90 million

5. Michael Buble - $70 million

6. Pail McCartney - $87 million

(This is an incredibly slow, slow process, since the noodnik who put this "list" together did it as a slide show instead of a straight list that I could cut and paste. I hope you appreciate this...)

7. The Back-Eyed Peas - $61 million

8. The Eagles - $60 million

9. Justin Bieber - $53 million

10. David Mattews Band - $51 million

11. Toby Kieth - $50 million

12. Usher - $46 million

13. Taylor Swift - $45 million

14. Katy Perry - $44 million

15. Brad Paisley - $40 million

16. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - $38 million

17. Jay-Z - $37 million

18. AC/DC - $35 million (tie)

19. Beyonce Knowles - $35 million (tie)

20. Sean "Diddy" Combs - $35 million (tie)

21. Tim McGraw - $35 million (tie)

22. Muse - $35 million (tie)

23. Rascal Flatts - $34 million

24. Kenny Chesney - $30 million

25. Rihanna - $29 million

Well, that was torturous. I have to say it was torturous in more than one way. Except for the number 1 slot, U2, I am not into ANY of the other musicians listed here. I never got into soft rock or the bubblegum pop that so many people peddle today. (Luis listens to it while I find it all rather revolting. And I have 8,000 songs on my iPod, so it is not as though I haven't diverse musical taste.

The other scary thing is the age of some of those listed here. At 17, this kid Justin seems ill-equipped to handle that kind of fame. Few children who become famous do well. The moment Brittany Spears hit 18 she went from the teen idol that parents loved to a hooker. Miley Cyrus did the same. Lady Gaga, at age 25, doesn't have her own face anymore. She didn't have to wait to begin dressing provocatively, but at the same time, how long before this kind of fame and money catches up with her?

Look at Amy Winehouse. Have you seen this one? Hopelessly ugly, a total tramp on and off the stage, and heading for the ditch as fast as anyone can. Lindsey Lohan hardly made anything and hit rehab. The kid that punched one of her dancers, Demi Lovato, made it into rehab before hitting 18 - not only did she have an eating disorder, but she was into cutting as well. I've had patients who did that. And they were regular people. Imagine what fame would have done to them. It certainly would not have solved the issue.

And finally, I wonder about the world. These are musicians; but look at sports figures. They make insane amounts of money as well and turn out just as poorly (both figuratively and really) as everyone else. U2 and Bon Jovi seem to be the exception and there are a few others as well, but most really go crazy with the money and like so many, live far beyond their means. (I could not begin to imagine living beyond my means at $25 million, so don't ask me.) Then they run out of fame and suddenly live poorly - and never regain it. It is an ugly situation. No one teaches people who hit this kind of income what to do with it. And often the ones who attach themselves to the stars are bloodsuckers anyway.

And another area where U2 shines is how much money, time, effort and themselves they have given to charities and helping to stamp out injustice and wrongs done everywhere. Some artists really put their heart and soul into making the world a better place. They all live very well and they are doing right by their families, and they still fight to make the world more what it should be. That is not just admirable, it is right. When one has that kind of money, that should be a huge part of it. People should have to give something. I know that sounds contradictory to my ravings about freedom. But on the one hand, you had Leona Helmsley who cheated on her taxes when it was the tinest savings and on the other hand, you have U2, who live in multiple countries, pay multiple taxes and still give of themselves in every way to help.

But how many on this list have given that much? Or ends up cheating on their taxes or in a ditch or broke?

Hopefully, this changes... but my natural sense of cynicism rears its head to say I doubt it...

Sometimes You Get What You Want...

...I wanted a day in the hammock and I got it...

But it wasn't as satisfying as it normally is. Had I done it yesterday it would have been much more worthwhile. Yesterday was a little cooler, with nice breezes and blue skies all along. That would have been ideal. Instead I traded that for today, which was sullenly hot (and far worse when the sun managed to shine on me), with non-moving air, hazy skies, humidity to some degree and in the rare event of a soft breeze it was a cold, wet zephyr. What the hell...?

