Sunday, December 28, 2008

To A Healthy New Year

What better way to start a new year than with healthy activities and tasty treats? I mean look at those melons, tantalizing, tempting, whispering to your inner being about the passion of life. You can almost feel the sweet caress against your moist lips. And that's what life is about -- being vibrant and sensuous.

Those fruits in the picture from the Persimmon trees look pretty good too, don't they!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Listening To My Tape...worms

Trying to remove weight by simply swallowing pills is nothing new. Over a hundred years ago, one of the fads of the day called for ingesting very effective weight loss pills that contained -- tapeworms! And if certain health risks had not prevailed (such as death), they might be on the market today.

It's not that tapeworms disappeared. They just became more mechanical. In the 70s and 80s, it was Reel-to-Reel, 8-track and cassette tapes that contained wormy music from such "artists" as Vanilla Ice and various boy bands. Repeated listening was pretty much guaranteed to help you lose your appetite. I am pretty certain that Bulimia nervosa would not have become so popular if the music industry hadn't overpromoted music groups that make you gag.

Of course these days, we no longer have tape or tapeworms. One was replaced by shiny discs and the other by shiny pills. Fortunate for us, the pills are the right size to shove in our ears. You might not lose weight, but you are certain to be much happier.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Please Forgive Me ....

I couldn't help myself from doing this post on my other site.

Yet another post with a diet pill name in it

Fentraphen. There! I wrote it! One more diet pill to help you eat more while exercising less. Don't you feel better now?!

Although lately, there has been one diet that has really helped me to shed a few of pounds. I'm sure a lot of you have unintentionally taken part in it. It's called the high price of food! But now that gas is coming down in price, I can't wait for cost of food to follow suit. When it does, I and my wallet are going to abandon this strict diet. You can call me a desserter to the cause if you like. But that's the way I roll ... all fluffy and buttery.

A Special Keyboard for ... Blondes

You've probably realized that we live in a time when there is a niche market for everything. But in this age of making sure we don't hurt each other's feelings, I wasn't expecting to find a keyboard for blondes.

Click on the picture and take a look at those keys!!

Yes I agree that the wording of the keys is very helpful. Who among us -- blonde, brunette, redhead, clear (you bald guys) -- has not found ourselves frantically searching the keyboard for an "any key" to press when prompted by the superior intellect of our computer? I know that blondes have all the fun but shouldn't the rest of us be allowed to have such a keyboard? To limit this kind of joy to those with fair hair is a bit discriminatory, don't you think? The next thing you know only blondes will be allowed to buy books without words in them. (Although I don't think that will stop them from moving their lips while they're reading.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Upcoming Teaching Job

Today my quality manager made a very unexpected request on me. In a couple months, he wants me to teach the quality department and our production technicians the art of ... programming. Actually, it's not really a request. It is a directive that is coming down from our new, benevolent overlords.

I guess if your job consists mainly of skillless tasks such as shouting out commands, belittling lesser level employees, and successfully blaming away your mistakes, then everyone else's job must look just as easy to do. I noticed this ridiculous belief recently when talking with our company's president and a few VPs. Their attitude was that programming is nothing more than writing a few lines of text with incorrect punctuation thrown in for good measure. They wouldn't understand why a complex project takes more than a few hours to do. Hence the directive. Why would you want to hire someone who spent at least four years learning the craft of writing good, effective code? Obviously, if any monkey can be a feces-throwing manager, it's only a step down in being a programmer.

So instead of establishing a team of software engineers, upper management wants to burden my already overworked coworkers with the task of helping me maintain our test programs. These systems range from DOS based C-language to Windows VB and, more recently, LabVIEW. Just to be clear, my friends are more than capable of learning everything I know and then some. But how do I take 25 years of programming experience and condense it down into a few classroom hours of training?

Until today's request, my strategy was to create a database that would allow specific coworkers the ability to change test parameters as required. And I hadn't had a chance to do this effectively until I was able to begin converting our programs into LabVIEW last year. I still think this should be the goal. My quality manager agrees. This way they don't have to worry about the logic flow or how to modify sections of code without introducing bugs into the test program. Clean and effective, right? But this is the result of thinking as a method to solve problems. Anything else is destined to put you into upper management ...

Warning! Bank Under Construction!

On my way to work during these past few months, I've been passing by the construction of yet another Bank of America. There are signs and warnings about the importance of using safety equipment in and around this hazardous site. But what happens when this bank finally opens?

Years ago, BOA was known as NCNB. Back then, NCNB had all sorts of sneaky ways of nickel and diming your account to death. They were such a source of frustration that they lost my business and that of my friends. But now NCNB has matured into a worldwide operation and change the name to Bank of America. Their motto has become ""We help people realize their dreams." Awww, how financial comforting. But which "people" is BOA referring to? My friends? A couple recently told me how they had put money into their account only to discover that they couldn't use it until two or three days later. I've been told stories about checks that bounce even though the money was there, and Bank of America still charged an unrecoverable $35 fee. I get the impression that the motto should read "We help bank presidents and stockholders realize their dreams."

Yes, it is a busy construction site. And it is a good thing that the building company is doing all it can do to guard the safety of its workers. It's too bad we can't put safety equipment on our bank accounts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas, You're Fired

Our VP of operation has turned to cutting the most costly group in our company. No, not upper management. The way they've been hiring, apparently we are not top-heavy enough. No, my dear reader, he has targeted the women on the assembly line who are close to retirement. These women have the gall to keep on working just so they can rake in three dollars more than the minimum wage. Such excess can not be tolerated.

Today, he started by giving our 30 year, extremely experienced veteran of the production line the choice of taking over the job of our much younger cleaning lady or of leaving. Our as-of-this-moment retiree chose life outside the company instead of remaining on to clean toilets. Please understand that our cleaning lady does excellent work. So when she heard that she was almost terminated without any warning or cause, you can understand that she was a little upset.

Yesterday, you would have thought that morale was bad. But today, once the story of our VP's action got around the plant, you could look down and see snails soaring miles above our employees' morale. Thank goodness the VP did this during this holiday season...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A rose by any other name ... would be thinner?

What is it about girls named Allie? I've yet to meet a girl named Ally who has more than 2% body fat. I submit to you Ally McBeal as an example. Is there something in their name that makes them skinnier than the 'L' in their name?

My friend is dating such a girl. But instead of spelling her name as Ally or Allie, she uses the same word as the diet medicine, alli. Coincidence? I wonder.

I'm not sure what my friend finds attractive about her. For such a thin woman, she is very loud and boisterous. Sadly, she's also bulimic. I can only imagine him taking her to a restaurant. I wonder if, every few minutes, he has to say, "Shhh! Do you think you could keep it down?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Very Special Navitity Scene

I drove by a church marquee this morning that read "drive-through nativity scene". At first I thought it was a reference to last year's incident when a woman lost control of her car and drove through their nativity scene. No one was hurt but she did end up with the figurine of Joseph on her dashboard ... and she wasn't even Catholic.

But, no, this was an actual "drive your car around the back of the church and around the nativity" scene. I can just imagine pulling up to find a speaker on a shepherd staff and having to place an order, "Yeah, I'd like the 'Three Wise Men' special with extra Mary and a cup of Joe. No, I don't want to shepherd-size-it. What? The shepherd size comes with goat -- are you kidding?" You know how they'll do anything for sale. After you place your order, they'll have you follow the bright star in the East to the window of the heavenly hosts. There, you'll be greeted by Mexican kid named Jesus and a surly manager who keeps yelling at Jesus saying, "Close the door! What's the matter with you? Were you raised in a barn?!"

I guarantee this drive-through nativity will make your season.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Multifunctional Furniture

So there I was a few months ago, relaxing at my brother-in-law's home, watching football on a high-definition TV and sampling a few locally brewed beers. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day. And since my brother-in-law lives in the country, we had the windows open to enjoy the flagrantly warm autumn air.

