Sunday, October 30, 2011

pearls (or streaks) of wisdom ... maybe

I think I might be getting a little smarter as I age. Today, I realized that some things in life are beyond my control. For example, no matter how much super glue I have, if I break wind, I can never fix it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Run to your bookstore NOW!

As you can see, my fellow male compatriot, you can no longer have an excuse about misunderstanding your sweet, gentle, always-emotional stable love-of-your-life. The condensed version of "Understanding Women: Volume 1" has just been released. I think I can speak for us all when I say that this little tome is long overdue!

You might be saying to yourself, "I'll waiting and buy the unabridged edition when it is released." Yes, your favorite woman might be one of those rare angels of patience. However, even patience has its limits and you may be putting yourself in mortal danger if you don't act now to buy this current version. I say this because the printing of the unabridged edition is being held up due to concerns, surprisingly, from the timber industry about the environmental impact on lumber.

So, re-enforce your bookcase with concrete and steel, and get a hold of this potentially-life-saving (yours) book. I'm already adding a new addition to my home for Volume 2.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Politically Correct Halloween!

Thank goodness someone is trying to stop racist Halloween costumes! I get so offended at people dressing like geeks and nerds and guys! Finally, someone with nothing constructive to do is making a stand for this obscure cause.

This has been a long time coming. For years, the tricker-treaters have try to become some silly alternate persona and have upset someone somewhere somehow. Last year, one of my contortionist friends got extremely bent out of shape when one Halloween-er from the Philippines went as a "Manila Folder"! Why do people dress up like that? It's as if that's the only way they can get candy from strangers.

But what are you going to do? The only remaining costume that is not stereo-typical would be a "Occupy Wall Street Protester". But given this is Halloween, the begging would be redundant.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This is your brain on Facebook

According to this Mashable article, the more Facebook friends you have, the thicker your brain is. While I don't have thousand of people on my Facebook account, I am fortunate and thankful for the high quality of friends that I do have. For that reason, I'm not going to apologize for not being very dense.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

don't forget to remember not to forget about remembering

You probably heard that old adage about how we only use 10% of our brain's capacity. Given the results of our political election, I wonder if 10% is being too generous.

In any case, I seem to be red-lining my mental capacity. Lately, my mind seems to repeatedly bump against its limit for storing memories and events. It's as if my brain has become a glass cup completely full of colorful marbles. As I add another shiny sphere to my mental container, it either rolls off unnoticed and goes missing or gets in the way as I frantically search for a different marble.

For example, as I walk by people that I've worked with for the past 20 years, I suddenly realize that their name alludes me. I end up greeting them with an embarrassingly halty, "Hey … you."

Recently, I was introducing myself to a new client. For a split second, I couldn't recall my own name! I almost used his monogram. "Wow! We have the same name. All the good people have our name. Let's be the bestest of friends!" This might be a great schmoozing technique until he calls me by his name and I forget about my lie.

The solution is obvious. I am going to have to buy several neck chains and name picture frames. Each frame will be stylish enough that my friends will want to wear them around their necks. More importantly, each frame will have a friend’s name large enough so that I can read it from a fair distance away --- a mile should be a good start.

I will also have this creative memory clue for myself. However, to the casual observer, my displayed name will appear upside down. This is for my benefit. If I have another "senior moment", I'll only have to look down to be reminded of who I am … as long as I remember not to wear the frame backwards. "In" might be a unique middle name, but I don't think saying, "Hi, I'm Mr. China. You can call me Made," will go over very well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Goodbye, my dear friend

This morning, I stopped at my friend's doorway as I have been doing every couple weeks or so for the past 30 years. As I walked up to his always inviting entrance-way, I noticed that none of the lights were on inside. Then I saw the "property for sale" sign stuck in the lawn by the public sidewalk. Suddenly, I had the sicken realization that my friend of 30 years was gone.

Just this past weekend, I could have sworn that I had seen people coming and going to his same inviting entrance-way. His place has been a favorite of all the locals since it first opened. But there was no mistaking now that something had happened. While there was no sign posted in any of the windows, the marquee unmistakably read "closed".

I don't know what has happened for Spring Lake's famous Biscuit Kitchen to suddenly shut their doors. There is nothing in the news about this tragedy. Of course, journalism has never been a forte in this area.

For being such a small restaurant, it has touched the lives and memories of many people with its warmth, with its incredibly delicious food, and with the wonderfully staff of mothers who cooked as though every customer was one of their children in need of a really good meal.