Now it looks overcast and unfriendly just like it has last several days (excepting yesterday). Groan.

Upcoming weather: it figures. A whole weekend of overcast, showers, possible thunderstorms (I know I love thunderstorms but not so much that I want them getting in the way of my hammock-bonding time. Unless we had non-stop thunderstorms - that would be pretty amusing. I meant to say "amazing" but amusing works as well.

Hmmm... for some reason I am suddenly terribly overheated. Excuse me...

I ate the rest of my sherbet. I guess it cooled me off, since I woke up with a cover on. A throw, I mean. I have to wonder what is going on. It's not menopause - I'm too young for it and one doesn't sweat when the internal thermostat goes haywire. It's an internal problem; otherwise it wouldn't be nearly as frustrating when it happens. So I don't know what it is all about, although sometimes my medication does that. However, I've only noticed the phenomenon when I've taken it on an empty stomach, not with dinner.

Part of the issue with my hammock is that the rope stretches. I get that, but it keeps stretching so that it needs to be adjusted. Otherwise, my ass starts to hit the ground. I managed to adjust one side of it so that it was a little higher, but when I try to get out of it, then it is way too low. Luis tells me to roll out of it, but when the weather has been wet, that means my knees and hands end up covered in mud. I hate that.

I asked Colin if he could adjust it, but I don't know if he did. I need to look. If it stretches more, I'll really have a problem. I hope he did stop and do that. He didn't need me to do it, the hammock is outside. I want to sit in it at night, but none of the nights have been nice enough. And the full Moon went by unseen. Sigh.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Just a Teensy Bit of Free Time

When I first left work, I had this puzzle I was working on. At the time I left, I barely had Spring completed. It was creeping along...

Notice my blog has been creeping along and suddenly this month I've posted a month's worth in a mere 14 days? That is a LOT of free time.

I've actually had a lot of free time over the last three months, but I haven't really felt good about it. I figured with enough time I would reach the "I feel better about this point" and while I might still kinda get down about it, in general, I would start to feel better. (Wow. What a poorly structured sentence that is...!) Well, I have reached that point.

Not that I didn't think I would. I just did not know how long it would take.

It feels so much better to be more my sunny self again. Like I said, I may get down about it again, but at least it will be temporary. I suspect I'll feel it more in the winter. I thrive on sunlight. We have the longer days now, so I'm thriving. And today was - since 1300 - a much improved day! I got really good news and I can't share it (at least not right now) but it was great to get that. I suddenly feel like cheering!

Now, if it would just be sunny and warm outside so I could return to my beloved hammock, life would be perfect! (In some ways I am very complicated, in some ways very simple. Give me a hammock by day; give me the stars at night.) Tomorrow night I'll go outside to see the stars and the Moon, which has also been occluded by weather the last few days. I might have even missed the full Moon. I hate when that happens. Oh! The Moon phase is 98% - so I may see it just past fullness tomorrow. I can live with that!

Wondering about the Moon? Go to http://www.almanac.com/moon. I love the site - but the books are better. I have centuries worth of Old Farmers' Almanacs. Even some from the 1800s. The first one came out in 1792 but I have not been able to find a copy (and even if I did, the likelihood that I could afford it is minimal! But I would be satisfied just to hold it in my hands for a few minutes!)

Ah, history! I hated it as a kid. But teachers with tenure sucked all the joy out of it - now as an adult I enjoy history quite a lot. I love watching Pawn Stars because Rick Harrison has a huge love of history and his knowledge - as much as he downplays it - is incredible. I love his enthusiasm. I get it completely. He had an original of the WANTED poster for John Wilkes Booth in his hands, but the gentleman who had it could not agree on the price for it -- AAAAAAAA! I would have been heartbroken to let it out of my sight! Especially this - for the man who killed the unarguably best president this country ever had!

