Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Stories of My Fathers

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks today. GPop insisted. The fun part was that all of the 4 to 7 year olds appeared to have a great time. There were a lot of little kids laughing. Son seemed to enjoy it, too. I nearly fell asleep a couple of times. That's a first.

Gluteosmooch Me, Mr. O'Reilly

Son had a bunch of gift cards to use, so we ended up in Blockbuster this evening. He wanted to purchase a used game for his new Sony PSP, which he's purchased for himself. As we were leaving, I saw a box of candy wrapped in white paper and a bow. On the box was written, "Happy Christokwanzhanamas!" in red and green marker.

I asked the kid behind the counter, "Has anyone complained about this box?" He shook his head and told me that he didn't know of any complaints.

I would have thought that True PatriotsTM would have knocked the kid on his butt for even standing next to that box. Wait a minute... Maybe the whole "War on Christmas" thing is a bunch of made-up nonsense.

I Have the Abilt- BLAM BLAM BLAM

We're caught up on Heroes.

Addictions Stink

I have 103 blogs in my Sage feed reader for Firefox. I just clicked refresh, and none of them have any new content. I have just consumed the Internet. [BUUUURRRRP!]

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beautiful Niece; Beautiful Mind

Brother 2's daughter is a lovely little almost-2 year old. She's absolutely adorable, with big blue eyes and blond hair. When we visited at Christmas, she was demonstrating a new skill. She would take her sippy cup, drop some water out of it onto the lid of her toy box, then wipe it up with a napkin. Repeat ad nauseum. It struck me that behavior that's cute in a child could be a bit unsettling in an adult.

If you're compulsive and you know it, wash your hands!
If you're compulsive and you know it, wash your hands!
Wash your hands; wash your hands; wash your hands;
Wash your hands; wash your hands; wash your hands;
Wash your hands!

Tongue Twister

Son takes daily prescription meds for a minor issue. He takes one pill in the morning, and one at lunchtime.

GPop just asked him, moments ago, "Did you take your afternoon medicine?"

Son replied, "No. I just now took my mordicine. I mean my mordicine. I mean my morning mordicing. MOR-NING MED-I-CINE. I keep saying, 'mordicing.'"

Seven Minutes of Fame

GPop and I have a dirty little secret.

We have been fans of the Fox teevee show COPS since we met, almost 15 years ago. Before Son joined our family, we would either watch it on Saturday night or tape it to watch later in the week. In recent years, it seems that we can channel surf any time during the evening and find at least one channel that has it in syndication. It's amazing to watch the technology change over the last almost-20 years.

When we'd watch it, we would scream, "Woo-hoo!" every time a shirtless person would appear onscreen. If we couldn't understand the people, we'd turn on closed captioning to try and get what the person was saying.

We even tried to decipher the lyrics of the theme song, which for a long time we thought was saying, "The Tegina Achina give you no break." The actual lyrics are, "Not even you idren na give you no break." My midwest upbringing gives me no frame of reference to decode this, but the Interwebs tell me that idren means children.

GPop would always yell, "Shoot him!" when the cop or cops encountered a suspect. Great fun all around, although there's a niggling little bit of my conscience that tells me I shouldn't enjoy this sort of thing.

Since Son joined our family, though, we've opted for less violent programming. However, our channel surfing popped the show onto our screen this week, and it amazed me that these suspects would put an X on a release form so they could appear on teevee. Wow.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Angry Language Guy

I guess the phrase "dollars to doughnuts" no longer means what it used to mean. I suppose it means even less what it used to mean if you have to buy them from somewhere in Europe.

Foto Phriday

When we went spelunking this summer, we saw this eye-shaped rock formation. Note the helpful "EYE" sign.

Scare Hair

Why is it that hair, or lack thereof, in unexpected places is so unsettling?

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Both images are from Wikipedia, and are subject to their licensing.

My Eyes, Part 2

I showed my injury due to horrible visions on this post. Angry Professor commented, "I thought it was a picture of a really ugly man's nipples." That inspired me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Eyes, My Eyes, What Happened to My Eyes?

See this injury to my hand?

You might think a small vampire bit me, but you'd be wrong.

I was in a grocery store on Christmas Eve, picking up a couple of items in preparation for the travels, when I spied a morbidly fascinating sight. A woman, who had to be close to 70, plus or minus a few, was standing there with a bright orangey-reddish huge bouffant coiffure, a tight forest green blouse, a similarly tight forest green mid-thigh miniskirt, and knee-high black leather boots with at least 3-inch heels.

I learned not to stare, because I ran right into a display and injured my hand. I also swore out loud.

Mom's Birthday

My mom hits a milestone birthday in a few days. Brothers 1, 2, 3, and I have agreed to purchase her a technological device that I won't name until after the birthday. Suffice to say that we, as naive children, believe will fulfill some existential hole in her life.

At least, I believed that until I read this over at little.yellow.different.

An Ignorant Yankee in Queen Elizabeth's Court

A few months ago, I took Son, my mom, and Baldo McNerdy to a Renaissance festival about an hour plus change from our home. We had a great time.

Each year we attend, there seems to be some popular item that stands out. One year, there were a lot of people wearing fairy wings. Another year, quite a few people had pirate eye patches. This year, the popular item was little forehead horns. I know people were thinking in terms of devilish mischief, but I laughed inwardly at the meaning that the Elizabethan era denizens would have attributed to these decorations.

Angry Language Guy

What's up with this construct?

"The thing is is that..."

Doctor Bane and the Mystery of the Limited World View

I just spoke to my insurance company, and I've asked a lawyer for an appointment. I will now shut down my commentary on this issue until the affair is closed.

Thanks to everyone who spoke or wrote such kind words of support. Without a doubt, you all ROCK!

ESP at the House of Mouse

When I was in my early teens, my parents took us on a Family Vacation where You Will Have Fun to the neighbor of the east side copy of the Happiest Place on Earth, EPCOT Center. Brother 1 was elementary aged, Brother 2 was in early elementary school or preschool, and Brother 3 wasn't even a twinkle in the parents' eyes.

My parents were a bit harried at one point from dealing with three kids, and they asked me to find out from someone what time it might be. I approached a young woman with the official EPCOT costume.

GDad: [tentatively, 'cause I was a gangly, self-conscious teen] Excuse me...

Woman: 3:45.

GDad: What time... Oh...

Woman: You're welcome.

GDad: Thank y... [walks away]

Maybe the big black disc ears are some sort of telepathic amplifier. Next time, I'll wear my Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie and see if the Experimental Prototype Humans of Tomorrow can still read my thoughts.

Doctor Bane and the Case of the Frozen Yeti

I spoke to the county children services rep today. He was aghast at my experience with Doctor Bane. In the rep's words, "I think you and GPop are wonderful parents, and so do my colleagues."

I'll be chatting up my employer's Employee Assistance Program to see if they can do some legwork for me with regard to spreading the tale of Doctor Bane's misdeeds.


I saw an opossum walking around in the road as I drove home the other night. It struck me that these animals do not appear as majestic or proud, but rather as frumpy.

Speaking of...

We watched Capote last night. I bought it about a year ago in the bargain rack at the grocery store for less than the price to rent it, and it sat on the shelf until last night.


With a kid in the house, we don't get to see too many character-driven movies. Most of the movies are very overtly conflict driven, like Spider-Man N, where N is an integer between 1 and 3, inclusive, Pirates of the Caribbean N, same deal for N, and other movies where people spend a lot of time not sitting down.

This movie really had me on the edge of my seat in its subtlety. There wasn't much in the way of white-hat/black-hat going on. The special features on the DVD revealed some of the decisions on color palette, costuming, casting, etc., that really came through in the movie. Check it out.