All was going well when we noticed a slight odor of cow manure and a soft but annoying chewing sound. It quickly reached a point where we glanced at the open window behind us. There, sitting on a cow, was his neighbor watching the game along with us. I don't know if straddling a cow is the ideal in leather home theater seating, but at least it pays for itself.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I Get To Help My Daughter

When I divorced a few years ago, I told my then teenage daughter that she could always come and live with me because of the advantages of school and work in my area. At the time she didn't want to break the bonds of her friends and decided to remain in the area where her mother lived. Since then, my baby girl has come to realize the unpleasant type of person her mother really is. My darling daughter has also become extremely frustrated with the lack of employment opportunities in her area. To remedy this situation, she and her fiancé are going to take me up on my offer and move in with me sometime during this upcoming springtime. I'm very excited about her decision! Of course, this means I've got to immediately begin a major ground-to-roof cleaning project. You know all the clutter that we are "going to get around to organizing someday"? Well, my "someday" has arrived! I also need to make sure I can make as many job and college resources available to my new roommates as possible.

I realize this is going to be a slight disruption in my otherwise quiet home life. And my expenses will go up temporarily. But in the end, all of this will be very much worth while.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Boredom At 30?

I was talking with one of my single friends about our vacation goals for the rest of the year. At my company, you either take all the days that you earned or lose them. There is no compensation from the company for unused days. There is no roll over for your unspent time into the next year. What amazed me though was when my friend complained about having to take time off. He said that after a day or two from work, he was bored. Bored?!

For the most part, you could say that I am single -- when I come home, I can run around naked, drink milk straight from the carton, belch and fart to my heart's content and not worry that somebody is going to complain. But the one thing that I never experience is boredom. I have so many things that I want to research, learn, sketch, write about and just create that I need more days off from my routine of tending to everybody's needs. I know it's one thing when a child or teenager complains of being bored. But I can't understand how a single man in his 30s can achieve a state of boredom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Prank

This Thanksgiving, I'm either going to be at my sister's home or with the parents of my girlfriend. Either way I thought of a prank that I want to play.

Wal-Mart's sells Cornish hens that are about the size of your hand for two dollars. One plan is to sneak one of those hens into the oven along with the turkey. When it's time to deliver the feast onto the table, I want to be that helpful soul who takes the heavy turkey from the oven to the table. Except, instead of the large, well cooked turkey, I walk into the dining room carrying the Cornish hen and say, "I think you cooked the turkey too long. It shrunk!"

Option two. Again, as ever the helpful boy, I offer to stuff the turkey. Once our turkey is cooked and on the table, I begin to take out the stuffing as I usually do. And then, as the family sits in eager anticipation of the feast, I pull out the small cooked, Cornish hen from inside the turkey. With a look of disgust and dismay, I say, "Oh my goodness! You cook the baby too!"

If I don't survive this holiday season, I'm sure you'll realize that something *fowl* probably happen to me. As long as it involves gravy and lots of whipped cream, I won't mind too much ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trickle Down Scrooge Effect

It's going to be a tight Christmas this year. And I don't just mean that Santa won't be able to fit down the chimney. This year my list of who's naughty and who's nice might as well be on the same sheet of paper. Since my bosses aren't giving up anything, I won't be able to give anything. Maybe if I start donating plasma for the next six weeks, I might be able to hand out cheap, funny t shirts. Otherwise, I am part of that great economic principle known as the trickle down Scrooge effect where one man's cheapness is another man's poverty. It kind of makes you want to define the holiday spirit as any liquid that is 75 proof or more. Happy Christmas, Marry New Year ::: hiccup ::: !

Flake Fury, Snow Flurry


Well, it's that time of the year. Trees are bare, wind is brisk, and pipes inconveniently freeze just before that morning shower. Not only that but yesterday I saw my first flake. That's right! One of our previous owners stopped by the plant. I should have kinder words but what else can you say about a guy who successfully cheated his employees out of millions of dollars.

Oh, shortly after he left, we also had our first snow flurry of the year...

Friday, November 21, 2008

How To Put Your Job In Jeopardy

One of our new engineers, a rather arrogant guy fresh out of college, got invited to play at a charity golf tournament in Florida along with his boss, his boss's boss and some very important clients. He was definitely excited about this chance to kiss up with the big boys and score those all important brownie points. But before he got a chance to play, he turned a sweet opportunity into sour grapes.

Instead of waiting to put his golf clubs on the plane with his other luggage, he shipped his golf set to his sister in Florida so that she would bring it to him when he arrived. You're probably thinking it was a smart move. I would certainly trust a shipping company with my clubs more than I would the airlines. But the stupid thing was that he sent them at the company's expense -- $300 round trip. Compare this to the extra baggage fee of $60 that the company paid for two golf bags of his boss and his boss's boss.

Between the time our young engineer mailed his golf equipment and the day of the charity event, the company sent him to Michigan on business. While he was up there, his boss gave him a call and told him not to bother flying on to Florida. This new employee said he was told that they suddenly decided to cut back on travel expenses and that they didn't need him to play. We're all pretty sure that the new VPs heard what happened and let their displeasure be known.

What surprised me in this entire incident was the reaction of this newly hired, college educated worker once he returned here at work. He angrily told us that he was tired of being told what to do and was looking for another job. What?! Has this guy never had a job before? Even so, he knows very well about the penny-pinching mode that our VPs have us under right now. How he thought he could spend $300 instead of 30 is beyond me. Oh well. Either way, I guess our new recruit is teed off now...

UPDATE: Surprisingly (or not), he was fired two weeks later as part of the new downsizing. I think the nail-in-the-coffin moment was the week previous when he become extremely belligerent with the VP of operation during a meeting. Good luck, Eric. You might want to take a Dale Carnegie course or two ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Loss For The Heaven's Gain

You would think with all the daily aggravations and worries, I would have no concern about how much the earth lovingly pulls me to her bountiful bosom. But lately her love -- a love that I easily measure in pounds -- is reaching record highs. Yes, I like the old girl. Yet, I think I like the noncommittal weightlessness of the heavens even more.

So a few weeks ago, I began to lessen my absorption of mother Earth's bounty. Sadly, I learned that simply eating less is not easy. As my bathroom scales showed the lessening of her weighty love, my hunger grew until mother Earth invaded my dreams with sweet fantasies of rich chocolate that begs to be tasted and those feathery soft marshmallows that teasingly satisfy your tongue for a quick second before tormenting your cravings for even more.

I awoke a couple of mornings ago after one of those gluttonous nightmares and discovered my hunger gone ... as well as my two feathery down pillows. Since then, I feel great (aside from burping up feathers or being a little down in the mouth)! Gravity's attraction toward me is slipping away more each day! Those agonizing dreams of food have ceased. I think I may have discovered the best diet pills in the world, or at least, the best diet pillows ever made.

For now I don't know when I will replace my fluffy headrests. After all, because of inflation even the price of down is up. And, as the Earth's love melts away ounce by ounce, I may find myself floating up amongst the weightless stars soon enough ... maybe snacking on a Mar's bar or a Milky Way ... mmmmmmmmmmmm

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Days! Gas At 6.5 cents a mile!

It was only a few months ago, that I was paying 15 cents a mile for gas. Yeah, I know how everyone talks in terms of dollars per gallon. But since I know how far I have to drive, my budget works in cents per mile. Last Wednesday, the station close to home broke through the $2 a gallon mark. Today, it was selling regular petrol at $1.869 per gallon. For me, that is a sweet 6.5 cents per mile. ::: big smiley sigh :::

It has been years since I've been this rich ... figuratively speaking. Now, it looks like January's outgo will be only slightly negative instead the bank busting negative cash flow projected for my December (and that was with no Christmas spending.) At 6.5 cents a mile, real food (instead of that Ramen noodle food substitute) is back into the budget. I'm lovin' it ... I can eat and get gas!!! Oh yes, Happy Days! Happy Days!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is Satellite Radio Now Losing Orbit?

Until recently, XM radio stock was trading at over $8 a share while Sirius stock was under $2. XM also had millions more subscribers than Sirius by offering more commercial-free and unique radio channels than their competitor. Then came the merger. Last Wednesday (Nov 12th), both XM and Sirius subscribers got to listen to the new broadcast lineup. What did you think? I know I was sadly disappointed when several of my favorite stations were no longer available. Judging by blog posts across the Internet world, I'm not the only one who has discovered a loss of quality programming.

Usually in a business merger, the new resulting company strips away ineffective practices of its former entities and focuses on better ways to bring in their customers' money. I think that all listeners of the satellite radio realm knew that there would be a change in programming. What caught us by surprise is that the new XM-Sirius company canceled channels that had gained both business loyal customers in the past. In order to get quick cash from advertisers, XM-Sirius simply added more commercial filled, AM/FM type radio stations. Get for the short term but isn't that the customers who give longevity to a business?

