Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harvest Moon - Happy Halloween!

From The Pumpkin Farm


From CNN:

Some Christian pastors embrace Scientology

From Diana Miller and Gary Tuchman

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- Some Christian congregations, particularly in lower income, urban areas, are turning to an unlikely source for help -- the Church of Scientology.

Scientologists do not worship God, much less Jesus Christ. The church has seen plenty of controversy and critics consider it a cult. So why are observant Christians embracing some its teachings?

Two pastors who spoke recently with CNN explained that when it comes to religion, they still preach the core beliefs of Christianity. But when it comes to practicing what they preach in a modern world, borrowing from Scientology helps.

The Rev. Charles Kennedy, of the Glorious Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church in Tampa, Florida, and the Rev. James McLaughlin, of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, are among the theological hybrids.

They say they are not scared off by programs with ties to a church that critics say has aggressive recruiting, secretive ways and rigid theology. As men of God rooted in Christian values, they do not see Scientology as a threat to their faith, but rather as a tool to augment it.

Scientology was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Followers are taught that they are immortal spiritual beings called thetans. Although the church says there is a supreme being, its practices do not include worshipping God.

"I'm looking for solutions, and the people that I help, they don't ask me who L. Ron Hubbard is," said McLaughlin, who works with addicts. "You know what they say? 'Thank God.' "

Critic Rick Ross, a court-certified Scientology expert, sees something more sinister at work. He warned that mainstream acceptance makes it easier for the Scientologists to achieve their ultimate goal -- new recruits.

"Their hope is that through these programs, people will become more interested in L. Ron Hubbard, what else Mr. Hubbard had to offer, and this will lead them eventually to Scientology," Ross said.

Read the rest here.

The Taxman Cometh

From Yahoo News:

Pumpkins a taxing problem in Iowa

October 31, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Revenue is taxing jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween. The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman.

"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," Mulvey said. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o'-lanterns."

Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable — with some exceptions — if they are advertised for use as jack-'o-lanterns or decorations.

Read the rest here.

Halloween Joke - Found On The Web

Halloween Joke

A cabbie picks up a nun. She gets into the cab, and notices that the very handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her. She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: "I have a question to ask you, but I don't want to offend you" She answers, "My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure that there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."

"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me." She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that: #1, you have to be single and #2, you must be Catholic."

The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I'm single and Catholic! OK" the nun says. "Pull into the next alley." The nun fulfills the cab driver's fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush. But whe they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

"My dear child," said the nun, why are you crying?"

"Forgive me but I have sinned. I lied and I must confess, I'm married and I'm Jewish."

The nun says, "That's OK. My name is Kevin and I'm going to a Halloween party."

Ha ha!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Duluth Trip Pics - As Promised



Hotel Pool


Duluth Harbor from Skyline Drive


Downtown Duluth from Skyline Drive


Duluth Harbor Lift Bridge


Gooseberry Falls (Lower)


Gooseberry Falls (Upper)


Gooseberry Falls (Upper)


Split Rock Lighthouse


Fall Colors At The Duluth Zoo


Fall Colors At The Duluth Zoo


Fall Colors At The Duluth Zoo


Monday, October 29, 2007

Music Monday

'Flame Trees'
Cold Chisel


'Flame Trees'
from Little Fish


'Don't U Eva'
Sarah Blasko


'Amazing Things'
Sarah Blasko



It's been a week since I've been back from a short four-day, three-night visit to the Lake Superior port city of Duluth, and I still haven't written anything about it. I actually had most of a post nearly finished, but the computer ate the thing, and I never got around to writing another.

So, the whole family went up on Thursday, October 18, and stayed at in a relatively-inexpensive suite at the Country Inn, with its indoor pool and on-site breakfast. Both the girls pronounced our accomodations 'cool' upon arrival, and all in all I was pleased, myself.

It rained something fierce the first night we arrived, and Friday showed up cold and overcast, but there were enough breaks in the clouds for us to get out-and-about. We spent the day at the downtown Children's Museum and Train museum, and then hoofed it down the street to the city aquarium. After supper and a swim in the pool, the girls were more-than-ready for sleep.

Saturday was a lovely day, cool but sunshiny. We took off from the hotel mid-morning and made our way down the Skyline Drive, then up to Gooseberry Falls, and Split Rock Lighthouse, up the coast of Lake Superior. That evening the girls went swimming again, and then off to Bedforsure.

Sunday was cold and overcast, but it held off raining long enough for us to make it to the city zoo for a couple of hours. We then headed back downtown to the children's museum to fetch AE's favorite little stuffed kitty that had been left there, and then headed out for the 3-hour drive - with bathroom breaks - back home.

Okay, that's not too exciting, but I'm really sleepy right now, and I don't have my photos or video put together for posting yet. (I'll try to get some up in the next few days.)

Anyway, it was the first family vacation that we've managed to take with the four of us since AE was born, going on 9 years, now, so I think we were long over-due. AE and LK both loved it, from the variety of kid-themed things they got to do, to swimming in the pool, and sleeping in the same foldout sofa-bed. They want to go back.

Yeah, it was a nice time. Pics later.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yet Another Made-Up Meme:

Five Magazines

1) The Week

This is my favorite read, a weekly digest of the news and everything else, oddly enough published by Felix Denis, the very same who runs the Maxim and FHM empire. It seems he grew weary of having to read a variety of magazines and journals and newspapers to get the information he wanted and needed, so he hired a staff to pull together some 40-50 pages each week of the best of everything: news, blogs, op-eds pieces, arts, architecture, sports. The magazine draws from the left, right and middle, and appears to have no political agenda whatsoever. It's refreshing and essential reading for me.

2) Vanity Fair

This is a most fascinating monthly, obviously pitched at women from the content of the ads (fashion, perfume, shoes), eschewing the usual sex and relationship artcles that pepper mags like Glamour and Cosmopolitan, and even Redbook. Some of the best writing in the world appear on its pages, including that of the venerable Christhopher Hitchens and Dominique Dunn. While lacking some of the verve and penache it displayed under the leadership of Tina Brown, it still shines as one of the better monthlies in the world. Unfortunately editor Graydon Carter - former editor of the now-dufunct stick-in-the-eye Spy Magazine - has turned the magazine decidedly left-wing, and of late has institutionalized a sophomoric and visceral hatred of everything Bush, wherein Mr. Carter uses his soapbox to mercilessly lambast the president and his administration for all manner of wrongs, real and imagined. I still subscribe because it's such a great read, and I never fail to be entertained, but if they keep raising the rates, I'm gone.

3) Wired

The best coverage of tech/geek culture, with cutting-edge computer and electronic reviews, all delivered in a cheeky package that belongs solidly in the 20/30-something world, while still appealing to geezers like me. In its early years the magazine was laid out in an often hard-to-read fashion, taking a visual cue from chaotic and edgy shows on MTV, but today it seems to have grown up, and is much easier on the eyes.

4) MacFormat

For some reasons the Brits have the best magazines on the planet, and even magazines like MacWorld that also have an American presence are better in their Limey versions. Anyway, MacFormat is an amazing magazine, everything that a Mac mag should be, with a monthly DVD, to boot, always with a free recent version of software that would have cost a bundle if purchased at retail cost. Great, great, magazine.

5) First Things

Edited by former Lutheran, now Catholic Fr. Neuhaus, FT is one of the best-written and liveliest journals of religion and culture around. Its subscription base is small, but it is highly influential in conservative circles, both Protestant and Catholic. There is almost never even an illustration, just words, words and more words, and for the likes of me, that's just fine. It's a wonderful read.

Five Albums

1) Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

I bought two copies of this album, it's that good, and as many times as I've listened to it, it still gives me chills. From the opening lines of 'Fidelity,' to the final strains of 'Summer In The City,' the entire album is chock-full of delightful surprises. My favorites: 'Better,' the only rocker, and the re-worked ballad 'Samson,' which never fails to bring tears to my eyes. This is as good an album as you'll hear this year, or next, so go buy or download it now. That's an order, soldier!