Separated at Birth

I was at one of those truck stop mega-gas-station things a while back. I was standing in line to purchase whatever I was buying that day, and I noticed that both the customer in front of me and the man behind the counter were little tiny men with high voices and lisps. They were having some kind of quiet argument about the price of something, and the only thought that went through my mind was, "Are you both Truman Capote?"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

GDad, You're Not Funny

GPop, Son, and I went over to Rusty and Kath's house next door for a traditional Christmas pizza and salad dinner last week. Yum!

Son told Rusty and Kath that he wanted another Nintendo DS for Christmas. He already has one, but he wants a second.

Rusty: Why do you need a second one?

Son: So I can trade Pokemons between them.

Rusty: You'd need more hands.

GDad: Yeah, you'd have to become Shiva the Destroyer.

All: ?

GDad: [laughs] Man, than joke never gets old.

All: [Laughter]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Foto Phriday

My late grandfather was a wonderful man. His life goals seemed to me to be to raise a family and to work to make the world a better and more informed place. He fought in WWII, spent years farming and working in a factory, and then, in his retirement, he co-authored a book with some of his distant cousins to document our family in North America since the early 1700s. He spent a great deal of time in his last few years volunteering to convert old county court records to electronic format to help out the local genealogy society. I miss him terribly.

Some of the wisdom he passed to me included a number of observations that seemed to be grounded in the idea that the world is never and can never be perfect, so we work hard to make of it what we can.

"Trash can basketball is a win-win situation. If you make it in, you win. If you don't, well, you had to go over to the trash can anyway."

"Don't get too upset about weeds. If it's green, and it's on the ground, then it's your lawn."

In reflection of that last remark, here's a picture of a pretty purple flower that grows as a weed in my lawn every spring. It has a cousin that is the same size and shape, but mostly white with faint purple stripes. I happen rather to like it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Line from a Meeting

I've been in meetings this week to bring a consulting firm into a large project we have for 2008. The president of the consulting firm used the metaphor that his folks had to "get on a moving train," because the project was already started.

One of the consultants said, I think tongue in cheek, "There are a bunch of train getting-on scenarios I could envision that wouldn't work so well."

I will almost guarantee that the quoted phrase "train getting-on scenarios" will always return exactly this one result if you were to Google it. If not, then we'll be able to find the possible plagiarist with Copyscape.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interesting Update on Doctor Bane

I did some work on my state's medical board, and I found that Doctor Bane graduated from Ross University, which is located in the Caribbean. I don't know enough about medical schools to say whether this would be an optimal situation, but it does seem noteworthy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Want to Eat the Same Thing Tonight

Fortunately, we had leftovers.

Last night I dreamed that I had been cast in the Zac Efron role in a local stage production of High School Musical 2. However, since I am in my late 30s, and I am not a particularly talented dancer, the director decided to change my dance number to be me stumbling around the stage yelling in a slurred voice, "PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ!"

We are Family

I came home from the awful doctor visit this evening, and now I'm sitting on the couch watching teevee with Son. He's lying on the couch resting his head on my arm and wrapping one hand around my arm to support his head. He is completely relaxed, and he trusts and loves me absolutely.

F*&^ Doctor Bane.

Nonsense and BS

UPDATE: I clarified in the first paragraph that the homestudy renewal is to keep our eligibility to adopt another child, not to keep Son in our family. Sorry for the confusion. Son is safe and loved no matter what.


GPop and I were approved to adopt at the end of 2005. In our state, we must renew this "homestudy" every two years. We've been successful parents of Son for almost a year and a half, and our homestudy social worker was very pleased with our home, our parenting skills, and our paperwork. He asked us to complete two final things in order to get our homestudy renewed for two more years so that we could continue to be eligible to adopt more children. We needed to sign up for eight hours of training, such as CPR certification, home safety training, first aid, dealing with difficult children, or other topics. The second item was a simple doctor's statement to say that we were physically fit enough to raise a child. The social worker takes care of the assessment of a person's temperamental and attitudinal capabilities.

GPop got his physical a few days ago from a physician's assistant at our preferred medical facility. For about five years, we've had excellent experiences at this facility. I don't think I've even sat in the waiting room more than ten minutes in five years. The staff always provides prompt, friendly service, and just as importantly, the billing is (so far) always accurate. Their policy is such that they have a rotating doctor on call who will see people today if their usual doctor is unavailable. In that sense, they combine aspects of traditional appointment-based visits with something of an urgent care model.

I went in today for my physical. My usual doctor wasn't in, so I got to see Doctor Bane. Doctor Bane opened up my folder and asked why I was in. I showed him the five question form that basically asked questions such as, "Is this person physically able to perform tasks related to raising a child?" and, "Are there any health concerns that would prevent this person from raising a child?" Pretty straightforward stuff.

I explained that GPop and I had already adopted Son, and in fact, Doctor Bane has seen Son before, so we had that connection. Doctor Bane looked concerned about the seriousness of this form, and started reviewing my medical concerns with a strong eye for detail. My medical conditions are the standard for someone who has a desk job - overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and one that's a little more severe - type 2 diabetes that I control with medication. I don't have any debilitating health issues, so that part of the conversation didn't faze me at all.

He asked me to provide a sample to do a kidney function test, so I left the room to do so. I returned to the room with the sample. The medical assistant retrieved the sample, and I sat alone for a few minutes while medical things happened outside.

Doctor Bane returned to the room. He sat down and started going over his list of concerns. I have high cholesterol. I have high blood pressure. I have diabetes. OK, I know these things, and I take my medication for them. When the assistant took my BP at the beginning of the session, it was 116/82. My other numbers aren't way off base as long as I'm on my meds.

Then he said that he thinks my risk of heart disease at some time in my 50s (more than a decade away) is strong enough that he doesn't want to approve my physical. He's concerned that if I adopt a pre-teen child now, that child may not have a father later when the child is in his or her 20s. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Then he took a deep breath, and told me that I was placing him in an ethical dilemma. Huh?

He went on to explain that his belief system doesn't put him in a position to approve of people "in the homosexual lifestyle" to adopt children, so even if he did pass me on the physical, he still couldn't fill out my form. At that point, I think I was stunned into silence.

He spent a good ten or fifteen minutes blathering about how he was able to separate his professional behavior from his personal beliefs, so he wanted to make sure I knew that as I decided whether or not to accept his care as a physician. I spoke very little, but wondered as he kept going on whether he would be obligated to treat me if I broke my knuckles by punching him HARD right in his pie hole.

Finally, when he stopped going on about Leviticus and Romans, I asked him whether he would interfere with any other doctor at the facility who would treat my request for a physical on my actual physical health. He told me that the other doctors were answerable to themselves, not to him. He stopped just short of saying that the other doctors were answerable to God, or Odin, or whatever.

He went on for a while more in the vein of how his belief system was based not on what some pope or bishop said, but rather on his own interpretation of his scriptures, and blah blah blah. I tuned out trying to think of whether I needed to do anything else before I left. I thanked him for his candor, because it would help me make up my mind (about how far to stay away from this raving loon).

I don't think I've been so humiliated in years. I frankly don't know what to do next. He obviously spent a lot of time covering his ass by going over every medical concern I have ever had in an effort to find a professional reason to avoid filling out my form. I doubt I could find any reason to file a professional complaint.

I read about this kind of awful treatment of LGBTQ(etc.) people on other blogs I frequent, and it makes me angry as hell. I've never had this kind of thing happen to me before. How angry is angry as hell squared?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bad Corporate Merger

If IBM and Microsoft merged, the name possibilities are pretty funny.

IB Soft.


