Saturday, March 31, 2007

Test Patterns

Random sites and thoughts that don't deserve their own entries. Actually, now that I think of it, that pretty much applies to this entire blog. 'You are coming to a sad realization. Deny or Allow?'

Have trouble waking up in the morning? Hit the snooze alarm so many times you have carpal tunnel? Help is here. Good luck tracking down Clocky in the morning. I will never buy this because I know it will be smashed into smithereens by the second day.

Here's a highly entertaining test on whether you can tell the difference between a computer programmer or a serial killer. I did horribly, but can't figure out if that's an insult to programmers or serial killers.

Congrats to Mia Hamm and Nomar for their new twin girls. What do you think Nomar's OCD routine is before picking the babies up? Wash hands, touch faucet three times, wash hands again, dry hands, tap self on nose four times, make sure you only take five steps towards the babies. If more than five, restart routine.

I've always enjoyed it (when I remembered it was on), but this season 'House' has turned into the best written show on TV. Now I don't miss it. Thank you DVR!

While we're here, 'Lost' has finally got it's mojo back after a season and a half of distractions. It was never terrible, but the last 5-6 episodes were some of the best of the series. The last one reminded me of old 'Twilight Zone' episodes with a twist ending that leaves you with a knot in your stomach. Nice to have you back.

One thing I've always wanted to do was collect cars. However, that would mean me being born into money (didn't happen), figuring out some idea that will make me rich and famous (yeah right), or winning a hundred million dollar lottery (doubtful).

Know how sometimes art imitates life? Well, if you've seen 'Minority Report' take a look at how life is imitating art. And not in a good way.

Anyone considering having kids should ponder this British survey: 1/3 of new parents lose the equivilant of 2 months of sleep over the baby's first year. Told you I've been tired.

Last week in Darwin, Australia, some burglars got it on in the victim's master bedroom before robbing him blind. Police confiscated some bedsheets for DNA testing. Quote the house owner, 'I've told the police that I don't want them back'. The best part was the owner had hired a house sitter to guard against this kind of thing, but 'He'd been out drinking and didn't hear what was going on'. I need to move to Australia.

I can't rationally explain why I like some bands over others, but one of my current favorites is Alkaline Trio and I highly recommend their new one 'Remains'. It's a B-Side/Alternate takes/Unreleased type of compliation CD (22 songs!) that strangely doubles as their best work. They're a punk pop band out of Chicago who write disturbingly funny lyrics I relate to. Not sure if I relate to them in spite of their derangement or because of it. Lines like 'I'm older, but don't feel any smarter', 'I'm having fun being selfish and drunk and vulgar and lazy', 'I'm not much of a jester, but I've just poisoned food for you' and, one of my favorite lyrics where the singer is giving someone advice: 'Just be true to yourself, if it lands you in hell, well at least now you know'. Perfect! Plus, check out their kick ass cover of Berlin's 'Metro'.

Some myths dispelled about the love of my life. As Homer says 'Ahhh, beer...the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.'

The attention span of teenagers must be shrinking by the second. Former head Mousketeer, Michael Eisner, has created an online video production company and is releasing it's first project. It's an online series called 'Prom Queen' and each episode runs a whopping 90 seconds. On the bright side, the first 80 episodes are already in the can. I really hope this isn't Hollywood-speak and they meant that the first 80 episodes have been flushed down the toilet.

Oh, they've reached an agreement with MySpace to air the episodes 12 hours before they release them to YouTube and other online video sources. Score one for MySpace!

YouTube did get some good news, though. Turkey lifted it's ban on the site after confirming several videos 'allegedly' insulting the founder of modern Turkey had been removed. Ahter Kutadgu, head of corporate communications for Turk Telekom, said, 'As soon as the court decision lifting the ban reached us, we immediately opened YouTube.' Nice to know I'm not the only working stiff spending a majority of my time on that site.

Stumbled across 'The Fantastic Four' on HBO Friday night just in time to see Jessica Alba strip down to her underwear. Is there anyone more smoking hot then she is? For the record, here are my Hollywood Top 5: Alba, Rachel McAdams (who I may be in love with), Halle Berry, Jessica Biel (the one in 'Blade 3', not the one in 'Stealth'. Her head was huge in that. Think it was the uniform) and Jennifer Aniston. Going to expand this to 10 in a future entry. I'll even add pictures of them in bikinis if I can find them. Since Maxim was invented, that shouldn't be hard.

Final Four tonight, baby!!! Can't friggin' wait. I'm hoping to get together with my buddy later so I can watch the games uninterrupted (read: no wife, no kids) and get shitfaced. Just like the good old days.

Today's distraction: Um, the Final Four. I just told you about it.....remember?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dan Shaughnessy Can Suck My Balls


Was trying to think of a creative title for this, but I'm just too pissed off right now.

I am sick to death of Dan Shaughnessy, aka Mr Negativity, aka Mr Big Dorky Asshole. I've reached the point where I don't even read him anymore. However, Buster Olney's blog directed me to this article in which he turns on one of the Sox most amicable, likable players, Coco Crisp. Crisp had the audacity to claim that he didn't care what the fans thought of him. 'I don't care if people think I suck or if they think I'm good. I just go out there and have fun' was his quote.

Shaughnessy's take: 'Hmmm. There's a good idea. You come to Boston strapped with the pressure of replacing Johnny Damon. You get hurt, post abysmal numbers, get hurt again, then tell the fans you don't care what they think'.

You know what Shaughnessy, that actually IS a good idea. Why put more pressure on yourself then is needed. Crisp knew what he was getting into when he came here. Shaughnessy goes on to state what a 'soft player' Crisp is. 'No arm. No power. No sizzle. No impact'. I think I speak for Coco when I say 'Fuck you, Shaughnessy'. No impact? Did you miss the amazing diving catch to end one of last year's games and keep Papelbon's perfect save record intact? I personally witnessed the defensive play of the year. Man on first, Sox in the field, one of the hottest nights of the year, batter drives the ball to the gap between center and left only to see Crisp come diving in, make the catch, jump up and double the guy off first with a perfect throw. Replacing Damon? Damon wouldn't have made EITHER of those plays. Mainly because his pick off throw would have dribbled in to the infield.

What Shaughnessy didn't add in his column was the rest of the quote, because, you know, that would have been rational and given his readers an accurate account of what was really said. Here is the entire conversation from Gordon Edes' article. It's not clear if Shaughnessy was even present for this.

"I don't really care what the people think about me," Crisp said. "Or you guys or anything like that. I just go out there and play and have fun. Hope the rest of the people enjoy watching me.
But as far as me wracking my brain about what anybody thinks, I don't do that. I hope they enjoy watching us play as a team, I do something, they enjoy that part of it. But I don't care if people think I suck, or they think I'm good. I just go out there and have fun, and hopefully the ball falls in."

"Don't get me wrong," he added. "I like the fans."

You really don't care if people think you "suck"?

"No. I don't care. I go out there and play hard. If people think I'm good, then thank you. If they think I suck, then thank you anyway. I don't really care. Go out there and play hard and try to do my job and have fun with it. Hopefully, I do well at it."

As a fan, I see nothing wrong with this approach. Play hard, do your best, and if the fans like you so be it. If they don't or boo you, it doesn't mean you stop playing hard. This is the perfect mind set to have. Especially playing in Boston or New York where fans live and die by how their teams are doing.

So, what, exactly, is the problem Shaughnessy?

'Last year he played only 105 games and slumped to .264 with 8 homers and 36 RBIs. He also stole 22 bases and was caught only four times. But it was a hollow year in every way'. He goes on to compare Crisp to the four years Shaughnessy apparently spent blowing Damon at the end of each game. We get it, Dan, he isn't Johnny Damon. And you know what, we're all ok with that except you. Nevermind Crisp was kicking ass the first month and a half of the season before breaking his finger and missing a huge chunk of the season. He was never the same after that, but he still busted his ass. Nevermind that Damon sold his soul to go play for the Yankees. Nevermind that Shaughnessy writes this less than a week after mocking Curt Schilling's blog

What pisses me off isn't that he spouts this nonsense, it's that he thinks he speaking for the casual fan: 'Sox fans were frustrated by a leadoff center fielder who seemed to have no impact on the outcome of games.' We were? Well, thanks anyway, douchbag, but I wasn't frustrated with Crisp at all. I enjoyed watching him. Nice to see someone out there with a smile on his face while he's playing hard.

The bottom line with Shaughnessy and his kind is that they get pissed when they aren't getting the respect or insight from athletes to which they think they're entitled. Shaughnessy's petty anger and cheap shots at Crisp aren't because he feels he's speaking for the supposed slight Crisp directed at Red Sox Nation. It's because Crisp basically told the reporters he doesn't care what THEY think of him. It's the 'Or you guys' part of that statement that got to Dan. How dare he? I am a powerful, highly respected writer and will turn the fans against you in my next column.

Or maybe, as Bill Simmons has written before, he's not happy simply reporting a story, but wants to become one himself. An attention craving ego maniac who thinks everyone should cower and bow to his powerful pen. You think it's a coincidence he's taken on two of the team's most popular players the week before Opening Day? What he doesn't realize (or maybe he does and doesn't care) is more and more fans are turning on HIM and not the athlete. Every time he slams yet another Boston athlete, we roll our eyes and think 'Here he goes again'.