I wouldn't have missed either Bush; no one would be the worse for their absence. But to kill Abraham Lincoln - that is unforgivable. That sign is history. The worst part of it, following a great man. But all history is valuable - especially of the lessons learned. (So many people think the Civil War was about slavery, and there was a small truth to that, but it really was a combination of innumerable factors. Slavery, sadly, was the smallest part of it. And it is not as though the moment the war ended, life improved for the slaves; many were given freedom, but the country still as a whole did not treat freed slaves well. And it took decades upon decades for them to be recognised as PEOPLE. An appalling thing, a blot in our history that can never be fixed or atoned for. This was not a proud time in our history...

And who is to say that anything has really changed? We are always at war with someone, it seems. Right now most of the negative feeling centers around Middle Eastern people. I know some wonderful people who came here from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq - and for my life to come, I'd not have it otherwise. They have told me of what life was like in their former countries. I've read Reading Lolita in Tehran. This was not easy. A person close to me, who is 8 months younger than me, left Afghanistan when she was in her early teens. Her family sneaked out under cover of the night. She has lived far more in her 42 than I have in my 43. How do you put a price on that? I cherish my freedom; but she understands it in a way that I never will - I have never not known this freedom, never known what it truly costs to have it.

Some of the best people I am learning from are those who came from India - well, their parents did - and have been teaching me more of their culture, beliefs, etc. I am enriched by the people I meet and talk to - so much more than even they realise. I love learning - and learning about people is the best.

Because people are the best - enough of us that despite our history and even current problems, I have to believe that we can be better than that.

It seems that the free time that I was so afraid of - and depressed about - has paid off. I've moved through all four seasons in a 3,000 piece puzzle - and I have moved through fire to the come out on the other side of the sun - shining. Only by going through the pain can you come to that point.

A Couple Hours of Bill Engvall

It's not as good as seeing him live - and should he return to New Jersey I will want tickets to that - but I have several discs of his:

Now That's Awesome
Here's Your Sign
Dorkfish
15 Degrees off Cool
Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography

What's great about Bill Engvall? You can play these CDs anywhere and it is no problem. Not only is he funny as hell, but he is clean - no cursing, no violent topics, just normal life. George Carlin pulled that off in 1972 - the double CD I have that time period had three tracks I couldn't play at work - but it had 20 tracks that were just fine. That's George Carlin - someone who comes across as angry and used the most execrable language ever. But in this case, where he kept it clean and just spoke of his childhood and growing up in Morningside Heights, NYC, it was a riot! It was great stuff! I don't know why he got so angry. He wasn't the same for it.

How about Eddy Murphy? Ye gods. His show aired on HBO back a million years ago when he had the red leather outfit. He was standing just beyond the stage, genuflected with great sincerity, then launched himself onto the stage to go into one tirade of cruelty after the next, punctuated with the F-word. Over-punctuated. Grossly. I'm not sure that genuflecting before every performance is really going to let him off the hook when he finally does get hit by a No. 7 bus.

Eddy will be at the pearly gates, and St. Peter's going to look over the rather lengthy list and you know who will end up with this problem? Me. That's right. This is an HR issue, didn't you know? Appropriate job placement. What job can we give Eddy Murphy in Heaven? I don't think so.... Purgatory at best, but I think he'll be heading down much farther than that...

There are plenty of comedians who are genuinely funny and need not use any four-letter words and anyone can listen to them. I personally have no issues with four-letter words. Language is language. But one is much more funny if the word "fuck" shows up or twice in a 90-minute show. If it shows twice in the very first sentence, it's time to go. Even George Carlin live was not that bad. (We saw him in 1991 at the John Harms Theatre. It was a wonderful show. The open act was great, too.)

My favourite skit from George Carlin is "I Used to be Irish Catholic". He starts by saying , "I used to be Irish Catholic but now I'm an American... you know, you grow..." It's an excellent skit. Not a single foul word.