Observation on the National Conversation

Republican frontrunners* (alphabetically):

  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Mike Huckabee
  • John McCain
  • Ron Paul
  • Mitt Romney
  • Fred Thompson
Democratic frontrunners* (alphabetically):
  • Hillary Clinton
  • John Edwards
  • Barack Obama
We still have a relic of a different treatment of men and women when we refer to them publicly. All of the men generally appear in the media and conversations as Lastname, but Hillary Clinton is generally called by Firstname. One could argue that this is to differentiate between her and Bill Clinton, and that argument has some merit, because we didn't hear about a Mondale/Geraldine ticket back in 1984; it was Mondale/Ferraro. However, it is still interesting.

*Please don't quibble about the term "frontrunner." I'm using it here to indicate people who have a lot of media coverage.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Flying-eh Man-oh

We just finished the first season of Heroes on DVD. Now we can start Season 2, and I hope we can catch up by the time the teevee shows start coming back.

Observations at Work

This is a representation of my notes from a meeting this week.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Do Not Like It, Sam I Am

I've always been a news junkie. When I was in late elementary school and middle school, I would watch the local and national news from 6:00 to 7:00 nearly every night. I knew more about the nearby Big City council goings on than I knew about the politics of my classmates.

Even now, my radio is tuned to the local NPR station all the time so I can listen to its news. If they are talking about Iraq too much, or if I'm driving when they have one of their music programs on, I switch to my podcasts of other news programming.

Since I've become an adult, I find that I can't stand to watch local news. The reporting seems to be so banal that I feel I've dropped into the universe of Harrison Bergeron.

Back in August, GPop, Son, and I were watching a movie at home on a Saturday when we heard the local tornado sirens going off. We decided to switch to the local stations to see what was going on. It was a tornado warning, of course. What was really sad, but sort of entertaining, was that this was The Moment for which that the weather reporters had been waiting their whole lives. One local weather person was in the Storm Headquarters directing the serf reporters out into the storm to do on-the-spot reporting from within the funnel cloud. We could just tell that he was practically wetting himself with excitement over the idea that someone might die because of the weather.

The only teevee news I can stomach any more are the stock ticker graphs (without sound), and the AP newsfeed I get on the News Channel on my Wii.

Linguistic Item of Interest

Son's early linguistic development happened outside our home. He was 11 when he met us, so much of his grammar and basic vocabulary was already built. One interesting vocabulary anomaly we've seen is Son's use of the word "inside" for most instances where I would use the word "in." For example, "The teacher gave us homework inside our Social Studies class again."

He will use "in" sometimes, but his use of "inside" is prevalent enough that I am pretty good at anticipating it. I haven't worked out the rule yet, but it's intriguing enough that I might try.

Otherwise, his speech differs from standard English mostly when he uses subjects and verbs that disagree, or objective pronouns in the place of subjective pronouns, as in "them are" instead of "they are." The word "ain't" slips out a lot. GPop and I try to guide him by example rather than humiliating him by correcting him in public, but we will discuss grammar with him in private.

Are there any linguists or psychologists out there that might have any guesses about the "in" versus "inside" usage? Or, as I suspect may be true, am I being excessively analytical?

Captain Ruffles and the Bungalow Mystery

Some friends of mine bought a house a couple of years back. They're a couple who love to entertain, and the house they bought is spectacularly laid out for that purpose. The main floor is open from kitchen through the living room, and the basement is one huge finished room with an entertainment center, kitchen, and bar. In addition to having a fabulous entertainment complex, they also both love to cook and generally fuss about the things that make a party a party.

When they had their first party in their new house a few years back, Captain Ruffles and CB were invited and attended. Captain Ruffles, as usual, spent most of the evening creating drama where there didn't need to be any. At one point, I think he was feeling left out, so he sidled up to one of the hosts and said, "You have a lovely little bungalow here. It reminds me of a little vacation spot for a 1940s starlet."

Captain Ruffles isn't on the hosts' A list, B list, nor C list any more.

Foto Phriday

Here's a picture of a rainbow seen from our back door.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grudge Match - Delayed

The original Captain Ruffles is, by most accounts, an awful person. I feel no particular remorse for exposing his anonymized peccadilloes. Because I've sort of franchised him, there are a lot of Captain Ruffleses, er, Captains Ruffles, er, um, INSTANCES of Captain Ruffles from which to draw material.

EBS Guy, on the other hand, is a little cantankerous and very weird (says pot regarding kettle), but he's actually quite a giving person. EBS Guy is going through a bit of a rough patch right now, so material about him will be a bit sparse. It's not cricket to kick a man when he's down.

The Grudge Match will have to wait for sunnier days.

Fraternal Fortune, Finally

Brother 3 just accepted a job at the company where I work. He's been working here as a temp for several months, and he will be starting full time on Monday.

And there was much rejoicing.

Blog Meme

List three poems that resonate with you. You may choose to explain why.

Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

I Saw a Man Pursuing the Horizon
by Stephen Crane

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never -"

"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.

Old Men
by Ogden Nash

People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

The last poem was especially poignant when my maternal grandfather died a couple of years ago.

The man pursuing the horizon is the person I can not help, no matter how hard I try. In recent years, I think I've changed my focus from changing the world for the better to changing for the better the lives of people close to me.

Richard Cory reminds me never to wish to be someone else.

No earth shattering revelations here.

Question for Readers

Did you ever imagine that you would change the world?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Unintentional Innuendo

I was just on a conference call, and the topic turned to holiday plans and holiday cookies/cakes/pies. A female caller spoke to the male moderator. "I don't know if you want my goodies, Moderator. They might make you sick." There was uncomfortable silence for a moment.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange, Part 5

EBS Guy was corresponding with a coworker about an upcoming meeting. I've represented this as a spoken dialogue, rather than pasting the e-mails in with headers included.

H: Anything else to add to the meeting minutes? If not, I'll publish them.

EBS Guy: Let them fly my away ... fly away.... yup I lost it

Grudge Match, Round 1

As I'm reviewing the labels on my blog, I find that EBS Guy is behind Captain Ruffles in number of posts. I think I may have to rectify that soon. Please leave comments to indicate which person you'd rather hear more about, or which person you'd rather see guest star on an episode of The Office.

This Will Be Embarrassing in a Few Years

As mentioned a little bit ago, Son is home from school today due to calamitous weather. Oh, boo freakin' hoo - one inch of snow that's melting. Anyway, he's being exceptionally lazy on the couch, and he asked me to hand him the laptop, which was less than three inches from his fingertips.

GDad: Reach just a little farther, and I'm sure you can get it.

Son: I can't get it up.

GDad: That's not something you usually say until you're much older.

Son: ?

GDad: Never mind.

Hanging From the Sky

Several years ago, as I was driving to work, I saw a hot air balloon in the sky. I grew up about three miles from a hot air balloon ride business, so I've been used to seeing them about my entire life. This one, though, almost made me wreck the car.

It was shaped like a teddy bear. Not the floppy, flat kind, but rather the seated variety. So that means that the basket was dangling below the bear's butt. When you look at a hot air balloon from the ground, the flames appear to come from a little bit above the basket.

The end result looked like something that I've come to call the Flaming Dingleberry. I suppose that symptom could lead to someone being an Angry Pooper.

Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3

Son has only attended school three out of five days this week. The school system seems to be very liberal in declaring catastrophe days, née snow days. Conversely, my mother, who teaches fifth grade about 120 miles into the snowier part of the country from where I sit, has spent the week with her students at a state park that is fifty miles into the snowier area of the state from here.

Our company sent out a big company-wide e-mail alert telling people how to drive safely on the snow-covered roads. One of my peers, who is generally very soft-spoken, opened the message and piped up, "Is this the first time it's ever snowed in this city?"

Silent, But Deadly

I missed celebrating International Ninja Day on 12/05. I wonder if Dave will like this day better.