I clearly remember the article that ended my reading relationship with him. Nomar had just been traded to Chicago and Sir Dickwad lambasted him the next morning. Dredging up old stories, insults and sullen behavior Nomar had exhibited during his entire time in a Red Sox uniform. I hated that article. I felt dirty when I was done. Not because the stories were true. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. But why didn't Shaughnessy write any of this when Nomar was still on the team? Because it wasn't an article at all. It was character assassination. And it was done when the character, who also happened to be one of the most popular players in Red Sox history, was on a flight to another city and could not defend himself.

Most people already know about the negative Manny articles. Or the time he published a supposed behind the scenes play by play about the ongoing Theo Epstein negotiations that made Epstein so angry he walked away from the team. This prompted Shaughnessy to write another article about the first article and became the center of the storm. He probably loved every minute of it.

You ever think, Mr. Shaughnessy that there's a reason athletes are rude and aloof to reporters? Maybe there is a reason they don't like coming to play in rabid cities like this one and New York? That maybe it's good when a player says 'I don't care what you think of me' and actually means it?

Maybe, Mr. Shaughnessy, you and the writers like you are that reason.

Today's distraction: Take a test of the Major League Ballparks. Scored a 100, thank you very much, but it is an easy test.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

MyPod

I've had my new iPod for about three weeks now. Here are some initial reactions. Steve Jobs, start taking notes.

- Sound quality isn't as good as I thought it would be. It's passable, but I find it odd that my cheapo Samsung USB/MP3 Player/FM Radio/voice recorder had richer more powerful sound than this top of the line iPod.

- Bought new headphones that don't fall out when I'm running and it did improve the sound a bit, but still not great. Would it kill Apple to provide nicer standard earbuds?

- Love that there are so many accessories you can get for it. Got arm band and belt attachment so it doesn't take up space in my pockets and makes it easy to change songs or adjust the volume.

- Speaking of volume, a major annoyance is the difference in song quality. I downloaded the new Arcade Fire and Akaline Trio last week and they have different volume levels. I wind up turning it up for Akaline Trio, then another song comes on that nearly blows my head off, leaving me to scramble to turn down the volume. I mean, what the fuck? They both were downloaded of iTunes, I synced them up the same way. What gives?

- I drop almost $300 on this fucking thing and there is no way for me to delete a song off the iPod itself? Seriously? Everything needs to be done through iTunes, which I fucking despise. Here's what we should be able to do: We initially sync songs up to the iPod through iTunes. As we're listening to them we run across one song that we really don't like. Why can't there be a menu option to Delete Song? It can't be that difficult, right? It takes the song off our list of available songs. Then when we sync up again, iTunes notices that we've unchecked certain songs and removes them. Is this that difficult to add? Or how about being able to create a play list on the iPod itself?

This is my biggest complaint with iPods. Why do I have to do everything from my computer? The iPod is basically a portable hard drive with a music and video playback built into it. You telling me you can't add some simple operating system options to make things easier? We're living in a wireless era, yet Apple insists on keeping things archaic with their biggest selling item. They develop a whopper of an idea, market and sell it perfectly, but then keep you grounded to your computer to do ANYTHING to it. How does that make sense?

Each of these iPods comes with it's own activation code and serial number. You need to enter it in when you activate your player on iTunes. Why can't they build wireless into their iPods then use the individual codes to wirelessly download and sync music to it? Not only would every single person love it, Apple would make a ton of money. Imagine this: You hear a song you like or hear that your favorite band just put out a new CD. You turn on your iPod, go to the iTunes store from your iPod, buy that song or CD and have it downloaded directly onto your player. Would that not be the greatest thing ever?

The benefit of this would be instant access to your favorite music. You wouldn't be sitting at the airport kicking yourself because you forgot to sync your player to your PC, therefore you don't have those 10 songs you just bought. Or that new playlist you spent 2 hours putting together just for that trip.

I checked out Microsoft's Zune (their version of the iPod I have) and guess what? There is wireless built into it. If you have friends who also own a Zune, you can pick songs you want to share and beam them over to your friend's player. No wires EVER!!! (say that like Faye Dunaway in 'Mommy Dearest') So basically, Microsoft has taken someone else's good idea and improved on it. Again. This is what they're known for. Don't be surprised in 3 years to see the Zune is outselling the iPod because Apple refuses to give the consumer what they want. Again. This is what Apple is known for.

- Now that that's out of my system, one of the joys of having 30 gigs of space on this thing is rediscovering old music I haven't listened to in years. 'Adam and Eve' by Catherine Wheel, 'Nimrod' by Green Day (light years better than 'American Idiot'), 'Do The Collapse' by Guided By Voices, 'The Ugly Organ' by Cursive. I have it on shuffle and at least once on the train I hear the first chords of an old favorite and think 'Oh, YEAH! I forgot how good this song is'. I'm then bopping my way into work with a smile on my face.

Maybe that's why iPod's are so popular. It isn't every day you stroll into work with a smile on your face.

Today's distraction: Visit Pandora and discover some new music. Just enter in an artist you like and it will offer suggestions and let you listen to some songs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Social Distortion

I think I'm becoming an isolationist. Or at the very least antisocial.

Grumpy old man, DA?

Whatever the reason I find myself more and more inclined to avoid conversation with mild acquaintances. Those people I know simply because our paths crossed for a while at some point in our pasts.

Last week I was heading to my usual spot to wait for the train and just happened to see an older, Italian gent I used to work with about 6 years ago. I've seen him before and we've had pleasant 'catch up' conversations on our rattling ride home.

Problem is it's always the same conversation. 'How's the wife?' 'You retiring soon?' 'Beach, why are you such an asshole?' Ok, that last one is every conversation I have, but you get the point. We have nothing in common other than sharing a work area for a few years. And even then we used to butt heads. He's a short, bearded, hot blooded Italian who we called 'Nino' simply because he's a short, bearded, hot blooded Italian guy. His accent is so think I have a hard time understanding him (a laptop is 'lap-a-toppa' to him) and he often makes references to people he thinks I know, but don't. Or don't remember anyway.

I like him well enough and have fond memories of giving him shit (he was a good sport, despite his temper) while everyone had lunch together, I just didn't feel like talking to him on my ride home. I stopped short of where he waited and retreated to my iPod punk rock oasis while reading my book. Maybe it was a one time thing, but I just don't like making small talk anymore. If I ever did.

I have yet to go to a high school reunion for this same reason. 25 years and counting and could care less. Somehow our class president (why do they still call themselves this? It's been 25 years! Is it like when you've been President of the United States? You just carry the title with you for the rest of your life?) got a hold of my personal email address and have since been bombarded with 'class updates' about people I didn't much like when I actually knew who they were. Now I don't recognize any of the names, but hey, she just had a baby girl and he just opened a new business!! Whoop-de-fucking-do!

If I really wanted to keep in touch with anyone from high school I would already know how. I have a close knit bunch from those days and we still see each other or keep in touch via email on a regular basis. I don't have the desire, nor see the point, in making useless small talk with a bunch of people who are basically strangers to me. I don't care that we went to school together. I would much rather go out with my current friends and have a good time as only we know how.

Those who don't know me well are no doubt reading this thinking I'm a cranky old mofo, but that's not accurate at all. I'm friendly, semi-intelligent and easy going, but it takes a bit for me to warm up to someone. I view everyone as an idiot and/or asshole until they prove otherwise. Too often they reinforce rather than dispel that opinion.

My problem is not people. Just people I don't know.

This all stems from my father, by the way. He has a knack for having everyone talk to him. Doesn't matter that he can't be bothered with anyone else. Like me, he's friendly (but not overtly) to nearly everyone, but he can't figure why strangers keep trying to make conversation. He could be sitting in any public place and someone will start talking to him. It's one of many running jokes in our family. One year my sister and I bought him a shirt that read 'DO NOT TALK TO ME'. He wore it on a boat ride home one summer to see if it worked. Throughout the 45 minute cruise, people constantly approached him to say what a funny shirt he was wearing. He had more people talking to him than ever. We never saw that shirt again.

Maybe it was just the mood I've been in lately. There are times I just don't want to deal with people. They piss me off for a variety of reasons. Usually trivial. I find it best to just retreat and keep to myself until the mood passes. And it seemed to pass last Saturday night when, out with my buddy, I found myself chatting up the bartender, two girls who were there to celebrate a friend's birthday, and two guys we wound up playing pool with.

Then again, maybe it's not the mood, but the setting. I certainly don't expect to be chatting on the train ride home, but do expect it when I hit a bar on a Saturday night. After work, I'm used to jamming my tunes into my ears and reading. Isolating myself from my fellow travelers. The commute home just isn't an ideal social situation, anyway. Especially with the noise levels.

So, if you see an annoyed looking guy on the Orange Line on your ride home from work, leave me alone. Just don't expect to see that on a shirt.

Today's distraction: Some tips to improve your social skills. Not sure why the site has the picture of a little boy looking up at a sumo wrestler. Doesn't seem to be an everyday social interaction.