So, are you surprised that "Canceling my subscription" filled most of the comments to blog posts about the new satellite radio company? Is it a coincidence that Sirius stock was around a quarter on Friday? It seems that instead of the merger being the best diet pill a company could take, XM-Sirius has ingested the best poison pill -- ignore what your customers want.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Comes Out Of Vegas ... Isn't What He Expected

And so our victorious sales team returned from the SEMA show in Las Vegas. While the owners were anxiously awaiting news of record-breaking sales leads (which they didn't get), one of our new young employees was waiting like a kid on Christmas morning for surprise that the sales team had promised they would bring him. "They said they had a stripper map for me!" he excitedly told me. I guess he had more than enough of testosterone flowing through his body to mess up his hearing. What they gave him was a las vegas strip map, complete with landmarks circled and handwritten notes written such as "Saw a gorgeous woman ... here", "Too bad you weren't ... here", "I wish you could have seen her ... here." The map also had places like Sherwin-Williams circled with a note of "great paint stripper ... here"; Home Depot with "the greatest wallpaper stripper ... here", the Hospital with "the most incredible candy striper" and a Steakhouse, "the tastiest strips ... ribeye, of course."

Was our boy happy with this? Let's just say, I haven't seen him come out from his cubicle yet.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Was The Credit Crisis Caused By A Bucket?

Have you wondered what this global credit crisis is all about? No? Oh, you have better things to think about. I don't so here's what I've found.

Imagine that you take out a $10,000 life insurance on me for, say, $10 a month. (No, I don't know what the actual insurance quotes would be. I'm just picking an easy number for this example.) Now let's say that 99 of your friends also take out that same policy on me. So here we have a hundred people betting that I'm going to die. (Let me tell you, you're one sick bunch.) As long as I'm alive, insurance company is collecting a thousand bucks of easy money a month. (I get nothing except 100 invitations to poisoned dinners.) All is well until that fateful day when I kick the bucket ... which breaks my big toe, which causes an infection, which kills me. Happy now?

I'd like to think that the insurance company would be very sad about my death. But the fact is that they now have to pay out $1 million. Truly a sad moment. And, unless that company was able to collect on me for more than 1000 months, their sadness will amount to a major depression (which is worth a bucket of tears in today's economy though not the same bucket that caused my demise.)

So what can our poor insurance company do while I'm an absolute perfect picture of human perfection and longevity? ::: cough cough ::: They talk to another company and say, "We will pay you $500 a month. If our client dies, you will pay us $1 million." The second company looks me over and enthusiastically agrees that I am an absolute perfect picture of human perfection and longevity. (Did I mention of modesty too?) Since they believe they can make money in this deal, our second company agrees to the terms.

This is basically what happened in the investment community. In the beginning, it was like one person buying a life insurance on another. But because covering investment risk isn't called "insurance", this arrangement wasn't subject to any regulatory oversight. With economic times being good, this risk protection -- known as credit default swap (CDS) -- was quite profitable. This led to investment companies to start using CDS more as an investment tool and less as financial protection. One business would buy "insurance" from another company, who buy the same from a third company, who do the same with the fourth and so on. Soon, we had the same scenario as the one where 99 of your friends took out insurance on me. And then ... that bucket got in my way.

So that's what happened. I unexpectedly died and started the entire credit crisis. Like a row of falling dominoes, one company failed to pay out on its "insurance" policy, which caused the next company to not be able to pay out, and so on. Sorry about that. Oh well. The nice thing about being dead is that I don't have to worry about any expenses now ... or buckets.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Globe is Warming! The Globe is Warming! Oh, never mind...

Let's see if I got this right about the events of last month:
- The Swiss lowlands were blanked with the most snow for any October since records began.
- Zurich broke its record of 14 centimeters set in 1939 by receiving 20 centimeters.
- Steamy Ocala, Florida shivered with its second-lowest October temperature since 1850.
- I guess I shouldn't mention that the International Arctic Research Center reported that there was 29% more Arctic sea ice this year than last.
- The picture on the left is of New Zealand's Mt Ruapehu with its largest snow base ever (courtesy of

I'm sure someone, somewhere is blaming humankind for this worldwide cooling that has been going on since 1998. But I don't want to alarm the alarmists. So whatever you do, don't look at the declining solar activity and other natural factors. That tends to make the 'humans as evil viruses on the planet' argument rather silly.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Is the Election Over Yet? Are We There Yet?

I will be very surprised if Mr. J.M. wins over Mr. B.O. on Tuesday. For these past couple of months, every time I watch the news or listen to NPR, their unbiased reporting on the latest B.O. campaign rallies have been dangerously close to being nothing more than free commercials. Then, when the news stories do a J.M. sound bite, you get "Hi, I'm running for president" followed by "And next in the news, is J.M. causing cancer?"

Maybe some good will come from a President B.O. You know those people that complain how they've been kept down by the Man because of their skin color? And how their life is so terrible because they have a genetic tan and their ancestors were sold into slavery a few centuries ago --- which is kind of funny because they never talk about the part of where their African countrymen sold their relatives to Muslim slave traders who then sold these human wares to other Africans and Europeans. But this will all change after Tuesday. When these self-made victims whine and play the race card, you only have to show them a picture of their beloved president and ask, "So what's your excuse again?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Musical Fences

When my neighbor told me that his next home improvement project was going to be pvc fence installation, I expected the white picket fences made out of plastic that they have now. It looks quaint enough. But if you've ever tried to run past with a stick hitting every slat, it just doesn't have that same satisfying sound as the white, wooden picket fences.

That was a few days ago. When I arrived home from work today, I wasn't expecting to be greeted by a series of PVC piping of various diameters poking up along the edges of his property. The way that he had them connected together at their tops made his entire property look like it had become protected by a bizarre plumbing arrangement. I have to say that it is very eye-catching. And when you run past his new fencing with a stick striking every pipe, it sounds a lot like a melodic tune from a Blue Man group CD.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tell Me How Cold I Will Go ...

Ok. So the electric company has almost double my monthly bill this month. I'm not turning on the heat to my home yet as Autumn descends upon us. How cold it will have to be before I flip the switch? Read and tell me here...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Through My Mind

When I made my debut into the 1959 world of burgeoning innovations, my mother put me in a monstrously huge pram and showed me the sites of her world. Yes, I know that, as a baby, everything seems disproportionately big and then shrinks as you grow older. (In fact, lately I've noticed this shrinkage has been getting worse -- my bank account, my hair, my attention span. I've gotten to where I'm afraid to look at myself naked.) But back when I was a baby, well, if my pram had had a motor, I'm quite confident I could have given NASCAR a run for their money.

Fortunately, I was born into a very inventive age. Six years later in 1965, Owen Maclaren put his engineering talents to work and developed the first umbrella type stroller. I didn't know anything about it until twenty years later when my (now former) wife convinced me that we had to have one -- she was pregnant. So, it was my beautiful baby daughter who got to ride in this evolved Maclaren stroller.

Her baby carriage was a technological marvel that would have made you think of the Transformers. Reaching into the depths of our car, I would whip out a cane that had wheels at the end. With a flick of the wrist and a few sounds of "Eenk Ank Ornk Onk", my cane magically transformed into a magnificent stroller capable of carrying an adorable baby, parental life-support in the form of a 50 pound diaper bag and several sacks of groceries. (The "Eenk Ank Ornk Onk" was my modified scream as I sometimes clumsily pinched my fingers in the metal frame during its transformation. Those words were much preferred to the earthier phrases that my innocent child gleefully parroted after my first painful outburst. I wonder what Optimus Prime says when he pinched himself while transforming?)

Oh well, those sweet days of buggy rides are now gone. Perhaps when I'm in my eighties, I'll return to a stroller fitting my age. Hopefully, you'll find me throttling downhill in an adult sized hamster ball in pursuit of the sound barrier ...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCain Roasts Obama ... Good time had by all

Even though I don't have cable or satellite, my friends keep me up to date on the best entertainment shows. And, thanks to YouTube, a friend sent me videos about John McCain's hilarious roast of Barock Obama at a charity dinner event. In case you missed it, here is the first part:

I put the second part here

Update On The New Owners

Back in March, I wrote about our new corporate masters taking over where I work. Back then, we refer to them as "liberators". Hopes were running high that all of our hard work would no longer be used solely to fill the bank accounts of the old owners. In fact, the new owners talk about rewards and bonuses. It felt good to go to work.