Foto Phriday

We were in Florida a couple of years ago to visit GPop's grandmother. During the visit, we passed by this sign for a restaurant. This sign led me to wonder how often these three events coincide in sunny Florida.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hannukah Musing

Cranky Prof shows us an amazing lack of cultural awareness.

I was wondering the other day if there is anything less kosher than an Egg McMuffin, which, for the uninitiated, is a scrambled egg patty on a biscuit with ham and cheese. Meat touching dairy is not kosher. Ham is not kosher. I suppose you could top it off with a shrimp and cook it for brunch on Saturday.

Have Yourself a Beardie Little Christmas

Christmas Lizard is coming to town.

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange, Part 4

EBS Guy brought in more towels this morning. It's a little disappointing that there weren't also some inappropriate things as well.

Bloody Vikings!

I can't help but wonder what kind of disorder affects senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail. The random word subject lines are really funny sometimes. Today, I received one with a subject "water paintbrush elephant rocket" and another with "drape magnuson adriatic marco bibb."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Willard, Larry, Barry, and Me

Who gets to pick your identity? When you identify as an American, or a Lutheran, or a person of Norwegian descent, do you gain anything? When other people identify you as a punk, or with some racial epithet, or they call you some name based on a physical characteristic, have you lost anything?

Willard "Mitt" Romney is giving a speech this week about faith in politics. Critics are suggesting that his Mormonism is causing him to be a bit behind in the polls among conservative, fundamentalist, Christians in Iowa. Many reports indicate that these CFCs believe that Mormonism is not Christianity. Mr. Romney has indicated in the past that his faith isn't relevant to his bid for presidency, yet critics point out that he says that his faith informs his decisions with regard to policy, ergo his faith is relevant.

The president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Gordon Hinckley, says in this interview that Mormons are Christians. Well, actually, he says that he's astounded that anyone would question the issue. The question is in bold, and the response is in plain text.

There are many, many people -- and I'm talking about the people who are respectful of your religion, and who are knowledgeable, literate -- who nonetheless question whether you are, in fact, Christian according to their definition. I'm wondering whether you can talk to the people who really are trying to understand: Can you address their concerns? What is it that people find so difficult?

I don't know. I can't understand it. The very name of the church is the name of Jesus Christ. Our whole message is centered around Christ. The Book of Mormon is an additional witness for Christ. Everything we do is done in the name of Christ. I don't understand why people say we're not Christians. That's their right, of course. They can have their own opinion. But all that I can say is that in our terms, we worship Christ; we believe in Christ; we accept him. And he's our savior; he's our redeemer. He's the Son of God; he's the great creator; he's the word made flesh as spoken of by John. He's the savior of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

So, who gets to decide if Mormons are Christians? It's not as though there is a single decision making body for all of Christianity. Catholics lay claim to having a linear succession of church fathers all the way back to Jesus' apostle, Peter, whom the Bible says Jesus designated his successor, but internecine conflict has split the church countless times across the millennia. The Orthodox churches believe that they're the true church. The churches that popped up during the Protestant reformation believe that they have The Truth packaged up and ready for market. There are even more modern religions, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, that reject the hidebound Protestant sects. So, who gets to decide?

Senator Larry Craig made headlines this year for his arrest and guilty plea for disorderly conduct when he solicited sex from an undercover officer in the Minneapolis airport. So, Larry Craig is gay, right? Senator Craig, at a press conference, said these words: "I am not gay. I have never been gay."

Who gets to decide? Senator Craig denies that his actions were for the purpose of soliciting sexual activity, and yet his actions, as described by the officer, are exactly what would be expected if the allegations were true, according to people who have experience with such matters. He seems to be living life on the down-low.

Many in the Republican party want to get rid of him, because he is an embarrassment. People in the gay community seem to be split between wanting him to admit that he's gay and then repudiating him, or wanting him to admit to same-sex activities without adopting the identity. I imagine Senator Craig has his own wishes in the matter. Irrespective of his identity and wishes, his record shows that he consistently votes to criminalize the behavior in which he engaged and consistently votes to prevent people in same-sex relationships from having rights that match those of people in opposite-sex relationships. This voting record is at odds with his behavior, but is it at odds with his identity?

But, in Senator Craig's case, who gets to decide if he's gay? Is the definition simply, "Someone who engages, one or more times, in sexual activity with someone of the same sex?" What about people who are attracted to people of the same sex, but who are celibate? Or people who are in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, but who are attracted to members of the same sex without acting on that attraction? Or people who are in a relationship with an intersexed person? Who gets to decide?

Senator Barack "Barry" Obama, current candidate for the Democratic party's nomination for presidential candidate, was born to a white American woman and a black Kenyan man. He is, at the time I am writing this, one of the front runners in this race. If he is elected to the presidency, he will be the first African-American President of the United States. When you consider the history of obstacles that African American people have faced in this country for a couple hundred years, this will be a Big Deal.

However, because his mother was white, there are questions about whether Senator Obama is black enough to satisfy some criterion of blackness. Senator Obama publicly self-identifies as black. However, given the fuss in the media, that question is out there in the American consciousness. So, again, who gets to decide whether Barack Obama is black enough? Should there be some legal definition of race?

At the company where I work, our human resources department has a charge of monitoring and reporting on racial diversity in our company. In order to facilitate those reports, the HR computer system has a racial identifier on the employee record. The interesting part is that one's racial identity is self-proclaimed. If I wanted to identify as multiracial Pacific Islander and Hispanic (non-white), I could, even though my actual ethnic/racial background puts me routinely in danger of becoming invisible when it snows.

So, who gets to decide if Barack Obama is black enough? Is there some kind of cultural gestalt that serves as arbiter for this sort of thing?

Yours truly, your host for the evening, adopted a child a bit ago. My son is a wonderful boy. My partner, GPop, and I have been enriched beyond imagining by this addition to our lives.

Because of the laws in our state and country, GPop's relationship to me isn't recognized as anything more than passing acquaintance unless we go through expensive and complicated legal hurdles to protect ourselves. Even in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal for a couple of years, the federal benefits afforded to married opposite-sex couples are not available to married same-sex couples. In fact, we had to go through some complicated, expensive, and anemic legal maneuvering just to provide GPop with some kind of legal recognition as a parent of Son. My sincere hope is that if anything were ever to happen to me, the arrangements we've made will suffice to keep GPop and Son together as a family, but I'm not convinced that it would be smooth sailing.

So, who gets to decide if we are a family? I say we are. GPop says we are. Son says we are. Those are the interested parties in toto. In my mind, nobody else should have any say in the matter whatsoever. Unfortunately, the state, as instructed by the people, has decided that our family isn't worthy of the protections or rights of other families. Other families run into the same issue. Should my private family arrangements be subject to the scrutiny and veto power of the government? Who gets to decide?

When I was discussing this issue with GPop, he stated that self-identification is the overriding factor. I countered with the question of what would happen if I made the claim that I was a Navy SEAL, which I am not, nor ever have been. Would that self-identification hold? We concluded that there are circumstances where objective reality can be verified to contradict self-identification claims. However, the earlier questions remain a little squirrelly.

Is there anybody out there? I'm getting a sandwich.

Oldest English Saga to Newest Gorefest

If you feel you must see Beowulf, see it in IMAX 3-D. We saw it on Sunday. I'm tickled by the camera angles that blocked the audience from seeing anything in the Beowulf/Grendel fight scene that would change the rating from PG-13 to R. Beowulf was sans clothes, and there were a lot of conveniently-placed candlesticks, arms, helmets, and whatever to block view of the naughties. I suspect that the Beowulf model was actually smooth 'round the bend.

I'm pretty sure the writers took some liberties with the story to add some dramatic flair. I don't recall Beowulf being the dragon-sire, nor Grendel's mother being Skjöldunger Next Top Model.

