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Friday, December 24, 2010

things I think about

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If you're addicted to cold turkey, is it easier to quit?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dress Size Matters

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Many moons ago (and suns and stars and other celestial objects that are, I'm happy to report, much older than I am), I moved from deep inside the Yankee territory of New Hampshire to the deep redneck recesses of North Carolina. Unfortunately, no one told me that I would need a Southern-to-English dictionary to make my transition a smooth one.

A few months after my life-changing relocation, I confused my lust and loneliness with love and married first girl who gave me the time of day. I'm not sure exactly when I finally came to my senses but back then I would do anything for my blossoming 100 pound beauty who quickly bloomed to about 200 pounds.

At that time, she had a thing for French designer clothing. And not the almost perfect items that you could find for pennies at Salvation Army. No, she had to have it right off the rack with that fresh wound of a new hundred dollar price tag still attached.

One day, when I was still slightly groggy after trading my plasma for cash to support the fashion sensibilities of my new wife, I stopped by one of the local fancy women clothing store. Through my woozy haze, I heard the sales girl say in a thick southern accent to one of her customers that she had "the most darlin' one-of-a-kind Pa Tate dress that everyone wanted." A genuine French-sounding labeled garment was just what I was looking for. I immediately swaggered over (well, more of a stagger) and asked to buy that dress. The sales girl nervously obliged me.

Thinking back on that moment, I should've inspected the dress a little closer. But that's all right. My extra-sized blushing bride did that job for me as she held up that exceptional item of petite clothing (definitely not, "Pa Tate") next to her wide form and demanded, "How am I supposed to wear this?!" "Over your head as an ascot." I said ... to myself. "As a belt?" I suggested hopefully. That's what I learned the importance of keeping ALL those sort of comments inside ... deep inside.

another toy bits the dust .. instead of the baby

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Here's a new Christmas toy idea from our friends in China -- a baby teething ring that plays music and warmly vibrates while being chewed. You don't have to worry about this little treasure clogging up the landfill with tons of batteries. Rather, it's powered by plugging it into an electrical wall socket. That's right, one end into your house's 120 VAC and the other end into your baby. Fortunately regulatory heads have banned this unique toy from being imported into the United States. This justifiable interdict is kind of sad. Isn't this the time of year where you're supposed to "make your children's eyes light up"?

Friday, December 10, 2010

One of these days

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Sometimes I thinks my family is the most ungrateful lot that a body could be married to. I should've known something was up when her family showed up to our shotgun wedding with a shotgun, an M-16 and a Sherman tank.

Now, I've tried to do right by my country wife and all of our young'uns. A few years ago I got us into a house with indoor plumbing and you would think they would be happy about that. But nooooooo! Building a house over a running stream wasn't good enough.

Last year, the kids were going on and on about us gettin' in a home entertainment system. So I worked a bunch of overtime and got 'em a pellet gun and a bird feeder. Judgin' by all the complaints, real birds and squirrels ain't as good as the ones on tele-o-vision set.

And for the past month, my wife been a-naggin' about how we should get one of them fancy Kichler outdoor lighting setups like the neighbors. For some reason, a baggie full of fireflies next to the bug zapper just doesn't make her happy anymore.

Well, I am sorry! I'm doing my bestest to feed all these whinin' mouths. I'm just lookin' forward to the day when I can come through the door and say, "Pack your bags, folks! I've won the lottery! I don't care where y'all go but you ain't coming with me!" Well, I cans dream, can't I?

Ho Ho Ho :: sob ::

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It's that time of year to begin fatten up our favorite holiday object – the credit card. Time to buy gobs of gifts for the young ones so that they can spend hours and hours playing with the boxes that once held their over-hyped holiday presents. And as long as you squander your money online through sites that adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (in other words, they're using pci hosting), you shouldn't have to worry about unintended parasites grabbing your hard-earned wealth for themselves (Congress and your local politicians withstanding).

Remember, if you let your credit card feast heartier than a tick in a puppy factory, I guarantee that you will be well rewarded in January. So take time this month to stock up on antacids and lots of job applications. When you get that over-sized bill next month, remember how pleasant you made the holiday times for others. After all, it's the thought that counts. And all I can say is "what were we thinking?"

Saturday, December 04, 2010

keep your enemies close and your friends ... off of facebook

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To keep on top of technological trends and to give the impression that I'm an awesome dude on all things electronics (after all, techno-geeks are now the new James Dean), I've been signing on to the latest social media sites. Linked-In, Facebook, and Twitter are my top time-wasters, I mean, family-following, friend-stalking news gatherers.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that some of my contacts post such embarrassing things ... things that are beyond the red-faced level of OMG ( "OMG" ha! Told you, I'm hip). You know, those hideous little moments that they normally wouldn't even admit to themselves that they did. But, shine the light of a monitor in their eyes and touch their itchy fingers to the buttons with letters on them and it's confession time.

As for me, I'm keeping my life on the down-low :). ("down-low" AND a smiley face! I amaze myself sometimes.) First of all, I don't need someone else reading a tell-all accounting of my life until I'm ready to publish it for a 6 figure contract (preferably in dollars). Second of all, I don't need to give my present bosses or potential future employers any reason to promote me to the ranks of the unemployed. This leads to a slight paradox - in order to get on the social media hype-wagon, I've had to be anti-social on these sites. ("hype-wagon" is my contribution to the hip vernacular. You're welcome!) Strange times that we live in, indeed.

SO "friend" me if you like and say hi. I may reply back with that lengthy of greetings "hello" and probably little else. I'm not avoiding you. I'm not playing coy. I'm just being as social as safely possible ... until I win that lottery ticket. Then you can try friending me through the news media ....

Venimus, vidimus, vicimus

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After working a long 70+ hour week, I spent Friday night doing what every loving father would do --- 11 PM found me standing in long line with my daughter so she could buy a copy of "Twilight: New Moon". In comparison between enduring prickly heat and standing for an hour to buy a movie that we could instantly buy the next day for a couple dollars more, standing is slightly better. Slightly.

Now the difficult part wasn't that you found fatherly me there, listening to the idle gossip from mothers waiting with their excited daughters. There was a couple of other bleary-eyed fathers whose expressions of "how did I get talked into this?" matched mine. The stressful part was being a couple of families ahead of a man who really needed a video on personal hygiene. Because of his 500 pound bulk, he had to get around using a motorized chair provided by the store. The large basket on his chair was almost overflowing with a cornucopia of chips, pork rinds, candy and other things that doctors warn us to stay clear of. His loose fitting tank top made you hope that he would make a stop in the lingerie department for bra. From the complexion of his ravaged face, you would think he'd spend his money on a "how to treat acne" DVD instead of buying one about clear faced vampires battling shirtless shaggy werewolves who can become hairlessly muscular in the blink of an eye (or quicker since my daughter didn't blink once during those parts of the movie).

In the end, it didn't matter. Venimus, vidimus, vicimus -- we came, we saw, we conquered the line and got the movie. I survived the night. And my daughter has a keepsake of our adventurous time together. I understand that the next episode of this long series comes out in a year. I can hardly wait. By then she be in college and I will be asleep ...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It's Wesley verses Charlie in the battle of social justice

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For the past few years, Wesley Snipes has been protesting the federal system by not filing tax returns. Oh, he And his accountants made sure that he paid his taxes. But as part of a national protest group, he just didn't fill in the sacred forms. As a result, a federal judge decided last week to make an example and sentenced Mr. Snipes to couple years in prison. Was justice served? (Maybe Mr. Snipes' real crime is he is an actor. Had he been Mr. Obama's treasury secretary (and head of the IRS) who didn't even pay his taxes, we wouldn't be having this post.)

As I write this, Congress is debating whether they should censor New York representative Charles Bernard Rangel for a few "indiscretions". Now, Charlie (as his pork barrel benefactors fondly call him) wanted Congress to just reprimand him. When a legislative reprimand happens, someone makes an entry in the Congressional log that basically says "Bad, Congressman Rangel! Bad! Bad! Very naughty!" and then life goes on. However, Congress didn't think that was severe enough. So now they're voting on a sanction of censure. OOOoooo, censure! Very scary!

If they all agree to that action, they will make Mr. Rangel stand in front of Congress and say to him, "Bad, Congressman Rangel! It was very naughty that you didn't pay your taxes. It was very bad that you filed false tax returns. And you should not have used your position for personal gain." In other words, a public shaming. What a terrible fate! Then after a few minutes of a stern scolding from Nancy Pelosi, Charlie will have to ... well, do nothing. He's no longer head of the committee in charge of the taxpayers' cookie jar. But aside from that, very little will have changed for the Congressman.

"Oh sure," you might say to me. "What about his loss of public respect?" I might then have to ask you if you knew that he is a member of Congress. Also, considering his major accomplishments after 40 years of service has been mainly to get porkbarrel projects to his supports, then you know he hasn't had any true public respect since Nixon was president.

So I have to ask you, between Mr. Snipes and Mr. Rangel, who has has done a better job at benefiting society? Between Wesley and Charlie, who got the raw end of the justice stick?