So here we are seven months later. There are fewer of us now and we're all working even harder to keep the business running. Aside from that, little has changed. Just new faces implementing even more discouraging work practices. I never expected employee morale to be lower than it was seven months ago. Yet we seem to have entered a second dismal basement that was attached to that first basement of employee despair.

Let me give you an example of what we're looking forward to at the moment. When Christmas rolls around this year, the plant will be closed and we will be unpaid for almost two weeks. It's going to be tough giving any one in corporate holiday card this year. I don't think there are any cards that say "Thanks for Ho, Ho, Ho'sing my Paycheck!" Or, "That lump was supposed to be in my children's stockings and not in my throat as I choked back the tears of trying to make ends meet."

There are probably very good explanations for what is going on at work. But no one in management is talking. More and more it seems to be about guys who own a business with workers as a necessary evil instead of a management team who are leading a group of motivated employees into rewarding ventures. Guess which one has a chance of being around years from now?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One of Those Rare Days That I Can't Relive

On one breathtaking autumn day, I traded the stuffy confines of my house for the Presidential Mountain Range of New Hampshire. My living room became a carpet of off white, golden yellows, deepening reds and dark greens. My walls and ceiling were transforming as a sunset darkened the heavenly blues of the sky and brought forth brilliant streaks of orange and violet in the clouds. My entertainment system had become the orchestrated drama of a life-giving sun slowly reaching down to kiss the twilight of the horizon. I sat in the home theater seating of a majestic mountain side as the thunderous songs of birds and crickets and frogs crescendoed into sudden silence as the last arc of sunlight slipped behind the end of an adventurous day. It was a moment that you want to live repeatedly but can only hope that the fuzzy memories of your mind will let you relive that the unspeakable joy in your spirit always.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Big Boy Pants: Then and Now

Ah, the joys of aging as a guy. When we were little, getting to wear big boy pants meant that we had graduated from diapers. As our years cross the half-century mark, getting to wear big boy pants means that our waist has expanded beyond its youthful girth. Oh sure, we could slimmed-down. But nobody is making cheeseburger and beer diet pills. Think of all the money we would spend on those tasty treats. Sadly, the diet industry's loss is our gain... which explains our new big boy pants.

Friday, October 03, 2008

TED Spread said "I tried to warn you!"

Have you ever heard of the TED spread? No, it's nothing pornographic or a reference to one of Congressman Barney Frank's special friends. In the futures trading arena, you monitor the difference between the interest rate on US Treasuries contracts (T-bills) and the London Inter Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR). This gives you an idea of how risky credit is in the general economy. T-bills are the risk-free standard while LIBOR relates to the credit risk of lending to commercial banks. The difference between the two rates is known as the TED spread (T-bills + EuroDollar futures contract). The greater the difference, the greater the belief that bank loans have become a riskier undertaking.

The TED spread had historically fluctuated between 0.1% and 0.5%. In 2007, it jumped to almost 2%. Last week while Congressman Frank reported that they had no warning about the impending financial meltdown, TED skyrocketed over 3.5%. Apparently, Mr. Frank forgot his participation in 2003 and 2004 congressional hearings on impending crisis situations with Fannie Mae and the banking industry. His take back then? "Crisis, there's no crisis" as he fought Republican attempts to impose more regulations on Fannie Mae.

Anyway, as I promised, the TED spread is nothing pornographic. The obscenity lies with those politicians who purposely ignore or, worse yet, seek profit from misfortune that falls on the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In The End, I Saw The Rider On A Terrible Horse. His name was "Insurance Salesman"

So ... people are worried that banks are going to stop lending them the money that these same people put in banks in the first place. Or so the news constantly reminds us lately. On this scary but unsubstantiated tidbit of information, investors are selling their stocks to put the money under the mattress and in jars that will be buried in the backyard. The only investment vehicle that looks good for a change is whole life insurance. Apparently, all this doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world news has caused the demand for life insurance quotes to skyrocket. Insurance salesmen (and women) have been moved from the ranks of the Maytag repairmen into people in demand. Maybe this is the sign of the end times. I imagine we can expect reports of frosty weather descending upon the netherworld any day now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How To Move Out Without Moving

For several months now, my neighbor and his wife of many years have been arguing loudly. It's been so bad that guys driving cars with those oversized bass sound systems have been complaining.

This all changed last week when I saw one of those moving pods sitting in his front yard. My first thought was that they were getting a divorce and he was moving out. But I was mistaken. The reason he had been moving furniture and an entertainment system into it was because he had created his very own man cave. When things get a little intense with the misses, he simply retreats in his mini-abode that is complete with a refrigerator and soundproof walls.

He seems quite happy about his little getaway. I asked him if he was worried about the weather. But he contends that, when tethered to the ground, the pod will ride out a hurricane or several friends who have recently consumed his world-famous chili, cheese and beer bean casserole.

This seems like a great idea. Although I am waiting for them to have that ultimate fight. Afterwards, she waits until he falls asleep in his pod and has him shipped to the Antarctic.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fighting Terrorism With Car Insurance

Since the 9/11 attacks, it seems that personal privacy is fair game for businesses now. A few years ago, getting a car insurance quote was not a big deal, especially if you had a clean driving record. Now, it's not how well you drive but how well you live your life.

It's all about the background checks. Do you have less-than-perfect credit because of how you control your money? Well, obviously you can't control the gas and brake pedals very well either. Your dedicated insurance company will have to adjust your payments accordingly. Do you have a ticket for jay-walking? Well, if you can't move your legs properly to steer your body, how can you move your arms to steer your car? Another payment adjustment. Even if you have a spotless record, you're probably hiding some secret, un-America thought that makes you a hazard on the road -- that's the surcharge on your bill that your agent can't explain but 'has to be there'.

I don't know if the terrorists won. But I bet they're the ones driving without insurance...

Where Are the Prius Parts?

Everything had finally come together for the cruise kit that we developed for the 2008 and 2009 Toyota Prius. Then on Tuesday, we get a call from the Port-of-Entry in Florida. Toyota has begun mid-year change on the 2009 Prius. A vital connector now won't mate with the brake switch in our kit.

So we've been scrambling to find the latest switch which is made in Italy. Oh sure, we have no problem locating Ferrari parts. After all, almost everyone I know is driving 599 GTB Fiorano. But parts for the Prius seem to be rarer than beef at a vegetarian convention.

The Port has come up with a method of splicing our switch into the 2009 harness in order to get the cars to the dealers. My company has some serious reservation about the safety of their method. Hopefully, tomorrow will find that reasonably thinking with prevail over greed so that we can develop a better fix for this crisis.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Happened to Zeno?

You might not know Zeno of Elea. I don't personally. He lived 2500 years ago and I wasn't around then (contrary to popular belief). We can thank him for inventing the constructive style of point-counterpoint arguments (which isn't to be confused with the hot air style of political debates), for creating the foundation of modern logic (rarely found in use by bureaucrats) and for paradoxes (a required characteristic of any elected official).

While Zeno's contributions seem to missing in government, business has at least made use of his name. Yet, it is beyond me why the name of a man important to the development of human intellect became Zeno, a questionable acne treatment. That's not a paradox. That's an absurdity.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When Gift Giving Goes Bad

Since we develop cruise controls, we need access to the latest car models as soon as they enter the market. So my company has to maintain good relationships with various car dealerships in the area. Whenever a dealership gets a new manager, our application team will pay a visit and take a few promotional products -- golf balls, golf tees, and a large-sized T-shirt with the company's logo -- as a gesture of goodwill.

After this last goodwill mission, our team might start doing a little reconnaissance before handing out those goodies. Last week, when they visited a dealership, they met the new manager -- a 350-pound man who is confined to a wheelchair. This manager looked at the T-shirt could only fit his arm and the supplies for a sport he never plays. Without smiling, he said, "Thanks, guys. I'm going to make good use of these."

And so begins which should be a very interesting relationship...

Sunday, September 07, 2008 down?

I can't log into to check my stats or even report a problem. Is anyone else having this problem?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What Do You Do For Your Pet?

Some people go overboard in what they will do and buy for their precious pets. I know that you've seen toothpaste with whiteners to give dogs that dazzling snarl and minty fresh breath. Keep in mind, this product is for animals who also lick their behind. There's also wax for turtles which, oddly enough, can only be found in automotive stores. Apparently this is for the fast-and-the-furious turtles. And let's not forget snake oil products for your squeaky snake.