I would like to point out #2 on this list, which says 'do not fear apologizing for errors in judgment or insensitive actions'. Apologize???!! In two words, FUCK THAT!! Replace the word 'apologizing' with 'relishing' and we're getting somewhere.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Word To Ya Motha

I'm becoming increasingly aggravated (imagine...me! aggravated!) with some of the phrases and words I've heard recently.

Let's start with the most redundant, idiotic, useless, annoying word invented in the past decade: 'Ginormous'. Kudos, wordsmiths. You took the word 'gigantic', which means really big and combined it with 'enormous', which also means really big and made a new word that means...wait for it....really big. So you see how it looks in a sentence, 'The people that use this word are ginormous douchbags'.

I'm inventing a new word. It's 'hig'. I've simply combined 'huge' and 'big' to make a word that means the SAME FUCKING THING!! Doesn't work? How about 'buge'? Or even better, keep those same four words that mean large and simply insert my favorite. Example: 'That woman is fucking enormous!' Problem solved.

Since baseball season is starting up, one of my least favorite phrases will come into play at some point soon. 'Grand slam home run'. I hear this all the time and it makes me grind my teeth. By definition 'grand slam' is a home run with the bases loaded. By adding 'home run' to the end of that you are effectively saying 'It's a home run with the bases loaded home run.' Oh, well. It's not like they went to school for broadcasting or communications or anything.

One Ford commercial has a bunch of people test driving different cars, then raving about how great the new Ford car is. I wonder if they plan on following up in 2 years when their new Ford, which they chose over a Honda and Toyota, has been in the shop 4 times and recalled 3 others. I'm thinking no. Anyway, one guy says of the Ford 'It's a one hundred percent home run'. Really? 100%? You sure it wasn't one of those 75% home runs, otherwise known as a triple? What about a 97% home run? Solid single? I can't figure out which is worse. That a guy says that or that Ford thought it was a good idea to use that particular quote in it's ad.

There is a girl in my office that ends conversations with 'anyhoo'. As in 'Anyhoo, I have to get back to work'. What's annoying is she will do this over instant messenger, on the phone or in person. Another girl always starts any conversation with 'how are ya?'. It doesn't matter if we just had a 20 minute conversation earlier that morning. If one ends and another begins, it's always 'Hey, how are ya?'. Only then can a second conversation commence. I've used 'I'm the same I was 10 minutes ago when we last talked' on multiple occasions. Doesn't stop her.

Then you have the corporate lingo that's been floating around for years. It's not 'used', it's 'pre-owned'. If you're lucky it's 'certified pre-owned'. Like you get a piece of paper with a seal on it saying 'This has indeed been used before'.

You should 'think outside the box' while sticking you in a 5 x 5 box.

We're not moving people around, we're 'restacking'. I like moving better. Restacking makes it sound like we're sardines. Think I just made a counter argument to myself.

You should 'work smarter, not harder'. This is something I cling to when people question my dedication. 'I may look like I'm surfing the web all day, but I'm working smarter, not harder.' Of course, I define smarter as 'doing less work and getting away with it' but they don't need to know our definitions vary.

I know what you're thinking: 'This coming from the guy that uses doodad'. Yes, doodad is perfectly acceptable because I don't use it all the time. It has it's singular place in my vocabulary. I suppose my biggest problem is replacing 'Hi' or 'Hello' with 'Hey'. As in 'Hey, how was your weekend?' Not sure why I do this. It just feels natural.

Besides, people should count their blessings. If I'm saying 'hey' to you, it usually means I'm not cursing you under my breath.

Usually.

Today's distraction: Please refer to the new phrases worksheet in an effort to clean up your language. It really is getting to be a problem. For the record, 'I see' has been a part of my work place vocabulary for a while now.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Weekend Update

Riding high after picking 7 of the Elite Eight teams in my office pool. Yessir. Saturday and Sunday I wind up correctly guessing 3 out of the Final Four.

Then UNC completely shits the bed in the last 5 minutes and overtime of it's game and just like that, I'm done. Had them going all the way. Once again Roy Fucking Williams is death to me. Every time I go with him I lose. This goes back to his loaded Kansas teams never going all the way, too.

Before that game I thought I was kicking ass and happily open up the office update email on Sunday only to find myself in the bottom third of the standings. I know this can't be right, so I add up my stuff and sure enough there's 7 points missing. How can I have 7 of the final 8 teams and not even be in the top half of the office? Investigation is commencing.

Actually got to have a boys night out on Saturday and shot some pool for a while at Khoury's in Somerville. Buddy I met is from there (the city, not the bar) and likes going back to his roots now and then. I sucked playing that night and couldn't figure out why all my shots were off. After we finish our last game, my buddy decides it's time to point out that the pool table is uneven. Everything pitches ever so slightly to the right corner. Fucking prick.

Thought for a moment I might have made a mistake picking UCLA over Florida. Gators looked tough against Oregon for a bit. Then slid into their mistake ridden, mentally shut down, careless play they tend to. I now feel good. Not that it matters.

Sidenote to J. Noah - you don't have to over clap at every trivial foul or play you make. It's annoying and makes people hate you. Cut the shit, you big pansy.

P.S. You may want to hit the weight room once you get drafted. Witnessed lots of flab shaking on those arms when you did you stupid over clap routine.

Am I the only one that wants to punch that Asian guy who pitches Cingular's cell phones? You know that one that's always boasting about what he can do with his cell phone that his idiot friend can't. 'What are you doing?' 'I'm updating my MySpace account'. You're outdoors in a park and updating your MySpace page on a teeny tiny screen? Show off. I hate that pompous ass.

You think the guy that had to fix the net in the Florida - Oregon game felt the heat? He had to fix a torn net and it seemed to take a long time to get done. I then notice that he's trying tie a knot while a camera is 3 inches from his face. No pressure, dude, but there's only 15 million people watching and waiting for you try to fix a net right now.

At Khoury's Saturday night, my buddy fell in lust with a brunette that was there hanging out with her friends. She wasn't pretty, she didn't have a nice body. He liked her cause she was bow legged. Hey, I'm just the messenger.

We also had the misfortune of witnessing one of the worst bar bands in history. They butchered everything from Flock of Seagulls (??) to Guns N Roses to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The fact that these guys were easily over 40 with big guts didn't help. The exception was the bass player who looked 20 something, refused to make eye contact with anyone in the crowd and basically looked embarrassed to be there. The term 'brutal' doesn't do that scene justice.

Getting your car serviced isn't as inconvenient as it used to be. Dropped my truck off Saturday morning and hung out in the waiting room where they have big cushy chairs, 50 inch plasma TV, free wireless (yup, laptop was in hand), and free coffee. I could have happily spent all day there surfing the web and watching the games on a kickass screen. I won't even mention the smell of fresh baked cinnamon buns from their new breakfast area. They weren't free and I wouldn't have had one anyway, but love that smell.

While we're here, list of other things I love the smell of:

Fresh baked brownies
Chocolate chip cookies
coffee (ever inhale a freshly opened bag?)
freshly laid cedar mulch
marijuana or (top shelf) cigar smoke
ocean air
peanuts
freshly mowed grass

There is another, but I'll just leave it at that. Anyone who knows me will be able to figure it out and I won't be offending anyone's delicate sensibilities. And no, it's not my own farts. Those can be nasty.

Found out on Friday that a work friend of mine is moving back to her native state of Texas in about 6 weeks. Kind of depressed about that. I enjoy having her around and the delicate balance of the office will no doubt suffer for losing her. Not as bad as when one of my other friends left, but it stings just the same.

Since I'm in a sharing mood. I have what I call a 'Base of Fame' on my monitor. Whenever someone I especially like leaves the company, they need to give me some little doodad as a tribute to them. Nothing expensive, just a small personal remembrance. I've worked in this office for 5 years and I have 3 items. Can't figure out if that says more about me or the people I'm forced to work with. You decide.

Finally, it was weigh in Sunday. Starting weight 223. First weigh in 214. Current weight 209. One pound to go to meet my 15 pounds lost in March. I think I can, I think I can.....

Today's distraction: Play some Crazy Pool. It's almost like playing on a crooked table with a crooked friend.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bacteria Trap

If you work in any office you have no doubt have heard the incessant coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and labored breathing. No, that's not my morning workout you hear, but the sound of flu season floating across the office breeze. You also may have noticed that this year's virus seems to be hanging on for weeks, as opposed to the usual 2-5 days. Our receptionist called in sick two days in a row two weeks ago. On my way past her, she had a coughing fit that brought tears to her eyes.

"Same thing?" I asked, ever the sympathetic figure. I think I was careening way away from her when I asked this.

"Yeah, I just can't shake it," was her response.

No doubt you've heard those exact words from someone you know. They just can't kick it, shake it, get rid of it. I used to think it was me and my age catching up to me. No more. Something else is going on and I think I know what. Really, would you expect anything less from me?

Antibacterial soaps and gels are everywhere. We have a pump at our front desk. You can't buy liquid soap without it being antibacterial anymore. Back in the day this was what the doctor's and nurses used while working at the hospital, but since the early to mid 90s, the chemical used in those soaps (Triclosan if you must know) has gone mainstream. Hey, if it's good enough for doctors it's good enough for us.

Now you can get them anywhere. They even sell little pocket sized vials so you can use the gel in a restaurant before eating. My anal retentive brother in law uses it all the time and makes his kids slather it all over their hands, too. 'Why not just wash your hands?' I foolishly asked. 'This kills all sorts of germs soap can't' was the response.