Small Town Celebrations

Our small town has a number of public events each year. In the spring, we have a Memorial Day parade to honor fallen veterans. Local residents bring out military regalia and parade through the streets toward a forum for speeches from dignitaries and such. Then there is pie.

Throughout the summer, there's a farmer's market every Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon. Locals bring produce, preserves, and crafts to hawk along the street, and there's a celebratory air in the village. The stores all appreciate the additional traffic, and many of the little boutiques have extended hours when the market is in full swing.

Labor Day is the big shindig. We pull out all the stops. The main drag is closed off, filled with carnival rides, fried or frozen food stands, and live entertainment. The village springs for fireworks, and the whole town turns out. Many other local towns have Independence Day fireworks, but on Labor Day, we're the only game in town.

The past two years have seen Halloween Ghost Tours where volunteers guide visitors around town with tales of spooky happenings in the past. I haven't yet attended one of those, but maybe next year.

We're also starting a Christmas in the Village thing. The businesses on the main drag kept their doors open for business on Friday and Saturday night, and even the banks opened up the lobbies for carolers and other entertainment.

We stopped by the hippie/emo/beatnik coffee shop Saturday night, because Son's guitar teacher was on stage with his daughters. They performed a variety of Christmas and winter music. The instructor's youngest child is an active two-year-old with no fear. This little blond kid was running around, courting danger near the wires and music stands all evening. It was pretty funny.

We had dinner at Small Town Restaurant, which was packed. We were lucky enough to be joined by Baldo and Geekina McNerdy. After dinner, Geekina went shopping, and Baldo followed us around for a while, until the evening was done.

We ended up back at the Cöffëe Haus again. The music instructor was still on stage. By this time, he was asking for requests. GPop and I have had years of experience singing on stage as part of a chorus, so the joke request from our table was "Anything that requires a baritone!" What we actually requested, though, was "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." What we got was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

All in all, we had a fine evening.

Holiday Shopping

Since we started the path to adopting a child, and we hope for more, we've been educated on the foster care and public adoption system in our county and state. Our county agency, which assisted us through our first adoption process, needs clothes and toys for children that go into foster care without anything more than the clothes they are wearing.

GPop, Son, and I went to a local used kids' clothing and toy store yesterday to help where we could. We split up to get clothes. I picked pajamas for infants, toddlers, and kids up to about 8. GPop picked out daytime outfits, and Son picked out coats. Our idea was to find the largest number of clothes at the least cost, so we really just shopped by price tag. We managed to get a trunk full of clothes and toys for our budget this year.

We dropped the items off at the agency, and it looks like the agency is still getting donations, but the shelves aren't anywhere near full. I hope everyone has a happy holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Midwinter, Yule, Amaterasu, or any other celebration that coincides with this time of year. Please renew ties with your family and friends, and take some time to remember our common humanity in a way that is meaningful to you. There are folks who could benefit from that small gesture.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Foto Phriday

This is a statue that looks like a glass covered tree near the Arch in St. Louis. I was there a while back for a wedding.

Neologistic Obnoxiousness

GDad: I think I'll start prefacing things with "e". Like, "Let's have an e-meeting." Or, "How about if I e-call you and put that on your e-calendar?"

BK: That would get pretty e-nnoying.

Turning Back General Tso's Assault

IM conversation from this morning...

GDad: Lunch ABC?
SB: Sure DEF.
GDad: ABC = Anywhere But Chinese.
SB: Ah
SB: I thought it meant "after breakfast, chum"
SB: So I replied with "Don't eat Fritos"
SB: =)
GDad: Of course.
SB: Cuz they make you poot.

The Importance of Being Scripted 3

This morning, I heard a report about how some supporters of abstinence-only edu-ma-cation were rallying in protest around recent governmental decisions to provide actual education to teens. The protesters had supplied their own RealLifeTM teenagers to testify that abstinence-only education had prevented them from falling into a death spiral of despair, disease, etc.

One girl said, "I have remained abstinent, um, abstinated..."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My siblings and I are discussing some Xmas plans via e-mail. The phrase "pathologically nonconfrontational" appears in the e-mail thread.

Monday, November 26, 2007

In Which I Reveal That I Am a Fanboy (BSG Razor Spoilers!)

I was corresponding with Hoji at Geek, Interrupted about Battlestar Galactica Razor. We both are both excited and perhaps pathetic. Hoji's remarks are in bold; my responses are in plain text.

Grandpa Hybrid - what's up with that? (kinda cool tho)
Do hybrids age, then? If so, what about skin jobs?

Old school Cylons - *giggles like schoolgirl with glee*
Old school Cylons - EXCELLENT!

Old school Cylons part Deux - Are there more? Are they plotting to overthrow their "children?"
Old school Cylons talk, just like TOS! I guess the new Cylon warrior machines didn't need voices, since they were only created as warriors, and the humanocylons with whom they needed to interact could use Cylon juju to communicate with them.

Starbuck - casting doubt on her 'destiny' - 12th cylon? Nahhhhhhhh
Starbuck's destiny may be foretold by competing prophecies, a la the Belgariad. This could mean that she's destined to do one of two things, but even the gods are unsure which path she will follow. Of course, it could also be that she is destined both to lead humanity to Earth and to destroy humanity. That would stink. Maybe they run out of tylium somewhere around Saturn's orbit, and they arrive at the solar system in, say, 1873 AD. Made it to the neighborhood; couldn't find the house.

Gina and Cain (or at least Cain) - should have expected it, but didn't see it coming
I think I heard that a while ago. Maybe it nailed the motivation, but I think it may have been more to titillate the fanboys.

Adama the Elder - oh, he happened to be the guy on the surface of the planet when the Hybrid took off. How convenient. *snort*
Adama's presence on the planet when the Hybrid left - some speculation... I read a guess that perhaps the skin jobs actually came from Cylons created by Earth, and they joined with the Cylons from the colonies. Razor kind of clobbers that guess, but maybe there's a line of thought we can pursue there.

Perhaps the Significant Seven (SS) humanocylons left the Old School Cylons (OSC) to ramp up for the assault on the colonies. The OSCs may have been in the process of creating the Final Five (FF) at the time the SSs left. The SSs had all of the technology to create new hybrids, resurrection ships, etc., and they knew that there would be five more models, but they didn't have knowledge of what those models looked like or how they fit into the grand scheme of things.

Take this a bit further. If the OSCs' goal was to achieve organic sentience in order to commune with the Cylon god, then perhaps the whole "destroy humanity" directive became unimportant to them. They may have even wanted to save humanity, because they could have developed a morality that held life to be sacred, irrespective of whether it was human or cylon. If that is so, then perhaps the OSCs modified the FFs to save humanity from the SSs. You'll notice that all of the FFs so far have continued to support humanity even after realizing they were Cylons. It could be that the OSCs knew that the SSs would attack humanity, so they set plans into motion to protect humans out of a sense of propriety or guilt. That would also speak to the modified Cylon plan to "guide" humanity during the New Caprica occupation.

How does that tie to Adama? Well, he was present at the hybrid facility at the end of the war, so maybe he has some kind of mystic or sentimental significance to the OSCs. They might have put people in place to guide him in his career with subtle pushes in the right direction as well as to protect humanity. Saul Tigh has known Adama for 20+ years, so he has had ample opportunity to influence Adama. Chief Tyrol has had some opportunity to help out. The FFs may not have even known what they were doing, but their programming could have helped them with those pushes.

That would also provide some of the motivation for Cain. Her sleeper programming to protect humanity was reinforced by the duplicity of the Gina 6 (Not the Jena Six). She also had a strong reaction to the Cylon attack that may have been part of her sleeper programming spurring her to action, and that action may have been to find the rest of humanity by following the Cylon fleet.