Fortunately, pet owners have not gone completely overboard with undying love for their animal companions. We have yet to see a chic Jeri curl spray for gerbils, holistic hemorrhoid treatments for halibuts (named Eric), or the best acne treatments for hairless cats. But don't be surprised when you do find these items in your local pet shop.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am very fond of several kinds of animals. I frequently dote on them with my favorite animal accessory -- gravy.

I Know Who You're Going To Vote For ...

On one side of the political spectrum, you have a African American and a Catholic. On the other side, you have an advanced AARP member and a Alaskan American woman. It's a battle of the minority groups, folks! So what is a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant man going to do? I don't know. Not only am I not a W.A.S.P., none of this really applies to me. No matter how hard both parties make this election about looks, family history, genetic tans, and religious beliefs, this process is about deeds -- what these people have and have not done as politicians. That's what really matters and affects me ... and you!

Actually your election choice could be quite simple. [read more...]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Looking Out For My Girlfriend's Best Interests

There they are: shiny, perfect $3000 pearls from exotic Tahiti. Yeah, I would love to give this exquisite jewelry to my girlfriend. But she would probably pass out from the shock of receiving such a gift. We can't have that happen. Above all things, I need to watch out for her well being! She has enough trauma in her life. And who am I to cast Tahitian pearls before swoon? So, I must spare her this risk of fainting and forgo buying such breath-taking pearls.

No need to thank me. That's the kind of boyfriend I am.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How 'Stars' Keep Their Face In Front of You

It seems like it has been several years since I've heard anything almost resembling music from Jessica Simpson. Normally, when those claiming to be artists don't come out with something new every few months (or with someone else's material rehashed), they tend to fade from view. But not Jessica. Every Saturday, I turn on my TV and there she is pimping Proactiv acne cream. I guess if your looks can sell your warblings, perhaps they can also sell acne medicines too. Either way, you're guaranteed a paycheck for a little while longer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Drumming To Remove Weight

I just learned that rock drummers are as physically fit as top athletes. Good news, right? Definitely additional motivation for me to get back into playing and into shape. Heaven knows (as most of my friends do) that I need some exercise. I was planning to take the lazy route and arm curl weight loss pills into my mouth. But I can tell you that playing the drums is a lot more fun.

I could combine weight loss pills and drumming. But how well would that really help my physique? After all, those thinning tablets are too small to hit effectively with a stick. And even with a handful of dieting capsules, I couldn't play any songs longer than a few seconds as I bounce them off the drum heads -- unless I was talented enough and quick enough to catch the pills on the rebound. Given my current coordination, I would probably end up catching a pellet or two with my eye. Of course, if I couldn't see how fat I was getting ... hmmmmmmm

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What to Get My Ex For Her Birthday?

In spite of my former spouse's shenanigans -- her childish actions and inactions -- I think that I've done a pretty good job of not conveying my frustrations with her. Our children think that I've been too civil with her. Maybe they are right.

She has a birthday coming up. Since it is August, I am tempted to send her a pile of snow along with a note, "Do you get my drift, you flake? I just wanted to remind you how your selfishness melted away a good thing."

Bitter? Oh no, I'm not bitter! Well, perhaps a tad so. It's just troubling that, 30 months after the divorce decree, she is still interfering with my life and my finances. I am so disappointed that this 53 year-old won't tend to her responsibilities. When I first married her, I thought that we would grow old together. I didn't know that I would be spending much of our marriage trying to help her grow up. Now that we are divorced, all I can do is wait and hope...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thieves in High Places

Two weeks ago, thieves broke into my shed and stole my lawn mower. No problem, I have my homeowners insurance. Yet, after paying 20 years into that policy, I learned that I have a $250 deductible to meet before those scam artists will pay for a new mower. Great!

So now I've got to do something about my flourishing weeds before the town's lawn police extort more money from me. I think my best shot is to classify my yard as a very special Garden. I'll set up several lawn gnomes and toilet planters as part of my garden decor. Then I can dare the town to infringe upon my artistic rights and my anti-discrimination policy towards weeds. Nah, between the illegal thieves and the legal ones, I don't have a chance.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Just tryin' to help a friend out

A friend of mine wants to start an outdoor furniture business. For some reason, she wasn't too keen on my thoughts. I wonder why....? hee hee hee :D

Little Known Moments In History

In the early days of photography, only the rich and the very vain would do everything they could to have their picture taken. It isn't widely known that Napoleonic Armies of France made use of this human flaw as they invaded Austria.

For several days, a French general worked hard to overtake a strategic Austrian castle. When he learned that the Baron of the castle was an extremely vain man, the General sent word to the Baron that he was giving up his attack but wanted to take a photograph of the man he considered to be his superior. Knowing how good this would look in the history books, the Baron eagerly agreed. The French general also knew that the Baron wasn't the brightest sausage in the link. So this brilliant solder of Napoleon disguised a canon with a curtain to look like a very expensive camera set up. You know the results. The Baron posed. The French general said "Smile big for me!" and lit the fuse. The Baron was blown away by the skill of the invading photographer. And the French showed off their newly acquired castle in a series 8-by-10 glossies.

There have been many battles throughout the history of the world. But this moment marked the first use of the Canon camera.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Quinceanera To You, Happy Quinceanera To You,

With my Jewish friends, I've been privy to their children's bar mitzvahs. My rich friends celebrate the coming-of-age of their daughters' with debutante balls. And now my cultural world has been expanded once more as one of my Mexican friends sent out Quinceanera invitations for his daughter's upcoming 15th birthday. It seems that the Quinceanera is like a bar mitzvah or a debutante ball except that everyone speaks Spanish. As globalization reaches the level of families, would the ideal birthday then be that of a teenaged, Jewish girl who has rich, Mexican parents?

The Mouth-watering Elements of Comedy

I've been trying to figure out what makes a joke funny. Not the pie-in-the-face gag but the written or spoken jokes. I've noticed there seems to be at least six common elements. And just like cake recipes, if you skip any of these comedic ingredients or get them in the wrong proportion, your potentially delicious banter becomes a very distasteful disaster.

First of all, you begin with a tasty target. Any person, place, thing, or even an abstract concept will do. Don't worry about freshness. Many successful comedians have built their careers on old jokes.

Next, add hostility -- a pinch of anger or barrel full of frustration depending on your love of your target. Of course, be careful! If you don't use the remaining four comedy essences, you risk getting a punch in the nose instead of a laugh. That's why boxers are rarely funny -- just don't say that to their face.

So, to avoid bodily harm to ourselves, not only should we avoid taunting boxers but we need to mix in a little realism and a fisherman's-tale size of exaggeration. Realism because comedy usually comes from pain. And there's nothing more painful than the truth. Unless it's an IRS audit. But we're talking about comedy here, not torture. Exaggeration is an essential part because it's the unlikely aspect of our target that tickles our audience. But that's something you've probably heard a billion times already.

Finally, we have to cook the emotions of our audience. We have to build their suspense. Our joke has to tease until our jokees are ready to explode. Then, when the timing is right, we prick their soufflé of anticipation with the pointy end of surprise. If done correctly, you shall experience the sweet laughter that rivals a hot, baked Alaska (dessert, not the state).

So there you have it: target, hostility, realism, exaggeration, emotions, and surprise. Warning, if you get a great reputation for cooking up all these ingredients into tasty treats, you might end up with a lot of dough in your pockets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Phenter's Love

My friend's name is Fenter. Being that it's the hip, groovy, neat-o and whacky cool thing to misspell words these days, he spells his name, Phenter. He used to be the kind of guy that was always gloomy and depressing to be around. But now that he has fallen madly in love with a little lady from Japan, life is good for him. Very good. It doesn't matter that her English is not the best. They have no problem communicating with each other through that universal language of adoration and affection. And if Phenter is happy, we all are happy.

The other day, we teased her about being just what the doctor ordered for Phenter and that maybe his heart might belong to another. She just laughed and said, "Oh no, Phentermine no prescription necessary!"

[Yes, I know it should read "Phenter mine, no prescription necessary" but I have work with what I'm assigned. Still, the joke works, yes?]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trash Fairies

I think my neighborhood is inhabited by magical trash fairies. Early today I placed my broken indoor furniture on the curb for the trash collection. Within hours, my "outdoor furniture" magically disappeared. Now there isn't a lot of traffic in my neighborhood. Yet somehow, my trash became some one else's treasure. I'm not complaining. I'm just glad that I wasn't asleep on that old couch when it vanished. Of course, if they left me behind, I could congratulate myself on not being "white trash."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Itchin' For A Vacation?