Really? Um, well actually no. A study back in 2002 found no difference between the levels of bacteria on people who use soap and water and those who use the antibacterial soaps and gels. At the time the study brought up the possibility that, if anything, these antibacterial soaps might be potentially more harmful than helpful. Hypothesising that the widespread use of these could create a virus resistant to Triclosan.

If anything it seems to have made the even the most common viruses more potent. I used to shake these things off in a few days. This last 'cold' I got lasted three weeks. Sure, I'm old and decrepit now, but still, three weeks?

Keep in mind that viruses and bacteria are living organisms that have been around millions of years longer than we have. They are highly adaptable and are known for changing their behavior and form in order to survive and thrive. We will never kill off all the bacteria that cause disease. It isn't possible simply because when we develop a chemical or compound to kill off one form, another shows up in it's place. Or it's the same one that's changed to survive the new chemical we've created to kill off it's original. They're little fuckers, is what they are. Eventually (and some think we're seeing it in process) they'll become resistant to Triclosan and then what?

That's not the only problem, either. These antibacterial soaps kill all bacteria. Including the benign bacteria that our immune system uses to train and keep tuned up for the real thing. Now when we get hit with a virus, our system is so out of shape it gets run over by the virus. Think of it like this. The flu is an unknown Buster Douglas and our immune system is Mike Tyson who hasn't been doing much of anything and coasting on his reputation. Down goes Tyson. Take a look at that stomach 'norovirus' that was going around this winter. What usually lasts 24-36 hours was hanging on for 4 days in most cases. Four days of puking. No thanks.

Both the CDC and FDA recommend just using warm water and soap for 10 seconds to prevent spreading disease. They only recommend the antibacterial gels and soaps for use in handling infants or patients with immune deficiency disorders. So why is everyone using them? Why money of course.

In 2005, the FDA announced it's findings that basically reiterated what the 2002 study did: There is no advantage to using these antibacterial soaps. As Alistair Stair said 'There doesn't seem any good reason to buy them' and worried (also like the 2002 study) that over use could result in resistant bacteria. The head of the Soap and Detergent Association responded with 'We believe that the benefit of reducing harmful germs on the skin is apparent'. There's a shock. You want people buying your more expensive products rather than a 99 cent bar of soap that does the same exact thing. I'm stunned!

I must admit I was distracted that there actually is a Soap and Detergent Association. What do you think they're meetings are like? Do they argue about the whether more suds matter? Or the best way to get rid of 'ring around the collar'? Do the Tide people have rumbles with the Era folks? I would love to see something like that scene from 'Anchorman' when the local news teams got into it. Chopping arms off, chains and knives flying around, grenades. I can dream.

Where was I? Oh, right. Stop using those gels will ya. Soap and warm water work just as well and won't help create a superbug that will wipe out half of humanity. And, if it does come to that, be the part that survives because your immune system is ready for it.

I know I'll be standing at the end. Ready to party and take over what's left of the world. I got dibs on San Diego!!

Today's distraction: Play Death Hinge and get some aggressions out. My personal best was 7891 and got me an 'Amazing!' from the game. I know, Death Hinge, I am amazing. Thanks for recognizing that. I find it fun to pretend the guy is someone who annoys me. Since I have a long list of those particular people I keep hitting the Try Again button many times over.

Friday, March 23, 2007

MySpace, YourSpace, OurSpace

Not sure what's going on, but suddenly everyone wants to be my friend.

Not in real life, mind you, only on MySpace. I take pride that I have only one friend on my page. She's not someone I can actually be friends with, so I leave her there out of spite. I've refused many, many invites and will refuse many more. Mainly because I don't know who they hell these people are and if they knew me at all there is no fucking way they would want to be my friend. It's the ultimate catch 22. How can I be friends with someone who would have me as a friend? Poor bastards.

Lately, there's been a spike in friend requests on my page. I don't know why, either. I think it relates to when I add new pictures. Usually I just delete the requests especially when there aren't pictures associated with the profiles. A sure sign something stinks. But last week I had a Constanza moment. You know when George decides to go against every instinct he has and things start going well for him? I decided to do that on MySpace. I won't automatically delete these new wannabe friends. I am now going to investigate these kind, friendly folks and see what they're about. Only then will I delete them.

Subject 1: Bill Champitto. He's a jazz pianist who 'performs with various sizes of bands and often performs solo'. I assume he means the number of band members and not the aggregate weight of said members. That would just be mean. Maybe he can be my friend. I'm often mean and at times perform solo.

Bill lives in Winthrop and plays all over the greater Boston area. I notice he's playing right near me on April 21st at the Blue's Grille in Melrose. Might have to drop by and hang out with my new bud. Browsing the pictures it becomes evident that Bill likes the beach. Not because there are a lot of pictures of him at the beach, but because one of his captions reads 'I like the beach'.

So far, so good. However, I noticed Bill has put on a lot of weight. Judging by the last three pics, maybe too much. Like 50 pounds. Not healthy, Bill, old buddy. Not healthy at all. Time to get my new friend on the BeachBum diet/exercise routine (weigh in Sunday, btw). I also notice Bill is married and his wife is a stained glass artist.

Listening to his music, it seems he's gone to the John Tesh school of rock. Oh, sorry, jazz. Wait, what the fuck? He's trying to sell me his songs. I thought we were friends, Bill. Why would I have to buy your crappy songs for 99 cents a piece? You're not going to throw me a freebie? Fuck you, Bill. You don't want to be my friend. You're trying to sell me shit.

Decision: DENIED!

Subject 2: Kristy. The only things I know about Kristy is she lives in Stockton, NJ and doesn't want kids. There is no picture or any other information. While there is a remote possibility she's a bombshell who travels to Boston frequently for business and wouldn't mind having an illicit affair with an unattractive, married, 40 year old with thinning hair and absolutely no motivation to initiate such an affair (meaning she would have to do all the work to make it happen), that just seems to be my imagination getting the better of me.

Decision: DENIED!

Subject 3: Lynette. I was going to link to lovely Lynette, who offered to show me nude pictures of herself, but her profile was removed. Finally, my one true chance of finding a friend and Tom rips her out of my grasp. Stupid MySpace.

Decision: NONE

Subject 4: Barrie. From Oklahoma City, Barrie also doesn't want to have kids and is a Gemini. That's basically all I know about him. His profile has also been removed.

Decision: I'm wasting my time.

So it appears, just like George, I'm going back to my old routine. Tell you what, I'll only investigate those who want to be my friend if they have any relevant info on their page. Like Bill. I feel I know him already and have made an informed decision not to be his friend.

The others were just educated guesses.

As always, I will keep you posted.

Today's distraction: Determine your friendship personality. My friendship style is 'tricky'. You can say that again. Just ask my wife how 'tricky' my friendships can be. Wait. Actually don't ask her that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Skywalker

Two skywalk items today.

First, That Grand Canyon skywalk is ready to roll (literally), but not without some controversy. Seems some of the natives are worried about turning their reservation into a tourist trap (which I thought was the whole point) and disturbing sacred burial grounds. The burial ground thing got my attention. I've seen 'Poltergeist' many times and know what happens when you fuck with sacred burial grounds. Quick rundown - tearing your own face off, eating maggots, trees coming alive and trying to eat your kids, stuffed clowns coming alive and trying to eat your kids, houses abducting your kids and tiny women with strange voices coming into your house and over staying their welcome. Not good stuff.

Plus it appears that skywalk won't actually stay in place. It extends and retracts from a base. Somehow that makes me even more uneasy. On the bright side Buzz Aldrin will be there for the grand opening. He went to the moon, you know, which somehow makes him unafraid of heights. Not sure of the cause and effect of those two things, but if Buzz says so, I'll agree.

My second item involves the new 'improved' skywalk at Wellington station. For those unfamiliar, Wellington Station is the main Orange Line stop where the trains go to be taken out of service and maintained. It's also where all the switching problems occur and where those poor MBTA workers got run over by their own train. On the opposite side of the station is a huge parking garage that can be accessed from Wellington Circus....er...Circle. It sits right next to the new Qdoba, Kelly's Roast Beef and Starbucks, as well as some new apartment/condos.

They used to run cable operated trams between the parking garage and the train stop. However, constant breakdowns and delays finally put an end to that disaster. Over the course of 6 months they got rid of the useless trams and put in a brand new skywalk. Now you can just walk from the garage to the stop.

Personally, I don't know why they didn't do this in the first place. Why install automated trams when everyone knew there were going to be mechanical issues eventually. There were actually two that ran side by side and when one broke down the line of people waiting went through the pay lobby and up the stairs. Why not install one tram with a regular walkway next to it. This way if there were problems, people could just walk.

Whatever. It was finally decided by the new management crew to do away with them. They made up for this by installing automated pay stations that eat your parking ticket and refuse money 80% of the time. The poor parking guy has to come out, unlock the machine, do some sort of voodoo to get the ticket to spit out, then takes the ticket into his manual pay station and encodes your exiting ticket that way. In all the automated stations add about 15 minutes to the process. I don't use them anymore.