4G or not 4G

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There's a lot of buzz in the news lately about various phone companies get ready to release their "4G" networks in the next few weeks. The only problem with these promises of high tech, high speed wizardry is that their "4G" isn't real "4G", at least not this initial go-around. To be considered 4G, a network technology has to meet a set of specifications known as IMT-Advanced.

For example, 4G standard means digital speeds at 1Gb/sec. Yet, when Verizon and its friendly competitors release their version, you get to enjoy paying higher prices for almost at a 1/10 of that speed. So right now, "4G" is just marketing hype.

Of course, some people don't mind paying for things that are cleverly marketed. They are the kind of people who will rush to a beach resort to buy "limited edition" sea water. Or they will hike into the hills to find that special stone quarry shop selling "new and improved" rocky mountain boulders (something you can't take for granite after a few eons). Or you will find them sweating away to get an exclusive exercise facility so they can purchase gourmet phentermine diet pills (bet you can't eat just one). You know the types ...

Anwyay, if Hamlet had a cell phone, he'd asked the same perplexing question that you should be asking yourself for the next several months, "4G or not 4G, that is the question!" He'd want to know "whether 'tis noble in the pocketbook to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous hype or to take arms and fingers against a sea of misleading claims and by opposing, end the madness. To wait -- to dream of better service that matches the overpriced monthly charges. By a dream to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand unnatural shocks that our cell phone bills render." I'm paraphrasing but I'm pretty sure that's what Hamlet would say.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

another win

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Last month, I submitted a few ideas to the latest Cartoon Caption Contest and learned today that I scored in the top three places as well as had a couple in the "honorable mention" category. Sadly, I thought one of my other entries would have made it: "With best friends like that, who needs anemones?"

Still, each time I entered the last few contests, I managed to place in the top three. This is encouraging. Either that or not enough truly funny people are entering ...

Maybe Spammers Will Catch a Cold from Blogger In Draft

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You may have noticed a few changes that I've recently made to this blog. I've started using the beta version of the "Blogger In Draft" editor. Google's Blogger team have released several experimental features with layout and design and monetizing. One handy feature that has been the handling of legitimate comments while quarantining spammy ones as it is submitted. Lately, spam has been reigning king, so separating the wheat from the chafe has become a quick and easy process. My only other option would be to erase all the posts in this blog. But that would be like cutting off my head as one of the more drastic scalp eczema treatments – effective but deadly all the same. So for now, I'm settling for the quarantine method until Google releases its next feature – targeting the IP addresses of spammers and nuking their computers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Grounded in Zero

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Almost 10 years later and there is still a debate about what type of effect to put at Ground Zero. We did have two huge spotlights that projected beams of daylight quality up into the sky. All was well until the migratory season of birds arrived. The light was so bright that birds used it as a navigational point of sunrise. They would fly towards the lights, circle them, drop a little message about being tricked and then fly off only to think a few miles later that they saw sunrise in the distance. And like a tourists trapped on the I-95 cloverleaf, they would retrace their path over and over again. After a while, people begin to complain about exhausted birds falling on them instead of being flipped at them. This prompted the powers-that-be to douse the lights for a few weeks so migrating flocks could continue on their predestined trip southward. (So if you live in Florida and are surprised to hear birds complaining about New York, this could be the reason.)

I propose something different. Instead of a visual effect, how about having the city goes for something auditory. Since New York is well known for its noise (which happens to also be one of birds' navigational directives), why not put two huge columns of home theater system speakers at Ground Zero. But not to broadcast noise. Rather, take in all of the commotion, all of the complaining, the angry yelling, all of the anxiety-producing sirens and alarms, then phase invert all that sound and rebroadcast it through our speakers. What happens is a wonderful cancellation! You end up having a zone of virtual silence – a place where you can calmly gather your thoughts and your senses, an welcomed opportunity to quietly reflect, to rethink all the senseless tragedies that have occurred in our short human history, and maybe put our priorities in a better perspective as we try to live with ourselves and with each other.

Congress Gives Me Gas

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For the past five years, I've kept track of my fuel expenditures because that's what a divorce will drive you to – counting pennies so you don't end up stranded in the middle of nowhere, hoping for rich old lady to stop, pick you up, and take you home where you live happily ever after in her generous will. Wishful thinking aside, I just want to make sure my car didn't run out of gas and leave me at the mercy of rogue squirrels out to avenge their flattened, road-killed brethren.

Keeping up with this expense has allowed me track my gas mileage as well. As you can see from my MPG chart, there are seasonal trends as well as indications that something expensive was about to break. It was this year’s numbers that had me a little concerned at first. Usually, my mileage rebounds in the Fall time of the year.  Problems?  Fortunately, I have the good fortune of knowing very fortunate mechanic. He looked over the car and said that I was safe from vigilante squirrels for a little while longer. So why isn't my gas mileage coming back up like it should? He wasn't sure and proceeded to blame my faithful car’s youthful 260,000 miles of age. But I think I have a better answer.

As I filled up my car early this morning, the first brand new rays of sunlight ricocheted off of the ethanol sticker on the gas pump. It used to say "may contain up to 10% ethanol." May. As in might have somewhere between zero but not quite 10%. Today, after I recovered my eyesight from the bullets of a brand-new sparkly day, I noticed the sticker now reads "contains at least 10% ethanol but less than 15%."

I know you physics majors are way ahead of me on this but the early morning fog in my mind took a bit to clear. Once my mental process snapped into place like the fragile twigs that they are, I realized that ethanol has much less explosive power than gasoline – a very reduced bang for the buck which unfortunately doesn't show up in the pump price. It isn't my car that is the problem. It has just been corn-fused and I’ve been confused and we all have just been conned.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Medi-flex ... It isn't your money any more

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At first, I thought that using a medical flex account was a great idea. The company took some of my untaxed earnings, placed it into a non-interest-bearing account, and I could use it to pay any and all medical related expenses. The gamble was based entirely on my Nostradamus-like powers. At the beginning of the year, if I didn't correctly foretell exactly what my expenses would be for the next 12 months, I would lose all the money remaining in my account.

So last December, I've made my prediction, confident that I had underestimated what I would have to spend in 2010. And so far, my prophecies have had me considering the purchase of that "never work again a day in your life" lottery ticket. That was until a couple of weeks ago. That fatefull day, our company HR person gathered us together and said that, starting on January 1st, 2011, the IRS would no longer accept credit card receipts that show you paid for your doctor visit. Heaven knows that the Paperwork Reduction Act isn't worth all the papers that it was written on. So obviously, you need more paperwork from a doctor to prove that he wasn't charging you to sit around and discuss golf scores. Our HR person also told us that the IRS would also no longer allow our medical flex accounts to be used for the purchases of over-the-counter remedies of any kind. In other words, if you're going to try to cure yourself, you need to be charged income tax along with your sales tax. Obviously an effort to reduce cost of medical care.

Not this would be a problem because we were still in 2010. Or so I thought when I turned in my credit card receipt for June's visit to my doctor and my receipt for over-the-counter melatonin (which my doctor told me was cheaper and would work as well as prescription medicine). Today I received a letter from our medical flex company. They happily informed me that both receipts were rejected. Apparently those helpful regulations into effect on October 1, 2010. Leave it to the IRS to change the rules in the middle of the game without allowing you anyway of adapting to them.

Has anyone else experienced this little change in policy or am I the only one being scammed here?

when good ideas are ignored

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This past year, I have been developing a lot of obstacle detection and hands-free accessories for the automotive world. The idea is to make it safer for you (as the courteous, kind driver that you are) by having these handy gadgets in your car. If you're lucky, those wonderful people in the other cars will revoke their title of "supreme idiot" and renounce their worthiness as recipients of the one finger salute by installing the same high-tech goodies in their vehicles. Of course, they get such unflattering titles for a reason -- no incentive to equip their death mobile with the latest protective hardware.

You would think that the automobile insurance industry would encourage obvious commitments to safety (such as yours) by giving you a break on your premiums. But no. At work we've all had the same embarrassing reaction from our respective insurance agents when we bring up this win-win idea. We get a kindly smile, a gentle pat on the top of our ever-so-cute pointy heads, a lollipop that would make any dentist cry happy, dollar sign tears, and a firm "There, there now. Next you'll be ask me to believe that the world is round. Now run along like a good engineer and leave the hard money thinking to me."

So I'm left to my own resources: spending time trying to find cheap auto insurance companies and developing a device that traps overcharging insurance agents in their car. Yes, I will let them out … if they can afford the premiums.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

you are welcome

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Yes, I know that the title of this blog is "Adapt, Adopt, and Improve" and I've tried to post entries relating to this motto from the Knights of the Round Table. (Of course, where are they now? A lot of good that saying did them.) Lately, I've been feeling this wariness from the constant challenges of adapting, adopting, and simply trying to improve life's often ridiculous situations. Mind you, I'm not giving up. Good grief, no. The world come to an end (not really, it just seems that way.) All I'm saying is that a little vacation, or a little time off to just play or even just sleep would be most welcome right now. But I don't see that happening in the next few months. There are noses to be wiped, hands to be held, bills to be paid, and posts to write. So if you get up tomorrow and the sun has risen, I just want to say ... you're welcome. Why? I have no idea.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I think I feel a headache coming on

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Every paycheck I have a few dollars taken out and put into my Medi-flex account. Perhaps you're familiar with this accounting scam. It works by having you become psychic enough in December to know how sick you're going to be the upcoming year and how much it will cost. You then tell your employer this magical money (along with the winning lottery ticket) so he can take money from your paycheck before it's taxed and give it to an accounting firm to graciously hold onto.