Humour is the best medicine, definitely!

Five Things I Learned in HR

A friend of mine celebrated 20 years of working in television by posting "5 Things I Learned From 20 Years in TV" - he has five parts to this. I can list five items that I learned and any Human Resources Manager will understand this. The rest of what I learned is really too much to post on a forum as easily accessible as this is. Even I recognise what NOT to say about my 15 years in the trenches... most of it is too private and too case-by-case to keep it generic.

So here are the five things that I learned:

1. All employees are innocent. It doesn't matter that I had several different infractions on video; paperwork statements from six managers and 25 coworkers; it makes no difference if the offending party's hands are covered with dye that traces the missing items. They all look me in the eye and say with great confidence, "I didn't do it." Hence, they are all innocent.

2. No one has been overpaid. Now, you know that if I don't find the error, someone else will! But no. However, I had someone tell me with great vehemence that they were short by 4 cents. Really? I gave the employee four pennies. That's right. But no one's ever been overpaid...

3. No one believes background checks will be run. Honey, if the forms you are signing SAY you will be under that kind of scrutiny, assume that you will. Because every company I worked for did this. Private leisure, pharmaceuticals, high-end technology, we are all the same - completely paranoid. And with very good reason! People will steal high-end jewelry, high-end small technology (I worked for PNY Technologies, makers of memory chips), and absolutely drugs! Don't pass go; don't collect $2oo... just assume we mean it when we say we ARE-GOING-TO-RUN-A-BACKGROUND-CHECK. I can't tell you how many people looked me in the eye and said with great confidence, "I didn't do that." (Now, where have I heard those four gruesome little words before...?)

4. Time keeping is not really a problem. No matter how obviously late someone is; no matter that they are lined up at the clock 20 minutes before their shift ends; no matter how clearly it is on video that one employee is standing there swiping 50 cards (you know the other 49 aren't theirs), it is the same thing. It is someone, something, the stars are misaligned, fault. Always. I cannot fathom this. A guy with no vehicle who doesn't take the bus shows up every day, on time but the guy with a car can't manage it in a month of Sundays. Uh-huh. How many people did I fire for swiping other employees' cards. My personal favourite was standing there watching this one person swipe about a dozen cards. It was a short conversation but what did it start with? "That wasn't me." More gruesome little words...

5. Breaks and How Many You Get in the Great State of New Jersey. This is my absolute favourite. Every smoker and break-monger in the world gives me the super-mouthy response, when told they are abusing the break system, "I am entitled by law to two 15-minute breaks and a lunch break." My answer, "You get nothing unless we allow it. The state of New Jersey allows me to work you to death and you are by no means entitled to any breaks!" That is actually the case. New Jersey case law allows breaks for those 17 and under. THAT IS IT. Any breaks are given at the grace and pleasure of the employer. So if you are labouring under the impression that you are ENTITLED to anything, toss it out the window.

Hence my hatred for the word "entitled".

Now, I learned far more than that, and some day, I will write a book called "Lumps in the Sugar" and of course change all the names to protect the guilty and tell the world the rest! Then I will naturally have to enter the FBI protection and assume a new identity and face for the thousands that will hunt me down. (But I am willing to take that chance! )

Welcome to the wonderful world of Human Resources Management.

Money Management & Apoplexy

Want to see someone wig out?

Contact your stockbroker of XX years and tell him you're taking the whole wad and transferring it all to some other fund(s).

Tick... tick... tick... tick... BOOM!

That's right. Two Tuesdays ago my father and I met with a gentleman about putting together living trusts for Ray and my mother. I'm sure you can guess where I come into this whole thing as the only heir to either of them.

This is a whole new thing for Ray - I have some working knowledge of wills and trusts, but not nearly enough to give any kind of advice - other than "you need to have this". So Ray, making yet another foray into the whole new world of making big decisions, has hired this gentleman to set up all these different things. And one of them was to take the money out of Smith Barney, who has been managing it for (I don't know how many) years.