2) The Beatles - Abbey Road

I first heard 'Abbey Road' in 1972 and have probably listened to it several hundred times since but I've never grown tired of it: the swampy blues of 'Come Together,' the sing-songy pop of 'Octupus' Garden,' the stylish beauty of 'Here Comes The Sun,' the bluesy punch of 'Oh Darling!' It's all amazing stuff, nearly 40 years old now, and as good as it was when it was first released.

3) Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

This is a song cycle from 1973, with the main theme repeated again and again throughout the album, much as it would be in classical music. The synth lines sound a wee bit dated, but the world-weary feeling of the lyrics and music is so tragically beautiful that I'm stunned every time I hear it. I remember listening to this album all the way thru with my best friend a few days before he died in a tragic car accident in December 1981. I still wish he were here.

4) Jose Gonzales - Veneer

While not sounding at all like Nick Drake, Gonzales appeals to the same audience, one that appreciates listening to quiet guitar and hushed vocals bathing enigmatic lyrics. I first found 'Heartbeats' via YouTube, and went on to buy two copies of the album, one for me, and one to give away. The song - and the album, really - felt like a safe haven, a port in a storm, at a time when I was experiencing some serious emotional turmoil. (It would be too much to say that 'Veneer' saved my life, but it calmed me to the point where things were tolerable during a very hard time, and I will always be grateful for that.)

5) Guy Chadwick - Lazy, Soft and Slow

After the breakup of The House Of Love, songwriter and lead singer Chadwick sank into depression, and it was only after a couple of years and a new love that he was able to write and record again, the result being this gem. It's very different from most of THOL's stuff, but lovely in its own right, and fits the title fairly well, just one gorgeous love song after another. It's currently out-of-print, but is available on eMusic for download, well worth the price.

Five TV Shows

1) Torchwood

It's not actually a Dr. Who spinoff, but this BBC production does share some common history with the Doctor, and even some characters, though whereas Dr. Who is often a bit over-the-top, Torchwood is darker and edgier. I've downloaded all of the first season, and just need to get on with watching.

2) Kitchen Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay's new Fox show is better - IMHO - than his previous 'Hell's Kitchen,' much more interesting and watchable. I'm not much for cooking shows, but this is no cooking show. This is restauranting as hand-to-hand combat. Very cool.

3) 24

I've watched all 5 seasons, so far, from the very first episode. While the show is still great, the first season was the most intense for me, absolutely riveting, raised the bar on what an action show could be.

4) Seinfeld

The first season or two weren't that great, but NBC wisely gave the show room to grow, and by the time it was retired, the writing was consistently the best on television, giving us some of the funniest sketches ever aired. My favorite? The Soup Nazi. Next!

5) Bionic Woman

In the new series that premiered this fall, Jamie Sommers is played by dark-haired Michelle Ryan to good effect. I've only watched a couple of episodes so far, but I may be hooked. Sure it's cheesy, but it's great cheese.

Fun With Math

111,111,111 X 111,111,111 = 12345678987654321

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Music Monday - Jose Gonzalez

'Heartbeats' and 'Hand On Your Heart' (live)
Jose Gonzalez


Jose Gonzalez


'Killing For Love'
Jose Gonzalez


'Down The Line'
Jose Gonzalez


Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Night Video - MashUp

'Can't Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head'
Kylie Minogue and New Order


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Borrowed 'Should You' Meme

1. Should you tell someone if they have toilet paper stuck to their shoe?

Generally I'd say yes. There's very little that can go wrong here.

2. Should you eat cake for breakfast?

Sure. I mean, I have, but you need more protein, so maybe cheesecake and - for the ladies - some beefcake?

3. Should you read old love letters?

I dunno, I've done it, but it depends how much hurt was there when the relationship ended. I've kept all the correspondence I shared with all the women I dated, and even the ones who who were only friends, but whom I wished I'd dated. From time to time I've glanced thru the archives, but for some of them, even years later, it's still a bit raw, maybe, too painful. And yet still I keep them. I don't easily let go of memories.

A few years back I took all the correspondence I'd received from one old girlfriend during the six months we dated - greeting cards, post cards, letters - and typed them into my computer in an attempt to try to give some cohesion to what we'd shared. There was alot of good between us, but also alot of pain too, and things were often kind of volatile due to some bi-polar issues of hers.

Thing was, I was pretty insecure to begin with, but with her I often felt on edge, inadequate, scared that she was going to break up with me on some whim - which she eventually did. We had alot of fun, but the relationship was kind of dysfunctional, too, because she could never seem to be the same person, from day to day. Today she would be a passionate artist, and the tomorrow she'd be an intelligent bookish sort, and the day after that a morose shoe-gazer. It was exhausting trying to figure out how I should act or react.

Thing is, I cared very much for her, and I think she almost let herself care for me, but she needed more drama than I could provide, maybe, and one night after a date, back at her place, she told me she needed me out of her life. It wasn't the first time she'd tried to break up, but I'd always been able to talk her back off the ledge, as it were. This time was different. She simply was not going to change her mind once she'd committed to a course of action, and she was determined to leave.

I was devastated. I knew we'd been having trouble, but I had no idea things were so bad, and I cried for nearly three hours on the floor while she sat nearly-catatonic on the sofa, not showing any outward hint of emotion, just staring at me. I finally got up, kissed her on the forehead, and left.

Oddly, it wasn't really over, entirely, and we ended up going out on and off with each other on a non-exclusive basis for another few months, but it never was quite the same as it had been. Then one day, about six months after she'd officially broken up with me, she wrote me a short letter to say she really didn't think that we should go to the concert we'd planned for that next week, or any other time, for that matter, and that was that.

A few months later she moved out of town and a pattern began that repeated itself for many years: I wouldn't hear from her for months on end, but then, out of the blue, I'd get something in mail from her, sometimes a card, sometimes a newspaper clipping of something she thought would interest me. It was obvious she still thought of me from time to time, as I did her. I would send her a birthday card, and she would do the same. She once even sent me a hand-made clay mug she'd made for me when we were dating, but hadn't found the occasion to gift.

For a long time she was never too far out of my life: one time I even got a postcard from her telling me she was going to be at the downtown bus station for an hour the next day, while she was passing thru, and that she'd love to see me. Yes, I dropped everything and spent that hour with her.

Truth be told, in between the times when she'd shut me out altogether, we carried on an erratic but meaningful correspondence. She would write me for advice on things from poetry to boyfriends, and I would do much the same. And you know, I didn't mind. I still cared about her - I don't easily give up feeling deeply for people I've loved - but I think it was just a bit too hard for her. Maybe it was the past we shared, maybe she still felt something for me that spooked her, I dunno, but every time I thought things were stable between us, she would seem to disappear. Then, the week before she finally got married, she sent me a short note telling me how blissfully happy she was going to be, and I didn't hear from her again.

Years later, long after I was married, and shortly after my second child was born, I tracked her down by email to a church in a neighboring state where she'd been working as a secretary. She seemed actually pleasantly surprised to hear from me, told me that she'd been recently divorced and had taken back her maiden name, but was getting married to a new man in just a few months. We traded a few casual and friendly emails, she thanked for having always been supportive of her poetry-writing and even sent me a short one she'd written on the spot, but a few days later I received a terse email from her telling me it was nice to have caught up, but that she no longer wished to have any contact with me.

I was stung by that, but what could I do? I'd hoped we might be able to stay friendly, but obviously she had a different idea. I wrote back one last time, wished her well with her upcoming marriage and let it go. Thing is, I think I even understood where she might have been coming from, but still, I guess she'd been very important to me, and I had hoped that on some level we might still be able to have a connection, but it takes two people wanting it, not just one, and she obviously didn't. Then again, maybe she did, and it scared her. I'll never know. I wasn't heart-broken, but I was very sad.