Next, during those 12 months, you submit your medical bills to that accounting firm (who only has your best interest at heart) for reimbursement. If, at the end of the year, you had been too healthy to use up all of your medi-flex money, the accountants get to keep it and go on their own spending spree. So shame on you if you didn't keep track of every aspirin, cough drop, and doctor visit. When I say "keep track of", I mean having a receipt with so much documentation, it would make an IRS agent weep.

Now the bad news. It seems that, after playing this medi-flex game for a few years, most people get amazingly proficient at gauging what their upcoming medical expenses will be. Bad taxpayer! Bad taxpayer! But don't worry. In order for the government and medical accounting firms to make more money next year, they did what any spoiled brat would do when they're losing the game … they change the rules. Starting next year, you can no longer use your hard earned dollars in your account to buy any over-the-counter medicine. All of your receipts have to be doctor related and prescription based, which means none of this trying to heal yourself nonsense. Come December, your psychic powers had better be more powerful than that of a Wall Street broker.

Now the good news. These rules don't go into effect until January 1, 2011. So if you still have a lot of money idling in your medi-flex account, I suggest you go buy one of those medicine cabinets that are the size of an outdoor shed. Then, stock it full with every over-the-counter remedy that you can lay your hands on. If you're lucky, you might be able to write off the medicine cabinet as well.

What if you were a wise steward of your medi-flex resource this year and have nothing left in your account? Then I would suggest buying a box of envelopes. Whenever you or your loved ones or close friends (including the family cat and dog) have the sniffles and sneezes, just make sure to cough hard enough to coat the inside of a few envelopes. Seal this little germ treasure chest and mail it to your representative in government and to your medi-flex accounting firm. There is no reason why you shouldn't spread your wealth around.

Will Work for ... Work!

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Apparently, I don't work enough. When I look at my paycheck and look at my bills, there seems to be a minor discrepancy. Minor that is, by Bill Gates' standards but I'm trying to positive here. So I'm doing what any other hard-working American would do, which is to work harder. How else can I compensate for my lack of talent, beauty and brains? By working twice as hard to make up my lack of skills, there is no end to the things I can't accomplish.

In any case, I have been submitting job applications about the town in hopes of some part-time work. After all, the holiday season is almost here and someone has to help these overpriced stores sell their substandard merchandise to bleary-eyed shoppers who are hyped up on coffee and the overwhelming drive to get their snotty nosed kids the latest and greatest fad. Of course, I mean that in a good way. At least, that's how I hope the store manager took my comments during today's interview. Otherwise he must have been lying when he said he was looking for a hard-working and honest worker -- and there's nothing dishonest about what I said. As for hard-working ... well, I'm looking, aren't I!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Another Reason to Avoid DST?

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Attention, all iphone users! Want to know where the closest Starbucks is? There's an app for that. Want to know if you're about to bounce a check? There's an app for that. Want to have your iPhone alarm automatically update to the change in daylight "savings" time (DST) this weekend? There's ... no app for that. You'll have to do it yourself. This bug, sorry, undocumented feature, was supposed to be fixed in iOS 4.2 but no one told the programmers. Besides, they're busy making big, better versions of the iPad, iPod, iMac, and for the nostalgia crowd, Ricky Ricardo's I-Yai-Yai-Yai-Yai! SOOOOOO.....

All is not lost. You could think of this as a bad thing as you miss crucial appointments. Or you can be positive and think of this as an wonderful opportunity to become very wealth. Got fired because you over slept since your alarm is off by hour? Sue! Missed that life changing appointment because of a wayward alarm? Sue! Upset because you're a guy with a girl's name? Sue!

So smile and remember to set that appointment for yourself to fix your iPhone alarm. Just make sure it set for an hour earlier.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Buying verses living in a tent

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There’s nothing like the joys of home ownership in America. You get to spend your almost joyous days collecting the trash and doggie offerings left by your fellow, responsible neighbors. You get to reconsider the value of voting as your friendly neighborhood politician raises your property taxes. (After all, you own a home so you must be well off enough to fund the latest vote-getting project.) And don't forget your ever so helpful bureaucrats at City Hall who justify their jobs by legislating what you can and cannot do with your own property. Add to all of this the recent revelations that banks may not have been as honest in their dealings with you as you hoped they would be.

But we Americans seem to be addicted with buying homes. The latest goings-on in the news almost make you want to reconsider and check into a residential rehab for homeowners who are ready kick the habit. Of course, this means moving into a tent somewhere deep in the woods. But no one said rehabilitation is easy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When is the best time to buy a lottery ticket?

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When you can drive on the wrong side of i-95, cause a few accidents, have your little trip video taped, return home safe and sound, and have the police saying that they can't find you ...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Put A Cork In It

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“You need to diet,” he said to her. “Why?” she asked, “What color is it now?” “No!” he responded gruffly. “Not dye it. Diet!” “Nonsense,” she retorted, “I’m a fit as two women half my age.” “You're the size of two women half your age,” he muttered under his breath.

“Oh, I'll just go buy a couple of bottles of diet pills,” she said slimly. “That's not necessary,” he told her. “Out of all of the best diet pills for women, I have the perfect one. And all you'll need is just one!” “Really?” she asked inquisitively. “What is it?”

As proud as any man could be without giving any forethought to the consequences of his actions, he stood in front of her and arrogantly held out a 4 inch round cork stopper. “Ta-da!” He shouted. She looked at him as if he had lost his mind, which he had. “I can't use that!” she exclaimed. “Not only will I not be able to eat but I won't build to talk as well!” Not knowing when to keep his month shut, he boosted, “I told you it was perfect!”

And that's when the fight began …

tastes like ...

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For lunch today we tried a new restaurant that has alligator on the menu. Actually, there are words "alligator bites" on the menu. To have an actual alligator on the menu would be silly and not conducive for business.

When we first read "alligator bites", we thought perhaps restaurant was just trying to be obvious. But there was no other similar phrases listed, such as "fish swim", "dogs bark", or "cook spits". So being the adventurous guys that we are, we ordered a couple of servings of this reptilian delicacy. I have to admit – the alligator was rather tasty. It tasted like, well, … chicken.

This brings me to the main point of this post. When the first caveman ate chicken for the first time, what did he compare it to?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's sooooo worth it!

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You know the old saying: the reason divorces cost so much is because they are worth it. The one thing that saying doesn't address is that the cost will linger for years and years and years.

It's been five years since my divorce became official. One of the conditions was that I would give half the value of our home to my ex and she would take her name off the property. So I took out a hefty loan to pay her and she, well, I'm still waiting on her to sign the quit claim.

I asked her about it last week. Turns out that she wants part of the money I earned from working two and three jobs to pay for our divorce. Can you say greedy? It's funny to think that at one time I put her on a pedestal. I'm thinking now that I had the order reversed.

I'm sure I could her to fulfill her obligation by paying her off. But it's not like I could take a payday advance to make this happen. After all, those payday advances are just that – an advance that you pay off on your next payday. The way things are going with her, this extortion will last years. And yet, you know what? It's still worth it!

Shhhhh, I'm hiding

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As I sprinted upstairs to my office, I passed by a fellow engineer. He greeted me with, "I hope I'm as spry as you are when I'm your age." Okay, I will give you that I am almost twice his age but still… What kind of comment is that to make? I almost hit him upside his youthful noggin with my gallon sized bottle of Geritol.

Between you and me, that did make my day. I understood what he meant. Most of the guys and gals who are nearing or have surpassed the half-century mark will stand at the bottom of the stairs and call up to us instead of making the Herculean effort to walk up a few steps. And fortunately, most of those people are in upper management. So if we don't want to talk to them, we sit very, very still in our chairs until they go away. I guess being spry has its advantages.

One of These Days ... yeah, right....

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When I was younger, I had these ridiculous notions that, after I turned 50, I would be able to sit back and begin to enjoy the fruits of all of my hard labor. So much for those foolish thoughts. I'm not sure where I made the wrong turn but I find myself working harder than ever now. If I'm not spending long hours frantically running on the treadmill called work, I’m spend time and money tending to this one's needs and that one's needs. If I'm not rushing to write code and reports to meet an impossible deadline, I'm spending hours racking my brain to come up with creative ways to put links like http://www.supplementcritic.com and keywords dealing with weight pills and body lotion into posts to get a few dollars to pay the bills. The important areas in my life, like eating and sleeping, have somehow become secondary. I get to them as I can and sometimes ending up making do with the condition that they come in.

Let's face it. I am becoming what I had hoped I’d never to be – a curmudgeon. Any moment now, I'm going to step on my Internet porch and start shouting, "Hey you kids! Get off my blog!" I think I have a good idea now of why Henry Thoreau moved out into the middle of tiny log cable in the woods by himself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ouch! Hey, no pimples!