A week ago I was in the throes of a much needed vacation. I got to have quality rest, good food, good company, and the chance to become a human buffet for several hundred hungry chiggers. Today is the first day that I didn't feel the need to scratch my legs and feet with a power sander.

The past seven days have been such torturous agony. Even the gentle glide of shower water on my legs would instantly become a maddening itch that I could not satisfy. I would have bathed using one of those industrial-strength steam cleaners to remove my lower limbs if it were possible. Of course, I would have been stumped as to how I would get around after that. Still, if I had a T-shirt that represent my vacation, it would read "I went camping and all I got was this irritating itch ... and this lousy T-shirt"

But today is a good one. So far I haven't had to bury my legs in gallons of lotion, anti-itch cream, and aloe gel. Today is almost like being on holiday from my vacation...

Why I Don't Have A Pet Dog

At lunch, my friends were going on about their various dogs. You could see the love in their eyes as they talked about their intelligent pets --- animals who have no problem rushing to the door when the doorbell rings even though it's never for them. And then somebody asked the inevitable question, "So Ron, how come you don't have a dog?" Gee, I don't know. Some days, it's 16 hours before I return home. When I do pass through the comforting doorway of my homely sanctuary, the only thing on my mind is dinner and sleep. Unless I have a dog that is ready to be served up in a bun with mustard, I don't think I could give any pet the love and attention that it deserves.

Of course, I could go through my children's old toys and find one of their plastic dogs. In the morning, I would set him by the door ready to greet me when I returned home after a long day. Such a dog would be great at tricks. I could say, "roll over" as I toss him along on the floor. He would be perfect at playing dead. And for lively game of fetch, I would only have to toss him along with a stick.

Image what a great watchdog he would make! A quick grab to pick him up, yell "attack" and then a forceful fling of my plastic protector at the unwanted intruder. When I'm not at home, I can string him up by the door so that when somebody breaks in, he will swing down from above and smack them in the face. (The only difference between being an attack dog and playing fetch is whether someone ends up with a bump on the head or not.)

Yes, I know all pets need exercise. So by putting him on a leash, I can take him for an evening drag. To make sure that my special friend feels like he belongs with all the other dogs, I could stop ever so often and scoop up fake doggie doo (only $1.50 at your local gag store). Sadly, he wouldn't be able to stop and sniff trees to check the latest pee-mail. Oh well.

Nah, I'm not worried about having a pet right now. If I wanted the trials and tribulations of caring for needy, smelly living creature, I would have stayed married ...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Need Another Vacation Now

I realize that for most vacations to be successful you need to take half the clothes that you plan on wearing and spend half the money. So that's what I did last week. Success! The only way my much-needed vacation could have been better is if I taken twice the time off.

Sadly, today was my first day back at work. And in the midst of my chaotic job of playing catch-up, all I could think about was that relaxing ride in one of those soft, inflatable boats as my brother-in-law lazily pulled me along with his pontoon boat on the sunny Tennessee River. ::: sigh ::: It feels like today's overwhelming demands lasted much longer than those four days of sun and family fun of last week. Why is that?

Sunday, July 06, 2008


The first of July marked a sad day in the computer world. This was the first day that the effective, technologically proven operating system of Windows XP became unavailable to the world of hard-working computer users. On this day, productivity across the globe dipped. The only ones not mourning are the makers of the bloated, memory hogging system known as Vista and the producers of the ram (random access memory) modules. RIP XP ...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

patents and locks

What is the life of a patent, about 20 years? You would think that when Walter Schlage patented a simple key and lock mechanism almost a century ago, the patent would run out and everyone could freely use his invention. But here's how you get around that: take a design, make a minor change to it, you get a new patent. If your business can continue to hire intelligent workers for years to come, you can go several generations and corner the market on your unique idea.

At least, that was our company's plan with a inflation system for car seats. What we didn't expect was another company to come along with deep enough pockets to fund a gaggle of lawyers. They didn't have to invent a thing except the fabrication that our idea was their creation. Then it was a simple matter to eat away at our finances in court. Eventually we were faced with going bankrupt or paying royalties to this conquering company. We pay the royalties while allowing the product line languish and die.

So how is it that the Schlage keylock system is still a profitable patent? It seems that it was immensely successful when Walter started his business in the late 20s. And then in the 70s, his company was bought by the much larger enterprise, Ingersoll-Rand. Unfortunately, this business case does not seem to be the norm these days. so I have no idea how to protect a great idea from parasitic companies.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Best Job In America

Here it is, summer time in America and people's thought have turned to politics. Some have half a mind to run for public office and, fortunate for them, that's all it takes. Unlike some productive ventures (like starting a business), getting into a political franchise means you can raise money and pay it back in nothing but promises (or pay back nothing if you're a seasoned pro). To get elected takes hard work, kind of like creating a dog-and-pony show -- lots of flash and noise and cute animals while not really doing anything.

To succeed, make sure you loudly promote noble causes that you would never personally pay for. After all, you'll have access to everyone else's money once you're elected. Make sure to appeal to misplaced sense of social justice and promise all sorts of regulatory laws. Again, don't worry. As an public official, such ill convinced legislation doesn't apply to you. For example, you are immune from sexual discrimination claims and hiring quotas.

As you can see, a few months of baby kissing and generating enough hot air on the campaign trail to contribute to global warming can get you into the best job in America. Not only that but what other job gives you the potential to retire after only five years of service? Is America a great country or what?!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bathroom Cam

There's talk at work of cameras being put into the men's bathroom to make sure we're not goofing off. Some one with too much power and too much time on their hands thinks that there are too many trips being taken during the work day to the bathroom. But what do they expect? 50 guys, unlimited coffee, and only one bathroom with two stalls.

Often, it's like being part of a poker game. One man will walk in, see several of his workmates with crossed legs waiting their turn. He make the usual comment, "Look's like a full house!" Some one else will respond with, "If you wait, there'll be a straight flush!" If Randy, our openly gay worker, is in there, he'll add, "Oh no! It's goin' to be a royal flush!" He's such a queen. Then everyone will laugh and life goes on.

With cameras in the facility, I don't know what video cards game will be played now. There's talk of a "how many ways can you accidentally moon the camera?" contest. I think the winner gets a new job some where else.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How To Tell If Your Friends Respond To Spam E-mails

Here we are in the 21st century and we're still getting spam e-mails about magic lotions that will enlarge certain parts of your anatomy and weight-loss creams that will shrink other parts of your body. Does anybody ever reply to these e-mails? You would think that people would ignore this spam because the products might not work. I think people wouldn't respond to these e-mails on the possibility that these products would work! In the case of the lotions of enlargement, wouldn't your friends be a little suspicious when one of your hands become twice the size of a normal hand? For those using a weight loss cream, you would know as soon as you reached out to and shook their Barbie-doll sized hand...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Livin' Cheap

In my last post, I entertained the possibility of having to live in the back lot of my work place. It wouldn't be too bad. There is a shower room in the plant and the break room has a refrigerator and a microwave. I would have to be outside by 6 in the evening when the building is locked up for the night. Not a problem since I would have another small cardboard box and an overturned pail for my patio furniture / dining room. The evening would be spent viewing hi-def reality until it was time for bed. In the morning, it's a 2 second commute to work, assuming some snail hasn't jackknifed in the path and tied up traffic leading to the entrance way. Otherwise, a new, inexpensive day begins.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Giving My 2 Cents For A Penny

What better way to spend a sunny weekend than wrestling with the budgetary incomes and out-goes of my life. I can certainly think of several better ways. But I've been putting off this task long enough. The bad news is that, if my financial situation doesn't improve soon, I may find myself living in a heavy-duty cardboard box, in the back lot behind where I work. The good news is I know are where to find several of those heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

I don't want to think of myself as poor. And it would very self-defeating to think of myself as needy. To call myself underprivileged would really be over the top. Perhaps I could toot that I'm not completely destitute. And even though I don't seem to have any apparent advantages to work with, I am slightly better than disadvantaged. Whatever you want to call my situation, the money just isn't there. Although my vocabulary seems rather rich. Anyone got change for word?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Don't Treadmill On Me

As my body closes in on the half-century mark, it seems to be losing its svelte form. I know part of the problem is that I should become more physically active. In fact, I am fortunate that my TV and refrigerator are so far apart from each other, otherwise I wouldn't get any exercise at all.