Anyway, I took all her letters and typed them up over a weekend, and when I was done I re-read them all, in order, from the very first 'note-to-say-hi' we'd exchanged after our first meeting, to the very last email, and I was stunned how it affected me. I could see the arc of relationship, the alpha and omega, and felt in my bones the fun and thrills, the affection and displeasure, the joy and despair, the love and - and at the end - the anger. And all of a sudden I started crying, and I sobbed for at least twenty minutes, until my body ached. I hadn't expected that, but it was a kind of grieving for what I'd lost, I guess, and it was very real. I put the correspondence back in the large manila envelope, encrypted the digital file of it on my computer, and in four years I haven't looked at them since. Maybe I will again someday, but then again, maybe once was enough.

(She's not the only one whose letters I've kept. There are those whose correspondence I *do* read thru periodically, to remind myself of the good that was there, and to see that things really were what I remembered. Those memories are important to me, and they are part of who I am.)

4. Should you tell someone if you have a crush on them?

Hmm, it's not a simple answer, but generally I'd say no, unless you are willing to face the strong possibility of rejection, and/or seeing a friendship end up very awkward. Just letting another know that you have feelings for them can have a strange way of messing things up. Then again, if the other person has any feelings of their own for you, it could end up quite well, thank you very much. If you don't tell, you'll never know.

(In my nonage I was told than once - long after the fact - that if I'd let on that I was interested in a certain someone, there might well have been a chance for romance. In fact, my biggest teenage crush told me - after a failed marriage or two - that if she'd always had a crush on me, but had been afraid to let me know. If I'd let her know what I'd felt, she told me we might very well have ended up together.)

5. Should you tell on someone if they're stealing stationery from work?

Neh. When people take such things it's usually inadvertent, not deliberate. Who needs lots of hi-liters, anyway?

6. Should you tell someone if you don't want to be friends anymore?

Usually, I'd say no, since most friendships that *aren't* going to last end up dwindling to the point of singularity on their own, usually due to life situations changing. Of course, there can be times where someone needs to be told that the friendship just isn't working, and it may be necessary to make a clean break of it. It's not easy, and few people are willing to do that. Fortunately, the times that's needed are rare.

On the other hand, it's much, much harder to sit down with True Blue friends and explain what's not working in the relationship, and to try to find ways to make things better. If/when that happens, it can lead to amazing and positive breakthroughs, with the friendship taking on new levels of depth and meaning. Then again, when it fails, it can fail catastrophically, leaving behind a wake of hurt and destruction. Be good to your friends.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Music Monday - Grab Bag

Regina Spektor


'2 Hearts'
Kylie Minogue


Bright Eyes


'To Be Alone With You'
Sufjan Stevens


Sunday, October 14, 2007

From The Vicious Circle

All the poems of Dorothy Parker: here.

A couple samples:

Unfortunate Coincidence

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying ---
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.


Her mind lives in a quiet room,
A narrow room, and tall,
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom
And mottoes on the wall.

There all the things are waxen neat,
And set in decorous lines,
And there are posies, round and sweet,
And little, straightened vines.

Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
Out wailing in the rain.


A Long A** Meme


(1) The singular boring question: What is your name?

Muzzy Blogizdat.

(2) If you had been born a member of the opposite sex, what would your name have been?'


(3) Would you name a child of yours after you?

Neh. I have two girls, and I'm already named after my Great-Grandfather.

(4) If you had to switch first names with a friend of yours, who would you switch with?

I'd rather not, but how about 'John?' The name sounds rugged and religious, and I have to imagine any character with that name would have to live an adventure-filled life, as it were.

(5) What's the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name?

Some people use the Spanish pronunciation 'Mooh-zy' instead of the American 'Muh-zzy'

(6) If you were to become famous, would you drop your last name (like Madonna, Cher, Roseanne)?

Sure. And if I were famous *and* rich? Absolutely.


(7) Do you believe in the traditional view of Heaven and Hell?

Traditional to whom?

(8) Do you think God has a gender?

Well, no. I'm Christian, and least in Christian theology, God was revealed as male to the Israelites, but the Torah states that humans were created male and female, in his own image, meaning God has attributes of both. Other religions speculate a genderless God, as well.

(9) Do you think science counteracts religion?

No. Well, not in principle, but I suppose it's possible. I guess I don't see science as contradicting the notion of a supernatural being, or the worship thereof. It's outside the purvey of science, in any case.

(10) Do you believe in organized religion?

Believe? You mean am I a member of one, or do I think it's valid? Well, I believe it is the nature of religion to be organized, and my answer is yes to both.

(11) Where do you think we go when we die?

It depends.

(12) Do you feel a little funny thinking about the questions in this section?

No, but I know that some people reading will have strong opinions, and very different than mine. To comment on such things is usually a guarantee to offend someone.


(13) How easy is it to make you laugh?

I'm not an easy laugher, so not-so-easy.

(14) What person you know makes you laugh the most?

My daughters(s).

(15) Do you laugh at jokes you know you shouldn't?

Oh yeah. Especially those.

(16) Do you tell jokes you know you shouldn't?

Uh huh.

(17) What words instantly make you laugh or at least smile?

'Fart,' 'Booty,' 'Microsoft.'

(18) What do you think is the funniest thing you've ever said or written?

Hmm, I don't know about funny, but clever? I was told that when I was about three I had a record of a production of the Midsummer's Night Dream for kids. I was watching my dad throw frisbees, ran up and grabbed one and exclaimed 'Frisbee I love you, hee haw!' Eh, go read the play, you'll get it.


(19) Do you ever dance to music when nobody's watching?

I'm not telling.

(20) What is/are the worst song(s) you have ever heard?

Debby Boone - 'You Light Up My Life'

(21) What song(s) do you wish you could understand a little better?

Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"

(22) What song(s) are constantly in your head?

Most recently? Like this weekend? Right now?

The first four songs from Regina Spektor's "Begin To Hope:" "Fidelity," "Better," "Samson," and "On The Radio."

Amiel - "Love Song"

Nick Cave - "The Ship Song"

(23) What song(s) do you think describe your personality best?

WTH? My personality? Sheesh. Um, I dunno if it describes my personality but I guess I'll just say that I've always felt that 'Creep' by Radiohead felt like it could have been written for me, but the song that felt most like home when I heard it for the first time was 'All Apologies,' by Nirvana.

(24) If you were to serenade the object of your affections, which song(s) would you use?

Bossa Nova versions of:

Guy Chadwick - "Close Your Eyes"

George Gershwin - "'S Wonderful"

Oasis - "Wonderwall"

Frank Sinatra - "I Get A Kick Out Of You"

(25) If the object of your affections were to serenade you, what song(s) would you hope he or she used?

You know, I'd be so touched that she did that I'd probably not care what she sang, as long as she did the best she could, and she did it for me.


(26) What movie(s) do you love that nobody else seems to?

That's a stupid question, really, cause what movie isn't loved by somebody? But I'd have to say it was a short 16mm film I made for a class project, when I was in film school. It was a B&W study of a cemetery in town cut to a song by Simon and Garfunkel, "Old Friends/Bookends." I thought it was lovely, and my professor thought it pretentious and pedestrian, but he still gave me a decent grade for learning the craft. Still, I was crushed.

(27) Do you agree with the idea that sequels are always worse than the original?

No, but it's often the case.

(28) Who's your favorite Star Wars character?

I always wanted to be Obi-won Kenobi.

(29) What kind of movie do you think there should be more of?

Date movies that guys can actually enjoy.

(30) What movie(s) do you simply not understand the appeal of?

Slasher films: hate em.


(31) When eating, are you more concerned with taste or healthiness?


(32) What's your favorite kind of cheese?

I love a good cheddar, but a Brazilian Prata is a delight with a slice of guava paste.

(33) What do you think your answer to the previous question reveals about your personality?

I'm dry, but fruity.

(34) If you knew exactly what went into Chinese food, hamburger meat, etc., would you still eat it?

Prolly not.

(35) Do you ever feel guilty eating meat?

Nup, only if I know that an animal was killed in the process.


(36) Mac or PC?