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Who needs cable or satellite subscriptions when I have my trusty over-the-air reception. Couple of days ago, I got to watch extreme sports ... for free. Had I had to pay for this privilege, I would have missed highflying antics of the California skateboard competition. If you've ever wondered what happens to those goofy college dropouts, wonder no more. These pimply faced gents get to live their dreams as they ride on a piece of wood balanced on four-tiny wheels and free room and board at their parent’s homes.

I watched as one acrobatic daredevil plunge down the steep incline at neck breaking speeds. His momentum allowed him to race quickly up the other side, off the shiny quarterpipe and into the deep blueness of the California sky. There he paused, seemingly suspended forever in the air. Then slowly, gracefully, he returned back to the slick ramp to repeat a process that would have earned the envy of Sisyphus. Well, he might have repeated this process had his front wheels touched the inclined ramp and not the top of the horizontal platform. Sadly, because the laws of physics must be obeyed, his multicolored skateboard stopped instantly. However, our brave skateboarder didn't as he continued on his travels. He bounced face first down the smooth ramp and ricocheted sideways onto the adjacent though-not-as-smooth concrete walkway. Fortunately for him, the side of his face absorbed momentum of his movement. And while he didn't earn any points, he did earn the best acne treatment any young 20-something can ask for – road rash and skin grafts.

And to think I got to watch this all for free!

working out or just working

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The former regime in charge of our company felt that the health of their employees was important especially if it meant keeping escalating healthcare costs down. So they sectioned off a corner of the plant and installed three showers along with several pieces of exercise equipment. They even went as far as hiring a workout instructor who came in at lunchtime and in the afternoons to provide classes.

Of course, all of that has changed. A couple months after the new company bought our business, they fired the workout instructor when they permanently laid off several workers. Now, there's only one or two people who still try to make a point to work out a couple of times during the week. Otherwise, the showers and the used gym equipment sit in the darkness and wait their turn to be permanently laid off. I should take advantage and get back into working out before I lose this resource as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Habit is overcome by habit

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I'm trying to get into shape. Well, at least one that's not as round. I'm just a 3-D guy trying to fit into a 2-D world. As you can imagine, it has been a struggle. So much so that the other day, I had to go to court over it … food court, that is. It's like regular court but more fun and much tastier.

Anyway, I've heard that habit is overcome by habit. And eating is a habit. So I thought I would overcome eating food by using hoodia diet pills - using not eating. I found if I take and put a pill between each finger including my thumb and do this for both hands, I would spend much the day trying to get the pills between each finger including my thumb on both hands. Finally, when I had successfully achieved this Cirque du Soleil feat, not only could I not pick up any food, I could no longer hold any utensils by which to eat the food. Now if I can make this a daily habit, eating won't be a problem, will it…

They're Alive! They're ALIVE, I tell you!!!

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That brilliant, evil genius of the "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip, Stephan Pastis, has finally done it! He is taking his world-class characters and animated them for the world to see. Click on the image below to watch his zany results.

Warning! This is not for the faint of heart or those without a sense of humor!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Keeper of the Old Stuff

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I have been working for my company for the past 20 years. Even though we go through periodic purges of antiquated equipment, there is still a lot of old stuff hiding away in an unused cubicles. Recently, the company has begun filling those convenient storage areas with newly hired people fresh out of college. "Fresh out of college" is management’s preferred employee --- someone who has some training yet can be paid as close to minimum wage as possible. "We'd love to pay you more but unfortunately you just don't have the experience yet. Don't worry. When you do, we'll find your cheaper replacement."

Last week, a new recruit was cleaning out one of the dungeons of despair, I mean, cubicle to make room for her new office. She picked up one of those "Velo binding" machines and looked at me as though I was the museum manager of ancient artifacts. I ended up explaining that, once upon a time, presentations weren't done with a high definition LCD screen in front of an bored audience. We actually had to print up booklets, assemble them with fancy bindings, and then hand them out so we could all turn the pages together while someone in the front of the room would read to us. It was considered a good meeting if the booklets were in color. It was considered a very good meeting if food was available. It was considered a great meeting if you didn't have to attend. In fact, at the end of the year, you would have a file cabinet full of written memorabilia so you could relive the hours that you wasted in meetings. Ah, good times, good times. Nowadays, you have only memories. And if you're lucky, they will file themselves in those irretrievable places in your mind. Ah, better times, better times...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who's afraid of The Dreaded Pirate, Monsieur Poopy Pants?

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Apparently not the Marines! As our boys bravely rescued yet another vehicle that had been commandeered by Somali pirates, one of the pirates express his feelings by soiling his britches. This could explain why the these of the high sea have lately been wearing brown pants ... brown being the best camouflage for such an occasion.

Teens In The Fast Lane

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Teens can be so cute when they get to age of driving an automobile. Their entire attitude undergoes a miraculous transformation when they believe they can be licensed to control several tons of metal, plastic and glass at high rates of speed. This is in stark contrast to the lack of control they seem to have over the tons of metal, plastic and glass that accumulate in their bedrooms. Apparently, the only difference is the presence of gasoline. And from the horrific sight of some teens’ bedrooms, I would be more than happy to chip in for a gallon or two of gas to get that fire started.

Regardless, there is something magical when you see a teenager's eyes fixate on those car keys. I say magical because when you dangle those car keys over their heads, they suddenly possess the speed and ambition not normally seen around times when dishes need to be washed or when homework needs to be done. Yes, those keys possess a magic that you won't find in any pixie dust or witch’s wand.

What about when that fateful day of the driving test arrives?  You can tell which teenagers have learned to stand on their own two feet – they're the ones who failed the test. But even if they passed the exam and the state foolishly grants them a license, you as a parent, as a responsible adult, as a gatekeeper of all that is precious and holy, still have the power to keep your hormonal raging child from becoming a road raging, driving fool. All it takes, my friend, is two words, two very simple yet extremely powerful words. When they come to you, whining in voices that make nails on a chalkboard a very welcomed sound and ask why can't they drive the car, all you have to say is "car insurance."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My Review of Roku XD Player

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Originally submitted at Roku

The new XD steps it up with 1080p HD video quality and extended-range wireless.


Bad Picture Quality

By Ron from North Carolina on 10/7/2010

 

1out of 5

Pros: Easy to set up, Easy to use

Cons: Poor picture quality, Inconsistent performance

Describe Yourself: Netflix fan, Power User, Early adopter, Technophile

At first, I thought I had a bad unit. The Roku-XD produced a strobing effect in the video. It reminded me of the old Macrovision copy protection feature used in playing VHS tapes. There were horizontal bands of brightest and darkest and seem to happen only during when there is sound. I used the composite video output to an old standard TV (no HDMI involved). If I adjust the brightness and contrast down enough, the strobing in the video is almost gone. Of course, the picture quality is very dark.

I must say that Roku's customer support is excellent! Within a week, I had a replacement unit. But, sadly, it has the same problem of strobing video.

I still have the unit I bought last year and it works very well. In fact, it has more video out options that Roku's newer models. I think Roku may have gone to a very cheap digital-to-analog conversion chip set.

(legalese)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

"Blogger In Draft"

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If you've set up your blog through Google's blogger.com, you get to play with advanced beta features from time to time. Today, I went to Blogger in Draft because I learned that it now has built-in traffic stats to check your blog. There is also a few extra features that you can play with (such as the redesigned 'preview' function). Handy so I'm passing this along to you ...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

duck! it's 3D TV

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First there was the Internet and my geekness soared with the ease of researching any trivial matter and expanding my programming skills in the new world of HTML. Then TV shows began their slow start to become accessible to the masses through the Internet. But in the early days, you can only catch certain episodes at certain times when certain sites allowed you to be the certain viewers they were looking for. The only way you could save your shows for more convenient viewing was to invest in all sorts of elaborate servers and terabytes of storage complete with 1U lcd monitors. Basically you needed a set up that rivaled NASA's space center. But all of that is in the past. Now, you can satisfy your video addiction by watching anything at any time and saving it to pieces of plastic not bigger than your fingernail. If only the shows were worthy of your fingernail.

Anyway, the latest technological challenge for geeks everywhere is 3-D TV. While at a electronic trade show recently, I got a chance to preview what is coming out for this Christmas shopping season. In one large booth, just past the scantily clad models (who, sadly, were not female), stood a large wall covered in the latest 3-D HD television screens. These pricey toys showed off majestic scenery that flickered fast enough to tease the eye into wanting more. A salesman strolled up to me and asked my opinion. As I watched vibrant images of colorful fields with swaying wheat, barley and corn, I said it was a little grainy for high definition. They threw me out of the tradeshow…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why Are Americans Fed Up With Their Government?

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Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that you come to America in 2000 and stay illegally. In 2004, an immigration judge orders you to return to your country. What do you do? What a silly question! You stay! Why not, you live in public housing and you are getting welfare.

Sadly, there is nothing hypothetical about the situation. Here is a woman who has done just that. And, in 2010, she is still here ... living off of your money. For your viewing pleasure, allow me to present to you President Obama's aunt:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where are you, Billy Mays?