Of course, this provides another possible Cylon in Laura Roslin. She seems to be uncharacteristically hostile to the enemy Cylons (to wit, throwing Leoben Conroy out an airlock), but when Athena/Boomer 8 allied with the humans, Roslin warmed up quite a bit. She is in a position to defend humanity, as well. She also had the same Opera House visions as the Number 3 model regarding the FFs.

Trying to bring some rationalization to the table as to Cain's actions - not really needed
Rationale for Cain's actions - see above.

I'm still trying to figure out how this sets up the final season (March? ARGH)
March? Feh.

If my house of cards is built on a solid foundation, then this could set up the new season by providing the FFs with a motivation to continue to serve humanity. The whole milieu is steeped in religious significance for humans and Cylons, so a mystical calling would not be out of character for these folks.

My money is still on Cain as the last Cylon. That would be delicious...
Cain as the final Cylon. I'd go along with that, but I'd hedge my bet with Laura Roslin, unless I'm forgetting that she has passed the "human" test from Baltar's Cylon detector. Of course, we don't know that Baltar's detector works correctly on the FFs. If they are physiologically different, then they may not be detectable by that machine.

A Whole Lott of Shakin' Going On

Trent Lott is resigning by the end of the year.

No one mourns the wicked.
No one cries, "They won't return!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Over the River, Through the Woods, Up Spook Hill...

GPop missed most of the fun. Both GPop and Brother 3 had to work on Friday after Thanksgiving, so we took two cars to Grandma's house. Son and I departed for visits to the rest of the family, and GPop and Brother 3 went back to our homes. Here's the travel map. The order of travel is 0, 1, 2, 3, 2, 4, 0.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Foto Phriday

Here's a picture of my mom's house from the back. GPop is taking the picture from the dock on the pond. I am the person on the far left with the ridiculously large feet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Mammoth Undertaking

I was talking to someone today about the Russian language, and I decided to check out Pravda's web site. I don't speak or read Russian, so I ran it through the Babelfish translator. I found a cool story that said the Russian mafia is paying the Korean cloning scientist/fraud some money to try to clone the extinct woolly mammoth from frozen tissue samples.

First, that would be cool. Pleistocene Park, here we come.

Second, would the Russian mafia use mammoths in their operations? I can't imagine that it would be easy to keep an undercover operation if your operatives led around 12-foot tall furry animals with them. Maybe that's the idea.

2+2=4; 1+3=4

Remember that one-eyed kitten from a year or so ago?

A three-eyed kitten was born recently. The universe is back in alignment.

Angry Language Guy

I was pondering this morning the phenomenon of business jargon that spreads, plague like, through organizations. Specifically on my mind is the term "slide deck," used to describe a Powerpoint (or similar technology) presentation, either in electronic form or on paper. The usual suspects, the jargon-spewing zombies (like Carl here), pick up these new terms to disguise their inability to contribute anything new.

I found this site that describes the term as an "unnecessary neologism." I like that term.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog Meme

From Cranky Epistles...

I'd like to suggest a meme, where the premise is that you will attempt to find 5 statements, which if you were to type into google (preferably, but we'll take the other country specific ones if need be), you'll find that you are returned with your blog as the number one hit.

This takes a bit of effort since finding these statements takes a little trial and error, but I'm going to guess that this meme might yield some interesting insight on the blog in question.

To make it easier, we'll let you use a search statement enclosed in quotations - this is just to increase your chances of turning up as number one, but if you happen to have a website with the awesome traffic to command the same statement without quotations, then flaunt it baby! Of course, once you find your 5 statements, pass the meme on to others.
My five search terms are (as of right now):
cranial hyperossification
Captain Ruffles
"Elegant, Beautiful, Strange"
"The Importance of Being Scripted"
marcot ravenswatch

And the one that I thought should have been a hit, but wasn't:
Angry Pooper

Flash Cards

My dear friend, Eggbert Terwilliger, is a fine gentleman. Until Son joined my family, though, Eggbert had limited experience with children. When our niece came to visit soon after Son joined our family, I made a cheat sheet for Eggbert so he could tell them apart. I e-mailed it to him before he met our niece. It gave him time to digest the information.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Don't Know If I Will Survive this Revelation

Karl Rove and I have something in common.

Coming up after the break:

  • Up is down.
  • Black is white.

Geek Countdown

Only a few more days to Razor. I need my Battlestar Galactica fix, although I've been satiating my need for science fiction by watching the Babylon 5 DVDs with Son and GPop.

So, who is the last Cylon?

Angry Language Guy

Vale of tears = metaphorical trudging through a valley while experiencing hardships.

Veil of tears = hyperlachrymal person's face in the absence of a tissue or of constant gravity.

One Reason Why this Blog Will Never Be The Drudge Report

Many thanks to the people that pop in here to read about whatever's on my mind. It's both gratifying and frightening. You should all pat yourselves on the back for your efforts in deciphering what's here. You are welcome to build a back-patter from this diagram. Wear the hat on your head, pull the handle, let go, and feel the love.

Here's the reason for the congratulations.

cash advance

To borrow schtick from Indexed, here's a Venn diagram.

Open Offer to the Democrats in Congress

It sounds as though you are having some trouble with remaining "firm." I humbly suggest you try acquiring one of these.

Alternate definitions include what's on this.

Or this.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Homework Again

Son had a homework assignment to create a book called Life is Good. It's a celebration of family, aspirations, and personality. The last page he worked on was the Author's Note. The assignment was to dedicate the book to two people who are important in the author's (Son's) life. He asked if he could dedicate it to GPop and me. Then he asked for some help in writing it.

This book is dedicated to my dad and pop, GDad and GPop. They needed a forever kid. I needed a forever home. They love me. I am their son. From the day I met them, my life will never be the same.

Foto Phriday

Son carving his pumpkin at the recent Fallfest. The whole Fallfest thing was free of charge. What a hoot!

The resulting Jack-o-lantern.


Worker: ...and she just wants to stand there behind me the whole time. She'll smell the hair dryer...

Worker 2: I hope you're talking about a dog.

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange, part 3


The guy from the previous installments of Elegant, Beautiful, Strange (EBS Guy) just stopped by my desk for a neighborly kvetch session. So far, so good. Work is unfulfilling, time passes faster as you get older, so many years until retirement, my shirt is covered in lint, etc. Pretty innocuous conversation for my precaffeinated state.

EBS Guy: I read in the news that they discovered an ancient Roman burial site in Syria recently.

GDad: Really? That's interesting.

EBS Guy: Yeah. I'm fascinated by this stuff. Hey, did you know they say that the Greek civilization may go back a lot farther than we think?

GDad: Really? I know they were one of the old ones...

EBS Guy: Yeah, they found that the ancient Greeks may have had a full civilization while there were still dinosaurs on the planet. The Greeks hunted them.

GDad: . . .

EBS Guy: Yeah, they did DNA testing and everything. Imagine... hunting dinosaurs.

GDad: I wouldn't have guessed that.

EBS Guy: I saw it on the History Channel.

GDad: Makes you think.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Next Stage in Human Evolution

There is a mall down the street from my office. I went there today for lunch with a co-worker whose blog name I'll have to ponder, but for today, we'll call him Big Gay Al. We had a nice lunch at a food court place that sells an odd collection of chicken-related food, hamburgers, and Greek food. I think the very Mediterranean-looking gentleman who came out of the back to help the cash register person may have something to do with that last bit. The cash register lady and the cook may be co-owners, because she told me that they were opening a second location in January, after I expressed interest in the business and the high quality of the food and service.