Mac at home, PeeSee at work. I prefer Macs.

(37) How much do you actually care about the inner workings of your computer, as long as it works?

I have a degree in Computer Information Systems, so I know alot of this stuff but, meh, don't care all that much, as long as it gets the job done.

(38) Do you ever begin preferring IMs to other forms of conversation?

Prefer? No, but they do have a charm all their own, especially when engaged with someone who gives good chat. I've gotten to know some people best by communicating that way. Then again, a dullard is a dullard, whether face-to-face or online, and who wants to chat with someone like that?

(39) Do you find you're different talking through IMs than face-to-face or on the telephone?

Hmm, I've rarely IM'd people whom I would otherwise phone, so I guess I'm not sure, but I'll say probably .

(40) Have you ever ended bid on something on eBay and regretted it later?



(41) Have you ever wished you could experience being the other gender?

Yeah, once in a while. It's not something I'd go thru a gender re-assignment surgery for, but being a girl for a day might be intriguing. Sure, why not? (The question doesn't ask why, so I'm not answering that part.)

(42) What do you love most about the other gender?

You know, there are several ways this could go, and since saying 'boobs' is far too crass, I'm just going to say that I love women for their minds. Well, it's true. I'm serious. Nothing sexier in the world than a pretty woman with a keen mind and wit to match.

(43) What do you dislike most about the other gender?

See above.

(44) What do you understand least about the other gender?

See above.


(45) Do you sometimes see a movie or watch a show just because a good-looking celebrity is in it?

Never, not once have I ever done such a thing, I'm insulted to even be asked such a preposterous questions. Okay, yes.

(46) What celebrity's autograph do you want most?

Jessica Alba's.

(I have an autographed B&W photo of fully-clothed 1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. I'd written her a polite fan letter the summer I graduated from college, and she wrote back a sweet two-page hand-written letter with a publicity photo. She was murdered the next year by her jealous husband.)

(47) Have people ever said you looked like a celebrity, and if so, who?

I've been told I look like that tall ugly guy in the Scooby Doo cartoons. Well, that and the tall ugly Basketball player Bill Walton. I feel so proud.

(48) If there was to be a movie about you, who do you think should play you (in personality, looks or both)?

The tall ugly guy in the Scooby Doo cartoons.

(49) Does it ever annoy you when you know someone is a celebrity but you can't remember why?

You mean like Zsa Zsa Gabor. Or Lindsey Lohan?

(50) If you could enter any celebrity's mind like in "Being John Malkovich", whose would you enter?

You know, the only person whose mind I ever wanted to enter wasn't a celebrity, or at least isn't yet, outside of a very small field. Did I get in, you ask? I'm not saying, but it was a very nice place, impeccably decorated, with a fine buffet. Doh!

(51) Do you want to be John Malkovich?

Is there money in it for me? Neh.


(52) Do you laugh when you hear or read the number 69?

No, but it makes me smile a wee bit.

(53) Were you lying about your answer to the previous question?

Nope. :-)

(54) Do you actually know your Social Security Number?

I do.

(55) Do you actually know your IP address?

I pee? That's number one, right?

(56) Do you know what an IP address is?


(57) Do you know the four-character extension on your ZIP code?

Only for work.

(58) Ever thought there were too many numbers floating around in our lives?

Only at work.

(59) Does your head begin to hurt when you think of infinity, imaginary numbers, irrational numbers, etc.?

My head hurts all the time.

(60) What do you think of pi?

Love it, especially with a scoop of vanilla.


(61) Did you get a little frightened or uncomfortable seeing this as a section title?

Yes. I've always been a little frightened of such things. I'm a shy boy with a history during my dating years of being rejected alot.

(62) If someone you had no interest in dating expressed interest in dating you, how would you feel?

I'd be disappointed, but I'd be relieved, cause that way at least she couldn't reject me.

(63) Do you prefer getting to know someone first before dating them or going in "blind"?

Honestly? The right answer should be that I'd want to know them first, but I've done both, and the relationships that started with a spark when going in blind were always the ones that worked better in the longer run. I was never really able to make the leap from 'friends' to 'lovers' very well. Even in the one instance where I did do that, there were sparks from other very first time we met, only we didn't pursue it at the time due to circumstances that would have made things very awkward.

(64) Could you carry on a relationship with someone with the same first name as a family member?

Sure, why not?

(65) Have you ever wished it was more "socially acceptable" for a girl to ask a guy out?

Absolutely. It's a silly and antiquated notion that sez women should wait for men that way. That said, most women still prefer it that way, mostly - I imagine - cause they don't want the pressure of actually having to ask.

(66) What's your opinion on sex without emotional commitment?

In principle it seems plausible, but it wouldn't really work for me. At the very least there would have to be a deep emotional connection, if not commitment, or it would just kinda seem 'icky.' (Yes, I have a four year-old at home.)

(67) Have you ever been romantically attracted to someone physically unattractive?

No. See, even if she weren't found attractive by anyone else, she would have to be attractive to me or I just couldn't be romantic with them. In my dating years I could even kiss a woman I didn't find attractive.

(68) Do you think the opposite sex finds you good-looking?

I dunno. I've had some women tell me that they found me attractive, and I was also told by an ex-girlfriend that she broke up with me in part because she didn't find me attractive enough. I remember getting a picture back from the shop during the first month we were dating and she told me she didn't think we made such a bad-looking couple after all. No, she didn't do much for my self-esteem, did she?

(69) Would you be willing to give up sex in exchange for an emotional commitment you knew would last?

Well, who wouldn't want both? But if it really were one or the other, I'd take the emotional commitment. I mean, all kidding aside, there are plenty of conditions that can affect men or women that make a sexual relationship impossible, whether for a time or for the rest of their lives, and it's then that the emotional connection/commitment keeps life worth living.

(70) Do you think the number of the last question was a coincidence?

No, but it's kind of silly, really, and it left me with a smile.


(71) What is your favorite possession?

My MacBook Laptop.

(72) What physical, tangible possession do you want most?

You mean besides a tanned and god-like young body - again? I'd love a brand-new tricked-out MacBook Pro, though I'm probably going to just get another MacBook.

(73) How badly do you want it?

Enough that I'm saving for it now - I am about two-thirds there.

(74) Have you ever seen 'The Exorcist'?

Only bits of it on TV, where Linda Blair's head spins and she vomits all over the padre.

(75) How long did it take you to understand why the last question is in this section?

About as long as took to read the question.


(76) Does Christmas music too far away from Christmas annoy you?

Yup. In fact, Macy's had their decorations up this year by late-September, and that's just wrong.

(77) How old do you think you will be before you stop liking getting older?

WTH? I stopped liking *that* by the time I was in my mid-30's.

(78) What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?

I was a one-handed pirate in 7th grade, had home-made costume and a claw for a left-hand, and won a Best Prize award for that.

(79) What was the worst Halloween costume you ever had?

I think it was probably the store-bought Batman costume I had when I was eleven.

(80) What holiday do you think has still managed to retain its original meaning?

Passover. I know, that's not a holiday for the general population, izzit? How about Thanksgiving?

(81) There are currently no federal holidays during August - what should be put there?

Elvis Presley died on August 16, and I think Rock and Roll Day would be a good August celebration.


(82) How good is your short-term memory?

What was the question, again?

(83) How good is your long-term memory?

Too good. I remember details that most people forget. What's more disconcerting, I even have memories of things I've never done. I'm not deluded, really, cause I know they didn't happen, but I remember them, nonetheless, just as if they were real. And no, I'm not telling what, except to say that I suspect I'm not the only one.

(84) What is your earliest memory?

Walking thru the daffodils in the field of one of our Maryland County neighbors when I was a little more than two or so.

(85) What is your happiest memory?

Hmm, I've not been prone to alot of happiness in life, but I'd say that First Kisses have to be right up there at the top of the list.

(86) What is your strangest memory?