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I miss Billy Mays. You know, that overly enthusiastic, always smiling, TV pitchman who died last year at the ripe age of 49. He was the spokesman you could always find during the wee hours of the morning or on Sundays when nothing good was playing. He could take tongue-tangling phrases such as "rainbow light complete prenatal system" and make it reverberate throughout your brain. You can almost hear his baritone voice excitingly say "Let me do a rainbow light complete prenatal system review just for you! Act now and I double it! rainbow light complete prenatal system review, rainbow light complete prenatal system review!" That's what I need right now. Someone who can take mundane phrases and put a little life in it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Company's Exercise Plan for Us

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Fall is in the air as I awake to cooler nights and labor in days unfettered by summer's furnace. Just in time too. At work, they finally got the air conditioning working! And, to make up for those sweltering days that we endured, they have it on full blast to match the 50 degree temperatures outside. Woo Hoo! Now I can sit in my office and watch my fingers freeze into a gnarled lumps on my keyboard. I would complain but shivering is one of those fat burners that actually work. Not only does it keep your muscles in constant motion but you often miss your mouth while eating because your hands are shaking so much. It's a w-w-w-w-w-w-win-n-n-n-n-n-n-n, w-w-w-w-w-w-win-n-n-n-n-n-n-n!

Those anti-social ants

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I watched a Discovery episode about how social ants are. Really? When was the last time an ant befriended you on Facebook? What was the @ant twitter that you received? The only social skills I've experienced is having these annoy specks of life raid my home for food and water and then stay a while on my couch. (Kind of like my brother-in-law but without the gas attacks and constant requests for money.) Maybe if ants were more social and pleasant, I wouldn't try to kill them so often. They could start by using their tiny mandibles and immense numbers to keep my lawn cut and hedges trimmed.  Then they could politely knock on my door and perhaps share the good news as Jehovah Witness Ants.  For now, I will extend a friendly finger and thumb ... and squash them.

Shake, shake, shake to a new you

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Lately, I have been blessed by the most idiotic exercises scams on television. The latest is an ad for a set of weights that shake while you do bodily exertions. And for only $19.95 ... plus shipping, handling, taxes, insurance, costs for packing, wrapping, and the actual product if you act now.

I have a better, more humanitarian option for you get in shape. It's from my upcoming "best fat burning exercises with no money down" program (only $19.94 plus shipping, handling and words if you act now). It's very easy in fact. Just find an elder person who lives on the third floor or higher and has Parkinson's disease. Do your good deed each day by carrying them up and down the stairs of their home. Not only will you be a good Samaritan by assisting in their movement, you will also be helping yourself get in top shape and save more than $19.95 in the process (especially if you act now to buy my program). Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

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As you go through your daily challenges, remember to stay positive. No matter what happens, stay positive! Regardless of the situation, find the good in it. If you find yourself traveling across country in the middle of summer, in a car without air conditioning and with a nagging mother-in-law next you, smile! There are lots of motherless drivers who would give their farmer-tanned arm to have, at the very least, an irritating mother-in-law riding beside them. So sit up straight and enjoy the ride. Be positive! If her misguided but well-intentioned chatter cause you to swerve and wreck, have fun with it. You both survived and that brand new Mercedes can be replaced. As you file the seemingly endless forms of car insurance claims, be sure to write on them "shortly after the old bag went off, the airbag followed suit." See! You can do it! Remember that even a self deprecating Emo is an optimist when they see the cup as half full ... with their own tears. So don't worry! Be happy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

the end of times or the beginning of better dialog?

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Think back to that incredible time when you experienced that most exciting, erotic form of insanity known as Love. Do you remember the very first time when you or your wonderful object of affection took that important leap of faith and said those three words that would change your lives for better or for worse: "I love you."

Then, as time worked its eroding magical ways into your blooming relationship, there came another defining moment. One where expectations in behavior began to go unfulfilled and assumptions about what each other's love meant began to become challenged. This continued until that routine phone call ended without those three little words being tagged on to "goodbye." Again, relationship changed for the worse and then for the better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

over the teeth and through the gums

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My friend told me that he was a total abstainer. Really? Completely and totally? Wouldn't that mean that he abstained even from abstention? When I asked him that, he looked at me like I was the one who made the crazy comment.

No, he said he meant that he abstains from just the good stuff ("good stuff" - my translation). It seems he prefers to live in the real world – you know that illusion created by the lack of alcohol. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with sobriety as long as it's done like everything else … in moderation. But not with my friend. He prefers to be drier than desert air after it has gone through a series of humidifier filters. As for me, perhaps I'm drinking myself to slow death. But that's okay because I'm in no rush to get there anyway.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Can you hear me now?

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I subscribe to several newsletters that cover electronic, computer and Internet trends and developments. Lately they've been filled with a barrage of blurbs for mobile apps and other cell phone enhancements. Unfortunately for me, this is one electronic gadgetry bandwagon that I haven't jumped on. But I don't feel too deprived … from dropped calls and poor sound quality. All of my friends and family involve me in their happy cell phone world every time they call me from their overpriced, overrated, overfee-based and overtaxed marvel of consumerism.

If you're studying marketing or economics in school and your teacher asks you if it's possible for people to trade their long, hard hours of work for extremely poor return on their money. You've got an easy "A" if you use the cell phone market for your example. Extra points if you're going to answer "politics".

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Halloween as a retirement fund raiser

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Halloween is coming up and my grandson is at that unfortunate age where his mom plans to dress him up in one embarrassing outfit or another. The embarrassing part will take place years from now, when pictures of his halloween costumes might be shown to his potential girlfriends while saying sugary sweet comments like, "He was as cute as a young Justin Bieber that Halloween." (Of course, by that time that comment gets uttered, Justin Bieber may be the crazed Mel Gibson of his day.)

The good news is that my grandson won't have any memories of being dressed up in clothing that he would never wear, or of being paraded from house to house in search of candy that he will never eat. So now is the time to get the pictures and videos of blackmail quality. I've got to fund my retirements years some how...

RIP Robert Schimmel

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He was one of those gifted comedians who could take tearful tragedy and make it into a hilarious event. His material came from the misfortunes, tragedies and struggles that painfully erupted from within his brief life span. He had gone through the financial and emotional torture of divorce and endured incapacitating effects of a heart attack. When the doctors discovered stage III lymphoma cancer, they gave him six months to live. Nine years after that fatal diagnosis, he still have audiences rolling in the aisles – and not because he was performing at epilepsy conventions.

His comedy wasn't for the faint hearted or those easily offended by rough language. But his brilliant routines weren't vulgar for the sake of vulgarity as seems to be the trend of late. There is a reason why he was named as one of Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Comics. No bribes were involved, just talent. He just had a way of putting unpleasant situations into side-splitting perspective  --- something *I* need to being doing more of.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Schimmel. You will be missed ...

A Once and Great Contributor

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With all the recent stories of atrocities committed in the name of Mohammed, it's difficult to believe that there was once a time known as the golden age of Islam. During the peak of this time in the eighth and ninth centuries, Muslim rational thought worked in concert with its religious dogma. As a result, our civilized world benefited greatly from such life enhancing innovations as algebra, glass mosaic tile, and the astrolabe. Sadly, toward the end of the ninth century, an anti-rational faction began to dominate the faith, forcing Islam into its own version of the dark ages that it has never arisen from. It is unfortunate that a once great contributor to the advancement of humankind has become plagued with those who prefer contributing needless suffering and acting as formidable obstacles to human survival.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Remember?

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In a couple weeks, my grandson will have reached his 53rd week of life. A pretty good accomplishment when you consider the crying, the sleepless nights, and the unfathomable tantrums. If only I were that cute. Actually, I had no doubts that he would reach his first year in fine fashion. In the days that have passed so rapidly, he and I have shared several very unique and fun filled moments.

I understand that I had similar fun times as a baby with my grandfather in England. Sadly, I don't remember any of them. My earliest memory is sitting and playing in a mud colored running stream of water that resulted from a flash flood in Texas. And I'm pretty sure I wasn't in Texas as part of a witness relocation program.

Anyway, how many people have we delighted and had wonderful experiences with but can't remember a single moment because of our immature brains? I can't help but wonder if we might have become better people had we had those enduring memories to get us through those tough days of youth. Or, at the very least, I wish that my grandson would remember our special times … especially in the coming days when I can't.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hide Away

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Aside from the shininess, you wouldn’t give the metal drum another thought. (Unless you were temporarily blinded by a flash of light and tripped over it. In which case, please sign this release form before reading further.) Poised under the shady back corner of the weathered roof, this metallic cylinder is filled with clear water that you assume rode off the top of my home during one of the many torrential summer down pours. Yet, if you know which of the three steel bars that surround the drum to move, you can pivot this deceptive rain barrel on the fourth bar and reveal an opening to a tunnel lined with stainless steel drums. A short drop down finds you navigating through an exciting but dimly lit human-hamster trail. (Yes, a brief exclamation of "Weeeeee!" is expected.) Then, at last, you discover my secret den, my man cave, my fortress of solitude, my reclusive refuge from the daily demands of family and work. (You've come this far so I can trust you not to tell. Please?)

The air is fresh and bug free by vents I specially designed to pierce the ground that hides under the canopy of my home’s crawl space. Depending upon the time of year, you would find yourself luxuriously cooled or warmed by the unchanging temperature of the surrounding earth. The allure of a deliciously stocked refrigerator and soft lights powered by tapped electricity seductively beckon you to stay.