Still, I was glad to see them get rid of the trams. It was basically a gamble whenever you parked in the garage whether they were running. 50/50 most of the time. 30/70 in the winter. The odds were never with you. So, I waited patiently while they did their work. Taking the shuttle buses and watching the walkway slowly progress. Emphasis on slowly.

Finally, it was done. There was no fanfare or announcement or even a little 'hey, no more shuttle buses' sign. I happened to notice that there were no people waiting at the stop. I went to the pay area and there it was in all it's so-so glory. Disappointment is an understatement.

First of all they didn't even use the full width of the original structure. There's enough room for maybe 3 people to stand side by side inside the walkway with 4 feet on each side not being used for anything. It's just empty space. Second, the floor is made of corrugated steel or aluminum or some metal that is very loud to walk on. Thirdly, it's not heated. It's basically an outdoor glassed in hallway with vents at the top to let cold air in. During the St. Paddy's Day storm, snow was blowing in through the holes and accumulating on the inside walkway. Metal + snow = falling on ass.

You know what. I can live with that. It's only a 200 yard walk. I can suck it up. The killer is the floor. Not just that it's metal, but they are built out of metal slats about 3 inches wide with ridges. Just hearing all the women's high heeled shoes walking on it makes my head hurt. You ever hear what one of the pull along luggage cases sound like in an enclosed, cold, metal ridged floor? Take it from me, you don't want to. Think of a machine gun going off right next to your ear for 3 minutes straight.

My hope is that maybe this isn't finished. I noticed them installing lights last week. Maybe the metal floor is just a temporary subfloor and they'll finish it up later. Maybe heaters are coming. Maybe they'll expand the width of it. Maybe they'll add a jacuzzi and strippers to greet us when we use it, too.

Then again maybe, just like many things that are designed these days, nobody with common sense was in the room to provide an opinion.

Today's distraction: Check out some incredible pictures from the sky. I particularly like the one of LA's highway system. Don't take the wrong exit!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Colgate Terrorism


Just after 9/11, some psycho was caught trying to light a fuse attached to his sneakers, which, it turns out, were packed with C4. Fortunately he was subdued by multiple fists from multiple passengers aimed at his extra thick skull. Coupled with the strange fact this idiot couldn't light a match, a major disaster was averted.

Because of him, everyone now needs to remove their shoes when going through airport security.

Last August intelligence officers both here and abroad caught wind of a terrorist plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto a bunch of airplanes and blow them up midair.

Now security personnel confiscate any liquids over 3 ounces. This includes shampoos (which I had taken away last trip), bottled water, coffee (bastards!), and basically anything that sloshes.

Now comes a report that for the month leading up to the discovery of the liquid explosives plot, a law enforcement agency (which one was not revealed) asked the Mizell & Co. International Security to obtain documentation on 'previous instances in which terrorists had been discovered carrying liquid explosives and other contraband concealed in tubes of toothpaste'.

That's right. Soon toothpaste won't be allowed.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few instances of this taking place. Dating back to the 70s when a Cuban Castro hater took down a plane carrying the entire Cuban Fencing Team by smuggling explosives and a detonator onto the plane in a hollowed out radio and tube of toothpaste.

In 1989, a 5 year old girl lost her hand when a toothpaste pump had been rigged as a bomb. In 1982, West Berlin agents arrested a Palestinian man when they found 4 blasting caps and 500 grams of a compound used for making explosives. Russian agents actually smuggled the plans for the Concorde in a tube.

You get the point. Lots of shit can be packed into a toothpaste tube. What matters is, once again, we'll be inconvenienced when traveling. Don't bring toothpaste, shampoo, or bottled water. Just buy more when you get where you're going.

That's when it hit me. These aren't terrorist plots. It's a conspiracy backed by CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens to drum up more business. Think of how much money they'll be making if everyone who flies is forced to buy toiletries when they get where they're going. Then just leave it since they can't fly back with it in their bags.

It's so diabolical as to be genius. I must admit, I'm impressed. They're basically doubling their income by scaring the living shit out of governments and agencies. Not sure what that's called (extortion? blackmail?) but, damn, that's thinking outside the box. Give the executive that came up with that one a major bonus.

If my admittedly psychotic theory is correct, then we should expect the following items to be included in some sort of 'terrorist plot', therefore making them impossible to transport on a plane: Qtips, disposable razors for shaving, soap, fingernail clippers and toothbrushes. Hey, if they can get toothpaste and mouthwash banned, why not toothbrushes. That's the trifecta!

Like Google's plan to take over the world, I'm now onto the major drug store plot. If I suddenly stop posting, you'll know I've been assassinated or arrested on trumped up child pornography charges. I swear, they'll be trumped up.

Today's distraction: 10 Tips for Airline Safety. Some useful info in here, including the first which tells you to select non stop flights because most crashes occur during takeoffs and landings and non stops cut down on those.

Also, number 9 doesn't exactly make the case it's trying to. It sort of encourages it. Which means I'll be disregarding number 10 after ignoring number 9. It's the domino effect.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Legend Of Anna Nicole


I was going to try and stay away from this topic, but an interview with one of Anna Nicole Smith's fans or friends or old lovers (wasn't really sure who this guy was) has put me over the edge (hand motion that indicates 'over the edge').

During this interview, the dipshit let loose with this gem. 'In a way, Anna Nicole can be considered American royalty.'

Now, I suppose 'in a way' all of us could be considered American royalty. Just like this guy could be considered a genius 'in a way'. I'll let pass the assumption that America can even have 'royalty' since we're a purely democratic nation and that the only 'throne' we need to deal with resides in our bathrooms. Let's instead focus on what this nimrod was trying to say. Basically that Anna Nicole was so famous her death was the American equivalent of Princess Diana's death.

Hmmm

Princess Diana - Proper Princess of England using her position of fame and power to bring attention to charities across the world.

Anna Nicole Smith - Drug fueled former model that would do anything to milk out another 15 minutes of fame.


I'll wait until you stop laughing to continue........

Done? Good.

Let's start with Anna Nicole's premature (?) death ranking as one of the least surprising events of the year. Right now I have it just behind Brittany Spears entering rehab. Anyone who has seen A.N.S. slur her way through public appearances and interviews knew something was seriously wrong with this woman. Her denials and protests aside, she was on some heavy duty drugs. After her death, slimy cling-on and personal lawyer (redundant, I know) Howard K Stern admitted she was on so many different medications he couldn't keep them straight. And that was his job!!

Add to this her personal...um...lifestyle where four different men are claiming to be the father of her child (by all accounts, they actually could be, too), her older son's mysterious death and the fight over her body and what we have isn't American royalty. We have the tabloid death of a tabloid created celebrity in a tabloid obsessed society. It's the perfect tabloid storm.

What bothers me isn't the fiasco created by her death. I expect those yellow news shows like E! or Entertainment Tonight to latch onto this story and milk it for all it's worth. It's that legitimate stations like CNN are covering it like it's a real story. Larry King interviewing her mother and not questioning where she's been these last few years or why she never sought help for her daughter. MSNBC or whatever channel I stumbled across, letting this douche compare ANS to Princess Di. Princesses everywhere should be offended. I include Princess Barbie, Princess Cruise Lines and the Princess Bride in that.

I have nothing personal against ANS. I didn't know her and she seemed harmlessly goofy enough. I still can't figure out how she became famous or what appeal she had, but whatever. Stranger people have become more famous than her for smaller reasons (Tiny Tim, anyone?). What's becoming obvious (or more so, actually) is that she was a highly disturbed girl who, instead of surrounding herself with people that actually cared for her, employed sycophantic leaches like Stern to cater to her every whim. People used to ridicule her for marrying that elderly billionaire, but it could turn out he was the one person that may have actually loved and cared for her. Things seemed to go south in a hurry for her when he died. Could it be he was actually a stabilizing force in her life?

Now, just like her life, her death is a circus. Even a Florida judge presiding over a hearing about her final wishes got into it the act by requesting irrelevant personal information about her, harassing the lawyers on both sides and bursting into tears when he read his verdict. It was such a bizarre scene (of course there were cameras in the court room!) that one couldn't help wonder if he was trying to draw attention to himself.

Someone might have suggested showing decorum and common sense is a way to separate yourself from this crowd.

Today's distraction: Take this test and see what member of Anna Nicole's posse you would be. I'd be Kimmie. I don't know who that is, but I'm betting she's still alive.

Monday, March 19, 2007

March Sadness

I'm a fucking idiot. I realize you probably already know that from reading my previous posts, but thought it was worth repeating. I'm smack in the middle of the office pool. Seven points behind the leader and kicking myself for thinking Louisville was the sleeper team to make the Elite Eight. I lived through Pitino with the Celtics. I should have known better.

Still, if Sosa didn't choke with those two free throws then chuck up a nearly half court prayer with more than 3 seconds still left on the clock, who knows. My thoughts on that game can be summed up thusly 'Fucking Sosa!'

Texas got the snot kicked out of them. You could kind of see that coming since Durant is basically the only good player on the squad. Their losing doesn't hurt me much.

I didn't know that much about UNLV this year so had them leaving early. Same for Butler. Who in holy hell are these teams?

Plus Ohio State nearly made me piss my pants. What the fuck were they doing? A last second three point prayer to get it to overtime? I am not at all comfortable that I have them going to the Final Four. They looked extremely beatable. Maybe that's their wake up call.