I was standing in front of a bank of two elevators once when both doors opened at the same time. The left car had an old white guy in it, leaning against the back of the elevator, playing a blues lick on a harmonica. The doors closed again, the car went back up, and I went on my way. Very strange.

(87) What song, movie, etc. do you wish you could memorize?

Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"


(88) What movie makes/made you cry?

I dunno, anything with kids that get real sick or have cancer. Always makes me cry. Always.

(89) What book makes/made you cry?


(90) What song makes/made you cry?

Regina Spektor's "Samson" and "Better"

(91) What makes/made you laugh so hard you cried?

The last ten minutes of 'Best In Show.' I laughed so hard I nearly pissed my pants.

Another Reason To Drink

From Science Daily:

Red Wine And Grape Juice Help Defend Against Food-borne Diseases, Study Suggests

University of Missouri-Columbia
Date: October 13, 2007

Science Daily — Red wine is known to have multiple health benefits. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that red wine may also protect humans from common food-borne diseases.

Researchers Azlin Mustapha, associate professor of food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Atreyee Das, a doctoral student in the food science program, are conducting on-going studies examining the inhibitory effects of numerous types of red wines, as well as grape juice, against pathogens and probiotic bacteria, which naturally reside in the intestinal tract and can be beneficial in combating, among other things, high cholesterol and tumors.
They found that red wines – Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot in particular – have anti-microbial properties that defend against food-borne pathogens and don’t harm naturally useful bacteria like probiotic bacteria.

Read the rest here.

Reposting An Old Meme

From an old LJ post made in the end of 2005, slightly modified:

A Stolen Lyrics Meme

Introduce Yourself with a song lyric:

01. Are you male or female?

"I am he
As you are he
And you are me
And we are altogether"

(The Beatles - "I Am The Walrus")

02. Describe yourself

"Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me"

(Gary Jules - "Mad World")

03. How do some people feel about you?

"Outrageous, alarming, courageous, charming"

(Randy Newman - "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear")

04. Describe your main interest

"I have my books
And my poetry..."

(Simon and Garfunkel - "I Am A Rock")

05. How do you feel about yourself?

"How come I never do what I'm supposed to do
How come nothin' that I try to do ever turns out right?"

(Randy Newman - "Guilty")

06. Where would you rather be?

"Some day you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova in the sky "

(Oasis - "Champagne Supernova")

07. Describe where you live

"I've been waiting for you to come back
Since you left Minneapolis
Snow covers the streetlamps and the windowsills
The buildings and the brittle crooked trees
Dead leaves of December
Thin skinned and splintered
Never gotten used to this bitter winter"

(Lucinda Williams - "Minneapolis")

08. Describe how you love

"I'd love to hold you close
but I play it cool
and keep my thoughts in a jar
marked 'dangerous'"

(The Innocence Mission - "Black Sheep Wall")

09. Share a few words of wisdom

"Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans"

(John Lennon - "Beautiful Boy")

10. Describe how you hate

"I hope you never see me when I
drop that coat of honour.
I hope you never try...
I'm walking in silence
and I'm talking like a madman.
I hope you never see..."

(The House Of Love - "Cut The Fool Down")

11. How do you feel about others?

"I wish I was like you
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault"

(Nirvana - "All Apologies"

12. Describe your idea of happiness

"Push the door, I'm home at last
And I'm soaking through and through
Then you handed me a towel
And all I see is you
And even if my house falls down now,
I wouldn't have a clue
Because you're near me
and I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life"

(Dido - "Thank You")

13. What are your beliefs?

"You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.?"

(Bob Dylan - "Gotta Serve Somebody")

14. Where do you think your life is leading you?

"Let me watch by the fire and remember my days
And it may be a trick of the firelight
But the flickering pages that trouble my sight
Is a book I'm afraid to write

It's the book of my days, it's the book of my life
And it's cut like a fruit on the blade of a knife
And it's all there to see as the section reveals
There's some sorrow in every life

If it reads like a puzzle, a wandering maze
Then I won't understand 'til the end of my days
I'm still forced to remember,
Remember the words of my life

There are promises broken and promises kept
Angry words that were spoken, when I should have wept
There's a chapter of secrets, and words to confess
If I lose everything that I possess
There's a chapter on loss and a ghost who won't die
There's a chapter on love where the ink's never dry
There are sentences served in a prison I built out of lies.

Though the pages are numbered
I can't see where they lead
For the end is a mystery no-one can read
In the book of my life"

(Sting - "The Book Of My Life"

15. What are you afraid of?

"Sometimes a man gets carried away,
When he feels like he should be having his fun
Much too blind to see the damage he's done
Sometimes a man must awake to find that, really,
He has no-one"

(Jeff Buckley - "Lover You Should Have Come Over")


Even More Inconvenient Truths

From Esquire:

The Heretic's New Book

Bjørn Lomborg, the controversial author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, is back with his new book, Cool It. His take on global warming is bound to come under fire. Here, Lomborg responds to his likely critics.

By Bjørn Lomborg (more from this author)

9/24/2007, 9:01 AM

In 2001, Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg published to great controversy The Skeptical Environmentalist, in which he examined whether proposed solutions to environmental damage could actually be worse than the damage itself. The book served as both an earnest appeal to save the environment and a bracing rejection of the rhetorical excesses and some of the dire prognostications of the environmental movement.

This March, on the same day that Al Gore testified before House and Senate committees on climate change, Lomborg also testified, cast in the villain's role. Although he agrees with the broad scientific consensus that climate change is real and man-made, he does not agree with many of the solutions Gore and others call for, dismissing them as needlessly extreme and not cost-efficient. For this, he has been called a heretic and a stooge for the oil companies. Now comes Lomborg's new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming. He has written it, he tells Esquire, because "there is a lot of well-intentioned passion in this discussion, but campaigners on both sides spend so much time lobbing bitter arguments at each other that their debate has scorched the middle ground where policy makers should find ideas and inspiration." The book is a reasoned addition to the debate about what to do about climate change. And it is sure to provoke just as much controversy as his last book.

We asked Lomborg to anticipate some of the likely reactions to his new book, and to answer them.

1. Lomborg ignores the impact of rising sea levels.

Those who believe climate change is nonsense will be cheered by my conclusion that many of the climate scare stories don't add up. Melting ice, for example, isn't going to push up sea levels by twenty feet, as some celebrity campaigners claim. As the United Nations climate panel points out, the true sea-level rise will be about one foot over the century. This is a problem but no catastrophe. Tides rose by a similar amount over the last 150 years, and our parents and grandparents barely noticed.

But disbelievers of climate-change science will undoubtedly scoff at my finding that temperature increases are real and human-caused. The facts are unavoidable: There are rising sea levels and problems ahead. Yet we need to get a sense of proportion, and not call a problem a catastrophe.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Gore Bore


Critics slam Nobel winner

Article from: Sunday Herald Sun
October 14, 2007 12:00am

THE award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the UN's top climate panel on Friday has prompted a fresh chorus of criticism from global warming sceptics -- with one dubbing the award "a political gimmick".

The former vice-president has an Oscar for his film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, and the Nobel prize proved a laurel too far for some of his detractors.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus cast doubt on Gore's contribution to the cause of peace, the ostensible purpose of the Norwegian prize.

In a statement, the climate change sceptic said he was "a bit surprised that Al Gore has received a peace prize because the connection between his activities and world peace are vague and not very clear".

In Norway, the main opposition party expressed its surprise at the decision.

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Ladies' Night

'Hasten Down The Wind'
Linda Rondstadt


Kate Bush


'Lagrimas E Chuva'
Kid Abelha


'Fast As I Can'
Fiona Apple


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who Says Science Can't Be Fun?

From Inventor Spot

Winners for the Best in Wacky Science Research Get Ig Nobel Award

by Lisa Zyga, October 06, 2007

The 17th Annual Ig Nobel Awards, which recognize bizarre and obscure research and inventions, were recently hosted at Harvard University. Of the 10 winners, seven attended the ceremony to accept the awards, which were handed out by six real Nobel Prize laureates.