Goodbye, my dear friend. You will be missed more than you know.

Take my garage ... please.

A couple of doors down the street from me lives one neighbor who has recently taken up that fruitful of hobbies - being an annoying pest. Every weekend for the past several months, he has diligently, and quite noisily, worked from predawn hours to late at night to put together a metal storage building.

You would think that he had been constructing a heavily fortified castle. But no. When you see that his tremendous effort has been spent on creating a 10 x 20 foot shed, you realize that "handy man" is not part of his modus operandi ...or his vocabulary.

A couple of mornings ago, he stepped out of his house in the early morning hours only to discover that heisters had stolen his incomplete structure. He was very upset that some one had taken the term, "steel garages", literally by turning it into a verb–noun arrangement.

I tried to console him. I told him to think of it, not as losing a building, but as gaining valuable free time on his weekends. As for the rest of the neighbors, they got together and built a little something on his property --- a shrine to the thieves.

Friday, October 14, 2011

up, up, and away?

My daughter has to do a college paper on the news of some guy who was shooting people of the top of a building. Shooting people off the top of buildings?! What is this world coming to?

Back in the day, a few crazy people would shoot bullets off the top of buildings at people on the ground. Now, they're shooting people off? What do flingers-of-human-beings use? Catapults? What happened to a simple, well intentioned shove? How are these tossers-of-terror convincing people to go on the top of buildings in the first place? "Hey, wanna be in the next Jackass movie?"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do you know what today is?!!!

Today is International Skeptics Day ... but I doubt it.

Dangerous Times

Such a dangerous time in my relationship. Next week marks the eighth year since my fiancee and I began dating. She marks each year as a special milestone of our enduring love for each other. I mark each year as an accomplishment that someone has stayed with me for another 365 days (bonus points for leap years).

It's also another year that I've learned more about her likes and dislikes. As a loving fiance, I try to use this info to help celebrate her important anniversary milestone.

Lately, she has been hinting that I should take her somewhere she's never visited. The kitchen immediately came to my mind. However, I don't think I can suggest this location that she rarely frequents and live to tell about it.

Married couple usually celebrate their eighth year with bronze gifts. As a romantic anniversary gift for her, I thought about bronzing her frying pan as a memento of the first and only meal she ever cooked for me. Again, I'm not sure I would live to tell what happened after she unwrapped my well-intended present.

Maybe I can send her to a tanning salon and let her get bronzed. I don't think I could get a safer metal-sounding gift than that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What's on tonight?

Tonight, the best thing on with be the street lights. Otherwise, tonight's TV shows include "2 Broke Girls" and "2 And A Half Men". Obviously, CBS is going to pieces. Are they losing so much money that they can't afford super glue and extra pieces?

What's in Your Wallet? or "The story of unemployment numbers"

When a majority of us hear about the employment numbers, we have this impression that some dedicated government worker went from business to business and house to house, asking "Are you working?" "Is your company hiring?" If only it were that straight forward.

Actually, the media is reporting 2 different surveys released by our federal labor agencies. First, there is the Establishment Data known as Current Employment Statistics (CES). Here, our intrepid government servant chats up 400,000 businesses out of almost 30 million. By talking with only 1 out of 75 businesses, the government releases its "number of jobs added" statistic. This is a wonderful way of figuring how many people are working. Yet, people seem to overlook the fact that it doesn't tell us how many people are not working.

In our next round of mathematical wizardry, our faithful political worker talks with 60,000 households (out of over 112 million) to count the number of people who are employed and unemployed. This is known as the Household Data or Current Population Survey (CPS). Based on the answers from 1 out of 1867 households, the government publishes its "unemployment rate". As you can imagine, no one asked anyone in those other 1866 households whether they were working or not. That piece of guess work is left up to the manipulators of statistics.

At best, the Establishment data shows how many jobs were lost from one month to the next; while the Household data shows the number of jobs that may have been created at the same time. With a little hype and political spin, you can make these numbers look as good or bad as you want the public to believe. Maybe.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

We can drink again!

YAY! The ban has been lifted! Restaurants can open and tap water can flow!

The test results for 7 water samples have come back and not one sample is pregnant. Oh, sorry. Wrong test. I mean, all samples have been found to be purer than driven snow (which, I understand, is better than hitchhiked snow).