But you can’t. This is my domain. Stealthy and slavishly built. This is my attempt to recharge --- so I can fight good fights of righting wrongs, of providing to those in need, of teaching by example and … of staying alive long enough to make a difference. Your overwhelm desire to remain doesn’t matter. For the brief time I am In this sanctuary, I can selfishly ignore what you and everyone else wants. How did you get here anyway? OH, wait. I guess every super hero needs a trusty sidekick.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Testing a new blogging Tool

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I’ve read quite a bit lately on Microsoft Live Essentials.  Included in their package is a new version of Live Writer.   So here is a test of Live Writer to place a post on this blog without having to sign in first.

Spell checking works.  Word counting works and will be very helpful for assignments.

Here is an insertion test of a map.  Unfortunately, Live Writer uses Bing for its maps.  So when I ask for the location of “Jack Britt High School” (#4 in the state of public high schools and in the top 100 in the entire United States), Bing wasn’t even close.  Fortunately, I could manual direct the map to the proper location.  Insertion works fine.

Map picture

Previewing an unpublished post works.  However, you don’t see the first post on your blog, only the second and subsequent entries.  Minor annoyance…

Thursday, August 12, 2010

a ring?

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My friends at work have been asking when I'm going to buy a wedding ring for my fiancee. A wedding ring? So far, it's been a few dollars to add her to my Sam's membership here, AAA membership there, moving truck cost, apartment fees and other expenses -- all motivated by my love for her. At this point, a wedding ring is just a formality after I've regained a financial hold, isn't it ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Romantic Lighting

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The newest green, making-money-through-guilt technology is the LED light bulb which uses about a tenth of the electricity of regular incandescent bulb. Unfortunately, there is the tiny detail of having to pay almost a gazillion times the cost of our current anti-save-the-planet lighting globes. There is also the matter of not having the same bright, diffused light pattern. This isn't a problem if you are going for that romantic, over-priced mood that drives women wild, especially as kitchen lighting. Of course, I've found that you can get the same effect of dim lighting without a large after-dinner price tag. My frightened dates often refer to it as an uncontrolled fire. I call it a meal (and kitchen) well cooked. Somehow, the romance ends charred as well ...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Were Oreos really that important?

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Yes, I know Oreos are a tasty, life-giving treat from the gods. And I completely understand why I would be asked to pick up a package or two (or hundred) from the store. Still, I had spent the week and a better part of the day running around to save the world. Retrieving Oreos were the last thing on my mind when I stopped to get other much more urgently needed supplies.

But, like you've heard, it only takes one mistake to whip out a million good deeds. The undelivered Oreos infuriated its intended devouree. So much so that they informed the world of their displeasure with furious "WTF" Facebook post.

Here's where you have to decide what the mature response should be. Do you flame back on the post? Do you start pointing out all the good that you've been doing to enhance their life? Do you remind them that they aren't 5 years old? Or, do you ignore this public tantrum and go on with your life?

Sometimes, it's better to ignore what people put on Facebook and hope that they realize how silly it reads to other people. That was my strategy. And the Oreos? They were delicious!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good News, you can now brick your iPhone

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I did not know the extent of the powers of The Library of Congress until yesterday. Apparently, this government agency oversees the Copyright Office and can review and authorizes exemptions every three years to make sure laws haven't prevented certain non-infringing uses of copyright-protected works -- like modifying your iPhone operating system.

In rulings yesterday, you can now "jailbreak" your iPhone without worrying about the Apple police taking you to court. In doing so, you can then run whatever app you would like to run, such as Google Voice --- that wonderfully helpful application that Apple has tried to kill again and again.

Of course, even though you can now legally modify your phone, Apple is not obligated to honor its iphone warranty if you mess up your expensive piece of electronics.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Smoke and Mirrors

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My friend was a very heavy smoker. In fact, he was up to 2 cigarette lighters a day. However, last month, he become extremely horrified after reading about the long-term effects of smoking cigarettes. So he did three things: started smoking cao cigars, vowed to only smoke one cigar at a time, and he gave up reading. I told him not to worry. After all, we all know that smoking is the leading cause of statistics...

Almost Positive Post

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In general, these posts are supposed to avoid negative subjects. Yet, when I am given phrases such as "acne treatment", we are kind of beginning from a less-than-positive position. Unless, of course, your treatment is to get as bad a case of acne as possible. Why? Think of the benefits for having acne.

1) Never having to go to a weight watchers meeting. "Pizza face" suggests pizza which suggests big, floppy slices of cheese and sauce and chewy goodness. I'm pretty sure any reminders of food are strictly forbidden at weight watchers meetings.

2) Never having to be inconvenience by a "could you watch my sweet, innocent child for a few moments while I run to the store?". No one wants their "sweet, innocent child" traumatized ... or do they?

3) See #2. Getting to be the reason for good behavior on the part of children. "You better behave or I'll have Pizza Face baby-sit you!"

4) Paid modeling gigs as the 'before' photo for shady products.

5) Paid modeling gigs as the 'after' photo that dramatizes the results of competitors' products.

6) Guaranteed seat to yourself on the public transportation!

7) Well, do I have to all of your thinking for you? Send me your list of benefits for having acne.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Go, Lebron, Go!

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I don't have time to follow sports like I used to. But the only way I could have avoided the current cries of foul as Lebron James leaves for the sunshine soaked state of Florida is to live under a rock. I know. I tried. Even there, I found Jesse Jackson oozing up and making claims that Mr. James was just a runaway slave in the eyes of the Cavaliers owner. Interesting comment considering that Lebron is leaving Ohio for the same reasons that the Williams sisters of tennis and Tiger Wood of golf fame left California -- Florida has no state income tax. While The Cavaliers offered Mr. James $10,000 more each game, the state of Ohio was going to take $12,500 of that increase.

If you don't have ownership of the fruits of your labors, you are a slave. It would seem old Jesse should be rallying against the tax system which makes slaves of us as the governments go above and beyond funding necessary services. As for Ohio and California, apparently they don't know the difference between quick weight loss diet for bloated budgets and inviting starvation by running their money makers out of town.

Friday, July 09, 2010

What? We're not done?

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The dark circles under the eyes of my finance and myself are not from late nights of partying and frittering the hours away. We've spent the past month of planning and packing and paying and moving. This has been a great learning experience. For example, I now know why Love is blind. After this passed herculean effort to combine her household and children and animals with mine, you don't want to look at everything else that still needs to be done.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What's the 4th without a military band?

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Usually the military band of Fort Bragg plays the 1812 Overture during Fort Bragg's very dramatic fireworks display. Unfortunately, two days before this much-anticipated annual event, the warehouse that houses the band's instruments and uniforms caught fire. Everything was destroyed. One of the higher ranking officials commented how this was going to be a "royal pain in the butt" to replace the band's gear in time for the July 4th celebration. My suggested treatment for hemorrhoid inducing event? Kazoos and trash can lids! After all, the spirit of inventiveness during crisis is what makes us Americans! Happy 4th!

adding Facebook share link to your post

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I searched several posts and found this one to be the easist set of instructions and links for installing a 'Share' button into your blogger hosted blog. Let me know your results and, please, share my posts that you enjoy with your Facebook fans. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

too soon?

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Name three birds that had to die to make your life better:

Chicken, Turkey, Senator Robert Byrd ...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And so it begins

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After dating for almost 8 years, I've asked my girlfriend to join households. Sounds like we're marrying two houses. I don't know if the ring around my bathtub counts as an engagement ring but we going to spend the next couple of weeks getting everything together.

First her house. This weekend, I'm going to grab a pair of old work gloves and start throwing her stuff, I mean, gently distributing her fine belongings into a rental truck for a slow ride to the storage business. Next, she'll come to my house and begin happily tossing my treasures into the garbage bin. That's ok. My ex took the good stuff several years ago. By now, I've learned it's all replaceable ... just like me.

new blog design

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Blogger (actually Google) has brought out new template for blogger.com sites. I've changed mine accordingly. If you're a repeat visitor then you've noticed the change. What do you think? I need to find some time to play with the CSS display of this blog into something eye-catching. Unfortunately, Blogger.com doesn't have hooks that pop out and catch your eye ...

Moving means ..

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... getting rid of junk that you've spent years accumulating. Of course, to you none of it is junk. Every tarnished spoon and broken ceramic piece has an important memory attached to it. They are tokens of faded thoughts that recall the fun while forgetting the pain of those moments. They are trinkets that make you believe times weren't as unbearable as they seemed then.

But that was then. Today, you want to move on to bigger and, hopefully, better times. Today, you take those memories and put them on wabbly tables with paper tags for the world to see. Today, you deface several telephone poles in your neighborhood with a poster printing those car-screeching words "Yard Sale! Everything must go!" Today, you resist that overpowering urge to do a background check on every bargain seeker that stops in your yard. You have to trust that your memories will either end up in good homes or bring terrible nightmares to the new owners. Today, you move on ...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

ah, vacation. what?! no vacation?