Winners of the 17th Annual Ig Nobel Awards:

* Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra.

* Biology: Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for taking a census of all the mites and other life forms that live in people's beds.

* Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto for extracting vanilla flavor from cow dung.

* Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device to catch bank robbers by ensnaring them in a net.

* Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles, for determining that rats sometimes can't distinguish between Japanese, played backward, and Dutch, played backward.

* Literature: Glenda Browne, for her study of the word "the".

* Medicine: Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the side-effects of swallowing swords.

* Nutrition: Brian Wansink, for investigating people's appetites by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup.

* Peace: The Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for research and development of a "gay bomb," which would cause enemy troops to become sexually attractive to each other.

* Physics: L. Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for their theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.

Read the rest here.

From The WTH Files?

From The Smoking Gun:

Minnesota Toe Licker Nabbed

After mugging, creep told victim, "Now I'm going to suck your feet."

SEPTEMBER 11--Meet Carlton Davis. The Minnesota man, 26, is facing felony charges for allegedly stealing a cell phone and purse from a woman he mugged on a St. Paul street early Saturday morning. According to police, after the woman turned over her belongings, Davis announced, "Now I'm going to suck your feet." Which he did, after the 24-year-old victim removed her shoes. Davis, who fled when passersby approached, was apprehended by cops a few blocks from the crime scene. He was booked into the Ramsey County lockup, where the below mug shot was snapped.

View the charming toe-sucker's mug shot here:

This Is Just Wrong

From Suddenly Senior:

Folks here in Florida don't know whether laugh or gross out.

A few weeks back, Orlando's Channel 6 reported that sexually transmitted diseases among seniors are widespread at a Central Florida retirement community called The Villages.

Viagra, a lack of sex education, and no pregnancy risk were blamed.

A gynecologist interviewed by Local 6 reporter, Vanessa Medina exclaimed that she treats more cases of herpes and human papilloma virus in the retirement community than she did when practicing in "anything goes" Miami.

The Villages, a pleasant community with some 60,000 seniors, advertises, "When the sun goes down, the fun comes up…" The mirth never ends!

Read the rest here

Long-Lost Gaiman Story


“I Cthulhu,” a long-lost story by Neil Gaiman

Print this page

or What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47 ° 9’ S, Longitude 126 ° 43’ W)?


Cthulhu, they call me. Great Cthulhu.

Nobody can pronounce it right.

Are you writing this down? Every word? Good. Where shall I start…mm?

Very well, then. The beginning. Write this down, Whateley.

I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa’yngnaiih (no, of course I don’t know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn’t the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.

Those were the days.

Read the rest here.

Bill Wiese Goes To Hell

Read the story here.

Is That A Blackberry In Your Pocket?

From Yahoo News:

Is that your phone or your imagination?

AP Business Writer
Wed Oct 10, 7:47 PM ET

NEW YORK - If your hipbone is connected to your BlackBerry or your thighbone is connected to your cell phone, those vibrations you're feeling in the car, in your pajamas, in the shower, may be coming from your headbone.

Many mobile phone addicts and BlackBerry junkies report feeling vibrations when there are none, or feeling as if they're wearing a cell phone when they're not.

The first time it happened to Jonathan Zaback, a manager at the public relations company Burson-Marsteller, he was out with friends and showing off his new BlackBerry Curve.

"While they were looking at it, I felt this vibration on my side. I reached down to grab it and realized there was no BlackBerry there."

Read the rest here.


From Wikipedia:

Flock is a web browser heavily based upon Mozilla Firefox and other Mozilla technologies. Flock is also the name of the company developing the browser. Flock's creators call it a "social browser", due to its ability to interact with popular social networking web services. Such web services include Flickr,, Technorati, Photobucket, and various popular blogging and news aggregation services.


The current beta release has the following feature differences from Firefox:

* Flock's custom homepage, "My World", tells you when your friends have new photos and videos and when you have new feeds. My World gives quick access to your recently visited favorite sites as well.
* Bookmarks, in addition to being saved offline, can be replaced with When a bookmark (known as a favorite) is added, it is added to the user's account.
* Favorites can be tagged
* A favorites and history section are integrated into the favorites manager
* Built-in full-text search using Clucene. Search as you type for pages in the cache
* Flickr and Photobucket integration
* Technorati tagging
* Blogging tools
* News aggregator
* "Drag-and-drop" capability and a clipboard like feature known as "The Shelf."
* Media Mini Bar, allows you to search, stream, and view content off of sites like YouTube and Truveo.
* Built in uploader, to submit content to flickr and photobucket

Many of these features can be attained through extensions for Firefox. Bookmarks, developed by Yahoo!, Inc., provides integration with online bookmarks. Fotofox, developed as an official extension by the Mozilla Corporation, integrates with Flickr. Sage provides a built in news reader, similar to Thunderbird's.

Check out Flock here.

Digg It

From Business Week:

Fogeys Flock to Facebook

Professionals pushing 40 and older are joining the college crowd on the social hub. Can CEO Zuckerberg's team give them reason to stick around?

by Aaron Ricadela

Story Tools

* post a comment
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Facebook, the online hangout for college kids and recent graduates, is growing up. The site has amassed an audience of 33 million Web users, initially by catering to well-scrubbed kids who use the social network to nudge their friends, share photos, and swap music tips—all while consuming ads from Gen Y brands like Apple (AAPL), Jeep (DCX), and Red Bull.

Lately, an influx of older users—professionals their 30s and 40s, many in high-tech—is changing the face of Facebook. Among Silicon Valley executives, journalists, and publicists, Facebook has become the place to see and be seen. And it's not just tech. Consulting company Ernst & Young's Facebook network boasts 16,000 members, Citigroup's (C) claims nearly 8,500.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday Night Rambling

I was sitting at the Old Country Buffet with the girls yesterday when I heard a song being played over the PA system that I hadn't heard in years: Aussie 70's rock staple Little River Band's 'Lady.'

Now the point isn't that I got to thinking how dumb the song still sounds these nearly 30 years later - which it does - but that I was pondering how much else has changed in my life since then. And how much hasn't.

When that song was popular I was still in college, barely 21 years of age, my first real soul kiss and my first nearly-suicidal post-breakup depression still ahead of me, my future rife with possibility.

The Apple II was the state of the art in personal computing and the Internet only existed in a rudimentary form for military types. There were no cell or even cordless phones, no VCRs or CD's or DVD's, no iPods, no home video or still digital cameras. The future Mrs. Muzzy was still all of but 14, and Jessica Alba wasn't even yet a twinkle in her daddy's eye.

But what really gave me pause was thinking of all the people who had been part of my life when that song was popular who are entirely gone from the picture, as are countless others I've met before and since.

Look, it's no great revelation, and everyone has thought about this at some point during their lives, but it was just a vivid reminder to me that there is really nothing permanent in this life, except maybe credit card debt and a broken heart.

When I was in high school it was customary to sign our names in each other's Yearbooks with such pithy statements as: 'FF,' meaning of course 'Friends Forever' or DEC! ('Don't Ever Change!,') as if 'never changing' were not only a possibility, but something to be desired. And even though we must have known we were wrong, I have to think we really believed such things, as if we'd been bashed in the head by someone wielding a copy of Pet Rocks For Dummies.

But I think that's what I've spent my lifetime seeking, the illusory mirage of stability: the job that doesn't change, the friends that never change, the spouse that doesn't change, the pets that never change. I guess I've wanted to find just the right combination, to get life tweaked just so, to then be able to put it all on auto-pilot and just let it cruise.

Of course it never works, and when things go to seed, I feel disappointed and depressed, and pay the price by stressing for months and years about things that are entirely beyond my control. The sad thing is that I was doing that at 21 and I'm still doing it today. When *will* I learn?

I guess the key really *is* that prayer of Niebuhr's that I quoted here last week, paraphrased thus: that I mash up what I can, that I chill about what I can't, and that I know the difference between the real and the bogus.' Or something.

Right on. Dig it.