Apparently the contact at Smith Barney had a bit of a hard time with this. He told Ray to call him later when John left. I told Ray not to - sadly, Ray is not used to be tough with people and I don't want this guy trying to wheedle him back. I doubt he'd vacillate and actually reverse this, but why even let the man torture him?

Oddly enough, I am not sure why the need to fight for this. Smith Barney is a huge name in this kind of area; my parents have more $200,000 and less than $2,000,000. What is the big deal? They have clients with many, many millions of dollars. This is a drop in the bucket. I guess this guy has to fight for it - he may only deal in small, personal finances rather than the multi-million dollar whatevers - people or businesses - so he has to try to hold onto them. Whatever. I'm amused, personally. Smith Barney never contacted my parents to offer changes or suggest moving money around to maximize what they can get. I'm fairly sure that they do that for their larger clientele. So this is a good move.

The apoplexy part just sounds like so much fun! I wish I'd been there to hear the conversation.

My parents are not worth a whole boatload of money - that range is an outrage as I'm certain they aren't $1,000,000 - but then the house may be the deciding factor. Their liquidation funds are one thing, but the house is an unknown - at least to me. They bought it in 1981 with a check - yes, one check, that I held in my hot little 13-year-old hands that was $89,000. (You can start laughing now - there isn't an outhouse in Wayne that costs under $150,000!) I can honestly say I can't even take a stab at what a Cape house with 1600 square feet of property goes for.

What it won't be is our house (mine and Luis'). We have a house in Parsippany that could eat theirs for lunch. But that is not the biggest factor. The real issue with it is that it is on a very busy road, where it takes me 15 minutes of waiting to back out and get on it. No, thank you. And I have no plans of moving again. I also have zero desire to live in Wayne. So the house will promptly be sold when I inherit it. Which, to be honest, I want to have my father in my life far more than I want the house and the money. Money is nice, but it doesn't replace family.

So, I am enjoying this. I'd be happier only if John tells Ray to divest some of their money by giving me $12,000 a year! (Hey - I can be bought. Don't think I haven't any sense of avariciousness. I am just greedy as the next person!)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Veganism, Vegetarian and PETA

Ah-ha, are you thinking PETA, the crazy terrorist group that throws paint on people wearing fur coats? No. I am not a supporter of that. I love my cats and they live in the lap of luxury, as cats do. However, I eat meat and have no intention of stopping. And since all life lives at the expense of other life...

No, I'm talking about People Eating Tasty Animals. That's the PETA to which I belong. I don't care for beef particularly - I just don't like the taste and I don't feel it is healthy. But I love chicken, shrimp and veal. And I hate to tell you vegans who will eat plants without giving it a second thought, don't you think that if a plant could scream when you yank it from the ground or pull off its fruit or leaves, that it wouldn't yell? Do you think it would just sit there if it were like the apples trees in The Wizard of Oz? No. It would pelt you with its loose apples and branches and tell you to get lost.

Now, eating vegetarian for strictly health reasons is much less offensive than doing it because of cruelty. However, make sure you get your vitamin B12 from someplace - it's only found in beef products, so be sure to find it as a vitamin. Without B12, dementia is a likely future problem, and it is likely to show up early.

I kind of get cutting meat out of one's diet for health reasons. I wouldn't do it - I think chicken and shrimp and (for others) fish are all good. I find vegans beyond my ken. Cutting out eggs, milk, every possible animal product? Little tip: your teeth are designed for eating both vegetables and meat products. Not eating those things is not good for us.

I suppose I can see being of two minds about milk. Milk in and of itself is good for us. However, there are way too many hormones put into the milk production cows and now it's an issue - girls are reaching menarche much too early as a result. This is latent in beef products, too, although not as much. So cutting back on a child's milk and beef intake is likely to be a good idea now. That's too bad. Blame the American industries for that. We rush things without thinking what it will do to society. It is the same as supporting how many kids families have - in a world heavily overpopulated, this belief needs to be scaled back.