However, I'm not out of it yet. Seven of my Elite Eight teams are still alive (Fucking Sosa!!!) so if things play out like I hope I can still pull $750 out of my ass. That would feel good.

Here were my final eight teams with the top bold teams going to the Final Four.

Florida
UNC
UCLA
Ohio State
Oregon
Kansas
Georgetown
Louisville (SOOOOOSSSAAAAAAA!!!!)

If you need to know I have UNC and UCLA going to the finals (the all acronym game) with UNC winning it all. I've bet on Roy Williams before and paid dearly for it, but I think he has the best all around team with a coach that's been there before. BTW, the one time I didn't put my eggs in with Roy was the year he won it all with UNC. He better not fuck me over again or there will be repercussions.

Namely, me losing my $20 in the office pool. I don't like those kinds of repercussions at all.

Sidenote for Monday. There is a Starbucks in my building that I've been going to for the last 5-6 months. Lately the freakin' line has been ridiculous. Around the corner, past the front door to where people wait for the coffees. This morning was so bad I just walked out. I don't need this shit. Especially on a Monday morning.

So what happened? Why is this suddenly so packed? Did people just discover it? Have I just been getting there during a rush? Has the service been extra slow or they been short handed? Why can't I just get my own personal Starbucks? Alas, I have no answers. And since I still need my coffee fix, I will be heading down there soon to get back in another line. Fuckin' caffeine has me as it's slave.

Thankfully, a good friend of mine sent me pictures that made me laugh. I am in a much better mood now. I like having friends. Even if I'm not allowed to have any.

Today's distraction: Find out how well you know March Madness. I only scored a 60, which disappointed me. Luckily, I've learned how to live with disappointment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Robot Chicken

Even before they became (in)famous for planting advertising bombs all over Boston, I was aware of Adult Swim. It's basically a block of adult animation shows like 'The Boondocks' and, yes, 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force'. But if that's all you're aware of regarding them, then you're missing out on one of the funniest, most subversive shows currently airing. Some of the shit they think up is so disturbing it's hysterical.

The show was co-created by Dr. Evil's son, Seth Green. You know the one that keeps getting shushed by his bald, scarred, dim witted, evil father in the Austin Powers movies? Him. Sure he's been in other stuff ('Scooby Doo' comes to mind) but this is where most know him.

Anyway, he joined forces with Matt Senreich (sorry, no idea who that is) to basically lampoon whatever they want. Nothing is sacred. Not even Noah's Ark. 'Game over, man, game over'!!

Fortunately for all of us, YouTube has a bunch of clips from the show and you can bet I'll be buying DVDs of this fucker as soon as they become available. My favorites are below and they are all today's distraction.

This giraffe clip is fairly short and gives you an idea what the show is about. It also gives you an idea how many drugs the writers are doing.

Dicks with Time Machines comes up an appropriate Commandment number 1

They even take on relatively unknown shows like Teen Titans. Note, I'm only onto this because my six year old LOVES this show. No, seriously.

Check out their version of Calvin and Hobbes. 'Mars is amazing!'

The Super Villain carpool.

And three of my all time favorites. I go to these whenever I need a laugh.

Darth Vader calls after the Death Star is destroyed. I must have seen this clip 50 times and I still laugh. 'Just get your 7 foot, 2 inch asthmatic ass back here!'

Grand Theft Mario. 'Mama mia, Luigi, we got a pimped out ride'

And their singular stroke of genius - A Behind the Music Special about The Muppet Show band, Electric Mayhem.

Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's Supernatural

Do you know EMF? No, not the band that did the song 'Unbelievable' (which for one odd moment I thought was 'Supernatural' and even started singing it that way. I'm laughing just remembering that). I'm referring to Electro Magnetic Fields.

Please try to contain your excitement.

EMFs are fields created by electrical current. You know power lines, house wiring, electrical equipment like microwaves, computers, cars, and...well...basically everything we use on a daily basis with the exception of pencils. Don't worry, I'm sure those will be automated soon enough.

In a nutshell, EMFs are the force that surround any electronic object. The stronger the electronic current, the stronger the field surrounding it. You get the idea. I have faith in your intelligence.

Why, you may ask, am I bringing this up? Because Michael Persinger, the head of the Consciousness Research Lab at Laurentian University in Canada (always Canada) thinks the current upswing in supernatural phenomenon may, in fact, be caused by EMF. He tracks the sudden surge in ghost stories, paranormal activity and spiritual experiences to the invention and increased use of electricity.

Allow me to clarify. He does not think that ghosts are trying to come through or communicate with us through electrical currents. What he proposes is even more disturbing: That certain concentrated and specific patterns of EMFs can cause us to hallucinate. Those unseen presences some people feel? Just high levels of unshielded EMFs distorting what we are sensing. Those blurry blobs floating across the room? Just EMF fucking with the visual part of our frontal lobes.

He even has a crew to go out to investigate with a whole truck load of EMF detection equipment. One story has a couple claiming to have felt a 'presence' in the room and even felt something touching their feet while they laid in bed. The crew got there and found extra high concentrations of EMF in that very spot at the end of their bed. The house was found to be a fire hazard with multiple appliances plugged into one outlet and extension cords snaking around the house. More electric current, higher EMF.

But there's more (hold your applause). Persinger even thinks the earth's natural EMF can be a contributing cause. He went back and tracked 37 years worth of ghost stories and found a correlation between the earth's natural EMF fluctuations and an increase in people seeing ghosts or experiencing supernatural phenomenon. And even better, he thinks this may result in many religious experiences or 'God sightings' as well. Think of that. God is energy. Maybe that's what the religious freaks mean when they say 'God is all around us'.

What does this mean? I thought it meant what I believed all along. That ghost stories can always be explained. I'm not much for paranormal activity, even if it does make a good movie. I'm a rational thinker and believe anything can be explained on a scientific level. Or in a lot of these cases, a con artist level. Yes, that extends to religious 'miracles', too.

To prove his theory, Persinger even set up a 'haunt room' in his lab. He places a person in there and bombards them with mild and differing EMFs to reproduce paranormal experiences. So far, he's managed to do so on over 80% of the people he's tested. One even felt 'something get a hold of my leg and pull it, distort it, and drag it up the wall'.* He even places EEGs over the person's head to track brain activity, then covers that with a bandana and helmet (he calls it the 'God Helmet').

Sadly, just as I thought I had found a new hero, Persinger is not a debunker of supernatural phenomenon. He has left open the possibility that EMFs may allow our brains to become more open to otherworldly spirits. That maybe EMFs aren't the cause but a portal to something else. He's skeptical, of course, and I guess it's admirable he's keeping an open mind.

Still, I think his theory and resulting tests go a long way towards explaining what many think is unexplainable. It's human nature to put some sort of religious or supernatural cause to things we can't figure or don't make sense. Plus, people believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence in front of them.

So next time Casper comes visiting your bedroom, just tell him you're onto his Electro Magnetic ass. Then make sure your microwave isn't still on defrost.

* I first read about Persinger in 'Spook - Science Tackles the Afterlife' by Mary Roach. She even volunteered for the 'Haunting Room', but only heard police sirens in the sound proof room. It's an engaging and entertaining read.

Today's distraction: Check out the Shadow Lands Ghost Picture Gallery. I would particularly like to point out the second picture down that says the photographer 'couldn't explain the fog'. Yeah, by the looks it isn't fog, but cigarette smoke. Fucking boob!

If you scroll to the bottom there are other pages you get to. I love the ones that show a mysterious skeleton or monster face in the background. Then you realize they're taking pictures of their kids in HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!! Or the 'Orbs' that are obviously moisture on the lens or, you know, the moon.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Global Cooling


I am firmly on record as being in favor of global warming. If this past winter is any indication of what's to come, I say we make the ozone hole just a teensy bit larger. My house is up high and about 8 miles from Boston. If things play out as I hope, my house will soon be ocean front property. Can you say 'early retirement'?

Unfortunately, it seems everyone else is dead set on stopping or even reversing the trend. So called 'Green Houses' are now being built with earth friendly and recycled materials. Wait, isn't wood earth friendly? It grew from the earth. It provides oxygen that helps all the fuzzy little critters live. Doesn't get more friendly than that. So, cut them all down and let's build our houses from them. They'll grow back. Hopefully.

It's not just the materials, either. Companies are looking towards alternative energy sources. One fitness club in Hong Kong, California Fitness (As far as I could gather there is no California in Hong Kong), is even having their members provide their power for them. As the website claims; 'Energy burned off by exercisers is diverted and converted into power for lighting'. They even have backup batteries on site that get charged for later use.

I will ignore the fact they obviously ripped off this idea from the SportsCenter commercial with Lance Armstrong and focus on how this is ruining my life. See, with less green house gasses escaping into the atmosphere, winters will start going back to cold, snowy and just fucking miserable. That's not good. I don't want that and I think I speak for many North East residents when I say STOP!!! Please just stop!

An architectual firm in Rotterdam teamed with an environmental company and created a 'Sustainable Dance Floor'. The energy and heat given off by the club partiers is converted and turned into power. Take a look here if you want to see how it works. It's actually pretty cool even if it does mean I'll need to invest in snow shoes soon.