Anyway, I'm heading for some shuteye so I'll leave you with a lyric from locally-born and raised Peter Himmelman, from his album 'From Strength to Strength'

Impermanent Things

by Peter Himmelmmann
"From Strength to Strength"

All these impermanent things
Oh how they fool me, dominate and rule me
They keep me waiting here forever

All these impermanent things
Well their beauty's never-aging but their worthlessness' enraging
You know we always stand alone when we're together

So why keep hanging on to things that never stay
Things that just keep stringing us along from day to day

All these impermanent things
Present yet elusive, passive yet abusive
Tearing out the heart in utter silence

All these impermanent things
They point in all directions like second-hand reflections
And they're leading me to subtle shades of violence

And all the people said 'amen'.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Gone Phishin'

From Science Daily:

Online Game Helps People Recognize Internet Scams

September 28, 2007

Science Daily — Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists have developed an interactive, online game featuring a little fish named Phil that can teach people how to better recognize and avoid email "phishing" and other Internet scams.

A screen shot of the game. People who spent 15 minutes playing the Anti-Phishing Phil game were better able to identify fraudulent Web sites than people who spent the same amount of time reading anti-phishing tutorials or other online training materials.

In testing at the Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security (CUPS) Laboratory, people who spent 15 minutes playing the Anti-Phishing Phil game were better able to identify fraudulent Web sites than people who spent the same amount of time reading anti-phishing tutorials or other online training materials.

Now, the CUPS Lab wants to see how Anti-Phishing Phil performs when he swims in a bigger, more diverse pond. As part of a field test, researchers ask people to visit the online game * and click on the "Play the game!" link. Participants will be asked to take a short quiz, play the game and then take another quiz.

Those who leave their email address and participate in a follow-up quiz a week later will be eligible for a raffle prize of a $100 gift card

Read the rest here.

Play the game here.

Good Karma

From E-Commerce News:

Radiohead Lets Karma Police Download Pricing

By Keith Regan
E-Commerce Times

10/01/07 3:47 PM PT

Radiohead is letting its fans determine how much they want to pay to download the band's new album, "In Rainbows." The album will be available for direct download on Radiohead's Web site starting Oct. 10. The band is one of the most high-profile acts whose music is not available on Apple's iTunes Music Store

In a move that further complicates the rapidly changing digital music world, alt-rock group Radiohead plans to make its next album available for direct download from its Web site without a fixed price.

Users can give what they think is a fair amount, Radiohead said, in exchange for the digital download version of the group's seventh album, "In Rainbows." The site is now accepting preorders and -- apart from a processing fee of about 50 US cents -- users can set their own price for the download.

The music will be available for download starting Oct. 10, Radiohead said. Preorders are now being taken and buyers will be sent an e-mail Email Marketing Software - Free Demo with download instructions. Radiohead did not detail whether the digital version of the music will come with digital rights management (DRM) protection.

In December, the band -- which has had a number of hits with songs such as "Creep" and "Karma Police" -- will release a premium boxed version of the CD that will feature additional content and retail for around $80. A regular CD will be released early in 2008 and likely retail for around $20.

Fans of Radiohead previously were forced to seek alternative ways to get the band's digital music, as the artist is one of the most high-profile acts whose music is not available on Apple's iTunes Music Store with the exception of the track "Lucky" from the Help compilation released more than a decade ago.

Read the rest here.

Saturday Night Quiz Thingy

I've had this borrowed quiz/meme sitting in my 'drafts' pile for ever so long, seems like as good a time as any to post it:


• What is your salad dressing of choice?


• What is your favorite fast food restaurant?

Hmm, there just so many to choose from, but I really like Leann Chin's chinese, a local chain.

• What is your favorite sit down restaurant?

In the Twin Cities? Fogo de Chão, the new downtown Brazilian restaurant. It's amazing for both food and service.

• On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?

If the service is okay, ten percent. If it's good, fifteen percent. If it's superb, I've been known to leave twenty, and recently I even tipped thirty percent the night Mondo, The Imp and I were out at The Little Wagon for my birthday this past summer. Our server was super-attentive, and very friendly - well, that and really cute, too. But the place was so empty that night that I kind of felt sorry for her, and wanted her to be able to go home with some cash in her purse. I don't usually tip that well because the joint is slow, but what the hey, it was my birthday, it seemed right to share the love.

• What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?

Pizza, pretty much any kind. Love pizza. Had it for supper tonight.

• Name three foods you detest above all others.

Artichokes, boiled okra, squash.

• What is your favorite dish to order in a Chinese restaurant?

I always like egg rolls, or spring rolls, as they are called in some places.

• What are your pizza toppings of choice?

Love cheese and pepperoni and green olives.

• What do you like to put on your toast?

Butter and grape jelly.

• What is your favorite type of gum?

I love bubble gum, especially Bazooka.


• What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?

My rugged good looks? Anyone? Bueller?

Neh. I've never really liked much of anything about my appearance. But you know, I was told once by on old girlfriend than she really liked my hands: the way they looked, and how how - ahem - very well I used them. But then she broke up with me and told me I wasn't good-looking enough for her, so there you go.

• Are you right handed or left handed?

Right handed.

• Do you like your smile?

Neh. See above.

• Have you ever had anything removed from your body?

Tonsils. Well, I've had my heart figuratively ripped from my chest, once or twice. Okay, more.

• Would you like to?

Yeah, my oh-so-slight tummy roll that I can't seem to lose.

• Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?

Touch. I'm ticklish in the extreme, and very sensitive to heat, cold, pain. I'm hopeless.

• When was the last time you had a cavity?

Hmm, several years back. I've had two cracked teeth since, but no cavities. Life is good.

• What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?

My younger and older daughters: 30 pounds and 60 pounds, respectively.

• Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

Just once, as a child, but there's been many times in recent years when I might have been better off if I had been. Well, that and I fell in love a few times. So, the answer is yes.

Daddy Stuff

I'm on Daddy-Duty this weekend, which means I have full-time responsibility for herding the kiddies out the door on Friday, and have to supervise homework and take them On Adventures over the weekend. Well, whether we go On Adventures depends alot on whether the homework even gets done, so sometimes it just doesn't happen.

Anyway, it was an uneventful Friday. I got the girls off to school, made some phone calls, read some email, and didn't bother going out cause it was raining pretty heavy. LK came home at noon, and we hung out for a while and went to McDonald's for lunch, and then to a small suburban branch of the county library system that has a very good kid-friendly play area with lots of cool toys, and the like.

BTW, all the libraries here these days have free Internet access terminals, and free WIFI, for that matter, in addition to all the other amenities like art that can be checked out and taken home. I am bracing myself for the day when libraries have to start reminding patrons that even though they are about far more than just books, they are still committed to their original mission of making printed materials available to the public. In fact, I've got the very acronym for them:

'Love Internet But Reading Always Reconstitutes You'

Don't snicker. Go ahead, see if you can do better.

Anyway, we were hanging out at the library when all of a sudden I realized we had less than fifteen minutes to get home in time to be there when eight year-old AE was to get off the bus from school. Of course, we ended up being about five minutes late, and I feared AE would be standing in the driveway, crying and histrionic, but in fact she was over at her best friend's house next door, having a grand old time. So much for the importance of Dear Old Dad being home.

Oh yeah, last night AE and I spent about an hour looking at old Digital Video tapes of her as a little baby, almost able to walk. She pronounced the images of that beta version of herself as 'very cute,' to which I wholeheartedly agreed. It's funny, I'd forgotten that she and I used to play a game where we'd start at opposite ends of the living room on all fours, crawl to the middle and 'tackle' each other. She would cackle hysterically as I swooped her up and deposited her back at the end of the room, and we would start all over again.

BTW, my old Digital Camera has been on the fritz for a year or two now, and I keep putting off buying a new one, but in mid-September my FIL bought a HD digital camera that can play mini-DV cassettes, and decided he had no use for his old Sony DCRPC9 Camcorder and gave it to me. I actually offered to buy it off him, but he would hear of no such talk, and now I am trying to figure it all out without actually reading the manual. I'll probably try to use it to make a few short movies of this, that and the other over the next few months and put them up on YouTube, and if/when I do, I'll post a link here.