A friend suggested I get a treadmill. But that makes as much sense as getting a stairmaster -- several minutes of walking and you're still right where you started. If I'm going to spend half an hour of continuous leg movement, I better arrive at some place very important. Like a bakery or a micro brewery.

It's not that I have anything against treadmills. I just think that people are using them in boring ways. Ideally, you need a minimum of four treadmills in order to use them to their full potential as shown here:

I believe that learning this dance could be a very helpful skill to know, especially if you get attacked by a mugger in an alley full of treadmills. You'll definitely never thwart a mugger's attack in an alley full of stairmasters.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Can Some Things Be Too Thin?

Eons ago (in terms of how fast technology advances. Actually it was this past January.), Sony brought forth upon the gadget-starved world an OLEP (organic light emitting display) television that was as thick as three credit cards. Coincidentally, three credit cards are exactly what you need to max out to purchase this rather expensive piece of electronics whenever it is made available to the public.

This week Sony outdid themselves as they revealed their next generation of yet to be released OLEP televisions. This one is thinner than one credit card or one ABS unit (Ally McBeal sideways). While I applaud these advances in home entertainment displays, this TV is just a paper cut waiting to happen when someone goes to clean their brand-new set. This may explain why Sony is recommending to potential customers that they add a well-stocked medical kit to their home theater furniture.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Want To See A Picture of My Pride and Joy?

Today's phrase is "Snapfish coupons". Aside from saying that I'm having a whale of a time as I write about this on porpoise, I've got nothing. Why anyone would need a coupon to buy a snap fish is beyond me. What is a snap fish? What does it look like? How do you cook it? I tried looking it up online but only found a site full of cutesy kids and surly cats. Worst yet was that this site wanted to charge to make copies of these peoples' prides and joys. I guess if someone is going to guilt you into looking at pictures of their ugly, booger-eating kids, they should pay a price for your pain and suffering. That's why I enjoy saying, "Do you want to see a picture of my pride and joy?" And then I show them this:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is The Task Simple? No, Only I Am.

Why does simple task always turn into the most time-consuming, wallet-draining, profanity-inducing event in our already crisis laden lives? I thought, and maybe that was my first mistake, that I would fix my kitchen faucet's year old tiny leak. I had put off the repair for several months because I knew that winter would eventually arrive. If it brought any sub zero temperatures, I would already have a dripping faucet in place to keep the pipes from freezing. (It's not procrastination. Just good planning!) And now it's almost summer. I've been assured (by the news media and a few scientists whose grant money is dependent upon proving human-caused global warming) that future winters have been replaced by a lengthy autumn.

So I thought I would start out this Memorial Day weekend with a little home repair work. Besides, how complicated can kitchen faucets be -- a pipe, a metal ball with a few holes, and a couple of washers. I questioned my simpleton confidence only after I realized the faucet had been assembled during World War II and had not been taken apart since. My plumbing tools now expanded to include WD-40 and a sledgehammer. The real fun began when I reached under the sink to turn off the water supply. Where shutoff valves should have been, I found welded pipe. Eventually I found the shutoff valve or rather, its location --- outside, housed in a cement ring. The handle to the valve was conveniently protected from easy access by at least a foot of dirt that had accumulated from years of muddy rain washing into the ring. It's never a good thing when plumbing involves the use of a shovel.

Sometimes the easiest way to fix something is rename the situation. Thanks to my previous repair attempt, the drips are now an ever increasing flow of water. So this Memorial Day weekend, it can be said that I "built" my very own kitchen fountain. All I need to do now is buy flood insurance.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Making Our Own Words

Vox is a Latin word for voice. Lips are what we use to shape that voice into something intelligent. At least that's what we hope for as we review those sounds going in and out of our head. Yet you couldn't refer to that process as lipovox reviews. It turns out that Lipovox is a pill that's supposed to help you not put more food past your lips then you really need to. It has nothing to do with your voice assuming you don't talk when you have a mouth full of food. For such people, you need lipolocks.

Friday, May 16, 2008

No Riots To Report In January

I wrote this post in January but have kept it private as I agonized over making it public. The last thing I want to do is upset someone who was born without a sense of humor. Usually they're the ones who make up for their defect by introducing you to their lawyer or their gun collection. So last week, I showed my private work to friends whom this post might affect. They laughed and encouraged me to publish it. Ok then. There shouldn't be any law suits or gun play. Besides, enough time has passed since January that the humorless won't get this.

Anyway, near my home is a florist run by an elderly couple. Nice people but sometimes you have to wonder if they should just retire and grow plants instead of dealing with the public every day. In mid January of this year, they advertised the most unusual of arrangements -- a bouquet of fluffy cotton, colorfully adorned with tiny yellow, red and violet flowers. I don't think that they realize the timing of this floral offering because nothing says "Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day" better than a bouquet of cotton when given in the South. The scary part was they also had watermelon scented candles in the shape of a cross for sale. Surprisingly, no one associated their merchandise with January's governmentally mandated MLK holiday. No riots took place. Just an incident by some confused people who were against picketing but didn't know how to show it.

So all is well. It was simply my warped humor that put two innocent events together. I understand that the candles sold very well during Easter...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where Did My Future Goodies Go?

In 1976, our English teacher had us celebrated of the bicentennial year. Her idea of a festive activity was making us write a paper to put in a time capsule. I have a feeling that time capsule was actually the trash can next to her desk. Still, we had a lot of fun predicting what would take place in 25 years.

Many of us thought we would all have jet packs and eat meals that were nothing more than pills. Some of my pot smoking friends express their hopes in the legalization of marijuana. Personally I thought that would be a bad combination. The last thing that I would want to see is one of my stoned friends jetting through the air while downing a super-size bottle of food pills. (Although "jetting" is probably the wrong term. "Hovering while being awed by pushes from the wind" would be more accurate.)

So here we are in the 21st century and, I have to wonder, what happened? The only jet pack around is on the back of one lucky employee of Disney's Epcot Center. The government hasn't figured out how to make money by legalizing pot. And the only pills remotely related to food are fancy-named diet pills, which may help if you get the munchies by less-than-legal means.

The future looked bright. We tried to wear shades. But we're not where we thought we would be. That's ok. For the most part, I think we've got it made.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How Not Make It To Your Next Birthday

I'm sure everyone enjoys a good practical joke every now and then (for some reason, according to a recent study, most everyone prefers playing them as opposed to being on the receiving end. Where is your sense of humor, people?). So in this time of stress and bad news, let me offer you a few pranks or, as I like to call them, things-to-do-so-that-you-don't-make-it-to-your-next-birthday.

Most women say that they love a guy with a sense of humor. So let's show them what a funny guy you really are when you boil a pair of their best high heels in hot water and then drying them in the oven. Guaranteed to shrink their shoes by almost one size.

For your automotive-loving friends, sneak over to their house in the dead of night and put Ford grills on their Chevy trucks. I would suggest putting a Chevy Grill on a Ford truck but the purpose of any practical joke is not to improve the situation or be practical.

The next time your friends invite you over to a party, bring gifts. Toilet paper dusted with itching powder is always a favorite especially if you've added Ex-Lax to the chocolate dip. Fill an empty toothpaste tube with Orajel (or any numbing gel) and leave it on their bathroom sink. This will leave them speechless.

I have many, many more but I'm sure these are more than enough to help you reach hermit status.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I'm Sorry

Of all the appliances in my home, I probably should appreciate my water heater more. In fact, I should know better. A few years ago, the warmth disappeared from our close, watery relationship when the heating elements died. Eighteen months went by before I had the heart and, more importantly, the funds to buy a new water heater. During that time apart, I heated buckets of water and took baths camper style in my tub. Adapt and adopt, don't you know! Finally the day arrived when I installed a new water heating tank. My first shower was as close to heaven as you can get while remaining alive. Since then, I have drifted to the thankless state of taking my hot water for granted. If my liquid warmth disappears again, my most deepest appreciation will return along with one of those tankless water heaters. After all, it's a tankless job but something has to do it...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Springtime Entertainment At The Mall

Now that spring is here, you know what this means -- less clothes. For us guys, this means that the mall can become a source of visual entertainment. Not only are there beautiful women in outfits that make you glad to be a man, there are also those hilarious herds of guys who dress to attract as much attention as possible. Perhaps you have seen them too. They're usually wearing boardshorts at knee level so they can show off their baggy bloomers.