As we were walking to get a little exercise, we passed by one of those wretched Dead Sea Salt places. I tried to avoid the aggressive kiosk guy, Alon from Israel ("It sounds like 'alone,' but I am not alone."), but Big Gay Al was in the mood to be entertained and to flirt a little. Once Alon figured out that Big Gay Al may be interested in buying, but that I was just barely tolerant of his sales spiel, Alon turned on the charm with Big Gay Al and let me back slowly away, but I didn't escape without smearing some greasy salt all over my hands. Maybe it removed toxins or something.

Big Gay Al ended up buying a year's supply of greasy salt (about a pint). At one point, Big Gay Al remarked to Alon, "You seem to have a thing about babies' bottoms." Alon is new to our culture, and I think the snark went right over his head. We moved on.

Remember when we discussed whether a person wearing a monocle and holding a plunger on a Segway was functionally equivalent to a Dalek? I saw a mall security guard wearing a bicycle helmet and riding a Segway. I had to stop and get a picture. I had no choice. Behold the next stage in human evolution - the Mallek.

The Dream May Be a Reality

I found this. Now all I need is a vial of caffeine powder.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Home, Home On...

GPop buys eggs that purport to be from "free range" chickens. Maybe I'm a barbaric Philistine, but I don't care. I just wonder how the free range chickens keep their little cowboy hats on.

Eccentric Senescence

Last night, we watched an episode of Corner Gas where Oscar described his experience with destroying things. The schtick they use on the show is that they show the flashbacks, but the characters in the present act as though the speaker had narrated the flashback. One of Oscar's flashbacks was him in the kitchen making a salad. As he dropped the last bit of lettuce in the bowl, the salad exploded. Another character asked how one could blow up a salad, and Oscar replied, "It happens more often than you'd think."

The last time we bought furniture, we went to the showroom of a big furniture warehouse kind of place. The sales guy was an older man who'd had a lot of experience with such things. He encouraged us to look at certain pieces once we'd explained our needs to him.

One of the big selling points of the piece we eventually bought was that it had been treated with a stain-resistant Teflon coating. The salesman told us that the coating had no color, odor, or taste. GPop did a double-take and said, "Honestly, how many people taste their couches?"

Without missing a beat, the salesman replied, "You'd be surprised."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Open Letter to Unsolicited E-mail Senders

Dear Not-Quite-Human Scum,

Thank you for thinking of me with your relentless assault of unsolicited, unwanted, and unread dreck you have poured into my e-mail inboxes. Many Some Few No people feel wanted because of the number of incoming messages in their e-mail inbox.

I do not have any need for a Rolex watch, real or fake, nor a R0lex, nor R|0|L|3|X watch. I have a nice Seiko watch I got as a gift last year, and it will serve me well until entropy consumes it someday.

I am quite satisfied with my personal attributes "down there," so I do not have any need at this time for V1@grA, C1@L1$, or L|3|V|1|T|R|4. If at some future date, I require assistance, I am quite comfortable speaking to my D|0|C|+|0|R about this issue.

In order to respond to any offer of low-cost vacations to the exotic spots you mention, I think I would first have to prepare myself by hitting myself in the temple with a hammer, hard, claw end first. I've stayed in cruddy hotels before, and the thought of giving my money sight unseen to anyone in exchange for some hypothetical vacation experience is pretty repugnant.

Finally, I do not require any introductions to people for romantic liaisons. I'm sure the people you would like to add to my social calendar are quite nice, but I'd prefer to travel in social circles of my own choosing.

So, I no longer require your services, and I respectfully request that you stop sending these missives to me. I hope you understand that if I do continue to receive them, I will be forced to find you and kick you repeatedly between the legs until you are bifurcated from the neck down.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Foto Phriday

This is a picture of our neighbor's cat. I had written something on the patio in sidewalk chalk last week, and the cat came over and rolled around in it as though to erase what I'd written.

The LOL-ness of it may be:

Any suggestions?

Up, Up, and Away

This week, we've seen a blimp flying around a couple of miles away from our office. The weird thing is that none of can figure out whether there are any blimpworthy events going on in town.

Blimpworthy. Heh.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And Checking It Twice

Last night, Son brought home a homework assignment for his health class that was a food diary. He was supposed to list all of the food he ate during the day and identify whether it was grain, fruit, vegetable, meat, dairy, or the sinister "other" category.

As he was working on the assignment, I kept getting questions like, "Is cereal 'S-E-R-?'"

"No, the cereal that you eat is 'C-E-R-E-A-L.'"

"OK. How do you spell 'biscuit?'"

I told him. He wrote some more stuff down, and then he asked, "Is banana 'B-A-N-A-N-A?'"

"Yes. That reminds me of the joke about the little girl who says she knows how to spell 'banana,' but she doesn't know when to stop."

"Yeah, I've heard that before."

He finished up his assignment, then went over to the counter next to GPop. Son grabbed a banana, peeled it, and started to eat it. GPop asked, "Did talking about bananas make you hungry?"

Son replied, "I had to eat it. It was on my list."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


"It ain't bragging if you done it."
--Variously attributed to Will Rogers or Dizzy Dean

Because of Educational Reform created and endorsed by a Coalition of the Willing in our federal government that culminated in No Child Left Behind (a.k.a "Death by Standardized Testing"), I now see the results of innumerable standardized tests for Son.

Back in my day (he says, as he complains about his gout and rocks on the front porch with a lemonade), we had the Iowa Test of Basic Skills every two years, and then we took the PSAT to get ourselves a National Merit scholarship, then we took the SAT or ACT (or sometimes both) to get into college. And we were happy in those days. There were pies on every window sill, Fords or Chevrolets in every garage, and kids respected their elders. Not like today, where Go-gurt-eating third graders will garrote you for the chrome on your Hyundai's oblique H nameplate. And don't even get me started about how hot it gets in the summers these days, and...

Harrumph.... Where was I? Oh, yes...

So last year, Son brought home a standardized test that showed capabilities in Reading and Math (their capitalization, not mine) within margin for error of average. Son described himself as a "C student" all last year, even though we held him to a higher standard. He really resisted, partly I think because he didn't believe he was capable of anything more.

Two days ago, he brought home a different standardized test that measured reading skills. This test provides a reading level in the form of Y.M, where Y is a number of years in school, and M is a number of months in that year. For example, Son is currently in 7.3 - seventh grade, third month thereof. His test showed him reading at grade level 9.5 - ninth grade, fifth month.

When I praised him for his hard work, he got all "Aw, shucks" about it, but I could tell that he was just bursting with pride for achieving so much. Last night, he asked me if I could get him any "ninth grade books" that he could read. The other criterion was that the book needed to have dragons, swords, and shields in it. The bookstore seemed to have a reasonable selection, but I suggested that we go home, because we easily have a couple hundred books at home that would fit the bill.

Son: Do any of them have dragons in them?

GDad: Do you know who I am? What do you think I read when I was a kid?

Son: I don't know. Geeky science stuff?

GDad: Well, OK, yes, but there were also plenty of dragon-related books. If there aren't any in the house, I'm sure we can find some in the barn.

Captain Ruffles and the Scarlet Slipper Mystery

Captain Ruffles sat next to me in a rehearsal several years ago for a singing group to which we both belonged. The rehearsals had a fairly casual feel to them, so there was occasional chatter. A member of the chorus was wearing an orange sweater that evening, and Captain Ruffles decided to channel Mr. Blackwell.

Captain Ruffles: Ugh. I can't believe she's wearing orange. That's not her color. It's not anyone's color.

Random Chorus Girl: But Tom Assistantdirector wears orange.

Captain Ruffles: Well, there you go.

Citizen of the Republic

Our state had elections yesterday. Son told me that he had never really seen anyone vote in real elections before, so I took him to the polling place with me, and he followed me to the ballot. Remind me sometime to tell you of my 2006 experience with the electronic voting machines.