This AM was a lazy morning, rainy like the last few days, and the we slept in. Well, *they* were asleep - I'd been up since the crack of dawn. I've been feeling kind of down, and haven't been sleeping too well this past couple of nights, but I took advantage of the quiet to read while the girls slumbered, They weren't up until well after nine, and we all finally got showered and dressed and out the door for the Old Country Buffet by eleven AM.

Back in my youth there were dozens of cafeteria-style restaurants around the Twin Cities, but for the most part they are gone, replaced by fast-food joints, and family-style restaurants like Perkins and Denny's.

But about twenty years ago the local Old Country Buffet chain moved into the niche market formerly served by the cafeterias, and began offering a broad assortment of self-serve stations for one set price, and have been wildly successful, nation-wide. The food is pretty good, the prices are reasonable, and except for the busiest times of day, the wait is minimal.

Anyway, the girls and I had what amounted to brunch at the OCB today: I had scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, ham, pudding, waldorf salad, chocolate milk, and and then came home and just hung out of the afternoon, as it was quite warm and muggy outside, and AE needed to do all the homework that was sent home over the weekend.

(Why are kids saddled with so much homework, anyway? It seems just as wrong for my own kids as it seemed to me when I was their age. Well, I was home-schooled most years, but the year or two that I was in classrooms we always got sent home with piles of stuff to do. Didn't we do enough in school to begin with? Sheesh? I mean, AE was teary-eyed at the volume of it today, and I have to agree that it seems a bit excessive. Sigh.)

Anyway, it's been both busy and mellow.

LK will not stop babbling: 'Daddy, I'm going to cut this ribbon into strips for each of my cousins.' 'Daddy, what makes Winnie The Pooh a Pooh Bear instead of some other kind?' 'Daddy, did you know Pooh and I are best friends?' 'Daddy, may I have some paper?' 'Daddy, where are the scissors?' 'Daddy, I want to make a card for the family.' 'Daddy, let me tell you about each and every step as I do it - in a loud voice!'

I just can't get much done. I'm typing this in short bursts, but I really can't focus. I can't just read because the child won't be quiet. I can't write because she won't be quiet. Well, that and because LK wants to read everything I am typing - at four she's reading at a much older age level - so I end up just closing the laptop when she comes over. I can't really watch TV because much of the stuff - even commercials - is really not appropriate for four year-olds.

And, look, before you go off on me about what I just said, it's not primarily the sexual content of TV that concerns me: it's the violence. The other thing is the general loudness of the shows, especially the kiddie shows. They are frantic and loud, loud, loud, and when you have kids who are on the Autism Spectrum, they just don't relate well to such things. So, even though I think they may have watched Toy Story vids at their cousins', we don't have such things in our house.

Anyway, there'll be a nature show that is perfectly okay for the kids to watch with me, then the commercials come on with an ad for some really violent slasher movie, with flashing images of knives raised, screams made, and general mayhem ensuing. I mean, it's stuff that spooks even me, let alone a four year-old. I don't need her waking up with nightmares because of this stuff. So, no TV.

Actually, it's not a hard and fast rule, but generally we don't even allow the kids to watch TV at home. We have dozens of kiddie DVD's and VHS cassettes of things like Dora, and the Baby Mozart Series, and Angelina Ballerina, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Actually, AE is old enough that I would let her see things her little sister can't, but the little one wants to watch with her sister, and she is just too freaked out by most loud and scary things, so I try to not bring such things into her life.

But you know, about Daddy Duty, I probably sound like a whiner, and I don't intend to be. Of *course* there are moments where I want to tear out the thinning hair on my head at the incessant demands of kids at this age, but at the same time, this stage passes quickly, and soon enough there are whole new issues to address. I mean, right now the child won't stop talking to me. Soon enough she'll be a sullen teen and won't want to talk to me at all. I remind myself that my girls are two of the loveliest people I've ever met, and that I have been very much blessed by being allowed to be their Daddy.

On a kinda-related note, I got a comment on my blog today from Colorado blogger Stacy - whose sidebar proclaims that her blog was nominated for 'Hottest Mommy Blogger' - in response to a comment I made to her recent post on her baby's 11th birthday. Anyway, she's not only a hot mommy - come on, she *is* - but she's also one of the better conservative writers on the interweb, and you should read her blog. Really. Gotta love Manly Man Mondays. heh

(And BTW, if you're reading this, Stacy, I usually read your blog from an RSS aggregator, and that's why I never show up in your stats, but do know I read regularly. And I sheepishly admit that I hadn't noticed that your new blog isn't linked from mine - I was sure it was, but I was mistaken - so I added it tonight. I have only the tiniest traffic compared to yours, but any readers I can steer your way is a good deed done.)

Okay, then, where was I? Oh yeah, my blog is linked from her blog's sidebar, and as I was perusing her actual blog last night and saw 'Blogizdat' listed in her 'What You're Saying' window, so I absent-mindedly passed my mouse pointer over the 'Blogizdat' and saw that the meta-data for the link had this little blurb:

'The Perfect Father'

Aww, thanks Stacy, that made my day. It's not quite 'Hottest Daddy Blogger,' but in my world, it's might be even better. And anyway, I haven't been hot since, oh, about 1937. heh

But seriously, you'll have to check in with my girls in another decade and see if they still agree with you on that assessment. I mean, my girls really *do* think such of me, at least most of the time, and it's something I do not take lightly. It really *is* an honor and a privilege to be their daddy, and I remind myself of that daily. The acid test for me is to try to remember what it was like to be that age, and how it used to frustrate me to be told by my parents '...just wait until you have kids of your own.' It always felt like a copout to me, an excuse for heavy-handed behavior.

(Don't get me wrong, my parents did a pretty good job, most of the time, but they messed up, too, and I just felt that was overused to compensate.)

Thing is, there's some truth to that, but some of what our parents did that annoyed us so much really *was* just that: annoying. Parents love to quote the Bible verse that admonishes the children to obey their parents, but they aren't as keen about the equally important instruction to parents to not stir up one's children to unneeded wrath.

See, it's important to approach the job of parent with a measure of humility. One must discipline one's kids, to be sure, but there needs to mercy mingled with judgment, and forgiveness mixed in with punishment.

It's my opinion that 'Because-I'm-The-Dad' may *have* to be good enough, sometimes, but overusing that tired phrase can also be just a lazy way of a parent admitting that they might be demanding their kids do something than 'just because I can,' and that's not a very good reason, methinks.

Just this last week I was exasperated with AE. We had to be across town for her Autism Play Therapy appointment, and she was being so pokey that we were going to be late. I finally yelled loudly at her to get into the car, which got her moving, and off we went. I was feeling rather smug that I'd managed to get out the door on time, even if it meant raising my voice louder than I normally would.

But then I realized something: I had lost my temper (easy to do) and reached for the nearest implement (raised voice) to get the job done. But that's precisely what I try to teach my kids to *not* do. What kind of example was that? So at the next stop-light I turned to AE in the back seat and simply told her that I felt I'd been out of line for yelling at her. I also pointed out that she'd been in the wrong for the dawdling, but that didn't excuse me doing what I did.

I told her that I felt I was justified to discipline and/or punish her, and that she needed obey me, but that in yelling like that I'd crossed the line and I wanted to apologize. I told her I thought it set a bad example for her and her sister, and that I would try to do better, and that so should she. AE grinned and said, 'I forgive you, Dad,' and proceeded to tell me that, yes, in fact, she knew that yelling isn't the best way to deal with things, and she would try to not do that, too.

And you know, she learned a little bit more that day than just about hurrying up and not dawdling. She learned about admitting mistakes, about asking forgiveness, and about the importance of making things right. Well, I learned a little bit, too. And that's always a good thing, methinks.