Look, I'm all for alternative energy. I have a ton of it if anyone can figure out how to harness my natural tendencies. It definitely isn't good for the environment immediately surrounding me at the time of release, but it's better then dealing with Saudi Arabia. But, do we have to try and reverse things? Can't we just keep it at the status quo for now and see what happens. This past winter wasn't too bad. It even hit 65 in January. I can live with this.

Besides, how do we know global warming isn't just a natural cycle? When the dinosaurs lived in Montana, they were living in a tropical rainforest wonderland. Then some big ass meteor hit and ushered in a sunless, cold, ice age that killed off nearly everything. Are we sure the earth isn't just gradually warming back up to it's original state?

To be clear, I recycle, I keep my heat down unless it's needed, I walk to the train to get to work. I get it. I'm just saying why jump to conclusions? Especially when it interferes with my happiness and comfort? Let's just take a step back and see how things play out. We're not making things worse. I just don't see any reason to make things better. Our air is cleaner, our ozone hole is shrinking, people are mindful of waste. Isn't that good enough?

I say yes. And to show I'm not just in this for myself, I am willing to switch my house to purely solar power. In fact, you are all invited for the great unveiling.

As soon as the water level rises to a level where a clambake would be appropriate, the invitations will be going out.

Today's distraction: See how much you know about Global Warming and whether we really need to capitalize it. I'm assuming so, since every article I've read seems to be doing it. I got about a 70 on this quiz, but I'm just guessing since it doesn't give you a final score. Cheap ass quiz.



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Things I've Learned

This is just a recent list of things I've learned.

At times, roommates suck.

Once in a while, the nice guys (or in this case, gals) finish first.

JJ Foley's Buffalo Tenders burn just as much, if not more, going out as they do going in.

I might be able to copy shows I've recorded on my DVR to my laptop. This is just hypothetical at this point and will let you know how things turn out.

No matter how much warning and preparation time you give people, a majority will always wait until it's too late.

I have no idea who's going to win the NCAA tournament this year. Kansas, Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State, North Carolina, UCLA and, as my sleeper, Michigan State all have the ability to go all the way. Good luck with your brackets. You'll need it.

I left Wisconsin and Memphis off that list for a reason.

Not many people are familiar with the acronym BAMF (pronounced as it's spelled). It stands for Big Ass Mother Fucker (or Fucking, depending) and I use it to describe the size of something I'm either in the mood for or need. Example: "I so tired this morning. I need a BAMF coffee."

All women are insane. Actually, this is more a verification than new information.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer - any kind of cancer - and that person has been a steady smoker for over 40 years the word 'shocked' should never be used. 'Inevitable' maybe, but never 'shocked'.

Never put your brackets in before you absolutely have to. I learned this after watching ESPN News this morning and seeing an item on Villanova's starting guard being injured. Yes, Villanova is one of my sleepers. Yes, I'm seeing if I can get my sheet back.

My Final Four if anyone cares: NC, Florida, UCLA, Ohio State. I was torn on two potential matchups. One in the second round with NC and Michigan State. MS could take that game and I wouldn't be surprised at all. So basically my entire bracket could be ruined by day three. The second was the potential Florida - Oregon matchup in the Elite Eight. Went with Florida and their experience, but that's another one that could go either way.

And, I know what you're thinking about UCLA, but take a look where they're playing all their games. Rounds 1 + 2 in Sacramento. Rounds 3 & 4 in San Jose. They barely have to travel more than a few hours while their main opponent in that frame is Kansas, who start in Chicago for the first two, then have to go to San Jose for the next two. Can't tell me that's not going to be a factor as well as a potential Kansas - UCLA matchup basically being a home game for the Bruins. Must be nice.

Today's distraction: Check out some strange statues from around the globe. I like some while others just disturb me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's Time to Light the Lights

One of my favorite shows growing up was 'The Muppet Show'. I was around 10 or 11 and figured I was too old for puppets, but even my parents enjoyed it so our entire family wound up watching it together. Basically, I graduated from watching furry creatures teach me the ABCs to watching furry creatures try to put on a variety show. And they pulled it off.

My favorites were the band members, even if they were a small part of the show. Animal on the drums was the best. THE BEST! I still remember him dueling with Buddy Rich. Yeah, that same Buddy Rich! Don't know how they managed to get the celebrities they did, but take a look at some of these names:

Sylvester Stallone
Gene Kelly
Brook Shields (back when she was actually famous)
Carol Burnett
Roger Moore
Paul Simon
Johnny Cash (wonder if he thought he was hallucinating at any point)
Alan Arkin (sorry, Academy Award Winning Alan Arkin)
Dudley Moore
Wonder Woman oh...uh...Lynda Carter..yeah that's it
Diana Ross (couldn't have been Michael Jackson back then as he was only on his 4th nose)
Alice Cooper (wonder if the Muppets thought they were hallucinating at any point)
Harry Belafonte
Cheryl Ladd (the sexiest Angel ever)
Gilda Radner
Raquel Welch
Milton Berle
George Burns
Peter Sellers
Julie Andrews (before she flashed us in 'S.O.B.')
Bob Hope
Elton John
Steve Martin (back when he was funny)
And of course, Charles Aznavour. No, I don't know who he is either.

And I'm not even including some of the lesser stars like Liberace, Elke Sommer, Jean Stapleton, Danny Kaye, Liza Minnelli, Roy Rogers, Anne Murray (who I met - very nice), and Dyan Cannon.

They even had the living dead on twice. Carol Channing and Phyllis George both were guests during season four. Maybe back then they were only partly mummified. Too bad Joan Rivers didn't host at some point. They would have hit the triple.

How did Jim Henson do it? Think about a show like that happening now. Would any A-List celeb agree to it? You're working with puppets. Mark Hammill played Luke Skywalker in a 'Pigs in Space' skit. Luke Skywalker! And this was at the height of 'Star Wars' popularity. It would be like Tom Cruise guest starring on 'SpongeBob SquarePants'. Something I would actually like to see.

So did the show pay well? Did Henson have compromising photos? Were there massive amounts of drugs backstage? It was the 70's after all. Maybe after the shoot it was a massive orgy with Kermit and Fozzie tag teaming Miss Piggy while Gonzo was pulling a Scarface in a massive pile of coke. He had the nose for it. Plus, it would explain his bizarre experiments and stunts he would always try to pull, too. He was obviously on something to even consider half the shit he attempted.

Wonder if Beaker managed to get laid. I hope so. Poor dude was totally strung out.

Today's distraction: Help Gonzo properly calculate one of his crazy stunts. In this case getting shot out of a cannon.

http://muppets.go.com/games/muppets-flyinggonzo.html

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Some happy thoughts from the weekend:

Spring is almost here. You can smell it in the air. I can't fucking wait. I'm giddy with anticipation. That's right. GIDDY!!

We upgraded our Directv receiver to the new HD DVR system. The tech that installed it not only did it wrong, but somehow managed to mess up our subscription package to include the NBA League Pass. Before I could stop her, wifey called and had them correct it. There are times I hate her to the very core of her being. Still, this thing has changed my life. There is nothing like being able to pause live TV, ESPECIALLY when you have children and are interrupted every 4-5 minutes. Plus I am now signing up for the March Madness package and recording as many games as possible. I may have to call in sick Thursday and Friday. In fact, I may never be heard from again.

Dice-K is looking great. Yeah, I know it's only spring training, but as a Sox fan I can't help getting excited. This was how I felt when Schilling joined the team. You just get the feeling you're watching something special in the making.

That said, the season won't hinge on DK or Schilling. Beckett is the key to this team. If he has a good season and wins at least 17 games, the Sox are a lock for the playoffs.

Tonight is my company's Awards Night. Don't for a second think I'm getting one. Not only do my coworkers not understand what I do, they could care less (unless something goes wrong, of course). I've taken a page from the George Costanza handbook and try to look angry and upset all the time. Especially when I'm typing away on the computer. Believe it or not, this really works. People barely say a word to me anymore. It's great!!

Oh, forgot my point. Awards night is the one night a year that wifey actually expects not to see me. After year one when I stumbled home around 1am, she has chalked it up to a work event and never says a word. One of the guys here and I also make it our annual 'Golden Tee' tourney time. We leave work around 3 and head to the local pub and get a head start on everyone. It might possibly be my favorite day of the year. This year looks to be no different.

March Madness, baby! Starts for real this Thursday. I'll try to put together a guide for picking teams in your office pool. I won over $700 last year after picking 3 of the Final Four. If it wasn't for George Mason, I would have been perfect. So, you're getting experienced advice. Even if it will turn out to be completely wrong.

Drove with the window down yesterday. Nothing like airing things out after a cold spell. Even cracked open all the windows in the house. Ahhhh, fresh air.