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I can't wait for tomorrow when I start my vacation. Time to catch up on household affairs, spend time with my son to learn his plans for his senior year and beyond, start some delayed personal projects. Wait, what?! Last Monday was the start of my vacation?!!! It can't be! I haven't made a dent in anything! Where did the time go? This isn't fair ... Am I to be doomed to a life of slavish devotion to everyone's elses projects? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Complicated Sells

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Sometimes we make things more complicated and expensive than they need to be. I don't know why. Maybe we just don't trust anything that seems to easy to do. This would explain why the "some installation required" instructions do an excellent job of frustrating us.

I mention this because I had to go to a site called dietsthatwork.net. The site covers all the famous diets except the granddaddy of them all, that simple "eat less, exercise more" one. Now I know why I'm not rich. I'm not selling complicated solutions.

Banking Crisis Cause..

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One of the best insurance quotes ever is when Jack Benny said, "I don't want to tell you how much insurance I carry with the Prudential, but all I can say is: when I go, they go too." Of course, when Mr. Benny died, Prudential didn't go out of business. Guess he didn't have that much life insurance. But maybe Jack's quote gives a clue about the real cause of banking crisis. I'm betting that Bill Gates made a 'small' withdrawal.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

forward, always forward

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Here I am, three years and over 600 assignments later. A few days ago I received notification to be excited about a boat load of new assignments that were soon to be released. I would be excited yet the work has become a barge of off-the-wall product names (although some like "adipex p" sounds more like a drug test at a weight lifting competition), lotions for various body parts, and so many dieting terms that my blogs should be classifed anorexic. For now, the work is helping me as I struggle to care for myself and 3 other families. I don't mean to complain. But I'm looking forward to when things will be much better.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

sometimes you've got to get up pretty oily in the morning

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Accidents happen. Someone has to pay the medical bills. Thanks to Workers Compensation laws, your boss gets to cover your injuries regardless of whose stupidity or greed cause those accidents in the first place. For a time this was great news as long as you weren't working on a ship at sea. Then, in the 1970's came the Jones act to cover maritime workers. Fortunate for the BP employees on "Deepwater Horizon", they'll be covered by the Louisiana Jones Act. Still, why were they digging a mile under water at all? Turns out, most of the 'safe' oil is outlawed from drilling. And the sweet, sweet crude that isn't protected is running out. What's an oil company to do but go with unproven technology and explore the riskier, deeper planetary resources.

The good news is that BP is an evil oil company which will be forced to pay for its mistakes. Had it been an evil bank, we taxpayers would be paying ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

certs in ... no retsyn

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You have to take Certs to keep your breath fresh. You have to have certs (certification) to get ahead in the job market. If you have both, you are that much better than me.

I got the results of my certs test a few days ago. I did well in 2 out of 3 areas. That same day, I had 2 out of 3 tell me my breath was fine. But it only takes one part to keep you from getting that good job ... or that great kiss.

I'm studying again. Next time, I'll even take some Certs with me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Close the door! A bit of privacy please?!

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The uproar lately has been concerning Facebook's privacy or lack-thereof. Mashable.com has just published a list of 5 tips that everyone should set in their Facebook accounts. Here's that vital list.

gift for me?

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What can you get me for a Father's Day and/or as a wedding present? I'm about to combine my family with my fiancée's which means we are putting together a combined fifty years of accumulated ... stuff. There is a DuraMax DuraMate 8x8 Vinyl Storage Shed Kit 00314 which would be a good start for me. Not to store possessions in. I just think I'm going to need a man-cave for me to hide in ...

video games

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My fellow engineer looks a bit like Ralphie from "The Christmas Story" but is unlikely to shoot his eye out with a BB gun (with one of his new robotic design is another story). He is extremely hard-working, not one for fun and games during working hours. So he completely surprised me when he bounded in with his new toy, a Sony VAIO and proceeded to show this great gaming site, steampowered.com which has popular games for the PC and Mac, several around $10.

Though part of my professional career was spent repairing the early video games, I just haven't had time or the money to play this decade's gaming systems. But now, I don't have an excuse not to buy at least buy some of the good games that I've been wanting to play. Now if I could find a site that gives me free time ...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Little Niece

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My niece is expecting her second litter of children - twins - in July. While she has been very anxious about these new additions to her family, she lives just a few minutes from Nashville where the hospitals and doctors are all top-notch. (They even have guitar-playing singers during delivery belting out tunes such as "Hockey Tonk Diapers", "My Baby's Leaving Me (so cut the cord already)", and "The C-Section Saga") Still, the developing babies were taking a toll on her even though she has been faithful following doctor's orders of getting lots of rest, eating well, and taking prenatal vitamins.

Then the floods hit Nashville a few days ago. (No, her water did not break!) Her body, not accustomed to the increase blood system in system, went into labor just as waters buried the roads to the hospital. She was in such a state that the emergency crews had to airlift her to the Nashville Medical Center. (What some people will do for a free helicopter ride!) The medical team pumped her full of drugs to try and stop the contractions. They also injected her with enough steroids to make several athletes jealous. But in my niece's case, the steroids are to speed up the development of the babies' lungs. Fortunately, she not competing in the Olympics any time soon. But I am buying a set of weights for the twins after they're born.

On Friday, the hospital sent my niece home and confined her to her bed. Monday, we'll learn about the blood test that determine if the doctors will take the babies prematurely. We're all hoping for the best. A few more weeks of womb service would do the babies good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Line between Lazy and Barely Motivated

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A friend said that he would go on "The Biggest Loser" if they didn't make you work out so much. What? I'm not saying he's lazy. But his concern for his weight only extends to searching for diets that work while he doesn't. He's the kind of guy who puts popcorn in his pancakes. Not only does this save him the work of flipping his pancakes but this gives he a reason to add extra butter for the popcorn.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Obama's promise of a threat

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I just watched Mr. Obama give his speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He promised the Jonas Brothers that, if they tried to take out his daughters, he would have them taken out by a Predator drone. I rarely agree with anything Mr. Obama says but here is the first time that he has an issue that I completely support. In fact, why wait, Mr. Obama, for your daughters to even remotely approached by the Jonas Brothers?! I say, strike first and spare us all!

Huh?

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Sometimes I have to wonder about sites that I'm sent to. Take this one linked to abs workout. I deal with various foreign sites at my day job and Google Translator does a great job of giving the English version of different languages. But "abs" site not only has untranslatable paragraph starting with "Quisque eget turpis erat." but it has this paragraph three times. Click on the "abs workout" or "about us" page and you get repeats of the home page. What is the point of type of web site?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

E-everything

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Now-a-days, when someone finds an 'e' or 'i' in front of a common placed noun, they automatically think of the Internet or computers or something related to electronics. When my daughter returned from the local tobacco shop, she said they were selling e-cigarettes. She had no idea what they were and thought I might know since I'm electronic/computer engineer and must know everything (because I'm her dad). e-cigarettes? Is that something you smoke online? Or a cigarette you send by electronic mail? No, it seems that cigarettes have been invaded by the electronic world to give you a simulated smoke sensation. That's great! I can't wait until dieters can feast on e-food for that simulated eating sensation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

When Now?

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I've know Mela for 10 years now. Her husband was great friends with all of us at work during that time. Last year, divorce proceeding entered the picture and we find ourselves missing him. Then, last month, Mela announced that she had been some new guy since Christmas and they were going to get married. While we are happy for her, it seemed a bit quick. Besides, we haven't finished mourning their break-up and the loss of her now ex-hubby.

Today, she went around work showing off a new, beautiful, expensive engagement ring. Mela then raved about big plans to honeymoon in the Bahamas. Yeah, nice. Anger was the only emotion I felt when I saw the shiny piece of metalized gems and heard about her plans. She's been seeing this guy for less than 6 months and I've been dating my girlfriend for almost 8 years now. My girlfriend and I are planning on getting married this year. But still, between taking care of 3 households, not only can't I afford a wedding ring, I can't even consider paying for a honeymoon trip. I'm have to cater to everyone's financial needs at the expense of my wants to please a gorgeous, wonderful woman. What am I going to do?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Don't ask if you don't want to know

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It has been a few years since I've walked into the plant's production area and found the workers excited, really excited about their task at hand. Yet, there they were, mouths curved into wicked grins, eyes glowing as pent-up anger began to vent, hands furiously scribbled pen to paper.

Writing isn't one of their normal production activities but today was different. Today, our human resource lady had handed out "employee satisfaction survey" forms. The explosion of frustration with management was about to make the recent eruption of Icelandic volcano look like a tiny firecracker. You could tell just by the way these normally sedate women attacked the few lines for comments at the end of the 3 page survey. Not only did the workers pass along a couple of timely suggestions, some took the opportunity to completely fill the back blank side of the page.

I eagerly filled out my form shortly after receiving it. But I couldn't add any comments. Though the paperwork didn't want your name, it did want you to identify which area you worked in, your general job label, and whether you were hourly or salary. With 80 of us still employed, it wouldn't take the genius of Sherlock Holmes to figure which comments were mine. I don't think management would fire me immediately. Chances are they would just hold a grudge, one of those long, lingering, festering grudges that get acted on when the time is right.