Well, that's my time up on my soapbox...

Four for Friday 23 Aug 2010

Q1 - Stop and Count: How many cosmetics or personal care products do you use over the course of an average day? Zero. None. I don't wear cosmetics. I have a couple of things left over from when I was a teenager in the early 80s, and that is it. I'll never buy any cosmetics.

Q2 - Deeds: What percentage of good deeds do you feel you do out of generosity versus the ones you do out of the avoidance of guilt? Neither. I am an EMT to give something back to the township and because I'm an excitement junkie - I love the rush. So I have mostly personal reasons to do it. I certainly don't feel guilty about anything.

Q3 - Find Me: Facebook launched a location-based check-in tool this week called Places. Similar to Foursquare, Facebook Places allows you to share where you are, find out where your friends are and discover new places. Would you want your friends and others on Facebook to know where you are? No, not really. But then, I don't have a cell phone that has texting, let alone Internet access. So I can only be in so many places - my house, the squad house, my parents' house or somewhere with my laptop.

Q4 - Happiness: A couple of years ago I asked "How do you define happiness?" Mixing it up a bit, what do you believe is the secret to your happiness? I define happiness as being alive and seeing things - the things that others no longer see - the beauty of a gorgeous sunrise and/or sunset, dew-strewn grass and flowers, a fiery thunderstorm with cloud-to-cloud lightning. That is the secret to happiness.

Sunday Seven #293

What do you think of your home state? I’m sure there are plenty of pros and cons about any of the 50 states in our union. Some states seem to stand out, though, for the good or the bad.

This week, we’ll focus on the good. Can you come up with seven things you like about your home state?

That’s the challenge for this week! Thanks for playing!

  • Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question. Either answer in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog (with a link here), and then comment here with a link back to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:
Name seven things you like about your home state.

Well! This sounds really good.

Seven things I like about New Jersey:

1. We have one of the best shorelines and ocean property for enjoying the sea.

2. New Jersey is very rich in history from the 1600s on - including the 300 stone steps, the bottom of the Appalachian trail, and many woods to traipse through, where George Washington also traipsed through.

3. We have intersting land features such as 3,000 hieroglyphic rocks and Tripod Rock in Kinnelon.

4. We are close to many great things: 40 minutes outside NYC, 45 minutes from Pennsylvania, 2 hours from Philadelphia, 3 and half hours from Boston and 4 hours from Washington D.C.

5. We have the Sopranos Tour (or we did - I don't know if they still do it).

6. We have bagels, pizza and taylor ham - items that just aren't the same anywhere else

7. We have Atlantic City just a couple of hours from here - why fly to Las Vegas?

Hopefully people who read this will realise there is much, much more to New Jersey that the myriad shows such as The Jersey Shore, the cast of which is NOT from New Jersey and do not in any way, shape or form represent normal New Jersey denizens.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Challenger: 25 Years Later

I found an older post on Patrick's Place:

"On this date in 1986, the complacency that is so commonplace in our society had almost completely engulfed the space shuttle. The only thing getting Challenger a good bit of attention was the fact that a school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, was on board and would be beaming back lessons for a worldwide classroom.

But this bit of notoriety wasn’t enough to prompt the major networks to interrupt programming, as had been done in the earlier days of the space shuttle program, for the shuttle’s launch. CNN, as I recall, was live on the air with the launch.

I was a 10th grader at the time, and even inside a school, with a teacher aboard what was one of the greatest technical achievements of our age, televisions were not set up in every classroom.

All of that was about to change.

Five years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the disaster, I talked about that day in school, and how I’d happened to make a joke shortly before the Challenger exploded that only added to the shock of what happened. Televisions were quickly set up in my school’s library where we all gathered to watch coverage of the disaster.