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Spring Lake restaurants closed after boil water notice

My girlfriend and I learned about this last night as we from one fast food place to another. As we searched to satisfy our fast-food cravings, we found employees sticking signs on the doors: "Sorry. Closed due to water contamination." At first, I thought it was because someone washed their hands for a change, but then we noticed the finer eateries in town shutting off their lights as well.

We immediately went to that super store savior, Wal-Mart, to stock up on water. Surprisingly, no one else was there to join us in the hording of precious H2O. I guess only restaurant employees in the town knew about the crisis. Too bad. In any case, we now have a 3-day water supply while living in 'dry' town.

Anyone need a gallon? Only $50!

Update: One of my neighbors is one of the town's aldermen. This morning, he said that when the water department had tested the water at one house in another nearby Spring Lake neighborhood on Wednesday, it failed the purity check. Yesterday, when the water department tested the same water source again, it passed the test. However, the water at a home located a few doors away failed the quality assessment.

So, the county regulation required that an alert be issued (shutting down all the local restaurants) and water samples had to be sent to an independent lab for analysis. The lab is expected to release the results this evening.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Good bye, Mr Jobs

I felt very sad when I learned that Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. As the spokesman and decision-maker for Apple and for Pixar, we tend to associate him with all the fun and pleasure and excitement that we have intensely felt with our exotic gadgets and entertaining movies. So his unfortunate passing leaves the impression that we may never have shiny new toys ever again.

Yet, as you read all the touching obituaries and endearing tributes to Mr. Jobs, you get a feeling that he alone invented and designed and built each iPad and iPhone and iPod; that he alone did all of the marketing and all of the sales and all of the accounting.

You have to give him credit for being one of the main driving forces behind Apple's success. However, if you've ever worked in a manufacturing environment, you know that the job of head honcho is to meet with his (or her) managers and then yell at them for not making enough profit. They in turn meet with their sub-managers and scream at them for not meeting overly ambitious sales goals. These subs-managers then get to meet with their sub-sub-managers and curse them out for not bringing products to market quick enough.

Eventually, you get far enough down in the corporate food chain to the people who make things happen. For example, the overworked and underpaid engineers who get screeched at for taking more than a day and spending more than a dollar to design, build, and quality-test a new, complex product; and the equally unappreciated production people who get browbeaten for not working at 200% of their capacity.

Yes, the hype may credit Steven Jobs with changing the world, but I guarantee that he stood on the shoulders of thousands of people to do so. You probably will rarely hear the news lament about any one of unsung heroes when their life ends.

mmmmm, dolphin


At $10 a person, movie theaters seem to have gotten even more exorbitant than they should be. Of course, I apologize if you're a big fan of sticky floors, overpriced food, and getting charged to watch 30 minutes worth of bad advertisements.

So tonight, we had an inexpensive family night. From the comfort of our home, we sort of watched "Dolphin Tale". AND for only $1.32! That's right, I made tuna fish sandwiches.

No, no, no.  I'm sorry.  While I haven't seen the movie, "Dolphin Tale" is supposed to be a good family story. It's about a dolphin who's loses his flukes in an accident and about the good, brave humans who help this poor mammal so the other sea creatures won't laugh at him.

It reminds me of a friend who bought his dolphin at a less-than reputable pet store a few years ago. His new pet had been playfully frolicking in his pool for a few days when the animal's tail fins suddenly fell off.

Well, my friend was quite upset. He took the dolphin back to the pet store and got a bit of a refund. The store owner would only pay wholesale because, after all, they couldn't retail the dolphin. What a fluke...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

oh, snap

Ever had a day so long and demanding that you say to yourself, "Skip the KitKat, just give me the break!" It's too bad that we couldn't have that kind of pay off --- the harder the day is, the sweeter it tastes.

I wonder if workers in a KitKat factory are allowed breaks ...

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Yo, Yo, Yo, Mr. Roboto

What do I do for a 150 minutes each day? I endure a mind-numbing commute to and from work. Or used to. Since the lack of engaging material on the radio did little to help pass the time, I bought a Kindle and a Nook at very cheap yard-sale prices. Then I figured out how to get free audio books on my e-readers.

Tonight, my search for this week's listening material found "Yo, Robot". "Yo, Robot"? Oh great! A hip-hop version of Isaac Asimov's masterfully written book, "I, Robot". Is there no respect for the classics? Does every excellent piece of literature need a remix and an update? Are people so lazy that they have to rip-off and cash in on proven works of famous authors?

Oh wait. Sorry. Turns out I have found a spanish version of Mr. Asimov's legendary story. Who's the embarrassed ranter? Yo.