The question is will the top dogs share the results when they finish compiling the surveys? How will they react to the unleashed resentment of their 'highly valued' employees? Will most of us still have our jobs in the coming months? The adventures continue ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the remarrying sage continues

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One advantage of marrying someone who has been around a few decades is that you get to combine all of your stuff. This combining process seems to involve a lot of steps. For my part, I will be getting a step-son, 3 step-daughters, and, from my bride-to-be's garage, a step-ladder (which is a good thing because I don't get along with my real ladder).

I'm also getting things I've never had before such as outdoor furniture. Originally, after spending much of my youth in New Hampshire, I thought an outdoor chair was just a dead log that you sat on in the middle of the woods. Using outdoor cushions meant wearing a couple layers of long johns, a pair or two of wool pants and a down coat stuff with a few million duck feathers. Apparently, I've missed out on the finer things of life. But that is what happens when you both go into marriage for a second time -- it is the triumph of hope over experience. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Snooze, You Lose

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Sorry, Heidi Klum, but it's over. Jessica Simpson, you took too long. You had your chance too, Jessica Alba, but there's nothing you can do now. To all the super models and hot actresses, I have to tell you that I waited as long as I could as a single man. But now, I've committed myself to an even hotter star, a most magnificent super model beyond all imagining. That's right. I am to be wedded to the most wonderful, supportive woman possible. In the world of wedding cake toppers, I would be the groom swooned on one knee and she would be the heavenly angel cupping my enraptured face in her graceful hand.

So you other girls can dry your tears. You had your opportunity but another far more gorgeous creature has captured my heart and soul. Of course, if you are happy about my upcoming nuptials, you can send your well-wishes wrapped in tinsel and bows. I also accept VISA and Mastercard.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Good Old Days?

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http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/PhotoPopup.aspx?id=529520

Michael Ramirez has to be one of the most insightful cartoonist around!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Presdential Order: Walk, Don't Run

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Thomas Jefferson once said that walking is the best possible exercise. Of course, he said this during an age before the invention of the treadmill. They had the don't-tread-on-me-mill which was very successful in the States and not so much so in England.

In any case, you could only expect the founder of our country to recommend one of the only three methods of human-powered locomotion available --- the other two being running and rolling. Rolling is reserved for small children and drunks. And running, well, even President Jefferson knew that we are born with a finite number of heartbeats. So why waste those precious beats on moving quicker than you have to. At least, that's my excuse. And if that's good enough for the writer of the constitution ...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You ask for it and you got it ... right?!!

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Not talking about smurfs here

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Is it me or does it seem as though all of James Cameron's block busters end with people turning blue?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

writing help

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Some people need help putting stories together. Yes, I know how overwhelming grammatical rules can be at times. For example, when do you use a semi-colon and when is too many too many? How do you know if the body of your work is free from wordy excesses? I wish I could recommend an easy-to-use colon and body cleanser for your literary endeavors but your best bet is to read "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. You probably don't believe it; but I use to; and no longer; wrote like this; here. But that was before I learned to read but after I learned to write. Now, I am the bestest writer ever!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

strange assignments

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One of the more confusing assignments has been one on www.tazoracreviews.com. All you will find there is a single post on Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment. What's the point? It is as if someone took the effort to create a one post blog as an experiment. Is it just to measure traffic to the link? Is it to see how much spam comments it can generate? I don't know but I wish the owners luck with this one.

Health Rant #3

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I bet I know what the best diet supplements are going to be! Tall, tantalizing ceese cakes! Large chocolate filled donuts covered in an inch of sweet, sweet glaze! Juicy, fat dripping hamburgers! Maybe a carrot stick or two but only in extreme emergencies. After all, insurance can't refuse to pay on conditions caused by your pre-existing obesity. In fact, those evil companies can't limit how much they can pay out to treat your less-than-optimal health. At least, it all tastes good!

Do you have health friends that don't need insurance? Great! They are the ones who get to subsidize your sickly life style. Don't worry. It's not your fault. And as long as you keep voting for politicians who support you, everything will be ok! In fact, I understand there is legislation under way to pay for all of your funeral expenses! Yes, as of today, it is good to be an Amerikan!

(Health Rant #2 is here)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care rant #1

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Lucky for the House of Representatives, they passed sweeping health care legislation. How else are they going to pay to remove the tons of egg on their collective faces? I'd wish a pox on the faces of our Amerikan representatives but they can already afford the best treatment for acne available ... not that they couldn't before. But maybe I'm being a bit hasty.

Almost three years ago, Massachusetts began their little version of Obama's federal plan. Today, their great social experiment is running into serious financial problems. There's a reason why Boston's Mr. Kennedy was replaced by someone outside of his circle of influence. There's a reason why Obama will be making trips to "sell his new law to a reluctant public" as several news organizations have put it.

Yes, the health care process needs overhauling. But you would think Congress would start by fixing problems that they caused first, not by adding to the mess.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Online storage

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I was using Moby and Desktop to back up my data from one computer and access it from another. They both work well and are that great price of free. Desktop has a preset directory that you drop files in for backup and Moby allows you to pick which directories you want backed up. But you're limited to 1 Gigabyte which was substantial at one time. Not any more with video and music files. So I've started using Glide which has 30 Gigabytes of storage with privacy settings and the ability to share files along with a bunch of other online tools. Again for the great price of free!

Monday, March 15, 2010

is it OW-ch or OH-ch?

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That fuzzy, great tasting creature chewing the grass in the field is a cow, pronounced c-OW. When dog barks, we claim its sound is bow wow, pronounced b-OW w-OW. Yet, if you take a piece of cloth and put it around your neck, it becomes a bow tie, pronounced b-OH. What changed? What made the OW become OH? If we string bunch of dogs together, do we get bow ties or bow ties?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coerced Charity

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You know that chuck of hard earned money taken every time from your paycheck for Social Security? You would think that all of that money would be going into your own account, earning interest and payable to you in your golden years. But no. Some of your extorted money goes as coerced charity to other people in their golden years. The rest goes into a pot that other government agencies get to pull from. Or at least, they did until this year. That's right! This year, for the first time since the 1980s, Social Security is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes — nearly $29 billion more. This means those other goernment agencies will have to get their grubby little fingers out of our retirement program and find new ways to get in your pocket. Hee Hee Hee. I'm just kidding. Those other agencies aren't going to change a single thing about how they get your money ...

Friday, March 12, 2010

motivation behind job searches

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More and more, our company has made us feel as though we are simply necessary evils towards their profits. The ensuing pulmit in employee moral has us look towards greener, better managed pastures. At first we focused our job searches to laurinburg area, then the project became "job search raleigh", then "job search north carolina", followed by other states such as "job search philadelphia" which expanded to "job search United States" and now, "job search anywhere but here". Heaven help this company when the economy takes off ...

Fast Food Love

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She tore my ticket from the receipt printer slowly, seductively. With a sly wink and the same unhurried motion, this beguiling senior citizen walk away with a deliberate sultry sway of her hips, and begin to complete my fast food order.

My heart pounded with passion. I couldn't help but sigh with longing. As the store manager rushed by me at the pace of an olympic walker, he screeched to a halt upon hearing my romantic tones. "Is anything wrong, sir?" he asked. "No, nothing at all," I cooed. Pointing at the aging angel, I murmured "I think she likes me! If she moves any slower, I may faint!" He glanced at his worker and said, "Sir, she moves that way because she arthritic." "But she winked at me!" I protested. He put a brotherly arm on my shoulders. "That's not a wink. She has a twitch from her medication. And she partially blind," he calmly informed me.

After that, it was a very unhappy happy meal as I salted the fries with my tears ....

Monday, March 08, 2010

geeks don't age, they just become nerder

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As the baby boomers get older, the news media keeps harping on how technologically backwards these aging folks are becoming. "The kids of today are forcing senior citizens to become drooling idiots who can barely operate a light switch." Hockey sticks and double hockey sticks! The media seems to have forgotten that one special segment of the Boomer generation -- the nerds. There is a reason why our own kind called us geeks (and other things that I won't share here).

Case in point. My daughter was having a little problem with her PSP. (I'm using acronyms of today from here on out to "keep it real.") Once I figured how to get the WiFi connected, I d/l the latest patches, reconfigured the OS and, Ta-Da (old school acronym "I be jammin' now"), everythin' was solid. Now, I've got some tight music (Jazz Fusion) and audio books on the PSP so my games be jumpin'. The only problem is not enough micro sd RAM. But that's ok. I don't wanna pwn the kiddies too badly. Just enough to scare 'em. Holla!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Free me

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I'm being bombarded by "free this" and "free that", "buy one and get one free", "free buttons with every shirt purchased!" Yeah, some things are redundantly stupid. Take the advertisement of "free insurance quotes". Why did these quotes get captured in the first place? And why would anyone pay for a quote? Well, maybe if you've recently talked with the sales guy of the year who just sold a Ben and Jerry's ice cream franchise to a nice couple in Alaska. Not only did my quote cost me less than the franchise, but apparently I'm the only one in Fair Banks, Alaska who enjoys ice cream. More for me ... But if you can stop by for a visit, I'll throw in a free cone with your purchase. I've got millions of 'em and winter isn't ending any time soon.