Any day now I expect a new trend to develop. So don't be surprised when you see these confused studs dragging their pants behind them with the belt connected to their ankle. Remember, you read it here first!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Instant Weight Loss

I think that the Earth is getting heavier as time goes by. Maybe you have noticed this effect as well. When I compare my weight to what I was in my 20s, I have undeniable proof that this is happening.

To counteract the Earth's tug on me, I tried using weight loss pills Unfortunately every time I lost the pounds, I ended up putting them back on. I was working in a lost-and-found that the time. My boss would say, "Hey, these pounds look familiar. Are they yours?" Of course they were so I would reluctantly put them back on.

I have the perfect idea for weight loss. We simply take all the billions of dollars spent on dieting and develop a space program to send out Mt. Everest into space. We'll instantly be a lot lighter and without any of the effort. Remember, you read it here first.

I Think Therefore I Sit

I sit too much, either hunched over a keyboard or behind a steering wheel. There, I said it. I sit for almost 3 hours while driving to and from work. Once at work, I can spend at least five hours confined to my desk (on a good day). At home, a few more hours find me sitting upright while working on various projects.

And since I gave up exercising last year for my New Year's resolution (15 straight months and counting, thank you), I've noticed that the Earth's gravity has increased slightly in its tugging power on my body. Lately, when I come out of that computer-screen-induced trance for those few seconds, I noticed that I'm hunched over the keyboard with a slight trickle of drool off the corner of my mouth. My abdomen is extended as if I was in my second trimester of labor. This probably explains my lower back pains. So I'm thinking that a posture corrector may be in order. Or a job where I can work in a big, old, comfy reclining chair...

The Ultimate CD Burner

I've been involved in the electronics industry for 30 years now. During these years, my friends and family have continually asked me for advice on the latest high tech gadgetry. It's gotten to the point where friends of my friends and family are getting in contact with me with their questions. The other day someone asked me about what would be best to put their music on to CDs. They named off artists and songs that they were interested in -- groups that basically were doing terrible remixes of bad remixes of songs that were once great. After a few minutes of this conversation, it became obvious that there could only be one CD burner for them ... a fireplace.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Chapter In Life

The time I spent last week with my youngest son was long overdue. Now that he's 16, we were able to have several heart-to-heart talks that weren't possible when he was younger. As I look at this gangly youth who now towers over me, I hope to have planted some seeds of success in his mind.

This is the time in his life of social awareness. So one of his biggest concerns was how hormones are ravaging his face. Fortunately, his mother has bought him a natural acne treatment. Surprisingly, she hasn't gone so natural as to include sandpaper, sterilized needles and an avoidance of zitti pasta.

And that would be his second biggest concern -- his mother. While I have maintained that he needed to respect her because she is his mother, he's finally realizing the type of person she is and why I had to divorce her a few years ago. Hopefully, he will make some better choices for his life because of our time together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's Raining Lawyers

If law school is so difficult, why are there so many lawyers? If you open my phone book, you will find most of the yellow pages dedicated to members of the legal profession --- people who want to help you rescue your property from your enemies and keep it to themselves. This is all done through specialization. For example, not only are there accident lawyers but you can find car accident lawyers, truck accident lawyers, skateboard accident lawyers, and walking-while-chewing-gum accident lawyers.

Yes, there are more attorneys than there are jokes about them. In fact, if you were to stack lawyers end to end, not only could you reach the moon and back but there would be plenty of them left over to sue you for stacking lawyers to begin with. Isn't it amazing that, with all the problems that we have with this profession, it is the one industry that has escaped the regulations that prevail in all other businesses...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Children, Luggage, and Airline Quality

According to the "Airline Quality Rating", the airline industrys' score is at an all-time low. The biggest complaint from passengers is about their luggage being lost or arriving days, months, years after the owners discover that they urgently need fresh underwear and a toothbrush (not necessarily to be used together).

Another rising concern involves airlines 'misplacing' children on flights. That is, some parents hand their beloved darlings over to an airline for safe delivery to their waiting grandparents. Somehow, despite the notes tacked to the clothes of these innocent travelers, a few flights have been ending with an airline having difficult locating their precious cargo. (Personally, I think it was a case of weary grandparents, a bribed flight attendant, and bratty grandchildren who end up touring the friendly skies for "just a few more days.")

If these trends continue, years from now, we will have a new civilization of lost luggage people -- vanished children who lived among the missing baggage. Armed only with unconfiscated nail clippers, they survived by living off of the contents of forgotten suitcases and airline peanuts. What will become of these misplaced adults? Ah, not to worry. They will be the airlines' new baggage handlers and TSA inspectors.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Is Your Bathroom Vain?

If conceit is God's gift to small minded people, then what are bathroom vanities? Are those small towels that no one can touch really so vain or are they just lonely? It's understandable as they hang there with the fancy embroidered picture that wouldn't absorb a drop of water if it was drowning. The same question goes for those cutesy, carved soaps. If we really need roses and turtles, shouldn't we get the real things?

No, I don't have pretentious items in my bathroom. Just give me towels that dry and soap that foams. If I'm in a playful mood, I'll have foamy towels and fuzzy soap. There's no place for vanity in my bathroom ... there's more than enough when I'm in it!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lady Luck Cracked A Smile and My Windshield

After 180,000 miles of travel, my car had more tiny pits in its windshield than there are in a miniature cherry orchard. I tend to think of these marks as tiny love scars from all the miles I've driven to take care of my family and friends. My pitted windshield provides a relatively clear view, until I drive facing the sun. Then it becomes a very sparkly blast of glare and star patterns. Until last week, I had to endure this since my car insurance didn't cover its replacement. What a pane! And then, Lady Luck cracked a smile. While I was driving and wondering how much longer I would have to put up with this, a rock came out of no where and began a glass fracture that quickly meandered across the windshield. Ta-Da! My insurance covered that and with no deductible. Now I can see clearly! It's amazing how we don't realize how much we are compensating for inconveniences and aggravations in our lives until they are removed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm A Walking English-to-American-to-Southern Dictionary

Having a British mother and an American father with Canadian heritage, I guess I'm just a multicultural kind of guy. I know about elevators and lifts. I can identify bathroom faucets, taps, and spigots. When I moved into South, my horizons expanded to included things like nabs, RC cola and moon pies. Now I drink a refreshing English hot tea, a northern style unsweetened iced tea and its southern cousin, the diabetic-coma-inducing sweet tea. I have no problem saying "you people", "yous guys" and "y'all" with the best of 'em. Yes sir, I have the United Nations going on in my head and, I gotta to tell you, it's getting a little crowded in here...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Is Not Voting An Option?

Yesterday North Carolina was invaded by Hillary in one part of the state and Obama in another. Lots of handshaking, baby kissing, and promises that "public servants" make when they're not spending their own money. And as the election nears, the stench of these putrid promises will reach a level that not even a convention hall filled with air purifiers can remove. It is encouraging that there are voters who are not gullible enough to believe what candidates say. Unfortunately, they are not part of the half of voters plus one who put these bureaucrats in office. I'm thinking that maybe we shouldn't vote for politicians. It only seems to encourage them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CIGNA Makes Me Sick

So last month, my company's insurance company, CIGNA, called me and said that I should get a blood test done. My doctor tells me it's a good idea. Since he can't do blood test in his office, he sends me across the street to the hospital to have the work done. Not a problem, CIGNA covers 80% of the cost of my doctor visits.

A couple of days ago, I get a bill from the hospital (because my insurance had paid its part) for $502. No, this is not my 20% charge for the visit. It seems my insurance company does not like hospital visits. And no one, not my work, not CIGNA, not my doctor, informed me that I would charge the full amount for that fateful walk across the street. When I spoke with our human resource director, Ms. Catbert, she said she wasn't going to do anything about it. But that was no surprise. So I called CIGNA who said they will send me paperwork to begin a review of the claim.

Wonderful. Even though part of the blood work was for a PSA test (check for prostate cancer), I can hear the playful snap of exam gloves being put on by the hospital and the insurance company as they bend me over to see who's going to make me pay. Maybe this will work out and the insurance will do their job. But I can't hold my breath over this. I'm afraid that if any damage results, I won't be covered.