I used to think my two kids were what sucked up a majority of my time, but, as tends to be the case, I was wrong. It's owning a house. Here are the things I spent time on over the weekend:

- Furnace was leaking and running so low on hot water our heat wasn't working properly. Managed to patch this up and get things back to normal. Time spent: 3 hours including trip to Home Depot

- Two light fixture installations. One done while my 2 year old played directly beneath it. Talk about pressure. My repeated pleas to go play somewhere else so the thing wouldn't fall on his head (a definite possibility) were finally heeded when I said "go see what's in the bathtub". He happily trotted into the bathroom and spent the next 20 minutes climbing in and out. Father of the year, I ain't. Time spent: 1 hour

- Installed new smoke detectors: 30 minutes

- Fixing the Directv installation. That's right, the fucking morons didn't install it properly so we couldn't record one show while watching another. No worries, though, as 50 feet of coax cabling, one drill and 1 hour of work resolved that little issue. I was watching Texas - Kansas while recording 'Return of the Jedi' for my son. Overall a very productive weekend.

Wife and I actually managed to find a babysitter and go out to dinner on Saturday. Met two old friends and had a great time. If you've never been to Artichokes in Malden, I cannot recommend it enough. They once made the best meal I've ever had. Veal and Lobster over pasta in a pink wine sauce. It's a special and don't always offer it, but they had it on Saturday. I actually did a double fist pump when our waiter announced it. It was just as delicious as I remember.

I never recovered my lost MP3 player and just sold my soul to the devil in order to replace it. That's right, I picked up an iPod. Not just any, either, but the 30 gig video one. I must admit it isn't the iPods I dislike, but the iTunes that go along with it. I don't want to have to sync things, just let me copy it onto the device and do my thing. Get your iTunes and iStore and iShit away from me. Sorry to say, too, that it actually doesn't sound as good as my old Samsung $80 USB one. I'm hoping it's just those crappy standard headphones, but the Samsung would blast the bass and sounded better than my 20 gig Creative in my office. Still, I can block out the maniacs on the subway and the shit they play in the gym.

Speaking of which. Yesterday was weigh in day. Starting weight 223. Current weight as of yesterday 214. However, once again, there is a problem. Namely, my gym replaced the doctor's scale I used for my initial weigh in with one of those computerized ones that give your weight down to the tenth of a pound. I'm just going on the assumption that the first scale was also accurate and I'll just round up. My actual weight was 213.7. I weighed myself twice, just to make sure it stayed true. I was also wearing the same sweats as the first weigh in. So, I've got to drop 6 pound to make my 15 pound goal. Looking good so far, although I've always been able to drop 5-10 pounds easily. It's the 5-10 pounds following that gives me trouble. We'll see.

Today's distraction: Play with particles. Beware, this can be highly addictive and appears easier than it actually is. There's music that goes along with it so if you're at work turn down the volume.

http://farm.addictinggames.com/D78AQSAKQLQWI9/3461.swf

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cynicism Overload

You know those elevator mini-television sets that give you little news blips. Forget what they're called, but they're in a bunch of office buildings now so people don't actually have to talk to each other and have an excuse to never make eye contact. Could be one of the best ideas ever.

Last week I caught an item about a study that found a woman's desk or work area had twice as much bacteria as a man's area. I read it twice, just to make sure things were registering properly. I don't know what kind of women work in other areas, but I've had several jobs and always found the women in the office to be much neater and cleaner than the men.

Who is always wiping down their desks and using sanitizers on their phones and keyboards? Not men. We barely spend the time to get the crumbs out of our keyboards, never mind swabbing the desk down with antibacterial wipes. It's our desk. We know where we've been. I'm looking at a coffee ring that's been there for weeks. I know it can be wiped off, but I don't have cleaning material around and I certainly don't have the motivation or memory to go get it. If I leave my office for that purpose I always get sidetracked.

Plus I've seen men in the bathroom. I know women can't be as dirty as us. I just know it. Believe me when I say it isn't possible. The ladies are much more neurotic about their hygeine than guys.

So, what the hell is this study saying? Why doesn't it make sense to me or any semi-intelligent person who has held a job? Don't worry, I've investigated for you.

At first I was thinking maybe the woman's monthly visitor had something to do with it. Handling of tampons and all, but it seems to me the ladies would wash before heading back to their desks (if this isn't so, do NOT tell me). Then I thought, maybe they tend to have more knick knacks hanging around. Plants? Thought those were supposed to be healthy. Perfumes? Jewelry? Makeup? Pictures? I was coming up blank.

Until this: 'Study was conducted by Clorox corporation'

Of course. This study isn't scientific. What was their sample for the study anyway? How did they go about it? Did they ambush unsuspecting office workers with crews dressed all in white and rolling bacteria detection carts around? They better have been wearing those white booties around their shoes, cause that can contaminate a site. This is nothing but another way for Clorox to sell merchandise.

In your head, answer the following questions with 'men' or 'women'. In general, who cleans more? Who is more concerned about unseen bacteria? Who does Clorox want scared that there is unseen, dirty bacteria crawling around their workspace? Who is more likely to run out and buy disinfecting wipes?

And there it is. This is nothing but an attempt to get Clorox's biggest customer base to run out and buy even more of their shit. Nearly every working woman thought, 'Crap, I should get those bacterial wipes I use in the bathroom for my cube'. Bingo! Job done.

This raises another issue of whether this item is actually news or an advertisement. Did that elevator service get paid for running that 'news blurb'? If so, shouldn't we be informed of that? I hardly think this is valid, scientific research. I would really like some independant, non-profit company to do their own research and let me know if women really are more unsanitary than men.

On the other hand, why waste the time and money? Most of us already know the answer.

Today's distraction: Find out how dirty you think. I thought the worst on all of them as, I suspect, will the rest of you. The only one I got was the cow/woman one.

http://www.funofun.com/dirtyquiz.htm

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Horror



I'm a horror movie junkie. Not all of them. There are more than a few absolute dogs floating around. They need to be semi-entertaining at the least. This means if you're going to have bad acting, incoherent story, you need to at least have massive amounts of gore. And, if it's actually scary and good, all the better. But I tend to at least try to watch them all, no matter how bad the reviews.

It seems lately that this genre tends to go one of three ways. First is the bad 'scary' movies that have no gore and are actually rated PG-13. I'm guessing they tone down the sex and violence (see original 'Friday the 13th' for proper playbook) so they can suck in all the brain dead preteens. This means the opening weekend box office take will look respectable regardless of how bad the movie is. I'm referring to movies like 'The Grudge', 'Dark Water', 'Bogeyman', 'The Fog' (don't even get me started on this one), 'Darkness Falls' and 'The Messengers' (which I haven't seen, but heard it might be the worst of the bunch). These movies basically piss me off. If you can't be original or even good, at least give me some gratuitous sex and violence. That's why I'm watching. I blame 'The Ring' for this trend, by the way. It was fairly decent and, since it was successful, spawned a whole bunch of imitators.

Second will be the 'yeah, it's stupid, but they manage to pull it off' type of movie. Usually lots of gore and blood splattered around. The story will make no sense and acting will be atrocious, of course, but it's watchable in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Think 'HellRaiser' or any of the 'Final Destination' movies, which I find myself rewatching every time I run across it on Starz. There something about how all that violence is choreographed that's quite entertaining. The kid that gets sliced into pieces by the barbed wire fence in the second one is Hollywood magic. Good luck seeing that scene on basic cable.

And finally, and most pleasantly, there are the horror flicks that are actually good, solid movies. That can stand as good film making on their own. I've seen two recently, 'The Descent' and 'Slither'. Both are gory as hell, but that's about all they have in common. 'Slither' is more of a comedy and 'The Descent' more of a character study in how much the human mind can take before it snaps and madness ensues. Oddly, the monsters they run into don't even factor into the answer. I don't want to ruin either of them for you so I'll leave it at that, but if you're a fan rent either of the two for a good time. (One note - if you do rent 'The Descent' make sure you watch the intended original ending and not the one they showed in America. The American one makes no sense and is explained by the writer/director why they changed it in an inteview also on the DVD)

Some others I would recommend. A few are older, but still maintain their gruesome appeal.

Re-animator: Still one of the most disgusting, hilarious movies I've ever seen.

Session 9: Not so much scary or gory as creepy. This one got under my skin. Just the setting is disturbing as contractors are hired to strip out hazardous asbestos material from an old mental hospital.

Evil Dead 2: Sam Raimi's Three Stooges tribute disguised as a horror flick. It makes sense when you see it.

Return of the Living Dead: Not a Romero flick, but more of a parody. See it just for what happens when they use the tried and true 'shoot it in the head to kill it' method. In this case it's a pick axe and things don't turn out as planned.

The Exorcist: Obviously.

Jacob's Ladder: I haven't seen this one in over a decade, but some scenes still haunt me. Need to rewatch this to see if it's impact remains.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The remake was actually better than I thought it would be, but it still doesn't come close to the nightmarish feel of the original.

The Thing: John Carpenter's version, not the original. Has any movie scene topped that head pulling itself off, sprouting legs and scurrying away? (Note: I put this list together last week and have since found out there are plans to remake this movie. I am outraged! OUTRAGED!!! Leave the classics alone! Doesn't anyone remember 'Psycho' or 'The Longest Yard'?)

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The birth of Freddie and a bunch of crappy sequels, but Johnny Depp exploding was worth it all.

Shaun of the Dead: I can't adequately explain this movie, but it became one of my favorites after my first viewing. Let's put it this way, I can no longer watch serious zombie movies without thinking of this one and cracking up.

Today's distraction: Fight the living dead. Or, if you're like me, pretend the zombies are all the people you hate at work. Quite therapeutic.

http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~lee/deanimator.html