Our state also has implemented an ID requirement for the polling place. Just to be contrary, I took my passport. It turns out that a passport is NOT sufficient identification for voting, because it does not have a street address on it. Fortunately, I did have my driver's license, so tragedy was averted. (WARNING - The previous sentence contains the passive voice.)

Son watched me press the buttons for mayor, council, and various other functionaries. I let him press the button for the school tax levy AFTER I PRESSED IT (in case any elections officials are reading), but the levy still failed. The school system claims that they will have to stop busing high school students due to lack of funding. That won't affect Son this year or next, but if we grow our family with another teen, it could be problematic before that.

I know there are probably inefficiencies in the school system that could be cleaned up to reduce the impact of a failed levy, but I'm wondering what kind of idiocy causes these anti-every-tax big-L Libertardians to vote to lower their property values and futures of their children. Maybe that's the point. Lower property values = lower taxes.

I think I'll write a letter to ask the school to suspend the sports program. That'll get the attention of the redneck anti-tax crowd. "I don' give no rat's a$$ about no busin', but don' you take 'way my footbawl."

Monday, November 5, 2007

The 200

Blogger tells me that this is my 200th post. I'd like to imagine that there are at least a dozen people who read my site, and my Feedburner stats tell me that I may aspire to that, provided not everyone hits my site every day.

I've added blog label categories for those of you who like what you're reading and would like to see more in a similar vein.

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange, Part 2

I've written before about a co-worker who writes notes that follow the form of actual communications, but which have fundamental flaws. This fellow just provided an example of the other side of the pendulum's swing. I've redacted the name. The subject line is brilliant.

Me - Leaving now to pick up wife and take her to airport

The Gastronomic Conspiracy

Son and GPop were pursuing other ventures on Friday evening, so I went to the Greek restaurant with Baldo McNerdy and Eggbert Terwilliger. We were talking philosophy, politics, entertainment, and scandal - the usual stuff - when we saw a sign on the door advertising the falafel. I mentioned the Bill O'Reilly falafel thing, and Baldo decided that he must order some.

Yes, the pieces of falafel looked like droppings, but they were patty-shaped rather than sausage-shaped.

Also, Eggbert does not like baba ghanoug.

My Halloween Costume

My costume was just a sash over my clothes that said, "SENATOR." Whenever I stood or sat, I kept my legs far apart. I spent about five minutes making the costume, and about two hours throughout the day explaining it. I think I offended one of the more conservative people at work. He got a little huffy about how Larry Craig hadn't been proven guilty.

GDad: But [Person], he plead guilty.

EBS Guy: But he tried to withdraw that. That means he's not guilty.

GDad: First, he wasn't successful at withdrawing his plea, since it appears that you really only have a case for withdrawal if you are insane, you don't speak English, or you were coerced. None of those apply. Second, attempting to withdraw a guilty plea doesn't imply innocence.

EBS Guy: Well, he was railroaded.

GDad: OK. I'm going to lunch now.

UPDATE: I just updated the dialogue to show that the other person is EBS Guy.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Someday, Maybe, But There Are More Important Things Now

Here's a picture of Son sitting in my dad's 1959 Corvette. Son asked me if that could be his first car. Keep your dreams big, Son, but always remember that life is more than fast cars and shiny things.

Now that I look at that picture, I think my dad must've changed the tires on the car since last I paid attention. The whitewalls used to be much bigger.

Mos Eisley Cheesesteak Sandwiches

The inflated suit, waving, advertising guy just became more powerful than I could possibly imagine.

Foto Phriday

This is the picture of Son dressed as Link and our friend, Baldo McNerdy, dressed as Navi.

Later in the evening, Eggbert Terwilliger, Baldo and I had the following dialogue.

Eggbert: Baldo, why do you keep pulling on your... skirt?
Baldo: The da*n thing keeps riding up.
Eggbert: It's obviously not made for the middle-aged man.
GDad: The more "abundant" middle-aged man.
Eggbert: "Voluptuous!"
Baldo: Ha ha.
Eggbert and GDad: [90 seconds of uncontrollable laughter]

New Product Idea

ZING!, the new drink containing caffeine and capsaicin. It'll get your engine started in the morning.

Now in cherry and lime flavors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rodentia in Absentia

The first couple of years we lived in our house, we had various specimens of wildlife around that would pop up out of nowhere. There were some groundhogs that lived way out back and would scour the back field for whatever groundhogs like to eat or collect. Our old neighbor, who hailed from a state known more for inbreeding than our state once pointed at one and said, "Look - a groundhog. Them's good eatin'." Words to live by.

We also had squirrels, but then the raccoons scared them away. Or maybe the hawks did. Anyway, I miss the fact that the squirrels used to dispose of many of the acorns that our enormous oak tree drops each year. However, when I step on acorns in my soft-soled moccasins, I console myself by remembering that squirrels are just rats in drag.

Bugology 2

We went to an event called (creatively) Fallfest at a local park. There were pumpkins to carve, hay-covered wagons to ride, and games to play. There was a woman there with little display boxes of mounted insects from this area. As it turns out, she knows the guy to whom we used to ask nonsensical insect questions.

It's a Small World, After All...

Newspeak, Spam Edition, 2007

I received an unsolicited commercial e-mail (No trademark confusion here!) today with the first line, "Enlong your schlong." Ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for poor use of English.

I wonder if I could enwisen it, too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Newspeak, HR Edition, 2007

Our open enrollment period for 2008 benefits is going on right now. The web site that describes the benefits has a graphic at the top to advertise the company that works with our HR department to provide the communications to the employees. The company's name is Enwisen. Since the executive bios and company history have no mention of anyone named Enwisen, I have to assume that this name is to be used as a verb. "Our HR department needs to enwisen the employees about our benefition enrollitude."

I even checked a German/English translation program to see if this is some German verb with which I am not familiar. No dice.

Life imitates art.

I Do Not Envy Roger Ebert

Son was still a bit sick over the weekend, and he was complaining that he had nothing to do. Never mind that our home is filled with books, games, video games, and that he has a number of things he could do outside while sick that would provide a little fresh air without tiring him out.

Anyway, GPop had to work on Saturday, so he brought home a couple of movies from the little rental kiosk in the local grocery store. 1 movie, 1 day, 1 dollar.

GPop called from the store and asked about Talladega Nights (I'm not linking to it.). I told him that he could get it if he wanted, but I really had no intention of actually watching it. He brought it home, and we made it about as far into it as we made it into Anchorman (I'm not linking to this one, either. No use in promoting dreck.) - about 20 minutes. Will Ferrell is no longer welcome in our home. Maybe there's some kind of karmic comeuppance for the obnoxious stupid people in the movie, but I don't think I can make it far enough to be able to tell. Or care.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Foto Phriday

Mrs. Geekina (a.k.a. "I-Married-Into-The-Name") McNerdy's birthday was a few weeks ago. For the party, we went to a local paint-your-own-pottery place on a Saturday afternoon. This is my work.

Mala Vista, Part Drei

Well, Knoppix didn't find the laptop's built-in wireless hardware nor the USB 801.11b connector I picked up when my uncle was throwing perfectly good geekware away. However, Ubuntu did just fine. Neither found the Bluetooth mouse, but at least Ubuntu recognized that there was Bluetooth hardware in the laptop. And, I downloaded the Ubuntu version for AMD64 architecture, so I could feel the greater processor usage through my fingertips. Or whatever.

On the plus side for Knoppix, it's a live DVD, and Ubuntu is a live CD, so Ubuntu has less stuff on it. Also a plus in the Knoppix column is the little menu that lets me save configuration to a thumb drive. Ubuntu didn't seem to have that anywhere I could find it. We'll see what happens later.