Then and now, I think of the eerie silence shortly after the fateful words, “Roger, go with throttle up” and the resulting fireball. Just after those final words from the crew, a NASA spokesman is still narrating the trajectory of the ship, not yet aware of what has happened. After a pause, during which he clearly had seen a monitor showing the picture, he reported that experts were accessing the situation and that there had obviously been a “major malfunction,” and everyone went silent for a few moments.

As the shot of the trail of the solid rocket boosters widened out to show their now-independent paths, then tilted down to show fragments of the ship falling to earth, there was a low mournful-sounding feedback in that footage. It’s an odd thing to remember, but it still sticks with me a quarter century later.

Even though no one was explaining anything with words, something in that sound made the enormity of what had happened all too clear."

I had a comment, just like I always do:

"I turned 18 two days before. That day, the school put a television in my class and we all watched Challenger launch. I have watched every launch - the late 1960s and early 1970s ones obviously as news footage after the fact as I was born in 1968. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE space travel - and I always have.

As we watched it launch, and then reach the blue sky, and it suddenly bloomed into three pillars of smoke, I said, "Oh, my god..." because I knew something was wrong. As the news announcers realised something was wrong, I started to cry. I still remember it all perfectly.

Granted, no American has been lost in space in the long history of United States' NASA, but plenty died either in the atmosphere, or on Terra - such as the Apollo 1 launch pad (known as the "plugs-out") test. That fire was caused by a short in one of the switches and raged instantly (17 seconds) due to 100% oxygen used in capsules at that time. There had been debate about the amount of velcro and nylon netting used in the capsule as well. The reason the three astronauts - Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, couldn't exit was the hatch did not have a blow-out safety and it jammed. This happened one year and one day before I was born. Maybe they should not launch anything in January. It seems to not work out well...

The Columbia had a compromised heat shield and that is fatal. Re-entry is a hot prospect - the ship heats up to a lethal 3,000 degrees until it slows down to a gentle speed. One teeny missing piece of the heat shield is all one needs to not make it back. I believe the Columbia was missing a rather sizable piece. That launched 16 January 2003. I'm just sayin'...

Let's not get into Apollo 13 and the disaster that very nearly was.

But an American has never died IN SPACE. I'm not sure that this is a bragging point now."

Saturday Six #374

This week’s set of questions is all about what you wear, or in some cases, what you’re not wearing. How’s that for an opening line?

I hope you enjoy this week’s set of questions. One other important note: if you didn’t join in last week, you might have missed the fact that commenting is a little different this month. Check out this post for details about Livefyre.

Be sure to check back this week and click on the links of bloggers who play along in the comments below! It’s a great way to find blogs you may not have visited and to keep the conversation going!

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your blog… But don’t forget to leave a link to your blog so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!

1. What are you most often wearing when you’re at home in front of the computer? Either my EMT pants (I think they call them cargo pants - with the many pockets) - or "slouch-around-the-house" pants; lounge pants.

2. What color do you tend to avoid the most in your wardrobe? I don't have any colours in my wardrobe that I avoid.

3. What style of clothing (i.e., formal, business, casual, workout, etc.) do you wish you could avoid wearing forever? Dresses, dressy clothing.I'm at home in casual clothing - jeans, cargo pants, lounge pants, sweaters are my favourite. Summer makes me uncomfortable with smaller less-covering shirts.

4. What color do you think you look best in? Burgundy, hunter green, dark blue, black.

5. If you could get a free visit from a stylist who would tell you what your best colors would be and point out what clothes you should wear, would you take her advice? I already did - years ago, my mother got into colours by seasons. So by sitting down with someone and gauging their skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, etc., she could tell anyone what "season" they are and the colours that fit. I'm a winter - I have sallow skin, dark brown hair and brown eyes. So within that season, I wear the colours you see above. Those aren't the only colours I can wear, but they are the ones I like the most. So I have that - and that is why there are no colours in my wardrobe that I avoid.

6. If you had to pay $100 for that advice, how much less likely would you be to seek the advice? I would not. I got it for free!